Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jeter & A-Rod Respond to the Newest Idiot in Beantown

If you didn't know, new Red Sox manager, Bobby Valentine, has already gotten into the habit of bashing the Yankees every two weeks for apparently no reason whatsoever. His most recent barrage came yesterday when he questioned whether the Yankees actually practiced the flip-play and also said Jeter was "out of position" on the play. He also said that Jason Varitek was a "man's man" who was "able to beat up Alex", obviously referring to the 2004 brawl when Varitek tackled A-Rod while wearing full catcher's gear.

Here are the responses via Mark Feinsand:
Derek Jeter had a question for Bobby Valentine Wednesday after hearing what the Red Sox manager had to say about his legendary flip play.

“Why are we talking about this?” Jeter asked.


“I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do,” Jeter said. “I could care less, I guess that’s the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s being brought up. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Jeter said the Yankees have practiced the play since he first came up. His job is to be on the first base line to cut off a throw and get the runner at third – “I don’t flip it home when we practice it,” he said – so whether Valentine believes that or not didn’t matter.

“Am I supposed to convince him?” Jeter said. Asked if he was annoyed or amused by the comments, the Captain replied, ““I’m indifferent, really. Think about it. We don’t practice it? We do; you guys see it. What else can I say? I was out of position? I was where I was supposed to be.”


“But who cares?” Jeter added. “Why are we talking about this? He must be bored over there, huh?”


“I’m not going to win many battles here when it comes to words – especially against Bobby,” A-Rod said. “I have my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days – Reggie Jackson – so I’ll let him handle that.”

Jeter wondered why the 2004 scrap was brought up in the first place.

“Talking about Varitek, you point out the good things,” Jeter said. “Varitek had an unbelievable career, I’m happy for him, I enjoyed competing against him all these year; that’s what we should be talking about as opposed to what Bobby said.”
Sure, this fool might be adding a little fire to the rivalry, but it's freaking February and obviously this guy is far too preoccupied with the Yanks. I guess that's just what happens when you put on those Red Socks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sherman: Hughes Will Be The 5th Starter

From Joel Sherman:
We can pretend there is a competition going on for the Yankees’ No. 5 starter spot, but that is what it is. Pretend. The WWE stages more realistic battles.

The Yankees are saying it is Freddy Garcia vs. Phil Hughes. But their general manager is also saying this: He believes Hughes is, right now, a top-of-the-rotation starter. That has not been said about Garcia since, oh, about 2001.

So this is a competition only because the Yankees want to sell you that this is a competition. They do not want a prideful veteran in Garcia to be offended. They do not want Hughes, who showed up out of shape last year, to feel he is being handed anything. And with six weeks to Opening Day, the potential for injury or stumble means the Yankees see no reason to publicly declare even a front-runner, much less a winner.

But understand this: The competition is rigged. If it is close, Hughes wins. If it is advantage Garcia, but only slightly, Hughes wins. Hughes can only lose this by doing what he did last spring, having his fastball go on a mysterious hiatus. The early signs are Hughes’ better dedication to offseason conditioning has led to less gut and more heat.

Normally anything in February or March should be ignored, but it was obvious in his first live batting practice session yesterday that Hughes’ arm was quick and his fastball had life.

“It is a heavier ball,” Russell Martin said. “He changed his body. He looks more explosive. He has more arm speed, which leads to a better breaking ball and more deception on the changeup.”
Sherman may be right, but to me, I think this article is more of a product of a slow Tuesday in New York sports than anything based in reality--or at least a reality that can actually be based on one BP session on February 27th. Like Sherman himself said, "normally anything in February or March should be ignored".

If Hughes had ever met, or at least come close to expectations I might feel otherwise, but sadly that has not been the case. He's had many opportunities to prove himself to this team as a starter, and he's failed virtually every time. Between that, and the fact that Garcia was solid for the Yanks last year, Garcia at least deserves a fighting chance at that fifth spot.

Again, Sherman could be right because we all know a lot more goes into these types of decisions than just X's and O's. The Yankees might not want to continue to look bad over all the hype surrounding this guy and do everything in their power to get him back in the rotation for yet another chance. Though, if they do that despite a strong spring from Freddy they'll deserve all those April losses thanks to their forced decision.

This quote from Brian Cashman makes that seem like a strong possibility:
“Aside from last year [Hughes] was viewed, and not just by us, as one of the better young arms in the game; with success to prove it. He was a dominant reliever for us in 2009 and an All-Star as a starter in 2010. Why would I judge him by last year when he was injured? It feels like everyone wants to take him down a peg. I think he is a top-of-the-rotation starter.”
If it were up to me I'd base this decision on performance and not saving face. What about you?

Joba Throws First BP Session, Says He's Cured

From Wallace Matthews:
Cue the James Brown-style funk guitars. Joba Chamberlain threw his first session off a mound this morning and proclaimed himself not only cured, but reborn.

"They fixed what was there, and then Dr. (James) Andrews went ahead and added some extra strength to it," Joba said after throwing 16 pitches off the mound following a couple of weeks of throwing off that oddity known as the half-mound. "It's a new arm, for me, that's how I feel. It's a new year, and it's a whole new chapter of what I would like to accomplish here and help this team."
Is this the song you were referring to, Wally?

Anyway, as for his return to the Yankees pen, Joba expects to be back well before the projected date:
"I can tell you it's not going to be three to four months," he said. "Three or four months puts us out a long time. "It's weird because (the ball) comes out of my hand different. Sometimes I blow up Roman (Rodriguez, the bullpen catcher), and he gets kind of mad at me. But I just can't help it. It just happens. I think that's a good sign. It's just coming out a lot more free and easier. I trust myself enough, I trust my arm and my elbow. It's been great for me."
However, according to Matthews, the Yankees are already concerned about Joba's eagerness to return and don't want him to rush his comeback. Usually these things take a year to recover, and Joba had his surgery just last June. Either way, this is very good news for the Yanks, who will have a very deep bullpen, even without Joba.

This Week in Yankees History (2/26-3/3)

This Week in New York Yankees History 

February 26th - March 3rd

February 26th

1896 - Former Yankees P Harry “Rip” Collins (1920-1921) was born (1896-1968). On August 20, 1919, Harry “Rip” Collins was purchased by the New York Yankees from Dallas (Texas League). “Rip” Collins went 25-13 in 64 games for the New York Yankees before being traded to Boston Red Sox. On December 20,1921, Harry was traded by the New York Yankees along with INF Roger Peckinpaugh, P Jack Quinn, P Bill Piercy and $100,000 to the Boston Red Sox for Pitchers Bullet Joe Bush, Sad Sam Jones and INF Everett Scott. Rip would also pitch for the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns.

1933 - Former Yankees reserve 1B/OF/C Johnny Blanchard (1955,1959-1965) was born (1933-2009). Johnny Blanchard was a 3 sport All-City whiz at Central High School in Minneapolis, MN; he not only attracted the attention of MLB scouts as a 3rd baseman but also the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA who made him an offer. In 1951, Blanchard was signed by New York Yankees scout Joe McDermott for $20,000 as an outfielder. While in the Yankees minor league system, he made the transition to catcher. "I had to work my fanny off," said Blanchard. "I was not talented like Yogi or Elston. I think I got all the mileage I could out of my ability." Blanchard served in the U.S. Military Service during the Korean Conflict in 1953-1954, but when he was released from active duty.

He was back in spring training camp in 1955. After leading the Eastern League with 34 HRs in 1955 playing for the Binghamton Triplets, he received a late season call-up to the Yankees. He returned for good in 1959, he stayed in the Bronx until he was sent to the Kansas City Athletics during the 1965 AL season. The lefty-swinging Yankee loved Fenway Park. Of his 1st 6 hits at Fenway Park, 5 were HRs. On July 21, 1961, the Yankees trailed the Boston Red Sox 9-8 going into the top of the 9th inning when Blanchard, pinch-hitting for Clete Boyer, hit a grand slam HR off Boston right-hander Mike Fornieles giving the Bombers a 12-9 victory. The following day, the Yankees were again down 9-8, when Blanchard, pinch-hitting again for Boyer, homered off Gene Conley to tie the score as the Yankees went on to win. A couple of days later against the Chicago White Sox, he homered in consecutive at-bats against veteran Ray Herbert. His 4 HRs on 4 straight at-bats tied a MLB record. Blanchard hit 4 pinch-hit HRs during the regular season in 1961, plus 1 more during the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. During the Yankees' storied 1961 AL season; he stroked 21 HRs in only 243 at-bats and hitting .305. Among the 1961 Yankees, only Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had more HRs per at bat. He continued his clutch hitting in the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds with a 2-run pinch HR in game #3; another 2-run HR shot in the 5th and final game of the 1961 World Series, a game that he started.

As a result, Blanchard is arguably one of the best-known 3rd-string catchers in MLB history. Overall, he appeared in the Fall Classic 5 consecutive seasons, from 1960-1964, he batted .345, slugged at .690 with 2 HRs. Following an exhibition game against the New York Mets, he was called into manager Johnny Keane's office and was given the news he had been traded to Kansas City. On May 3,1965, John was traded by the Yankees along with P Rolland Sheldon to the A’s for C Doc Edwards. Johnny took the trade news very hard. He cried uncontrollably in the Yankees clubhouse. His long time Yankee teammate Mickey Mantle sat down next to Blanchard and attempted to cheer him up. "Don't take it so hard, John. Just think, in Kansas City you're going to get a chance to play." "Hell, I can't play Mick, that’s why I'm crying." After appearing in 52 games with the Kansas City A's, he was purchased by the Milwaukee Braves. He played the last 10 games of his MLB career with the Braves at the end of the 1965 NL season. In 1968, he tried to make a comeback with the Atlanta Braves in spring training, but he didn’t make the team. Overall he hit .239 with 67 HRs and 200 RBIs. Blanchard's heavy drinking made it difficult to cope with the real world after his MLB baseball career was over. Aware that he had a problem, Johnny checked himself into the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for 34 days for alcohol treatment. He was then dry for over 25 years. On March 25, 2009, Johnny Blanchard passed away from a fatal heart attack.

1935 - The New York Yankees released longtime OF/P Babe Ruth (1920-1934), freeing him to sign a $20,000 contract with the Boston Braves of the National League. In 1934, Babe Ruth had endured one of his worst seasons with the New York Yankees-at least by his lofty standards-with a .288 BA with only 22 HRs and 84 RBIs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yanks Sign David Aardsma

From Bryan Hoch:
The Yankees have signed reliever David Aardsma to a Major League contract.

Aardsma is coming back from Tommy John surgery performed last July 22. Aardsma is making approximately $500,000 this year with a club option for 2013.

“The move could help us in 2012, but it has a lot more eyes toward 2013,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.
According to the article, Aardsma is about a month behind Joba in his recovery.

Retiring Numbers Soon?

The New York Yankees one of the most classiest sports organization in sports history. The reason why we have not seen any one wear 6 since Joe Torre left cause they are going to retire his number. They could have gave out recently retired Jorge Posada number 20. Also Andy Pettitte 46 have not seen that number on any ones back. No matter what your opinion is on each of the players and managers i have listed is they were great baseball players and better Yankees.

Yanks Resign Chavez to One-Year Deal!/JonHeymanCBS/status/172125563639693312
The deal is worth $900K.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Garcia and Hughes to Battle for 5th Spot in Rotation

From Dan Martin:
With one less choice to make now that A.J. Burnett is a Pirate, Joe Girardi’s decisions become clearer.

Yesterday, the manager indicated that Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia would likely battle for the final spot in the rotation and the batting order and bullpen will look a lot like they did toward the end of last year.

“You hope everyone is throwing well and that you have to make a tough decision,” Girardi said. “You go with an open mind; CC [Sabathia] is the Opening Day starter and go from there. All these guys are expected to be starters. Phil Hughes pitched well in both areas, but we envision him as a starter. Once again, we have a six-man rotation and we’ve got to whittle it down to five.”
Hughes is running out of chances quickly, so it would be great to see him step up and win this spot. That said, as a betting man I wouldn't lay a dollar on that happening.

Excuses From AJ

From Kevin Kernan:
No more excuses for A.J. Burnett and no more Yankee thoughts.

Burnett the Pirate took some blame for his failures with the Yankees yesterday at Pirate City, but also said he may have let too many people in pinstripes mess with his mechanics.

“Without getting too far into it,’’ Burnett explained, “I would just say I let a few too many people tinker with me and when you let that happen, you get out there, you start doubting yourself sometimes, like, ‘Am I doing it right? Is this the way it is supposed to feel?’

“In ’09 nobody messed with me,’’ Burnett said of the Yankees’ World Series championship season. “I was able to do what I wanted to do on the mound, whether it was turn all the way around, close my eyes; pitch upside down, whatever it was. Then you have a few bad games and you start changing and listening.’’


Asked by The Post his view of the Yankees staff, Burnett responded: “Without sounding too arrogant, I don’t care, they’re good dudes over there and they got a good leader in CC [Sabathia], but I need to get over here and learn my staff and I’m looking forward to that.’’


“It was fun the first couple of years,’’ Burnett said of his time with the Yankees.
Kernan may say no more excuses, but that sounds like an excuse to me. I was terrible because too many people tried to help me? Yea, OK. Whatever you say, AJ.

Mo's Final Season?

Obviously it's nothing official or definitive, however, it definitely sounds like this could be it for Mo. Here's more from Mark Feinsand and John Harper:
Is the Sandman ready to call it a night?

Mariano Rivera wasn’t prepared to make an official retirement announcement on Monday, but the legendary Yankee closer strongly hinted that 2012 would be the final season of his Hall of Fame career.

“I definitely know what I’m going to do,” Rivera said of his plans beyond 2012. “I won’t let you know now, but I know."

Rivera called his decision “irrevocable” and said his performance this season — good or bad — won’t affect his future.

“It doesn’t depend on how I’m going to pitch,” Rivera said. “I always want to do my job, but I’ve made my decision already. Even if I save 90 games, even if they want to pay as much money as they want to — any team.”

Rivera said he made his decision two or three weeks ago, informing his family, though he hasn’t told the Yankees yet.

“They will be second,” he said.


“Decisions like that are always hard,” Rivera said. “They involve what you do and what you have done for 22 years. Decisions like that are always hard, difficult, but at the same time, they have to be made.

“This one is different,” Rivera added. “This one is my decision. When I let you guys know what it is, you guys will know.”
Sounds like he's decided to retire, doesn't it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yanks Ink Ibanez!/Buster_ESPN/statuses/171579126799532032
Olney also said on ESPN radio that the deal is worth around a $1 million.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Damon Doesn't Understand Why Yanks Don't Want Him

From Jon Heyman:
Johnny Damon doesn't get it, doesn't get why he's not getting offers after the year he had. Damon didn't get why he didn't receive an offer from the incumbent Rays after he was a leader for them in the clubhouse and on the field, and now he doesn't get why he seemingly is running second as a candidate to be the Yankees' left-handed DH.

"I think it's a perfect fit,'' Damon said of the Yankees by phone. "But for some reason you have the year I had, especially with a team that has trouble scoring, and you can't even get a call to continue playing."
And while it has been reported that the Yanks were considering bringing Damon back, according to the NY Post it isn't going to happen:
There won't be a Johnny Damon II.

According to Damon, he isn't returning to the Yankees as a free agent.

"We both are looking at other options now,'' Damon told The Post Saturday and called it "unfortunate.''

According to GM Brian Cashman, Damon contacted the club.

"He called and I told him the truth. He is not the No. 1 option if and when I turn to DH options,'' Cashman said.
Do you think the Yanks should be targeting Damon over Ibanez?

Yanks on Verge of Signing Clay Rapada

From Zack Meisel:
The Yankees are near an agreement with reliever Clay Rapada on a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training, a source told

Rapada will likely fill the void created when left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima failed his physical this week. Okajima, 36, had signed a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invitation in late December.

In five Major League seasons with four teams, Rapada has compiled a 5-0 record and 5.13 ERA in 78 appearances.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yanks To Sign Chavez and Ibanez Once AJ Deal is Approved!/JonHeymanCBS/status/170639125647597570

Yanks, Pirates Agree on Burnett Deal

From George A. King III:
According to multiple sources, the Yankees and Pirates are nearing a deal that would send A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two marginal prospects. Pittsburgh would absorb $13 million to $15 million of the $33 million Burnett is owed this season and next.

"It will happen this weekend,'' a person familiar with the deal predicted. "Probably Saturday.''

The Pirates initially offered to pay $10 million, but the Yankees then demanded a significant prospect if they were going to pick up $23 million for a pitcher not on their team.
As for those two prospects, here's the details from Andrew Marchand:
The Yankees got two players from the Pirates who more than likely will never see the Bronx and, if they do, it will be as bit players. We went into detail about who Diego Moreno is here and Exicardo Cayones is here. These aren't top prospects, but, in the case of Marino, the Yankees are hoping they can straighten out his attitude and maximize his talent. But the guy is already 25 and has barely pitched at Double-A. Cayones is young, just 20, so he has time to develop. In other words, don't hold your breath waiting for these guys.
Adios, AJ. Thanks for game 2 of the '09 series.

Okajima Fails Physical

From Bryan Hoch:
Hideki Okajima failed his physical and will not report to Spring Training with the Yankees.

Okajima, 36, had signed a Minor League contract with a spring invitation in late December, hoping to bounce back to the effective form he showed in his first few seasons with the Red Sox.

WFAN 660 AM’s Sweeny Murti first reported that Okajima would not be in camp.
Well, so much for that.

AJ to Pirates To Be Done By The Weekend!/JimBowdenESPNxm/status/170171779510321152

Thursday, February 16, 2012

AJ Says No To Deal To Angels

From Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron:
The Yankees were hoping they could bring back Bobby Abreu to be their designated hitter by swapping A.J. Burnett to the Angels, but the righthander would not waive his no-trade rights, according to two baseball executives with knowledge of the talks.

So rather than having their winter business concluded and a DH in place, the Yankees Wednesday were still working on sending Burnett to the Pirates for two marginal prospects, one of the executives said. The executive said the trade could be consummated by the weekend — Burnett is slated to report to Yankees spring camp Sunday.

“It’s not a deadline, but it doesn’t make sense for him to go to Yankee camp if he’s going to get traded,” the executive said. Some deal for Burnett appears likely — the Yankees are talking to two other teams about him, too. The Yankees have suspended their pursuit of free agent DHs such as Raul Ibañez until the Burnett matter is settled.

Burnett is allowed to pick 10 teams he can refuse to be traded to and the Angels are one of them, as are the Mariners and the other West Coast teams. Burnett and his family live in Maryland.
Abreu still draws his walks, but at this point in his career that's about all he does. With that said, I really hate that AJ has a no trade clause, because that's certainly not something he's earned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scattered Thoughts on #MysteryTeam

This post is being syndicated from The Yankee Analysts.
Claiming that Twitter has changed the landscape of sports reporting and journalism has become one of the more cliché statements of the past calendar year or so. In fact, it has become so cliché that referring to it as cliché is, in fact, cliché. Or something like that.

That being said, the ubiquitousness of Twitter cannot be overstated. After all, it was only a shade over two months ago that this happened:

In essence, Twitter has become the go-to source for breaking news, for all parties concerned - fans, journalists, professional athletes, and front office personnel utilize the 140-characters to garner as much information as possible, choosing the jumble of text and abbreviations over the larger bodies of analysis to which they link. The social networking giant has, in short, become the place for sports analysis, prognostication, rumors, and reporting. It is expected to be omnipotent, and it oftentimes is just that. Recently, however, #MysteryTeam has come to represent not only a veritable joie de vivre, but a somewhat frustrating outlier.

The #MysteryTeam phenomenon began, at least in a practical sense, with the Phillies signing of Clifton Phifer Lee. As late as Thanksgiving of 2010, most everyone 'in the know' was certain that Lee would be signing on the dotted line with either the Yankees or the Rangers. Some writers alluded to a 'mystery team' throwing a monkey wrench into the operation, yet it seems inevitable that one of the 2010 ALCS teams would win the bidding. As Yankees and Rangers fans remember, it was roughly three weeks later that Lee was hamming it up in front of cameras at his introductory press conference ... as a Phillie.

Throughout this past season, it seemed as if every rumor was sprinkled with allusions to a 'mystery team' pursuing trade deadline targets, or planning their off-season around Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or the possibly opted-out CC Sabathia (some in a truthful sense, but most in jest). Over these past two months, the allusions to a 'mystery team' have evolved (or devolved) into #MysteryTeam being added into a substantial percentage of all rumblings and grumblings. And for all the prognostications about payroll flexibility, likely landing spots, and the like ... #MysteryTeam won out with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and, most recently, Yoenis Céspedes. Jorge Soler, perhaps the last remaining prize on the market, has been linked to the Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, and, among others, #MysteryTeam.

What does this all mean? To be perfectly frank, I'm not quite sure it means anything at all. The likeliest lesson to be learned is that the leakiness of front offices has not quite kept pace with the insatiable appetite of the fans and media, and that the news breaking abilities of Twitter are as dependent on such leaks as any other medium - it's simply instantaneous. This 'phenomenon' may merely be a product of players being more willing to follow dollars, or more willing to give 'home town' discounts. It may be a result of more teams being willing to enter the fray, and thus impeding the ability of journalists to stakeout the usual suspects.

Or it may just be nothing more than a joke transcended into news, albeit a far more prescient joke than most.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

AJ For Hafner?!/JonHeymanCBS/status/169482309676961792
After a slew of injuries, Pronk never regained his 2004-2007 form, but he has been solid over the past three seasons. Over that span he's averaged 14 HR and 52 RBI while hitting a respectible .277/.364/.456. He's also left-handed, which is always good in the Bronx (unless your name is Mark Teixeira).

UPDATE: There is also other report out of Cleveland that say there aren't any talks going on with the Yanks and Indians, but that talks had previously taken place and the deal is dead. So, like most rumors, take this one with a grain of salt.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Branyan on Joining the Yanks

From Jeff Bradley:
“Just to be able to go and put on the pinstripes,” Branyan said, sounding more like a teenager on draft day than a 36-year-old veteran. “I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet.”


“My whole career has been a challenge,” Branyan said. “Like a lot of guys in the game, nothing’s been handed to me. No one said it was going to be easy, so you have to embrace it all. I’ve enjoyed the ups and I’ve enjoyed the downs. Going into camp with no guarantee is challenging, but I accept that and embrace that, too.”


“I’ve enjoyed playing in New York,” Branyan said. “Junior Griffey used to tell me all the time when we played together with Seattle, ‘Man, you’d love playing in Yankee Stadium. I think you’ve got the swing for it. And I think you’d handle it.’

“That comment always stuck. I have always thought, if I get the opportunity to play there, I want to take it. I’m ready to roll. I think I can do this.”
So I guess it's Junior that we have to blame for all those moon-shots Branyan has been hitting in the Bronx. I wouldn't put too much faith in either Branyan or Bill Hall since they're careers are both headed in the same (wrong) direction. But at the same time we've all seen Cashman do a great job shopping at the Dollar Store so maybe he and the Yanks will get lucky again.

Olney: Framework In Place For AJ Deal!/buster_espn/status/168705816881401856
Yesterday, Peter Botte reported that Burnett wasn't upset about the rumors:
“He is getting ready to go to spring training, whether it’s with the Yankees, Pittsburgh or anyone else,” Darek Braunecker said in a brief phone interview. “A.J. understands this is a business and will do what he has to do. He’s healthy and he’s looking forward to pitching for somebody.”
Well, it appears that he'll be doing that pitching it Pittsburgh. Stay tuned....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In Defense of a Straight Salary Dump

The following is being syndicated from The Yankee Analysts.

It seems all but inevitable that A.J. Burnett will be toeing the rubber in PNC Park come April, and my feelings are surprisingly mixed on the subject. While I do genuinely believe that he may be the best option of the fifth starter triumvirate (mostly due to the higher beta of Phil Hughes and the blase nature of Freddy Garcia), I cannot help but feel that Burnett's quirkiness, the minor spats with Girardi and Rothschild, and the endless trade speculation will result in nothing short of distractions, if not genuine dissension. It is always a thrill to see Burnett fire off a 96 MPH heater followed by a knee-buckling curve with startling command, but those instances have come fewer and further between ... and most memories of Burnett revolve around his confrontations with the coaching staff (both on the mound and in the dugout) and meltdowns that generally culminate in towering home runs. The sort of promise that Burnett offers, in short, is that which we may drool over with a starting pitcher in his early 20s, hoping and praying that he can get his head on straight - at 35, I doubt even the most unabashed optimist would cross his fingers for Burnett.

In dealing Burnett, Brian Cashman et al would spare the team, the fans, and the brass of one of the most distracting Yankees (non-Rodriguez division) in recent memory. Such a distraction can be acceptable, as is/was the case with Rodriguez, where production is a guarantee ... yet Burnett's replacement-level adventures in 2010 and 2011 cannot be obscured by his surprisingly decent peripherals where $33 MM and consistent inconsistency are ubiquitous. And for this - for all of this - I do believe that it is time that A.J. Burnett is shown the door. At this juncture, it does appear that the only questions involve the return and the savings (which may as well be a single issue). To me, Burnett represents a sunk cost, and any money that Cashman can recoup for the team's coffers is a veritable bonus. The likelihood of Burnett rebounding in pitcher-friendly PNC Park is astronomical, particularly with the departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder from the NL Central, but that does not somehow improve Burnett's stock as a pitcher - and yes, this is my likely futile attempt to stem any hindsight-driven lamentations that would stem from a 2009-ish line with the Pirates.

None of this is to say that the Yankees should not attempt to extract something of value from the Pirates. Garrett Jones seems like a safer and smarter bet than Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui, and his arbitration request checked in at $2.5 MM (right in-line with what some expect one of those three to command). Michael Eder penned an excellent write-up on Jones yesterday, and I suggest you check it out. Should Jones not be an option (which I don't think he is unless the Yankees pick up all $33 MM or add something of at least minor value to the deal), a lottery ticket type prospect would be very appealing. To be perfectly frank, I would settle for a low-risk, moderate reward minor leaguer like Justin Wilson, who appears destined for a fine career as a lefty specialist. With an organization as deep as the Pirates, there exists an almost limitless supply of both gambles and Justin Wilsons, and I am quite sure that Cashman will do his due diligence.

With all that being said, however, my endorsement of a straight salary dump stands. This may not be the most classical sort of 'addition by subtraction,' but it represents a clear-cut 'yes' decision insofar as the roster is concerned.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Friday, February 10, 2012

YES Network's Bob Lorenz Arrested For DUI

From the AP:
YES Network television host Bob Lorenz has been charged with drunken driving in Connecticut where police say he was found passed out in his car in his hometown of Westport.

The 48-year-old Lorenz was arrested early Wednesday morning. Police say they found him slumped over the wheel of his car and when they woke him up he drove away slowly and nearly hit a utility pole. Officers say his speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol.
Luckily nobody was hurt. Bob, I'm sure you make good money, next time, call a damn cab.

Yanks, Pirates Talking AJ Deal

From the NY Daily News:
In an effort to rid themselves of underperforming pitcher A.J. Burnett, the Yankees are turning to a familiar trading partner.

A team source confirmed Friday that the Yankees have held discussions with the Pirates about Burnett recently, with the understanding that the Bombers would have to absorb a "significant" portion of the flighty righty's contract, which has two years and $33 million remaining.


One source termed the trade talks with the Pirates as "still in the preliminary stages," but the Yankees clearly believe that the more money they pay the better the prospect they will demand in return. reported that the Yankees request for first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones already has been rebuffed by the Pirates who are seeking to add a veteran presence to a young pitching staff.

It was also mentioned in the article that the Yankees would use the money saved by trading AJ to sign a bat to fill the DH role (Ibanez, Damon or Matsui), and that the Yanks are still considering bringing Eric Chavez back.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, and if they can unload AJ for anything of even a little value I would assume most Yankees fans would be pretty pleased.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Polishing a Turd with Raul, Johnny, and Hideki

There has been much ado about the Yankees designated hitter situation yesterday, with Buster Olney tweeting that the team was "in position to add" one of Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui within a week. Ken Rosenthal stoked the coals a bit (or, perhaps, took a book of matches from 7-Eleven), adding that the team was in "serious discussions" with Ibanez. Rosenthal further added that Ibanez was willing to take a discount to play in the Bronx, though I am unsure that he is in a position to be terribly picky regardless. Many would argue that far too much ink and effort has been expended on behalf of Messrs Ibanez, Damon, and Matsui, and that may be true ... but if a move is truly forthcoming, it makes sense to look for a silver lining and preempt at least a bit of the inevitable gruff.

Ibanez managed a slightly above-average 101 wRC+ against righties last season, batting .256/.307/.440 with 16 HR in 437 PA. While that may be below even the marginal standard set by Posada in 2011 (.269/.348/.466 with 14 HR in 316 PA), it is worth noting that Ibanez's numbers in lefty-friendly Citizens Bank Park were solid - a .278/.316/.516 slash line with 15 HR in only 273 AB is quite easy on the eyes. While Yankee Stadium's right-center isn't quite as appetizing as Citizens Bank's, it does seem like Ibanez would make fine use of the short porch without sacrificing too much elsewhere. This is all guesswork, to be sure, but Ibanez's power hasn't slipped all that much. And, if optimism is to rule the day, might I suggest that a rebound from his career-low BB% is well within the realm of possibility?

At face value, Johnny Damon appears to be the best option for the Yankees. He was able to eke out a reasonable 109 wRC+ while playing half of his games in an extreme pitcher's park, on the strength of a .261/.326/.418 line with nineteen steals (in twenty-five attempts). Damon's 99 wRC+ against righties may not instill a great deal of confidence, though, and the former Yankee has not displayed much of a platoon split in recent years. While that may normally be a positive, it doesn't really help the Yankees at this juncture. However, a bit of polishing reveals that Damon did quite well away from the Trop, batting .280/.345/.463 with 10 HR in 296 AB. An optimist should also note that Damon has raked to the tune of .270/.370/.524 and 19 HR in 311 AB in New Yankee Stadium. He also survived 84 innings in LF last year ... so, there's that.

Matsui, sadly, featured a curious reverse platoon split in 2011, with a solid 118 wRC+ against southpaws and a decidedly ugly 82 wRC+ figure against righties. He did manage a 137 wRC+ and 14 round-trippers against righties in 2010, which is more in-line with expectations, and, like Damon, he enjoys hitting in NYS (.268/.353/.485 with 17 HR in 299 AB). Additionally, on the heels of a late-July Godzilla sighting in the Bronx (including a 5-for-5 game on 24 July), Matsui managed a respectable .289/.345/.414 over the last third of the season. Could the short porch entice an awe-inspiring swan song? Even a pragmatist would say ... maybe.

While none of these players met the Posadian baseline set in 2011, it does stand to reason that all could enjoy a bit of a rebound in Yankee Stadium - particularly if platooned properly. Ibanez's righty killing (flicking? pinching?) may be a bit more appealing, particularly with Jones likely to do the heavy-lifting against lefties, but Damon and Matsui (and most any lefty) would benefit from the ubiquitously mentioned short porch. This may not be an ideal set of candidates by even the most flexible stretch of the imagination, but it would be somewhat inane to ignore the potential for a reasonable bit of success here.

Besides, with Spring Training right around the corner, shouldn't optimism be fostered?

Yanks Sign Russell Branyan to Minor League Deal

From Dan Martin:
The Yankees agreed Wednesday to sign Russell Branyan to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major league spring training.

The move does not impact the team’s chances of adding another lefty bat and it remains in the hunt for Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez.

But Branyan’s presence could make things more difficult for Eric Chavez because the 36-year-old can play both corner infield positions.
Coming off a 2011 that saw him hit .197 with five homers and 14 RBIs I would have rather they signed Chavez. Oh well, maybe he can do more of this:

Even Without Jesus, Law Says Yanks Have A Top 10 Farm System

ESPN's Keith Law came out with his farm system rankings today and surprisingly the Yankees still made the top 10:
10. New York Yankees

I might be jumping the gun here, but I see a lot of star potential on their bottom few affiliates, including new acquisition Jose Campos from Seattle, to go with the two power arms from their Scranton club (Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances). The flaw in the system is the lack of near-in talent, especially position players, who could either help the big club soon or provide more fodder for trades.
The Padres (1), Rays (2) and Jays (3) top the list. For more, read the entire article here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Yanks Sign Bill Hall to Minor League Deal!/BillHall_III/status/166986219681624064
He also posted this pic via instragram:

Yanks In "Serious" Talks With Ibanez!/Ken_Rosenthal/status/166675021002063874
Buster Olney also reported yesterday that the Yankees could sign Ibanez--or Matsui or Damon--this week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The New York Giants Are Super Bowl Champs!

What an incredible run by the GMen capped off once again by beating Tom Brady and the Patriots. At 7-7, following that ugly loss to the Redskins, who would have thought they could do something like this. UnbELIevable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bill Hall, and the (Not So) Super-Utility Bargain Bin

This post is syndicated from The Yankee Analysts.

With the hot stove dwindling just below a simmer, yesterday saw Ken Rosenthal "break" a story with respect to the Yankees' interest in ... Bill Hall. This is indicative of, at the very least, Cashman's continued interest in having a veteran presence to spell Alex Rodriguez. A more optimistic and/or pessimistic view may be that the team is looking to send Eduardo Nunez packing - be it to Scranton to work on his ability to be the shortstop of the future, or to another team ... with the reader determining which version is the better-case scenario. Regardless of your preference, it seems unlikely that the team will do anything other than supplement their bench with such a signing. While none of this is particularly exciting, perusing the list of remaining free agent infielders should be a bit more than an exercise in futility ... so, there's that.

Bill Hall

The method to this madness, Hall "batted" .211/.261/.314, good for a 55 wRC+ and -1.6 fWAR, for the Astros and Giants in 2011 on the heels of a solid 2010 with the Red Sox (.247/.316/.456, 107 wRC+). His defensive metrics range from passable to horrific, albeit in small sample sizes at every position but catcher, with 3B being his best position ... and one that he did not play in 2011. At 32, he's a relatively known commodity, in that he's consistently inconsistent. His ability to man the outfield in a pinch does add some value.

Mark Teixeira = Jason Giambi ?

Soon after Mark Teixeira signed that huge 8-year, $180 million deal back in 2008, I stumbled across an interesting comparison, talking about how Tex could go down the same path as Jason Giambi, who had just finished his 7-year deal with the Bombers.

When I first heard this, I couldn't help but laugh. Giambi was a steroid-user, DL prone for a good part of his contract, and couldn't play first base for his life. Teixeira was arguably the best switch hitter in baseball, and arguably the best first basemen defensively in the league. Teix was a shoe in to dominate and hit .300 every season, and become the new face of the Yankees for years to come.

Or so I thought.

After a terrific 2009 season in which he batted .292 with 39 homers and 122 RBI, Teix's average dropped 36 points the following year, and another 13 in 2011 where he batted .243. Sound familiar?

In Giambi's first year in pinstripes, he batted .314, but out of the blue batted .250 in 2003, and played in only 80 games in 2004, where he batted .208. The final four seasons - .271, .253, .235, .247. Mediocre, and certainly not worth the $120 million George Steinbrenner was paying him. The home runs and RBI were still there, but when he wasn't driving in runs he was striking out, popping out weakly, or killing rallies.

Unfortunately it's not unlikely to say that's what Teixeira will do in his final 5 years of his deal. A promising young star when he signed, Tex is now 31 and this is when he should be putting up his best numbers, not his worst. There's still a chance he could turn it around, but to me, the only way for that to happen is for Teixeira to stop hitting left-handed. 

Teixeira is still a career .304 hitter from the right side, but .271 from the left. As is the case with most switch hitters, Mark has much more power from the left (227 home runs) than the right (86 home runs). But making him a solely right-handed batter would be huge as far as the overall production the Yankees would get out of Mark .

Sure, Tex's power would drop, but 25 home runs is still likely. What should be guaranteed is a return to hitting for average and a huge increase in OBP. More doubles, more RBI. You name it. Making Tex a right-handed batter would show incredible improvement and a return to form of the guy the Yankees signed him to be.

However, the likelihood of this happening is not good at all, and it's likely Tex will continue to switch hit and decline. The fans still have his back, as do I, but another year of batting .250 and not hitting in the clutch will make them think back to the days of gold thongs, the 'Stache, and seasons of Yankee playoff failure.

Tex to start bunting?

From Peter Botte:
No one should expect Mark Teixeira to become a $180 million bunter this season, but the Yankee first baseman admits he’s finally ready to give in to his frustrations over declining numbers the past few years.

The switch-hitter batted a career-worst .224 from the left side of the plate in 2011, often pulling the ball into the pronounced shift most opposing teams employ against him.

And he’s ready to try something drastic.

“When no one’s on base, if they’re playing a big shift, I might lay down some bunts this year,” Teixeira said before he was among the honorees at Tuesday night’s Thurman Munson dinner in Midtown. “I’ve been so against it my entire career. But I might lay down a few bunts. If I can beat the shift that way, that’s important.”


He believes an occasional bunt and an increased concentration on driving the ball to the opposite field will keep opposing teams honest and bring those numbers back closer to his career levels.

“That right-field porch is so enticing at Yankee Stadium, and I’m not going to complain about the 39 homers, but obviously I’d love to bring my average up and it’s very simple: lefthanded singles,” said Teixeira, who claimed he hasn’t dropped a bunt in a game since his freshman year of high school. “One hit a week really adds up.”
I never understood why lefties who face that kind of a shift don't bunt more often and I'm very happy to hear that Tex is open to it. If teams are going to give you a free single, take the single, every time.

Jeter's Advice To Eli Paid Off

From Dan Graziano:
During his rookie season, while he was in the midst of losing his first six games as the New York Giants' starting quarterback, Eli Manning got an unexpected phone call. It was from Derek Jeter, the star shortstop of the New York Yankees, and he had a simple message for Manning, who remembers it to this day.

"It was kind of right after I'd become the starter and had a couple of tough games," Manning said. "He just told me, 'Keep your head up, keep doing what you're doing and it'll get better.'"

This was 2004. Jeter was an established New York superstar, owner of four World Series rings and on a Hall of Fame path. The phone call mattered because Jeter was someone Manning had been studying carefully.

"Derek's a guy, from the time I first came here, that I definitely have paid a lot of attention to," Manning said last week after a Giants practice. "He's a great player, but he's also a guy who really shows you what you have to do to succeed in a place like New York. The way he's handled himself on the field, off the field. The way he's dealt with all of the attention without letting it affect the way he does his job. He's done that better than anybody."


"Playing in this market, you learn quickly that you've got to be immune to the distractions," Manning said. "And watching Derek and seeing how he's kept his private life private and managed to keep the focus on the field and on the job he has to do, that's a big help for someone like me. That's what you've got to do, and he's the ultimate example."


"Eli is Eli," said Justin Tuck, Giants defensive end and admitted Yankees fan. "If you want to make the comparison, he's more Jeter than he is Peyton. I'll give you that. But he's Eli. He's himself. He doesn't need to be compared to anyone."

But the comparison to Jeter as a clutch player and an even-keeled star is a worthy one, and it seems to please Manning and Jeter, who share a mutual respect.

"I've always appreciated the way Eli has carried himself, not only on the football field but more importantly away from it," Jeter wrote in an email through the Yankees' media relations department. "He certainly seems to me to have the perfect demeanor to handle the spotlight that comes with playing in New York. He's already had a great deal of success in his career, and I don't see any reason that won't continue for a long, long time to come."
It's these little things that we rarely hear about that truly makes Jeter Jeter. Well done, Captain.... oh, and go Big Blue!