The Yanks’ recent history of January & February transactions

Joakim Soria and the Yankees
Mailbag: From Double-A to MLB
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The holidays are always a slow time for baseball news, and this year is no different. The Yankees haven’t done anything significant this offseason beyond agreeing to a deal with Pedro Feliciano, so any further improvements to the team will have to take place after the New Year. I decided to take a look back at the moves the team has made in January and February of the last five years just to get an idea of what we can expect over the next few weeks, and unsurprisingly, it’s nothing excited. Let’s recap…

January: Signed Royce Ring, traded Mitch Hilligoss for Greg Golson.
February: Signed Marcus Thames, Dustin Moseley, and Chan Ho Park.

Ring didn’t contribute much to the Yankees since he spent basically all season in Triple-A Scranton, but Golson played quite a bit in September as a pinch runner and defensive specialist. He even made the postseason roster. Thames, Moseley, and CHoP all spent a lot of time with the big league team, though Thames was the only one to have a positive impact. Park was the only one of the three on a big league contract, but he had a case of homeritis before being cut at the trade deadline. Moseley was below replacement level filling in for Andy Pettitte.

January: Signed Pettitte and Angel Berroa, finalized deal with Mark Teixeira.
February: Signed Brett Tomko.

Tex agreed to his deal a few days before Christmas, but it wasn’t made official until after the holidays. The same will be true of Feliciano this winter. Berroa was a minor league signing that ended up spending some time with the big league team after both Alex Rodriguez and (shudder) Cody Ransom hit the disabled list. Tomko was another minor league deal that was sub-replacement level in a handful of appearances for the Yanks before being jettisoned.

Pettitte was coming off a terrible second half in 2008 and was doing the retire or not retire thing all winter, then the Yankees played hardball with him salary-wise. I suspect we’ll get some resolution as to Pettitte’s status for next season during January, one way or the other.

January: Signed Billy Traber and Morgan Ensberg.
February: No significant moves.

Blah. Both Traber and Ensberg were signed to minor league contracts yet opened the season on the 25-man roster, but both guys were terrible and banished to the minors and released before the All Star break, respectively. It’s worth noting that the Yanks did sign both Al Aceves and Manny Banuelos in February, but those were long-term moves not necessarily designed to impact the 2008 team.

January: Signed Doug Mientkiewicz and Miguel Cairo. Traded Randy Johnson and $2M to Arizona for Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Alberto Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson.
February: Signed Ron Villone.

Minky! (AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

Finally, something interesting. Minky was better with the Yankees than people remember, posting a .346 wOBA with studly defense at first. Cairo and Villone stunk, and the writing had been on the wall about an RJ trade for weeks by time it was consummated. Vizcaino was the team’s best middle reliever that year, at least until Joba Chamberlain showed up in August, and Rock ‘n Rohlendorf was actually on the postseason roster that season. Gonzalez did little in his brief time in New York, Jackson even less. The trade did save the Yankees $14M, money they eventually gave to Roger Clemens when they signed him at midseason.

February: Signed Bernie Williams, Octavio Dotel, Miguel Cairo, and Al Leiter. Finalized deal with Johnny Damon.
February: Claimed Darrell Rasner off waivers from Washington. Signed Scott Erickson.

Bernie’s deal was just a formality since we all knew he was coming back, and Damon’s contract was made official after being agreed to in December. Dotel was on a minor league rehab deal as he came back from Tommy John surgery, but his contribution to the Yankee cause later that season was minimal. Cairo and Leiter were forgettable, as was Erickson. Rasner proved useful for a few seasons before heading to Japan, though he was never anything special. Just a nice arm to take a beating whenever the team needed it.

* * *

For the most part, every move made in January and February over the last five seasons has involved complementary pieces or minor league filler, not counting Damon and Tex. Pettitte should get resolved next month like I said, and based on recent history, any moves the Yankees make before Spring Training will be rather insignificant. They’ll probably bring in a starting pitcher, but we all know it’s unlikely to be some kind of high-end arm. Count on it being an innings guy for depth. With any luck, he’ll be better than Rasner.

Joakim Soria and the Yankees
Mailbag: From Double-A to MLB
  • johnny

    Hey Mike,

    I dont know if you already did a focus piece on him but what are your thoughts on Jeff Francis? He seems like a pettitte-lite option for us if we ran out CC, hughes, AJ, Francis, Nova or even better CC, hughes, pettitte, AJ, Francis I would be very pleased

    • Mike Axisa

      He’s the best of a bad lot, but that’s the moral of the January/February transactions story.

    • pat

      Every f*cking day someone is asking for a Jess Francis piece. Wtf?

      • johnny

        WTF? I’m sorry did I miss the part where we addressed our starting pitching problem?

        • pat

          I must have missed the part where this was a post about Jeff Francis.

          • johnny

            I wasnt trying to make it ABOUT jeff francis, I asked mike if he had already had or was planning to do a piece on jeff francis as a potential future signing.

        • Joe Pawlikowski

          No, but you did miss the part about being on-topic.

          • johnny

            “hot stove league” section seems to be the place to ask such questions. Since he seemed to be addressing past signing in jan/feb it made sense to ask mike for his option on jeff francis as a future jan/feb signing. I am failing to see where my question was off-topic…it being in hot stove league and all….

            • Joe Pawlikowski

              No, email — all of our addresses are listed on the side — or the tip box, which is also listed on the side, are appropriate places for questions like this.

  • first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21)

    If we’re talking about Greg Golson I feel compelled to mention “The Throw to Third” and “The Trap that was Really a Catch”. Those two moments alone were worth Mitch Hilligoss.

    • Reggie C.

      Golson’s throw remains the best throw from any Yankee outfielder in the past couple years.

  • tomaconda

    January: Traded Montero, Brackman, Adams, Betances, and Sanchez to the Dodgers for Kershaw and Billingsly
    February: Signed Raphael Soriano, and Andruw Jones.


    • Reggie C.



      • Mattchu12


      • tomaconda



  • Mike Myers

    Jan/Feb 2011?
    Resign Pavano and Farnsworth? Trade Igawa for a bag of coors field baseballs?

  • Matt Imbrogno

    Billy Traber. Wow. I thought I erased that name from my memory. Ugh.

  • tomaconda

    Andy would be a nice January signing.

  • JMA

    Resign Pavano and forget Farnsworth. I like Golson but he needs to get more abs. I really liked Colin Curtis in his brief call up last year.

  • DSFC

    Villone didn’t stink until he was Torre’d. He pitched very well for them all year in moderate usage, and then Torre started to proctorize him, putting him into 17 games in August. He struggled in August and then the bottom fell out in September. Joe Torre remains the worst bullpen manager I’ve ever seen.

    • Mike Axisa

      That was 2006 though, not 2007.

  • Baltimore Yankee

    I didn’t really watch Golson. Is he really that good? I thought he was a 220 BA singles hitter….

    Jan / Feb 2011
    Don’t resign Petitte.

  • http://RiverCityBluesviamlbtraderumors Jeff Trumpet

    The problem with Carl Pavano is the minute you give him a multiyear contract, he becomes Mike Hampton. It wasn’t that he pitched poorly for the Yankees his first go-around…he just didn’t pitch. But for a Jon Garland-like 1-year, $5MM deal, I would love to have him back. But someone like the Nationals or the Orioles will give him a multi-year deal, so it probably won’t happen.

    Any FA coming off of injury concerns me. I would be leery about relying a Jeff Francis or a Brandon Webb. Recent history suggests those pitchers don’t usually come back to success right away. Instead, I would be looki.g for duability and ability to throw strikes. Who is still available who fits this category?

  • http://RiverCityBluesviamlbtraderumors Jeff Trumpet

    More importantly…I would like to know what Larry Rohchild intends to do to fix Joba Chamberlain? Two years ago, this guy threw 100 miles per hour with a high 90s slider that was not only unhittable, but hitters couldn’t resist swinging at it. Now he throws 92-94 and it’s pin straight. Is he injured? Or is it mechanics? This is the biggest question mark for the Yankees right now. If Joba can get back to to “pre-5th starter” Joba, we can have a monster pen. If he is the guy we’ve seen the last year and a half, we probably need to consider trading him.