Jan
07

The Remaining Offseason Agenda

By

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Thirty-six days from now, pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Tampa. The Yankees still have a number of issues to address before then, though in many cases the solution won’t be determined until just before Opening Day. Take the fifth starter’s spot for example. We already know Ivan Nova and David Phelps will compete for the job in camp, but we won’t know the answer until right before season. The same will be true at a number of other spots, but in those cases the Yankees don’t even have all the possible solutions in place. Here’s a recap of the items left on New York’s agenda before pitchers and catchers show up for work.

1. Find a DH
Raul Ibanez is a Mariner and Lance Berkman is a Ranger. Travis Hafner is still available, as are Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, and Luke Scott. The Yankees are in a weird spot because they need (not want) to use their DH spot to rest some of their older players. A true DH-only guy like Hafner or Thome is fine, but finding someone who could actually step in to play a position would be ideal. We all laughed at the idea of Ibanez playing the outfield around this time last year, but that ability turned out to be pretty important when Brett Gardner hurt his elbow. The Yankees didn’t sign Ibanez until mid-February last year, but given the offensive hits they’re going to take in right field and behind the plate, they’re going to have to jump on a real bat fairly soon.

2. Find a trade partner for Chris Dickerson
Dickerson was designated for assignment a few days ago, meaning the Yankees have about a week to trade, release, or waive him. Since he’s already cleared waivers and been outrighted to the minors once before (last spring), he can elect free agency if he clears waivers again. I assume he would take advantage of that to look for more opportunity elsewhere, so keeping him around is probably  a pipe dream. Dickerson has value but the Yankees have little leverage since the DFA is forcing their hand. Enough teams need outfield help that they should be able to get something in return, even if it’s a low-level fringe prospect. Remember, the Yankees dumped the recently DFA’d Chase Wright on the Brewers for Eric Fryer in early-2009, then turned around and used Fryer to land Eric Hinske at the deadline. They need to get something in return for Dickerson.

(Andy Lyons/Getty)

3. Keep looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder
The last two weeks have brought Matt Diaz (minor league deal) and Russ Canzler (waiver claim) to the organization to compete with the Melky Mesas and Ronnie Musteliers of the world in camp. Since signing Scott Hairston to a multi-year contract is unlikely — I won’t lose any sleep over that one, Hairston’s gotten really overrated really quickly — the Yankees should bring in as many right-handed bats as possible to compete for that platoon bat role. The more options, the merrier. One of them might actually have a unexpectedly productive season and prove worthwhile.

4. Add a bench bat
The backup catcher and right-handed hitting outfielder will occupy two of the four bench spots, and the third will go to a backup infielder. Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, and even Gil Velazquez are in the running for that job. The last bench spot is flexible in theory, meaning the Yankees could go with another infielder or another outfielder. Someone who could do both would be pretty neat, but those guys aren’t easy to find. The one thing this player has to be able to do is hit. There should be a lot of pinch-hitting next season, especially for the catchers, and the Yankees will need someone who can come off the bench and be dangerous. It’s tough to be productive as a pinch-hitter — MLB pinch-hitters hit .224/.304/.344 last season — but finding someone who can do it will be important. The Yankees almost need to act like an NL team and prioritize a pinch-hitter.

5. Keep tabs on Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera & CC Sabathia
Jeter (ankle), Rivera (knee), and Sabathia (elbow) are all coming off surgery, and although all three are reportedly progressing well with their rehabs and are on track for Opening Day, the Yankees must still keep a close eye on them and act swiftly if a setback occurs. This should probably be number one on this little list, but it’s not exactly something they could cross off. It’s a continuous item that needs constant monitoring. These are three guys they couldn’t replace with a minor league signing, it would require immediate action.

Categories : Hot Stove League

102 Comments»

  1. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    I guess I’d go Hafner at DH and try and catch lightening in a bottle with the short porch though I’d prefer a righty DH who can also play some outfield given how left handed they are out there.

    Slim pickins’ at this point in Free agency.

    • Austin Aunelowitzky says:

      Alphonso Soriano (if the dollars and trade chip are appropriate.). OF…check. Good enough bat to DH … Check. RH pinch hitter … Check.

      • MannyGeee says:

        spelled incorrectly? DOUBLE CHECK

      • Laz says:

        Cubs aren’t going to dump him for free. Yankees will be paying salary or giving up a decent prospect.

        • Mattinglyfan03 says:

          Are you kidding me? He’s got two bum knees on an NL so they can’t hide him at DH, on a team that’s going to be near the bottom for the foreseeable future and his contract pays him $18 million guaranteed in each of the next two seasons plus he’s got a full no-trade clause. A full fledged salary dump is Epstein’s only option and he’d jump at the chance. But it’s a moot point since no team, especially not the Yankees, is going to pick him up at $18 million/season.

    • Havok9120 says:

      From the FA, virtually non-fielding, guys off that list, I’d probably just go with the cheapest of them so if we have to cut bait when ARod comes back or something at least we don’t lose much.

      I go back and forth on Soriano. I used to really like the guy, but….paying prospects and money? And THEN having him bust? That would suck. That the guy is signed into 2014 makes it significantly worse. I wouldn’t do it.

      Ask me tomorrow and maybe I’ll have changed my mind again.

  2. Sleepy Brandon says:

    I’d like to see Melky Mesa, Mustelier, and Diaz get a shot at back up OF/DH spots until ARod comes back. Might as well see what they have in those three.

    Once ARod comes back he/youk will split 3b and DH?

  3. Mark L says:

    Ben Francisco? No thanks

  4. LarryM., Fl. says:

    Not very uplifting article but there is some time to make changes and trades. I have to constantly remind myself that the game is not played on paper but between the lines by real players. Anything can happen and just maybe it will with father time forgetting there is a team in the Bronx. With good fortune shining down upon all those one year contracts with Cashman looking as a genius along with his stat staff.

    Oh, I know this is not the confidence poll. But, 6 is my sense of things. Just mentioning Giambi as a DH candidate with flashbacks of his last year at the plate and at first its not a pretty thought.

  5. Mike HC says:

    I still think adding a catcher should be on the list, even though Cashman insists they are going with what they have.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      I don’t think there are any viable options at catcher at this point unless they’re gonna give up some major asset or assets in a trade.

      • Mike HC says:

        Kelly Shoppach, Chris Synder, Yorvit Torrealba, Rod Barajas … somebody, anybody!

        • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

          I agree the catching situation is as pathetic as it’s been since the early 90s but are any of those guys really better than Cervelli and Stewart though?

        • Havok9120 says:

          I think at that point we may as well just stick with Cervelli/Stewart. Getting one of those guys might make me feel better just to enjoy seeing the team bust some kind of move but I don’t think it would really improve on what we’ve got.

          • Mike HC says:

            I’m not a fan of Stewart at all. I would sign one of those veterans, have Cervelli as the back up, and hope Romine is ready to join the Major League team by the second half of the season.

            • Havok9120 says:

              Yeah, I don’t like Stewart either. I’d prefer to see Cervelli as the primary over even Shopp (who I like the most off that list), and I don’t see enough benefit in any of those guys > Stewart when we’re talking about the backup catcher. It’s more me not caring than it is me disagreeing with you at that point.

              • Mike HC says:

                The benefit will not be huge, but the price to get one of them also won’t be huge. Yanks are basically looking at adding fringe “wins” at this point anyway and the AL East race is going to be tight again most likely. I truly think adding one of these veteran catchers could pay off.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              There’s a decent chance they add someone like that on a minor league deal. Those sorts of deals are usually fairly last minute. There’s still a good amount of him in the off-season: at this point last year they hadn’t signed Kuroda, Pettitte, or Ibanez, nor had the Pineda trade happened.

              As I remember Stewart graded out very well as a pitch framer. While a lot of fans seem to want to disregard that as a skill because its not something they’re comfortable with, I’d like to see how it plays out. It’s not just the Yankees who are high on it: everyone’s favorite front offices, the Rays and Jays, also signed Jose Molina.

              • Mike HC says:

                I value good pitch framing and have done so long before that newish study came out trying to quantify it. When I first heard about it last year, I thought it was a great advancement. You are right that Stewart is a good defensive catcher, but I think he is so atrocious on offense and is already in his prime, possibly moving past it, I am just not a fan, personally. He is fine a back up though, I would just prefer going the route of one of the veterans. And I like Cervelli slightly more than Stewart.

                And agreed there is plenty of time to grab one of those catchers.

                As an aside, at the time the study first came out, since it is basically a measure of how good a catcher can fool the ump, will the umps start making adjustments once this stuff becomes common knowledge? Start having biases against guys who have proven to consistently trick the umps? Maybe not though, just a thought.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            It also doesn’t do much for depth, which would have been my reasoning, if you have to place Cervelli or Stewart on waivers as a result. You can’t just keep one stashed caddying the lettuce in AAA.

  6. Arnav says:

    What about the arb procedures?
    Have they signed every arb-eligible guy?

  7. Alex H says:

    The Yankees should really go after a good DH and use him like they used Ibanez last season. If they get Hafner or Thome then they really don’t have any defensive ability and would only be in the DH spot if they played. I think going after someone like Jason Kubel would be a good idea to have some defensive depth on the bench if needed. Although, if they wanted Kubel they would need to trade for him.

    • mitch says:

      I don’t buy the idea that the DH has to have a position. Sure, Ibanez stepped in played outfield last year. He was also terrible in the field. Plus, one of the main reasons he had to play so many innings in the field is that the other DH/OF, Andruw Jones, was not good.

      If they replace Jones with a 4th outfielder who can actually play, there’s definitely room on the roster for DH-only…especially if that last roster spot goes to a guy like Nix who can play OF as well.

  8. Cris Pengiucci says:

    they need (not want) to use their DH spot to rest some of their older players

    I think this slightly less important for at least the first half of the season. Yes, flexibility (positionally) from the primary DH is a good thing, but I don’t believe it will be quite as important as last year. If you expect to sign a right-handed hitting OF, then the DH could be a true DH. It seems that A-Rod won’t be back at all in the first half of the season. If he’s able to come back during the second half, he’ll need plenty of time off. As we seemed to have seen during the playoffs last year, he may not be productive upon his return even at DH.

    I suspect that Jeter gets maybe 1 or 2 games/seek at DH and Ichiro also gets an occasional game. Should A-Rod come back and actually be healthy, this changes. I’m just not convinced he’ll be at all productive this season as of now.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      “It seems that A-Rod won’t be back at all in the first half of the season.”

      3, 2, 1…….

    • Havok9120 says:

      From what I’ve read, Mike has been thinking of Jeter sucking up a ton of DH time early on and Ichiro getting quite a bit as well if scheduling permits. As in, more than most of us seem to be thinking. Given Jeter’s age and injury, I can see him sucking up enough DH time that we’ll need that extra flexibility to avoid having the DH play 3 games a week.

      That said, I’m very up in the air on having a pure DH on the roster. If we’re going to have both Nunez and Nix on the roster (and I really can see the need for both) then having both the right-handed 4th OF AND the DH which can fake a position or 3 seems necessary.

  9. Inprobable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

    So basically, the remaining offseason agenda is the same as the old offseason agenda minus the 3b hole and the right fielder hole.

  10. dalelama says:

    This is a really weak squad…probably the weakest since ’92.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m not even going to get mad at this. I’m just going to list the following starting rotation:

      Melido Perez
      Tim Leary
      Scott Sanderson
      Scott Kamienicki
      A fifth starter soup consisting of Greg Cadaret, Shawn Hillegas, Jeff Johnson (one of my favorite Yankee footnotes), a svelte Bob Wickman, Curt Young, and a prepubescent Sterling Hitchcock.

      The bullpen wasn’t half-bad, actually.

      Lineup was your classic early 90′s stuff, with at least Bernie starting to show up in the lineup.

      Now I’ll walk away and let that speak for itself compared to what the Yankees are putting out on the field this season, even if the season started today, which it doesn’t.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      This is a really weak troll post…probably the weakest since your last post.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        I like to imagine that he takes all of our critiques seriously in an effort to improve the quality of his trolling.

        Even dalelama is allowed an off-post once in a while.

  11. Blake says:

    Morse solves both the DH and RH outfielder spots ….of course Laroche had to sign with Washjngton first before that’s an option but assuming he does…..Cash should try hard for Upton….,then try for Morse if that doesn’t work…..then look at the rest if that doesn’t work.

    2013 is a window for the Yanks to try for another title…..before they cut payroll and before a lot of guys either leave or retire…..they need to go for it if they can within reason as this may be their best shot at a title for a few years

    • Gonzo says:

      I really like the Morse option, but I have no clue what he would cost in a trade. There are widely varying opinions on that.

      • blake says:

        I think it depends on who else gets involved…..but when you think about who might be interested in him….I don’t think the list is as long as it may seem and a couple of the suitors are in the same division as the Nats….and the Orioles are in the same TV market.

        The Rangers could be a fit but they just signed Berkman…..The Mariners could be a fit but how much would they give up for a rental DH/bad defender when they have already dealt for Morales…..the Red Sox would be a fit if the Napoli deal goes through…..etc….

        I think Nova straight up might be fair or something like what Mike has suggested I think (Logan and Flores).

        • Gonzo says:

          I would be happy with Logan + Flores option.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Oooof. Am I totally crazy for thinking Nova is too much to give up when the lynchpin of the budget strategy seems to be having a cheap rotation? I mean, I also think you’d be selling incredibly low, but Nova seems more useful to us even if his ceiling is a 4 just because of the budget.

          • blake says:

            depends on what you think Nova is…..if you think he’s got 3 upside and could get significantly better then sure it’s giving too much and that’s a fine opinion.

            I’m just not sure that’s what he is…..if he’s a back end guy or worse like he pitched last year then those guys are rather easy to find…..

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I totally agree. Morse is signed for one year and is unusable in the OF. I moved to DC this summer, and you don’t want that guy in your OF. $189 mill aside I would still not give up 4 years of Nova for one year of Morse.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              Meh, we lived with Raul in the outfield. He’s bad, and I wouldn’t trade Nova straight up for him, but I do think his bat would outweigh his negative defense.

              Just not enough to justify the cost.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Yeah, if he were coming for free I wouldn’t object.

                Historically fangraphs doesn’t have the offense much outweighing the defense. Last year he was worth 0.3 fWAR. He was worth 0.6 bWAR.

                I think he’s an interesting option, but I just feel like some people are overrating him.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m not mortgaging the team’s ability to put quality younger players on the field the next 3-5 seasons for a couple of extra guys who, albeit potentially being very good players, still don’t guarantee anything. You can only go so much “all in” all in here.

      • blake says:

        Who said to do that? Justin Upton isn’t an “extra guy”…and.Morse likely wouldn’t really mortgage the future to acquire and if he did you wouldn’t do it.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Reacting more to Upton than Morse, who I still think would cost too much.

          Actually, re-reading what you wrote, my reaction was more to your second paragraph.

          • blake says:

            the 2nd paragraph is just an opinion because I do think 2013 may be their best shot at a title for a few years…..they are going to lop around 30-40 million dollars off the payroll if they mean to get under this cap…..and we don’t know if Cano, Granderson, Hughes, Kuroda, Pettite, Rivera…and of these guys will be back. Jeter will be 40, Arod will be who knows what…..Tex will be a year older. I mean it just kinda seems like the time is now to me……

            Re: Upton….I wouldn’t wipe out the system to get him either…..but if I could take 2 of the top 4 guys and add maybe a Nova to them to get him….then I would. He’s 25 years old with an AAV around 8 million…..he’s a long term solution in addition to a short term fix.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              I’ll put it to you this way. I think this team is good and has the veteran leadership to tough it out to the post-season.

              I don’t look at this team, even with those final seasons from Mariano and Andy, and cry out “now or never,” especially when I see the need to fill multiple positions these next few years. I’m less inclined to make that full court press in 2013 and more inclined to allow this current mix (with, yes, some needed extras) to tough their way there, which I believe they certainly could.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Trading for a one year rental like Morse helps make it sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll have the same or more holes to fill going forward, and one or more fewer options to fill them.

              Those are also two fairly inconsistent guys (Upton and Morse).

    • Jersey Joe says:

      It makes too much sense for Nationals to keep Morse. It means they don’t need to sign LaRoche, they get a draft pick next year, and Morse is a good fit at 1B. No reason to trade him, though the argument could be made that they need a lefty bat – only Span and Harper in the lineup.

      However, if they do sign LaRoche, then I hope Boone Logan and JR Murphy can get the deal done. Boone Logan seems like a good fit for them, I just don’t know who the second player would be. Both Logan and Morse had great 2011, but took a step backward in 2012.

      • Blake says:

        Laroche is a lot better defensively at 1B and they want him to balance out their lineup lefty/righty…..

        • Gonzo says:

          The defense is big for them as Ryan Z’s range is superb but his throws are getting a little erratic. He just had shoulder surgery this offseason too.

  12. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    Arod had a positive split as a DH vs 3B. If Youk is serviceable, letting Arod DH and have him spell Youk 1/day a week w/Nunie playing SS that day and Jeter DH or have Jeter take the day off could be a great way to go.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I probably still want his defense out there most days to help make up some of the ground lost at SS when Jeter is playing.

      The Jeter/Youk left side of the IF is going to be….bad. Very, very bad.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        A healthy Youk was a fine 3B in boston. It’s not certain how healthy he was in Chicago, and I’m not sure we are privy to any information showing us how healthy he’ll be in NY.

        Definitely fair to think he’ll be pretty stiff, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee.

  13. theyankeewarrior says:

    PRONK.

  14. Greg says:

    point everyone is missing is that we’re basically at budget ($210M) for 2013 – not 2014. Which means we really don’t have much more money to spend this winter unless we trade someone (Grandy?). Assuming not, then it’s going to be guys getting the minimum to fill out the last spots on the roster – Nix, Nunez, 2 catchers, 2 OF’s who can also DH. The point which no one is talking about is because we have so much money tied up in only a few guys, the last 20% of the active roster has to be made up of guys earning almost no money.

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