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
  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    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

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

      • MannyGeee

        spelled incorrectly? DOUBLE CHECK

        • Austin Aunelowitzky

          Thanks for reminding me it’s an F, You.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            ISWYDT

      • Laz

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

        • Mattinglyfan03

          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

      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.

      • jjyank

        Well I’m not sure how much we can count the prospect end of things. I’d imagine it would pretty much be a non-prospect or two, maybe a real fringe guy.

        That said, I’m also undecided on whether or not I’d do it.

        • Austin Aunelowitzky

          Dickerson and JR Murphy. Yanks pay $11 million of the contract over two years.

          • jjyank

            I say no to that.

            • Austin Aunelowitzky

              Well, at least you didn’t say my trade proposal sucks. BTW, not only would I say yes, I would throw in you, Dalek and Tilapia.

              • jjyank

                That hurts, man.

                • Austin Aunelowitzky

                  Just wanted to bring you back to earth dreamjob guy. ;)

                  • jjyank

                    Well I gotta watch my back now that I’m the trading block :P

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Do I actually get a player’s salary?

                I lean towards agreeing with you on this one, but not by much.

                • Austin Aunelowitzky

                  “not by much” means fair trade, no?

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t know that Theo will eat all that salary for a non-prospect. I don’t think it’s going to take a top, top prospect, but I do think it will take a prospect or two.

  • Sleepy Brandon

    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?

    • Mike HC

      I think the Yankees basically know what they have in those guys (except maybe in Diaz’s case because of the injury). As fans, we have no idea because we are not watching them in AAA everyday and scouting them their entire careers like the Yanks do.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        They could certainly overachieve, though, and provide something no one is expecting them to do.

        That being said, yeah, I’d like to see what the not-the-farm market offers as far as a platoon partner.

        • Mike HC

          True. Agreed that I prefer adding the bottom feeding veterans rather than playing AAA guys that will still be there anyway.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            How far at the bottom of your bowl were you scraping? Did you find Shelley Duncan there?

            • Mike HC

              ha, no, Shelley Duncan is not even in the bowl. I’m looking at the Hafner, Thome, Luke Scott’s of the world.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I assume Luke Scott is way on the right side of the bowl. *snare*

                • Captain

                  *grins* *adjusts mic*

    • trr

      Budget=wise, they may have to do some version of that

    • hogsmog

      Having Youk and Arod 100% healthy at the same time would be a very good problem to have. I don’t think they’ll be struggling to fit them into the lineup.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This.

  • Mark L

    Ben Francisco? No thanks

  • LarryM., Fl.

    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.

  • Mike HC

    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)

      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

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

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          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?

          • Mike HC

            I think all of them are, but you are right, it is not by much.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Would I take Matt Nokes over Rick Cerone? I might.

        • Havok9120

          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

            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

              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

                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.

                • Havok9120

                  Hmmm.

                  We can add this to the growing list of baseball things I’m on the fence about. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT MIKE HC….

                  All your fault.

                  • Mike HC

                    haha … happy I could help, er, hurt

            • Ted Nelson

              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

                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

            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.

            • Mike HC

              You can trade one for the equivalent of Kontos or something close.

  • Arnav

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

  • Alex H

    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

      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.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    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)

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

      3, 2, 1…….

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ISWYDT

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          I didn’t see him all weekend. Maybe he ran off with Trisha from LoHud.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I very much hope that, when all of you are gone for any amount of time on here, that it is poon-related.

            • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

              You’d think that she’d be really hot to offset some of that craziness, right?

              • Robinson Tilapia

                We’ve been internet-spoiled by Erica, my friend.

                I also did meet my hot wife on the internet, fwiw.

                • MannyGeee

                  Erica has cyber-spoiled us all for sure.

                  I feel the same way about Internet chicks (Erica excluded) that Ted feels about girls from Boston… (NSFW, kinda)

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHXPDMoyN0Q

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    I love me some New England girls, though. One of my best female buddies is cute little blonde Sox fan.

                    Hell, when I was 18, I dated a Harvard girl straight outta the Boston suburbs.

                    • Jim Is Bored

                      I’m currently dating a Boston native, going to school in DC.

                      The Red Sox/Yankees thing isn’t as painful as I thought it’d be, and it’s led to many passionate games of:

                      http://www.amazon.com/MLB-Red-.....B001H900JE

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      How passionate CAN Connect Four be?!?!

              • ABC

                She posted a pic once over there and your answer is a resounding NO! Just as ugly looking to match her personality. Looks like a broken down 65 year old man. EEK!!

            • jjyank

              Heh, I hope so too.

      • Ted Nelson

        That’s it, criticize me for telling people to be rational!

    • Havok9120

      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.

  • Inprobable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

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

  • dalelama

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

    • Robinson Tilapia

      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.

      • Gonzo

        But that team had some really righteous acid man.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Jeff Johnson was in the Yankee rotation for two seasons, yet I cannot tell you I ever remember seeing him in a Yankee uniform. He’s been completely erased from my memory. I also don’t think he pitched anywhere else in the majors other than those two seasons in the rotation.

          • Gonzo

            Too much LSD.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Only did that once. Probably around……1992.

              #explainseverything

              • Gonzo

                You’re the reason Tim Leary had to leave town. He heard you had a bad trip.

                That and a 5+ ERA.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  19 losses one season, IIRC.

                  Next you’ll blame me for Sam Militello’s career ending.

                  Crickets from dalelama, btw. That’s my little troll. *pats on head*

                  • Gonzo

                    I’m just saying you’ve never been in the same room as Jack the Ripper.

      • Jim Is Bored

        I’m surprised he’s actually giving us credit for being better than ’92.

        He’s getting soft.

    • Get Phelps Up

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

      • Jim Is Bored

        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.

  • Blake

    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

      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

        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

          I would be happy with Logan + Flores option.

        • Havok9120

          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

            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

            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

              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

                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.

                • Jim Is Bored

                  2011 at 3.3 fWAR was pretty sweet though, if we thought he had a real shot at posting a 148 wRC+ again.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      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

        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

          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

            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

              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

              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

      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

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

        • Gonzo

          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.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    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

      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

        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.

  • theyankeewarrior

    PRONK.

  • Greg

    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.