Who’s the biggest tool on the Yanks?

Baseball America has just released its ever-popular Best Tools list, and while the entire lists are for subscribers only, we’ve got the Yankees and where they fall:

  • As expected, A-Rod pops up the most: He’s been voted the AL’s best hitter and second best power hitter. He’s also got the third best infield arm, according to the folks who participated in the pool.
  • Bobby Abreu earned himself the second best strike zone judgment award, sitting just behind Kevin Youkilis.
  • Derek Jeter is the AL’s third best hit-and-run artist and the third-best defensive short stop. Make of that what you will.
  • Robinson Cano is the league’s third best defensive second baseman.
  • Jose Molina was voted the third best defensive catcher, falling one spot behind current Yankee Ivan Rodriguez.
  • Joba Chamberlain has the AL’s third best fastball, behind the Mariners’ Brandon Morrow and the Tigers’ Joel Zumaya.
  • Mike Mussina’s control is third-best in the junior circuit.
  • Andy Pettitte still has the league’s best pick-off move.
  • And finally, Mariano Rivera is the league’s best reliever. Bet you never saw that one coming.

The Yankees clearly have the tools, according to those who play and watch the games. Too bad they don’t yet have the wins to go along with it.

Open Thread: To re-sign or not to re-sign?

So we’ve got a game at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. Let’s while away the hours debating the 2009 Yankees. And as an added bonus, we’ve even got a rare RAB poll.

When the season draws to a close in a few months and the Yanks’ Front Office begins the process of reconstructing a roster for 2009, the folks in Baseball Ops will have a few decisions to make. Two of the tougher choices facing the Yanks this year will come internally and involve two of their more productive but older players: Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi.

In one corner, we have Abreu, the Yanks’ right fielder. On the season, Abreu is hitting .291/.363/.474 with 15 home runs and a team-leading 76 RBIs. While still good, his triple-slash numbers are well off from his career norms of .300/.400/.500, and at 34, Abreu is definitely past his offensive prime. In the outfield, his defense is merely okay. He has a stellar arm, but throwing accuracy has always been an issue for him. He isn’t the quickest guy in right, and his range has never been a plus baseball trait.

For the Yanks, Abreu represents a dilemma. Bobby wants to stick around, and he would be a good guy for the Yanks’ outfield. There is, however, a but. Right now, the Yanks are waiting for Austin Jackson to land in the Bronx. With an ETA of 2010, the Yanks don’t really need to sign an aging and declining player like Abreu to a deal longer than one or two years. Abreu will probably want a three- or four-year deal monetarily in line with what Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon have.

Meanwhile, the Yanks should have a glut of outfielders next year. For better or worse, Melky will probably still be around; Damon and Matsui — who should be healthy — are under contract; and Xavier Nady will play a role on the 2009 Yankees as well. Does Bobby Abreu fit in or do the Yanks say, “Thanks, but we’d rather have the draft picks”?

In the other corner, we have Jason Giambi. His situation is a bit more delicate. Similar to Abreu, Giambi has expressed a desire to stay in New York, and the Yankees are holding a $20-million option or a $5-million buyout on the Giambino’s deal. On the season, Jason is hitting .256/.391/.518 with 22 HR and 65 RBI. He seems to run hot and cold, and while he had a great series in Texas, he had been scuffling of late.

The Giambi decision is a bit more nuanced than the Abreu situation. First up is the option that the Yanks won’t pick up. If the Yanks cut Giambi and he signs somewhere else, the team will have, in effect, paid him $5 million to play against them, and the Yanks have never been too keen on that approach. Next up is age. Giambi, while healthy this year, will play his age 38 season in 2009 and doesn’t figure to be around for too long. The Yanks need to get younger, and they need a first baseman. Mark Teixeira looks awfully appealing.

So what do you do with Jason Giambi? Should the Yanks pay him to play elsewhere? Should they re-sign him to split time at first base and DH again? While Chuck Johnson recently penned a piece for the YES Network’s site calling for the Yanks to dump Giambi, I don’t think there’s an obvious answer to this one. It’s far, far easier to make the case against Abreu than it is to advocate for or against Giambi.

As always with these open threads, play nice in the comments and vote in the poll below. At this point, I’m voting for Jason Giambi but not Abreu. Number 53 still has a chance to change my mind though.

Which potential free agents should the Yanks try to re-sign for 2009 and beyond?
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Vote on retiring O’Neill’s 21

For days and days and days, we’ve debated the LaTroy Hawkins Number Fiasco. It seems clear to me that Yankee fan opinion is firmly divided on the fate of Paul O’Neill’s 21. So submitted for your approval — and since we haven’t done one of these in a while — a poll. Play nicely with each other in the comments if you wish to continue the debate.

Should the Yankees retire Paul O'Neill's number 21?
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The RAB Opening Day PS3 MLB ’08 The Show giveaway contest

What would Opening Day be without a giveaway contest? Nothing. So here at RAB, we’re presenting the Opening Day PS3 MLB’08 The Show Giveaway Contest. And this time, we’ll run a tighter ship than we did with the photo caption contest last year.

The Prize: Copies of MLB ’08 The Show for PlayStation 3. Even if you don’t have a PS3, enter for the fun of it.

The Contest: Predict the New York Yankee firsts for the 2008 season. In the comments to this post, enter by taking your best guess at who will record following firsts for the Yankee season:

Hit (and what you think that hit will be)
Run
RBI
Extra-Base Hit
Stolen Base
Home Run
Strike Out
Walk
Error

Winning Pitcher
Save
Losing Pitcher

The Fine Print: Each answer is worth one point, and the top three finishers will each win a prize. In the event of a tie, we have up to five copies of the video game to award. In order to be eligible to win this contest, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the e-mail field on the comment submission form. One entry per person please. This contest is open until 1:05 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, March 31, 2008.

An off-season poll

You know the drill, folks. Vote, and we’ll listen to you. I think I know what’s going to win though.

For the rest of the off-season, what topic should we avoid writing about until something newsworthy actually happens?
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Poll: The Johan Near Deal

We’ve gotten tons and tons of comments and email about this whole Johan Santana situation. Some were for the deal and some weren’t, but the sheer volume of input from you guys (which we love getting and truly appreciate, by the way) makes it difficult to get a sense of how Yankee Universe really feels about this mess. So take a second and vote in the poll below, and as always, feel free to add your two cents in the comments.

How do you feel about the Johan Santana near deal?
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Announcing the caption contest winners

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Time to announce the winners of the fan-on-the-field caption contest. So without further ado:

The winner with 48 votes is Mike R.: Just one more unfunny moment in the career of Dane Cook

In second place with 32 votes is Yankee Fan in Chicago: I don’t have no friggin laptops!

In third place with 29 votes is usty: “Oh no, grass stains on my new khakis! Mom’s gonna kill me!!”

Those three folks win the Yankees World Series DVD collection. Thanks to all who participated.