When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira on Dec. 23, 2008, it was seemingly a stealth move by the organization. While it was clear from media reports that the Nationals, Red Sox and Angels were all interested in landing the Gold Glove first baseman, the Yankees — an obvious destination for Teixeira — had seemed all but uninterested in the switch-hitter.
In an interview with WFAN on Friday, Teixeira revealed why. He had asked teams not to negotiate through the media, and only the Yankees, it seems, were able to honor that request. Said the first baseman:
“I always had the Yankees in my sights, and one thing my agent and I had asked every single team is, we’re not going to negotiate through the media, and we ask you not to. The Yankees were really the only team that did that. The other teams went out and told everybody their offers, told everybody that they talked to me, that they made this call, made that trip. The Yankees kept quiet. We talked all winter. When they were ready to make their final offer, it was a great offer, and my wife and I were excited about going to New York.”
Of the Red Sox, Teixeira was particularly critical. “I think in the end, it probably worked against them a little bit, because everyone thought the Red Sox were my No. 1 choice,” Teixeira said. “The Yankees had a leg up all along.”
It’s really interesting, to me at least, to see Teixeira pursue this line of thinking. With the onset of the Internet and the rise of blogging, free agent deals and trades have lost any sense of secrecy. Beat writers race to get rumors out there, and everyone else passes them along as quasi-facts in order to analyze them. Teams, then, have to make a concerted effort to keep negotiations under wraps.
Based on What Teixeira is saying, the Yankees did just that. Throughout December, we knew that the Yankees and Texiera were a match made in a heaven. After all, Teixeira, turning 29 right after Opening Day, was the obvious man to replace Jason Giambi, but the Yanks were quiet. Now we know they were quiet about it on purpose, and in the end, it helped them land the big prize.
I’m sure Boston fans will be all sour grapes about this, but that’s the way things are. Respect the player, respect the process, and land yourself the big fish.
Since I’ve been slamming the city and the Yankees for their sluggish pace in rebuilding the South Bronx parkland lost to the new stadium, it’s only right that I recognize some good news about the parks. According to The Daily News, the first replacement park is set open next month, and local community leaders are pleased with its appearance. This park — part of a new soccer field being constructed atop a parking garage — is the first new green space to appear after Macombs Dam Park was shuttered nearly three years ago and will eventually feature, per Bill Egbert, “four handball courts, four basketball courts, grandstand seating, a new comfort station and picnic table terrace.”
While the full park won’t open until 2010 — and other replacement parks are at least two years off — Bronx leaders are glad to see this glimmer of green appear in a construction-filled neighborhood. “If the parks are going to look like what Parks presented to us,” Jose Rodriguez, district manager for Community Board 4, said, “it’s going to be beautiful.” · (3) ·
As we get closer to the start of the season, Las Vegas is spewing out lines for everything. How many games will Joba win? Which manager will be the first fired? What’s the over/under on Derek Jeter‘s batting average?
If betting is your thing — of if you’re just curious to see how the oddsmakers are favoring the Yanks — check out this gem from Mark Feinsand. The betting site Bodog passed on the numbers for the Yanks, and things are looking fairly rosy for the Bombers, at least on paper.
The site pegs the over/under for Yankee victories at 95.5 and gives them 9/2 odds to win the World Series. The Red Sox are right behind them at 11/2, and the Cubs land the third spot at 8/1. I guess no one told them that the Cubs last won the World Series during the waning days of the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.
Interestingly, the Yanks are 2/1 odds to win the AL Championship but just 6/5 odds to win the AL East. The Red Sox are at 5/2 and 6/5 respectively. Bodog is giving 1/2 odds that the wild card will be from the AL East. The defending AL Champs are pegged at 8/1 to repeat, and the Phillies are pegged at 15/1 to take a second title in a row.
As for personal Yankee milestones, they offer up nothing on A-Rod beyond 7/1 odds for the AL MVP. Mark Teixeira seemingly has the best shot in the league with 5/1 odds, and CC Sabathia is your presumptive front runner for Cy Young at an AL-leading 5/2.
Finally, Joe Girardi is third on their managerial hot seat list. Bodog is giving 5/1 odds that Girardi will be the first one fired this year. Only Jim Leyland (Tigers, 2/1) and Ron Washington (Rangers, 3/1) are facing more odds-related scrutiny. I’ll list the rest of the over/unders here, and the full odds list appears after the jump.
Yankees victories: 95.5
Mark Teixeira home runs: 32.5
Mark Teixeira RBI: 115.5
Derek Jeter batting average: .303
Johnny Damon batting average: .287
CC Sabathia wins: 16.5
A.J. Burnett wins: 14.5
Joba Chamberlain wins: 13.5
Mariano Rivera saves: 37.5
On a day dedicated to the long-man in the bullpen competition, we learned that the Yankees might not carry a long man at all. That’s a shame for Brett Tomko, who pitched three scoreless innings en route to a 6-4 Yankees win over Atlanta. Alfredo Aceves also made a decent case for himself, allowing just two hits, a walk, and an earned run in his three-inning audition. Yet there’s a chance that neither makes the team, given Girardi’s comments after the game.
According to Mark Feinsand, the Yanks could opt to carry Jon Albaladejo, who would meld with Phil Coke to form a long-man. That would give Girardi an extra look for short relief, and would work with a seven-man bullpen. It would also mean the best relievers make the team, regardless of stamina.
One guy who almost certainly won’t make the team is Dan Giese. Not only did he allow three runs and walk two in his 2.1 innings, but he needed Edwar Ramirez to come finish the job. Edwar, by the way, continued his magnificence, striking out one of the two batters he faced.
The Yanks offense pelted the 23-year-old Jurrjens for six runs, three earned, over five innings of work, collecting nine hits. Teixeira and Cano both homered in the fifth, which accounted for the team’s only extra base hits. The other four runs, all plated in the second, came on walks and singles. Melky, getting the start in center, went 3 for 4. Looks like he won’t let Brett Gardner get the starting job so easily.
Meanwhile, Jorge Posada, Chien-Ming Wang, and Nick Swisher got in reps with the AAA squad. Posada doubled and gunned down a runner at second. Wang surrendered four runs in five innings, allowing nine hits and striking out three. Says Jennings: “Chien-Ming Wang gave up two home runs in the first inning. Both should have been flyouts to left but the wind was almost as bad Saturday in Tampa as it was Friday in Bradenton. One of the other runs scored off Wang came after a double in the fourth when the wind blew the ball over Nick Swisher’s head.” Swisher went 1 for 5 with a homer and two strikeouts.
Also from Feinsand, David Robertson has been sent down to AAA. If Albaladejo makes the team, Robertson will probably be the first bullpen arm up, and could force his way back to the bigs with a strong start.
Derek Jeter bruised his pinky and is day to day. Given the at bats he wants from here forward, I’d expect him in the lineup tomorrow. (Hey, remember when Mattingly hurt his pinky and took a day or so off? Didn’t he get a lot of flak for that?)
A major league scout has some kind words for Ramiro Pena (h/t Pinto). Takeaway quote: “…now I can see him as an everyday shortstop.” While the utility infielder job could still go to Angel Berroa, Pena should get plenty of time to prove himself in AAA this year.
Watching Bernie Williams play during the World Baseball Classic was one of the more discouraging parts of an otherwise entertaining tournament. He didn’t look mobile in the field; his poor baserunning abilities seemed overexposed by a lack of speed; and his bat, while decent, is hardly feared. No one watching would peg Bernie as anything but retired. No one, that is, except Bernie Williams. In a CenterStage appearance taped yesterday, Bernie told reporters that he can “still play” and wants to get back into game.
Now, I love Bernie as much as any Yankee from the 1990s dynasty. I still proudly wear his jersey to games. But at this point, his repeated statements about playing are just awkward. There’s nothing wrong with retiring gracefully when age catches up, and Bernie has yet to embrace that. I wish he would. · (19) ·
The view from center field. (Photo courtesy of WCBS Sports Director Jared Max/WFAN)
In one week from tonight, Mike and I will have seen our first game at new Yankee Stadium. This afternoon, we nabbed a pair of Grandstand tickets off of StubHub for Saturday’s exhibition game in the Bronx against the Cubs. (Joe is flying in that day from a Vegas trip and couldn’t make it with us.) We’ll have a full post up about it then.
In the meantime, take a look at this photo set from WFAN.com. The CBS Sports Director Jared Max had the run of the stadium with his camera this week, and the pictures look great. We’ve got field view shots of the whole park, glimpses of Tommy Bahamas and the ever-popular Garlic Fries and some handy exit signs.
The photos also allow us to see some of the quirks and intricacies of the new park. For example, the plate is closer to the backstop than at old Yankee Stadium. So pitchers will lose a few foul pop outs. There’s still not a lot of foul territory in the outfield either.
While the Yanks are rumored to be keeping the overplayed Y.M.C.A. dance, on a happier note, the organ made the trip across the street. Anyway, poke around those photo sets. From wider concourses to more legroom, the park looks like a baseball playground.
Jeter Day-to-Day with Pinky Bruise
Joe will have a longer game recap at midnight with some thoughts on the CF battle and the long reliever debate, but I wanted to drop in a quick injury update. Yankees Captain and starting short stop Derek Jeter left today’s game with an injured lefty pinky knuckle. He bruised his finger in a first-inning collision with Braves’ first baseman Greg Norton but remained in the game. He is listed as day-to-day and plans to play tomorrow.
Anyway, here’s your open thread. You know what to do.
While the Yankees will finally leave Tampa soon to make their way up north, one of the team’s biggest pieces is set to head south to continue his rehab. According to Bryan Hoch, Alex Rodriguez should head from Vail to Tampa sometime after the Yanks break camp to continue his rehab. The Yanks are hoping to get A-Rod’s baseball workouts started soon, and he’ll join some spring minor league games shortly thereafter. Their target date for his return is May 15, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back sooner. · (10) ·
A lot of RAB readers have taken to analogizing Yankee officials to characters from The Godfather. At issue is Tom Hagen. Which one of the Yanks’ various VIPs gets to fill that ever-popular consigliere role? Based on an article in tomorrow’s Times, Randy Levine can take pride in inheriting that mantle.
Richard Sandomir, The Times’ sports business reporter, tackles Levine in a profile a week before the Yanks’ president’s pet $2 billion project opens in the Bronx. Levine, as Sandomir puts it, has inherited the George Steinbrenner persona. He has, as Sandomir writes, “emerged as the strongest voice of the Yankees, baseball’s wealthiest team. He is their executive-as-prosecutor, a tough, short-tempered and smart protector of the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees brand.”
Levine has long been in the public spotlight. Prior to his term with the Yanks, he served in the Reagan Administration’s, as Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor and labor commissioner and as a personal lawyer to Steinbrenner. The Yankees brought him aboard in 2000 when they needed a figure well versed in the inane intricacies of New York City politics to shepherd a complex and comprehensive stadium plan through the political process.
“The Yankees wanted a leg up on the maneuvering that goes on in that system,” Giuliani said to Sandomir.
But over the years, his role has moved beyond that of a political powerbroker. He has become the blunt voice of the team. He defends the Yanks from their critics inside baseball but can come across as brash to those on his own team. He is largely blamed for the departure of Joe Torre, and it’s clear from Torre’s book that the former Yankee manager had little respect for a man who often negotiates through anger and brashness rather than through tact.
Sandomir’s article reveals little we don’t know about Levine, but he does offer glimpse into the important role he plays as team president. As Sandomir reports, Levine was integral in determining that Hal should be the Steinbrenner son to take the reins. I wonder, then, what the relationship is like between Hank and Levine.
In a way, Yankee fans long used to the presence of a George Steinbrenner should embrace Levine. He is an outspoken defender of the Yankees who isn’t above criticizing his players. At the same time, he seems like a bully.
Earlier this week, I was wondering if Levine’s power would wane now that the new stadium is completed. Based upon Sandomir’s account though, Randy Levine — the Yanks’ own Tom Hagen — won’t be pushed out any time soon. He is their war-time consigliere, and with the Yanks, it’s always time for war.
In Disney World today, the Yankees’ three long relief candidates — Brett Tomko, Al Aceves and Dan Giese — are each scheduled to make their cases for that final spot in the bullpen. Meanwhile, the center field job is all but wrapped up, and Brett Gardner is emerging as the one to start the season manning center field.
For those of us watching the Yankee news over the last few days, this revelation can hardly come as a surprise. After all, the Yankees, as Ken Rosenthal reported, would be willing to trade Melky Cabrera at this point. That kind of news doesn’t leak out five days before you name the trade candidate as your starter.
At the same time, though, Kat O’Brien says that both players will earn jobs with the Big League club. For the Yankees, that’s simply a personnel matter. Melky Cabrera is out of options, and while the Yanks may not have a trade lined up, the Yanks would have to put Melky through waivers to send him down to AAA. We might not be too high on Melky’s future potential, but a 24-year-old with 415 MLB games under his belt wouldn’t clear waivers.
Rob Neyer agrees but only to a point. In a blog post yesterday, Neyer analyzed the Yanks’ center field situation and urged the team to send off Melky if they can. In fact, he doesn’t think both players should earn a spot on the team. While Neyer has a point about that, as I said, the Yanks don’t want to lose Melky and will probably try to trade him this spring. Writes Neyer:
[If] you’re going to get rid of one of them, Cabrera’s probably the guy. At least Gardner’s demonstrated that he can do something (run and field) and might do something else (reach base). At this point, it’s not clear that Cabrera can do anything. And I say that having written — just two or three years ago — that by now Melky would be one of the 10 best center fielders in the majors (not one of my more brilliant predictions).
Cabrera’s upside might still be higher than Gardner’s … but the Yankees can’t worry about upside. They’re trying to win right now, and Gardner gives them a slightly better chance of doing that…
The Yankees aren’t going to trade Nick Swisher because they need him. If Joe Girardi can’t somehow get Swisher nearly 500 plate appearances this season, then he’s not a good enough manager for this club. I’m at the front of the line criticizing the supposed decision to make Nady the everyday right fielder, but I’m willing to cut Girardi just a little slack for the moment. There just isn’t any justification for Nady getting more playing time than Swisher in the long run.
In a way, this news is good for Brett, bad for Melky, but in another way, it doesn’t really matter. Gardner will earn the center field at bats until his hitting becomes a liability. If he isn’t doing the job out of the gate, the Yanks can put Melky back into that lineup spot if they haven’t traded him. If neither emerge as viable candidates for the job, Nick Swisher may be pressed into service or Brian Cashman will look elsewhere. For now, though, April 6 will mark the start of the Brett Gardner Era in the Bronx.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Padres have placed righty Ivan Nova on outright waivers (as well as lefty Justin Hampson) after he posted an 8.31 ERA and 3-4 K/BB ratio in 8.2 IP this spring. Nova was selected from the Yanks in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, so he would have had to stuck on the Pads’ 25-man roster all season for them to keep him. If no other team claims Nova, he’ll be offered back to the Yanks for half of the $50,000 R5D fee. I think it’s safe to say Nova will be coming back. I mean if the Padres couldn’t find room for him on their staff, no team will. (h/t pat for the email)
Elsewhere in Rule 5 news, Brian Cashman wouldn’t comment on the rumor that Jason Jones was placed on waivers by the Twins, cleared, and has been offered back to the Yanks. Jones had a 2.70 ERA in 10 IP this spring, and as you probably remember he had some unkind words for the organization last month. The Yankees have more arms than spots available in Triple-A and Double-A, so I suspect they’ll just thank the Twinkies for the $50k and let them keep Mr. Jones.
Update (1:24pm): The Yanks acquired righty reliever Charles Nolte from the Twins for the right to keep Jones today. Nolte had a 2.05 ERA and a 75-35 K/BB ratio in 70.1 IP with Low-A Beloit last year. He was the Twins 24th round pick in 2007. (h/t Marc) · (23) ·