In advance of this week’s GM Meetings, John Perrotto at Baseball Prospectus offered up some off-season preview capsules for all 30 teams. On the Yanks, Perrotto writes:
Despite Hank Steinbrenner’s yearning for Ramirez and an interest in Teixeira, they need starting pitching desperately, particularly with Mike Mussina leaning toward retirement. They’ll make big plays on the free-agent market for Sabathia, and also for right-hander A.J. Burnett if he fails to work out a deal to stay with the Blue Jays. There is some sentiment to acquire a center fielder, though many in the organization believe rookie Brett Gardner can ably fill that position. Right-hander Ian Kennedy is their top trade bait, and they are also more than willing to deal veteran outfielders Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.
Perrotto is on the right track; the Yanks certainly will need some starting pitching help next year. They probably won’t have Mike Mussina and shouldn’t count on Andy Pettitte to deliver too much. But his either/or construct is a bit faulty.
The Yankees, as they sit right now, days after the World Series and months before Opening Day, need both pitching and hitting, and they need both equally. On the season, the Yanks scored just 789 runs, good for seventh in the AL and just seven runs more than the listless Orioles. All playoff teams but one — Tampa — far outscored the Yanks, and the Yanks themselves scored nearly 200 fewer runs this year than last.
On the one hand, we can easily point to a few key injuries — Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui — as well as the struggles of Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera as the root causes of this offensive slump. But on the other hand, this team isn’t getting younger. Bobby Abreu declined; Derek Jeter declined; A-Rod had a great season, but it didn’t measure up to his MVP campaign in 2007. For next year, Xavier Nady is an offensive enigma. His career .280/.335/.458 isn’t encouraging. So yes, the Yankees need offense, and Hank has that one right.
But the Yankees do need pitching too. Hopefully, they’ll have Joba and Chien-Ming Wang healthy and effective for a full year. Hopefully, Phil Hughes can put it all together. But that still leaves two or three holes in the rotation with or without Pettitte. The Yanks’ pitching was rather middle-of-the-pack last year, but that’s because their bullpen was one of the tops in the game. Their starters were only slightly better than the 75-87 Royals. Next year, we won’t sit through Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner, but someone has to take their places.
In the end, the Yankees clearly need both hitting and pitching, and it’s going to be a tough off-season. We all want them to sign everyone, and while some people think the team will do just that, it’s rather unlikely. The ride kicks off with the GM meetings today, and it should be a wild one.
Via Tim Dierkes, we find out that the Brewers have exercised the 2009 option for Mike Cameron. He’ll make $10 million for the season. Cameron would have been an intriguing option as a one-year stopgap in center field while the Yankees figure out the situation. The likelihood of Melky or Gardner starting the season in center field just got greater. Jim Edmonds remains an option as a one-year stopgap, though I’m not sure how seriously the Yanks are considering him, if at all. · (94) ·
We’ve talked about this a bit before, but with it becoming official that Ivan Rodriguez will be a Type B free agent, we should revisit it. Should the Yankees offer him arbitration in order to gain a supplemental round pick when he signs with a different team? There are a couple of factors to consider in this decision, and I’m sure it’s something the Yankees mulled at their organizational meetings.
If the Yankees do offer Pudge arbitration, there is always the risk he accepts. As we learned when I read through the relevant sections of the CBA, this means he is counted as a player for next season and is added to the 40-man roster. The Yankees will then either have to hammer out a deal with him, or go to an arbitration hearing. Neither of these seems ideal, as the Yankees surely don’t want him back. They can cut him prior to Spring Training and only be liable for a portion of his salary, but they’ll then 1) not get the supplemental pick when he signs elsewhere and 2) be short a 40-man roster spot, which can be used to protect J.B. Cox, Alan Horne, Chris Garcia, etc. from the Rule 5 draft.
However, it doesn’t seem that large a risk. Pudge knows that the Yankees plan to start Jorge Posada behind the dish. Surely he does not want to be relegated to backup status, which he would be if Jorge proves healthy in Spring Training. Plus, he could probably get a two-year deal elsewhere, which would be far more attractive to him at this stage in his career. Chances are that he’d decline an arbitration offer, though it’s certainly no sure thing.
Because he is a Type B free agent, there is no disincentive for a team to sign him. Had he been a Type A, as was the projection at Tiger Thoughts, Pudge would have been more likely to accept arbitration. Teams would have probably stayed clear, not wanting to sacrifice a first rounder for a 37-year-old catcher who was putrid in the second half. Without the draft pick at stake, Pudge becomes more attractive for a team in need of a catcher (helloooo Mets).
In this instance, I think the risk of offering Pudge arbitration is worth the potential reward of a supplemental pick. It helps in the mission to rebuild the farm system, and gives us some form of compensation for Pudge, who was an utter disappointment in pinstripes.
According to a few reports, the Yankees are planning on declining Damaso Marte’s $6 million option for 2009. As we figured the Yanks would pick up this option, I’m about surprised by this move, but the Yanks could be taking one of two approaches here. They’re either going to cash on Marte’s Type A status and take the draft picks or they will attempt to sign him to a multi-year deal worth less per year than his one-year option. I’d like to see Marte return; he offers more stability than Phil Coke and could be the best lefty the Yanks have employed since the heydays of Mike Stanton. We’ll see how this plays out. This is certainly not a finalized divorce. · (171) ·
Apologies for the tardiness, it’s not worth posting two lines worth of stats a day, so I’m spreading DotF out a bit now.
AzFL Peoria (13-1 loss to Mesa)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 K - threw a runner out at third from CF
Humberto Sanchez: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 17 of 22 pitches were strikes (77.3%)
AzFL Peoria (3-2 loss to Mesa)
Kevin Russo: 1 for 5, 3 K – the league’s longest active hitting streak reaches 12 games
Austin Jackson: 0 for 4
Jeff Marquez: 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 4-2 GB/FB – 39 of 62 pitches were strikes (62.9%) … picked a runner off first
HWB Waikiki (3-2 win over West Oahu in 7 innings)
Damon Sublett: 0 for 4, 1 K
Austin Romine: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 PB
AzFL Peoria (7-1 loss to Phoenix)
Austin Jackson: 0 for 4, 2 K
Kevin Russo: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K – way to account for your team’s entire offensive output
Kevin Whelan: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4-3 GB/FB – 26 of 44 pitches were strikes (59.1%)
HWB Waikiki (5-2 win over Honolulu)
Damon Sublett: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 E (fielding) – big comeback after missing 16 days due to a mystery injury
Andrew Brackman: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 3 WP, 7-4 GB/FB – 57 of 91 pitches were strikes (62.6%) … phew, he’s not a bust this week
Via loyal reader Angel, Melky Cabrera will make his Dominican Winter League debut for Aguilas on Nov. 12th.
Replacement Level Yankee Weblog ran an early version of their CAIRO system to project the 2009 Yankees. The results are rather uninspiring, to say the least. Of course, the Yanks stand to pick up some players via free agency and lose some that they won’t miss. The 2009 Yankees though are going to need some offensive help and some pitching stars as well. · (22) ·
As the free agent signing period is a few weeks away from launching, a few behind-the-scenes moves are making headlines. On the Yankee front, CNNSI’s Fan Nation links to an article about Bill Livesey in the Paper That Must Not Be Named.
Livesey is a baseball lifer and is making his return to the Yanks. He had last been with the team for 18 years prior to 1995, and many credit him with helping to build the farm system that led to the 1990s dynasties. He was instrumental in scouting Derek Jeter, but considering the word on Jeter in 1992, all we know is that Livesey can rate baseball players.
Now, this isn’t to say that Livesey isn’t a great baseball mind. But since leaving the Yanks, he’s been on the Blue Jays, Tampa and the Mets. While on the Mets, he helped orchestrate a Victor Zambrano-for-Scott Kazmir deal. After departing New York, he has worked in Japan for Mike Pagliarulo’s scouting company.
I don’t mean to cast doubt on Livesey’s abilities, and if Gene Michael vouches for him, he must have some talent. But I know that some Yankee watchers are expecting Livesey’s return to represent some sort of angel arriving on a Golden Chariot. Maybe he will be; maybe he won’t. It’s never a bad idea to have another well-qualified scouting brain on the team.
Another personnel move to watch comes out of Philadelphia where Ruben Amaro has been named GM. At the same time, the other candidate for Pat Gillick’s old job was Mike Arbuckle, and he has left the organization. PeteAbe thinks that Pat Gillick could consult for the Yanks. He is after all a good friend of Cashman’s.
But our own Mike A. offered up an interesting take on the Gillick-Amaro-Arbuckle triangle:
Gillick retired, and two candidates were considered to replace him: Assistant GM/Scouting Director Mike Arbuckle (been the SD since ’93), and Assistant GM Ruben Amaro (been with the team since 2000 or so). Amaro gets the job, Arbuckle’s pissed off about being passed over and quits. They [screwed] this one up good, Arbuckle’s a far better GM candidate. I’m sure the Mariners wish they waited to hire a new GM, because Arbuckle > Zduriencik.
Arbuckle won’t be bound for New York; he’s ready for a GM job, and the spot in the Bronx is taken. But whichever team lands Arbuckle will earn another very good baseball mind.
This news isn’t the most exciting; it doesn’t involve millions of dollars and high-impact free agents. But sometimes, the behind-the-scenes moves are just as important.
Over at his briliant SWB Yankees Blog, Chad Jennings is going through the Yanks’ roster, position by position, breaking down needs, and both internal & external solutions. He’s already hit the backstops and first basemen, with more to come. Check it out, yo. · (27) ·
Continuing the non-stop Saturday coverage of Manny Ramirez comes a piece from Ken Davidoff. Unnamed Yankee insiders claim the team is more likely to wind up with Manny Ramirez than with Mark Teixeira, and Davidoff believes the determining factor is the number of years each player wants. While I’d like to see Manny in pinstripes, I have no qualms about committing to seven years of Mark Teixeira. I believe that Teixeira fills a need now and in the future and would have a greater impact on the team in the long run than Manny would in the short run. If I’m picking one, I take Teixeira. · (125) ·