Nova finishes fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting

Jeremy Hellickson was named the AL Rookie of the Year today, receiving 17 of 28 first place votes. He is the third starting pitcher to win the AL award since 1969, joining Dave Righetti and Justin Verlander. Hellickson finished the season with a 13-10 record and a 2.95 ERA, though his 4.44 FIP is much more of an eyesore.

Ivan Nova finished fourth in the voting behind Hellickson (102 points), Mark Trumbo (63), and Eric Hosmer (38). He received one first place vote, five second place votes, and ten third place votes, which adds up to 30 points. The full voting can be found on the BBWAA’s site. Craig Kimbrel won the NL award unanimously.

The AL Cy Young Award will be announced tomorrow at 2pm ET, and I’ll be surprised if Justin Verlander doesn’t win. CC Sabathia is a pretty safe bet for a second straight top three finish in the voting.

Why the Yankees won’t sign C.J. Wilson

The Yankees might be in the market for pitching, and C.J. Wilson might be the best starting pitcher on the free agent market, but that doesn’t mean the two are a natural fit. Earlier today Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports relayed some information from major league execs. The general feeling seems to be that Wilson will get “at least five years” with an option, though one executive speculated that he’ll end up with a six-year deal. “It just takes one club,” the exec said. While that one team might have been the Yankees in years past, the possibility seems much less likely this off-season.

In the past the Yankees have heavily pursued starting pitching when they had a need. In 2008 they laid out a record-breaking contract for CC Sabathia before another team made an offer, and then outbid the Braves for A.J. Burnett. Last off-season they reluctantly added a seventh-year option to their offer for Cliff Lee. The Yankees again seek that elusive No. 2 to complement CC Sabathia atop the rotation, but the pursuit feels different this time. It doesn’t seem as though the Yankees will outbid the league for the top free agent starter, as they have in years past.

Earlier this month Mike wrote up the pros and cons of Wilson. While every free agent pitcher has a few things going against him, Wilson’s list of cons seems a bit deep for a pitcher about to sign a five- or six-year contract. The Yankees might go to four years, and maybe add a fifth option. But with a few alternatives on the free agent market (Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle), a possibility on the international market (Yu Darvish), and even more possibilities on the trade market, the Yankees will likely refrain from an all-out pursuit of Wilson. If another team comes in with an over-the-top offer, and Morosi’s sources indicate that such an offer is on the horizon, the Yankees will likely just let him walk and move on to the next target.

Adding C.J. Wilson to the 2012 rotation would surely shore up the pitching staff. Despite the factors working against him he’s still managed to have the 15th best ERA and the 22nd best FIP, while pitching the 20th most innings, in the last two years. While those numbers are certainly good, they’re not top-10 quality. The Yankees will likely balk at paying such a price for a top-20 arm. They have options elsewhere, and some up-and-coming pitchers in the minor league system, who could fit into the 2012 rotation. Wilson would be nice, but he’s just not worth the premium contract that he’s reportedly going to get.

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Ryan Doumit

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

While free agency has just started and few players have inked contracts, the Yankees’ offense seems to be fairly close to complete. There are not many areas of their offense they can upgrade in a cost effective manner, with DH the only position that is technically open. Jesus Montero is available to fill that role. Instead, the bulk of the work on the Yankees’ offense will come on the bench, as Brian Cashman attempts to supplement an aging lineup with a versatile and powerful group of reserves. They will likely look for a player in the Andruw Jones/Marcus Thames mold, a righty bat who can mash lefties and can play corner outfield. Assuming Eduardo Nunez remains in the utility role, the Yankees are also likely to bring in a replacement for Eric Chavez, a market that has a number of available options (I discussed this in greater detail last week).

If the Yankees carry 14 position players, that leaves two more slots available for bench players, one of which might be filled by a pinch runner/defensive replacement from the Chris Dickerson/Greg Golson family. The other slot should go to a third catcher, who is made necessary by the fact that the backup catcher (Montero) is also the regular DH. The problem with this plan is that carrying a guy like Gustavo Molina practically wastes a roster spot, as he would never be used in any context other than to catch a few innings if Martin has been pinch-run or hit for and Montero is in the game at DH. This seems like a fairly inefficient use of roster space for a team that could afford a more creative alternative. Enter Ryan Doumit.

Pros

  • In terms of the roster inefficiency I mentioned above, Doumit gives you many more options than a traditional backup catcher might. He can play first base and right field as well, which would allow Joe Girardi to use him occasionally to rest Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.
  • Most importantly, he does not hit like a catcher. Doumit is a switch hitter with a .336 wOBA for his career, and his numbers have been dragged down by some injury plagued seasons. When healthy, he provides a strong bat for someone who would be a part-time player.
  • Considering that their other two catchers and their other back-up outfielder are all going to be righties, it helps that Doumit is a switch-hitter who hits better from the left side. He is not unusable against lefties, with a .315 career wOBA against them, but he hits righties to the tune of a .344 wOBA and most of his power comes from that side.
  • Doumit played in just 71 games last season due to an ankle injury that came in late May, but did hit .303/.353/.477 for a 129 wRC+.
  • Doumit is just 30 years old, so he should have a few effective seasons left in his bat.

Cons

  • Doumit can play a number of positions, but he does not play any of them particularly well. He is adequate in right field, poor at first base, and atrocious behind the plate, which is a problem considering that his primary defensive role is as the extra catcher.
  • Ryan is frequently injured, spending time on the DL in every season since 2005.
  • As I mentioned above, he is not a great hitter against lefties.

Personally, I think Doumit is a perfect fit for this Yankees’ roster. He would serve as the extra catcher, but brings other skills to the table that would allow him to accumulate a reasonable number of at-bats.  He could be the primary pinch-hitter against righties, and would allow Joe Girardi more flexibility in terms of how he uses Russell Martin and Jesus Montero, as well as when he rests Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira. For an illustration of the sort of situations in which an extra catcher who can hit lefties well would be useful, see Russell Martin’s at-bats against tough righties in big spots in the ALDS. He could also be a hedge against injuries at a number of positions, and the Yankees would not be hurt too badly if he was forced into regular duty. Furthermore, while he does have flaws, those can be mitigated by the role he would play on the Yankees. He would not be counted on to play catcher for any extended period of time, and his brittle nature could be offset by being used less frequently. If the Yankees could get him on a short-term deal with an AAV of $4-5 million dollars, he would be a strong addition to the club and would represent excellent and efficient use of a roster spot.

All that said, the reasons that I like Doumit are the same reasons that other clubs might offer him good money to start for them. There is supposedly a healthy market for his services, and he might find a club willing to take a chance on his health or his defense and offer him something more than the 250 or so at-bats the Yankees could guarantee. If so, he is unlikely to take a bench role and would end up being too expensive for the Yankees anyhow.

Fan Confidence Poll: November 14th, 2011

2011 Record: 97-65 (855 RS, 657 RA, 102-60 pythag. record), won AL East, lost to Tigers in ALDS

Top stories from last week:

  • Jorge Posada acknowledged that his Yankees career is over, though he is unsure if he still wants to play next season. “I will always be a Yankee,” said Posada. “The Yankees for me is my second family. It would be tough to put on another uniform for real and learn another set of rules and all that stuff, but that’s one of those things. I have to see if I want to keep playing.”
  • Brian Cashman told reporters that he’s been in contact with several other teams about pitching help, and also said that other clubs have inquired about the availability of his young catchers. The GM confirmed that Ivan Nova‘s strained flexor is 100% healed.
  • The Yankees held a private workout for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and they have their eye on two other Cuban players. Cashman has reached out to the agents for Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson.
  • Jonathan Papelbon fled the Red Sox and the AL East, agreeing to join the Phillies on a four-year contract.
  • Jesus Montero still plans to go home to Venezuela this winter despite the Wilson Ramos kidnapping.
  • The 2012 Spring Training schedule was released.

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

{democracy:188}

Yanks still trying to bring NHL’s Winter Classic to Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium hosted its third college football game this weekend, as Rutgers beat Army by a score of 27-12 on Saturday. While at the game, Mark Herrmann asked Lonn Trost about possible future non-baseball sporting events at Yankee Stadium, to which the team’s CEO responded “Hopefully, we’ll have hockey here.”

The Yankees tried to bring the NHL’s annual Winter Classic to the Bronx three years ago, but conflicts with other events at the Stadium prevented it from happening. The Rangers are playing in this year’s outdoor exhibition, but it will be played at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia on New Years’ Day. There are rumblings that the 2013 Winter Classic will played at Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan, so Trost might not get his wish until 2014 at the earliest. Whenever the Yankees do get the game, I will totally be there.

Open Thread: Melky Cabrera

The greatest Melky moment.

I was never much of a Melky Cabrera fan, mostly because the hype got completely out of control early in his career. People were calling him the next Bernie Williams, and that was nothing short of insane. But just because I wasn’t the guy’s biggest fan doesn’t mean I won’t acknowledge that he was a useful player. He played fine defense in the corner outfield spots and was passable in center, plus he made lots of contact and would run into the occasional mistake pitch. Melky was the perfect fourth outfielder, he just ended up playing everyday most of the time.

The Yankees signed Melky out of the Dominican Republic on this date ten years ago, paying him a $175k signing bonus. He was a fan favorite because he played with a lot of energy and had a knack for walk-off hits, plus the cool name didn’t exactly hurt his cause. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

In other historical Yankees transactions news, today is also the 20th anniversary of Ramiro Mendoza signing as 19-year-old free agent out of Panama, and it’s also the third anniversary of the Nick Swisher trade heist. So hooray for that.

* * *

Here is your open thread for the night. The late football game as the Patriots at the Jets (8:20pm ET on NBC), and the Islanders are playing on the west coast a little later on. You can talk about anything you want here, the thread is all yours.

Noesi continues to dominate in winter ball

Jose Quintana signed a minor league deal with the White Sox. (UPDATE: He’s on their 40-man roster, so apparently it was a big league contract.) The 22-year-old southpaw broke out with High-A Tampa this year (2.96 FIP in 102 IP), but became a free agent after the season. For shame, I was looking forward to seeing the follow-up performance. Oh, and Jeff Marquez signed with the Mariners, but I don’t think anyone will lose any sleep over that one.

By the way, the Arizona Fall League season ends next Thursday, with the Championship Game scheduled for Saturday. Phoenix has the worst record in the league and has already been eliminated from postseason play.

AzFL Phoenix (5-0 win over Scottsdale) Wednesday’s game
Rob Segedin, LF: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – threw a runner out at third
Ronnie Mustelier, 3B: 0 for 4
Dan Burawa, RHP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 13 of 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)

DWL Licey (5-1 win over Gigantes) Wednesday’s game
Hector Noesi, RHP: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 11-1 GB/FB – damn Hector, way to go … 17 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, 27-3 GB/FB in his last three starts

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