Fan Confidence Poll: January 16th, 2012

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:

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.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Open Thread: Saying Goodbye

Prospects are like being in love in high school. Our commitment level is through the roof and we’re convinced that no matter what everyone else says, it’s for real. No one understands, we’re in love. Ultimately we’re left heartbroken in the end, then we get over it and move on to the next.

I’m fairly certain that no Yankees prospect has captured more hearts than Jesus Montero, who is just a physical exam away from being a Seattle Mariner. We caught a glimpse of his hell raisin’ capabilities in September, but not nearly enough. His long-awaited big league debut did not disappoint, giving our years of rosterbation and minor league box score checking validation. Montero was going to be the next great Yankee, launching opposite field bombs over the short porch for the next 20 years. It was going to be glorious.

A year and a half ago we almost broke up because of a silly fling with a floosy named Cliff*. We weren’t thinking clearly back then and got caught up in the moment. This breakup is for real though, and it hurts. We’ll spend the next five weekends eating ice cream out of the container and watching bad movies on Netflix, wondering where it all went wrong. Then we’ll get over it. The green grass of Spring Training will draw us out of our misery and the pop of the glove catching that 97 mph fastball will make us feel alive again. None of us will ever forget Montero, but sometimes you can’t control things and you have to move on. He may very well be the one that got away, but chances are we’ll find someone else and fall in love all over again.

* * *

Here’s your open thread for the day. Like yesterday, I’m posting this early because of the NFL playoffs. The Texans and Ravens play at 1pm ET (on CBS), then the Packers and Giants give it a go at 4:30pm ET (on FOX). The Rangers are also playing later tonight, and that game will be on the NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus. So all you Time Warner customers actually get to see the team with the league’s best record tonight. Talk about whatever you like, anything goes.

* Yes, I know how wrong that sounds.

Update: Yankees calling around for offense, have spoken to Carlos Pena

Sunday: Pena confirmed that the Yankees have contacted him about their DH spot. This was inevitable, at some point they had to call and get an idea of his asking price and willingness to DH.

Saturday: Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees are calling around in search of help on offense, and they have some interest in Carlos Pena. The Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda acquisitions shored up the rotation in a big way last night, but they did lose their starting DH in the process.

Remember, the Yankees did claim Pena off waivers last August, but were unable to work out a trade with the Cubs. Feel free to speculate about DH options — Pena, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, etc. — but I don’t think this is the most pressing issue right now. They have plenty of offense plus a few in-house candidates (namely a rotating DH), so they can afford to be patient. It’s always easy to land a DH type at the trade deadline if needed.

Report: Yankees have talked to Damon about DH’ing

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have spoken to Johnny Damon about potentially returning to New York to DH. There’s a “very small chance” they would consider Jorge Posada for the role even though his retirement is not yet official, and apparently they don’t have much money to spend. We heard that before they gave Hiroki Kuroda $10M, right?

I plan on looking at Damon a bit more tomorrow, but I do think there’s some merit to bringing him back as a part-time DH. If nothing else, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Johnny rebounded nicely with the Rays last year, hitting 16 homers with 19 steals a year after going eight and eleven with the Tigers. His walk rate (7.9%) was his lowest in six years however, and we shouldn’t ignore any signs of decline at age 38.

The Bartolo Era Ends: Colon Heads To Oakland

Via Jayson Stark, Bartolo Colon has agreed to a one-year deal with the Athletics. He’s a stopgap solution for a team that traded away both Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill this offseason, and will be without Brett Anderson until at least midseason due to Tommy John surgery.

Colon, 39 in May, was an option for the Yankees right up until Friday night, when the Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda stuff went down. He was the team’s second best starter in the first half of 2011, painting corners with 95 mph heat and backing lefties off the plate with two-seamers inside. Once he started throwing 91-92 and wasn’t hitting the corners as frequently, it stopped being fun. Good luck Bart, thanks for those 164.1 IP.

The Hard Choices of the Offseason

(AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel)

The offseason is the worst.

Not just for the total lack of baseball, though that’s a pretty big chunk of it. Not just the lesser sports which we are all forced to tolerate while we wait for our gentleman’s game to come back. There’s also that the decisions made during the cold winter months are a lot more permanent than the year-to-year fluctuations players have with their numbers. You can excuse away a bad year, especially if you’re trying really hard, but it’s not as easy to do so with a whopper of a trade or a big signing. Rationalizing a low average with caught line drives or a low OBP with a large strike zone against is one thing, but there’s no such protections with a big roster moves.

When the season starts, all — or many of — the numbers are influenced by randomness and factors that neither the players nor the ownerships/front office can control. That makes it easy for a fan looking for upside to feel better about his or her self. Every particular at-bat and game has so much go into it that, in most cases, there’s a bright side. Maybe the team was robbed of some stellar line drives. Maybe it was a display of warning track power. Maybe you were no-hit, but the opposing pitcher was so dominant it wasn’t even fair. Game-to-game stuff like a win or a loss can be rationalized.

Players, too. The perfect example for this is, of course, Adam Dunn. I don’t think anyone expects Adam Dunn to be as legitimately downright vomit awful as he was in 2011. That’s impossible, right? It could happen, I guess, but I (and many experts, and I assume Kenny Williams) don’t think so. Having a year like that means everything goes wrong all at once. So White Sox fans can comfort themselves knowing things will probably get better, even if Dunn isn’t the hitter he used to be. Yankees fans can have plenty of optimism in this area as well: maybe Derek Jeter stays that second-half monster he became after his injury. Maybe Alex Rodriguez stays healthy with his experimental knee surgery and his still-impressive power. Maybe Eduardo Nunez learns to field. Maybe Mark Teixeira stops hitting so many pop-ups. But even if they don’t, there’s lots of statistical noise here we can use to rationalize it. A.J. Burnett is a victim of a high HR/FB rate, for example. He’s going to be bad. But he could be slightly better.*

During the offseason, there’s nothing you can do after or during a trade. You’re stuck with the players your GM picked pick up, so here’s hoping they’re good ones. There’s no statistical noise in ‘Jesus Montero was just traded for Michael Pineda.’ You just have to hope that Brian Cashman knows what he’s doing (I personally do), and that everything will work out. It’s not like next year, Cashman gets to try again and see if he can get more for Montero, or if Montero has a massive year and Pineda’s awful, he gets to tweak the trade like a player’s mechanics to make it better. Once a trade or signing is done, that’s it. So long, thanks for all the fish. Hope everything turns out well for your team. Maybe it won’t! Of course, maybe you’ve traded Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit.

There’s no going back. Not being able to go back is scary. All you’ve got left is this new guy, looking around at his new environment and staring at the hole he’s expected to fill from the guy you kicked out. And that’s on top of hoping that the GM wasn’t emotional about this, either: having your top prospect being traded for peanuts because he hates your bunt-loving manager sounds pretty damn awful to me. You’re not gonna be able to blame that on a torn muscle.

I don’t know how I feel about the Montero/Pineda trade. It could be great. It could be awful. It makes perfect sense in my head, what with New York needing arms and Seattle needing a bat (especially considering Cashman has been trying to give Montero to Seattle for a while now), but that’s a different statement than if I I like it. I guess it’s hard to make a decision because whether I like it or not, that’s the way it is. Even if I hate it, I don’t hate it enough to stop being a Yankees fan – Pineda’s an exciting possibility, he’s shown he’s capable, and he’s got a hell of a slider. Of course, like all Yankees fans, I loved Jesus Montero like you love a baseball player — that screaming power, the youth, the team control, all the potential and none of the inevitable disappointment. I’m sure I’ll either grow to love Pineda (in a good ending), or have bitter, hateful thoughts at Montero getting AL MVP and decide the world is a joyless, terrible place (in a bad ending). That’s just how being a fan is. The fact is, of these players will be subject to the random variation that comes with the long baseball season, and we’ll be justifying what they do no matter what. But we’re stuck with who we got, and all we can do is hope it all works out. (For us, not for them. Sorry, Jesus.)

* I get some kind of sick masochistic joy out of defending A.J. Burnett. I don’t know either.
** For other views on the Montero/Pineda trade, I, like Mike, strongly advise Lookout Landing, The Best Mariners Blog.
*** Sorry I’ve been absent for a while. You will now be subject to me on a more regular basis.

Open Thread: The Pineda-Kuroda Hangover

It’s been a pretty hectic 24 hours in Yankeeland, but I think we’re finally starting to get over the initial shock of last night’s moves. It’s important to note that the Jesus Montero/Hector Noesi-for-Michael Pineda/Jose Campos trade is not yet official, as Buster Olney notes that all four players must still take physicals. Given the drama of the failed Cliff Lee trade, we shouldn’t consider the physicals slam dunks. Assuming all goes well, the trade figures to be announced sometime next week.

In the meantime, I recommend reading this Red Sox Beacon post for a Red Sox perspective on last night’s moves. You should also check out this Beyond The Box Score post, which briefly touches on why Pineda should continue to be successful despite leaving the friendly confines of Safeco Field, and this PitchFX look at his repertoire via FanGraphs. The Hiroki Kuroda signing is pretty straight forward, but it’ll take a while to digest the trade. The implications are far-reaching, and we’ll break them all down here over the next few days and weeks.

For now, use this as your open thread after taking part in the poll below. I’m posting this a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs, with the Saints and 49ers kicking off at 4:30pm ET (on FOX). The Broncos and Patriots follow at 8pm ET (on CBS). All five hockey and basketball locals are in action as well, assuming you still get MSG and can actually watch. You folks know what to do, enjoy the rest of the day.

Thoughts on the Montero/Noesi-for-Pineda/Campos trade?
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