I recently sat down and exchanged emails with Chad Jennings, author of the brilliant Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees blog. Chad’s site is one of the truly great baseball blogs on the internet, and his analysis is always insightful, accurate and entertaining. If you haven’t already bookmarked his site, well, what are you waiting for?
I asked Chad a bunch of questions about the Yanks’ minor league system, and he was kind enough to reply, in record time no less. Let’s get to it…
Prior to the Yanks coming to town, the Phillies occupied the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market. With all due respect to the Phillies organization, they aren’t the Yankees and the buzz just isn’t the same. How different were things around the team this year with the Yanks compared to years past with the Phightin’s?
Pinstripes Plus is reporting that Mark Melancon has returned to game action at Dominican Instructional League, and topped out at 92 in his first appearance.
AzFL Peoria (5-2 loss to Surprise)
Brett Gardner: 0 for 3, 2 BB, 2 K – 6 for his last 27 after going 6 for his previous 9
Juan Miranda: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Steven Jackson: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K – one of the walks was intentional, not that it makes a difference
Peoria manager (and Double-A Trenton coach) Tony Franklin was tossed for arguing a call on the bases in the 9th.
HWB Honolulu (6-1 loss to Waikiki)
Austin Jackson: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K – 17 for his 30 hits have gone for extra bases
Bradley Suttle: 0 for 4, 2 K - 1 for his last 22
George Kontos: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 5-1 GB/FB – 39 K in 29 IP
Be sure to play our “Guess the PED users” game!
Mark Feinsand gives us a quick update on Mo and Posada. I found something particularly interesting:
Mariano Rivera also figures to test the market, as teams can begin talking money with all free agents on Tuesday. But unlike Posada, Rivera has sat down face-to-face with the Yankees, as the two sides expressed a mutual desire to continue their relationship. The Yankees have offered Rivera a three-year deal worth $40 million, which is in the closer’s ballpark.
If another club comes within $5 million of that offer, I’ll be shocked. Three years and $40 million? I think it’s kind of insulting that Mo hasn’t already accepted. No other team is going to pay $13.3 million per season for a 38-year-old closer who would be 41 at the end of the deal. Unless they’re run by lunatics and think that Mo’s 70 innings are going to get them over the hump.
Free agency officially begins on Tuesday, and in all likelihood Jorge Posada will remain unsigned at that point. The Yankees have made what amounts to a very generous offer for a catcher entering his age-36 season: three years and around $40 million.
However, we’re seeing a unique trend from Jorge. While it appeared in 2005 that he was entering his decline phase (he posted his lowest OBP and SLG since 1999), he has surged over the past two years, and miraculously posted the best season of his career in 2007.
Unsurprisingly, Jorge has all but rejected the Yankees offer. He claims he’s “more determined than ever to test the market,” and the market will likely bear a four-year bidder in the $50 to $55 million range. The Mets are likely to make such a bid, which puts the Yankees in an uncomfortable position.
We’ve discussed it many times, but with the market opening up in a couple of days it seems appropriate to discuss again. Do you up your three-year, $40 million offer to match or exceed a four-year, say $53 million deal?
I’d say yes, but under a few conditions, the paramount of which being that if Jorge doesn’t produce in the later two years of the contract, he sits. My main fear regarding Jorge is that he’ll finally enter his decline years and drop off dramatically. It doesn’t seem likely that this will come in the next two years, but with a catcher you never know. It’s tough to sit your $15 million annual investment on the bench, but if they can do it with Jason Giambi, they should do it with Jorge.
In that scenario, you’d be essentially paying him $50-some-odd million for two years of work. It sounds absurd, but it’s not like the Yankees are paupers. They have the money, and they might as well use it to keep Jorge around while we wait for Jesus Montero and Austin Romine to develop.
However, if his contract is going to keep him in games whether he produces or not, I can’t advocate a fourth year. A third is enough of a gamble. How many catchers do you know who produced at high level at this age? I can think of one off the top of my head: Carlton Fisk. But we’re talking a Hall of Famer here, and while Jorge has been excellent, he’s a member of a far less exclusive club: The Hall of Very Good.
But hey, Fisk did put up a line of .285/.378/.451 in 452 at bats as a 42-year-old. So it can happen. I’m just not sure I’m willing to bet $50 million on it.
In other news, the sun will rise in the east and set in the west; water is wet; and grass is green. Seriously though, Tyler Kepner reports that the Yanks could land Johan Santana without trading Phil, Joba or Ian. The market for Santana should develop before the owners’ meetings next month. Once the Twins realize they can’t afford him, the frenzy will begin. The plot thickens. · (9) ·
It turns out that 11 current free agents will be named PED users when the Mitchell Report goes public in a few weeks. While that’s bad news for the players, it’s good news for RAB readers. Here’s the rules: try and guess the players who will be named, and whoever gets the most correct wins. Simple enough.
The prize? Well, I’m not sure yet, but we’ll dig something cool up. As a default for now, I’ll write a Prospect Profile for any minor leaguer (Yankee farmhand or not) the winner chooses. I’ll keep you updated on the good prize in the coming days. If there’s a tie…eh, we’ll figure it out.
Remember, Jose Guillen’s already been named, so the list is down to ten. You can find a full list of free agents here. Leave your guesses in the comments, mine are after below (RAB staff, as well as family and friends of RAB staff are ineligilbe to win; only your first entry will be considered)
Barry Bonds, Milton Bradley, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Jorge Julio, Ryan Klesko, Paul LoDuca, Eric Milton, Steve Trachsel and Jeff Weaver
Joe Torre is going to write a book about his 12 years managing the Yankees. Not included in this tell-all memoir will be chapters concerning Jeff Weaver and the 2003 World Series, Kenny Lofton’s role keeping the bench warm during the last four games of the 2004 ALCS, the decision to not bunt against Curt Schilling or an epilogue by Brian Cashman on why, when you stop to think about it, Torre’s time in the Bronx should have been up three years ago. · (8) ·
It’s a rumor that Buster Olney reports on his blog today:
In other words, a lot of conversations that go along these lines: This is how I see a deal working for me, and this is how I see it working for you. It is within this vein that the Padres and Yankees talked briefly about a possible deal that almost certainly won’t happen (Jake Peavy for Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera), and it’s within this vein that teams are now openly shopping their best and youngest pitchers.
My Hughesian bias says no to this one, but it’s tough to sneeze at the likely NL Cy Young winner. However, Mike has a different take:
“You know, Peavy is a great pitcher – young, Ks a ton of guys, durable – but he’s NEVER won a big game…I think he’d shit his pants in NY.”
Point well taken. Mike also brought up the long-term value. While Peavy can be had for reasonable salaries for the next two years, he’s probably looking at $18 million per year as a free agent after that, while Hughes will just be entering his arbitration years. So even if Hughes isn’t quite as good as Peavy — and if he reaches his ceiling he can be as good and even better — his value relative to his salary could easily even out.
Glad to see my Hughesian bias justified by other means.
Following up on yesterday’s discussion about a potential trade for Miguel Cabrera, our focus in third base should shift away from the young Marlins stud and on to some other, slightly less appealing options. The Yankees, you see, have announced that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy are all but untouchable. In a year in which the Yanks will have to fill that third base hole via a trade, this announcement still leaves the Yanks with a few appealing options.
For one of those options, we turn our attention south down I-95. Two hundred and two miles southwest of Yankee Stadium sits Camden Yards where the 31-year-old Miguel Tejada has manned short stop for the last three years. Now, the Orioles, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun, are ready to deal Tejada, and the price tag is not too steep.
According to the Sun, the Orioles are primarily looking for young, nearly Major League-ready position players. While the Yanks are short on that in their farm, the Orioles would not say no to a package with a few young arms either. As club President Andy MacPhail said of the beleaguered franchise, “Let’s get the young talent first, and then we’ll sort it out.”
And then along came Tyler Kepner with possibly the best news of the Yankee off-season: There’s a team out there actually interested in Krazy Kyle Farnsworth. That team just so happens to be the Baltimore Orioles. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Could the Yanks really spin Farnsworth plus some lesser prospects to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada and the $26 million Tejada is owed over the next two season? I don’t see why not.
There is of course a rub. There always is. Miguel Tejada has played 1531 games at short stop during his career and zero at third base. The Yanks would have to convince Tejada – or, dare I suggest it, Derek Jeter – to switch to third base. I’m sure it won’t take much convincing if the Yanks can sell Tejada on playing for a winner.
At 31, Tejada’s on the down swing of a great career that has always seemed one step away from a major PED scandal. His power has declined a bit over the last few seasons, but he still seems good for about a .300/.360/.450 line. He stays healthy; he plays with intensity; and as Buster came oh-so-close to writing today, Tejada is a pretty good fit for the Yankees, all things considered.
I would almost say, with Farnsworth involved, that Tejada is the best option. They can ride it with Tejada for two years and then look at other options after 2009 when Miguel Cabrera hits the open market. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe the Orioles won’t give up a star player without much, much more in compensation. But I like this option quite a bit.
The non-A-Rod news comes to us from the other overpaid former Yankee. Roger Clemens announced his intentions to begin his personal services contract with the Astros. Clemens and his hometown team have a ten-year deal in place, and while Roger could return to the mound as a player in 2008, his body seems to be telling him it is time to retire.
I go back and forth on Clemens’ 2007 season. On the one hand, at $1.11 million per start, he was way overpaid and didn’t really deliver. On the other hand, the other pitchers the Yanks kept trotting out there were just terrible. No matter; Clemens hardly ended his Hall of Fame career on a high note. · (10) ·