Kontos pulls an Ankiel (or a Holland) in Arizona

Baseball America had a nice little puff piece about Graham Stoneburner today, but you need a subscription to read it. The only thing you really need to know is that VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman called him “Jake Westbrook with a little more power … he has that kind of sink on his fastball.” Stoneburner posted a 2.73 FIP in 142 IP in A-Ball this year, though Newman did admit that there’s been “debate internally about him being a starter or being in the pen.” It’s all about the changeup, if he improves it, he’ll start.

Meanwhile, check out these pics of Stoneburner courtesy of Andy in Sunny Daytona.

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (11-4 loss to Peoria)
Jose Pirela, 2B: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Austin Romine, C: 0 for 4, 1 K, 1 PB – six for his last 32 (.188)
Brandon Laird, LF: 0 for 4, 1 K – four walks in 13 games is the same number he had in 31 games with Triple-A Scranton this year
George Kontos: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB – just 17 of 37 pitches were strikes (45.9%) … that’s Sarah Jessica Parker ugly

I’m don’t know how in the world I missed this, but apparently a game had to called early the other day because Desert Dogs manager Don Mattingly ran out of pitchers in the eighth inning. They’re not going to push any of the pitchers in a developmental league, and this doesn’t tell you anything about Donnie’s managerial ability, but it’s just funny. Could you imagine if he had just been named the next manager of the Yanks (with zero experience, no less) and this happened? The MSM would have a field day.

Open Thread: NCAA Football Comes To The Bronx

That pic comes courtesy of the Yankees, and it’s obviously a shot of the field goal posts being put up in Yankee Stadium in advance of the two NCAA football games that will be played there this winter. Army and Notre Dame will meet on November 20th, and exactly a month later two teams will meet in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Apparently the field will be laid out like this, which is … interesting. Anyone out there going to either of the games? I sure as hell ain’t.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the evening. It’s Friday, so I suggest going out and doing something fun. If you’re stuck inside, you could always seek the comfort of the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, and/or Devils, all of whom are in action tonight. Talk about whatever, go nuts.

Friday Notes: Pitching Coach, Payroll, Lineup, CC, More

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman spoke to the media via conference call today and hit on a few topics, so lets’ round it all up. All the info below comes courtesy of RAB fave Marc Carig

  • Girardi and Cashman have brainstormed about potential pitching coaches, but so far they have not yet reached out to anyone nor have they scheduled any interviews. Cashman doesn’t expect the process to move quickly, which is kinda surprising. He added that bullpen coach Mike Harkey and Triple-A Scranton pitching coach Scott Aldred are candidates for the job.
  • Cashman on hitting coach Kevin Long: “I think he’d like to stay. We’d like to keep him. I think he’s exceptional at what he does.” K-Long’s contract is up, and I suspect he’s seeking a considerable raise and multiple years. He deserves it.
  • “Nothing’s really going to happen until I sit down with my bosses,” said Cashman. He’ll meet with Hal Steinbrenner and whoever else on Monday and Tuesday in Tampa. The 2011 payroll will be hashed out during those meetings.
  • Beyond pitching, Cashman doesn’t think the team “needs a lot of changes.” The only change they need as far as the lineup goes is for certain guys to get back to performing up to their full potential. That’s the biggest upgrade they could make.
  • “Our lineup is maybe something that could change next year,” said Girardi. I think that’s code for “Derek Jeter won’t keep hitting leadoff if he doesn’t get on base more than 34% of the time,” or at least I hope it is.
  • CC Sabathia was dealing with his knee issue since early in the season, and it had no bearing on why he wasn’t used in relief in Game Six of the ALCS. They suspect it may have affected his mechanics, which is kinda crazy since he still had a Cy Young caliber season. Sabathia had surgery to repair the minor meniscus tear in his right knee today and will need three weeks to rehab, as expected. It won’t hurt his offseason training at all, he usually doesn’t start throwing again until after Christmas anyway.
  • As far as leaving for the Cubs, Girardi said he “didn’t really think about leaving the Yankees.” The idea of him bolting for Chicago was mostly fan and media speculation, anyway. Two and two made three, then we tried to squeeze it into four.

Parking prices up 50% at stadium lots for 2011

Yankee fans who opt to drive to the Bronx next season may find themselves in for a new round of sticker shock. Due to lower-than-expected revenue and the looming threat of default on a bond payment, Bronx Parking Development, the owner of the stadium parking garages, will raise parking rates as much as 50 percent for the 2011 season. Barring an off-season restructuring of the parking lot bonds, a spot in the lots will now cost at least $35 while the valet option will reach $45.

It never made much sense for the city of New York to surround Yankee Stadium with parking lots. Because of the fast, easy and cheap access provided by the IRT and IND subways, relatively few Yankee fans drive to the games as it is, and the new Metro-North stop made transit access that much easier (and cheaper). Yet, even though on-street parking remained an option and the rates at the Gateway Shopping Mall lots are just $10, the city expanded the number of stadium spots from 6500 to 9127 against the wishes of Bronx politicians and community leaders.

The move has been a debacle from the start. This year, for instance, when the Red Sox were in town, BPD reported just 5600 paid costumers. To add insult to injury, New York selected a company with a history of defaulting on bond payments to build the lots.

Last month, I reported that BPD was facing a revenue crisis. Because the company saw just $4.8 million in revenue — half of its initial estimates — BPD was in danger of defaulting on its payments. Parking rates would inevitably have to increase for 2011, and as Juan Gonzalez reports today, that is exactly what’s going to happen. He reports:

Even at [$35 per car], the garages will still fall into a technical default unless two-thirds of bondholders agree to waive some requirements in the original construction bonds.

Bronx Parking barely managed to make a $6.8 million bond payment that was due Oct. 1 and will likely not have enough cash to make its next $6.8 million due in April. Without the waiver, the company warned, it will be forced to charge a minimum of $55 per car next year to avoid a default.

“The truth of the matter is, the whole thing’s a mess,” said one financial adviser to several bondholders. “If the city doesn’t step in, there’s no way Bronx Parking can pay back the money it took to build those garages.”

This story just gets messier and messier as it progresses. The city’s Economic Development Corporation seemingly flushed taxpayer money down the drain in selection Bronx Parking Development as well. They granted the company $237 million in tax-free bonds and gave it $100 million as well. This is money we’re likely never to see returned to New York’s empty coffers.

For now, the bondholders are struggling to restructure the company’s finances in order to avoid a default, but as Gonzalez points out, higher rates will do nothing to stem this financial bleeding. As parking rates go up, more and more fans will choose to reach the stadium via transit.

Bronx officials meanwhile are urging the city to correct this project’s deep flaws. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz wants the city to sell off the excess garage space for “other development projects” that will better benefit the South Bronx area. Said one Bronx politician to the Daily News, “We don’t need a wasteland of empty garages in this borough.”

RAB Live Chat

Trading Joe Girardi

It has happened before, but that doesn’t mean it was a wise decision. After the 2002 season, the Seattle Mariners essentially traded manager Lou Piniella to the Devil Rays for Randy Winn and Antonio Perez. Previously, the A’s traded their manager, Chuck Tanner, for Manny Sanguillen*. I’m not sure exactly why a team would trade a player for a manager, but I’m sure they have their reasons. What I find ridiculous is that a team would trade a 20-year-old top prospect for a manager. Yet the possibility of such a swap has dominated headlines this morning.

*Thanks to Big League Stew for the instant info.

Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Marlins and White Sox discussed a trade that would have sent Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins. It’s no secret that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has long coveted Guillen, who was the third base coach on the Marlins 2003 World Champion team. Who would the Marlins send to Chicago in this scenario? De Luca ends up burying the lede in the seventh paragraph (emphasis mine):

According to major-league sources, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was intent on making Guillen his next manager. Talks, sources say, progressed to the point that there was discussion of executing a trade that would send Guillen, who has a year left on his contract, to the Marlins for 20-year-old outfielder Mike Stanton, who hit 22 home runs and knocked in 59 runs in just 100 games as a rookie this season.

Yes, that’s the Mike Stanton who is one of five players in MLB history to have an ISO of .245 or greater with 375 or more PA at age 20 or younger. (Others: Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson.) It’s the same Mike Stanton who was Baseball America’s No. 3 overall prospect entering the 2010 season. It’s certainly not the Mike Stanton who had two stints with the Yankees. If Loria actually put this on the table — I don’t even want to think about what it would mean if Loria offered it and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf rejected it.

Chances are the story isn’t totally accurate. As Patriot said on Twitter, “If credible, that should be the lead of the article, not Ozzie/Kenny soap opera.” I agree. If there was a real, known offer of Stanton for Guillen, that should have moved right to the top — we can see evidence of this in every subsequent blog post, since they’ve all led with the compensation rather than the drama. Still, it does raise interesting questions. Sky Kalkman asks perhaps the most interesting one: “Who would you trade Joe Girardi for?” But since that covers a large range of players, I’d rephrase it to, “Who is the worst player you’d accept for Girardi?”

A young player or prospect is optimal, since you’d get the most out of him. But most owners and GMs aren’t as crazy as Loria, so I doubt any of them would trade a good prospect or young player for a manager. I would, however, trade Girardi for a Randy Winn, circa 2002, type player. He was 28 that year and has just produced the best wOBA of his career, .360. He could play all three outfield positions as well. He didn’t quite live up to the .360 standard in Seattle, but he still provided them with decent production (114 and 110 wRC+). That would mean someone like Andres Torres. If you’re looking for an infielder it would look more like Casey McGehee, Omar Infante, or Mike Napoli.

Is a player like that — one who produced good numbers in 2010 at a relatively older age — a good trade-off for a manager? I’d say yes. I like Girardi as a manager, but the Yankees fan find someone with comparable on-field skills who can manage the men on the team. It’s essentially a trade of intangibles for tangibles — or at least the hope of tangibles. It’s a tough call, but give me the production and let the front office find a different guy to lead the team.

The theme for the comments is obvious. 1) Would you trade Girardi for the players mentioned above? 2) Who is the type of player for whom you’d trade Girardi.

Mailbag: Montero, Lee, Burnett, A-Rod, DH

Mailbag’s back, and we’re not going to make a whole day out of it either. Just a few questions with some rapid fire answers. If you want to send in some questions in the future, just use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. I’m thinking every Friday morning is a fine time for the mailbag, no? Anyway, on to the questions …

Den asks: Just a thought. Is it a good idea to get Mo back as a pitching coach instead of a player? I thought that would be a good compromise without losing a ‘face’ of the Yankees. Would that even be possible?

No, give me Mariano Rivera as a pitcher every day of the week, he’ll way more valuable to the Yankees that way. Mo’s a great pitcher, one of the greatest that will ever play, but we have no idea about his ability to coach. If they did that, it would be a move based on sentimentality and not evidence of his ability to run a pitching staff.

If you’re talking about after he retires … still no. I suspect he’s the kind of the guy that you won’t see around the ballpark often once he hands ‘em up, just during Spring Training and stuff. But that’s just me.

Sean asks: How well does Montero call games? Are there any reports (scouting or otherwise) on this? If his defense (throwing runners out, blocking balls, etc.) is even at the same level of Posada or Cervelli, how can he not be with the club out of spring training (assuming his bat shows up)?

You don’t hear much about how well (or how poorly) minor league catchers call games because not many do it. A lot of times they’re told to focus on the physical aspects of the game as well as their training, and let the coaches call pitches from the bench. Also, a lot of times the pitcher will be working on something, say a changeup, and he’ll be mandated by the organization to throw X number of those pitches per start. There’s no game calling skill or strategy to that, it’s just a pitch for development’s sake. Outcome is meaningless. Long story short, I know nothing about his skills as a game caller.

Montero could probably break camp with the big league team next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent him back to Triple-A for a month or two just to keep his service time down. The Yankees have plenty of money, but there are legitimate baseball reasons for Montero to go back down, namely his defense. The service time thing is an added benefit.

Anonymous asks: Who would you take, Wil Myers or Jesus Montero?

Montero, but Myers is awesome. The Royals’ prospect hit .315/.429/.506 with 37 doubles and 14 homers split between High-A and Double-A this year, his age-19 season. He’s just as likely to move out from behind the plate as Montero, probably to the outfield. Montero has more power and is a better pure hitter, but Myers has more plate discipline. They’re both awesome, but I’ll take Hey-Zeus.

AD asks: Any chance that having Lee on the team will help out A.J.? Burnett had his best year in Toronto observing and emulating Halladay’s work habits. A.J. likes Lee…same hometown..and A.J. was inspired to pitch a great critical game 2 in 2009 WS after watching Lee’s shutdown performance against the Yanks in gm 1. Whaddya think?

Eh. It’s all up to Burnett, not the people around him. I mean, yeah, the support system counts, but there’s only so much they can do. He and Lee share an agent and (essentially) a hometown, so maybe it would help more than we realize, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A.J. is what he is at this point of his career.

Anonymous asks: Checkout the numbers: 535 AB, 112 R, 137 H, 40 2B, 1 3B, 29 HR, 104 RBI, .256 AVG. That’s Alex facing a lefty over the last 4 years. I would have thought it would be a lot higher. Any clue why this is?

Yeah, I wish I knew. Here are his wOBA’s vs. LHP since joining the Yankees, starting with 2004 and ending with 2010: .446, .412, .421, .402, .378, .402, .323. His performance really started to suffer in 2008, so perhaps the hip is to blame. Maybe he’s having a tougher time getting to stuff on the outer half, and instead of driving those pitches with authority, he’s tapping them on the ground or popping them up to the outfield. Maybe he’s just getting old, can’t ignore that possibility.

Based on the last few years, even with the bad hip, 2010 looks like a massive outlier, so I’d expect some sort of rebound against southpaws next year. A-Rod‘s just too talented to all of a sudden stop hitting a demographic he’s typically annihilated.

Anonymous asks: Who would be a better DH option for next year, between V-Mart, Dunn, and Berkman? Granted that Dunn “doesn’t want” to be a DH, but he will try to be and the Yanks were interested in him during the trade deadline. V-Mart could give Posada a break at catching, and Tex a break at 1B once a week. Despite V-Mart stinks at catching, Cervelli won’t have to catch 100 games like this season. Simply resigning Berkman, and hope that 2010 season is just bad luck.

Of those three, give me Adam Dunn. He could legitimately hit 50 homers in Yankee Stadium and is always an on-base threat. Victor Martinez might be more useful since he could spot start behind the plate and at first, but he’s pretty awful defensively, not much better than Jorge Posada at all. We know all about Berkman, would be nice if he started hitting lefties though.

I don’t think the Yanks will sign a designated hitter this winter, at least not a big money one like those guys. At some point Montero is going to work his way into the lineup, and they’re going to need that DH spot so he and Posada can rotate. Unless someone like Berkman falls into their laps dirt cheap in February, I think you’ll see Posada, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Marcus Thames (assuming he re-signs) rotate at DH until Montero forces their hand. If he doesn’t, they’ll probably look for someone at the trade deadline. These kinds of guys are easy to find in July.