Fan Confidence Poll: November 29th, 2010

Season Record: 95-67 (859 RS, 693 RA, 98-64 Pythag. record), finished one game back in AL East, won Wild Card, lost in ALCS

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 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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Mailbag: Carl Pavano

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

If Carl Pavano hadn’t already pitched for the Yankees, would you consider him as an starting pitching option?

With Hiroki Kuroda and Jake Westbrook re-signing with the Dodgers and Cardinals, respectively, Pavano is the best pitcher on the free agent market not named Cliff Lee. Usually a guy like that would be the first backup plan should the Yankees fail to sign Lee, but given their history there’s zero chance of Pavano returning to New York. They’d sooner start Sidney Ponson every five days. But let’s forget all that for a second and break him down as a pitcher.

Pavano, 35 in January, has developed into a bonafide workhorse over the last two seasons, ironic given his tenure in New York. He threw 221 innings in 2010 (seven (!!!) complete games) and 199.1 the year before, good for the 19th most innings in all of baseball over the last two seasons. A sinker-slider-changeup mix results in a ton of groundballs (47.5% over the last two years) and he doesn’t hurt himself with walks at all (just 73 unintentional walks during that time, or 1.56 BB/9). Lots of innings, lots of groundballs, and few walks are a slam dunk recipe for success, but there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Pavano going forward.

For one, he doesn’t strike anyone out, just 4.76 K/9 in 2010 and 6.64 (second best mark of his career) the year before. Pavano’s swing-and-miss rate is just 8.02% over the last two years, below the 8.5% league average. His fastball velocity is trending downward, and despite the impressive ground ball rate, Pavano can still be prone to giving up the long ball (1.07 HR/9 since 2009). That’s with just about a quarter of his innings coming at spacious Target Field as well, a park that suppressed homers to just 64.1% of the league average in its inaugural season. When he’s made mistakes, he’s made them up in the zone, a bad sign.

Given the contracts already handed to Kuroda, Westbrook, Ted Lilly, and Jon Garland, it’s safe to say that Pavano’s looking at no fewer than two years (likely three) guaranteed at $10M per season. For a guy that struggles to miss bats and needs a strong defense behind him to survive, that price just doesn’t make sense for the Yankees. They’ve built their pitching staffs around strikeout pitchers the last few years, taking what was once a below average team defense out of the equation as much as possible. It’s a sound strategy regardless of what the team’s defense looks like, really, but Pavano doesn’t fit that mold at all. He’d probably be able to step into their rotation and be a back-end innings guy in New York, which absolutely has value, but they need something better that right now.

Even assuming 2005 through 2008 never happened, I’d still be against a Carl Pavano signing unless the Yankees whiffed on Plans A, B, and C. He’d be a last resort kind of guy for me. If he’s not missing bats and is giving up a decent amount of homers now, what will he be doing in two or three years?

Open Thread: Jesus turns 21

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

A very happy birthday goes out to the best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system today; Jesus Montero turns the ripe old age of 21. When I turned 21, I was just starting my junior year of college and trying to figure out where the hell my life was going. Montero already has a full year at Triple-A under his belt and is a .314/.371/.511 career hitter with 162 extra base hits in 380 career games. I suddenly feel very inadequate. Happy birthday kid. Make us all proud next year.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The late game has the Chargers at the Colts, plus the Knicks and Nets are both in action. Wish Montero a happy birthday and then talk about whatever you want here. Go nuts.

Olney: Cliff Lee talks are a good fit to pick up this week

Via Buster Olney, negotiations between free agent southpaw Cliff Lee and the various clubs try to sign him are expected to pick up this coming week, and there’s a decent chance he’ll pick his new home during the Winter Meetings in two weeks. “We’ve got a fair number of teams trying to work through the process,” said agent Darek Braunecker. “It’s probably fair to say we’ve got a half-dozen teams in the mix.” We’ve heard that the Yankees are prepared to offer him five years and $120M, though rumors of a Sabathian deal have been floating around. Get ready, the hot stove is ready to take off.

Yomiuri sends Yankees $1.2M for Albaladejo

Well check this out. According to a report passed along by MLBTR, the Yomiuri Giants have sent the Yankees $1.2M for Jon Albaladejo. Albie finalized his deal with Yomiuri yesterday. I didn’t expect the Yanks to get anything out of the move other than a free 40-man roster spot, so this is a pleasant surprise. Granted, $1.2M isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just about enough to cover the salaries of Jesus Montero, Frankie Cervelli, and Ramiro Pena next season.

Vazquez lands with the Marlins

Via MLBTR, Javy Vazquez has agreed to a one-year deal for some unknown amount of money with the Florida Marlins. It makes sense, NL team in a big park nice and close to his home in Puerto Rico. Javy still has to pass a physical before the deal becomes official and the Yankees get their extra draft pick, and I guess that’s not a given considering his utter lack of stuff at the end of the season. Either way, I wish him luck and hope the Yankees get to face him in the 2011 World Series.

Yanks getting ready to up offer to Jeter

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

It’s been a messy few weeks of negotiations between the Yankees and Derek Jeter, as the two sides have taken to the press to state their cases and maximize their leverage. The Yanks offered their captain a more than fair three-year contract at $15M a season, but Jeter’s camp is looking for four or five years worth up to $24M a season. A large gap certainly, but not an unbridgeable one, and the team is prepared to up their initial offer. Take it away, Jon Heyman

The Yankees appear willing to enhance their latest $45 million, three-year offer to retain the iconic Yankee, but are said to be unwilling to match his previous salary on a deal of at least three years. Jeter just completed a 10-year, $189-million deal that paid him about $21 million in 2010.

The Yankees’ next offer is expected to be for a couple million more per year, so perhaps in the $50 million range for three years. Indications thus far are they have very little inclination to add a fourth year, though that can’t be entirely ruled out. The team would like to complete the Jeter negotiations so they can get to the rest of their offseason to-do list, bringing Jeter’s longtime friend and iconic closer Mariano Rivera back into the fold and pressing to sign superstar free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

As expected, the money isn’t much of an issue, it’s the years. Just ten shortstops have posted a 90 OPS+ or better at age-36, and one of those was Jeter last season (exactly 90). Just three (Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, and Jeter) have done it since 1970, and the first two had decided defensive advantages over the Yankee icon. As historically great as Jeter has been, paying him in hopes that he’ll evade Father Time for the life of the contract is a foolish bet.

Ben explained the leverage situation last week, and for all intents and purposes Jeter has none. No other teams are bidding on him at that price, so the only thing he and agent Casey Close can do is push his iconic status. The Yankees appear to be more than happy to make Jeter filthy stinkin’ rich all over again, but they don’t want to lock themselves into a declining player for the next half-decade just because he’s Derek Jeter. Hard to blame them. I suspect this will all get settled somewhere in the three-year, $60M neighborhood, but don’t hold your breath. This might drag on into January.