With the Winter Meetings wrapping up today, I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who has stopped by over the last days. On Monday, we set a new RAB record with a hair under 30,000 page views; on Tuesday, we topped that record and hit 34,000; on Wednesday, we blew past Tuesday’s total to end the day with over 42,000 page views. In other words, with Mike and Joe in Vegas covering the meetings and my running the wires in New York, we’ve pulled in over 108,000 page views in three days.
On a similar vein, Rob Neyer penned an interesting piece on his acceptance into the BBWAA. He’s certainly a bit ambivalent about inclusion, and one of his passages strikes a chord:
when I was hired to write for ESPN’s Web site in 1996, nobody told me to respect my elders. So I didn’t. If I thought Tracy Ringolsby was writing foolishly, I said so. If I thought Tom Verducci had crossed the line from intelligent analysis (of which he’s highly capable) into subjective dim-wittedness, I said so. And usually not with any surplus of grace. I believed then (and believe now) that my job, my responsibility, is to entertain and to educate, and that “not ruffling feathers” falls way, way down on the list somewhere.
That gets at the root of what we do. Yes, we’re fans covering our favorite team. But at the same time, we don’t give the Yanks and the papers that cover them a free pass. I cover the stadium issue quasi-fanatically because there’s been an utter lack of skeptical and accurate reporting. Joe takes issue with the New York Post because they more than push that line Neyer mentions. Mike delves into the minors because few others do. We like to hope that we bring something new and unique to the table, and I guess we’re doing something right.
So thank you to the regulars and thank you to the new folks who have stopped by. We’ll be here all winter and into the season as well. Make sure you come back.
Don’t buy your Cameron jerseys quite yet. The deal may have hit a roadblock. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers want another player, and the Yanks want the Brewers to pick up some salary. Neither team is budging on this issue quite yet, but if the two sides want to get it done, they will. The idea that Melky is somehow enough compensation for Mike Cameron and salary is objectively preposterous. · (149) ·
I’m camped out in the Rule 5 Draft war room, and I have to say there’s way more people here than I would have thought. I’m not going to take a picture of the room because there’s not much to see; lots of chairs, a podium on the stage and two big projection screens with a simple yet fancy R5D logo. I’d estimate that there’s room for about 500 people in here.
The big event starts at noon eastern, and I’ll be live blogging the whole schabang. Until then, you can check out some previews from Chad Jennings, Jonathan Mayo, and John Manuel. I know it’s the same software, but it’s not a chat, it’s a liveblog. I expect this thing to go by pretty fast, so I won’t be answering any questions. Maybe afterwards if I have time, but our flight is leaving pretty soon.
Mike’s about to start his Rule V live-blog, but let’s sum up some Yankee rumors. The mill never stops around here.
- According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yanks are the frontrunners for the services of A.J. Burnett. If no team is willing to top a five-year, $85-million offer the Bombers have outstanding, A.J. is theirs for the taking. At the very least, the Yanks will not be outbid by any other team.
- Derek Lowe likes the Yanks’ signing of Sabathia, and while common sense would dictate that Lowe wouldn’t sign if A.J. does, Jayson Stark says that’s not true.
- The Yanks are keeping a close eye on Mark Teixeira. You have to figure at this point the Yanks will land a bat and that the bat will either by Teixeira or Manny Ramirez. But that’s just my idle speculation.
According to conflicting reports, the Yankees and Brewers have either agreed or are very close to agreeing on a trade that would send Melky Cabrera to the Brewers and Mike Cameron and his $10 million contract to the Yanks. Bill Hall may or may not be involved. More in a minute.
Update By Joe (10:32 a.m. EST): Dan Graziano says that the Yankees could include a pitching prospect, though it won’t be Ian Kennedy. The Haudricourt piece says that both teams are willing to explore Bill Hall, whom we do not like. The Brewers aren’t just going to give him away, though, and I don’t think he’s worth surrendering anything of value. If you want another utility guy, sign Nick Punto.
Joel Sherman says that the pitching prospect will depend on how much of Cameron’s $10 million salary Milwaukee is willing to absorb.
Unless something major is breaking, odds are good that the three of us are sleeping right now. It’s about 6:30 a.m. in Vegas, and while I woke up Joe with a 5:30 a.m. Vegas time text about Sabathia, I promised I wouldn’t do that today unless the sky happens to fall.
As we gear up for the last day of Winter Meetings and Mike’s upcoming Rule V draft live-blog, I wanted to play a little what if game based on an Anthony McCarron tidbit. In the few hours between K-Rod’s signing and the CC Sabathia news, the New York newspapers quickly filled up with glowing articles about Francisco Rodriguez. As part of the Daily News’ wall-to-wall coverage, McCarron unveiled a K-Rod timeline featuring this juicy tidbit:
September 24, 1998: Rodriguez, only 16 years old, signs with the Angels as an amateur free agent. The Angels beat out several other teams, including the Yankees, with a $900,000 offer. Yanks were reportedly ready to go higher than that, but Rodriguez believes Angels when they tell him he’d have a quicker path to the majors.
Now, I haven’t really been able to confirm this 11-year-old piece of news. 1998, the year the Yanks won 125 games and dominated the Padres in the World Series, was a year before time. We had no blogs; we barely had the Internet. No one paid attention to signings of 16-year-olds out of Venezuela. Jesus Montero would have been just a blip on the radar of the Yankee Universe a decade ago.
But it does pose an interesting “what if.” What if the Yanks had been the ones to sign K-Rod? What they offered him more money, as McCarron said they did, and he bit? It’s safe to say that the last six years would look much different.
In 2002, in the ALDS, K-Rod, then 20, had thrown just 5.2 innings at the Major League level, but because of a quirk in the rules concerning injuries, the Angels were able to add him to the Major League roster. He took the playoffs by storm. He earned the win in two of the Angels’ victories against the Yankees, and Anaheim would go on to capture a ring. All told, K-Rod earned the W in five of the Angels’ 11 playoff wins that year. It’s not a stretch to say that the 99-win 2002 Yankees would have suffered a far different fate had K-Rod been in their system.
Beyond that, it’s too tempting to play even more dangerous “what if” games. What if K-Rod and not Tom Gordon had faced David Ortiz in 2004? I’ll let you turn that one over in your mind, knowing that the Red Sox have beaten K-Rod the closer a few times. K-Rod the premiere set-up man would be an entirely different beast.
Of course, baseball is filled with these what if’s, and as Rodriguez finally comes to New York, it’s interesting and dangerous to imagine what could have been had he chosen the Yanks’ money over the Angels’ promise.
It was an exciting day in Yankeeland, as the team acquired their #1 target of the off-season, one Casten Charles Sabathia. We talk about the deal, how the Yanks got to it, and of course the opt-out.
With CC on board, this leads us to talk about what’s next. We’ve heard multiple reports of the Yankees offering A.J. Burnett multiple years. We heard five years and $80 million, but now Ken Rosenthal has it at five years and $91 million. It’s tough to like this development. It appears, though, Rosenthal has retracted the report.
Oh, and we have a poll:
Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.
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Before Mike and Joe unleash the last Vegas RAB podcast on the world, let’s wrap up some late-night rumors:
- A few minutes ago, Ken Rosenthal was reporting that the Yanks were ready to offer five years and an absurd $91 million to A.J. Burnett, but he has since retracted that rumor. Instead, Rosenthal reports in his 11:25 p.m. update that the Yanks will sign one of A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe and one of Andy Pettitte or Ben Sheets. The current outstanding offer to Burnett is five years and $80 million as far as we know.
From a personnel perspective, I’d go with Burnett and Sheets. From a contract perspective, I’d probably rather take Lowe’s four years and Sheets’ two or three. I think if the Yanks have their druthers, Pettitte is the odd man out.
- On the Pettitte front, the Los Angeles Times reports that despite numerous potential suitors, Andy Pettitte will probably retire if the Yanks don’t resign him for 2009.
- Dan Graziano, out of a job in January, notes that the Manny Ramirez talk is intensifying. Some factions with the Front Office want the Yanks to go after Manny. I like this move too. They won’t need to commit too many years to Manny, and he makes everyone else in the lineup better. This should probably still be considered a long shot, however. The Dodgers remain heavily involved with Manny.
So far, we’ve seen a lot of takes on the apparent three-year opt-out the Yanks are going to include in CC Sabathia‘s rather large contract. While some people like it and others don’t, I think Ken Davidoff’s take earlier this afternoon is the most pragmatic. He writes:
As long as CC is healthy in three years, he’ll be gone, you’ve got to figure. By that point, Barry Zito will have just two years remaining on his seven-year, $126-million deal with the Giants, so San Francisco should be more open to bringing him aboard.
At least with the opt-out, the whole thing is a little more honest. The Yankees and Sabathia are going to use each other – the Yankees because their homegrown guys aren’t ready yet, and Sabathia because the Giants aren’t ready yet for him. It’s a marriage of convenience.
If CC, at age 31, opts out of a guaranteed $92 million because he thinks he can land more, well then fine. As more than a few writers have noted, if he opts out, it’s because he has pitched well enough to land another big contract just as he’s entering his declining years. If the Giants or Dodgers want to pay him for that, then okay. If he doesn’t opt out because loves New York, then okay. And if he doesn’t opt out because he’s hurt, then not so okay.
Right now, it’s a marriage of convenience. By the time this becomes an issue after the 2011 season, we’ll know what we have in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and a whole host of young arms. Only then will we know if the Yanks gambled properly, but my guess is that they did.
I don’t much like it, but that’s what Heyman says and that’s what ESPN says. Five years is a lot for a pitcher who will be 32 on Opening Day and has a history of injury. But the Yanks have money and needs. I’d rather see Sheets fill that high-potential, oft-injured slot, and at least with Ben, the Yanks would gain some roster flexibility that a five-year deal for A.J. does not afford them. A decision on this one may come sooner rather than later from Burnett. · (149) ·