With apologies to Donald Rumsfeld for the headline…
Let’s assume for a minute something rather unlikely: The Yankees will make no trades this year prior to the deadline. Therefore, the team as it is now is the team we will have after the season ends whether that be in September or October.
As the Yankees stand now, the 2008 edition will look vastly different from the one on the field come Opening Day 2009. Of the high-price free agents hitting the market this winter, the Yanks have their fare share of them. Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Mussina, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte and LaTroy Hawkins (if he makes it that long) will all be off the books.
But besides the money, the Yankees will have roster spots to fill. The losses of Abreu and Giambi will create big holes in the middle of the lineup. The pending free agencies of Moose and Pettitte would leave the Yanks without two pitching stalwarts, and even Kyle Farnsworth has turned himself into a useful part this year.
Tonight, as we suffer through yet another evening with no Yankee game, let’s turn our thoughts to 2009. What should the Yankees do?
They could — and probably will — work out a reduced-cost extension with Jason Giambi. They owe him $5 million if they don’t pick up his $22 million option next year. But Mark Teixeira‘s impending free agency looms large over any discussion of first base. And somehow the Yanks will have to fill Bobby Abreu’s outfield spot. Austin Jackson isn’t ready yet.
Andy Pettitte will come back if he wants to come back, and I have to believe that he’ll want to be there to open the new Yankee Stadium after his long tenure in pinstripes. But what about Mussina? A few months’ shy of 40, he’s pitching his way toward a multi-year deal if he wants it. Should the Yanks — with young pitching galore — wave good bye to Mussina? Or should they subscribe to the philosophy that one can never have too much pitching?
And then there are the free agents. CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both hitting the market at the same time. The lefty — healthier, better — will want Johan Santana money while Sheets is an injury risk but won’t expect a six- or seven-year deal. A.J. Burnett is also an intriguing name.
So have some fun with this, and try to be realistic. Who do you want to see in the Bronx next year? What moves should the Yanks make? Who should they pursue in free agency and which of their own players should they eschew signing to new deals? And just what do you do with the enigma that is Kyle Farnsworth?
“I guess I can say that they have engaged us in the past and I’ve told them that I have too many people, maybe not too many people with the same ability, but too many people at the same spot that you have a lot of dollars committed to.”
However, that was before Matsui faced a setback in his rehab and Jorge realized that the pain in his shoulder is too much. With both offensive cogs likely done for the season, it looks like the Yanks don’t have “too many people at the same slot.” Though they brought in Dicklock Sexy, he seems to be an option only against lefties and as a late-innings defensive replacement.
Could the Yanks work out a system whereby Bonds takes a few days a week from Damon in left, in which Damon would DH, while acting as the primary DH? Could Damon move to center some days and Bonds could play left? Oi, that would be some horrid outfield defense. And where would that leave Jason Giambi? He needs time at DH, too.
It appears the Yanks will be addressing these question, and are probably addressing them as you read this. I’ll offer that there are certainly worse ideas. But the idea of having Bonds in left, Damon in center, and Abreu in right is frightening. Maybe if Wang was on the mound, but we know that’s not happening for a while.
Growing up a Yankee fan and then attending college a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, I’ve seen my fair share of nasty fan behavior. But one thing I learned from my parents early on — and this puts my firmly in the minority among Yankee fans — is never to do the “Boston sucks” chant. Sure, Boston, for the first 21 years of my life, was an abject failure of a baseball team and objectively they did suck for a very long time. But cheering that way just isn’t respectful.
Today, Kevin Cullen, a Red Sox fan and columnist for the Boston Globe, succinctly sums up the case against “Yankees sucks” chants. As he writes, “My experience has been that most people who shout “Yankees suck” are either drunk, obnoxious, or stupid and very often a combination of all three.” In a way, he’s speaking for us in the Bronx too. · (47) ·
Via Ken Davidoff, the Yanks have signed their seventh round pick, California prep catcher Kyle Higashioka, to a deal worth approximately $400,000. Rated the 77th best prospect in the state by Baseball America, they describe him as a superb defensive catcher with interesting power potential. The deal is roughly $250,000 overslot, and buys him out of a commitment to Cal. Austin Romine, Jesus Montero & Higashioka are an eviably trio of lower level catching prospects. (h/t to Patrick) · (48) ·
…that George Brett and pinetar become indelibly linked in the collective baseball memory of our country. Tyler Kepner profiles the infamous incident. I enjoyed Kepner’s piece because, while I know the story behind the pine tar brouhaha, I was nearly four months old at the time and don’t remember it all that well. As a sidebar, Kepern checks in on the bat as well. · (8) ·
Across the nation on the West Coast, the Dodgers are in second place, just one game behind the D-Backs. But by many accounts, their season has not been a success. They’re three games under .500, and as Ian O’Connor writes, Joe Torre doesn’t look so hot anymore. Sure, Frank McCourt killed a deal for CC Sabathia. Sure, Ned Colletti will probably take the blame. Los Angeles, however, expected more from Joe. I was surprised when Torre took this LA job. It was a no-win situation for him because, while the pressure wasn’t as high as it was in New York, anything short of a World Series would be both a disappointment and an admission that perhaps Torre isn’t as great an on-field manager as many think he was while in the Bronx. · (93) ·
The Yankees today sit at something of a crossroad in 2008. They are on the verge of an important three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. They’ve gained a lot of ground in both the division and Wild Card and could see their play this weekend determine whether they are pretenders or contenders.
Meanwhile, one of their star players and biggest money-makers, number 20 himself, Jorge Posada has a decision to make as well. On the one hand, we have doctors — many of them — calling for Posada to get surgery. It is a foregone conclusion that, at some point, he will need surgery on his ailing shoulder, and recovery time for this surgery is at least six months. If he has the operation now, he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training if all goes according to plan. His window for this decision is about two weeks.
But at the same time, Jorge Posada sees the Yankees winning and doesn’t want to give up. He also knows that the Yankees rewarded him with a high-risk, four-year contract. While this shoulder injury isn’t indicative of the problems likely to show up in the latter years of the contract, that Posada is missing so much time at age 36 is sending off alarm bells left and right.
To that end, Jorge is considing a position change that would keep him in the lineup. He might play first; he might DH; he won’t be catching. Some reports have pressure on Posada originated with Yanks’ Team President Randy Levine. Others have it coming from Jorge himself and his desire to play.
But the reality is that the Yankees need Jorge Posada to be healthy for next season. They don’t need him to delay surgery, and they know that his bat isn’t what it should be with his shoulder hurting. In fact, Jorge has said so himself, and the numbers bear him out. Since returning from the DL in June, Jorge has hit .248/.380/.371 over 129 plate appearances. Since July 1, those numbers — .214/.365/.262 — look even worse.
For the Yankees and for Jorge, it’s not worth the risk. Posada should get the surgery and come back next year. The Yankees — 6-0 in the last six games — can win without Jorge, but next year, they’ll need him healthy and ready to go.
Triple-A Scranton was warshed out. They’re going to make this heres one up as part of a doubleheader tomorrow. If you’ve ever set foot in Scranton, you’ll get that.
Double-A Trenton (2-1 win over New Hampshire)
Reegie Corona: 2 for 4, 2 K
Ramiro Pena & Austin Jackson: both 1 for 4, 1 R – Ajax doubled & uninspiringly K’ed
Chris Malec: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB – 17 for his last 35 (.486) with 3 XBH and a 7-9 K/BB ratio
Colin Curtis: 2 for 3, 2 RBI, 1 BB
PJ Pilittere: 0 for 3 - left the game in the middle of the bottom of the 7th for an unknown reason
Edwar Gonzalez & James Cooper: both 0 for 4 – Cooper K’ed & is now 6 for his last 37 (.162)
Walt Ibarra: 1 or 4, 1 K
Chase Wright: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 9-11 GB/FB
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 5-1 GB/FB – 2 runs allowed in his last 14.1 IP
Four starts into the season, things were not looking up for Mike Mussina. The 39-year-old, coming off his worst professional season in 2007, began the year 1-3, and after a three-inning shellacking at the hands of Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox, his ERA stood at 5.75. On April 23, Hank Steinbrenner publicly slammed Mooes.
Well, since then, it’s been an entirely different story. With his eight shut-out innings this afternoon, Mike Mussina improved to 12-3 over his last 17 starts. He’s thrown 101 innings and has an ERA of 2.76 over that stretch. He has struck out 74 while walking just 13, none since his July 5 start against the Red Sox. He’s not giving up free passes; he’s pitching well with runners on base; and much like Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along.
For Mussina, today’s game was something of a milestone. He’s reached 13 wins in 21 starts, and he figures to have another 12 or 13 starts this season. Can he win seven more of those to reach 20 wins for the first time in his career? I’m pulling for him.
The Yanks, meanwhile, had their typical offensive game. Robinson Cano picked up his usual two hits; A-Rod picked up his usual two RBIs. After Glen Perkins stifled the offensive for the first four innings, mental errors doomed the Twins in the 5th, and the Yanks plated three more in the 6th.
While LaTroy Hawkins had to be lifted for Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth, the Yanks held on for a 5-1 win. They’ve won six straight since the All Star Break and ten in a row at home. While Tampa overcame a 2-0 deficit to top the A’s and the Mariners and Red Sox are facing off as I write, the Yankees are now in sole possession of second place in the Wild Card. This weekend, needless to say, is huge, and Joba will face Josh Beckett in a marquee match-up on Friday night. Who could ask for anything more?
Open Thread Rumors: With no game this evening, feel free to use this thread for a general baseball discussion. We’ve got rumors and news galore:
- While Jorge Posada is not quite ready to go under the knife, his days behind the plate this season are over. Ergo, according to RoboKen, the Yankees are looking for a catcher. I think the Molina/Moeller tandem can do well enough behind the dish, and the rest of the lineup should cover the offense. Go pitching, I say.
- Rumors are floating around the the Rockies are eying Humberto Sanchez as a possible piece to a Brian Fuentes trade. I’m still firmly in the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp here. The bullpen has been outstanding and shows no signs of slipping. They don’t need a lefty if everyone else is getting outs, and trading a chip for unnecessary piece isn’t a smart baseball move.
- Manny being Manny. Perhaps he hurt that knee while jaywalking.
- Melky got a talking-to after his mental error leading off the game yesterday. Oops.
Mike will hit you up with DotF later, and if news breaks, we’ll have something. Otherwise, play nice.
Nothing makes a young fan feel old quite like Old Timers’ Day. In the past, Old Timers’ had long been the purview of players I never knew growing up. Sure, Don Mattingly’s made a few token appearances, but not until last year when Paul O’Neill and Scott Brosius show up did Old Timers’ Day really hit home. This year, it’s going to be even worse. The Yanks yesterday announced the cast of characters for the Old Timers’ Day set for Saturday, August 2.
On that list are a bunch of guys making their first appearances whom I grew up watching: Tino Martinez, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Graeme Lloyd, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, Tim Raines, Rickey Henderson, Tony Fernandez and Buck Showalter. Kevin Maas, Wade Boggs, Steve Balboni and Jesse Barfield are set to make appearances as well. If these guys are Old Timers, well, that’s just a reflections on the whims of age in baseball. · (38) ·