One of the more obvious aspects of Joe Torre’s book is the former Yankee manager’s dislike of Carl Pavano. At least that’s the one remaining thing upon which Torre and all the people he reportedly skewers in the book can agree. Pavano, on the other hand, isn’t too happy about it.

Writing on the ESPN Radio 1050 AM blog, Andrew Marchand notes a statement by Pavano concerning the book:

“I am extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these type of comments in his upcoming book,” said Pavano, in a statement released to 1050 ESPN New York through his agent, Tom O’Connell. “I wish nothing but the best for Joe Torre and my former Yankee teammates, but with that said it does explain why I haven’t received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years.”

Now, I can understand why plenty of Yankees past and present — such as David Wells who called Torre a punk — may take exception with the excommunicated St. Joe’s words. But Pavano shouldn’t look his gift horse in the mouth. The Yanks paid him $40 million to be a fraud. He should take his money and stay out of this, no matter how right he may be in calling out Torre.

Categories : Rants
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  • Melky out of options

    MLBTR has started to put together it’s annual list of players who are out of options, and this year it includes the Yanks’ very own Melky Cabrera. There was some confusion on our part whether he had used an option last year (mostly because we were too lazy to look), but he did spend 21 days in the minors last year, eating up his final option. His first option was used when he was sent down following his disasterous 2005 debut, the second option was used when he was sent to Triple-A to start 2006. Melky will have to be passed through waivers to be sent to the minors from here on out.

    The only other interesting name on the out of options list is the Rays’ Jeff Niemann. He’ll have a very tough time cracking Tampa’s pitching staff, and I’m sure there will be a ton of interest in the former fourth overall pick.
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  • It is high, it is far, it is terrible

    Jay Busbee at Yahoo! Sports ranked the top 50 worst announcers in sports. While Joe Morgan, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck all made the top ten, two Yankee homers, in the worst sense of the word, ranked high on the list as well. John Sterling came in at only ??only! ? number 17, and Michael Kay made the cut at 49. It’s hard to believe there are 16 announcers worse than Sterling, but there you go. · (58) ·

With the Red Sox recent signing of Jason Varitek, we’ve yet again been exposed to the non-guaranteed aspect of arbitration contracts. As we learned in late October, a player who accepts arbitration is not guaranteed a contract for the following season. This became a big issue in Yankeeland when the team declined to offer arbitration to any of its free agents. Perhaps now we can gain a clearer understanding of the process.

As we learned from Jon Heyman, Varitek didn’t accept arbitration because he “didn’t believe that accepting arbitration would guaranteed him a spot on the team.” This references a recent and similar case, that of Todd Walker and the San Diego Padres. Following the 2006 season the Friars offered Walker, a Type A free agent, arbitration, hoping he would decline and they would pocket the two draft picks when another team signed him. Walker, apparently foreseeing the lack of interest in his services, accepted the offer. Not only that, but he won the arbitration case, winning a $3.95 million salary vs. San Diego’s offer of $2.75 million.

During Spring Training that year, Walker didn’t hit so well. Over 40 at bats he hit just .225 with just one RBI. Battling with him for the second base position were Marcus Giles, who hit .326 with a homer and 4 RBI, and Geoff Blum, who hit .316 with two homers. The Padres used this terminate Walker’s contract, paying him only $971,000. This was under the non-guaranteed clause:

A Player whose Contract is terminated by a Club under paragraph 7(b)(2) of the Uniform Player’s Contract for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability shall be entitled to receive termination pay from the Club in an amount equal to thirty (30) days’ payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract, if the termination occurs during spring training but on or before the 16th day prior to the start of the championship season. If the termination occurs during spring training, but subsequent to the 16th day prior to the start of the championship season, the Player’s termination pay shall be in an amount equal to forty-five (45) days’ payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract.

Walker and the Players Association filed a grievance, hoping Walker could recoup the total of his 2007 salary and become an unrestricted free agent. This did not work out well for them. The Padres were able to prove, via simple statistics, that Walker failed “to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability.” Walker then signed a minor league deal with the A’s, was eventually called up, but ultimately released (in the move which added Dallas Braden to the 40-man).

Given this case, one might understand why Varitek was wary about his prospects should he accept arbitration. However, it’s not like Walker was a mainstay in San Diego. He was a journeyman at that point. In other words, there was no San Diegan loyalty to Todd Walker like there is a Bostonian loyalty to Jason Varitek. I imagine that Theo might catch some flak if he wanted to release the Super Captain after Spring Training.

In the case of Bobby Abreu, well, I’m not so sure this would have been as cut an dry as the Walker case. First and foremost, Abreu is a much, much better player than Walker. Second, the Yanks would have to bank on Abreu having a poor, poor spring if they wanted to release him. Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher would likely have to outhit him in order for the Yanks to even make a case to release him. Not that Swisher and Nady are necessarily worse than Abreu, but it’s not exactly a slam dunk that they’d outhit him in the spring.

Moreover, because of the difficulty in releasing him, the Yankees, as Brian Cashman said at the time, would have had to consider Abreu a signed player, at a minimum $16 million, for 2009 if he accepted arbitration. Considering what we’ve heard from both Cash and Hal back in December and to this day, that might have been enough for them to pass on Mark Teixeira. That means he goes to Boston, and that changes the entire tenor of the off-season.

Looking back on the Walker case helps frame this arbitration debate. Yes, the Yankees could have offered Abreu arbitration, knowing that if he slipped up in Spring Training they could have released him for a fraction of his 2009 salary. However, that would take not only Bobby slipping up, but his potential replacements outhitting him. If that didn’t happen, the Yankees would undoubtedly have been on the hook for his entire 2009 salary, in addition to carrying him on the roster. Clearly, the Yanks couldn’t trade him without picking up a significant portion of the tab. As such, the Yankees would have to take his salary into consideration when making moves this winter. Clearly, the team had bigger plans.

Receiving two draft picks for Bobby Abreu would have been nice, but they weren’t guaranteed. Given Bobby’s contract demands (well, at least until recently), he might have declined the offer and hit the market, only to have his dreams shattered by a complete lack of demand. On the other hand, his agent might have had an inkling of the winter’s chill climate and advised his client to accept, with the hope of getting his multiyear deal in 2010. That would have significantly hampered the Yankees plans. Given how excited most of us are about the upcoming season, I’m fairly certain we prefer the way things eventually unfolded to the speculated outcome of offering Abreu arbitration and netting the draft picks.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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2008-rf-vs-ra(click image for a larger view)

At BlueSeat Blogs the other day I posted a graph showing the Rangers’ goals for and goals against during the course of the season, which explained why they weren’t able maintain their hot start (their defense came back down to Earth). I thought it would be interesting to see how the Yanks’ season last year shaped up in terms of runs scored and allowed, so click on the above graph and take a closer look. There’s some interesting stuff in there.

The blue is runs the Yanks scored, red the runs they allowed. Note how the offense suffered when A-Rod was on the DL, and how the run prevention improved when Joba was in the rotation. Otherwise here’s your open thread, so talk about the graph or anything else you want. Just don’t be mean.

Categories : Open Thread
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It’s a tough time for banks looking to garner a little name recognition. In one corner, we have Congress criticizing Citibank and the Mets over the stadium naming rights deal. In the other corner, we have columnists questioning Bank of America’s plan to sponsor the Yanks.

With the scrutiny on TARP and the general state of the economy, it is of course unsurprisingly to hear so many voices slam the banks. I just wonder if it’s the smartest policy. Rick Rothacker, financial columnist for Bank of America’s hometown Charlotte Observer, wonders if the beleaguered bank and long-time MLB sponsor should keep up the sports visibility. He writes:

[Bank spokesman Joe] Goode said Bank of America treats sponsorships as a business proposition rather than a mere marketing exercise. “We partner with profitable sports franchises that yield significant revenue streams for the bank,” he said. For example, the bank offers team-related products to consumers, makes loans to sports teams and offers wealth management services to players and owners. The Yankees debit and credit cards are among the bank’s most popular “affinity products,” he said…

“This is exactly the kind of thing taxpayers are fed up paying for,” said Stephen Lerner, assistant to the president at the Service Employees International Union, a frequent critic of the bank.

Banks that have taken taxpayer money, particularly ones such as Bank of America that have “double-dipped,” need to show they are being good stewards of taxpayer money, said Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan government watchdog group. Bank of America received $20 billion this month to help shore up its Merrill Lynch & Co acquisition, adding to $25 billion it had received earlier.

This raises some interesting sponsor-related questions, and as the Super Bowl ads are sure to be toned down this year, I wonder if that’s a good thing for our economy. Taxpayers are wont to complain if their money isn’t being spent wisely, but who is to say that investment in advertising and sponsorship isn’t a wise one?

Ideally, Bank of America and Citibank spend money on these deals because the returns pay off. Bank of American will draw in so many more customers and so many more investment dollars by plastering its name across the new Yankee Stadium just as Citibank will with the Mets.

As the economy attempts to straighten itself out, more and more of these stories will pop up, and the populist sentiment will be outrage. But it’s all part of the economy. Banks invest in sponsorships because it draws in customers while filling the coffers of other organizations. To pare down rational advertising just because the government is responsible for the bank portfolio is a knee-jerk reaction best left to closer analysis.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (18)
  • First look at the 2009 IFA class

    The July International Signing Period is one of most unique experiences baseball has to offer. The players signed out of Latin America sound too good to be true, mostly because there’s so little information about them that whatever info we do have gets extrapolated out into something otherworldly. Take Edward Salcedo for example. He was beyond uberhyped last year, yet never signed with a team. If he was as good as advertised, wouldn’t someone have signed him by now?

    One of this year’s top IFA prospects is Rafael DePaula of the Dominican, who according to this article (here’s the translated article) throws 93 with two excellent breaking balls and clean mechanics. The 16 year old righty already stands 6’3″, so he’s still got a ton of projection left. Let the hype begin. (h/t Michael Ruiz for the email)
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Ken Rosenthal (via MLBTR) mentioned in his column today that the Yanks and Mariners talked briefly about a Hideki Matsui for Jarrod Washburn swap earlier this offseason, but couldn’t find a match because of the difference in salaries (Matsui’s owed $2.65M more than Washburn this year). I’m going to assume this discussion took place when it seemed like there was little chance Andy Pettitte would return, and perhaps even before the CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett pickups. You may remember that the Yanks were pretty close to acquiring the lefty before the trade deadline last year, but the M’s put a stop too the move because they wanted a top prospect in return.

I’ve been against trading Matsui because I think he’s more useful to the Yanks than anything they could get in return. Just look at Washburn, he kinda sorta qualifies as an innings eater – he’s averaged ~178 IP over the last three years – but he’s been below average during that time, posting between a 4.72 and 4.78 FIP and averaging +1.6 WAR (replacement level is set at two wins below league average, so Washburn was about half a win below average). With two bum knees, a full no trade clause and $13M coming to him, Matsui’s understandably not the most desirable trade target.

To the Yankees however, Matsui represents a bit of an upside play at DH. While dealing with knee issues that limited him to 287 of 486 possible games over the last three years, he hit .291-.372-.469 with a ~.365 wOBP. Do you know what Bobby Abreu hit last year? .296-.371-.471 with a .348 wOBP. It’s entirely reasonable to expect Matsui to replace Abreu’s production this year if he stays healthy, which he has a much better chance of doing as a DH.

Would it be nice to see a guy like Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn occupying the DH spot? Sure, but given the Yanks current roster construction that’s extremely unlikely. Let’s give Hit-deki a chance, he just might surprise us.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (48)
  • Salary arbitration primer

    The Yanks avoided arbitration with Brian Bruney yesterday, agreeing to a one year contract that will keep them out of the hearing rom this year. Last year the Yanks and Chien-Ming Wang went to a hearing, and if you’re interesting in just what goes on in that room, check out this arbitration primer by Maury Brown. It’s a quick and painless read, and it’ll give you a nice overview of what actually goes into these things. The only official piece of business the Yanks have left this offseason is to renew the contracts of players with 0-3 years of service time, meaning Hughes, Joba and half the bullpen. Baseball season’s a comin’. · (12) ·

  • The proper way to evaluate trades

    Longtime RAB reader and commenter Dan (better known as “dan” around these parts) has his guest post up over at LoHud. The topic: remembering the correct way to evaluate a trade. Far too often you see fans base their opinions on roster moves based solely on hindsight, which is the absolute wrong way to go about it. You have to consider the context of the trade in terms of what’s given up and what’s received at the time of the deal. Trading Nick Johnson & Juan Rivera – two young & talented but blocked players – for 27 year old Javy Vazquez coming off four straight seasons of 215+ IP and no higher than a 3.68 FIP is a move you make ten times out of ten, no matter how it turned it down the road. Make sure you check it out.

    If you want to read more of dan’s stuff, you can check him out at Statistically Speaking or, when he has time, The Poor Man’s Analyst.
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