With GM Brian Cashman set to meet with CC Sabathia and the market for A.J. Burnett taking shape, Ben Sheets’ name has popped up in Yankee rumors for the first time this Hot Stove season. “There’s increasing buzz,” wrote Jayson Stark, “about the Yankees’ interest in Ben Sheets, possibly an indication that they’re not confident they’re going to be able to sign Burnett. A few RAB tipsters have noted a similar vein of discussion on Michael Kay’s ESPN radio show as well. We like Sheets. Hopefully, the Yankees do too. · (165) ·
In our lengthy discussion of Adam Dunn, one topic his detractors hit on hard was strikeouts. As in, he racks them up. He’s been in the top 10 in strikeouts for the past five years, leading the league in 2004, 05, and 06. But good players strike out, right? Does A-Rod not rack up 130 or so strikeouts a year? What’s another 30 or 40?
Yes, good players strike out. But do they strike out that often? Take a look at the all-time leaders in strikeouts. Certainly more good players up there than bad ones (damn you, Dave Kingman). That’s not really fair, though. A more telling list would be strikeout percentage. Unfortunately, the only readily available stat is lowest strikeout percentage. Not useful for our purposes, but interesting because you won’t find many modern players on the list.
So I went over to B-Ref’s Play Index — or, more accurately, Ben went to the PI. The data wasn’t readily available, but I had him put it in a spreadsheet, because I hate baseball. You can view it here. No, the names there aren’t quite as inspiring as the names on the top raw career strikeouts. And lookey there: Adam Dunn is fourth all-time, sandwiched between Pete Incaviglia and Preston Wilson.
Yet is Dunn at all like the players surrounding him? Rob Deer didn’t have nearly as much power and didn’t take as many walks; ditto Jose Hernandez; Incaviglia was never much better than mediocre; there has never been a reason to throw Preston Wilson a strike. If anything, he seems a little bit like Jay Buhner, and even then he didn’t take a walk like Dunn.
I think this is a long way of saying that strikeouts by themselves don’t mean too much. Different players have different games. Some guys, especially those that hit for a lot of power, are going to swing and miss a good deal. It’s when they bring other skills to the table, like a good eye and a power stroke, that we can forgive the strikeouts. It’s when they’re pretty much worthless — looking at you, Mr. Deer — that they’re a major issue.
Update 10:14 p.m.: I worte this rest of this post this afternoon. Since then, the AP is reporting that the Yankees and CC Sabathia will meet this weekend. It appears that the market is starting to move.
Sources sure are saying a lot about CC Sabathia these days, but I’m not buying it. After last night’s Jayson Stark speculation about Sabathia and the Giants, Mark Feinsand’s sources said that the Giants were “considering” Sabathia, but only if he’s willing to accept “an extreme hometown discount.”
I just don’t buy it and neither does Ken Davidoff. To me, this sounds remarkably similar to the reports about the Angels’ supposedly interest in Sabathia that later turned out to be false. It could very well be a ploy by Sabathia’s agents to get more money from the Yanks.
We know the Yanks would be willing to up their offer if another team steps in, and perhaps Greg Genske is attempting a Scott Boras-like tactic. The Giants have major offensive woes, and signing CC would tie up nearly half their payroll in two pitchers. While Sabathia may want to pitch in the Bay Area, he won’t leave at least $30 million on the table, and if the Giants were to make a real offer, that would be the difference.
In an interview today, Giants’ GM Brian Sabean seemed to dance around the Sabathia issue. He knows the Giants can’t compete and dollars, and he knows it wouldn’t make much sense for San Francisco to commit so much to another pitcher. They may, in principle, be interested, but I don’t see a fit here.
Earlier this week, Chad Jennings engaged in a little bit of idle Yankee chatter. Noting that it’s been 11 years since the last expansion draft — the second-longest such stretch during baseball’s Expansion Era — Jennings wondered who among the current Yankees would be protected in a theoretical expansion draft.
He based his lists upon the 1997 rules and writes:
Here are the rules as they were in 1997: Any player with major league experience is eligible. Minor leaguers are eligible if they’re Rule 5 eligible. I’m not sure if someone like Andrew Brackman would have been eligible — he’s on the 40-man but has no major league experience and has not passed the Rule 5 threshold — but I’m going to bet he would have been eligible. Seems to always work that way with the 40-man.
Each team starts by protecting 15 players. No team can lose more than one player per round, and after each round, each team can protect three more. Any 10-5 players (10 years experience, five consecutive with the same team) have to be protected. So do players with no trade clauses.
In the end, he came up with the following list. Keep in mind that the Rule 5 eligibility protects many of the Yanks’ top prospects including Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero:
Following the first round and second round, teams can protect more players, and Jennings adds the following eight to his list:
So here is what I pose to you for this open thread: Who would you protect in an expansion draft? In other words, who do you see are the 10-18 most important Yankees on the field right now outside of the guys with the 5-10/No-Trade protection?
Debate away, but play nice. I’m quite curious to see how fans assess the state of the franchise both for this season and in the future in light of this question.
Joe Torre doesn’t think Andy Pettitte is coming to Los Angeles, and an interview with Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, the former Yankee manager said that the Yankees remain Andy Pettitte’s top choice. I think it’s pretty safe, right now, to say that the Yanks made the right move in not offering Andy arbitration. He’ll be back in the Bronx. It just depends upon which side blinks first. · (29) ·
Sick of a slow Hot Stove League and not prepared to wait for the CC Sabathia drama to resolve itself, the Atlanta Braves are pushing hard to land A.J. Burnett, according to a few reports. In doing so, they may force the Yanks to act sooner than the Bombers would prefer.
The action started this morning when Tony Massarotti reported that believes the Braves were preparing a five-year, $80-million offer for Burnett. At the same time, Ken Davidoff suggested that the Yanks may be willing to give Burnett a fifth year as a vesting option.
Since then, the news has picked up a bit. Via MLB Trade Rumors, David O’Brien at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on a definite offer forthcoming from Atlanta at four years with an option and $15 million per year. Thus, enter the Yankees. O’Brien’s sources are claiming that the Yankees will make an offer to Burnett today or tomorrow. I guess everyone is sick of waiting for CC.
I believe that Burnett remains a second choice for the Yanks, but the team can no longer afford to be held hostage by a stalling Sabathia. The Braves don’t want to see Burnett pulled out from under them if Sabathia heads elsewhere, and I don’t blame them. Atlanta would like to resolve the Burnett situation before Sabathia signs, but Burnett, who already left money on the table once this winter by opting out, would be better off waiting for Sabathia to sign. I’m lukewarm on Burnett and would prefer to see him signed to a four-year deal with that option. The wheels, it seems, are starting to turn.
We’re back after a week hiatus to bring you the another edition of The RAB Radio Show. Mike and I kick back and talk about the Yankees situation and the hot stove season. What more appropriate place to start than with the arbitration situation?
This caused a stir earlier in the week, with many chastising Cashman and Co. for not offering arbitration to Abreu, Pettitte, and Pudge. There were a couple of external factors playing into this as well. First, it had been over a week since we had something to argue about, so clearly people were ready to chime in. Second, we were basically expecting them to offer arb to at least Abreu, so when they announced they didn’t it came as a shock.
Reflecting on it, it’s not a black and white decision. Both sides have valid cases, I think, but ultimately the Yanks are going to make the move that best fits their overall strategy. It’ll be tough to tell whether this works out or not, but if the Yanks make a haul over the next few weeks I think everyone will be satisfied.
Then we’re onto the hot stove, where a few things have happened in the past day or so. Last night we discussed two shortstop transactions, Edgar Renteria signing with the Giants and the Padres dishing Khalil Greene to the Cardinals. Turns out Renteria’s getting $18.5 million over two years, which seems a bit steep for a guy as inconsistent as he’s been. The Giants could win out on this, though. Mike doesn’t think it has any bearing whatsoever on their ability/willingness to sign CC Sabathia.
Another shortstop appeared to be on the move, Jack Wilson to the Tigers, which we talked about a bit. Turns out that’s false. Oops. As I’ve mentioned before, reporters seem to be jumping the gun this off-season. The trade could certainly still go down, though. Not that Jack Wilson is much of a haul, especially with his contract.
We take some Q & A, though we didn’t get many questions. We did hit on a new Ken Rosenthal column, wherein he discusses a resurrection of the Cano for Matt Kemp trade, as well as the Yanks potential interest in Oliver Perez and Randy Wolf. I’m figuring that last part was just filler — not that I think the Cano rumor has any legs.
Oh yeah, and we’re going to the Winter Meetings. Should be a good time. Anyone who’s going to be out there for any reason should drop us a line. We like drinks, and we like our readers. Those two have to fit together somewhere. We’ll be podcasting all week.
The podcast 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. It’s a .m4a file this week, meaning it’s a bookmarkable file. If you hit stop, you can pick up where you left off (which is good for a podcast this length). 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.
We appreciate any feedback. You can leave it in the comments or email either of us.
In what sounds like it could be pure speculation, Tony Massarotti says that Brian Cashman is traveling to California today to meet with Scott Boras in advance of the Winter Meetings, presumably about free agent hurler Derek Lowe. Boras has already indicated that he wants a Zito-esque contract for Lowe, but that’s just typical Boras. Still, the sinkerballer could command $15-16M per year over three or four years. Boras also represents Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez and Oliver Perez, but those players do not appear to address the Yanks’ immediate needs. (I’ll give at h/t to Tim even though I found this before he had it on his site) · (103) ·
Mike and I are back after taking Thanksgiving week off. So here’s your chance to ask us questions, which we’ll answer on the show (should be up around 2 this afternoon). Send them to email preferably; they’ll get first priority. We’ll go through the comments here, if we have time. · (3) ·
The Yankees would like to bring Andy Pettitte back for another season in pinstripes, but they would like to do it on their terms and their money. Says Jack Curry in The Times today, the Yanks are trying to convince Pettitte to sign a $10 million deal.
What Randy and Alan Hendricks, Pettitte’s agents, are trying to do is to make sure their client avoids a pay cut. Pettitte made $16 million last season, one of the highest salaries in the major leagues for a pitcher, and his agents have stressed that he wants the same salary. The Yankees have offered Pettitte $10 million, and they seemingly have no immediate plans to improve their offer.
“We’d like to have him back,” General Manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday. “It’s come to the arena of trying to achieve common ground on money, which is easier said than done.”
Pettitte battled shoulder problems last season and ended up 14-14 with a 4.54 earned run average, including a 2-7 mark to finish the year. The Yankees believe Pettitte, who pitched a team-high 204 innings, can still be an effective starter, but they consider a $16 million investment in him to be too expensive.
Curry’s article, coming out less than 24 hours after the Yanks declined to offer the lefty starter arbitration, clearly shows why the Yanks didn’t want to and shouldn’t have offered Pettitte arbitration. Of dual significance is Pettitte’s clear preference to stay in New York and the Yanks’ desire to reduce his salary by over 35 percent.
With this offer on the table, had the Yanks offered arbitration, the Hendricks brothers surely would have accepted. Pettitte wants to be a Yankee for one more year and would have gotten a lot more money under arbitration than he will when the two sides eventually agree on their $12 or $13 million deal. It all makes sense now.