It’s like clockwork: Whenever the Yankees sign a big-name free agent, baseball writers across the country dust off the old “baseball needs a salary cap” article, change some names and numbers, send it in to their editor, and enjoy the rest of their day off. When the Yanks went bananas this year by signing Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, it did reveal a major flaw in MLB’s never-ending attempt to even the playing the field, except it had nothing to do with a salary cap.

Six months before the Yanks opened their wallets, the Brewers went all in, trading four prospects (including ’07 first rounder Matt LaPorta) to the Indians for reigning AL Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia in an attempt to secure the franchise’s first playoff berth in a quarter century. The Brew Crew made the playoffs and then made a good-faith effort to retain Sabathia’s services after the season. But they got stuck with just a second-round pick and a sandwich rounder as compensation when he bolted for the greener pastures of New York.

Doug Melvin and Co. didn’t do anything wrong. The Yanks didn’t do anything underhanded. The Brewers simply got screwed by the system out of a first round compensation pick for the best pitcher to hit the open market in nearly a decade. The Brewers aren’t the only ones to get the shaft either; the Blue Jays received just a third round pick for watching Burnett head out of town. Baseball doesn’t need a salary cap, but it does need to fix its free agent compensation system. That’s what I’m here to do.

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Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • In search of a second catcher

    The Yankees currently have two catchers on their projected Opening Day roster, but the differences between Jorge Posada and Jose Molina are extensive. Meanwhile, with Posada’s working his way back from a very serious injury, his catching 140+ games this season is no sure thing. To that end, Steven Goldman wonders if the Yanks would be best off signing a second starting catcher. He makes a compelling case for the argument, but the Yanks’ options are Jason Varitek and Pudge. While both could be had for the right price, they don’t add much offensively to the team. The Yanks will sink or swim with Posada. Hopefully, his shoulder can carry the load. · (66) ·

Looking back at this thread, which is hilarious in hindsight, some out there wanted the Yankees to offer arbitration to Ivan Rodriguez. Over a month and a half has passed since that deadline passed and, as with Bobby Abreu, we’ve heard few rumors of teams interested in Pudge. There’s just not a market for a 37-year-old catcher seeking a large contract.

The only real team I’ve seen him connected with is the Marlins. But landing there would mean a substantial pay cut from his 2008 salary:

Indications, however, are the only way Rodriguez would be a Marlin is if he is willing to play for the league minimum. For an established star like Pudge, that may not be the price he is willing to accept.

The O’s are out for Pudge, as they signed Gregg Zaun to handle duties until Matt Wieters is deemed fit for full-time duty. The Red Sox could use a catcher, but could Pudge catch a knuckleballer? We know Josh Bard can’t.

While Pudge’s destination isn’t known at this time, we do know one thing. If his agent had been able to properly forecast the MLB off-season landscape, he would have accepted an arbitration offer from the Yankees. And that would have been a bad thing — it might have cost them Mark Teixeira.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (34)
  • No team for corner outfielders

    While RAB readers are busy predicting Bobby Abreu’s eventual home. the former Yankee is watching his options dwindle. As MLBTR reported earlier this evening, Abreu’s price seems to be too steep for Cincinnati. At this point in the off season, the Reds seemed to be emerging as Abreu’s most likely destination, but with this news, my guess is that we’ll just have to wait for the Manny Ramirez dust to settle before Abreu finds a home for less money than he had hoped. · (62) ·

Provisional rosters for the sixteen countries taking part in the ’09 version of the World Baseball Classic were released earlier this evening on MLB Network, and I stupidly anticipated a thorough breakdown of each roster, or at least a graphic showing the players on each country’s squad. Instead I got a bunch of chit chat between analysts and famous players who called in, with the occasional note mixed in regarding big name players on a specific team.

Anywho, here’s a list of all the Yankees’ players I managed to find on various clubs:

USA: SS Derek Jeter (this was obvious since he was on stage for the WBC press conference during the winter meetings)
Dominican Republic: 3B Alex Rodriguez, 2B Robinson Cano

Woo hoo.

CC Sabathia declined the opportunity to play. Ex-Yanks Bobby Abreu and Pudge Rodriguez will suit up for Venezuela and Puerto Rico, respectively. They said the rosters would be available on the WBC site, but I can only find the 2006 rosters.

These are just the provisional 45-man rosters; 25-man rosters don’t have to be finalized until February 24th. The tournament starts 45 days from now in Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan. Tickets went on sale today; there will be games played in Petco, Dodger Stadium, and Dolphins Stadium.

Update (7.42pm): The provisional rosters are up. In addition to A-Rod, Jeter and Cano who I mentioned above, Al Aceves & Jorge Vazquez will be playing for Mexico, Melky Cabrera, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras & Damaso Marte for the DR, Frankie Cervelli for Italy (Italy!), Jahdiel Santamaria for Panama, and Kai Lui and Zhenwang Zhang For China (you remember those two).

Here’s your open thread. The Knicks already beat the Bulls and the Islanders already lost to the Capitals (you get one guess:  who do you think scored both Caps’ goals?). The only local team in action tonight is the Devils, who are out in Nashville. I’ll be kicking it with the new episodes of House and 24. You know the routine, talk about whatever, just be nice.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (150)
  • Bandwagon Nation: confirmed

    The Red Sox picked up an under-the-radar free agent this winter: some kid named Tim, who they paid off to become a Sawx fan. Drunk Jays Fans has the news, complete with a full arsenal of not so nice language. This whole thing is just too funny. · (31) ·

Every year for Christmas, my parents browse through my Amazon Wishlist and get me a ton of books. Sometimes, though, they’ll pick out things that aren’t on there which they think I might like. This year, it was Baseball Between the Numbers. Problem is, I already have the book. So instead of going through the Amazon return process and buying myself yet another novel, I’ve decided to put this to good use. It’s the latest giveaway on Rive Ave. Blues.

We’re going to do this contest style. Since we’re in the free agent signing period, and since this is a particularly bizarre off-season, I figured we’d do a free agent guessing game. Who more appropriate than Bobby Abreu? The rumor mill isn’t treating him well, even after Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez have found homes. No one seems to have an idea of where he’ll land, so that makes the game more interesting.

To enter, you have to guess 1) the team that will sign him, 2) the number of years he’ll receive, and 3) the total dollar amount of the contract. So we don’t have a situation where one person bids $10 million and another bids $10 million and one, we’re going in increments of $500,000. So $10 million and $10.5 million are okay, but $10.1 million invalidates the entry. One entry per person. Make sure to leave a valid email address when you’re filling out the comment form (do not leave your email address in the comment, though).

Update: Just to be clear, the criteria above are listed in the order of importance. So if you don’t get the team correct, you can’t win.

Comments (147)
  • With WBC on tap, Bernie still wants to play

    Bernie Williams never really wanted to retire when the Yanks decided his time was up. Over the last two years, the former center fielder has come to grips with his enforced retirement, but in a way, he just hasn’t been able to accept that his Major League career is all but over. In a lenghty profile on Bernie, the Daily News’ Christian Red explored the ins and outs of Williams’ celebrity in Puerto Rico and the current state of denial Williams appears to be in over his career.

    To prove himself ready for the WBC, Williams tried his hand at winter ball and hurt his quad. As it heals, he’s contemplating his next step. “What would be the logical next step? That’s why the World Baseball Classic is so pivotal,” Williams said to Red. “To be really honest, if I play and I start getting those feelings back again, start getting the urge and feel good physically, it can open a whole world of possibilities for me. But right now, I’m just speculating on what could happen. It’s not going to be until I play in that competition whether I’m going to be able to make those kind of decisions.” At some point, Bernie will retire. For now, he’s trying to live his dream for another game, another series, another season.
    · (49) ·

  • A look at Robinson Cano

    Derek Carty over at THT took a look into what 2009 might hold for the Yanks’ young second baseman. Granted, Carty’s article is focused on fantasy value, but it’s still nice to see someone believing that Cano’s due for a nice rebound next year. It’s a relatively short read, give it look. · (35) ·