The Yanks already made their big free agent splashes this offseason, so understandably things are kind of slow right now. There’s talk that the terms of the Mike Cameron deal have been agreed upon, but the Yanks are going to hold off on giving it green light for now. Manny Ramirez isn’t signing anytime soon, and Mark Teixeira is still picked between several nine-figure offers. I envy his situation.

So here’s your open thread on this slow night. You know how this goes, talk about whatever, just be nice to each other.

Site Note: The 2009 Draft Order Tracker has been updated now that the Raul Ibanez signing is official. If the Mariners fail to sign Josh Fields before the ’09 Draft, they’ll have three of the first 28 picks. With ex-Brewers’ Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik now at the helm, they can do some serious damage.

Update (7:05pm): Actually, something Yankees’ related did happen: Johnny Damon won This Year in Baseball’s Oddity Award. Congrats … I think.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (228)
  • Joba to headline PAL fundraiser

    Jim Baumbach and Katie Strang penned an interesting piece on Joba today. The Yanks’ pitcher is going to skip his DUI court date — a mere formality at this point since he has already entered a not guilty plea — to headline a Police Athletic League fundraiser tonight. While Joba had been set to appear at this event long before his arrest, PAL decided not to pull Chamberlain from the event after his legal troubles arose. “What’s a better message to teach our kids?” PAL Executive Director Felix Urrutia Jr. said to Newsday. “You make a mistake and it’s not the end of the world. It’s how you respond to it that defines who you are, not that you made a mistake. That’s the overall lesson here.” That’s an interesting take on the situation for sure. · (9) ·

The sports industry’s trade publication Sports Business Journal has unveiled their list of the top 50 most influential people in sports business. As is only appropriate, a Steinbrenner occupies a prime spot on that list, but it’s not the one people might expect.

Hal, the younger of the Steinbrenner children and the team’s current head, earned himself the 28th spot on the list. SBJ writes rather glowingly of Hal, who is making his debut on this list:

Several years of gradual but historic change within the Yankees camp were codified last month when Hal Steinbrenner received official designation as the team’s controlling executive, trumping his older and louder brother, Hank, who will remain overall head of baseball operations.

Much more calm and measured when compared with Hank or their father, George, but still a firm negotiator, Hal provides a rather different face to the Yankees as they prepare to move into their new stadium in the spring. That ballpark, a $1.3 billion edifice packed with revenue-generating opportunities, gives Hal ample room to put his own stamp on the franchise.

We have covered this territory as well, but it’s clear that people inside the industry regard Hal as the real executive holding the reins of power inside the Yankee organization now. Hank may garner the back pages, but all he seems good for right now is a quote. He can talk and talk and talk, but when push comes to shove, the ultimate decision will be Hal’s. That should be very good for the Yanks indeed.

Categories : Front Office
Comments (71)
  • Heyman: Yanks in on Teixeira, ManRam

    Whetting our appetites for more Hot Stove rumors is the latest from Jon Heyman. He reports that the Yanks are in on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, but the team does not feel it will outbid Boston, Anaheim or the DC-Baltimore duo. They could, of course, very well surprise everyone, but the more I think about committing eight or nine years to Teixeira, the more hesitant I become. Heyman, meanwhile, notes that if Teixeira signs elsewhere, the Yanks will almost definitely go in on Manny Ramirez. A bat will be added to the Bronx lineup yet. · (296) ·

Over the past week, as the Yankees doled out the dollars for A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, many pundits noted that despite these behemoth contracts, the Yankees are actually shedding payroll. Because the contracts for Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, and Kyle Farnsworth/Ivan Rodriguez have expired, that means the Yankees have around $80 million to spend if they keep their payroll consistent with 2008. Since the average annual values of the Sabathia ($23 million) and Burnett ($16.5 million) contracts add up to just $39.5 million, many folks presume that the Yankees could conceivably spend another $40.5 million on their 2009 payroll and still not break the $209 million mark of 2008.

This is fuzzy math. It’s nice to think this way. It gives us the impression that the Yankees can dole out enormous contracts and still have a payroll below the $200 million mark. That, however, is not the reality of the situation. This does not take into account arbitration raises, which are due to Chien-Ming Wang, Xavier Nady, and Brian Bruney. It also ignores raises in a player’s salary. For instance, Alex Rodriguez will make $5 million more in 2009 than he did in 2008. Robinson Cano gets a $3 million raise. They’ve added Swisher. They’ve added Damaso Marte‘s salary. All that adds up, too.

Thankfully, I’ve saved a spreadsheet which documents the salary of each Yankees player. This completely debunks the meme that the Yankees have plenty of money left for the 2009 payroll.

2009 Payroll

Player Sal.
A-Rod $32
Sabathia $14*
Teixeira $20**
Jeter $20
Burnett $16.5
Mo $15
Jorge $13.1
Damon $13
Matsui $13
Swisher $5.3
Wang $5
Marte $3.75
Nady $6.55
Cano $6
Molina $1
Bruney $1.25
Melky $1.4
Pettitte $5.5
Total $192.35

*AAV of contract
** Arbitration estimate

I’ll keep this up to date as we start to see actual salary numbers for the reserve-clause players and the arbitration guys. As Mike has noted before, the team also has to pay the entire 40-man roster a certain salary, though that might just be a five-figure amount.

In any case, when you consider things like Andrew Brackman‘s and Kei Igawa’s contracts, plus buyouts for Pavano and Giambi, the payroll is up around the $190 million mark. If the Yankees spent that $40.5 million that so many claim they have, the payroll would clearly shatter even the team’s own record.

Please, going forward, do not base an argument on the money coming off the books. That’s just not a good way of calculating how much money the Yankees have. Other commitments change that value. As you can see from the table above, the Yankees signing another bat means raising the payroll, once again, over $200 million. Not that I’m opposed to that. Not at all. In fact, it will only rile up the Yankee haters, and I sustain myself on their ire. In fact, if the Yankees do win it all, I will bask in the misery of others as they shout at the top of their lungs that the Yankees bought another championship.

Now that we have the payroll issue straight, do you think that affects the Yankees willingness to spend on a bat? Or do you think they’ll break the bank in a time when other teams are pinching pennies?

Categories : Analysis
Comments (107)
  • So that should wrap up the Peavy rumors

    MLB Trade Rumors notes that the Padres are no longer shopping Jake Peavy. According to the team CEO, Jake Peavy will be with the team on Opening Day. All of the Yankee fans who think our team should leap at the chance to acquire Peavy for nothing can come up with new and better trade proposals for other pitchers that aren’t going to be dealt this winter. Of course, this all could change in a moment’s notice, and Sandy Alderson may be bluffing to get other teams back to the table. I’m inclined to believe, however, that the Peavy talks are really and truly dead. He will remain a Padre, for now. · (63) ·

When Joe Gordon earned his spot in the Hall of Fame last week, the reception was rather underwhelming. The Yanks issued a perfunctory three-sentence congratulatory press release, and the reaction from the fan base was a deafening silence.

Joe Gordon seemingly is a man last to baseball history. Despite garnering contemporaneous praise from many in baseball and winning an MVP the same year Joe D Ted Williams won the Triple Crown, his accomplishments are lost on the vast majority of Yankee fans. He doesn’t have a plaque in Monument Park. His number isn’t retired. He’s just not part of that Mystique and Aura surrounding the storied Yankee history.

On the surface, Joe Gordon seems like a rather unlikely candidate for the Hall of Fame too. He played for only 11 seasons, surrendering his age 29 and 30 seasons to World War II, and his career accomplishments aren’t that impressive. He didn’t hit any major offensive milestones and ended his career with a .268/.357/.466 line and a 120 OPS+. Should this open the Hall of Fame floodgates to a whole bunch of people who were good but not great over the course of their careers? It’s certainly a question we’ve debated around here over the last few weeks.

I still think, however, that the answer is no, and there’s a reason why. At the time of his retirement, Joe Gordon was probably the top offensive second baseman of all time. Since 1950, he has been overshadowed by plenty of others, but as The Times noted last week, Gordon’s success as a second base was largely unparalleled at the time. He won an MVP award. He earned himself nine trips to the All Star Game and had five World Series rings. By the time he retired, Gordon held the mark for most home runs by a second baseman and considered to be the better fielding half of the double-play combo he formed with Phil Rizzuto.

Gordon’s Yankee tale ended after the 1946 season. After a sub-par post-War campaign, the Yanks shipped him off to Cleveland, and the trade worked out for both teams. In return for Gordon, the Yanks landed themselves Allie Reynolds. Reynolds, a name not lost to history, would go 7-2 over six winning World Series for the Yanks. That is one deal that certainly worked out.

In the end, Gordon is a deserving member of the Hall of Fame. He was the best his position for the better part of 13 years, and it seems as though his time had long since passed. I wonder how many other deserving players have been lost to baseball history.

Categories : Days of Yore
Comments (17)

Perhaps Brian Cashman listened to Joe this morning. As per Tyler Kepner, the Yankees appear to be putting the potential Mike Cameron trade on hold for “baseball reasons.”

Kepner reports:

In talking to some people involved today, I get the feeling the Yankees are backing away from a potential Melky Cabrera-for-Mike Cameron trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, at least for now. There’s a deal the teams could make, and while I’m not sure of the particulars, at this point the Yankees’ main question is baseball-related, not financial.

We know they do not value Cameron at $10 million, which is why they wanted the Brewers to include some money — or take on Kei Igawa — to make the deal happen. Now that a fair deal seems to be in place, the question is whether it makes baseball sense…

Cameron turns 36 next month. Teams that win tend to have players in their primes, not in decline. In Game 4 of the World Series this season, neither lineup included any player born before 1975. The Yankees have four starters already in Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.

There’s really no reason for the Yanks to acquire Cameron right now. They have bigger fish to fry, and while most reporters seem skeptical that the Yanks are going to be heavily involved with Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez, they’re not competing with anyone for Cameron. They can, in other words, afford to wait.

In the end, if Cameron doesn’t end up as the Yanks’ $10 million center fielder next season, no one will be too disappointed. While he brings a known quantity to the table and represents an upgrade over Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner, he’s not necessarily worth it right now. As Ed Price put it, give it a few weeks, and we’ll see where Cameron is then.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (181)

When the list of nontenders came out last Friday, the name most fans flocked too was Ty Wigginton, and rightfully so. The ex-Met had a career year last year, putting up a 128 OPS+ and clubbing 23 homers as the team’s regular third baseman until taking over leftfield for the injured Carlos Lee in August. With the Yanks in need of a utility man to replace, or at least compliment Cody Ransom, Wigginton would be an ideal fit. The problem is that he’d be hella expensive (he made $4.35M and has no reason to take a pay cut) and would likely opt for a full-time gig elsewhere (hellooooooo Twins) instead of sitting on the bench of the Yanks. So while most focused on Wiggington, another name grabbed my attention: ex-Marlins’ righty Joe Nelson.

You might be saying who, and that’s perfectly fine. Nelson didn’t reach the big leagues until age 26 (in 2001), when he made a 2 IP cameo from the Braves. Three years late he threw 2.2 IP for the Red Sox. Two years after that, at age 31, Nelson finally stuck in the big leagues with the Royals, finishing the 2006 season as their closer when Ambi Burgos was demoted to Triple-A. Unfortunately for Nelson, he torn his labrum late in the year, was designated for assignment, and missed all of 2007.

The Marlins grabbed him off the scrap heap, and he used his top-notch changeup to take over TEH 8Th INNiNg!11!one!! role for them after joining the team in May. His stats: 54 IP, 42 H, 60 K, 1.19 WHIP, 2.00 ERA. He showed no platoon split (.619 OPSA vs RHB, .612 vs LHB), pitched better away from the pitcher friendly confines of Dolphins Stadium (2.60 ERA at home, 1.37 on the road), and generated swings-and-missed on 27.6% of the pitches that hitters offered at (Tim Lincecum was at 25.9%). The Marlins did not tender him a contract because they didn’t want to pay him the $800,000 he was asking for, so now he’s shopping his services on the free agent market.

I wouldn’t have taken the time to write this post if I didn’t think Nelson would be a solid addition to the Yanks pen. While it was a strength for them last year, the natural volatility of relievers means back-up plans are needed. Plus it would be nice to have another veteran guy back there; you can’t run Mo, Marte and five kids out there every night. If he’s down for a minor league deal (12-14 teams have already been on him) with an invite to Spring Training, why not?

Use this as your open thread for tonight. Talk Joe Nelson, Browns-Iggles, Knicks-Suns, whatever. Just keep it civil.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (141)

This came up in a thread earlier today, but like the good commenters you are most of you kept with the thread topic rather than responding. Now let’s have a go at it. SI’s Jon Heyman reports that Andy Pettitte‘s agents claim that he has an offer in hand for three years and $36 million. Upon first glance, this screams “leverage play.” Pettitte has made it clear that he wants to pitch for the Yankees or retire, and the Yankees have not budged from their $10 million offer. Andy doesn’t want to take a pay cut, so the two sides are at an apparent impasse.

Can anyone think of a team willing to add that kind of payroll? I’ve heard the Rangers, but word was they’d have to free up money to sign Ben Sheets, who would come at a similar average annual value. Others say the Dodgers. I’ve even heard someone suggest the Mets.

Here’s what I think, and I expect all of you to add your two cents in the comments. 1) If Andy did get this offer, I encourage him to take it. He won’t find anywhere near that deal elsewhere. 2) This is a bogus rumor.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (113)