By the time the dust settled last night, only two players accepted their clubs’ offers of arbitration. Of the players I thought might accept — Jason Varitek, Jon Garland and even Mark Grudzielanek — none accepted. So I have to wonder if the Yanks misread the market. Should they have offered arbitration to Bobby Abreu and Ivan Rodriguez? Of course, their decision would have impacted the Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell decisions as well, and it’s really hard to play the “What If?” game here. Yet, I wonder who is making the bigger mistake: the second-tier players for not accepting arbitration or the risk- and cost-averse clubs who simply do not want these players around at any cost anymore? · (90) ·
All hell breaks loose tomorrow, but for now here’s one last Sunday night update. Joe and I grabbed a few drinks at various Bellagio bars, and recognized some faces as we walked the floor: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (he makes Dustin Pedroia look like Gheorghe Muresan), plus Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN (we’re sure it was Crasnick this time). We also ran into PeteAbe, who was cool enough to stand around and talk to a bunch of lowly bloggers for a good 15-20 mins. I’m sure we passed by some other important people, but just didn’t recognize them.
Word on the street is that Brian Cashman left for dinner with his homies while rockin’ one of his four World Series rings, which he never wears. Could he have been flaunting it to CC during a meeting? Feel free to speculate. ‘Til tomorrow …
Now that the non-law school students among us are
gambling away our advertising revenue settling in to Sin City, let’s set the stage.
Right now, we’re not sure what’s going to come of our heading to Vegas except wall-to-wall coverage of the Winter Meetings and a whole of standing around, according to this guy. Mike and Joe will be at Greg Maddux’s retirement announcement tomorrow; they’ll sit in on Brian Cashman‘s media moment; and they’ll get the lay of the land.
To keep up to date with RAB during the week, we can offer you a few choice ways of staying in touch. First and foremost, keep checking back here. We’ll have updates as soon as we can on site. For up-to-the-moment Twitter updates, you can follow RAB on the social networking service. Joe will be updating via Blackberry as he can. You should join us on Facebook too. We also have a RAB Yahoo! Groups page for rapid-fire e-mail updates, but we’re not totally sure what’s going on with that yet.
Anyway, that’s that for staying in touch. Now, on to the good stuff: rumors, rumors rumors.
- To clarify an item from earlier in the week, CC Sabathia‘s agent requested the meeting with Brian Cashman and not the other way around. I think Sabathia’s agent is going to set a time parameter with the Yanks. He’s also meeting with the Red Sox, but that’s just to put some pressure on the Yankees.
- In what was just a formality, Manny Ramirez has declined arbitration. It sounds more and more likely that he’ll be a part of the offensive-focused Plan B if the Yanks sense Sabathia is not interested.
- Jason Varitek will reject arbitration. I think this sets the stage for a divorce between the Red Sox and their erstwhile Captain. While Theo Epstein had been pledging lip service to Varitek, this move means that Jason and Scott Boras think he can get a multi-year deal, and there is little chance Boston would do that.
- Playing closer roulette in Vegas, the Mets are going to make an offer to Francisco Rodriguez. They also plan to go after Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman and, potentially, Kerry Wood. The first guy to accept wins the job. The K-Rod offer is rumored to be for three years with an option.
- Talking Chop, a Braves blog, wants Atlanta to take a Rule V flyer on Kei Igawa. Be my guest.
- The New York Times reminds us that Scott Boras is very good at his job.
So we’re here, we’re registered, and we’ve feasted on the Bellagio buffet (couldn’t have asked for much more; we had a hard time walking back to our hotel). So while we digest, here are some pictures from the early goings.
Yep, that’s us. For some reason, I had this nagging fear that something would have gotten screwed up and we wouldn’t have gotten these.
The press room. We’re 90 percent certain Jerry Crasnick of ESPN was in there. On our way out, we 100 percent saw Gene Monahan, who was there for the trainers conference.
NERDS!!!!! Seriously, this is one comprehensive stat package. No wOBA, though.
This is the TOC of the cool binder they gave us. Disappointingly, the Rule 5 worksheet lists all teams, not just team which have picks.
This is probably all we’ve got for tonight. Everyone’s getting here and getting settled in, and even then a lot of people are flying in tomorrow morning. Mike and I will have a drink for each of you.
The Greg Maddux press conference is at 11:30 tomorrow, so we’ll be there for that, as will most everyone there I assume. Girardi’s availability is on Tuesday, and we’ll probably pop in for Torre’s on Wednesday.
Add Jon Heyman to the long list of writers who think the Yanks are interested in Ben Sheets. Heyman notes that Sheets will decline arbitration tonight, spurred on in part by the idea that the Yanks are interested. While his speculation is just that and Sheets seems to be on the Yanks’ second tier of choices, we have repeatedly expressed our support for Ben Sheets. Fewer years and a few million less should land Sheets, and it’s a much better risk than overpaying Derek Lowe or A.J. Burnett. · (37) ·
While one Kennedy may be gearing up to join New York’s Senate delegation, another is quietly restoring his status as a pitching prospect. Pitching for the Indios de Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Ian Kennedy has put together a strong of solid outings.
Yesterday, facing the Aguilas Cibaenas, Kennedy had another solid outing. He emerged the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 affair, but six innings, he allowed one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out six. On the season, he now has 34.2 innings under his belt, and he’s allowed 12 walks and 19 hits while striking out 31. While the Caribbean winter leagues are a far cry from MLB hitters, Kennedy is throwing strikes with confidence.
Now, the Yankees won’t just hand Ian Kennedy a job come March, but he’ll very much be in the mix. He turns 24 later this month, and there’s no reason why he can’t still be a good Major League starter. After a rough season, his winter league showing is a good sign indeed.
According to Larry LaRue, one of the sports writers at the Tacoma-based News Tribune, the Yanks are one of ten teams interested in Raul Ibañez. This is an interesting, if random, rumor. Ibañez turns 36 in June and has put together three straight 20-HR, 100-RBI, 121+ OPS+ seasons while playing half of his games in Safeco Field. He would probably be a one- or two-year stop-gap, but whichever team signs him has to give up a draft pick. The Yanks could do a lot worse than Ibañez. I, however, don’t think much will come of this one. · (55) ·
Considering their blowaway offer has been dangling out there for three weeks, the Yankees privately seem pretty smug about landing CC Sabathia, laughing off the idea that the Giants are serious competitors or that the Angels, if and when they do make an offer, will go anywhere near $140 million.
“We’re confident it will happen,” was the way one Yankee person summed up the organization’s feeling one day last week.
Too confident? Is the Yankee brass reading the situation correctly, that Sabathia won’t walk away from an extra $30-$40 million even if it’s clear he’s not dying to be a Yankee? Or are they underestimating either Sabathia’s desire to play on the West Coast or some other organization’s willingness to make an offer well north of $100 million?
Harper’s basic premise is one worth considering. Maybe the Yanks are being too smug about Sabathia. But at the same time, if they lose out on Sabathia, they have a fall-back plan, and that fall-back plan, as I said yesterday, could lead to a more balanced team. If they lose out on Sabathia and pursue Teixeira, Sheets, Lowe or Burnett, they wouldn’t be landing that big ace they could use, but they would be shoring up both their offense and pitching.
I think Sabathia would be more important come the post-season, but you have to get to October before you can start worrying about October. I don’t think the Yanks or their fans should worry, per se, if they miss out on Sabathia. Plan B isn’t the worst thing in the world either.
Ed Figueroa had a brief but memorable stint in the Major Leagues. In 1978, he became the first Puerto Rican to win 20 games and won a World Series while with the Yankees. He would go on to win just seven more games over the next three years as injuries cut short his career. Figueroa now owns a few restaurants in Puerto Rico, and Anthony McCarron checked in on him recently. It sounds like the stalwart from the late 1970s Yankees teams is enjoying himself these days. · (8) ·