Via PeteAbe, the Yanks have signed ex-Pirate, Devil Ray, Oriole, Tiger, Indian, Red Sox, Red and Dodger Jason Johnson to a minor league contract. About the only thing noteworthy about Johnson, who has a 89 career OPS+ ERA+, is that he’s a diabetic and was the first player in MLB history allowed to wear an insulin pump on the field, which he wears behind his back on his belt. Joe Girardi said he’ll be in the competition for the fifth starter spot. It was very kind of Joe to say that.
Pete also notes that Shelley Duncan has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Mark Teixeira, and that Phil Coke has been told to prepare for Spring Training as a starter. No surprise, I’ve been saying they’ll probably give him a shot to start in camp all along. · (69) ·
On Jan. 12, the Hall of Fame will unveil its class of 2009, and yet again, Don Mattingly, despite the beliefs of many a fervent Yankee fan, will not make the Hall of Fame. His career was cut short by a bad back, and he never put up the totals that the voters like to see from the Cooperstown bound. For a few years, however, in the late 1980s, Donnie Baseball was quite literally the best player in baseball, and in interesting glimpse into Yankee history, Larry at wezen-ball has explored what the press had to say about Mattingly in the 1980s. Year after year, the Athlon and Street & Smith previews heaped praise upon the Yankee Captain. It’s a shame back problems robbed him of what otherwise would have been a Hall of Fame career. · (128) ·
Our long national nightmare is over, as Mark Teixeira will officially be introduced as a Yankee today after those bothersome holidays got in the way. The presser is going to be carried by ESPN, MLB Network and presumedly YES. There’s still no word on the corresponding move to open up a 40-man roster spot, but my money’s on Shelley Duncan getting the old heave-ho. We’ll probably find out after the press conference is over.
Now that the deal’s official, I’ve update the Depth Chart and 2009 Draft Order pages. The Brewers and Blue Jays had been in line to receive the Yanks’ first and second rounders, respectively, but because Tex was the highest rated Type-A free agent, the Angels will now get the Yanks’ first rounder. The Crew and Jays will now have to settle for a second and third rounder, again respectively. Despite losing their own first rounder for signing Brian Fuentes, the Angels still have two true first rounders and two sandwich rounders because they lost Tex and K-Rod. They also stand to gain another sandwich rounder if Jon Garland signs elsewhere.
Ben (not me) is going to liveblog this thing for all of you stuck at work. Enjoy.
The first annual RAB Fantasy Football League came to a close last week, and I’d have to say it was a smashing success. Managing a squad in a twenty team league took some foresight and plain old luck, but it was a blast. We’ll definitely being doing this again next year.
Resident RABer tommiesmithjohncarlos took the league title despite getting a combined 0.00 points out of his kicker and Titans’ stud Chris Johnson in the championship game. He defeated me, JSBrendog (rocks) and Punk in Drublic (run by longtime reader Aaron) on his way to the title. I settled for a seventh place finish, which I’m happy with since this is my first experience with fantasy football in about five seasons.
In the last update I bragged about my seven-week winning streak heading into a final week battle with JSbrendog to determine second place, but that probably wasn’t such a good idea. I lost by 36+ points and had to settle for the sixth seed in the postseason. TSJC then sent my team packing with a 26.86 point defeat in round one of the playoffs. Brandon Jacobs’ poorly timed knee injury is what did me in, as I was forced to start Leonard freaking Weaver in my lone postseason game.
So for triumph, TSJC’s prize was a fancy new … nothing. All he got is bragging rights, and something tells me he’ll use them to fullest extent possible. Final standing after the jump, see you next year.
When the Yankees signed Sergio Mitre to a Minor League deal, we praised the signing as a low-risk, medium- to high-reward move. Little did we realize that Mitre’s first headline as a Yankee would involve a 50-game drug suspension.
According to ESPN.com, Mitre failed a drug test last summer when trace amounts of androstenedione were found in his urine. He’ll serve the 50-game time out while on the disabled list this spring, and he takes full responsibility for his actions. In a statement released by his agent, he said the following:
“Although being suspended for 50 games is tough to accept, I think that it is important to understand that I am in full support of drug testing in baseball. I did take the supplement in question and accept full responsibility for taking it. What has been difficult for me to understand is that I legally purchased this supplement at GNC and had no intention nor desire to cheat or to circumvent the system in any way.
“As confirmed through the drug testing and grievance processes, it contained a ‘contaminant’ amount of an illegal, performance-enhancing drug. This was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging, should not have been in the supplement and certainly should not have been available for legal purchase at a store.
“I accept my punishment because, as a professional, I have a responsibility for what I put into my body. For this I will suffer a significant financial penalty and, more importantly, it will affect my reputation. I only hope that this will help others avoid being punished for having taken a product bought legally at a retail store.”
Oops. That’s not the best way to start a Yankee career.
If Andy Pettitte pitches in 2009, it figures to be for more than $10 million. Tyler Kepner reports that Pettitte has rejected the Yankees’ offer, though he still “could return because some in the Yankees’ hierarchy want him back.” Pettitte has long expressed his desire to stay with the Yankees, but they’ll have to sweeten the pot for that reunion to occur.
The Yankees still have a number of options to round out their rotation. They could pursue the remaining free agent options. While it’s tough to count them out on Derek Lowe, I don’t think anyone believes he’ll end up in pinstripes. Ben Sheets remains a possibility, though his shoulder might be too large a concern. They could check out Oliver Perez, but they certainly should not. Alternatively, they could open up the spot to Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, or Alfedo Aceves in Spring Training.
I still think that retaining Pettitte is the best option. The risk is obvious. Pettitte posted a 4.54 ERA last year, 5.35 after the All-Star break while battling shoulder issues. The Yanks would be gambling on him recovering and staying healthy throughout 2009. The payoff would be 200+ innings of slightly above-average pitching. This would take a bit of pressure off Joba Chamberlain, who has to work around an innings cap.
Will the Yanks tack on a couple million to the offer to retain Pettitte? I’d like to think so. If we’re talking $12 million, I don’t see why not. No, I don’t cut the checks, but if they were offering $10, they could probably do $12 easily. For one year, it’s a better deal than the other available free agents.
While numerous free agents have yet to sign, ESPN.com has already rolled out their MLB 2009 watch list, and the Yankees just dominate the list. Peter Gammons sees CC Sabathia as the biggest new face in a new place; Jerry Crasnick accurately puts Joe Girardi on the hot seat; and Rob Neyer tabs the Bronx Bombers as the team to win it all. Sounds about right to me. · (52) ·
Baseball execs returned from their holiday vacations today, and did so with a bang. There was a lot of news and we had quite a bit of content today, so let’s review:
- Mark Teixeira‘s press conference is tomorrow at 1pm, and will be held in the Old Stadium. Between YES, MLB Network and ESPN’s family of networks, I’m sure this one will be on TV. One of us will liveblog it.
- Ben tackled the issue of parity in baseball.
- Pat the Bat joined the Rays for the bargain price of $16M over 2 years, and Milton Bradley agreed to a 3yr, $30M deal with the Cubbies. The Burrell signing is an outstanding one for Tampa, Bradley … not so much. I just can’t see how you can expect him to play the field every day for the next three years and remain healthy.
- Jason Giambi appears to be heading back to Oaktown. Giambi hit .260-.404-.521 with 207 homers during his seven years in pinstripes, and I will stand and applaud him when he returns to the Bronx as a visitor.
- Twins’ owner Carl Pohlad passed away.
- One time great Yankee Nick Green signed with the Sox. I’m sure everyone remembers “The Nick Green Game.”
- Ex-Yank Luis Vizcaino is on the verge of joining his sixth team in six seasons.
- December was the greatest month in RAB history.
Busy day, so talk about all of it here. The Fiesta Bowl (Ohio St. vs Texas) is on FOX at 8pm, and the Rangers will be taking on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Penguins at home tonight. Dave’s back from his vacation, so check out what a real hockey blogger looks like at Blueseat Blogs. You know the drill, anything goes, just play nice.
Via MLBTR comes the news that Jason Giambi and the A’s are nearing agreement on a one-year deal. Mychael Urban at MLB.com believes the deal will contain an option. While no dollar figures have been released yet, Giambi will probably be getting less than $10 million for his services. The Yanks had no need for him anymore, but the A’s clearly do. The Giambino can still hit for power and average get on base, and he will give a significant boost to an offense that scored just 646 runs last season. · (50) ·
Pat Burrell is a 32-year-old power-hitting outfielder with some pretty good career numbers. He’s a .257/.367/.485 hitter with an OPS+ of 119. While he’s not as good as Bobby Abreu, he is two and a half years younger than the former Yankee and was hoping for a significant payday this off-season.
Milton Bradley is two years younger than Burrell and seems to be fulfilling the offensive potential that earned him rave reviews while a top prospect for the Expos. He has a career line of .280/.370/.457 and is coming off a season with an OPS+ of 163. He too was set for a big deal.
It’s fairly shocking, then, to learn that Bradley has signed a three-year, $30-million deal with the Cubs while Pat the Bat is on the verge of signing a two-year, $16-million deal with Tampa Bay. Burrell made $14 million alone in 2008 and was coming off of a six-year, $50-million deal. I highly doubt that a 40 percent salary reduction was in his head while the Phillies were celebrating their World Series Championship.
Now, what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with the Yankees? Well, Burrell and Bradley are the next two — behind Raul Ibañez — in the group of corner outfielders to sign, and they’re both doing so at AAVs well below what anyone would have expected just a few months ago. With these signings, the market for Bobby Abreu is further defined, and there is virtually no way that in 2009 Bobby Abreu will earn anywhere close to the $16 million the Yankees paid him last year.
In other words, had the Yankees offered arbitration to Bobby Abreu, there is a very good chance Abreu would have accepted, and the Yankees would be paying a 35-year-old Abreu far above market value for his services. While they may have sacrificed a draft pick in the process, the Yankees made the right choice when they let Abreu go, and each outfield signing this winter just emphasizes that reality.