• 2008 Elias Rankings released
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    I don’t have a link for you yet, but this year’s Elias rankings are out. Quick rundown of the Yanks: Abreu, Pettitte, Moose & Marte are all Type-A’s, Pudge is a Type-B, and Giambi isn’t anything. Eddie Bajek at Tigers Thoughts had Pudge projected as a borderline Type-A, but alas, he barely missed the cut. Marte’s ranking isn’t worth anything, they’ll almost assuredly pick up his option. All-Star Catcher Jason Varitek is inexcusably a Type-A, somehow ahead of Pudge. Bah.

    Update (1:45pm): Farnsworth is neither a Type-A or B. Hah.

    Update (3:45pm): ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker has the Elias Rankings. Check them out there.
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  • A final stadium ceremony
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    Perhaps, the Yanks will send off Yankee Stadium with an off-season ceremony after all. According to Pete Caldera, the Yankees may, next weekend, ask Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte to carry home plate across the street. This farewell with the four remaining members of the 1990s dynasty would be a fitting way to ring in the new park while saying good bye to the old. · (16) ·

  • A message for our feed readers
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    This one’s a short administrative note for all RAB readers who read the blog through our RSS feed. Please take the time today to make sure you’re accessing our feed via the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RiverAveBlues. Many of you are using the old feed address, and we just want to make sure everything is as streamlined as possible. Thank you.

    Update by Joe: This is probably best accomplished by unsubscribing, then clicking on our Feedburner icon to the left. Just make sure you re-subscribe if you unsubscribe. Because, you know, we’re cool like that.
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I know a vocal contingency of Yankees fans don’t like Ian Kennedy. It’s easy to be down on the guy right now. He had a terrible year in the majors, and appalled fans with his post-game cockiness. Yet, this winter probably isn’t the best time to shop Kennedy. His value isn’t what it was last season, and what the Yankees could get in return likely won’t equal the production Kennedy can potentially give the Yankees rotation. Case in point, a nugget in the Denver Post, which says that Willy Taveras for Ian Kennedy is “not a longshot.”

Seriously, even the biggest Kennedy detractor can’t want this swap. Willy Taveras is clown shoes. He hit .251/.308/.296 this year. In other words, he’s Melky Cabrera with less power. That might have been the most absurd sentence I have ever written on RAB. He made $1.975 million last year, so he’s not only Melky with less power, he’s Melky with less power and more expensive.

There is no upside to bringing on Taveras. We already have two players who can top his production, and no one is sold on those guys. They’re both younger than Taveras, too. If you’re going to trade Kennedy for garbage, at least make it garbage that we don’t already have.

Comments (62)

Via the Worldwide Leader, we learn that Junichi Tazawa is now a free agent. While the Japanese Leagues have recently tightened the rules about players heading to the U.S., nothing prevents teams from signing amateur free agents. The bidding war will not involve a posting fee.

So then attention this off-season will turn to Tazawa. He is a 22 year old with a high-90s fastball and some very good breaking pitchers, according to scouting reports. Early rumors indicate that he will draw plenty of interest from the usual suspects of MLB teams with the Red Sox and Yankees leading the pack.

As we while away the days until free agency, let’s speculate on Japan. The Yankees have gotten burned on Japan recently with Kei Igawa, but he didn’t come with nearly the same level of hype as Tazawa. The Yanks have also seen their rival Red Sox land an overhyped but pretty good pitcher in Daisuke Matsuzaka. What then do you do here?

Should the Yanks pursue Junichi Tazawa within reason? Are we too afraid of the Kei Igawa/Hideki Irabu vortex of overhyped Japanese pitchers?

It would be pretty unprecedented for a young Japanese pitcher to start his career in the Majors, and it sounds like Tazawa has the goods to make a go of it. But as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (75)
  • Two more weeks of Stadium tours
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    The Yankees announced this afternoon that they will continue to give behind-the-scenes tours of Yankee Stadium through November 12. Sign up here, and act quickly because supplies are very limited. I don’t know if this will be the last extension of the tour schedule. If the weather holds, they may keep the tours running through the end of November, but as the new stadium gets closer to reality, they will soon begin moving the sights such as Monument Park across the street. · (2) ·

AzFL Peoria (10-2 loss to Phoenix)
Kevin Russo: 2 for 4, 2 K, 1 CS – 15 for his last 26 (.577) … he’s hitting .383, fifth in the league amongst players with as many at-bats

HWB Waikiki beat Honolulu 9-0, but no Yankees’ farmhands played in the game,

Tuesday’s Games

AzFL Peoria (3-2 loss to Scottsdale)
Kevin Russo: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 K
Humberto Sanchez: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 Balk, 3-2 GB/FB – 20 of 37 pitches were strikes (54.1%)

HWB Waikiki (12-9 win over Honolulu)
Austin Romine: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 PB - first game back after getting hit in the wrist by a pitch last week

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Let’s dip into the mailbag again. Clearly, the Yankees’ outfield situation, while not an overwhelming priority, doesn’t stand to be a strength of the team without some serious upgrades. Bobby Abreu may be gone; Xavier Nady‘s production remains anomalous; center field is a huge question mark; and only Johnny Damon, soon to be 35, is a known quantity out there. While I’d advocate for Manny Ramirez, he’s more of a DH type than anything else right now.

To that end, a lot of fans have been inquiring about our thoughts on various trade options. Yesterday, I looked at Magglio Ordoñez. Today we tackle Aaron Rowand. Long-time reader and frequent commenter Stu writes:

Last year at this time, there was much talk about how the Yankees should sign Aaron Rowand. He was coming off a career year at age 29, however. I now wonder whether, after a sub-par year, the Yankees should trade for him. It seems like a decent fit: he wasn’t great, so the Giants should want to pare some of their payroll, while he’d be far better than anything the Yankees have now, and eventually can move to left or right when Austin Jackson is ready. 4 years and 52 million left on his contract is a hefty sum to most teams, but pretty reasonable to the Yankees.

Rowand is an interesting case. With OPS+ numbers of 130, 93, 86, 123 and 94, he seems rather inconsistent. Known for his fielding, his zone rating slipped in 2008, but his range factor remained high. This would seem like your typical case of the Giants’ selling to clear payroll. In that regard, if the Yanks could land Rowand for a B-level prospect and money, it seems like it wouldn’t be a terrible pickup. But there are a few red flag.

Of his last five seasons, Rowand has had two above-average offensive years. One of those came at the age of 26 during his first full year in Chicago. The other came while he was playing in Philadelphia during a season in which Citizens Bank Park seemed to favor hitters. That year, Rowand sported a .937 OPS at home and a .843 OPS on the road. This year, he had a .714 OPS at home and a .784 OPS on the road.

So right now, in Rowand, the Yanks would be getting an aging outfielder whose range seems to be on the decline, can’t hit and is under contract for four years. Rowand would become just another useless, old outfielder on a team that, recently, has specialized in them. He was never as good as Johnny Damon and won’t age gracefully. I just don’t think Rowand is the answer to the Yanks’ center field issues.

Categories : Analysis
Comments (58)
  • Stadium concrete company indictment
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    Testwell Laboraties, Inc., the company originally hired to provide concrete for the new Yankee Stadium, has been indicted on state racketeering charges. Concerns over the company first came to light in June when The Times revealed that Testwell officials had been arrested and that the company had not been testing their concrete. As the Yankees said then, they say now: The concrete at the new stadium has been independently tested, and everything is OK. · (13) ·

This morning marks the official opening of Hot Stove Season. You’re going to see a ton of rumors flying over the next few weeks and months. All we ask is that you keep things in perspective.

Writers have a job to do. They need to fill column inches of a newspaper with material which will garner eyeballs. This can bring about legitimate rumors for sure. However, it can also bring idle speculation. Case in point: Ken Davidoff this morning. I know he doesn’t write the headlines, but this one is particularly misleading: “Don’t expect Yankees to meet Teixeira’s price.” I read through it, hoping to find some kind of indication of the Yankees’ thinking. Instead, I got this disappointing payoff: “It would be a shocker if the Yankees paid Teixeira the 10 years and $200 million that Boras will request.”

Gee, thanks for that. I won’t rip the rest of the article — I’m trying to cut down on that — but I think I’ve made my point. There’s a lot of rewriting going on which can be masked with a spiffy new headline. Most of the time, you can take a lesson from Public Enemy: Don’t believe the hype.

Then we have Frank Della Femina from the Star Ledger. His blog post this morning quotes the Paper Which Shall Not Be Named, saying that the Yankees “did not rule out interest” in Manny Ramirez. The headline: “Yankees may be in market for Manny Ramirez.”. Once again, this is taking a small quip — or non-quip, if you will — and turning it into an attention-seeking headline. yet, after reading the article we have no greater understanding than before.

We’re going to see a lot of this. We’re going to get a lot of comments saying “I read so and so, and he said the Yankees might be interested in [blank].” Yes, the Yankees might be interested, just as they might be interested in every player on all 30 rosters, including their own. This does not, however, mean that they’re going to do something about it. Chances are, it’s just idle speculation based on some over-interpreted quote or non-comment.

Taking all this into consideration, I’m going to lay out a few things we need to keep in mind as winter rolls in and the Hot Stove gets warmer. It’ll help keep things in perspective, and keep some sanity amongst us.

1) The Yankees could potentially have interest in any free agent. You’re going to see reports connecting the Yanks to many players, most of which are a ploy to bump up the player’s price tag. Sometimes they’ll be interested, sometimes they won’t be. Until there’s an agreement in principle, though, it’s all just noise.

2) Brian Cashman does not have mind control capabilities. I remember back in June or so, someone I know went on a tirade about how the Yankees have to get Matt LaPorta. The Brewers need pitching, and supposedly we have a lot in our farm system. If Cashman doesn’t get him, either we don’t have a good system, or he’s not doing his job. Sorry. This is poor, poor logic. You can’t just force another team to trade you a player. If you’re getting someone established, or someone with a perceived high ceiling, you’re going to pay the price. Many times, the price tag on a player is more than a team is willing to pay. Yeah, having these players is nice, but sometimes the cost doesn’t justify the move. Cashman can’t make someone trade us a valuable player for Melky, IPK, and Shelley Duncan.

3) IPK and Melky will get us no one good. Dems the breaks. They both have low perceived value, and the Yanks are better off holding onto them at this point. You can argue that the Yankees should have traded Kennedy last winter, but first you have to ask yourself 1) who was interested? and 2) what would we have gotten back? None of you can answer those questions. The only Kennedy deal we ever heard of was Santana, and clearly he was not the centerpiece of that one.

4) The Yankees have a plan. You don’t go into the off-season without having a few plans, really. Your primary plan, then a few backups in case one signing or other doesn’t work out. They’re going to act according to this plan, not according to what we yell on the boards. We aren’t aware of all the parameters they work under, just as we aren’t aware of all the information they have.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (192)