One of the implications of my post on fan sports coverage is that I’m not too enamored with most national personalities. So it was refreshing to see Buster Olney’s article on ESPN.com this morning (the relevant part is free). I was just going to set this as an aside, but there are some relevant passages I’d like to quote. A lot of it you read on RAB last week.
So the Yankees, in the end, were patient and got Sabathia, and the pundits who are saying that the team has blown up its plan for player development are simply not paying attention. In fact, the signings of Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are absolutely in keeping with the refocus on the farm system.
Because the Yankees waited to pursue Sabathia, rather than deal for Santana, they still have Hughes and Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson and all the players mentioned in the Santana talks, and as the pitching talent pool has increased at the major league level, there is now more time for those youngsters to develop. It’s actually been more than a decade since the Yankees have had as much minor league talent stacked up as they do now.
Yes, they will sacrifice draft picks, in landing Sabathia and Burnett. But keep in mind that the Yankees will have picks in the first and second round of the draft in 2009 because of players unsigned in 2008; it’s not as if they are being shut down.
Olney goes on to list the Yankees projected rotation, noting how it is considerably younger than that of past teams. Except last year, of course. This one, though seems a bit more balanced overall.
|CC (28)||Wang (28)||Wang (27)||Randy (42)||Randy (41)|
|Wang (29)||Andy (36)||Andy (35)||Wang (26)||Moose (36)|
|A.J. (32)||Moose (39)||Moose (38)||Moose (37)||Pavano (29)|
|Joba (23)||Phil (22)||Pavano (31)||Chacon (28)||Jaret (29)|
|Andy (37)||IPK (23)||Igawa (27)||Jaret (30)||Brown (40)|
So here’s what the Yankees have done so far this off-season:
1. Added the two top pitchers on the free agent market.
2. Retained all of their relevant prospects.
3. Kept payroll at worst to the 2008 level, probably shaving a bit.
Sounds like a good deal to me.
One of the more intriguing non-tendered free agents is Ty Wigginton. The 2008 Astros’ starting third base, Wigginton wasn’t invited back by a Houston team set to save money. He can hit for a bit of power and play first and third base and left and right field. He would, in other words, be the ideal utility man for a Yankee team with a weak bench right now. Of course, Wigginton can probably get a better offer and more playing time from the Twins or Indians, but I certainly think the Yanks should give him a call and see if he’s interested in New York. · (100) ·
Here’s something to chew on overnight: The Yankees have seemingly decided that Ben Sheets is not a good fit for the team. In Newsday’s wrap-up of the A.J. Burnett signing, Kat O’Brien and Ken Davidoff dropped in a tidbit about the Brewers’ former hurler:
The Yankees, who had hoped to sign Pettitte or Sheets to round out their starting rotation, have decided that Pettitte would be a better fit. Sheets did make 31 starts in 2008, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA for the Brewers, but injuries kept him from topping 160 innings between 2005 and 2007.
Another advantage of signing Pettitte instead of Sheets is that Pettitte will require just a one-year contract. General manager Brian Cashman flew to meet with him at his Houston-area home Thursday in hopes of convincing him to accept the Yankees’ one-year, $10-million offer. Pettitte has resisted a pay cut from the $16 million he made in 2008. A club official said: “They just had a good meeting and [Pettitte's] thinking about things.”
That makes sense to me at this point. While Sheets may have been an intriguing choice based on the roster flexibility his shorter contract would have afforded the Yanks, at this point, there’s really no need to sign him to a multi-year deal. I wonder what the final Ben Sheets market will shake down to be this winter.
(Hat tip to one of our various Steves.)
Interestingly enough, with the Yanks out of the picture, rumors about the Red Sox’s interest have dried up as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lowe wind up in Boston, but I don’t think the Red Sox are as concerned with Lowe as they were with the Yanks in on him. After all, Theo is the one who let him go in the first place. Crasnick sees Queens as the likely destination for Lowe.
Anyway, that’s about it for Yankee news tonight. Use this thread as your Saturday night open thread. Anything goes; just play nice.
With this new stadium on tap, we hear a lot of talk about reduced revenue sharing and higher revenue streams, but a lot of people — including me — don’t quite understand how baseball’s complicated tax structure works. Enter Richard Sandomir. In a fairly comprehensive and comprehendable article earlier this week, The Times sports business writer explored the how’s and why’s of the Yanks’ revenue sources. Basically, the new stadium allows the team more opportunity to draw in more money while deducting from their revenue payments and the YES Network’s subscriber fees keeps the team relatively insulated from the projected decreases in advertising money due to the economy. Makes sense to me. · (18) ·
With A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia now in the Bronx fold, the Yanks’ once-barren starting rotation is now filling up. The team will probably lead with Sabathia and follow with Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and the fifth starter. As problems go, having no fifth starter isn’t a bad one, but the Yanks, according to a few columnists, may not afford themselves the flexibility they could have if they act quickly to fill the fifth spot.
In particular, this problem — if we want to call it a problem — revolves around Andy Pettitte. The long-time Yankee lefty had a sub-par 2008, and the Yanks are willing to bring him back on their terms. Pettitte hasn’t jumped at the one-year, $10-million offer on the table mostly because he doesn’t really want to take a 37.5 percent pay cut. The Yanks have seemingly made a take-out-or-leave-it offer, but even that seems a little too generous. As Ken Davidoff wrote today, the Yanks should let Pettitte go. He writes:
There’s still one path the Yankees can take to prove they’re not solely a “win now” organization — to show they haven’t fully destroyed the culture shift that Brian Cashman worked so hard to instill the previous three seasons. Call Andy Pettitte, and tell him sorry, but his time is up. Keep in touch, keep in shape. Maybe he can do a Roger Clemens-esque return close to the All-Star break — at the $16-million salary he wants, moreover, just prorated.
With A.J. Burnett coming aboard Friday, the Yankees have four high-end starting pitchers in CC Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. That’s your October starting rotation right there, and it’s superb.
So don’t give up entirely on the youth movement. Allow Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy a chance to contribute from that fifth starter’s role, rather than overspending on the fading Pettitte. Maybe Phil Coke and even Andrew Brackman can get into the mix.
Of course, with Joba in the rotation and A.J. Burnett’s injury history, the point may be moot. Chamberlain can go only about 150 innings if he stays healthy, and Burnett has made 30+ starts in a season just twice in his career. They’ll have ample opportunities to get Hughes, Kennedy and Aceves into the mix if they deserve to be there. I just wonder about paying too much for Pettitte.
In the end, it’s a matter of nostalgia. Is there a legitimate baseball reason to hire Andy Pettitte beyond the fact that he pitched on four teams that won the World Series a decade ago? The Yanks can spend all they want, but they will also need to develop from within. Sure, they had their David Cone, David Wells and Roger Clemens back in the 1990s, but they also had their Andy Pettitte. If they’re going to restore that tradition to the Bronx, they’ll need to let these kids pitch their ways on to the team.
As Davidoff writes in closing, “It’s understandable why the Yankees went so hard after Sabathia and Burnett. And it would be inexcusable to dismiss their young pitchers without a better opportunity to be part of this new era.”
With the Yanks’ dual signings of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, Las Vegas is now calling the Yankeesthe prohibitive favorites to win the 2009 World Series, Jack Curry reports. Of course, they don’t play the games on paper, and October is a long way away from December. It is, however, comforting to hear that the bettors think the Yanks are making some good moves. · (72) ·
Our Organizational Depth Chart is a pretty popular feature; I get emails and comments from you guys all the time about how useful it is, or questions as to why someone is placed where they are, stuff like that. There was just one problem with the thing: it was ugly as sin and hard to read. I guess that’s two problems.
Well not anymore. I had a technical snafu yesterday and lost all the data (thanks Time Warner), so I took the opportunity to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it. The result: it’s easier to read, easier to follow, and not so freaking ugly. I’m going to add some more players eventually, but for now I just wanted to get the thing back up and available for you all.
So let me know what you think, hopefully everyone finds it useful and more aesthetically pleasing. Any feedback is appreciated, so either leave it in the comments or email me. Oh, and before anyone asks, I’m not adding CC Sabathia or AJ Burnett until they pass their physicals and officially sign. · (38) ·
After Joe e-mailed me the news of the A.J. Burnett signing, I forwarded the confirmation along to my dad, and he and I had a brief e-mail exchange about it.
Dad: Well, it’s hard to know what to say. Don’t you see the sickness of the system?
Me: Yes I do. I hope the Yanks ask for some more tax-free stadium bonds too.
Dad: They don’t make it easy to be a pure fan.
Now, of course, that exchange is dominating by a bit of hyperbole. The Yankees are in reality spending money they have coming off the books, and the stadium construction, which somehow allows them to deduct from their revenue-sharing payments, is actually helping them afford these free agents. (In a poorly-constructed screed, FoxSports.com’s Mark Kriegel attempts to explain the Yanks’ economic position here.)
But my dad isn’t the only one unamused with and rather skeptical of the Yankees right now. Cliff Corcoran at the Banter utterly hates this deal (and later explained why.) Jay Jaffe isn’t a fan of this signing either. Even the Marlins’ team president David Samson had some choice words for the Yanks.
I’ll admit it. It’s hard to root for a team that’s simply trying to overwhelm everyone else by throwing money at a baseball problem, and if the Yanks do indeed sign a Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn to shore up the offense, this will truly be a team of highly-paid (and some may say overly-paid) mercenaries set to debut a ballpark that was built more as a major of revenue than as a true necessity.
But as my dad and I were later saying on the phone to each other, the Yanks aren’t doing anything against the rules. They’re overpaying for the best free agents because they can and because the system allows them to. So they’re willing to spend nearly $250 million on pitchers in a time of a deep recession. So they’re willing to jack up their payroll to astronomical heights. Baseball allows it; what should stop them?
Of course, I’ll root for the Yanks with way more emotion than any rational person would. I’ll continue to take it personally when they lose and continue to be more frustrated with their opponents than the players are. That’s just the nature of fandom. But at the same time, I can’t help but think that a system where the Yanks can toss money at problems may not be the best for the game and may very well be broken. I’m just glad I’m not the person in charge of fixing it.
A few notes to keep us busy as Friday evening turns into Saturday morning (and my studying for my contracts final gets more and more boring):
- A few hours ago, we talked about Bernie and the WBC. Now, it sounds as though Bernie is going to make a serious run for the team. For the first time since 2006, Bernie is going to don his baseball uniform and play for the Carolina Giants of the Puerto Rico Winter League. I really hope this is simply a tune-up for the WBC and not the beginning of a Major League comeback attempt for the 40-year-old Bernie.
- The injured Scott Proctor was non-tendered by the Dodgers. Somewhere, Joe Torre is crying into his green tea. What ever will he do without his favorite toy next season?