We have some Manny updates we never got around to mentioning yesterday. It seems as though a rather amusing game of “nuh-uh, uh-huh” is developing between some random news site in the Dominican and the Yankee front office.

After Brian Cashman denied Sunday night’s Impacto Deportivo story about an impending deal between Manny and the Yankees, the Dominican-based site reiterated its story yesterday afternoon. The latest report says that Manny is currently in Brazil but will be featured at a press conference once he returns. The story also notes that the negotiations between the two sides are ongoing.

This latest salvo from the Dominican prompted Hal Steinbrenner to deny the rumors as well. “If we are, I don’t know about it,” the younger Steinbrenner told Kat O’Brien yesterday.

At this point, the story has moved from the realm of the odd into the world of the weird. I can’t quite figure why a Dominican sports site would be so vehement in pushing this rumor while two members of the Yankee front office continue to deny it. It is possible that the Yankees are denying it because negotiations are indeed ongoing and a deal hasn’t been reached yet, but in an off-season rife with leaks, no one else has reported this story.

If the Yanks don’t emerge in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manny land in the Bronx, but I don’t think it’s going to happen “en unos dias” as Impacto Deportivo continues to report. Teixeira’s saga may wrap up by Christmas, but Manny will remain unsigned into 2009. Maybe we’ll all be surprised, but I doubt it. I do wonder though what’s happening down there in the Dominican with Franklin Mirabal and Impacto Deportivo. How strange.

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One of these days we’ll finally get sick of discussing Mark Teixeira. For many of you that time has already come, but for me it hasn’t, so I’m going to link to this Jon Heyman article in which he speaks ambiguously of the first baseman’s situation. Word comes from “baseball people” that Teixeira will sign today or tomorrow. You know what kind of person knows baseball? A baseball person. So clearly this is accurate information. Moving on.

What team will have the privilege of paying Mark Teixeira over $20 million over the next at least eight years? That we don’t know, and that we must know soon, or we will go crazy. Heyman tells us that despite John Henry’s statements last week, Boston will indeed be a factor. The Red Sox “are still viewed as the favorite by most executives on other teams.” I’ve always wondered if the word “most” in statements like this means “majority” or “a bunch of people I’ve spoken to.”

Washington could be launching a last-minute offensive with an new, improved offer. Roch Kubatko, who has a cool name, is hearing eight years and $178 to $184 million, with the possibility of a ninth or even tenth year under discussion. For commentary I’ll quote Mike: “I find it hilarious that the Nats are willing to up their offer for Tex, but wouldn’t pony up the extra $500,000 to sign Aaron Crow.” I do too, Mike. I do too.

Back to Heyman. Now he says that the Yankees met this weekend to consider whether to “make room on their payroll” for Teixeira. Then, in the next paragraph, he said that they only want to spend “slightly more than the $161 million given to [CC] Sabathia.” Thankfully, slightly is yet another ambiguous term, so for all we know slightly could be another $19 million. I guess we’ll find out in the next two days.

Okay, now I’m sick of discussing Mark Teixeira. Glad I got that out of my system.

Bonus section!

Made me laugh: Ed Price and Bryan Hoch, among other beat writers I’m sure, got some quotes from Derek Jeter yesterday afternoon at an event for his Turn 2 Foundation. Apparently, Jeter gave the impression that Manny would fit with the Yanks and that they don’t need him. The funny part is that despite the headlines, there is no quote from Jeter saying that Manny would fit or that they don’t need him.

Here’s Reds Commentator Marty Brennaman getting cranky about on-base percentage. This is priceless:

Caller: People here don’t realize that Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn don’t get paid $12 million to hit .300. They get paid to hit home runs; that’s it.
Marty: No, they get paid to drive in runs, is what they get paid to do.
Caller: And hit home runs.
Marty: No, unh-uh. Home runs are incidental.

Then, what had to be only seconds later:

Adam Dunn’s paid to hit home runs

And then a little bit later:

I’m tired of hearing about how many times he walks. He was paid to hit home runs

Also, listen to this a couple of times and it’ll be stuck in your head:

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  • Yanks get 2009 luxury tax bill

    This year’s damage: $26.9M. That’s up from $23.9M last year, and it’s the most they’ve owed since 2005. It also brings their total luxury tax payout to $148.3M in the six seasons it’s existed. The only other team over the $162M threshold this year are the Tigers, who owe just $1.3M. Checks are due January 31st. · (32) ·

The Yanks and righty Chien-Ming Wang agreed to a one year, $5M deal today, avoiding a second straight arbitration hearing. Last year, as you may recall, the two sides went to arbitration over a $600,000 difference in perceived value, and the arbitrator eventually sided with the Yanks, awarding Wang a $4M salary in 2008. Many felt the Yanks were being stingy with their top pitcher, after all what’s another $600 grand on a team with a $200M payroll? Well, it’s not much, but it sets a precedent for the future and triggers a snowball effect.

If Wang won his case and earned a $4.6M salary in ’08, all of a sudden he’s looking at maybe a $5.8-6.2M salary in 2009, rather than the $5M he signed for. The process then repeats after 2009, and again after 2010. They saved themselves just $600,000 in 2008, but perhaps saved themselves millions in future payroll.

There’s also the overall effect. When Joba Chamberlain, or Phil Hughes, or Chad Billingsley, or Tim Lincecum, or any young right hander reaches arbitration, they’ll probably use Wang as a comparable pitcher because arbitrators love simple stats like wins. Wang getting $600,000 less keeps those salaries down somewhat as well. That benefits everyone.

The Yanks have more money than any team in the game, but that doesn’t mean they should spend their dollars senselessly. They’re still a business, after all. (h/t MLBTR)

Here’s your open thread for the night. Talk Wanger, Packers-Bears, whatever you want. Just be nice.

Oh, and make sure you check out Zell’s run-in with Phil Hughes. Color me jealous.

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  • Perry taken to task for pessimistic forecast

    Despite the Yanks’ $240-million pitching binge, FoxSports’ Dayn Perry still seems them as a third-place team. As a few other commentators have noted, the team’s defense isn’t still and the offense is no sure thing. But while Perry may have a point about the Yanks, Nick over at YFSF pinpoints the problems with Perry’s piece. The FoxSports scribe seems to be evaluating the Yankees in a vacuum without questioning how the Rays or Red Sox will perform next year. As Nick writes, “A lot of pundits are taking it for granted that neither team will take a step back,” and that’s just a bad assumption. · (35) ·

  • How to spend hundreds of millions without even trying

    While we all know the big signings of the Yankee off-season, it is somewhat shocking to many see the Yanks pouring hundreds of millions into player contracts during a global recession. Maury Brown, however, sees this as the perfect storm of Yankee spending. In a piece that summarizes the Yankee off-season, he explores how the non-trade for Santana, a bunch of contracts coming off the books and the tax shelter of the new stadium have put the Yankees in the free agent driver’s seat this winter. With Manny and Teixeira still out there, the team might not be done yet either. · (31) ·

The Yanks have been hot on Brewers’ centerfielder Mike Cameron this offseason, at least until the deal was deemed “officially dead” last week. With Brett Gardner unproven and Melky Cabrera perpetually underperforming (see, I was nice about it), it’s hard to blame the Yanks for seeking out a short term upgrade until Austin Jackson is ready. With Cammy off the board, perhaps the Yanks should turn their attention to another 2008 Brewers’ outfielder: Gabe Kapler.

Most Yankees’ fans probably remember Kapler from his exploits with the Red Sox, particularly during their 2004 World Series season. He played for the Yomiuri Giants in 2005, then returned for another season in Boston before serving a tour of duty as manager of the Low-A Greenville Drive (BoSox affiliate) in 2007. The itch to play returned, and he spent 2008 as the Brewers’ fourth outfielder/primary right handed pinch hitter.

Boy was that a smart decision. Kapler hit .301-.340-.498, setting career highs with a 117 OPS+ and .362 wOBP. He did most of his damage against southpaws (.354-.379-.622) and was money off the bench, hitting .323-.364-.548 as a pinch hitter. A .757 career OPS guy, Kapler’s also a tough at-bat, averaging 3.94 P/PA since 2003. He doesn’t draw as many walks as that number might lead you to believe however, and he struggles against breaking balls.

Defensively, Kapler’s good in all three outfield spots (he was unreal in center last year, posting a .945 RZR and 33.2 UZR/150) and has a strong arm. Maintaining his career average of 0.8 UZR/150 would be perfectly acceptable for a part time player. He’s also a tremendous person and clubhouse guy, which only continues the under-the-radar theme of bringing in “chemistry guys” this offseason.

Last year Kapler settled for a minor league deal that paid him $800,000 when he made the team, but this year he’ll be looking for a guaranteed roster spot and maybe even a full-time gig. He missed the last two weeks of the season and the NLDS when he tore his lat on a throw to the plate, so that’s something that has to be checked out in any predeal physical. The beauty of signing a guy like this is that you could still play Gardner every day while using Kapler against tough lefties and off the bench late in games. As far as Melky … well I dunno, I hope he enjoys Scranton.

KLaw ranked G-Kap the 35th best free agent in the class (subscription req’d), and when the alternatives are Willy Taveras, Corey Patterson and a not physically able to play everyday Rocco Baldelli, how do you not at least give Kapler a phone call? Quality bench players go a long way.

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Last week I looked at what sabermetric guru Bill James projects for the Yanks’ rotation next year, and now it’s time to take a gander at the lineup. While many hope the Yanks pounce on free agents Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn, it’s very likely that the Yanks won’t add a bat and instead go into the season with Nick Swisher at first and some homegrown youngster manning centerfield.

We’re used to juggernaut offenses that threaten 1,000 runs each season, but this year is different. Alex Rodriguez is the only proven homerun threat, while most of the other guys expected to hit in the middle of the order are more likely to line one into the gaps than shoot it over the fence. Save for one or two outliers, the lineup is full of guys that will grind out at-bats and work their fair share of walks. He might see more hit-and-runs and RBI ground outs than we’re used too, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Homers can only take you so far, especially once you face better pitching down the stretch and in the playoffs.

So let’s get to it. What does James see for the Yanks offense next year? Fun starts after the jump.

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Joey on the spot

By in Front Office. Tags: · Comments (30) ·

It’s hard to know what to make of Bob Klapisch’s latest on Joe Girardi. On the one hand, it’s a rather obvious piece exploring how Girardi may lose his job if the Yanks don’t get off to a good start in 2009. On the other, it’s something of a hack job designed to rile up the anti-Girardi factions among us.

While much of the piece focuses around some non-existent conflict between Joe Girardi and Manny Ramirez that may not even be an issue, Klapisch fires some blanket warning shots Girardi’s way. Take a look:

This is bad news for Joe Girardi, who’s already facing a difficult 2009 agenda. Despite the apparent imbalance in the Yankees’ roster — terrific pitching, questionable offense — the manager is expected to get the Bombers to the playoffs or else lose his job.

Of course, the front office hasn’t issued a win-or-else edict to Girardi. But officials are aware that his leadership style was too rigid and too intense for a veteran clubhouse. It’s hard to believe Girardi can loosen up in the span of one off-season, but he’d better: If the Yankees are playing .500 ball in mid-May, the clock on his dismissal will be ticking loudly.

This is the same pressure that Willie Randolph faced early in 2008, and look how the Mets responded: They got their manager fired as they sunk under .500. Girardi is getting one more chance to undo last year’s mistakes, including his over-reliance on team meetings, his inability to digest and process tough losses and his ill-advised policy of banning junk food in the clubhouse.

Got that? We have “questionable offense,” Girardi’s “inability to digest and process tough losses,” and an “ill-advised policy” designed to encourage healthy eating in the clubhouse. I can’t help but wonder what the agenda is.

In truth, Girardi probably will face a tough 2009 if the Yanks falter. The brass seemingly gave him a pass on 2008. The Yanks were facing some growing pains as they tried to determine how their young arms would fit in, and the teams had to overcome far too many injuries to make the playoffs. A poor start in a few months will land Girardi in the hot seat whether he deserves it or not. It won’t be over some junk food ban or Girardi’s inability to cope with losses. It will be because the team just doesn’t perform up to anyone’s expectations.

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