Fan Confidence Poll: February 20th, 2012

2011 Record: 97-65 (855 RS, 657 RA, 102-60 pythag. record), won AL East, lost to Tigers in ALDS

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Yankees agree to sign Raul Ibanez

(REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

In the least surprising news ever, the Yankees have agreed to sign Raul Ibanez to a one-year deal worth $1.1M according to Buster Olney and Joel Sherman. Ken Rosenthal says he can earn up to $4M if he hits all his incentives. We heard that the contract framework had been in place for weeks last night, but the team was waiting to see if they acquired a left-handed DH-type in an A.J. Burnett before committing. That didn’t happen, so here’s Ibanez. The deal is pending a physical, and Ibanez will report to camp on Thursday. Position players are required to report on Friday.

Ibanez, 39, was born in New York City but grew up in Miami. His overall offensive production has been steadily declining over the last few years, though he can still hit righties some (.322 wOBA) and has pop in his bat (.184 ISO vs. RHP last year). He also doesn’t strike out much against righties (15.6 K% last year). Ibanez is unusable against left-handers though (.254 wOBA with a 27.5 K% vs. LHP last year), and he’s been one of the very worst defensive outfielders in baseball over the last three seasons. If he sees any time in the field, it better be in an emergency only. He’s a good clubhouse guy according to all accounts, which is something the Yankees emphasize.

My gut feeling that the Yankees were waiting out Johnny Damon was wrong, as usual. Ultimately, I think they went with Ibanez over Damon for three reasons. One, he was asking for less money. Two, he’s less likely to make a big stink if he only gets 300 plate appearances this year. And three, he’s more reliable defensively in the sense that Damon only played 84 innings in the outfield last year and 352.1 innings over the last two years. I don’t love Ibanez, but it’s not like he’s vastly inferior to Damon. None of the available DH candidates are all that great frankly, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Sherman: Framework for Ibanez deal in place for weeks

Via Joel Sherman, the framework for a contract between the Yankees and Raul Ibanez is in place, and has been for weeks. The team had to make sure they didn’t take on a left-handed DH-type in an A.J. Burnett trade before moving forward with the deal, however. Ibanez will earn a $1M base salary with incentives, but the contract has not been agreed upon yet and is nowhere close to official. The Yankees do have an open 40-man roster spot after the Burnett trade, but I sure hope they don’t give any potential DH a big league deal. At least fake a competition with Russell Branyan before committing to someone.

Meanwhile, Sherman also says the Yankees and Eric Chavez are also talking about a one-year deal worth $1M with incentives, but that won’t happen until Ibanez is signed at the very least. These two deals seem inevitable, though I don’t love either. Then again, it’s not like any of the other DH-types really stand out from pack.

Open Thread: 2/19 Camp Notes

Baseball's back. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The 2012 Yankees season officially started today when pitchers and catchers reported for duty in Tampa. All they did today was take physicals, and the first workout scheduled for tomorrow. Position players report on Friday. We’ve already recapped Brian Cashman’s meeting with the media, but Joe Girardi‘s session was pushed back to tomorrow because of travel issues. Here’s some miscellaneous notes from throughout the day…

  • Frankie Cervelli is in camp and is 100% ready to go for baseball activities. He suffered his fourth concussion in seven years in September, but was medically cleared in November. Alex Rodriguez will be 100% ready to go once he reports as well. He had that experimental knee procedure in December. (David Waldstein)
  • Joba Chamberlain threw off flat ground, and Cashman said they will play it safe as the right-hander rehabs from Tommy John surgery. They’re shooting for a June return, which is 12 months out from the operation. (Erik Boland & Marc Carig)
  • What about Pedro Feliciano? “If he gets back for us, it would be toward September, most likely,” said Cashman. “His rehab is going well and I think he’s more optimistic, but he had a significant surgery that time-frame wise is going to cut it close.” (Chad Jennings)
  • New uniform numbers: Michael Pineda will wear #35 and Hiroki Kuroda will wear #18 with Andruw Jones switching to #22. Number 20 was not assigned, unsurprisingly. (Anthony McCarron & Carig)
  • Pineda’s locker is right next to CC Sabathia, which I’m sure is purely coincidental (nope). Manny Banuelos and Freddy Garcia are also nearby. A.J. Burnett‘s old locker now belongs to Hiroki Kuroda. (McCarron, Mark Feinsand & Erik Boland)

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Rangers, Devils, and Nets are all playing rare Sunday might games, so there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself before getting back to the grind in the morning. Talk about whatever you like here, anything goes.

Cashman Speaks: Scandal, Mo, Sabathia, More

Duke Castiglione cares not about your personal bubble.

Happy pitchers and catchers day. Joe Girardi was/is late for a scheduled meeting with the media because of a lengthy flight delay, but Brian Cashman did hold court with reports. Here’s the round up of the news and notes…

  • “It’s not going to affect my job,” said Cashman when asked about his divorce and stalker, calling the situation “very difficult.” He doesn’t believe his job is in jeopardy. (Dan Barbarisi)
  • Cashman confirmed that Mariano Rivera will be late to camp. “What am I going to do? He’s Mariano Rivera,” said the GM. “He’ll get his eight innings in … He knows what he needs to do.” (Bryan Hoch, Pete Caldera & Erik Boland)
  • CC Sabathia and Cashman had a conversation about the left-hander’s weight soon after he signed his new contract extension. Cashman called it a “healthy dialogue,” and the conversation included Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue. Sabathia lost 10-15 lbs. this winter (though David Waldstein says it looks like more) and will focus on maintaining it throughout the season. (Marc Carig & Boland)
  • Michael Pineda will not start the season as the number two starter, with Cashman citing his need to improve his changeup as a reason why. My prediction? He’ll be the four on Opening Day, which is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. (Boland)
  • Andruw Jones will report to camp before the rest of the position players because he’s working his way back from offseason knee surgery. He had a small tear repaired and played through the injury last season. (Carig)
  • Brad Meyers, one of the team’s two Rule 5 Draft picks, hurt his shoulder lifting weights over the winter and will be behind the other pitchers in camp. He was a long shot to make the roster already, and this certainly didn’t improve his chances any. (Carig)
  • Not surprising, but Cashman said they want a left-handed hitting DH that can play some outfield. Raul Ibanez is reportedly the top target, though Cashman didn’t mention him by name. The GM also said Eric Chavez‘s return is not a sure thing. (Hoch)
  • Last but not least, Cashman admitted that the Yankees weren’t trying to win the division in 2010. They decided they were better off winning the Wild Card and focusing on getting healthy in September. (Hoch)

(Photo via Mark Feinsand)

Damon: “We both are looking at other options now”

Via George King and Joel Sherman, both Johnny Damon and the Yankees are no longer considering a reunion. “We both are looking at other options now,” he said, calling the situation “unfortunate.” Brian Cashman added: “He called and I told him the truth. He is not the No. 1 option if and when I turn to DH options.” Sure sounds like it’s Raul Ibanez or bust now. Consider me unenthused.

Meanwhile, Sherman reports that the Yankees can’t afford both Eric Chavez and a left-handed DH even after the A.J. Burnett trade. It’s one or the other, though the brain trust is going to reevaluate things once the trade is made official. Great moments in posturing, right here.