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.”

Categories : Pitching
Comments (171)
  • Counting our chickens well before they hatch

    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) ·

  • Brand spankin’ new Depth Chart

    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.

Categories : Rants
Comments (190)

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?
Categories : News
Comments (91)

Three days, two new starters. Well, technically CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett aren’t Yankees yet because they haven’t passed their physicals, but there’s no reason to suspect they won’t. $243.5M is all it took … well, that assumes Sabathia sticks around for more than three years, far from a given.

AJ Burnett’s a controversial figure here at RAB. I’ve made it well known that I prefer Derek Lowe, but it doesn’t matter. Burnett’s going to be a Yankee, so root for him to do well and support him like you do anyone that wears the pinstripes. He and Sabathia add two pitchers to the staff that miss bats regularly, and in fact CC and AJ are two of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball: last year batters made contact on just 72.0% of the swings they took against CC (best amongst starters in the bigs), while just 76.2% made contact against Burnett (sixth best). When’s the last time the Yanks had two arms like that?

And for those of you that have already declared that Burnett is the second coming of Carl Pavano, that’s patently wrong. I’ll let KLaw explain:

Matt (Yardley, PA): I’m with Bryan. Burnett to me is Pavano ver2.0.

Keith Law: Not even close. Pavano in the NL in his only two healthy years, right before signing with the Yanks: 423 IP, 272 K’s, 35 HR allowed. That’s in a big ballpark, facing opposing pitchers to boost his K total. Burnett, in the AL East, in a slight hitters’ park, last two years: 387 IP, 407 Ks, 42 HR. You can’t make a performance argument that he’s like Pavano. You can’t make a health argument that he’s like Pavano (who was hurt in some part of every year until his sixth season). You definitely can’t make a stuff argument that he’s like Pavano. That’s a completely unfair tag to place on Burnett.

So there you go, better than I ever could have put it in so few sentences. Like I said, whether you like the signing or not, root for the guy until your hands are so sore you can’t clap and your voice is so horse you can’t scream, then do it anyway. He’s a Yankee, love him like one.

One small roster note for the night: Chris Britton and Justin Christian were non-tendered, making them free agents. I hope they bring J-Chrizzle back on a minor league deal. The moves make room on the 40 man for CC & AJ. The Depth Chart is up-to-date.

Here’s your open thread of the evening. There’s lots to talk about tonight including the two new arms and Rangers-Devils. You know the deal, talk about whatever, just be nice.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (311)

Update: Here’s the link. Still doesn’t make it any better.

This comes straight from MLB Trade Rumors. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Yankees have signed A.J. Burnett to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. We expected this was coming. That doesn’t mean we have to like it. More to come as we get it.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (228)
  • Waiting for Godot

    A.J. Burnett is currently holding what has widely been reported as two five-year offers. The one from the Braves appears to be a few million dollars less than the one from the Yanks, and according to Jon Heyman, a decision is coming soon. Both Peter Abraham and Hal Steinbrenner feel that Burnett will wind up in the Bronx. We’ll have the news when it breaks, but I can’t say right now I’m thrilled about five years of A.J. Burnett. · (122) ·


RAB Live Chat

By in Chats. · Comments (3) ·
Categories : Chats
Comments (3)
  • Bernie and the WBC

    Bernie Williams has never officially retired. Now 40 years old and with a burgeoning music career, the former center fielder hasn’t been able to quite call it quits. Perhaps, he hasn’t filed out those retirement papers yet because he wants to play for Puerto Rico during the upcoming World Baseball Classic tournament. It would be a nice gesture if Bernie’s last baseball appearance could come during the WBC. Now all he has to do is convince the team to take him. · (77) ·