It was an exciting day in Yankeeland, as the team acquired their #1 target of the off-season, one Casten Charles Sabathia. We talk about the deal, how the Yanks got to it, and of course the opt-out.

With CC on board, this leads us to talk about what’s next. We’ve heard multiple reports of the Yankees offering A.J. Burnett multiple years. We heard five years and $80 million, but now Ken Rosenthal has it at five years and $91 million. It’s tough to like this development. It appears, though, Rosenthal has retracted the report.

We also talk about Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, and even Jon Garland. It all comes to a head with a tribute to Chien-Ming Wang.

Oh, and we have a poll:

Who would you rather the Yankees sign if they are going to add a bat?
View Results

You can check out all of our Winter Meeting 2008 posts here. You can also check out our Twitter feed, where we give some shorter, less meaningful updates.

Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.

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We appreciate any feedback. You can leave it in the comments or email either of us.

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Before Mike and Joe unleash the last Vegas RAB podcast on the world, let’s wrap up some late-night rumors:

  • A few minutes ago, Ken Rosenthal was reporting that the Yanks were ready to offer five years and an absurd $91 million to A.J. Burnett, but he has since retracted that rumor. Instead, Rosenthal reports in his 11:25 p.m. update that the Yanks will sign one of A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe and one of Andy Pettitte or Ben Sheets. The current outstanding offer to Burnett is five years and $80 million as far as we know.

    From a personnel perspective, I’d go with Burnett and Sheets. From a contract perspective, I’d probably rather take Lowe’s four years and Sheets’ two or three. I think if the Yanks have their druthers, Pettitte is the odd man out.

  • On the Pettitte front, the Los Angeles Times reports that despite numerous potential suitors, Andy Pettitte will probably retire if the Yanks don’t resign him for 2009.
  • Dan Graziano, out of a job in January, notes that the Manny Ramirez talk is intensifying. Some factions with the Front Office want the Yanks to go after Manny. I like this move too. They won’t need to commit too many years to Manny, and he makes everyone else in the lineup better. This should probably still be considered a long shot, however. The Dodgers remain heavily involved with Manny.
Categories : Hot Stove League
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So far, we’ve seen a lot of takes on the apparent three-year opt-out the Yanks are going to include in CC Sabathia‘s rather large contract. While some people like it and others don’t, I think Ken Davidoff’s take earlier this afternoon is the most pragmatic. He writes:

As long as CC is healthy in three years, he’ll be gone, you’ve got to figure. By that point, Barry Zito will have just two years remaining on his seven-year, $126-million deal with the Giants, so San Francisco should be more open to bringing him aboard.

At least with the opt-out, the whole thing is a little more honest. The Yankees and Sabathia are going to use each other – the Yankees because their homegrown guys aren’t ready yet, and Sabathia because the Giants aren’t ready yet for him. It’s a marriage of convenience.

If CC, at age 31, opts out of a guaranteed $92 million because he thinks he can land more, well then fine. As more than a few writers have noted, if he opts out, it’s because he has pitched well enough to land another big contract just as he’s entering his declining years. If the Giants or Dodgers want to pay him for that, then okay. If he doesn’t opt out because loves New York, then okay. And if he doesn’t opt out because he’s hurt, then not so okay.

Right now, it’s a marriage of convenience. By the time this becomes an issue after the 2011 season, we’ll know what we have in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and a whole host of young arms. Only then will we know if the Yanks gambled properly, but my guess is that they did.

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So Joe and were just sitting around here in the press room, surfin’ the net and the such, when Scott Boras walks by followed by an army of reporters. I’m not kidding, there were about 40 or 50 people following him. He marched to the front of the room, stepped up on the little camera stage and launched into an impromptu press conference. Out of nowhere the guy storms into the room and commands everyone attention; it was pretty impressive.

Here’s the notable stuff he said:

  • When asked about how many teams have expressed interest in Manny Ramirez, he estimated that “nine or ten teams can use a three-four bat,” which wasn’t the question.
  • Boras feels the Sabathia deal “creates a path” for the remaining pitchers on the market, specifically citing Derek Lowe. He said Lowe’s received a ton of interest, ditto Oliver Perez, the “26 yr old lefty who’s pitched in big games the last few years.”
  • When asked if Jacoby Ellsbury would be open a Pedroia-esque long-term deal, Scott didn’t answer the question, instead noting that if it gets to that point his job “will be easier because it’s mid-January.”
  • He called the market for Felipe Lopez very good, noting that teams recognized his versatility, “his ability to start at second or play the outfield.” Lopez has played 17 games in the outfield in his eight year career.
  • Joe Crede’s recovery from his back injury is going well, he’s going to start “skills drills” in January. Boras also called Crede an All-Star 3B, which made me laugh until I released that he was selected as a reserve this year. The guy hit .252-.323-.463 in the first half; how much do you think Boras paid Tito to take him?
  • When asked if anyone other than the Sox have made an offer to Varitek, he went off into a ramble about how he wouldn’t get into the number of teams that have inquired.
  • He believes Eric Gagne will get a closer’s job somewhere. Good luck with that.

Mark Teixeira was the hot topic, so he gets his own little section:

  • He mentioned that he has received several concrete offers for Tex’s services and is currently in the counteroffer phase. It was the exact same question that he had ducked about Manny.
  • When asked if the Nats losing 102 games would turn Tex off from signing with them, he specifically mentioned Pudge signing the Tigers the year after they lost 116 games as an example of players doing it before. He also noted that it would be nice to play for a team with the first overall pick in the draft, but he didn’t mention Steven Strasburg (his client).
  • Boras doesn’t expect the Sabathia contract to eliminate the Yanks from the running for Tex, indicating that the Yanks have historically shown the desire to improve the team by any means necessary.
  • He mentioned all of Tex’s skills (hits for high avg, gets on base, hits for power, Gold Glove defense) and noting that the only comparable player on the market next year was Matt Holliday, and that Prince Fielder won’t hit free agency until after 2011. He’s already laying the groundwork for the future.

Someone also asked Boras if there was any conflict of interest since he was representing so many high profile players. He said no of course, and mentioned that he has a 15 person staff here. It was pretty cool, you can tell he loved the attention.

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I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since landing in Vegas. Most everyone in the media room is a journalist. They for the most part work for large media corporations and are paid to deliver information to fans. This is done through a veil of objectivity. I say veil because everyone has their biases, and there’s no down-the-middle objective view of most topics. (For more on that, you can read this guy’s archives.)

River Ave. Blues, on the other hand, is written by fans, for fans. We don’t hide our biases; for the most part, they’re right up front. This extends beyond our team bias into our biases regarding individual players, coaches, front office executives, analytical methods, and in-game strategies. When we say something, you know where we’re coming from. Or at least that’s our hope. If you’re looking for neutral sports coverage, this is not the place for you.

The question I can’t seem to answer is, what does a neutral POV bring to the table? My best guess is that we get more accurate information if the report comes from a dispassionate observer. Otherwise, this line of thinking goes, we’re subject to a fan’s biases, and therefore won’t be getting the real story. We’ll be getting the story as spun by someone emotionally attached to the situation. As I said above, though, even a supposedly neutral bystander has his or her own biases. They’re just not as up front, as they have to feign objectivity.

As you can tell, I prefer fan coverage. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing this. While it’s nice to have someone gathering facts, I don’t think that necessarily has to come from an “objective” party. I think passionate fans can make the distinction between when it’s appropriate to act professionally and when it’s appropriate to express your fandom. Problem is, the old guard doesn’t believe that, so they tend not to hire the likes of Ben, Mike, and me. Yet I think we’re perfectly capable of handling ourselves in a press environment while retaining our die-hard ties to the Yankees.

I thought of all this last night while the Sabathia situation unfolded. I lamented to Mike that there was zero chance of us walking into the press room on Wednesday morning and high fiving the New York press corps. I thought that would have been cool. Woo hoo! We got our guy. Now let’s go find Cashman and see what’s next.

Before I wrap up, I just want to add that this is not a slight on the crew that covers the Yankees. I enjoy reading them, and have enjoyed their company, however brief, during the Winter Meetings. I also understand that not all of them are necessarily Yankees fans.

So I’m not saying that everyone who covers a team should be a fanatic. I do think, however, that the notion of an objective reporter is outdated. We’re all passionate fans. Don’t you enjoy reading the commentary of and engaging in conversations with other die-hards? I don’t think you’d be here if you didn’t.

While I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic, this is also the open thread for the evening. So have at it.

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We’ve harped on many themes throughout the annals of RAB, but perhaps none more consistently than patience. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and let your emotions guide you to a thought. What’s easy, though, isn’t always right. Just because we prefer instant gratification doesn’t mean it’s the best result.

Patience, in this instance, has won the day. It started last off-season with the Santana non-deal. The Yankees exercised patience in two ways there. First, they decided to hold onto Phil Hughes, knowing he would not be nearly as good as Santana in 2008, and probably wouldn’t surpass him, even in the best case scenario, until Santana’s entered his decline. Yet they recognized Hughes as young, cheap, controllable talent. Holding onto him not only gave them a good young pitcher, but meant they could allocate resources elsewhere.

They also exercised patience in waiting for a comparable option for a better price. WIth CC Sabathia headed for free agency, and with little to no shot of the Indians locking him, the Yanks knew that they could get him while sacrificing just a first round pick. There were no guarantees there, of course, but the Yankees apparently deemed it a worthy gamble. If you’re going to disagree with their strategy, I think that’s the issue.

Finally, the Yankees were patient with CC during this slow opening to the off-season. People started to panic when he didn’t immediately respond to the Yanks’ offer. As time dragged on, the speculation started to ramp up. CC wants to play on the West Coast. He’ll take a discount to play for the Giants. Many New York media personalities screamed that the team should forget him, that he’s playing them for fools. Yet the Yankees exercised patience.

Now they still have Hughes, Kennedy, and the other guys they’d have given up for Santana. They have a comparable pitcher in Sabathia. The contract might seem a bit longer, and there is that debatable opt-out clause, but I think you’ll see similar outputs from the southpaws in 2009. At least, the Yankees are banking on it.

I hope this means that Yankees fans will now exercise some patience when thinking about and pontificating on baseball issues. Thinks don’t happen with a snap of the fingers. They take time to develop. This applies to trades, free agency signings, and prospect development. In other words, don’t write Ian Kennedy off because he pitched poorly in 2008 (as an example). He just might need a bit more time to fully bake.

In the end, this is just a really long way of saying: “WHY THE FUCK IS THIS BURRITO TAKING SO LONG TO COOK IN THIS MICROWAVE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” Once it’s done, it might be the greatest microwaved burrito you’ve ever eaten.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (99)

Lots of rumors flyin’ around right now. Let’s wrap ‘em up.

  • In his Winter Meetings live-blog at 1:23 p.m., Ken Rosenthal got an unnamed rival executive saying that CC’s opt-out is a bad idea. Either he’s great and makes more money or he’s terrible and the Yanks are on the hook, this rival executive said. Of course, if the market flattens, it’s quite likely that no one would pay more than the nearly $100 million that Sabathia would be leaving on the table. We’ll deal with that when the time comes along.
  • Rosenthal also notes that the Yanks are in talks with A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe and Andy Pettitte. He believes that the Yanks and Lowe are not as close as had been previously reported. Burnett expects the Yanks to top a deal from Atlanta believed to be five years and $80 million. I say pass.
  • Tom Verducci, largely silent at the Meetings so far, reports that the Red Sox may target John Smoltz. I guess they too need to the fulfill the overpaid, old injured guy spot on the roster that Curt Schilling will vacate.
  • Within the same piece, Verducci says that the Rangers have asked Andy Pettitte if he would be interested in pitching for them. So far, we’ve heard that the Dodgers, Red Sox and Rangers now are all interested in Pettitte, but the lefty remains interested in only the Yanks so far. He may have to wait until Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett and Ben Sheets are signed by whichever team signs them until the Yanks are ready to welcome him back.
  • Jon Heyman says that Mark Teixeira will get $200 million from someone, and that someone, according to Mike DiGiovanna, might just be the Nationals. While this signing would put Teixeira close to home and drastically improve Washington’s club, they still have way too many holes to fill and no internal pieces really available. Teixeira would be the center piece of a bad club as he was in Texas, and I’m just not sure he wants to do that. Dollars, however, talk. I think, by the way, that Teixeira is not destined for the Yanks despite how perfect he would fit in with this team.
  • And finally, a hearty RAB congrats to site-favorites Keith Law and Rob Neyer. The two of them — along with Will Carroll and Christina Kahrl — are now officially members of the BBWAA. This is a long overdue move, and I can’t wait to see Keith’s reaction when his colleagues are the ones are awarding Jason Bartlett MVP points.
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Sorry I couldn’t get closer. Had I known Jeter was here I would have sat up front.

Oh, and it might look like Jeter is looking at the camera, but I was actually standing next to her:

She’s approximately 18,456 times hotter in person.

Update: Davey Johnson called Jeter up to speak for a minute. Says the Captain: “I did not think I’d be speaking today.”

Categories : USA Baseball
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