• Three months away

    The Yankees unveiled their Spring Training schedule today, and the party gets started early this year. The Yanks’ first Grapefruit League game is Feb. 25, 2009, and the Bombers are set to take on the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida. They play their first game in Tampa the next day. Individual game tickets will go on sale in January. For more, check out the official press release. · (2) ·

Via MLBTR, free agent southpaw Andy Pettitte has had numerous conversations with ex-manager Joe Torre recently, reportedly about the possibility of joining the Dodgers’ rotation. Pettitte’s already said that he wants to return to the Yanks in 2009, but speculation is that he may be feeling slighted by the way the Yanks are slowly approaching a potential return.

I remember the feeling back in 2004, that “dude, Andy’s not going anywhere, chill out” attitude. It was a bit surprising to see Pettitte head home to Houston, and it wasn’t until he was gone that you realized just how important he was. Sure, he put up a 6.23 ERA in the second half and turned opposing hitters into Raul Ibanez thanks to a .835 OPS against, but he’s still valuable as a rotation stalwart because of his supreme durability and fearlessness.

Regardless of who the Yanks sign this offseason, Pettitte’s return is important for more reasons than we may understand. He brings a veteran presence to the back of the rotation, he’s a lock for 200+ league average or better innings, and there’s no adjustment period. Work it out, I’m sure he’d be cool taking a little pay cut from the $16M he’s earned the past two years, say $12M or so. Don’t let him leave again; as we learned back in ’04 the only guy that can replace Andy is … Andy.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. Talk Pettitte, LeBron at the Garden, whatever. Just play nice.

Update (7:15pm): Before anyone asks, Pettitte is a Type-A free agent, so if he did head to SoCal the Yanks would get the Dodgers first round pick (#17 overall, the second best pick they could possibly get) and a sandwich rounder.

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Larry Dobrow, writer and Yankee fan, earned himself the rare privilege of a sneak peak into the new stadium and wrote about the trip for CBSSports.com.

At first, he was struck by grandeur of it all. Big halls and big screens will dot the big promenades. While he is appreciate of the Yanks’ efforts at modernization, he was most impressed with the field. Dobrow writes:

Then we walked through the tunnel into the cruise ship of a dugout, and exploded out onto the field.

This, not the steakhouses or the Hard Rock Cafes or the post offices or the arboretums, is why the new Yankee Stadium will make hard-core, old-time, middle-tax-bracket fans very, very happy. Yes, there are modern flourishes, like the monstrous video screen and the obligatory center-field outdoor café dealie. But mostly the new field is the old field.

The dimensions remain the same, save for the elimination of chunks of foul territory around home plate and the first- and third-base lines (this won’t thrill the pitchers, I imagine). Most important, the upper decks still hang tightly and imposingly over the field. If I felt somewhat claustrophobic beneath their shadows on a quiet November morning, I can only imagine how intimidated opposing players might feel on a boisterous October night.

I hope Dobrow’s words ring true in April. We’ve heard that the upper decks are a bit more recessed than they were at the intimate Yankee Stadium and the latest set of pictures on Yankees.com don’t dispel that story. But the early words are comforting. This new stadium just might be a nice one yet.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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So the news that the Angels are interested in CC Sabathia isn’t exactly the way I envisioned the Yanks’ starting Thanksgiving weekend. As Joe detailed earlier today, it seems that the Angels are looking to give up the Mark Teixeira chase and go hard after Sabathia. Outside of the fact that the Angels would emerge as clear favorites in the AL West for years to come, this has clear and lasting ramifications for the Yanks.

First, let’s dismiss the desire argument. As Wallace Matthews wrote today, some fans seem to believe that Sabathia’s silence indicates that he doesn’t want to come to New York. As far as anyone knows, that just isn’t true. Sabathia is waiting for other offers for two reasons. The first is that he knows the Yanks will up their offer significantly if the Angels do deliver a similar contract. It’s a smart business tactic.

Second, while Sabathia hasn’t jumped yet at any offer, we know he seems to prefer California to the East Coast. His preference is just that. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to play here; It just means he prefers over there.

As CC stews, though, the Yanks’ back-up plans are coming into view. Two Tyler Kepner articles kicked things off last night. First, he asked on the Bats blog if the Yanks have enough offense. Next, he looked at the Yanks’ lofty expectations for A-Rod and Robinson Cano next year. With a healthy Hideki and Jorge and a better season from Cano, the Yanks feel they can score a lot of runs next year.

To that end, as Ken Davidoff wrote today, the Yanks’ Plan B seems to be just that: score a lot of runs. If the Yanks actually do lose out on CC Sabathia, they will go hard after either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez in an effort to shore up what should be a very good lineup. For obvious reasons, Teixeira is a better long-term fit, but having Manny and A-Rod at the heart of the order would lead to many a slugfest next season.

On the pitching front, the Yanks would entice Andy Pettitte to return and would look at a few other free agents. They don’t seem willing to go to five years for A.J. Burnett, but Bryan Hoch feels that Ben Sheets is a real possibility. Considering that Sheets would sign for fewer years and less money than any other big-name free agent, he would probably be the best fit of pitchers not named Carsten Charles.

So that’s Plan B. Score a lot of runs. Use the established pitchers, sign a free agent and ask either Alfredo Aceves or Phil Hughes to stop the revolving door in the fifth starter spot. Of course, the Yanks haven’t yet lost out on Sabathia yet, but if they do and can implement this plan, it certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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Via MLB Trade Rumors we learn that the Angels are having discussions with CC Sabathia. While the timing comes somewhat of a surprise — the Angels still haven’t made an offer to Mark Teixeira — it was assumed from the start that the Halos would get involved. LA Times scribe Bill Shaikin notes that the Angels are reluctant to offer Tex the 10 years he seeks. Of course, Scott Boras will neither confirm nor deny the first baseman’s intentions.

No offer has been officially extended, however it is believed that the Angels could offer something “in the range of Johan Santana’s six-year, $137.5-million contract.” Clearly, the term “in the range” could mean a number of things. Will they offer a little less? A little more? Will they match the Yankees reported six-year, $140 million offer? Or did they just leak this story to show Teixeira that they’re serious?

(You have 24 hours to sign our contract. And to show you we’re serious…you have 12 hours.)

We know that Sabathia could opt for the West Coast, even if the Yankees offer the largest contract. That scenario becomes more likely if the Angels offer him a deal better than Santana’s, even if it’s not by much. The Yanks would surely up their bid under that scenario, but how much, if anything, would be enough?

Missing out on CC could mean a number of changes to the off-season plan. The focus could shift to Teixeira. If signed, Nick Swisher would move to the outfield. Do you dish Damon or Nady at that point? Do you go into the season with an OF of Nady-Damon-Swisher and hope for the best defensively?

There aren’t any easy answers to these questions. Yet the Yankees may be faced with them in the coming weeks. I do not envy Brian Cashman right now.

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  • Coming in 2009: More Delta commercials than we ever wanted

    Delta Airlines and the Yanks announced a major sponsorship deal yesterday afternoon. The Atlanta-based airline will now become the Official Airlines of the New York Yankees. In return, Delta gets extensive signage throughout the new stadium, a fancy luxury suite behind home plate and advertising in Yankee publications and on the game broadcasts. Terms of the deal were not announced, and I’m sure John Sterling is already practicing his Delta commercials as we speak. · (12) ·

While Ken Davidoff described for us the language of baseball winter, I’m not so sure he meant it would go this far. Sure, we’ve heard “parameters” and “ideas” plenty so far, but we’ve also seen the word “signed” used a bit loosely.

It started with Trever Miller. Last Wednesday Bernie Biklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that Miller would be in town for a physical on Thursday, and that “If that goes as expected, he’s the LH specialist.” We found out on Friday that a deal had not been finalized. This remains the case as of this writing.

Then we had the bit about Rafael Furcal this morning. This developed rather quickly. In the a.m., the L.A. Times picked up a story about a Dominican paper which claimed to have talked to Furcal. The shortstop claimed he had a four-year $48 million offer on the table from the A’s, as well as an offer to play second base for the Mets. Not long after noon, the A’s rumor was debunked. The Mets debunking came shortly afterwards. Furcal’s agent maintains that neither offer was made.

In what might be the worst of these, Sweeny Murti of WFAN reported that the Giants signed Edgar Renteria for two years and $18 million. The shortstop’s agent chimed in a few hours later, saying his client was home in Colombia and no deal was imminent. That remains the case. Looks like Sweeny jumped the gun by a lot.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, there was even a report on Odalis Perez, from ESPN Deportes, which quoted the pitcher saying: “My agent is working with National. We have an offer for two or three years and is subject to fine-tune details.” That, as you can guess, has been debunked. This saves us from a mini heart attack.

Everyone’s a fan of a good rumor. It makes the hot stove interesting. However, I’d rather not hear anything than hear something not true. Unfortunately, with everyone gunning for the big scoop, we’re probably going to see a few more false starts this off-season. Which is a shame. When we read a player is signed, he better damn well be signed. Can you imagine if this happened with CC Sabathia and the Yanks?

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • The looming Viagra threat

    On the front page of yesterday’s Times was a lengthy story about the latest threat to the (fictional) sanctity of professional sports. Watch out folks: It’s the Viagra threat. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the infamous blue pill offers to benefits to athletes that could lend the impotency drug more performance-enhancing capabilities than Pfizer’s researchers ever intended. Rafael Palmeiro, the now-disgraced ex-Major Leaguer, once served as pitch man for the drug. Oops. · (22) ·

The Yanks are pretty desperate for pitching, it’s no secret, but just how desperate are they? Apparently desperate enough to offer a contract to Perez. Oh, and not Oliver Perez. Odalis Perez.

Urge to kill, rising.

On the surface, it’s one of those “what the hell are they thinking” moves. He was barely average in the NL last year, posting a 101 OPS+ (which is actually better than Oliver’s 100) after starting Opening Day for the Nats. He’s allowed nearly three baserunners for every two innings pitched in his career, and last year was the first time he eclipsed the 140 IP mark in four years. It’s just not something you like to hear.

But chillax people. If the Yanks did make an offer (the original article is in espanol, so something may have been lost in translation), it’s not to front the rotation. They’re not going to pass on CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets or AJ Burnett or Derek Lowe if Perez agrees to a deal. If anything, they’re just exploring all options and casting a wide net. Hey, he’s better than Ponson, right?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the football game tonight. Don’t worry about Odalis Perez. The Hot Stove is chock full o’ rumors that never come to fruition, and until we see some more definitive reports, don’t concern yourself with this one. If you want something to worry about, worry about how embarrassing it’ll be for tommiesmithjohncarlos if Ryan Grant picks up the 40 measly yards I need to beat him in fantasy this week even though Brandon Jacobs didn’t play yesterday.

Here’s your open thread for the night. Talk Pack-Saints, Haht Stove, stuffing recipes, whatever you like. Just keep it civilized.

Categories : Open Thread
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