Scott Boras must be getting desperate.
Over the weekend, the Boston Herald ran a story alleging Yankee interest in Jason Varitek. Michael Silverman wrote:
A $50 million contract worth some $13 million a year is not in the offing for Varitek. It should require something closer to a two- to four-year deal worth $10-11 million a year to sign Varitek. He is coming off a four-year, $40 million deal.
Teams expected to be in on the bidding include the Tigers and Angels. Do not dismiss the chances of the Yankees going after Varitek as doubt remains about whether Posada’s shoulder, surgically repaired last season, will allow him to catch in 2009. . . .
I dismissed this one. I figured that either Silverman was trying to rile up Red Sox fans or that Boras was attempting to scare the team into believing that someone might actually be interested in Varitek.
Today, I realized it was the latter as the Boras machine ramped up its work. Playing off of a post by Curt Schilling, Ken Rosenthal attempted to excuse Varitek’s bad 2008 by pointing to a divorce and a viral infection that went unreported for the entire duration of the season.
Meanwhile, Rosenthal drops this gem: “The impact of Varitek’s defense and leadership is not measurable. Nor is the impact of his physical and emotional difficulties last season.”
The impact of Varitek’s defense and leadership may not be measurable, but that’s a point up for grabs. What is measurable is the fact that he hit .220/.313/.359 in nearly 500 plate appearances. What is measurable is that he’s shown a fairly significant decline since his career years in 2004 and 2005. What is measurable is that, as a catcher turning 37 a few days after Opening Day, time and history are not on Varitek’s side.
Now, I’m in no position to comment on Varitek’s unreported injuries. Maybe he actually was injured, and maybe the Red Sox and the Boston media managed to miss that fact for an entire season. Or maybe Varitek, his friends and agent are trying to portray his grit and leadership as the defining characteristics in the hope that some team will give him a woefully overvalued contract.
But no matter the truth, I don’t want to see Varitek anywhere near the Yankees. He’s old; he’s pretty useless from an on-field perspective; and he’s one of the few Red Sox I actively would not root for were he to end up in the Bronx. The Yanks don’t need him; they don’t want him; and they have more pressing needs on which they plan to spend.
Yup. Dustin Pedroia is your AL MVP. As much as we don’t like him, Pedroia is a pretty good choice for the award. He had a truly outstanding offensive season at a position not known for its offense. And he’s short and gritty too.
But what is shocking are the other MVP votes. Someone with an MVP vote believed Jason Bartlett (.286/.329/.361 in 494 PAs) to be the fifth most valuable player in the league; someone else ranked Raul Ibañez tenth; one person awarded his first place vote to Francisco Rodriguez who wasn’t even one of the top relievers. Somehow, Justin Morneau finished second. It’s been a bad year for awards voting that makes sense. · (118) ·
In the a post summarizing this morning’s ridiculous Yankee developments, MLB Trade Rumors points us to an Andy Pettitte story. Apparently, Pettitte’s agent is still demanding $16 million a year for Pettitte’s services. I’m not too keen on bringing Pettitte back. While he is a valuable lefty, at 36 this year, he showed some major signs of slowing down and couldn’t get batters out during the second half of the year. I could see bringing Pettitte back for $10 million or maybe $12 million, but a $16 million offer just seems like a deal to which the Yanks wouldn’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — agree. · (74) ·
If there’s one site you can’t miss during the off-season, it’s MLB Trade Rumors (though I’m sure you all know that). Tim works his ass off to create a place where you can find on what’s going on with the Hot Stove. This morning when I checked the site, I saw the top item on his Yankees Rumors post: The Yankees are preparing “perhaps” a five-year, $80 million deal for A.J. Burnett. Thankfully I hadn’t eaten yet, else I would have wretched all over my keyboard.
Unlike some on this site, I’m not unequivocally opposed to signing Burnett. The guy has some lightning stuff, and if healthy could provide a solid boost to the rotation, at least in the first couple years of the deal. However, we’re talking five years here, and a massive amount of money. If this rumor is true, I have little doubt Burnett will find a better offer, meaning we’d be stuck with him for half a decade.
Thankfully, this rumor comes to us from He Who Shall Not Be Named, so we can take it with a grain of salt. In fact, his use of the word “perhaps” preceding the contract figure suggests that, like many of his other rumors, he is just making this up. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all. So “perhaps” we can rest assured that the Yankees aren’t going to make an offer of this magnitude.
At least Jon Heyman admits he’s guessing when he predicts a five-year, $75 million offer for Burnett. This doesn’t make the rumor more legit, really, as it’s just a guess. Still, we now have two guys close to the Yanks saying they’re going to offer A.J. Burnett a five-year deal. This is not good.
First, this, if anything, is overbidding. The Blue Jays offered four years at $54 million. A.J. is not CC. You don’t have to blow him out of the water. So why go an extra year at freaking $26 million more than the Jays? That seems a bit absurd at this point in the off-season for a pitcher of Burnett’s caliber.
Speaking of his skills, let’s talk about the risk of offering the dude a five-year deal. We know he has electric stuff, but he’s gone over 200 innings just three times in his career. One was six years ago. One was his contract year. The other was, well, another contract year. Granted, he’s pitched fairly well in almost every season, save for his 23 innings in 2003 — which, incidentally, was on the heels of his first 200-inning season. He then pitched 120 in 2004 before pitching 209 in 2005, only to drop back off to 135 in 2006.
The Yankees need guys who will eat innings. Joba won’t be able to pitch a full season. Nor will Hughes. As it stands right now, they have one pitcher who can give them over 200 inning, and he’s coming off a foot injury. With so many question marks in the rotation, why add another one with Burnett? If the Yankees offer is true, I can’t see any team topping it. And that would mean we’re stuck with him.
A few months after the Yankees’ unceremonious loss to the Angels in the 2002 playoffs, The Onion, the nation’s finest satirical news source, ran one of their better sports articles. “Yankees Ensure 2003 Pennant By Signing Every Player in Baseball” screamed the headline. Kat O’Brien’s latest for Newsday could almost be that article, except Kat is dead serious.
The Yankees have expressed strong interest in righthanded pitchers Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett in the past couple of days, according to sources familiar with the talks, after offering ace lefty CC Sabathia a contract in the ballpark of six years and $140 million…
Although pitching is the Yankees’ priority, and they traded for first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher last week, a source said the Yankees have expressed an interest in first baseman Mark Teixeira. The Gold Glover is, with Manny Ramirez, the top free-agent offensive player available. The Yankees might simply be trying to drive the price up for the Red Sox and Angels by indicating interest in Teixeira, or they could be hedging their bets in case something falls through on the pitching front and they have money to spend.
So based on O’Brien’s sources, the Yanks have contacted every top free agent except for Manny Ramirez in the last few days. I wonder when Manny gets his phone call.
Meanwhile, these unnamed sources also answered Joe’s overnight query. CC is reportedly “mulling things over” while in Houston this weekend. As the Yankees turn, so baseball turns. The dominoes, I predict, won’t fall until someone signs with the Yankees first. So we wait.
You know how yesterday morning I mentioned how it was perfectly normal that we hadn’t heard anything about CC’s response to the Yankees offer? Turns out, we didn’t hear back because the dude was booked solid. And we probably didn’t hear back today because he was freakin’ exhausted.
First, let’s start with Jon Heyman’s guy, who says that Sabathia was “in Las Vegas over the weekend participating in a [golf] and poker tournament for sports stars.” Hey, the guy’s got money to burn. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the results of this tournament. According to this dude, Sabathia is no good at poker.
CC must have been flying this weekend, because Peter Gammons has word that he was in Houston attending a high school football game. Fellow free agents Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson were also supposedly present, along with “other friends.” I’m guessing these friends who won’t be signing multimillion-dollar contracts this winter.
Kat O’Brien spoke to “someone close to the lefty” and found out that he was at a wedding. I wonder if this wedding was in Houston or Las Vegas. Ken Davidoff says that Sabathia “took the weekend off to chill out with friends and family,” but how mich chillin’ can you do if you’ve always got a flight to catch?
I ran across a few business-of-baseball related stories that I found interesting. They’re not Yankee-related, but perhaps you’ll like them too…
- While CitiGroup is going to wind up cutting 52,000 jobs over the next few months, the Mets are claiming that the stadium naming deal is safe for now. Citi has contracted with the Mets to pay $20 million annually for the next twenty years for the rights to name the team’s new club. We’ll see how much of the $400 million payout the beleaguered financial institution can make. I wonder if a naming rights deal is the best use of the bank’s government bailout fund.
- The SEC levied some insider trading charges against Mark Cuban today, and that will probably be the final nail in the coffin containing his bid to buy the Cubs. The MLB owners have long resisted allowing Cuban into their exclusive club, and this development gives them the perfect excuse to turn him down. Sam Zell would do well to hold onto the club until the economy improves a bit.
- The AL Champion Rays, despite finishing 26th in attendance in 2008, plan to raise ticket prices for next season. As questions have emerged about the long-term viability of baseball in the Tampa area, it will be interesting to see how potential fans react to the higher ticket prices.
Justice was served in baseball land today, as the mythical beast known as Albert Pujols won his second NL MVP award. While the BBWAA should be commended for giving the award to the right guy, I still have a beef with the voters, specifically Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Not only did Mr. Haudricourt have Pujols at #7 on his ballot (somehow behind THREE other first basemen), he managed to have three Brewers on his ballot. (h/t KLaw)
Three Brewers on his ballot. Three Brewers.
So, let’s get this straight. A writer who covers the Milwaukee Brewers for a living used three of the ten votes on his MVP ballot to vote for players who play for the local team he covers. If that’s not fishy enough, Haudricourt also claims that he likes “to weight (sic) my voting to teams in the playoff hunt because I think that puts more pressure on players and separates the men from the boys,” which would be perfectly reasonable if he didn’t have Carlos Delgado three spots ahead of Pujols on his ballot. Let’s review.
Carlos Delgado: .271-.353-.518, 71 XBH, 124-72 K/BB ratio, 38.2 VORP for a team that finished 1 GB of the Wildcard
Albert Pujols: .357-.462-.653, 81 XBH, 54/104 K-BB ratio, 98.7 VORP for a team that finished 4 GB of the Wildcard
But Mike, Carlos Delgado didn’t start hitting until midseason, you say. Well, let’s look at their stats after Delgado finally started hitting at the end of June:
LOGIC FAIL. Pujols still has him beat, and this doesn’t even consider his Gold Glove caliber defense. I wonder if Pujols’ 7th place vote has anything to do with him residing in the same division as Haudricourt’s beloved Brew Crew? If writers can not put their personal biases aside, they should not be voting for baseball’s major awards, period. Pujols was far and away the best player in the game this year (Hanley Ramirez finished second in VORP at 79.4), and to have him seventh on a MVP ballot is just ignorant.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, the Yanks managed to pull off some under-the-radar roster moves over the weekend. Are you ready? Here it goes: Jon Albaladejo, Andrew Brackman, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jorge Posada were activated from the 60 day DL. That’s it. Groundbreaking stuff, I know. The Depth Chart is up to date; they need some starting pitching. Like, bad.
Elsewhere, the first free agent came off the board as LHP Jeremy Affeldt inked a 2 yr, $8M deal with the Giants. Great signing by Brian Sabean, locking up an effective and underrated bullpen arm before the reliever market exploded. And because Affeldt was a Type-B free agent, we now officially have a Sandwich Round in next year’s draft. Make sure you check out our 2009 Draft Order Tracker as free agents sign throughout the winter.
So here’s your open thread for the night. Talk baseball, Browns-Bills, Rangers-Senators, whatever you like. Just don’t be a dick.
It’s official; the Yankees and Cubs will open the new Yankee Stadium with a pair of exhibition games on April 3 and 4. While ticket information for what is sure to be the hottest ticket in town will be announced later this winter, the Friday game will go on at 7:05 and the Saturday contest will be an afternoon affair. This marks the first preseason exhibition series in the Bronx since 1993. For the fun of it, the average temp on April 3 of this year was a frigid 42 degrees. · (2) ·
In a column this morning, Dan Granziano of NJ.com analyzed the Sabathia offer via an economic spectrum. While, as Brewers GM Doug Melvin said, the Yanks may very well be bidding against themselves, the offer makes perfect sense if you assume the viewpoint of the Yanks. To them, Sabathia is an investment worth at least $140 million over six years.
It’s true that the Yanks probably would have had the current top bid had they offered “only” $110 million over six years, but then the Brewers could have counter-offered. The Yankees didn’t want to take that chance, and the powers-that-be felt that an initial offer of $140 million over six years was a true expression of the value of CC Sabathia to the Yankees for the length of the contract. This is a good point to remember when other teams and their officials and fans start complaining about the Yanks’ riches. It’s all about the economy. · (63) ·