Since the end of the season, Yankees fans have been waiting to hear the intentions of Mike Mussina. The 20-game winner doesn’t have a contract for the 2009 season, and there has been heavy speculation that he will go out on top. Still, we haven’t heard much from the man himself. It sounds like he’s still mulling the decision; if he was set on retiring, I imagine he would have announced it already.

That isn’t to say that he’s coming back. The way he told it to Mark Feinsand, he still hasn’t decided one way or another. We could hear from him soon, though. He claims he will make his decision “early next week.”

“I’m still kind of up in the air,” Mussina said Wednesday from his home in Montoursville, Penn. “I’m enjoying my time off, but then again, I always enjoy my time off.”

If he does come back, the first question will be on what terms. Will Moose seek a guaranteed three years, which he feels he’ll need to reach 300 wins? Will he accept a one- or two-year deal with options, perhaps of the vesting or mutual type? Or, most importantly, will he consider pitching anywhere but New York?

For all we know, though, we could be bidding adieu to a borderline Hall of Famer early next week. In either case, it has been a pleasure to have Moose on the mound for the past eight years. You know, except those few months in 2007.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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He’s o-Kei in AAA

By in Minors. Tags: · Comments (54) ·

In what is perhaps, outside of Edinson Volquez’s Rookie of the Year votes, the most unintentionally hilarious story of the off-season so far, Topps has named Kei Igawa to the card company’s AAA All Star team.

Chad Jennings has the press release from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre home office, and it too is rather funny simply because it’s so endearingly unironic:

2008 may end up being a break through year for left handed pitcher Kei Igawa. The second year pro from Japan set a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise record for wins in a season by a left handed pitcher with 14 and was named the team’s 2008 Pitcher of the Year.

Igawa set the tone for the season with six perfect innings on opening night for the Yankees and closed out the season winning 11 of his final 13 decisions, earning the southpaw a spot on the 2008 Topps’/Minor League Baseball Triple-A All-Star Team…

Igawa led the Yankees in starts (24), wins (14), innings pitched (156.1) and strike outs (117). His 14 wins tied Joe Roa’s franchise record set in 2002. The outstanding work on the hill for the left hander did not end with the regular season as Igawa posted a 1-0 mark with a 1.35 ERA and nine K’s in 13.1 post season innings, helping lead Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Governors’ Cup for the first time in franchise history.

I don’t really know what else I can add to this news. I, for one, am glad the Yanks’ $46-million investment is paying dividends for some team. That 6.66 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 71.2 big league innings makes me wonder just how bad AAA hitters are anyway.

Now, can we trade him?

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Jamal G. sent this to me tonight, and I thought I’d run it tonight/this morning. The over/under on the number of comments that say “We don’t need another aging outfielder” is 50.

According to MLBTR (via the Chicago Tribune), Kenny Williams and his underlings are scouring the Arizona Fall League for a potential Jermaine Dye trade. I was wondering, would Dye make sense for our beloved Bombers?

Dye, in some aspects, had a career season in 2008. His 34 HR’s was the second highest in any of his fourteen Major League seasons (44, 2006); the 154 games he played this season was the first in which he amassed 150+ games played since his 2001 split-season with the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics (158); his 77 XBH’s are the second highest of any single-season in his career (79, 1999); the .541 SLG% he posted was the third highest of his fourteen seasons (.622 in 2006 and .561 in 2000); his .249 ISO was trumped only by the .306 ISO he achieved in 2006; and the 17.5 K% he amassed was bested only by the 16.5% mark he posted in 2000 with the aforementioned Royals. So, in his age-34 season, Jermaine Dye had one of his top three or four seasons in the Major Leagues.

Tim Dierkes mentioned that the ChiSox were scouting two of the New York Mets’ top relief prospects: Bobby Parnell and Eddie Kunz. I’m fairly certain that Williams would not accept a package centered around cost-controlled relievers, but if that is indeed a starting point, this bodes well for the Yankees. Also, Dye’s contract situation is favorable for a player of his age and current production. With only one guaranteed year left on his deal ($11.5M in 2009), the team that potentially acquires him need not worry of employing Jermaine Dye when he is a shell of his former self. Lastly, even though his contract states he can block deals to six squads as part of a limited NTC, guaranteeing Dye’s 2010 option for $12M would not be a significant deterrent since he produced at such a high level in 2008 (if that is indeed what it would take for Dye to accept a trade to 161st St. and River Ave.).

Playing time would be tricky, but seeing as how *Hideki Matsui – and his surgically repaired knees – would bear the blunt of the loss of playing time, I don’t think this is much of a deterrent to acquiring Dye either. You could slot Dye into Right Field where his -17 rating in Bill James’ Plus/Minus system of ranking fielders would actually be an improvement over Bobby Abreu (-24). With Dye in RF, Xavier Nady can take root at First Base where he has played 82 games in his Major League career.

So, do you think this make sense for the New York Yankees? What kind of package could Brian Cashman & Co. put together that would be considered “fair value”? Outside of the vague notion that Williams & Co. want to get a “younger and quicker team for the future”, what do you see Williams trying to acquire in a deal for his slugging, aging Right Fielder?

*- I feel that Juan Miranda should get some serious playing time at DH this season so the Yankees can evaluate whether he can be a productive Major League slugger going forth. With Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu potentially departing, this teams needs a new source of on-base and slugging skills. Miranda needs to be evaluated at the Major League level; he could serve as the RH portion of a RH/LH platoon with Hideki Matsui at the DH spot.

Thanks, Jamal

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Another day, another collection of boring Hot Stoviness. Keep it together, because at the stroke of midnight tomorrow, free agents are free to start negotiating & signing with new clubs. That’s when the offseason gets fun.

The only noteworthy news out of the Bronx today was the resigning of Damaso Marte, but we also learned that Al Leiter won’t be in the YES booth as much next year. Elsewhere in the baseball world, Joe Maddon & Lou Pinella took home MOY honors, and the Astros made an offer to free agent Randy Wolf. Al Cy Young comes out tomorrow, hopefully Moose & Mo get some votes.

Locally tonight, you’ve got the Rangers in Jerz to take on the Devils, and the Knickerbockers in Memphis. If that doesn’t do it for you, Greg Oden returns to the lineup tonight as Portland takes on Miami, which you can see on the 4-letter. Talk about whatever here, anything goes. Play nice.

Categories : Open Thread
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Moving the Monuments

By in Yankee Stadium. · Comments (7) ·

Roxanne Geyer, a web producer at WCBS AM, sent us this video she shot in Monument Park this week as the Yanks prepped the historic monuments for their new home across the street. Jason Zillo, the Yanks’ director of press relations, talked about the process. Check it out. It’s a great video.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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Via The Biz of Baseball comes a story about new Yankee Stadium and the current national financial situation. Due to the slowing U.S. economy, the Yankees still have some unsold suites and have yet to wrap up their stadium sponsorship deal with the Bank of America.

The AP has more:

Seven luxury boxes down the foul lines priced at $600,000 remain available for the 2009 season, the first at the new Yankee Stadium. The team still had seven available in August, too.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that the world is different than it was, so traffic slows,” chief operating officer Lonn Trost said Tuesday. “So you don’t have 10 people banging on the door. You may only have two people.”

Trost said in August that 44 of 51 suites priced at $600,000 to $850,000 had been committed, and that the $650,000 and $850,000 suites had sold out.

Basically, it sounds like the big-ticket buyers — the ones who opt for the premium suites — have made the decision that the investment will cover itself. The Yankees are having trouble finding buyers for the mid-range suites that won’t take up primo real estate and would sell to mid-level firms. I’m sure when push comes to the shove, the suites at the new stadium will be at 100 percent occupancy in April.

The AP report has a few more tidbits about the new stadium:

  • Construction is 12.5 days ahead of schedule. Even if New York has a particularly brutal winter, the new stadium will still be completed well in advance of Opening Day. So much for those early season rumors about the stadium’s being behind schedule.
  • The new Metro-North stop will open in the middle of May.
  • While Shea Stadium is mid-demolition, old Yankee Stadium won’t face the wrecking ball until next summer when the dismantling will be on full view for every fan to see. The Yankees have yet to announce their plans to sell off stadium memorabilia.
  • Old Stadium tours have been extended through Nov. 23. At this point, Monument Park is gone, but you can still walk on the field, check out the press box and enjoy the view from the dugout. Registration is available here.
Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Edinson Volquez named AL and NL Manager of the Year

    Just kidding. Your Managers of the Year are Joe Maddon and Lou Piniella. Considering how utterly poor a job Piniella did with the Cubs in October, I’m amused by this award. Perhaps Major League Baseball should consider handing out the hardware earlier in the fall. It’s not like the Hot Stove League is wanting for news. Anyway, it looks like the voters managed to pick only managers this time around as well with Dale Sveum, whose team went 7-5 in the 12 games he managed, pulling down a third-place vote. · (35) ·

  • Leiter to split duties between MLB Network, YES

    Via Shysterball (you should read Craig if you’re not already), we learn that Al Leiter will no longer be in the YES booth. He’s been hired to work at the MLB Network as a studio analyst. He’ll work alongside former Padres commentator Matt Vasgersian and former ESPN analyst Harold Reynolds. I thought Leiter was one of the better guys on the commentary team. If this means more David Cone, I’m okay with it. If it means more John Flaherty, well, that wouldn’t be a good thing.

    Update by Ben 1:38 p.m.: According to an article in this morning’s Times, Leiter will actually be splitting broadcast duties between YES and the new MLB Network. We’re not quite ready to wave him good bye yet.
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It might not be a full-blown, tear it down and rebuild the whole thing kind of firesale, but it’s obvious the Florida Marlins are again moving higher priced players for younger, cheaper alternatives. While in previous years they moved megastars like Josh Beckett & Miguel Cabrera before they cashed in during free agency, this year they dealt Mike Jacobs, Josh Willingham & Scott Olsen before they received raises in arbitration, a somewhat disturbing development.

After Monday night’s move that sent the Marlins’ longest tenured hitter & pitcher north to DC, speculation mounted that the team’s remaining arbitration eligible players – namely Dan Uggla, Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Hermida – could be the next to go. Gregg is readily available and could be had by any team offering a decent return, but GM Larry Beinfest responded to the speculation surrounding Uggla & Hermida by saying that he’s prepared to go into 2009 with them in the lineup. Even so, I imagine he’d entertain offers for both players, and that’s where the Bombers come in.

The Yanks are desperate to get younger and more athletic, and Hermida offers both those attributes while bringing strong upside. Still just 24, he has over 1,270 big league at-bats under his belt, hitting .267-.342-.436 (103 OPS+) in the process. He’s flashed some of the potential that made him the 11th overall pick in 2002, hitting .350-.407-.574 during the final two months of 2007 (singlehandedly saving my fantasy team) before going .309-.351-.488 in the first month of 2008. Hermida was rumored to be heading to Pittsburgh during the Manny Ramirez Trade Deadline Saga, indicating that other clubs still like his potential.

Rated the fourth best prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2006 season, Hermida made history by becoming only the second player (and first in 107 years) to hit a grand slam in his first big league plate appearance. Armed with a sweet lefthanded swing and military style plate disipline (he placed 12nd in the league last year with 4.11 P/PA), getting out of cavernous Dolphins Stadium (where he’s hit .248-.320-.404 in his career) and into lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium (he’s a career .284-.363-.467 hitter on the road) might just be the jump start he needs.

With just nine games of centerfield experience to his credit (all coming in the first half of 2006), Hermida wouldn’t be option for the Yanks at that spot. Despite this limitation, he still offers some flexibility because he can hold his own against lefties, play both outfield corners, and still has options left, meaning he could be sent to the minors as needed. And as far as that report by an anonymous scout saying he has “no passion for the game,” I’ll just defer to ex-Marlins’ manager Joe Girardi, and assume Cash will talk to him before attempting to acquire Hermida.

I’m not going to throw out trade ideas, because I have no idea what Florida is looking for. Keep in mind that while the Marlins’ last few trades were made for essentially pennies on the dollar, Jacobs is a limited player entering his age 28 season, Willingham has a bad back and is entering his age 30 season, and Olsen has a reputation as a punk. Their rotation is pretty much set with Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad & Andrew Miller, and they have plenty of backup in Rick VandenHurk, Ryan Tucker, Dan Meyer, Eulogio DeLaCruz and Burke Badenhop, so Ian Kennedy might not entice them. Melky Cabrera‘s trade value is nil, and the Yanks have no other young position players to offer up.

Signing big name free agents is fun, but they almost always fail to deliver, and frankly it’s the easy way out. Be bold and take a chance on a guy who still has something to prove rather than playing through the nose for a player who’s already played his best baseball for someone else. It’s not often you get a chance to buy-low on a player with Hermida’s talent and upside, and much like Nick Swisher, I hope the tires are at least kicked on this one.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Confirmed: Yanks sign Marte for three years, $12 mil

    Via Tim, we learn that the Yankees have signed reliever Damaso Marte to a three year deal worth $12 million. The story comes from Impacto Deportivo, a Spanish-language site. I believe they also broke the Luis Castillo signing last year. We’ll monitor this for further confirmation. If true, it seems like a decent deal for the Yanks. At least we won’t have to hear pundits scream in the Spring about the Yankees bringing in a lefty reliever just for the sake of it.

    Update: It’s official.
    · (75) ·