Ex-Gov. Paterson forks over $62K World Series fine

So much for putting up a fight. After vowing to challenge the charge that he owed $62,125 in fines due to an ethics violating stemming from 2009 World Series tickets, former New York Gov. David Paterson has paid the fine, the Daily News reported today. Paterson, who could still face a criminal investigation for perjury, violated ethics regs by accepting five free tickets to Game 1 of the 2009 World Series, and the fine is the largest ever levied by New York’s Public Integrity Commission. “This closes the case,” Walter Ayres, the commission’s spokesperson, said. “We imposed a penalty, he paid it. There is nothing else to say.”

Yankees discussing left-handed starters, mostly mediocre ones

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of pursuing a left-handed starter in the wake of Andy Pettitte‘s retirement. On the supposed list of targets: Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Wake LeBlanc, Clayton Richard, and Gio Gonzalez. My quick analysis is no, no, no, okay, and meh. Joe already looked at Kazmir, but a few of the other guys will be covered over the weekend.

You know who’s a half-decent left-handed starter? Jeff Francis. Too bad he signed with the Royals for half of what the Yankees are playing Pedro Feliciano in 2011. In fairness, Francis did say he chose Kansas City because of the opportunity they provide, but the back of New York’s rotation isn’t exactly tough to crack these days.

Report: Cano hires Scott Boras

Via Enrique Rojas, Robbie Cano has fired agent Bobby Barad and hired Scott Boras. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, he’s not coming up on free agency anytime soon. Cano will make $10M in 2011, then the team holds a $14M club option for 2012 ($2M buyout) and a $15M option for 2013 ($2M buyout). If he continues to play at the level he did last year, those options are no brainers.

Robbie makes three Boras clients on the infield, joining Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Rafael Soriano and Andrew Brackman are also Boras clients, and the team has a great working relationship with the super-agent. It’s hard to blame Cano, I’d hire Boras if I was a player.

RAB Live Chat

2011 Draft: Baseball America’s Early Top 50 Prospects

Now that Felipe Lopez has signed a minor league contract with the Rays, the 2011 Draft Order is finally set. As you know, the Yankees surrendered their first round pick to sign an all-important eighth inning reliever, so their first selection is number 51 overall. You can thank Javy Vazquez for that one. After that they pick 88th, 118th, 149th, then every 30 picks thereafter.

The upcoming draft class is the best in a long, long time, loaded with high-end college talent. Baseball America’s early look at the top 50 draft prospects (subs. req’d) has Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon as the top talent, followed by former Yankees’ first rounder Gerrit Cole. “[Cole had the] best pure stuff in 2008 draft and has best pure stuff this time around,” said Jim Callis. In most years, Rendon, Cole, TCU LHP Matt Purke (ranked third), UConn OF George Springer (fourth), and Vanderbilt RHP Sonny Gray (fifth) would be favored to go first overall, plus UConn RHP Matt Barnes (eighth) showed first overall stuff last summer with Team USA. None of these guys will fall to the Yankees at 51, so they’re going to have to hope one of the late-first round guys, a 25-35 kind of talent, is still around when they pick.

Andy Pettitte Retirement Press Conference Liveblog

It’s a sad day in Yankeeland, as we all get ready to say our final goodbyes to Andy Pettitte at this morning’s press conference. I can almost guarantee that he’ll run through the usual list of thank yous – his family, George Steinbrenner, the entire organization, etc. – and then say he made the decision only after a long internal debate. He’ll miss the competition and the comradery, but not the physical grind and being away from his family. It’s a retirement press conference, not anything we haven’t seen before. That doesn’t make it any less sad though.

If you’re sitting at home, you’ll be able to watch the press conference on YES or MLB Network when it starts at 10:30am ET. If you’re stuck in the office, it’ll be available on the official site and MLB.com. Here’s the liveblog for all to enjoy.

Mailbag: Bernie, Cutters, Cashman, Jorge, More

I bailed on the mailbag last week for no good reason, but I’ll make up for it today with a bunch of questions and some shorter, punchier answers. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any questions throughout the week.

Bernie was awesome, but he's no Beltran. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

eyerishyank asks: Got into a twitter battle today with Tommy Dee of the Knicks blog about Beltran vs Bernie and who is the better player, could make for an interesting blog entry. I think it is Bernie, though defense and baserunning goes to Beltran. Can we quantify Beltran’s decline? Can we measure Bernie’s championships? I think Sabermetricians may go the way of Beltran and “old school” may go Bernie.

Carlos Beltran‘s a better player, but that’s not a knock on Bernie Williams. They have identical .371 wOBA’s for their careers, although Beltran was power while Bernie was batting average and on-base percentage. The difference is in the stolen base department, where Beltran’s 88.1% success rate is the best in baseball history (239 SB, just 39 CS), and on defense. Bernie’s got himself a bunch of Gold Gloves, but Beltran slaughters him in both CF UZR (+32.4 to -90.8) and John Dewan’s +/- system (+59 to -61).

I hesitate to give Bernie credit for the titles because that’s a team thing, and although he certainly contributed to the cause, it’s wrong to punish Beltran for his sucky Royals teammates for all those years. If you want to compare postseason stats, then Bernie hit .275/.371/.480 (545 PA) in October, Beltran .366/.485/.817 (101 PA). Yeah. Their career arcs are similar, right down to the decline at age 32-33, but when you have two players with similar offensive ability, the guy with the crazy stolen base rate and brilliant defense wins.

Evan asks: With Soriano set to be the primary setup guy, if there is any overlap in batters that he and Mo would both face, is it possible that the batters that faced Soriano’s cutter would be better equipped to deal with Mo’s? Could there be a noticeable negative effect in Mo’s performance this coming season as a result?

I don’t think so. Theoretically they won’t be facing the same batters in the same game, unless something bad happens along the way. Batters see fastball after fastball at-bat after at-bat, game after game, season after season, and I suspect that as long as Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera aren’t leaving their cutter in the happy zone, they’ll be perfectly fine. Would we ask the same question about a curveball or changeup?

Daniel asks: Does it seem strange to anyone else how many interviews Cashman has done this offseason? Feel its a little out of the ordinary. Could it be that maybe he is advertising himself for a new job next season? No matter what the reason I’m sure there is some strategy to it. What do you think?

It seems odd but I think it’s just a coincidence more than anything. They had the Soriano press conference, then he was doing the WFAN breakfast, then it was the Foley’s thing, then today it’ll be Andy Pettitte‘s presser, all one right after the other. I don’t think there’s much to it, other teams won’t hire him based on what he says to the media.

Pounder asks: Just wondering, what if Jorge is floundering, or is in some other way unhappy with his situation come July, would he be open for a mid year trade?

Can’t see it. And besides, if he’s floundering, he’s untradeable with that contract. The Yankees would have to eat a ton of his salary, and in that case I just say keep him and hope he rebounds late in the year.

I think 2000 was the last time Sheets was healthy. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Tucker asks: I know you have already discussed Ben Sheets, but assuming Pettitte doesn’t come back and with how thin the market is right now, could he start to become a more intriguing target? It seems like at the right price, he could become the epitome of low-risk, high-reward.

Obviously this question was sent in before the andy Pettitte news broke. Anyway, Sheets had Tommy John surgery late last year and is out until August at the earliest. Considering that it usually takes guys 18 months or so to get their old command back, he probably won’t be ready and effective until Opening Day 2012. I’d pass unless he’s willing to play for dirt cheap, though I suspect he just won’t be ready in time to make a meaningful contribution.

Sheepmeister asks: Do you think Orlando Cabrera or David Eckstein would be worth looking at for the utility inf position at a cheap price?

Nope, both are just names. Cabrera hasn’t topped a .316 wOBA in any of the last three years, and he’s never played a position other than shortstop in the big leagues. Eckstein is slightly worse, topping out at .313 wOBA over the last three years (.296 over the last two years) and being relegated to second base because he literally can’t make the throw from shortstop anymore. I have little faith in Eduardo Nunez, but seriously, he could outperform these two next year.

Michael asks: How did you guys start this blog/know each other and how did you get in on the YES Network.com?

Before RAB, the three of us were blogging at our own sites scattered across the web. I knew who Ben and Joe were but we weren’t anything more than casual acquaintances, exchanging the occasional email. Eventually we all ended up writing at the now defunct MVP, me on the minor league side and them on the big league side, and then one day I got an email from Ben saying the he and Joe were starting a site and asking if I wanted to come along. The rest, as they say, is history.

As far as YES, then contacted us about two years ago about a potential partnership, and it was a pretty easy decision on our part to tag along. That’s pretty much it, they link to our stuff from time to time and we retain full editorial control of the site. We wouldn’t have partnered up without that last part.