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I know a vocal contingency of Yankees fans don’t like Ian Kennedy. It’s easy to be down on the guy right now. He had a terrible year in the majors, and appalled fans with his post-game cockiness. Yet, this winter probably isn’t the best time to shop Kennedy. His value isn’t what it was last season, and what the Yankees could get in return likely won’t equal the production Kennedy can potentially give the Yankees rotation. Case in point, a nugget in the Denver Post, which says that Willy Taveras for Ian Kennedy is “not a longshot.”

Seriously, even the biggest Kennedy detractor can’t want this swap. Willy Taveras is clown shoes. He hit .251/.308/.296 this year. In other words, he’s Melky Cabrera with less power. That might have been the most absurd sentence I have ever written on RAB. He made $1.975 million last year, so he’s not only Melky with less power, he’s Melky with less power and more expensive.

There is no upside to bringing on Taveras. We already have two players who can top his production, and no one is sold on those guys. They’re both younger than Taveras, too. If you’re going to trade Kennedy for garbage, at least make it garbage that we don’t already have.

Comments (62)

Via the Worldwide Leader, we learn that Junichi Tazawa is now a free agent. While the Japanese Leagues have recently tightened the rules about players heading to the U.S., nothing prevents teams from signing amateur free agents. The bidding war will not involve a posting fee.

So then attention this off-season will turn to Tazawa. He is a 22 year old with a high-90s fastball and some very good breaking pitchers, according to scouting reports. Early rumors indicate that he will draw plenty of interest from the usual suspects of MLB teams with the Red Sox and Yankees leading the pack.

As we while away the days until free agency, let’s speculate on Japan. The Yankees have gotten burned on Japan recently with Kei Igawa, but he didn’t come with nearly the same level of hype as Tazawa. The Yanks have also seen their rival Red Sox land an overhyped but pretty good pitcher in Daisuke Matsuzaka. What then do you do here?

Should the Yanks pursue Junichi Tazawa within reason? Are we too afraid of the Kei Igawa/Hideki Irabu vortex of overhyped Japanese pitchers?

It would be pretty unprecedented for a young Japanese pitcher to start his career in the Majors, and it sounds like Tazawa has the goods to make a go of it. But as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (75)
  • Two more weeks of Stadium tours

    The Yankees announced this afternoon that they will continue to give behind-the-scenes tours of Yankee Stadium through November 12. Sign up here, and act quickly because supplies are very limited. I don’t know if this will be the last extension of the tour schedule. If the weather holds, they may keep the tours running through the end of November, but as the new stadium gets closer to reality, they will soon begin moving the sights such as Monument Park across the street. · (2) ·

AzFL Peoria (10-2 loss to Phoenix)
Kevin Russo: 2 for 4, 2 K, 1 CS – 15 for his last 26 (.577) … he’s hitting .383, fifth in the league amongst players with as many at-bats

HWB Waikiki beat Honolulu 9-0, but no Yankees’ farmhands played in the game,

Tuesday’s Games

AzFL Peoria (3-2 loss to Scottsdale)
Kevin Russo: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 K
Humberto Sanchez: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 Balk, 3-2 GB/FB – 20 of 37 pitches were strikes (54.1%)

HWB Waikiki (12-9 win over Honolulu)
Austin Romine: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 PB - first game back after getting hit in the wrist by a pitch last week

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (7)

Let’s dip into the mailbag again. Clearly, the Yankees’ outfield situation, while not an overwhelming priority, doesn’t stand to be a strength of the team without some serious upgrades. Bobby Abreu may be gone; Xavier Nady‘s production remains anomalous; center field is a huge question mark; and only Johnny Damon, soon to be 35, is a known quantity out there. While I’d advocate for Manny Ramirez, he’s more of a DH type than anything else right now.

To that end, a lot of fans have been inquiring about our thoughts on various trade options. Yesterday, I looked at Magglio Ordoñez. Today we tackle Aaron Rowand. Long-time reader and frequent commenter Stu writes:

Last year at this time, there was much talk about how the Yankees should sign Aaron Rowand. He was coming off a career year at age 29, however. I now wonder whether, after a sub-par year, the Yankees should trade for him. It seems like a decent fit: he wasn’t great, so the Giants should want to pare some of their payroll, while he’d be far better than anything the Yankees have now, and eventually can move to left or right when Austin Jackson is ready. 4 years and 52 million left on his contract is a hefty sum to most teams, but pretty reasonable to the Yankees.

Rowand is an interesting case. With OPS+ numbers of 130, 93, 86, 123 and 94, he seems rather inconsistent. Known for his fielding, his zone rating slipped in 2008, but his range factor remained high. This would seem like your typical case of the Giants’ selling to clear payroll. In that regard, if the Yanks could land Rowand for a B-level prospect and money, it seems like it wouldn’t be a terrible pickup. But there are a few red flag.

Of his last five seasons, Rowand has had two above-average offensive years. One of those came at the age of 26 during his first full year in Chicago. The other came while he was playing in Philadelphia during a season in which Citizens Bank Park seemed to favor hitters. That year, Rowand sported a .937 OPS at home and a .843 OPS on the road. This year, he had a .714 OPS at home and a .784 OPS on the road.

So right now, in Rowand, the Yanks would be getting an aging outfielder whose range seems to be on the decline, can’t hit and is under contract for four years. Rowand would become just another useless, old outfielder on a team that, recently, has specialized in them. He was never as good as Johnny Damon and won’t age gracefully. I just don’t think Rowand is the answer to the Yanks’ center field issues.

Categories : Analysis
Comments (58)
  • Stadium concrete company indictment

    Testwell Laboraties, Inc., the company originally hired to provide concrete for the new Yankee Stadium, has been indicted on state racketeering charges. Concerns over the company first came to light in June when The Times revealed that Testwell officials had been arrested and that the company had not been testing their concrete. As the Yankees said then, they say now: The concrete at the new stadium has been independently tested, and everything is OK. · (13) ·

This morning marks the official opening of Hot Stove Season. You’re going to see a ton of rumors flying over the next few weeks and months. All we ask is that you keep things in perspective.

Writers have a job to do. They need to fill column inches of a newspaper with material which will garner eyeballs. This can bring about legitimate rumors for sure. However, it can also bring idle speculation. Case in point: Ken Davidoff this morning. I know he doesn’t write the headlines, but this one is particularly misleading: “Don’t expect Yankees to meet Teixeira’s price.” I read through it, hoping to find some kind of indication of the Yankees’ thinking. Instead, I got this disappointing payoff: “It would be a shocker if the Yankees paid Teixeira the 10 years and $200 million that Boras will request.”

Gee, thanks for that. I won’t rip the rest of the article — I’m trying to cut down on that — but I think I’ve made my point. There’s a lot of rewriting going on which can be masked with a spiffy new headline. Most of the time, you can take a lesson from Public Enemy: Don’t believe the hype.

Then we have Frank Della Femina from the Star Ledger. His blog post this morning quotes the Paper Which Shall Not Be Named, saying that the Yankees “did not rule out interest” in Manny Ramirez. The headline: “Yankees may be in market for Manny Ramirez.”. Once again, this is taking a small quip — or non-quip, if you will — and turning it into an attention-seeking headline. yet, after reading the article we have no greater understanding than before.

We’re going to see a lot of this. We’re going to get a lot of comments saying “I read so and so, and he said the Yankees might be interested in [blank].” Yes, the Yankees might be interested, just as they might be interested in every player on all 30 rosters, including their own. This does not, however, mean that they’re going to do something about it. Chances are, it’s just idle speculation based on some over-interpreted quote or non-comment.

Taking all this into consideration, I’m going to lay out a few things we need to keep in mind as winter rolls in and the Hot Stove gets warmer. It’ll help keep things in perspective, and keep some sanity amongst us.

1) The Yankees could potentially have interest in any free agent. You’re going to see reports connecting the Yanks to many players, most of which are a ploy to bump up the player’s price tag. Sometimes they’ll be interested, sometimes they won’t be. Until there’s an agreement in principle, though, it’s all just noise.

2) Brian Cashman does not have mind control capabilities. I remember back in June or so, someone I know went on a tirade about how the Yankees have to get Matt LaPorta. The Brewers need pitching, and supposedly we have a lot in our farm system. If Cashman doesn’t get him, either we don’t have a good system, or he’s not doing his job. Sorry. This is poor, poor logic. You can’t just force another team to trade you a player. If you’re getting someone established, or someone with a perceived high ceiling, you’re going to pay the price. Many times, the price tag on a player is more than a team is willing to pay. Yeah, having these players is nice, but sometimes the cost doesn’t justify the move. Cashman can’t make someone trade us a valuable player for Melky, IPK, and Shelley Duncan.

3) IPK and Melky will get us no one good. Dems the breaks. They both have low perceived value, and the Yanks are better off holding onto them at this point. You can argue that the Yankees should have traded Kennedy last winter, but first you have to ask yourself 1) who was interested? and 2) what would we have gotten back? None of you can answer those questions. The only Kennedy deal we ever heard of was Santana, and clearly he was not the centerpiece of that one.

4) The Yankees have a plan. You don’t go into the off-season without having a few plans, really. Your primary plan, then a few backups in case one signing or other doesn’t work out. They’re going to act according to this plan, not according to what we yell on the boards. We aren’t aware of all the parameters they work under, just as we aren’t aware of all the information they have.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (192)
  • 2009 Draft Order

    With the World Series over and the Hot Stove ready to ignite, it’s time to unveil a new feature for you here at RAB: the 2009 Draft Order Tracker. It is what it sounds like it is, a means to keep track of the changes in next year’s draft order due to free agent compensation. I’ll update the page throughout the winter and leave it up until next year’s draft so you can check back any time to see who’s picking where. Cool stuff, no? · (40) ·


Fixing the playoffs

By in Playoffs. · Comments (32) ·

It’s cold outside. With the temperatures in New York hovering at an unseasonable 40 degrees and the ever-present wind chill making it much, much worse. As the wind in New York howled, as Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske, as the Philadelphia Phillies downed the Tampa Bay Rays in a disjointed and prolonged World Series, winter finally settled upon the baseball world.

For the Yankees, this winter promises to bring change, and we’ll get to that over the next few days, weeks and months. Tonight, let’s bury the baseball season.

The last few weeks have been a trying time for many baseball fans. We’ve seen a lot of starts and stops in the playoffs. We’ve suffered through a series of mostly dull games that, outside of a seven-run Boston comeback on a day that seems like it was ages ago, left little to the imagination. While there may only be one October, this October, for the vast majority of baseball fans, failed to elicit much excitement.

For the most part, national baseball writers have focused on the World Series. Jeff Passan’s Tuesday column about the indifferent reaction to the World Series is indicative of the prevailing views. Between games that normally start too late, one game held to 10 p.m. due to a rain and another — the clincher — suspended mid-inning because Bud Selig failed to read a Doppler forecast, this World Series came off as irrelevant to baseball fans outside of Philadelphia and insulting to baseball purists.

But the truth is that this problem extends well beyond one boring World Series. This year, it extended back to a postseason that really laid bare how badly MLB sells its baseball soul to the networks. It started with five-game sets that take seven or eight calendars days to play, followed by seven-game series spread out over 10 days. Do teams really need three days off over seven games? Do we have to sit through a 2-2-1-2 format for a seven-game set and a 1-1-2-1 format for best-of-five series?

Now, while the playoffs aren’t as far gone as the baseball writers would have you believe, this format seems broken. Allow me to humbly present a few suggestions for fixing what should be the game’s crowning tournament.

First, excitement for the World Series and the playoffs has to begin well before October. It has to start with FOX and TBS’ broadcasting schedule. While New York, Chicago, LA and Boston offer big markets, baseball — and good baseball at that — exists outside of the major media markets. While it may not be in the best interest of FOX’s bottom line to broadcast the games between Tampa and the Twins, these games should be on national TV as part of an effort to promote the game of baseball. If Bud Selig and the owners didn’t negotiate contracts with FOX and TBS that allows for the national TV rights to promote the best interests of the game, then they have failed at their jobs as the game’s gatekeepers.

Second, Bud Selig has to retain more control over the postseason schedule. It simply isn’t doing anyone any favors to have sets that don’t make sense given the daily nature of the regular season. During the season, teams don’t play a game, have a day off, play another, have another day, play two, have a day off and then play again. This isn’t hockey or basketball. In baseball, the teams play every day, and the same should hold true in October. If the sport needs to schedule travel days for the Anaheim-to-Boston trips, then play a 2-2-1 set. Everyone else should be able to survive on one or no days off.

Breaking up the series simply curtails fan enthusiasm. If fans get into a game only to have to wait 48 hours for the next, they simply grow impatient and disinterested. Again, the network suits might like it, but baseball’s overall national popularity should transcend the wishes of a few rich executives.

Third — and this point is related to the second one above — start the games earlier. There is no good reason why a game between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia should start at 8:30 p.m. I understand that West Coast fans can’t see the games if they start much earlier, but an East Coast-dominated World Series will draw predominantly East Coast fans. The supporters in these two towns can’t stay up until midnight or later to watch a game, and forget about the kids.

When the Yankees were in the World Series throughout my years in high school, the games would start between 8:08 and 8:17. Over the last few years, FOX has inserted a creep into the broadcast, and for once I’m not talking about Joe Buck. Every year, the first pitch is later and later. This practice should end. Games should start at 7:30 p.m. local time. I doubt ratings would dip that much if at all. The game should be more accessible for the fans.

Fourth, in a rather dismaying exchange, Bud Selig expressed his desires for more October day games but says that the networks flat-out said no. This is a completely wrongheaded approach to baseball. If Selig wants day games, if everyone else wants day games, if no one wants to sit outside on a cold night in 38-degree weather, then schedule some day games. While FOX is well within their rights to say no — they did, as David Pinto points out, after all, pay for night games — baseball should hold the line the next time they can and demand day games from whoever is paying. Again, it’s for the good of the game.

And finally, I can’t leave out good old New York. In the annals of American society, New York holds a special place these days. While for a few months in 2001, Americans rallied around New York, we’re once again the city too good for the rest of the country. Everyone hates us, and that’s the way we like it.

To that end, the playoffs need the Yankees. It’s no coincidence that the Yankees draw the highest TV ratings; baseball fans need someone to root against as much as they need someone to root for. When that someone to root against is also from the country’s most arrogant and insufferable city, even better. Baseball shouldn’t root against the Yankees.

Now, granted that final point is a rather contrived conceit. I want to see the Yankees in the playoffs every year no matter what, but there is some truth in it. The Yanks are a draw. But the playoffs should be a draw no matter what. If they weren’t exciting this year, if they’ve gotten less compelling as time marches on, then something is wrong not with the games or with the fans but with the system. It’s time to fix it.

Categories : Playoffs
Comments (32)