• Union to play a role in Sabathia decision?

    The MLBPA is the most powerful union in sports. For the most part, they get what they want. Could that influence play a part in CC Sabathia donning pinstripes this winter? Ken Davidoff ponders the question, and reflects back to the 2002-2003 off-season. Jim Thome, a newly-minted free agent, got a huge offer from the Phillies, and a decent one from the Indians, with whom he had played since being drafted in 1989. Davidoff’s source said Thome was considering the Tribe’s offer because he loved playing in the Midwest. However, the players’ union leaned on him, and he ended up taking the big bucks with Philly.

    If we’re to believe the current crop of rumors, the Yankees seem poised to be the high bidder in the CC Sweepstakes. While CC might not necessarily value the dollar over all else, how will the union feel about that? What if the best offer out there is five years and $100 million, and the Yanks are going six and $125? Clearly, it’s tough to speculate on a situation like this, seeing as none of us (as far as I know) works for the union. It’s just something else to think about as we near the beginning of free agency.
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  • Heyman: Yanks playing ‘Pick Two’ with pitchers

    Via RAB commenter Tim Dierkes comes a Jon Heyman column with Yankee rumors galore. The Yanks want to sign two of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe. Sabathia is clearly the best choice, and signing two of them would probably mean that either Andy Pettitte or Mike Mussina will not be coming back next season. Of course, all of this is contingent on these players’ accepting the Yanks offers. In other news, Heyman does not believe that the current state of the U.S. economy will impact the Yanks’ spending. · (122) ·

Robinson Cano was one of the Yanks’ great disappointments this year. Coming off of two strong campaigns in 2006 and 2007, Cano had a terrible start to the year and ended up hitting just. 271/.305/.410. As Joe explored earlier this week, Cano’s troubles were a key factor in the Yanks’ missing the playoffs.

Of course, as is the norm in New York, as soon as a player struggles, they are automatically the subject of multiple trade rumors, no matter how ludicrous. While the Yanks have shown no indication that they would shop Cano and while 29 other teams are gleefully wondering if the Yanks are stupid enough to sell low on Cano, this reality isn’t stopping anyone from thinking out loud about trading Robinson Cano.

Today’s backhanded efforts at slamming Cano come to us from RAB whipping boy and New York Post scribe Joel Sherman. He seemingly questions why the Yanks are valuing Cano not at 2008 but at 2006-2007 levels:

The more I talk to Yankee officials the more I become convinced that Robinson Cano Robinson Cano will not be dealt. That is because the Yanks plan on valuing him as the 2006-7 Cano and not last year’s discouraging version. As I canvas executives from other teams, however, they all say something like this: “Cano still has value, but not the same as last year.”

So unless this is a leverage play the Yankees New York Yankees are not going to be able to turn Cano into either the top-end starter or center fielder they crave. Essentially outside teams want to hedge the risk that Cano is not a serious enough person to ever consistently maximize his talent. So what would be most possible would be a risk-for-risk trade, and the Yanks don’t want to take that risk. Enough of their top decision makers continue to believe Cano is going to be a .300-plus hitter who hits between 20-30 HRs and approaches Gold Glove defense to give him up for a project.

Why this would be a surprise to Sherman or any nameless executives is beyond me.

For all of his perceived struggles in 2008, Cano’s numbers break down nicely, in a way. On May 3, Cano bottomed out at .150/.213/.230. Over the rest of this season, his numbers were nearly in line with his 2007 level. From May 4 until the end of the year, Cano came to bat 512 times and hit .300/.327/.452 with 12 home runs, 32 doubles, three triples and 65 RBI. Much as we look at Melky Cabrera‘s last four months for a better indication of his overall failures in 2008 so can we look at those numbers for Cano.

Furthremore, some of Cano’s numbers indicate that he was woefully unlucky this year. According to The Hardball Times, Cano’s line drive percentage was actually higher in 2008 than it was in 2007, and he cut his groundball rate at the same time. His BABIP, however, dropped a stunning .050 points. For all his troubles, Cano could have just been unlucky this year.

Now, there are some warning signs, and I could see why the Yanks’ potential trading partners would be wary of Cano. As with Cabrera, Cano’s rate stats have declined in each of the last three seasons. He hasn’t developed the batting eye or patience at the plate that the Yanks would like to see him develop. But he is far from a lost cause as a mid-September adjustment to his batting stance seemed to deliver promising results.

Right now, the Yanks have no real reason to trade Robinson Cano. The youngest of the Yankees’ every-day players, he fills an important position and has the potential to be one of the AL’s best hitters. He’s cost-controlled and can play solid defense. With only Orlando Hudson as a viable free agent alternative, the Yanks, in trading Cano, would be opening up one hole while potentially filling another, if they could even land a premier Major League center fielder or pitcher.

As is often the case, this focus on Cano and his supposed tradeability is all about the media. They see something they don’t like — Cano’s .271 average, in this case — and this all of a sudden means he can’t make it in New York. Let’s not lose perspective here.

Categories : Analysis
Comments (65)

When Brian Roberts hit Mariano Rivera‘s last pitch on Sept. 21 to Cody Ransom, the Yanks’ time at Yankee Stadium came to a close. While the Yanks had been planning on a November send-off to the Stadium, the team has decided to call off the celebration, as amny blared to subway riders this morning.

While the story’s headline is completely misleading — anyone at the Stadium finale knows the House that Ruth Built didn’t go out with a “whimper” — Garett Sloane has all the relevant details. Basically, the Yankees aren’t offering up much, but the team’s one excuse — that the Sept. 21st game should be the last event at the Cathedral — sounds good to me.

Sloane writes:

The team had promised a final salute in November, which fans speculated would be a star-studded goodbye to the doomed stadium.

“The Yankees were considering having a charitable event at Yankee Stadium,” team spokesman Howard Rubenstein told amNewYork, reading from a prepared statement. “However, the Yankees realize that the final event at Yankee Stadium should be a baseball game, which in fact took place on Sept. 21, 2008.”

…Rubenstein would not elaborate on why the charitable event was cancelled and what exactly was planned, but the tribute was reportedly set for Nov. 9. Instead, the team will donate $500,000 to Baseball Assistance Team, an organization that helps struggling families in the baseball community.

As it should be, the final event at Yankee Stadium was a Yankee game. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the Stadium one last time, tours are now available through the end of October. It’ll be the last chance anyone has of seeing the an 85-year-old baseball temple.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (31)

AzFL Peoria (10-3 win over Surprise)
Austin Jackson: 2 for 4, 1 3B, 4 RBI – drove in a run with a sac fly, a single & two with a triple
Kevin Russo: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Phil Hughes: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 6-2 GB/FB – only 49 of 86 pitches were strikes (57.0%) … threw first pitch strikes to only 11 of 20 batters … could be rust from not having pitched in 13 days, but nah, he’s a bust

HWB Waikiki (8-4 win over Honolulu in 7 innings) no idea why they called the game after 7
Damon Sublett: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – he’s gotten a hit in every game so far

Update (11:50pm): I just looked through the rosters, and 121 total pitchers have been assigned to the AzFL this year. Exactly 12 are younger than Phil.

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (37)

We’ve talked about payroll a ton over the past few days, months, years. As fans of the Yankees, we’re used to spending what it takes, without any practical limits. However, there are 29 other teams in the league, many of which face payroll constraints.

Tonight, in the absence of baseball, we can pretend to be small market teams. Kinda. Here’s the exercise. You have $50 million to spend. You must fill 25 roster spots using 2008 salary data (which can be found at Cot’s). Ah, but it won’t be that simple. To ensure that you’re not just snagging quality young players who are making the league minimum, we’re going to put some service time restraints on the players you can choose. And what better model to pick than our very own New York Yankees?

For your nine starting position players, including DH, you can pick 1 player with 0-2 years of service time, 2 players with 3-5 years of service time, and 6 players with over six years of service time, hence free-agent eligible. That’s going to be tough. Service time can be found at Cot’s as well. Since we’re using 2008 salary data, we can use 2008 service time, too, so just use the number they’ve got there. If a player has 1.161 (1 year, 161 days) of service time, it counts as 1 year. If a player isn’t listed, he’s assumed to have no service time.

For starting pitchers, two can have 0-2 years, 1 can have 3-5 years, and 2 need to have 6 or more years. For the bullpen, it will be 2 with 0-2 years, 3 with 3-5 years, 2 with 6 or more.

On the bench, you’re free to do whatever. Restriction: it actually has to be a bench player. A reasonable guideline is fewer than 200 plate appearances in 2008. However, if a guy came up later in the year and started, you can’t use him.

Everything clear? All right. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (132)

We love a good discussion here at RAB. It might be tough to keep up with, but it puts a smile on my face to see a comment thread go over 100. For the most part, the discussion here is great. Commenters all bring something different to the table, and that allows us to get as comprehensive a view of a situation as possible.

However, more comments means more flaming. It’s unfortunate, but true. This is why we put commenting guidelines in place. Lately, though, we’ve seen plenty of violations. It’s time to crack down. I think that everyone will agree that this will make the discussions more fruitful in the long run.

Some of you may have received short emails from Ben, Mike, or me in the past week, asking you to stop the personal attacks. These are friendly warnings. We like you guys, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to play by the rules. This goes doubly for the perceived “favorites.” We like you for a reason. Please, help us out by keeping your comments civil, and your personal attacks over at LoHud.

This means no calling anyone an idiot. If you must attack, attack the idea, not the person. Don’t go out of your way to call things idiotic. If it is truly idiotic, most people will silently agree. Simply point out what you think is wrong, and move on. Or just say nothing.

Speaking of saying nothing, this brings me to my next point: Don’t feed the trolls. If you see someone commenting for the first time and they’re blatantly trying to get a reaction, leave it be. It’s tough sometimes, but it’s for the best.

You give him a dollar, he’s gonna assume you have more:

We’ve also seen a number of off-topic comments, mostly preceded by “I know this is off topic, but…” This does not give anyone carte blanche to make an off-topic remark. If you have something off-topic to say, our email addresses are on the left sidebar. Off topic posts will now be deleted.

That’s really about it. Keep comments on-topic, and play nice. We’ll send email warnings for slight and first-time offenders, so please leave a valid email in the comments field. We promise we won’t use it for any other purpose. I wouldn’t want anyone doing that to me, and we’ll extend the courtesy to you. Repeat offenders will be put on a moderation list. A few current commenters have had this before, and can attest that it’s not permanent. It’s just our only power in situations like this. None of us want to use it, but if the violations continue, it’s a last resort, and only applicable for violations.

That said, thanks guys, for distracting me from doing work. I’d far rather argue with Chris C. over Manny Ramirez any day than do actual work.

Comments (71)
  • Baseball, ticket prices and the economy

    While this morning, we joked about the Yanks’ impact on the economy, this afternoon, Maury Brown talks us through the economy’s impact on baseball. Recently, Bud Selig, often accused of being a socialist commissioner, urged owners to think long and hard about raising ticket prices in the future. MLB saw attendance hold steady — and not increase — this year, and with the U.S. economy on shaky ground, luxury events such as sports may suffer if ticket prices fall out of line with what the average fan can afford to pay. · (10) ·

For better or worse, the Yankees are bound to kick the tires on Manuel Aristides Ramirez this off-season. After all, it’s not every day that a first-ballot Hall of Famer who just so happens to be one of the greatest hitters of his generation becomes a free agent. The Yanks know they need offense, and no one player on the market could better supply them with that than Manny.

But at the same time, the Yankees don’t quite need another long-term contract backloaded to provide some 40+ DH-type with a $20 million payout. The Yankees, in other words, will be in on Manny only if the years are right. The years might very well be wrong.

According to Tracy Ringolsby, Manny wants at least five years and $85 million. Earlier this year, as MLB Trade Rumors reminds us, Peter Gammons believed that a four-year, $100-million deal would land Manny. So it seems that Manny is looking for four or five years and between $17-$25 million a year. That’s not an unrealistic assumption for Boras.

Of course, for Manny’s suitors it is. The Dodgers seem to be pricing themselves out of the race, but that could be just be a marketing ploy. They want Manny; Manny likes L.A. Their demands just need to match, and by negotiating now through “sources” and columnists, things might be easier during face-to-face meetings next month.

The real problem with Manny’s potentially signing a long-term deal with the Dodgers though is the duration. Manny is 36 right now and funnily enough, is not getting any younger. He’s never been a great defender, and he’s only getting worse. He can still hit though and belongs on an AL team.

The Dodgers, Yankees and Mets figure to be in on the bidding. After their amazing offensive showing against the Red Sox this week, the Angels should consider Manny’s services as well. Perhaps he’d fit on the White Sox too. But at these prices and at these years, not too many teams are going to call upon Manny as appealing as his numbers are.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (165)