Open Thread: Help Wanted (Reminder)

I’m re-posting this in case anyone missed it on Friday. We’re looking bring one or two weekend writers aboard, and all of the information on how to apply, what exactly we’re looking for, etc. can be found here. Read that post in its entirety before applying, please. A few people have asked and yes, you can write your posts whenever you want and schedule them to be published at the time slots we’re looking to fill.

Do not send in a second application if you’ve already applied. We already have 60 or so of these things clogging up our inboxes, and we don’t need duplicates. If you do send in a second email, we just won’t give you the position. Harsh, but fair. Because of Thanksgiving, don’t expect to hear back from us until next week at the earliest. With any luck we’ll have this whole process wrapped up by the end of next week.

We’ll accept applications until tomorrow night’s Open Thread is posted at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Thanks in advance, and good luck.

And with that, here’s tonight’s open thread. MNF has the Broncos at the Chargers, plus the Rangers and Devil are playing as well (not each other). You guys know the drill, so have at it.

Five longest Yankee homers of 2010

They don’t call them the Bronx Bombers for nothing. The Yankees had no fewer than six players in their everyday lineup capable of taking any pitcher deep at any moment this past season, and the result was 201 homeruns, the third most in baseball. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both reached the 30 homer plateau again while Nick Swisher and Robbie Cano chipped in 29 each. Curtis Granderson provided another 24.

Unsurprisingly, quite a few of those 201 homeruns traveled very far, which is what we’re going to look at today. Thanks to the amazingly great Hit Tracker, we’ll look at the five longest homeruns hit by a Yankee this season using their True Distance tool. That tells you how far the ball would have traveled from home plate had it landed back at field level and not been interrupted by things like stands, fans, upper decks, etc. It does not remove wind, however, but that’s something we can look at in the future.

It’s worth mentioning that although Jorge Posada did not crack the top five, he accounted for the sixth, seventh, and eighth longest Yankee homeruns of the season. That tenth inning shot off Dan Wheeler in Tampa (video) is just sixth, which surprised me. On to the list…

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

5. A-Rod off Greg Holland, Aug. 14th (video)

Get used to seeing Alex Rodriguez’s name, he’s going to be featured prominently in the post. This homer was the third of his three homer game in Kansas City, a two-run shot that extended the Yankees’ lead to 8-3 in the ninth inning. Holland, who was making just the third appearance of his big league career, started A-Rod off with two sliders off the plate before coming back inside with a 96 mph fastball in a 2-0 count. The Yanks’ third baseman turned on it, sending it into the fountains beyond the left-center field walk. True Distance: 449 ft.

4. Robbie Cano off Jamie Moyer, June 16th (video)

This game was one to forget, as is any game that features eight stellar innings from the relic known as Jamie Moyer. The Phillies jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second, but Cano got one back in the bottom half. A-Rod had just hit a ball to the warning track for the first out of the inning, a shot that embodied everyone’s frustration that night. Moyer pulled his slow-slower-slowest routine with Cano, throwing sinkers away until coming inside in a 2-2 count. Or at least he tried to come inside. The 81 mph pitch stayed up and right out over the plate, so for all intents and purposes it was a batting practice pitch. Cano didn’t miss it, and the solo shot landed about halfway up the rightfield bleachers. It was the 504th homer Moyer had given up his career, bringing him to within one of Robin Roberts for most in history. True Distance: 451 ft.

3. A-Rod off Wade Davis, May 19th (video)

Thirty-four games into the Yankees’ season, Alex Rodriguez had just three homeruns to his credit. He was on pace for just 14 (13.9, really), which would have been the lowest total of his career by far. He started to kick it into gear in May 14th, going deep against the Twins (grand slam off Matt Guerrier) and then again three days later against the Red Sox (game tying shot off Jonathan Papelbon in the Marcus Thames walk-off game). Two days after that, A-Rod got Davis. It was a sixth inning of an otherwise forgettable game (Rays won 10-6), and the Tampa right-hander came right after Alex leading off the sixth. The ten pitch at-bat featured, yep, ten fastballs, the first three for balls, the fourth for a called strike, and the next five for foul balls. Davis eventually made a mistake, leaving a 94 mph heater up and out over the plate, and A-Rod hit it into Monument Park for a solo shot. True Distance: 452 ft.

2. A-Rod off Craig Breslow, April 20th (video)

Alex didn’t hit his first homer of the season until the team’s eleventh game, but his second came just two days later. The Yanks were out in Oakland and nursing a 3-0 lead when Breslow replaced Gio Gonzalez. There was just one out in the fifth, but the Yanks forced the A’s starter to throw 97 pitches (five walks no doubt did the trick). Breslow’s first pitch fastball was right over the plate for a called strike, but he then missed with a fastball away and a slider down to fall behind 2-1. His fourth pitch was a mistake and a total cookie, an 88 mph heater thigh-high and ever so slightly on the inner half. This one landed well beyond the left-centerfield wall, and it gave the Yanks a 6-0 lead as a three-run shot. True Distance: 452 ft.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

1. Curtis Granderson off Josh Beckett, April 4th (video)

Everyone remembers this one. It was the very first game of the season, and it was Curtis Granderson’s very first plate appearance as a Yankee. Posada had given the Yanks a 1-0 lead with their first baserunner, hit, homer, and run off the 2010 season with a solo shot off the Pesky Pole just one batter early. Grandy stepped in and Beckett went right after him with fastballs. The first one missed for a ball, the second was fouled off, and the third missed again for a 2-1 count. Beckett’s fourth pitch was nearly identical to his second, a mid-90’s fastball up in the zone, but this time Granderson didn’t miss, clobbering it over the bullpen more towards center than right for his first hit, homer, and run in pinstripes. True Distance: 455 ft.

The RAB Radio Show: November 22, 2010

It’s arbitration time. The Yanks have choices to make regarding six of their free agents. Mike and I make the cases — and we do not agree on most of them.

Then it’s onto Cliff Lee. This actually got more detailed than I had thought it would. With the rumored five-year, $115-$120 million offer, we know Lee’s final price is only going up. Will he get a sixth year? And at what level do the Rangers have to throw in the towel?

And Joey Votto won the NL MVP. The ballot wasn’t at all controversial, so instead of becoming outraged Mike and I frame the discussion with previous MVP ballots.

Podcast run time 32:42

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Votto takes home NL MVP Award

Joey Votto was named the National League Most Valuable Player this afternoon, receiving all but one of the 32 place votes. Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Troy Tulowitzki round out the top five. Votto finished the year at .324/.424/.600 (.439) with 7.4 fWAR, second only to Josh Hamilton.

The Yankees were going to select Votto with their first pick (71st overall) in the 2002 draft, but the Reds beat them to it. The Yanks surrendered their first round pick to the A’s that year when they signed Jason Giambi. Congrats to Votto, this might not be his last MVP.

Arbitration Decision: Javier Vazquez

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)

As Joe detailed this morning, the Yanks’ decision to offer salary arbitration to Derek Jeter is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, their other key free agent made things difficult when he had an utterly terrible 2010. Still, I’d be willing to run the risk of extending a salary arbitration offer to Javier Vazquez.

The Javier Vazquez story begins last year when the Yanks decided to trade for him. In a deal I now call the Boone Logan Trade, the Yanks sent Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for Logan and Vazquez. What made the deal so appealing was Vazquez’s contract status. With just one year left, the Yanks assumed he would maintain his recent success and his Type A status. The team would offer arbitration, and he would probably reject it. Had he accepted it, the Yanks would have had a quality pitcher at a reasonable rate.

Instead, Javy pitched himself all the way to Type B status. Javy went just 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA and threw only 157.1 innings. His strike outs dropped by 3 per 9 IP, and his walk rate doubled while his fastball velocity dipped well below 90. It was an utterly disastrous season, and the Yanks have a tough decision to make.

A few weeks ago, Mike went on the record with his view on the Javy issue. He wrote:

Javy Vazquez is a no-brainer. He’s a Type-B who made $11.5M in 2010, and of course he was awful (-0.2 fWAR) due to stuff that deteriorated as the season progressed. The best course of action is to simply cut ties and walk away. I know the Yanks considered two draft picks to be part of the deal (he was a Type-A once upon a time), but things didn’t work out. No sense in trying to force the issue, let Javy walk with no stings attached.

I disagree. The Yankees should offer Vazquez arbitration, and I doubt he would accept it. They could salvage something of this deal after all.

This move should come down to three factors. The first is Javy’s need to get out of New York. He’s still only 34 years old and ostensibly wants to keep pitching. To continue with his career — a career that saw him average 200 strike outs and 216 IP from 2000-2009 — he needs to pitch somewhere in which he is comfortable and can succeed. As much as I’m hesitant to believe that some players just don’t have the je ne sais quois to pitch in New York, Javy seems to fit the bill.

Furthermore, other teams are interested in him. The Nationals are interested in Vazquez, and the Marlins have met with him as well. Javy himself wants to pitch for the Marlins and appears to have interest from five other teams.

Finally, the Hot Stove League’s rumblings and grumblings suggest that Javy wants more than a one-year deal. Low-level rumors have Vazquez shooting for a three-year contract, and with a high level of interest among fringe teams, he should be able to secure a multi-year commitment. Considering these factors, the odds are slim that he’d accept arbitration.

But let’s assume that the Yankees offer him arbitration, and he accepts. The two sides could agree on a one-year deal followed by a trade or the two sides could go to a hearing. Since Javy would probably lose the hearing, the Yankees could wind up paying him under $10 million next year. While holding out hope in Javy might just be a fool’s errand, he could justify such a meager investment. After all, he was a 5-win pitcher in the AL as recently as 2008, and unless his arm is totally shot, he’s due for a bounce-back year in 2011.

Still, though, I’d put the odds of his accepting arbitration at no greater than five percent, and for the chance to secure a draft pick and salvage the trade, those are odds I would play. The Yankees have been risk-averse when it comes to their arbitration offers to free agents on the bubble, and I would be more surprised to see them offer arbitration to Javy than not. If they’re willing to roll the dice though, they just might make a move that proves to be both risky and smart.

Arbitration Decision: Derek Jeter

In 2000, Jeter reminds us how many rings he got. His reward: $189 million. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

Normally the Yankees would have another week or so before they had to decide whether to offer Derek Jeter, along with their other free agents, salary arbitration. Unless something happens to any of their free agents in the next week that won’t change the decision process. The difference is that we learn their intentions a bit earlier. In the past couple of years that has meant little, as the Yankees haven’t offered any of their free agents arbitration. This year, though, we could see a couple.

Earlier in the month Mike looked at some of the arbitration decisions and determined that the Yankees probably shouldn’t offer it to anyone except maybe Lance Berkman. I disagree. I don’t see any downside in offering it to Derek Jeter. He and the Yankees are working through a negotiation, and the offer of salary arbitration can act as an advantage for the Yankees. At this point, with no contract on the near horizon, they should certainly make the offer.

If Jeter declines

The Yankees have reportedly offered Jeter three years and $45 million. That’s just an opening gambit. There is no way the Jeter camp accepts. The Yankees know this. But the Yankees also know that few, if any, other teams would put this much on the table if Jeter decided to solicit offers. Adding an arbitration offer would create an even larger advantage.

If Jeter declines arbitration, teams would then have to not only beat three years at $45 million, but would also have to sacrifice a first round draft pick. True, the bottom 15 teams would have to sacrifice only a second rounder, but take a look at the draft order. Would Jeter sign with any of the teams with protected picks? Perhaps the Dodgers, but it doesn’t sound as though they have much money. But starting with the Tigers teams would have to give up their first rounder. Would they be willing to beat the contract and give up the pick? If the first is unlikely, the second makes it a no-contest.

The Yankees already have the leverage in this negotiation. They’ve made Jeter an offer well above what the open market would provide. Jeter risks tarnishing his image by picking up his ball and going to another team for less money. The Yankees might take a temporary PR hit for not bringing back their captain, but they will have offered him the most money. If they keep winning, they will recover from any black eyes. Offering arbitration only adds to this leverage.

If Jeter accepts

The chances of Jeter accepting arbitration are quite slim. From what we’ve heard he wants a deal of at least four years. Accepting arbitration would not only mean he gets just one year, but it means he goes through the same charade again next year. This is why offering him arbitration is basically a risk-free decision. The Yankees gain leverage with only a small chance of an adverse effect.

Even if Jeter does accept arbitration, is that so bad for the Yankees? They’d still have time to work out a deal between now and the February hearing. All it would do is guarantee Jeter’s spot on the 2011 team at a certain salary. Since he made $22 million last year I presume that he wouldn’t submit a figure of over $25 million; the Yankees will probably offer that same $22 million and would likely win if Jeter went over $25 million. That’s what happens when you have your worst season at age 36.

Given the upside and downside of the decision, I can’t see any reason for the Yankees to not offer arbitration. By not offering it they make Jeter slightly more attractive to other teams. I don’t think that will ever become a factor, but negotiations can go bust at any time. In the unlikely event that Jeter or the Yankees decide to walk away from the table, the draft pick compensation will at least give the Yankees something should Jeter decide to sign elsewhere. It’s not much compared to what Jeter could bring them in 2011, but it’s certainly better than getting nothing should things go horribly wrong.

Fan Confidence Poll: November 22nd, 2010

Season Record: 95-67 (859 RS, 693 RA, 98-64 Pythag. record), finished one game back in AL East, won Wild Card, lost in ALCS

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