A judge in Florida sentenced former Yankee Jim Leyritz to probation and fined him $500 for his misdemeanor DUI conviction. Leyritz was arrested in December 2007 when he collided with another car at a Fort Lauderdale intersection, resulting in the death of the other driver. Late last month, Leyritz was acquitted of charges in his case for manslaughter DUI.
The Yankees have non-tendered Dustin Moseley and Alfredo Aceves, Mark Feinsand reported a minute ago. In light of the team’s decision to re-up with Sergio Mitre, Moseley’s departure was a foregone conclusion. The Yanks do not need to mediocre right-handers clogging up the roster in the name of depth, but the decision on Aceves is surprising. My guess is that the Yanks did not want to burn a 40-man spot on a guy who missed most of 2010 and will be out for around the first six-to-eight weeks of 2011. The club will, in all likelihood, try to resign him to a minor league deal without burning a 40-man spot on a question mark.
The Syracuse Orange (7-5 overall, 4-3 in conference play) have accepted a bid to play in this month’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium according to the team, though their opponent still hasn’t been confirmed. Based on my quick Google search, it appears that Kansas State is the favorite for the other bid. The game is scheduled for Monday, December 20th.
“We are thrilled to have Syracuse representing the Big East Conference in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Hal Steinbrenner. “We expect the historic backdrop of Yankee Stadium and the many attractions of New York City to create a one-of-a-kind bowl event for the athletes participating and … Syracuse fans that will have the opportunity to watch their team play in person.”
I know a few of our regulars are Syracuse alums, so any of you going to head out to the game? Based on what I heard, last month’s matchup between Army and Notre Dame was a rather cool experience.
Anywho, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Texans are at the Eagles and you can watch if you have the NFL Network, otherwise you’re stuck with the Rangers at the Islanders. It seems like all of the local teams have had the week off. Eh, whatever. Oh, and Lebron is going back to Cleveland tonight (8pm ET, TNT). I hear that’s kind of a big deal. Talk about whatever you want, so have at it.
Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees have made a new offer to Derek Jeter, though the details of that new offer are still unknown. The other day we heard that the Yanks were prepared to off three years and $51M with a fourth year option that included a $6M buyout, replicating the average annual value of the captain’s last contract. Jack Curry hears that the talks aren’t “in the zone” just yet, and there’s still some more work to be done.
Barring some seriously unlikely behind-the-scenes stuff, the Yankees are bidding against themselves here. The improved offer is out of nothing but good faith given the utter lack of competition for Jeter, especially since the annual payout will exceed that of Troy Tulowitzki’s new contract. If Jeter’s camp isn’t happy with that, I don’t know what comes next. At some point they have to reciprocate.
Injuries are no fun. The Yanks announced news on two of them yesterday. Brett Gardner had surgery on his wrist to fix tendinitis. If that sounds odd, well, it is. Mike and I dive into that one. Then there’s Al Aceves, but this time it’s not about his back. He broke his collar bone, which means he’ll get a late start on the season. But we talk about his back injury anyway, because, well, I feel for people who have back problems and think that we shouldn’t undersell how detrimental they can be to long-term health.
And then there’s Sergio Mitre. The Yankees didn’t tender him a contact. No, they did him one better by signing him to a major league deal worth $900K. I understand why people don’t like Mitre. He’s not very good. But as Mike and I explain, the Yanks weren’t going to do much better with the 12th man in the bullpen.
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This post seemed inevitable, and sure enough the emails started trickling in not long after we learned that the Red Sox will decline to tender Hideki Okajima a contract before tonight’s deadline, making Daisuke Matsuzaka’s buddy* a free agent. With the Yankees in the market for a second lefty, wondering if Okajima was worth targeting was only natural. I’m here to tell you that hell no, the Yanks should avoid the guy.
Okajima burst onto the scene in 2007 by allowing a solo homerun to the first batter he ever faced in the big leagues (John Buck) and then not allowing another run until late-May, 19 pitching appearances later. Okajima was an All Star that season and finished the year with a 2.22 ERA (3.33 FIP) and a rather studly 1.5 fWAR in 69 innings of setup work, and of course a World Series ring. Even more impressive is that he was effective against both lefties (.302 wOBA against) and righties (.222) thanks to a split-change and funky don’t-look-at-the-target delivery.
Although he wasn’t as dominant the next year, Okajima did pitch to a 2.61 ERA (3.62 FIP) and 1.1 fWAR in 62 innings even though right-handers started to figure him out (.356 wOBA against compared to .259 vs. LHB). Things started to fall apart in 2009 (3.39 ERA, 4.20 FIP, .371 wOBA vs. RHB, .225 wOBA vs. LHB) and then the wheels came completely off in 2010 (4.50 ERA, 4.64 FIP, .381 wOBA vs. RHB, .314 wOBA vs. LHB). The league, it appears, has finally caught up to him after four seasons in the States.
There’s a lot not to like about Okajima, starting with his stuff. His fastball, never great to begin with, averaged a career low 86.3 mph last season and he’s using it more often than ever, basically two out of every three pitches. As funky as his delivery is, Okajima’s not particularly good at hiding the ball since he comes right over the top (right). If batters can see a mid-80’s fastball out of a pitcher’s hand, they’ll probably hit it not matter which way the guy’s head is going, and unsurprisingly Okajima’s heater was worth 2.8 runs below average in 2010, easily the worst mark of his career. His split finger has lost three inches of vertical break over the last two years, and it’s gone from two runs above average to 4.4 below. The curveball’s more than fine (1.52 runs above average in 2010), but that’s all he’s working with these days.
Another issue with Okajima is health after he missed close to two months with a back stiffness last summer, and then there’s the homeruns (one for every 7.2 IP over the last two years). And sheesh, he’s not even that great against lefties anymore. Like I said earlier, they got him for a .314 wOBA in 2010, below (in a bad way) the .304 left-on-left league average. Okajima’s not outrageously expensive but $2.75M for a LOOGY (his 2010 salary) is less than ideal, and I assume he’ll want a similar salary next year. Also, just think about what’s going on here, a team in the process of overhauling a weak bullpen is cutting him loose because he was part of the problem, not the solution. Boston can surely afford him, this is all about performance.
I suspect that if Okajima had performed exactly the same way over the last four years for a team like the Padres or Royals instead of the Red Sox, no one would think twice about him. That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with exploring possibilities, but let’s just keep moving along, nothing to see here.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees have signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 33-year-old spent the 2010 season in Japan, allowing 35 hits and 11 walks against just 14 strikeouts in 27.2 innings with the Nippon Ham Fighters. Carlyle pitched with the Padres, Dodgers, and Braves at various points from 1999 through 2009, posting a forgettable 5.61 ERA (4.97 FIP) in 245.2 innings. To his credit, he did toss up a 3.59 ERA (3.58 FIP, look at that) in 62.2 innings with Atlanta in 2008.
It’s just a minor league depth move, an arm to soak up innings in Triple-A so the actual prospects don’t get overworked. Meh.