Yankees unlikely to consider bringing back Thames

Via Buster Olney (Insider req’d), the Yankees are unlikely to consider bringing Marcus Thames back for the 2011 season. With Jorge Posada, a switch-hitter, slotted in as the full-time designated hitter, any right-handed bat off the bench would need to provided defensive flexibility to get playing time. The same logic applies to Manny Ramirez, another long shot signing.

Thames was awesome for the Yanks in 2010, but he’s unlikely to match the carer high (by frickin’ far) .345 BABIP again. His defense is also unusable, so he’s the very definition of a one-dimensional player.  It just doesn’t make sense given the present construction of the team.

Yanks have had internal talks about Manny Ramirez

Via Jack Curry, the Yankees have had some internal discussions about Manny Ramirez, who would fit a need as a right-handed hitting outfielder. Outfielder being a relatively loose term, in this case. Curry adds that the team was just doing its due diligence more than anything, and a deal with Manny is less likely than a reunion with Johnny Damon.

I took a look at Manny a few weeks ago and came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a fit. He can still hit, but not nearly as well as he did in his prime. Plus he’s never been a part-time player in his career, and that will take some adjusting to on his part. I just think the Yankees can land someone a little more flexible, and probably cheaper as well (coughScottHairstoncough).

Open Thread: Aaron Guiel

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

You all remember Aaron Guiel, don’t you? The Yankees claimed him off waivers in July of 2006, when they had a short outfield because of injuries suffered by Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. His time in New York was short (he bolted for Japan after the season), but he definitely had some impact. He reached base three times in his first game for the Yankees, then hit a tie-breaking homer off Jose Contreras in the sixth inning of a game a little more than a week later. Four days after that he had a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning against the Mariners, driving in a run that turned a two-run deficient into a one run deficit in a game the Yankees eventually won in extra innings. Exactly one week after that he hit a three-run homer against the Rangers in a one-run game. Overall, Guiel hit .256/.337/.439 (.339 wOBA) in 92 plate appearances for the Yanks while playing right field and some first base.

After that trip down memory lane, let’s use this sucker as an open thread. The Panthers and Steelers are on the NFL Network, and all three local hockey teams are in action. Talk about whatever, go nuts.

The $62,125 World Series tickets

Outgoing New York Gov. David Paterson must pay a fine of $62,125 for accepting five complimentary World Series tickets in 2009, the New York State Commission on Public Integrity announced earlier this week. Paterson, the commission found, knew he had violated state law and then refused to admit it under oath. “The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top. Unfortunately the Governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor,” Michael Cherkasky, chair of the commission, said.

Since the Yankees are an entity that has “myriad and continuing business and financial interests that relate to New York State government,” Paterson would have had to perform a public function at the game to escape ethics scrutiny. He admittedly did not and later tried to both pay for the tickets and claim that he didn’t actually want those tickets. “By his own admission, the Governor did not speak at the opening ceremonies of Game One and was not even recognized by name during the public address announcement recognizing the public officials who were present,” the Commission said in its findings.

Paterson’s lawyers of course refuted the claim, but it’s unclear if the governor will try to fight the charges. “The commission has wildly misrepresented the facts, exceeded its legal authority and generally confirmed what has long been obvious: that these proceedings were always about a political witch hunt and never about the truth,” lawyer Ted Wells said in statement. Based on the evidence compiled by the commission, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the beleaguered state pol, and Paterson may still be facing a state probe over perjury concerns.

Visualizing the path to Swisher with FFFB

As the trade deadline approached this past July, I traced the long and winding road from Hideki Irabu to Nick Swisher. The pieces the Yanks used to acquire Swisher traced their Bronx lineage back to international free agent signings the team had made in 1990, and the resulting flow chart show how Swisher was the ultimate reward from a very complex series of transactions that stretched across two decades and four World Series championships.

I approached Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Fly Ball fame to produce a visualisation of the trade lineage, and today, it’s ready to go. The segment above is just a small piece of Robinson’s final work. You can view it in full in a new window by clicking the thumbnail at the bottom of this post.

Here’s a guide to the chart: The players on the righthand side were those drafted by the Yankees. Follow their lines to see when they were traded, to which teams and for which players. Those at the bottom of the arrows are the guys the Yanks sent packing. On the left side are the trades. For instance, in December 2001, the Yanks acquired Robin Ventura for David Justice. They eventually sent Ventura to the Dodgers for Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor. Following Proctor’s arrow lands you at Wilson Betemit and from there, to Nick Swisher. What a complicated web a baseball trade can spin.

Mailbag: Joe Blanton

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Angelo asks: I live in Philadelphia, and there’s been some talk on sports radio of the Phillies dealing Joe Blanton to the Yankees. I don’t personally care for him, but he’d be cheap considering the Phillies desperately want salary relief. I don’t recall seeing any mention of him on RAB as of yet – if you’ve already discussed him, my apologies.

We haven’t discussed him yet, and that’s partially by design. As soon as the Phillies signed Lee everyone and their mother knew they’d have to trade Blanton just to keep the payroll in check. They signed the big right-hander to a three-year contract extension before last season, and there’s still two years at $8.5M annually left on the deal. Their payroll is already approaching $160M according to Cot’s and that’s only because Lee’s deal is so back-loaded. They still owe Ben Francisco and Kyle Kendrick arbitration raises as well.

Anyway, back to Blanton. He’s a pretty generic righty in that nothing stands out about him. His fastball is mostly in the upper-80’s and occasionally the low-90’s, and neither his slider, changeup, or curveball is a legit put-away pitch. Blanton’s strikeout rate unsurprisingly jumped once he got the National League, but it’s been decidedly below average over his entire career (just 5.82 K/9). He atones for that slightly by limiting walks, issuing just 2.33 unintentional free passes for every nine innings pitched in his career, and that number has been pretty steady over the last two or three seasons. The groundball rate has dropped off since his days with the Athletics, sitting around 41% now after being at ~44% for most of his career.

Blanton’s best quality is his ability to eat a boatload of innings. The 175.2 innings he threw in 2010 was the lowest full season total of his career, and that’s because he missed all of April with an oblique strain. That is the only disabled list stint of his career, and otherwise he’s thrown no fewer than 194.1 innings in any of his other five seasons as a big leaguer. I mean, that’s really it, there’s not much more to know about Blanton. He’s a decidedly average pitcher, with no more than 2.1 fWAR and no less than 1.9 fWAR in each of the last three seasons. Dead, solid, average.

Is Blanton better than Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre? Certainly. He could be a fine innings guy in the fourth or fifth starter’s spot, giving the team someone they can run into the ground to spare the bullpen every so often. The AL East will probably knock him down the peg into the 1.5 fWAR range, but that’s nothing more than my speculation. Don’t expect greatness, because you won’t get it.

As always, cost is the most important thing. Everyone knows the Phillies have to move Blanton because of their payroll situation, so their hands are tied. No one will give up anything of value, especially if they have to eat the contract. Philadelphia would preferably pay at least part of the $17M that Blanton is owed over the next two years, but even if they eat $5M or so, they’re still not going to get anything great back. I’m not a big fan, but he makes sense for the back of the rotation to a certain degree. The Yankees just have to make sure they get him almost for free. Ruben Amaro’s hands are tied, so take him to the cleaners. Anything more is an overpay.