Last night, Jarrod Washburn faced the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t beat them, but he kept them in check for 5.2 innings. Today, Washburn finds himself the subject of some Buster Olney-inspired trade rumors. The Seattle lefty, owed $13.6 million before the end of 2009, could be a good fit for the Yankees, and according to the ESPN scribe, a possible trade would involve Kei Igawa, a secondary prospect and large sums of money heading from New York to the northwest. While, according to the Seattle Times, the Yanks — and anyone with any baseball sense — would prefer A.J. Burnett, Washburn wouldn’t be a bad choice. He’s a lefty with success in Yankee Stadium and a 2.65 ERA over his last 51 innings. This is, of course, just a rumor, but it’s an intriguing one nonetheless. · (114) ·
Maybe a few more Yankees should think about signing with hot-shot talent agencies. A few hours after word got out that A-Rod had inked a deal with the powerful William Morris Agency, the Yanks’ third baseman kicked off a 12-run rout of the Twins with a two-run home run in the first.
Word of the deal first broke in the Wall Street Journal last night. Matthew Futterman’s article, available here only for WSJ subscribers, talks about A-Rod’s decision to sign up yet another management company:
The decision reflects the growing importance of Hollywood in athletes’ attempts to turn themselves into enduring brand names that can attract corporate sponsorships in addition to their big-ticket employment contracts. Major agencies, meanwhile, see star athletes as a growth niche. As TV ratings dwindle and movie box-office stagnates, sports-rights fees and the value of sports teams are growing. The marketing prowess of golfer Tiger Woods has become the envy of celebrity handlers…
For Mr. Rodriguez, the move marks the latest turn in his relationship with Scott Boras, one of baseball’s most successful and controversial agents. It was Mr. Boras’s decision to announce during last year’s World Series that Mr. Rodriguez would opt out of his contract with the Yankees. That move dented the future Hall of Famer’s reputation and forced him to pursue a new deal directly with Yankees brass.
Mr. Boras, who has represented Mr. Rodriguez throughout his career, said he will continue to represent the slugger in any baseball-related negotiations. “I do Alex’s baseball work,” Mr. Boras said Monday. Now, with what is likely the final contract of his sports career complete, Mr. Rodriguez is turning to William Morris to burnish his image as an athlete with appeal beyond his sport.
Right now, while A-Rod is one of the highest paid players in any sport with a guaranteed contract of at least $275 million over the next ten years, he lags in endorsement deals. According to Bloomberg News, A-Rod earns just $6 million a year in endorsements, putting him 20th on a recent Sports Illustrated list of top-grossing athletes by endorsements.
The agency, with offices in New York, LA, Nashville and London, will look to expand the reach of the A-Rod image, and the Yanks’ slugger, destined for the Hall one day, will also see his earnings reach new heights. It’s just another day in As The A-Rod Turns.
In 2007, Jorge Posada acted as a savior to the Yankees. A career .271/.376/.473 hitter heading into his walk year, Georgie exploded, hitting .338/.426/.543, all career highs at the age of 35. That earned him a fat four-year, $52.4 million deal. This year, he’s proving to be a difference maker, just in a negative sort of way. Not that we can expect those numbers out of Posada every year. It’s just that his hot bat is sorely missed in this lineup. That Jose Molina, owner of a .240/.277/.340 career line, is replacing him in the lineup is no consolation.
To state the obvious, the Yankees have two choices here. They can either stand pat with Jose Molina and Chad Moeller handling the backstop duties, or they can go out and get someone. Neither is ideal. Molina and Moeller, while fine defensively, will only add to the Yankees bottom-of-the-order woes. This might indicate that the Yankees will explore the trade market. Considering their other needs, combined with the poor catcher’s market, they might not find that the best option, either.
Let’s look at some of MLB Trade Rumors’s list of available backstops:
- Gerald Laird. He’s been on the DL since June 20 with a hamstring injury. Before that, though, he was hitting well prior to that. The Rangers, just three back of the Yankees in the loss column, might not be sellers at this point. Considering the ineffectiveness of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they might want to reinstall Laird as their starter upon his return.
- Bengie Molina. While not quite as bad as his brother, Bengie is having himself a craptastic season. Brian Sabean has said that he’s not looking to deal the eldest Molina.
- Gregg Zaun or Rod Barajas. I doubt Ricciardi would deal them in-division without the Yanks paying a premium. Which they shouldn’t. Maybe, if on the off-chance that they swing a Burnett deal, they try to get one of them as a throw-in. Other than that, I can’t see this happening.
- Miguel Olivo. Aside from a half-season in San Diego in 2005, he hasn’t been very impressive at all. A little pop, sure. You could do worse, I’m sure. But what’s the upgrade going to cost? I think that’s what we’re asking with all of these options.
- Yorvit Torrealba. Don’t know how he got his contract, though he doesn’t seem to deserve it. Hitting like crap in a hitter’s park. Pass, and then pass again.
- Paul LoDuca. Sorry. Just had to type it here for the laughs.
- Ronny Paulino. Unless Pittsburgh is giving him away, I don’t think the Yanks would/should give up much. He’s had some good years in the minors, and was tearing the place up upon his demotion this year. But he’s been on the shelf since June 17, so even bringing up his name might be moot.
- Josh Bard. Let’s talk about him.
You might remember Josh Bard from such trades as Cla Meredith and Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli. It was only fair, really, since Kevin Towers had gotten shafted when trading Mirabelli for Mark Loretta just a few months prior. Bard exploded upon reaching San Diego, hitting .338/.406/.537 over 263 plate appearances. He was good in 2007 as well, turning in a .285/.364/.404 line over 443 plate appearances. Even better, he hit .330/.386/.456 when away from the cavernous Petco Park.
He got off to a horrible start this year, one of Molinian proportions. After carrying a .200/.278/.262 line through May 21, he hit the DL with an ankle injury. He’s currently rehabbing in the minors, though it hasn’t gone all well. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a homer on Sunday, but that’s been his only hit in 12 plate appearances for AAA Portland. Manager Bud Black says Bard should be activated this week.
While it would be nice to go with Bard/Molina, rather than Molina/Moeller, there are still problems with this scenario. While John Perrotto reports that Bard will be on the block, the Yankees might not have what the Padres are after. The Padres have been interested in Kei Igawa in the past, but would that work one-for one? For what it’s worth, Bard has another year of arbitration eligibility.
Anyone else have any ideas? Anyone familiar enough with the Padres to have an idea of what they might be after? I honestly think that if we’re looking outside for help behind the plate, Bard is the one and only guy to consider.
While Monday’s news of the day was Jorge Posada and his injured shoulder, the other injured Yankee cog made a decision about his immediate future. According to the four-letter, Hideki Matsui will not undergo surgery yet and will attempt another rehab on his knee. More important, however, is this news that doctors have recommended that he go under the knife and that Brian Cashman is not optimistic that Matsui will rejoin the club any time soon. This will be the last rehab attempt before surgery, and I don’t expect to see Godzilla back in the Bronx this season. · (36) ·
Tonight in Kansas City, Jimmy Gobble took one for the team. He had the distinct pleasure of allowing all ten runs the Tigers scored in the eighth inning. He walked four and allowed seven hits en route to a singularly bad outing.
Every time Sidney Ponson takes the mound, I half expect that to happen, and one night, it will. It may not be his next start which happens to fall against — gulp — the Red Sox, but it will come. Tonight, Ponson managed to win yet another game for the Yanks. He went 5.2 innings and allowed his customary 11 base runners. Somehow, he has to keep up that 1.94 WHIP.
The Twins, however, managed to plate just three runs. Ponson got his double play when he needed it most and managed to escape serious harm throughout the evening. It’s a rather tense high-wire act, and as long as the Yanks can score 12 runs every five days, he’ll be fine. But one night, it’s going to all come crashing down in a Jimmy Gobble-like mess of base runners and runs. I’m not looking forward to that.
But Ponson pontifications aside, the Yanks just kept doing what they do best these days: They won at home for the eighth time in a row. Their last home loss came on July 4th when today’s starter Darrell Rasner took the L in a game against Boston.
Offensively, everyone except Jason Giambi hit. Robinson Cano continued his torrid July with two hits including his eighth home run of the year. He’s up to .260 and should see his OBP climb over .300 soon. Small victories, right? A-Rod and Derek both picked up a pair of hits and a home run apiece, and the new starting catcher Jose Molina went three for four.
After the team was through hitting, the bullpen took over once again, and I can’t say enough about the pen. Edwar Ramirez pitched out of a pickle and now hasn’t allowed a hit in over nine innings, and over his last nine games covering 11.1 innings, Ramirez has allowed one hit and two walks while striking out 16. That’s phenomenal. With his scoreless inning tonight, David Robertson has now gone 11 innings with seven hits, four walks and 14 strike outs. We’ve seen Brian Cashman‘s bullpen plan come together perfectly recently, and it couldn’t have come at a better.
For a night, the offense made us forget about Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. The bullpen made us overlook another two-base-runners-per-inning outing from Sidney Ponson. And the score made us yearn for a few more home games as Yankee Stadium continues to refuse to yield its magic to the ballpark slowing arising across the street. This, folks, is turning into a pennant race. Would we have it any other way?
The uninspiring Austin Jackson was named the Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week thanks to his .643 BA. Phil Coke was named EL Pitcher of the Week. Allowing 5 hits with 21 strikeouts in 14 IP will earn you that honor. Brian Baisley won NY-Penn League Offensive Player of the Week honors, but he’s the oldest position player in the league, roughly 6 years older than league average.
TPA posted their Midseason Top 10 Yankees’ Prospects. Hard to argue with that list, very well put together.
Remember, the number in parenthesis following a player’s name is the round he was selected in if he was an ’08 draftee.
Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Richmond)
Alberto Gonzalez & Nick Green: both 0 for 4, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Matt Carson: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – threw a runner out at come from CF … OPS’ing over .860 this year
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 2 K
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – 17 homers this year
Ben Broussard: 2 for 3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Chris Stewart: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 7-10 GB/FB – 69 of 107 pitches were strikes (64.5%)
Chris Britton: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – 10 of 11 pitches were strikes (90.9%)
Billy Traber: 0.1 IP, zeroes
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
It’s nice to have Johnny Damon back atop the lineup, especially considering that the Yanks score 1.22 more runs per game when he’s playing, but am I the only one that thinks a minor league rehab stint would be in order, even if it was just a 3-gamer with the nearby Staten Island Yanks? I mean, he last played in a game on the 4th of July, so it’s been 17 days since he faced live pitching. Plus check this out: with the Damon in the lineup, the Yanks are 41-41, but without him they’re 12-4. I dunno about you, but I smell a nice 0-fer coming tonight.
While getting Damon back is big news, the far bigger news is that Jorge Posada has been placed on the DL and is probably done for the year. While his throwing has deterioriated immensely, his bat remained a weapon (109 OPS+) and downright Ruthian compared to Jose Molina (48 OPS+, yikes). Luckily the 3rd Annual Robinson Cano Second Half Surge has begun, but the Yanks are still going to need some other guys to pick up the slack (I’m lookin’ at you, kid). Maybe they can buy low Josh Bard, who’s currently playing in rehab games after having his season derailed by Albert Pujols.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Melky, CF
8. Molina, C
9. Gardner, LF
And on the mound, the Amazin’ Arubian, Sidney Ponson.
With his catching (and throwing) abilities severley compromised, Jorge Posada may be done for the year. According to numerous Internet reports, Johnny Damon has replaced the Yanks’ catcher on the active roster, and Tyler Kepner notes that Posada, whose damaged right shoulder is still bothering him, may opt for surgery sooner rather than later in order to be ready for Spring Training in 2009. While missing Posada’s bat looms large for the Yanks, he’s hitting just .214/.365/.262 in July and has seen his power suffer with this shoulder injury. The Yanks now will hope that Bobby Abreu can pick it back up as the bottom third of their lineup — Jose Molina, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner — have not shown much in the way of offense lately. · (235) ·
While the Yankees are dealing with injuries that have shelved their number one starter and starting DH, they’re also attempting to handle the Jorge Posada situation. Posada, suffering from a shoulder heading to surgery, is no longer a viable option behind the plate this year. He’s thrown out just 7 of 39 would-be base stealers and can’t command the running game. His back up — Jose Molina — has thrown out an astounding 25 of 52 attempting basestealers but has a pathetic OPS+ of 48. Jack Curry checked in with Posada and Joe Girardi today and finds that Posada is frustrated with his shoulder but won’t have the surgery sooner. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat, but they can’t afford to stick him behind the plate. How Joe Girardi handles this over the next few months will go a long way in determining the Yanks’ success this season. · (33) ·
The Yanks have been doing a lot of window shopping lately. They’ve been said to be looking at Damaso Marte, Jason Bay, and Xavier Nady of the Pirates. They’re supposedly keeping up with Freddie Garcia’s rehab assignment. Now we’re hearing, via MLBTR, that the Yankees are interested in A.J. Burnett. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Yanks won’t necessarily make a big move before the deadline, they’re certainly exploring what’s out there.
That the Yankees sent two scouts solely to see Burnett doesn’t mean that they’ll land him. As we’ve discussed before, it’s not likely that J.P. Ricciardi would dish him within the AL East. However, this is a unique case. Burnett can opt out of his five-year, $55 million contract after this season. So Ricciardi, knowing he could lose Burnett at the end of the season anyway, might be willing to send him to whomever bids the highest.
This brings to the forefront a number of problems. If the Yanks trade for Burnett and he smokes the competition in the second half, he’ll opt out and the Yanks will have wound up with a two-month rental. If he sucks it up, not only will the Yanks have paid for a lemon, they’ll be stuck with him for another two years, owing him $24 million. The only way this really works out is if he pitches well and agrees to stay with the team.
Then again, given his injury history, maybe the Yanks would be best served to have him as a two-month rental. We know he has the stuff to succeed. It’s a matter of his ability to stay healthy. And yeah, he’s pitched poorly this year, though he’s done well against the Yanks and the Rays in his past two starts.
Which brings me to another point: Burnett is a Yankee killer. In 53.2 innings career against the Bombers, Burnett has struck out 46 to 19 walks, and has allowed just 17 runs. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Burnett’s first with the Jays, only Roy Halladay and Scott Kazmir have better numbers against the Bombers (minimum 45 IP). Make the minimum IP 35, and Burnett slides one slot back, to Jarrod Washburn, another guy the Yankees could conceivably target.
No, I don’t think they’ll land Burnett. No, I don’t think it’s worth adding Washburn and his $9 million salary for 2009. But Brian Cashman is certainly peeking into the window. If there’s a deal to be had, it seems the Yanks will be prepared to take it. But I wouldn’t go betting on an acquisition before July 31.