I’m back again after a short hiatus to bring you the second RAB Trade Deadline Podcast. This time around, we talk about the CC Sabathia situation (so much easier to type without the periods), and what it means to the starting pitching market.
Should the Yanks go after a starter? Probably. But after running down the names of possibly available pitchers, the pickings don’t look to fruitful. I do stumble across one interesting, albeit risky, name, and attempt to convince everyone that Joe Blanton would be a terrible idea. Are there any names I missed which might be interesting?
Finally, it’s onto the outfield situation, which might solve itself once Johnny Damon returns to the lineup, and will be helped if Hideki Matsui can return later this month. Barry Bonds’s name is mentioned a few times here.
If you want to download the podcast, you can right click here and hit “Save As.” Left clicking on it will open up an audio player in your browser. For those of you who want the streaming version, the audio is below:
These guys want you to vote for Jason Giambi, and Giambi said he would participate in the Home Run Derby only if elected to the All Star team. Plus, there’s that whole .930 OPS thing going on which is a full .021 higher than the starting first baseman’s. So point your browser here and do your civic duty. Much like the Chicogoans did in the 1960s, you can vote as many times as you’d like. · (30) ·
Since coming off the disabled list, Alex Rodriguez is hitting .344/.441/.669 with 14 HR and 39 RBI in 45 games. That would put him on pace for 50 home runs and 140 RBI over 162 games. Does anyone really care what else is going on as long as he keeps that up? (And how is that 42 percent of ESPN voters believe A-Rod is least deserving of a starting spot on the All Star team? Jeez.) · (36) ·
As more information emerges concerning the Brewers’ acquisition of CC Sabathia and the Yanks’ seemingly failed effort to land him this weekend, we’ll be able to piece together something of a narrative concerning the deal. We at RAB will also put this story to rest soon, but some interesting pieces of information are trickling out right now.
Unlike the Santana deal, we have no idea what the Yankees were offering for Sabathia. While, as I noted before, the asking price started with Phil Hughes, we’ve yet to hear the rumors of who else would have gone to Cleveland. But we know why the Indians turned down the Yanks, and it seems to have less to do with prospects and more with the Yanks’ approach to the deal.
Jack Curry clues us in:
In adding Sabathia, the Brewers beat out the Phillies, who were also willing to make the trade without requiring a window to negotiate a contract extension. The Yankees had discussions with the Indians, but were unwilling to make a deal unless they could sign Sabathia beyond 2008. The Yankees will probably be serious players in trying to sign him when he becomes a free agent after the season.
Sabathia could ask for an extension that is close to what the Mets gave Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million), so the chances that he will remain with the Brewers are slim. Melvin was realistic about the future and said, “Most trades in July are going to be rentals.”
Sabathia rejected a four-year, $72 million proposal from Cleveland last spring.
Because Melvin knew Sabathia might be with Milwaukee only briefly, he wanted to trade for him as soon as possible. In making the deal Monday, Milwaukee can start Sabathia twice before the All-Star break. He was 5-3 with a 1.93 E.R.A. in his last 11 starts.
The Yankees were not about to sell off their top-rated prospects for just three months of CC Sabathia. According to Curry, when the Indians, who have long held this position, notified the Yanks that the team would not receive a 72-hour window to consummate a long-term deal, the Yankees seemingly backed out. I’m intrigued by this tidbit because, if true, it seems as though the Yanks were willing to part with some prospects if the parameters of the trade were similar to the Santana deal. While Brian Cashman told Tyler Kepner othwrise, the Yanks might have been willing to give up the youngsters for CC Sabathia and a long-term deal.
With this in mind, I believe these revelations strengthens my earlier proposition: If money is the only obstacle in signing Sabathia in the fall, the Yankees are the front runners. Of course, money isn’t the only obstacle; Sabathia has to want to come to New York. But we’ve already dissected that argument.
Meanwhile, one commenter earlier today suggested that the Brewers could sign Sabathia, but again, Curry’s article pretty much puts a nail firmly into that coffin. Doug Melvin, the Brewers’ GM, seems to recognize that Sabathia is a three-month rental and admits as much to Curry. If Milwaukee — a team that can’t really afford a five- or six-year, $100+ million contract — is attempting to pull the trigger on a deadline deal this early in July, the word “rental” seems more apt than anything else.
For now, the Sabathia Saga Part I has drawn to a close. The Brewers are primed to become serious contenders, and CC has a home away from the AL, away from the AL East, for the remainder of the 2008 season. Where he will in 2009 is anyone’s guess, but the team soon to inhabit a new stadium in the Bronx will be exerting a full-court press in their efforts to woo him this offseason. You — and CC — can take that one to the bank.
Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Toledo)
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 E (fielding)
Greg Porter: 2 for 3
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 21, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K – Cody Ransom drove in the run with a GIDP … Matt Carson K’ed twice … Ben Broussard committed a fielding error … Chris Stewart picked a runner off second with a snap throw
Jeff Karstens: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5-5 GB/FB – picked a runner off first … 60 of 96 pitches were strikes (62.5%) … so much for getting him a spot start while he was hot
JB Cox: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 2-5 GB/FB – very un-JB-like … eh, it happens
As baseball analysts raced to judge the CC Sabathia trade, an interesting tidbit emerged about the Yankees: They don’t, as I noted earlier, know their 2008 chances, and as the season rushes into the All Star break, the Yanks could go one of two ways.
If they finish strong in their last six games before the break and start the second half of the season with a few wins, they could close the gap in the AL or at least in the Wild Card race and emerge as serious contenders. If they stumble their way to the All Star break and lose a few games against some of their stronger opponents after the break, they could slip further behind in the playoff hunt. Or they could keep on treading water as they’re doing now, holding back too far in the division but not quite far enough in the Wild Card to figure out what’s happening.
So submitted for discussion, two scenarios:
The Yankees Should Be Sellers
The New York Yankees are old and underachieving. They’re a collection of overpaid, under-performing players past their prime spending too much time on the DL. The Yankees should sell.
Maybe they could move Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui for a few younger players. Maybe they could ship off Kyle Farnsworth while he’s in the middle of a solid stretch. Maybe they could foist Mike Mussina, in the middle of a latter-day career resurgence, onto the Phillies. Maybe they should look at some of their more expendable and younger players like Wilson Betemit, who doesn’t have a clear-cut role but could command a decent return, or Melky Cabrera, who has seemingly outlived his usefulness in the Bronx.
They should sell now because when 2009 rolls around, this team will have a whole new look. They could land CC Sabathia; they could sign Mark Teixeira. They’ll have a full year’s worth of Joba Chamberlain in the rotation, a repaired Chien-Ming Wang and a hopefully healthy Phil Hughes. Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero will be one year closer to the Bigs, and the 2009 team will look far different from the current iteration of the 2008 team. Sell. Sell. Sell.
The Yankees Should Be Buyers
Sell? Since when do the New York Yankees give up on a season? They’re just four games out of the Wild Card and only three in the loss column. Even the nine games between them and Tampa Bay — Tampa Freakin’ Bay! — isn’t that daunting. They’ve done it before; they could do it again.
No, my friend, the Yankees should buy. Brian Cashman has built up a stocked farm system, and one of the advantages of such a farm system is knowing who to keep and who should be traded for what when the time is right. They could use some of those pieces to acquire what they need — a right-handed bat, a top-line starter — to push them over the edge.
If they let Abreu, Mussina, Farnsworth and Giambi walk next year, they’ll land the draft picks to replenish the system. So why not buy and win this year? Anything short of the playoffs is simply unacceptable, and with $200 million and his potential job on the line, Cashman may need to let go of some of his vaunted prospects if he wants to see October or a new contract.
* * *
So there you go. What would you do with the 2008 New York Yankees? Sell the ones you can sell or hold to your Major League chips, jettison some kids and stock up for a stretch run?
A select list of catchers who are having a better season than All Star Catcher Jason Varitek™, based on VORP:
A list of catchers who more plate appearances who are having worse seasons than All Star Catcher Jason Varitek™:
I understand that the players want to honor those they respect with a spot on the All Star team. I understand that the players may despise A.J. Pierzynski. But frankly, it’s embarrassing to baseball when they promote a mid-season exhibition game under the slogan “this time it counts” while allowing the players to vote a catcher who is hitting .218/.300/.358 over 273 plate appearances and who has nabbed just under 18 percent of would-be base stealers this season on to the All Star team. It shouldn’t count.
Open thread on something entirely different coming later.
I know a ton of people would just as well say “yes” and let that be that. His stay with the Yankees hasn’t been too impressive, and certainly hasn’t been near expectations. Yes, he’s an upgrade at the plate over Miguel Cairo. Then again, who isn’t? So as we head towards Betemit’s one-year anniversary, I’m sure many Yankees fans are wondering whether he’s worth carrying on the team.
While Damon and Matsui are out, the Yanks probably have to keep him around. He’s the only guy on the bench right now who can give Jason Giambi a day away from first base, and he’s the only conceivable threat off the bench. With Jose Molina getting more playing time, and with light-hitting Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner playing with regularity, the Yanks simply need a guy who can rake on the bench.
Betemit, we know, can rake. He’s got 10 extra base hits in his 100 plate appearances this year, which is about double the rate of Melky. It’s well above Derek Jeter, even the Derek Jeter of the past few years. It’s a better rate than Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu, and Jorge Posada. Basically, the only players on the team with a better XBH/PA ratio than Betemit are Jason Giambi (barely), and Alex Rodriguez.
There are two glaring problems with Betemit. First is that the dude refuses to take a walk. In those 100 plate appearances this year, he has walked just three times. In 192 plate appearances for the Dodgers last year, he walked 32 times. That’s more freakin’ like it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what the Yankees signed up for. So instead of getting a guy who walks once every six plate appearances, we’ve got a guy who walks once every 33.33 plate appearances. This is especially frustrating, since he maintained a similar XBH/PA ratio last year in LA before coming east.
This problem is complicated by his strikeouts. We all knew coming into this that Wilson Betemit has a longish swing, and is sent down swinging on a decently frequent occasion. His percentage isn’t much higher than what we expected, a strikeout every four plate appearances, but because he isn’t walking it’s all the worse. It means that he’s simply making more outs, as evidenced by his .280 OBP. It is simply unacceptable.
The second problem with Betemit is his pitiful defense. We’ve seen him have difficulties taking grounders at first freakin’ base this year. He’s got no range at short. We’ve seen him make enough throwing mistakes to make any start at third an uneasy one. Even if he can rake, how can we carry a utility infielder who can’t play D?
Clearly, the Yanks will have a few questions to answer about Betemit heading into the trading deadline. His bat remains intriguing, but unless he can take a few pitches and not swing at everything in the dirt, he’s not going to have much of a role on this team. If Damon and Matsui come back healthy, there doesn’t figure to be many big-time pinch hitting opportunities for the Yankees bench. You’ll have Melky or Gardner, and maybe Molina, but that’s it. Do you need a guy like Betmit to fill that role? Or is the team better served with a more defensive-minded utility infielder?
In the blink of an eye last night, the Yankees became the clear-cut front runners for C.C. Sabathia.
This dance began over the weekend when few were paying attention. The Milwaukee Brewers, it seemed, had emerged as the clear-cut front runners in the C.C. Sabathia Sweepstakes, and last night, just minutes before the start of a thrilling Yankees-Red Sox game and three and a half weeks prior to the trading deadline, the Brewers and Indians consummated what will probably be this July’s biggest deal. The Brewers sent Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and a PTBNL that will probably be Taylor Green, their MiLB 2007 player of the year, to the Indians for three months of C.C. Sabathia.
For the Brewers, the NL’s leading Wild Card team, this move cements their status as a legitimate playoff contender for practically the first time since they won the AL East in 1982. For the Indians, this move signals that the team is in sell mode, and while they may not have done this well this time, they pulled in a pretty decent haul in exchange for a pitcher sure to hit free agency in a few months.
The Yankees, however, are once again on the outside of a blockbuster trade involving a big-time pitcher. Unlike during the Santana sweepstakes, the Yankees weren’t blocked by the Twins’ desires to ship Santana out of the AL. Rather, they opted not to make a potential move. As Ken Rosenthal reported, “the Yankees also were ‘very heavily involved’ in the Sabathia discussions, one source said, but declined to commit the necessary prospects at a time when their 2008 chances are uncertain.”
As Yankee fans are very divided over the direction of the team, certain factions will have a field day with this tidbit. Once again, when faced with giving up some prospects for a quote-unquote proven ace at the time when the Yanks’ pitching is looking rather frail, Brian Cashman and the Yankee braintrust got gun-shy and stood pat. But of course it isn’t as simple as that.
Right now, the Yankees are in the unenviable position of not knowing what’s going on with their team. They’ve dealt with numerous injuries — 60 percent of their starting rotation, most of their starting lineup — and they’re on the cusp of contention, too far out of first place and just close enough to the Wild Card leader to be in it. They don’t know if they should buy or sell; they don’t know what they really need. Some people think they need a bat and can fill in the pitching from the organization; others thing their offense is fine, and they could use a pitcher.
But for the Yankees, they weren’t in a position to make this move yet, and they didn’t have to. They have Ian Kennedy and Dan McCutchen making their respective ways through the organization. They have Phil Hughes and — dare I say? — Carl Pavano rehabbing. By opting not to acquire Sabathia — and we really don’t know how close or far they were in doing so (and it would have cost at least Hughes and more) — they positioned themselves as the leaders in the eventual C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes bound to occupy the back pages after the Fall Classic ends.
I can unequivocally say that Sabathia will not re-sign with the Brewers before testing the free agency waters. Had he wanted to sign without hitting the market, he would have stayed with Cleveland, a town and an organization he has known and loved for over a decade. Now, he will be a free agent, and if the Yankees want him and he wants the Yankees, it will get done. They have millions of dollars coming off the books and millions more coming their way from a new stadium. And the best part of all is that they won’t have to pay twice for the big lefty.
After losing out on CC Sabathia, the Yanks have focused their attention on acquiring Zambrano. Victor Zambrano that is. Currently toiling away with the Rockies Triple-A affiliate, Zambrano has gone 0-6 with a 9.45 ERA, 2.30 WHIP & .367 BAA this year. He was demoted to the bullpen about two months ago, and hasn’t been as terrible, posting a 6.55 ERA & 1.45 WHIP. If the Yanks are interested, It shouldn’t take much at all to acquire him (“future considerations” should do it), and if he pitches like crap who cares? They’ll release him and be done with it, no risk at all. Could you imagine if they traded Hughes for him though? That would be crazy. · (54) ·