While I’m not a big fan of the Hawkins signing, I’m definitely of the mindset that we could have done worse. For example, by signing Vizcaino for three years. That’s simply unnecessary; some team is going to do it and regret it. Not because Vizcaino is bad, per se, but because he’s bound to have at least one very poor year out of those three, and the other two are toss-ups. It’s just not worth the commitment. At least with Hawkins, we know we can wave goodbye to him after 2008.
My main problem with him, though, is the inconsistency. As I’ve mentioned, he doesn’t strikeout anyone anymore, so his success is based how many guys he walks and how many hits he allows. He’s kept his walk rate at a reasonable level, so we can be comforted at that level. But since he allows a ton of contact, we can reasonably expect a fluctuation in his hits allowed. For a quick example, he allowed a .264 average on balls in play last year (though that might be low, since I calculated it myself…anyone know it for sure?), but allowed a .325 average on balls in play with Baltimore. So we’re getting a guy who, if lucky, can be solid. But we don’t know.
This looks like the last free agent move the Yanks will make, unless they deal one of the guys projected onto the 25-man roster. Yes, I’m talking about Hideki Matsui. Those talks will either heat up or die this week. Brian Sabean is also considering a Tim Lincecum for Alex Rios swap, which could also affect the situation.
Now, I don’t expect Cashman could pry away Lincecum or Cain at this point. Any deal would have to involve both Matsui and Ian Kennedy, plus a bit more, I’m sure. There’s a modicum of sense in a Matsui-Kennedy-Duncan for Lincecum or Cain swap. It would give the Giants two bats, plus an arm to replace the departing one. They get somewhat weaker in the pitching department — though Kennedy would probably fare rather well at AT&T Park — and add two bats to an anemic lineup.
The problem, of course, is that Matsui is 34 years old and is coming off knee surgery. Duncan is 28 and has little major league experience. So while their bats will certainly upgrade the Giants lineup, it’s tough to judge to what extent.
However, I think it makes a bit more sense than a Lincecum for Rios swap. It’s straight up, so your pitching is measurably worse. And while your lineup gets better, we once again get to the question of how much better. Rios is a good player who brings speed to the table, but you have to wonder if he’ll outperform Matsui over the next two years — those two years being the last two on Hideki’s contract and the years prior to Rios’s free agency. While you could turn around and sign Rios to a long-term deal afterwards, you could realistically do that after the 2009 season; I doubt the Blue Jays are going to have the budget to re-sign him.
If I’m Brian Sabean, I’m not sure what I do. Well, I’m sure that I don’t do Rios for Lincecum, but if the Yanks are coming at me with two bats and an arm, I’d find it hard to turn down. Then again, that could be my Yankees bias talking and my desire to see Lincecum in pinstripes.
On the other hand, if the Yankees are willing to accept a lesser package, they could take lefty strikeout artist Jonathan Sanchez, who can both start and come out of the bullpen. Brian Sabean could still do Rios for Lincecum and add the two bats to his order that he desires. But his pitching would be in the shitter.
Either way, you have to expect nothing to happen here. But it’s fun to think about.
I can’t really criticize the Yankees for the Carl Pavano contract. In 2004, everyone wanted a piece of Pavano, and the Yanks were bidding against the Red Sox, Tigers and Orioles, to name a few of the teams involved. Who knew that Carl Pavano, who had just thrown back-to-back 200-inning seasons, would utterly break down?
This week, when the Yankees officially welcome Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera back into the fold, the Carl Pavano Era will come to an ignoble end. The Yankees are going to release Pavano and sign him to a Minor League deal for the purposes of rehab and insurance.
That’s not the funny part though. Here’s the funny part, courtesy of George King:
Pavano, 31, can’t return to Arizona because his questionable work ethic ticked off fitness guru Brett Fischer last winter. Pavano is leaning toward accepting the Yankees’ minor-league offer so he can have a place to rehab his elbow. By keeping him in the system, the Yankees protect themselves from Pavano healing ahead of schedule (pigs have a better chance of flying) and pitching effectively for another team.
So basically, the Yankees are worried that Pavano, whose work ethic is so bad that a fitness expert won’t take him on as a client, may recover faster than they anticipate? And I have a bridge to sell you.
The Yanks got 19 starts and 111.1 innings from Carl Pavano for their $39.95 million. They have to keep him in the Minors to collect the insurance on his contract. But do they really have to feed us this line? I guess the Yanks really do have that sense of humor.
The Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal, are close to a one-year, $3.75 million deal with LaTroy Hawkins. This move bores me. On the one hand, it’s a one-year deal for not very much money. On the other, Hawkins has seen his K/9 IP decline over the last five seasons (with a slight uptick last year), and just like every other Yankee reliever, he puts on more than a baserunner per inning. Is a 35-year-old really a bullpen upgrade? · (33) ·
With the Matsui trade talks swirling earlier this week, I was planning on writing up a defense of the Yankees’ DH and sometimes-left fielder. But Mike Plugh beat me to it. So check out Canyon of Heroes’ rational for keeping Matsui. Despite his numbers in the clutch in 2007, Hideki is one Yankee the team shouldn’t trade.
And a quick point that Plugh didn’t touch upon: If Matsui goes, Jason Giambi would become the full-time DH. Can we really expect Jason Giambi to do anything this year anyway? I don’t relying on Giambi is really the way to go. · (105) ·
I’m not sure why we didn’t see the Yanks connected with Japanese reliever Kazuo Fukumori before, but according to Newsday, they’ve announced their intentions to Alan Nero, Fukumori’s agent. You may remember Nero from this past week, when he approached the Yankees about a long-term deal for client Chien-Ming Wang, but cowered from making the first offer. Anyway, they’re supposedly one of 10 teams in on the righty, though I’m sure Nero is counting every team that has even a passing interest.
I’m not sure what to make of Fukumori. His strikeout rates are all over the place — it seems he’s either around 4.50 per 9 innings, or over one per inning, which has to give pause. For instance, he struck out 36 in 75 innings in 2005, and recorded a 3.57 ERA. In 2006, he struck out 55 in 58 innings, to an ERA of 2.17 ERA. In 2007, he kept his strikeout rate up — 33 in 36 innings — but had a 4.75 ERA.
Here’s a scouting report, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:
Might have emerged as a top-flight closer on a better team, but best years may have been wasted playing for expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles. Still, saved 21 games and was an All-Star in ’06. ERA jumped nearly two runs in 2007, but still saved 17 and maintained a strikeout per inning ratio. Has a formidable slider that tails toward right handed batters. Could emerge as a nice sleeper considering the number of solid closers possibly headed to the U.S.
Through all this, though, he’s always had a poor walk rate, which immediately has me saying “pass.” He also managed to toss only 36 innings last year, after having totals of 60, 48, 63, and 58 from 2003 through 2006. There’s just too much inconsistency there. If I want a guy who’s going to walk the farm, I’ll throw Bruney in the bullpen. He seems like he could do just as well as Fukumori at a far lesser cost.
MLB Trade Rumors also cites a source that says the Yanks think they’re in the lead for Ron Mahay (purple monkey dishwasher). We’ve heard rumors of Mahay seeking a three-year between $9 and $12 million. Once again, I’m not so keen on signing someone so old and so inconsistent to a long-term contract.
In bullet-point form for all y’all:
- The Shelley Duncan health scare was very serious, according to Duncan. He developed a serious blood clot in his arm and can only do limited upper body work until the January. Doctors say the scare has since passed.
- The Yankees DFA’d Andy Phillips. He cleared waivers but refused the Yanks’ offer of a AAA assignment. He is now a free agent. Best of luck to him.
- Andy Pettitte plans to pitch for the Yankees in 2009 also. The allure of a new Bronx ballpark was too much for Pettitte to pass up. Sounds good to me.
- Luis Vizcaino and the Yankees are through with each other. No big loss there. The Viz had three good months and three incredibly terrible months last season. That’s easy to replace for less than the $4 million a year he wants.
- The Mitchell Report may come out as early as Thursday. Merry Christmas, MLB.
- Finally, for those of you trying to access the mobile version of RAB but failing, point your browsers at http://riveraveblues.com/?mobi to bypass the faulty auto-redirect. We’re working on a better solution but for now, this is the best we’ve got.
After a poor finish by Mike Mussina and terrible starts by Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, the Yankees are emphasizing off-season fitness. Mussina and Abreu are both participating in new weight and strength programs while Cashman basically called out the Yanks’ delinquents. “We’re going to do a better job this winter with all of our players, so we can hit the ground running in spring training,” he said. · (19) ·