No use for an off-season plan

Why make plans if they’re almost guaranteed to not work? That’s the off-season approach we’ve taken at RAB. We’ve tried it in the past, and it’s just a big waste of time. There are so many variables in the off-season that it’s impossible to nail down one scenario and hope the Yankees can do just that. Even the Yankees don’t operate in that manner. They make plans, sure, but it’s all fluid. Things change every day, and the plan can change with it.

The off-season is a time of perpetual uncertainty. Despite the constant flow of whispers on MLB Trade Rumors, we can’t be sure of their nature. Did an exec actually say that, or is it the reporter’s interpretation? Was the exec in question actually a part of the discussion, or is he himself getting the information second-hand? Who, exactly, is the anonymous source? Is it sincere, or blatant misinformation? The list of questions go on. It essentially leaves us right where we started.

I hope you guys are enjoying our almost-daily scouting the market series. It’s a way to present players who might be available and who might help the Yankees. It is, essentially, an attempt to look at the market as a whole, rather than pigeonholing a few players as the only ones who can fit the Yankees needs. What fun would it be if we created an off-season plan and then just followed, say, C.J. Wilson news all winter? That would have ended in utter disappointment when he took the Angels’ offer — more disappointing still, because the Yankees didn’t even submit a serious offer.

Part of this sentiment comes out of frustration. We spent a lot of time thinking of ideas and putting together posts. To see comments that outright dismiss the ideas presented, and then repeat some preconceived off-season doctrine, makes it all seem like a waste. Yes, those comments from from probably a quarter percent of our overall readership. Maybe less. But it still hurts a bit. There’s a big world of possibilities in any given off-season. Isn’t it more fun to consider all of those options, independent of the others, than constantly going back to the same talking point?

To be sure, playing GM is fun. You can kill a few good hours doing it with a friend. We’re guilty of that sometimes on RAB. I’m also not asking anyone to stop; it’s not my business how you want to spend your time. I just hope that you read RAB with an open enough mind to understand the logic behind some of the options we discuss. They might not be the best options; they might not be second, third, or fourth. But as the off-season changes, so do plans. It might turn out that the third best option at the outset is the best option by mid-December. That’s just the way baseball works sometimes.

Things could get a little slow from here on out. Clearly the Yankees don’t plan to make a big move. Maybe they’ll win the posting on Yu Darvish. But regardless, it doesn’t seem as though anything else big is on the horizon. Even in the general scene, the biggest signings are behind us. Prince Fielder remains, and Edwin Jackson’s destination could be of interest. Other than that, there’s a lot of mid-grade talent. It’s not exciting, but it’s what we have. I just hope we can have some fun with it.

Yankees sign Dewayne Wise

Saturday: Joel Sherman says it’s a done deal, the Yankees have signed Wise to a minor league deal. I assume he’s Triple-A Scranton’s starting center fielder when the year begins.

Thursday: Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are in talks with free agent outfielder Dewayne Wise about a minor league contract. The 33-year-old is a terrible hitter (career .277 wOBA) but a fantastic defender regardless of metric.

This would be the epitome of a depth move. Greg Golson was released earlier today, and the duo of Justin Maxwell and Chris Dickerson are out of options, so the Yankees could lose all three before the end of Spring Training. That would leave Colin Curtis as the club’s only not terrible outfielder at Triple-A when the season begins. Wise is a guy that could come up, sit on the bench for three weeks in case of an injury, then get designated for assignment.

Open Thread: Winter Meetings Day Four

Adam Miller appears to be on the way. (AP Photo | John Raoux)

Wow, so pretty crazy day, huh? It all started off in the wee hours of the morning when we found out that Yu Darvish is going to be posted, then it continued with the Angels agreeing to sign both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The Yankees made a pair of Rule 5 Draft picks and are rumored to have interest in both Manny Corpas and Adam Miller. Lost in the shuffle was David Waldstein reporting that the Yankees won the negotiating rights to Hiroyuki Nakajima with a $2.5M bid, a touch more than we heard yesterday. Also, Brian Cashman said this before leaving Dallas (via Bryan Hoch)…

“[Pujols] is a special player. I don’t know him personally, but I see what he does with that bat. It’s Montero-like.”

Please give that man a lifetime contract.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread as I fly back home. The Winter Meetings are always a blast, and this year was no different. The Browns and Steelers will be on the NFL Network tonight (8:30pm ET), and all three hockey locals are in action. There’s plenty to talk about, so have it. Enjoy.

Yanks close to signing Adam Miller to minor league deal

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are close to signing right-hander Adam Miller to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old was the 31st overall pick in the 2003 draft, but he’s thrown just 138 IP since 2006 (zero in 2009 and 2010) due to career-threatening ligament damage in his right middle finger.

Before the injuries, the 6-foot-4, 200 pounder from Texas regularly sat in the high-90’s with a wipeout high-80’s slider and a changeup. It was a true front-of-the-rotation package, which is why Baseball America ranked him as the Indians number one prospect every year from 2005-2008. Miller has had four surgeries on the finger, which is now held together by replacement ligaments from his wrist and calf. He returned to the mound for 44 relief innings this year, reportedly hitting 96 on the gun while working on his feel for the slider. This Terry Pluto article gives you a great idea of what he’s been through, kid sure sounds resilient.

As far as the Yankees as concerned, they’re doing nothing more than rolling the dice. Miller is still pretty young and showed at least some semblance of his former self this summer, so why not take a chance? If he comes up and helps out of the bullpen at some point, great. If not, no big loss. It’s a zero risk move.

Report: Yankees have been talking to Manny Corpas’ agent

Via George King, the Yankees have been speaking with Tom O’Connell, the agent for free agent right-handed reliever Manny Corpas. I wrote about him as a potential minor league target last month.

Corpas, 29, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since late 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. He spent the first five years of his career working the late innings for the Rockies, relying on ground balls (49.4%) and limiting walks (2.52 BB/9) rather than strikeouts (6.48 K/9). He’s still pretty young and has been very successful so far in his career, he’s pretty much the ideal minor league contract candidate. The two sides haven’t agreed to a deal yet, but they’re talking.

Yanks passed on final opportunity to get involved in Wilson bidding

Via Bob Klapisch, the Yankees were apparently given a final opportunity to get involved in the C.J. Wilson bidding last night, but chose to pass on the offer. Wilson agreed to sign with the Angels for five years and nearly $80M this morning.

The Yankees didn’t appear to be all that interested in the southpaw this winter despite their pitching questions, and in fact we’ve heard that they view him as more of a number three or four type starter than the frontline guy he was marketed as and will be paid to be. With Wilson and Mark Buehrle now off the market, Edwin Jackson is best true free agent starter left standing. Yu Darvish is going to be posted soon though, and the Yankees reportedly have “cautious interest.”

Scouting the Trade Market: Floyd vs. Danks

The trade of Sergio Santos from the White Sox to the Blue Jays signaled that the White Sox were beginning the process of rebuilding, a word which the GM Kenny Williams used himself. Yankee fans have long hoped for the acquisition of the Chicago lefty John Danks, and this was the clearest indication yet that he would become available by trade. Yet Danks isn’t the only pitcher Chicago is now willing to deal. They also expressed willingness to move righty Gavin Floyd. Given the Angels’ signing of C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, one has to wonder if the Rangers will be extra aggressive in their bid for Japanese righty Yu Darvish. If so, the best route available to the Yankees for the acquisition of another starting pitcher may in fact be a deal with the White Sox. All things considered, who is a better fit for the Yankees, Gavin Floyd or John Danks?

From a performance perspective, it’s difficult to see a lot of daylight between the two pitchers. Over the past five years, they’ve both averaged a strikeout rate around 7.0 and a walk rate around 3.0. Their career ERAs are only 0.07 apart (3.85 for Danks, 3.92 for Floyd) and their career FIPs differ by only 0.03 (4.06 for Danks, 4.03 for Floyd). For all intents and purposes, they get roughly the same number of ground balls.

From a pitching repertoire approach, Danks is your prototypical lefty. He leans heavily on his fastball, but thanks to the tutelage of pitching coach Don Cooper Danks also throws a mean cutter. This isn’t one of those weird Pitch F(x) classification issues, either. Cooper is famous for teaching his pitchers how to throw the cutter. Danks will also mix in a slider on occasion, but his real go-to offspeed pitch is the changeup. Floyd is a similar pitcher, throwing a straight fastball and, yes, a cutter. Floyd will also mix in a changeup infrequently, but his main offspeed pitch is the curveball. From a velocity standpoint they both sit in the low 90s with their fastballs.

There are a few key differences between the two pitchers though. To start, Danks is a lefty and Floyd is a righty. Further, Danks is a solid two years and three months younger than Floyd, and won’t turn 27 years old until the second week in April. Floyd does have a four-inch height advantage over Danks, though, standing in at 6’6″. The biggest difference is perhaps their contract statuses. This is Danks’ final year under contract with the White Sox, and he’ll become a free agent after this season. Floyd will make $7M this year and has a club option for $9.5M for 2013, so he’s under team control for one more year at a desirable salary. Even if the Yankees were to ink Danks to an extension after acquiring him, they’d surely have to pay him more than $10M per season.

From a performance perspective, the two are virtually equal. Danks has an advantage on Floyd in youth, but Floyd’s contract situation is more desirable than Danks. That said, Danks still seems like the preferred candidate amongst fans. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s a lefty and hearkens one RAB writer back to Andy Pettitte, or perhaps it’s his age and frame that leads one to believe that the best is yet to come. Regardless, the relative proximity in quality between Danks and Floyd will mean that the team’s rotation will be upgraded no matter who they get. Just as long as they get someone.