Via Jon Heyman, A.J. Burnett has passed his physical and MLB has given the deal a thumbs up. The trade sending him to the Pirates for $13M in salary relief and two nondescript minor leaguers (Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones) is now official. Give ’em hell in Pittsburgh, A.J. Thanks for Game Two.
Happy pitchers and catchers day. Joe Girardi was/is late for a scheduled meeting with the media because of a lengthy flight delay, but Brian Cashman did hold court with reports. Here’s the round up of the news and notes…
- “It’s not going to affect my job,” said Cashman when asked about his divorce and stalker, calling the situation “very difficult.” He doesn’t believe his job is in jeopardy. (Dan Barbarisi)
- Cashman confirmed that Mariano Rivera will be late to camp. “What am I going to do? He’s Mariano Rivera,” said the GM. “He’ll get his eight innings in … He knows what he needs to do.” (Bryan Hoch, Pete Caldera & Erik Boland)
- CC Sabathia and Cashman had a conversation about the left-hander’s weight soon after he signed his new contract extension. Cashman called it a “healthy dialogue,” and the conversation included Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue. Sabathia lost 10-15 lbs. this winter (though David Waldstein says it looks like more) and will focus on maintaining it throughout the season. (Marc Carig & Boland)
- Michael Pineda will not start the season as the number two starter, with Cashman citing his need to improve his changeup as a reason why. My prediction? He’ll be the four on Opening Day, which is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. (Boland)
- Andruw Jones will report to camp before the rest of the position players because he’s working his way back from offseason knee surgery. He had a small tear repaired and played through the injury last season. (Carig)
- Brad Meyers, one of the team’s two Rule 5 Draft picks, hurt his shoulder lifting weights over the winter and will be behind the other pitchers in camp. He was a long shot to make the roster already, and this certainly didn’t improve his chances any. (Carig)
- Not surprising, but Cashman said they want a left-handed hitting DH that can play some outfield. Raul Ibanez is reportedly the top target, though Cashman didn’t mention him by name. The GM also said Eric Chavez’s return is not a sure thing. (Hoch)
- Last but not least, Cashman admitted that the Yankees weren’t trying to win the division in 2010. They decided they were better off winning the Wild Card and focusing on getting healthy in September. (Hoch)
(Photo via Mark Feinsand)
Via George King and Joel Sherman, both Johnny Damon and the Yankees are no longer considering a reunion. “We both are looking at other options now,” he said, calling the situation “unfortunate.” Brian Cashman added: “He called and I told him the truth. He is not the No. 1 option if and when I turn to DH options.” Sure sounds like it’s Raul Ibanez or bust now. Consider me unenthused.
Meanwhile, Sherman reports that the Yankees can’t afford both Eric Chavez and a left-handed DH even after the A.J. Burnett trade. It’s one or the other, though the brain trust is going to reevaluate things once the trade is made official. Great moments in posturing, right here.
Pretty slow day down in Tampa, which isn’t surprising since pitchers and catchers are scheduled to officially report tomorrow. Most of them are probably trying to enjoy the final day of the offseason. Here’s the latest from camp…
- Hiroki Kuroda arrived yesterday and played catch with Larry Rothschild, and today he got up on the mound and threw a 25-pitch bullpen session. Here’s a photo. “I’m aware there’s a lot of great hitters in the American League East,” he said afterward. “But it’s something I have to be on the mound and feel myself. I’m sure I’ll have that experience.” (David Waldstein & Chad Jennings)
- Yesterday we learned that Hideki Okajima failed his physical and won’t be in the camp with the Yankees, and apparently it was the MRI on his left shoulder that gave the team pause. I hear left shoulders are important for lefty relievers. (Waldstein)
Here’s your open thread for the night. The Nets already played, so the only local team in action tonight is the Islanders. It’s Saturday though, so I recommended getting out of the house if you can. Talk about anything you want here if you happen to be around.
(h/t to John for the video)
5:00pm ET: Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees are close to signing Clay Rapada to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 30-year-old left-handed reliever was released by the Orioles earlier this week. The Yankees are likely looking for a Hideki Okajima replacement after he failed his physical.
Rapada — not to be confused with Clay Zavada, the guy with the mustache — has 78 appearances and 52.2 big league innings to his credit with the Cubs, Tigers, Rangers, and Orioles. He’s held lefty hitters to a .153/.252/.220 batting line with 9.35 K/9 (26.5 K%), 3.89 BB/9 (11.0 BB%), and 42.0% grounders during that time (just 136 PA) with his mid-80s fastball, mid-70s slider, and funky ass delivery. There’s no such thing as a bad minor league contract, so hooray for LOOGY depth.
Daniel asks: Assuming Michael Pineda becomes the number two starter, CC Sabathia and Pineda (aside from being one of the more lethal 1-2 punches in the AL) must be the largest 1-2 in both height and weight we’ve ever seen in baseball no?
I’m a bit of a sucker for completely useless trivia like this, and thankfully we have the B-Ref Play Index to help us find the answer. Both Sabathia and Pineda are 6-foot-7, and CC is listed at 290 lbs. on the official site while Pineda admitted to being 280 lbs. yesterday. The former racked up 6.9 bWAR last season while the latter was at 2.8. So let’s do a search for teams with pitchers meeting those minimum requirements: 6-foot-7, 280 lbs., and 2.8 bWAR.
The results? Nine total teams have had exactly one pitcher satisfy the criteria, and it’s all the same guy: CC Sabathia, with the Indians (2002-2003, 2005-2007), the Brewers (2008), and Yankees (2009-2011). That’s it. Sabathia is such an extreme outlier in terms of size of performance in baseball history, it’s ridiculous. Now let’s relax the criteria a bit to see if we can actually get some results. Let’s use a minimum height of 6-foot-5, a minimum weight of 240 lbs. and a minimum bWAR of 2.5.
This time around we get 47 different teams with exactly one player meeting the criteria, though it’s only 14 different pitchers: Sabathia (ten times), Carlos Zambrano (eight times), John Lackey (five times), Gavin Floyd (four times), Josh Johnson (four times), Aaron Harang (three times), Chris Young (three times), Carl Pavano (three times), J.J. Putz (twice), Pineda (once), Justin Masterson (once), Mike Pelfrey (once), Guillermo Mota (once), and Jeff D’Amico (once). We still haven’t found a team with two productive pitchers that size though, so let’s drop the weight requirement all together and stick with the 6-foot-5 and 2.5 bWAR minimums.
Okay, now we’re talking. Fifty-four different teams have had at least two players meet the criteria while five had had three: 2003 Cubs (Zambrano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood), 1997 Cardinals (Matt Morris, Alan & Andy Benes), 1991 Mariners (Randy Johnson, Erik Hanson, Bill Krueger), and both the 1985 and 1987 Cubs (Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe). Dan Haren and Jered Weaver have one season meeting the criteria but figure to put a few more together. Same goes for Doug Fister and Justin Verlander. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have two such seasons together and should be able to add a third this year. Andy Pettitte and Sabathia are the list for their 2010 efforts.
Needless to say, Sabathia and Pineda have a chance to do something never before done in baseball history just by being themselves — physical huge and really effective on the mound. Add in Ivan Nova (6-foot-4), Freddy Garcia (6-foot-4), and Phil Hughes (6-foot-5), and the Yankees have a chance for one of the tallest rotations in baseball history. Poor Hiroki Kuroda (6-foot-1) is going to be stuck looking up at everyone.
After far too much back-and-forth, the Yankees and Pirates finally agreed to a trade that will send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh for two minors leaguers and $13M is savings for New York. Let’s round up some miscellaneous links surrounding the move…
- Burnett will take his physical on Sunday, and the trade should become official on Monday afternoon. Once that happens, the Yankees will move toward signing both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez for roughly $1M each. (Sweeny Murti, Erik Boland, Jon Heyman & Joel Sherman)
- Remember all that talk about the Mystery Team? Apparently it was the Phillies, who would have had to trade Joe Blanton for salary relief to make it work. That’s just … weird. Not sure I follow Philadelphia’s logic there. (Buster Olney)
- If you’re still curious about Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones, I recommended reading the trade recaps at Pirates Prospects and Baseball America. There’s a tiny chance Moreno turns into a semi-useful reliever, but I wouldn’t count on it. This deal was all about freeing up money.
Every since we first found out that the Yankees were shopping Burnett, I’ve been saying I didn’t expect them to trade him. I certainly didn’t expect them to get $13M salary relief in a potential deal. I figured they’d be lucky to get $8M back. Then again, I’m constantly wrong about this stuff. Saving that much on a pitcher they had very little use for is a good deal in my book, even though paying $20M for A.J. to pitch elsewhere is less than ideal.