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.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
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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.
Categories : News
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  • Old Yanks trying to stay in shape
    By

    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) ·

We haven’t spoken about our favorite third baseman in a while. And as the Yankees and A-Rod wrap up their contract negotiations, let’s check in on how New York’s favorite son is doing.

Selena Roberts, soon to depart The Times, checks in on A-Rod’s properties in Florida. He is not a very good landlord, she finds. In 2004, A-Rod, flush with cash and arriving in New York, decided to he wanted to invest. So he spent $58.7 million for properties in Tampa that, while aren’t slums, are not in much better shape.

Today, those properties are worth just – just – $46.3 million, and residents are none too impressed with the A-Rod management company:

A-Rod is the face on their leaky faucets, and yet his name isn’t in the welcome kit. Rodriguez’s brother-in-law, Constantine Scurtis, is the company manager — the one whose signature is on nearly $50 million in mortgages for properties in Tampa, according to records — but some of the cashiers and cooks who live at places like Newport Riverside know who holds their house keys.

To them, he isn’t A-Rod, a regular-season crackerjack on the verge of a Yankees deal potentially worth $300 million. To them, he is Tight-Rod, an apartment tycoon, who, renters say, has jacked late fees to $100 from $50 on units that run around $600 a month.

“He’s got everything, so why take money off our backs?” ” said Roberto Santiago, standing next to his neighbor, Ruiz.

Throughout the rest of the article, Roberts looks at A-Rod’s philanthropy and notes how he doesn’t stack up too well with Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods. His donations are meager based on his salary, and his big-ticket items have resulted in scholarships and stadiums named after him at the University of Miami. Whether you want to consider Roberts’ piece a hack job looking to tear down A-Rod or an honest assessment of an absentee landlord, it’s not a very flattering look at the future Hall of Famer.

In other news, A-Rod was supposedly hitting on Rumer Willis yesterday. Rumer is the 19-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. And, um, yeah, not so much.

Categories : Not Baseball
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While most relievers on the market have either signed multi-year deals, or are holding out for one, the Yankees are looking at an exception to the norm. They are reportedly in talks with LaTroy Hawkins regarding a one year deal worth about $3.5 million. I’ve never been a fan of Hawkins, especially after seeing him get knocked around with the Orioles in 2006.

Look, he hasn’t pitched more than 60.1 innings since 2004. His WHIP was near 1.30 in 2007, a post-2004 low, because he did something he hadn’t done for two years: allow fewer hits than innings pitched. His walk rates are decent, sitting below 3.00 for the most part. He also doesn’t strike out anyone anymore — he’s had a worse-than 2:1 K/BB ratio since, guess when, 2004.

Hawkins has had three good seasons, and he’s done a good job of fooling teams over the past few years that he’s actually a good reliever. He got incredibly lucky with the Rockies in 2007. Please, Cashman, don’t let that fool you. I understand it’s a minimal risk move, being only one year, but that would be a complete waste of $3.5 million.

He’s better off paying it to RAB. We do more good than LaTroy Hawkins will, and we’d even distribute it to other Yankees bloggers. So see, we all win. Bloggers get money, and the Yankees save themselves the embarrassment of having to cut a $3.5 million player in June.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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With the Winter Meetings over, is it any surprise that Johan Santana is still a member of the Minnesota Twins? Of course not. Not in this day of uber-competitiveness between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

In case you need anymore proof of this sometimes-Cold, sometimes-Hot War, look no further than today’s Providence Journal. In an article on the Santana talks, Sean McAdam admits that, for the Red Sox, it wasn’t really about Johan Santana in Boston as much as it was about Johan Santana not in the Bronx.

With talks with the Twins at an impasse, it has struck some that that was the Red Sox’ primary goal all along. They weren’t so much motivated by obtaining Santana as much as they were ensuring that he didn’t join the Yanks…

So the Red Sox, perfectly content, sit and wait. Particularly with the Yankees on the sideline — for the time being, anyway — the Sox feel no sense of urgency to sweeten their offer and hasten some sort of resolution.

While some Red Sox fans were excited about the prospects of Santana landing in Boston, once the Yanks dropped out, so did Boston’s interest. That’s just the way things work. The Red Sox were willing to push the envelope on the deal to force the Yanks’ hand in regards to Phil Hughes. Once the Yanks didn’t want to go higher, the Sox toned down their negotiations.

Who knows where Johan Santana will end up or when? The Twins seem intent to start the season with him in the rotation despite their status as projected third-place finishers in the AL Central. But then again, we never figured A-Rod would land in the Bronx once the Boston deal fell through.

There’s a long way yet, and this chess game is far from over. But it does seem as though Boston, despite not landing Santana, won round one. Who will win the war though is far from certain.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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