Hot Stove Open Thread

Ben, Joe, and I are going to be out at an RAB power lunch for a few hours to discuss our soon-to-launched China division with potential investors. We believe China is the future baseball blogging mecca of the world, so we’re trying to get in on the ground floor. The RAG (River Ave. Gulfstream) will have us back this afternoon, but in the meantime use this thread to talk about any breaking hot stove news. We’ll be sure to cover anything major once we get back.

Yanks check in on Jason Bay

The Yankees’ left field options got a bit thinner yesterday when the Red Sox signed Mike Cameron. It didn’t appear the Yanks were too concerned with Cameron, however, as Johnny Damon has attracted most of the attention lately. But there’s always the chance that Damon finds a multiyear deal elsewhere, leaving the Yanks with just a couple of options. One of them is Matt Holliday, though if the Cardinals really did offer him eight years and $128 million, I’m not sure the Yankees will top that. So who does that leave them?

One left fielder who hasn’t attracted much attention from Yankees fans is Jason Bay. He had a very good 2009 season and now, a free agent for the first time, he wants the security of a long-term contract. Could the Yankees be the team to provide that? It’s doubtful, but as they do with every possible target, they’ve reportedly reached out to Bay and his agent. No offer was made, and it’s not clear if they’re even interested in Bay, beyond leverage in dealing with Damon. But, as long as the Yankees have a left field vacancy and Jason Bay seeks employment as a left fielder, we’ll probably see the two names connected.

We heard over the weekend that Bay could make a decision soon, and is thought to have a five-year offer from one team. That will probably put the Yankees out of it. As Michael Silverman notes, “Reports early yesterday suggested the Red Sox had enough medical red flags to justify not going five years for the outfielder, who had shoulder surgery in 2003 and knee surgery in 2007.” If the Red Sox, a team that knows a lot about Bay, won’t give him five years, why would the Yankees?

The only chance the Yankees sign Bay is if they think that, while he’s not the ideal candidate, he is better than the alternatives. The choices now include:

1) Matt Holliday for eight years
2) Jason Bay for five years
3) Johnny Damon for three years
4) Melky Cabrera for one year

Which would you choose?

Yanks in a good position after day of pitching moves

It all started with a tweet from Ed Price. He talked to a source who said that John Lackey was in Boston taking a physical. Since free agents don’t normally take physical exams unless it’s the last step before signing a contract, the scene was set. The Red Sox would soon announce they signed Lackey. Yet that wasn’t the biggest move of the day. Later in the afternoon, after a short speculation period, the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Phillies worked out a deal that would send Cliff Lee to the Mariners, Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and prospects from both teams to the Blue Jays. It turned out to be the busiest day yet this off-season.

These moves all affect the Yankees in some way or another, so let’s examine the fallout.

Lackey to the Sox

John LackeyWith Lackey pitching behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, the Red Sox have an excellent top three. There are concerns about Lackey’s health, but there were greater concerns last winter about A.J. Burnett‘s health, and that worked out for the Yankees. That doesn’t mean it will work for the Sox, but it certainly could. The Sox have plenty of room on their payroll for Lackey, so the move makes even more sense.

The move hurts the Yankees a little, as the Sox figure to have a stronger rotation than last year. The move bumps Daisuke Matsuzaka to the fourth rotation spot, with Tim Wakefield or Clay Buchholz holding down the fifth. The move could turn into an even bigger one for the Sox if they trade Buchholz for a big bat, though they could just as easily keep their pitching depth. As they learned last year, it can dry up quickly.

Overall, the Yankees needn’t worry about Lackey and the Sox. They apparently didn’t have Lackey in their sights, so they shouldn’t mind it when he lands elsewhere, even if it’s with a division rival. He makes the Sox stronger on the pitching end, but the Yanks don’t lag far behind there, if at all, and still have the superior offense. Both teams will continue dealing this off-season, so we’re a long way from figuring out the winners and losers here.

Still, a good move for the Sox.

Halladay to the Phillies

The Yanks’ interest in Roy Halladay always seemed lukewarm at best. It’s not that they didn’t want him. It’s that the cost of acquiring him was a bit high. Perhaps if the Blue Jays’ asking price had dropped later in the off-season the Yankees would have gotten serious, but it never got to that point. Toronto found the offer it wanted, though it took the involvement of a third team.

Halladay to the Phillies is, for the sake of 162 games, a good thing for the Yankees. The only time the Yankees could even possibly face him next year is in a World Series rematch. There’s no sense in thinking about that now, so this is a clear win for the Yankees. It not only gets Halladay out of the division, but out of the American League. The Blue Jays figure to be an even softer team next year, which helps.

Should the Yankees have cashed in Montero and Hughes/Chamberlain for Halladay? I think that’s way too steep a price for one year of a player, though it would also mean signing Halladay to an extension and therefore keeping him off the market. The Phillies get that now. If the Angels or the Red Sox had acquired Halladay, the situation might be a bit different. But as it stands, the Yanks don’t really lose out.

Lee to the Mariners

The Angels lose both of their top free agents, Lackey and Chone Figgins, this off-season. Worse, they lost Figgins to the Mariners, their division rivals. Once the Sox moved on Lackey, the Angels figured to increase their efforts to land Halladay — or, if Halladay was Philadelphia bound, to land Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, none of them are options right now. The Angels are stuck with a rotation headed by Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, and Joe Saunders. The Mariners could easily overtake them in 2010.

For their part, the Yankees inquired about Lee, but as with Halladay found the cost prohibitive. Lee won’t do too much damage to the team out in Seattle, though there are some playoff implications here. That shouldn’t concern the Yankees too much. The unbalanced schedule means the Yanks will only face the Ms a few times, so they might see Lee three times, tops. That’s not a huge deal in a 162-game season. Again, the Angels are the team that loses here.

This move affects the Yankees, tough, as it regards the remaining pitching market. The Angels are now more likely players for Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer, two potential Yankees targets. Thankfully, it’s doubtful they’ll sign both players, so the Yankees could still add that high-risk starter even if the Angels go all-in for one — probably Sheets, as he has the higher upside. Other than that, the Yankees can proceed as normal.

What’s next for the Yanks

While all three pitchers could have helped out the Yankees next season, none were a necessity. The team has five prospective starters, so adding another one is a luxury. In their position it might be better to add a one-year player, as it leaves them flexibility to use their young pitchers in the rotation in 2011 and beyond. Locking down Lackey or Halladay, in addition to Sabathia and Burnett, would have been a huge commitment.

We’ll continue to speculate on Sheets and Duchscherer because they’re the guys who fit with the Yanks’ current plans. Short deals for high-risk players. It doesn’t always work out, but the Yankees have some depth. They can absorb a one-year deal even if that deal doesn’t pan out. We might see something soon, as Lackey’s deal could open the gates for more starters. After all, each team’s situation is a bit more clear now.

Could we see the Yanks pick up their left fielder in the coming weeks? I think that’s the most likely scenario. They’ll continue to monitor the pitching situation, but I think that adding a left fielder is still atop the priority list. Once they do that, we’ll have a better idea of what they have in mind for the rotation.

Quick Hits: Scheduling quirks and Kate Hudson

So two quick notes that nearly got lost in the crush earlier today: MLB announced this afternoon that the Yankees and Red Sox will open the 2010 season on Sunday, April 4. The game will start at 8:05 p.m. and air on ESPN2. The average temperate for Boston on April 4 at 8 p.m. is around 42 degrees. What a brilliant move by Major League Baseball.

Finally, capping off a busy day of news came the worst development possible for the Yankees. This has nothing to do with a free agent signing or some big trade. No, this one is all about A-Rod for he and Kate Hudson have reportedly broken up. At this point, the Yanks might as well just forfeit the 2010 season for she was the only reason they won. It is truly a sad day in the Bronx.

Open Thread: Neyer’s top 100 players of the decade

With only 17 full days left in the decade, there’s all sorts of  “the best of the decade” lists coming out. The best movies, the best albums, all sorts of stuff. So naturally, Rob Neyer put together a list of the 100 best baseball players of the decade, and as you can imagine, the Yankees are well-represented. Let’s round it up:

  • Alex Rodriguez ranked as the second best player in the decade, behind only Albert Pujols.
  • Derek Jeter wasn’t far behind him, coming in at number four. Barry Bonds was between the two.
  • Jorge Posada comes in at number 15, sandwiched between Vlad Guerrero and Bobby Abreu. He was the top ranked catcher on the list.
  • The Almighty Mariano Rivera checks in at number 24, the highest ranked reliever.
  • CC Sabathia was right behind him at number 25, and Johnny Damon not far off at number 32.
  • Mark Teixeira was named the 43rd best player of the decade despite not making his debut until 2003.
  • Good ol’ Andy Pettitte comes in right at the halfway mark, number 50.
  • Former Yanks: Abreu (16), Randy Johnson (18), Jason Giambi (19), Javy Vazquez (29), Gary Sheffield (34), Mike Mussina (35), Pudge Rodriguez (41), Roger Clemens (42).

That’s seven players on the Yanks 40-man roster that rank among the 50 best players of the last ten years. Including former players, 17 members of the decade’s 50 best players have worn pinstripes in that time. Dayum. Without doing the math, I’m going to guess no other team approaches that number.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The MNF game features the Cardinals in San Francisco, plus the Rangers and Isles are in action in separate games. There’s been a ton of hot stove action throughout the day, so talk about it here. Just make sure you follow the guidelines and be cool.

Rosenthal: Sox, Cameron in ‘serious talks’

The headline pretty much says it all, but Ken Rosenthal just reported on Twitter that the Red Sox and Mike Cameron are engaged in “serious talks.” Yankee fans have lusted after Cameron for the last few years. He brings a power bat and great defense to the table. With this move and their earlier signing of John Lackey, the Red Sox seem out of the market for Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. Will the Yankees jump in on a left fielder who isn’t Johnny Damon?

Getting to know Curtis Granderson

It’s been hardly a week, but we’ve already heard about all the wonderful things Curtis Granderson does both on and off the field. Anthony McCarron profiled the Yanks’ new centerfielder over the weekend, writing about his children’s book, how he was still getting A’s and B’s as a double major while playing in the minors, the money he’s donated to charity, and plenty of other great stuff. Make sure you check it out, fantastic read.