Open Thread: Accessing RAB

At midnight last night, the Hot Stove League officially kicked off it’s season. The 15-day exclusive negotiating window has ended, so free agents are now able to talk to any team about gainful employment. There will be more rumors than you could ever possibly desire, and even though the vast majority of them are either a) bullshit, or b) never going to amount to anything, we’ll still touch on a good portion of them, and definitely all of the Yankee related stuff.

Now is as good a time as any to let our newest readers know all the different ways you can access RAB. If you’ve been around for a while, then consider this a refresher course.

RSS Feeds
Hopefully by now you’re taking advantage of the magic that is really simple syndication, or RSS. If not, that’s cool, but I recommend signing up for something like Google Reader. This site will tell you everything you need to know about using RSS feeds, but in short, you can subscribe to the feed of your favorite sites, and instead of manually visiting each one multiple times a day, the information will be brought right to you as it’s posted, all in one convienent spot.

Our main feed can be found here, but we also have a feed specifically set up for our amateur draft coverage. The main feed will bring you all of RAB’s content, the second is just for draft coverage. As you can imagine, it’s not very active between mid-August and March.

Subscribe via E-mail
If RSS feeds aren’t your cup of tea, you can get RAB sent right to your inbox. Just stick your email address in the appropriate box to the right (the one that says “Subscribe to RAB via email,” duh), and all of our content will be emailed to you as it’s posted.

Has anything changed sports coverage in recent years as much as Twitter? Any breaking news will be posted their first, in 140 characters or less. You can use a (free!) service like Tweet Deck or Echofon to easily follow your friends, favorite sportswriters, celebrities, whoever has a Twitter account.

We have two separate Twitter feeds here. Our main feed is @RiverAveBlues, where the three of us will muse on various topics, post any breaking news, engage in playful banter with readers, stuff like that. It’s worth signing up just to read Ben’s knee-jerk reactions during the games. Our second feed is @RABfeed, which will automatically link to all of our posts as they go up. That’s pretty much all it’s there for, but it’s very useful.

If you want, you can also follow the three of us on our personal accounts: @bkabak, @joepawl, and @mikeaxisa. I can’t promise everything we tweet about will be about the Yankees, or even baseball for that matter, but you won’t regret it.

It’s probably our least utilized social media presence, but there’s still over 850 people that are fans of RAB’s Facebook page. I’m not much of a Facebook person myself, but I recommend hitting our page up to connect with fellow Yankee fans.

Contacting Us
If for any reason you want to contact us (maybe you have a question, or a link to a cool story, etc), the best way to do so is to use our little “Submit A Tip” box. You can’t miss it, it’s just to the right of the main column. If you want to tip us off to a trade rumor that we’ve missed, or something like that, please make sure you send us a link. Otherwise it’ll only take us longer to get a thread up about it.

If you want to contact us individually, then just drop us a line. Our addresses are in the far right sidebar. I know I haven’t been the best at replying at a timely manner, but my early New Years resolution is to improve on that.

So, you got all that? There’s a ton of ways you can have RAB’s content brought right to you, but nothing quite duplicates the experience of coming to the site, reading the posts, then debating the topics with our great group of commenters.

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Here’s your open thread for the night, so go ahead and talk about whatever you want. The Isles are the only local team in action, but it’s Friday night, go out and do something you’ll regret in the morning.

Jackson, Nova among 40-man additions

The Yankees have announced seven additions to the team’s 40-man rotation in advance of December’s Rule 5 draft. Among them are Austin Jackson and Ivan Nova. What a difference a year makes for Nova, who was selected and then returned to the Yanks in 2008.

To go along with this move, the Yanks also outrighted Shelley Duncan to AAA Scranton. I’m sure the Yanks would be happy to trade him for some cash. Here’s the full list:

Hector Noesi
Ivan Nova
Romulo Sanchez

Reegie Corona
Eduardo Nunez
Kevin Russo

Austin Jackson

Interestingly enough, the Yanks now have 39 of their 40-man spots filled, but the team is down a left fielder, a designated hitter and a starting pitcher. Either the Yanks don’t plan to resign more than one of their three big-name free agents so quickly or they will be prepared to cut loose someone on the 40-man if need be. Of those on the current 40-man, Christian Garcia looks awfully expendable.

Girardi named March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year

While CC Sabathia is up for SI’s Sportsman of the Year award, his manager took home some honors of his own. The March of Dimes named Joe Girardi their Sportsman of the Year (Venus Williams was Sportwoman) because of his achievements with the Yankees in 2009, and will honor him 26th annual March of Dimes luncheon on December 2nd. The luncheon is at the Waldorf Astoria (walking distance from Grand Central), and if you want to attend, give the MoD a call at 212-353-1143, or email jcarlo (at) marchofdimes (dot) com.

The MoD is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, and works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Congrats to Girardi.

Looking at two free agent amateur lefties

Keith Law’s list of the Top 50 Free Agents hit the tubes yesterday, and mixed among the Matt Hollidays and John Lackeys and Placido Polancos of the free agent world were two amateur lefthanders that won’t necessarily make an impact in the big leagues next year, but would still be a wise investment for some team(s).

First up is the guy you all know, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. He comes in at number five on KLaw’s list:

Chapman is the wild card of the free-agent market, as his track record is largely unknown, he’s barely thrown for clubs since defecting and he’s represented by agents who haven’t handled a free agent of this magnitude before. When Chapman is on, he’ll show No. 1 starter stuff, with a fastball in the mid-90s (and yes, as high as 101 mph) with good tail and a mid-80s slider that will show plus with legitimate tilt, although the latter pitch isn’t consistent. He does have a soft changeup but lacks feel for it and pushes it out of his hand rather than selling it with good arm speed. His command isn’t good, and he’s more thrower than pitcher, with a very loose arm that makes the velocity come out easily. Since defecting, he has worked on his body and scouts who’ve seen him recently say he’s stronger and in better overall shape. He might be a No. 1 starter; he might be an ace closer; he might be a mountain of frustration. Is that worth $60 million? Or the fourth- or fifth-biggest contract of the offseason? Not to me, but he’s worth some eight-figure amount because of the almost limitless upside.

We do know that the Yanks’ brass met with Chapman during Game Six of the ALCS, although we don’t know the nature of the meetings. For what it’s worth, Chapman has met with a bunch of other teams as well, including the Mets and Red Sox.

I’m still not convinced Chapman will get the $50-60M that’s been rumored. He’ll surely get more than the $15.1M deal Stephen Strasburg got because he’s a true free agent, but in the end he’s still just a raw 21-year-old kid that’s not quiet Major League ready. Realistically, there’s not much of a difference between Chapman and what Andrew Brackman was coming out of college. Brackman had the elbow issue, sure, but the scouting report was pretty similar. Of course Chapman’s a lefty, which is a plus.

The second amateur pitcher on KLaw’s list is another Cuban southpaw, 19-year-old Noel Arguelles. He checks in at number ten:

Arguelles defected from the Cuban junior national team with current Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias in the summer of 2008 and is just now at the point where he’s ready and able to sign with a major league team. Arguelles is 19 and already pitches with a solid-average fastball, although before he defected he had worked as high as 91-94 and will probably return there once he’s throwing on a regular schedule again. His changeup projects better than his curveball, with the change a potentially plus pitch. What everyone notices about Arguelles is his body — loose, lean, athletic, with good projection; his new agents took him underground for a few weeks to get him back into playing shape and the results have definitely impressed. If he was an American high school or junior college player, he’d be a solid first-rounder with a chance to be a top-10 guy and would probably be a $4 million bonus baby. As a free agent, he should easily double that.

Here’s a clip of Arguelles throwing a bullpen, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus’ Kiley McDaniel. The Yanks have been connected to Arguelles in the past, on more than one occasion too.

Chapman gets all the hype, but Arguelles is no slouch. In fact, if you’re talking bang for the buck, Arguelles at say $8M is probably a better value than Chapman at $20M. There would also be less pressure to get him to big leagues as quickly as possible. Klaw’s scouting report makes him sound a lot like Manny Banuelos, though he looked to be a little taller with more room to fill out than the 5′-10″, 160 lb Banuelos. I doubt he’s as polished as Banuelos though, few kids that age are.

While the amateur draft gets most of the attention, the Yanks have done a tremendous job bringing in lesser known, but still high caliber international free agents on reasonable contracts. For some reason, Cuban defectors cost more than their Dominican or Venezuelan counterparts, even though the skill set and level of polish may be the same. Maybe it has to do with the level of competition faced, which is negligible in most of Latin American, but pretty good in Cuba (although not as good as it had been in years past).

Although my knowledge of both Chapman and Arguelles is elementary at best, it seems like it would be wiser to take the money that could be used to sign Chapman, and instead sign Arguelles plus some other players, maybe even a Major League free agent. Of course, we’re talking about the Yankees here, so they can afford to do both. What do you think?

RAB Live Chat

Yanks say Swish not being shopped, obviously

Yesterday afternoon, a low-level rumor by Bob Nightengale concerning the Yanks’ reportedly making Nick Swisher available took the Internet by storm, and we debunked and contextualized it. Late last night, one of George A. King III’s Yankee sources denied the rumor and said that Swisher isn’t being “shopped.” Of course, he’s not being shopped, but as I said yesterday, if the right offer comes around, he’s available. Nick Swisher is definitely not untradeable.

Dodgers a possibility for Wang?

The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is December 12, just a few weeks away. The Yankees will have decisions to make on a few players, including Melky Cabrera, Brian Bruney, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre. Chances are the Yankees will offer arbitration to all four, though I still think there’s a chance they’ll non-tender Bruney. The biggest decision they face, though, is on Chien-Ming Wang. The Taiwanese righty might have already thrown his last pitch in pinstripes.

We learn this morning, via MLBTR, that Wang would consider pitching for the Dodgers. Really, he’ll probably consider pitching for all 30 teams, but the Dodgers have a comfort factor. Wang, always described as shy, would have not only two familiar coaches in Joe Torre and Larry Bowa (Don Mattingly, too), but he’d also have former schoolmate Hong-Chih Kuo. In picking his 2010 team, that will probably play a part for Wang.

Just because there’s a connection, of course, doesn’t mean that Wang is ready to don Dodger blue. If the Yankees do non-tender him, and the prevailing opinion in the NYC media is that they will, Wang and his agent Alan Nero will seek the best possible deal. Familiarity might help in that regard, making the Dodgers a strong possibility. And there’s no ruling out Wang re-signing with New York.

I’ve read opinions that the Yankees have mistreated Wang, though I don’t exactly buy that. They didn’t offer him a long-term deal, instead taking him to arbitration over $600,000 in 2008. It was a wise move by the Yankees. Wang, as we know, had two shoulder injuries before 2008, and the Yankees were proceeding with caution. The team and player then acted quickly last off-season, signing a one-year, $5 million deal before Christmas. Wang’s season-ending injury certainly had something to do with that.

It’s hard to see signs of disrespect in that. Not every pitcher gets a long-term deal from his original club. Some teams prefer to take that route, as the Giants did with Matt Cain. Others like to proceed with caution, especially with pitchers who have an injury history. Such has been the Yankees’ dealing with Wang. Now they’ll have another set of negotiations with Wang, presumably over a lesser contract that will bring him back for 2010.

Most of us, I think, would like to see Chien-Ming Wang back in pinstripes next season. We’ve seen him at his best, and if he can return to that level, or something near it, he can fortify the Yankees’ rotation mid-season. The Yankees have many factors to weigh in this decision, including the cost of keeping Wang around, weighed against the risk that he’ll fail. It’s doubtful Wang makes more than $6 million next season in arbitration, and my guess is that if the Yankees do tender him a contract that they’ll work out a one-year deal before the February arbitration hearings.

I think the Yankees have little to lose by offering Wang arbitration. That ensures that if he does return to form, it will be to the Yankees’ benefit. It’s essentially a $6 million bet on his health, though, and without his medicals in hand it’s impossible to make that decision. The Yankees have seen them, or else will see them. I trust they’ll make the right call.