Yanks want the coaching staff back

The Yankees have made no official announcements regarding their 2010 coaching staff, but according to Marc Carig, the team “told entire coaching staff that they’d be offered jobs again.” Hitting instructor Kevin Long is already under contract for next year, while Tony Pena, Rob Thomson, Mike Harkey, Dave Eiland, and Mick Kelleher remain in limbo. It’s good to know the Yanks want that crew back. The question now is of whether the parties agree on a price.

Heyman: Damon offer may be $10 million per for two years

In one of this news-and-notes columns from Indianapolis, Jon Heyman dropped in a brief rumor about Johnny Damon. He says that the Yanks “are expected to offer about $20 million over two years to keep him.” Back-up plans include Curtis Granderson, Jermaine Dye (yuck) and Mike Cameron. It’s interesting to see Heyman noted this offer because the Sports Illustrated scribe has been close to Scott Boras, Damon’s agent, for a while. Is this what the Yanks actually plan to offer or is this what it would take to keep Damon in the Bronx? Either way, I hope the Yanks don’t plan to keep Damon as the only starting left fielder. His defense simply isn’t good enough to warrant the commitment, and he would be far better suited for the DH/LF spot with an appropriate complement.

Open Thread: Evolution of a rumor

We’re just one day into the Winter Meetings, and already we have a week’s full of false reports. Exactly how these start is anyone’s guess. Maybe it was overheard in the lobby. Maybe it was an overzealous team official. In any case, most of what we’ve heard today is crap, but there is no crap greater than a report on MLive regarding Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

It all started with a relatively benign line from a Chicago Tribune post: “Yankees apparently are trying to put together a package of young players.” Notice the words “apparently” and “trying” in that sentence. It is complete speculation, and I don’t think it was intended to be anything else. Yet somehow, over the course of just a few hours, that morphed into “Tigers close to dealing Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson to New York Yankees.” Even in the body of the article, James Schmehl says that “the Tigers are closing in on a deal” with the Yankees, so we can’t just blame this on a copy editor. Again, no source — anonymous or not — was cited in this, other than the Tribune article.

Look, blogs and Twitter are great media tools. They allow a faster, more direct dissemination of information. But, as we’ve seen in Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, they can, like other types of media, be misused. Fans love a juicy rumor, and through reporters and aggregators we hear everything. But let’s just make sure we’re labeling rumors as such, and not escalating them for no apparent reason.

Buster Olney has an actual rumor on the Granderson part, something that is assumed to be speculation. Apparently, the Tigers seek both Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson from the Yankees. Speculative, of course, but if true it’s clear that Granderson will not be a Yankee. That’s way too high a price. Thanks to Doug for sending in the screen shot. It’s tough to link to ESPN’s rumor updates.

In actual Winter Meeting news:

Umpire Doug Harvey and manager Whitey Herzog were elected to the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to those two. I would have posted it at the time, but the wireless Internet is horrible at the Marriot. It was pretty much down all day, and spotty when it was working. As many others noted, it’s a shame that Marvin Miller still hasn’t gotten the nod.

The Yanks have checked on Kelvim Escobar, as they should. When he’s healthy, he’s nasty.

Via Ken Davidoff, Cashman’s priorities: “Pitching, pitching, pitching — and then left field.” Sounds good to me. First up: signing Pettitte.

And with that, we turn it over to you, the commenter, for this evening’s open thread. There’s plenty to talk about, so have at it. As long as we have no e-decapitations, it’s cool.

Updated: Yankees send Bruney to Washington for Rule 5 pick

Update (5:15 p.m.): The Yankees, according to Mark Feinsand, will receive Washington’s Rule 5 draft pick in exchange for Bruney. The Nationals pick first during Thursday’s draft.

Posted at 12:15 p.m.: Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees have traded reliever Brian Bruney to the Nationals for a player to be named later. There was talk this morning about Bruney possibly being shipped to Atlanta, however those are obviously false.

Bruney was set to earn a decent raise over last year’s $1.25M salary through arbitration, and frankly he was a non-tender candidate. Considering the Yanks are looking to trim payroll, this is about $2M they can better spend elsewhere.

Signing Pettitte makes the off-season clearer

While I’m out at the Winter Meetings, I’m doing some work for the YES Network. It won’t be breaking any stories — as I overheard from a journalist this morning, “Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney break all our stories.” –but it’s something. Andy Pettitte is atop the Yanks’ ledger, and I explain why he’s the logical place to start.

Yanks shouldn’t fall for the DeRosa trap

DeRosa at the WBCEarlier today, Marc Carig tweeted that the Yanks have had initial talks with Mark DeRosa’s agent, and plan to meet with him later this week. There’s certainly nothing wrong with kicking the tires on a player, however I hope the Yanks aren’t falling into the trap of thinking DeRosa is better than he actually is, something that’s plagued the MSM.

Don’t get me wrong, DeRosa is a fine player worthy of a roster spot on any team, however he’s not a three win super-sub capable of playing every position under the sun. He’s a soon-to-be 35-year-old that’s coming off wrist surgery with negative UZR/150 scores pretty much everywhere. Here’s what Keith Law had to say about DeRosa in his Top 50 Free Agents piece, in which DeRosa was ranked #44:

DeRosa is now recovering from surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury that contributed to an incredibly disappointing season for him after a career year in 2008. When fully healthy, he’s a useful utility player who can play four or five positions, but none of them really well enough to handle every day. The average power he developed in Texas has stayed with him through three more teams, none in parks as hitter-friendly as the Rangers’ stadium, and prior to 2009 he’d shown increased patience. He has a strong reputation for intangibles, which should keep his market fairly strong even with the injury and down year and may even have him land a starter’s salary, but if a team can grab him at a reserve’s salary there’s value to be had here.

From what I’ve seen on the interwebs, the general thought is that DeRosa could either a) replace Johnny Damon in left, or b) fill-in at a different position every day while everyone else on the team rotates at DH to stay fresh. The former sounds fine, however for the life of me, I can’t figure out why any player would accept the latter role unless he had one foot in the big leagues and one foot in independent ball. Think about it: would you want to go into work every day not knowing what you’re going to be asked to do? I don’t see why an accomplished player like DeRosa would accept a handyman role with the Yanks when other clubs will be offering full-time gigs at a set position.

As for the leftfield thing, DeRosa and Damon have actually been very close in value over the last four years, dating back to DeRosa’s breakout with Texas. Since then, DeRosa’s been a .281-.356-.448 hitter worth a total of +11.0 WAR. In his four years with the Yanks, Damon has been a .286-.363-.441 hitter worth +11.7 WAR. The raw triple-slash stats don’t account for the AL-NL difference, but WAR does. Of course, you’re not getting the last four years of either player. You’re getting the next year or two of them.

DeRosa is coming off wrist surgery, which I already mentioned a few times, and that generally saps a player’s power for a year or so. He’s also swinging at more pitches out of the zone (19.5% in 2007, 20.9% in 2008, 23.5% in 2009), and (not coincidently) he’s also making contact on a fewer percentage of the swings he takes (82.5%, 79.3%, 77.9% in those three years, respectively). Moving to the AL East, where power pitchers are plentiful, could lead to further regressing from DeRosa.

Meanwhile, we basically know what Damon is. He probably won’t ever be as good as he was last year again, however it’s not unreasonable to think he could maintain the ~.360 OBP and ~.445 SLG he posted in his three other years as a Yankee. His defense in left if awful, but DeRosa’s is nothing special, checking in at -1.1 UZR/150 in barely 400 career innings played in left. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t, even if the devil you don’t know is a gritty gamer that plays the game the right way.

DeRosa is reportedly looking for three years at $9M each, which should be an absolute no-no. The Yankees have no need to lock themselves into a player’s decline years for that long at that price, especially when there are equally qualified candidates available. However, as Erik Manning noted this morning, the Chone Figgins and Placido Polanco deals set DeRosa’s price tag in that range. Like I said earlier, I have no problem with the Yanks kicking the tires on DeRosa. In fact, I love it. It’ll drive up the price for whoever does sign him. However, I don’t want to see the Yanks bring him in and expect him to produce at an above-average pace, regardless of where they stick him on the field.

Photo Credit: Danny Moloshok, Reuters

Intriguing Rumor of the Day: Center field options

So here’s a fun puzzle to play with a pair rumors from Joel Sherman. First, he says via Twitter, that the Cubs “want Mike Cameron for CF, but so might Yankees, which could be interesting since Cubs like Melky Cabrera.” Then, in his next update, he says that a team official from a club interested in Curtis Granderson believes the Yanks “really want” the 28-year-old for their outfield. So what do you think? Sign Cameron for a short deal, acquire Granderson and flip Melky to the Cubs for some prospects? If only it were that simple.