Five prospects that are better than you think

Filling the winter months as a minor league blogger can be difficult; there’s no Hot Stove, and winter ball is either over by December (which leads to me to wonder why they call it winter ball in the first place) or tough to follow on the intra-net. Once in a while there’s a trade to talk about (the Sheff & Unit deals were godsends last year), but otherwise the winter months consist of reading updated scouting reports, compiling lists, and looking around to see who blew out their knee playing pickup basketball.

I’m going to do a two-parter over the next few days, first taking a look at some prospects who don’t get the respect they deserve, then looking at some guys who get a bit too much love. The players are in no particular order, unless you count alphabetical.

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Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees, or he’ll not pitch at all

If he’s going to toss a much-needed 200 innings next year, it’s going to be in the Bronx:

“The New York Yankees committed an awful lot of money to me and put it in my hands, gave me a player option and trusted me with that option,” Pettitte said in a story posted on Houston television station KRIV’s Web site. “It probably wouldn’t be real honorable for me not to do anything other than if I shut it down, shut it down or go back and play for the New York Yankees.”

Pettitte said he won’t let the managerial changes for the Yankees figure into his decision.

Sounds like good news all around. It would be tough to see him retiring going into his age 36 season, especially given his effectiveness last year. I’ve read reports that he has another week to decide on his option, though I can’t confirm that.

Honestly, does anyone not want Pettitte back?

Coaching staff all but in place

Via PeteAbe, though he admits that it’s not official:

Pitching: Dave Eiland

Hitting: Kevin Long

Bench: Rob Thomson

Third base: Bobby Meacham

First base/catching: Tony Pena

Bullpen: Mike Harkey

I don’t know anything about Harkey and Thomson. If anyone has any info, e-mail me or leave it in the comments.

Good news on Long, Pena, and Eliand. And it’ll be neat to see Meacham back in pinstripes.

Update: Jason from My Baseball Bias has the skinny on the staff.

Mo meets with Yanks

Mark Feinsand has the word: The Yankees met with Mariano Rivera and his agent today at Legends Field:

When asked if he was meeting with the Yankees, Rivera said, “Yeah. We have to see something.” Rivera declined further comment, telling reporters he would elaborate on his way out of the ballpark.

Rivera was one of five Yankees to file for free agency on Monday, the first day players were allowed to do so. The Yankees are expected to offer Rivera a three-year deal worth approximately $40 million.

No word on Mo’s comment after the meeting. But I think it would be tough for him to turn down that kind of deal.

What’s the deal?

Murray Chass at The Times comes in two flavors. One one hand, we’ve got the Bad Murray Chass who rails against VORP and feels threatens by numbers. On the other hand, we’ve got the Good Murray Chass who, today, takes A-Rod to task for being a phony and puts into words what many of us are thinking.

In his column, Chass writes about how easy it would have been for A-Rod to satisfy himself about the stability in New York. The Yanks named a new manager as soon as the World Series was over, and A-Rod could have called Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte to sound them out on free agency. Rodriguez’s claims of concern over the instability of the future of the franchise fall pretty flat.

Chass gets into the meaty stuff when he discusses the contract extension offer. While Boras and A-Rod didn’t return the Yanks’ calls, they knew that the initial offer would bring A-Rod’s deal up to an average annual value up to $28.5 million. They probably could have negotiated that up to $30 million. What’s another $1.5 million to the Yankees anyway?

So why didn’t A-Rod or Boras get back to the Yanks? I’ll let Chass cover this:

He was either calling the Yankees’ bluff that they wouldn’t pursue him if he became a free agent, or he knows there’s a team prepared to pay him more than the Yankees would have…

For Boras and Rodriguez not even to listen to the offer and not wait until the deadline prompts suspicion. In fact, the commissioner’s office, which was outraged by Boras’s untimely disclosure, is watching developments with a wary eye.

A year ago J. D. Drew, another Boras client, opted out of a contract with the Dodgers that had three years and $33 million left and signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Red Sox. Drew and the Red Sox denied it, but the Dodgers firmly believed tampering had been involved in the deal.

Frank McCourt, the Dodgers’ owner, chose not to challenge the signing, and the commissioner’s office did not investigate it. The Yankees, however, would not shy from a fight and would file a complaint if they suspected tampering.

Since Will Leitch’s piece in New York magazine hit the stands, these thoughts have been out there. Chass has finally put them to paper.

If I’m the Yankees, at this point, I make life hell for Boras and Rodriguez. When – and not if – Alex Rodriguez signs that next blockbuster deal, the Yanks should press hard on a tampering investigation. Boras and A-Rod wouldn’t have sacrificed so much money if they didn’t have another team waiting in the wings to ink the future Hall of Famer.

This isn’t even a matter of petty revenge for the Yankees. It’s a matter of baseball integrity. Thanks to last week’s New Yorker, we know that Scott Boras is not exactly a good guy and that he is actively working to reshape the finances of baseball in his image. It’s time for the sport to take a stand, and if A-Rod ends up being that Fall Guy, so be it. He should have thought of that before opting out.