Step 1: Leave Yankees. Step 2: Grow beard

The Yankees organization prides itself on class and professionalism. Whether or not it lives up to its self-image is a source of constant debate, though they do take measures to ensure that their players represent the team well. One infamous policy they’ve had in place since George Steinbrenner took over is a ban on facial hair below the lip. You wanna grow a pencil-thin mustache? Go for it. But you can forget about a fu manchu. Sal Fasano learned that first-hand.

After years of having an organization tell them what they can and cannot wear on their faces, it’s natural for former Yankees to immediately sport beards. This year’s crop of departures are no exception. Leave Yankees, grow beard. I’d do it, too.

A few of the departed Yankees rocked beards before coming to New York. Here’s Johnny Damon, who started to grow one in spring training with the Tigers, but has since shaved. Maybe the wife doesn’t like it. In any case, it would take a lot to top the beard he’s sporting in the second picture. Oh, what luck. There’s a french fry stuck in my beard.

Photo credits, left: Charlie Riedel/AP, right: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP

Chad Gaudin also rocked a beard when he pitched for the A’s, Cubs, and Padres before heading to New York. His beard is not very remarkable, which makes me sad. I wanted to include a wiseass remark with each beard.

Photo credits, left: Jeff Chiu/AP, right: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

I always forget about Brian Bruney. I’m not sure what that says about him, or me, other than I don’t miss him in the bullpen. Great potential, just couldn’t put it all together. But he can grow one mean beard, which should certainly help his future earnings potential once he can’t throw a baseball 95 mph.

Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Duane Burleson/AP

Two more bearded former Yankees never got a chance to rock the facial hair before. Take Phil Coke for instance. He spent his entire career in the Yankees’ system, so he’s always had to keep a razor nearby. Once traded t the Tigers, though, he went all out, growing a mullet, a beard, and picked up the beer gut to go along with it. He kinda looks like Rod Beck, though I’m pretty sure no one will write a song about Coke when he passes away.

Photo credits, left: Eric Gay/AP, right: AP file photo

Finally, we get to Melky. He showed up to Braves camp with a beard, but it appears he has since shaved it. That’s a shame. Melky looks slightly more badass with the beard. Slightly. Which is an improvement upon not at all. I wonder, then, why he shaved. Maybe the women don’t like it.

Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Darren Calabrese/AP

The only one who didn’t grow a beard, it seems, is Hideki Matsui. He should rock the Chan Ho beard this year.


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.

Bruney might be headed to Atlanta

Via MLBTR, a team interested in reliever Brian Bruney contacted the Yanks, but was told “he is going to the Braves.”  This is the first we’ve heard about this, and frankly I’m surprised a team is interested in an inconsistent and injury prone reliever that’s about to get expensive through arbitration. I guess people love seeming those mid-90’s on the radar gun.

Know your arbitration-eligible Yankees

The MLB Players Association yesterday released its list of the 210 players eligible for arbitration. Maury Brown has the full list right here, and five members of the 2009 Yankees find themselves under team control and arbitration-eligible.

Before exploring these players, a few notes on procedures: Salary arbitration is available for players who have not yet reached free agency and players who are free agents. A player with more than three years but fewer than six — with some exceptions for what is known as Super Twos — can file for arbitration. Conversely,the player’s former team can decide to non-tender those players at which point the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

For current free agents not constrained by service time, clubs can offer salary arbitration to former players by Dec. 1. That move allows the team to recoup draft picks if the player goes elsewhere, but the team runs the risk of an unwanted or overpaid player accepting arbitration and sticking around. The arbitration discussed here is limited by service time and not contractual free agency. And so onto the Yankees.

Chien-Ming Wang — Service Time: 4.159 years; 2009 Salary: $5 million
The Yankees and their former ace have a tenuous relationship when it comes to salary disputes. In 2008, Wang lost in arbitration, and the Yankees made a big deal about saving $600,000 in the process. Last year, the two parties settled for $5 million in late December, but it’s clear that the Yankees are skeptical of Wang’s ability and future success. Considering the nature of his surgery and his recent ineffectiveness, they might have a reason for that skepticism.

Early on this off-season, the conversation has centered around Wang’s contract status, and rumors suggest that the Yankees will non-tender him. They could then try to sign him to an incentive-laden deal with a low base salary. Whether this will placate the sinker-ball specialist is up for debate. Some feel the two-time 19-game winner could test the open market; others say that his marketability in Taiwan is dependent upon the pinstripes.
Prediction: The Yanks will non-tender Wang but resign him to an incentive-based deal more favorable to the team.

Brian Bruney — Service Time: 4.164 years; 2009 Salary: $1.25 million
Last year, the Yanks and Bruney avoided arbitration after exchanging salary figures. Bruney wanted $1.55 million; the Yanks countered with $1.1 million; and the two sides nearly split the difference. Bruney had a worse year in 2009 than he did in 2008. He suffered through some early-season elbow problems and saw his walk rate increase while his strike out rate decreased. His ERA jumped over 2.10 runs, but the Yankees want to bring him back.
Prediction: A one-year deal worth approximately $1.7-$2 million.

Melky Cabrera — Service Time: 3.148 years; 2009 Salary: $1.4 million + $25,000 for reaching 525 plate appearances
Unless something drastic happens — Curtis Granderson, Mike Cameron or that long-rumored Melky and Ian Kennedy for [Insert Player Here] trade — Melky will again battle it out with Brett Gardner for the center field job. After putting up bad numbers in 2008, Melky rebounded with a nice 2009 campaign. I would expect the Yanks will settle with Melky but not offer him a long-term deal.
Prediction: One year, $2.5 million

Chad Gaudin — Service Time: 4.163 years; 2009 Salary: $2 million
A mid-season acquisition, Gaudin showed some good stuff while pitching for the Yanks. He’ll be 27 by Opening Day and will be a swing man for the Yanks next year. I doubt the two sides will head to arbitration here, and Gaudin should receive a bump from his $2 million salary.
Prediction: One year, $3-$4 million

Sergio Mitre — Service Time: 4.132 years; 2009 Salary: $1.25 million
Mention “Sergio Mitre” to a Yankee fan and you may find that fan fighting back the urge to scream. Just a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Mitre was awful for the Yanks. He managed to win three games but sported a 6.79 ERA. Opponents hit .320/.361/.509 off of him. The Yankees hold a $1.25 million option for 2010, and although Mark Feinsand doesn’t expect them to pick it up, I do. For that low price, the Yanks can bolster their depth.
Prediction: One year, $1.25 million

Yanks add Hinske, Bruney for WS

Update by Mike (6:17pm): Bruney’s on, Cervelli’s off.

The Yankees have until 10 a.m. tomorrow to announce their World Series roster, but early indications are that the team plans to change things up from the ALCS. Jack Curry reported earlier today via Twitter that the team has added Eric Hinske to the World Series roster in lieu of Freddy Guzman. Clearly, with action heading to the NL parks, Hinske had to be activated. The Yankees don’t need Freddy Guzman around, and it’s debatable if they even did in the first place. With pitchers hitting this weekend, the Yankees will use Hinske’s bat off the bench. He can pinch hit as needed and could even spell Nick Swisher in right field. This move was a no-brainer.

Meanwhile, according to a report in The Post this morning, Yankee brass are considering adding Brian Bruney to the World Series roster. I’m a bit bearish on Bruney right now. He hasn’t pitched in a game since Oct. 2, and throwing simulated appearances in Tampa pales in comparison to pitching in games. If the Yanks want to add him, however, they easily could do so by dropping a third catcher. After A.J. Burnett‘s showing in Anaheim last week, the Yanks probably don’t need to have Jose Molina caddy for their number two starter. Additionally, Burnett may have to start in Philadelphia, and the Yanks cannot afford to have a pitcher and Jose Molina in the same lineup. Therefore, the Yanks could drop either Molina or Francisco Cervelli and add Brian Bruney. We’ll know for sure by the morning.