Winter Meetings Day Four Open Thread

(Scott Cunningham/Getty)

The Winter Meetings officially come to a close today, and the rumor mill should start to dry up around noon (probably sooner) after the clubs flee the Gaylord Opryland. The two biggest free agents (Zack Greinke & Josh Hamilton) are still on the board and the Yankees haven’t done a thing other than announce Alex Rodriguez‘s new hip injury. Somehow they’re actually going to leave this week with more questions than when it started.

The Rule 5 Draft starts at 10am ET and I’ll have a liveblog up for that, but otherwise this is your thread for various Yankees-related rumblings throughout the day. Here are Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s rumors. All times are ET.

  • 3:49pm: The Yankees have not contacted the Padres about Chase Headley, which is a little surprising. Even though San Diego says he’s off-limits, you’d think they’d at least ask to hear it from the horse’s mouth. [Chad Jennings]
  • 12:06pm: The Yankees spoke to the Mets about R.A. Dickey this week, but apparently they didn’t have the right pieces to swing a trade. I can’t imagine the PR hit the Mets would have taken had they dealt the reigning Cy Young Award winner to the Bronx. [Andy Martino]
  • 10:53am: The Yankees did not inquire on Michael Young because they don’t believe he can handle third base full-time. Can’t say I disagree. [Joel Sherman]
  • 10:49am: Cashman met with reporters during the Rule 5 Draft and said he’s been engaged in trades more than free agents so far. [Chad Jennings]
  • 8:40am: Curtis Granderson is one of five players the Phillies are targeting for their center field opening. It’s unclear if (or how much) the two sides have talked and what Philadelphia could give up in return. [Danny Knobler]
  • 8:00am: Agents who have spoken to the Yankees get the impression that a clamp has been placed on the team’s spending. Brian Cashman is supposedly frustrated by his inability to act and is working with ownership to see what he can spend. This is ridiculous. [Joel Sherman]
  • Veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez is in the team’s mix of third base candidates. The 35-year-old has some pop, but he’s a sub-.300 OBP candidate. Gonzalez is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL and was considered a strong defender at short, though he’s never played a big league game at another position (even DH). The Yankees need to see him work out following surgery before discussing a contract. [George King]
  • The Yankees are open to discussing Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova in trades. This isn’t that surprising, they’ve always been a team that will listen on pretty much every player. [Andrew Marchand]
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Mailbag: Posada, Nunez, Burnett, Martin, Wilson

Another Friday, another mailbag. This week our focus is on players currently with the team that may or may not be next season, plus some miscellaneous stuff about C.J. Wilson and prospects. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar if you want to send in some questions.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Ryan asks: Do you guys think that Posada makes it onto the playoff roster?

I do think he’ll make it, assuming the Yankees get to the postseason, of course. We don’t want to jinx anything. Jorge Posada still has some value as a veteran pinch-hitter against right-handed pitchers, plus it won’t be a real chore to carry him on the roster since they figure to drop down to an eleven man pitching staff. I try not too put too much stock into intangibles, but we know Posada won’t be overwhelmed in a big spot in October, which is comforting (if nothing else).

Chris asks: If Posada does not retire at the end of the season do you see him trying to get a catching job in the NL or as a DH in the AL? I think he has a chip on his shoulder and would be looking to prove the Yankees (and Girardi) wrong.

I think he’s going to retire, but if he doesn’t, I imagine he’ll go to an AL club to DH. Maybe he’s open to being a part-time first baseman and primary pinch-hitter for an NL club, but I think that’s a big if. I see two likely destinations if he sticks around after 2011: the Rays and Mets. Both are close to home for him and could use someone for those roles.

Tucker asks: What trade value does Eduardo Nunez hold? Ken Rosenthal recently wrote that he has a lot because he’s hitting well and can “play” premium positions. What’s your take?

You all know that I’m not Nunez’s biggest fan, but there’s no denying the dude has some serious trade value. He’s shown that he can hit in the limited at-bats he’s gotten this year, and his impressive contact rate is in line with his minor league track record and scouting report. His defense has improved as the season has gone on (likely because he’s getting more reps), and he’s a legitimate shortstop. That last part alone is hard to find.

Let’s be conservative and says he’s a .320 wOBA, 25+ stolen base, average defense guy going forward. That’s basically this year’s version of Erick Aybar, who’s already a two-win player with six weeks left in the season. Five years of that guy at a bargain price will have a ton of value on the trade market. I don’t think that it’s an accident the Mariners wanted him in a potential Cliff Lee trade last year, legit middle infielders that are more than zeroes with the bat are pretty rare these days.

Preston asks: What are the chances the Yankees would/could trade or cut Burnett at the end of the season?

Maybe they’ll try to trade him, but I’m positive the Yankees won’t just release A.J. Burnett this offseason. If they do that, they’re still on the hook for his entire contract, so why not just keep him to see if he can give you anything, even as a reliever? For better or for worse, the Yankees are stuck with A.J. for the next two seasons.

Jeff asks: What do the Yankees do with Russell Martin in the off season? He narrowly qualifies as a Type A player. Do the Yankees offer arbitration whether he is Type A or B? Are Montero or Romine ready to take the job as a catcher in the big leagues? Could the Yankees platoon those two guys with Montero getting some time at DH?

The Type-A stuff doesn’t matter because he doesn’t have six full years of service time yet. You can’t get compensation picks for players you non-tender, and Martin won’t get those six years of service time until after next season. He’d probably get something like $6-6.5M his final time through arbitration after the season, which is a steep price but not the end of the world. The Yankees could use him as a caddy with either Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, breaking those guys in gradually rather than just handing them the starting catcher’s job.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Mark asks: Do you see the Yankees and Rangers getting into another testy free agent battle for C.J. Wilson this offseason? If yes, do you think he’s worth the high cost and whose spot in the rotation he would take? Thanks!

I have a feeling that we’re going to spent a lot of time talking about Wilson in November and December, so I don’t want to get too deep into it now. He’s obviously worth inquiring about, but I can’t see how in the world he gets less than Burnett or John Lackey did. He’s straight up better than those guys were at the time of their free agency, he’s left-handed, and he doesn’t have the recent injury history either. I like Wilson but I don’t love him, especially at that price. But as the second best starter on the market, the Yankees are bound to show some interest.

As for the last part of your question, I’m guess that one of Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon will not be back next year. Even if they are, it won’t be too difficult to free up a rotation spot for a pitcher of Wilson’s caliber.

Chris asks: I read an article that said the Phillies haven’t depleted their farm system in spite of all the trades of the last few years. A) is this true and if so, B) how is it the Yankees are seemingly one deal away from depleting their own? Is the Phillies system that much better?

To answer (A) first, the Phillies have traded 13 prospects (not counting J.A. Happ, who technically wasn’t a prospect) for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence over the last two years or so, and they’ve somehow managed to hold onto Domonic Brown. They started out with a very good farm system and have done a nice job of replenishing it by developing mid-round picks. That said, you can see the toll all those moves have taken on their farm system. They had to scrounge up a pair of Single-A kids to headline a package for Pence because they didn’t have the players in Triple or Double-A to get it done.

The Phillies are in the middle of the best stretch in franchise history and are rightfully in win now mode, because guys like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and even Lee and Halladay are on the wrong side of 30 and will see their skills decline over the next few years. Their window isn’t infinite, and at some point the well will dry up. It’s kinda like what happened to the Yankees in 2005 or so, but they obviously had a much higher margin of error given their payroll.

As for (B), it’s just a matter of perception. The Yankees could deal two of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances and still boast a very strong farm system with two legitimate number one type prospects (whichever one of those three is left plus Gary Sanchez), one super-toolsy guy with some major helium (Mason Williams), and a cast of rock solid prospects close to big leagues (Austin Romine, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Corban Joseph, etc.). Yeah, the farm system would take a big hit dealing two of those three, but it would still be in much better shape than half the farm system’s out there.

Hello, Phillies. We’ve met before, haven’t we?

Because of the quirks of Interleague Play, the Fall Classic match-ups these days often feature two teams who have played each other during the regular season. Long gone are the days when the only meeting between AL and NL rivals would occur during the World Series.

For the Yankees, 2009 marks their third World Series out of their last five in which they have already seen their opponent in the same season. In 1999, they lost two of three to Atlanta before sweeping them in the World Series. In 2000, the Bombers won four of six against the Mets before taking the Subway Series in five games. Although the Yankees had not played the Phightin’s since 2006, this year, the two teams met for a Yankee Stadium series in late May. The Phillies won two of three, but the Yankees captured a walk-off against Brad Lidge.

So much as I did with the Twins and then the Angels, let’s hop back to May and relive the Yanks’ brief meeting with the Phillies this year.

May 22, 2009: Phillies 7, Yankees 3 (Box Score) (RAB Recap)
WP: Brett Myers
LP: A.J. Burnett
HR: Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez

This game, I witnessed from the Grandstand at Yankee Stadium, and it was an ugly one. Jimmy Rollins started the game off with a lead-off home run, and A.J. Burnett had absolutely nothing. He would allow three home runs on the night, including Carlos Ruiz’s first long ball of the season. It was vintage ugly Burnett – 6 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 ER – and the Yanks were down 5-0 before they managed to plate a run.

For the Yankees, this game could have been a potential turning point in the season. Chien-Ming Wang, coming back from a sore hip, made his not-so-triumphant return to the mound in the Bronx. He threw three innings but allowed a pair of runs on six hits and a walk. In fact, one of the runs scored on this blast by Ibanez. The ball traveled an estimated 477, and it was the longest long ball at Yankee Stadium this year. Ibanez, however, after that home run, hit just .235/.315/.468 over his final 387 plate appearances.

Meanwhile, the seven combined home runs could be a harbinger of things to come for the World Series. The Yankees and Phillies play in hitter-friendly parks, and these two teams love to homer.

[Read more…]

Previewing the weekend with Crashburn Alley

Although the first weekend of Interleague Play was once reserved for geographic rivalries, this year will be different as the Yankees will host the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Now, you might be asking, “Who are they? What should we know about them?” Stay tuned.

As sports fans in New York, we pretend not to know much about Philadelphia and their teams. There is, of course, a bitter rivalry between Eagles and Giants fans, between Northern Jersey residents and Philadelphians, between Santa Claus and batteries. We know that cheese steaks are delicious — provolone is the way to go — and Philadelphia could become a surrogate sixth borough if this whole high-speed rail thing happens. But what about the Phillies?

To prepare for the weekend, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley e-mailed me about doing previews on each other’s sites. My Yankees preview went live on his site last night, and you can find it here. Below are Bill’s answers to my questions. Bring on the Phillies, I say. We can handle ‘em.

1. I know that New York and Philadelphia sports fans have a rather uneasy relationship. There’s no love lost between fans of the Giants and fans of the Eagles. But considering the esteem in which Yankee fans generally hold the Mets, shouldn’t Yankee fans also root for the Phillies?

[Read more…]

An AL East sweep

In their illustrious history, the Phillies have had little success in the World Series, garnering just one title in all of their years. There’s an interesting hitch to this history of title losses: The team has faced and lost to the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays in the World Series. If Tampa wins, the Phillies will become the first team to lose a World Championship to each of the current AL East teams. This historical failure would truly set the bar for a team that has 10,098 regular season losses. (Hat tip to The Big Lead)