The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for December, 2009

Silent night12.25.09

As we expected, not a whole lot going on in baseball land tonight which leaves you free to watch Kobe vs. LeBron and/or the NFL (if you happen to live in one of those places that actually gets the NFL Network). I’m headed out to see “Up in the Air.”

It seems that the Mets are taking a chance on rehabbing Kelvim Escobar, the former Angels starter/reliever who is trying to make a comeback. With him headed to Queens and Justin Duchscherer apparently going back to California, that leaves Ben Sheets as the obvious “reclamation project” pitcher still out there.

Sheets is someone we’ve all talked about since the offseason began, and my thinking on him is this: Great idea, would love to have him but not at anything close to what he’s asking. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Sheets getting anything close to the $12 million he was reportedly seeking earlier, but even if it dropped considerably I’d still be hesitant. Big upside, to be sure, but given his injury history, big risk, too.

The Yankees don’t figure to be players for Sheets, but it’ll be interesting to see which GM decideds to spend big and roll the dice.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 120 Comments →

Holiday inventory12.25.09

Merry Christmas, everyone. Hope Santa visited all of you expecting him and that the rest of your day is restful and relaxing.

Since the Yankees still have one noticeable item left on their shopping list, I thought it might make sense to get a complete list of available outfielders. Fortunately, there’s one right here – scroll down a little – and it’s interesting to peruse the names.

Three that stick out for me? Xavier Nady, Reed Johnson and Jonny Gomes. Nady, obviously, you know about and the question with him is going to be his health. Two major surgeries is a lot for guy who isn’t a pitcher, but there’s no doubt that – when healthy – Nady can play.

Johnson doesn’t have great numbers but could be effective in a platoon (check out his splits) while Gomes has had a very up-and-down career but put together a pretty solid season last year with the Reds. He’s got some pop, has a fiery spirit and always struck me as a pretty courageous kid. His defense isn’t great, but any of the less-expensive guys will come with some warts. It’s just a matter of what the Yankees are willing to accept.

Could the Yankees end up with Matt Holliday? Sure. They could. They could also make a trade. But at this point it seems like the most likely scenario is for them to go with a lower-profile option in left, which is why there’s nothing wrong with mining this list for someone who might just turn out to be a real bargain.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 308 Comments →

Happy holidays from middle America12.25.09

Word is, it might actually snow in Sikeston, Missouri today. A white Christmas is a rare thing where I grew up, so some people — my mother being one of them — are pretty excited about the possibility.

Of course, we’re talking about two or three inches at the absolute most. If my mother ever dealt with real snow, her sense of excitement might change.

Today I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday. Like Sam said last night, I wouldn’t expect much news through the weekend, but I’m sure we’ll both be checking in from time to time just the same.

The number of kind of emails and holiday wishes I’ve gotten the past few days have been amazing. Thank you all for welcoming me into your world. Let’s all enjoy the holiday season and get ready for that next sacred day on the calendar.

Pitchers and catchers.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 549 Comments →

And to all, a good night12.24.09

The Yankees, like most businesses, shut down their offices earlier today for the Christmas holiday. I expect things will be quiet with them – if not throughout baseball – for a few days, at least.

Certainly the Yankees have given their fans plenty of gifts this month: A new outfielder, a new pitcher and a new (old) DH. At the very least that’s a much better haul than Mets fans will be unwrapping tomorrow morning.

Thanks so much to all of you who have sent holiday wishes over the past few weeks. I – and I know Chad feels the same way – truly appreciate hearing from all of you. I’m grateful to be part of such a terrific community.

From my family (and the entire LoHud family) to yours: Happy Holidays.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 246 Comments →

DeRosa leaning toward San Francisco12.24.09

One thing I didn’t allow for when I planned this trip: My sister got engaged a few months ago and is in full wedding-planning mode. That makes computer time at my parents’ house a bit tough to come by.

But, it’s finally my turn.

Buster Olney is reporting that Mark DeRosa is leaning toward accepting a two-year offer from the Giants. He’s been a popular subject around here for obvious reasons — he can it pretty well for a guy who can play just about anywhere — but I’m not sure he falls into the bargain category that Brian Cashman is supposed to be shopping for.

Justin Duchscherer is officially out of the mix, having signed back with Oakland. One year at $5.5 million seems about right to me. He could be worth much more if he regains his 2008 form, but there’s considerable risk involved. The chances of him coming to the Yankees might never have been good, but they certainly became tiny after the Javier Vazquez trade.

Also, Matt Capps is off the market, having signed with Washington. Capps was kind of the highlight of the non-tenders this winter. He’ll get a chance to close for the Nationals, which means an eight-save season isn’t out of the question!

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 612 Comments →

Waiting for a bargain?12.24.09

It has become a popular theory that the longer that Matt Holliday and Jason Bay remain on the market, the greater the chance that the Yankees (or Red Sox) will swoop in and take one of the high-priced free agents on some kind of bargain deal.

There’s nothing wrong with this logic; in a lot of ways, it makes sense. I just still don’t think it will happen.

Is Holliday a great player? Sure he is. But even if the Yankees were willing to give ANOTHER long-term, huge-money deal to a position player, I’m not convinced that Holliday is worth it. The Yankees stretched themselves last year for Teixeira, who has an OPS+ of 141 from 2004-09, and averaged 39 homers and 127 RBI per 162 games during that time.

Holliday, during the same six-year period, had an OPS+ of 137 while averaging 31 and 119 (much of it in power-friendly Coors Field). Close, to be sure, and pretty fantastic but even at a “bargain” price it’s hard to justify the Yankees taking the leap. The Cardinals have already reportedly offered Holliday a contract for approximately $16 million a year for up to eight years – an offer that didn’t apparently didn’t interest Holliday/Scott Boras.

Assuming they “settle” for something around that initial offer if the market is as depressed as some people think, you can certainly understand the Yankees still not being interested. They targeted their blockbuster deal a year ago and went the extra mile to get Teixeira (and obviously it paid off, at least so far).

Is it a lock they won’t get Holliday, too? Never say never. But even at “bargain” prices you can’t blame the Yankees for shopping elsewhere.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 121 Comments →

Minor moves: No more Chris Stewart12.24.09

After two good years with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, catcher Chris Stewart has moved on. It seems his role will be filled by Mike Rivera, who has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. Rivera has 181 games of big league experience, and he’ll likely backup Jesus Montero in Triple-A.

Rivera is worth knowing because, if the Yankees need a catcher during the season, Rivera could get a Kevin Cash-style call-up.

According to Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions, Stewart has signed a minor league deal with the Padres. Yankees minor league free agent Jay Stephens signed with the Phillies with Cody Ransom and former Yankees minor league catcher Kevin Nelson. One-time Yankees spot starter Matt DeSalvo signed with the Marlins, as did former Yankees minor league closer Scott Strickland.

The only new Yankees signing reported is outfielder Javier Herrera, who looks to be little more than Double-A depth. He was once a fairly well-regarded prospect with the A’s, but he’s dealt with a series of injuries and was released last year. He’ll be 25 in April and has just five games of Triple-A experience.

Mark Newman said this week that he expects more minor league signings to be announced soon after the new year.

Quite the opposite of signings, some Yankees minor leaguers have been released: RHP Pablo Hernandez, RHP Alejandro Martinez, RHP Paul Patterson, RHP Brett Smith, RHP Jeff Williams, LHP Edwin Walker, 1B Chris Smith, OF Tommy Baldridge, OF Mitch Delaney, OF Chad Gross. If you’ve heard of any of them, it might be Smith, who had some prospect buzz for a while before injury problems. Williams came up from Low-A to pitch two Triple-A innings this year when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre staff was thin. He was way out of his league, but he pitched two scoreless. Good guy.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 599 Comments →

A few late night notes12.23.09

Just a few PM nuggets for those of you still surfing on this Christmas Eve eve (or, as some of us call it, The-Night-Before-the Night-Before-the-Day-We-Eat-Chinese-and-Go-to-the-Movies):

• Interesting article here where Jayson Stark argues that Albert Pujols is the runaway Player of the Decade. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about who should get that title but my first thought was that he’s absolutely right. I think my biggest quibble with his list was having Mariano Rivera too low (Ichiro, too).

• The Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted Brian Cashman as its MLB Executive of the Year. One would imagine Cash will be wearing his Kryptonite suit when he goes up to receive his gold-plated pot o’ chowdah.

• Speaking of Boston-New York news: Um … really? How sad is this?

• In reliever news, Matt Capps is going to Washington and Fernando Rodney looks like he’ll be the new closer in Anaheim. How about the decline of the Angels relievers over the past few years? K-Rod to Brian Fuentes and now Fernando Rodney? Ugh. At this point, you kind of have to like the Mariners in the West, no?

That’s it for us tonight. If you’re traveling tomorrow, be safe.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 136 Comments →

“Major Victory for the Yankees”12.23.09

Most of the Javier Vazquez trade analysis I’ve read seems pretty positive for the Yankees.

The Hardball Times projects Vazquez to be “well-above average” even after moving to the American League East. Keith Law calls him, “one of the most valuable pitchers in his league in most years.” Former scout Frankie Piliere calls the trade a “major victory for the Yankees.” He writes that the Yankees rotation depth is now as good as any team in baseball.

Of the lost Yankees, it’s Melky Cabrera and Mike Dunn who are most familiar in New York, but it’s Arodys Vizcaino who was the key prospect in the trade.

It’s true that Vizcaino is a high-ceiling pitcher, but it’s also true that he’s 19 years old and a long, long way from the big leagues. A lot can happen between now and then. Patrick Teale calls him a future ace, Baseball America calls him polished but with a lot of work to do and Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the Yankees No. 2 prospect, a grade above Manny Banuelos and Zach McAllister.

Tough to lose that much potential, but Vazquez is durable, consistent and there’s a solid chance he could net a first-round pick in 2011. For a Yankees team that is almost certainly going to have at least one young starter (Hughes or Chamberlain), one starter with a history of injuries (Burnett) and one 37-year-old starter (Pettitte), adding durability and reliability to the back of the rotation seems like a plus.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 390 Comments →

Three soundbites12.23.09

The Yankees had a conference call for a second straight day, this time with Nick Johnson and Brian Cashman (after yesterday’s Javy Vazquez/Cashman version). Johnson isn’t the most talkative fellow – though he is a very, very nice guy – and Cashman didn’t have all that much different to say from yesterday, but there were still three soundbites that I found interesting:

1. “He doesn’t have any pre-existing situation that you hope doesn’t occur; he has just gotten hurt quite often. … We’re going to go into the laboratory and experiment with the ability to provide him with most of his playing time in the DH slot and see if that provides a higher degree of health so he can do what he does best, which is be a hitter – one of the better ones in the game.” – Cashman on Johnson

I think this is an important point to remember. Unlike, say, Hideki Matsui, whose knees had become a chronic and degenerative condition, Johnson has just been prone to freakish accidents: He gets hit by a ball and breaks his cheekbone, or runs into a teammate and shatters his femur. The Yankees are betting that by keeping him out of the field, the likelihood of a similar misfortune is lessened.

Beyond that, I also enjoyed imagining Cashman (and Girardi and Dave Eiland and Kevin Long) all wearing white coats and goggles as they mixed potions in a laboratory, only to emerge with – gasp! – A HEALTHY NICK JOHNSON!!!!

2. “I’ll stick with my approach and work the middle of the field. Right field is inviting and it’s short – you see all the home runs on TV – but I can’t really go up there thinking about that. I need to get on base. If you pop one, you pop one.” – Johnson on his approach to hitting

During our live chat yesterday (which you can replay a few posts down), someone asked whether Johnson or Hideki Matsui will have more home runs in 2010. Chad said Matsui; I said Johnson, because I have a feeling about Johnson and right-field at new Yankee Stadium. Much like Johnny Damon took advantage of that fence to put up big power numbers, I think Johnson – whether he admits it or not – will give the Yankees more pop than he’s shown in the past.

3. “We’ll see where this takes us. It won’t be a big-name situation, I can promise you that.” – Cashman on the Yankees outfield situation

Translation: Don’t count on Matt Holliday or Jason Bay wearing pinstripes anytime soon.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 674 Comments →

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