Archive for November, 2010
The other one of a kind • 11.27.10
Last night, the good people over at MLBTradeRumors — and for those who read other Yankees blogs, you’ll recognize the byline — broke down the free agency of Mariano Rivera. They examined three things: The good (Rivera’s track record), the bad (his age) and where he’s likely to end up (back in New York).
Here are three other things to consider about Rivera: Three reasons he’s not getting nearly the publicity of Derek Jeter.
Rivera is also a sure Hall of Famer, with no obvious replacement, who’s stuck in free agency limbo. But front office types aren’t going on the record about him every other day. Salary predictions aren’t floated in every publication. There is no sense of trepidation, uncertainly or confrontation. It’s simply not as big of a story for three reasons.
What have you done for me lately?
One season. That might be the biggest difference between Jeter’s offseason and Rivera’s. Had Jeter hit the open market in 2009, after his near MVP season, there would be a lot less hesitation about his next contract. Rivera is about to turn 41 years old, and at some point he won’t be able to do what he does, but there’s still a lot of comfort in that 1.80 ERA. His velocity is diminishing, and he has some aches and pains, but Rivera was still able to get it done in 2010. He might be older, but it’s easier to feel confident about Rivera in 2011 than it is to feel confident about Jeter.
It’s the years, not the money
This season, $21 million was a lot to pay for a 36-year-old shortstop, but $15 million was a fortune for a 40-year-old closer. This winter, Rivera seems likely to get less money than Jeter, but both are going to be paid a lot. The money difference isn’t the issue. To me, it’s the fact Rivera is reportedly looking for a two-year deal. That’s what makes his contract so much easier to deal with. Even if the Yankees can’t go year-to-year with Rivera, a two-year commitment seems significantly smaller than three or four years for Jeter. That’s true even though Rivera is a full four and a half years older.
Let’s face it, there’s only one Derek Jeter
Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. He’s a singular player in the history of the sport, but he’s not Jeter. He’s just not. He’s not on TV every day. He’s not on every magazine cover. He hasn’t been the face of the franchise for more than a decade. As great as Rivera has been — and despite the fact statistics say he should be lumped with Jeter — he just doesn’t create the same fascination. Can you imagine if, at the GM Meetings, Randy Levine had said he wasn’t sure what was going on with Jeter? Impossible. But when Levine said it about Rivera, everyone moved on. He might not be a lesser player, but Rivera is a lesser celebrity.
One more Derek Jeter post for the day. Why not?
The newest number comes from the New York Times, which is reporting that Derek Jeter is currently asking for four or five years at $23 to $24 million per season. That comes after multiple reports shot down an earlier story that he was seeking $150 million spread across six seasons.
As I’ve said, it’s always hard to know what to make of these numbers. It may very well be that the Jeter camp initially talked about a massive $150-million deal but never requested it. I may be that $24 million is a legitimate expectation. Could be that $24 million is a starting point from which the Jeter camp expects to begin dealing.
Whatever the absolute reality — wherever each side expects to end up — fact is, five years at $24 million per year and three years at $15 million per year is a legitimate gap. There’s a lot of room between those two figures.
A few minor notes • 11.26.10
Just a few small notes from around the minor league system.
• Baseball American pegged Manny Banuelos as the No. 6 prospect in the Arizona Fall League this season. “He worked on mixing his pitches better while in Arizona,” the magazine wrote. “He also improved his ability to pitch inside to hitters.” Bryce Harper, obviously, topped the list. He hit .343/.410/.629 in Arizona.
• Speaking of Baseball America: They have a list of all the 40-man additions in preparation for the Rule 5 draft. Some of the recognizable names: Zach McAllister with the Indians, Jimmy Paredes with the Astros and Jamie Hoffmann with the Dodgers. If he hadn’t been traded in the Lance Berkman deal, it’s hard for me to believe Paredes would have been protected by the Yankees.
• My friend Patrick over at Pinstripes Plus has an interview with new Yankees minor leaguer Scottie Allen. It’s an interesting read. He came out of high school with pretty much a fastball and curveball, but has since learned a changeup and slider. Patrick has the details.
• Keeping with tradition in Scranton, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees schedule was announce on Thanksgiving. Check out August. Twenty-two home games that month, including an 11-day home stand. Some guys might sign minor league deals with the Yankees just for that.
Big talk and big numbers • 11.26.10
Nothing has changed for Derek Jeter and the Yankees. Jeter is still a free agent, the Yankees are still without a proven alternative at shortstop, and the Jeter story continues to dominate the headlines.
Today, the big number is $150 million. That’s what Bill Madden says Jeter was looking for at the beginning of this mess. That’s a six-year deal worth $25 million per season.
It’s a number that’s hard to defend — and I would never suggest the Yankees should sign him to such a deal — but it’s also a number that’s hard to put into context.
It could have been a negotiation stance, a number meant to send a message without being seriously considered. Maybe it was a publicity ploy, a number made public to try to sway opinion. Maybe that number was never even introduced in the actual negotiations. Maybe it’s what Jeter believes he’s worth at this stage of his career.
We’re dealing with such huge amounts of money that the players always seem like bad guys in these situations. Truth is, this is their world. This kind of money flows through baseball, and it has to go somewhere. Hank Steinbrenner is right, the Yankees already made Jeter very, very rich, but Jeter lived up to his previous contract. He did all the Yankees could have asked on the field and off. Name another player who had a 10-year deal that never became a significant drain on the team.
During that time, Jeter watched the Yankees hand out bad contract after bad contract. Brian Cashman has understandably tried to end that free-spending approach — it was unsustainable at best, irresponsible at worst — but it must strike Jeter as odd that when it’s his turn to be paid again, the well is suddenly running dry. He knows what kind of money is out there, and it’s hard to blame the guy for wanting a significant chunk of it. What he’s worth depends on who you compare him to, and what you expect from him.
This negotiation is about ego, age, statistics, legacy, publicity, competition, history, money. It’s about the future of a baseball team and the future of a iconic player.
It’s never going to be as simple as comparing a set of numbers on a piece of paper.
Associated Press photo
John Sterling meeting fans in the city • 11.26.10
For those of you braving the Black Friday chaos, John Sterling will be meeting fans at Last Licks Ice Cream Store — also a sports memorabilia shop — in Manhattan.
Here are the details as they’ve been explained to me.
Yankees radio voice John Sterling is looking to put a few Pinstripes into “Black Friday” when he meets kids of all ages at Last Licks Ice Cream Store (245 East 93rd St.) in Manhattan on Friday from noon until 2 p.m., where he’ll greet fans and help them pick out the perfect Holiday gift. Sterling has broadcast Yankees games on radio for more than 20 years, and his signature calls are a huge hit with the hometown faithful. Fans can learn more at www.lastlicksicecream.com.
Looking for a bargain • 11.26.10
Controversial fact about my Thanksgiving: It involved absolutely no turkey.
My friend Jonathan and his lovely wife Lauren were in charge of the meal, and they went with a big chicken. I was uncertain at first, but it was outstanding. Our friend Brian got out of work in time to hang out for a while. Our friend Emily — Brian’s wife — managed to not go into labor (she’s due in less than two weeks). It was a good day.
Now that it’s over, it’s officially Black Friday. Time to find a bargain.
If everything goes to plan, the Yankees are going to spend big money on a shortstop, a closer and a left-handed starting pitcher this winter. But they might go bargain shopping to fill some smaller holes.
This is one piece Brian Cashman has admitted he’s looking for. Boone Logan is in place, but Damaso Marte is likely lost for the year and the Yankees don’t have another proven left-handed reliever on the roster. If the Yankees don’t want to pay the price for Scott Downs or Brian Fuentes, there are plenty of secondary options available. MLBTradeRumors pointed out yesterday that Pedro Feliciano — who’s already been linked to the Yankees — could fit as a lower-cost option.
I’m all for giving the young guys a chance, and in limited duty, Kevin Russo, Colin Curtis and Greg Golson gave the Yankees a boost this season. But I can’t imagine the Yankees going into spring training without at least one established option as a fourth outfielder behind Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. It’s basically a second chance at the Randy Winn signing.
As I’ve said before, I don’t think the Yankees need to prioritize a utility man, but I understand several people disagree with me. If they’re going to go after one, the Yankees clearly aren’t going to break the bank for a guy to play behind an infield of Teixiera, Cano, Rodriguez and probably Jeter. Even though I don’t see it as a necessary addition, I can’t see the harm in asking around about the price for a Felipe Lopez-type if they want to add a veteran presence.
It’s inevitable, isn’t it? Every team looks for more pitching in winter, and the Yankees will surely shop around for someone who might be next year’s Dustin Moseley. Maybe they’ll find a guy who could play a one-inning role, or someone to compete for a spot as a long man, or maybe a veteran to add to their long list of young pitchers who could be some sort of sixth starter.
Associated Press photo of Boone Logan
A day to be thankful • 11.25.10
It’s been eight years since the last time I was home for Thanksgiving, and I’m a terrible cook.
So, as always, I’m very thankful for friends.
I’ll be spending the holiday with some good friends in the city. Friends who actually know how to cook a bird, and know to trust me with nothing more complicated than a can of corn. I love this holiday, and I’m spending it with some of my favorite people.
I hope everyone out there has a similarly great holiday full of good food and good people. In honor of the day, we’ll offer a list of things the Yankees must be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
The emergence of Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes
Three Yankees infielders had a down year. The fourth emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate. Three Yankees starters suffered various letdowns –struggles for Burnett and Vazquez, an injury for Pettitte – but their fifth starter finally lived up to his tremendous potential. Cano and Hughes emerged as key pieces this season, and that emergence came at exactly the right time.
Curtis Granderson’s second half
That three-team trade was looking pretty pitiful before Granderson and Kevin Long had their heart-to-heart in Texas. Granderson sat out a couple of games, reworked his swing and came back as a changed player. The Yankees made that trade believing they were sacrificing a possible center fielder of the future for a sure-thing center fielder of the future. At the end of the season, it looked like they might have been right.
The arrival of Boone Logan
Kind of a smaller version of the Granderson emergence, Logan became the key piece of the trade that was supposed to stabilize the Yankees rotation. Instead, this winter’s deal with the Braves stabilized the bullpen. Damaso Marte is likely finished. Phil Coke and Mike Dunn are gone. The only known commodity from the left side is Logan, who turned everything around in the second half and gave the Yankees a legitimate left-handed reliever.
A farm system showing results
Just as Jorge Posada is slowing down, Jesus Montero is arriving. As Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera are nearing retirement, a wave of young pitchers is hitting Double-A and Triple-A. The Yankees have built a farm system that’s ready to help with more than trade chips and part-time players. This year was wildly successful for the Yankees minor leaguers, And for some of the key prospects, it’s almost time for graduation.
The ability to chase Cliff Lee
Starting pitching is the top commodity in baseball, and it’s not easy to get. In the past three years, two legitimate aces have hit the free agent market. The Yankees got the first one in CC Sabathia, and now they’re making a run at Lee. They might not be able to go after more than one premier free agent — other than their own — but the Yankees can go after the one they truly need.
Associated Press photo of Hughes. I don’t remember who took the picture of Montero, but I think it was me.
A matter of years • 11.24.10
When discussing free agency, we seem to spend most of our time talking about money. How much is a player worth? How much will he want? How much is too much?
Inevitably, the years become just as important.
The Yankees have already run into years gap with Derek Jeter. They want to sign for three years, he’s reportedly interested in at least four. Mariano Rivera apparently wants two years. There were early reports that Cliff Lee might be looking for seven years — which never seemed likely — but today Ken Rosenthal reported that even Lee’s representatives don’t expect that many.
So the question is: What’s your limit on the top free agents on the Yankees radar?
Andy Pettitte will be a one-year deal or none at all, but what about Jeter, Rivera and Lee? For how many years are you willing to be tied to those players? How long until they’ve exhausted their value?
Associated Press Photo
Next year’s Royce Ring • 11.24.10
In all the chaos of the Derek Jeter negotiations, one small move kind of slipped through the cracks. It’s nothing to get worked up about, but the Yankees have signed veteran Neal Cotts to a minor league deal.
As far as minor league signings go, this is a fairly big name. Cotts is a former second-round pick with nearly 300 games of big league experience. He’s 30 years old and working his way back from Tommy John and hip surgery.
Nothing flashy here, just a guy to give the team a little bit of left-handed depth alongside Wilkins Arias and Steve Garrison.
Guerrero named Outstanding Designated Hitter • 11.24.10
It’s not quite the MVP or Rookie of the Year, but MLB did announce one more award today. Amazing, but Nick Johnson seems to have received no votes.
Vladimir Guerrero of the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers has captured his first Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, named in 2004 in honor of the longtime Seattle Mariners designated hitter and 2010 Hall of Fame candidate.
Guerrero appeared in 129 games as a designated hitter, and led all DHs with 523 at-bats, a .306 batting average and 106 runs driven in. He also recorded 25 home runs, 25 doubles, 73 runs scored and a .501 slugging percentage with just 56 strikeouts. Overall, the nine-time All-Star appeared in 152 games in his first season with Texas, helping guide the franchise to its first-ever World Series appearance by batting .300 with 29 homers, 115 RBI and 83 runs scored over 593 at-bats. In addition to his recognition as the 2010 Outstanding Designated Hitter, Guerrero won his eighth Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award, continuing a trend of seven consecutive seasons in which each award was earned by the same player.
The 2004 A.L. MVP becomes just the second Rangers player to claim the honor of Outstanding Designated Hitter, joining Rafael Palmeiro (1999).
The Outstanding Designated Hitter Award has been presented annually since 1973. In September 2004, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced at Safeco Field ceremonies that the award would be renamed in honor of the retiring Martinez, who was a five-time ODH recipient (1995, 1997-98, 2000, 01). In an 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners – primarily as a designated hitter – he batted .312 with 309 career home runs and 1,261 runs batted in.
Votes are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and American League public relations departments. Nominees included all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter. With 61 first-place votes out of 84 ballots, Guerrero won by a comfortable margin to deny David Ortiz his sixth ODH award which would have eclipsed Martinez for the most all-time. Ortiz took second place in the balloting with a .275 batting average, 31 home runs and 100 RBI as the Boston Red Sox designated hitter. Jim Thome (.286, 24 HR, 57 RBI) of the Minnesota Twins finished third, and Baltimore’s Luke Scott (.300, 23 HR, 54 RBI) was the only other slugger to receive votes.