The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Saturday notes and links01.08.11

Yesterday, Brian Cashman said he’s not willing to lose a first-round draft pick to sign any free agent still on the market. However, Jon Heyman reported today that he’s hearing that the Yankees are still in the mix for Rafael Soriano. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Some other links and notes from the day:

• The Daily News is reporting that Joe Torre is in talks to become Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of operations. Doubt anyone will be especially surprised to see Torre end up in the league’s front office.

• Following a report that the Yankees have started talking with Andruw Jones, The Yankee U — can’t use the word Universe — looked into Jones’ value as a Marcus Thames replacement. Jones has become a very Thames-like hitter, but with a better glove.

• Here’s an interesting quote from Lance Berkman about his time with the Yankees. It comes from several months ago, when the season was still going on. It’s easy to understand why Berkman wanted to get back to the National League. He didn’t enjoy the DH experience.

• Dave Cameron makes the case that the Rays trade of Matt Garza might make them better, not only in the future, but in the immediate here and now. This Marc Topkin report seems to support that theory: The Rays will spend that money they saved on Garza to boost the lineup and bullpen.

• This morning I wrote that the George Steinbrenner statue in Tampa is made of brass. It’s actually made of bronze. I actually remember double checking the article to make sure I had that it correct, and I apparently I still managed to read the word “bronze” and see the word “brass.” Strange. Sorry about that.

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A year of trades for the Yankees12.23.10

One year and one day after last winter’s trade for a Javier Vazquez, a look back at the Yankees trades from December to December.

PH2009120703823December 7, 2009
RHP Brian Bruney to the Nationals for OF Jamie Hoffmann
Why? Because Bruney was due for an arbitration raise and the Yankees outfield depth was woefully low.
Good move? Didn’t really matter. Bruney probably would have been non-tendered anyway, and the Yankees at least got to take a look at a guy who’s now on the Dodgers 40-man roster. No harm done. Hoffmann was a Rule 5 pick who didn’t stick. Bruney was a reliever on his way out.

December 8, 2010
RHP Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, LHP Phil Coke and CF Austin Jackson to the Tigers for CF Curtis Granderson
Why? Because the Yankees were worried about Jackson’s holes and didn’t have a spot for Kennedy. In Granderson, they seemed to be getting a proven player who basically represented Jackson’s best-case scenario.
Good move? Little too early to say. Jackson, Coke and Kennedy each had good years, but Jackson showed the holes that the Yankees expected — a ton of strikeouts, not much power — and Kennedy might have benefited from the change of scenery. If Granderson continues the strides he made in the second half of last season, he’ll be better than any of the three players the Yankees sacrificed to get him.

Rangers Yankees BaseballDecember 22, 2009
CF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn and RHP Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan
Because the Yankees needed consistency and durability at the back of the rotation, and those had been trademarks of Vazquez for 10 years.
Good move? No. Vazquez was a complete disappointment, but Cabrera wasn’t very good either, and Logan for Dunn was basically a wash. This seemed to be a big trade, but in the end, the left-handed relievers were the best pieces. Even Vizcaino took a step back, making only 17 starts because of a torn ligament. The Yankees got a compensation pick when Vazquez signed the Florida, so that helps make up for the loss of a very young prospect.

January 26, 2010
INF Mitch Hilligoss to the Rangers for OF Greg Golson
Why? Because the Yankees needed outfield depth much more than infield depth.
Good move? Sure. Hilligoss had a nice year — .296/.365/.370 between High-A and Double-A — but Golson played a role in New York, and he should be around to do the same next season whenever the Yankees need him. Hilligoss would still be no higher than fourth or fifth on the utility depth chart. Golson is probably at the top of the outfield call-up list.

March 9, 2010
RHP Edwar Ramirez to the Rangers for cash considerations
Why? Because Ramirez had been designated for assignment to make room for Chan Ho Park.
Good move? At least they got something for him. Ramirez actually didn’t do much more than Park. He was ultimately traded to the A’s, pitched 11 innings in the big leagues and he’s now floating through free agency, probably destined for a minor league deal somewhere.

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballJuly 30, 2010
RHP Zach McAllister to the Indians for OF Austin Kearns
Why? Because McAllister was quickly becoming overshadowed in Triple-A, Kearns was hitting pretty well in Cleveland and the Yankees needed a right-handed fourth outfielder.
Good move?
Looked good for a little while, but ultimately no. Through his first 17 games with the Yankees, Kearns hit .275/.373/.451 and was especially helpful during that August road trip through Texas and Kansas City, but he was dreadful in September. McAllister didn’t pitch any better for Triple-A Columbus than he had for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he was passed by a ton of talent coming through the Yankees system, but it wasn’t worth losing him for three good weeks from Kearns.

July 31, 2010
RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes to the Astros for DH Lance Berkman
Because the Yankees needed to created a platoon at designated hitter, and Berkman gave them someone who could legitimately hit lefties. Melancon’s time and come and gone, and Paredes was an afterthought in the Yankees system.
Good move? Yes. Berkman got off to a slow start, but when he came off the disabled list he hit .299/.405/.388 through the month of September, and he was better than most of the Yankees hitters in the playoffs. I’m one of the few Melancon believer still out there, but he had his chances to prove himself in New York and never did. Unless Paredes significantly exceeds expectations, this will have been a worthwhile trade.

July 31, 2010
INF Matt Cusick and RHP Andrew Shive to the Indians for RHP Kerry Wood
Why? Because the Yankees had a chance to solidify the bullpen without losing any key pieces of the farm system.
Good move? You bet. No offense to Cusick and Shive, but they were pretty far off the prospect radar in the Yankees system. Wood, meanwhile, seemed to magically bring the bullpen together to make it one of the Yankees absolute strengths down the stretch. If the Yankees had continued their playoff run, the Wood trade would have been considered one of the great turning points of the season.

November 18, 2010
1B Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks for RHP Scottie Allen
Because Miranda is out of options and had no spot on the big league roster.
Good move? Sure. It’s too early to know whether Allen will turn into anything of value — he’s not even 20 years old yet — but Miranda was completely expendable. With Jorge Posada ready to get most of the DH at-bats and Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, Miranda had no place in the organization and it was best for everyone involved to send him elsewhere and get something in return.

Associated Press photos of Bruney, Cabrera and Kearns

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Berkman finds a home in St. Louis12.04.10

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballObviously this day was all about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Frankly, the past week has been all about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Outside of the Yankees universe, though, another familiar face signed this afternoon.

Lance Berkman settled on a one-year deal with the Cardinals. He’ll reportedly make $8 million and play left field. According to the Post-Dispatch: “The physical, combined with Berkman’s weight loss this off-season, assured the club he could again handle an everyday role in the field.”

Risky? Sure. But as Jon Heyman pointed out on Twitter, in two of the past three years a team won the World Series with Pat Burrell in left field. Just saying, that’s all.

Yankee fans never seemed quite sold on Berkman, but he was an unquestioned favorite in the clubhouse. He players liked him, and the media loved him. He’s a good guy. I wish him nothing but the best.

A few other notes for the day…

• To finalize the Adrian Gonzalez trade, the Red Sox have until 2 p.m. Sunday to work out a contract extension.

• Word is the Blue Jays are making a push for Zack Greinke. Not sure he would make Toronto a legitimate threat, but Greinke would make that an awfully good rotation.

• Former Yankees reliever/spot starter Jeff Karstens has re-signed with the Pirates. He’ll make more than a million bucks. Good for him. Another guy I always enjoyed talking to.

• For the Astros, it made sense to let Berkman go, but it’s going to be awkward seeing him in the National League Central.

Associated Press photo

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Curry: Tuesday a “vital development” for Jeter and Yankees12.01.10

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballGood stuff today from a very good writer and reporter. Jack Curry has some of the details of yesterday’s meeting between Derek Jeter and the Yankees brass, writing that the meeting was requested by Jeter, and the tone was “respectful and polite.”

Although Jeter and the Yankees didn’t come close to an agreement on Tuesday, people who have been briefed on the discussion said it was a vital development in the negotiations.

Given the tone of the previous week, simply getting in the same room and saying things that needed to be said feels like a significant step. Maybe not one that moved the two sides any closer, but certainly a step that had to be made before anything could move forward.

A few links and notes from the day…

• If the Yankees increased their offer to Derek Jeter, it likely wasn’t by much. Jon Heyman says close to $50 million over three years.

The Rangers met again with Cliff Lee, and Ian Kinsler is trying to convince the lefty to stay in Texas.

• Jayson Stark talked to two executives who still expect Lee to sign with the Yankees. He also looks into the pitching market beyond Lee.

• The Athletics are showing significant interest in Lance Berkman. The short-term Yankees DH is also drawing significant interest from the Rockies.

The Red Sox have met with Carl Crawford and could make a serious push for the left fielder. Stark also mentioned that the Angels are in on Crawford.

• Not sure how I messed up the post this afternoon — tried to post around 2, and the post itself went to 8:44 — but Cashman released a statement about his plan to rappel down a building this weekend:

“I’m a Stamford guy, and it’s an honor to participate in such a special Holiday family event for the community,” Cashman said. “‘Heights and Lights’ is designed to draw the people of Stamford and its surrounding neighborhoods together, drum up interest in its downtown businesses and celebrate the holiday season.

“I’ve been leaving milk and cookies for Santa for some time now, but this year I wanted to take a more active role in assisting him. As an elf, you have to be willing to build toys, wrap presents, prepare reindeer for flight, or rappel off buildings for Santa. I take my role as an elf seriously because there are a lot of children out there counting on him.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees offer arbitration to only Javy Vazquez11.23.10

Yankees Rangers BaseballBrian Cashman has said the Yankees will offer arbitration to only one of their Type A-B free agents.

Javier Vazquez will be offered arbitration. No one else.

The plan would be extraordinarily risky, but Ken Rosenthal reported this afternoon that the Yankees have already been assured that Vazquez will turn down the offer. If he were to accept, Vazquez would be in for a hefty payday on a one-year deal. If he declines, Vazquez will land the Yankees a compensation draft pick. He’s a Type B free agent, and already the Nationals and Marlins seem to be showing interest.

The Yankees elected not to offer arbitration to any of their other compensation-eligible free agents: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Lance Berkman or Kerry Wood.

There was initially a report that Wood would be offered, but the Yankees already refused an option in his contract, and arbitration would have amounted to roughly the same thing. There was never much reason to expect an arbitration offer for either Berkman or Pettitte.

As for Jeter and Rivera: A one-year deal does not seem to be a bad scenario for the Yankees, but those would be for substantial money, and it seems the Yankees aren’t willing to risk that sort of payment, even on a one-year deal.

UPDATE, 6:57 p.m.: For the record, the Yankees also declined to offer arbitration to Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson, Chad Moeller and Marcus Thames.

Associated Press photo

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Yankees decline options on Berkman, Wood, Johnson10.27.10

As expected, the Yankees have declined the option to extend the contracts of Kerry Wood, Lance Berkman and Nick Johnson through next season. All three will become free agents.

Two days ago, Brian Cashman said to expect these moves, and given the money involved, there was never any reason to believe the Yankees would pick up any of the three options.

The Yankees did exercise the option in Andrew Brackman’s contract. That’s more of a paper move than anything, even more obvious than turning down the three veterans. When Brackman signed a Major League contract in 2007, it was a four-year deal with club options for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Barring something shocking, all three of those options will be picked up.

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Yankees unlikely to pick up any player options10.25.10

ph_134268Kerry Wood was terrific during his two and a half months in New York, and the Yankees have the option of bringing him back before he hits the free agent market, but that seems unlikely.

The Yankees have contract options on three players:

• Wood has an $11-million club option.
• Lance Berkman has a $15-million club option.
• Nick Johnson has a $5.75-million mutual option.

It’s unlikely any of the options will be picked up.

“They’re all pretty obvious,” Brian Cashman said. “I have to sit in the office and look at the numbers and stuff like that, but I think, probably, they’re all such large numbers that we wouldn’t be picking up options for anybody off the top of my head. But I have to sit down and go through it and talk to ownership. But my initial thought is they’re all pretty obvious.”

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Pregame notes: Pressure from both sides10.22.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

So much has been made of the Yankees reaction to playing an elimination game, but Joe Girardi said this afternoon that there’s also something to be said for a team trying to close out a series.

“I think there’s anxiety about it more than anything else,” Girardi said. “You feel how close you are and you want to get to that next round.”

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez said one thing he remembers about 2004 — when the Yankees let the Red Sox make an ALCS comeback — was a feeling, even before Game 7, that the Yankees weren’t doing a good enough job closing out the series.

“We never wanted it to get to a Game 6 or a Game 7,” Rodriguez said.

Obviously there’s pressure on the Yankees, but the Rangers aren’t exactly playing with house money as it’s often portrayed. Game 7 — Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee — is a dangerous situation for either team.

“I don’t know about momentum,” Rodriguez said. “But I did like the energy we played with (in Game 5). I thought we were enthused. There was a lot of energy. Good at-bats. I thought Jorge’s play going first to third was huge for us. It made them make a play that was probably a little uncomfortable and a bit unorthodox and it worked in our favor. I think for us, we just have to keep pushing the envelope.

“We’re here to fight, not receive any blows.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• Based on whatever pregame reports he heard, Girardi doesn’t expect rain to be a factor tonight. “I don’t think it’s supposed to rain,” he said. “Texas thunderstorms are brief and hard anyway.”

• Girardi said he never seriously considered anyone but Marcus Thames at DH for tonight. “Marcus has been the guy that has DHed for us a lot,” Girardi said. “We have seen Marcus hit well off right-handers and left-handers, so Marcus was our guy.”

• The only pitcher not in the bullpen for tonight’s game is Andy Pettitte, and Girardi said it’s not completely off the table that Pettitte might go down there at some point. Of course, that would require a pretty extreme situation.

• Any hurt feelings by sending starters into the bullpen this time of year? “I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “I think everyone understands CC’s talent level, and the starters that are at this level this time of year are extremely talented. (Roy) Oswalt threw out of the bullpen (in the NLCS). I don’t think that was a slap on the Phillies bullpen. He’s a pretty darn good pitcher.”

• It’s worth noting that if CC Sabathia pitches tonight, he would be lined up to start Game 1 of the World Series on four days rest. “I like how you think,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees stuck with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano batting second and third, even though it leaves back-to-back lefties against a bullpen full of left-handed relievers. “We talked about (splitting them),” Girardi said. “The thing is, Grandy has swung the bat great throughout the playoffs, and he’s also hit left-handers. Look at our top two guys offensively in the playoffs and it’s been Robinson and Granderson. We try to get them as many at-bats as we can.”

• Lance Berkman has more career at-bats against Colby Lewis than any of the other Yankees. That was part of the thinking behind batting him fifth and Nick Swisher sixth. Mostly, though: “Berky had some really, really good at-bats against this guy,” Girardi said. “He’s had good at-bats for us in the postseason.”

• Speaking of Lewis, the Yankees get a second chance against him tonight. “We knew he had good breaking stuff. We knew that he sunk it (and) he cut it,” Girardi said. “The biggest thing they’ve learned is that now they’ve seen his pitches and they have an idea what he’s going to do against each individual guy.”

• What did Phil Hughes learn from Game 2? “It’s important to locate against a very dangerous team,” Girardi said, laughing at the obviousness of his statement. “Even in a day when we shut them down, they had 13 hits. The important thing is what you do with runners in scoring position.”

• Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera are available for multiple innings, but, “That’s not exactly what you’d want to do,” Girardi said.

• Rangers manager Ron Washington had no problem with Nick Swisher saying yesterday that he’s excited about the possibility of facing Cliff Lee in a possible Game 7. “I think if I was sitting in his shoes and I had to face Cliff Lee, I’d probably feel the same way,” Washington said. “But, you know the game is not played with words; it’s played between the lines. And, if he can back it up, I’ll pat him on the back.”

• Girardi doesn’t expect it to rain and he said he hasn’t decided who might start tomorrow should tonight’s game be rained out. “I’ll cross that bridge when it happens,” he said.

Associated Press photos

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Workout notes: A second lefty in the pen10.21.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

Last night, Joe Girardi specifically said there was one pitcher he would avoid using out of the bullpen. Andy Pettitte was off the table.

That seemed true until the late innings when Petttitte was told to get to the bullpen and be ready.

“Well, they told me to go down there,” Pettitte said. “I was hoping not (to be needed).”

The Yankees are going to have a second lefty in the bullpen again tomorrow night. For Game 6, CC Sabathia will be in the bullpen. One day of rest, so he clearly won’t be available for any sort of long relief, but he’ll be down there and ready to go.

“Our plan is he’s available tomorrow,” Girardi said. “Let’s see how he feels tomorrow, but our plan is that he will be available for us.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• Also like Game 5, the Yankees will have both Mariano Rivera and Kerry Wood available for six outs if necessary. If Rivera gets six outs tomorrow, though, it’s unlikely he’d be available for six outs in Game 7. “I doubt it,” Girardi said.

• Lance Berkman will be available. “I don’t think he’ll be limited tomorrow,” Girardi said. “I’m sure he’s sore. You don’t fall that hard and not be sore, but I don’t expect it to affect his play tomorrow. He’ll be in there, unless something happens overnight.”

• Girardi on the track at Yankee Stadium: “If we feel it’s something we need to address, we’ll address it.”

• Alex Rodriguez said he never had any idea that guy who ran on the field on Monday was after him. He didn’t find out until he read it in the paper. “I saw he was very upset,” Rodriguez said. “It’s always a little scary, but our guys took care of it.”

• Mark Teixeira on having to watch a playoff game from the bench: “Really, really weird. I’ve watched games before during the regular season, but watching a playoff game from the dugout was something hopefully I’ll never have to do again.”

• The Yankees didn’t have much luck with Colby Lewis the first time they saw him (hardly anything new this season). But they get a second crack tomorrow. “The one thing I noticed was he threw a lot of strikes,” Curtis Granderson said. “He didn’t get behind at all throughout the course of the game. I assume to see a lot of the same, that he’s going to come right at guys. He’s going to throw an even mix of his fastball and his offspeed pitches, which is going to be a hard thing to try to offset. He’s going to stick with his plan, and hopefully we can stick to our plan.”

• Nelson Cruz is expected to be in the Rangers lineup tomorrow. Pulling him from last night’s game, Ron Washington said, was a precaution.

• The ceremonial first pitch for Game 6 will be thrown by Rangers Hall of Famer Tom Grieve, who works as a team broadcaster.

• Derek Jeter on workout day during the ALCS: “It’s always loose. These are the days that for us as players, we just want to get them over with. We’d much rather be playing than have today off.”

Associated Press photos of Jeter and Posada. I have no idea what’s going on with Posada, but it cracks me up.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 574 Comments →

Teixeira: Yankee Stadium track “needs to be fixed”10.21.10

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballChasing a foul ball last night, Lance Berkman tried to stop quickly in the dirt-covered foul territory behind first base at Yankee Stadium. His feet went out from under him, he slammed to the ground and didn’t get up immediately. Mark Teixeira, who had been injured the night before, said he was holding his breath in the dugout, stunned but not surprised.

“That warning track around our stadium is very dangerous,” Teixeira said. “It’s hard. It’s basically concrete with sand on top. It needs to be fixed.”

Berkman said afterward that he was wearing plastic spikes at the time. That’s what Berkman usually wears in the field, but after his first play on that surface, he retreated into the clubhouse to change into metal spikes.

After the game, I was making small talk when one Yankee said to imagine running from grass onto a sheet of ice. The track at Yankee Stadium is that sort of surface change, he said.

Teixeira said he believed the Yankees had brought up the issue in the past.

“I think we have, but I don’t think it’s an easy thing to (fix),” he said. “You can’t do it during the season. Maybe this offseason we’ll be able to fix it and won’t have any problems.

“… I’ve dove a few times and I always come up with scraps on my arms and my knees. Ask any of the outfielders, where they’re running toward balls in the outfield. It’s not a safe surface.”

Associated Press photo

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