This morning, Jeff wrote about the importance of the final out. It was pretty good timing considering just a couple of hours after his post went live, a former closer came off the market.
According to Ken Rosenthal, former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen has signed a one-year, $5-million deal with the Nationals. The contract comes with a mutual option with a buyout if the option isn’t picked up. Janssen handled the ninth inning for most of the past three years in Toronto, but his numbers fell sharply in the second half of last season, perhaps because of food poisoning at the All-Star break.
Before the second half of last year, Janssen had been very, very good for three straight seasons, and he’d been pretty good the year before that, so there’s a pretty good track record in place.
For the Yankees, Janssen seemed to represent an opportunity to add a proven closer to an already deep bullpen. One thing the Yankees lack is experience in the ninth inning, and Janssen has that (along with a familiarity with the American League East). The Yankees don’t necessarily need a guy like that — chances are, Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances or even one of the smaller-name relievers can handle the ninth — but late-inning experience is one thing the free agent market can still provide.
Longtime closers Rafael Soriano and Francisco Rodriguez are still out there, as are one-time closers John Axford, Chris Perez, Jose Veras, Kevin Gregg and Brian Wilson. Solid middle reliever Burke Badenhop is still out there (so is Joba Chamberlain if the Yankees wanted to try that again), and there are a few lefties — Phil Coke, Joe Thatcher, Franklin Morales, Joe Beimel, Neal Cotts — if the Yankees wanted to add a more typical left-on-left specialist, leaving Justin Wilson to pitch more like a middle reliever and leaving Chasen Shreve to serve as depth in Triple-A.
The Yankees really don’t seem to need additional bullpen help, but there are a lot of options out there, and there’s one relief job wide open. At the right price for the right piece, another reliever might make sense.
Associated Press photo
A year of trades for the Yankees • 12.23.10
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.
December 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.
December 22, 2009
CF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn and RHP Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan
Why? 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.
July 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
Why? 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
Why? 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
Notes and links on a slow day • 12.11.10
The Yankees made their first offer to Cliff Lee on Wednesday. The Rangers flew to Arkansas to make their offer on Thursday. When I checked with Brian Cashman on Friday night, he literally told me to “enjoy the night.” There would be no news to report.
It’s the same story today. Lee has been meticulous in this process, making what is surely the biggest decision of his career.
Everyone else is left waiting. Many of them waiting anxiously.
At the end of another one of those slow days of waiting, here are a few notes and links from around baseball.
• You might want to look away, but my friend Ben Shpigel did a nice job looking back at the last time the Yankees targeted a premier starting pitcher with incredible control and missed out.
• Great stuff from the Boston Herald outlining the way the Carl Crawford deal came together for Boston.
• Speaking of Crawford, Thomas Boswell makes the case that Crawford’s talent is wasted in Fenway Park.
• Plucked from the Yankees, Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton will have a chance to win a rotation spot with the Astros.
• The Tigers are planning to move Phil Coke back into the rotation. He was a starter through most of his minor league career, but things never really took off for him until he moved to the bullpen.
Old friends • 05.10.10
Looks like Johnny Damon brought a little bit of New York with him to Detroit. The picture above is from his walk-off home run against the Angels on May 1. It’s Damon’s only home run of the season, but he also has 10 doubles, a .294 batting average and more walks than strikeouts. He’ll meet his old teammates when the Yankees and Tigers begin a four-game series tonight.
“I think it’s always good to see guys that you play with, guys that you manage,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s always a good thing. The Tigers have been playing pretty well, so we have four tough games there, but it will be good to see Johnny. I’m sure there will be some laughs.”
The Yankees will also see their former left-handed reliever Phil Coke, who’s 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA through 16 games out of the Tigers bullpen. And they’ll be facing former top prospect Austin Jackson, who’s hitting .371, getting enough hits to more than make up for his 37 strikeouts.
“We always thought he was a talented player and I had seen a lot of progress in the two spring trainings that I had seen him, 2008 and 2009,” Girardi said. “I don’t think you ever predict that someone is going to hit .370. It just doesn’t happen, but he’s played great for Detroit.”
The series will be a homecoming for Yankees left fielder Marcus Thames, but Curtis Granderson isn’t on this road trip, having stayed in New York because of his strained groin.
Austin Jackson returns to Steinbrenner Field • 03.19.10
First things first, Derek Jeter is in the Yankees lineup, just as Joe Girardi promised.
There was some concern that he might have injured his hand during last night’s game, but when Jeter walked into the clubhouse this morning, Bryan Hoch asked the quick question that every writer in the room needed to ask.
“How are you feeling?”
“About what?” Jeter said.
The weather? Health care reform? Avatar? The Pavement reunion? It seems safe to say the status of his hand is not weighing on Jeter’s mind.
Thanks to the AP for the picture.
• No Johnny Damon, but Austin Jackson and Phil Coke are each on the Tigers’ travel roster for this afternoon’s game in Tampa. I don’t have a lineup yet, but the other big names making the trip are Rick Porcello, Jose Valverde, Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen and Gerald Laird, the brother of Yankees infielder Brandon Laird.
• Speaking of Laird, Brandon is back in the lineup after sitting out a few days.
• Yesterday, Girardi said he thought Damaso Marte would be pitching this afternoon. Turns out, Marte is pitching on the road tomorrow. He’ll work in relief of Alfredo Aceves.
• One other very small change of plans: Ryan Pope is not going on the road after all. His name was circled last night to be part of the Yankees traveling squad, but he will instead stay in Tampa to be available for today’s home game.
• Kevin Russo is getting another turn at shortstop this afternoon. He made an error there last night, but the Yankees need to see him at the position to decide whether he can be a utility man in the big leagues.
• Available Yankees pitchers:
At home: CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Albaladejo, Ryan Pope, Eric Wordekemper and Royce Ring.
On the road: Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Jason Hirsh, Amaury Sanit and Zack Segovia.
• Scheduled to play off the bench:
At home: C Mike Rivera, 1B P.J. Pilittere, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Kevin Russo, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF David Winfree, DH Jon Weber.
On the road: C Jesus Montero, SS Reegie Corona, LF Colin Curtis, CF Reid Gorecki, RF Edwar Gonzalez, DH Austin Romine.
• Eight players were added to big league camp for the day, though RHP Wordekemper and OF Gonzalez are the only ones scheduled to play. Other players added to the roster:
At home: C Jorge Liccien, INF Justin Snyder and OF Austin Krum.
On the road: C Ryan Baker, INF Walter Ibarra, INF Jose Pirela, OF Dan Brewer
• He wasn’t listed on either lineup card, but minor league infielder Luis Nunez was also in the clubhouse this morning, so you might see his name pop up in the home game. Probably not, but maybe.
UPDATE, 9:56 a.m.: The Tigers lineup:
Austin Jackson, CF
Clete Thomas RF
Brandon Inge 3B
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Carlos Guillen DH
Gerald Laird C
Wilkin Ramirez LF
Brent Dlugach 2B
Ramon Santiago SS
RHP Rick Porcello
UPDATE, 10:00 a.m.: Scheduled to pitch for the Tigers: LHP Phil Coke, LHP Andy Oliver and RHP Jose Valverde. Also on the trip: RHP Lester Oliveros, RHP Cody Satterwhite and LHP Adam Wilk.