Non-Pettitte news and notes • 02.04.11
Assuming I’ve done some fairly simple math correctly, I have 8,975 words of transcribed quotes from today’s press conference. I’ve been sorting through that most of the day, but believe it or not, there have actually been things going on in the non-Andy Pettitte baseball world, including some Yankees news.
• According to good buddy Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have signed Ronnie Belliard and Eric Chavez to minor league deals. Considering the Yankees have a wide-open spot on their bench, those two could be legitimate candidates for the Opening Day roster.
• Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees have at least discussed attempting a trade for a left-handed starting pitcher. Rosenthal mentioned Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Wade LeBlanc, Clayton Richard and Gio Gonzalez as potential targets. Not sure why Oakland would trade Gonzalez, but to me, he’s probably the name that stands out most.
• Robinson Cano has reportedly switched agents and will now be represented by Scott Boras.
• Vladimir Guerrero apparently got his $8 million. He’s settled on a one-year deal with the Orioles.
• Turns out Jim Edmonds is not retiring. He’s heading back to St. Louis on a minor league deal. Another outfielder, Gabe Gross, has landed a minor league deal with the Mariners.
The pieces that barely fit • 01.29.11
The best free agent still on the market is almost certainly Vladimir Guerrero, who had nice 2010 but suffered from a DH-heavy offseason market. These days, the Orioles are the team most commonly linked to him, but their reported offer of roughly $5 million doesn’t seem to have grabbed Guerrero’s attention.
There seems to be at least a small push within the fan base for the Yankees to make a run at Guerrero as a power bat off the bench, but I find it hard to see where he would find enough at-bats to justify a $5-million deal. Seems to me, it’s best to save that money for a move mid-season, when the team’s needs are more accurately defined.
Instead, the Yankees could sift through what’s left of the free agent market to add a low-cost option for the last spot on the bench.
Best fit: Lastings Milledge
Notable: Scott Podsednik, Ryan Church, Gabe Gross
The outfield market is still left-heavy, and that’s with Jim Edmonds reportedly leaning toward retirement. Milledge is a former top prospect who’s never quite produced at the big league level, but he’d be interesting as a fifth outfielder with upside. The trick might be getting him to take a job with such little playing time. I like Scott Podsednik, but it’s hard to envision a role for him a team that already has Brett Gardner.
Best fit: Felipe Lopez
Notable: Willy Aybar, Cristian Guzman, Eric Chavez, Joe Inglett
Lopez has played every position but center field and catcher at the big league level. He’s also hit .280/.351/.392 the past three years. He could be seen as an experienced alternative to Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, or as a fourth man on the bench: Part fifth outfielder, part second utility infielder. The Yankees have plenty of Triple-A infielders, but at this point I wonder if Aybar and Inglett might have to settle for minor league deals with invitations to big league camp, kind of like Marcus Thames last year.
Best fit: None
Notable: Bengie Molina
The Yankees have plenty of catchers, so it’s hard to predict them getting back into this market. That said, Molina is still out there and would be an upgrade over Francisco Cervelli. Jon Heyman has reported that Molina wants to play if “special opportunities” present themselves. Would coming off the bench for the Yankees be a special opportunity? My guess is, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees have made their catching move of the offseason.
Swisher: “I don’t want to leave New York” • 01.27.11
Nick Swisher was on the Mike Francesa’s radio show this afternoon, professing his love for the Yankees, the Bleacher Creatures and all things New York.
“I don’t want to leave New York,” Swisher said. “This is the place to be. I love it. I absolutely love it… Meeting my wife, and Kevin Long, and the city of New York just completely resurrected my career.”
Coming off the best season of his career, Swisher has stuck with his offseason routine. We already know that Long has been to California to work with Swisher this winter.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Swisher said. “Continuing to do the same thing. Just trying to keep that same mentality. Really trying to stay consistent with something.”
It’s a nice, quick interview that’s available over on the YES Network website. Swisher talks a lot about his transition to New York, his popularity in New York and his upcoming honor at next week’s Thurman Munson dinner. It’s Swisher, so you know it’s entertaining.
A few other notes and links from today.
• Newsday has a cool photo gallery showing some of the oddities of Brian Cashman’s offseason, everything from the Derek Jeter negotiations to the Rafael Soriano press conference to last night’s bartending experience.
• My good friend Bryan Hoch did a nice job wrapping up last night’s bartending event. “I think I’m keeping (the fans) happier right now tending bar than I am in terms of finding a starting rotation that they can be comfortable with,” Cashman said. “But in time, we’ll do that, I promise.”
• Make sure you check out Buster Olney’s take on what the world of Twitter might have looked like with a George Steinbrenner account. My favorite fictional tweet: Mattingly’s hair has gotten so long that he looks like one of the Beatles — one of their girlfriends, I mean.
• Vladimir Guerrero’s most logical next step might be a one-year deal with the Orioles. As Ken Rosenthal pointed out, there aren’t many teams still looking for a designated hitter.
• The Nationals designated Justin Maxwell for assignment. If the 40-man weren’t full, and the Yankees hadn’t already added Jordan Parraz for outfield depth, I’d suggest Maxwell might be a solid target for the Yankees. He was pretty bad in Washington last year, but Maxwell raked in Triple-A and seemed to be developing into at least a fourth outfielder not too long ago. That said, I’m not sure outfield depth is as much of a concern now as it once was.
• ESPN says that the best unknown high school player in the country is a kid from my hometown (though I went to a different high school). My dad really likes high school basketball, so I’ve actually heard about Otto Porter quite a bit. The last high school kid in that area to create this sort of buzz was probably Tyler Hansbrough.
The pieces that don’t necessarily fit • 01.10.11
This free agent market doesn’t match the Yankees needs. We know that. It’s been discussed time after time, day after day, but this morning the good people at MLBTradeRumors listed the 11 players remaining from their initial list of the top 50 free agents. It paints a pretty convincing picture of just how little is out there. Here’s their list.
1. Rafael Soriano — Significant cost, in dollars and draft picks, for a setup man.
2. Carl Pavano — There was never a real chance of the Yankees bringing him back.
3. Jim Thome – Hasn’t played the field in three years. DH spot isn’t available.
4. Vladimir Guerrero — Another designated hitter, best kept out of the outfield at this point.
5. Manny Ramirez — Probably a better defensive option than Guerrero, but still questionable. Plus, Manny in pinstripes?
6. Andy Pettitte — This one’s not up to the Yankees. It’s all up to Pettitte.
7. Brian Fuentes – If he wants to close, he won’t come to the Yankees.
8. Kevin Millwood — Amazing how quickly the starting pitching market falls into the questionable zone. At least Millwood has been fairly durable.
9. Grant Balfour – Another setup man who would cost a draft pick.
10. Scott Podsednik – Left-handed, speed-oriented left fielder. The Yankees already have one of those.
11. Johnny Damon — Probably a better defensive option than some of the other guys who are primarily DHs. Might prefer an everyday role. A right-handed hitter would be a better fit.