Steve Swindal, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman made a promotional appearance in Staten Island yesterday to announce the fact that the Yankees have bought their New York Penn League affiliate. As part of the deal, the Staten Island Yankees will host a Yankees Old Timers Game next summer and SI Yankees season ticket holders will have special access to both regular and postseason tickets in the Bronx. I’d be all over that if it weren’t for the fact that I just can’t get hyped over players in short season A-ball, no matter what their prospect status.
At any rate, the event gave reporters a chance to pepper the Yankee GM with questions, which is why you’ll read the same quotes from him in all of the papers this morning, or you could just cut to the chase and check out Peter Abraham’s handy summary.
Cashman didn’t say anything groundbreaking, though he did say that he considers Jason Giambi the team’s designated hitter and is in the market for a right-handed-hitting first baseman (the unspoken part of that being that Andy Phillips had his chance and blew it).
In the meantime, we can all continue to wear out the refresh buttons on our browsers waiting for news on Daisuke Matsuzaka or word of a Sheffield trade. Speaking of the latter, J.D. Drew just opted out of the remainder of his contract with the Dodgers, leaving L.A. with Andre Ethier as their best under-contract outfielder. Sheff tends to burn his bridges, but the Dodgers had a different manager, GM, and owner when he was last there. I’m not saying Sheffield is likely to head back to L.A., but the Dodgers could enter the discussion, further driving up his price. Which, of course, means we’ll have longer to wait before having any actual news on the Yankees’ most recent right-handed first baseman.
The next bit of news we’re likely to get will be the Yankees’ decision on Jaret Wright’s option, which must come no later than Sunday. Cashman didn’t tip his hand yesterday, but I’m in favor of the Yankees hanging on to Wright, largely because of the size of his buyout. Wright’s option is for $7 million, but the Yankees will have to pay $4 million of that to make him go away. That $4 million is a sunk cost, which means that keeping Wright really only costs the Yankees $3 million, which is a perfectly fair price for the sort of performance he turned in last year (27 starts, a roughly league-average ERA). Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen, Cory Lidle, Jason Johnson, Gil Meche, and Carlos Silva are just a few of the pitchers who earned similar, but larger amounts in 2006, none of whom posted a higher ERA+ than Wright.
If you rank the pitchers the Yankees have under contract for next year by career major league starts, the fourth name on the list–after Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and Chien-Ming Wang–is Kyle Farnsworth. Rank them by major league starts in 2006 and the list is Johnson, Wang, then Jeffrey Karstens with six. And Johnson just had back surgery. Yes, Mike Mussina is likely to join that group shortly, and with Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Philip Hughes, Tyler Clippard, and, heck, even Sean Henn in the queue the Yankees have a handful of rookies who could outperform Wright in 2007. But for $3 million it seems silly not to hold on to a live arm that, if nothing else, could hold a spot for Johnson’s rehab or a few warm up starts for Hughes in Scranton during April and May, then bringing a useful bench player or reliever in a trade. Heck, if the Matsuzaka deal pans out, Cashman just might get more for Sheff and Wright than Pat Gillick did for Abreu and Lidle, despite the fact that Gillick was dealing better players with more leverage.