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News of the Day – 11/17/08

No truth to the rumor that Cashman has been canned for not signing “all the pitchers” yet. :-)

Here now the news …

  • Anthony McCarron of the News notes the elephant in the C.C. Sabathia free agent bargaining room … pressure from the union:

Whether it is suspicion or reality, some in the baseball industry believe Sabathia has a responsibility to other players and the Players Association to accept the biggest offer, which perhaps would lead to bigger contracts for other top free-agent pitchers. If he accepts a lower deal to stay in Milwaukee or go to the West Coast, where he’s from, he might fix the pitching market at a lower price.

  • McCarron’s article also has a link to a nice Yankee Stadium photo gallery, tracing the history-making events there.
  • Over at LoHud, Pete Abraham lists the following five free agents the Yanks should have reservations about signing: Abreu, A.J. Burnett, Oliver Perez, Pettitte and Manny Ramirez.  Pete also has some interesting notes for those that like career projections:

As always, there were some interesting findings in the Bill James Handbook. Derek Jeter has a 93 percent chance to get to 3,000 hits but Alex Rodriguez has only a 49 percent chance at a record 762 home runs. James also sees Mike Mussina having a 47 percent shot at 300 wins. Of course that will fall to zero percent if he retires this week, as many expect he will.

  • BP.com’s John Perrotto believes that “the focus on pitching, coupled with the recent acquisition of Nick Swisher from the White Sox, means that first baseman Mark Teixeira will most likely either return to the Angels or sign with the Red Sox, though the Nationals and Giants are both wild cards in that sweepstakes.”
  • Also at BP.com, Joe Sheehan applauds the Swisher deal:

Now the Yankees have acquired Nick Swisher while giving up nothing that they’ll miss: Jeff Marquez, a 24-year-old finesse pitcher who has yet to succeed at Triple-A; Wilson Betemit, a longtime stathead favorite with a .260/.325/.437 career line and a 314/98 K/BB ratio; and Jhonny Nunez, a 22-year-old right-hander who could eventually end up as a high-leverage reliever. Then again, Nunez was traded for Alberto Gonzalez—no, the other one—about 15 minutes ago, which speaks against the idea that he’s about to go all Carlos Marmol on the world. The package, in toto, is nothing; you can make a case for each of the players individually, but you can’t make the three of them add up to a switch-hitter with plate discipline, power, and his peak in front of him.

Swisher may not be the perfect solution to the Yankees’ offensive woes, but he brings upside, a plate approach that they missed last year, and positional flexibility that leaves a range of off-season options open to them. His lost 2008 season—.219/.332/.410, a career-low .259 EqA—was largely the product of a down year on balls in play. He hit .249 on them, after marks of .301 in 2007 and .283 in 2006. There was a slight uptick in his strikeout rate, but nothing alarming. What’s missing from his season are 15 singles and 15 doubles, and there’s not much reason to believe those won’t come back in 2009. When they do, his contract, which pays him $21 million through 2011 with a $10 million option for ’12, is going to look like an absolute bargain.

  • Happy 31st birthday to “cup of coffee” boy Alex Graman, who pitched in five games for the Bombers between 2004 and 2005 and amassed 6.3 innings of 17 hit, 4 walk, 4 strikeout ball.  Happy 42nd birthday to two-tour Yankee Jeff Nelson.  One-time Yankee broadcaster (and a pretty decent pitcher) Tom Seaver turns 64 today.  A baseball-playing Steinbrenner (Gene) was born on this day in 1892, though he doesn’t appear to be related.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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9 comments

1 JL25and3   ~  Nov 17, 2008 9:28 am

"Some in the baseball industry" turns out to be Doug Melvin, who sounds like he's just polished off a heapin' helping of sour grapes. This idea of pressure from the union surfaces every year, but there's no evidence that it actually happens. They'd have some pretty pissed-off members if the union told players who to play for.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 17, 2008 9:39 am

I agree with Sheehan on Swisher's likelihood to bounce back (indeed, I quoted Steve Goldman saying similar things in my review of the trade). Still, it conjures up the Sheehan-penned comment on Andruw Jones from this past year's Baseball Prospectus annual:

What's strange about Jones's 2007 season is that all he lost were the homers. Look at those lines: 2007 is a typical Andruw Jones season, less 15 homers, five singles, and some intentional walks. His fly-ball rate was unchanged, so it wasn't that. Now, the $90 million question: was it a change in his skills, or just one of those fluke seasons? Given his age [30 going on 31, three years older than Swisher] and the stability of everything else, lean toward the latter. . . .

Gene Steinbrenner's middle name was Gass. [Insert 'full of hot air" jokes here.]

Finally, Alex Graman was once the Yankees' top pitching prospect. That said far more about the Yankees' farm system at the time than it did about Graman.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 9:45 am

The Abraham article mentions yet another reason against signing AJ that I've been telling people.

Burnett's great season, which really wasn't all that great anyway, is significantly worse when you take out games against the Yankees.

The Yankees need to start running like hell pretty soon.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 9:52 am

Also, isn't Jeff Nelson technically a three time Yankee? :)

5 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:03 am

Also, and this is going to sound silly considering he gave up 17 hits in less than 7 innings, but I had thought Graman walked alot more than he did and was really surprised by the merely bad 4 walks he gave up.

6 Diane Firstman   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:30 am

Matt,

Actually, Jeff was a three-time Mariner and a two-time Yankee.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/n/nelsoje01.shtml

7 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 17, 2008 10:57 am

Jeff didn't sign the one day contract to retire a Yankee? I know he never played, but I was being cute.

8 Diane Firstman   ~  Nov 17, 2008 11:12 am

Matt,

You may be right (I may be crazy)

9 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 4:23 pm

[1] And if that's the case, it's not hard to understand why the players have lost so much ground to the owners in recent years.

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