"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Free-Floating Free Agent Anxiety

Maybe I’ve been burned too often in the past. Or maybe I’m just in a generally grumpy mood right now. But for whatever reason, I’m feeling decidedly pessimistic about this year’s free agents.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for next season to start (…any day now!). And I’m not trying to claim that C.C. Sabathia isn’t an awesome pitcher, or that Texiera’s not one of the  best first basemen in the game. Yet even if the Yankees get one or both of them – Sabathia seeming more likely at the moment, I suppose – I just can’t muster up much hope or faith for those signings working out. I keep imagining the moment when Sabathia turns to high-five his agent, as the ink dries on his record-breaking contract… and his rotator cuff dissolves into Jell-O. After the way the Brewers used him last season, and given his, erm, conditioning, isn’t an early injury all too easy to imagine? And yeah, Texiera’s great; so was Giambi in 2001. I know, I know, they’re very different players, there’s no direct correlation. It’s just that it seems like with the Yankees over the last few years – as it is for most teams, most of the time, really, but wasn’t for New York from 1996 to 2001 – it’s always something.

Besides, after Sabathia and Texiera, what’s the big prize? Has New York’s great baseball rivalry really been reduced to fighting over Derek Lowe? Nothing against Lowe, really who does at least have a lot going for him simply by virtue of not being Sidney Ponson; but no one’s going to buy advance tickets this spring for a mid-summer game thinking, “gee, I hope I get to see Lowe pitch that day!”

Speaking of huge free agent signings, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years defending Alex Rodriguez to all comers, and I suppose I’ll have to continue doing so; he’s earned it on the field. (Mostly). But I’m thoroughly annoyed with him at the moment, thanks to his apparent determination to stay under as much media scrutiny and mockery as possible at all times. You don’t want your privacy invaded and personal life scrutinized? DON’T DATE MADONNA! My god, how hard is it?

Anyway, I wonder if I’ve bought too much into the recent Yankee dream – expressed by Brian Cashman, wildly embraced by much of the internet – of a generation of homegrown star players. We all wanted Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to blossom this year; but of course young players, even when cheap, are huge risks in their own right. Am I investing too much in that ideal at the risk of failing to appreciate the beauty of a bombshell free agent signing? Is anyone else having trouble getting excited about C.C.? Should I be excited about Nick Swisher, even a little? Help me out, Yankee fans. How much pessimism is healthy realism, and how much is too much?

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1 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 12:45 pm

*It’s just that it seems like with the Yankees over the last few years – as it is for most teams, most of the time, really, but wasn’t for New York from 1996 to 2001 – it’s always something.*

Oh, there was plenty going on from 96-01, from Tino & Girardi's transitions, to Cone's aneurysm, to Reuben Sierra acting up, to the trades bringing David Weathers, Graeme Lloyd, Ricky Bones & Pat Listach over, to Doc Gooden losing it to the point where he wasn't included on the playoff roster, to Wade "I'll get my 3,000th hit elsewhere" Boggs, to Cecil Fielder and Charlie Hays threatening to become free agents, etc, etc, etc... And that was just 1996.

2 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 18, 2008 12:58 pm

Just think of Manny (on a three year contract) stepping in the box with Damon on second and Jeter on first. Then think of A-Rod on-deck.

Then think about that scenario in the first game against the Bloody Sox.

3 JL25and3   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:05 pm

I understand your apprehension, Emma, but I think it's slightly misplaced. I'm not worried that they'll sign Sabathia and Teixeira, and the two will be disappointing.

I'm worried that, with or without Sabathia, they're going to sign AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe rather than Teixeira.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:07 pm

I don't care where we get the players as long as they can help us win.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:08 pm

[3] I'm worried that they're going to sign AJ Burnett period.

6 ms october   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:09 pm

good post emma.
i think after that wonderful run we expected it to just continue even though it was unrealistic and against most of our better judgment.
some high profile fas came in and while moose and gimabi played well there were no titles - and some other fas were total disasters. then an emphasis on the farm took place and the high expectations have been tantalizing but not yet really materialized yet.
so there has been a tendency to swing from unbridled optimism to inevitable doom.
but, i think some pessimism is needed for healthy realism - it mitigates the pitfalls some and makes the joy of winning sweeter.
hopefully most of the moves and youngsters will pan out - so see there's your optimism.

and agreed raf - world series wins are quite a salve.

and since you brought up cc's arm - the abuse of cc by the brewers makes we want to kick melvin hard. bleep off - maybe the yanks overbid - but the yanks didn't try to remove his arm from his massive body.

and also since you brought up arod and madonna. wtf?
all i can think of is slick rick in la di da di.

7 ms october   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:11 pm

[5] matt - i think pa wrote this line just for you:

"Maybe Burnett has turned the corner, but I’d be wary."

we should start an online petition - ajburnett has not turned a corner - stay the hell away

8 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:13 pm

I saw that. The rest of his AJ section tempered my rage though.

As for A-Rod, I've always said I can't feel bad for him because he brings this all on himself.

9 ms october   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:19 pm

and more about aj from buster olney

i know not everyone puts a ton of emphasis on quality starts, but any time someone is in the select company of scary fly ball guy, i would think that should give you pause about that pitcher

10 ColoYank   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:20 pm

I feel your pain, Emma. But think of it this way: with all the stuff that went wrong in '08, they still won 89, more during the regular season than the playoff-bound White Sox. Cashman is addressing the need for pitching, and the young guys are a year older (if not a year wiser, eh, Joba?).

I think we're going to get pleasant surprises from Posada, Swisher, and Gardner (but be less thrilled with Nady). This is a club in dire need of starting pitching, but is in a good position to help itself. More moves are afoot, and they're moves we don't have an inkling about.

Buck up! When do pitchers and catchers report?

11 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:26 pm

[9] Can someone remind me why it was so imperative that we keep Brian Cashman? It appears to me that he makes the same exact stupid ass mistakes that every other GM in baseball makes, no matter how often he *talks* about his philosophy.

He's preparing Five years and 15 mil per for AJ EFFING BURNETT?

12 tommyl   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:37 pm

Yeah, I heard about that proposed Burnett offer. That thing has got to be the stupidest idea I have yet seen. Is there some rule that we must always have at least one overrated, injury prone former Marlin pitcher? Maybe we can swing Dontrelle Willis in a trade, ugh.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:41 pm

He's a corner turner. Yankees love them some corner turners.

14 JL25and3   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:43 pm

[9] Lots of stuff concerns me in that article, even the stuff Olney meant to be good. Basically, he's saying we should pay a lot of attention to last year and ignore the rest of Pavano's career. Er, make that Burnett.

15 ny2ca2dc   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:44 pm

I don't get the navel gazing about big free agent signings. The poster children for big Yankee FAs are Giambi and Moose, and they turned out just fine thank you very much. As I see it, the real horrors have been the middle ground deals: Pavano, Wright, Farns (sorta), Unit, Igawa. Sure Bernie, Jeter, Po, ARod, Giambi, Moose's big contracts are/will be overpriced at the end, but when you sign mediocrity and you don't get what you pay for, you get nothing. At least Tex, if he's not what we expect, will likely be much better than Juan Miranda or Kevin Millar. Looking back, the FAs you regret not getting are long term stars, like Beltran and Vlad. Joe Sheehan and others at BP (like Cliff) have written quite pursuasivly that when talking abut FAs, you should "overpay" the few huge impact guys, and save your money for them by not bringing in Luis Castillo or Carlos Silva.

16 ny2ca2dc   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:45 pm

[14] well played!

17 tommyl   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:50 pm

[13] Well, if you're at the intersection of crappy and injured, it doesn't really matter which corner you turn.

18 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:51 pm

[14] Or Wright. Or Womack. Or Farnsworth.

19 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:52 pm


Cashman wanted Vlad.

Boss got Shef instead. Boss also demanded Unit. I haven't read any where though that Cashman would have signed Beltran otherwise.

20 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 1:53 pm

[17] Not to the Yankee Front Office. The fact that AJ Burnett went ONE WHOLE YEAR without hurting himself while pitching okayish means all his troubles are behind him and he's going to be healthier and better that he vere has been for some reason.

21 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:01 pm

Pedroia won the AL MVP, thank Christ.

22 tommyl   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:04 pm

[20] Except that the last time he pitched this well and this long was also a contract year, after which he sucked and got injured. But then, my job is to spot patterns in things, so maybe I'm just reading into things...argh, why is this so hard. Here is what the Yankees should do:

1. Drive a pile of money up to Tex's house
2. Pursue CC, but reasonably
3. Make Derek Lowe a reasonable offer, higher on money than on years
4. Resign Pettitte
5. Hope for Moose
6. Laugh as some other team signs Burnett

Instead they are doing this:

1. Drive a pile of money up to CC's house, so much that they are 40 million dollars above the only other offer out there
2. Ignore Tex
3. Offer Burnett 4-5 years at $15 million
4. Offer Derek Lowe something
5. Play Nick Swisher at 1B
6. Play Xavier Nady in RF
7. Hope that (a) Swisher rebounds (b) Nady's career year wasn't a complete fluke (c) Burnett has "turned the corner" and (d) CC Sabathia's arm remains attached to his body

Good luck with that plan. I'm disgusted.

23 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:07 pm

[22] Clearly you don't understand the "turn the corner" philosophy.

24 Emma Span   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:27 pm

[15] Yeah, I don't really have any inherent problem with big-money free agents per se. It's just that this particular year I'm having trouble summoning enthusiasm or much hope about the available options, even a guy like Sabathia who's obviously great (let alone Burnett -- oy). I'm not saying I'm objectively right to feel that way, though...

25 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:39 pm

@ 22 - let's wait and see what happens b4 getting too disgusted. if they open the season w/ a weak lineup and a questionable staff, then get disgusted. it's 11/18 - they are still set to go in a lot of directions.

i think they will get tex unless he's a known roi

26 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:40 pm

@ 25 - ignore the last, it was meant to be deleted.

27 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:43 pm


I'd be happy with Tex, Sabathia & Dunn.

28 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:49 pm

I agree that it's early to get too bent out of shape about the roster, but the fact that Burnett's even being considered is a bit disturbing to me. If they're going to target an injury prone pitcher, I'd rather they go after Ben Sheets. Or take a flyer on Matt Clement, Mark Prior or Kris Benson...

29 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 18, 2008 2:54 pm

A-rod led the AL in VORP last year. He can sleep with Oprah AND Dr. Phil for all I care.

30 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 3:33 pm

[29] But then I don't want to hear people cry about how unfair the media is to him.

31 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 3:44 pm

[30] Personally, I'd rather they didn't talk out their ass. You can't post numbers like he has, then say "he can't hack it in NY."

I couldn't care less who or what he does in his spare time. Given some of the foibles of those who have played for the Yanks over the years, ARod boinking Madge shouldn't even register on the radar.

32 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 3:56 pm

That's different. But if he's going to go on one of his off the field misadventures, or call all the fans racist, the media is going to cover that. And then all that scrutiny causes a slump and people point the fingers at the media, rather than the man who caused the whole situation.

33 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2008 4:21 pm

"And then all that scrutiny causes a slump?"

Slumps happen, it's the nature of the game. Blaming the media's an excuse, and a pretty lousy one at that.

34 Pete   ~  Nov 18, 2008 4:37 pm

Don't want to alarm anyone in charge of the site, but in Firefox for the Mac I'm completely missing the top banner that reads "Alex Belth's Bronx Banter". For me it just starts with the top article...

35 monkeypants   ~  Nov 18, 2008 5:19 pm

The site appears pretty chunky on Safari for Mac, as well, and the comments box does not "fit" within the central column, making it hard to see what you are typing. Love the blog, but not a fan of the new layout.

36 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 18, 2008 7:10 pm

30 who does that? i think the media gets a free pass when it comes to A-Rod because he doesn't seem to be a very easy to like guy.

37 Yankee Fan in Boston   ~  Nov 18, 2008 7:12 pm

i completely understand the burnett-inspired apprehension. he (and another free agent pitcher who shall remain nameless) remind me of this guy:


part of me wonders if ca$hman floated burnett's name in an effort to gain leverage. to imply that the yankees have plenty of pitching options.

this could be wishful thinking, but it helps me sleep at night.

38 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 8:58 pm

MLB.com is reporting that the Yankees are ready to give AJ a five year, 80 million dollar contract.

Remind me again why I'm supposed to believe in the monkeys running this team?

39 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 18, 2008 9:14 pm

[38] i didn't see that! for feck's sake..if they offer that to Burnett and he accepts...i may have to retreat to the YakultSwallowsBlog next season and give up on the Yankees..there is NO upside to Burnett!!

40 monkeypants   ~  Nov 18, 2008 10:14 pm

@38, 39

Maybe they are, maybe not. This sounds like smoke to. The article on MLB.com only cites a NY Post report from Tuesday. The first paragraph is even better: "While the Yankees wait for an answer from CC Sabathia, the organization will move forward on at least one more free-agent pitching front, reportedly preparing an offer for right-hander A.J. Burnett."

"Is reported"...by whom?

I refuse to get worked up over such crack "reporting."

41 Yankster   ~  Nov 18, 2008 10:30 pm

Swisher hit .214 last year - of course you should be excited about him - can't get much worse next year, so he's all upside.

42 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 10:33 pm

[40] I have no reason to believe they won't do it. And frankly, with this team's track record, I'd be shocked if they don't.

43 monkeypants   ~  Nov 18, 2008 10:48 pm


Fine. I figured you'd say something along these lines. But press your thinking further: you would be surprised if the Yankees would not sign Burnett. If so, then you must have figured they will sign him, and so any unsubstantiated NY Post report should have little effect on your calculation. Surely such a report should not make you *more* inclined to think the worst, no?

So again, whether you are convinced the Yankees are fools and will make such a bad deal (you), or whether you prefer to reserve judgement (me), this vague and unsubstantiated report should have no measurable impact on one's thinking.

44 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:20 pm

I'm preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. I think this team will sign AJ Burnett. I hope against all reason that they won't. I desperately look for any indication that I'm wrong. I've yet to find one. I desperately want this team to prove me wrong.

I keep saying that this team hasn't learned the Carl Pavano lesson, but to be honest, I'm beginning to think that the team doesn't even think signing Pavano was a mistake.

45 monkeypants   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:26 pm


Again, assuming what you say is true, then this recent "report" should not even warrant a comment from you. Even if you think "this team will sign Burnett," the MLB.com-via-NY-Post-via-no-sources report adds exactly no evidence, no confirmation. Therefore, there is no reason to get worked up it.

46 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:45 pm

38. George. King.

Re. Lax.

47 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:48 pm

Just because I expect the Yankees to blow this doesn't mean I'm not going to call them all out on it when they do.

48 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:49 pm

[46] Just to be clear, AJ Burnett at any price, at any amount of years, under any circumstance is unacceptable. 5 years and 80 million would just be dirt in the wound.

49 monkeypants   ~  Nov 18, 2008 11:52 pm


Indeed yes. "Report" still means nothing. Not worth getting worked up over.

50 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:09 am

This isn't worked up. This is me being realistically optimistic. Maybe someone will come to their senses before the offer is presented.

Worked up will be when they make this stupid move and I still have to listen to people tell me that I "have to have faith in Cash!" to fix the latest mess he created.

51 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:17 am


Even paying attention to such "reports" is a waste of intellectual capital.

52 RollingWave   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:26 am

[48] nah, under some conditions it would be acceptable (like say 3/30) but that's highly unlikely to happen)

53 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:29 am

If you' d like, I can ignore the reports and just post under the assumption that the Yankees are going to make yet another gigantic, easily avoidable mistake.

54 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:38 am

[51] how dare you say the New York Post is a "waste of intellectual capital"!! Cindy Adams is surely the world's greatest living journalist...

..waiting on CC....could be sitcom pilot title?

55 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:41 am


If that's what you call being "realistically optimistic." It would be an improvement of sorts over gullible (see #38) or demanding a near logical impossibility (see #44, looking for indications that the team will not do X).

56 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:41 am

[52] No, that would still be awful. Half a mil per start isn't good either.

More than anything, I want some kind of confirmation that the Yankees learned SOMETHING from the Pavano disaster. Signing AJ Burnett at any cost will prove that they have not, and that we have no reason to believe they ever will evaluate a player's whole career before they sign him.

57 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:59 am

[56] What *confirmation* could possibly satisfy you? Apparently NOT signing Burnett would do the trick, which is of course negative evidence. But, so long as they have not signed him, the team provides you with as much confirmation as they can within the parameters of negative evidence. So, until they actually sign Burnett (IF they in fact do so), posts such as [56] are superfluous.

58 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:12 am

I'm not going to have any confirmation until AJ Burnett is safely anywhere else or the team publicly pulls out of the AJ Sweepstakes.

Since I don't expect either anytime soon, if at all, I'll stick to my default assumption that they Yankee front office is going to blow it again unless something happens to change my mind.

59 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 8:29 am

So.... aside from CC, who is our second choice? I don't think Lowe is any better then Andy, and anything more then 2 years would be nuts. Peavy is a NL pitcher who will cost to much (in trade). Sheets? Garland? Penny? Wolf? They all have issues.

And Cashman said 'we are NOT one and done'. If this is his intention, why would he say it? I have never known Cashman to tip his hat. Swisher. ARod. JD. IRod. This guy is usually stealth. Is this really a ploy for Tex? And if we get CC, we really don't need another SP.

Like everyone, I pray we don't get AJ. My gut feeling is Cashman is bluffing. At least I hope so.

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