"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Rotation: I Believe The Children Are Our Future

Ryan Dempster signed a four-year, $52 million deal to remain a Cub, while rumor has it the Yankees plan to offer A.J. Burnett $80 million for five years (fortunately one Yankee official has already dismissed those figures as “nonsense”). I’ll take a closer look at the Yankees’ options for outside pitching help tomorrow. Today, I want to look at the Yankees in-house options and prospects in an attempt to give some perspective to the proceedings.

2008 Yankee Starting Pitchers

Mike Mussina 34 3.37 1.22 4.84 5.6
Andy Pettitte (L) 33 4.54 1.41 2.87 2.4
Darrell Rasner 20 5.40 1.56 1.74 1.1
Chien-Ming Wang 15 4.07 1.32 1.54 2.3
Sidney Ponson 15 5.08 1.62 1.21 0.9
Joba Chamberlain 12 2.76 1.30 2.96 2.4
Ian Kennedy 9 8.35 1.96 1.00 -0.4
Phil Hughes 8 6.62 1.71 1.53 0.3
Carl Pavano 7 5.77 1.49 1.50 0.2
Alfredo Aceves 4 2.74 1.22 1.13 1.0
Dan Giese 3 3.78 1.01 2.60 0.5
Kei Igawa (L) 1 13.50 3.25 n/a -0.3
Brian Bruney 1 0.00 1.00 4.00 0.2
13 pitchers 162 4.58 1.42 2.24 16.2

*Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Against Replacement: a Baseball Prospectus statistic based on win expectancy and adjusted for run support and the strength of opposing lineups that essentially measures wins above replacement level.

Removing the free agents, Rasner, who was sold to Japan, and Bruney, whose lone start was actually a preemptive relief appearance as Joe Girardi attempted to out-smart an early-season rain storm in Kansas City, the 2008 starters still in the organization are:

Pitcher Age* GS ’08 ERA WHIP K/BB SNLVAR
Chien-Ming Wang 29 15 4.07 1.32 1.54 2.3
Joba Chamberlain 23 12 2.76 1.30 2.96 2.4
Phil Hughes 22 8 6.62 1.71 1.53 0.3
Alfredo Aceves 26 4 2.74 1.22 1.13 1.0
Ian Kennedy 24 9 8.35 1.96 1.00 -0.4
Dan Giese 31 3 3.78 1.01 2.60 0.5
Kei Igawa (L) 29 1 18.00 3.66 n/a -0.3

*on Opening Day 2009

Even in that group, Giese is a career reliever, who successfully experimented with starting in triple-A last year, but is more likely to return to the bullpen, and Igawa is a three-time loser in pinstripes who is unlikely to get another chance without first having a breakthrough in the minors. Given the struggles of Kennedy and Hughes last year, the innings limits on Hughes and Chamberlain (both of whom will likely be capped at 150 frames in 2009), and questions about Hughes’ durability, it’s clear that the Yankees need outside help in the rotation for next year.

That said, in stark contrast to the first base depth chart I posted the other day, the Yankees do have pitching on the way in the minor leagues. To begin with, the only pitchers on the above list who will be in their 30s by this time next year are Giese and Igawa. Wang and Chamberlain, despite making just 15 and 12 starts respectively, were among the Yankees most valuable starters in 2008, with Chamberlain tying Andy Pettitte in SNLVAR despite making 21 fewer starts. Hughes remains the youngest pitcher on the list, and at 22 is just a year younger than top 2008 draft pick and former Stanford star Jeremy Bleich.

Hughes added a very effective cutter to his resume after returning from his rib injury last year and finished the season with a very strong eight-inning start for the big club. Still, he has been inconsistent in the Arizona Fall League (though he’s really there just to increase his innings for 2008) and the Yankees would be justified in starting him in Triple-A again in 2009 given his struggles this year and his still very young age. Still, he should ultimately make a significant number of starts for the Yankees in 2009 and be an important part of the 2010 rotation along with Wang and Chamberlain.

That already leaves just two more spots in the 2010 rotation, with many more arms on the way. Kennedy, a lesser prospect to begin with, was worse than Hughes in the majors this year, but better than him in Triple-A. Kennedy may need at least a half season if not more in Triple-A to regain both his game and the team’s confidence in his abilities, but he remains a potential mid-rotation starter, and pitched well for the Yankees in three starts at the end of the 2007 season. There’s a very real chance that he could be an important part of the 2010 rotation as well, leaving just one spot.

Enter Alfredo Aceves, a Mexican League product who raced through the Yankees system last year and profiles as a back-of-the rotation starter. Like Jorge Campillo, another Mexican League product who emerged as a reliable starter for the Braves this year, Aceves has no dominant pitch, doesn’t throw especially hard, and is unlikely to ever really dominate anyone, but throws strikes, does an excellent job of mixing his wide variety of pitches, and can keep opponents off balance. At worst, he’s an improvement on the Sidney Ponsons of the world. At best, he could be a solid number four or a very strong number five in a rotation led by Chamberlain, Wang, Hughes, and Kennedy and/or one of this winter’s free agents.

And that’s just the guys who have already made major league starts for the team. In Tampa last year, Zach McAllister, the Yankees’ third round pick behind Chamberlain and Hughes in 2006, posted a 1.83 ERA while walking just 13 men in 88 2/3 innings. McAllistar, a big righty drafted out of an Illinois high school, posted those numbers in High-A as a 20-year-old in his first year of full-season ball after similarly dominating the Sally League in the first half of the season. Given 2009 in Double-A and 2010 in Triple-A, McAllister could join the Yankee rotation in 2011 without being rushed.

Behind him is yet another 2006 draftee, towering Brooklyn native Dellin Betances. Also 20, also in his first year of full-season ball, Betances started the 2008 season very raw after having thrown just 25 innings for short-season Staten Island in 2007, but by the end of the year he appeared to have put it all together. In his final 11 Sally League starts, Betances struck out 71 men in 60 1/3 innings while walking just 19 (a 3.74 K/BB) and allowing just one home run. He might be a year behind McAllister, but given his talent, he could catch up quickly.

Suddenly, we’re looking at a 2011 Yankee rotation that has the potential to be overstuffed from homegrown talent alone: Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy, McAllister, Betances. Even if Betances doesn’t arrive until 2012, signing just one free agent to a four-year deal squeezes two of those pitchers out of the 2012 rotation. Wang will have reached free agency by then himself, and surely at least one of these pitchers won’t pan out, but even if Wang leaves and one of the kids flops, signing just one starter to a long-term contract this winter books the 2012 rotation solid and gives the team a surplus of viable starters as soon as 2010.

And there’s still more talent in the system. Eighteen-year-old Dominican righty Jairo Heredia struck out 95 in 102 1/3 innings while posting a 3.25 ERA as Betances’s teammate in Charleston this year. Again, that’s an 18-year-old having success in A-ball, and, I should add, sporting a strong groundball rate. Top 2007 pick Andrew Brackman, the 6-foot-11 righty out of North Carolina State, is shaking off the rust from his Tommy John surgery in the Hawaiian winter league as you read this. The rust is evident, but he has struck out 36 men in 34 innings and has held righties to a .176 average. He’s about to turn 23 and could wind up in the bullpen, but as a former college hurler, he could also continue to start and move quickly once he gets back up to strength.

Speaking of college hurlers, top 2008 pick Jeremy Bleich, a lefty out of Stanford who idolizes Andy Pettitte and profiles like a left-handed Ian Kennedy with more of a bulldog attitude, has been dominating in Hawaii, going 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA and 31 strikeouts against nine walks and a lone homer in 30 2/3 innings. Bleich should start the 2009 season in full-season ball, and, like fellow college arms Chamberlain and Kennedy, could move quickly toward the Yankee rotation.

Here, then, is a list of the Yankees’ top pitching talent under the age of 25, a list that doesn’t include such names as Alan Horne (who will be 26 in January and had a disastrous, injury-riddled 2008 season), Chase Wright (a lefty who will be 26 in February, but is coming off a solid year split between Double- and Triple-A after an unfortunate stint in the majors in 2007), Erick Hacker (the latest addition to the 40-man roster, he’ll be 26 in March and is coming off a strong Double-A season), Jason Jones (who turns 26 tomorrow, also looked good in Double-A Trenton last year and had two solid starts for Triple-A Scranton as well), Phil Coke (another 26-year-old who had a good year in Trenton last year then dominated in the major leagues in September after being moved into the bullpen), or Christian Garcia (a 23-year-old righty who can’t stay healthy, but spent last year with Tampa and pitched very well when he did):

Pitcher Age 2008 Stats
Level ERA K/BB
Joba Chamberlain 23 MLB 2.76* 2.96*
Phil Hughes 22 AAA 5.90 3.44
Ian Kennedy 24 AAA 2.35 4.24
George Kontos 23 AA 3.68 2.67
Zach McAllister 21 A+ 1.83 4.77
Dellin Betances 21 A 3.67 2.29
Jairo Heredia 19 A 3.25 2.21
Jeremy Bleich (L) 21 HWB 2.05 3.44
Andrew Brackman 23 HWB 5.56 1.44

*as starter only

The one name on that list that I haven’t mentioned yet is George Kontos, another 2006 draft pick (fifth round) and a Northwestern product like current Yankee manager Joe Girardi. Kontos seems more on par with the Jason Joneses and Phil Cokes of the world, but he’s still just 23, has a 3.16 K/BB ratio in two and a half minor league seasons, and is within shouting distance of the major leagues. He bears watching, even if, on raw talent alone, he’s the least of the nine pitchers listed above.

Nine pitchers. Maybe Brackman winds up in the pen. Maybe Kontos is nothings special. Maybe one of the others flops or is derailed by injury. Maybe Jairo Heredia doesn’t mature the way one might hope. That still leaves five top-flight pitching prospects in the system, a full rotation’s worth, and that doesn’t count the five 26 year olds I mentioned above, Aceves, or Chien-Ming Wang.

Though things look sparse at the major league level right now, the Yankees are simply awash in pitching from an organizational perspective. An overenthusiastic effort to sign several big-money free agent starters to long-term contracts this winter will serve only to stifle the cheap, team-controlled talent set to arrive in the near future. In contrast, the Yankee system is nearly barren when it comes to everyday player prospects. Center fielder Austin Jackson is the only notable hitting prospect in the organization to have played above the Sally League, and catcher Jesus Montero is the only prospect in the system who projects as an elite run producer at the plate.

Given that stark discrepancy, the Yankees free agent focus should not be on pitching, but on hitting. Whenever an elite run producer becomes available while still in his 20s, the Yankees absolutely must prioritize that player in order to compensate for their failure to properly stock the farm system with bats. When such a player becomes available at a position of existing need at the major league level, as is the case with Mark Teixeira this offseason, the Yankees have an obligation to their fans and the future of the franchise to sign that player.

It’s quite possible that none of the young pitchers listed above will mature into the sort of dominant ace that CC Sabathia has become, but then again, one might. In fact, more than one might. There is, however, no chance of any player in the Yankee farm system maturing into an all-around defensive and offensive weapon on par with Mark Teixeira. If Brian Cashman is serious about the team-building process he began in the winter of 2005, if Hal Steinbrenner is serious about allowing Cashman to execute his vision, the Yankees must immediately revamp their plans to focus on signing Teixeira.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Hot Stove

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1 Cru Jones   ~  Nov 19, 2008 10:38 am

Fine, but at what cost, in terms of years/dollars?

2 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 10:41 am

Still banging the Teixeira drum? In that case, I'll continue to bang the anti-Teixieira drum:

1) 1B isn't the place to invest significant resources, years more so than cash. When a 1B ages fast (as most do), there's no where to put them without seriously hurting roster flexibility.
2) There's a significantly better hitter also on the free agent market and he'll require only a three-year deal cause the Dodgers aren't giving him four.
3) The Yanks need to keep 1B open for the many players that will need to cycle through there in the 6 to 8 years ahead. That list includes Jeter (going for 3000 hits in 2011), Posada (unable to throw to 2B in a least one of the remaining years), and A-Rod (sooner or later his range will be Jeterian). That list could also include Miranda (if he continues to make strides as in the AFL) and Montero (since he won't be a catcher and hits much better when he isn't).

On the pitching front, I couldn't agree more with the analysis. Based on that, I think the Yanks are trying first for CC. If he comes through, they'll look to get a short-term solution to round out the rotation (Pettitte, Moose, maybe even Sheets). On this theory they're floating offers to Burnett and Lowe in case CC doesn't sign. In that case they may be prepared to sign both Burnett and Lowe to guarantee themselves 300 innings in 2009.

Signing all three is obviously out of the question, unless you're a NY tabloid with nothing else to warm the hot stove.

3 ny2ca2dc   ~  Nov 19, 2008 10:44 am

[0] Boo Ya.

Going after "all the pitchers" smacks of solving the problems of the last 3-5 years without regard for current realities, or future likelihoods.

4 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 10:51 am

Kennedy pitched last night in Puerto Rico:

5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K

Total so far:
12.2IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 9 BB, 14 K

5 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:06 am

[2], from the long 1B discussion the other day, I think its clear you won't be moved from your position on Tex.

But what about Manny?

You want the Yanks to sign a guy who will be 37 next year, has knee issues - and ought to, right now, be a full-time DH - to a three-year contract? And then play him in RF, where he last played 9 years ago?

So, instead of getting younger, and more athletic in the field, you want the Yanks to get older, and worse on defense? (Except that its hard to do worse than Abreu did in RF, so maybe they maintain the status quo. Yay!)

I don't get it.

6 tommyl   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:08 am

Going after all these pitchers just smacks of the same approach that got us into this mess. Its just taking a shotgun approach and ignoring what the team actually needs. The reason the Yankees are awash in pitching is that where they typically draft the top position prospects are usually off the table, leaving signability or injury concern pitchers. That's how they got Joba for example (who was taken btw, after IPK). Assuming the Yankees stay reasonably competitive, that will not change anytime soon, leaving the farm to likely continue to slant towards pitching. This team needs to sign position FAs, and elite ones. The pitchers are all a red herring, I wish someone employed by the Yankees would see this.

7 tommyl   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:09 am

One last thing, I campaigned hard to keep Cash around, because I felt he had the patience and know how to execute his vision. If this team even makes an offer to AJ Burnett, I'll admit I was wrong. I'm hoping I'm not, but its beginning to appear that way, sigh.

8 tommyl   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:10 am

[2] Keeping 1B open to cycle through players long past their prime instead of signing a superstar level talent in his prime at that position is a weird argument to be making. Keeping CF open for AJax is one thing, keeping 1B open for a precipitously declining Jeter is another.

9 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:13 am

Can anyone make an argument for AJ? I'll admit, I have an attitude against guys with great stuff who aren't necessarily great, who don't live up to their potential. Burnett fits that bill. Electric, dynamic "stuff," but barely over at .500 pitcher for his career. But maybe I'm missing something.

10 tommyl   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:15 am

[9] He's "turned a corner" ;)

11 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:16 am


If they were signing Tex for four years, I could be moved. Even four expensive years (4/100). It's not the money to me, it's the roster space. It doesn't remove the worry from #3, but it lessens it, especially with Matsui and Damon gone after 2009

Manny was an average LF in the NL. And those, especially Chavez Ravine, are big LFs in the NL West. So your exclusive DH point isn't true. RF in Yankee Stadium is very manageable. He'd be no worse defensively than Abreu, but he'd better with the stick and especially help them against southpaws.. That's an upgrade for now with the flexibility for later. Win-win.

Besides, an OF of Damon, Gardner, and Nady gives back all of the runs the infield MIGHT produce above-average. That is, if Jeter and Cano rebound. Manny is a better hitter than Teixeira so there's more room for error.

12 horace_clarke_era   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:24 am

The only possible case for Burnett gets destroyed by a 5-6 year deal. It is possible to see keeping tabs on AJ and Lowe in case Sabathia incurs union wrath and signs for 20-30 million less somewhere else. But going beyond 3 years for either makes no sense at all, even though AJ will likely GET 5 from someone.

We do need starters for innings this year, as Cliff's superb analysis indicates. With Hughes and Joba both limited (and Phil still a dicey proposition) and Andy equally dicey after his 2nd half numbers, and Mussina flirting with sayonara ... if the Yankees have any desire to actually compete with Boston and Tampa Bay this year then, yes, they need starters. This is not a team that can (or should) aim for 2011, so here I disagree with what seems to be the import of Cliff's argument. Young pitchers enter as relievers, or become valuable trade chips then.

13 Diane Firstman   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:26 am

Sox trade Coco Crisp to Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez (guess they wanted to keep the alliteration going)

14 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:28 am

@ 8

Except they have no choice. Those players are already signed. Thinking about what to do with them should very much be part of the equation. And while I shudder to think about Jeter in 2011, if he's 100 hits short of 3000, I'd much rather see him do that at 1B for the Yanks than at SS for them or another team. Hell, he should be a 1B/DH right now. If his bat recovers just a little bit, he's an average hitter there.


Not really, but here's a shot:

1) He's killed the Yanks previously. Signing him prevents him from throwing against them.

vs. Yanks: 77 IP, 2.43 ERA, 78 K, 23 BB,

2) That said, he's been very good in the AL East parks - fantastic (<1.00 ERA but only 3 games) at Fenway, excellent (<3.00 ERA) at Yankee Stadium and the Trop, and very good (<4.00 ERA) at Camden Yards and the Skydome.

For the inflated cost, given the market and the likelihood of innings missed, it's nto a great signing. But if they lose out on CC, it is justifiable especially in tandem with Lowe.

15 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:31 am

Alex, come on you're using winning percentage to grade a pitcher? I'm no Burnett fan, but he has put up ERA+ of 115, 119, and 105 in his AL tenure. So with more run support his record probably looks better.

My real opposition to Burnett is rooted in his fragility more than his suckiness.

16 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:36 am

@ 13

I don't see how handing the position to Ellsbury is a good move after the way he finished. Shows how much they needed bullpen help. But better to have Masterson start than to sign Lowe. Still, why not sign a guy like Wood then they could still have a backup CF in case Ellsbury continues to do the Melky? I wonder if they have another move on tap, but it would be weird to acquire another CF when you aren't sure which way Ellsbury is headed. And Crisp was on a decent contract. Weird move.

17 jimcobain   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:48 am


Unless of course they plan on moving Youk to the outfield with Drew moving to center after they sign Tex. Or if they plan to sign Dunn to play right, or trade young pitching for Matt Kemp. There are plenty of reasons why moving Crisp is a good move.

I'm getting scared the only moves the Yankees will make is throwing big money at pitching and ignoring offensive problems.

18 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 19, 2008 11:49 am

[9] Something about corners.

19 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:11 pm

[11], I'm just not worried about roster space for hitters in 2011. The only two kid hitters who will be in MLB by then are Jackson and Cervelli. I foresee plenty of room for Tex.

I agree that RF is easier than LF (in YS2 at least). But Manny's 2 months in the NL is small sample size. How well did he play LF for years before the trade? Indifferent at best, poor at worst.

I also don't know why you worry about Tex declining at 33, but have no fears that Manny isn't going to decline at 37. Or 38. Or 39.

Lastly, if the Dodgers are offering 3 years, and that's not enough to get him to sign, how is a 3 year offer from the Yanks going to pull him in? To me, if 3 years isn't enough, then the Yanks have to go to 4. Ugh.

20 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:14 pm


Sure, the first part makes some sense. But Drew in that big Fenway CF?

I don't see why they'd trade anything, though, to "upgrade" in CF. Ellsbury has been fantastic at times. It's way too soon to give up on him, and Crisp was decent insurance.

I don't think the Yanks are underestimating the offense. The pitching could just be a rope-a-dope. Both big hitters are Boras clients and if they give a hint they're involved, he'll use it against them. I really think Cashman knows how to play his game: As with Damon, show no interest and even feign disinterest, gather information on the going rate, then win the bidding at the last minute. I'm guessing, of course, but with Teixeira I think the going rate will be too much. The Angels have too much interest. However, with Manny, I don't think the Dodgers, given their owner, will swallow hard. After all they only traded for him when it was obvious he wasn't going to cost them anything. And who else would sign Manny? He'll be ripe for the plucking.

21 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:15 pm

Alex, yeah: he's got great stuff and can really dominate hitters.

I left out the "if he's healthy and if his head is in it" qualifiers, but that's where the argument falls apart.

hce, great point. If the Yanks package up some of the pitching prospects in a trade or trades for some awesome young hitters, than I have no issues with signing CC and Lowe. But first I want to see the awesome young hitters.

22 Raf   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:16 pm

[16] It's a good deal; the Sox upgrade their pen (Ramirez over Timlin), upgrade their rotation (Masterson over Byrd/Colon), upgrade their defense (Ellsbury over Crisp), with comparable offensive results.

23 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:27 pm

[13] Hey, wait a minute - isn't that Ramirez kid the one who was in the Chacon trade way back when?

24 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:27 pm


Manny was playing LF in Fenway. You simply can't look at his defensive numbers there and conclude anything because there's nowhere in baseball like it. If there are defensive road splits from his Boston days, though, I'd be interested in seeing them. RF in YS 2.0 is the same dimensions as YS 1.5.

Manny hasn't declined yet and once he left Boston there's been every reason to think he's the same hitter he's always been. If anything, he's proven that his bat has aged well (like Bonds). He hasn't lost his selectivity nor his power. But like I said, I'd rather give the roster spot away for three years than six or eight years, especially since Manny is the better hitter of the two. Those two factors - half the contract with slightly better production - pushes me strongly into the Manny camp.

I can't see how the Dodgers are in a position to top a 3 year AAV from the Yankees. They might be willing to go 3/60 but I don't see how their owner goes 3/75. The Yankees easily can. Is there any team that would be willing to go to four years with Manny? I don't see it.

25 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:28 pm



26 Raf   ~  Nov 19, 2008 12:33 pm


Yep, same one

27 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:10 pm

Manny has decent hands in the outfield, but can't run... and doesn't want to. As bad as Bobby was, there was a chance he could reach the gap. Manny has no chance. Manny is still an elite bat, but once he gets a 4 year contract, there's no telling how he will play. He gets pissed off at nothing, and then dogs it. The Sox treated him like gold. Everyone looked the other way when Manny was being Manny. He's too risky. I don't trust him.

28 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:21 pm

From ESP: Today's stupidest idea comes from Oakland:
Lew Wolff has a way to shorten baseball's postseason: Make the first round best-of-one. "I'd make it one-game-and-you're-out for the first series," the Oakland Athletics owner said Wednesday. "It would be exciting. It would be great."

29 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:26 pm

@ 26

Hmm, so you're making things up AND reading his mind. That's pretty fantastic analysis.

In LA, Manny had an average range factor. In NY, Abreu had a below average range factor. Furthermore, Pinto (PMR) says Manny's range is equivalent to Nady's and much better than Abreu's. Baseball Prospectus (FRAA = 2; RATE = 104) says Manny was a net positive in LA.

I'll ask again: Who's going to give Manny a four year deal? Name one team.

And no, the Sox treated Papi like gold. They treated Manny like a sidekick. Big difference. Frankly, I don't care if I like him if he hits like he has.

Too risky? With an OBP of .400 or a SLG of .600?

30 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:32 pm

[26] I wouldn't look at it mainly from a personality aspect ("He gets pissed off at nothing, and then dogs it") but in all practicality, he's Edgar Martinez 2.0 at this point. What does that mean for the Yanks in 2009? A big bat on the bench with unknowns in regard to starting pitching and defense. That's no way to build a roster that's supposed to compete, but it is one way to cash in on a new stadium. And I still suspect Manny alone will not produce the kind of offense that will put the team over the top in the playoffs.

Hey, if Cash does sign CC, ya think there might be a stronger notion to trade a pitching prospect and some baggage for David DeJesus for CF?

31 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:43 pm


"If they were signing Tex for four years, I could be moved. Even four expensive years (4/100). It’s not the money to me, it’s the roster space."

Except, instead of paying a guy 100 million for four years, you go for, say, 120 million for 6 years, you can still cut him loose after four years, free up the roster spot, and only cost yourself 20 million (or less than 4 million/year, for a team with a 200 million salary). It's not just the total number of years, or the total amount money involved, but a combination f the two--AND the construction of the rest of the roster.

I appreciate the argument that the team needs to be careful with roster spots, but worrying about roster spots five years down the road is a bit paranoid.

32 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:48 pm


Again, the guy played an average LF in big NL West parks:

Dodger Stadium: 330 ft to the pole; 375 ft to the gap
Coors Field: 347ft to the pole; 390ft to the gap
Petco Park: 334ft to the pole; 367ft to the gap
AT&T Park: 339 to the pole; 364ft to the gap
Chase Field: 330ft to the pole; 374ft to the gap

33 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:51 pm

Teixeira is a very good player who will help any team he goes too, but there is no way you can consider him a transcendent make-or-break addition. With Moose likely to retire, Wang coming of an injury and Pettitte’s future up in the air, the Yankees need to solidify their pitching depth. Even though the staff was league average last year, that was more the result of the bullpen than the starters. Also, return or not, the Yankees will need to match a very good season by Mussina. When you add all of that onto the innings restrictions and uncertainty surrounding Hughes and Joba, then I think it becomes obvious that the Yankees need o make a big play for C.C. and perhaps even Lowe/Burnett if they want to be a true playoff contender.

[5] Getting younger and more athletic is meaningless if you do not get better. Adding Manny’s bat to the Yankees lineup would net them the biggest offensive gain possible.

[9] It’s a simple argument…maybe Burnett will finally be healthy. Sometimes pitchers just happen to find better health later in their careers. Wins aside, Burnett’s ERA+ has been very solid over the past 5 years, so if he could only stay healthy, he’d make a very good #3-type starter. It’s clearly a risk, but it’s not like the Yankees are eyeing him as a cure-all. If things go to plan, you’d have a rotation of C.C., Wang, Burnett, Pettitte/Lowe and Joba/Hughes. That is more than enough depth to mitigate against the risk of Burnett only starting 20 games.

34 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 1:59 pm

@ 30

No team thinks: "Heck, we could have had him for 4/100, so we can cut him loose now in year 5 for only an extra 20 million!". They never showed a willingness to cut Giambi. It doesn't happen that way.

Teixeira could be putting up a .825 OPS in year 5. Problem is he'd be extremely overpriced and clogging the roster.

"I appreciate the argument that the team needs to be careful with roster spots, but worrying about roster spots five years down the road is a bit paranoid."

Yeah, that's worked well so far. It's called building an organization rather than a year-to-year fantasy team. Failing to do so is why they have four 1B/DH types already signed for the 2009 season. Pretending otherwise means you're fielding a team with one of the worst defensive SS's in baseball, a 38 year old catcher who couldn't throw to second last year, a LF that can't throw out a runner advancing 1st to 3B on a single, and another LF with two knee surgeries in one year. And just think - of those contracts, three of the four were *only* four-year deals. The fourth was the ever-famous Winfield special for which the Yankees have a particular fondness.

You can, mostly certainly should, be thinking five years down the line.

35 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 2:37 pm


"Teixeira could be putting up a .825 OPS in year 5. Problem is he’d be extremely overpriced and clogging the roster."

Overpriced is irrelevant (unless we are talking 6 years at 200 million or the like). If you pay 4/100 or 6/120, the cost is essentially the same.

As for roster clogging, we simply keep coming back to the same point. You see that space in five years as a serious risk of clogging the roster, I simply do not.

"Yeah, that’s worked well so far. It’s called building an organization rather than a year-to-year fantasy team. Failing to do so is why they have four 1B/DH types already signed for the 2009 season."

That's a bit unfair. Who are these four DH/1B types already signed for next year?

The roster inflexibility in the past was caused by signing multiple aging players to long-term, overlapping deals. That is just not the case (yet) with this off-season.

36 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 2:50 pm

Kettle meet black. You're calling me "paranoid" and I'm the one being unfair?

I laid out the four. Here are their names:

Jeter: "one of the worst defensive SS’s in baseball"
Posada: "a 38 year old catcher who couldn’t throw to second last year"
Damon: "a LF that can’t throw out a runner advancing 1st to 3B on a single"
Matsui: "LF with two knee surgeries in one year"

Signing Teixeira is the same disease. It's not where he is today. It's where he will be at the tail end of that contract - like Damon (much better in 2005), Matsui (ditto), Jeter (much better in 1999), and Posada (much better in 2007). Again - that's three four-year deals and one ten-year deal.

Teixeira for four years? I'm fine.
For six or eight? Let the Angels have him.

37 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:33 pm


"Pretending otherwise means you’re fielding a team with one of the worst defensive SS’s in baseball, a 38 year old catcher who couldn’t throw to second last year, a LF that can’t throw out a runner advancing 1st to 3B on a single, and another LF with two knee surgeries in one year. And just think - of those contracts, three of the four were *only* four-year deals."

This is a poor comparison. Those *only* four year deals were made with players who were already into their thirties. Everybody on this board complained about them at the time, or at least recognized that year 4 of Matsui, Damon and Posada were likely to be poor values. I mean really, Posada signed a four-year deal staring in his age 36 season, and he plays catcher. In what universe is that comparable to a six year deal for a 1B that would start in his age 29 season?

38 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:46 pm

In the universe where six-year deals seldom pan out well for a 1B past his prime - this one. And that's if Tex can be had for *only* six years. Signing him might require a seven or eight year deal.

You said ten years is out of the question. Is that the only case when you jump from the bandwagon?

39 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:47 pm

BumRush - while I disagree, I can at least see your logic. However, you tend to exaggerate and distort a bit.
1) Who are our 4 DH/1Bman?
2) Jeter, Posada, Damon, Matsui
... JD and Matsui are gone after 2009, yet you use them to argue keeping 1B open in the future? Jeter, by your own post, was in the top 25% of SSs last year, which was also his first year. You think he would even be in the top half of 1Bman? Jeter's contract has 2 more years (09,10). You want to make decisions for THIS year based on what might be with Jeter in 2012?
3) Manny played 40% of ONE season in LA. He was also in a contract year, trying to 'prove' the Sox wrong, and probably playing as hard as he had since his rookie year. I have probably watched (on TV) about 150 Sox games a year since Manny joined the team, I've also seen pre and post game shows, various Boston Sport talk shows, and the Boston News. Sorry to be conceited, but I value what I have seen over 8 years over park dimensions (???) and 60 games. Manny can't, and doesn't run down fly balls. He will come in on LDs and chase some pop ups. And of course, you are assuming Manny will play hard AFTER he has a contract for 3 or 4 more years, when all the historical evidence says Manny will quit for any reason, whenever he wants. And of course, he ain't getting younger,
5) In terms of 1Bman breaking down... probably true, as you have a lot of all hit, big, lumbering types at that position, who were never good athletes in the first place. I'm not sure I put Tex in that category.
6) Giambi played 1st base this year because he was the best we had. He actually had a decent year in the field (considering he's always been a poor fielder), saved a lot of bad throws, and managed a .860 OPS. I believe he led the team in RSAA.
7) there are 30 teams with maybe a 100 years of playing games. Have all these teams saved 1B for their aging stars?
8) If Po can still hit, I'd rather put him at DH where he is not a defensive liability, so I wouldn't sign any DH types.... at least until we see if Po can throw. If he can throw decently this year, he may be good for another year or 2 at C.
9) Holliday and Crawford may be available next year. There are other OFers coming on the market in 2010. Manny turned down 3/$60 from his beloved Dodgers. He will get 3 years, and maybe 4. The Yanks aren't the only team to make desparate moves.

Hey!!!! The Cubs want to dump Sori. They may pay some of his ($18m/yr) salary. He has 6 years left. If he can be gotten for $13/$14 yr, is he worth a look? He have been pretty healthy and has the type of body that holds up. He is an .850 career OPS guy, can still run, and is at least average (??) in the OF? Worth a thought. Yes, he would be overpaid in his last few years.... but it's 'only' money. He is still a relatively high impact guy.

40 ChrisS   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:50 pm

In what universe is that comparable to a six year deal for a 1B that would start in his age 29 season?

Because he's essentially getting a 4-year deal starting in his age 31 season? If a player follows a typical career path, the years of the best offensive ability are between 26-30. I don't doubt that Teixeria is a very good hitter that will likely produce well into his 30s, but don't waste money/years/roster space on a 1B just because he's the best thing going this year.

I'm of the opinion that money and years are not invested properly in premium first basemen. Economic leverage is better suited for positional players further left on the defensive spectrum (like A-Rod or Beltran). A league average 1B can be had relatively cheaply. It's not a glory position and having an elite there isn't all that much of an upgrade. Having an outfield that can play defense is much more important to me. A-Rod will be a 1B very soon.

The bonus to signing a solid talent like Sabathia is that talented young pitching is the most valuable commodity in baseball. The Yankees have loads of it and could convert some of that talent into a legitimate positional hitter and enjoy all the years of peak productivity, instead of the last half. If they know that they have legit ace on board (followed by, hopefully, Joba blossoming into another legit ace) trades of minor league pitching talent can be made (e.g., sign Sabathia, Hughes goes to TX for Saltamacchia, Posada goes to 1B).

41 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:50 pm


I did not mean to say that *you* were unfair. I meant that your comparison was unfair (that is, a poor comparison). Anyway, Jeter is simply not a 1B/DH type: I reject this premise outright. He was last season the most valuable SS in the AL, and one of the top 25% most valuable in the league. He is a poor defender who, in his worst season, still out-hits his position.

In any case, your argument seems now to be shifting to: the team should not sign Teixera for six years (for example) largely because they are still living with a number of bad four-year deals. In other words, Teix for six years is not inherently bad, but rather is prevented by past bad contracts. I might be convinced by this, though it means, effectively, that the team would be paralyzed until all of the bad contracts are off the books.

42 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 3:54 pm


"Because he’s essentially getting a 4-year deal starting in his age 31 season?"

Even so, how would a four-year deal for a 31 y.o. 1B be comparable in badness to a four-year deal for a 37 y.o. catcher.

Posada's deal was very, very risky indeed. But just because the Yankees made a (likely) terrible gamble on a 36/37 y.o. catcher should not mean that they should never sign 28/29 y.o. players to deals of six years. They should be judicious, not dogmatic.

heck, I'm not even all that sold on Teixera (read back through threads last season: I repeatedly expressed doubts). But most of the arguments raised against signing him to six years (especially the keep-first-base-open-for-future-old-players) have been very weak.

43 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 4:01 pm


You're new to these threads, so you missed all of my posts last season arguing against Teixeira if it meant a seven, eight or (gasp) ten-year deal. I think six is the outer limit, fully expecting that the last two are likely to see performance under value.

Actually, if it were me, I accepted Giambi's option for next year and taken my chances with him repeating this season. But they didn't, so I am arguing from the current reality. Given the market and the team needs, and the salaries coming off the books, and the contracts coming off in the next two seasons, I think Teixera is the best route to go (for six years max).

44 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 4:09 pm


I couldn't agree more.


Sorry, but you're dead wrong on Jeter. The list from RLYWL had him as a plus on defense. There's no way in hell that's true. Besides, at least Aviles was better. And there's an argument for Peralta too. Worse for your case, both of them can still field the position. Jeter is at a -18 FRAA. He's a 1B/DH right now.

The point is:

In 2009, they already have guys that (realistically) will need time at 1B/DH (Matsui, Damon, Posada, Jeter).
In 2010, they already have guys that (realistically) will need time at 1B/DH (Posada, Jeter).
In 2011, they already have guys that (realistically) will need time at 1B/DH (Jeter if you want him getting 3000 hits in pinstripes rather than with the Tigers).
In 2012, they already have guys that (realistically) will need time at 1B/DH (A-Rod).

The roster is clogged during, supposedly, the best years of Teixeira's next contract. Teixieira for six years IS inherently bad. We've just been discussing one of the reasons. The other two - which you've conveniently ignored - are @2.

45 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 4:15 pm

"I think six is the outer limit, fully expecting that the last two are likely to see performance under value. "

Then there's absolutely no reason to sign him with Manny on the market. The Yanks would get a better bat for the first three years, the same defense as Abreu, and the same defense at first with Swisher. Signing Manny to a three year deal, since no team will give him four years, put them back on the market in 2012 for another slugger. Wouldn't you know, one Albert Pujols is a free agent then.

46 ChrisS   ~  Nov 19, 2008 4:15 pm

It's not analogous directly to Posada. There were four contracts listed as being poor choices, and the post compared potential Teixieira contract to only the worst one. Signing hitters in their 30s to ridiculously expensive contracts are tempting, but usually doomed to fail.

They should be judicious, not dogmatic.

Absolutely, and a perfectly fair and judicious argument is that money shouldn't be spent for premium players on the far right of the defensive spectrum at 1B. It's easier to acquire decent hitters for cheap at that position while investing resources for more difficult positions to fill with premium players. It's not a weak argument by any means. Five years at $100 mill? I'd be a lot more interested. Eight years at $150? No thanks.

The argument is that the Yankees have a couple of potential 1B types already and there's no compelling reason, to me, to overpay a guy in order to firmly affix a him there for the next 6 or more years.

Cliff argues that because the Yankees have pitching talent they should hold on to it and pursue hitting regardless of position. I say pursue unique pitching talents and trade for young positional talents on the left side of the defensive spectrum. Meh, we shall see and the Yankees being the Yankees, I see a couple of massive free agent signings coming soon.

47 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 4:22 pm

So good it's worth repeating:

"The argument is that the Yankees have a couple of potential 1B types already and there’s no compelling reason, to me, to overpay a guy in order to firmly affix a him there for the next 6 or more years."


The bit about defensive spectrum is also gold. Why do people miss this point so often? It used to be that as players aged they moved to less demanding positions, with 1B at the last stop before retirement. Now folks - teams and fans - only see players in one position, defense be damned. With an older 1B like Tex, there's really no place left for him to go because his bat isn't good enough to be a strict DH when he's done being somewhat limber.

48 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 5:20 pm

"The bit about defensive spectrum is also gold. Why do people miss this point so often"
You are correct. However:
1) Anyone that thinks the Yankees are going to move Jeter to 1B (egardless of signing/not signing Swish,tex,etc) is just not realistic.
2) ARod may move to 1B/DH, but not for a few years anyway. Certainly not in the next 2.
3) Where do we improve our offense. C, 3B, SS, and 2B are pretty solid. We know we need 1, or probably 2 OFers after this year. So this year, ut's either 1B or OF. So really, it's Tex or Manny for an offensive boost. You could go with Dunn, but he is so much 'more of the same', I hate to do it.

49 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 19, 2008 5:21 pm

I mean Jeter to first during THIS contract. What the Yankees do with him after 2010 is an interesting issue.

50 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 5:41 pm


Probably too late for anyone to read, but I wonder if Jeter to 2B might be an option, depending on how Cano doe or does not work out.

51 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 5:49 pm


"Then there’s absolutely no reason to sign him with Manny on the market."

Perhaps. But I also think that there is a decent chance that Teixera is still relatively productive in years 5-6, and I think that there is a very good chance that he outperforms Manny in years 3-4. It's all about risks and rewards. I would overpay for Teixeira up to six years. I'm prepared for the worst (4 good and 2 not good) and hopeful for the best (6 very good).


" Five years at $100 mill? I’d be a lot more interested. Eight years at $150? No thanks."

So then we are bickering over details. You say five years is the limt, I say six. We both agree eight is out (see comments at #42).


"It used to be that as players aged they moved to less demanding positions, with 1B at the last stop before retirement."

Only if their bat carried the position. Otherwise they were out of the league. Players did not automatically shift positions.

@ 44

"Sorry, but you’re dead wrong on Jeter. The list from RLYWL had him as a plus on defense. There’s no way in hell that’s true. "

Basically every analysis I read last year had Jeter playing at or near average defense, a far improvement over his terrible 2007 season. Maybe 2007 was caused by injury. Maybe 2008 was a fluke. I imagine it is a little of both. But I accept that the numbers showed that Jater was just not that bad on defense *last year*. If you refuse to accept that, so be it...we'll agree to disagree.

Now, even if one accepts my position, we'll see how he does this season and next. We'll also see how he does with the stick. If his bat continues to decline, then there is no reason to move him to 1B regardless of his defense.

52 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 6:12 pm

Regarding Jeter, then you haven't been reading very widely:

Baseball Prospectus:
2007: -3 FRAA; 98 RATE
2008: -18 FRAA; 87 RATE

Fielding Bible:
2007: -34
2008: -12

Dave Pinto:
2007: 91.20 (second to last)
2008: 99.20 (only Pinto is showing an improvement)

Then, of course, there's this damning piece which seals the deal:

What have you been reading?

53 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 6:14 pm

The final quote from James:

"Giving him every possible break on the unknowns, [Jeter] is still going to emerge as a below average defensive shortstop. "

Case closed.

54 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 6:28 pm


Wow, so you just proved...what I have basically said all along. What the Gospel according to James does not confirm, is your contention that Jeter is by far the worst defensive SS, so bad that he negates all offensive benefits that his bat brings.

55 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 19, 2008 9:30 pm

You just said in 51:

"Basically every analysis I read last year had Jeter playing at or near average defense, a far improvement over his terrible 2007 season."

Now, after showing, by significantly expanding your reading list, how far below average he actually is, and has been for a few years now and only getting worse, you're saying:

"Wow, so you just proved…what I have basically said all along."

Are you high or something? That's a Palinesque level of ignoring reality and that by saying otherwise you can change that reality.

56 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 9:50 pm

Huh? Go back and read what I wrote. I never said he was good defensively. i said that everything I read suggested that he improved last year--get it, last year. No other season mentioned, save 2007, which was as i admitted atrocious. No contradiction so far. Moreover, quoting James from on high does not prove a central tenet of your argument: that Jeter has been SO BAD that his glove negatively outweighs his bat.

You invoke Palin, which is sort of ironic, since your arguments seem to contain Palinesque exaggerations and black-and-white dichotomies.

57 monkeypants   ~  Nov 19, 2008 10:48 pm


To continue: last year, Jeter ranked 7th in MLB in ZR and 16th in RF among qualified SS. Again, middle of the pack (admittedly "good" by his usual poor standards).

Plus, I re-read the James article that you quoted, which uses evidence almost exclusively from 2005 to compare Jeter (the worst) to Everett (the best fielding SS). Even in this extreme comparison James also concluded that Jeter's bat made up for the difference between his and Everett's gloves. And that is comparing him to the best fielding SS at the time, not even to an average fielding SS. Last season, by comparison, Cesar Izturis led the league in RF and was near the top in ZR...he also had 44 RC. Jeter, despite suffering his worst offensive season in decade had 85 RC.

Among qualified SS last season, Jeter was 9th in RC and 9th in RC/27 (3rd and 2nd respectively in the AL), 9th in OPS (3rd in the AL). He was still one of the better hitting SS in the league, and one of the best in the AL.

No one here debates that Jeter is overall a poor fielding SS. The real question is whether his fielding negatively outweighs his offense at his position. Last season his bat still made up for his glove (though his fielding was somewhat better last year, his hitting worse). If his fielding declines and/or his hitting does not bounce back, then maybe he will have reached the tipping point. But if that's the case, then 1B probably will not be the solution anyway.

Which is what I have argued all along.

58 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 20, 2008 2:23 am

[54] [55] i am so happy that the word "Palinesque" has been brought into all out lives...it's been so refreshing, you betcha!

59 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 20, 2008 6:47 am

No one here debates that Jeter is overall a poor fielding SS.


Basically every analysis I read last year had Jeter playing at or near average defense, a far improvement over his terrible 2007 season.

Congrats. You're now arguing with yourself. Or else you don't know the meaning of the words "poor" and "average"


Last season his bat still made up for his glove (though his fielding was somewhat better last year, his hitting worse)

1. His fielding certainly wasn't better. More evidence suggests it was much, much worse (like a -18 FRAA). Even 16th among qualified SS in RF is far *below* average since there aren't 30 qualified shortstops.
2. He was an average bat last year (104 OPS+).
3. A well-below average glove at the most important defensive position plus an average bat equals a below average player. Given that, he's a net negative to the team. And it isn't even close really.

Now what makes that James study so damning is exactly the fact that it is a few years old at this point. Jeter's glove and offense have each gotten significantly worse since then. An all-glove SS would be an upgrade at the position. If the Yanks were smart, they'd move him to 1B right now and hope his bat would recover some. But take his glove out behind the barn and shoot it in the head.

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