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News of the Day – 12/1/08

Is it December already?  Here’s the news:

  • Mark Feinsand of the News talks to Phil Hughes about his AFL performance and his expectations for 2009.

Last winter, Phil Hughes was one of the hottest commodities in baseball, the centerpiece of a proposed trade between the Yankees and Twins that would have landed Johan Santana in pinstripes.

Now, as the Yankees pursue free agent pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, the 22-year-old Hughes is uncertain whether he’ll even be in the majors when the 2009 season starts.

“It’s just one of those wait-and-see things,” Hughes said from his family’s Southern California home. “We’ll sign whoever we sign this winter, and I’ll go to spring training with the same attitude that I always do. I don’t worry about the things I can’t control.”

Hughes went 2-0 with a 3.00ERA in seven AFL starts, but if you take out his disastrous outing on Oct. 18 in which he allowed seven runs in 2-2/3 innings, Hughes posted a 0.99 ERA in his other six games. He struck out 38batters in 30 innings, routinely hitting 94-95 mph with his fastball – something he didn’t do during his time with the Yankees last season.

“I was there for the innings, but at the same time, I didn’t want to go out and get walloped every time I took the mound,” Hughes said. “I worked on some things, got my innings in and was pretty successful at the same time.”

and …

While Hughes bulked up his innings total, he also used the time to work on his cutter, a pitch he started to develop late in the season after he decided to scrap his slider altogether.

“My slider wasn’t working at all,” Hughes said. “I worked a lot this fall on my cutter and my changeup, and both have come a long way.”

  • Pete Abe of LoHud hit us with three good pieces over the weekend:
  1. An appreciation of Mariano Rivera, on his 39th birthday
  2. An update on the Puerto Rican league performance of Ian Kennedy.
  3. His opinions on why the Hot Stove has been so cold thus far.

  • Bryan Hoch of MLB.com runs down the arbitration decisions facing the Yanks.  Here’s his take on Bobby Abreu.

The Yankees are also likely to offer arbitration to outfielder Bobby Abreu, who has expressed interest in staying in New York but is thought to covet a multiyear contract. The 34-year-old Abreu hit .296 with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs for the Yankees in ’08, completing a 2 1/2-year run as the club’s starting right fielder.

While the Yankees would certainly consider Abreu on a one-year basis, as prescribed by the arbitration process, a multiyear deal seems unlikely and the Yankees would take the two Draft picks if the Type A free agent signs elsewhere. New York tentatively projects Xavier Nady as the Opening Day right fielder in ’09.

  • On this date in 1954, the Yankees and Orioles complete the largest trade in major league history as 17 players, including Don Larsen, Gene Woodling, Bob Turley change teams. The first phase of the transaction began November 18 and will conclude today after the major league draft.
  • On this date in 1982, the Yanks sign onetime AL MVP Don Baylor to a reported 5-year, $5 million free agent contract.
  • Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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    1 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 1, 2008 9:20 am

    I like Bobby for a lot of reasons (great plate disipline, speed, hussle, strong arm) and our OF this year is pretty weak. However, his defense is just so bad, added to a declining offense, his overall impact seems that of an average OFer or worse.

    I posted this before, but I think it's very relevant in looking at off-season aquisitions... especially the CC vs. Tex debate.

    Steve Goldman listed our needs, in order, as follws:
    Defense, Offense, Pitching.
    To back that up, while our 2008 ERA was 8th out of 14, our DIP ERA was better then both TB and the Sox. A quality start is 6 IPS with an ERA of 4.5 or better. Last year, we lost 22 games where we HELD the opposition to 4 runs or less. We win ONE THIRD of those games, and we finish ahead of Boston.

    While CC is indeed a Golden Goose, it is Tex that is a huge upgrade on defense and a decent upgrade on offense (over Giambi). Swish is a big defensive upgrade in RF over Bobby, and his total impact may end up being better then Bobby.

    I also think the ecomony will get real bad over the next year. There will be midseason dumps, fire-sales and cheaper FAs next year.

    I believe (although others disagreed) that Miggy Cabrera could be had for a reasonable trade... if we don't get Tex. If sheets can be had for 3 years at $10m/yr, this seems like a decent hi-risk/hi-reward deal. People call the Pavano deal one of Cashmans worst, yet we want to gamble $70m-$80m on AJ?

    I believe Tex can be had for 7/$140m.... maybe 7/$133. Nobody seems to be jumping on him.

    Give me Tex/Miggy and a solid/non-star innings eater and I'm happy. We will have our pick of the litter over the next year.

    I think most here underestimate just how much our defense cost us last year.

    2 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 1, 2008 9:54 am

    Besides baseless opinion-mongering, what evidence is there that Cabrera could be available and, worse, for a decent package? Sorry, but it not happening. Not this year, Not next year. And probably not in 2011 either.

    No one's "jumping" on Tex because Boras is his agent. He'll get a deal in January.

    Again, defense cost the team because they have one of the worst defensive shortstops. It's THE most important defensive position. Moving Jeter and getting Furcal would mean a significant upgrade on team defense. By contrast, defense at 1B means little. It's a bit more important than defense at DH.

    3 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 1, 2008 10:21 am

    [1] The Pavano deal *is* Cashman's worst, and one of *the* worst period.

    As bad as a signing as AJ Burnett would be, if Cashman signs AJ, he'll only be completely ignoring Burnett's injury history. When he signed Carl Pavano, he ignored Pavano's injury history AND the fact that Carl Pavano isn't any good even when healthy.

    Burnett won't go down with the Pavano trade, but it will still be a disaster.

    And I still think that if we don't get Sabathia, the rotation and the team just aren't good enough.

    4 ChrisS   ~  Dec 1, 2008 10:42 am

    Jeter's not great, but he's not that bad of a SS and his time is coming, but paying a premium for Furcal's over-30 years (with a bad back) is an unwise move. He's coming off a $15 million/year salary and isn't going to be interested in a bargain deal.

    And you're right, Teixeira is going to get his, there will be no bargain shopping there either.

    The problem with Abreu is that his OBP and SLG have been declining and his defense was just horrible. I like Bobby, I wish we had him for a longer period. But in terms of dollars to ability, he's going to ask for a a lot of guaranteed money. He doesn't have, nor will he put up, a .900 OPS, which makes his defense a bigger liability.

    If I had to choose between Abreu and Matsui for a dh, I think I'd take Abreu. I'd be happy if the Yankees could move Nady and Matsui for something ("something" includes a replacement RFer).

    The pragmatist in me says that Cashman is going to be stirring a lot of pots and making a ton of noise in the kitchen, but it'll only amount to one dish.

    5 ChrisS   ~  Dec 1, 2008 10:45 am

    And I wouldn't say that SS is THE most important defensive position. Catcher and CF are pretty damn important and the Yankees have huge question marks at both.

    6 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 1, 2008 10:50 am

    The other thing that worries me about Furcal is that bad hitting thing he does.

    7 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 1, 2008 11:09 am


    Jeter was 18 runs below average by one estimate (FRAA). He's clearly below average at this point and clearly getting worse by the year.


    More balls reach SS than CF and that affects more runners than the Catcher does. Last year, there weren't defensive problems in CF and at Catcher. There clearly was at SS unless you're blinded by fanboyitis.


    They're not going to sign him, so it's a moot point. But Furcal is an average hitter, with a good OBP, and an above average glove. His career .764 OPS is about what Jeter put up last year (.771 OPS). Point is: Furcal is four years younger, offers a bit less offense, but a significantly better glove. The latter alone would mean a few extra wins. Better, Furcal can be had for a decent contract in this market. That's why Beane is after him.

    8 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 1, 2008 11:09 am


    SS is very near the top of the defensive spectrum, especially if you don't have strikeout pitchers.

    9 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 1, 2008 11:24 am

    [7] Furcal is a hitter whose career average isn't as good as Derek Jeter's worst offensive year in a decade. He's also shown the ability to be a total offensive blackhole (02, 04, 07) and he is coming off a back injury. I don't think this team can afford another bad bat in the lineup with all the question marks we currently have, unless you think Derek Jeter is going to continue become a worse hitter than Furcal, in which case there's no point in even keeping him on the team.

    10 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 1, 2008 11:28 am


    Seriously, you're arguing about AVG rather than OBP? Furcal has an above average ability to get on-base.

    The offensive difference, between Jeter and Furcal, is negligible considering the huge gap in defense. Again, it's a moot point. They aren't signing him.

    11 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 1, 2008 11:54 am

    The .352 OBP really doesn't wow me. Especially when he rarely even gets on that much, and we already have a guy that gets on almost 39 percent of the time. The .412 SLG and career OPS+ of 96 is also less than exciting.

    12 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 1, 2008 12:13 pm


    It may not "wow" you, but .335 OBP is league average. So that .352 OBP is above average and from an above average glove at SS. He's a solid option for anyone concerned about the Yankees lack of defense.

    13 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 1, 2008 12:17 pm

    As for concerns regarding the offense, if the Yanks don't sign Tex, I could actually see A-Rod getting IBBed (and pseudo-IBBed) a LOT next year. Really, does anyone else in that lineup still scare you?

    14 Bum Rush   ~  Dec 1, 2008 12:46 pm


    Manny would prevent that too - and a contract of half the length and cost ;-)

    15 ChrisS   ~  Dec 1, 2008 1:33 pm


    Beane is interested in Furcal because Crosby is horrendous defensively, worse offensively, locked into a raise for next year (his last on the current contract), and has little in the way of prospects at SS. Not because he's going to get a bargain. Furcal is just the best available SS with the potential for a non-crippling contract. Additionally, the Furcal to As rumor is pretty much that. Beane should be interested in Furcal for all those reasons, but he's not the only GM by any stretch.

    The Yankees had no problems defensively with C and CF, but for 2009 when one catcher has no bat, the other has a reconstructed shoulder, and the two CFers can't mount enough offense to be dangerous, I think it's misdirected to be worrying about the one guy that's adequate for his position and not the real holes. Jeter has two years remaining on his contract, at which point his declining skills at SS will be taken into consideration for replacement. Based on win shares, Furcal is worth an extra win share over Jeter with his glove and Jeter is worth an extra 2 wins with his bat. The entire hassle would probably be have a marginal, if any, effect.

    [8] "SS is very near the top of the defensive spectrum"

    Obviously and I didn't say it wasn't important. I just don't think there is a "most important" defensive position.

    16 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 1, 2008 8:43 pm

    Stunning news over at Lohud. I'm not sure how to react.

    17 Raf   ~  Dec 2, 2008 12:12 pm


    What happened?

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