"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Lost Wages, Nevada

Once upon a time the winter meetings mainly consisted of boozy old general managers getting boozy and doing business.  Today, it is one of the biggest events of the baseball year, and certainly the highlight of the off-season.  It is covered breathlessly on-line and on TV.  It’s where fantasy teams are born.  It’s about rumors and gossip and Did You Hear? and I Gotta-Scoop

I went to the 2003 winter meetings in New Orleans after my first year blogging and introduced myself around to guys like Tom Verducci and Jack Curry, Howard Bryant and Tim Marchman, Nate Silver and Joe Sheehan.  Jay Jaffe and I went down together.  Will Carroll, who had been to the ’02 meetings urged us to come.  It’s the perfect place for a guy like Will who loves the adrenaline of the scoop world, of being on the inside, or at least being close to people on the inside.

I had a good time and met a bunch of great guys but I haven’t been back and wouldn’t want to go to another winter meetings unless I was getting paid for it.  For a writer, it is a lot of hard work.

From what I could tell in my one brief encounter, being at the meetings means a lot of standing around.  It has all the trappings of a seventh-grade dance, everybody anxious, waiting for something to go down.  But instead of the girls being the objects of desire for the groups of men, general managers like Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, personalities like Peter Gammons and Buster Olney, are the ones that everyone is gawking at, pretending that they are not being obvious. 

The hotel lobby is filled with columnists and beat writers (Internet writers and bloggiers now too), agents and their assistants, general managers and their assistants, a few managers, a stray former player possibly looking for a coaching job, smart college kids looking for front office work. 

It is a heavily cologned scene.  Too bad Hunter Thompson isn’t still around.

The Hot Stove has been ice cold this year unless you consider the Giants signing Edgar Renteria or the Cardinals trading for Khalil Greene hot transactions.  This year the meetings are in Vegas, which you would hope will enough by itself to instigate some action.  Vegas is either the best place in the world to holding the winter meetings or the worst (or maybe it’s just a little bit of both, depending on your luck).

Even if nothing much happens, being in Vegas at least gives caption writers and columnists plenty to work with.  We’ll see variations on a theme—Viva Las Vegas, Leaving Las Vegas, Ocean’s Eleven, The Rat Pack, Snake Eyes, Flush, Full House, Stip Poker, you name it.  Yes, the writers should have a field day.

We’ll have our ears to the ground, breathlessly following the breathless action, hoping above all else, that somebody gives us something to be breathless about.

What, if anything, do you think will change in the Yankee Universe in Vegas?

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1 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 8, 2008 10:29 am

While the poor people sleepin'
With the shade on the light
While the poor people sleepin'
All the stars come out at night

- "Show Biz Kids" / Steely Dan

2 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 8, 2008 10:31 am

Diane with the Steely Dan reference. Who's hotter n you, lady?

I wonder what to make of all this CC stalling? Will he eventually "give in" and sign for the Yankees' big bucks or what?

3 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 8, 2008 10:45 am


I just hope Cashman uses Pretzel Logic to fall for a Royal Scam ...

4 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 8, 2008 10:46 am


I meant "DOESN'T" use .... (obviously)

(coffee .... more coffee!)

5 Raf   ~  Dec 8, 2008 11:07 am

[2] I think CC REALLY wants to pitch for the Jints, and is waiting for them to make an offer.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 8, 2008 11:43 am

Back-up plan, Ben Sheets for two years $30 million as Jay Jaffe as propsoed?

7 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 8, 2008 12:04 pm

[6] I don't know. I was a big fan of Sheets until I remembered that he was hurt at the end of the year.

I'm sure CC would love to pitch for SF but I don't think it'll happen because I don't think they have the cash.. I think he'll ultimately take Yankee-bucks.

8 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 8, 2008 12:19 pm


Maybe Sabean can convince Zito to restructure his contract to free up some money for Sabathia?

(unlikely, but ...)

9 Will Weiss   ~  Dec 8, 2008 12:55 pm

[6] I think the snake in the grass is the Dodgers. If Manny doesn't re-sign, the Dodgers fully satisfy CC's needs (National League, West Coast, and they have $$ to burn), and I think they'll be able to woo Pettitte for a year if that's the case. ... I think Sheets for 2 years is the right amount, but not for $30M. For $25 million and a third-year option, I think the deal gets done.

10 The Hawk   ~  Dec 8, 2008 1:23 pm

I'm pretty much disenchanted with Sabathia now, in a kind of reverse Groucho Marx way. I am getting more and more into the Sheets idea. I hope that's where they go now.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 8, 2008 2:26 pm

[10] I'd give C.C. until after the Winter Meetings until I'd start to get impatient with him. Eventually, the Yankees have to make it a take it or leave it offer (i.e., dont let C.C. choose $120mn over $140mn, but pull the offer and make him face the prospect of the Brewers $100mn offer being the new baseline).

[6] Sheets is not a back-up plan. Instead, he seems to be the perfect combination to the C.C. signing. Instead of going long-term, high $ with Lowe or Burnett, I'd rather take a chance on Sheets, assuming Sabathia is already in the fold. Basically, with Sabathia, the Yankees rotation would have more stability, and therefore be better positioned for a high risk/high reward guy. If they don't get Sabathia, however, the Yankees season could sink or swim on the health of Sheets. I don't think that's a risk I would want to take.

12 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 8, 2008 6:21 pm

I'm newly on the Sheets bandwagon, and I'm fine with 2 years + a vesting 3rd year (based on combined starts for years 1 and 2). I'd go $15mm/per, with the third year at $18mm. If he earns the third year based on starts - maybe 55+ over the first two year? - he will have earned the money...don't you think?

And William I hear you in terms of Sheets being a great complement to a CC signing. But personally I'd take Sheets without CC as long as it's more or less as I describe.

All this said, I too am growing frustrated by the lack of movement. I really hope the logjam breaks this week one way or another. I'm tired!

13 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 8, 2008 7:02 pm

I'll go on the record right now. if the Yankees lose out on Sabathia, 2009, at the very least, is lost. The team as is just isn't *nearly* good enough, and none of the possible potential plan Bs come even close to fixing that. They need Sabathia and at least one other piece to be World Championship material.

14 Raf   ~  Dec 8, 2008 7:24 pm

[13] Depends on who they sign. If they lose out on Sabathia, I'm pretty sure they'll load up on bats and try to slug their way to another division title.

15 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 8, 2008 7:27 pm

And then just lose in humiliating fashion in the first round again, if they even make it that far.

16 Raf   ~  Dec 8, 2008 8:13 pm

And then just lose in humiliating fashion in the first round again, if they even make it that far.

Really? You know this for certain?

Looks to me they've had failures on all sides of the ball, having the pitching, defense, and offense fail at certain times.

17 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 8, 2008 8:29 pm

The only bats worth getting on the free agent market are Tex and Manny. I don't think they make a mediocre team with a, quite frankly, bad pitching staff, World Champions.

18 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 8, 2008 8:37 pm

A rotation of Wang, Lowe and Pettitte with Joba and Hughes could definitely be enough to win, assuming the latter two stay healthy and come close to approximating their potential. Now, that assumption does come with question marks, but it does have enough potential that I wouldn't wave a white flag, especially if the team adds a bat like Teixeira or Manny.

19 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 8, 2008 8:48 pm

[18] The only one in that group I feel comfortable writing in ink 30 games of quality pitching is Wang. Chris knows what we'd get out of Pettitte, and I think Lowe can get easten alive again in the AL East.

20 Raf   ~  Dec 9, 2008 12:10 am

Teams with mediocre pitching staffs have won the World Series, so I wouldn't count them out. Make teh playoffs and let the chips fall where they may.

21 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 9, 2008 12:29 am

The Yankees have gone the mediocre pitching route for the last five years. It hasn't worked.

22 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 9, 2008 8:07 am

It's too bad everyone one is so anxious to TRY and win this year. With our current team and a cap of $180, we might come close, but I don't think we have a winner.

Is anybody following the news on the economy? It's pretty bad. The last show I watched discussed whether we COULD have a DEPRESSION or not. What everyone agrees on is that this is/will be the worst economy since the Depression.

Gas was over $4/gallon and is now well under $2/gallon.
Does anybody else think that baseball, over the next 2-4 years, will be majorly impacted by the economy? That CC would have trouble getting $20m/yr next year? That buying big ticket players now is a BIG mistake?

We are all thinking about WINNING now. I wonder if over the next 3 years Winning will be the issue... or if it will be trying to stay afloat. Not so much for NY, but other MLB in general, especially in the center of the country.

Our money will be MUCH more valuable over the next few years. This will be an opportunity to buy low... and not out of desparation.

I say sign Andy for $13m (and ONE year), get Nick Punto, maybe a couple of other smart, small deals, and stay pat. Play the kids. We will be UNDER the salary cap. We will have tons of money to spend for 2010, and have a better idea where we are with: Posada, Phil, IPK, AJax, Jeter and some of our young catchers, Matsui and JD will be gone. Jeter and Mo will be gone (or much cheaper) the year after. Aside from ARod, we will be lean and mean.

CC is a bad investment.... or if not bad... risky.

If we KNOW we are not going to win in 2009, and we get to see as many kids as is healthy, it could still be a fun year.

This is NOT the year to buy aleady overpriced players or hand out long contracts.

23 Raf   ~  Dec 9, 2008 8:39 am

[21] The Yankees have gone the mediocre pitching route for the last five years. It hasn’t worked.

In part due to the failures of less than mediocre players like Rivera (2 blown saves, 2004 ALCS) & Wang (horrid ALDS, 2007), to name but a couple.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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