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News of the Day – 12/12/08

I’m wearing a “My web browser went to the Winter Meetings and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” … umm … t-shirt, and I bring you this news:

  • BP.com’s (and new BBWAA member) Christina Kahrl analyzes the Sabathia signing:

Which brings us back to the simple fact that having Sabathia set for three seasons is a great bet, and an absolutely worthwhile risk to take on if you want to win in baseball’s best division, regardless of whether the deal’s segmented or not. Is it a gamble? Of course it is, but if the Yankees get seven years of good work, or even three or four of great work and some less so, it will have been worth it. With Wang lined up as an extremely different kind of rotation regular, and with the gaggle of young talent lined up behind them, they’ve got a good front end on a staff already operating with the benefit of better depth in the pen. If the bet was on Sabathia’s being a unique talent who might make all the difference over Mark Teixeira being a great first baseman over seven years (for the sake of argument), I’ll take the pitcher in this instance, acknowledging that finding a first baseman who can help you score runs is easier than the Yankees have made it for themselves in recent seasons.

  • Staying with BP.com, here’s an interesting Q&A from a chat with BP’s John Perrotto:

Dante (NY): With the Yankees signing CC and most likely add Burnett or Sheets, is Phil Hughes still as untouchable as ever, even with their huge need for a young/solid catcher?

John Perrotto: They are willing to trade Phil Hughes, who other teams are starting to see as really nothing more than a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

  • Mark Feinsand of the News reports that the Yanks are still leaving the door open for Andy Pettitte, but that the door will be closing if they secure one or two more FA pitchers.  Also in the article is this little tidbit on a potential new revenue source for the team:

One of those may come in the press box at the new Yankee Stadium, where a source said the club is considering charging media members for wireless Internet access at every home game.

A Yankees official said the idea has been thrown around, although it is unclear whether it will happen or how much the team plans to charge if it decided to go ahead with the plan.

  • Newsday’s Ken Davidoff wraps up his coverage of the Meetings with an analysis of the Yankee moves:

Yes, it was obnoxious that the Yankees had to bid against themselves and offer $61 million more than the next offer to convince Sabathia to come to New York. But look, if we had said a month ago that the Yankees would sign Sabathia to a three-year, $69-million deal, wouldn’t Bud Selig have said, “Where do I sign up?”

While this technically is a seven-year, $161-million deal, it’s spiritually three years for $69 million. Is there any doubt Sabathia will use that opt-out after 2011? In signing this deal, he has sent a telegram to the Giants: “You have three years to get your house in order for my arrival! See you then!”

Burnett, though? People love his stuff, which he displayed in fine form by leading the American League with 231 strikeouts this past season. But he just doesn’t take the mound enough, most industry people agree, to justify five years and $80 million.

“We know him better than anyone,” a Blue Jays official said Thursday on the condition of anonymity, “and we wouldn’t give him five years.”

  • The Post’s Joel Sherman points out why the Yanks may be targeting certain pitchers over others this off-season:

If you want to know what is so alluring to the Yankees about Sabathia and Burnett, take a look at the strikeouts-per-nine-innings leaders in the majors: Burnett was third (9.39) and Sabathia was fifth (8.93).

Yankees starters have finished in the bottom half of the AL in strikeouts per nine innings each of the past three years, which has put more balls in play to expose a poor defense. But the Yankees also are thinking about more than just getting back to the playoffs with a swing-and-miss brigade. They believe power arms win in October, and they envision lining up Sabathia, Burnett, Joba Chamberlain a Joba Chamberlain nd maybe even Ben Sheets and blowing away playoff opponents.

That is why they agreed to pay a pitching record $161 million to secure Sabathia. And that is why they seem to favor Burnett over Derek Lowe, although Burnett is an annual injury risk and Lowe is one of the best bets for 30-plus starts and 12-plus wins around …

But their organizational philosophy has become, it is the job of the manager, pitching coach and training staff to get the talented players on the field. One Yankees official recently said, “Darrell Rasner is a great guy, but I can’t teach him to miss a bat.”

  • The Post also reports on Brian Cashman flying out to Texas to meet with Andy Pettitte, perhaps for the final time:

One team executive said recently that “in the real world, Andy is probably now an $8 million-a-year pitcher at most. We are willing to pay $2 million more because we love him, because he is a Yankee and we want it to stay that way.”

Cashman almost certainly wanted to look Pettitte in the eye and express that organizational love. Maybe he was even willing to offer a face-saving gesture by throwing out some reachable incentives that will raise the payday beyond $10 million in 2009.

But it was clear Cashman also was ready to tell Pettitte this was the moment of truth: That if Pettitte really wanted to pitch as a Yankee in the new Stadium in 2009 he must act rather quickly to accept an offer — or else the Yankees are prepared to move on elsewhere, perhaps to Ben Sheets or another option or two, including simply using youngsters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to battle for the job.

  • Cameron our wayward son?: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Cabrera for Cameron deal is back on, and will probably get hammered out Friday or soon thereafter.  The Yanks may be throwing a second player into the mix, and the Brewers may be paying some of Cameron’s salary.
  • Don’t call it a comeback, but …. : Bernie Williams wants to play for his native Puerto Rico in the upcoming WBC, as per ESPN.
  • The Yanks lost four players during the “Major League” portion of the Rule 5 draft: INF Reegie Corona, P Zachary Kroenke, P Jason Jones and P Ivan Nova.  They also lost P Andres Santos and P Josue Selenes during the “Minor League” portion.  They did not draft any players.  Oh and by the way, Kei Igawa was NOT left unprotected.
  • Chat transcript snippet of the day/week/year –  Keith Law on ESPN.COM, responding to a “reader”:

Allen (PA): Your an idiot.
SportsNation Keith Law: But at least I know how to use an apostrophe, you twit.

  • Happy 38th birthday to Mike (I’m not your) Buddie, who took up space on the 1998 roster for a little while.  Steve Farr, who had a couple of nice seasons as closer for bad Yankee teams in 1991 and 1992, turns 52.
  • On this date in 1922, Jake Ruppert agrees to buy out his partner Colonel Huston and gains full control of the Yankees.
  • On this date in 1985, the Bombers trade P Joe Cowley and C Ron Hassey to the White Sox for P Britt Burns (18 – 11) and minor leaguers Mike Soper and Glen Braxton. Hassey will come back to New York before the season’s start. A degenerative hip condition ends Burns’ career before he has a chance to pitch for the Yanks.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 RIYank   ~  Dec 12, 2008 9:06 am

I bet Dianagramr loves Ivan Nova.

2 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 12, 2008 9:16 am

The Pettite situation intrigues me. While I'm sure it's more nuanced than this, from my perspective the guy simply owes us. We signed him to a generous 1 year deal last year, and days later he was outed as a cheater.

We stood behind him - not only organizationally but individually, with some of our most respected team leaders publicly coming out in support, and we more or less bought the excuse/apology he gave - presumably because of his consistent aw shucks god fearing good guy demeanor (and the 4 rings...) Personally I think he's a fool - both karmically and economically - if he does not take the $10mm. I agree with the quote above - in today's world, particularly given his 2nd half performance - he's certainly not worth the $10mm IMO.

I want him back, but only at a price. And I still want us to get Sheets.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 12, 2008 9:56 am

Uhm, the Blue Jays did give him five years. Was that supposed to be a joke that went over my head?

4 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 12, 2008 10:07 am

[3] I thought the same thing. Also, as things turned out, I think the Blue Jays got a pretty fair deal. They wound up paying him $9mn per season, so they basically got the short end in 2006, broke even in 2007 and came out ahead in 2008 (all based on innings).

Interestingly, if Burnett does wind up being injured over the next two seasons, it would be a prefect illustration of how opt outs can help a team. In this case, the Blue Jays would save the $26mn they would have paid him over the next two season by virtue of Burnett opting out.

5 Rich   ~  Dec 12, 2008 10:26 am

I wish the Yankees would use the money to sign Texeira instead of Burnett, but the value of the Canadian dollar has tanked v. the value of the US dollar since September. That's the real reason that Toronto can't compete for Burnett's services.

6 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 12, 2008 10:39 am

You know, maybe we're looking at Burnett the wrong way. Maybe we should see his frequent DL trips as a plus, not a minus.

Ideally, a team wants to get about 950 innings out of its starters: about 800 out of the first four (so an average of 200, though (broken down its probably something like 230-200-190-180), and then about 150 innings out of the 5th starter.

The rotation has CC (230), Wang (200), and Joba (limited to ~140) in it right now. If the Yanks do sign two more pitchers, where does Hughes go? AAA . . . until there's an injury. Signing Burnett = time for Hughes in the majors.


(To be honest, I'd prefer if they signed just one more free agent starter - and a bat - and made Hughes the 5th starter, then got creative and used Aceves in a Mendoza-type role (bullpen long man/spot starter) to cover for Joba and Hughes. But if they insist on signing two free agent starters . . .)

7 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2008 10:41 am

[3] [4] i think the blue jays mean they wouldn't give him 5 years now.
which is why they and most of us can't understand why the yanks would.

matt - what did you send drayton moore for signing farns?

i just hope cashman is pursuing a bat under the radar.

8 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 12, 2008 10:49 am

[7] Its not as AJ's injury risk is radically different than it was three years ago...

And Dayton Moore will be receiving a fruit basket for his quality service.

9 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2008 11:01 am

[8] guess they have lived and learned.
although before burnett opted out were they going to give him much of an extension or just more money?

[6] you know the more i think of it, i am really thinking either hughes or wang is not in the long term plans.
diane's quote from perrotto about hughes is obviously just one person, but i wouldn't be surprised if hughes is moved this year for a position player - especially in season if he does well in aaa.
or, if the yanks let wang walk after his arb years are up.
maybe i am totally off on this, but the long term deals to burnett or lowe just don't make sense.

10 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 12, 2008 11:36 am

[9] Long-term deals for free agent pitchers are just the cost of doing business, unless you have a guy coming off an injury of some type (i.e., Jon Lieber way back when).

Perrotto's remark suggests to me that other teams, many of which have long coveted Hughes, are spreading those kinds of remarks around to drive his value down, and thus make him more easily obtainable. He was all of 22 last year, and he sucked in his 34 innings in the majors (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE). But in his time in the minors, he's given up all of 8 home runs in 310 innings, struck out more than a batter per inning (348), and has a K:BB of almost 5:1 (77 walks). 3rd or 4th starter my ass. Fortunately Cash isn't stupid.

The quotes Joel Sherman got were the most interesting to me, because the bullpen philosophy has certainly been to get guys who get Ks.

11 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2008 12:07 pm

i agree whith your overall take shaun, especially on the attempts to lower phil's value, but now that the yanks got cc - they don't have to sign someone like lowe or burnett to a long term deal.
but it seems they pretty clearly do not want to start the year with any of hughes, aceves, or kennedy in the rotation - which seems to be the motivating force to get either burnett or lowe, which i guess comes back to your point that the long term deals is what the standard is.
i guess i just can't get over 5 years for burnett.
most reports have atl at 4 yrs - if the yanks really want him they could also go 4 but with more money.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 12, 2008 12:48 pm

[9] A lot of people still really like Phil Hughes. I wouldn't even think of giving up on him just yet. I think (hopefully) he still figures prominently in the Yankees long-term plans.

Like or not, the absolutely minimum deal for a quality pitcher is probably three years, but four is now pretty standard (I could cite dozens of example of pitchers not even as good as AJ who have signed four year deals).

Regardless of what you think about Burnett, I definitely don't think you can simply pencil in 2 youngsters. For starters, Joba and Hughes, whom I think will both eventually be in the rotation, have significant innings limits. At best, I don't think you can think of them as more than one starter. Ideally, if the Yankees sign Pettitte, his departure next season would open up the second slot for what hopefully will be the eventual progression of Joba and Phil. Because Wang and C.C. are the mainstays for at least three seasons, all scenarios require a 4th pitcher. Basically, I think it makes sense for that slot to be a high risk/reward guy like Burnett because: (1) If he stays healthy, he could be very effective; (2) if he gets hurt, the worst case is you wind up with Aceves/IPK in the rotation, which is no worse than going with that arrangement from the outset.

Basically, it comes down to a money issue. Obviously, it would hurt to waste $17mn per seasons, but those are the risks you take when you are trying to be more than just a contender.

13 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 12, 2008 12:53 pm

As always William nice analysis [12] and I agree. I wonder though - between Sheets and AJ, which is the bigger risk for the bigger potential reward? Unless those rumors of red flags on Sheets' medical records are true, it seems like AJ for 5 years is a bigger risk than Sheets for 2 or 3, especially since it seems Sheets can be had for equal or less $ per year.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 12, 2008 1:11 pm

[13] Thank you. I actually think the Yankees were leaning toward Sheets until they reviewed his medical records (talk of AJ died down and then picked up before and after that event). Also, Girardi had a quote that indicated to me that Sheets may be dealing with a lingering injury that he was planning on pitching through (the quote was something like "he was very honest about his body"). Based on those assumptions, I think the Yankees look at Burnett as someone who could miss 10-15 starts in a season, but Sheets as someone who could miss an entire season.

15 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2008 1:13 pm

i agree with your basic premise william and as i stated in comment 11, it is pretty apparent that the yanks don't want to go in the season with someone with innings limits and perhaps injury questions in joba plus one of the trio i mentioned.
but again, i will go back to why 5 years from burnett. as sonyahennystutu wrote in 13, is sheets that much more a risk? maybe, as it seems there are concerns over the medical records.
as william stated, and i agree with this too, it comes down to a money issue - but that seems to have another impact. some conventional wisdom seems to think that becuase of the large contracts being given to pitchers, that is precluding financial capability of getting much needed offense.
is aj burnett (or whomever) worth a deal if his contract keeps the team from signing dunn or manny or someone like crawford next year (i omit tex and holliday becuase they will be so much more expensive)?

16 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2008 1:14 pm

sorry to repeat some of what you answered in 14 william, but i took forver to submit

17 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 12, 2008 2:04 pm

[15] I don't believe that signing Burnett would preclude the Yankees from going after Teixeira. With $86mn off the books, AJ+C.C.+Tex would be only $60-65mn, which leaves $20mn+ for raises and contract escalations.

If an unnamed Yankee official states it's Burnett or Tex, that's either a bogus quote or one designed to mislead.

Instead, I think the issue with Tex is more along the lines of signing him this year or another offensive player next year (e.g., Matt Holliday).

18 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 12, 2008 5:01 pm

We signed AJ , 5 years 81.5mm according to mlbtraderumors.com

19 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 12, 2008 5:10 pm

[18] I am sure I am in the minority, but I am glad they wrapped it up, especially at 82mn instead of 92mn. 16mn per year seems more in line with the market. Of course, now AJ has to stay healthy.

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