Powered by my hope that MLB Network will at some point show up on Time Warner’s “Digital Starter Pak” tier, here’s the news:
- Bryan Hoch of MLB.com summarizes the Yanks off-season progress to this point, and gives them a gold star:
On a scale of one to 10, the Yankees get an 10 for identifying their top winter priorities and taking care of all three. Sure, the Yankees spent in huge numbers, spreading a combined $423.5 million among three players. But they did so completely within the rules of the game and have found a way to operate the way few clubs can. The Yankees cannot be penalized for writing huge checks just because other teams aren’t willing to enter their arena.
- At the Times, Justin Sablich likes the thought of putting Joba Chamberlain back in the pen:
Chamberlain in the bullpen would most likely make each starting pitcher better by shortening his starts. Fans concerned about Sabathia burning out in September or Burnett breaking down over the long haul could rest a little easier. A Chamberlain bridge would also make life easier for Rivera, who turned 39 in November and may not be able to crank out a two-inning save with as much ease as in the past.
In addition to keeping others healthy, Chamberlain could be healthier by remaining a reliever. There’s no questioning his effectiveness as a starter. His numbers as a starter last season (2.75 ERA and 10.3 K/9) were almost identical to his stats as a reliever (2.31 ERA and 11.1 K/9). But his shoulder injury came about as a starter, and fewer innings could only help him keep his shoulder strong.
- Also at the Times, Jack Curry describes the horrendous trip Don Larsen had to endure to film an interview for the new MLB Network.
- The annual salary arbitration filing period begins Monday, and Barry Bloom of MLB.com gives us an overview of its history and process.
- State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky wants to delay the scheduled January 16 vote on additional bond funding for the Yanks and Mets new ballparks, citing insufficient documentation and public input.
- At SI.com, Jon Heyman includes Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte in his top 20 remaining free agents.
- Over at SportingNews.com, Richard Justice lays into Astros GM Drayton McLane over his suggestion for a salary cap:
I know what Drayton is thinking. He wants a salary cap of around $65 million. That’s fine if he’s going to lower the price of tickets and hot dogs. Just between us girls, it’s not Drayton’s style to lower the price on a cold one.
Let’s review why the Astros have missed the playoffs three straight years. The reason is that Drayton McLane has made some mistakes. If you listed all the things that went wrong, “lack of a salary cap” wouldn’t be in the top 20 reasons. ….
He got rid of one of baseball’s best general managers, Gerry Hunsicker. Hunsicker had a magic touch. He also was able to work under McLane’s smothering presence.
Drayton has spent too much money on free agents and too little on draft choices. Good baseball organizations are built from the ground up. They hire good scouts and treat them well. They do the same with their minor league managers and instructors.
And equally as important, good organizations get their draft choices signed. They understand that spending $900,000 on a high school center fielder is smarter than $100 million on a veteran left fielder.
Acquiring high-priced free agents makes no sense from an economic standpoint. It only works if an organization is one or two players away.
It’s an endless road. If you throw millions at one free agent and you fail to win a championship, you then throw millions at another. Pretty soon, you’ve got an old team and a depleted system.
McLane liked the idea of signing Carlos Lee to that $100 million deal because he got an immediate return. When he didn’t allow his baseball people to sign some high draft picks, no one noticed.
Those draft picks probably would have spent at least three years in the minor leagues and most of them wouldn’t have come close to making it to the big leagues. That’s how baseball works.
Yet building through the draft remains by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to build a winner. …
- Belated birthday wishes (Jan. 2) to: Scott Proctor (32) and David Cone (46).
- Happy 32nd birthday to new Yankee A.J. Burnett. Happy 44th birthday to Yankee supersub and member of four Yankee World Series teams, Luis Sojo. By the way, Luis has been managing the Tampa Yankees since 2006.
- On this date in 1920, the secret deal made on December 26, 1919 to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 (twice the amount ever paid previously for a player) is announced publicly. Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee also secures a $350,000 loan from the Yankees as part of the deal.
- On this date in 1973, a group of investors, headed by shipbuilder George Steinbrenner, purchases the New York Yankees from CBS for $10 million.
[My take: nice return on the investment there …]
- On this date in 1974, Bill Virdon is signed as manager.
- On this date in 2005, Commissioner Selig approves the trade of Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson to the Yankees in exchange for pitcher Javier Vazquez, catcher Dioner Navarro, outfielder Brad Halsey and $9 million dollars. Arizona will then send Navarro and much of the cash to the Dodgers to obtain Shawn Green, another deal approved by the commissioner’s office.
See you Monday …