And here … we … go!
- Kevin Kernan of the Post believes the Yanks should forgo re-signing Andy Pettitte and go after Oliver Perez:
The Yankees are waiting on Andy Pettitte Andy Pettitte , but there is another lefty available at basically Pettitte dollars and that’s Oliver Perez. Signing Perez would cement the Yankees’ rotation for years to come and would give them flexibility with Joba Chamberlain.
“Putting Perez on the Yankees would be a great move,” says one top pitching evaluator. “That would be the perfect environment for him. He would be more focused there. He needs strong leadership around him, and pitching in front of a packed house, he would not be complacent.”
Perez is 5-1 against the Yankees lifetime. He takes those games as a challenge and he attacks. Because he already has six full seasons under his belt and has had his share of ups and downs, people forget Perez is just 27. Opposing hitters batted only .234 last season against him. Walks, of course, have been his downfall. There is no excuse for his ridiculous 105 walks, the most in the majors. In eight of his 34 starts last season, Perez surrendered five or more walks.
That has to change. The previous season, he walked 79.
Perez is represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Mark Teixeira. Cashman has a good working relationship with Boras. The GM would have to take a leap of faith with Perez, but the upside could be tremendous. In Pettitte, the Yankees will get a pitcher they hope has one good season left in his cranky left shoulder.
Opponents batted .290 last season against Pettitte, 56 points higher than they did against Perez, who allowed 66 fewer hits. Perez also had a lower ERA (4.22 to 4.54) and more strikeouts (180 to 158). Perez is 10 years younger, too, which fits Cashman’s plan of making the Yankees younger.
[My take: Perez averaged less than six innings per start, and that 4.22 ERA was compiled in the easier NL (including a 4.50 ERA in pitcher-friendly Shea). Even with his being a lefty, I fear those walks will turn into many stolen base opportunities if Posada’s wing isn’t 100%. If the Yanks really want one more FA pitcher, why not offer an incentive-laden two-year deal to Ben Sheets? Or is the health of his shoulder still too iffy?]
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on the seven teams that improved the most so far this off-season, based on opinions from various GMs, scouts and other officials. Here’s the Yanks write-up:
Money doesn’t buy them a championship, but it’s almost always bought them the postseason. They might have ensured that with the signings of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira, and I doubt they’re through.
There’s still room to do something about center field by dealing one of their outfielders, Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon, or Melky Cabrera. We doubt it will be Damon, who was instrumental in recruiting Burnett and Teixeira.
Their up-the-middle defense is suspect, so they certainly are not flawless.
- In an opinion column over at the Daily News, Paul Weinstein, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, isn’t sold on the Yank’s asking for additional tax-exempt bonds:
It’s not just the literal dollars being spent that hurts; it’s the opportunity cost. New York City will lose $259 million in tax-exempt debt that could be used to fund other important projects – such as building more affordable rental housing or a new Moynihan Station. In 2009, according to the IRS, New York State will receive roughly $1.7 billion in tax-exempt bond authority for joint public and private ventures. If the Yankees’ request is approved, it will use about 15% of that allotment.
Most economists will tell you public support for stadiums and arenas is not efficient. While that is true as a general rule, it is not always right. Public financing of sports arenas can make sense when the venues can be used for multiple purposes (concerts, conventions, as well as sports); a project is the foundation for the rebuilding of a distressed area (see the Verizon Center in Washington); fans from other states get drawn into the city; the team that uses the facility is an integral part of the community (e.g. the Green Bay Packers), and team owners are paying a fair share of the cost of the project.
Because the new Yankee Stadium project met several of the above criteria, city government was right to provide public funding for the initial project. By all measures, it’s going to be a beautiful and economically important addition to the Bronx.
But it is never a good idea to use public funds to cover costs not projected in the initial plan, as in December a number of media outlets reported the Yankees now intend to do. Doing so encourages government officials and sports franchises to hide the true cost of the projects and contractors to overcharge for their work.
Worst of all, that $259 million in extra bonds will not create a significant number of new jobs at a time when New York is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
[My take: I have no problem with the Yankees offering top salaries to free agent talent. I have some problem with the cost of seats at the stadium, but if someone is willing to pay that price … and the Yanks reinvest that revenue, that’s OK too. I do have a problem with the fiscal shenanigans that appear to be going on with the valuation of the land for the new stadium, the City apparently looking the other way while ensuring they got their own suite at the new park, and the Yankees’ going back to the tax-exempt bond well now, especially given the current economic climate.]
- Also at the News, Anthony McCarron reports that Mark Teixeira may get his introductory press conference as early as this Tuesday.
- Andruw Jones is about to become available. Should the Yankees make a play for him? Pete Abe at LoHud.com wonders:
Look at this way, when Joe Torre decides an accomplished veteran player isn’t worth having around, that’s saying something.
But Jones turns 32 in April, young enough to think that he has a comeback in him. If he were amenable to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, what would the Yankees have to lose?
The question is whether Jones can do better. Perhaps there is a team out there that will trade something for him or give him a guaranteed deal. I suspect that at least one club (the Nationals, perhaps) will try and pick him up.
I’d want nothing to do with Jones. I’d rather see Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner compete for the position. The Yankees need to mix some young players into the lineup and they need a good glove in center to compensate for their defensive inadequacies elsewhere.
[My take: Given how far Jones has fallen since the start of 2007, I for one wonder if he’s not another one of those “false birth certificate” cases like Miguel Tejada, and Jones really is more like 34 going on 35. Please Mr. Cashman, don’t go anywhere near Andruw.]
- Here’s a fun little factoid …. Bucky Dent played on the same high school baseball team as Mark Teixeira’s dad.
- Belated birthday wishes to Ted Lilly (33 yesterday) and Daryl Boston (46).
- Happy 48th birthday to native New Yorker Henry Cotto. Happy 51st birthday to Ron Kittle (a team of Cotto on the ’86 and ’87 Yanks).
- On this date in 1984, the Yankees sign future Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro to a two-year contract. Niekro, who went 11-10 with a 3.97 ERA for the Atlanta Braves in 1983, will fill a void in the rotation and allow the team to move Dave Righetti to the bullpen.
- On this date in 1993, Reggie Jackson is the lone player elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America to the Hall of Fame. Jackson, whose .262 lifetime batting average is the lowest of any outfielder in the Hall, receives 93.6 percent of the vote.
- On this date in 1999, Yogi Berra receives an apology from George Steinbrenner over Berra’s dismissal as Yankees manager in 1985 after only 16 games. Berra says he will end his self-exile from Yankee Stadium and the organization.