Powered by it just being Friday, here’s the news:
- BP.com’s Christina Kahrl runs down the worst free-agent contracts of the off-season, and bestows the “worst” upon A.J. Burnett’s deal:
… why spend $16.5 million per year for the next five on a pitcher with Burnett’s spotty track record? Well, because you can, I suppose, and because somebody else you’re competing with might, but is investing this kind of money in a pitcher coming off of just his second full season in a big-league rotation in ten in The Show really where you want to wind up? Between Burnett’s repeated problems with durability and consistency over the course of his career, the money alone for this kind of length was nuts. Add in that young pitching is the organization’s great strength—Phil Hughes representing just the front end of the wave—and short-term deals like Pettitte’s incentive-driven one-year contract look entirely sensible as an adaptation to the market and the team’s immediate win-now needs; Burnett’s deal, by comparison, does not.
- BP.com also trots out their first 2009 iteration of their Playoff Odds report, and pegs the Yanks as having a 32.1% chance of winning the East and a 24.5% chance of nabbing the wild card. Their resulting 56.5% chance of making the post-season ranks a comfortable 2nd behind the BoSox in the AL.
- If you care ….they’ve tracked down A-Rod’s cousin.
[My take: This song seems appropriate.]
- Buster Olney reports that the Yanks and Padres are each interested in the services of a 32-year-old Mexican League pitcher named Walter Silva.
- MLB.com explores the Yankees interest in players from China.
- It appears that the Yankee lineup will run Tex/A-Rod in the 3/4 slots.
- ESPN.com reports that Boss George and Bernie Williams each showed up at camp Thursday. Here’s what was said about Steinbrenner:
Steinbrenner arrived at about 10 a.m., was brought from the parking lot to Steinbrenner Field in a golf cart, then was transferred to a wheelchair near a bank of elevators before going up to his office. The 78-year-old has been increasingly frail in recent years.
[My take: I was almost taken aback when I read about the wheelchair. I mean ... we all know he's on the decline ... but I still think of George as bluster and braggadocio.]
- No surprise here … Hank Steinbrenner doesn’t think much of John Henry’s call for a salary cap:
“Along with a few other teams, we’re basically baseball’s stimulus package,” Steinbrenner told The Associated Press. …
The Yankees, according to AP, paid about $110 million in revenue sharing and luxury tax last season — the latter a penalty for having a payroll beyond an agreed-upon dollar figure between owners and the players union.
“As long as we’re doing that and giving all this money to other teams in revenue sharing, a staggering amount, we should be able to spend on salaries what we want to,” Steinbrenner said. “Because of revenue sharing and because of the popularity nationwide, the Yankees are critical to baseball.”
- PeteAbe rightfully calls out the Yankees for their handling of ticket plan renewals, especially when the team sends out a spelling-challenged letter to their fans.
- Melky Cabrera won’t be going to the WBC, and the timing of the event is part of the reason why:
One of the few criticisms of the World Baseball Classic is its timing. Held in March every third year, the Classic forces regulars to work their way into game shape quicker, tempts rehabbing players to test the limits of their injuries and whisks young players — many of them competing for roster spots — away from their respective Major League camps.
… And now Melky Cabrera has followed his lead. Cabrera told the Yankees this week that he has abandoned plans to play for the Dominican Republic, in an effort to win the starting center-field job over Brett Gardner.
Cabrera, 24, held the starting center-field job for most of last season, though he posted the worst numbers of his career: a .249 average and a .301 on-base percentage in 414 at-bats. The rookie Gardner, meanwhile, earned increasing playing time down the stretch. But aside from 13 stolen bases in 42 games, his offensive numbers were no better.
Cabrera was on the preliminary roster for his native Dominican Republic, (but) decided that he would be better served remaining in Tampa. …
The Classic begins on March 5 in Japan, and players will begin practicing with their national teams during the first week in March, just after the first few Spring Training games. If a player’s team makes it to the finals from March 21-23, they will be away from big league camp for roughly three weeks.
[My take: Why can't they hold it in the Fall/Winter? They have leagues in Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the D.R. then ... why can't they just substitute the WBC for those leagues once every four years?]
- Here’s your Yankee broadcast schedule for Spring Training and the regular season. As of right now, FOX doesn’t have them on for their weekly Saturday afternoon broadcast at all after August 9th (though the last two weekends are TBA on the Fox schedule).
- Shane Spencer turns 37 today. Spencer made quite an initial impression with the Yanks in 1998, compiling a line of .373/.411/.910 with 10 homers in 73 PAs. He also added two more homers in the ALDS win over the Rangers.
- Phil Lombardi (cups of coffee in ’86 and ’87) turns 46. Lombardi was involved in one of the rare Yankee/Met trades: in December of ’87 he was dealt along with Steve Frey and Darren Reed for Rafael Santana and Victor Garcia (minors).
- Happy 50th birthday to Bill Gullickson. Gullickson was a late-season pick-up in ’87.