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Yankee Panky: Offseason? You Want To Talk Offseason?

To take a page from Roger Kahn, who our fearless proprietor Alex Belth credited in Lede Time II, “Every year is next year for the Yankees.” Apparently, it’s next year already. The offseason doesn’t exist anymore.

Less than a week after the World Series, the news cycle has shifted to the GM meetings and the Hot Stove League. At least we got to enjoy the parade for a day or two.

Columns talking about 2010 and dismantling the team that were written within days of the Yankees doing their victory lap around the New House left as sour a taste as the bogus basking-in-the-afterglow pieces of Mike Lupica and Wallace Matthews. How quickly they changed their tunes; two days prior, they took Joe Girardi to the rails, one driving the “Win Game 6 or the s—t hits the fan from the Steinbrenners” bandwagon and the other riding shotgun.

It seemed like too much, too soon. Maybe that’s because for the first time in six years, the Yankees’ season went beyond the first week of October. Maybe it’s also because the Free Agent declarations were made public on Monday.

The Red Sox have already exercised the option on Victor Martinez, signed Tim Wakefield to a two-year deal, and traded for outfield/bench help, acquiring Jeremy Hermida from Florida. If it’s about keeping up with the Joneses, then the Yankees are playing their typical game of Snake in the Grass. They are the Joneses.

The stories coming out now as they pertain to the champs — random aside: now YES Network really is “the home of champions” — will center around three storylines:

1) Age (Keep 36-year-old Johnny Damon and 35-year-old Hideki Matsui, who’s now nothing more than a DH? Keep one? If so, which one? Or Jettison both?)

2) Pitching. Lots of decisions to be made outside of re-signing Andy Pettitte, non-tendering Chien-Ming Wang, and placing Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the rotation.

3) Economics. The GM Meetings taking place at the Airport Hilton at Chicago O’Hare did not signal a depressed market. A weak free agent class does.

Where does that leave the Yankees as the Hot Stove premiere shows tape for YES and MLBN this week? Perhaps the most intriguing article came from John Harper at the Daily News. In his “10 Ideas For 2010” list, No. 8 was especially provocative:

Robinson Cano’s abysmal postseason confirmed what scouts say about him, that he’s an undisciplined free swinger who is always going to put up numbers during the season against a lot of mediocre pitching, but should be an easy out on a big stage against elite pitching.

It doesn’t mean the Yankees should trade him. Indeed, he improved his focus in 2009 after his late-season benching in 2008, and for the most part played a brilliant second base. But it does mean the Yankees shouldn’t rule it out, in case some team sees him as their No. 3 hitter and is willing to give up a golden arm for him.

The Cano conundrum is interesting, mainly because the same things were said about Alfonso Soriano after the 2003 World Series loss. All the Yankees did that winter, albeit right before pitchers and catchers reported in February of ‘04, was send Soriano to the Texas Rangers as part of the blockbuster trade for Alex Rodriguez.

While Harper was just tossing an idea around as thought snacks, Joel Sherman preheated the oven with rumblings of Curtis Granderson heading to center field for the Yankees. Leave it to Sherman to leave some crumbs as the Winter Meetings approach.

This is the time of year when the good reporters in the industry elevate their games and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. On the TV side, the hangers-on from the local networks who are generally detached will be further removed from the process, leaving the info-gathering to the people who are typically in the trenches. In the coming weeks, you’ll see which beat writers and columnists have the most connections and go to the greatest lengths to source their stories. Their methods are not as scientific or analytical as the respective crews of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs, but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. They have a more difficult task: being first or being right.

And for us, the group that’s largely on the receiving end of all the tidbits, we have to decide which line is most credible.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Hot Stove  Will Weiss  Yankee Panky

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1 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:59 am

so what are we thinking the asking price on Granderson would be?

2 Joel   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:07 am

...left as sour a taste as the bogus basking-in-the-afterglow pieces Mike Lupica and Wallace Matthews. How quickly they changed their tunes; two days prior, they took Joe Girardi to the rails, one driving the “Win Game 6 or the s—t hits the fan from the Steinbrenners” bandwagon and the other riding shotgun.

Will, that was beautiful. Way to call out those haters.

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:16 am

this is now tacked up next to my desk...so great


4 Will Weiss   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:30 am

[2] That's the first time anyone has called a line I've written "beautiful." Thanks for the compliment.

5 ms october   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:53 am

yeah this was very good stuff will

[3] sheeeeeeeeeeeeit, that ad is all kinds of awesome

6 gary from chevy chase   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:53 am

Granderson? Interesting to think about him. Problem is that he can't hit a lick against lefties, so that means we'll need to carry a RH platoon guy. Not an impossibility, but it depends on what happens with Matsui and Damon.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:54 am

I love the early Hot Stove (it's not really early...the post season just ended late) talk. In no way do I see it as distracting from the championship. #27 is in the vault forever and can be enjoyed at will. Baseball is a 365 day a year sport whose popularity has never been greater. It makes perfect sense that the Hot Stove would start firing immediately after the post season.

8 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:20 pm

[1] Cripes, I don't know. I know very little about the Tigers' farm system. Where's rbj, I bet he does. Pitching would be my guess. Would an IPK+____ package do it? We got Swisher for less than that . . . guess it depends on whether Detroit has soured on him, or if its salary-related.

I read something about the Tigers needing to decrease their payroll, and possibly needing to track Edwin Jackson away to do it. The problem is they have 3 pitchers getting raises for 2010 (Willis, Robertson, and Bonderman), none of who may contribute anything next year, plus they've got Ordonez's $18M, Guillen due an extra $3M, Miggy due an extra $5M, and I believe Verlander is arb-eligible . . . Outside of Miggy, or obviously Verlander, none of those guys is tradeable. But Granderson - who's big bucks don't kick in until 2011 - sure would be!

If it was a salary dump+they've soured on him, I have to think an IPK+lower minors' arm would do it. Dombrowski (the Tigers' GM) does love pitching prospects.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:25 pm

[8] I'd be shocked if the Tigers (or anyone) took IPK as the centerpiece in a major deal. Granderson is still young, so selling him that low would be borderline incompetence on the part of Dombromski. The Tigers are thin in the minors (many of their prospects were traded two years ago), but dumping Granderson doesn't solve that problem.

10 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:51 pm

[9] No, but their payroll in 2009 was $115M. Even if they sign no new players, the payroll will go up by $13M, and that's before arbitration awards to Verlander and Jackson. And we all know Detroit (the region) is not exactly doing great financially now.

If they have to drop payroll, and they still want to contend, who are they going to trade outside of Granderson? And if they are dropping offense, one way to pick it up to add pitching. A run saved = a run scored.

And Granderson is younger than 30, but he's not "young". He's 29 in 2010. That is, he's older than Swisher was when the White Sox sold low on him.

In fact, I find the parallels to Swisher and Granderson very similar, except that (as far as I know), Chicago was not facing a money crunch, Ozzie just didn't care for Swisher. Granderson hit 30 HR, but he did not have a good year: .249/.327/.453, 100 OPS+. And the aforementioned can't hit lefties problem.

11 Will Weiss   ~  Nov 12, 2009 1:04 pm

[1] Sherman didn't mention Yankee centerpieces. IPK, Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera or maybe even Montero would be in there. I wouldn't discount Austin Jackson, either. ...[6] Gary, you're right. Granderson only hit .183 against lefties and his OBP wasn't what it probably could have been. I still think he'd be a great addition, though. Put him in CF, Melky in LF and deal with Swisher in right and you have something. Brett Gardner's choppy-hack swings that elicit popups have no business seeing the light of day ever again.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 1:10 pm

[10] Swisher and Granderson might have similar offensive value, but Granderson has played gold glove CF in the past. That's a big difference.

Dombrowski has already come out and said the Tigers aren't holding a fire sale, so it's probably a moot point. Having said that, I do think they would consider dealing Granderson, just not for a package as light as IPK-plus.

The Swisher deal was a huge fleecing by Cashman, but you can't expect that every year. Also, I think Kenny Williams had his hand forced by Ozzie on that deal. I doubt Granderson is in a similar situation.

As for the Tigers payroll, they do have a collection of some of the worst contracts you'll ever find. My only fear with them is that they don't get desperate and dump Cabrera to the Red Sox.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 1:19 pm

The Detroit Tigers owe $100mn to 10 players in 2010, including $65mn to Magglio, Guillen, Bonderman, Willis and Robertson. It is not only possible, but likely that no one from that group will have a significantly positive impact on the team. Detroit may have to just punt 2010, which actually is one reason they shouldn't dump Granderson. At 5, 8 and 10 million over the next three years, he has a very reasonable deal. With so much money coming off the Tigers books in 2011, it would wise for them to tighten their belt this year and look ahead.

14 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Nov 12, 2009 1:26 pm

The Tigers were on their way to a possible union grievance as they were sitting Maggs to get out of that 18 million lunacy. Then he started hitting better and the grievance started looming more (you can sit a guy playing terribly, not one hitting that well). Now they have Maggs at 18 next year and that is a killer for their roster. So, yes, I think they are in trade mode and talent can be gotten.

I'd be surprised if they punt in the Central, though. That division remains so winnable. KC in 2010!


15 Diane Firstman   ~  Nov 12, 2009 1:26 pm
16 ny2ca2dc   ~  Nov 12, 2009 2:02 pm

I love Granderson. The article speculated that it would take A-Jax, IPK, and Z-Mac. Maybe I'd go for that. For Jackson and just one of the pitchers (maybe plus a K. Texeira) I would probably be down. However: why not just sign Mike Cameron, and keep the kids? I'd like to see:

Cameron CF
Damon LF
Matsui DH

DeRosa UT
Hinkse (or similar) Bench Bat
Zaunn BUC

Andy P
one of the fragile aces (Beddard, Sheets, Harden, Duchscherer), whichever takes the most flexible contract
Wang re-signed

I think you could get Cam + Mats + Damon at $26 mil. (the cost of Damon & Mats alone last year), all for 1, 1+option years (maybe 2+ for Damon).

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