Monday, January 31, 2011

Yankees Allegedly Out of Duchscherer Running

But hope is not lost. We still have Jeremy Bonderman, Kevin Millwood and Freddy Garcia available in the free agent market, and we all know what they could mean to our rotation. Nothing. Pretty much nothing. But still, wouldn't one of them be better than Sergio Mitre? No. And that's the problem. I'd rather Mitre than any of these guys who have the same consistancy problems as Mitre but with far more injury concerns. Our lone hope is Bartolo Colon who totally dominated in the winter leagues, and everyone knows that winter league domination is akin to major league success.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It Didn't Slip Under the Radar, We Just Ignored the Blip

A few days ago it was reported that the Yankees signed former AL CY Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal. Some wondered why we at the RJG, who have been complaining about the lack of news all winter, would not report on this. The main reason is that this deal registered very low on the interest meter. Its kind of like when we signed Hideo Nomo a number of years back. Many don't even remember that, and those who do, don't care. But one interesting bit of baseball news comes from this article in the New York times. Kansas City pitcher Gil Meche is retiring and foregoing the $12 million on his contract for this year. He basically feels like if he can't help his team, he doesn't want any part of the paycheck. In this way he is the anti-Carl Pavano, but in fairness Carl Pavano did return to pitch, and pitch pretty well. Its just that he took a 4 year, $39.95 million rehab deal from the Yankees to return to form.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

O Brother Where Art Thou?

If the in-pouring of emails is any indication, many are wondering, nay, concerned about the whereabout of my brother and co-RJG author Roberto Alejandro. Rumors have abounded including one scenario that had Lady Gaga finally catching up with him and killing him with a peace pipe. Not sure where that one came from, but I can assure you all its not true. Roberto Alejandro is just fine, though he is working undercover as an intern for the Yankees trying to uncover any kind of intel he can about the Yankees plans. The last wire from him said he was uncovering so crazy things, but could not expand on it now. He did leave us with this exchange dated from Wednesday of last week:

Hal Steinbrenner: "We got Soriano! Championship 28 is now ours!"

Brian Cashman: "No, we're pretty screwed this year. Thanks for your sound judgment in procuring us a releiver when we need a starter."

Randy Levine: "But we have the best bullpen in baseball! Championship 28 is ours!"

Brian Cashman: "Bullpens don't win championships."

Randy Levine: "That's your opinion."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Justin Duchscherer

Over at Britt's Bird Watch there are some interesting quotes from Justin Duchscherer who is going to be throwing a bullpen session for the Orioles on Friday. He basically says that he's not concerned about being overwhelmed in New York, his main issue is that he wants to start and wants a team who will pretty much guarantee that he'll be a starter if he's healthy. I don't know what the Yankees are waiting for as I can't imagine his contract will be too expensive. When our direct competition is the Orioles, Nationals, Pirates, and Indians for his services I think we can offer the most appealing package. I would much rather have the Yankees over pay for Duchscherer than sign Soriano, but now that we have Soriano, we might as well get one of those incentive packed contracts ready and see what Duchscherer can do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Manny and Damon and Wells

Lots of interesting moves happened over the weekend. Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were both signed by the Rays, with Manny getting $2 million and Damon getting $5.25. Who would have thought years ago that Damon would score a larger contract than Manny? Its a great deal for the Rays. Johnny Damon can still be productive, and at one year what's the risk? Manny at $2 million really won't matter if he's Manny being Manny. They can drop him from the team and not lose much. The best deal of the weekend however comes from Toronto, who some how managed to trade Vernon Wells to the Angels. Wells had a productive year last season hitting 31 homeruns, and 88 RBI's. But Wells is set to make $23 million this season, and then $21 million a season from 2012 - 2014. The Blue Jays received Mike Napoli and former Yankee Juan Rivera, two relatively productive players with small contracts. The Yankees also made an interesting move in signing Andruw Jones. Not interesting in a real way, but more like how the difference between forest green and sage green is interesting.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yankees Sign Andruw Jones

For $2 million, plus $1.2 million in possible incentives. Sounds awesome. Maybe this and the Soriano signing are the Yankees way of warming up for a relevant deal. Maybe.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Its Official: Cashman Has Not Lost it...For Now

What has been widely speculated has now been confirmed. In this article, Cashman is largely quoted as having had nothing to do with this deal. Here are some telling quotes:

"This certainly will help us try to win a championship, there's no doubt about that, so that's in the plus column," Cashman said. "But I didn't recommend it, just because I didn't think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have. We had a lot of debate about that."

"He's a tremendous player in what he does," Cashman said. "But for me, I'm pretty transparent in how I've evolved in building your team. Early on, we've obviously committed a lot of money to relievers and had some difficulties with that. And you've seen the success we've had over the last number of years."

In response to the structure of the contract with the moronic opt-out clauses:

"I couldn't speak to that," Cashman said. "I think that was a byproduct of the discussion Scott Boras was having with the club. I couldn't speak to why the structure of the deal is the way it is. I did not negotiate this. I was involved, but I didn't negotiate it directly with Scott."

This article specifically states that it was Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine who negotiated this contract. I think it goes without saying that if you're ever going car shopping, don't bring either of these guys with you to negotiate the deal. You WILL pay $40,000 for that Kia Rio.

I think Hal and Randy have lost touch. Randy was quoted as saying: "[Soriano] makes the Yankees a lot better". I guess I'm still trying to figure out how having a lock down 8th inning pitcher every other day or so makes the Yankees a lot better. But maybe I'll just have to wait and see.

So Cashman is now absolved. Ownership is to blame for this deal, and since they seem to lack any sense of history, you can expect them to intervene and make the same mistake in the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yankees Avoid Arbitration

The Yankees have signed Hughes, Chamberlain and Logan to new deals without them going to arbitration. Hughes will get $2.7 million (thus the benefits of building your own starters within your system), while Chamberlain will get $1.4 million and Logan $1.2 million. It gets me thinking that if you can nail your first million in baseball, you may not be set for life, but you could get pretty far. With a cool million you could buy a rather nice house, two rather nice cars, and not even have spent half of your money. With the mortgage and car payments taken care of, you're left not paying what normally takes up half of peoples monthly income. I have a feeling that with a frugal approach you can make the remaining half a million last some time. But of course I wouldn't know since I've never made a million in baseball, or anywhere else for that matter. I just needed to write something that wasn't about Rafael Soriano, and that's about all I could come up with. Sorry everyone, they can't all be winners.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Take on Soriano, Same as the First, but Written Slightly Differently

Thus far I have not tried to hide my disdain for this deal. I'm over it in the sense that I know he's our 8th inning guy, and we're opening the season with him. I'm not over it in the sense that it is a stupid deal that favors a player I don't particularly care to favor, and doesn't improve our team in a meaningful way. For Jeter it seemed like ownership had holes in their pockets, but for Soriano it seems like those holes had been patched with $100 bills, and stock options in Apple. The Lohud blog linked over to a pair of articles over the weekend one bringing up concerns about Soriano's attitude, and one saying that his attitude issues ended up not being an issue in Tampa. Rays pitching coach in the latter article praises Soriano. The former article mentions Joe Maddon growing tired of Soriano's hissy-fits over being asked to pitch in non-save situations, including a tantrum he threw when he was asked to pitch the 9th inning in game 5 of the ALDS while the Rays were down 3-1. He promptly gave up a single and a homerun that inning. The article in favor of Soriano doesn't really say much that makes me think his attitude isn't a problem. It basically says that when he showed up in spring training he told his coaches how he was going to get prepared for the season, and how he wanted to be used during the season. This obviously didn't go over well, but since he was so succesful they didn't really question him. There are hopes that Mariano will be a calming influence for Soriano, but this sounds like a pipe dream. Nothing about this deal is sounding promising to me. I would say that you can't argue with results and we should wait for the season to start to judge, but the truth is, if we win a bunch a games, it won't be because of our setup guy. Even if he posts a 1.00 ERA, that won't be the reason we're winning games.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Second Impression on Soriano: Still Plenty Stupid

I want to make one thing clear, I have nothing against Soriano. I like him as a player, and think he is an incredible reliever. He may even be a good closer candidate if and when Mariano decides to retire. My issue is with the Yankees strategy, and Soriano's contract. I do not fault Soriano for signing that deal. He is a closer, and he should not be expected to take less than closer money. I do not blame Boras because his job is to get the most money and the most flexible contract he can for his client, which he acheived. My issue is with the Yankees, who offered this deal. Here are my main concerns:

1. Its just too much money for a reliever. I understand he's a closer who is pitching the 8th for us, but there were 8th inning relievers available. Grant Balfour signed a 2 year $7.9 million contract with the A's. There was a third year option that would bring the deal up to $12.4 million if exercised. Balfour had a 2.28 ERA last season. For comparison's sake Soriano's 3rd year alone will earn him $14 million. In other words Soriano will earn $1.6 million more in one year, than Balfour will make in 3. And Balfour's been a very effective reliever.

2. Giving up the prospects. Sure, both Soriano and Balfour are type A free agents, and would lose us the picks. My contention is that we shouldn't have signed a type A free agent reliever to begin with, but if we had to, it would be better to sign the less expensive player. Tyler Kepner made a good point that between 1977 - 2006, only 12 prospects picked 31st overall (the spot the Yankees would have drafted in) have made it to the majors. But honestly this is flawed. Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy were all first or supplementary round draft picks. Phil Hughes is proving to be an effective starter, Chamerlain despite being up and down in his career still has some real value, and Kennedy helped land us Granderson. Even the prospects that don't make it to the majors, end up having value in the trade markets. Losing our first round draft pick is short sighted.

3. It doesn't address any real Yankee need. The Yankees need starters. A one-inning pitcher, no matter how good he is, can not account for the fact that 3 out of our 5 starters are questionable. 8th inning relievers only have value when you can hand them a lead. How often do you see Burnett, Mitre and Nova handing over a lead after 7 innings?

4. Lastly, a lot of people really like this deal, and have tried to defend it. I'm talking about Yankee fans. The best arguments I've heard for this deal are really weak. I'll admit that the fact it gives us something to talk about has some value, but not in a 2011 world championship kind of way. Signing Carl Pavano would give us a lot to talk about. But the best arguments I've heard in favor of the deal are as follows:

-Who cares about the prospects, they rarely make it!
-Its not our money, why should we care?
-We've shortened the games to 7 innings!
-Its a great insurance policy if Mariano gets injured.

The first two aren't arguments for it. They're responses to concerns that have been brought up against it. The 3rd one makes sense, but is rendered useless if we can't regularly carry a lead into the 8th. Its also ineffecient because we could have done this for much cheaper (ie. Balfour). The 4th one sounds like a good point, only that if we ever need to use Soriano to close, it negates the 3rd point, and honestly as an insurance policy its too expensive (Soriano's contract is more expensive than Mariano's). We can look for a closer when we need one. We're clearly not concerned with over spending.

Lastly, if you're a Yankee fan who likes this deal, you are in agreement with every Red Sox fan I've talked to. This could mean nothing, but the truth is, this deal makes us better, but only marginally. Living in Red Sox territory allows me to get a pulse for these things, and I've yet to find a Sox fan, even among the doomsday element, who think this deal is a problem for them. When you're rival shrugs at your best off season move, you may want to reconsider your strategy. Just how we all did when the Red Sox signed Lackey.

Friday, January 14, 2011

$35 Million for a Setup Guy!

Okay, I'm sorry, but this was pretty stupid. If you haven't heard, the Yankees have signed former closer and soon to be setup man Rafael Soriano to a 3 year $35 million contract. The Lohud blog has a really good break down of the deal and the impact here. The way the contract works is that he's signed for 3 years, but can opt out after the first or second year. He will make $10 million in 2011, $11 million in 2012, and $14 million in 2013, but if he opts out, the Yankees will pay him an additional $1.5 million as part of the opt out. In addition to this ridiculous amount of money, the Yankees lose a draft pick. What does Scott Boras have on Cashman? This deal makes zero sense. In a year where our rotation is short two starting pitchers, we go ahead and sign a bunch of relievers. Here's the problem, a set up man only makes sense if we're handing him a lead in the 8th inning. What is the likelihood that that will be happening the nights Burnett, Mitre or Nova are taking the mound? Here's a thought, how about taking that money and taking a risk on some starters. I would prefer to see the Yankees sign Justin Duchscherer then to throw away money on this guy. Save the draft pick, and save the money. Cashman just said he wasn't going to give up a draft pick for a reliever. None of this makes sense. If we don't pull off a trade for a frontline starter, this is going to be a rough year. We may end up seeing Soriano pitching in blowout games just so he can get his innings in. I like Soriano, but not at this price. Just to recap our off season exploits: we've resigned our closer to a 2 year $30 million deal, and then took a $35 million insurance policy on him with Soriano. Some will say, its not your money, why do you care? Its not my money, but it is my team, and this waste of money doesn't help us. If it was $35 million for a starter it would be one thing, but we're paying $35 million for someone to pitch one inning. Cashman's lost it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pettitte Almost Retires

Andy Pettitte almost retired yesterday as it was reported that Cashman said he would not pitch in 2011. That was later recinded as Pettitte basically said he wouldn't start the season as a pitcher, but may still decide to pitch mid-season ala Roger Clemens last 3 years.

"I just can't make a decision." Explained Pettitte. "Yesterday, I was in my chair and my dog walked over to me, and I was looking in his face, and I thought to myself 'Look at this cute puppy, I need to retire.' But then as I kept staring at it I was like 'Can I really look at this puppy for 6 straight months? (expletive deleted) that!'"

The puppy, a beagle, was not available for comment, but a neighbor of Pettitte did say something revealing.

"Most years around this time, I see Pettitte working out, preparing for the season. This year, he's still working out, but its like power walks and crap like that. Its how you work out when you retire."


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

High Risk, High Reward

The newest name attached to the Yankees is that of Justin Duchscherer. In terms of high risk, high reward guys he is very appealing. He was mainly a releiver in his time with Oakland until 2008 when he was made a starter, and really performed. He posted 2.54 that year in 22 starts, and aced the Yankees in a couple starts, but since then he's dealt with depression and injury issues that have kept him out of the game. Last year he made 5 starts with a 2.89 ERA before injuries knocked him out for the season. Any player coming back from injury is a risk, but the reward could be high on this one. Sign the boy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jets Move Forward, Yankees Idle

The New York Jets edged out the Colts to move forward in the post season, meaning Rex Ryan has finally beaten Peyton Manning. I don't really follow football that much, but is it at all strange that a coach wanted to beat a player that badly? Ryan sounded oddly obsessive about Peyton Manning. Like Manning had eaten his dog in front of his family or something. It just seems odd. But that's not my world. My world is on break for what seems like an eternity. In case you're just tunning into the Yankees off season, I'll catch you up:

-Derek Jeter's gangster will be respected in the Bronx for at least three more years.
-Mariano's signed for two more years.
-Russel Martin is now a Yankee.
-We got a bunch of relievers including Pedro Feliciano.
-We still need two starters (Pettitte leaning towards retirement), a 4th outfielder (Yankees have been tied to Andruw Jones), and potentially an 8th inning setup guy for Mariano.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Missing: Relevant News

The one impressive piece of this off season is just how masterfully beat writers have recycled the same 3 story lines for the better part of a month. Those 3 stories are Jorge's successor, the incomplete rotation, and the bullpen. Between the three countless pages have been written, but with the exception of the bullpen, these stories have not really evolved. Nothing has changed with the rotation, nothing has changed with who will replace Posada, and nothing major has really changed with the bullpen, we just keep signing guys we may only see pitch a handful of innings each this year. I'm hoping Brian Cashman made a new years resolution to bring us a pitcher. With Lee going to the Phillies, Grienke going to the Brewers, Garza going to the Cubs, and Pettitte likely to retire, the Yankees may be heading into the season with Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre rounding out their rotation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh Crap! The Yankees Finally Done It!

Off Season salvaged ladies and gentleman! The Yankees have claimed right handed pitcher Brian Schlitter from the Cubs. You may remember Schlitter from triple A Iowa where he recorded 13 saves with a 3.15 ERA. He pitched 8 innings at the big league level and gave up 11 earned runs in that time, but that's a small sampling. So where does he fit in on the Yankees roster? He doesn't. But he gives us a ready arm at the minor league level we can call upon at any moment. He may even make the 25 man roster if he pitches well enough in spring training. However, this does not address our starting rotation issue. Is anyone else getting the feeling that we may be seeing Sidney Ponson again?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Manny Ramirez

Sign him! Its pretty clear by now that signing a phenom pitcher is probably not going to happen. With that said we need to start thinking about symbolic victories rather than real on-the-field victories. That's why we should sign Manny Ramirez. He'll be a terror in the clubhouse and awful on the field, and though his bat will still be productive, his real value will come in the fact that his signing will be obnoxious to all Red Sox fans. Its either that or signing Jeremy Bonderman and wishing for the best. Sign them both for all I care. I just need something to write about.

Yankees May be Interested in Andruw Jones

Because nothing takes you to the world series like a 4th outfielder.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RJG Quotes of Memory

Over the years the RJG blog has been known for its spectacular reporting of facts and for writing the reports the newspapers are too afraid to cover. I for one am an admirer of my brother and co-RJG author's work on this blog. Some of the best articles over the last year have been written by him, with some hard hitting lines. Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of my brother's previous work:

"Remember that you can have fun without alcohol. But it's lame fun, like doing puzzles and $#!%."
-Words of Wisdom from the 2008 Yankees.

"Apparently he had lied in his resume, where he claimed to be an expert in alchemy. When all was said and done, he just couldn't take the $#!% the Os gave him and turn it into gold, so he was let go."
-About the reason Dave Trembley lost his job managing the Orioles.

"Besides, we at the RJG were raised by wolves, and wolves don't celebrate Thanksgiving. They can eat turkey whenever the hell they want, so bladow!"
-RJG's Thanksgiving Post.

'I kicked the tire on you, b**ch!'
-Fan to Roy Halladay.

Truly brilliant work. Now we return to your regularly scheduled off-season malaise.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. We better win a World Series this time or I'm going to be so mad . . .

A Plea For Something

There is nothing to write about. Nothing. The biggest news in the Yankees Universe is that Joakim Soria would accept a trade to New York. The news is not that the Yankees are pursuing such a trade, but that Soria would accept a trade. Essentially this is a non story. But since there are actually no stories, it becomes a story. It seems every team in our division has done something except us. Sure we signed Jeter and Mo, but that amounts to status quo. We've tried to do stuff, but haven't actually done anything. All the holidays are over now, so we better get some movement. Can we at least fire a coach or something? An interview process would at least tide us over for a bit. How about negotiate an extension with someone? Maybe a Hughes or a Joba? Nothing major, just something to talk about. Please. Anything.