This Is Getting Scary

Ok, forget my last post, start by reading this.

Then read this.

Add in the guy who seems to have the best sources on the Yankees says this.

Then move onto the fact that John Sterling went on WFAN this afternoon and said this was going to happen. He put it at a 101 out of 100. Sterling based this on his sources within the organization and the guy has excellent sources.

Add it all up and there is a ton of smoke and it appears there is some fire. Where does this leave us, the fans who had moved on? I don’t know, I am so conflicted right now I can’t even begin to sort my feelings out and I won’t let myself try until something is officially done either way.

One thing I would definitely add to this is my first question if I were the Yankees would be, “are you part of the Mitchell Report?” Better cover your bases there before going any further.

I have to say, I never expected to be back at this point again, ever.

Don’t Believe The Hype

You can read all the stories like this that you want, but don’t believe them. Because, as Ken Roesenthal correctly points out, you can’t negotiate with a player without his agent unless that agent is fired. So, look for news that Scott Boras has been fired before you believe any of this.

The Wrong Conclusion

Bill Madden argues in the Daily News today that Cashman made a mistake by not extending Rivera and Posada back in March. Well, hindsight is 20/20 and that is the hole in this argument. What would have happened if Posada didn’t hit this year or Mariano couldn’t close anymore? Cashman took a risk and lost, but that doesn’t mean it was a dumb decision.

But, if there is one thing you want to see that Brian has learned from his risk is to look at this from the other end of the process, the younger end. Cano and Wang are about to become arbitration eligible. That means for the next three years they and the Yankees can exchange figures for salary increases and either agree on a number or let an arbitrator decide. Here’s where you save some money, how about offering these guys longer term deals?

This is where the Yankees have never ventured. When Bernie Williams was an up and coming star the Yankees did nothing and went to free agency with him. Derek Jeter got to the point in arbitration where the club was offering $14.25 million and he was asking for $18.5, before the Yankees finally gave him a contract. Contrast that with the Red Sox and their approach with Nomar. They signed him after his first full season in the bigs and ended up with a well below-market deal with him as a result. They reached extensions with Beckett and Crisp when they got them via trade and while the Crisp deal doesn’t look great, Beckett earning $32 million over the next three years is a steal.

If the Yankees want to take some risks, this is where you do it. Sign some of these younger guys to deals now. Get Cano and Wang settled before the arbitration process starts. Is it too early to talk to Joba and Hughes? Maybe, but considering the price of young pitching today, locking them up could be the smartest decision they could make.

Contigency Plan

This post could also be titled “Oh crap, we lost Lowell.”

Seriously, what if Mike Lowell says no to Boston and ends up in Florida (once Miguel Cabrera is traded)? Boston will have a hole to fill. Let’s eliminate one idea right away. There should be no moving Kevin Youkilis to 3b…unless St. Louis offers up Albert Pujols. Why move a gold glove player to another position? It doesn’t make sense. So with that in mind, who are the options?

Miguel Cabrera
Alex Rodriguez
Chad Spann

Cabrera: An outstanding talent, Cabrera is only 24 yet has produced: 313/.388/.542 with 138 HRs, 523 RBI in 5 seasons in the majors. The knock on Cabrera is he can’t play D. Compared to Mike Lowell, that is probably true, but otherwise he is an average major league 3b based on errors and range factors. He has a career .954 fld% compared to a league average of the same. His range is a 2.52 vs a league average of 2.70. Lower yes, but not by much. So giving him the benefit of the doubt, he is the same as league average. The main issue with Cabrera is his weight. He is listed as 6’2″ 185 on, has him at 210. But seeing him today, he appears much heavier. I won’t try to guess, but the key is his weight has increased dramatically since his debut. Consensus: He will be expensive and there is some concern his performance will decline as his waistline grows.

ARod: Best position player in baseball. He is an amazing offensive talent and can more than hold his own defensively at 3b or SS. That we know. The questions about ARod generally revolve around clubhouse presence, post-season performance and value. ARod has a questionable reputation amongst his teammates, has never produced in the post-season and presents a horrible value. A horrible value if a team were to give him $35mm a season. That is too much money for one player if not because it takes up a large % of resources but also because it creates a class issue within the team. I suppose there are classes anyway, but he automatically would become the uber personality based on income, not necessarily accomplishment. Buyer beware.

Spann: The Red Sox don’t have a 3b ready to fill in in their farm system. Chad Spann is the Pawtucket 3b, but he doesn’t project to be in Boston in 2008. Keep looking.

The more I look at this, the more it makes sense to sign Lowell. Of course there are plenty of 3b’s in baseball and Boston might very well have some trade ideas, but those scenarios are too many to discuss here. We will probably find out their decision/course of action soon.

Quite An Offer

The Yankees have offered Mariano Rivera a three-year/$45 million deal. That could very well be the definition of insanity, but so be it. I am not sure why they felt the need to pump the offer up to that level, it is $4-million more than any other closer and Rivera turns 38 in a few weeks. Personally, I would have thought that two years and about $24-million would have been fair, but I guess the Yankees felt the market would give Rivera more than that.

Two things are clear from this offer. First and foremost, the Yankees have made Rivera an offer he shouldn’t refuse. I can’t imagine he could get a better offer somewhere else, but even if he did, would it be worth it to leave New York when you are walking away from that much money? Second, the Yankees are clearly not going into rebuilding mode. They are spending money and spending it with gusto. It will be interesting to see what happens next, but the Posada contract and Rivera offer make me believe they may bid on one of these free agents in the upcoming weeks.

Posada is Returning

The deal is apparently official, 4 years/$52.4 million, or $100,000 more a year than Damon or Matsui got.

Look, it is ridiculous to give a 36-year old catcher a four-year deal. But, the fact is the Yankees were totally boxed in here. Who else was going to catch in 2008 for this team? The fact is, if you want to see the Yankees contend in 2008, they need Posada behind the plate. Take his bat out of an already weakened lineup and things would get really ugly.

Now, the Yankees are probably going to really regret this contract in 2010 and 2011. Baseball Prospectus projected Posada to still be above replacement value in 2010 and out of baseball in 2011. Those projections were before this season, so they will be revised upwards, but he will not be worth $13.1 million in those years. The question is, how long will Posada be able to catch and how long will the Yankees want him to? There is a huge incentive for the Yankees to protect their investment now and that means getting Posada out from behind the plate as much as possible. But, shift his bat to first or DH and it becomes less of a value. If Posada can’t catch on at least a part time basis in 2010 and 2011, he will be one of the most overpaid players in the game.

Hopefully, the Yankees don’t view this signing as taking care of the catching position for the next four years. Posada’s successor needs to be found and soon. Getting a guy who can effectively fill in behind the plate for 40 games or so in 2008 is a smart move and Jose Molina doesn’t fit that description. The Yankees need to take some of the young pitching and turn it into a young catcher. Let him learn from Posada and in 2010 or 2011, when Jorge’s knees give out, he can step in.

And, while I sit here and gripe about the deal, I have to admit I am pretty happy to see Posada returning. He is one of the easiest guys on the team to root for and I am glad that he will be a lifetime Yankee.

No Deal Yet

Peter’s last post is aptly titled. Tick, Tick, Tick indeed. The Red Sox and Mike Lowell haven’t reached an agreement and with only a few hours left until free agency, the Red Sox have little time left to exclusively negotiate. Come midnight tonight, Lowell is free to sign with any team. Globe is reporting that the sides are stuck on the length of contract. Lowell wants 4 years and Boston is offering 3. Apparently the 3 is more than they wanted to offer in the first place and if Lowell is stuck on getting 4 years, the Red Sox might be in the market for a 3b not named Lowell.

The price tag for guys like Miguel Cabrera (Lester or Buccholz and Ellsbury) and ARod ($35m a year for 10 years) make signing Lowell a priority, if not the cheapest option and best value. Even if Lowell insists on 4 years, might it make sense to give it to him knowing that the future of the Red Sox is in guys like Buccholz, Lester, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Masterston, Bowden and Lowrie? And with no 3b coming up the pipeline, Lowell might be the annual dip into the “ineffiecient” free agent market that Theo Epstein talks about.

By midnight, we will know a bunch more I suppose. My opinion on this has changed a bit and while I thought 3 years was more than fair, I now realize the alternatives are few and or expensive. I say offer him 3 years with a 4 year vesting option based on easy criteria and if he says no, give him 4 years guaranteed. Of course the Red Sox are known for setting a value on a player and sticking to it, so we should all be prepared to be disappointed and Pedro Feliz at 3b.

In other news, Dustin Pedroia won the AL ROY award today, the first Red Sox since Nomar Garciaparra. Also, we can expect a signing or two by Boston to help round out the bench in the next few days.


Mo, Posada, Lowell and that guy who used to play third in New York are all free agents in a matter of hours.

No Thanks

Assuming this story is true, you can cross Santana off your shopping list.

Parting with one of the young pitchers is one thing, giving up Cano is completely different. When you look at the lineup it becomes obvious that Cano cannot be traded. The guy is the one young hitter they have and he has turned into a good second baseman.

Santana is a wonderful pitcher, but if the price is Cano, you create more problems than you solve.

The Next Backstop

Just what will the Red Sox do when Jason Varitek’s contract is up after 2008? JV is more than solid defensively, but his offense is on the decline.

Varitek’s OPS and OPS +
2001 – .860/123
2002 – .724/90
2003 – .863/120
2004 – .872/121
2005 – .855122
2006 – .725/83
2007 – .788/103

Definition of OPS+ can be found here. Essentially, Varitek has been a plus offensive catcher for his career, but his offense has tailed off since 2006. In 2006, he was just bad, while this past season he rebounded a bit, but was not a plus offensive catcher. This isn’t a knock on Varitek as catchers get old and they tend to age faster than other players.

The big question is what do the Red Sox do after 2008? George Kottaras? If it hadn’t been for a fantastic Juy, Kottaras would have been terrible in 2007. Unless he figures things out at AAA, I do not think he is a viable option in 2009. The key with Kottaras has been that his bat is good but his defense needs work. Well so far at AAA his bat has disappeared making his worth minimal.

The Red Sox could always extend Varitek another year or 2, but that comes with diminished expectations and it isn’t likely he will get better or even stay the same offensively. They need to find a catcher that can help in 2009 and beyond. High-A catcher Mark Wagner is intriguing, but you cannot get too excited about his offensive stats as he plays at Lancaster’s hitter friendly park. His home splits: .381/.454/.655 and his road splits: .251/.358/.398. In other words, he might be an ok hitter some day, but not a great hitter. Man those splits are extreme.

So keep your eyes open for the Red Sox to use Coco Crisp and a prospect to get a high ceiling catcher. Texas’ Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one idea, but he is probably the top catching prospect in baseball, so his cost might be steep. I’m not sure why Atlanta thought it a good idea for him to skip AAA ball. Why rush these guys? Regardless, my bet here is that the Red Sox make a play for the catcher of the future this off-season.