January Is At An End!!

Amazing isn’t it, but the worst three months of the baseball season are over tonight. The hot stove certainly takes some of the sting out of the absence of real baseball being played in November, December and January, but there is simply no substitute for the real thing.

And while February may make some people “shiver” 2008 brings a bonus day and the Yankees will play a game before the month is over. That’s right, we will see actual baseball four weeks from tomorrow. And we will have pitchers and catcher in two weeks which means we will have lots to talk about.

So, say goodbye to January. This weekend will mark the end of football, then it’s back to nine months of baseball. How great is that?

This Is Interesting

If this is true and Klapisch usually gets it right, the Yankees took a bigger gamble than we thought when they passed on Santana.

After all, it’s one thing to want to keep Phil Hughes and all of his potential in the rotation, it’s another entirely to scuttle a trade for Santana over Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera and a prospect. Kennedy had a great cup of coffee in the majors last year, but he is not expected to become an ace. Melky, well I like Melky, but I am not convinced he is going to hit enough to be a good player.

I would guess they ultimately passed on the deal because it is almost February and finding someone to play center instead of Damon at this point would be very, very hard. Pulling the trigger on that deal would have left them with a great rotation (Santana, Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Joba) but forced them to put Damon in center, Matsui in left and Giambi at DH everyday. That is a huge risk to take considering their ages and injury history.

The problem of course is that Hankenstein won’t look at it that way. If Santana is dominating for the Mets and Kennedy has washed out of the majors you can bet Brian Cashman will hear about it. That is the bet Brian made yesterday, let’s hope he is right.

The Off-Season Can Start Again

As Peter noted earlier today, the Minnesota Twins finally dealt Johan Santana. While at the end of the day I agree with Peter that this move it probably best for Boston (and the Yankees), I do admit I allowed myself to get fired up about the rotation Boston would have had in 2008 had Johan come to Boston. Seriously, it would have been sweet.

That being said, we are looking at Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz in Boston next year (and Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson at Pawtucket). That’s not a bad thing, right? This move also finally allows the off-season to resume. Specifically, I fully expect Coco Crisp to be dealt in the coming days and with Spring Training only 15 days away, yes, that’s 2 weeks from tomorrow, any other loose ends will fall into place. Did I mention Spring Training starts in 2 weeks? Can you believe it? Enjoy the 2007 World Series win while you can because with the start of the 2008 season, the Red Sox are going to be defending Champs.

So Crisp will be dealt and with Eric Hinske most likely a goner, the Red Sox really only need a utility player. Hinske was useful because he could play the corner outfield spots and corner infield spots, so other than his declining offense, I’m not sure why he isn’t going to return. That skillset will be tough to replace. There has been some talk that Trot Nixon could fill that role as he has worked this off-season on his 1st base skills (he will never, NEVER player 3rd, but Alex Cora can), Brad Wilkerson is an idea, although his agent, a guy named Scott Boras, has said he is looking for 3 years – $21mm. Interesting considering his client doesn’t have a job and Spring Training starts soon. In all fairness, the 3 year, $21mm rumor came out 2 weeks ago, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said that was nonsense and not his asking price.

If he could play a lick of 1b, Gabe Kapler would have been an interesting idea. A fan favorite to be sure, he is a good OF and a great clubhouse guy but he signed with Milwaukee. Anyway, I’ll let Theo Epstein figure out that last spot.

The Red Sox also traded for David Aardsma yesterday. The joy was overwhelming. I do wonder where he’ll fit in. Aardsma is 26 and has yet to make an impact in the Majors but he was considered special at one point. His greatest appeal is his K/IP. In the minors and majors, he has been just about a strikeout per inning guy. He has also been a .5 walk per inning guy and therein lies the problem John Farrell is a good pitching coach from all that know and Boston must be hoping he can figure this kid out.

Off-Season summary:

Additions:
David Aardsma

Subtractions:
Matt Clement
Eric Gagne
Brendan Donnelly (non-tendered)
Dr. Charles Steinberg
Tina Cervasio

Pending Subtractions:
Eric Hinske (for now)
Bobby Kielty (an option I had forgotten about

It’s Finally Over

Fantastic news fans, the Mets have completed a trade for Johan Santana. The Mets will send Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey.

It’s weird, but this is one of the few times both fans of the Yankees and Red Sox can be happy. Neither fan base (or the authors of this blog) wanted to part with the players and cash it would take to attain Santana and seeing him go to the National League is great news.

Of course the Mets have to sign him and that may cost big, big bucks, but they have the $$ and the need, so I don’t expect a problem.

If you are a Twins fan, my condolences. It looks to me like your club really blew it big time with this deal and you have every right to blast ownership.

What do you think? Vote below


This Is A Real Rivalry

So yes, Andy just happens to be a Patriots fan and I happen to be a Giants fan, but I’m sorry if I just don’t get the comparisons of that “rivalry” with the Yankees-Red Sox. Sure, Boston-New York is a good storyline, but the Giants and Patriots have played a total of eight times in 47 years. And, under the current NFL schedule, they will not play again until 2011 (unless it’s the Super Bowl)

So, while we are going to be bombarded with countless comparisons (I have already heard the Patriots compared to the 1998 Yankees and the Giants compared to the 2004 Red Sox) and hype, it only reinforces in my mind how special Yankees-Red Sox is. 19 times a year in the regular season, three times in the last nine seasons in the playoffs and for almost 100 years these two teams have been going at it. You simply can’t beat that.

I guess the best thing about this game from both sides is that the papers will be dominated with football stories and we won’t have to suffer through another round of Santana to “x” for a couple of weeks!

Arbitration

A rundown what the players wants and what the Red Sox are offering:

Kevin Youkilis: Ask – $3.7mm Bid – $2.525mm
Kyle Snyder: Ask – $1.025m Bid – $725k.

Javier Lopez signed a 1 year, $840k deal avoiding arbitration.

Based on the numbers above, the Youkilis deal has the potential to be the messiest. That is a fairly large gap. Trying my best to take emotions out of it, I would say Youkilis is a good player, but not your protype 1b who hits for a ton of power. His value lies in his defense, his on-base ability and his fundemental play. With his numbers, I would guess Youkilis will never be more than an $8mm – $10mm a year player in this market (i.e. with baseball’s crazy inflation, I can’t predict the future). So if the Red Sox give him $3.7mm, they are just a year or 2 away from that $8-10mm figure. My guess is that they will tell him here’s $3mm, take it or we’ll see you in arbitration. I think the Red Sox would win too.

Not much to offer up in the Johan Santana drama. Hurry up and wait.

The Red Sox and MLB did announce the start time for the Red Sox opener: 6:07am(EST) on March 25th.

Now’s The Time

Arbitration figures were exchanged today between players and ballclubs. Chien-Ming Wang asked for $4.6 million while the Yankees offered $4 million and Cano asked for $4.55 million while the Yankees offered $3.2 million. (The Yankees also announced that they reached a deal with Wilson Betemit for $1.165)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, now is the time to sign Cano and Wang to long-term deals. Wang is going to be a bargain next season at $4 or $4.6 million, but assuming he has a similar year like 2007 he will earn at least twice that in 2009. Why not offer him 4 years and $26 million or so now?

With Cano I would go even longer. Why not offer him a six-year deal? Start with Carlos Pena’s new deal (3 years/$24 million) and go from there. Would 6 years/$55 million or so do it? I would find out if I were the Yankees. Otherwise, they will just keep signing escalating one-year deals like they did with Jeter and Bernie many years ago.

NRI’s

The Yankees invited 26 players to Spring Training.

Chad Jennings has a great rundown of each player in his blog and he handicaps the chances of each one making the team.

For my part, I view things this way. The Yankees are going to enter camp with about 21 spots settled. Look at this potential roster: Posada, Molina, Duncan, Betemit, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Damon, Matsui, Cabrera, Abreu, Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba, Rivera, Farnsworth, Hawkins.

That leaves you with 3 pitchers and another hitter who can make the club. I would guess that on the pitching side Ohlendorf, Ramirez and Veras are the favorites heading into camp. Yes, the Yankees want a lefty in the pen, but I don’t think they will force the point.

The bat is more of a mystery. Despite the presence of Betemit, I think an infielder might be the way they go. That puts Gonzalez in play and I agree with Chad that Ransom or Green could certainly make the team too.

While this is fun to speculate about, the best news is that pitchers and catchers report one month from today.

The Most Important Red Sox Move Ever

The Red Sox, according to sources, are close to re-signing Doug Mirabelli to a 1-year, $500k deal which includes incentives that could boost the total deal to $1mm for 2008.

Once this deal is done, I think the Red Sox have assured themselves of…um…another season with really bad hitting from the back-up catcher.

BTW, the sources? The Boston Globe and RotoWorld.

I joke, but at the same time I cry as Mirabelli isn’t what he used to be. In the past, he was the guy that could handle Wakefield and could also slug .450 or so, but recently he has been of the sub .400 slg variety. His defense is still there but the time is quickly coming where the Red Sox need to figure out their catching future. Jason Varitek is good, but he is old for a catcher and we cannot expect him to last forever. The problem now is that Boston has not done a good job grooming catchers, even the ones they trade for. George Kottaras has been a distaster since Boston acquired him for David Wells in 2006. Seriusly, the minute he landed in the Eastern time zone, he has stunk.

Boston also has Mark Wagner at A+ ball in Lancaster CA. His stats were great there, but mine would have been too. I was scared of the ball in high school and even I would have had a .800+ OPS in Lancaster. With Wagner likely moving up in 2008, the real test will begin as he had never hit as well as he did in Lancaster prior to arriving there.

I’ve covered this topic before, but I can’t stress it enough, the Red Sox are fooling themselves if they think things will be ok when Varitek finally loses it or gets hurt.

Be well JRT.

Why Not Use All Six?

With the Yankees needing to limit the innings of the three kids in 2008, why not use a six-man rotation for part of the season? I fooled around with the concept using the actual schedule and you could make it work and still use Wang and Pettitte for their maximum starts. I won’t bore you with the actual spreadsheet I did (yes, I know I need help) but if you keep Wang and Pettitte on their usual turns they would each start 17 times over the first 81 games. Kennedy, Hughes and Joba would start 12 and Mussina 11. (I made Mussina the 6th starter)

Assuming 6-7 innings per start you would project Kennedy, Hughes and Joba to be somewhere around 78 innings pitched at that point. Since I don’t think the Yankees want to put Hughes or Joba over 160, it works well and they can always increase Kennedy’s workload down the stretch if they so desire.

Now, there are a couple of problems. First, in some instances, pitchers would have up to nine days in between starts. That is sure to get someone like Mussina cranky. And, this assumes that everyone is healthy and the weather is good. Otherwise, things could get really messy.

But, when I think about it, I would like to see the Yankees at least try it. Guarantee that Wang and Pettitte will always make their regular starts and use four for the final three spots. You protect the young arms innings-wise and get some use out of Mike Mussina. Maybe Mussina tanks, maybe someone gets hurt, but in both instances you can just go to a regular five-man rotation and then figure out how to reduce workloads later. The thing to remember is, Hughes and Joba will be working with an innings limit in 2008, so you can’t run them out there for 33 starts. How would you go about limiting their innings?