Can Someone Turn On The Stove?

Yes, the turkey was delicious and it is always great to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family, but I have to admit my mind turned to baseball quite often this weekend.  I sat and wondered exactly what does CC want if $140 million isn’t enough and should we take his silence as a polite hint to move on?  I wondered if Phil Hughes’ impressive Arizona performance should lead us to pencil him in the rotation for 2009.  I wondered when the hot stove is finally going to yield some news.

It seems like we have a giant game of chicken right now.  CC and Tex and the top players available and everyone is waiting for them to sign.  When that happens, other things should fall quickly into place.  It is just a matter of that happening.  One thing that will occur tomorrow and may get things moving a bit is the arbitration deadline.  Teams have to decide if they are going to offer arbitration to players.  If they don’t they won’t get draft picks as compensation when those players sign with other teams.  So, I imagine some teams are waiting out that deadline and might make some moves soon.  (On a side note, the Yankees should offer arbitration to Mike Mussina.  I know that he is retired, but remember what happened with Roger Clemens and the Yankees didn’t get any compensation because they didn’t offer him arbitration assuming he was truly retired.)  

Whatever happens, let’s hope for some news soon, this is way too boring!   

It’s All About Leverage

I am sure some people were upset to hear that the Angels might be jumping into the CC sweepstakes and I am sure some people were upset to hear that Andy Pettitte is trying to become a Dodger.  Before you let it spoil your turkey tomorrow, think about the context.

The Angels need offense not pitching (though every team could use pitching on some level) and the best offensive player on the market wore their jersey last season.  The problem is, he is repped by Scott Boras and Boras is starting the negotiations with demands of 10 years and $200 million.  The Angels aren’t going to pay that, nobody is probably going to pay that, but Boras is willing to wait.  Boras always waits when he has a big fish like he did with Beltran a few years ago.  So, what can the Angels do to start making Tex nervous?  How about making noise about CC?  I could be totally wrong about this, but I view this as a negotiating ploy more than anything.  

And the same thing with Pettitte. Is he really going to uproot his life and family and head to LA?  I doubt it, but absent an offer from the Yankees you can understand why he would want to create some urgency on their part.  

Anyway, considering it is 5:20 on the East Coast, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the hot stove is off for the Thanksgiving weekend.  I think it was in 1998 that Bernie Williams signed on Thanksgiivng Eve, but that is the only time I recall free agency news at that time.  Hopefully, we start to see some movement next week!

And to all of you, thanks for your readership and Andy and I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving! 

What Would We Do With Willie McGee

Ahh, Lou Gorman.  Indeed what would we do with Willie McGee?  I mean,  having talent on the team is only good if that talent has a position, right?  Wrong.

Please forgive Lou, he made that quote when baseball was simpler than it is today.  And there was certainly less media/fan scrutiny back then given there wasn’t an internet.

I mention Gorman’s comment because the Red Sox are rumored to be heavy in the the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes.  That’s a good thing, right Lou?  With Mike Lowell the expected everyday third baseman next year, Kevin Youkilis the everyday first baseman and David Ortiz the DH.  Just what would we do with Mark Teixeira?

I’ll tell you what you’d do with Mark Teixeira, you’d play him everyday, that’s what you’d do.  I believe given cost and upside potential, Mike Lowell would be the casualty in this scenario.  I don’t think there is any chance he accepts a diminished role as he does have another chance at a contract after the 2010 season.

The biggest question with Lowell is how much longer he wants to play and does he want to play for a good team?  If the Red Sox were able to sign Teixeira, Youkilis would move back to 3rd.  If Lowell where willing to learn the first base position, he could be the primary back-up at the corners and DH.  Youkilis missed 17 games in 2008, Ortiz 53 and Teixeira missed 5.  That would have been 70 starts right there for Lowell.  Mix in a few scheduled off-days and maybe that’s 80 starts.

But let’s be serious, if the Red Sox sign Teixeira, Lowell is most 95% likely a goner.  Great teammate, good player but just not as good as Mark Teixeira and he probably doesn’t consider himself a back-up at this point.

Teixeira would give Boston a gold-glove fielder, a superior bat in the line-up and a switch-hitter to boot.  He is a fantastic player and reportedly just as good a person.  Boston will have to empty the bank to get him which is interesting as the Red Sox just finally removed themselves from one of, if not the longest contracts they ever offered in Manny Ramirez’s deal.

Let’s set our APBA line-up, shall we, assuming a Teixeira signing:

cf – Ellsbury 

2b – Pedroia

dh – Ortiz

1b – Teixeira

3b – Youkilis

lf – Bay

rf – Drew

c – Fisk or Bench

ss – Lowrie

Obviously a Teixeira acquisition adds depth to this line-up.  With Ortiz, Teixeira, Youkilis, Bay and Drew, you’d have 5 guys that can flirt with a .400 OBP.  That would be very tough on opposing pitching and would make for some very long games.

So while we try to garner excitement on the happenings with the Red Sox, Yankees and baseball in general on this site, the fact is, nothing is happening right now.  NOTHING.  This off-season has produced 1, 2, maybe 3 official signings?  I can only name the Jeremy Affeldt signing off the top of my head.  It’s been very boring in fact.

With Teixeira saying he’d like to get something done before Christmas and CC Sabathia saying he’ll take his time, things aren’t likely to change any time soon.  Snore.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Varitek and Tazawa

WEEI – 850 AM in Boston has redone their website and now has blogs covering the local sports teams.  On one of those blogs, Rob Bradford, formerly of the Boston Herald, reports that the Red Sox have made an initial offer to Jason Varitek for 1 year at an undisclosed amount of money.

Bradford does not mention when this offer was made.

Of course if this is true it could mean any number of things.  1.)  Perhaps there is no market for JV if the Red Sox think this is a good starting point.  2.)  If Scott Boras really thinks JV deserves Jorge Posada type money (heck, Posada doesn’t deserve Posada type money), then it is clear Varitek won’t be re-signing with Boston.  The possibilities go on.

Another piece of news from MLBTradeRumors.com has links to reports tat the Red Sox winning the bidding war for Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa.  MLBTR also reports on the Varitek story.  I haven’t a clue if Tazawa is/will be worth the attention.

The Knicks Help The Yankees?

Yes, I am sad to report that I root for the Knicks, as thankless an endeavor as there has been in sports recently.  But, you can’t change teams, as much as they continually drive you nuts.  So, Friday was a pretty good day for me as the Knicks finally showed they have a clue and made some moves that may result in LeBron James showing up in New York in 2010.

Now comes word that the Knicks’ moves may help the Yankees land CC Sabathia. Could the Knicks finally have done something right and helped another New York team in the process?  It seems impossible, but maybe. 

A Much Better Plan

The papers today contained all sorts of stories that warmed my heart.  The best pieces of news?  First, the Yankees are not going to give A.J. Burnett a five-year deal (let’s hope they stick to that) and second, the Yankees might bid for Mark Teixeira.

I have said before that I think the pitching market adds up to CC and everyone else.  If you get CC you add a great pitcher to your staff and it is stupid to overspend to add Burnett or Lowe at that point.  Besides, how much more do they offer you than  Andy Pettitte who you can bring back for less and on a one-year deal?  If you don’t get Sabathia, making a panic move and throwing boatloads of money at Burnett and Lowe just prevents you from moves down the road.  The Yankees have to be very careful and I would prefer they just try and get CC and leave it at that.  A rotation of Sabathia, Wang, Joba, Pettitte and Hughes isn’t too shabby.  

And that brings us to Mark Teixeira, who is the best bat on the market.  The Yankees are losing two big pieces of their offense with Abreu and Giambi almost certainly gone.  You can expect a better year from Cano and probably expect better production from the catcher spot.  (Though you have to remember Posada is coming off of surgery and is a risk).  Pretty much everyone else in the lineup is beyond their prime years except for A-Rod and that means they are more and more unlikely to repeat their 2008 #’s.  The Yankees scored 789 runs last year and will struggle to do so again without some upgrades to the offense.  Mark Teixeira is that upgrade and if they somehow walked away with him and Sabathia this offseason, they would have done an excellent job.   

Goodbye Moose

According to Foxsports.com, Mike Mussina is going to retire. 

Not really a shock and I think this helps the Yankees out.  Moose would have wanted to come back for multiple years and at age 40, that is not a good risk to take.  Plus, despite their performances in 2008, I would still rather have Pettitte in ’09 than Moose.

I will blog more on this later, but for now I am off to a hockey game.   

No Thanks

Jon Heyman is reporting that Derek Lowe’s pricetag is $16 million per.  Figure he is going to want four years as well and I can’t see any reason why the Yankees would choose four years of him over one year of Andy Pettitte at a lesser price. 

Coco a Go Go

Reports have it that Coco Crisp has been traded to the Kansas City Royals.  Of course this is in lockstep with my prediction that Crisp would be trade before training camp…training camp 2008.  So I was 10 months too early in my prediction.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Red Sox will get reliever Ramon Ramirez in return.  This is good for Crisp as he’ll have a legitimate chance to start in his contract year (the Royals do have an option, but they probably don’t have the resources to exercise it).

As for the Red Sox, they get a middler reliever who posted a 3-2 record in 71.2 IP with 57 H, 31 BB, 70 K for a 2.64 ERA and a 1.128 WHIP.  Not bad.  He is just 26 and only has 2+ years of service.  He is basically a strikeout per inning guy (146K’s in 156.2 IP).

I’m not sure how long Ramirez will be in Boston as he may be included in another deal, but if he were to stay, he’d could take Justin Masterson’s spot should Masterson re-join the rotation.

This opens up a bench spot for the Red Sox and essentially gives Jacoby the full time CF job.

Other news:  Both 3rd base coach Demarlo Hale and bench coach Brad Mills will be with the Red Sox as neither was chosen to lead the Seattle Mariners next season.

Evan Grant, Poor Guy

Poor Evan Grant, columnist for the Dallas Morning News.  Grant has admitted making a mistake in leaving Pedroia off his MVP ballot.

From Boston.com:

"I think the best way for me to sum it up is, in retrospect, obviously I was wrong," Grant said by phone. "My colleagues all, and people I respect an awful lot, thought Dustin deserved to be in the top 5. I had him on my ballot in some scenarios as high as No. 1 late into September. When I looked at the numbers that to me mattered most, OPS and batting average with runners in scoring position, he just didn’t stack up with Youkilis at all. He was a laggard behind the others who had great years in the American League. Is it an error of omission that he’s left off my ballot entirely? You could say that."

That’s fine and good, but that issue I see here is that Grant had Pedroia #4 as recently as September 20.  Call it September 21st as his article was posted on the DMN at 11:57 CST, or 12:57am, 9/21 EST.

The key here is that Pedroia did nothing to drop 7 spots (or more) to fall out of Grant’s top 10 list in that last few games of the season.  My take is that Grant just simply forgot about Pedroia.

We’ve all done it, right?  When discussing top players or best skills in any sport, inevitably we forget an obvious choice.  And that’s fine, we’re just human.  But to try and suggest others had a better OBP, etc. is a bit off.  I’m thinking he is attempting to, well, keep his membership with the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  By the way, why isn’t it BWAA, was baseball really "base ball" back in the 1920′s?

If his fellow BBWAA members read that he admitted omitting Pedroia by accident, he’d be off the team quickly, no?  Just ask ESPN’s Rob Neyer and Keith Law about those making decision at the BBWAA.  They are a prickly bunch.

No matter, Grant has found himself in a position he probably didn’t intend to get himself into, but like John Hammond said in Jurassic Park, "I don’t blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them."

And pay for it he will.