Yanks And Sox To Clash Over Pitcher?

Interesting story here in Newsday about the Red Sox supposedly being "fully engaged" on A.J. Burnett.  We know that Toronto has offered 4-years and $54 million, so I think he signs for at least 4/$60 and probably more.  Considering his injury history and overall numbers I am not desperate to see him in a Yankees’ uniform anytime soon. 

Obviously, any pitcher with a brain is going to wait until Sabathia signs and sets the market.  The risk for the Yankees is what happens if Sabathia goes somewhere else?  I imagine they would then turn around and make Burnett and probably Derek Lowe gigantic offers and that would be a big mistake.   

Pedroia – AL MVP

You heard it here last!

Dustin Pedroia became the 10 Red Sox to win the AL MVP award today.

2008 AL MVP Award Voting
Player, Club 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Dustin Pedroia, BOS 16 6 4 1             317
Justin Morneau, MIN 7 7 6 3 3 1 1       257
Kevin Youkilis, BOS 2 4 4 9 2 4 1 2     201
Joe Mauer, MIN 2 8 1 3 4 3 3 2 1   188
Carlos Quentin, CWS   1 4 8 4 4 4   1 1 160
Francisco Rodriguez, LAA 1 2 6 1 6   3 2   2 143
Josh Hamilton, TEX     2 2 3 7 3 2 4 3 112
Alex Rodriguez, NYY         1 1 4 1 4 7 45
Carlos Pena, TB     1   2   2 3 2 3 44
Grady Sizemore, CLE           2 1 5 6 1 42
Evan Longoria, TB           2 2 5 2 1 38
Cliff Lee, CLE       1 1 1 1   1   24
Miguel Cabrera, DET           1   1 4 1 17
Vladimir Guerrero, LAA             2 2 1   16
Jermaine Dye, CWS         1     2   2 14
Aubrey Huff, BAL           1     2 3 12
Milton Bradley, TEX           1 1       9
Jason Bartlett, TB         1           6
Mike Mussina, NYY               1     3
Raul Ibanez, SEA                   1 1
Ian Kinsler, TEX                   1 1
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA                   1 1
Mark Teixeira, LAA                   1 1

The good news for the Red Sox is that they have a good 2b on their team.  The bad news is that he isn’t yet arbitration eligible and the ability for them to affordably sign him was just lessened.

Some notes of interest:  Pedroia failed to get a vote from one of the writers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.  Basically Grant found 22 better players than Pedroia in the AL.  That is remarkable.  I say that not because Pedroia was that good rather how can opinions vary so greatly?

Kevin Youkilis finished 3rd overall.  That too will cost the Red Sox.  Youkilis is in for a big raise on his $3mm deal.

No other news that I can see regarding free agent signings or trades.  Stay tuned.

Hankenstein to Sign All Free Agents

In what is probably more posturing than statement of fact, Hank Steinbrenner announced that the Yankees have indeed made an offer to CC Sabathia, but also plan on making offers to AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe.

Why does this matter?  It probably doesn’t as even if the Yankees do offer all 3 contracts, it isn’t likely all 3 will sign, but it would mean their prices all just went up.  Which brings me to this news item from Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin.

Melvin went public with his confusion behind the Yankees reported offer to Sabathia.  "It sounds like they’re overbidding.  If the speculation is true that we’ve offered CC $100 million, why would you offer $140 million? Why wouldn’t you offer $110 million?"

Good question Doug.  Obviously no one knows who bid what except Sabathia himself, but it doesn’t make too much sense.  If the Yankees decide to put their best bid forward, fine, but I’d be surprised to see Sabathia sign the reported Yankee offer but rather a further enhanced offered later on.

I’ve wonder why this happens all the time.  Both Alex Rodriguez signings baffled me as it was reported that no other team was even close.  The Red Sox signings of JD Drew and Julio Lugo also stuck me as overdone.

While acknowledging that much of what we hear during negotiations as fans turns out to be rubbish, there are often nuggets of fact surrounding the dealings.

Free agency isn’t eBay where you can automatically win a bid by hitting a certain price.  These are real world business dealings and it seems foolish to throw Ft. Knox at a player when a local bank would do.

Melvin does fail to mention one important thing, the Brewers offer is for 5 years and the Yankees for 6, but still, the Yankees offer is more in years and more in average annual compensation.  Why not just go with 6-years and $120mm?

Chew on that for a bit.

Red Sox notes:  The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo is reporting that the Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are considering a Julio Lugo for Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson.  Lugo is in the middle of a 4 year, $36mm deal while Willis has 2 years left on a 3-year $29MM deal ($10mm in ’09 and $12mm in ’10).  Robertson is in the final of his 3-year, $21.25mm deal ($7mm in ’09 and $10mm in ’10).

Now Lugo wasn’t good in 2008, but he wasn’t terrible.  His .352 OBP has to count for something.  For the most part, it was an overly forgettable, injury shortened season for him.

As for Willis, where do I start?  He fell off the cliff he was so bad.  In the Majors, he was 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in 24 IP.  He allowed 18 hits and 35 BB!!!  What?  35 BB in 24 IP?  He also pitched about 56 IP in the minors last year with a 4.50 ERA.  He was at class A Lakeland and AAA Toledo and allowed a 4.50 and 4.55 ERA respectively.  So even in the minors against A-ballers he was shaky.

I don’t know if Willis has anything left, but if the Tigers take all of Lugo’s salary, I’d say make the deal because the Red Sox seem to have settled on Jed Lowrie and taking a gamble on Willis and having it pay off is better than taking a gamble on Lugo and having it pay off.

As for Robertson, he too was bad.  He pitched 168 IP in the Majors with a 6.35 ERA, 218 H and 62 BB.  Simply miserable.  Robertson has never been as good as Willis, so I would say a Lugo for Robertson makes no sense as even if Robertson reverts to form, his form wasn’t really good in the first place.

Makes you understand why the Tigers were do bad last year.

Lastly, ESPN has a report on Red Sox almost suspending Manny Ramirez a week before he was traded.  I’m tired of this story and can’t wait for Manny to be someone else’s problem.

$25 Million To Go

The Yankees made $1 million tonight by selling the rights to Darrell Rasner’s contract to a Japanese club.  So a mediocre pitcher going from the U.S. to Japan only nets $1 million while the opposite (or worse) nets $26 million?  Maybe Congress should look into this….

Free Agent Crystal Ball

Here are Andy and Peter’s predictions for where the Top-10 free agents will end up.  As always take this with a grain of salt.  (We used Keith Law’s rankings on ESPN.com to determine the list) 

For the top free agent, Mark Teixeira, we both see him returning to the California Anaheim Orange County Greater Los Angeles Area Angels.  The Yankees and Red Sox remain possibilities, but remote ones.

Andy – Angels

Peter – Angels

Both of us agreed again on CC Sabathia ending up with the Yankees.  Money talks and the Yankees clearly are going to spend it here.

Andy – Yankees

Peter – Yankees

And we were in agreement on Manny Ramirez returning to the Dodgers.  Manny will definitely take the highest check, we just couldn’t see any other team giving him that.

Andy – Dodgers

Peter – Dodgers

Our first difference of opinion came on AJ Burnett.  Andy sees him heading to Texas noting that Texas always seems to make the wrong move with pitching.  Peter sees him heading back to Toronto, just with a bigger check in his pocket.

Andy – Rangers

Peter – Blue Jays

We agreed again on Derek Lowe with both of us seeing him heading back to Boston.

Andy – Red Sox

Peter – Red Sox

On the subject of Rafael Furcal we both saw him heading to the Bay Area, just to different teams.  Peter saw him heading to the Giants and Andy had him heading to the A’s.

Andy – A’s

Peter – Giants

Adam Dunn also divided out opinion with Andy sending him to Toronto and Peter seeing the Nationals getting him.

Andy – Blue Jays

Peter – Nationals

For Ryan Dempster we both saw him heading back to the Cubs, but with the proviso that if they trade for Jake Peavy, they won’t make the move.

Andy – Cubs

Peter – Cubs

While Andy sees Milton Bradley returning to Texas, Peter has him going to Toronto.

Andy – Rangers

Peter – Blue Jays

And that brings us to the final player, Oliver Perez.  Andy has him returning to the Mets while Peter swallowed hard and predicting that Perez will be a Yankee next year.

Andy – Mets

Peter – Yankees

What do you think?   

Free Agent Frenzy Time

Well that bell you heard at midnight was the start of free agency in Major League Baseball.  Or it was last call at whatever pub some of you booze-bags were drinking.  Either way, you can expect the rumors to start flying.

For Red Sox fans, there is no real indication what they are going to do.  For C.C. Sabathia, I think you’ll see the Red Sox mentioned if and only if there appears to be no one competing with the Yankees for his services.  Basically they’ll get involved only to drive up the price and only if needed.  If the Yankees immediately big 6-years at $150mm, then mission already accomplished.

I think the same applies with Mark Teixeira although I would not be surprised to see a sincere push by the Red Sox.  Obviously you have the corner infield positions manned already, but Teixeira is a better hitter than Lowell or Youkilis (from a career standpoint, not necessary based on just 2008).

The Yankees trading for Nick Swisher is a head scratcher a may signal a lack of interest in bidding for both Sabathia and Teixeira.  Swisher has good power and obp, but his lack of batting average is starting to bring down his obp and he might just be depth at this point, as Peter speculated yesterday.

Derek Lowe to me makes sense assuming he isn’t looking for $15mm a year.  Lowe has a proven track record of being able to play in Boston.  He has made it known, if we are to believe reports, that he would love to play in Boston.  At 35, he isn’t likely to be the same pitcher he was 10 years ago, but he has never had a major health issue since being a full time starter.

The Red Sox have salary to play with, even in this economy.  I see them adding bench players and maybe 1 major free agent signing, but that is all.

More to come as news hits.

A Trade!

Jon Heyman is reporting the Yankees have acquired Nick Swisher from the White Sox.  The final trade is still being worked out, but it sounds like Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez are in the deal.

Swisher played all three outfield spots in Chicago last year and first.  He is signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012 and is 27.  The downside is Swisher hit .219 last year and had an OPS of .742.  Bill James projects him next year at .240/.359/.451 which the Yankees would definitely take. 

The interesting thing is what this will mean for the team.  Swisher would be a nice bat off the bench and an occasional spot starter.  If the plan is to put him in at first for 150 games or so, I am not as thrilled though I could come around to liking it.  But, this move gives the Yankees some options.   

UPDATE: The Yankees have announced the trade officially, Betemit, Marquez and Nunez (the guy they got from Washington for Gonzalez) for Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira.  That also means they cleared a guy off their 40-man roster with this move. 

Marte Returning

It’s official, Damaso Marte will be back for quite awhile.  The press release doesn’t mention money, but the reports I have read elsewhere say $4 million a year.  That seems like too much to pay in my mind and I don’t love this singing  I don’t know why the Yankees didn’t just exercise their option and pay him $6 million this year and free themselves of him after 2009.  Or, let him walk and get the two draft picks he would have garnered as a Type A free agent.  Marte will be solid in the pen in ’09, but I worry about 2010 and 2011.  On the plus side, they have a solid lefty in the pen for next year.

I suspect this move is being done so the Yankees didn’t let Tabata walk out the door for only Xavier Nady.  Tabata might be a star, but I doubt he would have become one in the Yankees’ organization and that trade was a not one I would spend time regretting.  It was the right move at the time, the Yankees didn’t know that Joba would go on the shelf two weeks later. 

The bullpen is now pretty set.  Marte and Rivera will be joined by Bruney and Veras.  Barring a surprise move, the last couple of spots will come from some combination of Robertson, Ramriez, Coke, Giese, Aceves and Rasner. 

Less than 36 hours until the free agent window opens, fasten your seatbelts. 

Trevor Hoffman to sign with the Red Sox…

or some other MLB team…or retire.

Yes, I’m trying to start trouble.  For what it is worth, the San Diego Padres formally withdrew their offer (reportedly of $4mm) to Hoffman today.  That means he will either sign with another team, or retire with the $59 million or so he has earned* as a Major Leaguer (*not including endorsements).

What is crazy in any of us taking about Trevor Hoffman is that he is the younger brother of former Red Sox Glenn Hoffman who retired 19 years ago, yes, 1989.

Trevor Hoffman is the all-time MLB leader in saves and has managed to pitch effectively into his 40’s (albeit 40 years old thus far).  The Padres, influenced greatly by their owner’s marital difficulties, have decided to off-load talent, led by the assumed trade of Jake Peavy.  Oddly, the Padres did exercise the option of Brian Giles.  Maybe the Giles deal was so they can trade him later, but he is now a 10/5 player and making a bunch of cabbage.

Back to Hoffman, if he is really done in San Diego, he’d make great sense in Boston.  Obviously the first issue for him coming here would be to address the fact that he’d be a set-up guy and not the closer.  Jonathan Papelbon has that job locally.  Hoffman hasn’t won a thing in San Diego and perhaps he’d consider the thought that Boston would give him at least a decent chance of going all the way in 2009.

For those thinking I’m being sentimental in signing an old dude, consider the stats:

2008:  48 G, 3 W, 6 L, 30 Sv, 45.3 IP, 38 H, 8 HR, 9 BB, 46 K, 3.77 ERA, 1.04 Whip.

Not bad numbers at all.  In fact, if you look at Boston’s primary set-up pitchers, you will find that Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima were probably a bit better, but didn’t keep runners off the bases as well as Hoffman.  After Delcarmen and Okajima, who did the Red Sox rely on?  Justin Masterson?  Sure, but he might well be a starter in 2009.  Who else?  Javier Lopez was good, but not in the same role being a lefty specialist.

I guess my take on this is that the Red Sox have a deep connection with the Padres with Tom Werner, former owner, Larry Lucchino, former President and Theo Epstein and therefore a connection with Hoffman.  If he were to sign with Boston I’d think it a good move.  A veteran who could show Manny Delcarmen not to issue walks and the rest of the Red Sox bullpen how to handle relief duties.

Oh, and what if Jonathan Papalbon were to need some time off?  Hoffman makes sense.

Holliday to Oakland

ESPN is reporting that The Colorado Rockies have agreed to ship Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s with finishing details still being worked out.

I’m just fine the Red Sox didn’t get Holliday, not that they were ever mentioned as a contender for his bat.  While Holliday is a fine hitter and just entering his prime, his home/road splits are a concern:

2006 – 2008 splits

Home – .361/.430/.669 – 869 G, 62 HRs, 219 RBI

Road – .296/.370/.486 – 908 G, 33 HR, 120 RBI

Holliday will most likely get himself a very rich contract (not with the A’s, but with someone), but his split make it far too big a gamble to make it worth it.  Holliday did close the gap between home/road this year, but there is too much to be concerned with those splits.

Oakland will let him play out 2009 and then let him sign a mega-deal with another team a year from now only to get handsomely rewarded themselves with a first round pick and a supplemental pick.  The conclusion Billy Beane answered in making this deal was whether the players he gives up are worth more or less than 1 year of Holliday and 2 great picks.  Obviously he thinks Holliday and 2 great picks is the better package.

It’s like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry dated the woman who looked good sometimes and ghastly other times depending on the lighting.  Which Holliday are you getting?  We shall see.