Here We Go

I didn’t hear it, but apparently Mike Francesca cut into Sabathia today about the fact that he hasn’t told the Yankees anything yet.  You can read more about it here

This is exactly what I was worried about the other day.  Like him or not (I do most of the time) Francesca has enormous influence in this town and rants like this will not help Sabathia make a transition to New York. (If he chooses to make one I should say.)  A few weeks ago, he would have come in as a savior, now the tide is turning and people are getting angry.  It’s understandable and predictable with the current economic mess, but unfortunate.  Then again, it may all be a moot point

Making Sense Of It All

If I had to bet on it, and I am glad I do not, I would bet that Sabthia has indicated to the Yankees that he just doesn’t feel comfortable with New York.  Now, stories of all shapes and sizes are swirling, but that is my guess.  Because of that, the Yankees are now stepping up their pursuit of other pitchers because that will allow them to 1- start filling the holes in the rotation and 2- create some leverage with Sabathia. 

Now, that may or may not work, the guy simply may want to stay at home, but it will finally get things moving.  I would expect a ton of rumors over the next day about the Yankees with Burnett, Lowe and Sheets.  You could also probably throw Oliver Perez and Andy Pettitte (remember him?) into that mix and expect the Yankees to make offers to multiple pitchers, but make them contingent on who says yes first.  

So, if Burnett or one of the others says yes, the Yankees return to Sabathia and tell him we have some other offers out there and if one of them accepts, we are pulling our offer to you.  I could be totally wrong here, but that’s my sense.  What is yours?

Twin Sheets?

Daily News is reporting the Yankees are going to make a 2 year/$26 million offer to Ben Sheets while I have seen the offer as high as $30 million in some reports.  Either way, it sounds like something is being offered to Ben Sheets. Imagine if the Yankees signed Sheets and Burnett, what would their injury insurance premiums reach?

In all seriousness, I don’t like the idea of either pitcher, but I would rather have two years of Sheets than five years of Burnett.  I would also probably prefer two years of Sheets to four years of Lowe.  I still think this offseason comes down to Sabathia.  If the Yankees get him, it’s a huge get and they should be happy.  If they don’t, don’t screw things up more by throwing big money at lesser pitchers, go get Teixeira.

Burnett 4-Years/$64 Million

That’s according to Jon Heyman who says the Yankees are prepared to top the Braves’ offer when they meet with Burnett’s agent. 

Who Goes First?

As the Winter Meetings kick into high gear, it has become clear that we have a frozen free agent market.  Obviously, everyone is waiting to see where Sabathia and Teixeira land, but the problem is those two players are waiting for the other one to move first. 

Sabathia wants to play for a West Coast team, but most of them do not have the money to sign him.  One team that does is the Angels, but they want to bring Teixeira back and would only consider Sabathia if they fail at that.  Teixeira wants a huge deal and is repped by Scott Boras.  That means Teixeira is going to wait for a long time to move and will want to make sure the Yankees are truly not interested before signing a deal.  But, the Yankees are not going to sign Teixeira unless they know that Sabathia doesn’t want to be a Yankee.  Does your head hurt now?

I have no idea how this gets resolved.  You have to imagine that sooner or later one of them will get sick of waiting and Sabathia does have a huge offer on the table.  I would bet Teixeira waits a long time because Boras never moves quickly unless he has to.  What will be interesting to watch is if AJ Burnett doesn’t wait for Sabathia to set the market.  Reports are he has a 4-year offer from Atlanta with an easily attained fifth year option for around $70 million.  I can’t imagine he could do better than that, but then again if the Yankees lost out on Sabathia they might blow that away.  

If I had to guess, the one area that I think we will see some movement is with the closers.  There are a lot of free agent closers and several rumored to be on the trading block. I think those guys will find homes quickly because the leverage is clearly with the clubs and not the players.  

Don’t forget that Vegas is three hours behind the East Coast, so news may come out late at night.   

Oliver And Weathers

Of all the players offered arbitration, only David Weathers and Darren Oliver accepted.  That fact just reinforces my belief that the Yankees made a huge mistake when they didn’t offer arbitration to Bobby Abreu.  Draft picks are an important thing to keep and after a disasterous 2008 draft, New York needed a strong 2009 draft.

Well, water under the bridge, but Brian Cashman needs to have a good week in Vegas.  (And not at the tables) 

Varitek and Byrd

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that both Jason Varitek and Paul Byrd will not accept arbitration from the Red Sox.

Basically this means the Red Sox are assured some kind of compensation should either sign with another team.  But it also means both players might not be playing for Boston next year.

No matter what the outcome for either player, the Winter Meetings start tomorrow (Monday) and these sessions should finally kick-start the off-season and give baseball fans an idea of how their favorite teams will look in 2009.

Will Joe Make It?

The Veterans Committee can make a smart decision tomorrow and put Joe Torre into the Hall of Fame.  Veterans are asked to consider an individuals "contribution to the game" and Torre clearly has made plenty.  Over 2,000 hits as a player and over 2,000 wins as a manager are pretty impressive numbers.  Plus, there are few better people in the game.

They announce their decision tomorrow at the Winter Meetings.   

You’re Fired!

If Theo Epstein were to get the hammer and Red Sox ownership hired me, a baseball fan, portly , needing a daily 2-3 hour nap, afraid of working too hard lest it ruin my "healthy glow", to run things on Yawkey Way, here’s what I’d do:

First off, I’d try and fit Ty Wigginton on the roster and payroll.  Wigginton’s face looks, well, big.  If you only looked at his face, you’d guess he was on the Major League Eating roster.

The fact is, Wigginton is a versatile major league who hits for power.  Let’s check his fielding:

Innings at each position:

3b – 4239.2

2b – 925.1

1b – 591.2

lf – 290.0

rf – 47.2

of – 90.2 (Baseball Reference has OF listed as a position and I was just too lazy to figure out what OF meant, other than outfield, versus specifically breaking down leftfield and rightfield).

The idea here is that Ty has played many important positions.  Just being capable of playing 1 or 2 of those positions would be enough to qualify a player as a utility player, but Wigginton can basically handle the corner OF positions and the corner infield positions and can even mix in some 2b.

If you assume at the moment Kevin Youkilis is your 1b next year, Dustin Pedroia is your 2b, Mike Lowell is your 3b, Jason Bay is your LF and J.D. Drew is your RF, you can basically expect almost 100 games  lost due to injury, no?  Wouldn’t it be nice to plug in a player that hit 22 HRs last season, had a .350 OBP and a .530 SLG versus an Alex Cora or a Sean Casey?

The big problem with Wigginton is that he is arbitration eligible, made $4.35mm last year and is likely to make much more through arbitration.  Let’s say he gets $6.0 or $7.0mm in arbitration, is that too much for a buy that basically fills in at a corner position in both the outfield and infield and can even play some 2b and represents only about 8-12% offensive drop-off.

For those of you wondering about his defensive skills, here are his career Range Factors and Fielding Percentages vs. League Average at each position:

3b:

2.65 – career range vs. 2.72 league average per 9 innings.

.951 fielding % vs. .956 league average fielding %.

2b:

4.89 – career range vs. 4.96 league average per 9 innings.

.984 fielding % vs. .984 league average fielding %.

1b:

9.16 – career range vs. 9.47 league average per 9 innings.

.997 fielding % vs. .994 league average fielding %.

lf:

1.77 career range vs. 1.92 league average per 9 innings.

.966 fielding % vs. .984 league average fielding %.

rf:

2.26 career range vs. 2.19 league average per 9 innings.

1.000 fielding % vs. .984 league average fielding %.

Anyway, not to get too carried away with Wigginton, but wouldn’t he make an ideal bench player?  In fact, considering the way baseball usually unfolds, he’d play extended time at each position (Drew just pulled his left nostril while you were reading this).

Well it’s getting late, so to finish up the last few moves I’d make if I were GM of the Red Sox, I’d sign Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and trade for Russell Martin and give them all 10 year deals at $2mm per year.  Done and done.  Man I’m good at this.

Get Real Andy

I was amazed at this story in today’s paper and I have to say my opinion of Andy Pettitte continues to sink.  $10 million is more than fair considering the season Pettitte had last year and if he doesn’t want the deal, he is welcome to take his services elsewhere.  Yes, the Yankees need pitching, but stupid deals made now will only come back and haunt them in the future.