Which Pitcher Do You Pick?

Two pitchers to choose from, here are their stats over the last five years

Pitcher A: 69-38 3.49ERA 989 IP 837K’s 282 BB’s

Pitcher B: 57-44 3.78ERA 850IP 836K’s 308 BB’s

They are both the same age, so it is pretty close.  Pitcher A has been more durable, but pitcher B has better striekout rates.  Then again, Pitcher B is more wild as well.  

Well let’s unmask our two participants.  Pitcher B, you already have, he is AJ Burnett.  Pitcher A is therefore John Lackey.  

Lackey is a year younger than Burnett so the Yankees would be signing him at roughly the same point age-wise, they signed AJ.   Now any agent worth his salt is going to use these numbers as a comparison, which means Lackey is probably going to go for $16.5 million a season and 5 years- just like AJ. 

I never liked the AJ signing, it seemed like too much money for too many questions.  I would feel better about spending that same amount on Lackey and it gives you a very solid 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation. Add in Pettitte and you have the pitching to match pretty much anyone. 

From a payroll standpoint you have to assume the Yankees want to keep the payroll where it is or lower it.  They are subtracting around $44 million assuming they non-tender Wang.  But, players like Sabathia get a raise this year, so around $14 million of that is already spoken for and they will have arbitration choices with guys like Melky and Bruney that will also go to that savings.  Let’s say when all is said and done you have about $27 million to spend total- do you commit over half of that to Lackey? 

So Many Options

The Red Sox declined the team option on Jason Varitek today meaning he can either exercise his player option, or become a free agent.  It’ll be strange to not see Varitek on the opening day roster if it comes to that.

Additionally, the Red Sox did exercise their option on Victor Martinez meaning he’ll make $7.1mm in 2010.  This was a given, not sure there was any need to report on it in fact.

The Red Sox and Tim Wakefield ripped up the perpetual team option of $4mm a year and instead signed a 2 year, $5mm deal with incentives that could make it a $7mm deal.  Given Wakefield’s health, this seems like a good move for both sides.

On the non-option side of things, Nick Green became a free agent today.  I think Green is a versatile player (he can pitch, never allowed an earned run!!) and is worth a roster spot in 2010.

Jeremy Hermida and Alex Gonzalez

In what appears to be a hedge against the possibility of losing Jason Bay, the Red Sox traded for outfielder, Jeremy Hermida.  Had this move been made 3 seasons ago, I’d have been thrilled, but Hermida hasn’t lived up to his hype and now this move looks like a low-risk move for a player who will hopefully serve as a back-up.

A change of scenery might be what Hermida needs and he still might be a star, but after 5 seasons in the majors (and almost 2000 plate appearances), he is looking more like a mediocre player.  If Bay is re-signed, Hermida’s acquisition will have been for depth, if Bay is not re-signed, Boston is clearly hoping they can extract that star potential.

As for Alex Gonzalez, the Red Sox held a 2010 option at $6.5mm, but declined it today.  The guess is they are trying to hammer out a 1 or 2 year deal with Gonzalez for much less $.

It’ll be interesting to see this play out as if he is re-signed, it serves as evidence the Red Sox are content to let Jed Lowrie complete for playing time, while if they don’t re-sign him, it says to me the Red Sox will try to solve SS via trade.  Letting Lowrie lay claim to SS is too dangerous as he just cannot stay healthy.

The General Managers Meetings kick off tomorrow in Chicago.  MLB doesn’t screw around, just days after the World Series, teams are hard at work getting ready for 2010.  As most of you know, these meetings typically serve as the genesis of many trades and free agent signings later in the off-season.

Fire up the Hot Stove.

“We Have To Get Younger”

That’s what Brian Cashman said on the radio the other day in discussing his plans for next year and he is absolutely right.  There are some obvious moves to achieve this and some tough ones.  In our 2010 planning, let’s start with the Yankees who will become free agents and what they should do with each one.  By my count, the Yankees have seven potential free agents: Pettitte, Damon, Matsui, Hinske, Hairston, Molina and Nady.

Start with Pettitte, who gave the Yankees 194 innings with a 4.16 ERA in 2009.  If Andy wants to come back, and I am not sure he does, the Yankees should definitely offer him another one-year deal.  Pettitte sounded like he was on the fence after the World Series, recognizing that this would be a pretty good way to end a career.  But, he also sounded like someone who still had the fire to pitch.  Ultimately, I think it comes down to his family and what they want.  With Pettitte, the Yankees have three definite starters in 2010 (I am not counting Joba right now) so the Yankees should lure him back.  By my math, he ended up with $10.5 million for his efforts in 2010, a similar one-year deal, maybe $8 million base and incentives, seems about right.

Molina and Hairston are players the Yankees could easily let go and get younger.  Molina is a great catcher, but a lousy hitter.  While Cervelli isn’t a good hitter either, he is a pretty good catcher, is only 23 and costs a lot less.  Swapping him for Molina seems like a no-brainer.

The Yankees have Pena, who is a reasonable facsimile to Hairston.  Pena is a great glove and he has started to learn the outfield spots.  He is much younger and again cheaper, it seems like another no-brainer to choose him over Hairston.

Eric Hinske had some big hits for the Yankees and he actually hit lefties well in 2009, something he had not done well in his career.  He can play the corners of the infield and the outfield, so if he would take one year and $1 million or so, I would bring him back. 

And that brings us to the final three players, Damon, Matsui and Nady.  I love Matsui, he is a great player and he certainly rises to the occasion as he showed this week, but you simply can’t bring him back.  Matsui can’t run and he can’t play the field.  His knees are a major liability and the Yankees would be wise to part ways with him now. 

Part of the reason you have to say goodbye to Matsui is the need to free up the DH slot in 2010.  Posada is going to see some games there, A-Rod, Jeter should as well.  But one guy who should spend a fair amount of time there, if he comes back, is Johnny Damon.  There were two instances in the playoffs that really highlighted where Damon is as a player.  The first was the throw he made from shallow leftfield against the Angels that wasn’t even close to getting the runner.  The second was the AB against Brad Lidge in Game 4 and the steals of 2nd and 3rd.  Damon is not someone you want to see in the outfield on a regular basis, but he is still a dangerous hitter and runner.  His bat is good enough that you could put him at DH without any problems.  I would offer him arbitration and hope you can bring hm back for one more year where you put him in left when you want to DH some of the older guys and DH him the rest of the time.

Along with that move, I would offer Xavier Nady an incentive-based deal to come back and play left field fairly regularly next year.  Nady is not a star, but his career rates of .280/.335/.458 are right in line with the average AL leftfielder (.267/.338/.442)  He is a solid defender and the Yankees could give him a one-year deal with incentives that would also give him the chance to reestablish his value as a free agent.  He is about to turn 31, so he is young enough that you aren’t taking a big risk bringing him back for a season. 

Now some people will argue the Yankees should sign Bay or Holliday, but I disagree.  Those guys are going to require huge deals and they will both be over 30 when the season starts.  The Yankees should bid up the prices, but leave them for other teams to scoop up.  Besides, if the Yankees are going to bid on a free agent, I want a pitcher, but we will get to that.  

Bringing back Nady and Damon allows you to keep Austin Jackson in the minors as well.  Jackson had a solid year in Scranton, but he didn’t hit for power. (.405 slugging)   That would translate to an abysmal slugging in the majors and he needs to show some power before you can consider putting him in the everyday big league lineup. 

So, bring back Damon, Nady, Hinske and Pettitte if they all agree to one-year deals and say good-bye to Matsui, Molina and Hairston.  You get a bit younger, subtracting  while retaining flexibility for later years. 

Time To Stare Out The Window

"People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." –Rogers Hornsby

My Game 6 companion sent me that quote today and it really captures the next three months for me.  The 2009 baseball season is officially over.  It couldn’t have worked out any better, but it’s done.  May the memories keep us warm over these coming months.  Only 96 days to pitchers and catchers!

Ugh

I really didn’t enjoy all the Steinbrenner tributes last night because the George of today is not the George I remember. The guy I remember was a bombastic bully who ranted like a lunatic and treated people like cockroaches. 

Yes, George was always willing to spend, but his behavior always left me cold.  I think the best thing that happened to the Yankees in recent years was George disappearing from the scene.  Please don’t misconstrue that, I would never wish an illness on anyone, I am just glad I don’t have to listen to George anymore. 

That’s why this statement bothers me.   "And the quest for number 28 begins" comes out of George’s mouth less than 24 hours after wining number 27?  Please, just shut up and enjoy this, or at least wait until the parade is over before adding that.

Sadder still is Girardi’s plan to change his number to 28.  I don’t know if he thinks this will get him a bigger contract or fire up the fan base, but it just depresses me.  Yes, wining is wonderful, but it simply won’t happen every year.  Look at the 1980’s and the past eight years as evidence of what happens when you try to win every year, it’s impossible and self-defeating.  Sooner or later you have mortgaged too much of the future and the whole thing falls apart.  In retrospect, the Yankees are lucky that the damage was limited to missing the playoffs in 2008, it could have been much worse.  

The Yankees rebounded from that season in the best way possible and they are champs again.  Girardi changing his number every year is a cheap gimmick and besides, what happens if the Yankees win the next four World Series?  Will he ask them to bring Elston Howard’s number out of Monument Park?  Stick with 27 Joe.  

Parade Time!

There is something really special about a parade through The Canyon of Heroes.  If you have never seen one, I encourage you to try and attend tomorrow (or watch on YES)  For me it’s the history of the parade route.  Lindbergh, Einstein, JFK, all of them paraded up Broadway.  I’m sure it will be quite a scene and I will let you know what I see and hear.  

I heard an interview with Brian Cashman and he was talking about getting back to work and the GM meetings starting Monday.  I am not going to focus on 2010 yet, but expect a post sometime this weekend about it. For now, I am going to continue to enjoy and enjoy this win.  

I do have a question and a comment for blogland.  First the comment, why do people keep saying the "Core of Four" now has one for the thumb?  Posada didn’t play in the 1996 postseason, great player, but this is really "only" his fourth championship.

Question is this a little debate we had at the Stadium last night.  Twenty years from now, it’s Old Timers’ Day who gets introduced last Jeter or Rivera?  As great as Jeter has been and he is also the Captain, I think you have to introduce Rivera last.  Both are clearly Hall of Famers, but people will debate Jeter’s place in the pantheon of shortstops 20 years from now.  They will not debate Rivera’s, he is the greatest who ever played his position.  Knowing the two of them, they will probably insist on being introduced together, but it’s a fun debate.  

 

27!

It’s 2:45am and I have finally made it back to my house. I am exhausted, and I don’t know if I will be able to speak tomorrow because my throat is so sore, but I have never felt better. 

First a note, I couldn’t tweet from the park because there was some sort of bandwidth meltdown tonight. Not sure what it was, but multiple people on multiple networks kept complaining about service.  Anyway, apologies.

As for the game itself, I was struck as I walked around the park before first pitch at the lack of Phillies hats I saw.  A few weeks ago in the ALDS, there were a fair amount of Twins hats.  This time  I think we counted two total in about an hour before game time, but we were lucky enough to have a Phillies fan- sans hat- sitting right next to us.  This was a covert fan, he didn’t wear any Philadelphia garb, except for the Eagles gloves on his hands.  We immediately became best buddies (sarcasm)

I don’t know what it sounded like on TV, but the crowd was into it.  People were on their feet, screaming, chanting, clapping, doing everything they could to urge the Yankees on.  (And rattle Pedro)  When Matsui’s homer went out I felt the place shake.  

They won, we partied and then FOX took part with that tedious trophy presentation.  They didn’t introduce Selig which was smart because he would have been booed.  I don’t know if you saw Joba and Swisher lead the parade around the field, but that was pretty cool.  The scoreboards overdid the "This Is For You Boss" message, but I can’t begrudge the Yankees saluting George at this moment.   Joe Buck was booed everytime they mentioned him and the commercial break in the middle of the presentation did not go over well.  One interesting thing was Mariano mentioning he might want to pitch five more years. 

But all of that doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fact that the Yankees are champs again.  Go out, celebrate and enjoy it, I think we have a parade coming on Friday. 

The Lineups Are In And I Am Out

Jeter-Damon-Teixeira-ARod-Matsui-Posada-Cano-Swisher-Gardner

That’s the lineup to use and I hope they talked to Robbie about taking some pitches.

I am off to Game 6.  It should be a wild ride tonight and I promise to try and "tweet" some thoughts from inside the stadium "yankeesredsox’  Feel free to comment during the game, Andy will be keeping an eye on approvals.

I will post again at some point, but I am not sure when I will get home!

I’m Talkin’ Red Sox!

I know, I know, why bother posting about the Red Sox at this point in the season, but I was getting overwhelmed by Yankees banter and needed to put some Red Sox flavor back into this site, even knowing it’ll quickly be drowned out by other topics…

Red Sox needs:

 – Shortstop

 – Left Fielder

 – Impact Bat

The Red Sox need other things besides the above, but those 3 are a good starting point.  Exercising the team option on Alex Gonzalez’s deal ($6.5mm) would give you a steady, slightly range-challenged shortstop who cannot hit.  He is a known quantity and he would offer some comfort to fans and teammates alike, but he really isn’t that good.  He doesn’t get on base and his one heralded defense has gone from great to just ok.  The options include counting on Jed Lowrie (unlikely) or trading for a better solution.

Re-signing Jason Bay would be a good move to fill the LF void.  Matt Holliday is available too, but Bay proved he can handle Boston and is pretty consistent from year to year, so why not go with what you know versus taking a risk in signing a player not familiar with the Boston atmosphere (as pleasant as it is).

David Ortiz’s struggles, Jason Varitek’s disappearing act and no production from the shortstop position made the 2009 Red Sox offense anemic.  I’ve mentioned this before, but when Manny Ramirez left town, gone was the player in the line-up every team feared.  Bay is good, Youkilis is good, but the Red Sox do not have an elite, top 5 bat anymore.

Granted, just how many elite bats are there?  Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Ichiro, Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder, ARod, Mark Teixeira?  This list is not official of course and you could argue others belong, but the point is, the Red Sox have Bay and Youkilis as their best 2 hitters and while both are good hitters, they have holes.  Bay can go into a 2 month slump and Youkilis is only good for 145 games and lacks the power you’d like to see from a game-changing hitter.

So I’d like to see the Red Sox pursue such a player.  It’ll cost a bunch, but it would be worth it.  This team needs a shot in the arm (no, not of steroids).  With no free agents fitting this mold, we are talking about a trade.

This season is mercifully coming to and end at which point we can all get on to talking about the important task of getting the Red Sox ready for 2010.