Now What?

So we know that Granderson is coming to New York and Pettitte is coming back.  Where do the Yankees go from here?  It seems reasonable to assume that at most they have one more "big" move left.  By big I mean Damon, Matsui, Doc or Lackey and that’s it.  It’s one of those four, I don’t think they are suddenly going to try and sign Jason Bay. 

Start with the lineup.  Right now, you have two question marks- who is playing left and who is the DH.  I would assume Melky is in left and the Yankees will rotate the DH spot among the older guys. 

Go to the rotation.  You know the 1-2-3, but who makes up 4 and 5?  I assume Joba is one of those and the last guy is a mystery.   There are a lot of "could be’s".  Could be Aceves, could be Gaudin, could be Hughes, could be me…you get the idea.

Which hole do you fill?  If I am picking, I sign Lackey.

I love Doc, but Doc is going to cost Joba and Montero plus more.  That’s too steep a price to pay with Lackey available.  Signing Lackey gives you an amazing rotation and as cliche as it sounds, pitching wins championships.  You also have Joba as your fifth starter, a perfect opportunity for him to pitch every fifth day and prove he can do it.  And, Hughes is your setup guy, which gives you a great bullpen. 

Yes, you leave some holes in the lineup.  Melky (the 2009 version) or Gardner are not adequate left fielders, but they can certainly play defense out there and they are young enough that you can gamble on them growing.  Add a player like a Reed Johnson for low money or bring Eric Hinske back and you have some options in the corner.  Will you score as many runs in 2010 as you did in 2009?  Absolutely not, but I bet that when you consider the runs you allowed in 2010 versus 2009, you net out ahead.  The Yankees had a net of +162 in 2009, that should have equated to 95 wins.  I think under this plan that number grows and they should win more than 95 games.  That means a playoff spot to me and with a rotation of CC, AJ, Lackey and Andy in the playoffs, that’s what you need, they can take it from there. 

 

Andy’s Back

The Yankees and Pettitte have reached a deal for $11.75 million in 2010.  It’s not a shock, but it’s a solid move, the Yankees now have the same three pitchers who started every game in the playoffs back for next year. 

But, there is still work to be done.  The Yankees need to come up with another pitcher.  I assume Joba will be ready to go to 200 innings next year, but I think he needs to earn the job out of spring training.  Hughes is going to be unable to pitch a lot of innings next year, so he can’t be counted on.  Gaudin is a thought, but his control is a big question mark. 

They can certainly cobble together the back of the rotation with those players and some others, but it would make a lot of sense to get someone in from outside the organization to solidify the rotation. 

Day 2 for Boston

Not much of anything happened for Boston yesterday.  Certainly they continued their due diligence on many players and perhaps advanced talks on trades and/or free agent signings, but from the fans perspective, nothing happened.

One thing did happen and that was the Yankees traded for a center fielder.  The Red Sox (i.e. Theo Epstein) have publicly said they do not make moves based on what the Yankees are doing, but everyone knows that while that might be their goal, they always have an eye on what the Yankees are doing.

The Red Sox have a glaring hole in left field and even if they do re-sign Jason Bay, or sign Matt Holliday, that just leaves them at status quo.  Yes Marco Scutaro is an upgrade offensively at shortstop, but there is no way he replicates his 2009 offensive performance and his defense is a step down from Alex Gonzalez’s, so he is an improvement overall, but probably not as great as some might think.

Back to Bay/Holliday, the Red Sox can’t sit around and be content with status quo.  With David Ortiz another year older and coming off a disappointing season and Mike Lowell not getting healthier or rangier, this team could be worse offensively.

Now the Winter Meetings aren’t the only time deals can be made, but the fan in me wants something done now, if not sooner.

Granderson And Lefties/Thoughts On Damon/Matsui/Nady

The big knock on Granderson is that he can’t hit lefties and he certainly was miserable against them last year, putting up a .484 OPS against them.  But, in 2008 he hit .259/.310/.429 against them, nothing amazing, but certainly respectable enough for everyday play and an indication that he has the ability to hit them. 

In this way he is very much like Paul O’Neil.  O’Neil came to New York with a reputation of being useless against LHP.  In 1992, the year before he arrived, O’Neil put up a .565 OPS against LHP.  But, in 1990 he had hit .261/.312/.408 against them and once he got to New York he rediscovered how to hit LHP.  He was never as good against them as he was against righties, but he got the job done.  Maybe Granderson can follow in that path and the Yankees should give him every chance to do so before going to a straight platoon. 

The Yankees do have an option of using Melky against tough lefties.  The thing is, before 2009, Melky was useless against LHP, but he suddenly hit them (.763 OPS)  in 2009.  Is that a trend you can count on?

I’m not sure and it’s another reason why I wish the Yankees had kept Shelley Duncan around.  Duncan absolutely killed lefties and the Yankees could have played him in right with Swisher in center against lefties if they felt Granderson couldn’t handle it.  But, that door is probably closed, so Melky it is right now, but the Yankees should keep exploring their options. UPDATE- Tyler Kepner of the Times has an excellent candidate- Reed Johnson.  He hit .323/.400/.500 against RHP in 2009 and .313/.378/.463 in his career.  Made $3 million last year with the Cubs.

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On to the Damon negotiations, I don’t think this deal changes the Yankees plans with Damon.   Melky Cabrera had a better 2009, but .274/.336/.416 isn’t enough to play everyday.  With Austin Jackson gone, the Yankees do not have an heir apparent for left in AAA so I think they would be willing to go to two years with Damon.  I am not sure if they would have done that with Jackson in the wings, but I bet they would do two-years/$20 million now.

I think it also increases the chances that Xavier Nady could return.  If Damon goes elsewhere, the Yankees may turn to Nady to plug leftfield.  That wouldn’t shock me at all.  It also wouldn’t shock me to see both Damon and Nady return, if Nady takes low money on a one-year deal.

What I do think this deal does do is close the door on Hideki Matsui.  Matsui cannot be trusted to play leftfield and with Granderson in the fold, the Yankees don’t need to panic to keep their lefty power.  This deal really signals the Yankees are serious about getting younger and better in the outfield and Matsui doesn’t help them in either of those departments. 

It’s Done If The Medicals Check Out

The Yankees got Curtis Granderson who is a very good centerfielder and a very powerful lefty bat.  He is also only 28 years old and will be under team control through 2013 at reasonable money ($5.5 in 2010, $8.25 in 2011, $10 in 2012 and an option worth $13 in 2013)  Granderson had a bad, for him 2009, hitting .249/.327/.453 that is still a lot better than the AL average at center and if he comes close to his 2008 numbers- .280/.365/.494- the Yankees would be thrilled. He is also considered one of the best character guys in baseball.

By adding Granderson the Yankees just gave themselves a ton of options.  They can play hardball with Damon and let him walk, shifting Granderson to left and going with Melky/Gardner in center like 2009.  They can bring Damon back and put Granderson in center, giving them some chips to trade in Gardner or Melky. 

Everyone will focus on the loss of Austin Jackson and while Jackson is a tough player to give up let’s stop and think about him.  Does anyone think he would have turned into a better player than Granderson?  I don’t think so and when you consider that it makes sense to include him in the deal.  Yes, you lose a young player, but the guy you get back is still young enough that it makes sense to swap Jackson for him.

The guy who won’t get as much press, but might be the bigger loss is Ian Kennedy.  Kennedy has a lot of detractors, myself included at times, but I still believe he will develop into a competent starter.  By that I mean someone who can step in and pitch 200 innnings with around a 4 ERA.  That’s not what you want at the top of the rotation, but it is nice to have in the middle.  

The last guy is Phil Coke and I don’t really mind giving him up.  It’s nice the Yankees still have Dunn because he certainly has the potential to equal Coke’s numbers and he is four years younger. 

The more I think about this trade, the more I like it.  Yes, it hurts to give up the prospects, but the Yankees gave them up for the right type of player- a young player with a proven track record in the bigs.  That is a departure from previous years when the Yankees would give up the few prospects they had for older guys.  Brian Cashman said at the outset of the offseason "we have to get younger".  The Yankees just did and they also got better in 2010.  If they bring back Damon or Matui and you could bring either one back with Granderson in the fold, think about that lineup.  That will keep some opposing pitchers up late at night. 

“At The Goal Line”

Tweets all over the place about the Granderson trade almost being completed.  Stay tuned.

Is The Trade Back On?

Heyman and Sherman are both tweeting that the Granderson deal is back on.  Buster Olney puts the odds at 30% of a deal getting done while Sherman says the talks have "momentum".

Interestingly, the player who seems to be out of the deal from the Yankees side is Michael Dunn.   Dunn certainly has potential as a lefty out of the pen, but I would still rather keep Kennedy.  Now some rumors have Edwin Jackson coming to the Yankees.  It sounds like a lot of talk is going on, we shall see.

Day 1 for Boston

The first day of the winter meetings yielded some minor league depth signings and a potential major league bullpen arm.

In signing Scott Atchison, they get a reliever who pitched in Japan for the past 2 seasons.  Just prior to his departure to Japan in 2007, the Red Sox had hoped to sign him, showing that he never fell off their radar.  Atchison looks to be a fringe player based on his State-side performances, but he did do very well in Japan in 2009.

Also signed were old friend Kason Gabbard and new friend Fabio Castro.  This is probably Gabbard’s last chance to stick around in pro baseball, let alone hoping for a major league job, he had a horrible, injury plagued 2009 and is looking to rebound (9.60 ERA in 40.1 IP for 3 teams in the minors).

Castro’s signing is for AAA emergency starter depth, no more.

The biggest news Red Sox fans are waiting for of course is whether or not Jason Bay comes back in 2010 and if not, who will replace him.  Matt Holliday is an option and of there seems to be no shortage of trade rumors flying around, although nothing too hot/concrete as it pertains to the Red Sox.

My take is that the Red Sox have to sign Bay or Holliday and upgrade another roster spot (starter or bat, with bat being my preference) to make this team top-tier in 2010.

Hmmm….

Hot rumor around MLB appears to be the Yankees-D’Backs and Tigers working on a three-way trade

The key part for the Yankees is that they give up Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy and Michael Dunn in order to get Curtis Granderson.  The Yankees would also receive a prospect or two back from Arizona.  

I’m not inclined to pay that big a price for Granderson because while he can certainly hit for power, he is essentially a platoon player.  (.614 OPS vs. LHP in his career)  I would give up Jackson, Coke and Dunn, but I would need something good coming from Arizona to agree to throw Kennedy into that deal.   I think Kennedy could be a very solid #4 starter next year and I wouldn’t give him up easily.  And while I like Austin Jackson, I still have doubts that he can hit for any power.  In that case, I choose to keep the starting pitcher over the potential bat.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman tweets that the Yankees spent most of the day trying to get Granderson while Joel Sherman says the talks are dead for now because the other teams were asking for too many prospects from the Yankees.  

UPDATE: 40 minutes into Sportscenter and they haven’t mentioned baseball once.  30 minutes on the Packers-Ravens and now other NFL and College FB news.

UPDATE: Heyman confirms the players and says the Yankees have said No.  Olney says two teams have said no, but doesn’t identify them.  He thinks the trade will not be resurrected.  Sherman says the Yankees have clearly targeted Granderson and may also be using this as a message to Johnny Damon.  

It’s Nice To Pitch In The NL

Brad Penny racked up a 5.61 ERA in the AL this year and a 2.59 ERA in the NL.  Now the Cardinals have apparently given him $7.5 million to come pitch in the NL.  Are the Cardinals insane or do they know something about Penny and the NL?

Looking at the stats, one would think they are insane.  Penny suffered from a bit of bad luck in Boston, racking up a .327 BABIP, but that was completely reversed in San Francisco where it dropped to an amazingly low .206.  When you combine that with his strikeout rate actually decreasing from the AL to the NL, this is not a very good signing for the Cards.   It’s also another important warning to AL GM’s- beware pitchers from the NL.