Derek- Sometimes It Rains!

So the stories are flying that Derek Jeter is getting married on November 5th.  The problem is that if MLB goes with the same postseason schedule they did last year, Game 7 of the World Series would be November 4th.

Derek, as someone who is married I can tell you that between the chances of a rainout and the victory parade, you want more of a cushion than 24 hours. No point in worrying about being able to make it to the church on time because of baseball. 

So, move the wedding to November 12th and while you’re at it, why get married in New York in November?  You have plenty of money, go someplace where the weather is nice!  

Hairston?

The Yankees are in "serious" talks with Jerry Hairston?  I don’t get it.  Not that I don’t like what Hairston brings to the table in terms of positional flexibility, but as a platoon outifielder Hairston is a bad idea.  In his career, Hairston has put up a .264/.323/.386 line against LHP.  That is a rate that spells disaster as a platoon player.  When you add in the fact that guys like Gomes (.274/.369/.517 vs LHP) Nady (.308/.383/.471 vs. LHP) and Reed Johnson (313/.378/.463 vs LHP) are available, I don’t get it.

Now, there is a chance that the Yankees are thinking about adding Hairston as the utility infielder.  My question in that case is how much of an upgrade is Hairston over Pena?  Pena can play the all over the infield too and he has started to learn the outfield.  He doesn’t have the experience of Hairston, but he has youth on his side and could improve with his bat.  

Plus, Pena will cost 400k, Hairston is reportedly looking for $2-$3 million.  If the Yankees are trying to control costs, this seems like an odd decision.  If it is the last move the Yankees make before camp, it will be a disappointing end to a great offseason.

It’s Not Happening

I keep reading all these posts about how Johnny Damon will somehow fit back into the New York plans for 2010, but I am 99.9999% sure that ship sailed.  Here is what Cashman said about this to Chad Jennings from LoHud Wednesday.

“I consider this position I’m playing in as a bench role.  Right-handed hitting outfielder that Joe can look on the bench and say, I’m not going to start one of my left-handers, I’m going to start a right-hander.”

Let’s recap.  Damon is a starter and last I looked he hits lefty.  

And while I understand some people keep talking about Cashman’s vow that Bubba Crosby would be the starting centerfielder in 2006.  This isn’t the same situation.  Brett Gardner WAS the starting centerfielder in 2009.  The Yankees were comfortable with that breaking camp and they won a World Series, why wouldn’t they be comfortable doing that again this year? 

So, a righty outfielder is exactly what this team needs and LoHud has a good collection of candidates. Personally, I would be happy with Johnson, Gomes or Nady.  I view Johnson as the best defender, Gomes the best bat and Nady the best blend of the too (assuming he is healthy).  Signing one of those guys will pretty much solidify the team, but there is still a bit of work to be done.

That work is down in AAA where the Yankees are pretty much devoid of outfielders right now.   If you look at the 40-man, there is depth everywhere except outfield.  The Yankees need to find a couple of guys who have a bit in the majors and are willing to come to camp on split contracts.  Right now one injury in the outfield would be a huge problem. 

Bill Hall

The Red Sox acquired Bill Hall from the Mariners yesterday for Casey Kotchman.  They also received a player to be named later and cash.  Prospect Insider speculates it might be Hassiel Jimenez.

Hall is set to earn $8.4mm this year, but the cash in the deal will make the Red Sox hit only around $1.375mm or so.  I haven’t found details on this yet, but Cot’s Baseball Contracts suggest that amount.

Hall hit 35 home runs one year, but that was 2006 and since then, he hasn’t done anything offensively.  2007 – 740 OPS (not bad), 2008 – .689, 2009 – .596 (ughh).

Hall will come in handy as a super utility player with his ability to play any outfield spot and any infield spot except first.  A quick look suggests he’s a decent all around fielder, which is really where his only value lies.

Kotchman found himself without a position, especially with Mike Lowell still on the team.  Given Lowell’s recent surgery, it is unlikely the Red Sox will be able to move him prior to spring training, so they’ll let him get healthy and showcase him in pre-season and early regular season.

I think there is a strong chance he stays with the team well into the 2010 season given his decent righty bat and the risk that David Ortiz doesn’t return to form.  He is a luxury to be sure at $12mm, but if he stayed, it wouldn’t be the worst thing for the team, although he might not enjoy it that much.

Using February 17th as a reporting date, we are about 41 days until spring training!

I Have Questions

Today was the annual day for the BBWAA to look foolish and they didn’t disappoint.  Exhibit A is Roberto Alomar, if you don’t think he was a Hall of Famer, you really weren’t paying attention.  I suspect it was about the spitting incident more than anything, a chance for the voters to "punish" him, which makes me even angrier. You can make plenty of other cases for players like Raines, Blyleven, Morris, Larkin, etc..

I have argued for a change in the voting process, but I think the biggest change should be public ballots.  Strip away the secrecy and you might find some interesting things.

For instance, did the one voter who cast a ballot for David Segui, mentioned in the Mitchell Report, not vote for Mark McGwire?  I have no idea, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to find out?

How about if we knew if the guy who voted for Kevin Appier didn’t vote for Jack Morris or Bert Blyleven?  

Two people deemed Eric Karros worthy of induction, who else did they vote for?

But, the writers get to bask in their anonymity which seems grossly unfair.  The better ones, guys like Heyman, Sherman, Gammons, etc., tell you who they voted for, but most just keep quiet.

It’s a sad process and one unworthy of baseball’s ultimate honor.

And to the five people who sent in blank ballots, I hope you come forward and explain them.  

What’s Your Ballot?

The Hall Of Fame announces the Class of 2010 today at 2pm.  Who makes your cut?

For me, the only real lock is Roberto Alomar.  The spitting incident was horrible, but the Hall Of Fame isn’t about behavior, it’s about baseball.

Other than Alomar, I could make a case for Raines, Larkin, Dawson, Blyleven and Morris, but I also don’t feel like any of them are clear choices.  

What does everyone think?

UPDATE: Congrats to Andre Dawson who got the call.  The only player elected this year!  I am kind of shocked Alomar didn’t make it.  I hope it wasn’t over the spitting, but the BBWAA is all about personal agendas. 

The Last Big Acorn Falls

Jon Heyman is reporting that Holliday has reached a seven-year/$120 million deal with the Cardinals. 

With Bay, Lackey and now Holliday gone the "gems" of the free agent market have all been placed.  Now, we will probably see the logjam break on the lower-tier players as the game of musical chairs moves along. 

UPDATE: And Randy Johnson announced his retirement so we can now look ahead five years to that glorious day when he goes into Cooperstown as a Yankee….

Things Are Shaking Out

News today that Terry Francona will have Mike Cameron start in CF and Jacoby Ellsbury in LF.  With that and yesterday’s Adrian Beltre news, the Red Sox line-up looks like this:

c – Victor Martinez (.912 OPS)

1b – Kevin Youkilis (.961)

2b – Dustin Pedrois (.819)

3b – Adrian Beltre (.683)

ss – Marco Scutaro (.789)

lf – Jacoby Ellsbury (.770)

cf – Mike Cameron (.795)

rf – J.D. Drew (.914)

dh – David Ortiz (.794)

In other news, www.prospectinsider.com is reporting the Red Sox are close to trading Casey Kotchman to the Seattle Mariners.

This line-up isn’t as good as last year’s edition and can only hope to score as many runs as 2009.  That said, if Ortiz can hit like he did the last 4 months last year, Beltre benefits from hitting at Fenway vs. Safeco and a full season of Martinez instead of Varitek might keep things closer than one might think, but a many things have to fall correctly for that to be the case.

I still think this team needs a boffo bat, but with the salary committed thus far, I’m not sure we’re going to see in in 2010 and expect hitting help will arrive in 2011.

 

Things I Don’t Get (Part 1)

I’ve spent the last few days talking to Yankees’ fans who are furious that the Yankees traded Arodys Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez.  Their argument usually references the Ken Phelps-Jay Buhner swap or some other awful deal from the 1980’s.

I don’t get it. The Yankees just added a pitcher who went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 K’s last year and this is a bad thing? But, he sucked in 2004 and cost the Yankees the ALCS is the reply.  Well, he had a rough second half in 04, but in the first half he went 10-5 with a 3.56 ERA.  Then he had an arm injury and fell apart. These things happen and while his pitching in Game 7 was hideous, there were many other culprits I would name for the loss of that ALCS before Vazquez. 

Vazquez has flaws, but I am willing to bet that the adverse reaction to him is more about 2004 than anything else.  If the Yankees had traded for someone with those exact numbers who had never worn the pinstripes, people would be dancing in the streets. 

And while I get the mourning over Vizcaino, let’s think about this for a minute.  This is a guy who pitched 42 innings last season in low A ball.  Yes, they were very effective innings and he has stuff that scouts love, but he is probably at minimum three years from the majors and he has to stay healthy.  Think of all the pitchers who have shined in the minors recently and then got derailed by injury.  Alan Horne dominated in AA in 2007 and got hurt.  Dellin Betances, who had very good numbers in low A ball in 2007 hasn’t made it to AA because of injuries.  There are just so many things that can happen to a pitcher that to mourn the loss of a guy who hasn’t made it past Staten Island is silly.  Sure, he could develop into a big time pitcher, but that isn’t going to happen until 2013 at best.  The Yankees are trying to repeat as World Champs and this is exactly the type of deal you make to do that.  They have added a guy who should give them 200 innings that should be at worst league-average and could definitely be above-average.  That’s more than you need out of a fourth starter and keep in mind the biggest thing about Vazquez- he is pitching in 2010 for his next contract. 

Also think about whom the Yankees didn’t trade this offseason.  Hughes and Joba are still here.  Montero is set to open the season in AAA, Romine in AA.  Zach McAllister, fresh off a 2.23 ERA in Trenton will head to Scranton as well.   They have traded four guys who could have played on the 2010 team- Cabrera, Jackson, Coke and Dunn, but all four of those guys had flaws in terms of 2010.  Jackson and Dunn probably needing more seasoning, Coke looking more like a one-hit wonder than a quality lefty bullpen guy and Cabrera better suited to a fourth outfielder role than a starting job. 

There is still some work to be done for the Yankees, putting together a bench is certainly going to be vital.  But, December 22nd, 2009, was a very big day for the 2010 Yankees.  For me it’s the day that they became the favorites to win the 2010 World Series.  

 

An A-Bomb For A-Bel

Catchy, isn’t it?  No?  You’re right, it’ll never take off, Adrian Beltre doesn’t hit home runs.

File this as "asleep at the wheel," but I just learned that the Red Sox and Adrian Beltre agreed to a deal.  According to Peter Gammons, the deal is for 1 year at $9mm with a player option in 2011 for $5mm.  Wow, rumor had it Beltre was looking for a multi year, $13mm or so per year, or make that Scott Boras was looking for…

Analysis, this deal greatly improves the Red Sox defense and allows Kevin Youkilis to stay at first base. Casey Kotchman has once again been relegated to the bench.  Beltre didn’t hit at all in 2009 hence the one-year deal.  He must think he will do very well in 2010.  Or, maybe he is finished and this, and the 2011 option are just gravy on an already lucrative career.  My hope is for the former, but the cynic in me thinks its the latter.

His offense has only been really good in one season.  In 2004 he had a 1.017 OPS vs. his career OPS of .779. Hmmm, how did that happen?  Regardless of how that happened, he parlayed that into a mega deal with Seattle. Seattle plays in a hitter non-friendly park and one could argue Beltre’s numbers didn’t look good there because no one does well there…except Ichiro.

So the Red Sox have signed a defensive wiz and a questionable offensive talent, but have limited their risk to 2 years and $14mm.  Not terrible.  This just puts an exclamation point next to their off-season plans of reducing runs allowed.  It’ll be interesting to see the ERAs of the pitching staff as you have to consider the following:

Player: UZR 2009/2009 rank at position in Majors:

3rd – Beltre: 21.00/1st vs. Lowell: -14.4/last, if included in qualifying list

cf – Cameron: 10.3/4th vs. Ellsbury -18.3/4th worst (I’m not sure what to make of Ellsbury’s rating, these numbers and what I see with my eyes tell 2 different stories.  I’m sure Ellsbury wasn’t perfect, but 4th worst?  Tough for me to understand).

ss – Scutaro: 1.0/14th vs. Red Sox SS team total in 2009 of 3.1/12th in baseball (Alex Gonzalez was a 10.5)

I’d do an Ellsbury vs. Bay report in left, but Ellsbury didn’t play an inning there in 2009, so I’ll not do so.

No matter, it looks like this signing is the biggest net improvement defensively thus far and the Cameron signing is 2nd.  The Scutaro signing, is actually a net loss defensively, but I still prefer him there vs. Alex Gonzalez given the offensive upside.

Other news out suggests the Red Sox and Mets are talking about a Mike Lowell for Luis Castillo deal.  Basically a swap of contracts I would suspect.  Castillo is due $6mm in both 2010 and 2011.  Lowell really has no role here in 2010 and the Red Sox would be best shipping him sooner than later.  Lowell has been a good soldier, but his time has passed.