Goodbye Edwar

The Daily News is reporting that Edwar Ramirez has been DFA’ed to make room for Chan Ho Park. 

I suppose this is the best choice, it must have come down to Ramirez or Albie.  Ramirez has an amazing changeup, but his fastball is not ML-quality and that changeup can only carry him so far.  About 100 innings and 20 HR’s allowed in his big league career proves that. 

Anyway, best of luck to him, he is one of the guys you root for.  

A-Rod Walking The Walk

When A-Rod’s boli admission came out last year I wrote this:

But, I am also really sick of this whole thing and if Alex steps up and tries to speak out against steroid use and supports the Tyler Hooten Foundation then I will move on too.  Alex asked to be judged from this point forward and the ball is in his court on that.

So, I was very pleased when I read this story on Friday which included this quote:

Don Hooton, the father of Taylor Hooton, would not give details, in a telephone conversation Thursday, about how often Rodriguez had spoken to youth groups. But Hooton said: “He has been phenomenal. He has a strong message to the kids. He has delivered to the letter and the spirit.”

And this one:

Asked Thursday about his promise last year, Rodriguez said: “I don’t think it serves a big purpose to get into it, but I will say that actions speak louder than words and that Don has a great message. The more I can do with Don, in spreading the message, the better person I will become, too.”

And this one:

Hooton, who has been to a number of Congressional hearings about drugs, joked that the young people Rodriguez addresses were tougher with him than reporters were.

“They go right for it: ‘Why did you do it? Where did you get them?’ ” Hooton said.

Perhaps A-Rod’s second act will be what he is remembered for one day. 

Is Anyone Paying Attention?

Throughout this offseason and previous ones, Brian Cashman has shown that he doesn’t act with his heart.  He is cold and calculating, a perfect combination for a GM.  Cashman doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of a move, he simply continues to try and make the Yankees younger and better.  Yet somehow, everyone seems to think that the Yankees and Cashman will hand Derek Jeter a huge contract next fall when his current ten-year deal expires.  I have seen various writers guess at six years and $25 million a year. 

Now Derek Jeter is a special player.  He is one of the greatest Yankees to ever play the game, but he is also 36 and playing shortstop, a position that very few players have played well in their late 30′s.  While he hasn’t shown much rust and his 2009 was stellar, it is legitimate to question just how much he has left in the tank.

Obviously, nobody knows for sure, but we do know that the closer to 40 he gets, the bigger the chance he stops producing at his current levels.  Brian Cashman understands this and I wouldn’t expect him to offer anything close to six years to Jeter.  Unless the economy really improves, I imagine the negotiation will play out with the Yankees offering Jeter arbitration (and probably hoping he will take it since it would just be a one-year deal) before making a proposal for a three-year deal for no more than $60 million.  That in itself is a very risky deal for the Yankees to make and I don’t think they would do it for any other player besides Jeter. 

Now It Makes Some Sense

Here’s a little detail, via LoHud, that helps the Chan Ho Park signing make sense.  Both Mitre and Gaudin have non-guaranteed deals. So, the Yankees could release them from their contracts and not have to pay them.  That’s a big deal considering Gaudin is due almost $3 million and Mitre $1 million if they make the team.  

 

Pitchers And Catchers

Today’s the day we all have waited for, pitchers and catchers are reporting in Tampa.  As the Yankees look to defend their title, there are only a few questions that need to be answered in camp, but some of them are going to be big ones. 

First up is who will be the fifth starter?  Joe Girardi may say that it’s a five-pitcher race, but I don’t believe him.  I think this probably comes down to Hughes or Chamberlain.  I know there is a story in the Post today that the Yankees are going to put Joba in the bullpen no matter what, but I don’t believe that either.  The Yankees could have kept Joba in the pen in 2009, but they felt he could be a front line starter.  Through July 30th, it looked like he was well on his way as he sported as 7-2 record with a 3.58 ERA. 

We know what happened next, but I still think a lot of it had to do with the Yankees and the way they tried to manipulate his innings.   There is only one way to find out- let him loose for an entire season and see what happens.  I bet the Yankees do that and put Hughes back into the bullpen, but there is one problem with that; it doesn’t prepare Hughes for the role he may need to assume in 2011.  

I think the ultimate hopes of the Yankees are that Joba and Hughes pitch in the rotation in 2011.  Getting Hughes to be in position to fill that role is going to be a challenge.  If they put him in the bullpen from the start of the season, he probably won’t pitch more than 100 innings if that.  That will mean we would have the "Hughes Rules" in 2011. 

The resolution of the rotation will help clear up the next question of camp which is what will the bullpen look like?  I think you can pretty much close five spots right now- Mo, the loser of the rotation competition, Marte, Robertson and Aceves.  That leaves a lot of arms in play for the final two spots.  I think Logan or Ring have to be considered favorites for one spot since the Yankees would probably like to take two lefties and the last spot will be wide open with Gaudin, Mitre, Melancon and Albie all in the mix.  (I could see the Yankees trading Gaudin)

Another big question is what will the lineup look like?  We know Jeter leads off and Tex and A-Rod are the 3/4, but what about the other spots?  I think the Yankees might go with Granderson in the #2 spot against RHP and Johnson hitting 7th.  Those two could also flip-flop spots against LHP.  The 5 spot is probably going to go to Cano because the Yankees could then round out the rest of lineup alternating between lefties and switch-hitters (Posada-Johnson-Swisher-Gardner). 

A smaller question is who is playing left and who is playing center?  I am not sure if there will be a definitive answer reached in spring training and it wouldn’t shock me to see both guys get a lot of appearances in both spots.  But, there is another question that directly impacts this one and it is who are the outfielders who make this team?  

Obviously, we know that Swisher, Granderson and Gardner are on the team, but I wouldn’t go further than that.  Winn has the inside track at the fourth spot, but if he bombs in camp I bet the Yankees trade or release him.  Thames is going to have to fight Hoffmann and Golson off for the final outfield spot.  

And finally, what about the extra infielder?  I think Ramiro Pena is the safe bet, but if Kevin Russo shows them something, the Yankees just might take him.  

Some big questions, some smaller ones, but the important thing is that baseball is back!

It’s Go Time

The Red Sox truck has arrived in Fort Myers and the players are finding their way to the clubhouse one by one.  Spring Training hasn’t formally begun yet, but it is starting to feel like baseball season.

With most Red Sox fans believing this year’s edition needs to get a big bat for the line-up, there aren’t too many worries surrounding their pitching and defense.

The storylines for this Spring Training will be Mike Lowell’s health and role on the team, whether or not Tim Wakefield begins the year in the starting rotation and what to do with Victor Martinez, this being his last year under contract.

I do not expect the Red Sox to go nuts with Martinez.  He is older than you think (31) and is a catcher.  Catchers don’t gracefully move into their 30s.  They tend to breakdown and lose effectiveness.  There are obvious exceptions to that, but for the most part, a catcher over 30 is a risk.  With Martinez expected to shoulder more of the catching load this year, I’m think he might have another season of 2 left of high performance.

I can see Boston offering a 2-year deal with a team option, but nothing more than that.  If they keep that stance, and Martinez has a good season, don’t expect him around in 2011.

Lowell and Wakefield both have to prove they are healthy.  If Clay Buchholz does well in camp, I just don’t see how Wakefield has a starting spot.  But a 5-man rotation has loads of variables and I’m sure a spot will open up for Wakefield at some point in the first 2 months.

As for Lowell, he doesn’t have a regular place to play.  If he can play some first base, then he can expect to get at bats at 3rd, 1st and DH totaling 300 PAs or so this year, but not much more.

I really don’t expect any drama from the group of players in camp, so we’ll get to focus on possible trade talk, minor leaguers and projections for the 2010 squad.  Camp opens up on Thursday with pitchers and catchers.

This Is Pathetic

How desperate is Scott Boras?  He is trying to pitch Johnny Damon to the Tigers by saying that he loves Steve Yzerman (for those of you who don’t know him, Yzerman was the captain of the Red Wings), loves the Red Wings and eats octopus at Greek restaurants.  (The fans in Detroit always throw an octopus on the ice at the start of the playoffs) 

Here’s a great quote from Boras:

"He told me, ‘If I can’t play for the Yankees, I want you to let the Tigers know I want to play for them. I can make that team a winner.’ "

But, despite his love of Detroit, Boras lets everyone know that he got four or five offers for Damon after it became clear the Yankees were no longer interested.

I guess this is what you have to do when camps are opening in the next 10 days.   

And That Should Do It

Reports all over the net (I think Heyman was first) that the Yankees have signed Marcus Thames to a minor league deal.  It’s exactly the move they needed after signing Randy Winn and gives them the perfect outfielder to deploy against lefties.  For his career, Thames has hit .256/.329/.516 against LHP. Now we can enjoy a nice old battle for playing time in camp this March.

Bringing Thames back also means the Yankees have three former players coming back this year.  Not that it’s important, but I figured it was worth mentioning. 

Two Weeks!

If you are in the Northeast, chances are you woke up to some snow this morning.  And, the forecast sounds like we could get some real snow this weekend.

But, as the countdown clock to the left of this post shows us, it’s only two weeks to pitchers and catchers!  

And we are exactly one month away from the first spring training game.

Finally, we are 61 days away from Opening Day (or night in the case of the Yankees and Red Sox)  

Hope that warms you up a bit.

They Couldn’t Afford Him?

Reed Johnson has signed a deal with the Dodgers that will earn him an ENORMOUS $800,000 next season.  I am just wondering why the Yankees couldn’t have found the spare change for this deal?

Last year Johnson put up splits of .324/.403/.500 against LHP.   For his career he has hit .313/.378/.463 against LHP.  Doesn’t this sound like someone the Yankees could have used in 2010?  I simply can’t believe $800K kept them from signing him and I don’t get it at all. 

Sergio Mitre is going to earn 800K this year and his role right now is 9th starter.  (Yup, that’s right 9th starter think about it…Sabathia, AJ, Andy, Vazquez, Joba, Hughes, Aceves, Gaudin…Mitre!)  Wouldn’t having an outfielder who could hit lefties be more valuable than Mitre to the Yankees as they are currently constructed?

I can only hope that this means Marcus Thames or Johnny Gomes are on their way on a minor league deal.  Otherwise, I will continue to scratch my head over the approach to the 25th man on the roster.