The Invasion Will Begin At 19:00 Hours

Dateline Tampa

In response to Supreme Commander, Hank Steinbrenner’s, vows to turn things around "by force" if needed, the Yankees will invade Tropicana Field tonight.

Damon and Jeter were scheduled to parachute in and start the attack, But after several satelite passes, the Yankees doctors in charge of coordinating the attack noticed that there was a large roof on top of the structure and cancelled the maneuver. 

Bobby Abreu was going to be in charge of demolitions, but it turns out he is afraid of walls and is therefore AWOL.

Jose Molina, Morgan Ensberg and Robinson Cano are being left at the team hotel since they are incapable of offensive operations at this moment.  

Jason Giambi will be leaving the hotel now in hopes that he can make it to the Trop by "go" time.

Kyle Farnsworth is being held in reserve for special operations because nobody wants to mess with Kyle.

Sadly, Carl Pavano is MIA.

More details as they come available.   


Yu Darvish

No, that’s not a Yiddish curse word.  Rather it’s the name of Japanese baseball’s next superstar. had a great look at Darvish courtesy of Jim Caple.

Darvish has dominated in his brief time in the Japanese League.  At 21 years old, he isn’t eligible for free agency for years, but his current team, the Nippon Ham Fighters has said it would consider the wishes of any of its players to play abroad.

Of course the Ham Fighters are saying that, they stand to make a nice windfall.

The question I pose to you:  Is paying a posting of say $50mm plus just for the right to talk with Yu a good idea?  Consider also you need to sign him to a contact.  Using recent examples, the Red Sox ponied up $51mm for the right to speak with Daisuke Matsuzaka and then signed him to a 6 year, $56mm deal.  So that’s $107mm over 6 years for an untested player.  So far so good, although he hasn’t dominated quite the way I had hoped and he is probably the most frustrating player in the Red Sox what with his tendencies to walk too many.

One of the original post/sign transactions was for Ichiro and that turned out to be a fantastic transaction for all involved.

There are other examples that haven’t worked out so well, at least not yet.

For the purpose of appealing to the site constituency, let’s imagine you are the GM of the Yankees or the Red Sox and it is ultimately up to you what to do regarding Darvish.  Let him go somewhere else, or put down your best offer and hope for the best?

My answer:  If I’m Theo Epstein, of course I make an offer to Nippon.  Without knowing what, if any financial obstacles the Red Sox are dealing with, I would make my offer in the low 50mm range.  Assuming you could sign Darvish for a similar $8-10mm a year deal like Matsuzaka did, that means your commitment is $106mm – $112m over 6 years or around $18mm per year.  Mentally I would want to avoid any contract over $20mm a year (I understand that by paying $50mm a year upfront makes it an even more expensive deal, but for simplicity, I’ll use average per year).

The reason this posting system can be so good for MLB teams is that they needn’t pay luxury tax on the posting fee and they don’t owe any draft pick compensation.  At the same time, the system can be a disaster as no one yet has figured out a way to determine if players will thrive here or flop.

So I’m penciling in Yu Darvish in as the # 3 next year in the Red Sox rotation.  Done and done.


In a stunning move, the Red Sox have designated Julian Tavarez for assignment.   That means Tavarez will either be traded, released or assigned to Pawtucket within the next 10 days.  I’m kidding about the stunning part.

What it really means is this.  We will never see a professional baseball player bowl a baseball to first base.  We will never see a pitcher try to pick off an opponent by running from the mound to second base, only to flop in the general vicinity of second base all the while missing the runner by yards and seconds.

It was easy to poke fun at Tavarez, as I just did, but at the same time, he was a good person.  WEEI interviewed Tavarez during either the 2006 or 2007 season and I came away with great appreciation of him.

Tavarez was born in the Dominican Republic and unlike his current lifestyle, he was raised in relative poverty.  Tavarez spoke of sleeping on a dirt floor.  For those of us who’ve faced difficult times (or what we perceived as difficult times), try calling a dirt floor your bed.

Tavarez is unorthodox, but found a role in Boston.  Being in the last year of his deal, Tavarez was expendable.  Rumors abound that Boston was close to dealing him to the Colorado Rockies.  In fact, Manny Ramirez was quoted as saying the Red Sox should deal him for one of Milwaukee’s sausages.  Ahh…Manny, a man of thoughtfulness.

Now that we’ve covered the human side, what it means is that Sean Casey is back.

On another note, Red Sox pitchers need to walk fewer batters or give up fewer hits.  When you keep your WHIP (Walks plus Hits divided into Innings Pitched, basically the number of base runners you allow per inning) below 1.30 or so, you have a much better chance of success.  Take for example:

Wakefield:  1.38 Whip, 2-2

Buchholz:  1.63 Whip, 2-3

Beckett:  0.94 Whip, 4-2

Matsuzaka:  1.22 Whip, 6-0

Let’s Use Our Heads

There are a ton of stories in the paper today about how yesterday’s rainout helped the Yankees.  The thinking is that because the rain washed out Andy Pettitte’s start, the Yankees can shift the rotation and skip Igawa’s scheduled turn on Wednesday.  All of that is true, but consider the fact that by pitching today Pettitte will not be able to make his scheduled start on Friday which is the opener of the Subway Series.

Add in the fact that the Mets were rained out last Friday and had to play two on Saturday.  They used Santana and Pelfrey in their two games Saturday.  They play this upcoming Thursday and then head to the Stadium Friday.  They can slot Pelfrey and Santana however they want for those two games so does anyone doubt that they will save Santana for Friday night against the Yankees? 

Because of the rain, the Yankees have to chose when they want to pitch Rasner, Thursday or Friday, they will need to use either Igawa or the infamous "TBA" for the other start.  Considering the opponent and likely starter, I think it is unlikely you would see any of the rookies, including Kennedy make Friday’s start.  So, I would imagine Rasner goes Friday and that leaves Thursday’s start up in the air.  This is just a guess, but I would suspect that Dan Giese, the 30-year old journeyman who is doing well in AAA gets the call.  Giese pitched for Scranton on Saturday which means he is in turn and he has a 1.13 ERA in 39 innings so far this year.  My backup candidate would be Chase Wright.  Wright is only at AA, but he has pitched pretty well and we have obviously seen him before.  Wright’s one advantage is that he is already on the 40-man roster.  The Yankees could move Cervelli to the 60-day DL to make room for Giese so I don’t think it is that big an advantage.   

I think the one thing every Yankees’ fan can agree on is that we don’t want to see Igawa again.  Stay tuned…. 

UPDATE 6:10PM- Apparently it will be Kennedy pitching Thursday.  Is one start in the minors enough to have fixed him?  I’m not sure about that, though I favor using him over Igawa.  The problem is, what do the Yankees do if he bombs on Thursday?  And, what do they do with Igawa at this point?  That’s definitely $46 million down the tank, but how long do they continue to pretend he has a future in New York as a starter?  How about trying him as a reliever now and see if that does anything to improve his value?


There’s A Hole…In My Lineup

So far the "Merry Merry Month of May" has been anything but that for the Yankees’ catchers.  Combined they are 4-for-29 with 1 RBI (.138 AVG).  That is absolutley putrid and below their combined career numbers (.233 AVG combined).  Jorge Posada is starting to do some light throwing, but he is three weeks away at best and probably more.  The Yankees can’t even be sure he will be able to return as a catcher on a full-time basis because his shoulder needs surgery, they just hope he can wait until November. 

The Yankees need to go out and trade for a backup catcher who can hit.  Failing that, let’s bring Stewart up from AAA again and see if he can hit.  I’m not sure he can, but he does have the benefit of some youth on his side.  Either way, the Yankees know what Moeller and Molina can do with the bat and it isn’t much. 

The Yankees are 18-19, they have scored exactly the same number of runs as they have allowed.  They either need to pitch better or hit better to break out of this funk and that is hard to do when you have a hole in both the lineup and rotation.  Ideally, you fix both, but realistically nobody is going to trade you a starter in May.  So, try and find some offense and catcher would be a wise place to start. 

Farewell Lugo

Julio Lugo is just awful right now.  Let’s see, the Red Sox as a team have committed 21 errors as a team.  Lugo has 11, that’s more than half.  Lugo was never considered an elite SS, but he was considered at worst average.

Theo Epstein got himself into this mess signing Lugo to a 4 year, $36mm deal.  Lugo’s Red Sox career has been bad, and that’s being generous.  So what can the Red Sox do about it?  With 2+ years left on his deal, benching Lugo seems a bit silly but trading him also seems silly as the Red Sox would likely have to pick up a big part of his deal (baring receiving an equally bad contract in return).

If they do sit him down, I suppose Alex Cora (due back Sunday) could play each day or at least be put into a platoon situation.

If I’m Epstein, I find a way to cut this guy loose ASAP.  Trade him or bench him, but just don’t keep him out there.  Jed Lowrie has proven that at worst he is an equal swap and by giving him the job, the Red Sox get to see another component of their future.  If Lowrie stumbles, Cora can lend a hand.

I think the most telling thing about Lugo and his inability to fit in here is this quote after Thursday’s game given to the Herald’s Steve Buckley:

“I don’t care, but sometimes it would be nice to say something positive,” he said. “But all the time it’s negative things, you know? Sometimes, you know, people should say something that’s positive. But every time it’s something negative . . . bring it up, bring it up, bring it up. Why?

“I understand you (the media) are going to write whatever you want . . . but I come here every day and bust my ass . . . if things don’t work out sometimes, that’s the way it’s going to be. You understand? But sometimes you bring up the same things . . . You get tired of that.”

This is what Red Sox players have to prepare themselves for mentally.  Those that can handle it excel, those that cannot are, well, Edgar Renteria.  Take your game somewhere else Julio.  If you want to play to empty stands and non-caring fans, go to Florida (14,980 fans a game).

No matter Lugo’s capabilities, it’s time for Boston to move on and find someone who can handle playing in Boston.

Kennedy Could Do That

Say what you want about Ian Kennedy, but it is fair to say he would have done better than Igawa tonight.  Igawa may be the only guy in the world who would lose a popularity contest against Carl Pavano with Yankees’ fans.  To make matters worse, Albie got hurt in the game and it sounds like it will be a long-term injury.   

My question is this, with Albie hurt, why wouldn’t the Yankees bring Kennedy back?  They have an injury exemption that allows them to bring anyone back to the majors, so why use it on Britton instead of Kennedy?  Not that I have anything against Britton, I wish the Yankees would give him a shot, but does anyone think Igawa will pitch well next Wednesday against Tampa?  I know I don’t and while one game in the minors doesn’t prove much, I still think Kennedy gives the Yankees a better chance to win than Igawa and isn’t that all that matters? 

Moves Made, Moves Not To Make

I credit Tyler with succinctly stating the reason the Yankees shouldn’t take a flier on David Wells.  As he wrote in the comments of a previous post, "To me, Wells is still the guy who left that huge World Series game in Florida after all of one inning."

I agree and I have mentioned before that I think that move cost the Yankees the 2003 World Series.  Add in the fact that Wells is 45, a pain in the ass and pitched to a 5.43 ERA in the NL last year and there is no reason to even think of signing him.  The guy to sign for the 50th time is Freddy Garcia.  He is reportedly going to throw off a mound this week and the Yankees should strongly consider signing him for this year with an option for next year like they did with Lieber in 2003. 

As for tonight, I know we are all looking forward to Kei Igawa’s return (sorry, couldn’t resist).  To make room for Igawa, the Yankees sent Chris Britton down.  That leaves eight relievers on the acitve roster and it is about time for the Yankees to cut that down to seven.  I imagine that will happen next week when A-Rod comes back and I think Edwar Ramirez is going to go.

The bigger question in the bullpen is how long does Joba stay in his current role?  I think they will look to move him around the All-Star Break and that means they have about two months to figure out his replacement.  I think they have three candidates currently on the roster, Albie, Ohlendorf and Veras.  It is time to put these guys into some bigger situations and see what they can do.   

Interesting Move

The Yankees activated Wilson Betemit from the DL today and demoted Alberto Gonzalez.  Activating Betemit is a no-brainer, but demoting Gonzalez is odd.  The Yankees have 13 pitchers on the roster and while Gonzalez is wasting on the bench, it still makes no sense to carry that many hurlers.

It sounds like the Yankees plan to platoon Ensberg and Betemit at third, which isn’t a bad idea.  Betemit hasn’t shown it since coming to the Yankees, but he has hit righties very well in his career.  The problem is the bench is only Ensberg or Betemit, Duncan and Moeller on most nights, that is just too thin.  Why the Yankees chose to keep 9 relievers instead of Gonzalez is beyond my understanding. 


Moss Gathering Moss

It seems as though Brandon Moss has developed quite a reputation of late.  As you probably know already, he was DLed Saturday, the result of an emergency appendectomy (which ones aren’t emergency?  “Mr. Moss, I don’t like the look of your appendix, let’s take it out.  Shall we say February 2010?).

The legend of Moss, a legend I’ve been largely unaware of, has been growing, here’s evidence:

From Sunday’s Globe feature “On Baseball” by Nick Cafardo:

"I’ve been trying to get Moss for three years," said one assistant general manager in the American League West. "I think he’s a guy who is going to be a very good major league player.

"He can do a lot of things. Strong left-handed bat. Good head for the game, but the Red Sox aren’t inclined to deal him. We’ve tried, believe me."

In addition, the day before his surgery, Moss had complained of abdominal pain, but then played in Friday night’s game going 2-4 with a home run.  A legend building feat, no?

I guess we should all be happy he is on the Red Sox.  For whatever reason, I’ve considered him a 4th outfielder with maybe the chance to be a starter on a team other than the Red Sox.  Let’s hope I’m wrong.

With Moss’s injury, once expected to sideline him 3-5 weeks, the Red Sox promoted Craig Hansen, thus fulfilling my wish.  I expect Hansen will stay here for the long haul with the Red Sox instead deciding to get rid of another reliever when the time comes.  Mike Timlin and Javier Lopez are the leading candidates.  Lopez because he is a side-throwing lefty who lets too many lefties get on base.  In 6.1 IP against lefties this year, he has only given up 4 hits, but walked 5.  Terry Francona wants Lopez to challenge lefties, not walk them.  Against righties, he has allowed 9 hits and 1 walk in 5.2 IP.  His 3.75 era might look good, but it’s soft.

I haven’t said much lately on this, but the late Will McDonough is being proved right about Roger Clemens more than ever.  Clemens is the Texas Con Man.