The Best Yankee Game of the Decade

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The moment you've all been waiting for. The best Yankee game of the past decade is:

1. October 16, 2003 Game 7 ALCS "Aaron Bleepin' Boone" : Yankees vs Red Sox. Game 7. Winner goes to the World Series, loser goes home. Clemens faces Pedro again after the Fenway fiasco in Game3. The Red Sox pounded Clemens early. Trot Nixon hit a two-run home run in a three-run second inning for the Red Sox. In the top of the fourth Clemens gave up a leadoff home run to Kevin Millar, walked Trot Nixon, and a single to Bill Mueller. Torre had seen enugh and called on Mike Mussian with first and second nobody out, down 4-0. Mussina did the best thing possible by striking out Varitek and getting Damon to groundout into a double play to escape the jam.

The Yankees did not score until Giambi hit a solo home run in the fifth and seventh innings. Ortiz gave the Red Sox some insurance in the top of the eighth with a solo home run to make it 5-2. After getting Nick Johnson to pop out, Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox were 5 outs away from beating the Yankees to go to the World Series. That's when the ghosts arrived.

Jeter doubled and Bernie Williams singled to score him narrowing the score to 5-3. With the lefthanded Matsui coming to the plate, it appeared Pedro's night had been done. But instead Grady Little left Pedro in and Matsui doubled down the righfield line making it second and third with 1 out. For sure Pedro's night was done now. But no. He stayed out to face Jorge Posada who blooped a single into centerfield which tied the game 5-5. The Yankees had comeback and Pedro's night was done for good.

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth, 10th, and 11th innings to keep the score tied at 5. Then to lead off the 11th, mid-season acquistion Aaron Boone was up for his first at bat of the game replacing Enrique Wilson. On the first pitch by Tim Wakefield, Boone sent the ball sailing into leftfield sending the Yankees to the World Series and the stadium into a frenzy.

It was a celebration in the Bronx in one of the most classic baseball games you can watch. The game had plenty of hype going into it, and it managed to be greater than advertised. The Yankees lost the World Series that year, but the seven games against the Red Sox were so grueling and intense it felt more like that was the World Series. It was also the last time the 19-18 chants took place at Yankee Stadium, but we won't get any further into that.

That concludes our list of the top Yankees games of the decade. Feel free to post what your favorite game was or if you think there were any games we missed.

Have a happy and healthy New Year and hopefully the next year and decade brings great Yankees memories as well.

See Ya in 2010!


Top Yankee Games of the Decade Part 3

With the decade coming to an end tommorow we look back at the best Yankee games of the past decade. Here are our #2 and 3 games we have chosen, which also comes from the best World Series of the decade:

3. November 1, 2001 Game 5 World Series "Deja Vu All Over Again": After a late-inning dramatic come-from behind win the night before, the Yankees and Diamondbacks were tied 2-2 with the winner being one game away from winning the World Series. Should the Yankees lose they would go back to Arizona where they lost the first two games. Mike Mussina pitched for the Yankees, going 8 innings giving up 2 runs. But Miguel Batista outpitched him going 7.2 shutout innings. In the ninth inning Byung Hyun Kim was looking for redemption after giving up the game tying home-run to Tino Martinez and game-winning home run to Derek Jeter the previous night. Just as in Game 4, Kim allowed one baserunner but managed to get two outs. He was one out away from sending the Diamondbacks up 3-2 back to Arizona. Then Scott Brosius came to the plate.

Brosius swung at a 1-0 pitch and drilled the ball down the leftfield line and into the stands for a home-run. The Yankees had done it again. The game was tied and the Yankees and their fans celebrated while the Diamondbacks were stunned. The game remained tied at two and eventually headed into the 12th inning. In the 12th Alfonso Soriano finished the job with a walk-off single scoring Chuck Knoblauch and the Yankees won 3-2.

Blowing leads and walk-off wins happen. But to do the same thing, in the same fashion, on the next night off the same pitcher in the World Series? Never again will you see that happen.
2. October 31, 2001 Game 4 World Series "Mr. November": This game preceeded the one above so I kind of already explained what happened. But lets get a little more into it. The Yankees were in a 2-1 hole and no team wants to be down 3-1 in the World Series so this was a must win game. Curt Schilling and El Duque found themselves battling a pitchers duel. Each gave up 1 run while working into the seventh inning. Mike Stanton blew the tie score out of the bullpen in the top of the 8th giving the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead. Bob Brenly called on closer Byung Hyun Kim in the bottom of the 8th who struck out the side.

Kim came back out for the 8th and got two outs while giving up a single to Paul O'Neill. Now, I was at this game, and with two outs and Tino Martinez, who was hitless in his last 9 at bats up at the plate, we decided to start heading out to beat the rush out of the stadium. As we walked down the ramps of Yankee Stadium the crowd suddenly erupted with cheer. I swear I felt the stadium shake. I ran out to the next section and went to see what happened. Tino Martinez just tied the game with a home run. Well that turned us right around and back to our seats.

The game went to the 10th and Kim was still out there. Now as Derek Jeter came to the plate, the clock struck midnight and for the first time ever, there was baseball in November. Jeter worked the count full, then drove an outside pitch over the right field wall for the game-winning home run. An overzealous Michael Kay even added TWO extra See Ya's! on his home run call.

Now, the Yankees did not win the World Series. But what made these two games extra special was the fact that it happened right after 9/11. The Yankees in the World Series gave the people of New York something to take their minds off of. The way the Yankees won these two games in the aftermath of 9/11 was somewhat inspiring and gave the city of New York a positive energy and vibe.

Wow that was a lot of writing. I'm sure you've figured out what the best game is by now, but that should deserve its own separate post so you'll have to wait until tommorow.


Top Yankee Games of the Decade Part 2

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Here is part two of our top 10 Yankees games of the decade.

5. October 13, 2001 Game 3 ALDS "The Flip": The Yankees found themselves down 0-2 in the best of 5 series going on the road to Oakland. So this was a must win game for them. No team had ever come back 0-2 on the road adding a little more pressure too. The game was a pitcher's duel but the Yankees struck first on Jorge Posada's solo home-run in the fifth for the only run of the game. Leading 1-0 in the 7th Mike Mussina faced Terrence Long with a runner on first and two outs. Long hit a double down the rightfield line. Shane Spencer fielded the ball and overthrew both cutoff men (Soriano and Martinez) on the relay to home plate. Jeremy Giambi was on his way home when out of nowhere Derek Jeter scooped the ball on the first base line. With all his momentum carrying him toward the dugout he quickly flipped the ball banckhanded to Posada, who tagged Giambi (who was not sliding) on the back of the leg for the final out of the inning.

The play saved the game and the Yankees season as they went on to win 1-0 and eventually came back to take the series in 5 games. The flip showed everyone what makes Jeter so great. Most teams don't run a third backup on a relay, but Jeter was standing at the pitchers mound waiting to make the necessary decision. A's third baseman Eric Chavez said, "you probably never see that play made again."

4. November 1, 2009 Game 4 World Series "The Double Steal": I'm sure everyone remembers this game as it is the most recent on the list. The Yankees were up 2-1 heading into the game with CC Sabathia pitching on three days rest. The Yankees got to Joe Blanton early taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. But Sabathia gave up an RBI double to Chase Utley to pull the Phillies back within one run. With the game tied at two in the fifth, Jeter and Johnny Damon had back-to-back RBI singles to put them up 4-2. However, Sabathia's troubles against Utley continued as he hit a monster shot into rightfield tocut the score to 4-3. It was Sabathia's last pitch of the game as he went 6.2 innings giving up 3 runs and striking out 6.

In the bottom of the eighth Joba Chamberlain came out in relief and struck out the first two batters he faced. Joba was one pitch away from striking out the side when Feliz crushed the ball tying the game at 4-4 with a solo home run. The Phillies had all the momentum and called on Brad Lidge for the top of the ninth, who had yet to blow a lead or tie game in the postseason.

Like Joba, Lidge got the first two outs with ease. Then came Johnny Damon. Damon worked a tough at-bat reminiscent of Paul O'Neill's at-bat off Armando Benitez in 2000. On the ninth pitch Damon singled to left bringing up Mark Teixeira. With Teixeira up left-handed the Phillies had a lefty shift bringing third basemen Feliz to the shortstop position. On the first pitch Damon took off to steal second. The throw was low and in front of the bag. As Damon popped up he did something that caused every fan from Philadelphia to New York scream at their television...he started running to third.

Because of the shift nobody was there to cover third base. Lidge could have, but he just stood on the mound and watched. Damon caught Feliz offguard and easily made it to third base. Lidge proceeded to hit Teixeira, setting up A-Rod with a go-ahead two out double to put the Yankees ahead 6-4. The Yankees won 7-4 and the rest is history. If it were not for Damon's at-bat or his heads up, instinctual play of stealing two bases on one pitch, the game could have very well headed into extra innings with the Phillies having the home-field advantage.

To me it was this inning that decided the World Series. Because of the double steal the Yankees won this game. After they won it, it was only a matter of when the Yankees would win their 27th World Series title, not if.

So I expected to write way more than I originally planned, so the next games will appear on another post, probably later tonight.


Top Yankee Games of the Decade (Part 1)

With the hot stove pretty cold right now and the end of the 00's decade coming to the end, we've compiled what we think are the top 10 Yankees games of this decade. Obviously we only chose games they won. Here is part 1 of our segment:

10. October 21, 2000 Game 1 World Series "Subway Series": In the first ever Subway World Series between the Yankees and Mets, the two teams started the series off with a thriller. In a scoreless game in the top of the 6th, Todd Zeile hit a fly ball off the top of the leftfield wall. David Justice threw it into Derek Jeter who fired a perfect strike to Jorge Posada to get Timo Perez out at home plate. Down 3-2 in the 9th Paul O'Neill worked a long at-bat off Armando Benitez into a walk. Luis Polonia would pinch run and score to tie the game at 3-3 on a Chuck Knoblauch sac fly. In the bottom of the 12th, Jose Vizcaino singled to left with the bases loaded giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the series. They would go on to win their third straight World Series in five games.

9. July 1, 2004 "The Dive": Entering the game the Yankees were 7.5 games up on the Red Sox and had spot starter Brad Halsey going up against Pedro Martinez. So it wasn't very meaningful, but it was at the height of the rivalry played at full intensity. The Yankees got out to a quick 3-0 lead. But the Red Sox came back, tying the game in the 7th 3-3. From there is where things got crazy. The Yankees threatened with runners in scoring position in the 9th and 10th innings, but the Red Sox escaped the jams. Mariano Rivera got out of an 11th inning jam with a key double play that got a force out at home.

The following inning with runners on second and third Derek Jeter chased down a Trot Nixon pop up making the catch and his momentum took him flying face first into the stands. His face was bruised and cut up and he was taken out of the game but the cameras continously showed Nomar Garciaparra sitting in the dugout with a "sore wrist" while Jeter was going face first in the stands. In the top of the 13th, Manny Ramirez hit his second home run of the game and it looked life the Yankees effort was going to be all for naught. But then Ruben Sierra singled up the middle with two outs in the 13th and Miguel Cairo followed with a game-tying double. John Flaherty, the last man off the bench, was up and doubled off the right-field wall giving the Yankees a 5-4 victory in one of the most thrilling regular season games you will see.

8. October 11, 2003 Game 3 ALCS "Pedro vs Zim": There was plenty of hype entering this game with Clemens facing Pedro with the series tied 1-1. What happened next nobody could have predicted. In the top of the 4th with the game tied 2-2 Pedro Martinez hit Karim Garcia in the back. Garcia did not appreciate the pitch being so close to his head and had a few words for Pedro. Pedro was then seen yelling at Posada in the dugout each pointing at their heads. Garcia then slid hard into second on the next play. As the Red Sox came up Roger Clemens threw a pitch high over the plate to Manny Ramirez which he thought was too close inside, prompting him to confront Clemens with the bat in his hands. The benches cleared and players had to be separated.

Then off on the side bench coach Don Zimmer was seen barking at Pedro and charging at him. Pedro then sidestepped him, put his hands on Zim's face and threw him to the ground. The mayhem did not stop there. Later in the game Jeff Nelson got into an altercation with a Fenway groundskeeper. When the game was over, the Yankees had won 4-3, but it was what happened in the fourth inning that will be most remembered in the history books.

7. October 9, 2009 Game 2 ALDS "A-Rod's Redemption": Alex Rodriguez's career with the Yankees has been a roller coaster ride. He's admitted using steroids, been criticized for unclutch play in the playoffs, won two MVPs, but only one playoff series in his first 5 years as a Yankee. On this day A-Rod became a Yankee legend. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Yankees fans began to get that feeling of the previous three we go again, win the first game lose the next three. And with the "unclutch" A-Rod at the plate, hope was dim. But on a 3-1 pitch A-Rod sent an "A-Bomb" into the right-center bullpen tying the game at 3-3. Yankees fans everywhere went into pandemonium and you began to get that feeling this is our year.

But the Twins still threatened to win the game. In the top of the 11th, David Robertson faced a bases loaded nobody out jam. He pulled off the Houdini act by getting a lineout, groundout to first, and a flyball without giving up any runs. In the bottom of the 11th, Mark Teixeira earned his pinstripes (and a pie in the face) by hitting a walk-off home run giving them a 2-0 series lead they wouldn't look back on.

6. October 17, 2009 Game 2 ALCS "A-Rod Does It Again": In the following series the Yankees found themselves in a situation similar in the previous round. A wild fifth inning for A.J. Burnett allowed the Angels to tie the game up 2-2. From that point on neither team could get a rally going and they were tied up until the top of the 11th. Alfredo Aceves had given up a RBI single to the hitless Chone Figgins, putting the Angels up 3-2. As it looked like the Yankees were going to head to Anaheim tied 1-1, A-Rod decided he wasn't done with his postseason heroics.

With the rain begin to come down, A-Rod sent an 0-2 pitch from Brian Fuentes just over the rightfield wall, tying the game once again 3-3. It wouldn't be until the 13th inning when Jerry Hairston Jr. led off with a single. He moved to second on a bunt and two batters later Melky Cabrera hit a groundball to second when Maicer Izturis tried to turn two but threw the ball away from Erick Aybar sending Jerry Hairston home to win the game. It was the fifth longest game in ALCS history and was the second game of the postseason where the Yankees won in extra innings.

Check back either tommorow or later in the week for the rest of our countdown.


Still Waiting On A Leftfielder

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brian Cashman did plenty of Christmas shopping this past month, but there is still one thing he still needs: a leftfielder.

Now, the name that has recently surfaced is Reed Johnson. Johnson is a right-handed hitter who can play all three outfield positions, so he is a fit for leftfield. However, he is not a great hitter and would fit as more of a platoon guy with Brett Gardner because of his splits.

Right now, the leftfield situation is about looking for a hitter to fill the 9th spot. Some people think they should give Gradner a shot, but I think you will expose Gardner if you give him a lot of at bats. Also Gardner gives us depth on the bench. I still think Mark DeRosa is the best option but it looks like he could be heading to San Francisco.

Sam Borden looks at Johnny Gomes and Xavier Nady as possibilities.

Honestly, after watching the Yankees World Series DVD I got for Christmas, I miss Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui already. I was content with the Yankees moving on without them, but then I watched that video and I wished they were coming back. I really wish the Yankees would stop pretending they have a budget and just sign Damon. But they want to clear as much money off the budget for next year to give Jeter and Rivera extensions.

I don't know what the Yankees will do for leftfield, but it won't be anything of the likes of Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.


Yanks trade Melky to ATL for Vazquez

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

According to Buster Onley of ESPN, the Yankees have sent Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and $500,000 in cold hard cash to the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

My first reaction: "No, not the Javier Vazquez from the ALCS-that-shall-not-be-mentioned."

My second reaction: This is actually a very good trade for the Yankees. After the Top 3 of CC, AJ, and Andy, there were question marks. Hughes and Joba were in line to fill the last spots in the rotation, and this sures up one of those spots. Now one of those two will head to the bullpen, and my money is on Joba (but more on that later, and likely all off-season). Vazquez comes in after posting a 15-10 record and a 2.87 ERA (keep in mind that was the NL, and the NL West, one of the weaker divisions in MLB). He also was second in the NL with 238 strikeouts.

The Yankees rotation now looks like this:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. AJ Burnett
  3. Andy Pettitte
  4. Javier Vazquez
  5. Hughes (or Chamberlain)
I believe that's the best rotation in the Majors, but I'm obviously biased.

The fact that they pick him for Melky (who despite being a fan favorite, was a career .269/.331 hitter with 36 career homeruns) and a minor league reliever, is a plus. Cashman is being very shrewd this off-season, making some bargain deals and short-term contracts. Vazquez is due $11.5 million this season, so after you take out the $3 million Melky will likely get in arbitration, that adds about $8.5 million to the Yankees payroll.

With Melky gone, and Gardner not exactly everyday left fielder material, the Yanks will likely go after someone to play left. Mark DeRosa is looking for about $6 million and can also play several positions, so he may be a target for the Yankees.

As John and I discussed, the worst part about this trade will be having to watch highlights of Game 7 of You-Know-Which-ALCS for the next 2 days, the first time Vazquez starts for the Yankees, the first time Vazquez starts against the Red Sox, and anytime Vazquez faces Johnny Damon.


Yanks Close To Acquiring Starting Pitcher?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Numerous reports have risen that the Yankees are in "serious talks" in acquiring a starting pitcher. These beat writers don't know who they are in serious talks with or what team if it is a trade. These are two pretty important details to know... but Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Constitution Journal wrote in the comments section of his blog that he received an email from a NY beat writer asking if he heard anything between the two things of "something big" happening.

My guess is it's a trade for Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez's second chance as a Yankee. Lowe wouldn't make sense because he's old, coming off a bad year, and they could have got him last year. Vasquez makes more sense because he's young and a power pitcher, someone who could succeed in Yankee Stadium (even though he didn't in his first stint).

If anyone is gone it's Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner. The Braves have been looking for an outfielder and their has been speculation about trading these two.

This all comes after I speculated about the team's interest in Carlos Zambrano.

We will have a post if a deal becomes final.


Yankees Inquire On Carlos Zambrano

As most of you would assume, the Yankees are still looking for another starting pitcher. Interesting report I saw on mlbtraderumors about the Yankees asking the Cubs the price for Carlos Zambrano. However, according to the NY Post report, the Yankees did not like the asking price. I would imagine the asking price was probably something like Melky/Gardner, Montero, and a pitching prospect. Zambrano has a no-trade claus and is paid a lot of money, and the Cubs are always looking to contend, so I doubt Zambrano is going anywhere.

I think the fact that the Yankees looked into the asking price of someone such as Zambrano is very interesting. The pitchers on the free-agent market are Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Joel Piniero, and Jason Marquis. So there are plenty of starters who can fill the role of a back end of the rotation guy. But why would the Yankees be looking to make a trade? There has been much speculation about trading Gardner and Cabrera and maybe the Yankees are seeing if they can get a big-time pitcher in return. Honestly, I'd like to see them keep Gardner, because he provides speed off the bench and is useful late in games. He was a tool that the Yankees didn't have in the few years before 2009.

All this is speculation, and many expect the Yankees to acquire a pitcher soon. I still think they ,will sign someone off the free-agent market, but it is interesting that they are checking the price on pitchers like Zambrano. Maybe Cashman surprises us with a big trade. But right now, I'm thinking they will sign a free agent.


Why Nick Johnson Over Godzilla?

Friday, December 18, 2009

So it seems like the Nick Johnson deal is all but done. Now, some people are upset about this because Johnson is injury-prone and essentially going to be a full-time DH with Teixeira playing everyday. Many have been quick to criticize the Yankees and Cashman because if they were going to get an injury-prone full-time DH, why not just stick with Matsui? Well, I will tell you.

Matsui's knees are more of a liability than any injuries Johnson has. By signing Johnson he replaces Johnny Damon's spot as the number 2 hitter in the lineup. His OBP was .426 last year. How many players had a better OBP in the majors?

Two. Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols. The two MVPs of each league.

With Jeter leading off and Johnson as the 2 hitter, the Yankees have two guys who know how to get on base which will be able to set up the power guys. Granderson will replace Matsui's spot in the lineup as the number 5 hitter. Granderson likes to pull the ball and hit 30 HR last year so I think the lineup is looking pretty good. Plus Granderson and Johnson are younger and cheaper than Matsui and Damon.

I can understand the frustration of some by refusing to sign Matsui but going after Johnson instead. But overall, I think this move will benefit the Yankees. Granderson and Johnson are not Matsui and Damon, but they are younger and have more upside. I think the Yankees will be just fine, and did a good job replacing two important pieces that brought a championship back to New York.

Looks like we're going to be snowed in this weekend. So I'll have nothing else better to do than surf the Internet for the latest trades and rumors so we'll keep you up to date.

See Ya!


Nick Johnson Coming Back to NY?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today I spent most of the day traveling, but when I came back home to the wonderful state of New Jersey, I saw various reports on mlb trade rumors and ESPN that the Yankees are in "serious discussions" with DH/1B Nick Johnson.

Nick Johnson would be a perfect fit in replacing Hideki Matsui in the DH role. If this does happen, it appears Johnny Damon's days as a Yankee will be no more. Or, there is the possibility that the Yankees are doing this to pressure Damon into coming back. But if you look at Damon's history, he will go to whoever gives him what he wants, and right now him and the Yankees are at a disagreement.


Matsui Reaches Agreement with Angels

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Hot Stove has been on fire all day today. Tyler Kepner of the NY Times reports that Matsui and the Angels agreed to a 1-year deal. Matsui, 35, played in 142 games and hit .272 with 28 homer runs and 90 RBI last season. He was 8 for 13 (.615) with three homers and eight R.B.I. in the World Series, making him the World Series MVP for the Yankees 27th title.

Matsui was never a priority for the Yankees this offseason. Cashman's philosophy of getting younger and healthier doesn't fit well with Matsui, who is 35 and battling knee issues. Getting Johnny Damon back would be more beneficial to the Yankees for his ability to still play the field.

Matsui never lived up to the power numbers he put up in Japan, but because of his postseason success he will be remembered as a hero in the Yankee Universe. The Yankees home-opener is against the Angels next year, so he will be there for the ring ceremony, and will be sure to get a standing ovation.


The Balance of Power shifts in the division...but which one?

Well, obviously there was a lot of news coming out of Major League Baseball today. Enough even to prevent SportsCenter to not mention Monday Night Football in the first 15 minutes of the show, which is almost unfathomable. Let's take a look at the deals:

John Lackey on June 15, 2006Image via Wikipedia

Roy <span class=Halladay" style="border: medium none ; display: block;" width="300" height="377">Image via Wikipedia

First, the deal that most directly affects the Yankees. John Lackey signs a five year contract worth more than the $82.5 million A.J. Burnett got from the Yanks last year. This doesn't really scare me that much. Yes, Lackey is a workhorse who has had success in the playoffs, but besides that what is he? He went 11-8 in 2009 and 12-5 in 2008 while missing time with injury. Boston's rotation, as of right now, is Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz. I think the Yankees rotation matches up favorably to that, but I do have a biased opinion.

Now the big news: the Roy Halladay trade. The three team deal between the Phillies, Blue Jays and Mariners is still pending, and it is still unclear what prospects are headed where but the basics: the Phillies get Halladay, the Mariners get Cliff Lee, and the Blue Jays get prospects from both teams.

Now for the Phillies, they get the guy they've wanted for months now, but they have to give up Lee, who was their ace from this postseason. I literally just got off the phone with a friend of mine who is a Phillies fan who had just heard of the trade. He had only heard that the Phillies got Halladay and I was the one to break the news that they had to give up Lee in the deal. After assuring him that I was not trying to get back at him for the Giants-Eagles game last night by joking around, he was considerably less excited about the trade. Now, Halladay is an upgrade over Lee, but they Phillies would have been a lock for a World Series appearance next season if they had both.

But I think that the attention should be going to the Mariners. They added a front-line starter in an off-season where they already signed Chone Figgins and have been linked to players such as Matt Holliday and Jayson Bay to add to their lineup. They have taken advantage of the Angels losing some big names over the past few years (like Teixeira and Lackey) and have made an aggressive push to make themselves competitive. I think this deal affects the AL West more than the NL East or the AL East.

Well it's finals week, so there may not be too many posts, especially if no big news comes out of Yankee-land because, you know, priorities.


"The Baseball World's Been Turned Upside Down"

Okay, that is what my roommate (who's a red sox fan) just said in reaction to all the deals that happened today. Obviously that is what we call an overreaction. If you havn't heard the Red Sox signed John Lackey to a 5-yeard deal supposedly a little more than what Burnett's deal was.

But what has the rest of the baseball world talking is the deal that sends Roy Halladay to the Phildaelphia Phillies, Cliff Lee to the Mariners, and prospects to the Blue Jays. I'll have more of my opinion and two cents later... but thought these deals were kinda of important so I posted this.


Yanks Non-Tender Wang

Sunday, December 13, 2009

As expected, the Yankees non-tendered Chien-Ming Wang's 2010 contract, making him a free-agent. The Dodgers and Cardinals appear to be interested in signing Wang. Wang had back-to-back 19 win seasons with the Yankees, but in 2008 he suffered a LisFranc sprain to his foot running the bases in an interleague play against the Astros that required surgery.

Wang returned this year but was never the same, he had that awful game against the Indians when he couldn't even get out of the first inning allowing 10+ runs. He was put on the DL but was still never fully able to return to the groundball pitcher he once was.

Wang was one of my favorite Yankee pitchers during the years of 2005-2008 because he was always reliable to pitch well. He had a rough time in the playoffs, but he couldn't match the frontline aces of the other playoff teams. I'd like to see Wang succeed and hopefully he does (unless he finds himself on the Red Sox).

If you're worried about the Yankees pitching depth, Chad Jennings breaks down the Yankees options should they need a spot starter or if someone suffers an injury.


Winter Meetings Report Card

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Winter Meetings officially ended Thursday, so we're a little late, but we'll give you our analysis and grade of how the Yankees faired in this year's Winter Meetings.

First, the Curtis Granderson trade. This was the deal of the Meetings and probably the Yankees offseason. They had to trade away some good prospects (Austin Jackson)but they were still able to acquire a young, excellent player in Granderson. Granderson fills their need in acquiring an outfielder and will play centerfield as Melky will most likely move to left. Granderson can either fill the two-hole in the lineup, or if Damon returns, he can protect A-Rod in the five spot. Overall, great deal for the Yankees.

Second, the Andy Pettitte signing. This was important because Pettitte was such an important part of their World Series run last year and he showed he still has something left. By re-signing Pettitte it takes pressure off the Yanks to go out and look for another veteran arm.

Third, trading Brian Bruney to the Nationals. Bruney was injury-proned and never really lived up to expectations. His role can be filled within the organization and the trade led to the Yankees getting the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft which led to:

Finally, drafting Jamie Hoffman. Hoffman is a right-handed outfielder who made perfefct sense for the Yankees to choose. He can make the team in spring training and contribute immediately by giving them depth and a right-handed bat off the bench.

There were also reports Cashman began negotiating withScott Boras about Johnny Damon, but it doesn't look like much progress has been made.

Despite not much progress with Damon and giving up some good prospects, Cashman definitely exceeded my expectations during this week as it was a very successful week. He addressed the top priorities and did everything the Yankees needed him to do in a short amount of time. The Yankees left the Winter Meetings as one of the biggest winners.

Overall Grade: A+...there really wasn't anything more they could have done.


Yanks, Damon Begin Negotiations

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ESPN is reporting that the Yankees have begun negotiations with Scott Boras to re-sign Johnny Damon. Damon made $13 million last year and was rumored not to take a pay cut. However, the deal for Granderson give the Yankees leverage in this situation. If a deal cannot be reached Mike Cameron and Mark DeRosa are the other expected targets for the Yankees to pursue.

In other news, the Yankees selected Jamie Hoffman from the Dodgers with the first pick (acquired from the Nationals) in the Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft isn't much to get excited about. Nobody really amazing comes out of it other than a few excpetions (Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla). Here's how Chad Jennings of the LoHud Blog describes it:

The Rule 5 Draft is a bit of a crapshoot...It's all about teams going after a specific need. Maybe that’s a left-handed pitcher or a utility infielder or a speed guy off the bench. It’s often high-ceiling, not quite ready talent for a team that doesn’t expect to contend.

Hoffman is a right-handed hitting outfield who hits lefties well. Cashman expects that he has a chance to win a bench spot on the team. If he does make the team you'll be sure to hear what the Rule 5 Draft is everytime he comes to the plate from Michael Kay. For a complete profile of him check out the LoHud Yankees Blog.


Granderson deal official, Pettitte re-signs

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 3-team deal to bring center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Bronx is official. A couple of quotes from the press conference with Brian Cashman and the conference call with Curtis Granderson:

On Granderson:

We're excited about what he brings to the table -- his athleticism, his youth, his power and how it all relates to where we play. His personality, how people gravitate to him -- they're all plusses.
On Austin Jackson and the other players the Yankees gave up in the deal
We're excited about what we're getting, and we're distraught about what we gave up at the same time. It's not like I'm doing handstands. It's a tough decision. You're trading the future for here and now.

On his role on the team
I'm not going to be the standout guy. I'm not going to be the guy that you're constantly worried about. But if you don't keep an eye on me, hopefully, I can go and sneak in and do some positive things for our team.
On playing at Yankee Stadium
I've never been a guy who's gone up there trying to hit home runs.I think it's one of those things that has evolved over my career, and hopefully, the same will hold true at Yankee Stadium -- going up and trying to drive the baseball, and if it gets out, it gets out.
On whether he will wear #28 (or whether manager Joe Girardi will)
It'll be interesting. Of course, [Girardi's] the man. He's the one that makes everything go. He's going to definitely have first dibs on it, and if he chooses to take it, I've played in other numbers before. It's just a number on the back. Whatever you do on the field hopefully will stand out more.
In other news today, Andy Pettitte will return to the Yankees in 2010, as he signed a 1 year, $11.75 million deal that was announced today. After going 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and winning all the clinching games in the postseason, the Yanks rewarded one of their "Core Four" with a raise over his $5 million base salary last season.


Granderson apparently headed to Yanks in 3-way trade

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Multiple outlets, including SI's Jon Heyman and ESPN are now reporting that a deal that was rumored last night has been finalized and center fielder Curtis Granderson will be coming to the Yankees.

Curtis <span class=Granderson" style="border: medium none ; display: block;" width="224" height="240">Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

It is a three-team deal involving the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks. Here's how it breaks down:

Yankees get: Granderson (from Tigers)

Tigers get: Phil Coke and Austin Jackson (both from Yankees) and Max Scherzer (from Diamondbacks)

Diamondbacks get: Edwin Jackson (from Tigers) and Ian Kennedy (from Yankees)

Different reports differ slightly on whether the Diamondbacks give the Tigers pitcher Daniel Schlereth (better known as the son of ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth)

If this trade goes through, it means a couple of different things for the Yankees.

  1. The Yankees now have some leverage in negotiations with Johnny Damon
  2. The Melky/Gardner combination in center field, despite being relatively successful last year, will not continue next season, unless they slide over to platoon in left or...
  3. Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner may now be trade bait.
  4. Say sayonara to Hidkei Matsui.
  5. The Yankees won't be going after Matt Holliday or Jayson Bay (unless they were kidding about cutting payroll).
  6. By trading 3 for 1, the Yankees open up 2 spots on the 40-man roster for other free agent signings.
  7. Granderson will be your everyday centerfielder through at least the 2012 season, and possibly the 2013 season because of an option.
  8. The Yankees pick up a very back-loaded contract: Granderson is due $5.5 mil in 2010, but that increases to $8.25 mil in 2011, and $10 mil in 2012.
We'll update with more as soon as more news becomes available.

UPDATE 3:45: No news as of yet, as they are apparently looking over medical records and physicals and things of that nature. I just had a couple of other thoughts:

  • From the Tigers point of view, they get considerably younger and it makes you wonder if people like Miguel Cabrera and Maglio Ordonez are on there way out the door as well.
  • While I was a little hesitant about giving up Austin Jackson, reading a Tweet from PeteAbe made me reconsider it a little:
    Look at the trade this way, #Yankees fans, the best you could have hoped for Jackson to be was Granderson. So get Granderson.
  • With stats of .249/30/71 Granderson helps to make up some of the offense lost by Matsui and/or Damon leaving. You'd like to see a higher average and a better on-base percentage (.327 in 2009, .344 for career) especially if he bats towards the top of the order.
  • Plugging Granderson in centerfield and possibly move Melky/Gardner to left vastly improves their outfield defense, which at times was horrendous.
  • With Coke headed out, that means Mike Dunn, who the Yankees are very high on, will most likely get the chance to be the 2nd lefty out of the bullpen behind Damaso Marte.

UPDATE 5:00: John here, busy day for me today, but even busier for the Yankees. Just wanted to give my reaction of the trade. I thought the Yankees did a good job here. Despite giving away our best position player prospect, the Yankees sent Kennedy who is coming off a shoulder anuerysm and has shown inconsistencies in his development and Phil Coke (who I deemed the name Choke) for an All-Star centerfielder. So when it comes down to it, the Yankees made the right move.

It took me a while to deal with losing Jackson, but for a team looking to repeat, Granderson is probably the better option. Look what happened when we threw Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy into the spotlight in 2008. They stunk up the joint. It takes a few years for players to develop. If you can give up prospects for a relatively young and inexpensive player who is in the prime of his career and fills a need on the roster then you pull the trigger. The difference between this and Johan Santana a few years ago is the cost of Granderson, which Jim talks about above.

Now, as for Granderson, what I like about him is his defense, power, and his speed. I don't like his splits against lefties which is why I have mixed feelings about him. His average has also declined over the last two season. However, playing in a hitter-freindly park like Yankee Stadium, especially for a lefty, and with a little faith in Kevin Long, things may work out. And as Jim pointed out, Granderson in center Melky in left improves our defense tremendously.

Now we just have a few more questions which we kind of answered but we'll make a post later or tommorow. What does this mean for Damon and Matsui? And where does Granderson fit in the lineup?


Brian Bruney Traded to Nationals

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just read on the LoHud Blog that Joel Sherman is reporting that Brian Bruney has been traded to the Nationals. Bruney will best be remembered as that average bullpen pitcher who smack-talked K-Rod and almost got into a fight with him.

Bruney is a MKS blog favorite as we met and got his autograph (that's me with Bruney below). Being he was on a championship team I guess I can sell it for like, 12 bucks. If only we can find out if this was really his car when we met him:


Pettitte Rejects Offer But Will Play in 2010

So I've heard two things this morning on the first day of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. That Andy Pettitte will return in 2010 and that he rejected a 1-year $10MM offer from the Yankees. SI's Jon Heyman tweets negotiations have begun between Brian Cashman and Pettitte's agent Randy Hendricks. According to Buster Olney and Joel Sherman's reports, it's just a matter of working a deal out, so perhaps the $10 million deal isn't what Pettitte wants. I don't think the Yankees will go higher than $12MM. I can see maybe a 1-year $10MM deal with incentives. Either way, many expect this deal to be done so it looks like Andy Pettitte will be back in pinstripes next year, making it less stressful to find a pitcher to replace him this offseason.


Yankees Attack Bloggers

Friday, December 4, 2009

With not much going on in the baseball world right now, I came across something interesting on the Yankees Universe blog. The Yankees Universe blog is a fan blog just like us and recieved this e-mail which they posted on their blog:

"While the Yankees are very appreciative of their loyal and highly valued fan support,unauthorized use of the Yankees Marks that would be confusing or misleading to the public, orfalsely imply some endorsement or sponsorship by the Yankees, cannot be tolerated. Althoughthe Website purports to be a “blog about Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees,” ithas clearly branded itself throughout with the Yankees Marks, including the Logo. Thus, you arenot using the Yankees Marks in a permissible manner but rather to brand your own onlineservice, and to create or imply a false impression that the Yankees have approved, condoned orsponsored the Website...

Accordingly, demand is hereby made that you immediately cease and desist from usingthe YANKEE UNIVERSE name and the Logo, any other Yankees Mark and any other MLBMark in and as the name of your Website, to promote the Website, to seek advertising any othercommercial opportunities, in and as the Domain Name, and in any other manner that wouldcause consumer confusion, dilution of the MLB Marks, or imply any sponsorship orendorsement of your Website or its contents by any MLB Entity."

Well, that just sucks. So the same thing doesn't happen to us we will be adding to our disclaimer's on the page. I feel bad for the Yankees Universe guys, and it's moments like these when even Yankee fans just shake their heads at the organization. I love the team, but there are some people who run it I disklike. Like the people who set the new prices and thought a bar in centerfield to block views from other fans seats were a good idea.

In baseball news, the Red Sox signed Marco Scutaro. Even though I hate him for hitting that game-winning homer off Rivera I love it as a Yankee fan. This is ten times better than Pedroia moving to short and them acquiring a Brandon Phillips or Orlando Hudson.

Winter Meetings are next week, there will be more updates I promise.

See Ya!


Jeter is SI's Sportsman of the Year

Monday, November 30, 2009

Yankees captain Derek Jeter has another award to add to his resume, as Sports Illustrated named him their 56th Sportsman of the Year. Jeter hit .334 while finishing third in the American League MVP voting after leading the Yankees to their 27th World Series as a franchise and his 5th individually. This year, he also won the Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron Awards, the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove at shortstop. Here's a quote by Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonald:

Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field.
So congratulations to Jeter, and though I'm sure he will try to deflect and focus on the team, he deserves it. The issue hits stands Wednesday.

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Bud Selig Stepping Down As Commish in 2012

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Bud Selig will step down as Commissioner of Major League Baseball after the 2012 season. The 75-year-old commissiner said he plans on staying on the job for three more years, which takes him into the next labor agreement in 2011, which would be his final act as commissioner.

Selig has been commissioner since 1992, and has done a lot to help the game of baseball, such as introducing the Wild Card. I think this was the best thing Selig did because it made the season more competitive and more teams a chance of winning the World Series. Some purists may disagree, but I grew up with the Wild Card so I can't see it any other way.

Interleague play, more revenue sharing, and a disciplined drug testing program are also some of the highlights of his career.

However, Selig reigned as Commissioner during some controversy. He was the man in charge under one of the biggest scandals in MLB history during the Steriod Era. He will always be criticized for not noticing the problem sooner and not doing anything about it until people started asking questions in the late 90's early 00's. He was also the Commissioner when the MLBPA went on strike in 1994, and for the first time since 1904 the World Series was cancelled. Finally, making the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage in the World Series has also came with some controversy.

Overall, there were many ups and downs in Selig's career, and perhaps how the media portrays him the remaining three years will be how we remember him.


Bob Sheppard Officially Retires

Friday, November 27, 2009

As you might have heard yesterday, long-time Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard said that he will not return to announcing the lineups and that he is retired from his job. Sheppard, believed to be 99, told's Bryan Hoch this yesterday. Sheppard has been calling Yankees games for over 50 years, but has not done a game since 2007. Sheppard called his first game in 1951, announcing a lineup that had Yankee greats like Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra in it. Sheppard has his own monument in Monument Park and has been long known as the "Voice of Yankee Stadium," some even called him the"Voice of God."

Fans have still heard Sheppard's voice the last two years, and will continue to do so because Derek Jeter has a recording of Sheppard announcing his name to the plate.

Sheppard was also the PA announcer of the New York Giants, but retired from that position in 2005.


Free Agents 2010: The Outfield

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

With nothing really solid happening on the free agent market yet, we'll take a look at some of the names being associated with the Yankees in regards to offseason plans, and how realistic the chances are they are wearing pinstripes in 2010.

Today we will look at he outfield candidates that could possibly end up in pinstripes next season. This is arguably the area the Yankees need to concentrate most this offseason because of Damon and Matsui (if you consider him OF) are free agents.

Matt Holliday
Age: 29
Status: Free Agent
2009 Salary: $13.5 Million

Matt Holliday is probably the biggest position-player free agent on the market. With Johnny Damon also a free agent the Yankees are looking to fill a void in leftfield and Holliday can provide that. Holliday hit .313 with 29 HRs and 109 RBI last year. He was the leader of the Colorado Rockies team that went on an incredible run in 2007 to win the NL Pennant. However, he started the season with the A's last year and struggled power-wise in the AL. Once traded to St. Louis he re-emerged from his power-outage, making him a National League hitter. However, he is young and in the prime of his career, and is almost in the exact same situation Mark Teixeira was last year.

Like Teixeira Holliday will want a long-term contract and with Scott Boras as his agent that contract will be over the $100 million mark. Cashman has already made it clear he wants to watch spending, so I do not expect Holliday to go to the Yankees. However, the Red Sox are candidates to sign Holliday if they cannot re-sign Jason Bay, and if the Red Sox are in play so are the Yankees. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees lurk in the bushes like they did with Teixeira, or go after another outfielder.

Jason Bay
Age: 31
Status: Free Agent
2009 Salary: $7.8 Million

Jason Bay's name has gone hand-in-hand with Matt Holliday this offseason because they are the two biggest position player commodities ont he free agent market. Bay hit .267 with 26 HRs and 119 RBI last year with the Red Sox. Bay came to the Red Sox in the Manny Ramirez deal, and easily filled that void by quickly becoming a Yankee-killer the way Manny was. Bay's numbers show he had a solid season, but it was also a streaky season as his OPS was below .800 in the months of June and July and his batting average dropped from .301 on May 21 to .251 on July 31.

The Red Sox recently offered Bay a 4-year $60MM deal that Bay rejected. So obviously Bay is looking for something more than $15MM a year, but how far up would the Yankees be willing to go? Bay could be looking for something more like a 4-year $80MM which the Yankees can certainly provide. Bay might cost less money than Holliday, although there has been speculation that he wants a similar contract to Holliday. I do not think Bay will sign with a team until Holliday signs, but looking at the numbers, Holliday is clearly the better player. I wouldn't mind having Jason Bay on the Yankees, he is certainly an upgrade over Damon and other than Holliday there is no other free-agent outfielder who can provide the offensive production that these two can.

Johnny Damon
Age: 36
Status: Free Agent
2009 Salary: $13 Million

Johnny Damon had a career-year hitting .282 a career high 24 HRs and 82 RBI. Damon was a vital part of the Yankees 27th World Championship and his double steal in Game 4 will go down as one of the greatest postseason plays and World Series moments in Yankees history. If not for Matsui's Game 6, Damon may have been the MVP. So, how do the Yankees deal with a player who has been so good for the team the last 5 years, but at the same time is aging and exiting the prime of his career? It all comes down to if Damon is willing to take a pay cut. And as a client of Scott Boras, that is highly unlikely.

Damon has reiterated that he wants to stay in New York while Boras has been saying that they will listen to who has the best offer. They finally got on the same page this week, when Damon tweaked his wording around, saying, "I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans – and we know that the Yankees fill both of those,” Damon said. “I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I’ve been a free agent, I’ve ended up switching teams. It’s the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I’m going to listen.”

Signing Damon back on a short-term deal would be the most cost-efficient way to fill the hole in leftfield. His defense may be shaky, but they were still able to win a championship with him out there everyday. Then again, this is the same guy who said he would never leave Boston, and then went to the Yankees that same winter. I would love to see Damon return to pinstripes, but the Yankees objective is to get younger. I think that Damon is their first choice at who to play left-field next year, but with Boras as his agent and Damon's free agent history, signs indicate he will go the highest bidder.

Curtis Granderson
Age: 28
Status: Under contract with Detroit Tigers until 2012. Owed $25.75MM over next 3 seasons.
2009 Salary: $3.5 million

In order for the Yankees to obtain Granderson, they'd have to give up prospects to get him. Maybe not the pitchers that they'd have to give up for Roy Halladay, but star prospect Austin Jackson would have to be the centerpiece of the deal. Acquiring Granderson could also mean fixing the DH spot, as the Tigers are also looking to get rid of Magglio Ordonez. If they can dump his contract off in a deal with Granderson and the Yankees are the one's who can do it, than they can fill the void in the outfield and DH in one deal. Acquring these two would also be less expensive than re-signing Damon and Matsui.

The downside to Granderson is that many believe he has turned into a platoon player. His numbers against lefties are downright awful. He only hit .183 against lefties last year. Granderson's numbers were .249, 30 HRs, and 71 RBI. Are the Yankees willing to deal Jackson for a guy who isn't any better than a platoon player? I only see the Yankees getting him if they can pull off a deal without giving up their top prospects. I believe if a team takes a chance on Granderson, he can have the type of season Nick Swisher had this year with the Yankees.

Mike Cameron
Age: 36
Status: Free agent
2009 Salary: $10 million

Mike Cameron has been mentioned as a possibility of going to the Yankees for the last few years. Cameron hit .250 with 24 HR and 70 RBI last year and has above-average defense. With him in center Melky in left that gives the Yankees two-above average outfielders defensively. However, Cameron would be a downgrade offensively, despite similar numbers to Damon, his OBP is 20 points lower and he struck out 58 more times than Damon did last season. Cameron would come at a low price, but I think he's more of a last-option.

Hideki Matsui
Age: 35
Status: Free-agent
2009 Salary: $13 million

I decided to include Matsui in this category, despite him now being a full-time DH. Matsui was the World Series MVP and had himself a pretty good year too. He hit .274 with 28 HRs and 90 RBI. I have always liked Matsui and see him as a very professional ballplayer who is all about winning. He has gotten his share of big hits over the years for the Yankees, and if they cannot re-sign Damon, I think the Yankees would be more than happy to re-sign Matsui to return as the DH. The only problem is re-signing Matsui does not answer their problem in left-field, and that needs to be addressed first.

Matsui will probably sign for less money as he is in the decline of his career. It could be possible he can be this year's Bobby Abreu, and sign a 1-year deal for about $5million with incentives.

That conclude's the outfield edition of free-agents. There are still many possibilities we didn't explore, such as the Yankees taking a chance on Austin Jackson, or other free-agent outfielders like Jermaine Dye. But I felt both those were highly unlikely to happen.


A look at Yanks offseason pitching targets

Monday, November 23, 2009

With nothing really solid happening on the free agent market yet, we'll take a look at some of the names being associated with the Yankees in regards to offseason plans, and how realistic the chances are they are wearing pinstripes in 2010.

First, note that with the free agents, the Yankees are currently on the books for a 2010 payroll of $166,334,714. There's a great chart at Cot's Baseball Contracts of the future payroll commitments by the Yankees. That number is considerably ($41 million) less than 2009's payroll, giving the Yankees plenty of money to spend (or not spend, but when has that ever happened?).

We'll split this up over a series of posts, organizing them by position. We'll start with what I believe is the most important, starting pitching:

Starting Pitchers
John Lackey
Age: 31
Status: Free Agent
2009 Salary: $10 million

This first target is very familiar to Yankee fans, as they've seen Lackey as the workhorse for the Angels since he came up as a rookie in 2002. He's started at least 30 games 5 times in his 7 full seasons, but the two season's he didn't were 2008 and 2009. He is not a true ace, but would fill in nicely as the Number 3 man in the Yankees rotation behind CC and AJ. Personally, I also loved and respected the fire he showed on the mound when Angels manager Mike Scioscia went to take him out of the game during the ALCS saying, "This game is mine!"

He is apparently looking for the type of contract the Yankees gave AJ Burnett last year, $82 million over 5 years. Considering I thought the Yankees gave Burnett too much money, I'm not sure they should make the same mistake twice. The Red Sox, however, are also interested, which obviously means the Yankees will be involved, if only to jack up the price for Boston.

Roy Halladay
Status: Under contract with Toronto Blue Jays through 2010 season
2009 Salary: $14.25 million ($15.57 million due in 2010)

The pièce de résistance of this year's trade market, Halladay will be the most talked about name until he is traded, whether it be this offseason, next season, or not at all. Halladay is not expected to resign with Toronto when his contract expires after next season, and the Blue Jays will try to get some value out of him. In a similar situation a few years ago, the Twins got fleeced in the deal that sent Johan Santanna to the Mets, so the Blue Jays won't want to make the same mistake.

Halladay is a bonafide ace and would give the Yankees two number one starters at the top end of their rotation, which would be devastating during the season and in postseason series. He has won almost 70 games over the past 4 years, and has had an ERA under 3.00 for the past two seasons.

The Blue Jays were reluctant to trade to an AL East team during the season, but a new general manager may see things differently. The Yankees would need to part with one of their top four prospects, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson, and Jesus Montero, to get this deal done. The talk is that the Yankees seem more inclined to give up Hughes or Joba in this deal, which makes sense. Halladay would come in and take up one of the rotation spots that would otherwise be filled by the two youngsters. Also, the Yankees would move to lock Halladay up long-term. If the Yankees gave him a 5-year extension, the top three spots in the rotation would be set through the end of Burnett's contract following the 2013 season.

As stated before, the Blue Jays will want the best package for Halladay. If they don't get that from teams, they could just sit back and take the two draft picks they'll get when Halladay signs with another team. Also, the Halladay situation could become a lot like the Sabathia situation during the 2008 season. The Indians didn't trade Sabathia during the offseason, but waited until midseason to do it. The Yankees decided not to pursue CC, and waited until he hit the free agent market and only gave up money for him (which the obviously have plenty of) instead of both money and prospects (of which they don't have many of high quality).

Aroldis Chapman
Age: 21
Status: Free agent
2009 Salary: N/A (Cuban Defector)

The other name you will hear a lot of from starting pitchers is Chapman. The Cuban defector has apparently been clocked at over 100 miles per hour by scouts. He pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, going 0-1 with a bloated 5.68 ERA while striking out 8 in 6.1 innings pitched. Besides those six innings, there really isn't too much to go on besides what he does in front of scouts. There are his stats from his time on the Cuban National team, but can you take them at face value?

As a Yankee fan, I'm a little wary of Chapman just because he is so young, and apparently has some control issues. He recently fired his agent and joined the Hendricks Brothers, Alan and Randy. The Hendricks also represent Andy Pettitte and formerly Roger Clemens, so they have a solid relationship with the Yankees. As always, the Yankees and Red Sox will be battling tooth and nail over a player, but I'm still not convinced I want to win this time. We already had the failed Jose Contreras experiment this decade, and no one is sure if Chapman is even ready for the majors, as there is talk he would start in the minor leagues. The AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees already have one starter with a huge salary (Kei Igawa, another failed investment in a foreign pitcher), I don't think they need two. Are the Yankees ready to invest upwards of $50 million in a big question mark, especially after the recent mistakes (Pavano, Wright, Vazquez, Igawa, Contreras, do I need to go on, because this is painful?)

So those are the big names attached to the Yankees right now. They could go for a cheaper option to just fill a spot in the back end of the rotation, or trust guys like Hughes, Joba, and Ian Kennedy to take one of those spots. There is also the question mark of Chien-Mien Wang. There's the possibility he comes back, which personally I would like to see. He won 19 games two years in a row, that doesn't usually happen on accident. And he would be the third starter, which would make it much easier on him than it was in 2006 and 2007 where he was the number one guy.

When looking at the plan of attack for the Yankees, or any team for that matter, you cannot simply focus on that year's class. The Yankees did this last year with Mark Teixeira. Brian Cashman knew that the 2010 free agent position players were limited to Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, so he made a push for Tex, and it worked.

The inverse situation exists this year in regards to starting pitching. While this year only has three big names, where one of them must be traded for and one comes with more questions than answers, that is untrue of the 2011 offseason. Some of the pitchers that will be free agents after next season include: Josh Beckett, Matt Cain (has a vesting option, so he will likely NOT reach free agency), Jeff Francis, Halladay (if he's not traded and signed long-term), Cliff Lee, Ted Lilly, and Brandon Webb. That's a very impressive class. Plus, with so many good pitchers on the market, simple supply and demand would indicate that the prices may be lower for these players than usual, if you strike early.

Of the three pitchers I named, I don't see any of them as a real fit right now. Lackey isn't worth what he is asking, but will probably get it anyway. Chapman is too risky of an investment for a AAA starting pitcher or even a major league reliever. Halladay would work only if the Yankees were to give up one of the blue chips and not much else. I'd like to see if the Yankees can take the Sabathia approach with Halladay, but if that doesn't work, at least keep him away from the Red Sox. I would say let Joba, Hughes, and/or Kennedy show you what they can do, for real since it seems the inning limit (at least on the first two) are finally out the window, and go hard after the free agent class next year. A (healthy) rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte (assuming he comes back), Joba, and Hughes, with the Yankees' lineup, will probably be good for a division title and a good chance at #28.



Finale of Baseball Tonight Discussion

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last week, the Sport Management Club at Syracuse University hosted two of ESPN's Senior Baseball writers, Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark, for a discussion on Major League Baseball. This is the fourth and final part of the discussion.

If you haven't read the other posts on this here are the links: Part I. Part II. Part III.

Q: The National Baseball Hall of Fame is very concerned about whether they have lost a generation of fans because of things like late-night games. What do you think?

TK: I am concerned that we have lost fans. I know my own children didn’t see a World Series game from beginning to end until last year. After the Yankees clinched last week, I looked at my watch and it was 1 o’clock in the morning. But how many people were up? I know all of you college kids were, because you never sleep anyway. But TV runs the show. The games did start earlier this year. They went from 8:20 to 7:57, a whopping 23 minutes. But I remember when I was in 6th grade, my teacher essentially canceled class so we could watch the Cardinals play the Red Sox in the World Series. And to a 6th grader who loved baseball that was absolutely amazing.

JS: I think it was revealing that Selig has been talking about it and talking about it. He said he was going to try and get an afternoon game in the World Series on the Saturday, and then nothing happened. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Q: What do you think about Pete Rose getting into the Hall of Fame?

TK: Personally, I would vote for him if he came up on our ballot. As it seems that his transgressions occurred as a manager and not a player, I would vote him in as a player. Plenty of people disagree with me, including Frank Robinson. When I wrote that I would vote for him if he came on the ballot, Robinson yelled at me for about five minutes. He said that if Rose is ever inducted, he will never go back to the Hall for any reason. One old-time scout once told me, “if Rose killed man, it would be less of a violation than him betting on the game.” He told me I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t around back in the days after the Black Sox scandal where we almost lost the game forever. I don’t think it is going to happen as long as Selig is the commissioner and especially if the Veterans Committee (living Hall of Famers) has anything to say about it.

JS: Now that it’s been 15 years since he played, it’s not up to the writers, it’s up to the Veterans Committee. And the Veterans Committee answer is, “Hell no.” They will not go for it under any circumstances. There was a lot of talk around the time of the All-Century team announcement with Rose meeting with Selig. Rose turned down a compromise offered to him that he could be partially reinstated in that he would appear on the ballot but he would never allow to be part of a team again; coach, manager, front office executive. Rose turned it down because he wanted it all, he wanted full reinstatement. If he had taken that deal, he would have appeared on our ballot, and I believe he would have gotten in. But now that it’s up to the Veterans Committee, it won’t happen.

Q: What is your opinion on the exclusivity of the Hall of Fame?

TK: I believe that if you are a Hall of Famer, you are always a Hall of Famer. There are some guys who simply do not vote for people in the first year because they say, “Joe DiMaggio didn’t get in the first year, so I’m not voting for this player his first year!” That is absolutely ridiculous because the system was completely different back then. But it’s not like the players are playing between their first and sixth year on the ballot that is going to change my mind, unless I go back and find some statistic that changes my mind. I usually vote for somewhere between 5-9 players, and this year I may vote for 10 because I think there are 10 Hall of Famers on the ballot.

JS: By the time Jim Rice was inducted, he hadn’t gotten a hit in 20 years. The fact that he went from 59% in year 10 on the ballot, to being over 75% at year 15, I’m like, “What changed?” And I don’t see why we need to do this for 15 years? It makes no sense. If he is a Hall of Famer, why is he a Hall of Famer one year, but not another? We could do this in 5 or 10 years at the most, because there’s guys like Rice and Bert Blylevan who have to go through this year after year.

Q: What was the favorite moment or story you covered in baseball?

TK: Mine was the day that Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the consecutive games played record. It was more than just the record; it was a story of family and commitment. I got to know him while working for the Baltimore Sun and outsiders just didn’t understand what the big deal was. There was a writer from Toronto who came in just to cover the record breaking and he came up to me and asked, “What’s the big deal with this.” I told him to come back after the 5th inning. So the top of the 5th ends and the game is official, he’s broken the record. The drop the “1” down on 2,131 and the place goes crazy. And then, after being shoved out there by his teammates, Cal goes on this victory lap around the stadium. He was shaking hands and pointing at people in the stands. He was pointing at those fans that were there all the time. He knew a lot of their names, and if he didn’t know their names, he sure recognized their faces. They suspended the game for 22 minutes as Cal went around the stadium. It was a story about a homegrown kid who broke the record that would never be broken. The Toronto writer came over in the bottom of the 5th, and he had been moved to tears,

JS: Well, one of mine is that day, as well, but for a different reason. I was one of those outsiders coming in and trying to figure out what the big deal was. But this was in 1995, right after the strike had ended, and I saw this magnificent scene and it showed how the game could recover. A few months later, two Phillies, Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn were inducted into the Hall of Fame together and I went to cover it. It was the largest crowd the Hall had ever had at an induction ceremony. There were fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren all there. It showed that, despite all that had gone on the year before, people still loved baseball.

Well that concludes all the write-ups on Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark's visit to Syracuse University. John's in the Bahamas for the next couple of days, where it is about 50 degrees warmer than it is here in Syracuse. So I'll be updating with news on Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols winning the MVP's in their respective leagues once that news is made official. With this being Thanksgiving week, I'll be sure to mention some rumors and news from the Hot Stove, as well as some opinions on potential targets.



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