Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:10 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 4:18 pm
The Yankees are expected to try to sign both Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez once A.J. Burnett passes his physical and commissioner Bud Selig approves the Burnett deal to the Pirates.
There have been a couple suggestions that the Yankees might not be able to afford both accomplished players for their bench, but the belief is that they are still likely to reel in both, for about $1 million apiece as a base salary. Ibanez is the team's top lefthanded DH choice, and Chavez, who did a nice job in New York last year, fills the bill as a nice complemenet for aging star Alex Rodriguez, who will likely need more time off than in the past.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is said to have had a nice chat with Johnny Damon recently, but the Yankees prefer Ibanez for what they believe is slightly better defense and a little more punch against righthanded pitching. The Mariners are a team that is believed to have had a bit of interest in both Ibanez and Damon, and the Orioles are seen as another possible Damon option.
Burnett is expected to pass his Pirates physical by Monday, and Selig will have to approve the deal because the Yankees will be sending the Pirates $18 million to complete the trade with Pittsburgh.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Johnny Damon doesn't get it, doesn't get why he's not getting offers after the year he had. Damon didn't get why he didn't receive an offer from the incumbent Rays after he was a leader for them in the clubhouse and on the field, and now he doesn't get why he seemingly is running second as a candidate to be the Yankees' left-handed DH.
"I think it's a perfect fit,'' Damon said of the Yankees by phone. "But for some reason you have the year I had, especially with a team that has trouble scoring, and you can't even get a call to continue playing."
It is hard to blame Damon for feeling left out. The whole thing does seem very odd, indeed.
Damon said he never got an offer from the Rays even though he had a very nice year, hitting 16 home runs with 73 RBIs with 19 stolen bases and a .261 batting average while playing home games in the ballpark that was the best pitchers' park American League last year. He also put together an improbable streak of five consecutive games with game-winning hits and became a leader with the young team that had a magical finish. Now he is concerned that the Yankees are leaning toward someone else (namely Raul Ibanez), and indeed the team's baseball people do seem to be favoring Ibanez for the DH role even though it seems no final decision will be made until the Yankees complete the long-discussed deal with Pittsburgh to send A.J. Burnett out of town and save themselves about $13 million of the $33 million owed Burnett.
Meanwhile, different reasons have been heard why the Yankees favor Ibanez, one sillier than the next.
One reason heard is that Ibanez hit better against right-handed pitchers last year, and if you count .256 as better than .255, then yes, that is the case. But it seems like that would be far from a driving force in a decision.
Another is that Ibanez is a better defender at this stage, and while he might well be, Damon is faster and the reality is that they are probably pretty close to comparable at this point. Damon didn't play much defense last year when the Rays had better defensive alternatives such as Brandon Jennings, B.J. Upton and Sam Fuld. "When you have Jennings and Upton, of course I'm going to DH," Damon said. "When I played out there, I held my own."
But even if Ibanez is slightly better with the glove now, having played it regularly in Philly, defense seems like a funny way to pick a DH.
Yet another reason heard recently is that Damon's .326 on-base percentage last year is a sign he's thinking too much about 3,000 hits and not getting on like before. This is the winner for sheer ridiculousness of course, as Ibanez's 2011 on-base percentage of .289 (with 33 walks all year) would be the statistic of concern, not Damon's .326. Speaking of 3,000 and the suggestion he's too focused on it, Damon said, "It makes for good talk. ... Everyone wants to get to the mark. But I never started playing the game for that. I never had any intention of getting to 3,000 hits -- it's never been a driving force for me. I always had the intention of being a good teammate."
Damon is more than a fine teammate, he's been a key man on two World Series winners, the historic 2004 Boston Red Sox and the 2009 Yankees. Damon is a winner, always has been. Ibanez is by all accounts a very nice fellow, but Damon is a big clubhouse presence who always has been the one to stand up and answer the tough questions when things aren't going well.
Damon, who at 38 is also a year younger than Ibanez, may not be the defender he once was, but the job is for a DH, and Damon has all the experience at that. Damon also has a superb history in the American League East, having thrived for all three of the big teams in that division.
Damon and the Yankees had a very public breakup a couple winters ago when he was expected to wind up back in pinstripes. The sides never got together when a deal had once seemed like a foregone conclusion. But Yankees people say there are no lingering bad feelings.
It can't be about the money, either, because Damon hasn't gotten an offer. He said he didn't get one from Tampa, which gave Luke Scott a $5 million deal off an injury year, and he hasn't gotten one from the Yankees yet. So Tampa took Scott off a year of injuries, and Damon sees that Ibanez may get the job he wants after Ibanez's season of outs.
Damon is in Hawaii enjoying a planned vacation. But he has one eye on the phone.
"Hopefully it rings soon," he said, "and whether it rings in a few minutes or a few weeks, I'll be ready with the bat."
Posted on: February 10, 2012 7:35 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 12:33 pm
The Yankees and Pirates are continuing to talk about a possible A.J. Burnett trade that could lead to more activity in the form of a couple free-agent signings by the Yankees. As of Thursday night, the teams were thought to be a few million apart in the Burnett negotiations, but they were still talking and there is some hope for a deal.
The Yankees, in a twist, want to clear some money to sign their preferred positional candidates. They are considering Raul Ibanez and Johnny Damon as possible DH candidates and Eric Chavez as a reserve. They appear to be leaning toward Ibanez for the DH role, though Damon and Hideki Matsui, two former Yankees stars, also have been under consideration. In another twist, some say it's because they perceive Ibanez as the more adept outfielder than Damon at this point (the lefty DH could be employed in the outfield in rare circumstances). The Yankees loved the way Chavez fit into the clubhouse last year and wouldn't mind using Alex Rodriguez as a DH on occasion.
The Pirates tried for Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt and seek a proven veteran starter such as Burnett, but so far have not acceded to the Yankees' monetary request. The Yankees have offered to pay a substantial portion of the $33 million remaining on Burnett's deal over the final two years--though, not quite enough money in the Pirates' estimation. The Pirates also have rejected a Yankees request for Garrett Jones in trade talks. Word is, the Yankees at least initially asked the Pirates to pay well more than one-third of the $33 million, something closer to a 50-50 split of the financial obligation to Burnett. The Pirates are believed to ha ve countered by offering to pay less than $10 million of the $33 million to go.
The Yankees have seven viable starting pitching candidates and have been looking for a trade partner for Burnett, who generally has been a disappointment in New York. No other teams have surfaced publicly as potential suitors for Burnett as of yet. He has a limited no-trade clause which curtails the number of places he can be traded.
Posted on: February 7, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 6:21 pm
The Yankees have a little spending money to add a position player or two, and at least at the moment seem to be focused on Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez.
Chavez is a terrific choice. He performed well when healthy his first year in the Bronx, fit perfectly into the clubhouse and plays third base, which is needed now that Alex Rodriguez appears to be moving rapidly into middle age.
But Ibanez? Nothing against Ibanez personally, but he is at best the third best choice on the board to fill the DH spot. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, two more proven New York players, are still available and better options than Ibanez, who had a .289 on-base percentage last year. While Ibanez hit 20 home runs last year, he has the added issue of never having been a regular DH. Which is what they need.
A bunch of nice stories have been written on Ibanez, all pointing out what a nice fellow he is, and that is true. But Damon and Matsui already played for the Yankees, and both of those players thrived in New York, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Damon is a leader who was willing to do the tough interviews when many hide, and Matsui was beloved by everyone.
Even if it is stipulated that Ibanez is a sweetheart (and by all accounts he is), more to the point, Damon put together a much better year than Ibanez in 2011. Damon posted a .743 OPS, better than Ibanez''s .707 or Matsui's .696 (Matsui has the excuse of playing in Oakland last year but Ibanez was in hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park). Ibanez bring a bit more power (he had 20 home runs to Damon's 16), but Damon also has the added dimension of speed (19 steals last year), and at 38 he's a year younger than Ibanez, who'll turn 40 this summer.
The Yankees did a salary dance two years ago with Damon, who wound up going to the Tigers that year before moving to the Rays last year. And it's also very probable he has better other options than Ibanez and more leverage, as he's been connected to the Mariners, A's and Orioless, so he may cost a few dollars more. Ibanez has only been connected to the Tigers, who have no need for him since signing Prince Fielder, plus the Mets, who are trying to start a fire with their two nickels.
Regardless, with all the players having an interest in coming to New York to play for a contender, the Yankees are in excellent position here to get who they want at a reasonable price. They could get Damon on a good deal. No reason for baseball's richest team to try to save a few pennies and sign the sweet fellow who made outs at an alarming rate last year.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 12:34 am
It's less than three weeks until spring camps open, and an unusual number of very viable -- and in some cases, even accomplished -- players remain free agents. Here are 20 still available on the market who could still help someone:
1. Roy Oswalt, SP. His apparent geographic requirements have dragged this to the edge of February. Looks like it's down to the Cardinals and Rangers after he rejected the Tigers and so far resisted the Red Sox. Terrific career, but hinted at retirement during a season in which he had career high 1.34 WHIP.
2. Edwin Jackson, SP. He reportedly has two three-year offers, and the Red Sox, who are in on many players, are there with a bid, as well. Has remarkable record of durability for a young (still only 28) pitcher, but one bad early year in Tampa skews his career stats. A clubhouse plus who always answers the bell, but hurt himself with an uneven postseason. One of three active pitchers 28 or younger with less than a 4.50 ERA, at least 199 innings and more than 140 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons. The other three are Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez.
3. Johnny Damon, DH-OF. Didn't appear to be slowing down last year when he hit 16 home runs and stole 19 bases, but perhaps he's caught in a difficult DH market. Yankees, Tigers, Orioles and Mariners make sense, but the A's would be the most interesting spot after his negative Moneyball mention.
4. Casey Kotchman, 1B. Hit .306 last year after a vision correction. Indians and Orioles have been mentioned.
5. Mike Gonzalez, RP. Strikeout artist has 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings over career and 1.24 career WHIP. Lefty could help several teams, including Rangers and Yankees.
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6. Todd Coffey, RP. Durable reliever, and he isn't just the guy with the funny sprint from the pen. A rare reliever who pitched in more than 200 innings over the last three years (with a respectable WHIP of 1.26). A's and Cubs among those with interest.
7. Hideki Matsui, DH-OF. His .252 batting average from a year ago hurts him, but Oakland is a death trap for hitters. Wouldn't bet against this guy.
8. Eric Chavez, INF. Former star had his most at-bats since 2007. Still only 34, and is a terrific guy. Yankees, Nats, Padres and Rays have shown interest.
9. Juan Cruz, RP. Dependable seventh-inning man. Has more than a strikeout an inning over his career.
10. Rick Ankiel, OF. Added something to his repertoire with 10 stolen bases last year. Fascinating career. Also, the best outfield arm in baseball.
11. Micah Owings, SP-RP. Another guy with two-way talent, and some teams have wondered about utilizing him as more than a pitcher. Has .507 career slugging percentage. Also, made nice comeback to go 8-0 for Arizona in 2011.
12. Mark Teahen, INF-OF. Versatile player underperformed last year but is a .264 career hitter.
13. Chad Durbin, RP. Yet another durable, useful reliever still out there.
14. Aaron Miles, INF. He's a .281 career hitter who's outperformed expectations everywhere except with the Cubs.
15. Kosuke Fukudome, OF. Speaking of being a disappointing Cub, Fukudome wasn't looked upon kindly as an overpaid North Sider. But as an outfield extra who plays defense and gets on base (.361 career OBP), he'd be a solid pickup.
16. Magglio Ordonez, OF-DH. Sure, he's had ankle problems the past couple years. But the man can still hit. Batted .294 after the break last year.
17. Edgar Renteria, INF. Twice a World Series hero, he's obviously hoping to outlast longtime nemesis Orlando Cabrera. Giants, Red Sox and Rays are among teams that have shown interest.
18. Raul Ibanez, OF_DH. He hit 20 home runs in a down year. That .289 on-base percentage may be scaring a few teams. Yankees and Mets both would fit. Good guy in the clubhouse.
19, Jason Isringhausen, RP. Should have something left after his surprise comeback season in which he allowed only 36 hits in 46 2/3 innings.
20. Livan Hernandez, SP. Yes, I know, he throws slow. And it's possible he isn't exactly 36 (as listed). But he's won at least eight games 16 straight years, and did have 16 quality starts last year.
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