Tag:Yankees
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:44 pm
 

The Winter Standings, from 1 through 30

The Angels and Marlins spent plenty, the Astros stood pat, and the Mets did worse than that. Here they, one through 30, from most improved team to least improved.

1. Angels. Anytime you add Albert Pujols when you don't really need a first baseman, that's quite a luxury buy. Maybe 10 years are too many, but he'll obviously make a major impact in the first years of that deal. C.J. Wilson gives them as good a first four as just about anyone. Plus, he comes directly from the main competitor.

2. Marlins. Jose Reyes is a monster get, when healthy, Mark Buehrle fits as the perfect veteran lefthander to pitch behind Josh Johnson and Heath Bell is a very good closer. Ozzie Guillen spices things up. Much more interesting team as they move to their new park.

3. Diamondbacks. Loved that they didn't rest on their laurels. Trevor Cahill bolsters their rotation and Jason Kubel their lineup. Also tried hard for Hiroki Kuroda, offering him $13 million, $3 million more than he got from the Yankees. Terrific effort by a team in an area hit hard by the economic downturn.

4. Nationals. I don't love Gio Gonzalez's 1.48 lifetime road WHIP, but he's a talented, young lefthanded starter who's exactly what they needed. Of course, they still could use a center fielder.

5. Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is the solid starter they needed, and Michael Pineda has a chance to be better than that, especially if he masters his changeup. Jesus Montero will be a mega star but they needed the pitching, so it was a worthwhile gamble. A.J. Burnett is addition by subtraction.

6. Rockies. Michael Cuddyer is a huge get, even if he did cost $31.5 million over three years. Jeremy Guthrie steps in as the Opening Day starter and Tyler Chatwood has a chance, though rotation questions still remain. Casey Blake might not have a lot left at third base, but super prospect Nolan Arenado looks to be close.

7. Rangers. Yu Darvish is going to be better than Wilson. They flirted with Prince Fielder, but came up a few years short. Had they pulled that one off, too, they would have easily topped this list. A lefthander in the pen wouldn't have hurt, either.

8. Rays. Carlos Pena will bring a lot more punch than Casey Kotchman, and if healthy, Luke Scott brings more still. Somehow, they find a way.

9. Blue Jays. Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver represent a nice bullpen upgrade over Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Never made the huge deal folks were expecting, though.

10. Reds. They gave up a lot for Matt Latos, a talented pitcher who'll have to adjust going from pitching-firendly PETCO Park to Great American Ballpark. The pen is better with Ryan Madson in as the closer and strong lefty Sean Marshall over from Chicago. Looks like a contender.

11. Tigers. Owner Mike Ilitch gets props for the $214-million, nine-year band-aid he bought in Fielder after Victor Martinez's brutal knee injury.

12. Phillies. They imported Jonathan Papelbon, who has a longer track record, to replace Ryan Madson. Jim Thome fills the resident nice guy role left vacated by Brad Lidge's departure (and Juan Pierre won't hurt in that dept. either, assuming he makes the team). They have more versatility with Ty Wigginton adding to their bench strength.

13. Pirates. The new killer B's are here -- Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and A.J. Burnett. The Bucs certainly should be better.

14. Mariners. Hong-Chih Kuo, Shawn Camp and Hisashi Iwakuma have a chance to help. But their offseason will turn on whether Montero becomes a bigger star than Pineda. The guess here is, he does.

15. Padres. They maximized the Latos trade. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal could become stars, and Brad Boxberger may be the closer of the future. Huston Street ably replaces Bell. And Carlos Quentin may thrive back in his hometown.

16. Cubs. David DeJesus is a solid outfielder, and Paul Maholm will help. But their winter will turn on whether slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo is the player they think he is. The real loss for them was the new rule limiting bonus pools for drafted players.

17. Royals. Jonathan Sanchez is just the type of high-ceiling pitcher who fits, Bruce Chen was needed back and Jonathan Broxton is worth a flyer.

18. Dodgers. They managed to cut to below $90 million as cash-strapped Frank McCourt sells the team, but they pieced it together pretty well. Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are solid starters but most of the other imports are extras. They also made an exciting secret grab at Fielder but were outbid by the Tigers. Their best move, though, was signing Matt Kemp for eight years at $160 million,

19. Indians. Given the restrictions of the budget, not terrible. Casey Kotchman looks to be on the upswing, and Derek Lowe is a veteran presence needed especially now that Fausto Carmona is better known as Limbo Carmona.

20. Giants. Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are late bloomers, and they might do as well as the combo of Caros Beltran, Andres Torres and Cody Ross. The comeback of Buster Posey is probably the biggest key. Also like the smaller pickups of Clay Hensley and Ryan Theriot.

21. Cardinals. It's hard to lose Pujols (not to mention Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan) and not feel it. But somehow, the Cardinals seem to find a way. Beltran replaces some of Pujols' lost offense, if not his presence. Adam Wainwright's return is the biggest addition, though.

22. Orioles. Nobody did more different things, but it's tough to evaluate or guess what Wei-Yin Chen or Tsuyoshi Wada will become. Wilson Betemit was an odd signing in that no one saw a two-year deal coming.

23. White Sox. Love the Robin Ventura move (though I suspect they should have made him take a more-experienced staff). The team will be a lot younger, too, with all the kids acquired for Santos and Quentin. Buehrle is tough to replace, though.

24. Braves. Their big deal was for utlityman Jack Wilson, which says a lot. Never found the right deal for Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.

25. Twins. Josh Willingham has a lot of pressure on him to make up for the loss of Cuddyer and Kubel. Joe Nathan preferred to go to a contender. Not sure how much Jason Marquis has left.

26. Red Sox. I like the way they recovered from the loss of Papelbon by adding Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey. Cody Ross and Nick Punto are nice complementary pieces. But I think they'll miss Jason Varitek more than think. And they still don't have a No. 4 or 5 starter or starting shortstop after trading Marco Scutaro in exchange for "flexibility.'' Bobby Valentine was a great call for manager, and he does his best work when there are issues, so maybe he pulls it all together.

27. A's. They did a nice job collecting prospects (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole could be stars) but will be hard-pressed to avoid 90 defeats this year after trading Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. Big Talent Yoenis Cespedes and Mannyball spice things up. Interesting offseason.

28. Brewers. Tough to make up for the loss of Fielder. Aramis Ramirez is a nice middle-of-the-order bat, Alex Gonzalez is an upgrade at shortstop and Nori Aoki may work. Also lost some bullpen depth with Takashi Saito and Hawkins gone.

29. Astros. They took a flyer on the oft-injured Fernando Martinez but after failing to unload Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee or Brett Myers, they basically return the same team. Which is not necessarily good news when you lost 106 games.

30. Mets. They lost the heart of the team (though an of-injured one), and Andres Torres wouldn't be my first choice to replace the dynamic Reyes. Actually, Pagan would have been better. But that's nitpicky. Let's face it, no one that cuts an unprecedented $50 million can do well.
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:10 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Ibanez and Chavez on deck for Yankees


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.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Damon doesn't get why his phone is silent

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."

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 14, 2012 4:12 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 4:17 pm
 

Indians call, but best hope for AJ is Pittsburgh


The Yankees and Pirates continue to talk about a deal involving A.J. Burnett, and there seems to be continuing optimism a deal could get done between those teams by the end of the week. The best guess is that the Pirates will wind up paying about $13 million of the $33 million owed Burnett while surrendering one or two non-roster minor-league players. The Pirates seem more willing to bend on the money than the quality of the minor leaguers, and that is a testament to them.

The Indians, Angels and a fourth team are also believed to have checked in on Burnett, but the focus remains on a potential Pirates deal. There was some brief discussion of a Burnett-for-Travis Hafner swap, but there's no evidence the Indians would be willing to do that, as they are reluctant to hurt their offense. The Angels are on Burnett's no-trade list, and he has said he would not waive his no-trade to go there. The Burnetts live in Baltimore and want to stay in the East, which is why he put the West Coast teams on his no-trade list in the first place.

The Pirates at some point offered to to pay at least $10 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett, and once they compromise a bit more on the cash, the sense is there's every reason to believe a deal could happen within the next several days.




Category: MLB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 7:35 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 12:33 pm
 

Yanks, Pirates talking Burnett trade


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
 

Yankees eye Ibanez; Damon the better choice


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 13, 2012 8:41 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:49 am
 

Yanks upgrade rotation twice, seek hitter (Pena?)


The Yankees revamped their rotation by acquiring Michael Pineda in a big trade of fine young talents for Jesus Montero and seemingly seconds later coming to terms with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal for about $10 million. And they don't appear to be done yet.

The Yankees turned a weakness into a strength with those two big moves but now are in need of a hitter. With Montero going to Seattle, and they are calling around for offense. One player now on their radar is the power hitter Carlos Pena, but there may be others, as well.

The Mariners needed to upgrade their offense and they did that by getting Montero, in a trade first reported by CBSSports.com. Seattle nearly traded for Montero in the summer of 2010 in a Cliff Lee deal before eventually opting to acquire Justin Smoak instead. In this trade, the Mariners also received righthanded pitcher Hector Noesi, while sending righty Jose Campos to New York with Pineda.

Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:54 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:51 am
 

Hal Steinbrenner meets about E-Jax in Phoenix


Edwin Jackson's agent Scott Boras spent Wednesday in Phoenix, site of the baseball owners meeting, and met with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to discuss a potential deal for the free agent righthander.

Yankees people seem to like Jackson but want to keep deals short because one of their greatest goals is to somehow get their payroll below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million by 2014. That isn't going to be easy for a team that's had a payroll in the $200-million range for years and is committed to $125 million for 10 players in '14, but the reward is that their tax would go from 50 percent on dollars above the cap to a much more manageable 17 percent.

The Yankees are also in contact with Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt, two more free agents, but they seem concerned about Kuroda's appetite to pitch in New York and Oswalt's soundness following an injury-plagued year. Jackson has the advantages of youth (he's 28) and durability on his side. While Jackson is 47-41 over the past four years, the Yankees may envision an improvement pitching for them. Jackson is a hard thrower who's had success pitching against the other A.L. East teams (he's 7-1 with a 3.10 ERA vs. the other four AL East teams over the past three years).

Jackson has drawn interest elsewhere (the Orioles and Blue Jays are others thought to have interest) but seems to have a particular interest in playing for the Yankees.


 
 
 
 
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