For the Yankees, the last log on the hot stove has turned to ash. The team appears completely set as players begin reporting to the Tampa camp. We’ve reflected on the 2009 season, reflected on the moves the Yankees made in an attempt to repeat, and even reflected on the moves they didn’t make. There doesn’t seem much left to do before spring training begins.
Still, we can find some tidbits about the off-season to fill the gap. For instance, when Brian Cashman spoke at the University of New Haven last Thursday he /www.nhregister.com'revealed something about his pursuit of Curtis Granderson. The conversations that led to the Yankees acquiring the All-Star center fielder actually began before they won the World Series — began, in fact, just before the first pitch of Game 1. It might sound like odd timing to you and me, but not to Brian Cashman.
“I said, ‘Dave, we set our roster, so there’s nothing left for me to do now except for turning the page and talk about next year.’ That’s when he first mentioned Curtis Granderson might become available.”
At that point, 28 general managers had nothing to worry about except rebuilding their teams for 2010. It’s nice to hear that Cashman started working on the 2010 Yankees once his obligations to the 2009 team ceased. In that type of competitive landscape, he can’t really afford to fall behind.
After the jump, as to hide it from everyone who’s sick of the story, a bit about Damon.
Here’s Cashman on the endgame with Damon. He’s talking about the one-year, $6 million contract the Yankees floated in January.
“I told (Damon and Boras), ‘I don’t know if Hal (Steinbrenner, the team’s part owner) would approve it, but I’m not going to fight for it unless we know you will do it,” Cashman said. “Scott Boras said, “Bobby Abreu’s (new) contract is $9 million a year right now on the table so why would we do that? So I expect to see a Bobby Abreu contract.’ … I hope he does not sign for something less than our offer. That means he should have been a Yankee and that’s not our fault.”
For much of the last three years, we’ve heard more than we ever wished to about the Joba Rules. First, these rules dictated how often Joba could pitch out of the bullpen. Then, they dictated how many innings he would pitch in preparation for becoming a starter. Then, they dictated how many innings he could pitch in a single season as a starter. Then, they dictated how many pitches he could throw in one outing as the Yanks tried to keep him under his innings count. It was quite the process.
In 2010, Joba will no longer have rules. He’s passed all the tests, some with better results than others, and the Yanks are prepared to let him go this year. He’ll throw as many innings as the Yankees need him to. However, one of the Yanks’ other young guns — Phil Hughes — won’t be as lucky. As the Joba Rules exit stage left, the Hughes Rules enter stage right.
In an interview on WFAN '/outbound/article/www.wfan.com'available here, Yanks’ pitching coach Dave Eiland spoke about the Hughes Rules, and Steve S. at The Yankee U offers up a /www.theyankeeu.com'transcription of the interview. First, Eiland noted that Joba’s lack of innings limit does not give him a leg up in the fifth starter race this spring, and then, he addressed the Hughes question.
“You’ve got to remember,” Eiland said, “Joba had restrictions because he never had a full season in professional baseball as a starter. Phil Hughes has had several minor league seasons as a starter. So there’s going to be restrictions, but they’re not going to be as strenuous as Joba. And I’ll just leave it at that, right there. There’s restrictions, and we’re on the side of caution with all our guys.”
As Steve notes at TYU, Hughes’ career innings high came in 2006 when, as a 20-year-old, he threw 146 innings, all at the minor league level. I doubt the Yanks will let Hughes exceed that total by 30 innings, the generally accepted increase for a young starter, because he hasn’t reached that level in three full seasons. However, the Yanks would probably allow Hughes 150 innings. It’s tough to see him reaching that as a sixth starter/bullpen guy, but he’ll have to outpitch Joba in Spring Training to earn that rotation spot.
In the end, the Yankees have a problem many teams would love to have. They have too many good young pitchers and not enough rotation spots. Somehow, I imagine, this will all work out in the end but not after we hear about the Hughes Rules over and over again.
Posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at 12:48 pm in Pitching.
From Rose to Valentinetti, a lineup that is fit for Feb. 14
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
02/14/10 12:00 AM EST
It's Valentine's Day, and since there are still at least 72 hours before we hear about pitchers and catchers reporting to some Spring Training camps in Florida, it's time to think about your valentine ... and our national pastime, of course.
Yes, we heart baseball, no matter what the holiday, so take your honey out to the yard, play catch, enjoy the day and get ready for the upcoming season.
In the meantime, here's an MLB.com all-time All-Valentine's Day Team:
Pete Rose, 1B: Charlie Hustle kicks off this lineup in a big way, with his last name representing the perfect Valentine's Day gift. Despite his controversies, Rose's main gift to baseball is his all-time hits record of 4,256.
Bo Hart, 2B: Hart's Major League career didn't last very long. He became popular with Cardinals fans as a rookie in 2003, batting .277 in 296 at-bats, and he only appeared in 11 games the next season before fading out of the big leagues. He does, however, leave us with a perfect Valentine's Day name on several levels. There's the Bo (or Beau, or bow-and-arrow) angle, and the hopefully strongly beating Hart.
John Valentin, SS: He's missing the "E" that would spell out Valentine, but when a shortstop doesn't have an E, that's a very good thing. Valentin had some nice offensive years, particularly 1995, when he hit .298 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs while putting up an OPS of .931 for the first-place Red Sox.
Jose Valentin, 3B: The "Stache" was primarily a shortstop, but we're going to move him to third on this team, and he did play 181 big league games at the hot corner. Valentin had a very solid career from a power standpoint, with 249 homers and a stretch, from 2000-04, all with the White Sox, in which he averaged 27 long balls a season. No E on the end here, either.
Beau Allred, OF: One of the better Valentine's Day names you'll ever find, even if he hit only .230 in 165 at-bats spread out over parts of three big league seasons (1989-91).
Ellis Valentine, OF: His career tailed off, but he was a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and had three good years in a row. From 1977-79 with the Expos, Valentine hit over 20 homers each season, drove in more than 75 runs, made an All-Star team and picked up a Gold Glove.
Sandy Amoros, OF: The stats weren't overwhelming, but he'll forever be remembered for his spectacular catch in the sixth inning of the decisive Game 7 of the 1955 World Series when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the Yankees. Oh, and his last name derives from the word that means love in just about every language.
Tyler Flowers, C: Somebody's got to sit behind the plate on this club, even if it's a White Sox rookie with only 20 big league at-bats to his credit. And his last name is the tried-and-true Valentine's Day icebreaker and argument-solver.
John Candelaria, LHP: Any guy nicknamed "Candy Man" has to make this team, with visions of the little heart candies with messages of love on them. Candelaria often broke the hearts of big league hitters, particularly in his watershed 20-5 season of 1977. He won 177 games in a 19-year career.
Tom Candiotti, RHP: Here's the other "Candy Man," a right-hander with a baffling knuckleball that enabled him to win 151 games in 16 years and pitch until he was 41. Random and possibly fun fact: Candiotti played for Cleveland from 1989-91, which means he was a first-hand witness to then-Cleveland and now-Valentine's Day teammate Beau Allred's entire big league career.
Ron Darling, RHP: He was a Darling on the Mets' World Series staff in 1986 and continues to be a Darling on national baseball broadcasts.
Slim Love, LHP: Nice to get another southpaw in the mix, and this is one fantastic -- and fitting -- Valentine's Day name. Mr. Love had one impressive season on the bump for the Yankees in 1918, going 13-12 with a 3.07 ERA while starting 29 games -- and finishing 13 of them. Coincidental and very cool fact: He was born in a town called Love, Mississippi.
Hal Goldsmith, RHP: Judging by his last name, this man who made 20 starts and pitched six complete games in a four-year career (1926-1929) in Boston and St. Louis comes from a long line of tradesmen who have some of their best days on Feb. 14.
Buddy Lively, RHP: Not only is your valentine often your liveliest buddy, but this reliever, who appropriately pitched for the Reds from 1947-49, is the only guy on this list who was actually born on Feb. 14 (in '25). And get this: His nickname was Red.
Joe Valentine, RHP: Here's another guy with the name of the day and a pitcher who spent every minute of his 42 career games from 2003-05 with the Reds.
Vito Valentinetti, RHP: Don't worry. Take a long look at that long last name and you can find a Valentine inside. He pitched from 1954-59 and ended up wearing five different uniforms.
... And in the dugout
Bobby Valentine, manager: Bobby V., the former skipper who took the Mets to the World Series in 2000 and won the Japan Series with the Chiba Lotte Marines in '05, is full of love for the game, just like his name.
Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch answers 10 questions for Cardinals fans, and notes that Russ Springer would take a marked-down contract to return to St. Louis. St. Louis stands to enter camp with rougly a $92,625,000 payroll
Sid Hartman of The Minneapolis Star Tribune says that Twins' owner Jim Pohlad may have to change his policy of not deferring money if they want to re-sign Joe Mauer. Hartman says Mauer would save millions in income tax by deferring some payments until after he retires.
Happy Valentine's Day, baseball lovers. Let's take a look back at the past week:
With a $5MM gap to settle, Tim Lincecum's arbitration hearing with the Giants loomed on the horizon, but was avoided last minute on Friday. "The Freak" signed a two-year, $23MM deal, so Giants fans can rest easy for now anyway. Earlier in the week we also heard that a three-year, $37MM offer was on the table.
One of the most feared hitters of the 1990s and 2000s hung it up this week, when Frank Thomasofficially announced his retirement. The Big Hurt will finish up with 521 home runs and a .301/.419/.555 line to his credit. I don't know about you, but a career .974 OPS is pretty good in my book. Congrats on a phenomenal career, Frank.
Thomas wasn't the only big name from in recent history to officially retire. Tom Glavinealso announced his retirement this week. For his career, Glavine notched 305 wins, a 3.54 ERA, two Cy Young Awards and four other Top 3 finishes in the voting. Glavine will take a job as a special assistant to Braves team president John Schuerholz.
Anyone looking for an all-speed fourth outfielder? The A's releasedWilly Taveras this week just days after taking on the veteran center fielder in a trade with the Reds in order to get Adam Rosales as well.
Adeiny Hechevarria, a 19-year-old Cuban shortstop that ESPN's Jorge Arangure has dubbed "the next big thing out of Cuba," is generating a lot of interest. Six teams recently watched Hechevarria, who could receive an offer in excess of $10MM.
Nick Swisher is the Yankees right fielder, but everything else about the Yankees outfield is subject to change. Curtis Granderson will be in there somewhere — for this post, we’ll assume center field — and Brett Gardner is the favorite for the other starting role, but the Yankees have added a long list of candidates for bench jobs and possibly regular time in the lineup. The outfield corners are perhaps the most volatile part of New York’s lineup because of the lack of a big-name left fielder and no obvious replacements in the upper levels of the minor leagues.
Starters: Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher Backup: Randy Winn Veteran insurance: Marcus Thames Almost ready: Jamie Hoffmann, David Winfree Low Rising: Melky Mesa, Kelvin DeLeon
For a series like this, it’s much easier to lump the outfield corners together, because so many outfielders can handle both spots (including several Yankees minor leaguers who I didn’t list). For the Yankees, Winn seems best positioned to be the immediate backup in left and right – assuming he doesn’t win the everyday left field job — while Thames could very easily win a platoon role by beating out Rule 5 pick Hoffmann in spring training (you have to wonder if the Yankees are willing to let Hoffmann develop at the big league level when they have a proven option like Thames in the mix). The starting job remains Gardner’s to lose, but there are enough pieces to mix and match if necessary. Mesa and DeLeon are both quite raw, with a long road between them and the big leagues.
Worst-case scenario: Look back at 2008, when Swisher hit .219 for the White Sox and Gardner stumbled in his first big league exposure. That’s where the worst-case scenario starts. We know Swisher is going to hit for power and Gardner is going to steal some bags, but they have to make consistent contact and reach base for those things to matter. If Winn repeats 2009, Hoffmann falls flat and Thames falters against left-handed pitching, the Yankees won’t have another experienced outfielder to turn to. They’ve signed and traded for an interesting group of Triple-A outfielders to put around Colin Curtis, but no one in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfield is a sure thing.
Best-case scenario: Throughout the minor leagues, Gardner always improved in his second attempt at a given level. If he can raise his on-base percentage to around .370 – which is still 19 points lower than his career minor league OBP – the Yankees will have no need for those veteran backups they signed this winter. If Swisher finds his power stroke at home, where he had just eight home runs last season, he could easily top 30 homers for the year. A return to form from Winn and solid splits from either Thames or Hoffmann would give the Yankees a valuable outfield bench, and Winfree could hit his way into the major league conversation with a nice power showing in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If Mesa and DeLeon could cut back on the strikeouts in A-ball, that would be gravy.
The future: The outfield corners could change drastically in the next few years, but that volatility could go away if Gardner proves himself and Swisher remains productive. Winn and Thames are on one-year deals, so they don’t factor into this discussion, but Gardner is still two years from arbitration and Swisher is signed through 2012 (the Yankees can buyout the last year). The Yankees could ultimately stick with those two — and save their free agent money for Jeter, Rivera and a starting pitcher or two – or they could dive into an upcoming free agent market that could include Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Michael Cuddyer, Brad Hawpe and David DeJesus.
An attempt at the complete depth chart An educated guess, but just a guess Scranton: Colin Curtis, David Winfree Trenton: Edwar Gonzalez, Dan Brewer Tampa: Taylor Grote, Melky Mesa Charleston: Neil Medchill, Zoilo Almonte Extended: Kelvin DeLeon Several things could happen in the lower levels. Medchill is a college draftee with power, so he could jump all the way to Tampa. DeLeon is young but very talented, so he could prove himself ready for full-season ball. As is usually the case, there will be some mixing and matching going on in the minor league outfields. Trenton’s outfield is fairly wide open for anyone who earns at-bats.
Posted by Chad Jennings on Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at 6:30 pm
Appearing on the Mut and Bradford Show, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said he was tired of hearing criticism of the team’s offense, saying the Sox not only won’t be solely about pitching and defense but can “absolutely” score more runs than in 2009.
“I’m excited. I’m definitely excited this year. I think it’s a challenge because everybody out there are saying all we can do is pitch and play defense,” Pedroia said. “I think a lot of guys are going to take that personal and as an offensive unit we need to score a lot of runs and I have a lot of confidence we’re going to do all kind of good things.
“It gets to you a little bit. Every time I’m on the show somebody is calling asking about that. It kind of gets to you a little bit. A lot of guys take pride in having good at-bats and doing everything we can to score runs. We have a lot of very good offensive players. I’m confident in our team and I’m confident that we’re going to be great.”
When asked if the 2010 lineup had the capability to surpass the 872 runs (third-best in the American League), Pedroia didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely. The additions we made to our team I think have a lot of guys that will fit well together,” he said. “I don’t know what’s the lineup is going to be, but if you look up and down our lineup, guys can find ways to score runs. We can hit home runs, we can steal bases, we can bunt guys over, we can do a lot of things to score runs. You look at other teams’ offense, yeah, they might have more power, but one through nine we’re going to work the count and do a lot things to win games.”
Pedroia, who plans on flying into Fort Myers Friday, also touched on one of the biggest story-lines for the Red Sox coming into spring training, the value of Josh Beckett, who is in the last year of his contract.
“I always viewed him as the leader of the pitching staff,” Pedroia said of Beckett. “He’s a workhorse. He takes the ball, goes out there and gives everything he’s got, and that’s all you can ask from a starting pitcher. He never shows weakness, he wants to win more than anybody I’ve ever seen. This guy is intense and I think the fans and everybody love that about him. He’s shown a lot of the younger guys on the pitching staff how to go about their business, and that’s huge. How he’s helped Jon Lester and how he’s helped Buchholz and some of the other guys … I’m pretty sure everybody wants Josh around for a long time.”
While the Yankees and Red Sox have a policy of allowing deferred contracts to players, Twins owner Jim Pohlad made it clear that the Twins operate on the basis of paying players when they perform.
If you want my opinion, if Pohlad stays with this policy, it might cost the Twins the opportunity to sign catcher Joe Mauer.
Recent rumors had Mauer signing a 10-year contract for $200 million, a deal that was denied by the club.
However, for argument's sake, say that figure was true.
If other teams offered Mauer the same contract and deferred a portion of the money for years after Mauer completes his career, Mauer would save millions of dollars in income tax.
It's hard to believe that if Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, demanded a contract with deferred money the Twins wouldn't change their policy. But Pohlad didn't sound like he was going to change the club's approach when he spent time with the local media the other day.
In signing Ichiro Suzuki to a five-year, $90 million extension in July 2007, the Seattle Mariners deferred $25 million at 5.5 percent interest until the first year after the superstar outfielder retired.
The Cincinnati Reds did a similar thing with Ken Griffey Jr. when they signed him to a nine-year, $116.5 million deal in February 2000, deferring $57.5 million of the deal at 4 percent interest, to be paid from 2009 to 2024.
The Twins, Mauer and Mauer's representatives have done a good job of keeping their contract negotiations on the quiet side.
I could be wrong, but I'm convinced that the Twins will have to change their policy on deferred money if Mauer demands it. And why wouldn't he, when it would save him millions of dollars in taxes.
ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that in November, the Yankees discussed internally the idea of approaching Bobby Abreu's two-year, $19MM extension with Damon. Boras always aims high in November contract discussions, but the superagent read the market poorly this time. It appears that, more than once, Damon turned down his best offseason offers from his preferred team. Most likely, Damon will ultimately accept an offer inferior to the contracts signed by Mike Cameron, Marlon Byrd, Hideki Matsui, and Coco Crisp.
In early January, the Twins reportedly offered Washburn a one-year, $5MM deal. Though the Twins are on the lefty's short list, he turned it down. Maybe the Twins or Mariners will still sign him at a lower price. Perhaps Washburn would've enjoyed playing for the Brewers in his home state, but they signed a similar pitcher in Doug Davis for $5.25MM on January 10th. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, Washburn might even be considering retirement at this point.
Since Damon, Washburn, and Lopez remain unsigned, we can't label Boras a failure with these three clients quite yet. However, they'll likely illustrate cases where Boras' long-standing strategies of ridiculous initial demands and signing late cost his clients millions.