• Yanks Set To Offer Hughes To Twins

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (13)

    Looks like my gut was right. From the Daily News

    After two days of internal discussions among front-office executives, the Yankees swallowed hard Friday and decided to offer Phil Hughes to the Twins as part of the trade package they hope will land them Johan Santana.

    “We’re going for it,” was the way one club source put it.

    According to the club source, there was spirited internal debate in the organization via conference calls about whether to make Hughes available.

    Among the prominent people on the calls were GM Brian Cashman in New York, and owner Hank Steinbrenner and superscout Gene Michael in Tampa. Though the club source wouldn’t say who needed to be convinced, it is no secret that Cashman has wanted to build the team around young, homegrown players, and saw the three pitchers as the centerpiece.

    In any case, the club finally agreed to put Hughes in a package that includes center fielder Melky Cabrera and at least one other lesser pitching prospect still to be negotiated, as of Friday night. And by doing so they believe they are the front-runners to land Santana, the two-time Cy Young winner.

    April 1, 1982: The Yankees traded Gene Nelson with a player to be named later (Bobby Brown) and Bill Caudill to the Seattle Mariners for Shane Rawley.

    December 5, 1984: The Yankees traded Jose Rijo with Tim Birtsas, Jay Howell, Stan Javier, and Eric Plunk to the Oakland Athletics for Rickey Henderson, Bert Bradley, and cash.

    April 30, 1989: The Yankees traded Al Leiter to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield.

    I can’t think of any other recent cases where the Yankees had a pitcher at the big league level, age 22 or younger, who was “home grown” and then traded away before (or darn near) his 23rd birthday.

    Nelson, Rijo, Leiter…and, now, Hughes?

    Well, for sure, you don’t see this everyday.

    Update, 11/30/07, 11:33 pm EST: I stand corrected on Gene Nelson. The Yankees picked him up in a trade with the Rangers – while he was in the minors. Mea culpa. Nelson was not “home grown.”

    So, this makes it just Rijo, Leiter…and, now, Hughes?

    Just three cases in, what I would guess is, the last half-century of Yankees baseball.

    Bill James – Mr. Clutch

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Bill James, for The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2008, takes a look at clutch hitting. It’s featured as a special to SI.com. (Hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org.)

    James says that “clutch” is a concept containing at least seven elements:

    1. The score,
    2. The runners on base,
    3. The outs,
    4. The inning,
    5. The opposition,
    6. The standings,
    7. The calendar.

    And, then he gives examples of batters doing well and poorly according to his formula.

    No mention of A-Rod or Jeter in the feature. What a shame – that would have been fun.

    Chris Capuano

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Reportedly, Chris Capuano is on the trading block.

    I just have a feeling about this one. He was a good pitcher in 2005 and 2006. Last year, until June 1st, he was decent as well. Then, after the first two months of the season, his game went extremely south. We’re talking Kei Igawa territory. Why? I have no idea. I know that he had some tightness in his groin last June – so, maybe that was a nagging thing? Also, at year end, he had a torn labrum repaired in his right, non-throwing, shoulder. So, maybe that condition had him off-center last season?

    Still, he’s left-handed and he won’t be 30-years old until August 2008. Also, his BA allowed on balls in play took a huge jump last year – so, either he was very lucky in 2005 and 2006 or somewhat unlucky in 2007.

    I wonder if a move from a park like the one where the Brewers play, where the ball flies out, to a park like Yankee Stadium, with the deep outfield in left-center, would be a benefit for a lefty like him?

    Granted, he’s not an ace. And, he may not even be a decent pitcher anymore.

    But, if Andy Pettitte retires, and the Yankees can’t trade for a “name” starting pitcher, if the Yankees could trade for Chris Capuano – and it does not cost that much – it might be a flier worth taking this off-season. Maybe the Brewers would take something like Farnsworth and cash for Capuano? Or, perhaps a lesser pitching prospect who has options – like a Steven White?

    Yeah, I know, this is all asking for too many things to fall into place…or, is it?

    My Memory Lastings Longer Than He Did

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Reports say that the Mets have traded Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church.

    I would say something about it, but, I’m afraid that someone would call me a pious, self-righteous Yankee blogger.

    Godzilla Goes Yogi

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From AFP in Tokyo

    Japanese baseball star Hideki Matsui expressed hope Friday that recent surgery on his troubled knee would give his career a boost after what he called a bad season with the New York Yankees.

    “To put it in one word, it wasn’t a very good year,” the 33-year-old told reporters on his return home from New York. “We did not stop short by a step but by a few steps.”

    To put it in one word, it wasn’t a very good year.


    That’s right up there with Joaquin Andujar when he said: “There is one word in America that says it all, and that word is, ‘You never know.’”

    Speaking of Yogi, this is a great one too, from the Aiken Standard a couple of weeks ago:

    Tears, applause and laughter filled the Aiken Electric Cooperative Community Room Thursday night as former New York Yankee great and South Carolina baseball coach Bobby Richardson addressed the crowd at the Palmetto Fellowship of Christian Athletes Development Dinner.

    A lighter moment came when Richardson shared a memorable story about playing in a golf tournament with legendary Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, known as much for his “Yogisms” as he is for his pursuits on the baseball field.

    “I was asking Yogi about making the Aflac commercial with the ducks, and he was explaining how they had three different ducks that were trained with a whistle,” remembered Richardson. “He said they filmed for hours in a barbershop and used all of the ducks to shoot the piece.”

    Berra, according to Richardson, would not offer up just how much he was paid to shoot the commercial, which pokes fun of Yogi’s head-shaking quotes while a frustrated duck tries to convince the barber shop patrons to switch their insurance to Aflac. He did, however, provide another piece of insight into the filming of the add.

    “You know,” Berra told Richardson, “those ducks don’t really talk.”

    Gotta love the Yog.

    Heyman: A’s Willing To Deal Haren

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    From Jon Heyman:

    The A’s have contacted at least the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox — three teams that also have showed interest in Santana — about [Dan] Haren, who was 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 2007.

    Oakland is believed to have its sights on one or more of the Yankees’ three top young pitchers — Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.

    Well, it won’t be Joba. And, I doubt that the A’s would take Kennedy, one-up, for Haren.

    If you’re the A’s, do you take Phil Hughes, one-up, for Haren? If you’re the Yankees, do you trade Hughes, one-up, for Haren? I think the answer to both could be “Maybe yes.”

    Catching Up With Ken Phelps

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    From Jim Baumbach

    Ken Phelps, for the record, was a fan of “Seinfeld” before his name came up in that hilarious conversation between Frank Costanza and the fictional George Steinbrenner.

    But the second the Steinbrenner character uttered his name on television before one of the largest primetime audiences in sitcom history, Phelps’ lore changed forever.

    “I’ve been remembered more from that episode,” Phelps said the other day, “than anything I did professionally.

    However, before the episode “The Caddy” aired on Jan. 26, 1996, Phelps was merely a footnote in Yankees history for having been acquired in 1988 for prospect Jay Buhner.

    Steinbrenner, believing that George Costanza was dead, went to his parents home to deliver the news himself.

    Estelle Costanza was understandably distraught, but Frank Costanza took the opportunity to ask Steinbrenner a question many Yankees fans have wanted to ask. “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?!” he said. “He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing!”

    The Steinbrenner character didn’t flinch, and his response included a mention of Phelps that has been recited time and again by Seinfeld fans – and perhaps Yankees fans, too.

    “Well, Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it,” Steinbrenner said. “But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps’ bat. They kept saying ‘Ken Phelps! Ken Phelps!'”

    Phelps actually is on television a lot these days, beyond syndicated episodes of Seinfeld. For the last two years he has done postgame work for Diamondbacks telecasts on Fox Sports Arizona, and he is hoping to make it more of a full-time career. He said he has even reached out to John Filippelli of the YES Network to gauge his interest.

    For the sake of history, and humor, maybe Steinbrenner’s network can trade an up-and-coming intern for Phelps. And Steinbrenner can release a statement saying, “My network people loved Ken Phelps’ voice. They kept saying ‘Ken Phelps! Ken Phelps!'”

    For what it’s worth, personally, I laid the Jay Buhner thing to rest three years ago.

    And, for the record, Phelps did hit some taters for the Yankees. From the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:


    HR/100 PA                      HR/PA     PA
    1    Babe Ruth                  7.17     9197
    2    Alex Rodriguez             6.19     2795
    3    Roger Maris                5.84     3475
    4    Jason Giambi               5.66     3128
    5    Eddie Robinson             5.45      440
    6    Mickey Mantle              5.41     9909
    7    Reggie Jackson             5.32     2707
    8    Johnny Blanchard           5.30     1208
    9    Darryl Strawberry          5.26      779
    10   Jim Spencer                5.18      869
    11   Bobby Bonds                5.11      626
    12   Lou Gehrig                 5.10     9660
    13   Oscar Gamble               5.10     1707
    14   David Justice              5.03      756
    15   Gary Sheffield             4.98     1525
    16   Ken Phelps                 4.97      342
    17   Dan Pasqua                 4.88      860
    18   Steve Balboni              4.78      858
    19   Joe DiMaggio               4.71     7671
    20   Matt Nokes                 4.70     1510   

    Erik Bedard

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    From the Baltimore Sun

    Contract extension talks between the Orioles and Erik Bedard stalled yesterday, increasing the likelihood that team officials will spend part of next week’s winter meetings contemplating trade offers for the ace left-hander.

    The Orioles already have gotten several trade offers for Bedard, who went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA last season and set a franchise record with 221 strikeouts. They figure to get more next week in Nashville, Tenn., though MacPhail said that the cooling of talks shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Orioles are ready to unload Bedard.

    The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers all have inquired about Bedard, who would be one of the most coveted pitchers available in a market that also includes two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana.

    Via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:


    RSAA                           RSAA      GS       IP
    1    C.C. Sabathia                67       62    433.2
    2    Johan Santana                65       67    452.2
    3    John Lackey                  61       66    441.2
    4    Roy Halladay                 54       63    445.1
    5    Erik Bedard                  49       61    378.1
    6    Kelvim Escobar               43       60    385
    7    Justin Verlander             40       62    387.2
    8    Chien-Ming Wang              38       63    417.1
    9    Danny Haren                  33       68    445.2
    10   Josh Beckett                 28       63    405.1  

    Bedard can pitch. Sounds as if it would cost the Yankees a package like Ian Kennedy, Alan Horne and Melky Cabrera. I’m not sure that I would do that – plus you hate having to trade within your division where you face the team 19 times a year (giving your ex’s plenty of chances to haunt you).

    But, at the least, the Yankees are right to kick the tires on this one and keep their seat warm at the table…just in case.

    This Friday Is Johan Free Day @ WW

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Over the last four days, I think that I’ve provided some “Johan Santana” related commentary here at least a dozen times – probably more. And, with reports coming now in what seems like every hour, I could easily keep up that pace on the Santana material. But, today, I decided to take a break on Johan before my mind turns to mush (because of all the reports, stories, rumors, etc.). It’s like chasing a chicken – it’s all moving so quickly and in so many different and chaotic directions.

    If an actual Santana trade is made today – or if there’s any other major breaking news on him – I’ll chime in on that. However, in the interim, I’m declaring today to be a “Johan Free Day” at WasWatching.com.

    Ah, serenity now…

    A New Way To Handle Your Balls

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    From the Asbury Park Press

    Mike Cunningham says the idea came to him one day in 2004 as he watched a ballplayer autograph a young fan’s baseball at FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood BlueClaws.

    “And it looked really awkward,” Cunningham said, recalling how the player crooked his left hand and scribbled with the right. A day later he took scissors to cardboard and made his first model of what would become Sign and Sho, a baseball autograph and display board.

    “I’m not a huge baseball fan. I’m a sports fan,” said Cunningham, 44, but when he showed the idea to fellow officers at the Jackson Police Department, “the baseball guys loved it.”

    Now Cunningham’s day job after his midnight shift is being president of League Design Partners LLC, a South Brunswick company that’s sold Sign and Sho boards for $24.95 during test marketing at the BlueClaws games. With endorsements and a video infomercial from former New York Yankees Roy White and Sparky Lyle, Cunningham and his partners, fellow officers Shawn Hobson and Colin Menafra, are looking to market their boards to more minor league ballparks for spring 2008.

    For a video on how this works, click here.

    I thought those local Yankees fans who like to see the farm teams at Staten Island, Trenton, and Scranton might be interested in this item…as there’s a chance you might see it at the park next season.

    I don’t think, in the end, it will replace the BallQube, but, I can see where kids might get a kick out of the Sign and Sho format.

    Mark Loretta – Again

    Posted by on November 30th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From FullCountPitch.com

    Buster Olney is reporting that the Yankees are close to signing Mark Loretta to a one year deal. Loretta would be a good fit for the Yankees as he could spell Cano against a tough lefty, play a lot of positions and be a nice right handed bat off the bench. If they do sign him and keep Wilson Betemit, the Yankees will have one of their most versatile benches in years.

    Ring a bell? See this from December 19, 2006:

    From RotoWorld.com – ESPN’s Buster Olney says the Yankees have been in contact with Mark Loretta about their opening at first base.

    Offensively, Mark Loretta has one skill left: Against LHP, he’s able to reach base at a fairly decent rate. But, on the whole, he’s going to offer you nothing with his stick – so, don’t be fooled by what he’s done recently in ballparks like Boston and Houston.

    Defensively, Mark Loretta can play all four infield positions. Note that I said “play” and not “field.” He’s going to be below average with the mitt at any position where you play him…not a ton below, but, below.

    Oh, yes, and he’ll be 36-years old next season.

    I’d rather go with Alberto Gonzalez as my back-up infielder in 2008 – if the other choice is Loretta. At least Alberto offers great range in the field and some speed on the bases.

    Johan Santana For Center Square, Peter

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe

    The Twins are still trying to sort out who is willing to offer what. The Yankees are still very much in the hunt, with their talks centering around Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano.

    O.K., yes, this is the Boston Globe. But, Cafardo usually seems like someone who is interested in getting the story correct.

    …centering around Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano

    “And,”….not “Or?”

    Would the Yankees deal BFF Melky and Cano?

    Would that be in place of Hughes – or, in addition to Hughes?

    Or, is this now the Yankees floating things out there to get the Red Sox to up their offer? Or, are the Twins making this stuff up to play the market?

    Man, this Boston/New York thermo nuclear war game over for Johan Santana is starting to make the Yankees-Bosox’ December 2002 run after Jose Contreras look like a couple of toddlers playing noughts and crosses.

    It’s going to make for an interesting chapter in the book of the rivalry between Red Sox Nation and the Bronx Bombers when this is all said and done.

    Tom Pettitte & The Heartbreaker (Maybe)

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From Jack Curry

    Seven weeks after Andy Pettitte’s season ended with the Yankees, he is no closer to deciding if he will return and pitch for them again next season. Tom Pettitte, Andy’s father, said yesterday that Pettitte has not determined if he will retire or rejoin the Yankees for his 14th major league season.

    “He’s so torn right now,” Tom Pettitte said. “Everybody knows that he was done last year and he didn’t want to play because he wanted to be with his kids. That’s what this is all about. He’s not looking for more money or anything.”

    Tom Pettitte said Andy had not mentioned the Yankees’ pursuit of Santana and had also been mum as Alex Rodriguez, Posada and Mariano Rivera all agreed to return. But Tom Pettitte said Andy’s silence about the Yankees’ off-season decisions was not unusual.

    “When I talk to him, I don’t even ask him about baseball,” Tom Pettitte said. “When he’s with me, he’s looking for a place to release. He doesn’t want to talk about baseball.”

    On most days, Tom Pettitte said, Andy attends football practices for his sons, Josh and Jared. Jared’s team in Deer Park, Tex., is playing in a championship game this weekend. Besides attending practices and games, Tom Pettitte said, Andy also goes hunting.

    “I guess if he hadn’t had as much success as he’s had or accomplished as much as he’s accomplished, I don’t know, it might be different,” Tom Pettitte said. “He’s pretty much accomplished everything he wanted to.”

    It’s not looking good folks (on a Pettitte return). Please help support Project P46. It’s still not too late to send Andy your thoughts and hopes. It might just help the Yankees – if you do.

    ’77 Yanks Full Of Stories

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    There’s Martin’s Old School Pen. And, the whole famous burning Bronx and Jan Brady Champs thing.

    But, here’s another reason why the 1977 Yankees were interesting: Part Time Bangers.

    Cliff Johnson, Dave Kingman, Mickey Klutts, Gene Locklear, and Marty Perez. Ah, good times.

    Posada Weighs In On Johan & Pettitte

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From Pete Abe

    Where it got interesting was when [Jorge] said the Yankees should trade for Johan Santana because they need a No. 1. Posada also said he has been calling Andy Pettitte once a week.

    He said Pettitte is leaning to retirement but he hopes that will change given the direction of the team.

    Pretty interesting comment from Jorge here regarding needing a number one.

    And, regarding Pettitte, well, what can I say? It’s not too late to reach out to Andy, if you haven’t already.

    Stick Weighs In On Johan, Hughes, & Kennedy

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Via Andrew Marchand, 1050 ESPN New York –

    New York Yankees vice president Gene Michael said Wednesday he would consider trading Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy in a trade for Johan Santana, but warned the Yankees have to factor in Santana’s contract demands befoe making any deal.

    During an interview on 1050 ESPN New York’s Max Kellerman Show, Kellerman asked Michael if he would be philosphically against putting either Hughes or Kennedy in a deal.

    “I would think about it,” Michael said. “I would very seriously consider putting one of them in the deal.”

    “I like them both,” said Michael, who owns a very influential voice in the Yankees organization. “I think both of them are going to be good pitchers. I can’t tell how long or how well they are going to pitch, but I think they both are going to be good pitchers.”

    Michael added that Santana’s contract demands will be a factor in if the Yankees make a deal.

    “I would love to have him on our team next year, but is the contract going to be too much?” Michael said. “Is it too many years? Are the players you are going to put in there, are they too much? We don’t know exactly what it is going to take.”

    I think both of them are going to be good pitchers. I can’t tell how long or how well they are going to pitch, but I think they both are going to be good pitchers.

    Note that Stick said “good” – twice – and not “very good” or “great.” That’s interesting to me.

    Perhaps another sign that Phil Hughes is as “good” as dealt if indeed the Yanks and Twins swing a deal here.

    Coco Vs. Melky

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (12)

    I was recently asked to compare Coco Crisp and Melky Cabrera. So, here goes…

    Coco is 28-years old whereas Cabrera is 23-years old.

    Both are switch-hitting center-fielders.

    In terms of batting splits, both seem to be about even when facing LHP and RHP, compared to their overall numbers – although Cabrera’s power takes a small hit when batting against LHP. (But, that could be a ballpark factor too.)

    Right now, Melky is a .275/.340./.390 batter.
    And, presently, Coco is a .265/.330/.385 batter.

    That’s pretty close.

    Defensively, in terms of range in the outfield, most sources suggest that Crisp has a very good edge on Cabrera.

    If I had to label it, I would suggest that Coco is a true “Gold Glove” center-fielder whereas Melky is a “Gold Glove” left- or right-fielder who is presently playing center-field.

    In his last 6 seasons in the minors, Crisp batted .299/.372/.411.
    In his last 4 seasons in the minors, Cabrera batted .294/.344/.422.

    Again, that’s pretty close. So, where I want to say “Based on his numbers in the minors, and his age, Melky has the potential to get better with the bat in the bigs – more so than Coco who is older…,” in reality, Crisp batted like Cabrera in the minors and he didn’t get better in the majors with time…so, who can say for sure that Melky can get better?

    Into sabermetrics? Check out Melky vs. Coco over the last two seasons:

    Melky Cabrera	.462	.238	.114	.435	4.66
    Coco Crisp	.417	.257	.117	.453	4.46

    Again, it’s real close.

    If you had to pick between these two, now, it’s a matter of what’s more important to you: Range in the outfield against five years of age? Because, in the end, perhaps the only difference between these two are that Coco has more range and Melky is 5 years younger.

    Well, that, and the fact that I really like Melky and find Coco to be annoying – but, that could be a uniform factor too.

    Goldstein: Yankees Top 11 Prospects

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Kevin Goldstein offers his list of the Yankees Top 11 Prospects:

    Five-Star Prospects
    1. Joba Chamberlain, RHP
    Four-Star Prospects
    2. Ian Kennedy, RHP
    3. Austin Jackson, OF
    4. Jose Tabata, OF
    5. Alan Horne, RHP
    Three-Star Prospects
    6. Dellin Betances, RHP
    7. Jesus Montero, C
    8. Andrew Brackman, RHP
    9. Edwar Ramirez, RHP
    10. Kelvin DeLeon, OF
    Two-Star Prospects
    11. Humberto Sanchez, RHP

    Just Missing: Frank Cervelli, C; Jeff Marquez, RHP; Ross Ohlendorf, RHP; Brad Suttle, 3B

    Andrew Brackman, who will not throw a professional pitch until 2009, at #8? Edwar Ramirez at #9? Humberto Sanchez at #11?

    Maybe the Yankees farm system is not as good as some say…if this is what is the best of the bunch.

    Santana ’08 = Mussina ’01?

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    I recently received an e-mail from a friend regarding the salary/contract demands of Johan Santana where he wrote: “I’m still waiting for one person to point to a contract that has ever worked out for a pitcher at those terms. Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, Barry Zito…all busts for the money.”

    This did get me thinking about recent “attractive” pitchers who switched teams as free agents or via a trade because of their salary demands.

    It seems that, for every Wilson Alvarez there’s a Greg Maddux. For every Mike Hampton there’s a Pedro Martinez. For every Kevin Brown there’s a Randy Johnson. For every Frank Viola there’s a Mike Mussina. For every Bret Saberhagen there’s a Curt Schilling. For every Bartolo Colon, there’s a David Cone. For Barry Zito there’s Nolan Ryan. For Andy Messersmith there’s Tim Hudson.

    Can it be that we just remember the busts more because they were duds?

    I’m not saying here that Johan Santana will not end up like a Hampton, Colon or Zito. But, can anyone, for sure, say that he won’t end up like Mike Mussina did when he signed with the Yankees?

    In 2000, Mussina signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal with the Yankees. Is $14.5 million a year in 2001 that much different than $20 million a year in 2008? Yes, it’s more. But, when you factor in the inflation of baseball contracts over the last seven years, is it that much more?

    Think of it this way, the difference between $14.5 million in 2001 and $20 million in 2008 is an increase of $786,000 per year for the seven years. That seems like somewhat normal baseball star salary inflation, no?

    So, if you’re dead set against Santana because of the money alone – as I once was – were you as upset when the Yankees signed Mussina in 2000? If I recall correctly, I was not upset with the Mussina deal back then. Therefore, I really have no right to be upset with the Santana money now.

    However, Moose was a true free agent. The Yankees only gave up a draft pick with the money – not actual players, as would be the case with Santana.

    If someone wants to debate whether it’s worth the money and the players to get Santana, I would respect their right to say it might be too steep a cost – because, there, it may just be the correct stance to take on this one.

    Duncan, Others, Exposed To Rule 5 Draft

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From Pete Caldera

    Until now, Eric Duncan has lived the ultimate boyhood dream of any Yankees fan.

    He was a first-round draft pick by his favorite team out of Seton Hall Prep, and a non-roster invitee to big league camp the past two springs – moving easily about a clubhouse full of pinstriped stars.

    The next logical step was a place on the 40-man roster, but that’s where the dream hit a bump.

    Left unprotected by the Yankees, Duncan will be exposed to next week’s Rule 5 draft, when he can be claimed by any of the other 29 clubs. But as the day approaches, Duncan has dealt with mixed feelings with a dose of realism.

    “I don’t want to leave the Yankees, they’ve been nothing but great for me,” Duncan said. “But the Rule 5 draft was created to aid the player.”

    Steven Jackson and Brett Smith are reported to be exposed as well.

    Chad Jennings thinks that someone might take a flier on Jackson.

    Me? I think Duncan is not going. But, it would not shock me to see a team like the Pirates, Nationals or Marlins drop a coin on Brett Smith to give him a look-see this Spring. If it doesn’t work out, they just return him. But, if they see something that they like, those teams could afford to carry him for a year (and not be killed by having him doing so-so in 2008).

    Is Phil Hughes A Goner?

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (15)

    I didn’t think it was possible – until today. If you start to pull together the pieces that are out there now…the recent Twins-Rays trade creating the need for major league ready pitching in Minny if Santana goes now too, the report that the Twins asked for Hughes, and the report that the Red Sox are close to presenting an acceptable offer to the Twins for Santana…I can just see the Yankees, now, saying “If we want this to happen, we have to give up Hughes.”

    Even Phil Hughes knows it. From the Daily News today:

    “It’s not like you can get a guy like Santana away from the Twins for nothing. It’s nice that other teams think highly of me, but I’m very happy with where I’m at. I’d love to stay,” said Hughes, who went 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 13 starts for the Yankees this year. “I would definitely be disappointed, but it’s business.”

    “I’ve always had the mind-set of coming up and playing for the Yankees,” Hughes said. “I’d love to stay, but I understand at the same time that it’s a business. There’s not much you can do about it.”

    I still see Andy Benes when I see Phil Hughes. Maybe he’s not a stud? Some others, including the Yankees, have wondered about Hughes’ “stuff” this season.

    Then again, Phil Hughes did look like something special in the ALDS this October.

    If the Yankees trade Hughes for Santana, would it work out (for New York) like the time that the Yankees traded Doug Drabek for Rick Rhoden? Or, will it work out like it did for Boston when the Red Sox traded Carl Pavano for Pedro Martinez?

    I don’t think that anyone, for sure, knows the answer. But, what I do know today is that, despite what I thought coming into this day, I think there’s now a strong chance in Yankeeland that Phil Hughes might be a goner.

    If true, it will interesting to see the reaction of Yankees fans.

    RSN Now Favs For Johan Santana?

    Posted by on November 29th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    From the Pioneer Press

    A little birdie says the Boston Red Sox have become the favorite in the Johan Santana trade sweepstakes.

    The Twins would receive four players for the Twins’ two-time Cy Young Award winner, including center fielder Coco Crisp, 28.

    Others would be shortstop prospect Jed Lowry, 23; left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, 23; and right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson, 22.

    Before a deal could be made, the Red Sox would have to have time to negotiate a contract extension with Santana, 28, who can become a free agent after next season and could have a market value as high as $150 million over six years.

    Lowry did not play in the major leagues this year but is considered ready and is a good-fielding shortstop who also can hit. Lowry had a slugging percentage of .500 at Class AA and Class AAA this year.

    Lester made a comeback from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year ago and is said to be cancer-free.

    Masterson, 6 feet 6, 245 pounds, had 59 strikeouts in 58 innings at Class AA Portland.

    The New York Yankees don’t have the prospects available who the Twins figure have a reasonable chance to play in the major leagues by the end of 2008.

    Not sure on the writer’s source here, but, maybe he does know something?

    Beckett, Johan, Red Light and Dice-K. That would make the Sox a favorite to repeat in the A.L. East (next year).

    Heyman: Melky, Hughes Or Kennedy, & 2 Prospects For Santana

    Posted by on November 28th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    From Jon Heyman

    The Twins have asked the Yankees for one of three top pitching prospects — Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy — plus center fielder Melky Cabrera and one or two younger prospects. While the Yankees say they won’t surrender Chamberlain, who became a fan favorite during his late-season callup, they must know they’d have to give up either Hughes or Kennedy to have a chance at Santana. The Yankees are also believed willing to deal Cabrera for Santana even if it leaves a temporary hole in center field.

    One would have to assume that the Twins prefer Hughes. So, in the end, if it’s Kennedy who goes, that tells you that the Yankees feel Hughes is too good to let go. But, if it’s Hughes to go, that suggests that the Yankees are not as high on Hughes now (as they once were) or that the Yankees feel that “Kennedy and Santana” is an upgrade on “Hughes and Kennedy.” Most likely, it’s the latter.

    Cash A Dodger Fan, Yankee Hater, Intern Go’fer, Job Vulture, Loyal Puppy, & Hyperopic Looker

    Posted by on November 28th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    From the Connecticut Post – with a hat tip to WasWatching.com reader “Jerry H.” –

    Brian Cashman, who readily admits that he spent most of his youth as a Yankee-hater, attributed his 10-year tenure as general manager of the New York Yankees to his loyalty to the team that gave him a chance to succeed.

    “It’s all about investing in youth,” Cashman said Tuesday, addressing the overflow crowd of 500 at the 20th annual Cardinal Shehan Center Celebrity Breakfast in the ballroom of the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. “The reason I’m here today is because someone invested in me — George Steinbrenner.”

    He said that he was an unlikely candidate for the Yankee GM’s office, however. “I grew up as a Yankee-hater — I was a Los Angeles Dodger fan, and I hated the Yankees because they always beat the Dodgers,” he said. While a student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, Cashman, then 19, began with the Yankees as an intern. “I did just about anything, without question — I’d run stats, I’d pick up the GM’s wife at the airport, I’d work with stadium security. Whatever they asked me to do, I would do it.”

    Despite being the “low man on the totem pole” in the Yankee organization, he said that he “loved the work because it was baseball.”

    He found himself getting one promotion after another. “Not surprisingly, there was a lot of turnover — the opportunities above me kept popping up.”

    He said that he inherited a “great team” from Watson — and one that lost its first four games in 1998. “When we finally got that first win, Joe Torre sent me his lineup card from that night, signed by all the coaches.”

    The Yankees went on to have a great season that year, piling up 125 wins and only 50 losses (114 wins and 48 losses in the regular season). “It was one of the greatest teams of all time.”

    But, aside from Cashman’s five American League championships and three World Series rings, he’s had — as any Yankee fan will tell you — his share of dark days.

    He said that he fully realizes that there will come a time when he’ll be asked to leave. “At some point, it will end and I’ll have to move on.”

    Cashman, who lives with his family in Darien, revealed that over the years he has received generous offers from other teams. “Yes, I left more money on the table to go somewhere else,” he said, “but I never forgot that it was Steinbrenner who took a chance on me.”

    He said that he strives to make moves to ensure the team’s long-term success, rather than making decisions for quick gains — something that the team had gotten away from beginning in 2003 or so, mostly because of Steinbrenner’s meddling. “The farm system has since gotten a lot better — we have to build the farm system from within, because the Yankees desperately need it.”

    He said that he almost left the team in 2005, “but Steinbrenner asked me to stay.”

    Oh, and, by the way, next year (2008) will be the last year of Brian Cashman’s current contract. Do you renew him now, during the season, or at year end? I think you have to make him work for it – like Rivera and Posada did this season – and make the call a year from now.

    Source: Cano & Joba Not Going Anywhere

    Posted by on November 28th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    From the Star Ledger

    To acquire pitcher Johan Santana, the Yankees are willing to consider trading center fielder Melky Cabrera as well as one of their top young pitchers.

    But right-hander Joba Chamberlain and second baseman Robinson Cano would be off-limits, according to a person with knowledge of the trade talks who asked not to be named because the discussions are in the preliminary stages.

    The Yankees are apparently willing to consider moving Cabrera, who hit .291 with 58 RBI after taking over as the Yankees’ regular center fielder, because they told the agent for free-agent center fielder Aaron Rowand they would have interest in Rowand if they trade Cabrera.

    That conversation was confirmed by a person with knowledge of the conversation who asked not to be named because the Yankees like to keep their free-agent pursuits under the radar. The agent, Craig Landis, said only that the interest in Rowand — a strong defender who this year with Philadelphia hit .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI — “is strong and has picked up” since center fielder Torii Hunter came off the market, signing with the Angels. Landis said “nothing is imminent” as far as Rowand’s signing.

    One person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak for the teams involved, said he expects the competition for Santana to come down to the Yankees and Red Sox. The Red Sox, he said, might be willing to meet Minnesota’s need for a young center fielder with Jacoby Ellsbury but are not willing to move pitcher Clay Buchholz.

    The person said the Dodgers could get involved if they decide not to move young talent for Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera and that the Mets do not seem to have the type of players the Twins seek.

    Well, if this is true, at least one of the big three is safe.

    Johan Santana – After “The Game”

    Posted by on November 28th, 2007 · Comments (5)

    On August 19th, Johan Santana had one of those “games.” In his start that day, he whiffed 17 of the 26 batters that he faced.

    In the 7 games that followed that start, which was the rest of the games that Johan pitched in 2007, Santana had an ERA of 5.11 in 44 IP. In those 7 games, he allowed an opponent’s OPS of .814 in 190 PA.

    Going into that 17-K game, in 25 starts, Santana had an ERA of 3.02 in 167 IP. In those 25 games, he allowed an opponent’s OPS of .662 in 676 PA.

    It’s pretty safe to say that Johan Santana was a different pitcher after that 17-K game (compared to how he was going into it).

    The question that the Yankees should be asking themselves: Is this a situation that can be addressed via the rest of an off-season, or, did Santana do something to himself in that 17-K effort that will have a longer impact on his effectiveness?

    Then again, maybe it’s all small sample size stuff, right?

    But, what if it’s not?

    What Cost Johan?

    Posted by on November 28th, 2007 · Comments (12)

    Pete Caldera takes a stab at what it might cost the Yankees to get Johan Santana:

    IF Robinson Cano, RHP Phil Hughes, RHP Jeff Karstens and RHP Tyler Clippard for LHP Johan Santana and IF Matt Tolbert.

    OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Joba Chamberlain, RHP Jeff Marquez and IF Wilson Betemit for LHP Johan Santana and LHP Glen Perkins.

    RHP Ian Kennedy, OF Melky Cabrera, OF Jose Tabata, RHP Ross Ohlendorf and RHP Allan Horne for LHP Johan Santana.

    I think most Yankees fans can live with that last one – although Caldera notes the Twins may not go for it. As far as the other two suggestions, well, if that’s what it takes, I think the Yankees should pass on getting Santana.

    “Cano & Hughes” or “Melky & Joba” is too steep a price, in my opinion.

    HankdeStein Jr.’s Lesson On Pricing Young Starters

    Posted by on November 27th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    From Jack Curry

    “From the earliest days of Walter Johnson until now, there’s nothing more valuable in baseball than top starting pitchers,” said Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ senior vice president. “However, you’ve got to balance that with the potential for an injury. If it wasn’t for the injuries, the top pitchers would get more money than anyone. Even more than A-Rod.”

    “If you’ve got a guy who is young and who’s been injury-free, you have to make concessions,” Steinbrenner said. “Injuries are a reality of the game. It’s an X factor.”

    “Anybody in baseball will tell you there’s nothing more valuable than starting pitching,” Steinbrenner said. “The length of a contract and how much you pay a pitcher? Those are questions you have to answer.”

    Sounds like Hank is about ready to tell (Yanks’ COO) Lonn Trost to get his checkbook ready for Johan Santana.

    Bring On The Whiffing Horses

    Posted by on November 27th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    JMM at My Baseball Bias, today, took at look at the Yankees’ “lack of a dominant, strikeout pitcher.”

    I agree that K-pitchers help. Back in July of this year, I noted that:

    Teams like the Mariners, Twins, A’s, Red Sox and Indians are realizing that Power Pitchers who pound the strikezone are the way to go – to have a good team.

    Two months after that, I highlighted a study by Vinay Kumar that suggested “the only batting category that shows as a strong indicator of post-season success is batters’ strikeouts — the one category that sabermetricians have long called meaningless.”

    Now, neither JMM or myself are the first to point towards the Yankees need for pitchers who can produce whiffs. Back in March of this year, I linked to a study by Dayn Perry that stated:

    In any event, it’s reasonable to assume that the Yanks are enduring their title drought in part because of the fact that they’re not catching the ball and whiffing the opposition as they once did and in part because of the fact that the cosmos haven’t smiled upon them in a few years. It’s a little of both. If the Yankees are to return to the top of the MLB mountain, then they’ll need to focus on what they can control — bettering the defense and adding pitchers with strikeout chops.

    And, back in 2006, I also pointed to the study in Baseball Between the Numbers which offered that pitcher strikeout rates was one of three key variables for post-season success.

    In fact, there are many studies which conclude that a strikeout results in less runs than a batted ball out (other than double plays).

    Don’t get me wrong here – I would still love to see Wang and Pettitte in the Yankees 2008 rotation. However, it would seem to make sense to have the three guys in there with them be strikeout pitchers.

    Aaron Rowand Coming?

    Posted by on November 27th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    I saw Seth Everett on Comcast’s Out of Bounds tonight, talking about Aaron Rowand.

    He said that the Yankees expect to trade Melky Cabrera as part of a package for Johan Santana or Dan Haren – and then will be willing to overpay for Rowand – – and Aaron Rowand knows this…which is why Rowand has not signed yet with anyone.

    Gosh, if the Yanks give Rowand more than three years, they’re nuts.

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