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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moves that Cashman must make now that Lee is in Philly

Following the stunning news of Cliff Lee signing with the Philadelphia Phillies the Yankees still have a hole to fill in their starting rotation even if Andy Pettitte comes back. They could go to the trade market, the free agent market, or they could go young with Ivan Nova. I’d go with Nova, but we’ll see. But those aren’t the only moves that need to be made.
                Not only do the Yankees need to get at least one other starter they still have holes to fill. They need to finish out the bullpen, bench, and figure out who the starting catcher is.
                With the Yankees signing former Dodger catcher Russell Martin they have a solid everyday catcher. Marin had good seasons with LA in 2006-2009 but struggled in 2010. He should be rejuvenated playing in a big time market on the east coast. He has a very good arm. He, unlike Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada, can throw out base runners consistently. It’s a nice sign by Brian Cashman and it could spell the end for Jesus Montero, who could eventually be traded to a club with an elite starting pitcher. Remember he was offered for Cliff Lee when he was in Seattle and Roy Halladay when he was in Toronto. Also this move keeps Austin Romine in the minors and Francisco Cervelli to the backup catcher spot.
                In the bullpen they re-signed Mariano Rivera. A slam dunk move. They released standout reliever Alfredo Aceves. The Yankees are reportedly willing to sign him to a minor league deal and an invitation to spring training. The Yankees then re-signed Sergio Mitre who had a 3.33 era in the regular season. The Yankees also let go long relievers Chad Gaudin and Dustin Mosley to the Nationals and Padres, respectively. Also, the Yankees signed one of the best lefties on the market in former Met Pedro Feliciano. That’s a very good move because he’s a lefty that can get lefties out; he’s pitched in New York, obviously. And if used right he’ll be a great asset. The Yankees could still sign one more right handed reliever now that Kerry Wood recently turned down a two year, 10 million dollar offer from the Yankees and Red Sox to sign with the Cubs for one year and one and a half million. They could make a splash and sign closer Rafael Soriano to be the setup man until Rivera retires. Or they could sign former Ray Grant Balfour. That’s a more likely option.
                And finally, the Yankees need to fill out their bench. You know Francisco Cervelli will be there and either Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez will man the pine. But that leaves two spots there. I argued that the Yankees should resign Melky Cabrera. But that’s a moot point because he signed with the Kansas City Royals. They could sign former Yankee Jerry Hairston. As we saw in ’09 he can play infield and outfield at a solid rate, and he’s cheap. Also the Yankees could sign Marcus Thames. But he was used mostly as a DH. That won’t work this year because Jorge Posada will be the primary DH. I say they will sign another power bat just incase.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A few backup plans if Lee re-signs

It seemed that the Yankees would be the favorite to keep Cliff Lee once the ALCS started. That theory has since changed. The Rangers upset the Yankees in six games thanks to the heroics of Lee and the rest of the Rangers. Lee dominated the Yankees in his game three start, going eight innings of two hit, no run ball. The Rangers then went to the World Series and Cliff Lee may want to stay as a Ranger.
                Although Lee struggled in the World Series against the eventual champion San Francisco Giants, he still shared many memories while being with the Texas Rangers. He won game one and the clinching game five against the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series. And like we said before he dominated the Yanks in the ALCS. And Lee also got to bond with his teammates, something that may be hard to let go. Yes, the Yankees have offered him an absurd seven year, 160 million dollar contract, but the Rangers have offered him a ‘menu’ of contracts. No one knows how much the contracts are worth, or for how long, but I’m sure they are close to what the Yankees offer. Plus, Lee lives in Arkansas, much closer to Arlington then the Bronx. Also, the Rangers are a young club, unlike the Yankees. And with that the Yankees may be closer to the cellar then the top of the division come the sixth or seventh year of Lee’s potential contract--due to the older stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett, among others. I have a feeling that Cliff Lee may sign with the Rangers, although I am not 100% sure.
                So, with that the Yankees should at least ponder some backup plans. And there are plenty. First, the trade market. The big glamor player is Zack Greinke; I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. First of all, the Yankees would have to trade an abundance of good young talent, and Yankee GM Brian Cashman doesn’t like to do that. For example, following the 2007 season the Yankees could have traded Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera to the Twins for ace Johan Santana. He didn’t. Santana got sent to Queens with the Mets and has had injury problems. Again in 2008, the Yankees could have traded for ace CC Sabathia when he was with Cleveland. Like the Santana deal the Yankees had to give up a load of talent to just get the star pitcher, they would also have to obviously pay that pitcher a big contract. The Yankees instead waited until he was a free agent, and then sign him. By the way, the Yankees won it all in 2009, Sabathia’s first year with the team. But, my second point is that Zack Greinke has had a history of anxiety issues. He spent a number of times on the disabled list due to those troubles, preceding his CY Young run in 2009. I don’t like that because he was, and still is, pitching in a small market in Kansas City. Just imagine him having issues like that with the Yankees, and you thought A.J Burnett and Randy Johnson were bad.
                Also, the Yankees could try to go within to find their next starter. Ivan Nova was solid starting for the Yankees in September, posting a 4.50 ERA, while pitching in big situations. Nova is blessed with tremendous talent.  He has a 94 plus mile per hour fastball, with sink. He has a big 12-6 curveball, and a very good changeup, along with an improving slider. I personally believe Ivan Nova will have a better career then Phil Hughes, who has made an All Star team and pitched in big games. I’d take Ivan Nova over Zack Greinke if I was the Yankees any day.
                Those are essentially the two options the Yankees have. The free agent market has next to nothing following Cliff Lee in the starting pitching department. Also, the Yankees will by trying to convince Andy Pettitte to pitch “one more year.” We’ll see, it should be very interesting. But with the Boston Red Sox adding slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and speedy leftfielder Carl Crawford to the mix, the signing of Cliff Lee is even more important for the Bombers.   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yanks re-sign Jeter, Rivera…. Finally

Finally, the Yankees re-sign their two legendary players, shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera, to three and two year deals, respectively. Now all the talks about having Eduardo Nunez playing short, or signing Orlando Cabrera, or making a blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins that would send Hanley Ramirez to the Bronx are over, finally.
                On Thursday the Yankees agreed to a two year contract worth 30 million to Mariano Rivera. Rivera asked for two years, and he got two years. But, on the other hand, Derek Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, asked for at least for five years worth at least 23 million per year. They weren’t close at all, no pun intended. Jeter and the Yankees agreed to a three year, 51 million dollar deal. That’s more like it.
                Money wise the Rivera contract was a no-brainer, but Jeter’s was a little different. Jeter is not going to be an elite player for five years while earning 23 million a year. The Yankees have fallen in this trap before. See Alex Rodriguez and his 10 year deal he signed following the 2007 season. They can’t do it again with another aging left side of the infield player. This is a great deal for the Yankees because they won’t have to pay big bucks for a 40 year old infielder.
                Now, the Mariano Rivera deal was a little interesting. There were reports that the Boston Red Sox offered Mariano Rivera the same contract, Mo was smart enough and stayed with his team. Now, if Rivera did the unthinkable by going to Boston, the Red Sox would have non-tendered closer Jonathan Papelbon’s contract, thus making him a free agent. Very interesting. We’ll see how Papelbon reacts in the 2011 season. He struggled in 2010 by posting a 3.90 ERA, worst in his career by far, and blowing eight save opportunities.
                There’s really not much else to say about these two deals. Except for that they had to be done, and they were done. Also the Yankees didn’t get suckered into a bad contract like they have before. See Alex Rodriguez, A.J Burnett, Carl Pavano, etc. But, the Yankees aren’t even close to being finished with their off-season checklist. They still have to sign Cliff Lee, another setup reliever, and a lefty reliever, among other minor moves.