Thursday, March 6, 2008

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yankees Sign Dan Griese & A Trade Proposal

First, Cashman swapped Tyler Clippard, a pitcher buried on the depth chart for a strike-throwing Jon Albaladejo. Now the Cash Man signed Dan Giese, a minor league journeyman.

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Giese throws strikes (8.25K per 9) and doesn't put runners on base (1.64BB per 9) and has very impressive minor league numbers. The best Cashman can do is to stockpile guys that throw strikes and hope someone sticks.

On another note, the Giants have inquired about the availability of outfielder/DH Hideki Matsui. After losing Bonds, the Giants lack a dangerous hitter and a big draw. Hideki Matsui could potentially fill both those holes. Matsui alone would net the Yankees a pither like flamethrower Jonathan Sanchez or soft-tosser Noah Lowry. But I think the Yankees could add onto just Hideki Matsui and possibly aim higher. The Giants have resisted trading either Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum, but I think they could be enticed with another bat. I'd take Ian Kennedy and Shelley Duncan and add them to Matsui and see if I could pry Lincecum from the Giants. Imagine the future the Yankees rotation could have with Hughes, Chamberlain and Lincecum.

The Giants have a one-for-one deal on the table including Alex Rios from Toronto regarding Lincecum. If I'm Brian Sabean, I don't go anywhere near that deal. With the Yankees deal, they get somewhat weaker in the pitching department — though Kennedy would probably fare rather well at AT&T Park — and add two bats to an anemic lineup. With the Toronto deal, they don't replace their pitching hole and add one bat to that anemic offense. The problem is that Matsui is 34 years old and is coming off knee surgery. Duncan is 28 and has little major league experience. So while their bats will certainly upgrade the Giants lineup, it’s tough to judge to what extent.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Yankees Sign RP LaTroy Hawkins

At first, I wasn't thrilled with this deal, but after thinking about it, I've changed my mind. Hawkins is basically the same pitcher as Luis Vizcaino. Except for the fact that the Viz was looking for a three or four year contract and Hawkins was willing to take one. He can end up being a valuable inning-eating veteran in a bullpen that looks to be filled with young arms. If he turns out to be reliable, then fantastic, and if not, his contract should make him relatively easy to trade to some National League team for a prospect come July. Someone will have to go to make room for him on the 40-man roster, and most likely that person will be Carl Pavano.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

MLB Power Rankings 08/17/07

1. Boston Red Sox
Can't beat Baltimore, but then again, no contenders can. The acquisition of Gagne hurt at first, but he'll be fine. You better score on them in the first six innings because Okajima, Gagne and Papelbon don't give up runs very often. Surprisingly, offense will be the only question down the stretch run.

2. Anaheim Angels
They still really need a bat to protect Vladimir Guerrero, but won't give up any of their prospects. Pitching and the eventual collapse of Seattle will give them a playoff spot, but even without that bat, they're still a serious World Series contender.

3. New York Yankees
Beat up on sub-.500 teams and then swept Cleveland. A tough stretch with 7 against Detroit and a trip to the Angels will determine if they're playoff caliber team. Got rid of Jeff Karstens and the waste of roster space that was Mike Myers. Starting pitching needs to get better and Rivera needs his bite back on his cutter. Joba Chamberlain flat-out nasty.

4. Seattle Mariners
Way overacheiving and they'll fall off eventually. Or will they. Their expected record is 60-58 and they're 66-52. Few teams in history have played more than a couple games over their expected record so logic says they'll fall off. Logic also says Jeff Weaver shouldn't lead the league in shutouts, but he does.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Their expected record is 58-63 and they're 68-53. Thirteen times they've lost by double digits and yet somehow they're leading the NL West by 3 games. When they're bad, they're bad. When they're good, they're good. There's not much middle ground with this team.

6. Detroit Tigers
They're falling off even more this year than they did last year. But so is the rest of the AL Central. The starting pitching has been absolutely horrendous and the hitting has slumped. Fernando Rodney is back and Zumaya's almost back. That'll help.

7. Cleveland Indians
The oddense has been absolutely horrendous the past month or so and they just got swept, at home, by the Yankees to fall out of the Wild Card lead. Kenny Lofton hasn't been what they expected and Travis Hafner is having a bad year. Fausto Carmona's still a nice story.

8. Atlanta Braves
Not many teams can match the Smoltz/Hudson duo or the lineup of the Braves. Mark Teixiera has been the protection that Andruw hasn't been all year. Edgar Renteria's coming back sooner than expected and Dotel will solidify the bullpen when he returns. They're getting hot and healthy at the right time

9. San Diego Padres
The Padres are one of the few teams that match the Braves in the pitching department. Young and Peavy are 1-2 in the NL ERA race but the offense is pathetic most nights. They should be able to catch Arizona soon enough to earn a playoff spot again. And they may be able to win a series with Young and Peavy.

10. New York Mets
Just treading water waiting for October. Problem is, they may not be around come October. Moises Alou is coming around, but the Mets are 30-33 since June 1. They've let Philly and Atlanta hang around and it could end up costing them.

11. Philadelphia Philles
Tadahito Iguchi has filled in nicely for Chase Utley and the Phillies are trying to figure out a way to work Iguchi, Utley and Rollins all in the lineup when Utley returns. Kyle Lohse is considered an upgrade for their rotation though. Ouch.

12. Colorado Rockies
They hit really well and actually pitch okay this year. They'll fall short of the postseason though because of injuries to their starting rotation. They've lost Aaron Cook, Rodrigo Lopez and Jason Hirsh to injury and have replaced them with people like Elmer Dessens and Ubaldo Jiminez. Who? Exactly.

13. Chicago Cubs
Right now, they're just keeping pace with Milwaukee. With Milwaukee getting swept by St. Louis, that's not a good thing. They've been concerned only with the Brew Crew all year, but now the Cards are a game and a half back of them. Soriano'll be back eventually.

14. St. Louis Cardinals
Coming off a sweep of Milwaukee puts them ahead of the Brewers. Adam Wainwright starting to look like trading JD Drew was a good move and Izzy's back and closing. They have the highest starters ERA in the NL and have been outscored all year, but the NL Central is the place to win cheap.

15. Milwaukee Brewers
Ben Sheets is still a couple of weeks away from returning and this team is in a complete free fall. They starters are 1-9 in the past two weeks and the bullpen isn't much better. Ryan Braun may win the ROTY, but that's about all Milwaukee will win this year. Finishing over .500 may not be assured anymore either.

16. Toronto Blue Jays
They're still ticked at the Yankees, but they're playing better. Burnett's back (for now) and Halladay's going strong. Marcum has been money and the defense has been solid. Vernon Wells needs to remember he's a $100 million man.

17. Baltimore Orioles
They're a few good hitters and a closer away from being a pretty good team. They just went 4-2 against New York and Boston and are 27-23 under Dave Trembley. Eric Bedard is my Cy Young choice right now and Aubrey Huff is actually hitting some.

18. Minnesota Twins
Torii Hunter will probably leae after this season. Joe Nathan will probably be traded and Johan Santana will probably walk after 2008. The Twins are 7 back in the Wild Card, but they're done.

19. Los Angeles Dodgers
They can't score. The pitching hasn't been horrible, but they're the only team that doesn't have a guy with at least 16 home runs. They thought that their pitching was good enough to mask their lack of offense, but they were wrong. They're not San Diego.

20. Chicago White Sox
At least Bobby Jenks set a record this year.

21. Oakland A's
Dan Haren's been rocked of late and they don't score much either. Steve Phillips cursed them when he picked Bobby Crosby (.226-8-31) to be the MVP at the beginning of the season, though. Good pick, Steve.

22. Kansas City Royals
They're improving. Slowly. Billy Butler, Joey Gathright and Alex Gordon are all hitting and Gil Meche hasn't been as bad as Steve Phillips said he would.

23. Florida Marlins
They need to either shape up or ship out Scott Olsen. Dontrelle needs to hire a nanny to take care of that kid and they too, need a new stadium. And maybe a few fans.

24. Washington Nationals
Not much new here. Mike Bascik served up Barry Bonds' 756th home run, they lost a few more games. But the season is a success becase they're not the worst team in the National League!

25. Cincinnati Reds
Ken Griffey Jr's headed towards 600 home runs and Aaron Harang is dealing. Other than that, not much to smile about in Cincinnati.

26. Houston Astros
Craig Biggio got his 3000th hit and then became the only player to be thrown out trying to stretch their 3000th hit. Typical Houston. Craig Biggio finally is retiring (3 seasons coming) and there will be no magical second half run this year without Pettitte and Clemens.

27. Texas Rangers
Gagne, Mahay and Texiera all gone. At least they now have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, owner of the longest last name in baseball history. But he's only hitting .163-.212-.229 since the trade with zero home runs and three ribbies. But he's got the longest last name in baseball history!

28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam LaRoche has contributed more than Mike Gonzalez! Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell have been good (132 and 113 ERA+) the rest of the pitching...not so much.

29. San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds, new home run king. Only reason to watch Giants now...Tim Lincecum.

30. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Hard to win when the bullpen's best ERA is 4.74. Headed for 100 losses for the fourth time in franchise history. But Carl Crawford's good. And Scott Kazmir is way better than Victor Zambrano.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Life After Jorge Posada

Jorge Posada has been a staple in three Yankee championships and has been the most productive and consistent catcher over the past decade. But he's 35 years old and won't be around forever. Looking through the Yankees farm system, the most attractive option to replace Posada is Jesus Montero, who is 16 years old. He was signed out of Venezuela and has 80 power on a 20-80 scale, which means he has the potential to hit 40+ home runs at the major league level. There's no doubt that this kid can and will hit, but the Yankees question whether he'll even be a catcher when he breaks into the Major Leagues. He's 6'3 and 220 pounds, big for a catcher (and he's not done growing at 16). More than likely he'll end up playing first base.

So after Montero, the Yankees are frighteningly thin at the catcher position. So here's my solution. Make a deal with Atlanta. The Braves have both Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate and in the majors. McCann is 23, Saltalamacchia, 22. McCann just signed a big deal to be the starting catcher for at least the next four or five years, effectively blocking Saltalamacchia. Instead of playing revolving positions with Saltalamacchia and Scott Thorman, talk up the Yankees. The Braves just traded disappointing outfielders Ryan Langerhans and have a hole in left field. The Yankees just happen to have an extra left fielder in Melky Cabrera. So my proposition to Brian Cashman: package Melky Cabrera with a minor league arm or two (Claggert and Veras) and bring in Saltalamacchia. The Yankees have enough outfielders that can fill in for the regulars, but next to no catchers. The Braves have a surplus of young catching and a void in left field. Seems to be a match.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Phil Hughes, Phenom

The Yankees have played nineteen game and lost eleven of them. The starting pitching has been downright awful outside of Andy Pettitte, sporting a rather unattractive 5.65 ERA, and that's including Andy Pettitte's numbers. That 5.65 ERA is good for 11th best in the American League, behind only Texas, Seattle and Tampa Bay. It's also the 26th best ERA in baseball behind the three aforementioned teams and Florida. The Yankees starters have combined to throw 94.1 innings in 19 games. In layman's terms, that less than 5 innings per start. So Yankee starters aren't even qualifying for wins!

Andy Pettitte, Carl Pavano (DL), Mike Mussina (DL), Jeff Karstens (DL), Kei Igawa, Darrell Rasner, Chase Wright (optioned to AA), and recently Chien-Ming Wang have made starts for the Yankees this year. Four have been disable and everyone else has been ineffective, outside Pettitte. So the Yankees felt it was time to call up uber-prospect Philip Hughes to start tonight against a top 5 Blue Jays offense. He's had very impressive Minor League numbers in two full seasons, but struggled mightily with command and location in spring training. He was 23-8 with a 2.24 ERA in 48 minor league starts. He struck out more than 10 batters per nine and posted a sick 0.86 WHIP in 253 career minor league innings.

Here's my take: it's too early. Hughes averaged 5 innings per start in the minor leagues and I can't imagine him being allowed to toss a complete game in his major league debut. We've already established that the Yankee starters go about 5 innings a game, and that'll probably be how long Hughes goes (given he doesn't throw 80 pitches in three innings). The Yankees planned on limiting his innings this year, trying to build up his arm strength for future 162-game major league seasons. His numbers in the minors don't matter. He can work on developing his curveball and focusing on finessing his location and command of his secondary pitches. In the Majors, especially for a struggling Yankees team, his performance does matter. He'll be asked to give the team a chance to win. Even with his impressive K/9 (10.2) and K/BB (4.9) numbers, Hughes' command is still raw and unreliable. I thought he needed one more full season at Scranton before calling him up again, but the Yankees' current pitching situation made the Yankees believe otherwise.

The Yankees have one of the deepest farm systems, regarding pitching in baseball. There are other starters within the organization that are more polished and MLB game ready than Hughes. Tyler Clippard, Steven Jackson and Ross Ohlendorf probably would do as well as Hughes will tonight, without compromising Hughes' future.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mr. Torre

Let's talk about Joe Torre.

1996-2000: Four American League pennants, four World Championships, including a rare three-peat.

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1998 -125 wins

2001-2003: Two American League pennants, zero world championships and an embarrasing ALDS loss to Anaheim.

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2001 - Steroids helped Luis Gonzalez to 57 home runs (26 more than his second best season) but a bloop single over a drawn-in infield sealed the Diamondbacks Cindarella season.

2004-2006: Zero American League pennants, zero world championships, zero playoff series wins.

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2004 - A normal and sanitary person would change the sock, but Red Sox starting pitcher/drama queen didn't and helped the Sox overcome a 3-0 deficit and advance to the world series, where they'd sweep the Cardinals.

Joe Torre is a Hall of Fame manager, of that, there's no doubt. If there's one rip against Torre, it's his inability to micromanage. He's one of the best managing over the course of an entire season, keeping everyone happy and productive. But when it comes to in-game decisions, there are better. Quite a few better.

Part of the micromanaging includes the use of the bullpen. Joe Torre overuses his bullpen, often falling in love with a reliever after a good stretch of outings, using them way too frequently and quickly burning them out. Perfect examples, Ron Villone and Tanyon Sturtze. He seems to be headed that way with Luis Vizcaino. The Yankees bullpen is on a pace to set a record for bullpen innings. Now, in fairness to Joe Torre, he has had some pathetic outings to cover in the past few weeks.

But tonight's 6-4 loss is completely on Torre's shoulders. The Yankees score twice in the top of the seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead over the Devil Rays and Chien-Ming Wang comes out in the bottom seventh. He strikes out the first batter, then serves up a single and a double to put runners on second and third with one out. At this point, Wang has thrown 81 pitches and hasn't labored all night. Torre decides to call the bullpen again. Vizcaino comes in a intentionally walks Baldelli. Here's my problem. If you're going to intentionally walk a guy to load the bases with a one-run lead, does it make more sense to:

A) bring in a flyball reliever that's more likely to induce a sacrifice fly
B) leave in the double-play guru to induce an inning ending double play?

B, duh. But after Vizcaino retires Harris, Torre brings in Mike "The Biggest Waste of A Roster Space" Myers to throw Carl Crawford a 68 mile-per-hour hanging slider (which has become all too common from him) that Crawford deposited into the right field seats and gave Tampa Bay a 6-3 lead.

Typical Torre. He's been great for the team and city, but after this year, it's time for the managerial debut of Donnie Baseball and a return to the bench coach for Joe Girardi. Those two minds next to each other on the bench would make the Royals a contender. Well, maybe anyone except Kansas City. The Yankees are no longer the team they were during the late-90s dynasty, and Torre is no longer the best fit for this team.

The Yankees now sit at 8-11 and in last place with five straight games looming against Toronto (2) and Boston (3). However, after that there is a hopeful stretch. Twelve straight games against the AL West (6 each against Texas and Seattle). In 2006, the Yankees won 7-of-10 against AL West teams in early May to jump back into the thick of the AL East, and in 2005 they won ten in a row against AL West teams to get back into things. Hopefully, things turn out very similar this May.