Monday, November 14, 2011

Forget Jo Pa, Jo Po Ready To Say Good-bye

With all that's been going on with Penn St., it's time to take look at some Yankees' business. If for no other reason than to escape the sickening madness of the PSU story...

The Yankees haven't made it official, but Jorge Posada told reporters last week that he's played his last game as a Yankee. He still has not decided whether or not he wants to play anywhere else next season. The hope here is that he doesn't, so that he can say he played his entire career in the Pinstripes and not further diminish his career. Posada's legacy and value are things that have been passionately debated by Yankees fans.

The two sides really diverge when it comes to discussing the possibility of Posada entering the Hall of Fame. Those that are in favor of his entry, point to the numbers he put up as a catcher and his World Series rings. Those against the notion point to his catching deficiencies, poor base running, etc. I fall somewhere in between, acknowledging his offensive accomplishments, while shaking my head at some of the things he's done defensively and on the bases over the years.

To me, he has not had a Hall of Fame career. The Yankees have been scouting Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedas, who says he is 26. With Cuban players you never really know where the truth lies when it comes to their age. The Yankees were among the teams that watched Cespedas work out recently in the Dominican Republic.

The teams' scouts have not shared much info, which you would expect, and you have to be careful with any player you haven't had much chance to watch. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez does not come along every day. Another international player that could be making an impact this year is pitcher Yu Darvish. The 25-yr old right-hander has had five straight sub-2.00 ERA seasons and won 18 games last year for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He also struck out 276 hitters in 232 innings this past season.

Darvish could only make his way to the US if he goes through the Japanese mechanism of posting players. Just like with Cuban players, sometimes these things work out (Ichiro Suzuki) and other times they don't (Kei Igawa). The NY Times' Brad Lefton reported that Darvish has not yet decided if he wants to make the transition from the Far East to the West. Darvish recently blogged, "Nothing has been decided. After all games have been played and I’ve had a chance to rest, I’ll think about what comes next.”

Pitching is clearly the Yankees priority this off-season, an off-season in which starting pitching is not in great supply. Lefty Mark Buehrle, who would prefer to remain a White Sox, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, and C.J. Wilson are the biggest names, but let the buyer beware. Buehrle has always seemed to me to be a pitcher who is not as good as his numbers. And his numbers aren't always good. Even though the Yankees could use a solid left-hander, they need more than an innings eater. I don't see Buehrle being successful in Yankee Stadium.

The Star-Ledger's Jeff Bradley feels Buerhle could bring a "Jimmy Key-esque" quality to the Yankees. The Yankees have reportedly already had contact with agents for all the above except Buehrle. Wilson is the number #1 guy on Texas, but really is more suited to be a two or even a three in the rotation. He's been less than impressive in the last two post-seasons as well. He'll be looking for #1 money, which the Yankees should NOT pay him.

Jackson has good stuff, but is erratic, not to the degree of A.J. Burnett, but not far behind. Oswalt has declined the last few years after a stellar career and is too injury prone. He became a free agent when the Phillies did not pick up his $12M option. Right now the Yankees rotation consists of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Burnett, and Phil Hughes. The Yankees would love to dump Burnett, the two years left on his deal, and some of the amount of the $33M they still owe him.

But who do you plug in? It's not likely that either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances will be ready out of Spring Training to join the staff. No one know what Phil Hughes will bring next year. The Yankees could swing a deal as well with some of their highly touted prospects. The feeling here is that they will go after Darvish, if he makes himself available, with a conservative bid.

The long range deal and posting fee that Boston made for Dice-K has not worked out well and the Yankees have their own issues with Igawa, so I don't see them going crazy. Of all of the pitchers mentioned, Buehrle probably has the best chance to become a Yankee.

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