Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

A big Happy and Healthy New Year to the readers of My Pinstripes and their families. New Year's eve is an important date in New York Yankees history. It was 35 years ago tonight, December 31, 1974, that the Yankees changed the make up of the ball club for the better.

That night the Yankees announced their first big free agent signing in the George Steinbrenner Era. Jim "Catfish" Hunter was a winner. The three time world champion (with the Oakland A's) was a money pitcher. He had won 20 games four times and was a six time All-Star before arriving in New York. More importantly, he was a positive influence on the field and in the clubhouse, and an even better person than he was a ball player.

The Yankees were in the midst of the "declinasty", a period that began in 1964. Since their loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Seris that year, the Yankees hadn't won anything. Not a championship, not a pennant, or the newly formed divisions that came into existance in 1969. But Hunter was the first piece towards changing all that.

Catfish would win 25 games in his first year as a Yankee. And he completed 30 games. Those of you under the age of 25 read that correctly. Starters finished games back then. One year later the Yankees would win the pennant and two years later, the first of back to back championships. It might not have been possible at the Yankees not signed the future Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yankees Continue Prep for New Decade

We're down to the final two days of 2009 and the Yankees continue to ready themselves for defense of their 27th world championship.

The left field spot is still up for grab, with no firm commitment to Brett Gardner, who would play either left or center (with Curtis Granderson shifting to left). The Yankees grabbed Jamie Hoffman in the Rule V draft, but I really don't see the Yankees going with an inexperienced player for that spot on their 25 man roster. Hoffman will likely be offered back to the Dodgers.
Jason Bay, though he was never seriously considered by the Yankees, has been removed from contention with his signing by the Mets. The Cardinals are said to be trying to work a long term deal, possibly as long as eight years, to keep Matt Holliday in St. Louis. The amount is thought to be around $100 million, well beyond what the Yankees would spend at this point.

So what's "left" out there. One Johnny Damon. But that will only occur if Damon and his agent Scott Boras considerably lower their demands.

Xavier Nady, whom the Yankees acquired from Pittsburgh in '07, missed basically all of last year with elbow surgery. His asking price is said to be too high, plus there is a question as to whether he'd be able to play the outfield this season.

Another option that I, as well as some other readers have wondered, is what about Marlon Byrd. Byrd was once a top prospect in the Phillies organization, but flopped. He became a serviceable part time player at the age of 30 in 2007. Last season Byrd played in a career high 146 games for the Texas Rangers and posted career highs with 20 HR and 89 RBI. Byrd was also give the Yankees another right-handed bat.

Rick Ankiel had a bust out season in 2008, but injured his shoulder last season and didn't produce. He might come cheaper, but his shoulder is a major question mark. Another problem is Scott Boras is his agent. He most likely won't have Ankiel agree to a deal until Damon does in order to set his asking price.

Former A's prospect Javier Herrera was signed to a minor league contract on 12/22. He was highly touted in the A's organization, but injuries and less than adequate output has kept him from fulfilling his promise. He's not likely an option.

Clearly I was way off base with my thoughts that Cashman was still lurking for Bay or Holliday. So now maybe he's lurking for Damon.

So where does that leave us? Nowhere at the moment. It's still Brett Gardner's job for now.

UPDATE - 12/31
You can scratch Marlon Byrd from the list as well. The Cubs and Byrd have reportedly agreed to a three year deal.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Giant Disgrace

Football season is effectively over me. There is still one game to go in the regular season, plus the playoffs and Super Bowl. But it's done. When the clock read 00:00, the Giants season was done. Oh and that was the end of the first half, not the game.

The Giants, in their final home game at Giants Stadium, didn't bother to show up. A disgraceful display on both sides of the ball led to a 41-9 blowout at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. The loss, combined with the Cowboys and Packers wins, eliminated the Giants from a possible playoff appearance.

The entire game changed on one series in the first quarter and the Giants never recovered. ,It appeared the Giants were headed for a 7-0 lead when they marched right down the field on the game's first possession. But an Eli Manning TD pass to Steve Smith was negated by a Madison Hedgecock hold and a couple of plays later Mario Manningham fumbled away the football and the season. The Panthers completely dominated from that moment on.

The Giants defense which finally showed up last week against the woeful Redskins, reverted back to their "can't stop anyone" form. Jonathan Stewart rushed for the third highest (206) total yardage by any opponent in Giants' history.

It was a sad finish for the fans, especially those long time season ticket holders who can't afford the exorbitant prices at the new stadium.

As for next year, Tom Coughlin will likely be back. He's only two years removed from a SB championship. But defensive coordinator Brian Sheridan is likely gone. It's obviously not all his fault. The players did not get the job done. This was a defense that was supposed to better than last year's. Some heads will probably roll among the players as well.

O-Coordinator Kevin Gilbride's job is most likely safe, though he will probably look for a head coaching job. And what happened to this team's vaunted running game? Brandon Jacobs has played every game and maybe that's the problem. He's been very ordinary - yesterday he had six carries for one yard before leaving with a banged up knee.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Giants Stadium Will Not Be Missed

Don't get me wrong. A lot of great things have happened at Giants Stadium. There has been the road to three Giants' Super Bowl wins and four SB appearances. There was one near SB appearance for the Jets.

Countless Bruce Springsteen concerts. A great Billy Joel show back in '92, and countless other musical performances.

The Cosmos showed off Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia. On and on it goes. But like I said Giants Stadium will not be missed. It's a nothing facility. Not spectacular looking. No amazingly huge video screens. No out of the ordinary food areas or bathroom facilities. It's serviceable.

So while the memories of events will remain in tact, the place itself will not.

My favorite GS attended memories

12/23/86 - Giants defeat Broncos 19-16 in a Super Bowl preview. The Giants improved to 10-2 as the home crowd got revved up in anticipation of their first legitimate Super Bowl run. George Martin picked off a John Elway and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. He was finally tackled by Lawrence Taylor in the end zone.

Billy Joel "Storm Front" Tour - July, 1992. Great show. Joel was young and full of energy. (I've only seen Springsteen in the arena)

12/10/00 - The Giants crush the Steelers 30-10 in a surprising run to the Super Bowl year. (Unfortunately, not all the games are good. I've also seen the Giants get crushed by the Deadskins and Ravens.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Damon Needs to Make a Living

Johnny Damon is really working it this holiday season. A much publicized appearance on WWE Raw and a little known appearance on a Best Buy commercial (okay it's not really him, but this dude creepily looks like him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Does Cashman have a Card up his sleeve?

Now that left field has been vacated by dispatching of Melky Cabrera to Atlanta, I suspect Brian Cashman may have something bigger in the works. We've heard about the need to monitor/cut back payroll. We've heard about possible discussions to/about Mark DeRosa and other low cost moves. But may very well be laying in the weeds to make a big, scratch that, very big move.

Matt Holliday in a Yankees lineup would likely make some opposing managers quit before the season even started. It would make anti-Yankees sentiment burn even hotter. It would cause those who want a salary cap to scream from the mountain tops. And of course it would satisfy those Yankees fans who ridiculously feel they need an All-Star at every position.

I think it's still not likely to occur, but Holliday could very well end up in a Yankees uniform if the length and amount of the contract was to the liking of Hal Steinbrenner and company.

That means that Johnny Damon is still an option as is Jason Bay.

The Yankees could still use a number five hitter to protect A-Rod and Holliday would certainly fit that role to a tee.

So to recap:

Plan A - Holliday

Plan B - Bay

Plan C - DeRosa type

Plan D - Damon

The order of this can all change of course if Damon lowers demands or the front office nixes a four or five year deal for Holliday or Bay. But the feeling here is that signing Holliday is Cashman's true agenda.

Yankees Seal up Rotation with Vazquez

Brian Cashman had spent the current off-season on the lookout for another starting pitcher. Today he landed one. The Yankees GM reacquired right-handed starter Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves for popular outfielder Melky Cabrera. In addition, the Yankees received left-handed pitcher Boone Logan and sent pitchers Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves.

Vazquez was originally acquired by the Yankees prior to the 2004 season. Ironically, recent free agent signee Nick Johnson was part of a package (along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate) that landed Vazquez from the Montreal Expos.

Vazquez started out like a house afire in the Bronx, winning 10 games and was selected to the 2004 AL All-Star team. But a sore shoulder, which he kept hidden from the team, contributed to a miserable second half (6.92 ERA in 14 starts). He sealed his fate in pinstripes when he gave up a pair of home runs to Johnny Damon (more irony), including a grand slam, in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS. Vazquez was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in January, 2005 as part of a deal for Randy Johnson.

The right-hander is a work-horse, having averaged 216.1 innings over the last decade. He's in the final year of a free agent deal he signed with the Chicago White Sox prior to the 2006 season (he was dealt to Atlanta - even more irony - with Logan during the last off-season.). Since he'll be a back end of the rotation guy, this was a good move by Cashman.

Cabrera had his ups and downs in the Bronx. He bounced back from a rough 2008, which included a minor league demotion, and losing his starting job, to posting career bests in home runs (13) and OPS (.752) in 2009.

He helped the Yankees to several walk off wins in 2009, hit for the cycle against the White Sox, and was a solid contributor to the Yankees 27th world championship. He became expendable with the recent acquisition of center fielder Curtis Granderson from Detroit. A solid defender with a strong accurate arm, Melky's value was never going to be higher and Cashman was smart to move him before his offense had a chance to take a dip next season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary to My Pinstripes

I was a little busy the past week so I didn't get a chance to mention last Saturday was the 4th anniversary of "My Pinstripes". What started out as a semi-lark has been a lot of fun. With the blog, facebook, and twitter (as well as Baseball Digest Online), I've gotten the chance to interact with a lot of great Yankees fans as well as proponents of opponents.

I hope to have more interviews with players and people associated with the game next year, and continue to vary things up. And, of course, I hope you will continue to read and enjoy the blog.


Snowy Sunday Hot Stove

Northern New Jersey didn't get as much snow as southern NJ or areas that normally get less snow. But it's a good day to get ready for football by talking some baseball hot stove.

Boston and Texas have been talking a Mike Lowell deal for weeks, but now things are off. A physical revealed torn ligaments in Lowell's thumb. The tear will require surgery and a 6-8 week recovery period. The deal could be revisited once Lowell recovers, but it's dead for now.

The Oakland A's and Coco Crisp are close to a one year deal per ESPN's Buster Olney. Crisp's career has gone downhill since his back to back star years (2004-2005) in Cleveland when he averaged 15 home runs and 70 RBI. He's still a threat to steal, but the power has diminished as has his OPS.

In case you missed it on Friday, the Cubs sent "Mr. Personality", Milton Bradley to the Mariners for overpaid/underachieving starting pitcher Carlos Silva. Bradley brings his ton of baggage to Seattle at $10 million per season for the next two years. He's a bargain, but do the M's really want to put up with Bradley's antics? He'll primarily split DH with Ken Griffey Jr. and see some time in the outfield as well. As for Silva, what were the Mariners thinking when they gave him a four year deal for $11-$12 million per year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jolly St. Nick

I don't know if he's a saint, but it appears Nick Johnson will be back in a Yankees uniform in 2010. That according to reports earlier today that Johnson and the Yankees are completing a 1-yr deal worth $5.5 million. Since Johnson will be the primary DH that also means that Johnny Damon is likely done wearing the pinstripes.

Johnson played for the Yankees from 2001-2003 before being shipped to the Montreal Expos as part of a package for right-handed starter Javier Vazquez. He averaged 14 home runs and 52 RBI in the latter two years. He spent last season with the Nationals before being dealt to the Florida Marlins at the trade deadline.

Johnson has been on the disabled list a number of times and that marked a good portion of his time in New York as well as while he was an up and coming prospect. His best year was in 2006 while a member of the Washington Nationals. He had career highs in average (.290), OPS (.948), home runs (23), and RBI (77). His high on-base percentage and ability to produce runs fits right into the Yankees' game plan.

Johnson not only replaces Hideki Matsui, who signed with the LA Angels, in the lineup, but also as a left-handed bat that can hit-left-handed pitching. He's a career .292 hitter against southpaws, including .316 last season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home for the Halladay

The Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners have finalized their deal to swap top starters Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and assorted players. Upon joining the Phillies, Halladay agreed to a three year, $60 million extension, good through 2013. He also goes from a team constantly chasing the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East to one that has represented the National League in the last two World Series.

Lee is due to become a free agent after the 2010 season and wants a CC Sabathia-like deal. That's seven years, $161 million. Had the Phillies not wanted to deal Lee they certainly would have to have parted with more ready for prime time players in order to land Halladay.

Heading north of the border are Phillies prospects Kyle Drabek and catcher Tyler d’Arnaud. Outfield prospect Michael Taylor was also included, but the Blue Jays immediately sent him to the A's for third base prospect Brett Wallace.

The Mariners meanwhile shipped three prospects to the Phillies in return for Lee. They are pitching prosects Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez, and minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies.

No one knows what the future holds with prospects, but right now the Blue Jays come out last in this deal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Sox Sign Lackey, Cameron

The Red Sox took a big step towards competing with the Yankees in the AL East this evening by signing free agent pitcher John Lackey. The Sox also inked center fielder Mike Cameron to a deal.

Lackey has been a stud for the LA Angels and leaves a huge void in Mike Scoscia's rotation. He joins a Red Sox rotation of Josh Beckett, John Lester, Dice-K, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield. The deal is reportedly for 5 years and in the range of $80-$85 million.

Cameron could replace Jason Bay in left field or free up the Sox to possibly include Jacoby Ellsbury in a deal for Adrian Gonzalez or another bat.

Doc Just What the Phillies Ordered

Okay, I was really out of it when I got home tonight..this is actually a three team deal involving the Mariners in addition to the Blue Jays and Phillies. The latest would send Halladay to the Phillies, Cliff Lee to the Mariners, and J.A. Happ or Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud to the Blue Jays.

While this is still a good deal for the Phillies, I'm not loving it for the Jays so much any more now that there aren't two automatics for their rotation.

A lot happens when you have no access to any media for most of the day. Imagine my surprise when I just heard that Roy Halladay was in Philadelphia today for a physical. Halladay has reportedly been dealt from the Blue Jays for pitchers Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, and outfielder Dominic Brown.

Reportedly Halladay's agent Greg Landry was working with the Phils on a new contract. The deal would most likely fall through if no deal were reached. The commissioner's office has given the teams a 72 hour window to get the trade completed.

The Phillies have decisions to make going forward. In addition to doling out big bucks to Halladay, current Phillie Cliff Lee is looking for a deal with CC Sabathia type money ($23 mill per year). Lee won't be a free agent until after the 2010 season.

The Phillies were already the front-runner to repeat as NL East division winners next season, but the deal would give them an even bigger advantage. Especially if Cole Hamels can recapture his 2008 form.

This is a good deal for the Blue Jays as well, getting two major league starters. Blanton has a tendency to fight his weight as well as the strike zone, but is a consistent pitcher. Happ, a rookie in '09, has a tremendous up side. The 22-yr old Brown put together a .299-14-64 season playing at three different levels this past season. He also stole 23 bases. Baseball America ranked Brown as the Phillies top prospect prior to the '09 season.

Godzilla Switches Coasts

Hideki Matsui was a true professional in his seven years in Pinstripes. Now, he'll be bringing that professionalism to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Godzilla has reportedly signed a one year, $6.5 million deal to play for Mike Scioscia on the left coast.

Matsui reached the pinnacle of his Yankees career in his final season in the Bronx, winning the World Series MVP Award as the Bombers captured their 27th world championship.

Matsui had many big hits during his time in the Bronx and will be missed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slam Duncan

It's over. The great ball man experiment. Not the Seinfeld episode. I'm talking about the hope that the Duncan boys, Shelley and Eric (no relation) could become regular contributors to the Yankees lineup.

Shelley had some moments in the sun during the the 2007 season, hitting seven home runs, but Eric has never had a major league bat and had the bigger upside.

I watched Eric's development at Seton Hall Prep. Local boy makes good. The Florham Park native was the NJ high school player of the year in 2003 and was selected in the 1st round, 27th overall, by the Yankees. Local area baseball fans were excited and full of anticipation as we just knew he would be hitting 30 home runs a year with the friendly right field porch in the old(er) Yankee Stadium.

Things started out well enough. Duncan graduated high school, then spent his summer playing for the GCL and Staten Island Yankees. 6 home runs and 69 RBI in 107 games, plus a good OPS had to be a portend of things to come.

But while Eric hit 35 home runs over the next two seasons, more often than not he wasn't making contact. 267 strikeouts over those same two seasons as the holes in Duncan's game were exposed. He would never hit higher than .260 again and his power diminished. Injuries limited his playing time and led to his departure from the Yankees organization, still just 25 years old.

That announcement came today from LoHud's Chad Jennings (by the way if I haven't said it already, a great replacement for Pete Abe. Chad's work covering the Scranton Yankees was outstanding) that Duncan has signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves. Perhaps a chance of scenery will help turn things around for Duncan. We can only hope so!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Wanger is Non-Tendered

Sunkia, Wanger

Written for Baseball Digest Online

The Chien-Ming Wang era has come to a close in the Bronx. The two time 19-game winner, injured for much of the past two seasons, was non-tendered by the Yankees today. Wang was arbitration eligible and stood to make decent coin despite the fact he was 1-6, 9.64 in 2009 before having season ending shoulder surgery.

Wang’s agent Alan Nero expects The Wanger to be ready by opening day, but a more realistic return would be between May and June. The Yankees could still bring Wang back with a minor league contract, but Nero will definitely explore other options (by the way, Sunkia is goodbye in Taiwanese).

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff feels that Joe Torre’s LA Dodgers may be a natural fit. The drawback there, of course, would be that Wang would have to bat. He started just 15 games in 2008 due a season ending Lisfranc injury he suffered during interleague play.

Wang helped turn the Yankees season around in 2005, when he went 8-5 in 18 games after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus. He was then an integral part of pennant contending teams the following two seasons when he went a combined 38-12 and average 208 innings pitched.

12 Shopping Days 'til Xmas Hot Stove

Happy Hanukkah, no matter your spelling. When exactly is Festivus this year? I can just see Hal and Hank Steinbrenner competing in the feats of strength. Hank would probably start off well, but Hal would then use Hank's heft against him.

So what has happened since we checked in last. Winter meetings are obviously done. There have been signings, some rumors, some trades, and some near trades.

The Mets four year offer to free agent outfielder, and one time Mets minor leaguer, Jason Bay created quite the buzz on New York sports talk radio yesterday. Debates centered on whether or not the Mets offer was a legit one.

The offer of $65 million was just $5 million over an offer proposed by the Red Sox. Many fans and members of the media feel the Mets could have made a much bigger impact on the bidding with a bigger boost than 5 mill. Perhaps even throwing a 5th year into the deal may have made a lot more noise.

The Mets also made an offer to one of their top priorities, free agent catcher Bengie Molina.

The Rangers-Red Sox deal is still in the works and is still expected to happen. That's the one where Mike Lowell goes to Texas to take over first base, while catching prospect Max Ramirez heads to Beantown. Money is still being worked out and it's possible the Rangers still have concerns about Lowell's hip. It'll probably get done though.

Today is the deadline for non-tendering players. Chief among them will be the Yankees own, and one of my personal favorites, Chien-Ming Wang. I'll have more on this later.

Cards GM John Mozeliak confirmed that the team has made a formal offer in an attempt to retain the services of free agent Matt Holliday. Mozeliak told St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist/radio host Bernie Miklaz Friday that he expects to hear back from Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, in 48 hours.

The Royals have signed veteran catcher Jason Kendall to a 2-yr, $6 million deal.

The White Sox have signed right-handed reliever J.J. Putz to a 1-yr, $3 million deal to set up closer Bobby Jenks. Putz was expected to be a large part of the Mets bullpen last season after his acquisition from Seattle, but injuries shortened his season.

Tony Pena Jr., son of the Yankees bench coach, and one time infielder has signed a minor league contract with the Giants as he continues his attempt to become a reliever.

FoxSports stated Thursday the Phillies are the front-runners to land Roy Halladay. Not so fast, said Phils' GM Reuben Amaro in response. Amaro may be playing his cards close to his vest, but he does not expect to land the Blue Jays ace.

The Giants and Marlins have had in-depth discussions about a deal that would bring second baseman Dan Uggla to the Bay area.

The Red Sox picked up pitcher Boof Bonser from the Twins for a PTBNL.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rumor: Harden Signs with Rangers

NBC Sports is reporting tonight that free agent starter Rich Harden has agreed to a 1-yr free agent deal with the Texas Rangers. The deal is said to be worth $7.5 million with an $11.5 million option for 2011.

Harden returns to the American League where he first found success as a member of the Oakland Athletics. He was dealt to the Chicago Cubs as part of a six player deal in July, 2008.

Millwood Moved as Meetings Continue

The third day of the winter meetings saw veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood traded from the Texas Rangers to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later. In obtaining Millwood and cash, the O's add a workhorse starter to a rotation that is filled with youngsters (Jeremy Guthrie being the exception.).

Ray missed most of the 2008 season after under going Tommy John surgery and struggled in his return this past season. He gives the Rangers a veteran set up man with closing experience.

In other moves and rumors:

The Pirates are close to agreeing to terms with much injured infielder Bobby Crosby, who has spent his entire career with the A's. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Crosby would receive a 1-yr, $1 million deal that will include incentives in addition to the base salary.
The Florida Marlins have dealt one time closer Matt Lindstrom to the Houston Astros for pitcher Robert Bono, shortstop Luis Bryan and a player to be named later. Lindstrom will have the chance to take over the closing role from departing free agent Jose Valverde.

The Brewers have signed pitchers Randy Wolf (3 years, $27 million) and LaTroy Hawkins (2 years, $7.5 million). I can't say that's the wisest way to use their money.

The Red Sox and Rangers are reportedly discussing a deal for Mike Lowell. The Sox are reportedly interested in Adrian Beltre as a replacement.

Angels Make Play for Halladay

According to the Toronto Sun, the LA Angels have made a considerable offer for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. The Angels have reportedly offered starter Joe Saunders, shortstop Erick Aybar, and minor league outfielder Peter Bourjos.

The deal would give the Blue Jays the a second starting shortstop they lost when Marco Scutaro signed with the Red Sox. Toronto had previously inked Alex Gonzalez to a 1-yr deal with an option for a second year. Saunders would give the Jays an experienced major league starting pitcher to replace Halladay.

Both Aybar and Saunders are locked up for the next three seasons.

Andy to Have Around

The Yankees announced today they have brought back left-hander Andy Pettitte for one more season. Pettitte, who bounced back from injuries and poor outings in 2008, helped lead the Yankees to their 27th title with a 14-win season.

The deal is reportedly worth $11.75 million.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Granderson in Pinstripes Afterall

The deal appeared dead last night, but a three way deal has been completed today that brings Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. In getting the 6-yr veteran, the Yankees gave up prized prospect Austin Jackson (Detroit) and pitchers Ian Kennedy (Arizona) and Phil Coke (Detroit).

The Tigers received pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth (son of the ESPN bozo) from the Diamondbacks, who get hard throwing right-hander Edwin Jackson in addition to Kennedy.

I didn't initially like the idea of giving up Jackson in this deal, but the more I've thought about it, the more I like this. Jackson making it big is not a given by any means (I could care less about Kennedy or Coke). In Granderson, the Yankees get a bonafide center fielder, one who has gold glove ability on defense, can hit for power (avg 25 HR the last 3 seasons, 30 last year alone), and adds speed (20 steals). He's also said to be a good guy in the clubhouse, which is important with the possible departure of Johnny Damon.

Granderson comes cheaply too- he's under contract thru 2012 (with an option for 2013) at just over #$6 million per year.

Granderson's two shortcomings are his inability to hit left-handed pitching and a penchant for striking out (141 times in 2 of the last 3 years). The Yankees hope hitting instructor Kevin Long can make a difference in those two departments.

Jackson has hit at every level, but has yet to display much power in the minor leagues. It's possible that was one of the contributing factors in the Yankees' decision to move him.

Granderson Talk Highlights Day 1

There may be nothing more to it than pure speculation or the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks may have actually had some meaningful discussions on a possible three team trade. No matter, the outcome was the same. No deal.

The Yankees have shown interest in Tigers' center fielder Curtis Granderson since Mark Teixeira recorded the final putout in the World Series. The Yankees would have had to part with plenty of talent though in order to land Granderson and that's why the deal made no sense.

Top prospect Austin Jackson and left-handers Phil Coke and Mike Dunn would have been shipped to Detroit, while right-hander Ian Kennedy was sent to Arizona. The Diamondbacks would have sent Max Scherzer to the Tigers, receiving fellow right-hander Edwin Jackson in return. But by the end of the evening, the talks had stalled, maybe permanently.

It's just as well that they did. There's no point in dealing Jackson for a fellow center fielder, even he's as good as Granderson. Notice I said (very) good, not great. Granderson has plenty going for his game, but that doesn't mean Jackson might not turn out to be better. If Jackson is to be dealt it should be for a higher rated position player or a top notch starter (i.e. Roy Halladay).

Brian Cashman told the Bergen Record's Pete Caldera that pitching is still the Yankees top priority this off-season. That includes looking to re-sign Andy Pettitte, reportedly for around $10 million.

Short time Yankee Ivan Rodriguez agreed to a 2-yr, $6 million deal with the Washington Nationals. The future Hall of Fame catcher didn't find a taker last season until the Astros scooped him up in mid-March.

The Cardinals inked righty Brad Penny to a 1-yr, $7 million contract. Penny, who spent this past season with the Red Sox and Giants, could earn an additional $2 million in incentives. By signing Penny, it's also thought the Cards will not bring back John Smoltz.

American Idle himself, Carl Pavano has agreed to arbitration and will stay with the Minnesota Twins. Pavano had a resurgence last year with the Indians before being dealt at the deadline to Minny.

The Tigers re-signed shortstop Adam Everett to a 1-yr, $1.5 mill deal.

No suprise in Houston where Astros' closer Jose Valverde turned down arbitration in search of a much bigger deal. The Braves were surprised though that Rafael Soriano took them up on arbitration. Meanwhile lefty Mike Gonzalez said no thanks.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings 2009 - Day 1

Plenty of rumors on day 1 of baseball's Winter meetings in Indianapolis (you would think they would pick a warm spot). Among them are:

The Tigers are actively shopping pitcher Edwin Jackson, but are currently asking for a lot in return.

The Mets believe someone will take Luis Castillo off their hands. I believe there probably is someone dumb enough to do it. The most likely scenario is the Mets dealing a top regular or prospect and throwing Castillo in as a 'must'.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reported on his Twitter account that the Cardinals are close to signing free agent right-hander Brad Penny.

ESPN's Jayson Stark reports that Nick Johnson is drawing interest from the Mariners, Giants, Orioles, Mets, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and his original team, the Yankees. Reserve a spot on your disabled list now.

Foxsports reports the Mets are going hard after free agent catcher Bengie Molina. The Mets picked up backup Henry Blanco from the Pads over the weekend.

Herzog Leads Vets into Hall

Manager Whitey Herzog, who skippered the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals to a World Championship and had several contenders in Kansas City, has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Joining Herzog is long time National League umpire Doug Harvey, who spent 31 years in the field. Also receiving votes among managers and umpires, but falling short of the required 12 votes, were Danny Murtaugh (8), Hank O'Day (8), and Charlie Grimm (3). Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Tom Kelly, Gene Mauch and Steve O'Neill all received less than three votes.

Marvin Miller, the long time player representative who helped shape the face of the game today, fell short in the executive/pioneer with just seven votes.

For more on the voting, go to

Bye Bye Bruney

Brian Bruney was supposed to be the Yankees to go guy in the late innings this past season. Things started out well, but than injuries and poor pitching led to a mop up role and a seat on the bench for all but one game in the post-season.

Bruney will have a fresh start next season with the Washington Nationals. The Yankees have dealt the right-hander to the NL East cellar dweller for a player to be named later.

The only shock is that it wasn't to the Pirates.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Night Hot Stove

On this Friday night, Chone Figgins may be licking his chops. Despite his post-season failure against the Yankees this past post-season, the free agent third baseman may be on the verge of a huge free agent contract.

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly offered Figgins a four year, $36 million deal. The eight year veteran of the LA Angels stole 42 bases last season and a posted a .395 on-base percentage. Angels' GM Tony Reagins said Figgins has an offer on the table from LA, but would not elaborate on the specifics.

Placido Polanco already got his new deal from his old team. The Gold Glove second baseman will switch to third base to return to the Philadelphia Phillies. Polanco was given a 3-yr, $18 million deal to part ways with the Detroit Tigers.

In other moves:

The Braves have added to their bullpen by signing free agents Billy Wagner (7.5 mill) and Takashi Saito (3.2 mill) to a pair of one year deals.

The Mets continued their never ending search for replacements for Mike Piazza by signing Chris Coste away from the Phillies. The Brewers meanwhile added veteran Gregg Zaun.

The A's picked up infielders Jake Fox and Aaron Miles from the Cubs for Matt Spencer, Jeff Gray, and Ronny Morla.


photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports

There may be a new swimming pool game in Boston this Summer if newly signed free agent Marco Scutaro pans out. The Red Sox signed the veteran of 8 major league seasons in to a 2-yr deal with an option for 2012.

The 34-yr old enjoyed one of his best offensive years this past season for the Toronto Blue Jays. Scutaro had career highs in home runs (12), RBI (60), walks (90), runs scored (100), and OPS (.789). Mostly a utility man for much of his career, which had stops in Oakland and in New York with the Mets, Scutaro got the chance to play regularly for the Blue Jays the past two seasons and eclipsed 500 at-bats each time.

Scutaro also gives the Red Sox some depth at second and third base, should an injury befall Dustin Pedroia or Mike Lowell.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Up Up and Away

Look up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane,'s Super Joe. Born Joseph Girardi in Peoria, IL, by day he is mild mannered, okay, not so mild, manager of the New York Yankees. By night, he's Super Joe, rescuer of car accident victims and teacher of proper sliding techniques.

What's that you say? Sliding techniques. Seems that Jets QB Mark Sanchez can't slide properly on his right side. He tweaked a knee on Sunday when he awkwardly went to the turf. So Rex Ryan put up the Bat signal.

Ryan, who with father Buddy, could run a public relations firm (well, a "self" public relations firm) if he ever left football, called up Yankees president Randy Levine for some help. Expecting a sliding coach, as if someone walked around with that title, Ryan was shocked when Super Joe showed up.

Manned with a rubber mat, Super Joe worked with Sanchez on the practice turf in Florham Park. Sanchez is now ready to steal second, pull up short of that on-coming linebacker.

Good work Super Joe!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chip Caray Gets 'Fisted' From TBS

Chip Caray, whose announcing style and apparent lack of understanding/knowledge annoyed everyone this past post-season, is no longer employed by TBS.

The announcement came today that Caray and the network couldn't come up with a new deal for the 2010 season. Perhaps TBS executives listened to all of the criticism of Caray's work in October and decided it was time to get a new number one announcer.

Caray became a running joke when he repeatedly used the word "fisted" during playoff broadcasts.

Jeter is SI's Top Sportsman

Written for Baseball Digest Online

Derek Jeter had already enjoyed a phenomenal year, but now he has one more prize to add to it. Jeter has been named Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”. In winning, Jeter became the first Yankee to pick up the magazine’s award.

In addition to winning his 5th World Series ring, Jeter passed Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hitter leader, won the Roberto Clemente Award for his off the field work, the Henry Aaron Award for his offensive exploits, and Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year’s Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, “Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he’s extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field.” Source:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Doc Willing to Make House Calls in the Bronx

According to a story in Friday's Toronto Sun, Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, according to a major league executive, has said he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for the Yankees next season. The effect of a 27th championship no doubt had some influence on Doc's decision, if in fact he has really made said decision.

But what would it take to get the star right-hander in Pinstripes? You can start putting a package together that begins with Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero. It's unlikely the Blue Jays would make any deal with the Bombers without Montero's inclusion.

And the Yankees would likely not make a deal without at least exploring a new contract for Halladay, whose deal expires at the end of the 2010 season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hot Stove Friday

Image courtesy of

A lot of talk, but not much action so far this off-season. Here's what has gone down since we last touched on the subject.

The White Sox apparently feel that getting older is a good thing. They've signed 21-yr veteran Omar Vizquel as utility man and 14-yr veteran Andruw Jones as an outfielder/DH. White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, expected to sign elsewhere, said he would be willing to switch to 1st base in order to be a good fit for his new team.

Johnny Damon wants a long term deal and says he has offers from a handful of teams. Actually, not only did Damon make that statement, but so did his wife Michelle and his agent Scott Boras. If Damon sticks to his guns, it's unlikely he'll be back in Pinstripes.

The Blue Jays re-signed great defense/no bat infield John McDonald to a new deal and then added good defense/not much of a bat Alex Gonzalez to their roster as well. Blue Jays' free agent infielder Marco Scutaro is likely to leave with Boston being tops on his wish list. That according to his agent, Peter Greenberg.

Phat Albert

A little late in passing this along, but as expected Albert Pujols was named NL MVP on Wednesday. Pujols received all 32 first place votes to finish ahead of Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder.

It was Pujols' 2nd consecutive award and his third overall. He's the first NL'er to repeat since Barry Bonds took the award four straight years from 2001-2004.

Despite losing out on the Cy Young award to Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter (14) finished highest in the voting among all pitchers.
2009 NL MVP vote leaders
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points
A. Pujols, STL 32

H. Ramirez, FLA
15 5 233
R. Howard, PHI
6 8 217
P. Fielder, MIL
5 9 203
T. Tulowitzki, COL
3 6 172
A. Ethier, LAD

The End of An Era

photo courtesy of NY Daily News

It's been unofficial for a couple of years now. Yesterday it became official. Bob Sheppard, the "Voice of God" officially retired as the Yankees P.A. announcer.

It was just a matter of time. Mr. Sheppard, 99 years old, had never fully recovered from upper respiratory issues that sidelined him over the past two seasons. And though he never used the word retired in his official statement, Mr. Sheppard did say,
"But," he acknowledged yesterday, "I don’t intend at this moment to see myself back as a public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, feeling the way I do now."

Reached at his Baldwin home, Sheppard hedged, but only slightly, saying, "It wasn’t a resignation. It wasn’t quitting. It wasn’t throwing in the glove."

So he isn’t ruling out a future return? Sheppard laughed.

"Let me start from the bottom: I am now 99 years old," he said. "I don ’t think a man 99 years old goes back to work after two years of separation."

All of us Yankees fans have missed the impeccable speech, the succinct pronunciation of each name, and the low-key manner in which Mr. Sheppard delivered his announcements. Listening to an over the top presentation like the one delivered by Detroit Pistons' P.A. man John Mason makes you appreciate Mr. Sheppard even more.

We hope one day to hear the "Voice of God" echo throughout the new Yankee Stadium, but if not, we will always treasure the memories.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There's Life After the World Series

As you may have noticed (hopefully someone noticed), I haven't done to much blogging since the World Series ended. I need to catch up some things, including sleep. A lot has been going on since the Series ended - baseball no longer goes to the back pages when the season ends. And with the way the Giants and Rangers have been playing, it's better to dwell on the 27th championship and the 2010 Yankees season. (If you're a Knicks or Nets fan, you've probably already started counting the hours, minutes, and seconds until Spring Training).

Let's start with some hardware, the non-27th championship type :)

As expected Joe Mauer cruised to the American League MVP trophy earlier today. Yankees Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Mauer got all but one first place vote, with 4th place finisher Miguel Cabrera inexplicably picking up the lone dissenting vote. This is the same Cabrera who got loaded the night before a huge game with the White Sox as the Tigers crumbled down the stretch. Apparently one sportswriter must have drinking when he put in his/her ballot.

Here's the total vote count for Mauer and the top five finishers.
Mauer 387
Teixeira 225
Jeter 193
Cabrera 171
K. Morales 170

Mauer became just the second catcher in the last 23 years to win the award. Teixeira had been our pre-season prediction.

Alex Rodriguez (10th), Mariano Rivera (14), Robinson Cano (17) and CC Sabathia (21) were the other Yankees to receive votes.

Awards already announced:

The Managers of the Year were the Angels' Mike Scioscia (whom I correctly predicted would take the award) and the Rockies Jim Tracy. I expected the Angels to run away with the AL West, but Scioscia had to really do a great job this year to overcome injuries and the death of Nick Adenhardt. Joe Girardi finished 3rd behind Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire.

Tracey meanwhile took a slumping Rockies squad to the NL wild card. (Our Spring Training pick was a sentimental one- Bobby Cox. He finished 5th in the voting.).

Rookie of the Year honors in the AL went to the A's (and New Jersey's) Andrew Bailey, who grabbed the team's closer role. The Marlins' Chris Coghlan took the NL award. I had predicted prior to the season that Baltimore's Matt Wieters and the Cards' Jason Motte would pick up the awards. Neither received a vote, though Wieters did finish the season in strong fashion.

Bailey's fellow NJ native, Rick Porcello, came in the 3rd in the AL voting.

2009 AL roy voting
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Andrew Bailey 13 6 5 88
Elvis Andrus 8 6 7 65
Rick Porcello 7 8 5 64
Jeff Niemann x 5 6 21
Gordon Beckham x 2 4 10
Brett Anderson x 1 1 4

2009 nl roy voting
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Chris Coghlan 17 6 2 105
J.A. Happ 10 11 11 94
Tommy Hanson 2 6 9 37
Andrew McCutchen 2 5 x 25
Casey McGehee 1 3 4 18
Randy Wells x 1 x 3
Garrett Jones x x 2 2
Everth Cabrera x x 1 1
Dexter Fowler x x 1 1
Gerardo Parra x x 1 1
Colby Rasmus x x 1 1

The AL Cy Young went to KC's Zack Greinke. The Royals managed just 65 wins this season, with nearly a quarter of them (16) won by Greinke. Only Steve Carlton's 27 wins on a 59-win team may have been more impressive. Our pre-season pick CC Sabathia, finished fourth in the voting.

The National League award went to Tim Lincecum for the second consecutive season. I personally felt that Chris Carpenter would win the award. I mistakenly chose Johan Santana prior to the start of the season. Boy, that was a mistake.

AL Cy Young Award Voting
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Pts
Zack Greinke, KC 25 3
Felix Hernandez, SEA 2 23 1 80
Justin Verlander, DET 1
9 14
CC Sabathia, NYY
2 7 13
Roy Halladay, TOR

11 11

NL Cy Young Award Voting
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Pts.
Tim Lincecum, SF 11 12 9 100
Chris Carpenter, STL 9 14 7 94
Adam Wainwright, STL 12 5 15 90
Javier Vazquez, ATL
Dan Haren, ARI

1 1

The NL MVP will be announced tomorrow with Albert Pujols to pick up another momento for his trophy case. Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard should finish 2-3.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Chick Won the NL Cy Young

It's Just a Fantasy

Yankees Fantasy camp is underway in Florida and I am so envious.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No to Replay

With all of the bad awful horrendous mind blowing wrong calls in this year's post-season, there was no question that expanded use of instant replay would be discussed in the November general managers' meetings. Well apparently not everyone felt that way.
“I know there are some who have talked off line about the expansion of instant replay,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office. “Right now, the commissioner doesn’t see any reason to consider it.”
The commissioner must not have been paying attention this post-season when the supposedly best umpires in baseball got one call wrong after another. And they weren't always simple safe/out calls either.

Phil Cuzzi's foul ball call on Joe Mauer's clear double was a game changer in the Yankees-Twins series. And Tim McLelland made not one, but two bad calls at third base during the Yankees-Angels series. They were clear cut calls that were blatantly wrong. All the umpire conferences in the world aren't going to make those problems go away. Instead you have people questioning the integrity of the game, especially in light of the Tim Donaghy NBA scandal.

All that being said, I don't really like the idea of games constantly being interrupted for replays/reviews. But at least it should be discussed, not summarily dismissed.

Jeter, Tex Grab Gold Glove Awards

The Captain and Tex Bring Home the GoldWritten for Baseball Digest Online

A week after winning their 27th World Series title, two New York Yankees have added to their trophy cases.

Team captain, and shortstop, Derek Jeter and first baseman Mark Teixeira have been named Gold Glove winners for the 2009 season.

Jeter, who had a tremendous all around season, was honored for the first time since 2006 and won his fourth Gold Glove overall. Teixeira, in his first season in the Bronx, not only won the AL home run (along with Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena) and RBI crowns, but picked up his third career Gold Glove award as well.

Teixeira made just four errors this season while posting a .997 fielding percentage. Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano may have had more errors themselves, if not for Tex’s stellar play at first base.

Jeter’s eight errors were the lowest total of his career, and his improved range led to a .986 fielding percentage, the best mark at his position.

Joining the two Yankees as AL winners were second baseman Placido Polanco (Det), third baseman Evan Longoria, catcher Joe Mauer (Min), and outfielders Torii Hunter (LAA), Ichiro Suzuki (Sea), and Adam Jones (Bal). Chicago’s Mark Buehrle was the winner among the AL’s pitchers.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baseball Moves On

While Yankees fans were busy attending the victory parade or watching it on TV, the front office of the other 29 teams were keeping busy. It's not even the general manager's meetings or Hot Stove time, but deals were already made today.

Carlos Gomez, a key player in the Johan Santana deal between the Mets and Twins, was sent back to the National League for the Brewers' J.J. Hardy. Gomez became a role player this year after Denard Span took over the Twins center field spot. He stole 33 bases in 2008, but posted just a .298 on-base percentage. Things got worse in '09 as Gomez's OBP dipped to just .287.

Hardy's stock had plummeted in Milwaukee. After averaging 25 home runs in 77 RBI in 2007-2008, Hardy hit just .229 this past season with 11 HR and 47 RBI. The Twins used the light hitting Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Matt Tolbert as shortstop this past season.

The White Sox acquired veteran Mark Teahen from the Kansas City Royals for infielders Josh Fields and Chris Getz, and cash. Teahen could be the Yankees regular third baseman or could move to right field to replace Jermaine Dye. The White Sox declined Dye's option for 2010 making the outfielder a free agent.

Deals actually began earlier this week when Tampa Bay sent Japanese import Aki Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates (they don't just acquire Yankees pitchers) for pitcher Jesse Chavez. Iwamura missed much of the '09 season with a torn ACL.

Oh how Jeremy Hermida's stock has fallen. The one time major prospect in the Florida Marlins organization was dealt to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez. After hitting .296-18-63 with an .870 OPS in 2007, Hermida's run production and OBP dipped the last two seasons. The left-handed hitter especially struggled against southpaws, hitting just .189.

Other moves:

The Phillies picked up the option on Cliff Lee for 2010. The Dodgers did the same for Manny Ramirez, while the Diamondbacks picked up pitcher Brandon Webb's option.
Fomer Yankee Bobby Abreu will stay in Anaheim after signing a new 2-yr, $19 million deal with the LA Angels. His former teammate Scott Proctor has signed a minor league deal with the Braves.

The Mariners claimed one time Mets prospect Yusmeiro Petit from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dbacks also declined the option on Chad Tracy.

Other players who will be free agents after having their options declined - Miguel Olivo (KC), Coco Crisp (KC), J.J. Putz (Mets), Yorvit Torrealba (Col), David Weathers (Mil), and Austin Kearns (Wash).