Blog Archives

Why the Yankees should get Cliff Lee

With the trade deadline coming soon and with the Yankees without Andy Pettitte for the next 2 months or so, the Yankees could use a pitcher for the starting rotation if Freddy Garcia is to falter and David Phelps can’t get stretched out for the rotation. With the Phillies “pretenders” this season, the Yankees could look at some of the pitchers in their rotation and decide who they would like to trade for. Although Brian Cashman said that he wasn’t for trading for players this season, the Yankees could go and trade for one of the Phillies pitchers that has struggled this season; Cliff Lee.

The truth of the matter is that the Phillies cannot keep Lee and Cole Hamels while staying under their budget. According to Hardball Talk, the Phillies had offered Cole Hamels a 6 year, $130 Million contract which could mean that Cliff Lee’s days in red pinstripes will come to an end. It’s all right Cliff. There is still one place that you could still wear pinstripes and pitch for a contending team all at the same time; the Yankees.

Although Cliff Lee hasn’t exactly shown extreme excitement in being in a Yankees uniform, he doesn’t have much options at this point. If Hamels says yes to the contract offer then Lee could be out of Philly. Of course Lee hasn’t pitched extraordinarily well this season (he only has 1 win), but if he was put in a contenders environment then Lee could quickly become the Cliff Lee the Yankees know (the one who has led the Phillies and Rangers to the World Series in 2009 and 2010, respectively).

There are concerns about Lee’s contract since the contract the Phillies offered him was unbelievable but if the Yankees could work out a deal where they could give up prospects the Phillies want, maybe some sort of deal could get done.

In all honesty, it had been a dream of mine to see Cliff Lee in Yankees pinstripes. Whether it’s for 3 months or for 6 years I would love to see Lee in Yankees pinstripes. Could my dream possibly come true? We’ll see. But for now, the Yankees might want to look into one of the toughest pitchers on his team; even though his team hasn’t given him the run support he deserves.

Why Victorino Is A Good Fit

About a couple of weeks ago, as the Philadelphia Phillies continued to fall hopelessly out of the playoff race, I thought about which of their players might be intriguing for the Yankees. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are good, but they both come with issues: Hamels would cost too much for a rental. Lee has a bad contract and has never shown a desire to pitch for the Yankees. However, Shane Victorino was a player who I thought fit what the Yankees needed perfectly. Then yesterday Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees are interested in Victorino, and right after that, it was reported that Brett Gardner had another setback and will go for yet another MRI. With Gardner potentially being done for the season, a trade for Victorino would be something I would endorse.

The Yankees are in a fantastic position up nine games in the AL East. Because of their position, they do not have to overspend for anybody at the trade deadline. If the Yankees were battling for a playoff spot I would feel differently, but they have their spot pretty much wrapped up. Anybody the Yankees can go out and acquire wouldn’t guarantee them a championship, so there is no reason to overpay. The Yankees can win a championship with this current team. Sure a guy like Cole Hamels would give them a better chance at a ring, but he guarantees them nothing but a playoff berth, which they already have. If you mortgage the future and don’t win the championship it is really bad for your organization.

However, there is nothing wrong with improving the team at the right price. With Gardner’s status looking extremely murky, an outfielder is the biggest need for the Yankees. The only other argument you can make is for starting pitching. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova have all pitched solidly for about two months now give or take. CC Sabathia is coming back tonight and Andy Pettitte should be back by September. That is enough pitching to win in October in my opinion. However, they can definitely use another outfielder. Despite the grand slam from Raul Ibanez yesterday he hit only .162 in June and only has 3 HR’s since the start of June. He seems to be wearing down and it could be worse by October. Andruw Jones has been spectacular of late, but he is still only a platoon player. Getting Victorino would allow Ibanez and Jones to platoon the DH spot for October like they were supposed to originally, and it would improve the defense in left field greatly. Read the rest of this entry

What would help this team at trading deadline?

What will Cashman look to add?

Baseball officials often say they like to break the season down into one- thirds. The first third is to evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses. The middle third is to look for solutions to your problems and to make changes – and the final third is to make a push with the new/improved team you’ve assembled. The Yankees are in that middle phase now and have gone through a lot in the season so far. They struggled for the first 42 games and had a .500 record on May 21st. They then went on an amazing 20-4 run that just ended with back to back losses to Atlanta. Now that we’ve seen their worst and their best baseball, I think it’s a good time to evaluate what this team needs to make a push for their 28th Championship.

Bullpen

The pen has been their strong point all season. Even after surviving the loss of 2 All-Stars in Mariano Rivera and David Robertson they still have kept it together. They are 3rd in MLB in bullpen ERA with a 2.73 mark and have blown a league-low 4 saves in 24 opportunities. With Rafael Soriano looking comfortable in the Closer’s role and Robertson returning healthy, the Yankee bullpen is set. Boone Logan & Clay Rapada have been absolutely excellent vs LH hitters and Cody Eppley and Cory Wade are serviceable in their roles. There may even be a chance that Joba and/or David Aardsma come back at some point this year so there is no need for them to look outside of the organization for relief help.

Rotation

The starters have been pitching tremendously in June and on the season they are 5th in the A.L. with a 4.14 ERA. The one disturbing trend is that they lead all of baseball in HRs allowed with 65 and are 27th overall in opposing hitters OPS at .780.  However, all the starters are pitching better as of late and right now the top 3 of C.C., Andy Pettitte & Ivan Nova look pretty strong.  Kuroda is solid as a #4 and Hughes is OK as the #5 man. So the question is, can anyone out there help them? Read the rest of this entry

A.J. Burnett’s Effect on the Yankees


A.J. Burnett has been one huge rollercoaster ride for the Yankees over the last three years. Most of it has been disappointment, which makes people forget that he has had good moments. This is a very appropriate time to write this article, considering there is a chance Burnett may not be in the Yankees rotation this year.  While Burnett’s contract is now seen as an albatross, he did help deliver the Yankees to a World Series championship. That contract is holding the Yankees back now for sure, but it has not been restricting the Yankees as much as people would think over the last three years.

How much would the Yankees be different had they not signed A.J. Burnett? Who would they have spent that money on? In 2009, it came down to A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe as pitchers the Yankees wanted to sign to go along with CC Sabathia.  Lowe pitched egregious in Atlanta for three years, and would not have been a better signing than Burnett. In three years for the Braves Lowe went 40-39, with a 4.57 ERA, and a 1.46 WHIP. Burnett’s numbers were not much better if any, but his 2009 season alone makes him for successful than Lowe ever was.

Now in 2010, the Yankees offered Cliff Lee more money than humanly possible with Burnett on the roster. They could not have offered him any more money, so Burnett had no effect on Cliff Lee not being a Yankee.  There was no other free agent pitcher in 2010 that would have made a huge difference. The Yankees may have made a run at Carl Crawford if they did not have Burnett, which would have been a mistake considering what he did for Boston last season. However, maybe without Burnett’s presence Cashman would have been more aggressive then he was in trading for a starting pitcher, before he acquired Michael Pineda. Cashman might have been able to acquire Cliff Lee or Dan Haren in a trade if he was more aggressive.

This year maybe the Yankees sign C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish to an A.J. Burnett like contract if Burnett was not here. I would not have been crazy about that either. Even though the Burnett contract was a mistake, there does not seem like there were a whole lot of great free agent starting pitcher options over the last three offseasons. However, if the Burnett contract does not allow them to sign Matt Cain or Cole Hamels next offseason it would be a big issue.

While Burnett has been a huge disappointment, the Yankees do not win the World Series without him in 2009. That is a fact. He saved the Yankees with a huge clutch performance in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series.  Burnett went 7 innings, allowed only 1 run, 4 hits, and had 9 strikeouts. If Burnett does not come through, the Yankees would have lost the first two games at home, and lost the World Series.  Burnett also won game two’s in the ALDS and ALCS, while throwing stinkers in both game five’s as well. In the last two years Burnett has represented himself pretty well in the postseason as well. He was pitching well against Texas in 2010, but Joe Girardi left him in to long and gave up the lead to Bengie Molina on a homerun. Burnett saved the Yankees season for one day last year by pitching winning well against the Tigers. Say what you want about Burnett, but he has come through in the clutch for the Yankees at times. This does not make him a complete bust, like say Carl Pavano.  Burnett has at least given the Yankees an average of 194 innings for 3 years, which is more than Pavano can say. Those innings are a lot tougher to replace than many people realize.

Obviously Burnett has done things over these past three years that drive you crazy. He has had unbearable stretches that make you really scratch your head. He has also had a sorry attitude at times, and has cursed the manager out when walking off the mound.  He has had times where he could not find the plate no matter what. Unfortunately at this stage in his career he is what he is, and is unlikely to change.  All of this had made Yankees fans despise him, and rightfully so.  However, Yankee fans should also not forget that he did help deliver a championship that the Yankees had been seeking desperately for.

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Posada, Hamels, HOF, Hughes

Lot’s of topics among the many Yankee blogs, so let’s get right into it…..

* An A-Blog for A-Rod has their take on Jorge Posada’s retirement.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue has their thoughts on why waiting for Hamels is the right move.

* New York Baseball Digest says it’s time to hold writers more accountable for their HOF vote.

* Pinstripe Alley talks about Manny Ramirez in pinstripes.

* River Ave Blues scouts Phil Hughes.

* Road to Yankee Stadium has Mason Williams as their #5 Top Prospect.

* The Yankee Analysts have their expectations for Montero in 2012.

* Yanks Go Yard predicts Sabathia’s 2012 season.

Morning Bits: Free agents 2013, Curious off-season, Oswalt, A-Rod,

Good Morning all it’s already Mid-Week so that’s exciting.  We are getting closer to Friday and to find out what the Yankees will be doing with Nakajima.  From all the reports though it seems that he will be going back to Japan.

Let’s get right to the links.

* The Yankees are saving now for a potential splash next winter.  Some great options in the 2013 class of free-agents.

* They Bombers curious off-season leads to many questions, few answers. IMO it also lead to a lot of head scratching.

* Yankee and Cardinals have interest in Roy Oswalt.  Please please be true.  Let’s lock him up Cashman.

* Batting coach Kevin Long says A-Rod is determined and focused.  Well that’s good to hear.  The Yankees also believe that A-Rod is at full strength.

Angels a better fit than Yanks for Wilson


C.J. Wilson had an interest in the New York Yankees, if not for nothing more than to drive up his price. Wilson tried to set up a meeting with the Yankees, but the Yankees denied him.  As a result, the market for Wilson was not as good as he probably anticipated.Wilson ended up signing a 5 yr, 77 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Yankees were wise to lay off him, but I do feel as though he is a pretty good fit for the Angels.

I felt as though C.J. Wilson would be vastly overpaid by somebody due to the fact that he was the best pitcher in an extremely weak starting pitching market.  However, his awful postseason hurt him in a major way.Wilson was 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA despite the Rangers making the World Series. I see him more as a number 3 pitcher which is exactly why he was a good fit for the Angels and not the Yankees. With the Angels, Wilson can slide nicely behind Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.  That should limit the pressure on him along with Albert Pujols taking a lot of it.  With the Yankees Wilson would be forced into a pressurized situation as the number 2 starter. He showed last year in the postseason that he may not be able to live up to that. He is not the guy the Yankees are looking for in my opinion, so they made the right decision in not paying a guy they are not sure about into his mid 30s.

I do believe Wilson will have success for the Angels because the fit is a lot better for him.  Some players are not right for the Yankees, but are right for a lot of other places. Brian Cashman has chosen to not to throw out money this offseason and so far he has done a nice job of being patient. Cole Hamels and Matt Cain are much better free agent options next offseason. Cashman does still need to improve the rotation and it will be interesting to see what he does.

Yankees Mailbag: Part 2

Good afternoon, and here is the second part of this weekend mailbag. Thank you to those who asked us their questions, and please continue to send them in!

Brian Cashman has explored trade possibilities the first time around, and is not overly enthused by the prices at the moment.

@NataliaYank25 asked:
Cashman said he’s talking with other teams about trade possibilities. Who do you think they can trade for?

You can never really tell the full extents of who’s available and who’s not available in the trade market. However, there are plenty of rumors. Some trade possibilities Cashman may be talking about could be for White Sox pitcher John Danks or Oakland lefty Gio Gonzalez. There have been the brief mentions of the Braves possibly shopping Jair Jurrjens, but not at the price the Yankees are looking for. In addition, there’s been some speculation that the Phillies may look to see what they can get for Cole Hamels, who will be in his final year of his contract; but a trade for him would be of huge cost. Beyond what I listed above, you can list other names, but really out of speculation, no real substance. I think there are definitely options out there for Brian Cashman to make a trade, if he wants to. Right now, he’s simply letting the market settle, waiting for the prices to drop.

@Kimtheluck asked:
Are they going to resign Russell Martin? If yes when are we going to know it?

To which @NataliaYank25 replied:
Do they need to sign him? He’s under team control.

Russell Martin is arbitration-eligible for the fourth time this winter as a Super Two player. In simpler words, Martin will either be offered a new contract, or he will not be offered a new contract by the Yankees. Cashman absolutely wants to retain him, and if (more like when) they do, it will be somewhere around or a bit north of $6MM in arbitration. The free agent arbitration offer deadline is actually pretty soon – at midnight on November 23. Then, the deadline to accept those offers is on December 7, so you’ll know whether Russell will be back next year (for sure) sometime very soon. But don’t worry, I’m willing bet a boatload of money that Martin will be donning pinstripes again next year.

@Kimtheluck asked:
Is there any chance the Yankees will give a new contract to Jorge Posada?

I’d say there’s a 0.01% chance Jorge Posada will be offered a contract by the Yankees. He has already publicly said he will most likely not be returning to the team next year. There’s simply no place for him on the Yankees, and Jorge knows that. His two options will be to hang it up and retire, or to put on a different uniform than that of the Yankees.

 

That’s it for the Yankees Mailbag: Part 2. A reminder that if you have a question you’d like to ask for next weekend’s mailbag, either email me at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com or contact us on Twitter at @yankeefansunite. Have a great rest of the day.

State of the Yankees Rotation

The much maligned 2011 New York Yankees starting rotation exceeded all expectations. It was the reason most prognosticators picked the Boston Red Sox to win the AL East. However, nobody expected a rookie of the year campaign for Ivan Nova, or renaissance years from Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. The Yankees finished a very respectable 4th in the AL in team ERA, with a 3.73 team ERA.   The starting rotation also pitched well in October, with the notable exception of CC Sabathia, and once again was not the reason the Yankees went home early. Yet, Brian Cashman has gone into this offseason, like last offseason, looking to improve the starting rotation.

In my opinion, I think we can expect a pretty similar rotation to last year’s.  This year’s crop of free agents is extremely weak.  The Yankees already got their main job done by extending CC Sabathia’s contract. Sabathia did the Yankees a favor by not going to free agency, and potentially getting a 7 year offer that Cashman would have been hesitant to match.  Sabathia vowed to come to spring training in better shape, so he does not falter down the stretch again. Ivan Nova stepped up and proved to be a capable number two starter.  Nova had a sparkling rookie year going 16-4, with a 3.70 ERA, and a 1.33 WHIP.  The development of Nova’s slider as a put away pitch catapulted him down the stretch. However, in a perfect world, the Yankees would find a starter to slide in between Sabathia and Nova. That pitcher is not a free agent right now, unless the Yankees see Japanese star Yu Darvish as that guy. However, that guy may be available at the trade deadline, or in next year’s free agency class. Cole Hamels and Matt Cain are ideal candidates.  Dan Haren and James Shields would also make great candidates if their team options are not picked up.

Now that we have dealt with the top of the rotation we will move onto the bottom. This is where you will probably see the Yankees add a starting pitcher. The Yankees have been linked to Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda already, but it is was too early to get a sense of what Cashman will do. The Yankees and Freddy Garcia also seem to have a mutual interest in putting a deal together to resign Garcia for next year.  I would have no issue with Garcia returning as a back of the rotation pitcher. Garcia can get by on his smarts and guile alone, especially against young and free swinging teams.  It is when he faces the patient teams that will make him throw strikes, is when you are worried.  If Garcia could repeat his year of 12-8, with a 3.62 ERA, and a 1.34 WHIP the Yankees would love it. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are two Yankees who can help the rotation if they can pitch to their capabilities.  Hughes will have to earn his spot in spring training, especially since the Yankees will probably bring in at least one pitcher via free agency or trade, other than Freddy Garcia.  Hughes struggled with injuries, fastball velocity, and putting hitters away in 2011. However, he did have his best stuff in the playoffs. so perhaps that can carry over. Like it or not, A.J. Burnett will more than likely have a spot in next year’s rotation based on his contract.  Burnett’s last two years have been brutal, posting ERA’s over 5.00 in each of them, and walking what seems like a village per start. Burnett does have two shining moments in his Yankees career. He did pitch the biggest game in the 2009 World Series by getting the Yankees a split at home. If he stinks up the joint there, the Yankees are probably still searching for their first title since 2000. Also, Burnett came through big time by extending the Yankees’ season in game 4 of the ALDS last year. One can only hope that will give him some confidence going into next year, but unfortunately that is probably wishful thinking.

Again, I do not see any huge changes with the Yankees starting staff heading into the year. I see Sabathia and Nova as obvious locks and Burnett is pretty close to one. Another spot I see going to a new pitcher, and the last one going to Hughes, or a resigned Freddy Garcia. I would also expect the Yankees to add that number two starter to place in between Sabathia and Nova at the trade deadline, or next year in free agency. If the starting rotation can repeat what they did last year the Yankees would almost surely sign for it.  They boast the one of the league’s top offenses and one of the top bullpens to help take the burden off the rotation.  The Yankees will rely on the continued growth of their rotation to have success in the 2012 season.

Not the offseason for change

The Yankees concluded their 2011 season in a way that is all too familiar to us. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the sting of yet another brutal first round exit from the playoffs.  This one hurts a lot because it was all lined up so perfectly. We had Mariano Rivera and David Robertson available for two innings each, and we were coming home with momentum.  All we needed was one big hit and we could not get it. That is the main difference between the Yankees dynasty of the 90s and the last decade. Those teams had players like Bernie, Brosius, Tino, O’Neill, and Jeter who raised their game from the regular season to the playoffs. The teams of the last decade have had better regular seasons than postseasons.  However, another disappointing playoff series does not mean that this team should make radical changes this off-season.

Brian Cashman has always said you cannot make decisions based solely on the postseason. He is absolutely correct. The sample size is way too small to be considered worth more than the regular season. Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez obviously were the main goats of this postseason and. The only one of those three you could do anything with is Swisher.  Let’s say hypothetically, you do not pick up Swisher’s option, and you replace him with Michael Cuddyer.  You cannot guarantee me Cuddyer, or any other replacement, would hit in the playoffs. There is no possible way of knowing. However, I do know that Swisher will produce better in the regular season based on a larger sample size. Plus his 10 million dollar option is cheap and you can go out and find somebody else next year.  As for Teixeira and Rodriguez you have to hope they dedicate themselves this off-season to get better.  Teixiera needs to improve his mechanics from the left side as his line of .218/.327/.462/.788 suggests. Rodriguez needs to develop an exercise routine that can help him stay on the field.  Signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to big bucks is not the answer with all money they have tied into Teixiera and Rodriguez. Texeira and Rodriguez improving is the only option.

This is also not the off-season for radical change because of the big free agent class next year.  Matt Kemp is an elite outfielder who could potentially replace Swisher. He is a five tool player and is only 27. He makes much more sense than Pujols or Fielder would.  Stud pitchers also will be available like Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Grienke, John Danks, Shaun Marcum, and potentially Dan Haren and James Shields. Some of these guys may also be available at next year’s trade deadline. This is why the Yankees should not blow their money on C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish this off-season. Sure they will need to sign or trade for a pitcher or two, but it does not have to be for major money. It is also why the Yankees do not have to go completely all out to extend CC Sabathia. I say 6 years at 150 million is a good meeting point. If Sabathia is dead set on 7 years letting him walk is probably the better option. The long term risk of a man who is close to 300 pounds is scary. All those innings will have to take its toll at some point right? Th St.Louis Cardinals are proved you do not need outstanding starting pitch to win a championship. You can win with clutch hitting and an outstanding bullpen. The Texas Rangers also got to the World Series without great starting pitching. So I would defiantly try to extend Sabathia, but it is not a necessity.

This Yankee team needs fine tuning this off-season and not a major overhaul. Winning 97 games in the AL East this year was a major accomplishment and should not be taken lightly. That is the sample size that you should trust more. The postseason is a complete crap shoot that can never be predicted.  However, if next year we have similar results in the postseason, we can consider more major moves because there will be elite players out there.  The outlook for the Yankees next year is bright and winning the World Series should be within our reach.