I haven’t done one of these in a while, and there’s loads of good stuff out there from the past few days. Here goes-
The shark known as CC Sabathia already is circling Carl Crawford. The two became friends through a financial advisor after the Rays drafted Crawford out of high school in 1999. Now, Sabathia would like Crawford to be his Yankees teammate, too. “I joke around with him all the time about that — all the time,” Sabathia says, laughing. “I told him I’ve got an extra room in the house, whatever he needs.” Sabathia also is tight with Mariners lefty Cliff Lee, another potential free agent, but no way the Yankees can sign both, right? “Who knows?” Sabathia responds. “Who ever thought me, Tex and A.J. would show up in the same year, too?”
Signing both is a stretch if the Yanks plan to keep their current commitment to stay around the 200 mil payroll mark. Let’s walk through this. They have Jeter and Mariano to re-sign before they even any consider free agents. They already have 118 mil in commitments for 2011, Jeter and Mo figure to push that number to around 155. Pick up Nick Johnson’s option and you’re at 160 mil. Andy is leaning towards retirement and Javier Vazquez is a free agent, so you’ll need two starters next year. Bringing back Vazquez will easily cost around 12-14 mil, so now you’re at 172-174 and still looking for a starter. Preferably a Lefty to replace Andy. Cliff Lee will get 18-20 mil even in a down market, putting you at 190-194 mil. That leaves you enough room to fill out your roster and enter the season around 195-200 mil, but not enough to sign Carl Crawford, who figures to get 12-15 mil on the open market. Signing both Lee and Crawford pushes you to around 210-215 mil, which is a bit further than I think the current regime will be willing to go. Especially since they already have a speedy LF named Brett Gardner on the team. As things currently stand, I think it will be an either-or situation with Lee and Crawford, but not both.
ST. PETERSBURG — Without some help behind him, there was no way that CC Sabathia could have still been out there in the eighth inning on Saturday, when the Rays finally were able to slip one through the Yankees’ defense.
Sabathia’s latest bid for his first career no-hitter got some serious help from the corner infielders, as Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez each made terrific plays to keep the line moving until Kelly Shoppach finally singled with four outs left to go in New York’s 10-0 victory.
Whether Sabathia actually would have finished what he started is another story, as manager Joe Girardi planned to bring in Dave Robertson for the ninth inning, but a combined no-hitter still would have been something to behold.
First, the notion that Girardi would have pulled CC out at 111 pitches with a no-hitter going into the 9th is absurd on its face. I understand what Girardi’s trying to do there, he doesn’t want to make it look like CC failed and he wants to emphasize the long term over the short. But if any manager ever torpedoed a players chance to make history, especially a player as prominent as CC Sabathia is to the NY Yanks, he would quickly find himself unemployed. This is just Girardi not being very smooth with the press, which we all know isn’t his strong suit.
That being said, it’s really fun to watch this team play Baseball. After years of watching Knobloch, Giambi, Damon, Sheffield, and others who were all-bat/no glove players, it’s nice to see a team filled with players that can perform on both sides of the game.
Harold Reynolds, MLB Network analyst, admires the judicious eye of a guy like Johnson, and knows that having runners on base is a good thing, but he also believes on-base percentage is “getting a little overhyped.”
“In certain circumstances, I want guys swinging the bat,” Reynolds says. “I don’t want them walking. If it’s late in the game, I don’t want (Jorge) Posada walking. That doesn’t do me any good. I think what we’ve done with Moneyball, with fantasy, with the emphasis on on-base percentage is forget that it doesn’t always play into the strategy of the game.”
Reynolds has actually heard people criticize Ichiro for not having a higher on-base percentage. “Wait a minute. He gets 225 hits every year. He’s one of the greatest hitters we have, and (you’re saying) he doesn’t walk enough?” Reynolds says.
Long agrees that on-base percentage is over-rated to a point. “You can’t have a team full of guys who are too patient and go up there just looking to walk,” he says.
Count me in with Kevin Long on this one, and I think Reynolds is over-generalizing here. Johnson is the Yanks #2 hitter, there aren’t many situations I can envision where I don’t want him to pass the bat to Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez. If you had a lesser hitter batting behind him in a game winning situation, then yes, I want him swinging the bat. But that’s not the case with Nick. He can walk all he wants as far as I’m concerned. The only I can dream up where he shouldn’t is if the Yanks are down a run with a runner in scoring position, it’s late in a game, there are 2 outs, and the pitcher on the mound absolutely owns Tex. But I can’t of many pitchers who do. Reynold’s point only stands in a tiny handful of situations over the course of a season, if that.
In the last week, it became more important that Mike Pelfrey matures into a top-flight starter for the Mets, and Phil Hughes does the same for the Yankees. In the last week, it became more problematic that Jenrry Mejia is in the bullpen — and maybe Joba Chamberlain, too.
That is because in the last week Josh Beckett signed a long-term extension with the Red Sox and Yovani Gallardo did the same with the Brewers. That continued a trend of diluting the starting pitching free-agent market in upcoming years. It was not long ago, for example, that Beckett, Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson were going to be part of the free-agent class after this season.
Now just Cliff Lee is the lone elite starter projected into free agency, and he begins this season on the disabled list dealing with foot and oblique issues. The next best is Javier Vazquez, followed by even more dubious pieces such as Jorge De La Rosa, Ted Lilly, Kevin Millwood, Brandon Webb and Jake Westbrook.
It does not get better in subsequent years. There is a dearth of available prime-age aces as teams have more proactively bought out free-agent years with extensions for their elite starters. In the past two offseasons, Kansas City’s Zack Greinke and San Francisco’s Matt Cain have signed through 2012, Florida’s Josh Johnson and the White Sox’s Gavin Floyd through 2013, and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, Boston’s Jon Lester and Detroit’s Justin Verlander through 2014.
This is nothing new, it just illustrates how unique the opportunity was before last season to acquire Sabathia, Tex and Burnett in the same off season. Brian Cashman was well aware of this and pushed ownership to go the extra mile for Tex, tipping the balance of power in the AL East for years and leaving the Red Sox to spend money AND talent trying to sort out their 1B/3B/C situation. But I disagree with Joel that pitchers won’t become available. Teams don’t always make those moves due to financial concerns, they often make them as part of their overall strategy. The Marlins signing Josh Johnson to an extension may hasten his exit from the team instead of extend it. Zach Grienke may fall into the same category. At a certain point, it simply makes more sense for some teams to trade a player and restock their farm system than it does to hang onto them, because they have many needs and only a few chips to play that can fill them. But of course, in order to make deals you need a good farm system with MLB ready talent. So Joel’s overall point still stands.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees