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Yankees to sign Nick Johnson

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The Yankees are nearing an agreement on a 1-year deal worth approximately $5 Million with free agent 1B/DH Nick Johnson.

Johnson was coveted by the Yankees, Giants, and Mariners.

Johnson was a former Yankee that was traded away along with Randy Choate and Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez back in 2003. The Yankees drafted Johnson in 1996.

Johnson, whose .426 OBP this year leads all free agents, was wanted by the Yankees mainly for the great On Base Percentage, the fact that he hits well against lefties, and the fact that he is a lefty-hitter himself. With Matsui gone and Damon probably leaving, this was the Yankees big chance to sign a lefty-hitter.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Since it is a one-year deal, I like it. Even if Johnson is injury-prone, he still puts up good numbers when he plays. This move allows the Yankees to stick the Melky/Gardner combo in left.

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Wang Becomes Free Agent

December 13, 2009 2 comments

The Chien-Ming Wang era in New York has finally ended (*mixed boos and cheers*). The Yankees decided on not tendering Wangs contract before the 11:59pm deadline Saturday. New York opted to tender contracts to outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitchers Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. The decision basically came down to starters/trade bait. Cabrera is the current left fielder (and trade bait), and Gaudin and Mitre are current candidates for the back of the rotation. Had the Yankees tendered his contract, arbitration would have given him 20% less than his $5 mil. contract for this season.

photo by AP/Franklin II

In 104 career starts as a Yankee, he went 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 5 seasons as a Yankee. Of course, his two 19-win seasons were considered his best, and his accuracy was pin-point. He started 2008 8-2 and everyone remembers that one June day in 2008 in Houston when he tore a muscle in his foot and sprained his ankle rounding third base causing him to be out until September. Then this past season came, and he got knocked around and had a record of 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA before he was shut down for the season due to shoulder surgery.
Wang and his agent expect to get offers from other teams very soon, and if it would be from the Yanks it would be for much less money.

Free Agent Spotlight: Mike Cameron

December 10, 2009 5 comments

We move from the topic of pitchers on to outfielders, which believe it or not, is still a team need. Mike Cameron, 36, is one of the best available outfielders not named Bay or Holliday.
You might be wondering why the Yanks need another outfielder even though they just got Curtis Granderson. Well, with Granderson, we now have four outfielders; Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Granderson. Many people are anticipating the resigning of Johnny Damon. And with this, many people anticipate the trading of Nick Swisher. Which leaves us with a very good centerfielder, a decent corner outfielder in Cabrera, a fast outfielder who needs to improve his hitting, and an aging corner outfielder with no arm. Our minor league outfielders could be drafted away from us, as Shelley Duncan and John Rodriguez are expected to be drafted in the Rule 5. So we’re left with Colin Curtis, and newly signed Jon Weber and Eladio Moronta as our backups in case of injury/other needs.

photo from Sports Illustrated

Cameron has always hit for a low average and many strikeouts, but he is a perfect middle-bottom of the order hitter because of his power and speed. He hit just .250 last year but hit 25 home runs and 70 RBIs (and his home was Miller Park, typically a pitchers park). Though his speed has been decreasing over the years, he can still cover the outfield and still has a great arm, which would make his transition to a corner spot (most likely left because of said speed, and Melkys cannon for RF) much easier. He has 3 gold gloves under his belt, most recently in 2006.
Cameron would be a great fit in New York for several reasons. We know he can handle the New York media, as he spent 2004-05 with the Mets without any controversy (many remember him for his nasty collision with Carlos Beltran, breaking several bones in his face and causing him to miss the rest of the season). Second, he hits well against AL East teams for the most part in his career; 10 HR 26 RBI vs Boston, 3 HR 23 RBI vs Baltimore, 6 HR 27 RBI vs Toronto, and 5 HR 22 RBI vs Tampa Bay. Remember, his six full seasons in the AL were with Seattle and Chicago, who would face these teams a max of 10 times a year.

Scenarios with Cameron:
– Damon signed, Swisher traded for starter/reliever/minor leaguer. Cameron takes 6 or 7 spot in order and takes over RF/LF
– Damon not signed, Swisher stays- Cameron bats in front of Swisher because of speed and better clutch hitting; Swisher becomes everyday DH with ability to start in the OF when needed.
– Damon signed, Swisher kept- Cameron becomes everyday outfielder, Swisher and Damon must fight for DH job, one of the two rot on the bench, until Swisher/Cabrera traded before deadline

If the Yankees sign him, look for a 2-year, $17 MM deal.
Cameron has said that he wants to play for a team with a chance at the postseason, let’s see if the Yankees make a run at him.

Interview with Chad Jennings

December 9, 2009 2 comments


Chad Jennings is a former beat writer for the AAA Scranton Yankees. He took over as a Yankees beat writer in October and has agreed to do a quick interview with The Pinstriper. We thank him for the interview. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out his work here!

1. Thoughts on the Curtis Granderson trade? Who got the best of it?

I think every team got what it wanted. Granderson is a great fit for the Yankees. They gave up some real talent to get him, but that’s what it was going to take for an impact player like that. I think some people are getting a bit too caught up in his splits. They’re bad, and they’re a factor in judging him as a hitter, but at the end of the day he’s consistently hit 20+ home runs with 70+ RBIs while playing good defense in center field. He’s also young and signed to a good contract.

2. Can you profile Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for us?

Jackson is going to be an everyday center fielder, but his lack of power suggests he’ll be more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He could develop more power and become more of an impact bat — wouldn’t surprise me, actually — but right now he’s a guy with a little bit of speed who hits for a high average despite striking out a lot. He’s also a good defensive player in center field. Kennedy started throwing a two-seam fastball during the Arizona Fall League and his curveball has improved since his bad 2008 stint in New York. It’s easy to overlooked that he’s been absolutely dominant in the minor leagues and that he pitched very well in the big leagues when he was first called up in late 2007. He throws strikes — quality strikes — and that makes him a good pitcher.

3. Any idea who the Yankees might want in the Rule 5 Draft? What position?

Can’t figure it out, to be honest. Infield makes no sense because the 40-man is already packed with utility candidates, I can’t imagine the Rule 5 providing a better backup catcher than Francisco Cervelli, and if the Yankees wanted a power arm, why not protect Grant Duff or Kevin Whelan? There are a few right-handed hitters available who can play the outfield and also have experience at catcher. I wonder if that might work for the Yankees, giving them a little bit more outfield depth — which they need — as well as a spare catcher for days when Cervelli is behind the plate and Jorge Posada is the DH.

4. Any idea of any players that might be taken from the Yankees?

I think Zach Kroenke will be taken, I think Kevin Whelan should be taken and I think Colin Curtis might be taken. There are other candidates — Jason Hirsh, George Kontos, Grant Duff, Alan Horne — but I tend to think Kroenke, Whelan and Curtis are the guys most at risk of being taken.

5. Do you think the Yankees need to improve the bullpen at all or they are good as it is?

I don’t think they have to make a bullpen move, partially because I think they’ll sign Andy Pettitte plus one more starting pitcher. That could leave either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to return to the eighth inning (I still think they should both be starters, but that’s a whole other issue). David Robertson and Mark Melancon are also legitimate options for high-leverage bullpen roles. And you never know what young starter they might convert to the pen. If they were willing to move Hughes, they’re willing to move anyone, and guys like Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister might work well in that role. You never know.

6. Is Zach Kroenke an MLB option at this point? Was he part of the reason they were willing to trade Coke?

I think Mike Dunn was the reason the Yankees were willing to trade Coke. After last year, it’s hard to believe the Yankees see Kroenke playing a role in the big leagues. Kroenke was terrific in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. When he didn’t get a shot then, and when he wasn’t added to the 40-man this winter, it became obvious that the Yankees don’t view him as much of a major league option. I hope he’s taken in the Rule 5 because he deserves a shot.

7. If you had to predict the rotation for next year what would it be?

Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain

I think they’ll bring someone else in to compete, but unless that person is Ben Sheets or Rich Harden, I think it’s entirely possible that Hughes and Chamberlain will outpitch the new competition and win the job.

8. The outfield? What could Melky Cabrera net in a trade and are the Yankees definitely more willing to trade him rather than Brett Gardner?

The short answer is, I have no idea. Cabrera is an enigma on the trade market. He’s still cheap and he’s coming off a nice year, but is his trade value that of a starting center fielder or a fourth outfielder? Everyone seems split on the way they ultimately view him. As for which one I would trade, it’s no secret that I really like Gardner, but I’m not sure it makes sense to have two left-handed center fielders.

*Interview conducted by Brandon of The Pinstriper and Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees Blog*

Plea to the Yankees: Tigers Edition

November 11, 2009 7 comments


There are reports coming out that the Detroit Tigers are considering trading Edwin Jackson and trading Curtis Granderson. If so, I plea, PLEA to the Yankees to trade for not one, but both of them.

Here is why:

Curtis Granderson would eliminate the Yankees need to re-sign Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui, and he would add pop to the lineup AND speed. Granderson, who hit .249 with 30 HR and 71 RBI, is only 28 years old. Granderson was signed to a five-year, $30.25 million deal with a club option for 2013 with the Tigers in February 2008. The Yankees could easily pay that contract.

Edwin Jackson was an all-star in 2009. He went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA. The Yankees could use Jackson as their 3rd starter, which would eliminate the need to sign a John Lackey, or Jason Marquis type of pitcher. Jackson is being paid about $2 Million a year.

So the question remains: What would it take to get BOTH in a trade?

Here is my offer:

CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

Kidding.

Here is my REAL offer:

Melky Cabrera, Reegie Corona, Josh Schmidt, and Austin Romine for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

Is that too much? Too little? Good trade? Bad trade? Explain in the comments!

UPDATE: 2:01 PM: Apparently I don’t know enough about prospects, as it seems like it will take either one of the Yankees big prospects (Hughes, Joba) and an additional prospect/OR a bunch of major prospects such as Zach McAllister, Ian Kennedy, etc.

2010 Roster Preview

November 10, 2009 34 comments


Heres my updated 2010 Roster Preview: (/=more than one choice bold=my choice)

C- Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli/Jose Molina
1B- Mark Teixeira, Juan Miranda/Shelley Duncan
2B- Robinson Cano
3B- Alex Rodriguez,
SS- Derek Jeter, Ramiro Pena/Jerry Hairston Jr.
LF- Jason Bay
CF- Brett Gardner
RF- Nick Swisher
DH- Johnny Damon

SP- CC Sabathia
SP- A.J. Burnett
SP- Zach Duke
SP- Andy Pettite/Jarrod Washburn/Jason Marquis
SP- Phil Hughes

Long Relief- Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin
Middle Relief- Dave Robertson, Mark Melancon
Lefty Relief- Phil Coke, Damaso Marte
Set-Up- Joba Chamberlain
Closer- Mariano Rivera

CHANGES:

Jason Bay instead of Melky Cabrera in the Outfield. Bay would be taken away from the Redsox, who choose Matt Holliday over him, after Bay negotiates with the Yankees and other teams.

-Melky Cabrera and an additional prospect traded to the Pirates for Zach Duke. The Pirates can use a 3rd/4th OF and the Yankees can use pitching. It is well documented that the Pirates and Yankees are very amiable trading partners. The Pirates also have former Yankees prospect Daniel McCutchen waiting in the wing to take over a spot in the rotation.

-Johnny Damon over Hideki Matsui at DH. Damon can play the Outfield and has better speed and is less of an injury scare.

-Andy Pettite re-signed, OR Jarrod Washburn signed, OR Jason Marquis signed. If Pettite chooses not to retire it is a definite that it will be with the Yankees. If he doesn’t they will look to either an older player like Washburn or Randy Wolf. I think Wolf goes to the Astros though AND Washburn goes to the Brewers. That leaves me with Jason Marquis. Innings-eater that the Yankees can benefit from.

-Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain switch roles. Simple move to me. Bring any arguments over to the comments.

CONTRACTS:

Jason Bay- 5 Years, $75 Million

Andy Pettite/Jarrod Washburn- 1 Year, $8.5 Million OR Jason Marquis- 4 Years, $40 Million

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Bring em over to the comments!

*Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPDATE: 2:10 PM: Once again excuse me for my bad judgement of prospects. Apparently a Pirates fan feels that the Pirates have enough OF prospects to deal with the 3rd outfield situation. If so, maybe a Reegie Corona or Eduardo Nunez will do.

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 4

November 2, 2009 2 comments

Johnny Damon steals Philadelphia’s momentum and ARod delivers in the 9th

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 7 PHILLIES 4 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 1st: Derek Jeter singles, Johnny Damon doubles to right field, Jeter to 3rd. Mark Teixeira grounds out to first base. Jeter scores, Damon to 3rd (NYY 1, PHI 0)
  • Top of the 1st: Jorge Posada sacrifice to left field, Johnny Damon scores (NYY 2, PHI 0)
  • Bottom of the 1st: Shane Victorino doubles to enter field. Chase Utley doubles to right field, Victorino scores (NYY 2, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 4th: Ryan Howard singles to center field. Howard steals 2nd base. Pedro Feliz singles to left field, Howard scores (NYY 2, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Nick Swisher walks on 4 balls. Melky Cabrera singles on a ground ball to 2nd base. Derek Jeter singles, Swisher scores and Cabrera to 2nd (NYY 3, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Johnny Damon singles to right field, Cabrera scores (NYY 4, PHI 2)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Chase Utley homers to right field of Sabathia (NYY 4, PHI 3)
  • Bottom of the 8th: Pedro Feliz homers to left field of Chamberlain (NYY 4, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Johnny Damon works a 2 out single. Damon steals 2nd and 3rd base. Mark Teixeira is hit by pitch. Alex Rodriguez doubles to left field, Damon scores and Teixeira to 3rd (NYY 5, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Jorge Posada singles to left field. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira scores (NYY 7, PHI 4)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • CC Sabathia: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 3 BB, 1 HR, 6 SO, 3.29 ERA
  • Joe Blanton: 6 innings, 5 hits allowed, 4 earned runs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 6.00 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: Johnny Damon went 3-for-5 with 1 RBI. He had the best at-bat of the night in the top of the 8th with 2-outs and behind 1-and-2 on the count, and topped it off with 2 stolen bases. Alex Rodriguez working on an 0-fer came through in the 9th with a 2-out double that scored Damon and the Yankees regained their lead.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • For the second time in this World Series Sabathia did not look as dominant as he was in the ALCS. The Yankees gave CC a 2 run cushion to start the game, and he gave 1 right back to the Phillies on two consecutive doubles in the bottom of the 1st where he threw 24 pitches. Sabathia was getting behind on the count and had to work for every precious out. Having said that CC’s ability to grind it out, limiting the Phillies’ opportunities with men in scoring position, may make this outing more impressive than his dominance against the Angels. The bottom of the 5th was as impressive a performance by a pitcher as you will see in the World Series stage. Sabathia put men on 1st and 2nd without recording an out and he’d yet to face Utley, Howard and Werth. CC, and let’s give credit to Posada in this situation, gets Utley and Howard to pop-up before striking out Jayson Werth. Inning over.
  • Alex Rodriguez got hit by a pitch at the top of the 1st. It is his 3rd HBP in this series. A-Rod could not hide his displeasure at being hit again, and one can make the argument that it affected his at-bats throughout the night. He went 0-for-3 with 1 strikeout before a huge clutch hit in the bottom of the 9th propelled the Yankees to victory.
  • Damaso Marte was solid once again. Joba Chamberlain was dealing, but he made a mistake to Feliz (who was hot last night) and he made him pay for it. This may be a great learning experience for Joba and may only make him better next time around.
  • Come on chant with me: Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap, Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap. There is nothing more gratifying to a baseball purist, a fan of the fundamentals of the game, than a heads up play that shows a player’s awareness on the field and his keen instinct. Damon’s base running exploits in the bottom of the 9th has to be in your highlight reel for years to come.
  • The “Comeback Kids” did it again. 3 down…1 to go.