He’s got the Whole World in His Hands

…..or at least the Yankees universe. Apologies to Laurie London. Some of you might remember her 1958 hit.

As of now, the Yanks have wrapped up Posada, Alex and Mo. They picked up Abreu’s option. Any move they seem to be making from here out seems dependent on Andy Pettitte’s decision. Hence the title of this post.

The Yanks know they have to upgrade the bullpen. It appears as if Scott Linebrink will be out of the mix, since the latest word is that Linebrink is headed to the White Sox to set up Bobby Jenks. There were rumors of the Yanks going after Jenks to set up Mo, but that’s one I’d have to see to believe. The White Sox’ bullpen was terrible last year outside of Jenks (so terrible that they picked up Mike “Austin Powers” Myers after he was let go by the Yanks), and getting Linebrink to set up for Jenks is a step toward fixing that leak. Besides, not even the Yankees could afford both Britton and Jenks at a buffet table!

Word is out that the Yanks are interested in Ron Mahay. Mahay’s age (36) is a concern, but he did have a combined ERA of 2.55 for Texas and Atlanta last year. The Yanks could really use a lefty like Mahay in the bullpen. Outside of bringing back Ron Villone, the only options there are Chase Wright, Sean Henn and Kei Igawa. I don’t know if Igawa can be turned around, but I know that I don’t want to see Sean Henn in a Yankee uniform again. J. C. Romero is off of the board, since he was re-signed by the Phils. The Yanks also are taking looks at lefties Trever Miller and Jeremy Affeldt. Speaking of age, has anyone seen some of the age on the free agent list? Troy Percival for one. He is coming off of a good year, especially after having been out of baseball in 2006, but he is a few months older than Mariano. Other relievers on the list include Timlin, Herges, Wickman, Benitez, Brocail, Seanez, Myers, Rhodes, Villone and Mesa. Pass the Geritol.

The bullpen moves bring us back to Pettitte, since so much revolves around him. The Yanks state that Joba is going into the rotation next year. Without Pettitte, that seems like a certainty. Losing a 15-game winner who gave 215 IP would be a huge blow. Not only that, Andy provides a stabilizer for what will be a very youthful rotation which could feature three youngsters (Hughes, Joba and Kennedy). With Pettitte, there might be a slight chance that Joba sticks in the bullpen. Let’s face it, Joba had great success as the setup man and seemed to bring the right temperament and an intimidation factor into the job.

It all comes down to Andy and his decision. It impacts so many things. Think about this–with Andy, it’s Yanks or nobody (meaning retirement), and he is probably the BEST free agent starter out there. I mean, when Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse are among the top starters on the market…ugh.

One thing that I do hate. It seems like EVERY free agent is rumored to be going to the Yankees. I mean, come on. Some of those rumored to be going to the Yanks make absolutely no sense for the Yanks to pick them up. I never believed the Mike Lowell to 1b on a four-year deal baloney. With a logjam at 1B now (Betemit, Phillips, Giambi, Shelley Duncan, not to mention Juan Miranda, who’ll probably start at AAA, creating a logjam there with Eric Duncan), did you? Let’s stick to realistic talk about who may or may not be coming and not just throw every free agent onto the Yankees pile, shall we?

Other news. Maybe now things will heat up on the trade and free agent market. The first blows have been struck by the Angels. First they trade Orlando Cabrera to the White Sox for John Garland, now they have signed Torii Hunter as a free agent. Hunter in CF with Vlad in RF makes for an excellent defensive OF. Garrett Anderson at 35 could be moved into the DH slot. As for the Pale Hose, they were hoping for Hunter but lost him. They really need OF help. It wasn’t there last year, and they just let Podsednik and Erstad go. I’m sure they’ll be looking for OF help in the free agent or trade markets.

Apparently Shelley Duncan had some health issues. Rumors are of a blood clot in his arm. The Yanks aren’t saying, and I don’t want to speculate further. Duncan did have a hernia at season’s end, which apparently was worked on soon after the Yanks were eliminated from the playoffs.

Remember C.J. Henry, the Yanks’ 2005 1st-round pick who was included in the Abreu deal? He asked for his release from the Phillies (was with Clearwater, A-level) and it was granted. Henry, who has struggled the past few years, asked to come back to the Yanks and the Yanks have re-signed him. Expect him to try to revive his career at Tampa. He’ll move off of SS and give it a go in the OF.

Some roster moves were made, mostly with the intent of keeping some from becoming Rule 5 eligible. Scott Patterson was given a major league contract. He had a great year at AA Trenton last year, and the 28-year-old could be a find out of the independent league much like Edwar Ramirez was. Hopefully he can make the jump to the majors with better success than Edwar did last year. Patterson was 4-2, 2 saves and a 1.09 ERA at AA Trenton last year. He also pitched in one game for AAA Scranton, and delivered three scoreless innings. In 77.1 total IP last year, he had 92 K. He may be someone to watch in spring training next year or at AAA Scranton.

Also added to the 40-man were P Jeffrey Marquez (15 wins at AA Trenton) and C Francisco Cervelli. The 21-year-old Cervelli is the most advanced of the catchers in the minors. In 155 career minor league games, he has hit .277 with 5 HR and 57 RBI. His defense is getting good reviews.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have been very sick with a bad chest cold. Whether it is worse than that (flu, bronchitis), I don’t know, but I’ve been more or less bedridden the past few days. I am still recovering, so posts may be infrequent for a while yet.

Here is wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots to be thankful for.

Update, November 23rd. Linebrink has gone to the White Sox on a four-year, $19 million deal. As for Jenks, why would the White Sox give that deal to Linebrink only to deal Jenks? That deal is to set up the big guy, not deal him away.

It’s amazing that a set-up guy can get that, and it goes to show how much the game has changed. Years ago, there was no DH. We have already seen a Harold Baines, Paul Molitor and Edgar Martinez. We see Big Papi today. All top-notch hitters who command big bucks. Years ago there were four-man rotations and more complete games. Now there are five-man rotations with your middle-innings men, set-up men and closers. Instead of using two men, for example, Hunter for 7 and Fingers for 2 for the 1974 A’s, you now have (hypothetically) the 2008 Yanks conceivably going with Hughes for 5 2/3, Mahay (if Yanks sign him) for 1/3, Vizcaino (if re-signed) for 1, Farnsworth? for 1, then Rivera for 1. Whew. There are a lot of reasons for rising salaries, but the increase in specialization (as seen in the DH and bullpen roles) is certainly a major reason.

The market for relievers goes up even more. Reports are that Francisco Cordero has signed with the Reds. 4 yrs./$46 mil.

Sympathies go out to the family of Joe Kennedy. In stunning news, word came that “the patriarch”, as broadcaster John Sterling dubbed him, passed away suddenly this morning at the age of 28. The lefty was a free agent when he died. In a seven-year career, he was 43-61 with a 4.79 ERA for Tampa Bay, Colorado, Oakland, Arizona and Toronto. He spent 2007 with Oakland, Arizona and Toronto and was a combined 4-9, 4.80. He leaves a wife and son, and you have to feel for them.

Update, November 30th. Posada’s signing became official yesterday. Most notable in the remarks by Posada were what he said about Pettitte. He said that he speaks to him weekly, and that as of now, Pettitte is leaning toward retirement. I write in this post about how key Pettitte’s return is for the Yanks in 2008. Right now, if Pettitte retired, even with Santana, a youngster would be # 3 in the rotation. You really would like to break a kid in at # 4 or 5. If Andy comes back and there is no Santana, a youngster is still # 3. If no Pettitte AND no Santana? A youngster is # 2. The idyllic situation? Santana-Wang-Pettitte as your 1-2-3 with a youngster breaking in at # 4.

As far as the bullpen goes, Percival goes to the Rays, Riske looks headed to the Brewers. There are fewer options out there. Mahay?

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