I read today where Luis Vizcaino refused arbitration from the Yanks and is now a free agent. Apparently the Viz wants a multi-year deal (think Riske and Linebrink) and the Yanks don’t want to go there. I don’t blame them. The Viz (8-2, 4.30 in 2007, ERA+ 104; just about his career average year) has pitched in 70 or more games in a season in five of the past six years. He lost game 2 of the ALDS this year, and if he DOES walk, more pressure is placed on Ross Ohlendorf to prove himself. (Steven Jackson and Alberto “The D.A.” Gonzalez were also acquired in the deal for Randy Johnson–a good deal, I thought at the time and still think–but I’m not sold on either of those two). Frankly, I worry about ANY reliever the year after Torre has had him. Proctor’s decline in 2007 wasn’t significant ERA-wise, but his WHIP was up a lot. Paul Quantrill died off at the end of 2004 and was terrible in 2005 before being let go. After 2005, it seems like Tanyon Sturtze has joined a witness protection program. Mendoza broke down. It’s hard to pin it all on Joe, but I remember a game last year, shortly before the break, where instead of getting a good look at Edwar in a blowout, Joe used Proctor for God-knows-what-reason. I think it teed off the brass, for that was in the middle of Edwar’s “sabbatical”–where he didn’t pitch at all for two weeks. I haven’t been a fan of Torre’s bullpen management the past few years, and his bullpen management is what could have brought on the “Joba Rules.”
Having said that, I do realize the dilemma Joe had. No one stepped up and distinguished themselves.
There will be ample opportunity to do so this coming spring. See a previous post of mine this week about the free agent relievers still available. It doesn’t excite you, does it? Maybe the Viz and the Yanks still work out a deal. Nevertheless, the Yanks could have some fourteen or more pitchers competing for seven spots in the bullpen. Can you really name me a “lock” for the bullpen outside of Mariano? It could be a cattle call. Just put out a sign. Open auditions. Now hiring. Heck, I’d think they’d look at Sidd Finch if he showed up. Girardi has his hands full and choosing a bullpen will probably be his toughest job.
The money is one of the reasons I was torn over getting Santana, and still am. Say Hughes or Joba develop into a 16 or 17 game winner. For the same amount of wins Santana may give you at $20 million a year, you may be able to get that for $500K. Money is already being wasted on the Igawa and Pavano contracts, and thank goodness Giambi and Mussina are up after 2008. If you can save any amount, anywhere, why not do it? The young pitchers are under your fiscal control for a while. I know that there is great risk that they may not pan out, but if they do (and Yankee fans sure hope so), then the money saved on Santana could go into the bullpen (much needed!), scouting, minor league development, and so on.
George King in the NY Post states that the Yanks aren’t interested in Lowry (see previous post for stats). They did inquire about Lincecum, who the Giants–rightfully so–declared off-limits. There is interest in Sanchez, but obviously the Yanks wouldn’t deal Godzilla for just Sanchez.
Andy Phillips cleared waivers but refused an assignment to SWB. I can’t blame the guy. After all, it’s the second time in a year the Yanks DFA’d him. No one wants to stay where they aren’t wanted. Having not tendered Mientkiewicz and in now losing AP, the Yanks have lost their best defensive first basemen. Andy did hit .292 last year for the Yanks, but it was a “soft” .292. Only 10 of his 54 hits were for extra bases and his OPS+ was 88. He has 479 ABs in his career, about one season’s worth, and is at .253-11-60. It’s far below what you want from a 1B, and when you look at his bb/k ratio, you see what really hurts. 28 bb/96 K. I like Phillips. He always gave his best, and by all accounts is a nice guy. He’s serviceable. His offense had to be better however, and he isn’t young anymore (31 next April). WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).
As for Mientkiewicz, he is a free agent, and who knows where he goes? A-Rod’s former high school teammate rebounded from a horrid start to finish at .277. Believe it or not, his OPS+ finished above 100. The “Eye Chart” (go ahead, go to Baseball Reference, the link is to the right, type in Eye Chart, hit search, and see what comes up) is not a great offensive option, but he is better than Phillips both offensively and defensively, believe it or not. I wouldn’t mind it if the Yanks let him go, but wonder if it would be a good idea. His presence seemed to stablilize A-Rod for one thing. For another, I’m not sold on Shelley Duncan and/or Jason Giambi getting playing time at 1B. Don’t get me wrong, their bats could be decent in a platoon, but the D scares me. I still remember the horror show Giambi put on up in Fenway last year. Betemit needs to realize more of his potential. The Yanks have not had strikeout pitchers in the past few years. It’s too early to see how many K’s Hughes and Chamberlain will get, but Wang, Pettitte and Mussina either aren’t strikeout pitchers or because of age, don’t K as many as they used to. Defense is critical if you don’t have the flamethrower, and that is why I wonder if the Yanks shouldn’t reach out to the Eye Chart—not as a full-time player, but definitely as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Lastly, Mussina turns 39 today. I was going to say the Moose, but for many of us, that still refers to Skowron. That Moose will be 77 in ten days.
Update, Dec. 9th, 9 a.m. I figure it’s best to put a time on the postings. Anyway, I see Eric Gagne (Gag Me to Red Sox fans) is about to become a Brewer.
Cross him off of that list I posted a few days ago.
I also see the Yanks have DFA’d Bronson Sardinha. Sardinha got his first 9 MLB at bats last year, and had three singles and 2 RBI. I had seen Sardinha in the same OF at Trenton with Melky Cabrera and Kevin Thompson a few years ago, and thought the other two were far better than Sardinha. Sardinha will be 25 next April, so he still has time to latch on elsewhere. Good luck to him.
Meanwhile, I have to believe that no insurance company in the world wanted to insure 97-year-old P.A. Announcer Bob Sheppard against having to pronounce Sardinha’s middle name of Kiheimahanaomauiakeo, should Sheppard ever have to say it.
12/9, 1:30 p.m. Word is the Yanks are looking at Haren. Of course they are. He would be more affordable than Santana and is two years younger. Word is also that the A’s would pursue a deal as tough as, if not more so, than the Santana deal. The A’s have NO interest in Melky, as I wrote in an earlier post. They would want Hughes, Kennedy (or a Horne) and a third prospect. No deal, Howie.
It’s also reported that the Yanks will cut Pavano and that Pavano would then accept a minor league deal. All formalities. Now if Pavano would only accept a NASA deal. Skylab for a whole year. We can only wish.
Dave Pinto of Baseball Musings (see link on right) reports that Milton Bradley (no, not the game-maker) is not heading back to SD as first thought but is going to Texas. This could mean that free agent Sammy Sosa and his 609 HR will not be back in Texas. I would suspect that teams may wait for the Mitchell report to come out before signing Sammy. Or does Texas know something that we suspect? Pinto also reports that the Rockies look to be getting Tadahito Iguchi to replace Kaz Matsui (who went to Houston) at 2B. I need to bone up on Japanese! Iguchi did a nice job filling in for Utley for the Phils when Utley missed a month this year, hitting .304 for the Phils. He has a ring from the 2005 White Sox WS Champs. Apparently he wasn’t keen on the Phils idea of moving him from 2B to 3B. Meanwhile, 3B Wes Helms of the Phils is apparently being looked at by the Marlins as a replacement for Miggy Cabrera. Helms, who played for the Marlins (and Joe Girardi) in 2006, was a disappointing .246-5-39 (OPS+ 68) for the Phils last year in 280 AB. 19 bb/62 K. He did have a very good year for Girardi (OPS + 149) in 2006 in a platoon role (240 AB). Still in all, what a drop-off from Miggy to possibly Helms. It may be a blessing for Girardi that he’s out of Miami.
Update, 12/10, 6:10 p.m. I just saw and heard a report that Gagne’s one-year deal could be worth up to $10 million. I know they’re called the Brewers, but I was not aware that they were imbibing the brew to that extent. Granted Gagne did ok with Texas, but didn’t Milwaukee take notice of the last two months of the season? Red Sox Nation must be ROFL after seeing Gagne go 2-2, 6.75 in the two months they had him. The Brew Crew could have gotten Gagne for much less.