Ok, we know the Yanks will go hot and heavy for Cliff Lee. Are there any other free agents the Yanks could or should target?
First of all, the Yanks have to take care of their own, meaning Jeter and Rivera.
As for other players, I don’t see them going after Crawford or Werth. I don’t want Dunn and don’t think the Yanks have any interest in him.
In looking at the top 20 free agents as listed in the NY Post, I wasn’t interested in any of them (and, just as an aside, they had Manny listed at #20).
But in looking at a top 50 list on MLBTR, there was a name that caught my eye.
He made $4M last year. I don’t know what he is seeking now.
It’s Scott Downs.
Why would I love Downs on the Yankees? Consider this. The Yanks last year, for most of the year, had only one lefty in the bullpen. Boone Logan.
Logan had a great 2009. An unexpectedly great 2009. How unexpectedly great?
2007 68 games. 2-1, 4.97 for the White Sox.
2008 2-3, 5.95 in 55 games.
2009 1-1, 5.19 in 20 games for the Braves.
2010 2-0, 2.93 in 51 games for the Yankees.
Um. See anything that sticks out and is out of the norm there? (besides the reduced # of games in 2009?)
So if you are a Yankees fan like I am, you are happy at what you got from Logan in 2009, but also a bit skeptical. There’s the, “oh yeah, let me see you do it again” attitude.
The only other lefties who pitched out of the bullpen last year for the Yankees were Royce Ring, 0-0, 15.43 in five games, and Damaso Marte, 0-0, 4.08 in thirty games. Marte has had surgery, and won’t be able to even resume pitching until after the 2011 All Star Break. Ring was removed from the 40 man roster last week and Ring was then granted free agency a few weeks later.
So what do the Yanks do? Logan is an unproven commodity. I’m looking for insurance.
It’s why I’m interested in Downs, who will be 35 next year. Downs made $4m in 2010.
In 2006, Downs was moved full-time to the bullpen. In that, his adjustment year if you will, he went 6-2, 4.09, 1 save. Since then, he has flourished.
All with Toronto:
2007 4-2, 2.17. Led AL with 81 games. 1 save.
2008 0-3, 1.78. Five saves. 66 games.
2009 1-3, 3.09 9 saves. 48 games
2010 5-5, 2.64 no saves. 67 games.
Superb numbers. Great insurance plan if Logan falters. Great 1-2 lefty punch if Logan doesn’t falter.
MLBTR does state that Downs could also draw interest from Boston, Philly (who let J.C. Romero go), and the Angels. They also point out that a draft pick would have to be surrendered.
Does he fit the Yanks’ budget? I don’t know (yes, the Yanks have a budget. I don’t know what it is, and it’s considerably higher than others, but…).
You don’t just go after the best players. You go after needs. It just so happens that Lee fills a need. Vazquez’ departure opens a rotation spot. Who better to fill it? Not only that, but Pettitte may retire.
A lefty reliever is also a Yankees need, especially when you had just one of them last year and he is still unproven.
Downs can fill a need. From John Heyman of SI: Lefties hit .152 off him last year.
#1 choice for a lefty reliever?
The Yankees can also look across town, as the Mets Pedro Feliciano is a free agent. He may come cheaper than Downs, as he made $2.9 M in 2010. Feliciano has led the majors in appearances each of the last three seasons (86, 88 and 92 games).
2007 3-4, 4.05; 2008 6-4, 3.03 and 2009 3-6, 3.30. Not bad, but numbers not as good as Downs’ were. Downs also did it while working in the AL East, not the NL East.
Downs is slightly older than Feliciano. Once again, from Heyman: Feliciano’s career numbers vs. lefties? .214 BA
Feliciano. Option 2?
J. C. Romero is as old as the other two. Meaning that in 2011 he turns 35. 1-0, 3.68 for the Phils this past year (and I would guess the Phils/Angels/Red Sox and others after lefties would show interest in all the lefty relievers I have mentioned, except for Romero/Phils, since they let him walk), Romero drew a suspension in 2009 for violating MLB’s PED policy. 29 walks in 36 2/3 in 2010. As John Heyman states,
“Be skeptical when guys with failed steroid tests have down years.”
Romero against lefties? .215 BA. $4.25M last year.
Another ex-Met is a FA. Hisanori Takahashi, who’ll be 36 next year. Takahashi is asking for a three-year deal worth $4-5MM per season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. No way do I give him that. He did well, starting and relieving, going 10-6, 3.61, 114 K in 122 IP, but I’m not giving any lefty reliever three years unless he was a Lyle or Franco-type closer. So scratch him.
Asking too much?
Hmm. I’d give only two years to a reliever, especially when all are 35 or 36. My first preference is Downs, because of the AL East experience, but I don’t know if the Yanks would want to give up the draft pick that comes with taking a Type-A. I wouldn’t mind Feliciano, who has that NY experience (albeit across town). I’m down on Romero and don’t want to give Takahashi three years.
So Downs or Feliciano? It may come down to the draft pick, years and salary.
Downs made $4m last year? To me, he’s who I’d target. The core (Jeter, Rivera, Alex, Posada, Pettitte) isn’t getting younger. Granted all the lefties I named above will be 35 or 36 next year.
But if the sands of time are getting low on the core, go for it now.
What do you think? Downs? 2 years, $10M? Yes, I’d like Wood back, but if he isn’t back, getting that second lefty in Downs would not be a bad move (as far as cost goes, Wood had an $11.5M option not picked up. Downs for two years could be less than Wood for one year would have been). Wood, of course, is a righty and may want to close and not setup. Downs knows what his role would be.
So don’t only follow the Lee negotiations. Granted he’s top notch and will command top dollar. He’d be a superb pickup. Follow the minor negotiations too.
Like a lefty reliever. It could be just as important to the Yanks 2011 chances as Lee could be.
Update, 11/11 : BBD reports the Yanks have no interest in Downs due to the draft pick loss. If the Yanks sign Lee, they may already lose a pick, so…
it’s too bad, but I see the Yanks point. Still, a lefty reliever must be found.
Damn, I’d love to have Downs.