4 p.m. A check of the MLB site gives news that the Yanks could be looking at Mark Prior and/or Kris Benson (we’re probably looking at Anna). We’ll see. As I’ve stated before, it seems like the Yanks are linked to everyone–whether they actually are interested or not.
Both of these pitchers, along with Freddy Garcia, wouldn’t be ready until the 2008 season is already underway. Prior went 1-6, 7.21 in 2006 in nine games before requiring surgery that would knock him out for all of 2007. He went 11-7, 3.67 in 166.7 IP (188 K) in 2005. There is no question he is talented, but only once has he pitched 200 innings in a season–2003. Maybe he needs to switch to the bullpen as did Kerry Wood. He is just 27 so if he shows something, someone will take a chance on him. His lifetime record is 42-29, 3.51 (ERA+ of 123). 757 K in 657 IP is promising and you wonder how much surgery took off his stuff. If healthy, a decent gamble now that the Cubs non-tendered him. You have to wonder though, a) is he healthy b) how much he will have and c) can he ever stay healthy?
Kris Benson missed all of 2007 also. He went 11-12, 4.82 for the Orioles in 2006. Your typical “average” 4 or 5 pitcher, Benson is 68-73 in his career with a 4.34 ERA (ERA + 102). Some of that was pitching for bad Pirate teams. In getting Kris, you also get Anna, and you have to wonder what kind of distraction that would bring. Teams may shy away. Benson is more of a risk because of his age (33) and the fact that he has never won more than 12 games in a season. Prior has only done it once–in his brilliant 18-6, 2.43 season of 2003.
Garcia is 32 and coming off a season of 1-5, 5.90. His career ERA isn’t great, 4.07 (ERA+ 111) but he does have a .606 winning pct. His 117-76 career record reflects on seven seasons of pitching 200 or more innings. He has topped 15 wins in a season four times. If healthy, he seems to be the best risk, even though the younger Prior may have the greatest potential.
All three would serve as mid-season insurance for a staff and could possibly help a team who may have one of its starters go down in mid-season or that insurance could serve to provide a youth-laden staff (Yankees?) with a veteran should a youngster run into trouble.
It will be interesting to see who takes a flyer at these three.
MLB also reports that the Rockies are listening to offers for lefty set-up man Brian Fuentes. I’ll be surprised if the Yanks are not one of the teams who have checked in. Remember that as of now, the only lefties the Yanks have to put into the bullpen are Sean Henn (ugh), Kei Igawa (hoo-boy) and Chase Wright, and that is taking into account that Igawa and Wright would have to be converted from starting to relieving. The 32 year old Fuentes was 3-5, 20 saves and an ERA of 3.08 for the NL champs last year. He is 16-22, 3.53 (ERA+ 137) for his career with 85 saves. He saved at least 30 games in 2005 and 2006. He made the All-Star team in each of the past three years. Now here is a guy worth pursuing. He is lefty, which the Yanks need. He can set-up Mo, and with his closer’s experience, close out a game once in a while to give the 38 year old Rivera a rest. Put it this way, who would you trust more, Fuentes, Farnsworth(less) or Hawkins?? Fuentes also has K ability which Hawkins doesn’t. For his career, Fuentes has K’d 398 in 359.3 IP. He had 56 in 61.3 last year. He did give up 4 runs in 3.7 IP vs. Boston in the WS. His 2008 salary of $7 million may scare off some teams but would make him a perfect fit for—you guessed it–the Yankees.
I don’t expect the Yanks to make a move on him, but Tony Clark is available. The 6’7″ Clark is known as one of the “good guys” in baseball, and did relatively well in a platoon role for the D-Backs last year, hitting .249-17-51 in only 221 at bats. You may remember that Clark was with the Yanks in 2004, and had a 3-homer game for the Yanks in August of that year up in Toronto (in a game attended by yours truly). The switch-hitting Clark is a .265 career hitter with 244 career HR (113 career OPS+). He is 35 and hit .221-16-49 in 253 at bats for the 2004 Yankees. His size presents a nice target at 1B. With Shelley Duncan, Wilson Betemit and Jason Giambi all looking like they will get 1B time, Giambi, Damon and Matsui getting DH time, and LF probably being alternated between Damon and Matsui, there appear to be enough bodies. Clark’s numbers have been shaky since 2001 (bad year/good year/bad year/good year). He can whiff a lot, but still has a lot of power and could probably still help somebody in a platoon role. Don’t expect a high average, though.
7 p.m. Gotta love that Scott Bora$$ (not…). MLB trade rumors states that he is looking for a five-year deal for Kyle Lohse. Lohse is 63-74, 4.82 (ERA+ 95) in his career. Lohse won 13 in 2002, 14 in 2003 and hasn’t hit the 10 mark for a season since, but that’s what agents are for, right? To wear the rose-colored glasses? After royally messing up the A-Rod negotiations, A-Rod isn’t speaking to Bora$$. His comments on Bora$$ last night on CBS’ 60 Minutes were quite telling. Lohse is 29, but any team giving him (32-48 in the last four years; an 8-12 average) a five-year deal is nuts.
12/18, 1:50 p.m. The MLB official site states that Benson had a great workout on Monday, with many scouts (including the Yankees) present to see it.
12/19 5 p.m. Reports are that the Giants are looking at Clark.