Friday, November 30, 2007

Meanwhile... the Yankees offer

According to Jack Curry of the NY Times, the Yankees have offered Minnesota a package of Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera and one more minor leaguer. Curry speculates it could be Jose Tabata, but speculation is all that it is.
The Yankees have offered pitcher Ian Kennedy, center fielder Melky Cabrera and at least one minor league prospect, perhaps outfielder José Tabata. In the trade discussions, the Yankees have told the Twins that pitcher Joba Chamberlain is untouchable and that they do not want to deal pitcher Phil Hughes.

Because the Twins are insisting that Hughes must be a part of the package, the Yankees are mulling whether to make that concession. If the Yankees insert Hughes for Kennedy in their offer, they think it could be enough to obtain Santana. Of course, the Yankees, or any team that reached an agreement with the Twins, would then have the challenging task of signing Santana to a huge six- or seven-year contract in a 72-hour window.
In my speculation, a package beginning with IPK and Melky would also need another position piece and another high level prospect which would very likely mean Alan Horne or Humberto Sanchez.

* Jorge wants Santana in pinstripes.

A Year Later: Minnesota Master Plan II

About 11 months ago, following deals which sent Randy Johnson and Gary Sheffield packing in exchange for several young prospects, there was some media daydreaming discussing a potential Johan Santana megaswap.

Trading high profile, future hall of famers like Sheff and Unit was a vivid signal that times were changing in the Yankees universe. With their farm system improving exponentially, I allowed myself to ponder the prospect of a future swap involving Johan and numerous Yankee farmers.
Obviously there are no hard facts to the above excerpt, but the idea is certainly feasible. When a team knows they are unable to retain a superstar who's on the brink of free agency, the idea of trading him becomes inevitable. Why would the Twins not attempt to draw a bundle of high-end prospects (the Yankees have) for Santana? Otherwise Minnesota would get zero compensation for his services and then watch him go to the highest bidder.

If Cashman is able to flip some of the prospects he has in the bank for a Santana or Zambrano, Johnson's 205 innings will be accounted for, as will New York's quest for a true ace. These are questions to be answered far down the road, but the fact that they are not based in pure insanity is exciting in itself.
Well, it appears as though that time "far down the road" has become here and now. It's amazing to watch the progression of an organization and it would be naive to think that the gradual construction of the Yankees (now powerful) farm system just happened to coincide with the imminent availability of the best pitcher in baseball.

Now we'll see why Cashman gets paid the big bucks. It'll be an old fashioned gunfight, with Bill Smith waiting in the saloon, trying his best not to blink first.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Garza for Young Deal Done

The deal involving Matt Garza and Delmon Young has officially been finalized.

This is probably the first domino to fall, with the second being a Joe Nathan deal and the third being the Johan Santana blockbuster.

Not sure if this means Phil Hughes is more or less likely to be included in any deal, but something tells me Brian Cashman may offer multiple very good prospects to make up for the exclusion of one great prospect (Hughes).

At least I hope so. Guys like McCutchen, Melancon, Sanchez, etc. are valuable lower level guys who the Twins may covet more than we know. I think adding Kennedy and Horne in Hughes place would be tough, but necessary in the end.

There are literally tens of combinations both teams will contemplate, but which one matches each team's desires is something nobody will know until it happens. Seems like Santana really wants to pitch in New York and for the Yankees, however, so that has to fall in the Yankees favor in some capacity.

* Meanwhile, Troy Percival is another option for the Yankees, along with Riske, Mahay, etc.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yankees Talking To Minnesota About Santana

According to ESPN, the Yankees have begun preliminary discussions with the Twins regarding a Johan Santana deal.

There is no way of knowing how far along such negotiations have gotten. It's very possible the Yankees have simply thrown their proverbial hat into the ring, just like the Mets and Red Sox have already done.

The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins have started trade talks involving Johan Santana.

Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said Monday that discussions are ongoing but it was too early to tell whether they would lead to a deal. He did not detail how far talks had progressed.

"I don't want to get into that at this point, as far as what they want, what we're willing to give and all that," he said. "It's preliminary right now."

Santana is eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, and the Twins have been trying to sign the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner to an extension.

Asked whether the Twins had said they would consider a trade, Steinbrenner responded: "Oh, yeah."

I would start with a trade proposal of Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, Alan Horne and/or Jeff Marquez and go from there. Jose Tabata would be an interesting piece to consider adding to a deal, but I would refuse to deal Joba, Hughes or A-Jax. Understood you have to give up a lot to get a perennial Cy Young contender, but Phil Hughes should still be off limits.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mo Will Accept 3-Year Deal

According to The Daily News and The New York Post, Mariano Rivera may accept the 3-year contract offer as soon as today - though the Post believes a Mo redux could wait until Turkey Day.

After returning from the Dominican Republic tonight, Mariano Rivera is going to huddle with his representatives tomorrow and according to several sources is expected to accept the Yankees' three-year, $45 million offer early next week.

As I said a few days ago, Hank Steinbrenner's unnecessary machismo would not go over well with a classy guy like Rivera. Lil' Stein should have kept his fat mouth shut, and The Post reports Mariano would agree:

The future Hall of Fame closer isn't happy about Hank Steinbrenner talking as much as he has about the contract offer that will make Rivera the highest paid closer by $4 million.

Once again, Hank, stop pretending you've been running this franchise for more than a month and reserve the wiseass comments for the Miguel Cairos of the world.


Tycoon Helped A-Rod Diss Boras

Meanwhile, it turns out Alex Rodriguez took the advice of an unusual friend in ditching his agent, Scott Boras. This unlikely source of knowledge used his $52 billion net worth to convince A-Rod to do so.

The imminent A-Rod deal now involves the billionaire Steinbrenner family, the biggest agent in professional sports, two money men from Goldman Sachs, the second wealthiest man on the planet and the best player in major league baseball.

That's a lot of dough involved with one piece of paper.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lowell Off Yankees Radar, Where He Belongs

As was expected, the Yankees' supposed interest in FA Mike Lowell has waned.

Tough Offseason For Scotty Boras

First A-Rod tossed Scott Boras to the sidelines in favor of some money men from Goldman Sachs and now Kenny Rogers fired the uberagent, deciding instead to represent himself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

One "Mo" Signed, The Other Not Yet

According to Mark Feinsand, Jose Molina agreed to a two-year deal worth $4 million. The Yankees finally found a reliable, solid back up catcher via trade last summer. Now, they made the obvious move, bringing him back for the next few seasons.

Also contained in Feinsand's article is Mariano Rivera maintaining his desire for a four year contract.

Ok, Mo, we get it. For all the otherworldly accomplishments you've notched on an unmatched playoff belt, it's time to take the $15 million per season and sign on the dotted line. Everyone laughed when Billy Wagner got a more lucrative contract then The Sandman, but this deal will allow him to laugh back.

Let's go. We got a Houston lefthander to lure back into Yankeeland.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rumor: Yankees Offered Lowell Four-Year Deal

A Boston tv station offered an unnamed source stating the Yankees and three other teams offered Mike Lowell a four-year deal. However, MLB Trade Rumors debunked the report as false after Atlanta, LAA and St. Louis all denied it as inaccurate.

If the Yankees offer is legit, it may have come before Alex Rodriguez was back in the fold. Whatever the case may be, at least it would drive up the price for the Boy Genius & his Boston Beaneaters.

From the seemingly irrelevant WHDH report:
Lowell has received contract offers from four separate MLB teams: the Braves, Angels, Cardinals, and Yankees.

Each offer is a 4-year contract, worth between $55-60 million.

The Yankees offer includes a request that Lowell play First Base, something the Gold-Glove-winning third baseman does not want to do.

The Red Sox have previously offered Lowell a 3-year contract worth $36 million.

Lowell is now waiting to see if the Red Sox will up their initial offer and try to keep him in Boston, in lieu of these newest offers from the four previously mentioned teams.

Hopefully a flirtation and nothing more took place between Lowell's agents and the Yankees. I'd rather have Eric 'Enigmatic' Duncan manning first than adding another overpaid, aging, and/or wildcard piece to an already log-jammed puzzle.

A-Rod Back, Bonds Indicted

Jeter may have some tax problems, but A-Rod is back in the building. Rumored deal is still 10 years, $275 million. Rodriguez will soon begin his assault on the alltime homerun record.

Leading us back to the current "record holder," though the new home run king may have taken himself out of the record books for A-Rod because . . Bonds is cooked.

His trainer, Greg Anderson was released from prison today. The same trainer who authorities have been trying to turn states evidence the last four years. Did he flip?

Did the government finally say enough is enough and decide to make their move on Bonds?

Fact is, the feds have a positive test for Bonds from somewhere.

Maybe years ago Mr. Anderson decided to take a DNA sample from Barr-oid back in 2002 when he was a walking pharmacy and placed it in a safety deposit box - just in case he would one day need it for a rainy day.

Looks like the black cloud's following big ol' Barry now...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A-Rod Back?

The New York Daily News broke the story that Alex Rodriguez is in talks, sans Scott Boras, to return to the Yankees for the remainder of his career. A-Rod reached the Yankees through a third party, in place of Boras, and a deal rumored to be worth up to $275 million may soon follow.

This will be an interesting story to follow as I'm sure many Yankees fans are just as mixed as I am on a Rodriguez return. If it comes out that Rodriguez offered a discount and truly desires to be a Yankee for the rest of his career, it will go a long way in reaquiring the fanbase's trust.

Very, very interesting...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lil' Stein Continues Talking Big

Hey Hank, will you shut your big fat mouth already?

You offered Mo a contract, now let the front office do its job.

As Burt Lancaster once said, "I don't relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun."

Maybe Hank should take some advice from J.J. Hunsecker.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Posada Deal IS In Hand; 4 yrs $52 M

Guess I wasn't just being "optimistic" about Jorge Posada as the catcher has a deal in place for 4 years at $13 million per season. Mariano should follow, possibly offering Andy Pettitte enough incentive to keep on pitching.

Posada had the Yankees by the bolsillos and earned himself an extra year and an extra $10 million. Had New York negotiated with Rivera & Posada this Spring, the closer could have been had for two years (instead of the three he'll get) and the catcher could have been had for three years (instead of the four he got).

From the ESPN report:
The New York Yankees and Jorge Posada agreed Monday night to a $52.4 million, four-year contract that keeps the catcher off the free-agent market.

Posada, a five-time All-Star who is 36, said Sunday he was "really close" to an agreement with the Yankees and his preference is to remain with the only major league team he's played for. A person familiar with the talks confirmed the deal to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn't announce it.

Hard to fault the Yanks for overpaying for Posada, regardless of his age. The Bombers have no viable replacement in the farm system. Cervelli is overrated and Jesus Montero is a teenager. Neither one is within earshot of Yankee Stadium, and years away from breaking a big league roster.

The free agent class includes chronically injured and overrated Paul La Dooshbag as well as Yorvit Torrealba, a low .200 hitter with a fraction of Posada's punch.

The only solution was giving Hip Hip the keys to the vault.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Posada May Be In Hand

Lohud reports Jorge Posada may be close to completing a deal with the Yanks, though he also seems committed to hitting free agency. He offers some Joe Girardi cuddling comments and expressed the Yankees as "better than 50/50" to retain the 36 year-old backstop.

Posada going out of his way to compliment the new Yankees manager seems to be the most telling portion of the interview. In many ways such comments are the precursor to a signed deal and subsequent press conference where Rick Cerone and Randy Levine fall all over themselves patting each other on the back.

From Peter Abraham:

Update on his situation: “We’re working on it. We’re working with the Yankees. We’re going to hear from the Mets tomorrow. I have no idea. … I would like to stay with the Yankees. My heart is with the Yankees, so hopefully we can get something done.

Does he want to stay with Yankees? “That would be the first choice, yes.”

Are you going to listen to other teams: “Yes.”

Are you in the driver’s seat? “Yeah. Yeah. We’re really close. It’s not about the money. For me, it’s the best situation.”

On Joe Girardi: “I love Joe. You know, Joe’s like a big brother to me. He’s been a big brother to me since like ‘96, so hopefully I’m hopefully looking forward to working with him.”

Are chances better than 50-50 you’ll be a Yankee? “Yes. Right now it’s up in the air, but the chances are good.”

Can somebody forward this to Thanks.

Trading Cano? I Don't Think So

The excellent Ken Davidoff of Newsday believes a Johan Santana deal could require star second baseman Robinson Cano.
The gap between an available Santana and a traded Santana figures to be steep, and that means high asking prices for all suitors - including the Yankees, who have targeted the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

In return for Santana, the Twins likely will ask for a package centered on second baseman Robinson Cano, a person familiar with Minnesota's operations said yesterday.

"The Twins aren't stupid," the person said. "They're going to try to make this like another Chuck Knoblauch trade."

A Yankees package of Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes and a prospect might not get it done for Santana, agreed a second major-league official. The Twins already have a plethora of young pitching, so their focus is on offense.
If the Twinkies want offense and not pitching, how about a deal including Austin Jackson, Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy to start? Throw in an MLB offensive player or second tier pitching prospect and see what distance lies between the two teams.

Then, like it or not, the Yankees would probably have to pursue Torii Hunter to replace Melky in center. If Santana could be had in a similar deal not involving Hughes or Chamberlain, you gotta do it.

That said, the Yankees are about as high on Cano as they are on anyone. He is the offensive version of Joba. Young, confident and full of promise.

A future #3 hitter in any lineup, Cano has already hit .340, challenged for a batting title, knocked in 97 runs and hit nearly 20 homers in a season. He has a little Bernie in him, making an inexplicable mental mistake five times a year, but he will soon hit 30 homers and knock in 100+ runs annually.

All this from a blossoming second baseman with a gun for an arm, a knack for turning the double play and a glove capable of picking anything out of the infield dirt.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hot Corner A Hot Topic

Miguel Cabrera very well could become the next Manny Ramirez. He hits for average, can crank 30+ homers and knock in 120 runs every season. Also like Manny, he has become criticized as an aloof superstar who can, at times, seem lazy, out of shape and selfish.

The above photo was taken at a game I attended this August. We were literally inches away from Cabrera and though he has certainly added substantial weight to the waif-like frame we saw his rookie year, he is by no means "fat." He may need to add some muscle, which is by no means a large undertaking, but he is not the belt-busting sloth some media outlets are inferring.

Season Averages [162 games]:
.313 AVG - .388 OBP - .542 SLG - 31 HR - 118 RBI - 41 2B - .930 OPS
And for such a sloppy, donut toting, wide-body, he sure doesn't miss many games. During his four full seasons in MLB, Cabrera's played no fewer than 157 games. Over the past three years his numbers in the clutch have been outstanding... With the bases juiced Cabrera hit .405; with runners on he hit .343; with RISP he hit .357; RISP & 2 outs he hit .307 and with men on third < 2 outs he hit a gaudy .397.

As in life, you have to give something to get something. And in Cabrera's case, a trading partner will have to give a lot.

Cashman will wait out the Marlins in the hopes of seeing their demands come down a bit. Instead of asking for Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and the Ghost of Lou Gehrig, Florida may eventually accept a swap involving Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera and Mark Melancon/Humberto Sanchez.

The Steinbrenner who likes to talk [Hank], recently weighed in on any potential deal for the young slugger by saying, “It’s pretty obvious which players we’re not going to trade. Chamberlain, Hughes and even Kennedy. Not for a position player.”

That doesn't rule out New York flipping some of those chips in return for Johan Santana.

Again, the widespread panic toward Cabrera's long term health and/or weight issues does not seem warranted, but it is also cannot be overlooked. In my opinion, Miggy is the heir apparent to Manny. Patient at the plate, totally unphased by pressure or 0-2 counts and capable of climbing out of bed, stepping onto the diamond and knocking in the gamewinning run.
Up Next: The Tale of Two Miggy's

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pettitte Declines Option

ESPN reports Andy Pettitte declined his player option for 2008. So much for Brian Cashman's hunch.

"I have spoken with Brian Cashman, who has reiterated what Hank Steinbrenner said about the Yankees wanting to give Andy all the time he needs to decide about next season," Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said Monday in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Accordingly, we are declining to exercise the option for 2008 and Andy will declare free agency in order to free up a roster spot for the Yankees.

"If Andy decides to play, I am confident we can reach an agreement with the Yankees within 24 hours. The only options, as Andy has stated, are the Yankees or retirement. He appreciates the Yankees' willingness to give him the time he feels he needs. I do not expect him to make a decision for quite some time."

To me, there are three possible scenarios to consider:
  • 1) Pettitte decides to retire, forcing Brian Cashman to make a blockbuster deal for Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, etc. and possibly mortgaging the future in doing so. However, failing to land a big time pitcher would equal an unstable rotation including three rookies and a 39 year old declining Mike Mussina.
  • 2) Andy simply needs more time and to see his buddies Posada & Rivera signed before making a commitment. He eventually signs to a similar deal including another player option for 2009.
  • 3) He pulls an A-Rod, hits the free-agent market, and signs a 3 year $40+ million contract with another team. Kei Igawa makes a triumphant return to the rotation by walking 6 and serving up two grand slammers in his season debut.
If you chose selection #2, like me, you understand options #1 and #3 could equal disaster for next year's edition of the New York Yankees.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Crede For Damon?

Brian Cashman: We'll give you our aging, oft-injured centerfielder for your blocked, third baseman returning from back surgery.

Kenny Williams: Can we get Hughes too?

Cash: Get real.
Buster Olney believes a Johnny Damon for Joe Crede deal makes a lot of sense for both sides. Prospect Josh Fields cranked 20+ homers last year as a rookie, essentially calling Crede's ChiSox career to a close. (While in Chicago this summer, I saw Fields take Josh Beckett deep. And I mean deep, the kid's got some pop)

From Olney:
Makes sense in a lot of ways: The Yankees would get the veteran third baseman they need without committing themselves to big dollars, shed Damon's salary, and the White Sox would solve their third base logjam while adding a center fielder for much less than what the free agent center fielders will get (Damon is owed about $26 million over the next two seasons, and presumably, the Yankees would eat some of that to make a deal happen).
This is all gravy Buster, but does anybody know if Crede's back is going to support his weight next year, much less allow him to turn on 96 mph fastballs? Repairing two herniated discs after sticking five epidural injections in someones spine does not exactly evoke confidence.

The absence of a credible leadoff hitter in Damon's stead (sorry, Melky ain't there yet), is another concern. Jeter is capable but it hurts the overall production of the lineup. Maybe moving Abreu to leadoff and Cano to the three-hole is a possibility.

(Source - Chicago Sports)

You Kill Me

After Tom Brady throws another 5 or 6 touchdowns, I highly recommend picking up this movie. Don't know why it never made it into theaters nationwide. Ben Kingsley is a hilarious version of the character he played in Sexy Beast and Tea Leoni is surprisingly tolerable, very good even. Dennis Farina channels his work in Snatch and Luke Wilson doesn't chew the scenery too much. John Dahl directed it. You know him from Rounders.

P.S. - after some bugs, comments are back up & running for anyone wanting to contribute.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Report: A-Rod Told Yankees $350 mil or bust

• Before opting out, Alex Rodriguez informed the Yankees he would require a guaranteed contract of $350 million for the Yankees to earn the right to retain his services, ESPN reporter Buster Olney said. Apparently Daisuke Matsuzaka's posting fee ain't got jack on A-Rod. Boston needed 50+ million to talk to Matsuzaka, but the Yankees needed SEVEN times that to keep Rodriguez in pinstripes. Scott Boras has taught Alex well. One can only hope Rodriguez rots in a Giants uniform for the next decade. Maybe then he will have learned his lesson.

• On the other hand, Bobby Abreu will remain a Yankee for at least one more year, barring a trade of some sort, as the Yankees reportedly picked up his option today for the 2008 season. This is a no-brainer. A Miguel Cabrera deal would have made things interesting, but New York cannot be dumb enough to part with Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain for anything less than Johan Santana. Plus, Cabrera's a free agent in two years.