Yankees sign top free agent…
Well, it wasn’t exactly Prince Fielder but I’ve felt all off-season that re-signing Andruw Jones was important for the 2012 Yankees. In this off-season of inactivity, I was concerned that the Yankees would let Jones slip away to a team like the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers. There’s no question that Jones is NOT the player that he used to be (that’s a given), but he fills a valuable fourth outfielder role and I prefer him over Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, or Melky Mesa.
When I read that the Red Sox were potentially interested in Jones, I was worried that it would drive up his price tag (which was probably the prime reason for the Red Sox “interest”). But the base salary of $2 million (with additional incentives that could push the package to $3.4 million) was very reasonable for Team Suddenly Frugal. The Yanks have a good outfield with Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, but Jones allows the Yankees to play match-ups and move guys around. Plus, if any of the aforementioned starters spend any time on the DL, Jones is certainly a capable fill-in.
Wanted: Non-starting starting third baseman…
Now that the outfield depth has been filled, I am anxious to see what the Yankees do about the mandatory need to acquire a strong backup for third base. I remain in favor of the return of Eric Chavez, but regardless of what happens, the Yankees need a proven performer that does not weaken the team during the inevitable A-Rod absences.
Yeah, that’s the ticket…
It’s too bad that MLB teams don’t get a mulligan for bad contracts. They should give every team a one player exemption that could be called the “Stupidity Clause”. Given A-Rod’s $30 million annual salary with $5 million production, the Yankees could get a waiver for luxury tax on the bulk of A-Rod’s salary. Same goes for the Angels and Vernon Wells, the Cubs and Alfonso Soriano, or the Red Sox and Carl Crawford (although CC does have the ability to re-earn his money). It does stink knowing how much the Yankees will be paying A-Rod and Derek Jeter in several years in terms of the return. I remain hopeful that Derek Jeter will depart gracefully when he realizes that his performance is not equal to his compensation. But I know that A-Rod is into his contract for every undeserved cent.
Hats off to a rival…
In a statement of the obvious, I knew that Mark Melancon was not destined to be the closer for the Red Sox when they acquired the former Yank from the Houston Astros. This week’s acquisition of Andrew Bailey by the Sox from the Oakland A’s was a solid move. Bailey, a native Easterner, will thrive in Boston. He matches Jonathan Papelbon in ability, and exceeds him in character and integrity. The risk with Bailey is his health, but the Sox do have relievers with closing experience in Melancon and Bobby Jenks. While I don’t think that the Bailey acquisition is the big bold move I’ve been expecting from new Boston GM Ben Cherington, it is certainly one that improves the team.
Not looking forward to the day…
With the surplus of closer talent available this off-season, I hope that it is a similar environment when the ‘Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived’ decides to take his ageless arm and signature cutter home to Panama. I like Derek Jeter but I will be ready for the day when a younger, talented option becomes available. I will cry the day Mariano Rivera walks off the mound for the final time. I loved Goose Gossage as the Yankees closer, but it took so many years for an equal (or in this case, greater) replacement to emerge. There’s always been something so magical about a great closer. I grew up watching the wild antics of the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, in St. Louis, so the role of the closer became the “it” position for me at a very early age. There’s nothing better than a game-ending punch-out with high intensity.
Game plan: Success!…
Well, as 2011 comes to a close, I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Joyous New Year! May your dreams come true and your happiness reach heights never before imagined! It will be a fun and rewarding new year, and I’m glad you are here…
So far, it feels like the Yankees are on the outside
looking in for the Hot Stove League.
Missing out on Cliff Lee, they’ve made some under the
radar moves, but that’s it. The Boston
Red Sox, who potentially had a much stronger team than the Yankees LAST season
if not for the injuries, have significantly improved this off-season with the
additions of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler.
At this point, I’d have to say that the
Red Sox are the favorites to win the American League Eastern Division.
Today, the Milwaukee Brewers stunned everyone by
acquiring Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke.
After their earlier acquisition of former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher
Shaun Marcum, the Brewers now feature a very formidable trio of Yovani
Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum. Randy
Wolf is not a slouch at #4 so the Brewers certainly have a play-off contending
There was no attempt by the Yankees to acquire Greinke,
and I have mixed feelings. On one hand,
there is the doubt about whether or not he could have handled the pressure that
goes with playing in the Bronx given his prior anxiety problems. Greinke didn’t shy away from New York when
the Yankees were rumored as a potential destination but family members
apparently echoed a different sentiment.
I would certainly hate to give away the likes of Jesus Montero, Dellin
Betances, Eduardo Nunez, Manny Banuelos, and others for what could have been Ed
Whitson II or worse, A.J. Burnett II.
If the Yankees get Andy Pettitte for one more season (and
it’s still a big IF), there are still so many questions about the rotation.
Andy is not getting any younger and his potential for injury is increased as
each year passes. Ivan Nova was solid
during his brief audition, but he does not have a high ceiling as a
starter. So, the only sure bets in the
rotation would be CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.
I expect Hughes to be stronger in 2011 than last year when he faded at
the end. But I recognize that you have
to wonder what if he isn’t able to take it to another level like Sox starters
Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have. The
mention of Sergio Mitre in the starting rotation gives me reason for worry
before the first pitch of 2011 is even thrown.
There have been a number of reports that the Yankees
should pursue Felix Hernandez, but those are simply pipe dreams. There is absolutely no way that the Seattle
Mariners are going to trade King Felix.
What’s left? I am
not sure. There is not really anything
out there that excites me. But if the
Yankees do nothing, their best hope is a Wild Card slot and the worst case
scenario is potentially a 4th place finish. I know, that’s a very pessimistic view, but
the Red Sox, at this point, are that much better and the other teams in the AL
East, except maybe the Tampa Bay Rays, have improved. The Rays cannot be underestimated because
they’ve been able to replace veterans with youth, so there’s always the chance
they will be every bit as good in 2011 as they were last year when they won the
I fully expect improved performances by the Buck
Showalter-led Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, so 2011 may be the
toughest year yet in baseball’s toughest division.
Mark Goldman/Icon SMI
Of the moves the Yankees have made, I do like the
acquisitions of catcher Russell Martin and reliever Pedro Feliciano. I also think the Yankees should pony up and
pay closer dollars to free agent reliever Rafael Soriano unless they can entice
the Royals to continue their rebuilding by unloading Joakim Soria. I know that Mariano Rivera had a great 2010,
but let’s face it, he will be 41 years old next season. At some point, even Hall of Famers begin to
fade. The Yankees need to be prepared by
having a closer-in-waiting. Given the
shortcomings in the starting rotation, a superior bullpen is a must.
I can only hope that GM Brian Cashman is actively working
this holiday season and will be at work tomorrow morning dialing his fellow GM’s
for his Christmas wish list. If he’s
home enjoying his family, that’s sweet, but it spells doom for the Yankees in
2011. Just sayin’….