Despite record snowfalls on the East Coast, spring training is right around the corner…
Yankee pitchers and catchers report next week, and the battle will begin for the fifth spot in the rotation. Of course, everyone is quick to indicate that Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre have a shot, but this is really about a competition between Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Personally, I am putting my faith in Phil Hughes. I’d prefer to see Joba take over Hughes’ old spot as setup man for Mariano Rivera (positioning himself to be Mo’s successor when the eventual day comes). I am really anxious to see what Hughes can do in the rotation now that he has achieved success at the big league level.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
It will be interesting to see if Curtis Granderson stays in center, or if they ultimately decide to move him to left and return Brett Gardner to center. There should be good outfield competition among Jamie Hoffmann, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn. Minor leaguer Colin Curtis and off-season pickup Greg Golson (from Texas) will also be on hand to compete. I am hopeful that Hoffmann, a good defensive player, finds a way to make the team. If not, the Yankees will have to offer him back to the Los Angeles Dodgers since he was a Rule 5 pickup.
Miles Chrisinger/Icon SMI
At catcher, Francisco Cervelli should break camp as backup to Jorge Posada. With each passing season, the backup catching position becomes more vital as Posada ages. I am anxious to see what Jesus Montero brings to camp. He’s not ready for the Bronx yet but he is getting close and will obviously be Posada’s eventual successor if they don’t move him to first base because of his physical size.
John M. Setzler, Jr.
It appears that Johnny Damon will sign next week, most likely with the Detroit Tigers based on the latest rumors. I do find it odd that the Tigers would pay Damon more than they would have owed Curtis Granderson yet Grandy was moved for financial reasons. It’s also disappointing that the Tigers will end up getting Damon for less than what the Yanks had been willing to pay at the start of the off-season. Agent Scott Boras forced the Yankees’ hand in signing DH Nick Johnson and outfielder Randy Winn, leaving no room for Damon. If Boras had shown a willingness to negotiate early on, perhaps Johnny would be returning to the Bronx for another go-around. But for as much as I will miss Damon’s ability on the bases and his offensive power, I won’t miss his throws from left field (which seemed to move in slow motion). I wish him the very best wherever he lands…Detroit, Chicago or Atlanta.
All things considered, it should be a fairly quiet camp compared to the past few years. I am not expecting any drug use admissions or sex scandals, but of course, you never know. I am just glad that it’s time for the guys to pick up the gloves, balls and bats and head back out for another summer of fun.
Josh Haner/The New York Times
By the way, congrats to Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year deal worth $23 million with San Francisco. With a pay increase from $650,000 to $8 million plus $2 million signing bonus in 2010, he can now afford to buy in Nob Hill…
Also, so long to the Big Hurt. Frank Thomas has decided to hang up his cleats and take his 521 home runs home. Of course, he’s been out of the game for a year, but now it’s official. No Brett Favre comebacks in Frank’s future…
Finally, I’d like to send my prayers to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, a luger for the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who died today during a trial run at the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columba. I cannot say that I am well familiar with Luge but it seems like there could have been better safety precautions. The Olympic Games start on a disappointing note, but I hope the other athletes from Georgia rise to the occasion and give performances their fallen teammate would have been proud of…
The left field conundrum continues…
Maybe GM Brian Cashman has the perfect solution already set in motion, but then again, maybe not. I am not quite sure how you could spend $200 million on salaries and then suddenly become very frugal over $3 or $4 million as an insurance policy to protect your investment. From the sounds of it, the Yankees are willing to go to camp with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann as a projected platoon in left. I know that it’s a bluff, designed to await the lowered salary expectations of free agent options in January.
But if you have a left fielder who has proven that he can handle New York, thrive atop the Yankees’ batting order and carries the intangibles necessary to bring a championship to New York, why can’t you work out a deal for a few pennies more? It just doesn’t make any sense. I agree with the logic that the Yankees don’t need a superstar in left, but they need something better than a fourth outfielder looking for his fifteen minutes of fame.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
If the Yankees successfully cause Johnny Damon to sign elsewhere, and are left to be scrounging through the bargain bin, they’ll regret it in July when they attempt to make a trade for an upgrade at the high cost of key prospects. Again, I’d rather pay more now and protect the farm system now and later.
John M. Setzler, Jr.
I was disappointed to see the San Francisco Giants successfully sign one solid option in Mark DeRosa. With DeRosa, the Giants get a very versatile player who will fit well into their lineup. His ability to play third base allows them to slide Pablo Sandoval to first which fills a big need. Had the Yankees been successful in luring DeRosa to the Bronx, he could have been the primary option for left field with the potential to back up Alex Rodriguez from time to time. Isn’t that worth a few dollars more? Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean…he scored one over his former team.
If Johnny Damon is my first choice, Xavier Nady would be the remaining option in my eyes. Another guy who has proven he can handle New York albeit not the injury bug. If healthy, Nady would be a great fit for the Yankees. Prior to his injury last season, he was slated to be the starter in right field.
Cataffo/New York Daily News
Outside of the organization, there just isn’t much to be excited about on the free agent market. I really don’t want a ‘past his prime’ player like Brian Giles or Garret Anderson. I’d rather take a chance on a sleeper like Cleveland’s Shin Soo Choo or Atlanta’s Matt Diaz, although I doubt either team would be willing to let either player go cheaply. In a blast from the past, the Angels’ Juan Rivera is another attractive option. But I seriously doubt that Cashman would be able to pry any of these options from their respective teams.
Los Angeles Times
Hopefully, the left field question is answered sooner rather than later. The Yankees still need to replenish their bullpen options for 2010 after several key departures this off-season. Plus, bench strength is another area that needs attention before the Yankees head for Tampa.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Greater Boston Area, a Red Sox fan is gleefully enjoying the Yankees’ indecision and financial constraint…and listening to Toby Keith singing “Whiskey Girl”…
In a departure from baseball, I’d like to weigh in on the decision by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest his key starters like Peyton Manning in the second half. Everyone knows that the result was a New York Jets’ 29-15 victory over the Colts to end their pursuit of perfection. Of course, the company line is the decision was made to protect the health of their key performers and ensure going deeper into the play-offs with the Super Bowl as the key objective.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but I am inclined to believe that Caldwell blew it. He had a chance to do something that no team has done before (19-0, capped by a championship). The 1972 Miami Dolphins were 17-0 since the regular season consisted of only 14 games. Had they accomplished what the New England Patriots could not, the Colts would have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams ever. Now, they’ll just be another Super Bowl champion if they happen to win it all. Sure, a championship is great, but to be among legends is immortal. The Colts missed a great opportunity…
All things considered, I am glad that University of Florida coach Urban Meyer made the decision to take a leave of absence rather than step down as the Gators coach. College football needs guys like Meyer, but he needs time to repair his health. If a year from now, Meyer decides that it’s time to hang it up, so be it. But I’d rather see Florida go a year with an interim coach to make sure that Meyer makes a decision that he’ll never regret. I am not a Gators fan, but Meyer has been great for college football and the Florida job is clearly one of the best. It’ll be strange seeing new coaches patrolling the sidelines at both Florida and Florida State next season.
One final thought…if the Chicago Cubs can successfully trade Milton Bradley, why can’t the Yankees unload Kei Igawa? I still think the guy could thrive in a low-pressure environment like San Diego or Pittsburgh…
I hope everyone has a great new year! I have enjoyed your friendship and support in 2009 and I look forward to be being a part of the great MLB Bloggers in 2010. It’s a very talented and impressive group of writers, and the sum total of all makes MLB.com the best blogging environment on the internet! Keep up the great work everyone!
It has been a very busy week for the almighty¹ Yankees…
¹Word ‘almighty’ is for the exclusive benefit of my friend Julia! 😉
The blockbuster trade of the Winter Meetings saw the arrival of Curtis Granderson as the newest centerfielder for the New York Yankees.
The price tag was very high and the Yankees lost a great opportunity to market “Ajax” but who knows if Austin Jackson will ever be the player that Grandy is today. Maybe he’ll be better but it probably won’t happen for several years. The Yankees have a window of opportunity right now and the heart of the team is not getting any younger. It is critical for the Yanks to infuse young, quality talent into the lineup now, not later. Grandy will be 29 on Opening Day and he can be expected to hold his position through the retirement of Derek Jeter and beyond.
I am looking forward to watching Grandy in the Bronx. One of my personal favorites in the ‘Wow’ factor (off the field exploits aside) was Darryl Strawberry. I am hopeful that Grandy will bring that level of excitement and energy to the team and that he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.
The former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was selected first in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft by the Washington Nationals and was immediately dealt to the Yankees as compensation for the trade that sent reliever Brian Bruney to the Nats.
Hoffmann, a former hockey player, will compete for the 25th spot on the Yankees roster. Since Hoffmann will have to be offered back to the Dodgers if he fails to stick on the Yankees major league roster, I fully expect the Yankees to move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner if Hoffmann shows anything during spring training. You can make an argument for why the Yanks should keep either Cabrera or Gardner but Cabrera clearly has the highest trade value.
Hoffmann, 25, made his major league debut with the Dodgers on May 22nd. Two days later, he got his first major league hit, a two-run bomb off Matt Palmer and the Angels in Anaheim. Hopefully, it is a great sign of things to come…
Okay, it’s not really an arrival. However, it is a big deal that Andy and the team agreed on a one year deal so quickly after Andy announced his decision to play at least another year. We didn’t need another Brett Favre-like situation this off-season. Welcome back, Andy!
This could be called the ‘You’ll get your ring when we come to a city near you’ category…
Brian Bruney, to the Washington Nationals for the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Jamie Hoffmann).
Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Detroit’s Curtis Granderson.
Johnny Damon, unsigned. Talks with the Yanks have continued but the team is unwilling to go beyond two years. At this stage of his career, Damon has to get all he can get since this may be his last major league contract. I want Damon back, however, I am supportive of the team’s position.
Hideki Matsui, unsigned. Almost certain not to return unless the Yankees fail to sign Damon, Godzilla would be a good fit in the Bay Area if the Oakland A’s could unload Jack Cust.
Jose Molina, unsigned. I am ready for Francisco Cervelli to back up Jorge Posada, with Jesus Montero possibly in the mix. The Yankees do need to reduce their payroll and this is an area that they can still get value at a cheaper price.
Xavier Nady, unsigned. Personally, I would try to bring the X-Man back to the Bronx. But I recognize that he is not in the team’s plans, and it is virtually certain that he’ll sign elsewhere (perhaps with the Braves).
Jerry Hairston, Jr. A good complimentary player but his role can be easily replaced by Ramiro Pena.
The Yankees are not expected to tender a contract to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang so he’ll become a free agent later today (midnight ET). It’s unfortunate that it has come to this with the former 19-game winner. He was perhaps the Yankees most valuable starting pitcher until that fateful day running the bases in Houston several years ago. I suspect that he’ll be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year so some team is going to get lucky by taking a chance on Wang. Hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to bring him back but for now, he’ll be up for grabs…
Former Yankee, and the Opening Day starting third baseman, Cody Ransom has been invited to camp with the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-roster player.
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As a California resident, this joke by Conan O’Brien bears repeating since it is oh, so true!
‘Los Angeles was hit by a massive storm that caused power outages and freeway closures. Meteorologists predict that the storm will head east next week where it will be known as rain.’
…or something like that! Nevertheless, it is an accurate description of life in California!