Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Don't open until Christmas Eve Eve 

Yankees announced the Tom Gordon and Kenny Lofton signings today. Is Kenny Lofton for two years supposed to be some sort of Christmas gift? I guess this makes George Crazy Aunt Mary who's always a good ten years out of date.

And for what it's worth, ungood backup firstbase option Shawn Wooten is off the market as the Phillies gave him a one-year deal.

posted by Cliff at 2:53 PM

Overdue Update Addendum 

Three things I forgot to mention in my post from last night:

1) Steve Karsay. I expect him to start the season on the DL or with an extended spring training, which is why I forgot to include him in my bullpen scenario. At any rate, he would be the sixth man in the pen, thus eliminating the sixth outfielder (Shane Spencer?) from the roster. A strong comeback from Karsay could also give the Yankees an extra bullpen arm to trade at the deadline should they need to fill a hole due to injury.

2) Kenny Lofton. I said that the Yankees could use a lefty-killer on the bench because Ruben Sierra, their only bench bat, does better against righties. I forgot to mention that Kenny Lofton is pretty terrible against lefties (sub-.300 OBP and just three homers over the last three years). It wouldn't be a bad idea (and has indeed come up several times in discussions and posts in this and other blogs) to rotate Lofton out of the line-up and your lefty-killer in (say Matsui-CF, Bernie-LF, Giambi-DH, lefty-killer-1B) against left-handed pitching.

3) Less relevant to the 2004 Yankees, the Brewers signed Yankee farmhand Adrian "El Duquecito" Hernandez to a minor league deal yesterday. Now 28, Hernandez signed a four-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees in June 2000, but appeared in just eight major league games over the 2001 and 2002 seasons, losing all four of his starts, and falling off the Yankees radar in 2003 despite a solid performance for the Clippers: 3.21 ERA, 32G, 9GS, 101IP, 92H, 103K, 49BB, 6HR, 8-5, 1SV. The Yankees must have eaten the final year of his deal.

On a related note, the Expos non-tendered the real El Duque over the weekend.

posted by Cliff at 9:42 AM

Monday, December 22, 2003

Overdue Update 

Okay, so here's what went down over the weekend:

Gabe White accepted the Yankees offer of arbitration, making him a Yankee for 2004 and setting up the bullpen like this:

Mariano Rivera (R)
Tom Gordon (R)
Paul Quantrill (R)
Gabe White (L)
Felix Heredia (L)

Karim Garcia and David Dellucci were both non-tendered, making them free agents. Both players can still sign with the Yankees, but would have to do so by the January 8 deadline. As I said in my previous post, Dellucci has generated much interest, however Garcia could easily be signed to a minor league deal, unless the Yankees are put off by the legal proceedings going on in Boston. Nonetheless, right now the Yankee bench looks like this:

IF: Miguel Cairo (R), Enrique Wilson (S)
OF: Ruben Sierra (S)
C: John Flaherty (R)

The Yankees will add a back-up firstbaseman to this bunch.

Of those on the current Yankee bench, Ruben Sierra is the only one that could be said to posses the ability to hit, and he's stronger from the left side, so the Yankees would be wise to find a right-hander to back up Giambi. That said, in addition to the bullpen and bench+1 listed above, there will be room for one more man on the Yankee 25-man roster. That player could be a sixth man in the bullpen, a swingman/mop-up guy such as John Lieber or Jorge DePaula or someone else Joe Torre will never use in an important situation twice, or it could be a right-hand-hitting fifth outfielder.

With that in mind, the weekend produced 58 new free agents as the result of non-tenders. Some have already resigned with their 2003 teams (Gabe Kapler, Toby Borland, Andy Van Hekken, all three Mets), with their new teams who non-tendered them (Mark Redman, Michael Barrett, Jason Tyner) or with new teams for 2004 (Armando Almanza with the Braves). Of the remaining non-tenders, only two are right-hand-hitting outfielders: ex-prospect Ruben Mateo and Jay Payton. Payton typically "found himself" in Coors field last year (.302/.354/.512) and will likely want to go somewhere he can start (most likely he'll resign in Colorado). Meanwhile the only firstbasemen on the list are free-swinging lefty Randall Simon and right-handed Shawn Wooten. The 31-year-old Wooten has seen his average, slugging and OBP decline in each of his three full major league seasons.

Here are the remaining free-agent firstbasemen:

Lefties: Rafael Palmeiro, Robert Fick, Brian Daubach, Travis Lee, Fred McGriff, Matt Franco
Righties: Eric Karros, Andres Galarraga, Julio Franco, Ron Coomer, Todd Zeile, Wil Cordero,
Switch: Tony Clark (better from the right side)

While it would behoove the Yankees to go for defense here, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a professional lefty-killer like Karros (.986 OPS vs. lefties in 2003), Galarraga (.943) or Julio Franco (.978) on the bench. Even Cordero (.949) or popular ex-Yank Ron Coomer (.992) would do the trick. Karros is coming off an $8 million-plus salary and likely still thinks of himself as a starter. Franco is 9,000 years old and likely to resign with the Braves. Cordero would add yet another "problem" player to the Yankee clubhouse. However both Galarraga and Coomer are "good chemistry" guys who made less than Enrique Wilson last year. The Big Cat is two dingers shy of 400 on his career, so he's likely to come back for another season at age 42, while I'm still trying to figure out why Joe Torre preferred Todd Zeile over Coomer going into last season.

Righty outfielders on the market include Vlad Guerrero, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Raul Mondesi, Doug Glanville, Eric Owens, Shane Spencer and Rickey Henderson. Guerrero is obviously out of the question. Juan Gone, Jordan and Mondesi will be looking for starting jobs and decent paychecks. Glanville and Owens couldn't get a hit if they had Holland-Dozier-Holland in the batters box with them. Rickey's Rickey. That leaves good ole Shane Spencer. Shane could always murder lefties, is a strong defender, is also in the sub-Enrique Wilson price range, and has likely been humbled into accepting his destiny as a back-up after a year cast adrift in the basement of the AL Central and West.

So a 42-year-old cancer survivor and a pair of 2002 Yankees. Hey, they could do worse. Probably will.

Back to the arbitration update. There's been no official word on Alfonso Soriano, which means the Yankees tendered him a contract (you'd have heard about it if they didn't), or are going to arbitration with him, or something like that. No word either on David Wells, whom I forgot to mention in my previous post. I've been operating under the assumption that Wells is already signed to a minor league deal, but if he's not, you can assume that he declined the Yankees arbitration offer and that the two sides have until January 8 to finalize his contract.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have finally announced the signing of Paul Quantrill, leaving just Tom Gordon, Kenny Lofton and Wells on the TBA list.

That's all for now. On the off chance I have nothing more to say before Christmas kicks in, Happy Holidays to all!

PS: Giambi spell-checks as "gimpy" - yikes!

posted by Cliff at 8:49 PM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter