Friday, November 9, 2007

Top 20 Free Agents

1) Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees: Best player in the game, adds some credibility to a lineup wherever he goes, is an above average fielder and still runs well.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, on an 8 year, $240 million deal.

Actual: New York Yankees, on a 10 year, $275 million deal

2) Andruw Jones, CF, Braves: Best outfielder available, coming off bad ’07 season. Monster power, doesn’t always walk, above average defender, strikes out a lot, may take a 1 year deal and is a Type B free agent

Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers, on a 6 year, $96 million deal.

Actual: Los Angeles Dodgers, on a 2 year, $36.2 million deal

3) Torii Hunter, CF, Twins: Excellent defensive outfielder off a career year in ’07. Above average righty power, but doesn’t take many pitches.

Prediction: Chicago White Sox, on a 7 year, $126 million deal.

Actual: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, on a 5 year, $90 million deal.

4) Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees: Elite relief pitcher, among top closers of all time, older but still dominant stuff. Prone to bloop hits and broken bats

Prediction: New York Yankees, on a 3 year, $45 million deal.

Actual: New York Yankees, on a 3 year, $45 million deal.

5) Eric Gagne, RP, Red Sox: Top-flight reliever coming off shaky two months in Boston which were so bad he was demoted to mop up duty. Still good change and decent fastball, someone will take a shot on a big deal with him since he is a type B.

Prediction: Atlanta Braves, on a 1 year, $8 million deal.

Actual: Milwaukee Brewers, on a 1 year, $10 million deal.

6) Jorge Posada, C, Yankees: Best catcher available via trade or free agency, coming off best year ever in ’07, likely to seek 4 year deal, always a question mark on defense but his bat carried him.

Prediction: New York Yankees, on a 4 year, $56 million deal.

Actual: New York Yankees, on a 4 year, $52.4 million deal.

7) Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox: Middle of the road 3B in a market filled with them, strong offensive and defensive season, winning the WS MVP, much better hitter in Fenway Park.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox, on a 3 year, $36 million deal

Actual: Boston Red Sox, on a 3 year, $37.5 million deal

8) Aaron Rowand, CF, Phillies: Very good defensive center fielder, some righty power, never walked much until ’07, will be a risk to see if ’07 was a break out or a fluke

Prediction: Washington Nationals, on a 5 year, $75 million deal

Actual: San Francisco Giants, on a 5 year, $60 million deal

9) Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chunichi Dragons: Good defensive outfielder, Ichiro-like throwing arm, walks a ton with considerable doubles power, runs well and has Paul O’Neill personality

Prediction: San Francisco Giants, on a 5 year, $50 million deal

Actual: Chicago Cubs, on a 4 year, $48 million deal

10) Francisco Cordero, RP, Brewers: 2nd Best available closer, good repertoire, high k/9 rates in career, makes sense in anyone who misses out on Rivera, may set up

Prediction: Cleveland Indians, on a 4 year, #40 million deal

Actual: Cincinnati Reds, on a 4 year, $46 million deal

11) Barry Bonds, OF, Giants: 2nd best bat of all free agents, comes with tons of steroid baggage and is a poor defender in left, best suited for DH duty

Prediction: Texas Rangers, on a 1 year, $12 million deal


12) Carlos Silva, SP, Twins: Top free agent starting pitcher and type B free agent, gets a ton of ground balls, and is best off away from the dome in Minnesota

Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, on 3 year, $39 million deal

Actual: Seattle Mariners, on a 4 year, $44-48 million deal

13) Mike Cameron, OF, Padres: Very good defensive outfielder, nice power, still good speed, brings some steroid baggage and will be a nice alternative for whoever misses out on Jones, Rowand and Hunter

Prediction: Atlanta Braves, on a 3 year, $30 million deal


14) Milton Bradley, OF, Padres: Good defender at a corner spot, good power, volatile personality, coming off major injury, looks like he belongs in San Diego

Prediction: San Diego Padres, on a 1 year, incentive-laden $6 million deal

Actual: Texas Rangers, on a 1 year, $5 million deal

15) Roger Clemens, SP, Yankees: Older, and unlikely to return to pitching a full season, did a decent job in ’07 for the Yankees but not great and injury issues plagued him

Prediction: Retirement


16) Bartolo Colon, SP, Angels: Major injury concern, but still talented, despite a weight problem, and will benefit from leaving the DH league, and could find a fit with a team that loves Dominican players

Prediction: New York Mets, on a 2 year, $10 million deal


17) Scott Linebrink, RP, Brewers: Not a great pitcher, helped out by that ballpark, but his numbers are pretty and someone will take a chance, given the lack of available relief pitching, could get a multi-year deal

Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, on a 4 year, $24 million deal

Actual: Chicago White Sox, on a 4 year, $18 million deal

18) Octavio Dotel, RP, Braves: Great arm, major injury concerns, could close when healthy, very good stuff, should find a home with an NL team, and may be best off as a set up man in a more limited role to protect his arm

Prediction: New York Mets, on a 1 year, $6 million deal, with a vesting option for ‘09


19) Michael Barrett, C, Padres: Decent offensive and defensive player, probably won’t get the multi-year deal he desires, and will likely follow the best chance to start and that will be with the team that misses out on the Musical chairs for catchers

Prediction: Colorado Rockies, on a 1 year, $5 million deal

Actual: San Diego Padres, on a 1 year, $3.5 million deal

20) Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: Above average speed and defense, with a decent but powerless bat and he becomes an interesting choice to lead off and play 2B for a lot of teams, should get a 2 or 3 year deal, switch hitting ability adds flexibility to a lineup

Prediction: Houston Astros, on a 3 year, $18 million deal

Actual: New York Mets, on a 4 year, $25 million deal

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Filling the Holes Internally.

Well first off I would like to say that this was a hell of a season for Yankee farm hands. Shelley Duncan turned out be a great bench player, Joba was lights out in the 8th, Ian Kennedy had three great starts, and Phil Hughes really came around towards the end of the season. Now on to the topic...

The Offense
The Yankees lose the most productive player in baseball with the departure of Alex Rodriguez and it will be not be easy to fill that void.

Options: Not many, our only legitimate in house replacement would be Wilson Betemit. He has tons of untapped potential but he never has lived up to that. Down on the farm there isn't much either. Eric Duncan has become a complete flop and our only hope is that Marcos Vechionacci turns into the stud that he is supposed to be(he is currently tearing up the Venezuelan Winter League).

First Base: This has been a real problem for the Yankees lately. With the constant platooning and player swapping it seems like a new face has been playing first every week.

Options: With Betemit occupying third base, the only in house option we have is Shelley Duncan. I think Duncan could put up pretty respectable numbers, say .250-.260 BA, .320+ OBP, .500 SLG. On the farm we have Juan Miranda who is currently mashing right hand pitching with a .379 BA in the AFL. Platooning him with Duncan might make for a pretty reliable offensive force coming from first base. Of course, you're sacrificing defense when playing these two.

Catcher: Just pray to god that Posada re-signs. PRAY!

Bullpen: Most likely the Yankees will let Vizciano walk for Draft picks so that leaves the bullpen down a man.

Options: Where do I begin? There are a TON of farm options. Edwar Ramirez, Mark Melancon, Ross Olhendorf, Humberto Sanchez, James Brent Cox, the list goes on. All of these guys have knockout secondary pitches and could definitely contribute to this team. There is no need for the Yanks to put Joba back in the pen. This could end up being one of the strongest parts of the team in 2008 if all of these guys live up to their potential.

Other than those things, this team is pretty solid. The starting rotation could wind up being the best in the league with Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlin, and Pettitte. The offense will hurt a little without Rodriguez's bat but the yanks should be able score about 800 runs. Remember, pitching wins championships!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Offseason Plans

1) This sounds easy and an obvious choice for what the Yankees must do to give themselves the best chance for a World title in 2008 and beyond, but they have to sign Mariano Rivera and Jorge reasonable contracts. Now, I'm not saying to low ball them, or to make the contract negotiations miserable, but they should hold firm to one thing in particular: 3 Years. Do not risk giving Posada four years and being stuck in another Bernie Williams situation. Give him 3 years and by the end of that contract, he should be a DH. If he continues offensive success late in the contract, then offer him a 1 year deal to return as the DH. They really shouldn't have too many qualms about the money as the losses of Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez will already clear a considerable amount of money. Mariano, like Posada, should be given no more than a 3 year deal, although 4 years for him wouldn't be awful because of how he has been consistently very good and may continue similar success as he gets older. Also, as a reliever, he would likely have less a role in the bullpen if he did struggle in his 3rd and fourth years. Again, it would be the preference to keep him at 3 years, but 4 years should not be a deal breaker for him.
2) Hope Andy Pettitte picks up his option
3) Sign Morgan Ensberg to a 1 year, $3 million deal with incentives to boost it near $5 million
4) Trade Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Mussina to the Phillies for Pat Burrell. Why? Burrell is a free agent after 2008, the Phillies badly need pitching, the Yankees could use a right handed power bat, and Pat Burrell is an awesomely good hitter. While the Yankees may not love the thought of another DH, allowing him to split time with Hideki Matsui in left and DH would probably keep both Burrell and Matsui healthier and more productive. Additionally, Burrell would likely be declared a Type A free agent at the end of next season and would therefore grant the Yankees two more first round draft choices. The Yankees, with their depth of starting pitching, would have a hard time slotting Mussina in to the rotation on a regular basis. The Phillies, meanwhile, have a ton of offense and could afford to risk a platoon involving Greg Dobbs in left, with Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn anchoring the other two spots, or could maybe turn to Aaron Rowand and lure him back with $13 million and the promise that they will be even better next season.
5) Re-Sign Jose Molina
6) Tell Luis Vizcaino to peace out, and gladly take the draft pick for him.
7) Designate Andy Phillips for assignment. Seriously, just end the love affair for this average player.
8) Re-Sign Doug Mientkiewicz
9) Promote Alan Horne
10a) Sign Richard Hidalgo to a 1 year deal worth 4-5 million. Hidalgo hits lefties well, and would be a nice guy to slide in place of Abreu or Matsui vs. lefties.
10b) Sign Sammy Sosa to a 1 year deal worth 2 million. See above.
10c) Promote Bronson Sardinha if a deal cannot be reached involving the above.
11) Trade Jason Giambi and pay his entire contract to the desperate-for-offense Minnesota Twins. In return, take whatever the Twins are kind enough to give us.
12) Ship Brett Gardner and Chase Wright to the Nationals in exchange for Chad Cordero. Cordero makes sense for the Yankees because 1) He has pitched well throughout his career and 2) He is a free agent at the end of the year and requires no commitment beyond this year and may be a Type A after this year. The Yankees badly need bullpen help and if the Yankees make a quick strike for Cordero, they will add a veteran solid pitcher to set up for Mariano, with the rookies and Chris Britton filling the innings before the 8th. The Nationals need a center fielder, and while Gardner struggled last season in AAA, he still projects nicely and the Nationals have time to let him learn on the job, also allowing them to stay out of the free agent market, while Wright gives them a guy who could potentially start for them right out of Spring Training. Additionally, this keeps the Red Sox from dealing Coco Crisp to the Nationals and getting anything good back.

Damon, CF
Jeter, SS
Abreu/Hidalgo/Sosa, RF
Burrell, DH/LF
Matsui/Sosa/Hidalgo, LF/DH
Posada, C
Cano, 2B
Betemit (vs. righties)/Ensberg (vs. lefties), 3B
Duncan, 1B

Cabrera, OF
Sardinha/Sosa/Hidalgo, OF
Molina, C
Ensberg/Betemit, INF
Mientkiewicz, 1B

(6th: Clippard)
(7th: Rasner)


No, this is not a perfect team. Not at all. There are many question marks, particularly in the bullpen, with 3 rookies. However, due to a lack of other options, all of the players make more sense than what is available in free agency. Ensberg and Betemit won't make anyone forget A-Rod, but the combination of them, some more offense from the DH, CF and 1B positions would all help to fill his hole. Additionally, Kennedy, Joba and Hughes have some MLB experience under their belts and should represent an upgrade over the rotation at this point last season. Meanwhile, the deal also leaves open the possibility for the Yankees to sign Mark Texieria and Johan Santana in the 2008 offseason, while allowing our younger pitchers to develop a little more.