Tagged: Hot Stove

A trade so bad, it’s supernatural

Johan Santana for Jon Lester, who has the stuff but hasn’t displayed the command to be an elite pitcher, a shortstop with a solid bat but and promising patience, but very limited fielding ability [Lowrie], and a one dimensional sinker ball specialist with a very shallow ceiling due to lack of secondary pitches [Masterson] 

Wow.

Ellsbury is excellent. He has a swing tailored toward finding holes in the defense, similar to Jeter in that regard. That’s just a fantastic, natural ability. He’ll always have a high BABIP, personifying the old Wee Willie quote “to hit ‘em where they ain’t.” [Interestingly enough, I got into a shouting match with a Red Sox fan at a bar after Jeter beat Papelbon last season with one of his fist floaters into right. He was raging about Jeter being lucky, but when you have a swing like Jeter, or Ellsbury, it’s just a beautiful thing where contact will yield a high number of hits, with some simply bound to be ugly duck snorts. It’s unexplainable, but completely verifiable. Luck is the residue of design, when it comes to these guys]

But he too, has a limit to his value, because he’ll probably never hit for much power.

So, well done, Bill Smith. If you can take the package that doesn’t include Ellsbury, you have just made one of the worst trades in Baseball history. There’s really nothing the Yankees can do about this. If the Twins truly believe the Red Sox’s inclusion of Lester equals Kennedy [who has way better control and command than Lester] AND Jackson [who could be the Yankees’ CF by 2009] than he is simply being unreasonable, and hurting his franchise severely. Scarring it in fact. My God… if the Twins don’t get Ellsbury, this is positively nightmarish, a preposterously disastrous trade. So atrocious, it’s almost mind bending. I hate to be a jerk, but if this happens, I hope the Yankees run it up on the Twins when they play next season. When Lester is out of the game in the fourth inning after allowing three hits and four walks, and Masterson, the mop-up man, emerges from the bullpen, well, it’s going to be on… it’s going to be on… every time, cause we don’t play… 

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Ever Lastings

From one of my posts at BTF:

[I should really do this more often. The old cut and paste job… I’d have more content…]

I’ll be extremely interested to see whether Lastings has the discipline to make the necessary, near daily adjustments to be a consistently great player. His healthy relationship with Acta is definitely a plus, and maybe he gets taken under the wing of an older and wiser Dimitri Young, who could definitely be a positive influence on a young guy at this point in his life. He’s been there before, after all. Fair or not, in the few times I’ve seen Lastings play the OF it seems he gets a terrible read on fly balls, often employing the *******, I really misjudged that” last second dive. He’ll definitely get better reads out in center field.

Church needs to get off to a hot start. It could get ugly if the fans turn on him. He’s been accused of being soft in the past. Whether it’s true or not, who knows…

Omar should have asked for Saul Rivera. Rauch probably wasn’t available in this trade… which is awful, just reprehensible. But that’s a column by itself. This… is a blog post.

Items of Importance

As the new-year approaches, and the Jets, a punch line for ESPN lug heads [err, analysts] before the season began, continue to shock the football world, the Yankees made my Christmas, when their designs of trading the shriveling Unit leaked out to media outlets.

Why do I hate Randy Johnson?

Who should play first base for the Yankees in 2007?

Who the **** is Brad Halsey again?

The answers to these questions and more, right now!

1.  Dealing Randy Johnson

Did you ever simply dislike a player? Was there a galling, empty pit in your stomach whenever this said player performed, an instinct of intuition that guaranteed his failure on the field?

This is the extent of my connection with Randy Johnson.

Every game I attend, it seems Randy gets blitzed.

Before leaving my house for a Big Unit start, I hope against hope that ole’ Randy has the slider working, the mechanics properly tuned, usually proving myself foolish in faith.

It’s really something personal. That S.O.B. has ruined at least six games for me over the past two seasons.

He gets obliterated by the Mets. I mean… the Mets own Randy Johnson. They really own him. It disgusts me.

When my brother, father, and I ventured to Detroit to see the Yankees take on the Tigers in 2005, Randy was rocked by a ferocious Tiger attack, racked by Magglio Ordonez and company. It got so embarrassing, that at one point I started correctly calling Tiger home runs, Chris Shelton to center, the aforementioned Ordonez to left, ****, me and Randy were on a real roll, he was serving the sliders up on a silver plated platter that memorable night.

The absolute apex of this serendipitous debauchery [gives self a pat on the back] took place this past summer, during a forgettable Saturday dance with the Devil Rays. Seated in the upper deck behind home plate, I felt a distinct sense of helplessness.

I knew Randy was going to get blistered. I was certain.

And what happens?

The Rays slaughter him. They disassemble the Big Unit, and I’m just sitting there smiling, just as I was in Game 3 of the 2005 A.L.D.S., amazed that any slider could hang so horrifically. I’m in a venomous rage, practically screaming at any fan in my section, regarding how much I hate Randy Johnson, before irrationally detailing the many merits of Javy Vazquez. And then, sure enough, a few weeks will go by, Randy will seem to get his proverbial **** together, and I’ll be there, Tier Section 4, witnessing his latest setback.

“ I just didn’t have it today…”

I was in favor of acquiring Randy Johnson. I was certain Frank Robinson’s prior abuse took the life out of Javier Vazquez’s arm. I was affirmed that all those meaningless innings came back to haunt Javy, robbing his fastball of velocity.

And that’s the most frustrating aspect of the Randy Johnson era. The transaction that bought the Big Unit to the big apple, completed during the Yankees’ lost winter of 04-05, should have been etched on the ledger as an absolute win. Javy Vazquez failed in Phoenix, before flaming out in Chicago. Depending on Kenny Williams’ continued assault on his 2006 rotation, the maddeningly talented Vazquez could be dealt out of yet another exasperated organization.

Brad Halsey? He’s a journeyman, at apprentice level.

The only significant loss in the Johnson trade was young catcher Dioner Navarro, who could have been groomed as a successor for Jorge Posada.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Johnson simply hasn’t pitched well enough to justify the time and dollars spent on the deal. Despite his bouts with inconsistency, would the Yankees’ fortunes, since 2004, been radically different with Javy Vazquez in the rotation, instead of Randy Johnson? Yes, Johnson did outperform Vazquez in 2005, and he did grind out an undefeated record against the rival Red Sox, but it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the Big Unit was deteriorating, his previously devastating slider ravaged but the dredges of time.

We hoped, us Yankee fans, he would bounce back in his second season in pinstripes, play the part of ace, the role of intimidator. It was wishful thinking, and in retrospect, it was desperate optimism.

How could a man in his forties suddenly reverse an obvious decline? How would a player, seemingly so miserable in his surroundings, find immediate comfort?

No, Randy Johnson wouldn’t return to form in 2006. He regressed further into mediocrity, hurting his back, dealing to an ERA of five, leading the league in grimace and sulk.

I often wonder: What if the Yankees had kept Vazquez? What would if he done with his second chance, the opportunity to get truly comfortable in New York, to further his excellent rapport with Jorge Posada?

We’ll never know.

Trading the Big Unit at this juncture is a defeat free proposition for Brian Cashman. Despite his age, his disturbing tendency to lose both concentration and location, and a decidedly surly disposition, dangling Johnson in this bull market will definitely return a worthwhile haul.

So, I wish to bid farewell, Randy Johnson. The pleasure definitely wasn’t mine.

Thanks for pitching through the pain. Thanks for being nails against Boston in 2005, and for pitching as advertised that September. Thanks for that relief appearance in Game Five against the Angels.

But it’s time to go.

2        Who’s on first?

You know, I wanted Shea Hillenbrand, before a whiff of statistical smelling salt bought me to my senses. Here’s a guy who is potentially poisonous in the clubhouse. Here’s a guy who led the League in grounding into double plays. Here’s a guy who never saw a pitch he didn’t like. Here’s a guy who’s a certified butcher at first base.

Therefore, allow me a moment to thank Angel management, for keeping Shea Hillenbrand thousands of miles away from the Bronx.

The question remains: Who’s on first for the Yankees?

Doug “Eye Chart” Mientkiewicz remains an intriguing possibility. His positive attributes consist of an excellent glove, and… well, he hit .300 a couple of times for the Twins a few years ago.

Remember?

The negatives? His previously alluded to light hitting tendencies, and a questionable attitude, which produced verbal sparring matches with previous employers such as the Mets and Red Sox.

A possible X factor: Mientkiewicz is a former High School football teammate of Alex Rodriguez, who really needs a friend [cue violins]

If the Yankees were to sign Mientkiewicz, I could live with the decision. He would bat ninth, and depending on how adequately Josh Phelps handles first base in Spring Training, be strictly a platoon player. ****, there’s always a chance that Phelps tears it up this spring and Eye Chart is relegated to late inning defensive replacement duty, which would definitely be his best fit on the team.

Look, Mientkiewicz, at his peak, could be described as a very good Major League player. This is an accomplishment worthy of high merit. But his skills seemed to have declined, and he probably isn’t the answer.

As I said, I could live with this scenario: Mientkiewicz is penciled in as the Yankees’ first baseman at the outset of Spring Training, with Josh Phelps and Andy Phillips’ pushing him for playing time, and battling each other for a roster spot.

But I also could live without it.

Which brings me to another possibility:

Claiming a first baseman in the Randy Johnson sweepstakes…

Conor Jackson?

If the New York Jets can make the playoffs, anything is possible.

Quick thoughts regarding Igawa

A 25 million dollar plunge unrelated to the luxury tax counts as relative pocket change in the admittedly gluttonous Yankees universe. Therefore, going forward, Kei Igawa’s performance should be judged in context of his contract, not the posting fee. Because the contract he will receive will be on par with a number four starter.

Obviously, the Yankees overpaid for his rights because:

A. It doesn’t count against the luxury tax.

B. Right or wrong, they think he’s better than Lilly/Meche.

C. They have ALL the leverage in negotiations. This will allow them to sign Igawa to a contract well below market value.

Once one gets past the posting bid, the signing is certainly reasonable. The Yankees just need to realize their work is far from finished.

I’ll compose a more comprehensive look at this deal later on tonight or tomorrow.

Cents and Sensibility

The media has labeled the victorious bid for the privileges to communicate with Daisuke Matsuzaka excessive, damning it as further proof of baseball’s eternally widening gap between the rich and poor. Furthermore, sportswriters everywhere are questioning the relinquishment of so much cash for a man who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues. With all the mileage already on his arm, many wonder whether Matsuzaka could flame out just as easily as he could flourish.

Wait a second….

What?

The Red Sox placed the winning bid?

Well than, I apologize. That above paragraph is in fact a fabrication.

You won’t be hearing any of those things.

Ah… nobody does hypocrisy better than the American sports media.

See, a winning 30 million bid by the Yankees in theory would have been madness, while a winning 51 million bid by the Red Sox in reality is just good business.

Thanks for clarifying that guys.

Nice…

/

So, the Red Sox have their ace. I for one applaud them. It takes a ton of stones to embrace insanity at the risk of being labeled asinine. I believe wholeheartedly that Matsuzaka should, at the least, win 15 games next season. Combine his stuff, work ethic, and talent, and there’s something really special lurking beneath the mystery.

/

Here’s where Brian Cashman earns his keep. He needn’t react to the Red Sox’s outlandish maneuver. The Yankees were suitors for Matsuzaka, but their acquisition of pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez and young reliever Chris Britton gives them plenty of options and opportunities. They could flip Sanchez and another prospect for an established starter. They could trade one of their relievers to fill a need, Britton acting as an insurance policy.

What they can’t do is panic.

They shouldn’t spend just because they can, they should spend if it makes sense. And it’s been nothing but nonsense, pure and simple nonsense, which has kept them from winning a World Series the past six years.

Raul Mondesi? Jaret Wright? Kevin Brown?

They are each a distinct link in a chain of total, unadulterated nonsense.

Cents without sensibility equals nothing. With Brian Cashman in charge, the all contaminating chaos has been replaced with serenity. The Yankees have turned over a new leaf.

In 2002, they panicked after Enrique Wilson made an error in right field against the Mets in a random afternoon game, trading for malcontent supreme Raul Mondesi, instead of waiting for Montreal’s Cliff Floyd to become available, a far better fit with the team.

Instead, they were left saddled with the shell of a paper superstar.

Raul’s most memorable moment as a Yankee occurred in October, but it was far removed from the realms of glory.

In Game 3 of the American League Division series against Anaheim, he dropped a routine fly ball late in an eventual Yankee defeat. Mondesi would stay on for another half year, eventually sulking his way off the Yankees. He was George Steinbrenner’s idea of a replacement for Paul O’Neill. What a disgrace.

Flash forward to 2006. In desperate need of an everyday outfielder after injuries besieged the unit early in the campaign, Brian Cashman plays the waiting game. Bobby Abreu is available. The Phillies want the untouchable one, prospect Phil Hughes. The Yankees are the only team who can absorb Abreu’s huge contract.

So Cashman remains resolved, patient.

And future Hall of Fame General Manager Pat Gillick blinks first, dealing Abreu and his fat contract to the Yankees for high ceiling, but low A prospects.

This instance is a perfect example of the Yankees employing their economic advantages to perfection. It isn’t simply about inhaling contracts, as Ken Rosenthal incorrectly implied in a column shortly after the Abreu trade. Vision and intelligence will always have more value than dollars and cents.

/

The Yankees need pitching. They lost out on Daisuke.

They still have options.

Stay smart Cash.

Yanks dump Sheffield for quality prospects

The Yankees have received three excellent prospects for Sheffield, courtesy of the Detroit Tigers. I am unfamilar with  Kevin Whelan, but the two other players have me plenty excited:

Starter  Humberto Sanchez has great potential, and Anthony Claggett possesses some serious upside as Mariano’s heir apparent. I am ecstatic.

Euphoric.

I will dedicate a more thorough post on the trade, and my complete thoughts regarding the Gary Sheffield era, either later today or tomorrow.

Good times!

Red Sox rumored victors for Matsuzaka

If the rumors are confirmed true, the Boston Red Sox have won the Daisuke Matsuzaka bidding for an outlandish price somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 million dollars.

While I did indeed want D-Mat pitching for the Yanks, I can only tip my cap to Boston at this time, for posting such a gluttonous offer.

But therein lies the big question…

Do the Sox even want him?

Did they just post this insane amount of cash to keep Daisuke away from the Yankees for one more year?

At this juncture, this conspiracy theory shouldn’t have much credence. The Sox are desperate for starting pitching, and I doubt they would let a special player like Matsuzaka slip through their fingertips, especially when they have exclusive rights to negotiate with him.

As for the Yankees, if they now proceed to lose Barry Zito to the Mets, their 2007 rotation is going to be in a real world of hurt. Phil Hughes is on the horizon, and Tyler Clippard is an intriguing prospect, but Mike Mussina [if he’s resigned, which appears a safe possibility] and Chien Ming Wang alone at the top won’t be good enough.

They need Zito. Badly. 

To paraphrase Tom Hagen, with regard to Corleone family nemesis Hyman Roth:

You have to give Epstein credit. He played this one beautifully.

[Well, they actually just threw a bunch of money at the guy. But you know what I mean]