Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yankee Free Agents

The Yankees have six potential free agents who offer the possibility of obtaining draft pick compensation (guesses at Elias status within parentheses) -- Pudge (B), Giambi (B), Abreu (A), Pettitte (A), Mussina (A), and Marte (A). The Yankees actually hold 2009 options on both Giambi and Marte, but I am going to assume both will be declined. In order to obtain compensation picks, the Yankees must offer arbitration, otherwise the players become free agents and no compensation is received. So, question #1 in determining the 2009 roster is the decision to offer or not offer arbitration. One by one:

Pudge: Given the status of Posada's shoulder will not be known at the time the decision needs to be made, offering arbitration to Pudge seems like a no brainer. He appears to be headed to a 'B' status, meaning it costs the signing team nothing to sign him as a FA, and I really don't think he will want to gamble on having to spend next year as Posada's backup (and quite possibly Molina's) if Posada is capable of being the full time catcher. If he does choose to accept, there are definitely worse things than having him as insurance on a one-year deal. My guess though is that he signs a two year deal somewhere -- Dodgers (allowing Martin to move to 3B) or maybe Marlins for a hometown discount -- and the Yankees net the supplemental pick.

Giambi: Giambi has held up well this year, but expecting that to happen in back to back years is asking for trouble. I do think he enjoys playing in NY, and I would worry that if offered arbitration, he would accept. So, unless the Yankees can work out an agreement ahead of time that he will not accept if offered, I would not offer arbitration to Giambi.

Abreu: Abreu has done well this year at the plate, but his defense in RF is atrocious (FRAA = -8). With the acquisition of Nady, I think Abreu sees the writing on the wall that his time as a Yankee is over. But, his bat and reputation will earn him a two or three year deal somewhere -- my guess would be the Mets -- and I would be pretty comfortable offering him arbitration with the knowledge he will decline in favor of a multi-year deal. As an 'A', he nets the Yankees a first rounder and a supplemental.

Pettitte: Some of the luster has come off Pettitte over his last few starts, but when you look at the season as a whole, he's been an asset. Andy likes to take his time (January?) in deciding whether to play another year, and the Yankees should feel completely safe in offering arbitration. If a replacement is found for his services while he's still deciding, he's always free to go back to Houston. In the past, Pettitte has expressed a desire to play in the new stadium, so my guess is the Yankees offer, but come to an agreement in January for him to return.

Mussina: No brainer here -- offer arbitration. Moose is coming off his finest season in a number of years, and although the odds of repeating that level of success aren't great, the Yankees would have no problem with getting him back on a low-risk one year deal. The bigger question would be whether or not Moose would get and accept a two year deal from another club? His propensity for the North East would seem to limit his options somewhat, but my guess is Philadelphia makes him a two year offer, and the Yankees decide to let him leave.

Marte: Although he's had highs and lows since coming over from Pittsburgh, Cashman has salivated over Marte for so long, it's hard to envision him not picking up the $6M option for 2009. Hopefully a new GM will have more sense, and recognize that better LH options are available. I would let Marte walk and take the picks.

So, in summary, here's what SHOULD happen:

1. Yankees get three first/second round picks for Abreu (Mets), Mussina (Philadelphia), and Marte (?), and four supplemental picks for those three plus Pudge.
2. Pettitte is resigned for one year.
3. Giambi is allowed to walk without draft pick compensation.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yankee Weekend

The Yankees just finished a miserable weekend in Anaheim, getting swept by the far superior Angels. The Angels are everything the Yankees are not -- young, aggressive, solid defensively, and capable of hitting in the clutch. They move runners over, they drive in men on 3rd with less than two outs, and unless something drastic happens over the next two months, they are the clear favorites to win it all.

The Yankee season has been one of frustration and injury -- Wang, Joba, Hughes, Posada, Matsui, Damon, Bruney, etc. have all spent time on the DL, and given Jeter's struggles, I suspect we will find out after the season that he has been dealing with a nagging condition as well. Kennedy, Cabrera, and Cano have struggled and been wildly inconsistent, and Giambi and Abreu just inconsistent. Looking back, for the Yankees to even be in the race this late in the season is surprising.

That said, the Yankee front office should be completely focused on 2009 at this point. This offseason has been one Yankee fans have been looking forward to for a number of years due to the "bloated" contracts coming off the books -- Giambi, Abreu, Pettitte, Mussina, and Pavano, and the potential 2009 draft picks for the newly acquired Pudge and Damaso Marte. With the new stadium looming and the inevitable roster upheaval, it is definitely a transition year in New York, the most critical hot stove season of the last decade.

I wish I had more faith in Brian Cashman to do the job that needs doing. Unfortunately, Cashman seems more concerned with proving he's smarter than all other GMs more than with putting the best Yankee team on the field. What he seems to fail to realize is that with the highest payroll in baseball, you don't have to be the smartest GM -- you just have to "not make a muck of it" as Aidan O'Brien once said. Cashman's history has repeatedly shown that he favors the "no downside" moves -- ones in which another team has given up on a player, and by picking him up, he thinks he looks like a genius if that player actually performs. But if the player doesn't perform, no big deal. That thinking just won't get it done this offseason.