Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Change of Heart

Well, I got two of my three predictions right, but Moose did get his 20th win, and to be perfectly honest, that was one I'm glad I got wrong. He deserved it, and I'm hoping he returns for another year or two in pinstripes before hanging up his spikes and heading for the Hall of Fame.

I've also had a change of heart about the Cano for Swisher trade. With the kind of numbers Teixeira put up this year (WARP1 = 10.0), it's hard to make a convincing argument that the Yankees best course of action is anything but going all out to sign him. Even if it takes a 7 or 8 year deal at $18M/year, Teixeira is just too good offensively AND defensively to pass up. And with Arod signed for another 9 years, the Yankees would be pretty well set at the corner IF spots (and 3-4 hitters in the order) well into the next decade.

That said, with Hudson and Ellis available as free agents, I still think Cano is trade bait. The Yankees have a huge hole in CF, and with Austin Jackson a couple of years away, both Melky and Gardner as more of the 4th OF type, and no real FA options in CF, the Yankees don't have a lot of options but to try and fill the hole with a trade.

Much has been written about a Cano for Kemp deal, but I don't think the Dodgers are going to be sending Kemp anywhere in the near future. But there's another young CF in the NL West who might be available.

The Diamondbacks will have a hole at 2B with the departure of Orlando Hudson, and four OFs ready to play in '09 -- Eric Byrnes, Justin Upton, Conor Jackson, and Chris Young. Jackson is probably limited to LF, and Byrnes' contract means he will be playing somewhere, most likely in right. Upton is a naturally gifted athlete with a huge upside and should have no problems making the transition to CF. So, the trade the Yankees should be making is

Cano to Arizona for Chris Young

I know he strikes out a lot and his OBP is not where you would want it to be, but Young is only 25, he is already an excellent defensive CFer, and as he learns how to play the game, he's going to get better (and more patient) at the plate. This trade helps both teams for the next several years, so it's my first move as the fantasy Yankee GM.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Road to Recovery - Part I

Without question, the worst Yankee season in over a decade will mercifully come to a close in a couple of weeks. Moose isn't getting his 20 wins, Arod will get to 100 runs and RBIs, and barring a mini-slump or a couple days off, Jeter should close out the stadium with more hits than any other player.

That aside, almost every Yankee fan's thoughts have turned to 2009, my own included. There are a million opinions out there on what the Yankees should do -- most begin with potential free agent signings, but before getting into those, I'd recommend a couple of trades. In the interest of keeping things reasonably short, I'll hit them one post at a time.

Cano to the White Sox for Nick Swisher

I don't doubt Cano's ability to rebound from his struggles at the plate, and this is more of a "make both teams better" trade than any sort of indictment of his future. Cano is extremely talented, but his occasional lapses in focus and his (outwardly anyway) indifferent attitude represent what went wrong this year with the Yankees -- a lack of heart. Swisher didn't put up the numbers Chicago expected, and with the White Sox poised to move Alexei Ramirez to SS in '09, Cano would fit nicely for the next few years at 2B. And to be honest, Ozzie Guillen may very well be the type of manager under which Cano would thrive.

For the Yankees, Swisher would bring some toughness to a Yankee team that lacks it, and would have no problem providing swift kicks in the rear end when needed. This trade makes sense for both teams, and so, Swisher is in my opening day Yankee lineup at 1B.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Win Over the Angels !!!

It was a nice win for the Yankees last night over the Angels. They got seven good innings from Aceves, and he was helped by some early run support courtesy of Nady and Arod. Nady continues to prove he's for real, and it seems as though RF is in good hands once he takes it over in '09. Arod has been much maligned for his lack of "clutch" this year, but baseball isn't a sprint, and when you look at what he has done at the plate and in the field over the course of the season, he's as good a 3B as there is in baseball. Without him, the Yankees aren't even a .500 team.

It's hard to say what the future holds for Aceves. One start is not nearly enough to evaluate anything (didn't Karstens throw a near perfect game in his first start for the Pirates?), and his peripheral numbers look OK but not outstanding. I'm a big believer in xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching - courtesy of The Hardball Times) as a measure of a pitcher's effectiveness, and Aceves outing when combined with his earlier relief appearances shows a 4.22. Pretty average in spite of his early success.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/main/player/index.php?lastName=aceves

That said, he's earned another couple of starts in '08, and subject to the inevitable spending spree we're about to see in the offseason, a shot at making the rotation out of spring training next year. And as far as this Yankee fan is concerned, spring training can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yankee Depth Chart Entering '08-'09 Hot Stove

Here's what the '09 Yankees look like before "shopping" season begins:

C: Posada
1B: Miranda
2B: Cano
3B: Arod
SS: Jeter
LF: Damon
CF: Cabrera
RF: Nady
DH: Matsui

Bench: Molina, Duncan, Betemit, Gardner

SP1: Wang
SP2: Hughes
SP3: Kennedy
SP4: Aceves
SP5: Rasner

Bullpen: Britton, Albaladejo, Bruney, Veras, Ramirez, Chamberlain, Rivera

Obviously, a few assumptions have been made -- Melky getting another shot in CF, Joba coming out of the bullpen, etc. That said, I think this is the hand the Yankees are playing as they head into this offseason. Payroll for the above will come in around $140M, and assuming a neutral payroll number for next year, the Yankees will have somewhere in the vicinity of $60M to spend on upgrades.

How would you spend it?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The day the music died

No one can point to when exactly it happened or what series of events caused it, but at this point, even the most die hard Yankee optimist would have to admit that the latest Yankee run is over. The team in its current state is old, overpaid, injured, beaten, and most surprisingly, completely void of what could only be called heart. It's been a heck of a run since '96, but whatever magic they had is long since gone.

Brian Cashman is running the show, having won the internal power struggle for control, and he has presided over a steady decline in on field performance in an environment of record payrolls. He has thrown bad money after good in trying to preserve what he inherited, but the results speak for themselves -- a team playing out the string, with nothing to play for in what should have been a time to honor Yankee stadium and Yankee fans with one more magical October.

His efforts at "building from within" are noble and widely lauded in the press, but completely ineffective and far better employed with a team who's resources aren't what he has at his disposal in New York. If I have one wish this offseason, it's that the baby bosses see him for what he is, a totally inept Yankee GM, rather than the image he has worked so hard to cultivate as an academic baseball purist.