Is Winter Break Over Yet

Well, its been a few months since my last post.  You could say I kinda went into winter hibernation along with MLB when the season ended by the suprising Cards pulling out an impressive victory to the over-hyped Tigers.  Naturally, this is my opinion, ‘cept it was nice to see the media’s favorite Tiger darlings get taken out by a team who became the second worst record team in MLB World Series history to actually win the series.  Too bad out Yankees were not there, but the past few months has done much to clean rectify the issue. 

So, the question is, has anything happened during the past few months?  And before you answer, no I was not dropped head first into the frozen tundra of Antartica.  Fact is, I have been paying much attention with a big smile on my face.  In the next few posts, I will discuss the ongoings of baseball in general and make my 2007 predictions.  Before, I do that, we should talk about the greatest team in history and we all know who that is.  In the following, here are my grades for the various actions our beloved Yankees have completed since the end of the 2006 season.

Jan 9th, 2007 – Yankees acquired Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Steven Jackson and Alberto Gonzalez for Randy Johnson.  Essentially, the Yanks get one veteran reliver and three MLB potential prospects while letting a dissappointing Johnson and his $16 salary go.  Vizcaino is a nice pick up for the pen and can eat up innings for the Yanks.  Most importantly Ohlendorf is a backend of the rotation right hander who is nearly ready to make the leap to the bigs and Steven Jackson is a prospect with tremendous upside who finally began to shine in 2006.  Yanks also get Gonzalez who will be a good bench player for the Yanks and very capable of jumping in and filling out a spot should injury occur.  However, what really sets this deal appart is the fact in losing Johnson the Yankees rotation may have actually gotten stronger and for that this deal earns an A+

Jan 5th, 2007 – Yankees sign Doug Mientkiewicz to a 1-year contract.  Its getting a little crowded at 1B with Giambi, Mientkiewicz, Phillips and Phelps, not to mention the possibility of a couple good young prospects in the Yankee farm system.  However, Giambi will take over the full-time DH role and Phillips (who I believe is going to be good) is still questionable offensively.  Phelps has the ability, but regressed since being in Toronto.  Mientkiewicz won’t set the world on fire from the plate but he does have a .996  career fielding percentage and the Yanks need defence more than offence at this point.  While I would have preferred signing Bernie to one more year, this deal isn’t all bad for the Yanks so a B- will work here.

Dec 27th, 2006 – Merry Christmas Yankee fans and for our present we get Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa to a very reasonable 5-year contract.  Igawa is a decent #4/#5 option and comes fairly cheep by Yankee standards.  If he keeps the era under 4.50 and wins 13 games, this is a good deal and garnes a B+

Dec 22nd, 2006 – Yanks sign Juan Miranda to a 4-year contract.  Who?  Exactly, but mark my words, keep an eye on this kid and for my reasons why, check out the Yankee’s page at  Grade B

Dec 21st, 2006 – Yankees sign Andy Pettitte to a 1-year contract with a 1-year player option.  YES WE GET PETTITTE BACK!  This is most likely the best Yankee deal all winter.  We all know about Pettitte and he’s back, do I need to say more?  A+

Nov 27th, 2006 – Yankees sign Mike Mussina to a 2-year contract.  This is a good deal for a number of reasons.  First,  they get the Moose at a discounted price.  Second, the Moose had a tremendous year in 2006 meaning there is life still in that arm.  Finally, he becomes the senior on a increasingly young staff which is a great benefit for the youngsters.  Naturally, he will be another older which is the only draw back, but this is still a good deal for the Yanks.  B+

Nov 12th, 2006 – The Yankees trade Jaret Wright to Baltimore for Chris Britton.  Let’s see, we move a injury prone, 5.00 era pitcher who couldn’t get into the 6th 98% of the time for a 24 year old reliever who has MLB experience and tremendous upside.  Can we just call it for what it is… a steal and this earns the Yankees a A

Nov 10th, 2006 – The Yankees ship Gary Sheffield to the over-rated Tigers for youngsters Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett who all have MLB potential with Sanchez being the key.  Look deeper into the deal the Yanks get rid of potential trouble in Sheffield whose defensive ability has slipped Sanchez who is one of the better pitching prospects in the game and is nearly MLB ready and two more young pitching prospects who have a lot of upside.  This was a tremendous deal for both teams and deserves an A+

As for the Yankees in general over the winter

A+ goes to Steinbrenner for keeping his cool by keeping both Joe Torre and Brian Cashman.  But, these two have the Yankees clearly on the right path and Steinbrenner is once again allowing the baseball guys the room to do their jobs.

A+ goes to the yanks for money management.  First they rid themselves of two expensive contracts for aging players with minimal return for a slew of young talent with tremendous upside.  They sign two of the better pitchers in the game for short term, relatively inexpesive deals.  More importantly, the Yankees didn’t go nuts on the FA market in a year when big salaries for mid-level talent was being doled out like flies to rotten hot dogs.  Take Boston, they paid gazillions for a pitcher who has never spend a day in the bigs and then dumped another $70 million for a OF who has spent more time on the DL than off.  KC spent $55 million for a pitcher with a 5.00 era and .500 record and the Giants ******** punched themselves in the nose by signing Zito who is at best 10-20th ranked pitcher in the bigs.  What this means is that Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano are becoming Free Agents in 2008 and the Yankees are not tied into big, ill-producing contracts on two pitchers who some are now saying will command $20 million per year to just even start talking.

C goes to the decision to go with Mientkiewics and Miguel Cario for rounding out the infield.  Granted, its not the worst thing you could do, but seriously better players were available for the taking.  Players such as Green, Guiel  who would have come pretty cheep and even better, the Yankees could have stuck with a couple  of youngsters from the system.  Defensively Cario and Mientkiewics might have a slight edge, but offensively, its hard to do a worse job and Cario kills more rallies than starting them.

C- falls upon the failure to address the backup catcher situation.  Wil Nieves isn’t a horrible choice, but you can’t tell me the Yankees don’t have questions about a player who will be turning 30 and who has only 82 career AB’s for a quiet average of .198.  They did invite Raul Chavez, Ben Davis, Peter Pilittere and Todd Pratt to spring training, which only heightens the issue.  Not counting Posada, the back up cather spot is being fought over by 5 players with little upside.  The issue isn’t so much the the fact these backup are not much of a threat, but the fact that Posada will turn 36 on August 17th which is old for a catcher who has played as many games as he has.  Since 2000 Posada has played in: (note for catchers)

151 games – 2000 – 2nd most in MLB
138 games – 2001 – 3rd most in MLB
143 games – 2002 – 3rd most in MLB
142 games – 2003 – 5th most in MLB
137 games – 2004 – 5th most in MLB
142 games – 2005 – 3rd most in MLB
143 games – 2006 – 4th most in MLB  

Only a few other players have sustained the number of games track record Posada, being Jason Kendall and Roberto Hernandez.  However, Hernandez spent a lot of time at DH while in Oakland and in San Diego didn’t appear in as nearly as many games he normally did while in Oakland.  Kendall is the closest player who resembles Posada in the number of games played for a catcher since 2000 and Kendall is 3 years younger than Posada.

Don’t get me wrong, Posada is a great player and a tremendous component for the Yankees.  But, at the age of 36 can we expect him to continue averaging 140 games a year given the historical track record for catchers?  The issue is, P
ossada’s shoes are big shoes to fill and none of the 5 invities batteling for the backup job can fill them in and while the Yankees do have a couple prospects, they are a couple years away.  The point is, they should have made more effort to get a catcher worth something in case the great Posada were to happen to find himself on the DL for any length of time.  As a result, this is naturally the only real issue the Yankees didn’t address very well this winter.

All in all though, the Yankees did a tremendous job and Cashman should be applauded for his efforts.  He not only made the Yankees younger, but better and even cut costs in the process.  This should be a fun year in the Bronx and I am looking forward to it.  I think the chemistry will be strong and the prospects of possibly having Roger Clemens back in Pinstripes is like telling a kid to wait to open presents on christmas day.

And until next time…





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