Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best wishes for a wonderful 2009

Guys (and girls):

I'm still enjoying some much-needed time away but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you once again to all of you for coming by this year.

(absent from the picture is my little one, age 5)

Thanks also to those of you who have sent me some good articles to read while I am away. I've got a good "reader mail" rant to post and some other interesting links to share/discuss. In fact, I'll open the floor to you guys: If you have something on your mind and would like to craft a guest posting, shoot something my way. Just keep it clean and I'll post it. A fun way to end the year.

I'll come back with a flurry, likely over the weekend as I'll be flying East on New Year's Day.

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy 2009, friends!

Friday, December 26, 2008

It wasn't totally about the money

Of course, that's merely quibbling about a few million over 8 years, less than $1m/year after all:

I've heard from a reliable source that the first baseman turned down about $5 million more from the Nationals to sign with the Yankees. And the Nats would have gone higher, but were never given the chance. Teixeira jumped at Brian Cashman's first offer.

I guess it wasn't ALL about the money - just mostly about it. Being on a contender every year also brings a certain appeal.

I wouldn't exactly say that Teix put the name of this blog to the real test, but at least he gave it a run. Now, if CC took the Brewers offer, THAT would have put my theory in the trash!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Calling Boras' bluff

Seems that the Yanks held their ground pretty well against Boras, seemingly calling his bluff a few times in the final few hours before signing Teixeira. Kat O'Brien has some good behind-the-scenes stuff:

As for Teixeira, an official involved in negotiations gave a rundown of the back-and-forth between the Yankees and Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras. The Yankees had made a substantially lower offer to Teixeira before the winter meetings; an offer that was quickly pulled once Boras informed the Yankees how much he was seeking. The Red Sox, Nationals, Angels and Orioles bid on Teixeira in the next few weeks, with the Yankees not making another contract offer until late Monday.

Even Tuesday, hours before Teixeira agreed to terms, the Yankees were pessimistic about getting the 28-year-old slugger, the source said. Boras told the Yankees they needed a 10-year deal, with the last two years as player options. That got an absolute no from the Yankees, who had offered eight years and $180 million ($22.5 million per year).

Around midday Tuesday, Boras said Teixeira would agree to an eight-year contract, but only if the average annual value was $24 million per year, making the total contract value $192 million. The Yankees conferred, then told Boras no, that they had made a fair yet firm offer and would hold pat, the source said. Boras responded by saying that Teixeira would likely be a Red Sox. The Yankees refused to budge from their offer, and 20 minutes later, Boras called back and said Teixeira would take their eight-year, $180 million contract offer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The last at-bat at Yankee Stadium

Leave it to Alex Belth to pen a wonderful Yankee Stadium story/masterpiece in the heart of an anti-Yankees storm.

Seriously, just read it. No blockquotes here. Just do it.

Happy holidays

I'll be jetting cross country tomorrow morning for a week in sunny, warm San Diego. I'll try (though not too hard) to get something up here if there's any new news to discuss, but otherwise, I'll be on break until after New Year's.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a safe, healthy and happy New Year.


A voice of reason

Shysterball has an excellent take on the Yanks bonanza:

Baseball's prime directive is to be a financially successful and entertaining enterprise, and it has gotten better and better at this even as the Yankees have gone nuclear with their payroll. Some would even argue that there's a causal relationship there. I don't know if that's the case, but it cannot be denied that the Yankees' success and subsequent largess of the past 15 years has correlated remarkably well with the growth of baseball's attendance and revenues.

Maybe that's cold comfort for Blue Jays and Orioles fans, but unless and until the Yankees' spending habits either (a) make a mockery of competitive balance; or (b) send fans away from the game in droves, those habits are not worth worrying about, and I don't see how any of their moves this past month are likely to lead to either of those developments.

Anatomy of a Yankee Spending Spree

Maury from the Biz of Baseball has an excellent posting about the Yanks entire spending spree and the reasons/enablers that made it all possible. You have to read this. To summarize Maury's reasons:

  • Not Landing Santana
  • Missing the Playoffs for the First Time in 14 Years
  • Shedding Player Payroll in Preparation of an Aggressive Off-Season
  • New Yankee Stadium and Tax-Sheltering
  • The Perfect Spending Storm

Maury's got another entry that lays out the "cartoonish" figures of the Yanks this coming season.

  • The Yankees now have four of the highest contracts in all of MLB (Alex Rodriguez has the largest in all of baseball at $275 million over 10 years, while Derek Jeter is second at $189 million over 9 years, on top of the Teixeira deal and Sabathia deals). Those four have combined contract totals of a staggering $805 million, or $205 million more than the cost of the Mets’ Citi Field.
  • The total base salaries of A-Rod ($32 million), Jeter ($20 million), Teixeira ($20 million), and Sabathia ($14 million) for 2009 will be $86 million, or more than the Opening Day payrolls of more than half the league last year (Brewers, Indians, Giants, Reds, Padres, Rockies, Rangers, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Athletics, Rays, and Marlins).

Apropos headline


The Yankees stole another player away from the Red Sox on Tuesday, though Boston will hardly bemoan the loss of Kevin Cash as much as it did watching Mark Teixeira take, well, the Yankee cash and run to the Bronx.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Portrait of an assassin (reposted)

IIATMS note: This is a repost of something originally posted on 12/4/08. I have decided to repost it due to its relevance given today's news. There's a similar article in on the subject out as well.


There's a worthwhile read today about Mark Teixeira. In short, he comes across as a calm, stone-cold assassin. And that's not meant as an insult. This is a guy with a plan, an approach, a sense of utter coolness. One of many differences between the successful Yankee teams of recent vintage and the successful RedSox teams is their personality.

Yanks have been called "corporate", "boring", "methodical". The Sox are "dirt dogs", "scrappy", fun-loving". Both are true yet both have their exceptions. And Teixeira would clearly fit snugly in the Yanks clubhouse as he has those same traits. Again, that's not a knock, it's just his personality.
Tex, as he is known, fits the profile of the modern superstar -- polished and savvy, mindful of his image as well as his OPS. He was switch-hitting in elementary school, was a member of the National Honor Society at Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore, went to Georgia Tech and became an assistant player representative in only his second major league season. When he walks into the clubhouse, dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt, the first thing he does is turn off his cellphone so he is not distracted and does not bother anyone else. He says he has a "plan for every day," which requires that he eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before each game and scarf down a Power Bar in the middle innings. "Some people would call me obsessive compulsive," Teixeira says, "but I take my job very seriously and my preparation very seriously. I am not the kind of guy who goes out at night and parties."
If you ask me, I'd take a team of 10 of these guys. Boring assassins. Might not be as much fun as Manny leaving to take a leak in the Monster. More ARod than Manny. I want guys who are committed to themselves and their team first. I never want to question a player's committment. That's what makes Jeter "Jeter"; we know he's going to go all out every day. We don't have to wonder if Jeter will show up or not. We don't have to wonder if Jeter will beg his way out of the lineup.

Worried about his presence and "clutchness"?
When the Angels acquired Teixeira from Atlanta on July 29, they were 11 1/2 games up in the American League West, and some players worried that a new addition would upset clubhouse chemistry. To the contrary, Teixeira led the Angels in every major offensive category after the trade and they set a franchise record for wins (100), with Teixeira showing a free-swinging team how to work deep into counts.
At the All-Star break, the Angels ranked 29th in walks. In the second half they ranked 21st. "
He was the perfect guy for their lineup," says Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn. The Angels lost to the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs, but not because of Teixeira. He batted .467 with a .550 on-base percentage in his first postseason series.
If the Yanks are unable to sign Sabathia, I would be totally comfortable with them landing Teix.

Spare me the salary cap argument

I try to be fair and rational. I love the game of baseball. And I am also a Yankee fan. Those things are in constant conflict and I try like heck to be consistent and logical. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fail.

But the "baseball is doomed", "we need a salary cap", "the Yanks are ruining the game" stuff is just whining. Baseball is healthy. The economy is in the shitter, no question, and it will impact the gate this year. But most of baseball's non-gate revenues are guaranteed TV/Radio/Internet revenues. Fewer people going to the games will end up watching online or with an MLB package. Baseball will continue to thrive, much less survive.

And with a very basic economics background melded with several summers of construction gigs, I can tell you with a ceiling, there must be a floor. Take a look at the 2008 payrolls and you'll see the average of about $90 million per team and a total of $2.7B. There are 17 teams below the average, 13 above. So where is the ceiling and where is the floor?

If you take the top 5 teams off the list and use that 6th team as the ceiling, you'd have the Angels at $119m. Take the bottom 5 teams off the list and you'd have the floor at the Royals' $58m. Said differently, adding and subtracting roughly 1/3 of the average to get your ceiling and floor. Is that a good spread? For illustrative purposes here, let's assume it is. [In the NFL in 2008, the floor is set at about 85% of the ceiling; much closer than our 50%]

The Marlins are lowest on the list with a payroll of $21 million. If you enforce the ceiling, you must enforce the floor. And if you enforce the floor, you are requiring the Marlins to nearly triple their 2008 payroll. And since we all know how poorly the Marlins draw, I'd guess they'd be forced into some baseball equivalent of Chapter 11 within a year. And what would happen to those big Yanks contracts? Would they be voided, allowing those guys to again be free agents? How would you choose which ones you could jettison?

If MLB were to enact a ceiling and a floor, the league would be forced to either relocate teams or contract those that cannot survive. Remember those fun contraction rumors from a few years back?

Then, there is the issue of the Union. The point of any union is to protect its dues paying members from the might of ownership. Or something like that. Now, MLB's union has the benefit of a limited number of members dividing up a tremendous pie of cash. A ceiling would artificially supress wages for the union members so that would never, ever get ratified. Marvin Miller would raise the most holy hell-storm ever. And, as I have said before, I am staunchly pro-labor. An argument FOR a cap/floor is decidedly pro-Management. I'd rather root for the millionaires than the billionaires. Pay the guys who are doing the work, earning those revenues.

[This model is the Wall Street model. Pay for performance. It's why you saw those crazy amounts the Wall Streeters were earning. They generate huge fees/revenues/commissions for each Investment Banking House. The biggest producers get paid a healthy percentage of that pie with a trickle-down. For fixed wage earners, we're paid the same almost regardless how good or bad we perform. Of course, poor performers don't last very long but with a fixed wage, I can bust my tail all day, every day and not share in the revenues proportionately. My job is theoretically lower risk (which I happen to like right about now) and that comes with that lower reward. As a side note, I am curious to see if there will be an increase in homes for sale by me due to the Wall Streeters who got laid off or didn't get their bonuses (often in many multiples of a very comfy base salary).]

All that said, no matter how much the Yanks spend this coming season, or any season, guarantees anything. It's not like ARod swings with his wallet. Does adding Teix to an off-season bounty that already included Sabathia and Burnett HELP the Yanks improve their odds of making it to the playoffs? Of course. But with the Sox still potent as ever and the Rays' young guns still standing in front of the Yanks, nothing's a given.

The Yanks have added a ton of long term contracts, but I wish everyone would just stop quoting the total values. The Yanks shed some $88m or so before their buying spree. Adding these three horses and there's still headroom. The total payroll still ridiclous compared to the Marlins but which team is fleecing their fans more? Hate the Steinbrenners all you want but at least they are giving their fans a first rate product for first rate ticket prices.

What started as a quick "zip it" posting meandered into something more. Tell me where you'd set the cap/floor or what solution you have. If you want the cap, tell me what the parameters would be. Don't just say "we need a cap". Describe your plan. Convince me. Show me how it would work, how you'd enact it? Over time or immediately. Otherwise, keep the whining down. My basic rule is this: If you can't propose a solution, don't whine about the problem.

My other rule: It is about the money, stupid. Always is.

Merry Teixmas!

As I hoped, postulated, ruminated.... Teixeira will indeed be a Yankee. It seems that they were laying low, waiting for the Boras camp to come a'calling. I'll keep the updates coming as I get them.

Teixeira, who hit .308 with 33 home runs and 121 RBIs in 2008, will receive an eight-year, $180 million deal from the Yankees with a full no-trade provision.
Holy crap. The Evil Empire lives*. If those figures are to be believed, they were on par with Boston, below the Nationals and above the Angels and Orioles. Not quite the "Beltran Offer" but clearly not the highest bid on the table.

Per Buster Olney:
Free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira has reached agreement with the New York Yankees on an eight-year contract worth more than $170 million.

The Yankees swooped in on Teixeira on Tuesday when it was believed the
Boston Red Sox or the Washington Nationals were the likeliest of his future employer. The Red Sox's offer was believed to be in the range of $170 million, and the Nationals reached out with an offer perhaps greater than that of Boston.
Said here almost 2 weeks ago:
It just feels like the Yanks are quietly lurking on the Teix scenario. If they, at the last minute, call Boras and tell him they'll match the Nationals 8 year, $160m offer, I can see them walking off with the two best players this offseason, plus at least two other very good pitchers. The Evil Empire striking again.

Obnoxious? You betchya. At least the ownership is committed. Or should be committed. Whatever.

The Lineup:

  1. Damon, LF
  2. Jeter, SS
  3. Teix, 1B
  4. ARod, 3B
  5. Matsui, DH
  6. Nady, RF
  7. Posada, C
  8. Swisher, CF
  9. Cano, 2B
Not sure how the bottom 3-4 guys shake out right now.

Merry Teixmas to all!

* And yes, I know there will be hell to pay if the Yanks don't win it all.

Maybe you've heard me say this before

Except now it's not coming from my mouth (or keyboard), but from Buster Olney.

Buster on the Yanks lurking, possibly waiting for a "Beltran Offer":

The Yankees made an initial offer to Teixeira, a proposal not close to the others, before they withdrew their bid, and they have maintained contact with the agent, Scott Boras. Three years ago, Carlos Beltran was a free agent, and near the end of his negotiations with the Mets, he offered to sign with the Yankees for a six-year, $96 million deal, or more than $20 million less than what the Mets had offered. The Yankees declined the proposal.

With Teixeira's negotiations with the Red Sox last week, in the failed meeting between the team executives and the player, the Yankees are at least preparing for the possibility that they will be presented with a set of parameters by Teixeira that would bring him to New York. If the first baseman gives the Yankees contract figures that absolutely would result in him signing with the Yankees, they want to be ready to respond.
Buster on the Boras/ARod/Texas parallel:
The Nationals reportedly made an offer of eight years and $160 million to the first baseman, and while some within the organization have privately expressed skepticism about their chances of signing Teixeira, they are viewed as a formidable participant because of their owner's deep pockets. A lingering question throughout these negotiations has been whether Teixeira would be willing to play for the Nationals or the Orioles, teams that figure to struggle in the immediate future, as they rebuild their pitching staffs.

Another Boras client did take a lot more money with a non-contender once --
Alex Rodriguez, who signed a record-setting $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
Stay tuned, they are expecting Teix to make his decision today.

Fantasy football heartbreak

A bit off-topic, but this is a quick story about my brother's fantasy football team. Feel free to skip it if you hate this stuff.

He was in the finals in his office league and according to him, clearly the favorite. The guy he was playing had the Bears D/ST yet to play. My brother had both kickers playing last night to choose from. We discussed playing Crosby since every kick would doubly hurt the Bears D/ST. We knew neither was a good option though, due to the weather.

Here are his emails to me late last night:

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 10:56 PM
Subject: "Tonite"
Body: That missed FG was worth 4 to me and -1 to my opponent. And I'm down by 5!

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 11:42 PM
Subject: "This kick"
Body: For the title

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 11:57 PM
Subject: "I'm sick"
Body: That missed FG cost me the title.
That, my friends, is pain.


This makes my stomach boil:

"I don't know [Manny Ramirez] personally, with the exception of playing against him and on some All-Star teams," Jeter said. "I know he's had a lot of success everywhere he's gone, and it seems his teams have done been pretty good.

"Not too many people have problems fitting in, I don't think."
I know Jeter is being Jeter-like, trying to say and do the right thing (or the things we want to hear). But adding Manny on a multi-year deal is just a bad idea. As for fitting in, the Cap'n sure did a nice job helping ARod get acclimated, didn't he?

And making it worse, Hank wants Manny for all the wrong reasons:
Hank Steinbrenner is believed to covet Ramirez for the marquee value he would bring to the club and a chance to stick it to the rival Red Sox, for whom Ramirez spent 7½ seasons before last summer's messy divorce.

Not to mention, on a team with ARod, Sabathia, Burnett, Jeter, Damon, Matsui, Mo Rivera, Joba... do you really need more marquee value? I need to hit something hard.

Way too much bile this early in the morning. Find it in your heart to forgive me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crazy enough to work?

Since I just got done bashing Boras and Teixeira, I'll ask you, my loyal readers, to answer this one: Would you sooner take the longer term, higher total value contract or the shorter, higher AAV contract?

The opportunity is there, especially after the Red Sox and Angels publicly stated they're out. And though it probably won’t work because of the money already on the table from the Nationals and Orioles, there is a rationale that I think makes sense.

Offer Teixeira a 4-year deal worth $102 million. Blow him away with an average annual value of $25.5 million, not far under
A-Rod’s megadeal. The Yankees get their short-term commitment while Boras gets the big number he’s looking for. There are tens of millions left on the table, but here’s where it could pay off. The four year deal means Teixeira will hit the open market again at age 32, still in his prime.
Crafty. I can't see Boras letting Teix take it, though. It's not long term enough. Boras would rather the longer term deal with his patented opt-out, methinks. What say you?

Lastly, I have read many defenses/assaults of/on the Yanks and Steinbrenners lately, but I did happen to really like this defense for its brutal honesty, from later in the same article:
For those that think this is overkill after the quarter of a billion dollars they committed to Sabathia and Burnett, I have two words—pipe down. The Yankees have money to spend. This is what they do. So spend it. Who can argue that the players they are adding don’t make sense? If the Steinbrenners took all this money that was coming off the books and put it in their pockets, then that would be a greater crime. Other GM’s can talk tough, but if any one of their owners came to them and offered an extra $100 million for the payroll, not one would say, “no thanks, we’d prefer to do it the right way.”

Something about history repeating, being doomed

If this is true, it's clear that our boy Teix has no grasp of recent history. He need only look at the ARod deal of 2000 to wonder if he'll find happiness being the big fish in a small, stagnant swamp.

According to multiple sources, the Washington Nationals have sweetened their proposal to first baseman Mark Teixeira, offering him an eight-year deal worth $178 to $184 million.
I'm also told that they're willing to go nine years - and there's been talk of 10 - which could be one reason why agent Scott Boras is dragging along negotiations.
Not that I think the Nats are a bad organization, it's just that they are not going to be a contender for at least the next 4-5 years, at best. Right? Straight through the prime of Teix's career arc. And then what?

I know I titled this blog the way I did because it's almost universally true, but when you're talking about generational wealth, not just a lot of money, wouldn't you want to create a legacy to support that wealth? CC proved me right. While the rest of these guys will be merely filthy rich, I'm talking more about the guys like Teix, CC, etc. Generational wealth. Putting your great, great grandkids through college without a worry.

Maybe it's me and my position as a father of two young boys. I'd like be able to look them in the eye (had I been a super, duper star) and tell them that I took a bit less money to put myself in a position to win the World Series just once rather than tell them that I simply did the obvious thing and jumped at the highest bid that my agent could scrape together. I could see my son asking me once I retired: "Dad, how come you didn't want to play for the RedSox (or Yankees or Angels)? Why'd you pick the last place Nationals?" Would I be able to answer him with a straight face and tell him that I only wanted to play near where I grew up as the reason? After all, once you have retired, all you have are the memories of your playing days and the money you've earned. What's the practical difference between $175m and $160m in 15 years? Hell, put the money in the wrong spot and it could be equal. The only difference are the memories and the legacy you create. For image conscious guys like ARod and Teix, to forego this chance to chase the last dollar strikes me as odd, as if they have been brainwashed.

Going to DC, just as ARod followed Boras and the money to Texas, would be a terrible, regrettable move for Teixeira. And a move I hope he makes (because seeing him in Boston won't make me feel too good!). Then Boras can come and rescue him in a few years and place him in Boston or NY so he can proclaim that's where he always wanted to be in the first place (but lacked the stones to do it when the opportunity was at his doorstep).

I still say he lands up in Boston. It should be fun to watch Boston bump a Gold Glove 1B out of that position to bump their WS MVP out of the lineup into some dump trade, all in the name of Theo The Smart.

Quick thoughts on Manny, Teix

There are some interesting reports out there today that I could only call misinformation. Once there are some more concrete things to discuss, I'll dive deeper. But for now, let's just quickly mention the two hot topics du jour.

  1. Manny expects a 3 year offer from the Yanks in the neighborhood of $75m dollars. If this happens, I might have to auction off my allegiance to this team. Manny also expects the Tooth Fairy to arrive, the Easter Bunny to bring him chocolates and Santa to be readying his sled for his Wednesday night run.
  2. The Angels have reported backed out of the Teixeira 'sweepstakes' for feeling used. I love Arte Moreno, but he's sounding awfully sensitive here. There's no way the Nats or Orioles end up Teix unless they come in with an over-the-top offer like the Yanks had to do to get CC. The Sox, despite claiming "not to be major factors" in this, WILL in fact be major factors. Unless the Yanks decide to get more piggish (which many didn't think possible), I don't see them landing Teix. Boras reportedly told Cashman it would take eight years and $180 million to $185 million to sign Teixeira. That's ridiculous. I would LOVE to have Teix --who wouldn't?-- but at some point, don't you have to say no? I mean, I'd love a Maserati, but it's just out of my fiscal reach. [Maybe more than "just", towards the area of "way".]

    I can see Cashman & Co. making a strong offer (8 years, $21m per) as their "first and final" offer. If the Sox want to reach for 8 years and $180m on what amounts to a luxury item for them, power to them. If you have to trade your WS MVP who has 2 years and have to eat much of the $24m he's still owned in order to add Teixeira, then that's a luxury. Face it. I might have to dust off my Evil Empire II rant.

: From Buster's blog today:

The Yankees made an initial offer that was believed to be markedly less than what the other offers have been, and since then they have withdrawn that offer. They are pushing to cut their payroll in 2009, and they cannot sign Teixeira and accomplish that unless they could dump the contract of Hideki Matsui and others, in a market flush with corner outfielders. Their focus continues to be on starting pitching, and at some point they could re-engage a free agent who could come cheaply.
And that brings us back to the Red Sox, who sources say were prepared to pay Teixeira something in the range of $170 million to $175 million as club executives flew to Texas, and who might be nudged to $180 million. But they seem to be talking at the idea of throwing out a $200 million deal to the first baseman.

Here's a number to keep in mind: $189 million. That's the value of the contract signed by Derek Jeter after the 2000 season. Scott Boras, Teixeira's agent, is very aware of benchmarks, and so a $190 million contract would surpass Jeter's deal in total dollars.

Does Teixeira really have lots of offers for more than what the Red Sox are offering? Clearly, Boston doesn't think so. Only Boras knows for sure.

It seems that the game has played itself out, the last cards have been dealt, and now Teixeira is in position to make his decision.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, IIATMS

Happy 1st birthday to the blog. It's been an incredible first year. Thank you all for coming by, visiting, hanging out, debating, challenging, etc. Those are the reasons why I do this and why I have so much fun doing it.

Since I haven't yet began to feel any burnout, I'll keep this going. I hope to get some more interviews with current and former players/coaches/agents. Being able to bring their perspectives to you was a lot of fun. I'll try to do more of that.

I'll also try to keep things fun as much as possible.

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a big thank you to Craig from ShysterBall for all of his help and chatter during this past year. And to my most loyal readers, keep the comments and emails coming!

Thanks again for coming by. I appreciate it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to blow up your career

Quite simply, screw over the universally respected John Schuerholz with shifty and sneaky dealings:

John Schuerholz, the Braves’ president and former general manager, Thursday called the dealings of Furcal’s agents “despicable” and “disgusting” and said the franchise would no longer entertain signing players represented by them — ever.

Having been in this business for 40-some years, I’ve never seen anybody treated like that,” Schuerholz said. “The Atlanta Braves will no longer do business with that company — ever. I told [agent] Arn Tellem that we can’t trust them to be honest and forthright. I told him that in all my years, I’ve never seen any [agency] act in such a despicable manner.

“It was disgusting and unprofessional. We’re a proud organization, and we won’t allow ourselves to be treated that way. I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. Take the name of the Atlanta
Braves off their speed dial. They can deal with the other 29 clubs, and we’ll deal with the other hundred agents.

Agent Paul Kinzer, the lead agent in the Furcal deal, works directly for Tellem. Tellem reported heaved Kinzer under the bus in trying to explain away Kinzer's actions to Wren and Scheurholz. Kinzer's reputation is in shambles after this one. In listening to Joel Sherman on XM yesterday, he had his great line: "I'm writing about this tomorrow. Would you like me to call you an idiot or a liar?"

I'm digging a bit more on this and have a call into an agent for their views on the ethics and conditions behind these sorts of actions. If I can get some additional color, you'll know!

Premature rumination

I penned a long rambling post last night after learning about an 8 year, $184m offer the Sox had put on the table for Teix. Then I awoke to this:

Red Sox owner John Henry e-mailed several media members late tonight with a stunning twist in the team's pursuit of free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Henry's words: "
We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him. After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

Earlier tonight, multiple news outlets reported the Red Sox had traveled to Texas to meet with Teixeira and his agent, Scott Boras, in the hopes of trying to finalize a deal. WCVB-TV Channel 5 reported that the Red Sox had offered Teixeira an eight-year deal worth $184 million (an average of $23 million per season).

I've pulled my initial posting for the time being, in full disclosure. Should this ploy by Henry be just a bluff, I'll dust it off and toss it back out there.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Looking ahead to 2010 free agents-to-be

Gotta love MLBTradeRumors for goodies like this, their massive list of 2010 free agents-to-be. And from the looks of it, it's not a bumper crop. We're going to be losing Matsui, Damon and Nady. If Austin Jackson is ready to take CF for his own in 2010, we'll need two corner OFs (or one if we get a 1B and move Swisher to a corner OF spot). Here are the interesting names that stick out for me, either due to age or need or both. My comments are in red.

These are players who are eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. The player's 2010 age is in parentheses and Scott Boras clients are bolded. Current free agents who have not yet signed are not on this list.

First basemen

  • Nick Johnson (31) Would be nice to bring him back but can he stay healthy?
  • Adam LaRoche (30)

Second basemen

  • Brian Roberts (32) Love this guy but if Cano's still at 2B, where would he play?


  • Bobby Crosby (30) If you like a 0.230 BA and perennially injured SS...
  • Khalil Greene (30)

Third basemen

  • Adrian Beltre (31) Just thinking if we move ARod to 1B and put Beltre at 3B for defense
  • Chone Figgins (32) Lacks the pop of a CI, but would be a great lead-off guy. Can he play SS and bump Jetes to 1B? Will he play CF if Jackson isn't ready? Does he have a Damon-like arm?

Left fielders

  • Jason Bay (31) Yes, please, if the Sox don't extend him before he gets to FA.
  • Carl Crawford (28) - $10MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout. I can't see the Rays not exercising this option
  • Matt Holliday (30) If he can hit in OAK, he'd be welcome in the Bronx. If he can't, stay away!

Center fielders

  • Rick Ankiel (30) Certainly intriguing. Want to see him get 600 AB's and then decide. Boras client, so expect him to be overpriced if he has a good year.
  • Marlon Byrd (32) Could be a quiet, under the radar signing. Which means it won't happen.

Right fielders

  • Vladimir Guerrero (34) Oldest 34 year old since El Duque finished high school. Really, 34 with a straight face? My dad's had both knees wrecked and would be 30 years older and I'm not sure Vlad can beat him down the line. Which means it's exactly who Hank would pine for. But only as a DH at this point.
  • Xavier Nady (31) Another Boras client but if he has a solid year, maybe he sticks a bit.
  • Jayson Werth (31) I like this guy. Sure he's a platoon, but he is an easy 20/20 guy. I don't know how good/bad his D is, though. Anyone?

Starting pitchers*

  • Erik Bedard (31) Oof. He could be wonderful to add as a strong lefty, or he could be out the whole year.
  • Rich Harden (28) Droool. See Bedard, change to "righty". Look up "Pure Stuff" and you'll see his picture.
  • John Lackey (31) If the Angels can't lock this guy up long term, I'd go all in on Lackey. Not CC levels, but this is a guy to get.
  • Brett Myers (29) Except when in Boston, sure.
  • *Beckett, Webb and C.Lee have options that are likely to be picked up.

This is just sad

Sure it makes the headlines due to the Clemens angle, but it's just sad:

Roger Clemens' longtime mistress was hospitalized - after an apparent suicide attempt, Nashville police said.
A source told the Daily News McCready severed a tendon in her left arm that required immediate surgery.

I really hope she gets the proper counselling to get herself back together.

Can Sabathia bring the chemistry along with the heat?

If you like William C. Rhoden (as much as I do) and his line of reasoning, the answer is yes:

Sabathia represents a potential breath of fresh air in a stale, cliché-ridden Yankees clubhouse, one with little personality and even less passion, and no recent championships to compensate for those deficiencies.

Sabathia is a good-natured star who has strong feelings about issues and isn’t afraid to share them. This is an anomaly in a clubhouse famous for antiseptic professionalism.

The common wisdom is that a team can buy Gold Gloves, big bats and strong arms, but it can’t buy chemistry.

The Yankees may have finally figured out how to buy that, too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The condor has landed

Well, he's slightly larger than an eagle...although, he looks much thinner than I remember him from October. I am imagining things?

Let the hatin' begin.

Counting stripes

Leave it to the UniWatch blog to try to figure out how many pinstripes will be on CC's jersey, and how many were on Babe's, the Scooter's, Joba's...

So how many stripes will Sabathia be wearing? Unsurprisingly, neither the Yankees nor Majestic (MLB's official uniform supplier) wanted to help to answer that question, but Uni Watch has obtained information suggesting that the total may be as high as 62! That figure can be corroborated by examining how CC looked in the Brewers' pinstriped Friday throwback. Uni Watch counts 13 stripes from the right side seam to the center placket; assuming an identical count on the left side and then that total amount again on the back, we'd have 52 stripes. But the Brewers' pins are spaced 1.0625 inches apart, while the Yankees' are only 27/32 of an inch apart. Factor in the difference, divide by the square root of pi, carry the 2, and you end up with about 64. Granted, these are all rough calculations, but they appear to confirm that CC's pinstripe count will be in the low 60s.

Now then, how does that number stack up against some other famously plus-sized Yankees?
You'll have to head to the link to enjoy the goodness that is the UniWatch blog, which I thoroughly recommend!

Oh please NO! Not the Plaxicator!!!

Please tell me this is Hank banging his desk like a petulant teenager and that Cashman is looking at Hal as if to say "Let's just placate him for now, but we won't really do this":

The [Yankees] official believes that the Yankees are "going hard" after Ramirez, to the point where they are willing to give him a three-year deal worth from $22 million to $25 million per year.

Two other officials are skeptical that the Bombers would commit three years to the enigmatic Ramirez, who has already seen the Dodgers make and withdraw a two-year, $45 million offer this winter.
One year for Manny, to scratch that itch, OK. I won't love it but for one year, I'll roll the dice and see if he can be that MVP guy in LA versus the "Plaxicator"* that he was in Boston. But three years? On THIS team? With this many 35 year olds who will need to have a day or two in the DH role? Good lord, no!!!! How many exclamation points can I use? In a league that is clearly moving towards faster, younger, more athletic, the Yanks would be going slower, older, immobile.

He can't play a lick of defense. We already have Damon and Matsui who are liabilities in LF/DH. Nady in right is fine. CF will be an issue. Posada might not be ready to catch 6 games a week but might be OK to hit (in the DH spot). And last I checked, Manny's a freakin' head case! He still is a tremendous hitter who would provide some protection and thump behind ARod, but c'mon.

I can't stress how much I'd hate the Yanks going to an absurd 3 year deal. There is NO COMPETITION for his services for a TWO YEAR deal? Why offer a THREE? Why am I banging the keys while typing, like it's going to make my point any better? Take this cash and use it as a downpayment on a Teix offer!

If Cashman and Hal truly have the reins/reigns (thank you, KLaw), Manny won't be a Yankee at all. If they placate Hank, I can see a 1 year deal. If Hank tries to overrule, all bets are off.

Now I am stomping my foot like that petulant teenager. Shoot me.

* Saw my neighbor while getting into my car this cold and snowy morning. He called Manny "another Plaxico". So I created the new terms: Plaxification and Plaxicator: To sandbag/the sandbagger of a team despite your immense, god-given talents.

: From Buster's blog and I completely agree (Insider access required, sorry):
Here's something any executive thinking about signing Manny should consider before giving him a multiyear deal: If he gets a two-, three- or four-year deal, it probably will represent the last big-money contract he will receive -- and what exactly will compel him to play hard for the duration of the deal?

Once Manny signs his next big-money deal, the financial carrot that seemed to drive him in August and September will be gone, so an employer who gives him a multiyear deal will be wholly dependent on his competitive integrity.

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newton's Third Law, baseball-style

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So sayeth the RedSox:

The Yankees' recent purchases can only be further motivation for the Boston club. The American League East was typically one of baseball's toughest divisions. And that was before the emergence of the Rays, who went from nowhere to the World Series in one season and now cannot fairly be expected to return to oblivion.

The Red Sox, having finally gained the upper hand in the rivalry with the Yankees by the virtue of two World Series championships in the last five seasons, cannot sit idly by and watch the Yanks make dramatic, if incredibly expensive, improvements. And that is what the acquisitions of Sabathia and Burnett were. The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2000, primarily because their starting pitching wasn't of championship caliber. On paper, at least, that shortcoming has now been directly addressed.

So that guy out West won't be traded

Yawn. Unless he is, of course.

“We said from the very beginning in connection with both of those possibilities that we would not make a trade unless it made baseball sense,” [Padres CEO Sandy] Alderson said. “We are no longer actively pursuing any trade for Jake, which is not to say someone won't approach us.”
Moving on....

Neyer on Burnett, lineup

I'm an unabashed Neyer fan, I'll admit it. And he's spot on again about Burnett, which is something I have been saying in the lead-up to his signing:

[Burnett]'s not reliable, and the Yankees have pretty obviously overpaid. Too many dollars, too many years. If the Yankees wanted an impressive fifth starter, they probably could have spent a little less money for a slightly better pitcher. But what's a few million dollars to the Yankees?
I have noted that I love a Burnett contract for three years, like for four and hate for five. Well, Cashman went to a five year deal to land their man. Though, when has eating the extra years of a bad contract prohibited the Yanks from doing anything else they had planned, so why worry about that, right? Ain't my money.

Sure, the Yanks offense is older and on the slide. But it's still pretty good. Says Neyer:
And the offense? Yankee Stadium is (or rather, was) a pitcher's park. Considering only road games, the Yankees finished third in the American League in OPS last year. Maybe that doesn't qualify as "excellent," but it's certainly somewhere between "good" and "excellent." Granted, everybody's a year older and we might expect a slight decline next year. So yes, the Yankees should try to improve their offense … and I'm not at all convinced they can't still afford to do exactly that. Has Brian Cashman suggested that he's finished spending money? If he has, I missed it. In fact, I'll be surprised if the Yankees' Opening Day lineup doesn't look better than it looks right now.

And right now it looks pretty darn good.
I would have LOVED to see Teix in pinstripes over Burnett and gone after Lowe or Sheets on a shorter term deal.

Save your venom


Yankee bashers, save some of your venom. The Sox are entering the $200m contract realm. Does this mean they are officially out of the "scrappy, gamer, underdog" business and now headlong into the mercenary business?
Dan Patrick reported on his show on AM 570 that the Boston Red Sox have made first baseman Mark Teixeira an eight-year, $200 million offer.

If so, that blows the reported eight-year, $160 million offers by the Angels and the Washington Nationals out of the water.

Patrick said Monday morning: “
If it’s true they’re offering $200 million to a career .290 hitter, it’ll be interesting to see what the Angels do.”
Evil Empire II. Save your chest-beating, Sox fans, and look in the mirror. You aren't much different than the team you love to hate. Except your management allows facial hair.

Now...all fun aside, if the Sox get Teix, that's a fantastic move for them. He's a quality person first and foremost, an anti-Manny, if you will. He plays great defense, a solid hitter from either side of the plate. Seems to be accountable for his actions, which I love. Does he have the personality that will fit in a loose Boston clubhouse? Not sure. Can that be overlooked? Probably.
Add in Teix to that lineup with that rotation and I'd be hard-pressed to see any team beating them along the way to the World Series. Beckett, Lester, Dice-K at the front of the rotation with Papelboner at the end. Pedroia, Youk, Papi, Teix, Drew. That's a great team. Period. Hurts to say but it's true.

Can the Yanks climb back into the playoffs over this team and the Rays? Can the Rays sustain the '08 momentum? Will I be jealous/envious if the Sox land Teix? Maybe, probably, definitely.

Random thought of the day: Loosen up

Time for a Friday Tuesday poll: Should the Yanks finally relax their no facial hair/no long hair rules?

The polls are now open, directly to your left.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The inevitable: Padres for sale

Is anyone shocked?

San Diego Padres owner John Moores told this weekend that he has hired Goldman Sachs to identify potential buyers for the ballclub.
Moores said selling any part of the club does involve a much-publicized personal wrinkle: the pending divorce between him and his wife, Becky.

Together, they own 90 percent of the team, and because of community property laws in the state of California, Becky shares 50 percent of that asset. She must agree to any sale, and in the event that they can't come to an agreement, the California state court presiding over the divorce would be the arbitrator.

Thanks to ShysterBall for the alert and the Delta Burke reference, which is always good.

Gamesmanship versus cheating

Apparently, when it happened in a historically meaningful game more than 50 years ago, it's both charming and nostalgic. When it happens in the last decade and a half, it's subpoena-worthy:

Sign-stealing by mechanical means was outlawed by baseball in 1961. As for that episode a decade earlier, “I didn’t feel guilty about anything,” [Sal] Yvars told Prager. “I was just doing my job.”
The link above is the obituary for Sal Yvars, a back-up catcher on the NY Giants team that won the pennant when Bobby Thompson hit his "shot heard 'round the world" against Ralph Branca.
When Branca delivered his fateful pitch, a high inside fastball, did Thomson know what was coming? “I gave him the sign,” Yvars told The New York Times in 2001. But Thomson told Prager that he had been concentrating so heavily that he had not looked toward Yvars.
Bottom line, cheating is cheating. Unless it's on grainy black and while film and we wax philosophical about that time and the good old days. Because it wasn't yet illegal by definition (though clearly in against the spirit of the rules), it's gamesmanship. Just not for PED's.

(Thanks to Ron Rollins for the tip)

Who is worse for baseball: Yankees or Padres?

This topic was not my creation. I caught a bit of the MLB Home Plate morning show on XM radio (channel 175) on my way into work today. Admittedly, I am just getting into this as I recently switched from Sirius to XM*. The chatter of the day was the question: Which team is worse for baseball, the Yanks or the Padres.

* Pos-like aside: I had a Sirius unit installed when I got my car in 2005, even though XM came pre-installed. I just liked the music selections better. Now that programming is almost identical, I switched to XM (better signal strength, cheaper with my wife having XM too) which gave me access to MLB Home Plate (all baseball, all the time) and will eventually give me radio access to every game for every team. I'm getting into the discussions a bit.

The easy answer to the above question is the Yanks due to their payroll and spending. They are flaunting their money while most teams are cutting back, shedding office staff, etc. They are routinely the highest payroll with very little to show for it the last few years.

Then there are the Padres. They are slashing payroll to something in the neighborhood of $40m. No player is untradable. Heck, they let legend Trevor Hoffman go and maybe you heard that they are trying to unload Peavy. Their owner, John Moores, is going thru a divorce that threatens his ability to own the team. The team has no chance to be competitive for many years, unless they can get the bounty they are looking for to deal Peavy...and even then, it might take several years.

So what's worse for the "game of baseball"? A team that overspends or a team that underspends?

I'm not so biased that I can't see that many of the things the Yanks are doing aren't good for the name of "competitive balance", but there's nothing against the rules of spending. And, as of now, they will be bringing their payroll down in 2009, even if they go and add Teixeira after Sabathia and Burnett. Sure, it looks ugly when they do it because it's so over the top. Did the Yanks really need to tack on the extra year for both Burnett and Sabathia? Well, yes. The cost of not getting these guys was greater than the risk of getting them. Sure there is risk in both pitchers' arms and bodies. But if the Yanks have to eat the last few years of either/both contract, that's a pittance in their overall operating budget. If you dropped a $20 bill and lost it, you'd be angry at yourself but you wouldn't have to change your lifestyle. If the Yanks have to eat the last two years of each contract, so be it.

Except MLB, across the board, is better off when the Yanks are doing well. The team drives attendance everywhere they go. They pay a ton of money to other teams via revenue sharing and luxury tax payments. HUGE amounts of money. It's one thing to spend like a madman, it's entirely something else when you are paying an extra 40% on those binges to give to their competition. Hating the Yanks is good for business.

And not for nothing, MLB has to be the only business where outsiders (you, me, the fans) are pro-Management instead of pro-Labor. Just saying... Would you want GM to push the hourly rates for their workers down so their management could make more money? No, you want labor to get what they can for putting the product on the road (or field, as the case should be).

Now, the Padres have summarily sandbagged their fans' hope for the 2009 season and at least the next few years. They will not have a Rays-like resurgence, which was the result of many, many years of sub-basement performance which resulted in a bevy of top-of-the-draft players finally maturing at once. The Padres, if not sold to an owner who is committed to spending, will be terrible for the foreseeable future. I wish this wasn't so, but it it is. They weaken the competition for the NL West teams, giving an unfair advantage to the Dodgers and D'backs, who already get to feast on the Giants and Rockies. Post that against the backdrop of the NL East featuring the Braves, Mets and Champion Phillies.

The Padres do not drive attendance. They will absorb revenue sharing/luxury tax receipts with nothing to show for in terms of on-field talent. They are shafting their fans who will pay full price for a AAAA team. And that's a vicious circle they've created. Fewer fans will come, lowering their revenue base, which will, in turn, lower they spending further.

The Yanks will have over 4 million fans come to their new Cathedral, which they helped pay for, like it or not. Seating prices will be crazy, as will concessions. Parking was already silly (but at least there will be a MetroNorth stop for Westchester residents like me). But at least we know we have ownership who is committed to putting their money where their gaping mouths are. It comes off as obnoxious and offensive because it is. But don't forget that their payroll will be lower than last year despite moving into TNYS. And by lower, I mean that it will still be the highest in the game.

What's worse? The ownership who overspends or the ownership that underspends? Worse to thumb your nose at the issues affecting everyone else or to thumb your nose at your singular fan base?

Buster on the Yanks, prospects

Just a bit from Buster on the Yanks and their keeping of their prospects:

On the front end, both teams would have been required to surrender their top pitching prospects -- for the Red Sox, that was Jon Lester, and for the Yankees, that was Phil Hughes -- and then they would have to pay Santana like he was a free agent. It was such an extraordinary price that even some folks in the Mets' organization wondered, after getting Santana, whether it was the right thing to do.

The argument that several executives made with the Red Sox and Yankees was that if you were patient -- patient -- then you might have a shot at a pitcher much like Santana in CC Sabathia, and the cost would only have one layer. Sure, you'd have to give him a huge contract, but you wouldn't have to give up top prospects along the way.

So the Yankees, in the end, were patient and got Sabathia, and the pundits who are saying that the team has blown up its plan for player development are simply not paying attention. In fact, the signings of Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are absolutely in keeping with the refocus on the farm system.

None of this is a guarantee of a playoff visit, no matter how much money is spent. The RedSox and Rays are formidable and equally talented. But it sure makes the team better than it was last year. And that's the point.

Madoff's Ponzi scheme hits the Mets

For those not tuned into the remarkable $50B Ponzi scheme collapse, it's hit Mets' ownership hard:

But interviews Saturday with several people with knowledge of Wilpon’s business dealings revealed concern about significant problems that Wilpon and the Mets could encounter because of the reported fraud. Although it is unclear how much money Wilpon may recoup, any significant financial loss by a team owner raises questions about how those losses may affect the franchise.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Burnett's on the way?

If you believe this from GAKIII, he sure is:

Talking to a Yankee recently, A.J. Burnett informed the player they were going to be teammates.

He wants to come to New York - those words came out of his mouth," the player told The Post last night. "He really wants to play here."

From all indications, Burnett will join CC Sabathia at the top of the Yankee rotation, and the deal could be sealed as early as today.
Five years? Can't they give him a 3 year out, too?

(12/12/08, 6:31pm)
: So it's done. Just got home so I'll try to get something up later tonite.
Free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett has reached preliminary agreement on a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees made a late charge to beat out the
Atlanta Braves for Burnett, who went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA in 35 starts with Toronto this season. Burnett won 10 of his last 12 decisions. He set career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (221 1/3).

Updated thoughts on the Sabathia opt-out

Courtesy of Ken Davidoff:

Here is the column I wrote about CC Sabathia. After I sent this column, I ran into a friend of CC's, and he agreed wholly with my take: CC will be so outta here in three years. Which could very well be a good thing for the Yankees.

How much does CC prefer the West Coast over the East Coast? "
He hates having spring training in Florida," the friend said.

As I wrote, there's every reason that CC will give everything he has to the Yankees for three years. But the idea that he'll want to stay in New York after that? No. And if you're a Yankees fan, you've got to love the idea of bidding him adieu well before his decline phase kicks in.

Ya know what, I'll take three kickass years from CC and then worry about replacing him, and not worrying about the last few years. Again, if his arm falls off before then, forget I ever said this.

More from Davidoff's linked-to column:

Sabathia's reputation is golden. There's every reason to think that, despite the obvious reality that New York did not rank as his first choice, he'll embrace his role as the Yankees' ace. That he'll give all he has, just as he did to the '08 Brewers during what he knew was a temporary stay.

He'll bring his heart to New York; he won't leave it in San Francisco. And yet ... By the time the 2011 season concludes, Barry Zito will have just two years left on the gargantuan contract he signed with the Giants in December 2006. Tim Lincecum will be two years away from free agency. Matt Cain will be a free agent. The Giants will have the roster flexibility necessary to welcome in Sabathia, at a still young 31.

And the Yankees, they hope, will have developed enough young arms - from the group of Dellin Betances, Jeremy Bleich, Andrew Brackman, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and whoever else emerges - that they can cheer when Sabathia relieves them of their remaining, four-year, $92-million commitment.

When that happens, then history will officially smile on Brian Cashman's decision a year ago not to trade Hughes and other chips for Johan Santana. Just think: While the Mets will be sweating out Santana's health in 2013, monitoring the progress of the four players they gave to Minnesota, the Yankees will already have been in and out with Sabathia, while surrendering only a draft pick.

Now, let's not ignore the obvious downside of this transaction: What if Sabathia is terrible and miserable these first three years? What if, three years from now, he can't even sniff four years and $92 million on the open market?

That's a long shot, first of all. If it does happen, though, then the Yankees probably would have to ship Sabathia to the Giants or Dodgers and pay a lot of the freight. That would be a highly unpleasant experience. But really, what is the chance that's how it will go down?

Resistance is futile

I've tried to keep away from the Farnsworth signing, but I just couldn't resist after reading this:

Removing situation from the equation, Farnsworth would have contributed less to the Royals bullpen last year than Jimmy Gobble. I wasn't sure that was possible.
Who am I kidding? This is a bad contract for a below average pitcher. This is not how the Royals should build their bullpen.
Good luck, Royals fans.

UPDATE (12/12/08, 10:20am): Just getting thru Pos' latest manifesto and he touches on the Farnsworth deal and well, I just couldn't resist. It's futile.
I do not at all like the Kansas City Royals signing of reliever Kyle Farnsworth. I do not like it in a house. I do not like it with a mouse. I do not like it for two-years, $9.25 million, but I would not like it if it was two-years, 17 bucks and a box of Ho Hos. Royals general manager Dayton Moore asked me what I thought about it, and I told HIM I do not like it. Not that he should care about that.

But I do not like it, do … not … like … it. I do not like it because Farnsworth hasn’t even been league average the last three years. I do not like it because he throws a million miles an hour and can’t get people out. I do not like it because he once slammed reliever Jeremy Affeldt to the turf during a brawl and later could not even explain why. I do not like it because I would NEVER go out and spend $4-plus million on a volatile seventh or eighth inning reliever. I’m hoping that I am making myself clear here — I DO NOT LIKE THIS SIGNING.

Last Peavy post...for now

After this, I am done riffing on the dynamic of leverage at play in the Peavy saga. I've written too many words on this, been mocked and ridiculed (maybe rightfully so) and frankly, I'm tired of the whole saga. But I'm not alone in those watching the dynamics of the leverage with this thing:

What they learned Thursday is that their leverage is more limited than they would like and that their desperation is apparent.
Every baseball executive is aware of the Padres' financial plight, of the divorce proceedings that have cut off the cash flow from owner John Moores and prompted a severe payroll purge. Most rational observers, then, expect the Peavy discount to deepen until the pitcher's $63 million contract can be unloaded.

Towers reiterated Thursday that the Padres would not trade Peavy unless the deal made solid baseball sense, but acknowledged holding on to the pitcher effectively tied his hands in other areas. Because moving Peavy would make for improved maneuverability and keeping him could be catastrophic in the event of an injury, an eventual trade is still the way to bet.

If you can't afford to make the payments, you can't afford to keep the car.
This last comment is precisely why I think Peavy will be traded. Cubs, Angels, Yanks. Someone with cash and prospects, or the creativity to get that which they are lacking.

Will NYC weigh on Sabathia?

Personally, I think he's got the right sort of disposition to handle the critics, the disarming personality that the press corps will eat up. But the Daily News' Bob Raissman is a bit more concerned:

Not only can Sabathia look forward to having each start - win or lose - over-analyzed by the media, he will hear about Santana, too. Al Yankzeera is likely preparing to alert the free world to the TV ratings Sabathia generates each and every time he pitches, but only if they are better than the numbers generated by Santana when he hurls on SNY.

The CC to-do checklist, please: Collect major moolah; participate in a prefabricated pitching "rivalry"; juice Al Yank ratings. Help fill expensive seats at the new
Yankee Stadium. Be a significant force in taking the Bombers deep into October.

And if all that isn't enough, Sabathia can also look forward to having his off-field movements scrutinized, too. Along with the dough comes official Yankee celebrity status. Sabathia's name is about to transcend the sports pages. Gossip, anyone? His family will share in this lovely experience.

I had to post that only because I never heard the term Al Yankzeera before to describe the YES Network. I love it.

This, however, is the real concern and as I said in the open, I think CC has the right personality to deal with it. And surely new buddy Jeter will help him navigate the waters.
"I know CC well enough to know he didn't really want to go to New York," said Sheldon Ocker, the veteran Indians beat writer for the Akron Beacon Journal. "I don't think it (Sabathia's reluctance) was about the Yankees, but it was the city. The media stuff might wear on him. I don't know. He certainly is aware of what he's getting into. And I'm sure he has it in his head that he can deal with it (the New York media), but when you face the reality of it it's sometimes different."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Towers overplayed his hand

So the Peavy-to-the-Cubs deal is seemingly dead. No surprise given that Towers wanted a "Hershel Walker type deal".

I can't help but think Towers overplayed a losing hand. There are only two ways out of this that will be good for Towers:
  1. Trade Peavy to an American league team that can afford his contract and has the prospects to deal (Angels, Yanks were on his "approved list")
  2. Peavy has a dominating first half of the 2009 season and then flips Peavy at the trade deadline

Other than that, I think Towers is stuck with an over-priced asset at a discount shop with an owner pushing for lower costs.

Do I smell an ambush coming?

Heading into this off-season, the Yanks shed some $88 million from their payroll (mostly from Moose, Giambi, Abreu, Pettitte, Pavano).

Sabathia will cost $23m (roughly) this year. Burnett would add another $17m. Hell, add another pitcher --either Sheets or Lowe or Pettitte-- for something like $13m. That's "only" $53m. I say only with a cheesy grin on my face, knowing that's more than many teams' entire roster. If the normal contractual increases for the existing Yanks add another $15m, we're at $68m. What does that leave in order to keep the payroll on par with 2008? Some $20m bucks.

Conveniently, you know who's gonna cost about $20m/year? Some 1B who is a switch hitter, Gold Glove-caliber defender, upstanding citizen and Don Mattingly worshipping dude (which is why he wears #23).

It just feels like the Yanks are quietly lurking on the Teix scenario. If they, at the last minute, call Boras and tell him they'll match the Nationals 8 year, $160m offer, I can see them walking off with the two best players this offseason, plus at least two other very good pitchers. The Evil Empire striking again.

Obnoxious? You betchya. At least the ownership is committed. Or should be committed. Whatever.

Things that make you go....blech

I won't go so far as to shout "PICK ATLANTA!", but I'm contemplating it. This sort of offer is preposterous, in years and AAV.

The New York Yankees, making a hard late charge to beat out the Atlanta Braves for A.J. Burnett, offered the free-agent right-hander a guaranteed five-year contract Wednesday, a baseball source told

The proposed deal is worth about $85 million, the source said.
Burnett is moving closer to making a decision on his next destination, a source told, and a deal could be in place as soon as Thursday.
Blech. I'm having a tough time with the extra years, the extra dollars, the extra risk. People keep saying "it's not your money; you don't have season tickets". But it offends some part of my brain that controls sense and logic. I tried to deactivate that part of my brain but failed. Three years with an attainable option 4th year would be great. Four years guaranteed, less so. Five guaranteed.... ridiculous, even with his great AL East numbers.

Looks like I'm wearing my "angry pants" today.

From MLBTradeRumors:
Yankee players have been calling Burnett, lobbying him to choose their team over the Braves.


So much for working the count

So long Giambi and Abreu, perennial top 10 guys in pitches per AB. Enter Swisher and now, likely, Mike Cameron. Sure Cameron's a better CF than Melky and he's got more power, but this is a free swinger who will strike out 150+ times a year. He will also be a spry 36 by Opening Day. He owns a career .250 AVG and a beefy .340 OBP. He struck out exactly 142 times twice in the last three years, surrounding a 160 K "effort". Oy. His defense better make up for some of this.

According to, his Range Factor compares favorably to the league average, even last year, so that's good but how much left does he have? How good is his arm? I haven't seen a lot of him so if you have, let me know what to expect.

Remember, too, that Cameron missed 25 games last year due to a PED (amphetamines) suspension. Those 142 K's could have been north of 160.

At least CC gets an old buddy to hang with.

UPDATE: Not so fast, my friends, from

11:49am: Joel Sherman talked to a top exec involved in the talks who called the Chances of a deal "remote."
11:17am: Ken Rosenthal says the potential deal hit a roadblock over the Yankees' desire to have Milwaukee pick up part of the tab on Cameron. Also, the Brewers want a second player after Cabrera. Tom Haudricourt says the Yankees tried to unload Kei Igawa on them.
9:28am: The Cabrera for Cameron deal is close but not done, according to Joel Sherman's source. He says the Brewers could receive a pitcher as well, with the quality depending on whether they'll assume salary.
8:41am: Tom Haudricourt is not sure this is done. He says the Yankees like Bill Hall as well. The Brewers could gain quite a bit of payroll flexibility here. It'd be interesting to see all three Brewers friends (including Sabathia) move to the Yanks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting CC makes Peavy happy

See, you guys keep mocking the "obsession", but I'll continue to say that "he with the biggest wallet has the most negotation power". And if your target is happier now that you've hooked Sabathia, well, you get this:

If the reports are true that the Yankees will get ace pitcher CC Sabathia, the Yankees just became more attractive to Jake Peavy, but that doesn't mean Peavy suddenly is clamoring to wear pinstripes.

The Yankees would be more attractive if they get Sabathia," Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, said going into this week's winter meetings.

But Axelrod cautioned that Peavy prefers to stay in the National League and that New York isn't his first choice geographically.

The Cubs and Padres are deep in talks on a Peavy trade. If those talks collapse, the Yankees might become more of a factor.
Maybe you've heard me say that a time or twelve.

I'll clarify my stance one more time, lest there be any confusion. I am concerned about Peavy in the AL East. I am concerned about his arm problems as much as I am with Sheets. But he did win a Cy Young recently and can still be a quality pitcher, especially when he won't be relied upon as your number one guy. I'm concerned, period.

Picture the Yanks sitting across the table with the Padres after the Cubs deal (theoretically) falls apart, staring Towers in the face...
Cashman: Kevin, we all know you need to dump Peavy's salary. One quarter of your payroll will be sucked in by this. I'll send you Melky, Kennedy, Igawa and one other lower level prospect. Kennedy and Igawa will do fine in the NL West.
Towers: C'mon Brian, we've been friends for years. Why you doing this to me?
Cashman: Not personal, Kev, just business.
Towers: I don't like it. Who are those big guys in the corner, anyways?
Cashman: Never mind them. I feel for you; your fans already are backing away and a terrible season looms. But at least this gives you some MLB-ready talent to fill the uniforms. How's John Moores' divorce going? As brutal as we hear? Face it, Kev, you have no choice but to take this. It's the only lifeline you have left. Cubs are out. So are the Cardinals, Angels, Braves, Astros. He doesn't want to go to Boston or any other AL team. You've got this offer or you can bleed cash with a disgruntled Peavy on your roster in April.
Towers: You have no idea. I'll contact Peavy to approve the trade. You'll have the paperwork by morning. Hey, come back here with my lunch!

Neyer & Law: newest BBWAA voters

After the outcry from last year's exclusion, Keith Law and Rob Neyer (both from ESPN) have been selected to join the BBWAA. Also selected are Will Carroll and Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus.



I sure wish I thought of this, seen at IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR....

BREAKING: Hank Steinbrenner May Replace Obama as U.S. Senator from Illinois

Offer on the table: Six years, $140 million

Sabathia's deal: There's an opt-out

From MLBTradeRumors:

10:14am: Tim Brown and Gordon Edes of Yahoo report that the deal is for $161MM over seven years (which would top Johan's average annual value).

The deal has an opt-out clause after the first three years, which are worth $69MM. The 31 year-old Sabathia will make his opt-out decision after the 2011 season with four years, $92MM remaining on the deal. He would have to buck the opt-out trend (or renegotiate) to make this more than a three-year, $69MM deal for the Yankees. That is not necessarily a bad thing for them.

Gotta say, if CC performs SO well that he wants to opt out of the remaining four years, that'd be great. Great that the Yanks got three great years. Great that they could be out of the balance of the deal which is where the risk lies. Of course, if he underperforms, well, all bets off.

J.C. Bradbury: Yanks paying what he is worth

For the sabermetric/economists amongst us:

Apparently, CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees have agreed to a seven-year $160 million contract, which is just under $23 million per season. Previously, I had projected Sabathia to be worth $24 million in a six-year deal. (Since I made that initial estimate, I corrected a minor error in my model that resulted in a very slight undervaluing of Sabathia.)

For the next seven years, I have Sabathia valued at just under $26 million a season, so the Yankees are paying about what he is worth.

Random thought of the day: Manny & The Rays

Was thinking about the big bats out there to be scooped up and Manny came to mind. With the Rays coming off an incredible season, a possible increase in attendance, after years of being among the cheapest teams in the game... wouldn't it be something it they landed Manny as their DH?

They already have a great OF and they have a need for a big bat as DH. The team seems to be a pretty loose bunch.

Manny thrived in the AL East and would surely love to get some cuts at the Sox in a visiting uniform. We already know he kills the Yanks.

Would this make sense?

/end random thought

Tangent: NFL shenanigans

Thank you, Deadspin, for the story, the interview and the impossible-to-remove mental images. Note: contains adult language.

Sabathia's 2008: After April, wow

Was just called by my oldest buddy who commented that Sabathia wasn't "that good" last year until he got traded to the Brewers. I disagreed. Here's why:


  • 6 games
  • 1-4 record
  • 7.88 ERA
  • 6 games
  • 2-3 record
  • 2.44 ERA


  • 5 games
  • 3-1 record
  • 1.89 ERA

July (CC was traded 7/7/08)

  • 6 games
  • 4-0
  • 2.27 ERA

Sabathia vs. AL East

Here are the stats for Sabathia versus his AL East opponents, career:

Versus Boston

  • 7 games
  • 2-4 record, 48.1 IP
  • 3.91 ERA
  • 1.22 WHIP
  • 35 K's

Career @ FENWAY:

  • 3 games
  • 1-1 record, 23 IP
  • 1 CG
  • 2.35 ERA
  • 1.26 WHIP
  • 12 K's
Versus Tampa Bay

  • 11 games
  • 7-1 record, 81 IP
  • 2.44 ERA
  • 1.04 WHIP (excl IBB)
  • 73 K's

Versus Baltimore

  • 9 games
  • 5-0 record, 64.1 IP
  • 2.38 ERA
  • 0.96 WHIP
  • 40 K's

Versus Toronto

  • 10 games
  • 7-3 record, 67.2 IP
  • 3.46 ERA
  • 1.03 WHIP
  • 64 K's

And perhaps most amazingly...

Versus NYY

  • 9 games
  • 1-8 record, 49.2 IP
  • 6.16 ERA
  • 1.57 WHIP
  • 32 K's

Now what?

I was set to get started on a whole "who's next?" posting, but came across this, which does a pretty good job of answering that question. I'll get to this deeper in a bit as I am still trying to sift thru the rubble of the Sabathia 'quake.

CC Sabathia has agreed to terms with the Yankees. If that wasn't enough to get fans excited for next year's rotation (judging by comments it is), then perhaps news of A.J. Burnett's pending pinstripes will only fortify faith in the 2009 season.

The Star-Ledger's Dan Graziano grazed the subject of A.J. Burnett while covering the winter meetings in Las Vegas:
Cashman also met Tuesday with free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett. The Yankees are preparing a four-year, $64 million offer to Burnett, hoping to top the four-year, $60 million deal the Braves offered him. They'd like to sign both Sabathia and Burnett (or Derek Lowe, if Burnett goes elsewhere) and may not stop there.

Newsday also suggests the Yankees may look to better the Braves:

The Braves' offer is believed to be for four years and $60-million with a vesting option. A Yankees source said, "We can do better." And they plan to. That will likely mean guaranteeing the fifth year of the pact.
I've said many times that I like Burnett's AL East track record but his injury history is being glossed over. I LOVE Burnett at 3 years, like at 4, hate at 5. That's my range on Burnett. For Sheets (and Lowe), it's LOVE at 1 year, like at 2, hate at 3.