Cashman On The Bullpen, Hughes/Joba, and Getting Younger

Courtesy of Mark Feinsand comes a few tidbits from Brian Cashman:

Despite the published reports linking the Yankees to Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, the bullpen isn’t the primary focus for Cashman. With plenty of young arms to go along with Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte and Brian Bruney, the Yankees are well-stocked, so they don’t have to go out and spend big on another setup man like they did earlier this decade with Steve Karsay, Tom Gordon and Kyle Farnsworth.

“We have guys knocking on the door from the minor leagues, and it’s always easy to take a starter and make him into a reliever – I think we’re good at that,” Cashman joked. “Is it an area of obvious need? No. You’ve got to look more at the rotation and left field.”

This was discussed at length in Steve’s post yesterday, and I think Cash is taking the right approach to building a bullpen. Relievers are incredibly volatile, and sinking money into them seems like a silly move when your minor league system contains plenty of bullpen options.… Click here to read the rest

2009 Season in Review: The Bench

This is the fourth in a series of five Yankeeist 2009 Season in Review recaps. Please be sure to check out 2009 Season in Review: The Infield, 2009 Season in Review: Starting Pitchers and 2009 Season in Review: The Bullpen if you haven’t already done so.

The Yankee bench had been an afterthought for much of this decade, though the counterargument generally ran that the Yankees’ starters were so talented that the need for a strong bench was minimal. The 2009 Yankees had what was probably the team’s deepest bench since the last World Series championship, though it didn’t fully round into shape until the relatively minor acquisitions of Eric Hinske in late June and Jerry Hairston at the trade deadline. Many fans were expecting the Yankees to pull some kind of monster deadline deal off, and instead were a bit befuddled when the team picked up utilityman Hairston. However, Hairston proved to be a worthwhile backup in limited duty, and Hinske Glenallen Hilled a bunch of home runs coming off the bench.… Click here to read the rest

Johnny Damon Doesn't Want a Pay Cut

Probably more important is the perception (some would say reality) that Johnny Damon’s performance at the plate this season was largely a function of the stadium he played half his games in (.915 home OPS v. .795 on the road). Clearly Damon doesn’t agree with this given the quote above, which is perfectly fine. However, information like that displayed on the hittracker.com chart below are becoming more and more easily available, and this picture is pretty telling.

It also doesn’t help that LF is the most ‘stacked’ of all positions in this FA class–Damon is instantly behind Holliday and Bay, and gets to fight over scraps with the likes of Jermaine Dye, Vladimir Guerrerro etc. (and don’t be surprised if the Yanks consider Mike Cameron for their sizeable LF).

In the end, Johnny Damon was about a 3 win player this year (per fangraphs.com), which made him roughly worth the $13 million he was paid. I don’t see anyone betting he keeps that up, though–and especially not over a multi-year contract.… Click here to read the rest

Will the Yankees reel Josh Johnson in?

Mike Axisa tackled this topic earlier, and it was one I was hoping to get a jump on as the news came over a slow baseball weekend that Josh Johnson and the Marlins are at a stalemate in negotiations after Florida offered him a pitiful three-year $21 million extension.

The good news is that Johnson will certainly be leaving Florida. The slightly less good news is that he’s not a free agent until after the 2011 season, which means anyone interested in acquiring Johnson will have to pay a king’s ransom. Mike speculates that a package including one of Joba/Hughes, Jesus Montero and two lesser prospects might get it done.

As excellent as Johnson is — a ridiculous 3.06 FIP (7th-best in baseball, right behind Doc Halladay) and 5.5 WAR in 2009 (and as Mike notes, as much as we want Joba/Hughes to succeed in pinstripes, it’s unlikely that either would end up developing into an even better pitcher than Johnson is right now) — I’m not sure the trade makes a ton of sense from the Yankees’ perspective.… Click here to read the rest

Mauer Wins MVP, Tex 2nd, Jeter 3rd

From the BBWAA:

Joe Mauer, who won an unprecedented third batting championship for a catcher and helped propel the Minnesota Twins to the American League Central title, was elected the AL Most Valuable Player for 2009 in balloting by the BBWAA.

Mauer, the first catcher to lead his league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging (.587) in the same season, was listed first on all but one of the 28 ballots cast by two writers in each league city. He was second on that other ballot to score a total of 387 points, based on a tabulation system rewarding 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one for 10th.

The top 10: Mauer, Tex, Jeter, Cabrera, Morales, Youkilis, Bay, Zobrist, Ichiro, A-Rod. I have a whole load of observations, so buckle in:

  • Just so you know where I am coming from, this was my final ballot: Mauer, Jeter, Greinke, Zobrist, Youkilis, Teixeira, Longoria, Hernandez, Cabrera, Rodriguez.
Click here to read the rest

Time to get your learn on

Noll: The only way to have equally balanced teams is to ban trades and sales of players and to have periodic drafts of managers, coaches and directors of player personnel. The methods that leagues use to create balance have been shown to have little or no effect on the distribution of quality among teams. The logic behind it is that it is not in the interests of owners as well as players to have balanced competition. If all teams were of the same strength, total league revenues would go up if the best player in KC were traded for the worst player in NYC. In a regime of salary caps and no free agency, the KC owner will be richer if he sells his underpaid star to NY.

There’s so much more to read, including discussions about collusion, stadium financing, sharing of revenues from MLBAM and the MLB Network, etc. Worth a read if you are at all interested in the business side of this wonderful game.… Click here to read the rest

Joe Mauer deserves the MVP *UPDATED*

Why he’ll win: He’s Jeter. Winning is what he does, from the 103 regular-season games his Yankees won this season to the 11 other victories they recorded in the postseason. On the surface, Jeter’s numbers can’t match those of Mauer, who bested him in nearly every major offensive category despite missing a month due to injury. And Jeter’s playoff performances don’t count toward the voting. But some look at the MVP as a platform for a sort of lifetime achievement award, and Jeter, who has never won an MVP, could stand to benefit — just recall the 2006 vote, when Jeter nearly bested Morneau despite inferior numbers almost across the board. Throw in the fact that Jeter played some of his best defense in years this season, and he has a chance. Not a great chance, but a chance.

Why he won’t: The stats, quite simply. Almost every significant number points in Mauer’s direction, and Jeter will need a heck of a lot of “intangibles” to overcome that disadvantage.Click here to read the rest