And the bullpen, non-Mariano edition?

Offseason discussion this year has focused on hitting and starting pitching, which is as it should be. What’s new, however, is that until the Yankees signed Chan-Ho Park virtually no attention had been paid to the bullpen. As recently as 2007 the team was so desperate for a reliable reliever that Joba Chamberlain was called up to the Majors early to stop the bleeding. This season the fanbase seems to take a solid bullpen as a given.

It’s difficult not to credit Joe Girardi for the change. While Joe Torre was notorious for picking one or two relievers and then ruining their careers, Girardi prefers precisely the opposite. As a casual fan I first began noticing that he was rotating through all his relievers in mid-2008, right before Kyle Farnsworth was traded for Pudge Rodriguez. Mid-season Michael Kay began explaining that Farnsworth and Edwar Ramirez had both gone the equivalent of 9 innings without giving up a hit, and had therefore pitched no-hitters.… Click here to read the rest

Links:Yankees Universe, Weak Up The Middle, Gardner

I had a number of stories open on my browser that I felt deserved some attention, but could not work into larger posts. Here they are:

Yankees Universe Begins 2010 Campaign

As most of you are aware, this blog was formerly known as The Yankee Universe, until we received a cease and desist from the Yankees requiring us to stop using the name. The Yankees Universe fan club will launch its 2010 program today. While it may seem strange that I am linking to the program that caused us plenty of angst, the fact of the matter is that the proceeds go to a good cause, benefiting pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Give it a look.

Fack Youk on Rob Neyer’s Yankee Concerns

Rob Neyer wrote a post this morning suggesting that Mark Teixeira is likely to be the Yankees best player in 2010, and that this is a bad development for a club that has typically been about strength up the middle.… Click here to read the rest

BA’s Top 100 Prospects List

Here’s a notable item that we missed yesterday.

Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospects List and the Yankees were represented by their two young backstops, Jesus Montero (4) and Austin Romine (86). Atlanta’s Jason Heyward topped the list (no surprise there), while a few former Yankees in Arodys Vizcaino (69) and Austin Jackson (76) were also featured. According to BA’s J.J. Cooper, the group is based on what a player’s “ultimate major league ceiling is, weighed against the likelihood that he will reach that ceiling.” The Yankees weren’t as well-represented as the Red Sox, who had four players on the list, but they weren’t the least-represented either (the Cardinals and the D-backs had one apiece).

Photo by Jim DontenClick here to read the rest

Jeter not worried about his contract situation (and he shouldn’t be)

Today in Tampa, Derek Jeter met with the media to discuss the new year and, of course, his looming free agency was the dominant topic of conversation. As was expected, Jeter brushed the issue off as a possible distraction and affirmed his desire to be a Yankee for the duration of his already impressive career. “This is the only organization I’ve ever wanted to play for,” Jeter said. “That’s still true today. I was a Yankees fan growing up, and this is where I want to be. I’ve never envisioned myself playing anywhere else, and hopefully I don’t have to.” He then added, “I’ve never gone into a season focused on the next season. My approach since day one is to do whatever you can to help the team win in that particular year. I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen next season.”

Jeter also stated that his agent, Casey Close, phoned the Yankees over the offseason in order to gauge their interest in providing the future Hall of Famer with a new deal, however, Close was told by the front office that the organization intends on waiting until the end of the season to offer Jeter a proposal.… Click here to read the rest

Cashman Resolves Center Field And Batting Order Debates

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Jim Bowden and Jody MacDonald interviewed Brian Cashman on Sirius XM yesterday, and he had the following to say about the Granderson v. Gardner for center field debate (h/t Ben at RAB):

I think that what’s taken place is when you’re asked questions like ‘Is there a possibility of Gardner playing center?’ I’m like, well, if we feel Gardner makes us our best team with Gardner at center because we’re blessed to have two above average center fielders patrolling Yankee Stadium’s outfield out of the three man alignment. So we have [Nick] Swisher in right, Granderson in center and Gardner, assuming he holds it down and wins it, will be in left.

But Granderson’s our center fielder. He’s an above average center fielder and that’s why we acquired him. But to be quite honest if somebody asked, ‘Hey, but is it possible Brett Gardner might be a better center fielder?’ Our defensive metrics on Brett Gardner made him one of the elite center fielders in the game.

Click here to read the rest

Reviewing this Offseason, Part Two

On Monday, I talked about the Yankees offseason on the mound and today, I’ll talk about the hitters. To keep this more brief than the previous post, I’ll limit this to additions and subtractions that will affect the Major League team most.

Let’s start with Johnny Damon’s departure. Obviously, losing a player of Damon’s caliber is going to mean the team’s offense takes a bit of a hit. However, I’m of the opinion that Johnny Damon needed the Yankees more than the Yankees needed Johnny Damon. The Yankees also got a more-than-adequate-replacement for Mr. Damon: Curtis Granderson. Curtis represents an upgrade over Damon because he is not only younger, but he is also more versatile. At this point, Damon is an LF/DH; Granderson, on the other hand, can–and likely will–play center field for the Yankees in 2010.

The deal that brought Granderson to the Yankees was a good one. At the beginning, I was skeptical about bringing him in. Then again, that’s when the cost was reported to be Austin Jackson and Phil Hughes.… Click here to read the rest

What kind of contract can Carl Crawford realistically expect to get?

During the last few days we’ve heard some rumblings about the Yankees’ apparent lust for free-agent-to-be Carl Crawford, hence why the team might not be that keen on a hypothetical Curtis Granderson/Brett Gardner flip-flop in the outfield, despite the fact that both offensively and defensively Curtis in left and Grit in center probably represents the most effective deployment of resources.

This got me thinking what kind of contract Carl Crawford might realistically expect on the open market next year. Is he a $10-$15 million/year player? A few years ago the answer might have been a resounding yes, but given teams’ clear willingness to scale back on player salaries during the last two offseasons, one would hope his expectations might be somewhat tempered.

Additionally, how many teams aside from the Yankees are even going to be bidding on Crawford? The Red Sox won’t need a new left fielder next year, and the Rays have seemingly already waved the white flag on resigning Crawford.… Click here to read the rest