A busy news day: Lee, Jeter, Rivera, Joba, Montero, Pettitte, Crawford, Werth, Greinke, Dunn and more

Apologies for not being further out in front of all of the news that broke today, but our friends at RAB have already done yeomen’s work in covering everything that came out of the end-of-season press conference held by Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi at the Stadium today, so be sure to check that out (as if you haven’t already).

You’ve likely already heard about Dave Eiland getting the boot and Andy Pettitte pitching through injury in the playoffs, but Cashman also talks about the Yankees’ not having an answer for the Rangers despite steamrolling the Twins; Girardi asserts that Joba Chamberlain is a bullpen guy now and forever (groan); both men say the Yankee are obviously interested in Cliff Lee without actually saying it; Cashman stays coy about Jesus Montero joining the Bigs next season; Cashman essentially confirms that he’ll be way overpaying for Derek Jeter‘s and Mariano Rivera‘s services; and in perhaps the most interesting tidbit, Cash admits last winter wasn’t his best, although I’d beg to differ. If you read this blog you undoubtedly know I was a staunch Nick Johnson advocate, and no one figured Javier Vazquez would become the worst pitcher in baseball. Interestingly, Cash reveals that Nick the Stick was actually Plan C, and that the team originally hoped to work something out with Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui as DH.

Over at IATMS, Jason has a thorough rundown of Jon Heyman’s latest piece, in which Heyman (and Jason) delves into a lot of the aforementioned matters a bit deeper, while also positing the oft-mentioned Zack Greinke as a trade target (though as RAB recently discussed, between a no-trade clause that includes New York, anxiety issues and the fact that it would cost a king’s ransom of players, a Greinke acquisition doesn’t seem very likely), mentioning Yankeeist favorite Adam Dunn as a potential DH acquisition — though again noting that Dunn is still stubbornly insisting to anyone who will listen that he wants to remain in the field — and also pondering whether the Yankees make a run at Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth if they (God forbid) can’t sign Lee.

All in all quite a bit of news to digest for a Monday, and rest assured we’ll be comprehensively attacking all of these issues in the coming weeks.

9 thoughts on “A busy news day: Lee, Jeter, Rivera, Joba, Montero, Pettitte, Crawford, Werth, Greinke, Dunn and more

  1. Jer

    Apologize for Nick Johnson! Repent!!

  2. Never!

    There's no way I wasn't going to endorse signing a guy coming off a .426 OBP year. I know he's been more injury-prone than Carl Pavano, but at the time there was no reason to just assume he'd get injured for no reason, unless you are the kind of person who is perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you are, then I feel sorry for you.

    If the Yankees' doctors missed something in Johnson's wrist during medicals, then shame on them; otherwise Johnson was a great signing that unfortunately didn't work out at all.

    And even if you still hate the Johnson signing, there's a case to be made that it led to the Yankees trading for Puma, who only ended up being their third-most productive player in the postseason. So the NJ signing wasn't all bad.

  3. Dangerous Dean

    Nick Johnson is an OBP machine when he is healthy. But the problem is that he can never seem to stay off the DL for long.

    I just wanted to chime in with a non-Yankee point of view that most of us in the baseball universe are rooting that you guys will NOT get Lee.

    In August, I watched Lee's body language and it seemed that he didn't want to be on the Rangers. But lately I have seen him carry himself with much more confidence and poise when around his teammates. I don't think that means he has decided to stay in Texas. But I think that he is at least giving the Rangers a shot at landing him.

    It would be awesome if he would choose Texas over New York in the market this year. What a coup it would be to win his services twice in less than a year.

    I haven't seen anyone on a Rangers, Yankees or ESPN blog do a comparison of the cost of living in NY vs Texas. I know Cliff is smart enough to crunch the numbers before taking any deal. So surely he will consider the fact that you guys have a (what 10%?) personal income tax there while we have none. And I would think that an apartment (or house/mansion) would cost at least twice (if not more) as much in the Big Apple as in the Metroplex. So I wonder after figuring all that in, how much more he would have to make in NY to match the value of a Texas offer, ie $30 million in NY = X in Texas ($23 million, for instance).

    While Lee doesn't seem to be a recluse, he does seem like the kind of country boy who would be happier living within driving distance of his Arkansas home than in your megatropolis. At least I hope that is a big factor for him.

    And finally, I know you guys are fervently loyal to your Core Four and the Yankee tradition. But a fair analysis of the two rosters would seem to be an advantage to Texas. Other than Bengi Molina and possibly Vlad, all of Texas starters can be counted on to be as good or better next year than they were this year. They are all young and on the way up. Jeter, Posada, Pettitte (if he comes back) are bound to regress soon at their age. I would throw Mo Rivera into that category, but we all know he is a cyborg and not a real human.

    I'm not saying that the Yankees are dogfood. They are obviously a superb team. But the fact is that they are almost all on the down hill side of the talent curve. And in a post-steriods era, I don't expect anyone to go all Bonds on the league and have a sustained spike in performance (I'm looking at you, Arod). Yes, the Rangers have had their share of roid freaks over the years, but I would wager that Josh Hamilton is the most drug-tested player in sports today and is the cleanest.

    So I think those factors will give Texas more of a chance to sign him than most Yankee fans seem to realize.

  4. David in Cal

    At the moment I'm not optimistic about 2011. I foresee Burnett being useless, Jeter being no better than in 2010 — maybe worse in the field. Wood signing with some other team to be a closer. ARod, Posada, Rivera decline due to age. CC, Swisher and Cano decline due to regression to the mean. Pettitte decline due to age or perhaps not sign at all. (I do expect him to sign.)

    Improvement might come from signing Lee, although that's no slam dunk. Maybe one or more of the young pitchers will come through. Maybe Hughes will be excellent for the whole season. Maybe Montero can catch half the games. However, it's unclear to me whether Montero has the catching skills to be a major league catcher.

    In short, there are a number of holes to fill. Also, some all-star level players will decline, so the average quality of the players on the field will not be as high.

    In theory, the Core 4 should all decline, so they should make less money. Unfortunately, that won't happen. They'll get as much as they got in 2010 for less playing time and less performance. When you consider Burnett's likely waste of $16.5 million and the overpaying of ARod, that won't leave enough money to substantially revamp the team.

  5. Dean,

    You definitely make a strong case for reasons why Lee might stay. The no income tax thing is definitely huge, and not living life under the microscope that is the NY media could definitely have its drawing points for a country boy like Lee.

    As I said the other day, I think Texas' biggest bargaining chip will be if they're able to win the Series. It seems like it'd be pretty tough for Lee to leave the team he just helped to its first-ever world title.

    Regardless, this should present for a pretty fascinating offseason; the race for New York and Texas to outbid each other could be like nothing we've ever seen before.

    As far as the "Core Four" goes, the more you read me the more you'll know I don't go in for any of that nonsense. Those guys have all done wonderful things for the team, but keeping a player past his prime at an exorbitant amount of money makes zero sense ever, and I'm already cringing at the thought of Derek Jeter getting a four-year, $80 million contract.

    I know I'm a rare case, but I actually would have zero problem with the Yankees giving Jeter his walking papers — he's clearly on the decline and I have very little confidence that he can even re-approach his 2008 numbers on offense. And forget about defense; we'd be better off with a statue at shortstop.

    Unfortunately with the Yankees, some flags fly forever, and in Jeter's case he'll probably keep playing until he decides he doesn't want to.

    If the Yankees truly cared about putting the most winning team possible out on the field every year they wouldn't even think about tying up that much money in a 36-year-old shortstop who put up a .320 wOBA and who grounds out to short on the first pitch in seemingly every other at-bat, but unfortunately there really isn't anyone to replace him.

  6. Well David-

    Your post apocalyptic prediction would probably make Stanley Kubrick proud. I’m not going to guarantee you #28 next year, but I think there is absolute reason to have faith in the team remaining competitive.

    I’m sure many of these topics will be addressed on the site in the coming weeks, but let me try to offer you some temporary solace.

    Burnett will probably never be the ace that his abilities would suggest. However, I’d be surprised to see him as ineffective as he was this year on the next go around. Realistically speaking, one can and should expect to see improvement there. Besides, if the Yankees acquire Lee, he’d essentially be the 4th or 5th man in the rotation which isn’t bad. And make no mistake, acquiring Lee would be huge. You have to figure Hughes will continue to mature/develop as well.

    The Core 4 will continue to age as will A-Rod. However, others have stepped up and will continue to step up. Robinson may not be as good as he was this year, but again, I think you can continue to count on him being an elite infielder. Same story for Nick Swisher in his respective position. Brett Gardner surpassed all our expectations and can continue doing so and could other players.

    Montero will probably make an appearance somewhere around June. He’s the most offensively touted prospect since Derek Jeter. Have some faith that he could pan out. As for his defense, be honest now; how much worse than Posada can be with his glove work?

    There’s no doubt that a number of these guys are going to get overpaid. There’s no doubt the competition will be stiff just as it always is. But other teams will have their struggles/injuries as well. You should know by now that the Yankee organization is committed to delivering a quality product and when the dust settles, they’ll probably be in the discussion.

    Lots more to come on these topics…

    Matt

  7. Here's an even more analytical look from SG discussing what Jeter will actually be worth over the next four years, assuming that ends up being the length of the deal, and needless to say, it ain't pretty.

  8. Dean,

    Here's more fuel to the Lee-stays-with-Texas specualtion from Craig Calcaterra:

    If Cliff Lee's wife is calling the shots, he's staying in Texas

  9. Anonymous

    I know it makes all the sense in the world to hate on the older players but lets not forget the 2009 postseason the veteran players carried that team and the young players struggled.

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