Rotation Options Dwindling

Joel Sherman still believes the Yankees are the favorite to land Cliff Lee, which as Cliff Corcoran notes, has become increasingly important:

Last Thursday I took a look at the available free agent starting pitchers not named Cliff Lee or Andy Pettitte and boiled it down to four viable alternatives for the Yankees in the event of Lee singing elsewhere and/or Pettitte retiring. Less than a week later, half of those pitchers have already signed with other teams. Worse yet, the two pitchers who signed were the top two in my ranking of the four. Hiroki Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers for just one year and $12 million. Jake Westbrook re-signed with the Cardinals for two years and $16.5 million with an $8.5 million mutual option for 2013. Both deals are extremely reasonable, making the signings all the more painful for the other teams around the league looking for starting pitching help.

The Plan-B list now looks like this:

1.

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Baseball Infamy: John Dillinger – From the Bushes to Robbing Banks

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog. It is the beginning of a series on infamous historical figures who also had a notable association with baseball.)

When the notorious bandit Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, legend has it that he matter-of-factly replied, “It’s where the money is”. When Cliff Lee eventually signs his mega free agent contract, his motivation will likely be the same, but when it comes to money, baseball players aren’t always as honest as bank robbers. Just ask John Dillinger. He tried his hand in both professions.

[image title=”biograph6″ size=”full” id=”23042″ align=”center” alt=”Dillinger was gunned down outside the Biograph theatre in Chicago.” linkto=”full” ]

On July 22, 1934, the Yankees swept a doubleheader from the White Sox at Comiskey Park. In the first game, Babe Ruth pushed aside father time and an injured leg to knock in four runs and belt homerun number 702, one of his last in pinstripes. Meanwhile, over on the North side of town, the nation’s public enemy number one had decided to take in a movie at Chicago’s Biograph theatre.
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The Yankees aren't getting Justin Upton, and other Yankee-related Hot Stove items

The three of us have been pretty tied up this week with real world obligations, ergo the constant barrage of Season in Review posts and lack of commentary on any Yankee-related news (though hopefully you’ve been enjoying the Seasons in Review series).

Of course, due to the lack of any real news to speak of outside of the usual irresponsible rumormongering and unfounded gossip that accompanies every Yankee offseason, there hasn’t really been any compelling need to weigh in. However, there have been a flurry of new Yankee rumors during the last few days, so let’s take a moment to address them:

1) Last week it was reported that the Yankees were interested in Jorge de la Rosa. As I noted on Twitter last week, in 2010 de la Rosa was the proud owner of a 4.22 ERA, 4.30 FIP and 4.07 BB/9(!), in the NL West, to boot. As others have noted, he’s essentially the lefthanded version of A.J.Click here to read the rest

Taking The Joba Time Machine

Brian Cashman finally ended the Joba debate yesterday by calling the starting experiment over. Ben Kabak does a great job summing up what went wrong, and the internet is rife with people explaining how the Yankees should have handled matters. However, it seems that some of those opinions are based on hindsight, as I seemed to remember a lot more support for the actions that were taken by the Yankees as things unfolded. I decided to go back through the RAB archives (TYU is not old enough to cover it all) to try and reconstruct all of the twists and turns of the Joba saga.

2007

The Yankees moved Joba into the bullpen in the summer of ’07, and the initial reaction from Ben was that it was not a great move for Joba’s development. However, after letting the idea ferment for a few days, Ben and the commenters became more comfortable with the idea, as Joba would help the big league club without Joe Torre being allowed to destroy him.… Click here to read the rest

Doing Diligence on Upton and Feliciano

Yesterday, we heard that the Yankees were checking in on left handed relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano, as well as newly available right fielder The Justin Upton. On some level, both players make sense for the Yankees.

Feliciano is a lefty reliever who, shockingly enough, kills lefties. Justin Upton is my age and has already established himself as a legitimate player.

For a player of Upton’s talent, there is almost always room on the roster. For a pitcher like Feliciano, there’s almost certainly always a job because everyone wants a lefty at some point. However, I don’t see the interest from the Yankees being anything more than cursory at worst and tepid at best.

The Yankees, like all major league teams, are interested in everyone for the right price and will almost always look into any and all players who become available. Both of these guys, though, will likely be passed over by New York.

In the case of Pedro, Boone Logan stands in the way.… Click here to read the rest

2010 Season in Review: Javier Vazquez

The late ’90s Yankee dynasty was awash in pitching. Whether it was David Cone, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte, or Roger Clemens, from 1996 to 2000 the Yankee rotation was stacked with excellent starting pitchers who excelled in the postseason. Unfortunately, only one of those players was homegrown. The rest were imported, and therefore old. As Larry pointed out on Monday, by the time the 2004 season began the once mighty pitching staff had crumbled away, mostly due to age, and in the case of Pettitte, bad business decisions.

This also exposed the basic risk of importing any players, pitchers or otherwise. Sometimes you sign El Duque for $12 million. Other times you trade Nick Johnson for Javier Vazquez. It may all seem like ancient history to Yankee fans, but back in 2004 Home Run Javy was a 27-year-old stud who had reeled off four consecutive strong seasons in Montreal. Hurt or otherwise, Javy had a terrible second half in pinstripes in his debut Yankee season that culminated in serving up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS, and he was promptly run out of town with a choker label on his forehead.… Click here to read the rest

Kicking the tires on Justin Upton

As I’m sure you know by now, the Yanks and Red Sox were both reported to have inquired on the availability of Diamondbacks star CF Justin Upton. I wonder where the other 28 teams were, if this rumor is at all serious. It may be nothing, all players are available on some level and Kevin Towers has been known to talk a bit when you stick a microphone under his nose. But with the D-Backs in full rebuild mode it’s something you have to at least take a look at. Good buddy Mike Silva of NYBD has some details (via Ken Rosenthal) on what a potential deal might look like:

Reports indicate the asking price for Upton will be an outfielder, a reliever and a starting pitcher. The Yankees have those pieces to spare as they could offer Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain, and a pitcher of the Ivan Nova, Hector Noesi, or Andrew Brackman ilk.

I’m not sure that’s enough, but Mike makes an excellent point when he goes on to say that the Yanks would have an inside track in dealing with Towers.… Click here to read the rest

The Yankees’ Budget

OK, sure: the Yankees’ “budget” is often pictured as a mythological creature like the Loch Ness Monster – there’s occasional evidence for the existence of such things, but no confirmed sightings.  The alleged existence of a Yankees budget has been discussed as far back as 1995.  Allegedly, this budget prevented the Yankees from signing Mike Cameron in 2009, and Johnny Damon in 2010.

But in other respects, the Yankees’ budget is like a campaign promise: it becomes more difficult to pin down the further we’re past Election Day.  We were told that the 2010 Yankees’ budget was at $185 million, but somehow by Opening Day the Yankees’ payroll had reached $213 million.  We were told in the beginning of this year that the Yankees only had $2 million left in their budget to sign their final outfielder (money that was spent on the combo of Randy Winn and Marcus Thames), but somehow the Yankees found the extra $3.5 million needed mid-season to sign Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman, and had money left over for the possible mid-season acquisition of Cliff Lee.… Click here to read the rest