On the lack of signings

This week, the Yankees did next to nothing at the winter meetings. They did win the rights to Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, but that’s nothing overly significant. While the Marlins and the Angels went absolutely nuts, the Yankees sat back contently and didn’t do anything.

Some wondered aloud if the Yankees were lacking in activity out of financial restraint and others augmented that thought, saying the Yankees were being a little too careful with their money. I can see that line of reasoning, considering that the money that C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle got wasn’t exorbitant. But, I cannot bring myself to agree with that line of thinking.

The Yankees “failing” to sign either Buehrle or Wilson has more to do with their evaluations of those two as pitchers rather than as prices. While it may appear the Yankees were pinching pennies by after Freddy Garcia and not bothering with the two best lefties on the market, the fact that they never got past preliminary talks with Buehrle and passed on the last chance for Wilson indicates that they just didn’t like either guy to fit their club.… Click here to read the rest

An offer they could refuse

It’s a cliche to say that actions speak louder than words, but cliches have to come from somewhere. And, like it or not, they do have at least a kernel of truth to them. Yesterday, we saw one of those kernels get popped.

We’ve heard Brian Cashman say that C.J. Wilson is the best starter on the market, but yesterday, when news broke that the Yankees turned down an offer to meet with Wilson, we learned Cash’s true feelings for the left handed pitcher. While I’d warmed up to Wilson a bit more over the course of this season, I’d still prefer the Yankees look elsewhere for starting pitch during this Hot Stove Season. Wilson’s not bad, but if we’re talking free agents, give me someone who’ll command a shorter commitment. If we’re getting greedy (and why not?) give me Yu Darvish or trade for John Danks.

It would be naive to assume this means the end of the connections between the Pinstripers and Wilson, but the vital signgs of this “relationship” are weak at best and circling the drain at worst.… Click here to read the rest

More Cashman notes

Brian Cashman had things to say, so I’ll say things about the things he said.

Cashman specifically named four big league players who teams have called about: Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Russell Martin and — when asked — Cashman said that, yes, teams have called about A.J. Burnett.

Of those two, Gardner and Swisher are the only ones I think the Yankees would seriously consider trading. I’m sure they’d trade Burnett, but the cost they’d have to pay in terms of picking up salary may not be desirable. In terms of getting effective pieces back, Swisher and Gardner are the best bets. Still, I don’t see either one of them playing anywhere but the Bronx in 2012. Both are reasonably priced and fit well with the team.

As he searches for ways to bolster the rotation and add depth to the bench, though, a trade is obviously a consideration. His most valuable trade chip remains prospect catcher Jesus Montero, but that sort of deal remains unlikely.

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On devils

Read and listen.

There have been and there will be a lot of things written about what strategies the Yankees should employ when signing free agents this offseason. To discuss this further, I’ll use a concept I’ve said a bunch of other times. There are two devils when it comes to contract negotiations: money and years. Teams can over pay, teams can over-commit, and teams can do both.

To say the most obvious thing in the history of obvious things, the Yankees should avoid to do both. However, if they have to give in to one, they should always give in to the money devil. The Yankees have cash…lots of it. They can afford to spend a bit more to lure a free agent to take a shorter deal. This is logical and I’m sure you’ll all agree.

As for the 2011-2012 Hot Stove Season, I think we’re finding the Yankees in a position where they may not have to give in on either.… Click here to read the rest

What about Roy Oswalt?

When we’re discussing Yankee free agent starting pitcher targets, we’re prone to talking about three names: CC Sabathia, Yu Darvish, and C.J. Wilson. One that hasn’t come up much is Roy Oswalt.

There are two reasons for this: Roy Oswalt is old and Roy Oswalt isn’t exactly healthy. Back issues limited him to just 139 innings this year, after pitching at least 200 innings in every season since 2004, save for a mark of “only” 181 in 2009. It’s also worth noting that the Phillies hold a club option on Oswalt. However, it’s a $16M option with a $2M buyout. As of last week, the organization was still discussing whether or not to pick up the option. If I were to bet on it, I’d bet on them not picking the option up and buying Oswalt out. If they do, should the Yankees give him a look?

Performance wise, there really isn’t much to complain about. His strikeout rate dropped a bit this year, but he still displayed good control and kept the ball inside the park.… Click here to read the rest

Which free agent starter should the Yankees pursue, Part II: Yu Darvish edition

(Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

For Part 1 of this two-parter in which we discuss C.J. Wilson, please click here.

Ah, Yu Darvish. I first wrote about Darvish at length last January at Yankeeist, in a piece that still appears on the first page of Darvish’s Google results. Here’s a snippet from that post:

“It’s hard not to like what (Darvish) has done. Though only 24, he’s already played six seasons of professional baseball in Japan, racking up a minuscule 2.12 career ERA in 1,036.1 career innings. According to the B-Ref Bullpen, Darvish throws from a three-quarters arm slot in a drop-and-drive motion, and his two primary weapons are a four-seam fastball that usually sits around 91 to 94 mph and tops out at 97 mph, and a hard slider. His secondary pitches include a two-seamer, curveball, splitter, cutter and changeup. I’ve been analyzing a lot of pitching data of late, and almost all of the Japanese pitchers in MLB seemingly throw a little bit of everything, so it seems likely that Darvish actually does have seven pitches to go to, even though their level of effectiveness and frequency of use is obviously highly variable.

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Which free agent starter should the Yankees pursue?

(photo c/o The AP)

Following the CC Sabathia contract drama, the second-most important issue facing the Yankees this offseason is whether they decide to pursue one of the big-ticket free agent starting pitchers, and if so, which one.

It’s no secret that C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish are the two most appealing names headlining an offseason of fairly lackluster free agent pitching options. Unlike last year, where you had Cliff Lee unquestionably being the most coveted hurler on the market, both Wilson and Darvish come with some question marks.

For the lefty Wilson, the biggest concern for any team would be whether the converted reliever can continue to pitch at the elite level he’s shown since making the transition to the rotation — though it’s a short one, his track record is pretty stellar, as he’s been the ninth-most valuable pitcher (by fWAR) in all of MLB these last two seasons. Wilson turned in the finest year of his career in 2011 – nice timing for the pending free agent – a season that ranked among the top 5 AL starting pitchers in terms of fWAR.… Click here to read the rest

Girardi’s season ending press conference

Yankee manager Joe Girardi met with the media yesterday for his season ending press conference. So, allow me to react to some of the things he said (all quotes from the afore-linked Feinsand piece).

On the season: “We all know what the goal is here. We didn’t reach our goal, that’s the bottom line. Did we have some good things happen? Yeah. But collectively, we didn’t reach our goal. We go into spring training every year – we go into the winter every year – and the expectation is to win the World Series. If you don’t reach that, it’s considered not getting your job done.”

I get this. He’s toeing the company line, as does just about everyone at this point. But like our own Matt Warden wrote at RAB, maybe we need to stop with the whole “World Series or failure!” idea. Yes, that’s the ultimate goal and the Yankees are definitely capable of achieving it every year, but we must remember that it’s not a failure to not win the World Series.… Click here to read the rest

"Who would you rather face?"

I hate this question. However, it’s an inevitable one that baseball fans will continue to ask because until you know who your team’s postseason opponent is there isn’t really much else one can do aside from debate whether one team would be “preferable” to the other.

The reason I hate this question is because there’s no good answer. There are no “easy” teams to play in the playoffs. If a team is good enough to make the playoffs, then they’re a good team. The general consensus among Yankee fans on Twitter and elsewhere seems to be that Texas would represent an easier go of it in the American League Division Series, due primarily to their plethora of left-handed starters — a subset of pitchers the 2011 Yankees have crushed better than anyone in Major League Baseball this season.

While the thought of facing multiple lefthanders does seem appealing on its face, it’s not as if the Ranger southpaws the Yankees would be facing are chopped liver.… Click here to read the rest