Happy New Year, everybody! I hope your NYE celebrations were as fun as mine was, and I also hope you were smart enough to take today and tomorrow off from work because I wasn't and the weather isn't exactly cooperating with any of us. There were 3-4 inches already on the ground when I drove to the office this morning out in Wisco and it looks like the Northeast is fixing to get pounded something fierce today and tomorrow. I'm expecting another slow day at work and things are still moving pretty slowly in Yankeeland as we wrap up the holiday season, so I figured it was as good a time as any to touch on some random topics. - If some of the theories that have been floating around are correct, we could find out the arbitrator's decision in the A-Rod suspension appeal hearing as early as tomorrow. While I don't think there's much of a chance that the entire suspension is voided, I do think it will get cut down some from the original 211 games. My guess is it gets reduced to 162 games.
- If and when that announcement does come, it will be interesting to see how quickly the Yankees pick up their hot stove activity. They're clearly in a holding pattern right now when it comes to every non-Masahiro Tanaka part of their offseason strategy, and the FA market isn't nearly what it was a few weeks ago when it comes to their biggest areas of need. Do they kick it back into high gear and sign a few guys quickly? Or do they wait it out and search for some late-offseason bargain bin pieces before ST starts?
- Now it sounds like Stephen Drew isn't going to sign with the Yankees, which doesn't come as much of a surprise. There's no scenario where he's going to come in and unseat Derek Jeter as the starting shortstop, and his production on both sides of the field last year was more than enough to warrant a starting job somewhere, most likely back in Boston. Why would the best player available at his position sign somewhere where he has to switch positions? Drew has never played a single inning at any other spot in his Major League career. I wouldn't mind having him at third if he truly wanted to play there, but his stalling seems to be more of a leverage-building tactic than anything else.
- Has Brian Roberts hurt himself yet? No? Well that's good.
- How aggressive will the Yanks be in pursuing Grant Balfour? Things have been pretty quiet for him since his deal with the Orioles fell apart and regardless of how legitimate the problems in his shoulder are, that is going to hurt his bargaining power when negotiating a new deal with another team. He certainly isn't going to get $7.5 mil per from anybody and a guaranteed closing job might not be a lock anymore either. Both of those things seem to benefit the Yankees, who might be looking to go cheap on the 'pen, but I'm still not sure Balfour is great fit for them. I like the high strikeouts, the durability, and the experience. I don't like the age and the inconsistent command, and I really don't like the low GB rate and high HR rates 2 of the last 3 years.
- Austin Romine looks like the odd man out in the MiL catching competition right now. On the one hand that's a shame since he looked like he was starting to put it together before getting hurt this past season. On the other, the Yanks are pretty well set at catcher at the upper levels of the organization with McCann, Cervelli, Murphy, and Sanchez, and both of those last 2 are higher-ceiling prospects than Romine who need to be playing every day. If he's healthy, Roming could bring back a useful piece for next season, perhaps another undervalued, high-strikeout bullpen arm in the mold of Shawn Kelley. That would be a good haul for what has essentially become a spare part.
- I don't know what's worse about the whole Randy Levine-A-Rod email story, the fact that Levine and A-Rod emailed each other regularly, the fact that Levine thought it was wise to make a comment connecting his best player to steroids in a medium that's easy to save and access in the future, or the fact that he writes emails like a 14-year-old girl. Come on, dude. You're a high-ranking official for the premiere MLB franchise. You can't be using text message shorthand that freely. Just another reason to despise the most useless person in the entire Yankee organization. What would you say he does here?
- If you're wondering, here's what my HOF ballot would have looked like if I had a vote: Maddux, Bagwell, Piazza, Thomas, Glavine, Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Raines, Martinez. I think Moose deserves to be in but not with this many more deserving guys ahead of him on the list.
- Stay safe out there if you're in the areas expected to get the most snow. No need to start the new year off on the wrong foot.