State of the Pinstriped Bible: A URL and an experiment

YHS_Logo.jpgThere are some changes here at the Pinstriped Bible to talk about. The first thing to be aware of is for the first time in a long time we have a steady URL. None of that active server pages stuff: from now on, www.pinstripedbible.com will always point here.

Here’s the experiment: this Thursday, I’ll be making an appearance on the YES Network Hot Stove show. My role will be a bit like that of Mr. McFeely on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” except with more fat and a less impressive moustache. I’ll be bringing the word from the outside, specifically your word. When you come to the Pinstriped Bible, you will also note that for the first time we have comments enabled right here on the page. These comments will form the basis of an exchange between host Bob Lorenz and myself. “What are your readers thinking about this week’s hot stove action?” Bob might say, and I, shot to appear as if I am in a remote bunker (Bob must be protected), will answer, “Well, Bob, we have 142 comments on C.C. Sabathia signing with the Mets!” At that point, Bob will do a spit take, or maybe I will–we haven’t worked out all the details yet.

Hey, don’t panic. C.C. hasn’t signed with the Mets and isn’t going to; that’s just an example. The point is, C.C. supplies the news, I supply the commentary, and you, the loyal readers, supply the 142 comments. It’s not too different from our practice of many years, except that I will be representing your reactions on the air for discussion by Bob and his guests (I am technically not a guest, but a “bunker-dweller”). As such, I’d like to hear from you on the following : What do you think the biggest story of the Yankees’ offseason has been so far?

A. The pursuit of C.C. Sabathia and other free agent pitchers to the possible exclusion of home-grown prospects such as Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy in next year’s rotation? 

B. The team’s apparent lack of interest in Bobby Abreu, to the extent that the team would not even risk a one-year contract through arbitration? 

C. The apparent lack of fervor for Mark Teixeira and the corresponding decision to acquire Nick Swisher and anoint him the starting first baseman? 

D. The team’s apparent expectation that the offense will be re-inflated by a resurgent Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano? 

E. All or None of the Above. 

And, of course, you should feel free to explain. I’ll do my best to summarize your responses and present them to Bob this Thursday at 6:30 on YES. If the resultant discussion is fruitful, we’ll do so again in subsequent episodes of Hot Stove–and who knows? They might even let me out of the bunker. Stay tuned.

33 Comments

Nice. I’m the first comment.

Well, Steve. Be sure to tell Bob that us Yankees fans want Derek Lowe in pinstripes. He’s more of a big game pitcher than CC. Plus, he’s more svelte, which should make him more durable down the stretch of his contract.

I know you prefer offense to pitching, Steve. That said, you must be pretty confused as to why Cashman didn’t offer arbitration to Abreu. Is Austin Jackson really ready? What’s your outfield (I’m a Mets fan)? Nady, Garnder and Matsui?

Welcome to the YES blog family, Steve. It’s kinda fun over here.
As for this week’s Hot Stove, is it too early to talk about this year’s Hall of Fame? I don’t think Donnie Baseball deserves a spot, but if Puckett is already in there, then they need to put Mattingly in.
http://themax.mlblogs.com

Where do the Yanks stand in regards to center field? I’m assuming they are just pulling the ol’ Bubba Crosby trick with Gardner, telling him that he’s the guy until they find somebody better. What have you heard?
Enjoy the bunker.

I suppose I understand why the Yanks probably won’t go after Tex. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Alex Rodriguez is going to smash about 50 homers, bring in well over 130 RBI’s and probably win MVP. And I really think Cano likes it here and knows that if he continues to under-preform, he will be traded, so he should have a big year.

What I don’t understand is why the Yankees don’t look at Tex and say-he’s very young, great defense, and since when is having a lot of offense a bad thing? I look back at all the games the Yanks played this year where they lost by just one run, or the game went into extra innings tied at 2-2, and think, if they had a better offensive player, who knows, those games could have been won! We were only behind Boston by a few games, but the bat just wasn’t big enough this year. Why are the Yankees not giving themselves what they so desperately need!?

Are we going to see Austin Jackson any time soon? He was ranked 27th best prospect in all of MiLB, and everyone knows that the outfield will be a problem this year, and indeed after when Damon and Matsui are gone.

I still fully expect the Yanks to pounce on Teixeira, taking their best shot at landing him. It actually seems smart that they’ve been quiet so far, though certainly inconsistent with past behaviors of the Sons of Big Stein.

The biggest surprise to me so far has been the non-offer of arbitration to Pettitte. That staff is so thin right now, it seemed like a no-brainer to try to sign him for a year, or at least pick up some draft picks if he signs elsewhere. Abreu would also have been a smart arbitration offer, but I think the Yankees view him (incorrectly) as a ‘losing’ player.

The thing that everyone is overlooking in the Swisher deal is that we also gave up Betemit who could have easily played first and been alot more productive, and for alot cheaper rate. He always seemed to come up clutch last year when some of our prime time players didn’t. Im just hoping that Swisher is not being considered for first base but just a back up outfielder with some pop.

Why are some of the MSM (wait, hold on…just got hand-wavingly dismissed) pushing so strongly for Nate McLouth when what he did in ’08 just might be an outlier/fluke season?

Frankly, I thought the biggest news so far was that the Yanks still haven’t been able to sell all their luxury suites at The Big Five-Star Hotel in the Bronx. Bad market timing there, guys.

You really think Teixeira is off the board? I thought the whole point of getting Swisher was to have the flexibility to sign whoever was available at the right price, and slot Swisher in at whatever spot was left open.

Hmm. If they don’t acquire Tex, Swisher has to basically play everyday… so maybe they’re spending their time focusing on candidates for The Luis Sojo Chair of the Utility Infield Department. It’s always been an important faculty position there. (Miguel Cairo, Emeritus)

The biggest story is that Cashman seems to be working with a firm salary cap for 2009. Staying under the cap is taking priority over both long-term flexibility and the need to build the farm system through the draft. This would explain
a) The 3-year @ 4mil for Marte over the 6mil option
b) The denial of arbitration to Abreu and Pettitte due to fear that they would have to pay a few million over their market values.

Teixeira is a must. What is wrong with getting a ballplayer in their prime ?
And please lets get rid of Damon. I am embarrassed everytime he throws a ground ball to jeter on a relay throw.

I find all of the above fairly surprising, which is another way of saying what Daniel S. said: the biggest story so far is that the Yankees seem to be intent on significantly reining in spending.

The thing I’m most worried about is that they’ll allocate their scaled back resources in the wrong place or in the wrong way. Don’t want to sign Sabathia & Teixeira for 6 years+ each with A-Rod already on the books for another 9 years? That’s fine, but don’t take the money that could have been spent on Teixeira & blow it on Derek Lowe for 4/52M. Pettite for 1 year would be a much wiser allocation of resources.

Hey Steve – I really believe Phil Hughes could impact the Yanks this year. He has great stuff and if he stays healthy I think he will really contribute to the big league club with at least a 10 win season at the back end of the rotation. The Yanks should try to get CC (and if not make a run at Peavy again with Lowe next on the rung) and re-sign Pettitte. That gives you CC, Wang, Joba, Pettitte, and Hughes for your starting 5. They’re offense as is should still have the capacity to put together enough run support but I’d like to see Tex at first not only to beef up the offense, but a good glove as well. As for the outfield, I think Damon and Matsui could man the corners with a platoon of Gardner and Melky in center. Another option might be to pick up Jim Edmonds for a year, or grab Manny – put Masui in right, Manny in left and Damon in center (have all 3 rotate DH with Gardner or Melky subbing in the OF). You might be sacrificing defense in the OF but the pitching and offense should more than make up for it. What do you think?

first of all, although I admire Andy Pettite very much, I am not sure he has enough left in the tank, but he would be a good 5th starter I suppose. We need to get Derek Lowe at the very least. I think Abreu is the most consistant performer the yankees had last year and they should keep him. I think I could live with Wang-Lowe-Joba-Hughes and Pettite if we can’t land CC. Cano will have a big year I think. I also think the Yankees need to manufacture more runs by bunting(if anyone knows how), hit and run and stealing more–move them over-move them in. Can the yanks unload Kei Igawa for someone Please!!!

I think the Yankees pursuit of Sabathia is the biggest story, along with the very slow start to the Hot Stove League this year. Teams seem to be watching and waiting for something to happen before they make moves. It may be the economy, or it may be the failure of many free agents and the success of teams with homegrown talent in recent years.

In fairness to Swisher, I just looked over his stats at baseball-reference.com and it was really useful. I looked at where he batted when he flourished with Oakland, and it was mainly 2nd and 3rd, not leadoff (where Chicago always put him, and he SAID he was not comfortable). Now, I think we put him 3rd-people seem to neglect that he does have a good power swing.

Now, this of course, is all if we don’t get Tex. Imagine having someone with Swishers talent and power on the bench! Whenever it was bottom of the ninth and I saw Betemit in that on deck circle instead of Gardner (who was surprisingly clutch), or anyone else, I just felt the game was over. Swisher is meant to play everyday, Betemit is meant to be a bench guy.

And how does anyone on the blog feel about Gardner? I think he’s exactly what the Yanks need: young, great defense, a legit baserunner, and an OBP/AVG that is key to a good franchise.

I must still be recovering from my food coma or something, but…
Did someone just say that Wilson G-D Betemit at 1st base was an actual good thing?

I was planning on throwing my support behind options C and D (which are related) for all the reasons you’ve written about, but B is tempting. Joe Sheehan explained why better than I could: http://baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1114.

All of these things upset me, though. If you’re looking to end on a high note, I’d mention the performances by Hughes and Kennedy in Arizona and Puerto Rico, respectively.

I hope someone puts the segment on YouTube, for those of us in enforced exile from the Tri-State Area.

Hey Steve, I’m amazed that the Yankees have no interest in Ben Sheets. If they have to decide between AJ Burnett or Sheets, wouldn’t it make more sense to sign Sheets for less years and dollars? Both are injury prone but Burnett’s frequent elbow injuries frighten me and I’d hate see the Yankees have a sequel to Carl Pavano.

I can see why the Yankees are looking at Sabathia and additional pitchers, excluding Hughes, Aceves, Kennedy, etc. They don?t want to go into next season as unprepared as they were for the failures of handing rotation spots out to the kids in spring training. Even so, I think signing someone like Burnett would be a major mistake. He requires too many years, too many bucks, too injury prone, and too unlikely to come through.

I did think it was a mistake the Yanks didn?t offer anyone arbitration. Just because a player accepts arbitration doesn?t mean they can?t negotiate for a deal with less money.

If they fail to sign Sabathia, I could see them putting the full-court press on Teixeira, but they want to address their pitching needs first. I don?t understand how they can expect Posada to have such a major rebound coming off of extensive surgery to provide the same offense that he is capable of putting up. Cano will most likely improve a great deal on is 08 campaign, but the team is still losing about 200 RBIs between Abreu and Giambi. That?s not easy to replace, even if Swisher goes back to his normal rates, Cano has a resurgence, and Posada puts up a decent season. There are some holes they definitely need to plug.

I see these as all big stories, so ill just go through each and give my two cents….

A. The pursuit of C.C. Sabathia and other free agent pitchers to the possible exclusion of home-grown prospects such as Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy in next year’s rotation? This is another example of paying BIG money to BIG names and then getting BIG disappointment. Maybe not with CC, but who knows really. Look at Randy Johnson! He came into the Yankees with good years left in him, but forgot he had them! Stick with the kids, they are our future!

B. The team’s apparent lack of interest in Bobby Abreu, to the extent that the team would not even risk a one-year contract through arbitration? Id go with ole bobby for one year at a lower rate if possible. maybe he had an injury not reported, maybe he had the flu, or maybe he was just being lazy and not doing what he was supposed to in the off season and keeping in shape. whatever it is, i think that hes learned from this season, and being the caliber player he is will not do it again. be in shape and hit .450 in the april.

C. The apparent lack of fervor for Mark Teixeira and the corresponding decision to acquire Nick Swisher and anoint him the starting first baseman? stupid, that’s about all i have for that one.

D. The team’s apparent expectation that the offense will be re-inflated by a resurgent Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano? I love Jorge, you love Jorge, hell, we all love Jorge. Him, Bernie, DJ and Andy built the Yankees in the 90s. BUT, being the position that he is, his body is wearing and tearing a lot faster, i don’t see him being everyday in 2 years, or even next season. As for cano, give the kid two more seasons. if he continues his sub par performance, then we have our answer.

To Many IFS. !st. Sign Texeria. 8 yrs with 2 – 1 year options, and incentives. Give him the $20M per. Forget Sabathia. Get Burnett, Sheets and / or Lowe. There is still Perez out there. They slapped Pettitte in the face with a $10M offer. He wanted $16M. Split it with him. Give him $13M. Oh, They will not be able to keep both Damon and Matsui. Neither on can play outfield defense anymore. I guess they have to battle it out in the spring.

I’ve gotta go with “C,” Steve. Teixiera is the “prototype Boras client” and will go where the money is, so the pursuit would be easy–offer him the most money. The Yankees have already done that with Sabathia, and he’s demonstrating exactly why that is a mistake–he doesn’t want to come here. Fine. Find someone who does. But Teixiera? He’ll thrive in this environment, and a lineup that’s lost Giambi’s production (and his frustrating batting average) needs someone who can hit from both sides, to any part of the field, and what do you know, can catch the ball, too! Something the Yankees haven’t had at first base since Tino.

Hi Steve,
Why do I keep reading that firstbase apears to be DJ’s eventual position? It makes no sense, the captain still has a great arm and good speed. What he has lost is quickness, which is the most important tool for a defensive firstbaseman. With centerfield being one of the Yankees biggest holes to fill and a good SS in Frucal on the market, why not ask Derick to follow the same path as other Yankee greats and make the move now. This would alow Derick (my favorite player for being so nice to my kids at spring training in 2002 when no one else, including all the minor leagers would even flash them a smile Derick threw them each a ball and later signed them) to save face and and improve two positions at the same time.

I’d have to go with C here. The lack of offense next season could be pretty ridiculous for a team that has one of the best hitters in baseball. I think Teixeira is the perfect player for them – he’s a young, good fielding, great hitting star who plays a position they would ideally fill with someone just like him. There is little about his bat or his glove they’d change if they were picking the perfect firstbaseman, other than making him Lou Gehrig.

On another note – if they really don’t sign Teixeria, why not move ARod to first base, Jeter to third (Cal did it), and sign ****? While they’re at it, Swisher should play CF. All of his statistical evidence shows that while he plays ugly, he isn’t a bad fielder out there, and his bat (assuming it is revived somewhat) would make him a top hitter at the position.

Meanwhile, they could use another starter, but in 2 seasons there should be some young pitchers on this team that have established themselves. A real long term contract doesn’t necessarily make sense.

The biggest story of the offseason so far may well be that there is no biggest story of the offseason so far. Now, we all know that the Yankees have the financial clout to sign just about anyone they want. But the question remains: What if the players they want don’t especially want to play in the Bronx? I’m anxious to see how the Yanks will backpeddle if CC says no. Will they throw a fortune at Beckett or Lowe? What if Beckett and Lowe are already committed elsewhere? And Texiera is back with the Angels? What’s the backup plan? It may be a long shot, but the prospect of the Yankees being shut out of the real action this offseason may turn out to be THE biggest story in baseball.

I think it was a good decision by the Yankees in cutting ties with Abreu. He’s got decent speed but that clearly doesn’t seem to help him with his fielding. I honestly can reference 30 balls I thought he should have caught last year but somehow they ALWAYS go over his head. He’s an outfielder who hits 12-18 home runs a year, that’s not worth 16 million. Plus his OBP and batting average are not outstanding where you could live with his lack of power. He’s worth a one year deal of $5million….MAYBE.
I think signing Sabathia will be a horrific decision. Clearly money is not what motivates him so if he is persuaded by the players association to take the Yankees offer his heart won’t be into playing and I guarantee he will give a half hearted performance ala Kevin Brown,Carl Pavano,Jaret Wright, the list goes on.

On a scale of 1-10, how interested are Yanks wanting to sign Rocco Baldelli?

It is mindboggling to me that Brian Cashman would say that the Yankees cannot afford to sign both Sabathia and Teixeira. I’m not buying that, because of the revenue streams that the Yankees currently have and the new stadium and all the revenue it will generate as well as the fact that they will be paying a reduced luxury tax because of buliding the new stadium. I think they can easily afford both and they should sign both.

Let’s assume that the Yankees can only afford either C.C. Sabathia OR Mark Texiera: which player stands to offer greater value over the length of a long term contract? Tex is a switch-hitting first baseman who hits for average and power, and provides excellent defense. C.C. Sabathia weighs more than Willaim Howard Taft. While holes in the starting rotation abound, might it make more sense to fill those holes with many shorter-term, lower risk contracts rather than one over-stuffed ace? Adding Sabathia, to me, seems to be the finishing touch to a championship-calibur roster. Presently the Yankees’ number three hitter is Hideki Matsui, who might be serviceable if there were any fluid remaining in his knees. That doesn’t seem like a championship-calibur team to me.

Can’t any of you guys see what’s happening? The Yankees are going to tank the next two seasons in case Labron James decides to switch to baseball at that time!

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