Results tagged ‘ Derek Lowe ’

Lowe to Braves makes NL East even more interesting

lowe250_011409.jpgWHERE’S THE REST OF ME (AND OTHER TALES OF A PIRATICAL LIFE)
As of tomorrow morning, the annual ordeal known as writing and editing of the Baseball Prospectus book, which always concludes with a human sacrifice — most often me and my co-editor — has concluded. Regular scheduling of this column will resume immediately, and for those left that still care, Wholesome Reading will resume publication by Monday. As for the book itself, if you want to see how I’ve spent 98 percent of my time, the sucker will be out right around Valentine’s Day. It has all the usual goodies, plus a foreword by your friend and mine, Keith Olbermann.

Before I shuffle off for a very long nap, I’ll be making my usual trip to Castle YES for another turn in the Internet Bunker for a new installment of the YES Hot Stove show. You can’t see it on TV, but I’ve got a stocked mini-fridge under the desk. When the revolution comes, I’m going to be sitting pretty — and I’m not going to share with anyone except Bob Lorenz, because Bob always puts out M&Ms when we have a meeting in his office. That’s class. Who can make a sunrise and sprinkle it with dew? At YES, we know who.

Meanwhile, the baseball world has continued to slowly rotate. The Braves have picked up Derek Lowe, which puts the Braves in an interesting position, having gone from being basically rotation-free in 2008 to having an interesting and potentially deep collection of veteran (Lowe and Javier Vazquez), young (Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson at some point), and a lot of options for rounding out the group. It seems unlikely that the offense will hold up, but a solid rotation might be enough in the NL East. In that same division, the Mets are on the verge of signing Alex Cora, which is a nice move for them only in that it gives then some added depth around the infield, particularly at second, which is going to be a suppurating wound for years with Omar Minaya’s Worst Ever Contract — I mean, Luis Castillo — literally on his last legs. Cora will also give the Mets the opportunity to give Jose Reyes a game off every now and again, key since he tends to wear down as the season progresses.

Returning to the greatly fatigued Hall of Fame debate for a moment, I wanted to grab an entry from our last set of comments and respond. This was written by Buzah:

Steve, you mention Rice’s indebtedness to Fenway. Not until I really looked did I realize how bad it was. Career splits were .320/.374/.546 at home vs .277/.330/.459 away. Some of that could be explained with age, but even in his 1978 MVP season the splits were extreme — .361/.416/.690 home vs .269/.325/.512 away. It’s clear that someone who ranks 177th all time in OPS+, tied with John Olerud, Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou, would not have ranked that high if he didn’t play in Fenway. I think there are a slew of left fielders today that you might want to start over him, not including Manny Ramirez, who is a HOFer himself. Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Cliff Lee … if not definite, there is at least a strong case to be made that there are guys you’d rather have right now than what Rice usually brought to the table.

Buzah, you’re right to a large degree about Rice, but as I tried to suggest the last time around, I do view his ability to hit at Fenway as a skill. After all, though almost every hitter who plays at Fenway is helped by the park to some degree, but not all of them turn into .320/.374/.546 maulers. The same thing is true of the hitters that play for the Rockies. Those teams need players who are capable of exploiting their park to the greatest extent, just like the Yankees have always needed left-handed power hitters to pull the ball into Babe Ruth’s porch. Now, what the player does the rest of the time is important as well. It represents 50 percent of the schedule. It’s ironic, I think, that we call a player who can hit left-handers, but not right-handers, a platoon player, and while we may celebrate his accomplishments in that role, it’s also something of a denigration, a way of indicating that he’s not quite the equivalent of a full-time player. A player who can hit at home but shrivels on the road (or vice-versa) is a kind of platoon player too, but somehow we don’t think of him that way.

See you on TV on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and here before that.

Yankees Inc. Inks

sabathia_250_121008.jpgAccording to rumors widely circulating at this hour, the Yankees have bagged their big man, reaching a preliminary agreement with CC Sabathia on a seven-year, $160 million contract. If the story is true, the Yankees have acquired the heaviest pitcher in team history, or at least the heaviest since Jumbo Brown last titled the Yankee Stadium mound back in 1936, through his age-35 season.

There is no doubt the Yankees are a better team now than they were yesterday; Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the business and becomes the left-handed ace the Yankees have been missing for some years. While the Yankees should not expect to receive anything close to the 1.65 ERA-run that Sabathia gave the Brewers this fall, some form of what Sabathia did for the Indians over the last five seasons — durability, excellent control, a strong strikeout rate, and an ERA somewhere in the mid-3.00s — should be in the cards.

Now the requisite “but:” All of that requires health, and the Yankees are entering unknown territory when it comes to Sabathia. Over the last two years he’s thrown over 500 innings (regular season and playoffs) and faced well over 2,000 batters. Under normal circumstances, when it comes to that kind of workload, a physical breakdown wouldn’t be a question of “if,” but “when.” The two main complications are that “when” remains undefined (Tuesday? July? July of 2010?) and, perhaps more significantly, we have no idea if a pitcher built like the Incredible Hulk is subject to the same rules that affect everyone else.

Meanwhile, there are reportedly offers out to other pitchers, more questionable pitchers — Derek Lowe, a groundballer going on 36 who the Yankees aren’t capable of supporting defensively, and A.J. Burnett, a pitcher who is good sometimes and is hurt often. Mark Teixeira seems a good bet to go to the Red Sox, where he will improve an already very good club for years. The Yankees will go through the winter having gotten exactly what they wanted, but I can’t help but feel, as I have written throughout this offseason, that the real problems of offense and defense are being neglected.

More to come as details emerge.

Shuttle Diplomacy

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The word on the wire is that Brian Cashman is off to meet with CC Sabathia and nail him down before the winter meetings. Joel Sherman put it this way.

Cashman needs to look in Sabathia’s eyes and know for sure that if he takes all the Yankee money that the big lefty definitely wants to be a Yankee after all the talk that Sabathia wants the NL or West Coast.

One hopes that goes better than when George Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw a fellow Texas Rangers fan, or something like that. Yeah, they love Pete Incaviglia in the Caucasus, but that doesn’t mean they’re pro-democracy.

Similarly, Sabathia may say he’s comfortable with the idea of a New York address, but the proof is in the performance. What makes that terrible to contemplate is that if he does come to the Yankees and the performance isn’t good, there could be a million reasons — a slump after a career year, the heavy workload of previous seasons, an injury, Jupiter being in the House of Mars — but all of us (you, me, Cashman, Sabathia) will have to wonder if he’s just not that into musicals.

Note: you can sing “Sabathia!” to the tune of “Camelot.” Just thought I would point that out, in case CC needed any added persuasion on the whole show tunes thing.

There is a lot hanging on this meeting. The organization has seemingly put all its eggs in the Sabathia basket. If the deal isn’t made, that egg is going to be on somebody’s face, as Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett seem to be drifting into other team’s orbits — and Mark Teixeira could end up with the Red Sox. That would leave Boston with a Mike Lowell problem given that the old man is through 2010 at $12 million a pop, but would upgrade their offense considerably both now and well beyond 2010. That may explain why Cashman made a stop in Washington to visit with Teixeira on his way to see Sabathia, albeit at Scott Boras’s request. The Yankees can’t afford for Teixeira to feel unloved by the Pinstripers, and it’s good that Boras realized that.

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While it seems certain that the Yankees do not have, or choose not to spend, enough money to sign both Teixeira and Sabathia, that doesn’t change the fact that they need both, or to put it the proper way, they need a major bat at first base or right field, and they need a top starting pitcher. Getting one doesn’t eliminate the need for the other. As such, devoting all their financial resources to bribing Sabathia out of his desire to play on the other side of the country may prove to be self-defeating. In fact, the Sabathia scenario may be self-defeating in one of two possible ways: (1) He signs but as a result the Yankees don’t invest appropriately in the rest of their lineup or, (2) he doesn’t sign, but takes so long doing so that the Yankees don’t have the opportunity to resort to plan B.

No one player can put any team over the top, and in their Ahab-like pursuit of Sabathia, one wonders if the Yankees are remembering that. If their financial resources are as circumscribed as everyone else’s in this dire economy, it would make a great deal of sense to spread those resources out. After all, Sabathia’s teams have how many World Series rings? It takes a full cast.

O.J. GOING AWAY FOR AT LEAST NINE YEARS
Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. I am reminded of one of the most inscrutable quotes in baseball history. After Pinky Higgins, the openly bigoted former manager and GM of the Red Sox, died , his former pitcher, the African American Earl Wilson said, “Good things happen to some people.” I’m not sure what he meant, but the words came to mind when I read about O.J’s sentencing.

MORE FROM ME
I’ve been slow on Wholesome Reading again this week as I’ve had to devote considerable time to the BP annual, but now that the weekend is upon us I will be doing my usual catching up. Which is not to say that there’s nothing to look at: we page Franz Josef, a regret for suicides on my birthday, and the plan to reinflate the housing market through cheaper mortgages. Warning! Politics! And bad cake!

NEXT WEEK
Look for more frequent updates in this space as we react to all the news from the winter meetings.