Results tagged ‘ Mike Lowell ’

Some more on deadline trades

TRADE-O-RAMA
I enjoyed my BP colleague Christina Kahrl’s take on the Dodgers’ acquisition of George Sherrill from the Orioles for prospective third baseman Josh Bell and righty Steve Johnson:

torre_pb_080109.jpg[T]his move seems more about Joe Torre’s desperate need to turn to people he’s heard of in his pen. Sherrill’s been around long enough that Torre can use him with fully-formed preconceived notions without any chance that anyone will blame anyone other than Sherrill if it doesn’t work out in any particular high-leverage ballgame, and that’s the kind of cover the veteran skipper’s grown accustomed to over his long years of service. Bleeding talent for players Torre doesn’t have to sweat developing was one of those intrinsically accepted costs of employing the man in the first place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Dodgers fans have to like it.

Torre had his talents, no doubt about it, but he did become spectacularly risk-averse in the bullpen. Most managers are, but Torre reached an extreme. As I’ve remarked before, Joe Girardi has “made” more Major League relievers in less than two years running the Yankees than Torre did in his last five years, perhaps longer.

If you’re the Orioles, you wish you could have done more than this, but the organization isn’t willing to move Brian Roberts, while Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff haven’t been productive enough to excite anyone. Still, in Bell they added the possible replacement for Mora, and none too soon. There’s some question as to whether Bell can stay at third, and the club still desperately needs help at shortstop, but this is a start.  

The Red Sox made an excellent move in picking up Victor Martinez. They received an offensively talented catcher-first baseman who can spell Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, or, by pushing Youkilis to third base, Mike Lowell. Martinez can’t throw, but Varitek can’t either, so no big loss there. Martinez can belong to the Red Sox for another year if they pick up his $7.5 million option, which seems like a no-brainer. The one risk here is that Martinez has been in a severe slump; in his last 30 games he’s hit .161/.268/.279.

The acquisition of Martinez rendered Adam LaRoche redundant, so he was swapped off to the Braves for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman is the New Millennium Doug Mientkiewicz, and he’ll take on that role for the Sox. A greater role in the future will depend on this offseason. If Varitek wants to come back, he has the contractual right to do so, and that could block up the catchers’ position a bit. Mike Lowell has another year to go on his deal, and has no-trade protection. David Ortiz is also signed for another year.

The Braves made an odd deal here, picking up an imminent free agent who isn’t a great hitter for a first baseman. True, Kotchman hadn’t hit like on either, but he’s better at getting on base and is the superior gloveman. The Bravos may do well in the short term given that LaRoche is a second-half hitter, but the gain here is likely small and they may be in possession of neither player by November.

These moves will have an impact on the Yankees as they fight the Red Sox the rest of the way. The Sox have hit well in their own ballpark, averaging 5.7 runs per game in the Fens, but have hit just .252/.336/.402 on the road with an average of 4.6 runs per game. The league-average offense scores 4.7. How the addition of Martinez benefits the Red Sox depends on how they spot him to best advantage in different pitcher match-ups, and if they’re willing to cut into David Ortiz’s playing time now and again or bench Mike Lowell against the odd right-hander in road games. In addition, the deal cost the Sox Justin Masterson the versatile swingman. They might miss having him around.

In terms of the moves the Yankees did not make, it’s a bit surprising to see the long-coveted Jarod Wasburn go to the Tigers for two left-handed pitching prospects, Luke French, who has pitched seven games in the majors this year with strong results, and Mauricio Robles, an A-ball pitcher. Neither is a high-value prospect, just “interesting,” and it seems odd that the Yankees couldn’t have made a competitive offer had they wanted to do so. Now they have the choice of sticking with Sergio Mitre, pulling Phil Hughes out of the bullpen, or trying another minor leaguer, either another retread like (choke) Kei Igawa, or go with an untried pitcher such as Scranton’s George Kontos or Trenton’s Zach McAllister (currently on the disabled list with a “tired arm”). Given Mitre’s track record, they have very little to lose by rolling the dice on anyone this side of Sidney Ponson.

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.