December 2008 Archives

December 31, 2008

So long to 2008

Well, this season did not go as any Yankees fans had hoped, with them missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. The offseason has gone as well as almost any Yankees fan looking for a big splash could have hoped, though, with the additions of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira.

Despite the down year, I imagine everyone has a few favorite memories. Here are several of mine:

*The All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. That was a really special event. I loved watching Josh Hamilton go deep again and again, and the ceremonies at the game itself were great.
*Yankee Stadium finale. Again, very cool. My family enjoyed seeing pix of that over Christmas.
*Mike Mussina winning his 20th game. A great end to a special career.

Happy New Year, everybody! Thanks so much for reading. Have a fun (but safe) New Year's celebration. See you in 2009!

December 30, 2008

Memorable nights at Yankee Stadium

There should be one last event at Yankee Stadium, the press conference announcing Mark Teixeira's signing (likely next week), but here are a couple excellent stories that share special days at the Stadium. Speaking of which, my flight path into LaGuardia on my way back to New York after Christmas gave me a great view of the stadiums by night. I couldn't see the Christmas tree that somebody placed on the pitcher's mound, as was pointed out to me by a reader, but I'm sure it was there.

Here's a terrific story by Alex Belth of BronxBanterBlog.com. It's on Yankees special assistant Ray Negron, who does a ton of great work particularly with the Boys and Girls Clubs, and his last night at Yankee Stadium. Ray's been around the Yankees for decades, and Alex has a gift for writing, which makes a good combo for a story

Another Yankee Stadium story comes to us from Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. It's about Josh Hamilton and the Home Run Derby. That was a special night also.

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December 29, 2008

Buck Showalter on Mark Teixeira

I talked to Buck Showalter this afternoon about Mark Teixeira. Buck managed Mark for his first four seasons, so I reached out to him last week, but with the holidays and all, we didn't connect until today.

Here are a few thoughts from Showalter on Teixeira:

*"I think he'll do well. All multi-year contracts have some risk, but I think he's a great health risk. He's not going to embarrass you on or off the field. He's going to be prepared. He's got a real passion for (the game). ... If there's such a thing as a safe eight-year contract, that would be it. He's been so consistent and so healthy."
*"When it's all said and done, I think he's going to rank up there with some of the great switch-hitters."
*"He's been a little bit of a slow starter, which doesn't necessarily play well in New York." (Will that be a problem for him, case him to get off on the wrong foot?) "I don't think so. I think Mark has a lot of self-confidence, and rightly so, because of the way he works and prepares."
*"He'll be there for the long haul. He understands the things that go along with being a major league baseball player and also a Yankee."
*"I did not buy that Mark would just go to the highest bidder. I thought he would be able to bridge both of them (winning team and money)."
*"I think people will really appreciate what a good first baseman Mark is. He's really made himself into that -- you forget he was drafted as a third baseman. If I was Alex or Derek or Robby Cano, I'd be excited about getting him. He'll make all three of those guys better with his defense."

December 28, 2008

Move an outfielder

It may be slow going for a while now, as the Yankees have already made the bulk of their expected offseason moves. Obviously there can and likely will be changes, but they have made three huge signings. Also, all baseball offices are closed through New Year's, so that's one more reason things around baseball might be quiet.

A move perhaps on the Yankees' to-do list is to trade an outfielder/DH, particularly if they don't wind up bringing back Andy Pettitte. Of the following list -- Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui -- who would you most want to keep and who would you most want to trade?
A few things to consider:
I believe the Yankees most want to keep Damon. He's got just one year left, fits well on the team, lightens up the clubhouse, is successful in NY/playoff atmosphere, can play multiple positions (though much better in left) and still gets on-base a lot. He'd probably bring just an OK return, due to a high salary and just one year left on his contract.
Nady would probably bring the most back in a trade, due to reasonable salary and an ability to play all of the outfield positions.
Swisher has multiple seasons left under team control (thru 2011 with a team option for 2012). Yet if he doesn't return to earlier-career form, those seasons aren't such a bargain.
Matsui will likely bring the least in return in a trade for several reasons: he's mainly a DH now, has had injury issues the last two seasons, and has one year left under contract at a fairly high salary.

And here's a link to my story from today's paper.

December 24, 2008

Teixeira signing may mean end of Andy Pettitte in pinstripes

For the past few weeks, I've been wondering what Andy Pettitte is waiting on in not accepting the Yankees' one-year, $10 million contract offer. The chances are good now that he has waited too long. As of midday no final decision had been made. But the source I talked to said the Yankees are "pretty happy with our team as is," and that the offer to Pettitte may no longer be available.

As for Teixeira, I believe you'll enjoy him, both what he brings on the field and off. I sent a story into online about how the negotiations went down. Here's a summary: An official involved in negotiations gave a rundown of the back-and-forth between the Yankees and Teixeira’s agent, Scott Boras. The Yankees had made a substantially lower offer to Teixeira before the winter meetings; an offer that was quickly pulled once Boras informed the Yankees how much he was seeking. The Red Sox, Nationals, Angels and Orioles bid on Teixeira in the next few weeks, with the Yankees not making another contract offer until late Monday.
Even Tuesday, hours before Teixeira agreed to terms, the Yankees were pessimistic about getting the 28-year-old slugger, the source said. Boras told the Yankees they needed a 10-year deal, with the last two years as player options. That got an absolute no from the Yankees, who had offered eight years and $180 million ($22.5 million per year).
Around midday Tuesday, Boras said Teixeira would agree to an eight-year contract, but only if the average annual value was $24 million per year, making the total contract value $192 million. The Yankees conferred, then told Boras no, that they had made a fair yet firm offer and would hold pat, the source said. Boras responded by saying that Teixeira would likely be a Red Sox. The Yankees refused to budge from their offer, and 20 minutes later, Boras called back and said Teixeira would take their eight-year, $180 million contract offer.


*And now I am really putting the blog on hiatus for a couple days. Happy holidays.

December 23, 2008

Teixeira to be a Yankee

I had a strange feeling about this one all along. Mark Teixeira has agreed to terms on an eight-year, $180-million contract to play for the Yankees. Even though the Yankees seemed to be on the periphery of the talks for weeks, they remained an interested observer. Teixeira has long expressed an interest -- behind the scenes in playing for the Yankees. He grew up with Don Mattingly as his favorite player, and really wanted to be on a winning team.

This was Teixeira's first season in the playoffs, after beginning his career with the Rangers. He is a career .290 hitter and has hit 30+ homers and driven in 100+ runs each of the last five seasons.

Quite a haul for the Yankees this winter.

Winter freeze/exhibition opener

Barring news over the next several days, the blog is going to take a little holiday hibernation while I visit family in the deep freeze of Iowa (negative wind chill).

If there's any big news (e.g. a Mark Teixeira signing somewhere), I'll post. Otherwise, I hope all of you who celebrate have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Enjoy the time with family and friends if you are able to be with them. Best wishes for a peaceful season and happy new year.

And here's an addendum since I posted 10 minutes ago, since I just got this email from the Yankees. Not much of a hibernation :)
Nobody can complain about these ticket prices for the exhibition openers at Yankee Stadium against the Cubs in 2009. Here's the details

NEW YORK YANKEES TO TURN BACK THE CLOCK ON VARIOUS TICKET PRICES FOR APRIL 3-4 EXHIBITION GAMES VS. CUBS;

TICKETS FREE FOR FULL-SEASON PLAN HOLDERS, OTHERS TO RANGE FROM 25¢ TO $50

The New York Yankees announced today that full-season ticket licensees will receive complimentary tickets for the first exhibition games to be played in the new Yankee Stadium on April 3-4 vs. the Chicago Cubs, while partial-plan holders will receive the first opportunity to purchase tickets thereafter, via a pre-on-sale (restrictions apply). Individual-game ticket prices will not exceed $50 for either game.

For the inaugural exhibition contests, Bleachers tickets will be priced at 25¢, and Grandstand tickets will be priced at $1.10—the same prices they were on April 18, 1923, the day the original Yankee Stadium opened. Tickets on the Terrace Level will cost between $20-35, tickets on the Main Level will be $20-45, and tickets on the Field Level will range from $45-$50.

Remaining tickets, subject to availability, will go on sale to the general public at a date to be determined in the future.

“To express our gratitude toward our full-season ticket licensees, we are offering tickets for these two exhibition games at no cost to them,” said Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost. “The balance of tickets will be sold first to our partial-plan holders, then to the general public, at vastly reduced rates compared to the regular season. Using such a pricing model for these games allows us to thank our fans for their continued loyalty and introduce them to Baseball’s new grand cathedral.”

The newly-constructed Yankee Stadium is located on the north side of 161st Street (between River and Jerome Avenues), directly across the street from the site of the original Stadium. With a capacity of 52,325 fans, the new Yankee Stadium has improved sight lines, wider concourses, significantly improved and varied food options and state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities. All of the new Stadium’s thoroughly modern amenities exist within the framework of the classic architectural elements of the original Stadium, most notably the instantly recognizable frieze that again circles the grandstand.

The new Yankee Stadium will be the fourth permanent home of the New York Yankees, following Hilltop Park (1903-12), the Polo Grounds (1913-22) and the current Yankee Stadium (1923-present). The Yankees also played two full seasons at Shea Stadium (1974-75) when the original Stadium underwent remodeling.


December 22, 2008

Yankees not on verge of signing Manny Ramirez

If any of you saw the ImpactoDeportivo.com report that the Yankees are on the verge of signing Manny Ramirez to a three-year, $75-million contract, don't get excited (either good or bad). It's not true. Hal Steinbrenner told me this afternoon, "If we are, I don't know about it." Let's just say he would know.

No offers are on the table to either Ramirez or Teixeira, although the Yankees did make an offer to Teixeira before the winter meetings, which I did not know until recently. They haven't ruled out an offer to either player, but they have not made one at this point.

I'm told the Yankees want to keep payroll about what it was in 2008. They could sign Ramirez or Teixeira, but then they would not be able to add another starting pitcher (Pettitte) and stay at payroll. Or they could add Pettitte (or similar pitcher) and sign another hitter. I heard the names Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi (yes, really) mentioned.

December 21, 2008

Boras calls Yankees on Teixeira

So the Yankees talked to Scott Boras Friday about Mark Teixeira, as I first learned by reading Jon Heyman's story on SI.com. But what I learned yesterday from talking to multiple sources is that Boras reached out to the Yankees.
The Yankees do not have an offer on the table for Teixeira, and Boras apparently called the Yankees telling them what it would cost to land Teixeira. According to my source, that number was $22-23 million a year over eight years for a total of $180-185 million. The Yankees are still debating that, and there are some in the organization who want to do it, but they appear to be leaning against making an offer.
Haven't heard anything super-new about any other teams involved in bidding. Probably quiet for the rest of the weekend. Enjoy your Sunday football or last minute holiday shopping.

December 19, 2008

Crazy turnabout on Teixeira

What a strange turn of events on Mark Teixeira. It appeared that he was close to a deal with the Red Sox, based on reports on ESPN and elsewhere. I finished writing around 9:30 p.m. and then went to meet a couple friends for the evening. Around 11, I saw a scroll that Red Sox owner John Henry said they would "not be a factor" for Teixeira. So I called the office to make sure a couple things got tweaked in stories. If the Red Sox are in fact out of it, it'd be pretty interesting.

Congrats to anyone who can negotiate a bigger paycheck (especially on the scale we're talking about), but if Mark chooses to go to the Nationals I would on a personal level be disappointed for him. Because over the years I have known few players who acted as desperate to get to a winner as he has, and if he picks the Nationals, he's minimizing his chances to win, based on a rational outlook.

The Orioles I could see to some extent, as he's from just outside Baltimore and grew up following the Orioles and if you really want to go home, I respect that. But the Nationals didn't exist when he was growing up. So he couldn't portray that as a homecoming exactly.

I understand Mark's a union rep, and surely both the players association and Boras want him to take the highest offer. But if he wants to win as much as I've always believed he does, then he should go to the Red Sox or Angels. Or even the Yankees -- if he were to get in touch with the Steinbrenners and say he really, really wanted to be in pinstripes, and maybe make some contract concessions, I'm sure it could get done.

Anyway, I rarely get opinionated here, so indulge this exception please.

December 18, 2008

Yankees not in on Teixeira

The reports are that the Red Sox are closing in on a deal for Mark Teixeira. I can't confirm that but I can confirm that the Yankees have not made an offer to Teixeira. I was told that by multiple parties this afternoon, and exchanged several emails with Hal Steinbrenner this evening. He said they have not made an offer to Teixeira, and not to expect one in the next few hours.

Sabathia, Burnett overload

Lots to share from the press conference today -- we actually just finished interviews a short bit ago, so I'll just give you bullet points:

*Sabathia said Yankees were always in his top three, along with Angels (who never made an offer) and Brewers. He definitely had interest in returning to the West Coast, but also felt Yankees gave him the best chance to win.
*CC said it gives him chills to say he's a Yankee.
*CC wanted to make sure his family could be happy living in NY year-round.
*CC's glad to be surrounded by big stars, saying: "This team's put together unbelievably. ... I think it would have been more immense pressure (in Milwaukee) because they wouldn't have been able to put the pieces around me."
*CC said he's unlikely to participate in the World Baseball Classic and A.J. said he will not participate.
*Cashman said he told CC: "I'm hoping that you can light up the city."
*In the wake of the Carl Pavano disaster, Cashman said: "You can't stop swinging for the fences."
*Hal Steinbrenner wouldn't rule out adding either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez, saying: "We're still looking at all our options."
*Steinbrenner also said they won't make decisions based on what the Red Sox might do, that: "You can drive yourself crazy with that stuff."
*Joe Girardi, asked if anyone else could match the Yankees' 1-2-3, said: "I really like our 1-2-3."
*Cashman said his players, particularly Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, had been on him about getting Burnett.
*Jeter made recruiting calls to CC, and he also knows Joba and Jorge Posada well. Burnett said A-Rod and Damon made recruiting calls.
*A.J. said he talked to former teammate Carl Pavano, who actually said good things about NY, but that: "I only listen to some things Carl says. ... Carl's a beauty. He's a piece of work."
*A.J. said he learned a lot from Roy Halladay in the last couple years and that he knows how to prepare himself better and more how to pitch.
*Girardi said: "We got the two gentlemen that we always wanted."
*A.J. said: "I wanted to come to a place with a big stage. I want to be on the big stage and I want to pitch in the postseason."
*Steinbrenner said: "I think it's pretty well-known there are no big offers left on the table," though he did not rule any more offers out. He called getting Manny Ramirez "as realistic as any of the other free agents."
*On Andy Pettitte. Sounds like the Yankees are willing to wait. Cashman said he did not make a demand on a return, and Girardi said he'd talked to Andy recently and Andy is excited about coming back. Put this one in the "just a matter of time category."
*And it sounds like Amber Sabathia, CC's wife, wasn't nearly as hard to convince as had been speculated. The couple started dating when she was a senior in high school (he's one year older), and it had been rumored she did not want to come here. She said when Cashman visited their house, he mentioned the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NY, and she said they'd just watched it and if they come to NY, could they get tickets? He said they could be in the front row, and she said she was sold. (I'm thinking it took a little more than that, but it's a cute anecdote).

December 17, 2008

Cameron-Cabrera talks off

It sounds as though the Yankees will not be getting Mike Cameron to play centerfield next year. That could change, of course, but I just got off the phone with Brewers GM Doug Melvin. He said: "Nothing new. At this point, I don't anticipate it's something that we would (do). ... I haven't talked to Brian (Cashman) since last week."
Melvin said they had originally looked at moving Cameron to gain some flexibility on the pitching front but that is no longer such a need. Said Melvin: "I like Mike Cameron a lot. He means a lot in our clubhouse. He's a very positive presence. He's a good player. He's played on a lot of playoff teams -- maybe more than anybody. He's got a lot of intangibles. (A trade is) not something that we're pushing at this time."
The Yankees obviously aren't pushing it either, given that Cashman and Melvin haven't spoken since leaving Las Vegas last week.

Tomorrow's the day

It appears both CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett will get introduced as Yankees tomorrow in a 1 p.m. press conference at the Stadium. I'm interested to see how they do this, both on-stage at the same time or Sabathia followed by Burnett?

Reports around the country have Mark Teixeira making a decision before Christmas. While there are some reports the Yankees are still involved, if so, it's been very stealth. It seems the Red Sox, Angels or Orioles are the most likely. The Nationals and Orioles appear to be in the same ballpark with contract offers, and if he is going to go to a hometown team with a losing record, he's from the Baltimore-area, not Washington. The Nationals didn't even exist when Teixeira was growing up.
If he wants a team with a more recent history of winning, it's a toss-up between Red Sox and Angels.

Once Teixeira signs, the bidding war can begin for Manny Ramirez.

December 16, 2008

Joba honored

Joba Chamberlain is being honored tonight by the Police Athletic League. On his way into the dinner, he talked about trying to turn a negative (his DUI arrest) into a positive by talking to kids about his mistake. He says they might listen more to somebody who has actually had that problem.
Joba also talked about being excited about the upcoming season and the new additions of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal was there representing the Yankees. She told me that while her brothers (Hal and Hank) do most personnel things, she is excited about the way the pitching staff is coming together. She does a lot on the new stadium. I asked how the economic crisis is affecting sales. She said: "You just hope that it won't. I think people still need recreation, maybe even more now, to get away from things." Still, Steinbrenner Swindal said: "We're seeing changes, of course, but hopefully it will correct itself."

Yankees and the economy

While we wait on official introductions later this week for new Yankees CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, I could use your opinions on all the Yankee spending. Here's the deal:

Recession, what recession? That seems to be the feeling in the New York Yankees organization this offseason. Are you happy that the Yanks are spending tons of money to try to put a good product on the field? Do you think it will help take your mind off your current troubles? Or are you fed up with their spending tons of money and asking for help to complete their stadium in this kind of economy? Barbara Barker would love to talk to fans who feel strongly one way or the other for a story she is writing. Please email her at barbara.barker@newsday.com.

December 15, 2008

Falling into place

It seems like things are falling into place when it comes to the Yankees' roster for 2009. CC Sabathia should be in town in the next 24 hours or so to undergo a physical and I expect a press conference perhaps Wednesday. No timeframe yet on A.J. Burnett. I wonder if any players might make the trip in for the Sabathia presser.
Nothing new with Andy Pettitte and/or Mike Cameron, but I'll keep you posted as I get new info.

December 14, 2008

Overhauling the rotation

I see all sorts of different opinions out there on the A.J. Burnett signing -- everything from "he's the next Carl Pavano" to "there go the Yankees, trying to buy championships again" to "he beat up on us, thank goodness he's on our side now." I certainly see the reasons for concern with Burnett, but I also see what he's capable of.
As for the idea that the Yankees are changing philosophies yet again and lacking patience, Buster Olney has a good column at ESPN.com. He points out that the Yankees had their eye on CC Sabathia since they passed on Johan Santana. And it's not like their rotation is super-old now. In fact they've gotten younger.
Again, I do understand the reasons for concern on Burnett. He's been injured, he hasn't lived up to potential, etc.
The talk about the Yankees still being in on Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez -- nothing would surprise me, but it doesn't seem likely. When I talked to Hal Steinbrenner Thursday, he said their focus is on starting pitching. Then again, now that they've bagged Burnett, maybe they're changing focus. I'm just not sure I envision them making yet another $150-million+ investment in Teixeira. Ramirez, maybe, as the bidding's not yet out of hand there (actually it's almost nonexistent). Teixeira would fit the team philosophy better aside from the added cost and commitment.

December 12, 2008

Cameron update; answering questions

Here's an update on Mike Cameron/Melky Cabrera. I talked to Brewers GM Doug Melvin a little while ago, and he said he hasn't spoken with Brian Cashman since leaving Vegas. He said a deal could happen but they aren't there yet. Also downplayed the part about Brewers being upset Yankees asked for money back in the deal. Melvin said others may have been upset, but he wasn't.

To answer Jim A.'s question from the last post, which got a few responses, I think the way reporters react to someone else breaking news depends a great deal on that person's personality and how their newspapers/bosses react. For instance, when Ken Davidoff and I were first with the news that Cashman was in California meeting with CC Sabathia, several people told me "Nice story" or "Good work" or something of the like. Joel Sherman had a much bigger get when he reported that Sabathia had agreed to become a Yankee. I told him "nice story" when I saw him. For me at least I admire and respect somebody breaking another story, though I also generally think, why didn't I/couldn't I get that? That's a pretty natural reaction to wish you had gotten that story I think. Not everyone will say acknowledge someone else's "scoop," as I said. Depends on the person.
Hope that satisfies your curiousity, Jim.

Meetings over but more to come

Well the winter meetings are over, and the Yankees bagged their big get in CC Sabathia. but they could have two or three more players locked up in the next several days. If that happens, they could have a decent approximation of their Opening Day roster by then.
A.J. Burnett appears poised to pick the Yankees over the Braves. I believe Andy Pettitte will come to terms. And it sounds like the Cabrera-for-Cameron trade is likely to happen.
Stay tuned.

December 11, 2008

Cashman gone

I am erasing my previous entry. I've been informed Cashman did not go to see any free agent. Sorry for the bad info/speculation. Check a soon-to-be posted story from hal steinbrenner

December 10, 2008

Boras speaks

Scott Boras just held his major address of the media. He has a whole lot of players who are free agents, most notably Mark Teixeira, Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez and Manny Ramirez. Here are some blurbs:

*On Teixeira's motivations: "He's got regional ties, certainly family ties are part of his considerations. The club's ability to win long-term, commitment by the owners long-term to the franchise being successful, where they play, the city they're in ... and of course the economics."
*Said Teixeira has met with all teams involved in negotiations. Couldn't handicap if something will happen quickly or not.
*On Sabathia's agreeing to terms: "I think the market for starting pitching is a little bit more defined now."
*On how Sabathia's agreement might affect interest of other players in joining Yankees: "I think it gives more of a road map of where the Yankees are going. I think any player would want to be on a team with CC Sabathia. I think from the Yankees perspective, certainly it adds a star player and helps their chances to win."
*On Derek Lowe: "Derek Lowe wants to play for a winning club, for a contending club."
*On teams interested in Teixeira/Ramirez: "This free agent market is a pretty unique time for teams. ... (commented on lack of premiere bats to be FA in next couple years) ... If you want a big bat, a franchise-type bat, it's the time to move."


Also, not from Boras, talked to a friend of Lowe's and he said the Yankees getting Sabathia makes them a more desirable destination b/c he now feels better about their chances to win.

Sabathia is expected to have a physical in the next couple days, followed by a press conference in New York next week.

Amusing Cashman/Sabathia anecdote

Sometimes you get something unexpected from Brian Cashman. For instance, this nugget: so he flew to Oakland, Calif. on a 5 p.m. commercial flight last night to meet with CC Sabathia and his family at their Vallejo home. Cashman went with Sabathia's agent, Brian Peters. To his recollection, Cashman said he has never been to a player's home before. When he walked into Sabathia's home last night and was being shown around or at least to wherever they were going to meet, he told Sabathia "I've been here before."
Cashman said he and his wife had been watching MTV Cribs (yes, for real) a couple years ago and Sabathia's home had been featured. Sabathia laughed at that.

Anyway in actual news-related things:

*The Yankees have no problem with giving Sabathia an optout clause. If he opts out, he will have pitched really well for them for three years (or it wouldn't make sense for him to opt out) and then would head to the West Coast as he gets into his riskier years, age-wise. If he doesn't, fine, they pay him what they agreed to.
*People in the organization say they prefer Sabathia to Johan Santana, even aside from the fact they would have had to trade players to get Santana a year ago. Yes, they certainly would have pursued Santana if he were a free agent this winter, but they prefer Sabathia. Or so they say.
*They're interested in A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, not to mention Ben Sheets and Andy Pettitte. And as Cashman put it, he's ready to move whenever it makes sense.
*Joe Girardi was headed out of town following our lunch with him.
*Hoping that Scott Boras is going to address the masses later this afternoon.

More on Sabathia

Obviously the story of these meetings is the Yankees getting their man in CC Sabathia. This was their top goal for the offseason, and they're close to getting him to sign on the dotted line. We'll get the rxn of a friend of Sabathia's soon, as Yankees captain Derek Jeter is on the dais for a press conference about the World Baseball Classic. Team Newsday will have to split up to track everything down as Brian Cashman is supposed to meet with the beat writers in about 20 minutes, and Jeter might not talk till after that.
I'm pretty sure I can guess Jeter's reaction to the Sabathia addition. I think he'll be happy. Just a hunch :)
And don't count on Cashman confirming anything. In fact I'd be surprised if he does.

Sabathia to be a Yankee

You all got your wish: CC Sabathia has agreed to pitch for the Yankees. As Ken Davidoff and I first reported last night, Brian Cashman flew to the San Francisco area yesterday at the last minute in order to meet with Sabathia and his wife, Amber. The New York Post first reported this morning that Sabathia has told the Yankees he will pitch for them, and Newsday has confirmed this.
The contract is believed to be for six years and about $140-million.

Huge, huge news obviously, and Sabathia will have to pass a physical before anything is finalized. But maybe the dominoes will start to fall around baseball now.

December 9, 2008

Cashman in San Francisco with CC

Brian Cashman is meeting with CC Sabathia in the San Francisco area tonight. It was a last-minute meeting, not sure who requested it, but a number of sources have confirmed the meeting to Newsday.
This appears to be a good sign for the Yankees, as Cashman is meeting with Sabathia for the third time in three days. One reason for this meeting may be for Sabathia's wife, Amber, to get to talk to Cashman. She is a major part of this decision-making process.

Chatter from Girardi press meeting

Joe Girardi just had his half-hour meeting with the media (every manager has one). He happened to follow shortly after Joe Torre and the former and current Yankees manager greeted one another with a hug then chatted for a few moments. Here are some highlights from the meeting with Girardi, as well as from a story I posted online earlier:

Girardi
*On meeting Ben Sheets: "I thought that was also a very good meeting. ... You look at his numbers, his numbers stack up against anyone. He's had some injuries. ... When he's been on the mound, he's been dynamite."
*On improving other aspects of the club besides pitching: "Our focus is really the pitching."
*On whether he thinks Andy Pettitte might not come back, given long wait with no agreement: "I've just had that feeling all along that he'll be a Yankee next year."
*On Bobby Abreu: "We haven't necessarily shut the door on anyone, but right now our plans are to have X (Xavier Nady) in rightfield."

In other non-Girardi talk:
*The Yankees will top the Braves' offer for A.J. Burnett. The Braves' offer is believed to be for four years and $60-million perhaps with a vesting option. A Yankees source said: "We can do better."
*The Blue Jays have a slim chance of re-signing Burnett. Said Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi: "I wouldn't say we're out of it," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said, "but we're probably not as active as we once were. We haven't really talked to him much."
The Canadian dollar has lost 20 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar since September, and that effect, Ricciardi said, is: "really big. Our finances aren't what we thought they were going to be. If we add something, we have to subtract something."
*The Yankees met with Ben Sheets Monday. No offer has been made, but a team official said: "We're very interested."
*Joe Torre said he talked with Andy Pettitte recently, and that he believes Pettitte still wants to play in New York.

Hunter: Sabathia not afraid of New York

Torii Hunter has a difficult task: trying to convince close friend CC Sabathia and teammate Mark Teixeira both to sign with the Angels, when even the Angels don't plan to shell out the money to sign both. But Hunter wants at least one of the two. He's been in CC's ear a bit, and said he talked to Teixeira last week.
When asked if he thought Sabathia could adjust to the atmosphere of New York, Hunter said: "I think CC, he can definitely handle it. If he doesn't sign with New York, that won't be the reason why. If he doesn't sign with New York, it's because he loves the West Coast. If he doesn't sign on the West Coast, it's because he wants to win, and the Yankees have a good history of winning."
Interesting, Sabathia's preference is to play on the West Coast while Teixeira's is to play on the East Coast.
Hunter said: "I think it's important for CC to play on the West Coast. At the same time, that could change, and the Yankees are doing that."

Torii Hunter here

Torii Hunter is on stage now for a press conference announcing a new foundation/project called The Torii Hunter Project. Its current initiative, "Heart of a Champion," will help inner-city students as they try to pursue their education. Great project, and Hunter is universally known as a great guy.
We'll have to see if he has any insight into where some of his buddies may wind up, like CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira.

Winter Meetings: Live chat with Kat O'Brien

Kat O'Brien is live at the winter meetings in Las Vegas and ready to answer your Yankees questions at 1 p.m.

Giambi seeking work

Just ran into a very fan-friendly Yankee free agent, Jason Giambi. He was here with a friend and Joel Wolfe, an agent who works with Giambi's primary agent Arn Tellem. Giambi lives in Las Vegas, at least the better part of the offseason, so this is not far to come.
I have to say, he looked very fit, much more so than I would expect from a player in early December. And he, like nearly all free agents, is looking for a job for 2009.

December 8, 2008

Cashman talks

Lots to talk about from the meeting with Brian Cashman:

First, this strong quote on negotiations with CC Sabathia: "We're not being played. We're not being manipulated. We're not being used. I just think he's making an informed decision."
In other words, Cashman is convinced Sabathia has a genuine interest in perhaps joining the Yankees.
Cashman, Joe Girardi and Reggie Jackson met with Sabathia and Sabathia's agents for more than two hours Sunday afternoon at Sabathia's hotel, the Wynn Las Vegas. Cashman met again with Sabathia and his agents for about an hour today at the Wynn. Sabathia also met with the Red Sox and Brewers today, and perhaps more, and is believed to have left Las Vegas.
Interestingly, Cashman said he had never spoken to Sabathia before last night. Cashman called it an informative meeting, for Sabathia in particular.

Cashman said the Yankees aren't waiting on other moves for Sabathia to make up his mind. Indeed, one team official told me today that the Yankees could afford to sign Sabathia, Mark Teixeira AND another starting pitcher if that were the direction they chose to go. Right now they are trying to sign three starting pitchers, though.
Someone involved in negotiations told me the Yankees "are very much in it" for A.J. Burnett.

Cashman and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti both dashed the idea that Robinson Cano could get traded to the Dodgers.

And in brief:
*Cashman met with Chien-Ming Wang's agent, Alan Nero, today.
*Jorge Posada began the next stage of his rehab from shoulder surgery today in Tampa. Cashman expects Posada to be ready to go before Opening Day.
*Bobby Meacham, who was fired as the third base coach after the season, is in Vegas trying to get a new job. He said Derek Jeter was the only player to call him after he was let go, and that Jeter thanked him for everything. You might not have liked Meacham as a coach, but he's a really, really nice guy. Hopefully he finds something good for him and his family.
*A lot of players are in Vegas for the winter meetings, which is highly unusual. Players I've heard are here include Francisco Rodriguez (saw him twice), CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Milton Bradley, Frank Thomas and Brian Fuentes.

Thoughts from Colletti, Hendry

Here are some thoughts from Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Cubs GM Jim Hendry.

The Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs (and used to own Newsday), filed for bankruptcy protection today. Yet Hendry said he has not been hamstrung by financial difficulties in the last couple years, even as Trib tries to sell the Cubs.
Said Hendry: "We've spent a lot of money the past few years. ... We've done nothing but move forward."
The Cubs' top priority is a lefthanded hitter, he said. Wonder if Bobby Abreu might wind up being an option?

As for Colletti, he had a few interesting comments. I asked if he felt any more or less optimistic about chances of re-signing Manny Ramirez than he did at season's end. He said no. Ramirez is still of interest, but "We have to move on. We have to continue to do work." Colletti also said: "I just find it curious."
When asked what he finds curious, Colletti said: "We made an offer, never heard back. Made an arbitration offer, never heard back. ... Maybe we have to work on our communication methods."
As for Derek Lowe, another Dodgers free agent, he said: "I sense Derek doesn't want to be here. We're not spending much time trying to persuade him." Still, he was complimentary of Lowe, saying "he competed like crazy" and "his stuff wasn't overpowering but steady and consistent."
Second base is a spot the Dodgers may be looking to upgrade. Asked if the Yankees and Robinson Cano could be a fit, he said: "That's a possibility, but we haven't really talked."

Maddux retirement; Towers talks Peavy

Greg Maddux just held his retirement press conference, which was well-attended not just by reporters but also by people whose team he has played for over the years, such as Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.
Scott Boras was there, and we were all ready and waiting to talk to him, but he slipped off the stage the back way. I'm sure we'll catch him later.
Kevin Towers, the Padres GM talked about a possible trade of Jake Peavy. Talks have picked back up with the Cubs. Towers said: "I talked to (Hendry) casually. He knows where to find me." The Padres really want to shed Peavy's salary, which Towers said represents a quarter of their payroll.

We'll be meeting with Brian Cashman at 3 p.m. Vegas time. That's 6 p.m. New York time.

Yankees encouraged on Sabathia

The Yankees came out of their Sunday night meeting with coveted free agent pitcher CC Sabathia feeling “encouraged” about his interest in signing with the Yankees, a team official said this morning.
General manager Brian Cashman headed a Yankees contingent that included manager Joe Girardi and met with Sabathia and his agents Sunday night in Las Vegas. The meeting left the Yankees feeling better about their chances of signing Sabathia, as they now think he is not opposed to playing in New York. Sabathia was in Vegas for Saturday’s Oscar de la Hoya-Manny Pacquiao boxing match, while the Yankees are here for MLB’s winter meetings, which start today.
There is still no timetable on a Sabathia decision.

And I forgot to post this yesterday, but a big thanks to the guys from RiverAveBlues for keeping the blog going in my absence. Hope everybody enjoyed that.

Waiting for news

I did not see Brian Cashman or any other Yankees officials last night while wandering the lobby of the Bellaggio. Word was that he was meeting with CC Sabathia. We'll be covering the Bellaggio as best we can today in hopes of getting the latest on the pursuit of Sabathia and Co.
Mets GM Omar Minaya was meeting with Francisco Rodriguez's reps.

December 7, 2008

Back from vacation, ready to roll

Hello all, I am back after two weeks vacation time and waiting to board my (slightly delayed) flight to Las Vegas for the winter meetings. Since things have been so slow -- it doesn't seem like I've missed much action at all -- I expect this week to be a pleasant change for everyone looking for news. If nothing else, everybody is in one place, which is conducive to things getting done or at least moving along.

Perhaps we'll get lucky and actually see resolution of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe or Mark Teixeira. I said OR not all of the above. But maybe at least one of those guys will sign.

All right time to board my flight. Back at you from Vegas.

December 3, 2008

How long is too long to wait for CC?

By Michael Axisa

It's been 19 days since the Yanks slapped a six-year, $140 million-contract offer down in front of CC Sabathia and his agent Greg Genske, but they haven't gotten so much as a counteroffer in return. While everybody but Sabathia has said he prefers the west coast and National League, no teams fitting that description have expressed interest in the burly lefthander now that the Angels' GM has debunked their reported interest. Nearly three weeks later, Sabathia is still looking at the same two offers; the Yanks' offer, and the Brewers' original $100M offer.

The Hot Stove League has been slow to develop this year, but the action has picked up recently in the wake of the arbitration deadline. After acquiring ex-Yank Javy Vazquez yesterday, the Braves have moved onto free agent righty A.J. Burnett today, reportedly preparing to offer a guaranteed five-year deal worth $15-16M per year. It's starting to reach the point that the Yanks can begin to apply some pressure to Sabathia's camp for a response.

None of the alternatives to Sabathia are as appealing as the Baseball America's Major League Player of the Year. Padres' GM Kevin Towers appears to be backed into a corner now that the Braves have moved on from acquiring Jake Peavy, and now may get stuck accepting a lesser package for arguably the most dominant starting pitcher in franchise history (similar to what happened with Bill Smith and Johan Santana last year), but there isn't any indication that Peavy will approve a trade
to the Bombers. Derek Lowe is also available, but Scott Boras isn't known for swift negotiations. Ben Sheets is hurt, Oliver Perez is extremely unappealing to an AL Team because of his astronomical walk total, and Jon Garland is nothing more than a innings eating Sidney Ponson (the difference between the two pitchers last year was one extra run every 64 IP). The Yanks don't want to get caught waiting around for Sabathia to make up his mind and have the rest of the quality pitching market pass them by.

With a need to acquire three starters (one of whom they hope will be a discounted Andy Pettitte) and the Winter Meetings set to begin in five days, the Yanks aren't in a position to wait around for Sabathia to dictate their offseason moves. Even if they just got an idea of which way CC was leaning, they could begin to move forward with the rest of their offseason plans. I'm not asking for Sabathia to sign today, just some dialogue would be nice.

Michael Axisa writes for River Ave. Blues and can be reached here.

December 2, 2008

Plenty of reasons not to offer arbitration

By Joe Pawlikowski

During the latter portion of yesterday afternoon, I found myself engaged in the comments on my own blog regarding the Yanks decision to not offer arbitration to Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, or Ivan Rodriguez. The immediate, and predictable, reaction from the fans was that this move made little sense. Why forego the draft picks that we surely would have received when Abreu signs elsewhere? Why let Andy go for free? Why not try to get at least a little return from the Pudge deal?

On one level, these questions make sense. There had been an assumption around the Yankees fan base, and even in the media, that the Yankees would offer Bobby Abreu arbitration, thus securing a guaranteed first-round pick and a supplemental round pick. What this also assumed, though, was that Abreu would decline arbitration. Over the past few weeks, though, what was once a sure thing (Bobby receiving a multi-year offer elsewhere) has become less so.

Blame it on the economy. Blame it on teams not wanting a player in his decline who played arguably the worst right field in baseball. Any way you slice it, it's clear that there is little interest in Bobby Abreu. Four other corner outfielders on the market seem far more attractive
to teams in need: Manny Ramirez, Raul Ibanez, Pat Burrell, and Adam Dunn.

In other words, think of how many rumors you've heard this winter surrounding Abreu. The Cubs and Mets were said to be interested early, but that cooled off quickly. Both teams, it seems, prefer Ibanez, whose name has come up frequently in the Hot Stove rumors. Dunn, Abreu, and Burrell? Not so much.

Bearing this in mind, the primary reason for the team declining to offer Abreu arbitration is clear: They were afraid he'd accept. Brian Cashman explained this by saying the team wanted to control costs and be certain of their payroll and roster heading into 2009. If Abreu accepted arbitration, he'd be considered a signed player, meaning the Yankees would have to clear a 40-man roster spot for him. Further, they wouldn't know much about his 2009 salary, except that it would be at least $16 million.

Something tells me that this is $16 million they'd prefer to spend elsewhere. This isn't fact of course; I'm simply reading between the lines. By offering arbitration to Abreu, and to Pettitte for that matter, the Yankees would essentially be committing at least $32 million to two players in 2009. With so much money already tied up in their regulars -- A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Matsui, and Damon already add up to $106 million against the 2009 payroll -- they don't want to add another two players at $32 million. That could hamper the rest of their off-season plans, which revolve around CC Sabathia and what will probably amount to near $24 million per year if he's signed.

The $16 million figure certainly plays into the Pettitte situation. Many fans assume the team offered the lefty $12 million for 2009, but Joel Sherman claims that it was only $10 million. This makes sense; it's actually similar to the paycut Mike Mussina took after the 2006 season ($17 million to $11 million). Although he was guaranteed two years, it doesn't appear Pettitte, or the Yankees for that matter, are interested in such an arrangement. The Yanks want him for $10 million, and didn't want to end up going to arbitration with him over the extra $6 million. There is little doubt Andy would have accepted an offer.

Yes, the Yankees potentially lost out on a few draft picks. However, they might not have had those picks even if they had offered arbitration. If both Andy and Abreu accepted -- once again, both strong possibilities -- they would have lost payroll flexibility and still have missed out on the draft picks. It came down to risk vs. reward, and the potential reward, the draft picks, weren't worth the burden the team would face if both accepted.

With both players for the time being cleared from the forecasted payroll, the Yanks have more flexibility to deal with their top free agent targets. That $32 million will cover all of CC Sabathia's 2009 salary and then some. They could go for Teixeira, though unlikely if CC lands in pinstripes, or even Adam Dunn, who was not offered arbitration by the Diamondbacks and thus would not cost the Yankees draft picks.

It's all about the big picture. We might argue about it now, but that's because we haven't had anything to argue about in a week. As the off-season unfolds, I'm confident that this decision will reveal itself as the right one.

Joe Pawlikowski writes for River Ave. Blues and can be reached here.

December 1, 2008

No arbitration for Pettitte and Abreu

The Yankees declined to offer arbitration to Andy Pettitte and Bobby Abreu. Ken Davidoff has more on this.

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