Monday, December 20, 2010

Brian Cashman: Gun Shy? Maybe Not

     Brian Cashman has been preaching patience since losing out on prized free agent, Cliff Lee.  He has said that if an opportunity comes up for a major trade, he will do what is best for the team.  However, if the details are not right, he has enough faith in the team we  have that he will not rush any major decisions.

    Since stating this, the Yankees have missed out on another major acquisition.  The Royals looked to deal Zack Greinke for Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez.  KC was possibly looking for a third prospect as well. In years passed, that is a deal the Yankees make in a heartbeat.  The organization has gone from looking at prospects as nothing but trading chips to possibly overvaluing the worth of such prospects.  Essentially, one extreme to the next.  The team firmly states that they do not believe Greinke is right for New York and feel as though they are avoiding another Carl Pavano situation.  The team has also inquired about Seattle ace Felix Hernandez but in a phone interview today, Cashman stated "that aint happening."

     Cashman also said that  there is a good possibility they do not look to acquire any more pitchers.  He says that he will look to fill the rotation from with in the organization.  If Pettitte comes back he makes the rotation look a lot better but Cashman has stated that he will proceed as Pettitte wishes, as if he is retired.  Pettitte has told the Yankees not to rely on him and to act as if he is not coming back.

     So with all that said and the first 3 starters already selected.  Lets look at our pitching options from within.

     The guy who is leading the wave of young pitchers is Ivan Nova.  Nova is 22 years old and has been showing a lot of potential.  He's not yet quite the strikeout pitcher that he can be, however, he does have a reliable fastball that can reach 94MPH with good movement that he uses to induce a lot of ground ball outs.  His changeup is already above average and is said to have even more potential.  His curve ball also hints at dominance, although it too could use some maturing.  His arsenal of pitches is certainly impressive enough to be at least a 3 man in the rotation.  However, he would need to up his strike outs and not allow so many base runners to be considered a front line starter.  Luckily, Nova would be ask to be a 4 man in the rotation and with the help of new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, he can possibly mature into the reliable starter the Yankees need.  It's going to be enjoyable to see what this kid can do when given the opportunity of a lifetime.

    Next we have David Phelps.  Here is a kid that can keep a team off balance.  Said to be a finesse pitcher, Phelps has a mid-90's sinking 2-seam fastball with late movement that often gets him ahead in the count.  He has a solid feel for his changeup and is said to understand it and know exactly when to use it.  His put away pitch has been his tailing slider.  Since putting more faith into his slider and becoming more aggressive, he has upped his strikeouts per 9 innings to 7.51.  A career high for this 24 year old.  In the 2010 season, Phelps went 10-2, with a 2.50 ERA.  He had 141 strikeouts in 158.2 innings pitched.  He is said to have more strikeout potential but tends to pitch to contact to limit his pitch counts.  Phelps is not afraid to attack a hitter and will use any of his pitches early in the count to get him ahead.  He is very good at keeping a line-up guessing partly because of his deceptive delivery that is said to make his fastball look like it's jumping on a hitter.  Phelps is another name to watch once camp begins because it is not out of the realm of possibilities that we see this kid on the mound in the Bronx come April.

     Last, but certainly not least, is Manuel Banuelos.  This kid is very exciting due to the fact that he is just 19 years old.   Banuelos is all potential.  He had a down season last season due to an appendectomy. However he has turned many heads in the Arizona Fall League this year.  His fastball sits in the low 90's but he has the ability to get it up to 96.  Some scouts feel that his average speed will increase in some time.  His command is nothing short of spectacular.  He likes to throw inside and he does it well.  With the ability to hit his spots with all three of his above average pitches, he is definitely considered a control artist.  His changeup is said to average in the mid 70's and is matured beyond his years.  His curveball also averages in the mid 70's and has a tremendous break to it.  It's also said that he can consistently throw his curve at 2 or 3 different speeds to keep hitters off balance.  This kid is someone to get excited about.  He may not be major league ready quite yet, but spring can bring anew, and Banuelos can bring his A game.

Camp is just around the corner, and a lot of youngsters have a lot to prove.  Don't count the Yankees out just yet.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It May Be Time To Talk Greinke

As options seem to be wearing thin for decent help on the starting pitching front.  And with recent news of Zack Greinke's mission to get out of Kansas City.  It may be time for the Yankees to start seriously start considering the 2009 Cy Young.  

There have been questions to whether or not Greinke can pitch in New York, or for any big market team.  He has admitted to having struggled with Social Anxiety Disorder.  He even has a no-trade clause in his contract making him ineligible to be traded to teams such as the Yankees or Red Sox.  However, he can choose to waive that clause and be traded to a contending team.

It's time to start looking for answers to the big question.  What will it take for Greinke to succeed in the Big Apple?  It seems necessary to explore the options in this scenario.  No one can argue, Greinke's is the arm the Yankees need to combat the monstrous off-season the Red Sox have had.  Even if it takes hiring his own personal counselor.  It would be a small price to pay for landing a big arm.

There is nothing wrong with the team the Yankees are able to field at the moment.  They are a very good team.  But the fact is, the Red Sox have made if very difficult to make the playoffs with simply a good team.  The Yanks' rivals have made their line-up seemingly unstoppable, at least on paper.  So the only way to combat that is by landing GREAT pitching, not just good pitching.  The Yankees took a step in the right direction in acquiring the durable reliever, Pedro Feliciano.  He adds excellent depth to the bullpen.  However, they still lack a set up man and additional starters.

Greinke seems to be the Yanks best shot. Lets see what it takes to get the deal done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time For Yanks To Get Creative

     Not much is certain about the Yankee's starting rotation beyond C.C. Sabathia.  Phil Hughes is also a solid starter but no one is sure if he can mirror his success from last season.  A.J. Burnett is coming off of a terrible year and will have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of his manager.  There are no guarentees of who will even be the 4 or 5 starters.

If the season started today, the rotation would look like this.  C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre.  Thank God the season does not start today.  There is still plenty of time to make some moves to bolster the rotation and the bullpen.  There are many options out there for the Yanks but it is important to not rush into anything and be patient.

Lets go over a few ideas that have been confirmed and also spitball some ideas that haven't.  My brother, Anthony, mentioned Josh Johnson as a possible addition to the rotation.  There is a lot of promise in this young righty.  He hasn't gotten much recognition for what he has done in the last 3 seasons due to the fact that the Marlins are a struggling team.  He went 11-6 last year with a 2.30 ERA. The year before that he was an impressive 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA.  Trading young talent for him would not be so bad given his age of only 26.  He is just coming into his prime and could do great things for the Yankees.

There were rumblings of the Yankees looking into Carlos Zambrano as a possible solution to their starter woes.  However, in the most recent report, the Yanks are said to not be that desperate yet.  Zambrano has a lot of issues that the Yankees don't feel they need to take on just to gain a starter.

Fausto Carmona has been mentioned as a possible addition to the rotation.  He's coming off of a sub .500 year with a 13-14 record and a 3.77 ERA.  This is an improvement from his previous 2 seasons. If he continues to show improvement he could make a good fit for a 5 man in the rotation.  And seeing as how his past few seasons haven't been spectacular, he should come relatively cheap.

Things will be a lot easier on the Yankees if they receive good news out of Deer Park, Texas.  Andy Pettitte has been on the fence about returning for another season in pinstripes.  Word is that the Yankees should have an answer on Pettitte's status in a few days.  It seems his family is supporting him if he decides to come back for another year, but he does not want to deal with a low ball offer from the Yankees and insists they pay him fair.  There was a rumor that he told a friend, "If the Yankees get Lee, I'll come back.  If they don't, I'll stay home."  Seldom are things every really that cut and dry.

I've just read that the Yankees have requested the medical records for Freddy Garcia.  This was a spitball idea of mine but now it seems to be an option being pursued.  Garcia is not nearly as young as Johnson but he can definitely fit nicely in the rotation.  He's Just over the league average in ERA but also in WHIP.  He seems like he could be the type of guy the Yankees are looking for if the price is right.

Sidenote: With today's transactions, the Red Sox now have a higher payroll than the Yankees.  However, it is only a matter of time before the Yankees make a noticeable move.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cash Can't Help Cashman

     What Happens when the Yankee checkbook fails to cash a check?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Cliff Lee turned down the Yankees' offer by the Phillies.
Even living under a rock is no excuse given Lee's hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.  So what is next for the Empire State Superpower?  Because of this years shallow pool of big name free agents paired with Lee's slow decision-making process, the Yankees are left unable to write a big check to solve their off-season problems.

The Yankees pride themselves on keeping everyone very aware of what they are capable of.  No lead is ever safe when dealing with the New York Yankees.  However, it seems people easily forget why Brian Cashman holds the position he does.  Cashman is a very good general manager who is blessed with having a checkbook with the interlocking NY.

Cashman has already made several moves to bolster the team.  It seems that the new objective is to make a whole bunch of minor changes rather than making one big move.  The Yankees are now looking at the open market in a whole new way.  They have all the resources in the world and they will use them.  Expect Cashman to stay low key and retool quietly.  The goal seems to be to have as many options as possible by the time the season starts.

A trade for a big name pitcher is not out of the question considering the wealth of young talent the team has to propose.  However, the team will most likely take their time in deciding on shipping off the youth of the organization.

Word is expected to come from Andy Pettitte in the next few days on whether he will return for a 14th season in pinstripes.  The team is optimistic but being cautious and delicate with the situation.

If Pettitte signs with the team, that puts them in much better shape.  There are others the Yankees are interested in.  Carlos Zambrano is being talked about because of the potential he has to have a rebound season and his comfort level with former Cubs pitching coach and new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschilds.  Also expect the Yankees to add another outfielder/righty bat.

Do not expect the Yankees to let the off-season pass them by.  Under no circumstances is the AL East out of the reach of New York.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Done Deal

The Phillies have effectively created the most superior pitching staff seen in recent years.  With their top four starters being Doc Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels; Philadelphia will most likely be able to get away with letting a fan pitch every 5 days and still make the playoffs.  They have sealed up the fate of the NL East for the next 5 years as much as a team can in this sport.  It seems a new playoff format will be needed just to make things fair for the Mets and Braves.  

In the wake of the devastation, the Yankees and Rangers off season have restarted today.  The Yankees are staying calm and not dealing from weakness.  Both teams have very talented ball clubs and can still retool effectively.  The good news is, Lee is now in another league and can only affect both clubs if faced in the World Series.  

The Yankees are not slated to face the Phillies in inter-league play.  So it is safe to say that the Yankees will not have to even think about him again until late October

The Yankees made two small moves today.  The team agreed to sign Russell Martin to a major league contract and pitcher Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  Russell Martin will likely serve as the everyday catcher for the club as Jorge Posada transitions into his new role as DH.  The acquisition of Martin leaves 3 catchers competing for a backup catchers job.  Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero and Austin Romaine will compete for the remaining spot.  The abundance of catchers could mean the possibility of a package trade to acquire pitching or a fourth outfielder and bat.

The Yankee's are certainly not short on options.  It has been reported that as soon as Lee made his decision, the Yankees phone began to ring off the hook with trade proposals for pitching.  Brian Cashman expects that teams and agents will be jacking up prices sensing "blood in the water." However, the general manager says that the key will be "patience."

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Wait Is Over

Cliff Lee has reportedly agreed to a 5 year, $100 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The deal is worth $61 million less then Lee's top offer which was from the Yankees.

More to come on the fallout from the Lee deal.

Cliff Lee: And The Winner Is...

It looks like the Phillies have turned Baseball on its ear.  As of now, Jon Heyman( and Jack Curry(YES Network) are both reporting that the Phillies have been confirmed as the third mystery team and the possible winners of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.  It is believed that the Phillies' offer is significantly less than the Yankees but Lee is said to have loved his brief time in Philadelphia and likes the idea of going back.

The deal could be announced as early as tomorrow morning.  If the deal is made, it will give the Phillies the most lethal pitching staff in Baseball, hands down.  It will also leave the Yankees in a great deal of trouble considering the lack of options on the free agent market.  

If these reports are correct, this would be a fitting ending to bizarre "soap opera like" negotiation.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's On Andy Pettitte's Mind?

Andy Pettitte has spent his off season at his family home in Deer Park, Texas.  At the end of the last season, Pettitte stated that he felt that he may have played his last game in a professional uniform.  Over the passed couple of years, he has toyed with the idea of retirement but this year he seems to be leaning towards hanging it up more than past years.  

The problem is, losing Pettitte would be losing the greatest post season pitcher ever.  That would seriously hurt the Yankees especially if they do not win the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.  

Pettitte has insisted Brian Cashman do everything in his power to sign Lee.  Leading everyone to believe that Pettitte's plans are contingent on what Lee does.  The real question is, how will the Lee signing affect Pettitte's plans.

You can look at it two ways. It's possible that Andy Pettitte feels that with the acquisition of Lee, the Yankees have a good chance for the quest to the club's 28th Championship.  If that is the case, Pettitte may feel it worth his wild to return and win one more ring.

The other possibility is that Pettitte does not feel right about retiring if he knows it will drastically hurt the Yankees for next season.  If the Yankees do acquire Lee, the Yankees would be in a much better position allowing Pettitte the peace of mind to retire.  It is unclear which is the case, but either way, the Yankees should know more when Lee makes his decision tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cliff Hanger

What does it all mean?  Yesterday was a rather quiet day on the "Cliff Lee Front."  All current information points to the Rangers presenting Lee with a plethora of options regarding a contract.  Some are ever reporting an option that will guarantee Lee 6 years and an option for a 7th year.  However, it has been noted that the Yankees have exceeded the Rangers in the money aspect, and by more than a little.  Lee's largest option on the table is 7 years worth $161 million.  That offer is from the Yankees.  

If it were all about money for Lee, as some have insinuated, then he would be signed already.  This is a no-brainer for someone who is simply looking for a pay day.  Lee is taking a long amount of time deciding where he would like to pitch.  Some are even saying that the longer Lee takes to decide, the better chance Texas has at landing the ace.  The New York Times reports that Lee feels a pull towards pitching in Texas but will most likely take the large contract offered by the Yankees.

The pull seems to be the close proximity to Lee's home town of Little Rock, Arkansas, which is just a short 4 1/2 hour drive from the ball park.  However, Amber Sabathia (wife of Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia) has been doing her part in trying to get Lee and his family to sign to New York.  She has been telling Lee's wife, Kristen, that her house is waiting for her just down the street from the Sabathia home.  She is not joking either.

Hopefully more to report on this topic in coming hours. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Uproar Found

   Previously, The Long Fly Ball posed a question regarding the absence of an uproar over the recent spending the Boston Red Sox have been doing.  According to an early report from, we have found that uproar.  However, it is coming from a bit of an unusual place.  It seems to have taken some time for the cries to be heard because they had to yell loud enough to be heard across an ocean.

It seems, the monumental deal that has brought Carl Crawford to the Red Sox has upset a large amount of Soccer fans in England.  That's right, folks. Soccer fans in England.

Recently, the Red Sox organization purchased the Liverpool Football Club. A troubled but very storied English Soccer team.  There were some thoughts that the organization would not allow both teams the financial freedom to field winning teams.  But with this recent signing, it is clear which team will suffer.

From pubs to PCs, Liverpool fans in England are voicing their frustration using Twitter, Facebook or word of mouth.  Chris Whelan, a 49yr old fan, said: "It's all very well spending all that money on a shortstop or whatever but we haven't had a decent left-back for 12 years."

At least someone is making a little noise about this injustice.

The Final Day of Winter Meetings

Yesterday was officially the last day of the winter meetings.  We saw a high volume of collaborating being done between teams and owners.  Here are some of the final bits of information to come out of Disney yesterday.

The Rays are showing serious interest in acquiring Jason Giambi.  This would be patch work on a gun shot wound.  The Rays have lost a lot this off season and they are looking for a cheap bat to help fill the void that Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford are leaving.  It seems like a good idea for them but it will not come close to evening out.  The Rays may be in serious trouble for next season.

The Angels offered Carl Crawford a six year, $108 million deal.  There were early rumblings of the club being able to go way higher than that but, they had no way of knowing that the Red Sox were quietly working out a deal that would easily knock theirs off the table.  Crawford obviously jumped at the opportunity to go to Boston due to the large difference in contracts offered and the absence of a deal from the Yankees, who are still focused on adding Lee to their rotation.  I wonder if Crawford will like playing for a team with a fan base.

Now for the Yankees.  Brian Cashman has revealed that the team did sit down to dinner with Crawford even though they had no interest in signing the free agent outfielder.  Cashman implied it was simply a bluff to get the Sox to pay more for Crawford. He claimed to know exactly what Boston was up to and stated that he figured they would get Crawford.  It is unclear if this is the case or if he wanted to appear cool and calm in the wake of the bomb Boston just dropped.  Maybe it was a bluff, a bit of payback for the Sox trying to quietly steal away Mariano Rivera.

Speaking of Mo.  ESPN's Jayson Stark has listed the Yankees as one of the losers of this years winter meetings.  Apparently re-signing two of the teams most iconic players and being in the hunt for the most coveted free agent, just isn't good enough for the Yanks.  
Well, the off season is not over yet.  Cashman has said; "pitching, pitching, pitching."  That is what he plans on doing and surely that is what he will do.  The bench can also use a little work but its still a long way until February 14th (pitchers and catchers report to camp).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Year of the Free Agent

Maybe it's the year, but is seems that free agents are demanding way more attention than usual.  Back in July of this year, Lebron James became one of the most infamous names in Basketball.  Some say he should have stayed with his home team and continued his quest to bring a championship to Cleveland.  Others think that he disgraced the name of Basketball by taking the easy way out and choosing a team that can't possibly lose.  Still, one thing everyone seems to agree on is the fact that he made a mockery out of the free agent process.  His ESPN telecast; The Decision, drew in about 10 million viewers.  Never has such a spectacle been made out of one athlete.

Five months later and here we are again.  A different sport but the same circus.  Or is it?  Cliff Lee has drawn a serious amount of attention during this year's off season.  However, the case differs in the sense that Lee is not shamelessly drawing the attention.  His natural ability as one of the greatest pitchers to take the mound, has all of Major League Baseball vying for a shot to add this proven ace to their staff.

The Yankees have been considered the favorite along with the Rangers but it's really any ones race.  Anyone who can put up the "dollar signs" that is.  

The latest news is that the Yankees have several offers on the table for Lee to choose from.  A multi-million dollar buffet.  He can choose a five year option for $25 million a year, a six year for $24 million, or a seven year for $23 million.  The Rangers owner, Nolan Ryan, has asked agent Darek Braunecker what it will take to resign Lee.  The response was said to be that it did not work that way and that the Rangers would just have to "make their best offer." So Texas sent a contingent down to Little Rock to meet with Lee and his agent to up their initial five year offer.  They too have offered Lee several choices.  

Only time will tell how this one plays out.

Where Is The Uproar?

Over the years, the Yankees have been painted as "the Evil Empire."  Two years ago, when the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira, there was an uproar around the league.  Everyone gets so upset when the Yankees spend the money they have to better their team.  This is a franchise that is worth 1.8 billion dollars.  That begs the question, if any other team had it, would they spend it?

The answer is most certainly, unequivocally, undoubtedly, yes!  At the moment, the Red Sox are considered the favorite to acquire Russell Martin.  If they succeed, that would be the third major move so far for the team.  After acquiring Adrian Gonzolaz through trade and signing free agent Carl Crawford.  Now gunning for the best free agent catcher on the market, where is the uproar?  How come no one has an issue when another team spends absurd amounts of money?  I don't understand how it is any different.  The  Red Sox organization is the second wealthiest team in baseball, so how come they are not viewed as villains because they are tearing through the open market the way any team would if they had the funds?

Lets see what happens if the Yanks acquire Lee.  It will interesting who has what to say.  

The Lee Saga Continues

And the Saga continues.  The latest word on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes is that the Rangers are sending a contingent to Little Rock, Arkansas to meet with Lee and agent Darek Braunecker.  This will mark the team's third visit to the pitcher's home town.  It is unclear what this actually means.  It could mean that the Rangers are taking one last shot at getting Lee on their page or it could mean that Lee is leaning towards the Rangers and this is to work out a final deal.  

As of right now, it is known that the Yankees have a 7 year offer on the table but Rangers President, Nolan Ryan, refuses to give up so easily.  Before Braunecker departed from the winter meetings, Ryan asked him to give them a number.  He wants to know what it will take to resign Lee. Any details further than that are still unclear but I would be shocked if the world did not hear something soon.  It sure must be good to be Cliff Lee

Red Sox sign Carl Crawford to Record Deal

In a spectacular move to bolster their lineup, the Boston Red Sox stealthily worked out a deal with prized free agent outfielder: Carl Crawford.  Crawford has reportedly agreed to a deal that will pay him $142 million over 7 years.  This makes Crawford the highest paid outfielder in the history of Baseball.

Let's first look at what this does for the remaining free agent market.  The Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, originally said the Crawford deal would not affect the offer presented to Cliff Lee's agent; Derek Braunecker.  However, a short time later, the Yankees increased their formal offer of six years to include a seventh year.  This may bump Lee passed the mark of the C.C. Sabathia deal.  With Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford signing large seven year agreements, it is unlikely that Lee would settle for any less. 

The Angels had the rug pulled from under them with this deal being made.  They were viewed as the favorites to sign Crawford and now are left with very few options in the free agent pool.  Teams like the Yankees and Angels who were looking to add a big bat to the lineup, may have to result to trades to do so.  One thing is for sure. With the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Sox are doing everything in their power to retool and field a playoff ready team in '11.  They are also not finished with off season moves, as they are currently in a battle for catching veteran Russell Martin with the Yankees.  

As of right now, it's looking like the Red Sox are stealing the show in the winter meetings this year.  But one thing I've learned is whether you are talking about regular season, post season or off season, never count out the Yankees.