Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Letting Andy Walk

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Andy Pettitte is considering following Joe Torre and Don Mattingly to Los Angeles to pitch for the Dodgers if a deal with the Yankees cannot be worked out.

So, what are the pros and cons of letting Andy walk to Los Angeles?


The first pro would be a first round draft pick:

Update (7:15pm): Before anyone asks, Pettitte is a Type-A free agent, so if he did head to SoCal the Yanks would get the Dodgers first round pick (#17 overall, the second best pick they could possibly get) and a sandwich rounder.

That comes from River Ave. Blues. While a draft pick would likely not have an impact on the team for a few years, a draft pick that high is a luxury the Yankees usually don't have. Take into consideration that the Yankees will most likely get picks from Bobby Abreu and Ivan Rodriguez, not to mention compensation picks for not signing Gerritt Cole and Scott Bittle. Of course, the Yankees could also give away draft picks if they sign CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Ben Sheets, or Derek Lowe, but getting a first rounder and a sandwich pick for Pettitte would not be bad at all.

The next pro is the fact that the Yankees just may not need Andy. As harsh as that may sound, if the Yankees sign CC Sabathia and one of Ben Sheets (yes please), AJ Burnett (I wouldn't mind it one bit), or Derek Lowe (no thanks), Andy Pettitte is probably not necessary. Let's say that happens, the rotation would probably shake out as:

CC Sabathia
Chien-Ming Wang
Ben Sheets/AJ Burnett/Derek Lowe
Phil Hughes
Joba Chamberlain/other guys to keep his innings down (Aceves, Coke? Kennedy, etc)

Pettitte would not be necessary in that rotation. It would be more than fine without him.

The last pro is the fact that Pettitte is probably in decline. His second half last year was, well, bad. Very bad. Is that a sign of things to come? It could be, and all emotion tied to Andy Pettitte (he signed a business card at my mom's old store for me once and he and I share the same birthday), I really think Andy's best days--and even average days at that--are over.

Andy Pettitte could very well hurt the Yankees next year.


Of course, there's a tails for every heads....The cons of letting Andy Pettitte go are:

1. You know what you're getting out of Andy. It may not be great anymore, but you know he'll probably give you 180-200 of just about league average (or slightly better or worse) pitching. There have only been four seasons in which Andy has pitched less than 200 innings. The way the Yankees rotation could shape up--with youngsters Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and their "restrictions"--they'll need someone who can eat innings. Pettitte is perfect for that.

2. A "worst-case-scenario" could occur in which all the free-agent dominoes fall away from the Yankees. In that case, the Yankees would need Pettitte. But of course, Andy could shock everyone and jump the gun and sign with the Dodgers. If that happens, fine, the Yankees could look elsewhere. But, what if the other guys choose other options than the Bronx, too? The Yankees rotation could look like this:
Chien-Ming Wang
Phil Hughes
Joba Chamberlain

Those question marks could be anyone. Phil Coke, Alfredo Aceves, Ian Kennedy, Kei Igawa....That is not good, no matter what the offense may do. Impossible as it may seem, the offense would probably have to score at least 900 runs to keep that pitching staff afloat.

So, what do to with Mr. Pettitte? I don't really have an answer, and I don't think Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office will until the first few free agent signings occur. What CC Sabathia decides will determine where the Yankees go in terms of pitchers and hitters, and I think Andy Pettitte is not in top priority for the Yankees, which I see as something like this:
1. Sabathia
2. Tex
3. Burnett/Sheets/Lowe
4. Centerfield
5. Andy Pettitte

What if...

The Yankees don't get anyone they want in terms of pitching via free agency? What if CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe, and Ben Sheets all sign somewhere else that isn't the Bronx? What do the Yankees do then?


I think the knee-jerk reaction of everyone will be that they should trade for Jake Peavy. This may sound reasonable considering Peavy's elite status and his relatively reasonable contract. However, there are a few things that I don't like about this (aside from Peavy's no trade clause):

1. He could very well be traded by that time.
2. I don't want to have to give up Phil Hughes and more (read: Austin Jackson) to get him. I know the Padres have said a deal could get done without Hughes, but that's only because the market for Peavy is almost non-existent at this point. If the Yankees were in panic mode, I'm sure the Padres would ask for Hughes in return.
3. If the Yankees didn't trade for the superior Johan Santana last year, why trade for Peavy this year?

Bottom line, I hope the Yankees would stay away from Jake Peavy.


The next step would be to bolster the offense, which would make sense and I think should be done regardless of acquiring one of the aforementioned free agent pitchers.

I'm still very much in favor of adding Mark Teixiera, which could allow for some roster flexibility; that move could allow the Yankees to trade either Xavier Nady or Hideki Matsui.

If the former is moved, then Hideki Matsui could stay at DH and Nick Swisher could slide into right, with Tex playing first. I believe this scenario could be plausible because Nady probably has more upside than Matsui right now. He's younger and is coming off a year in which he posted career highs in every offensive category. He slowed down a little bit with the Yankees, but I think he could still be a semi-valuable trade commodity. Maybe I'm just dreaming, but I think Nady and perhaps a B-level prospect or two could fetch Mike Cameron from the Brewers to be a one year stop-gap in center field. That could require some great work via Cashman, though, like in the Swisher deal.

If the latter, Matsui, is moved, I think a few things could happen.

a) Bobby Abreu could be brought back for a 1-2 year deal and would DH to keep his harmful defense on the bench.
b) Adam Dunn could be brought in to DH. His defense isn't as awful as people like to think it is, but I'd still prefer Nady out there.
c) Nady could move back to left and Swisher could play right, with Johnny Damon DH-ing.
d) Bring in Manny Ramirez to DH, Nady would stay in right, and Swisher would be the CF.

Of all these options, C is probably the most likely to happen if Matsui is traded. Option B is what I would want most, though. Inserting a 100 walk/40 HR guy (lefty, by the way) into the Yankees' offense would be a great shot in the arm. The market on Mr. Dunn also seems to be relatively quiet and I think the Yankees could ink him to a very reasonable deal.

I'd like option A, but as much as I love Big Bobby, I feel like he's in a decline. If that were to happen, it would have to be a short term deal, with no more than two guaranteed years.

Option D would be nice, too, since Manny is one of the best right-handed hitters ever. However, I don't think it's very likely. As good as Manny may be, and as much as I'd love to see him in pinstripes, I don't think the Yankees would give him the length in a contract he wanted.


Here, my friends, is the crux of the problem. If all of these guys fall through, who will be the pitchers for the Yankees come opening day? The prospect of this is made harder to swallow, given Mike Mussina's retirement (more on him at a later date). While I don't think he would've touched what he did in 2008, he'd probably still be serviceable in the rotation.

If those guys aren't going to be in Yankee unis come spring, then Andy Pettitte will surely be.

I think the innings restriction on Joba will still be in effect regardless of free agent moves, but I think w/o those guys, the Yankees will toss Phil Hughes back into the Major League fire. Chien Ming Wang will be around, too, so that's four guys. The Yankees could use Alfredo Aceves as a starter as well, which I would like, along with Phil Coke getting a spot start every so often and probably Ian Kennedy being tried out again (for probably the last time). So what would a "nightmare" rotation for the Yankees look like? Probably something like this:

Aceves/Coke/Kennedy/lots of guys.

Of course, there's always the possibility of signing another free-agent pitcher who isn't among the "Big Four." Who are some of those possibilities?

Oliver Perez is a possibility. He's young and has shown incredible flashes of brilliance (one of which was on my birthday in 2007. I was there, great game by Ollie) but has also shown more flashes of mediocrity. The Yankees would probably stay away from someone as wild and inconsistent and Ollie.

Brad Penny is another one the Yankees could go for. He's a good pitcher who the market has been essentially silent on. He's 31 like Burnett but also carries the "injury" tag like AJ. He's a long shot that could work out, but I think he would be avoided.

The Yankees could take a flier on Mark Prior but that is also unlikely.

It doesn't seem like there are any FA pitchers out there the Yankees would sign if they missed out on the "Big Four." If that happens, I see the Yankees devoting their money to offense and attempting to slug their way to a playoff berth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A (Tenative) Lineup for 2009

Hey, everybody. It's been a while since I posted something, so here goes.

The Replacement Level Yankee Weblog recently ran a post about what the Yankees would look like if the season started today. This means the only move made would be Nick Swisher's acquisition. I don't think that this will be the only move the Yankees make, but if it were, here is how I would arrange the lineup if I were G.I. Joe.

1. Johnny Damon, LF--I guess this one's a no-brainer. Damon's been the leadoff hitter for years now and has done fine, no need to rock the boat. However, Derek Jeter would be a fine leadoff hitter as well, IMO.

2. Derek Jeter, SS--Just like Damon, this is another no brainer. Jeter's always been the two hitter so no real reason to move him. Hopefully, though, he has a bit of a rebound year, especially in terms of power. He could also bat leadoff and Damon could bat second. Either order of the two would be fine.

3. Nick Swisher, 1B--Swisher, like Bobby Abreu but better, has a great batting eye and some pop as well. With him in the three hole, that'd be three guys in a row with good batting eyes to get on base for A-Rod. Swisher has a great combination of pop and patience that a three hitter needs.

4. Alex Rodgriguez, 3B--Does this really need an explanation?

5. Jorge Posada, C--Posada's bat was probably the biggest offensive loss for the Yankees in 2008. Despite his crazy-good 2007, I think we all undervalued how much Posada added to the offense and his presence should help the Yankees offense. I like him for the five hole to bring in A-Rod and whatever he leaves on the bases. Hideki Matsui or Robinson Cano could also be candidates for the five spot. I have no real argument against Matsui, I just prefer Posada there. As for Cano, I think his patience isn't developed enough to bat this high in the order. He makes good contact (had a great LD% this year) and has some pop, but I still want his not-so-high OBP lower in the order.

6. Hideki Matsui, DH--He's a good fit for the six spot. Decent average, decent OBP, decent power. If There's a right handed pitcher, it's two lefties back to back. If it's a left handed pitcher, there's still a RH/LH balance between the five/six spots.

7. Xavier Nady, RF--I really do think last year's hot start--the first half, and his first week with the Yankees--was an incredible fluke. I don't think he's gonna suck this year, but he definitely won't be great. The seven spot seems right for him, plus, it keeps a left/right balance that I like to have. Cano could also bat here if Posada and Matsui are flipped, with Nady taking the eight spot.

8. Robinson Cano, 2B--I think this spot, or the seven spot, fits Cano best until he gets some patience. He was a victim of bad luck last year, but his lack of patience still puts him in a lower spot in the order.

9. Brett Gardner, CF--While this has the potential to put three left handers in a row, there's really no where else to bat Gardner. He showed that he was semi-overmatched at the ML level to begin with--despite a great showing during his second cup of coffee--but still showed a decent eye. A good OBP here at the bottom of the order (I see anywhere from .340-.360 for Gardner) could put some runners on base for the top of the order.

So, in review:
1. Damon LF
2. Jeter SS
3. Swisher 1B
4. Rodriguez 3B
5. Posada C
6. Matsui DH
7. Nady RF
8. Cano 2B
9. Gardner CF

Of course, this can, and probably will, change. But, for now, just bear with me, k?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nick Swisher!

Well the Yankees made their first big move of the offseason (unless we want to count Marte's deal as "big," but more on that later) in trading Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez for Nick Swisher and minor league pitcher Kanekoa Texeira.

I, for one, am very excited for this move. The prospects of getting Swisher had been floating around for the last few weeks, but now it has come to fruition.

Now, I understand Swisher only hit .219 last year, but he had a .333 on base percentage. While standing alone a .333 OBP is bad, considering it was over 100 points higher than his batting average, it's pretty good. Swisher also led the league in pitches per plate appearance and since 2006, he is ninth in walks behind some great names, such as Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and David Ortiz among others.

So, in Swisher, the Yankees get a guy who can play a few different positions who can also work the count and get on base, which is exactly what the Yankees need.

My only concern is what this does for the Yankees and the other Tex. This eliminates a lot of leverage Scott Boras and his client may've had, but it could also eliminate their desire to sign with the Yankees.

I'd obviously love to get Tex, but getting Swisher is a cheaper alternative. He gets on base at a great rate and definitely has some pop, with over 20 homers each full season he's had in the majors, and a .451 slugging percentage for his career.

More importantly, I think this move could be geared toward the future. Both aging outfielders Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui will come off the books next year, as will Xavier Nady. Swisher could be set up as a key piece in the outfield in 2010 and after along with (hopefully) Austin Jackson, and someone else in left field. I don't see Xavier Nady being with the team after his contract is up.

Who could that other guy be? Perhaps Matt Holliday, who will essentially have an American League try out this year and the Yankees will get to think long and hard about signing him (he'll probably be more expensive than Tex if he has a good year).

I am very excited about getting Nick Swisher and wish to welcome him to the New York Yankees. I hope you are all as excited as I am.


Monday, November 3, 2008

All MLB Team

Here is my ALL MLB TEAM (with a backup for each position)

C--Joe Mauer, MIN, Brian McCann, ATL
1B--Albert Pujols, StL; Kevin Youkilis, BOS
2B--Dustin Pedroia, BOS; Chase Utley, PHI
3B--Alex Rodriguez, NYY; David Wright, NYM
SS--Hanley Ramirez, FLA; Jose Reyes, NYM
OF--Carlos Quinten, CWS; Josh Hamilton, TEX
OF--Manny Ramirez, BOS/LAD; Ryan Ludwick, StL
OF--Matt Holliday, COL; Carlos Lee, HOU

SP--Tim Lincecum, SFG
SP--Johan Santana, NYM
SP--Cole Hamels, PHI
SP--Roy Halladay, TOR
SP--Cliff Lee, CLE
CP--Mariano Rivera, NYY; Brad Lidge, PHI