Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hot Topic: Things the New York Yankees Should Not Do This Off-Season...

The New York Daily News' sports cover today involved the New York Yankees and two pitchers: Jake Peavy and Carl Pavano.

The early word is that Brian Cashman is interested in cutting a deal to bring Pavano back around for another couple of years. That seemed like a really stupid idea, until I realized the following:

a) Pavano would probably only be re-signed to a bargain basement type of deal.
b) There's no way Cashman's dumb enough to actually rely on the guy. He'd sit on his ass in AAA and wait for a call as a spot starter.

So I guess, why the hell not, right? Sure, bring Carl back for another year!! But that got me thinking... what kind of things should the Yankees avoid doing at all costs? So I'm going to make a list.

1) Do not sign A.J. Burnett.

He's going to opt out. He's going to be looking for $16-18 Million per, for about 4 or 5 years. And in his 10 year career, he's made 30+ starts a grand total of twice. People are turned on by Burnett's 18 wins in 2008... but those people seem to be overlooking a couple of key numbers. Burnett's 105 ERA+ indicates that he was really only slightly better than league average... and his 1.342 WHIP is downright scary. To put this lightly, 18 wins from Burnett last year was fluky and will not be repeated any time soon. Just to be clear, we all realize that Burnett walked 86 guys last year, right? That's Oliver Perez/Barry Zito-type wildness. If that number jumps any higher, Burnett will earn the right to use the surname "Zambrano."

Still, the Yankees might go there, especially because of their long-standing tendency for going after guys who own them. In 11 career starts against the Yankees, Burnett's thrown 77 innings of 2.43 ERA baseball. To you and I, this is fluky, small sample size-type stuff that doesn't mean very much.

To a couple of kids who were raised by George Steinbrenner, I fear it could mean much more. I guess if they grab Burnett and re-sign Pavano, those dudes can chill together on the DL.

2) Do not re-sign Bobby Abreu.

What?! Doesn't that go against everything Mister Six usually digs? Guys with high OBPs? Patient hitters who take a ton of pitches? Busty Japanese girls dressed up as vampire schoolgirls for Halloween (no, I couldn't find a picture, but this will do)?

Yes, it does go against my usual beliefs, but here's why. Abreu is declining. He was solid last year, but not amazing. His BB have dropped a couple of years in a row. He's not getting any better. And there's really no room for him in my plans. I'd much rather see Nady in RF, and either Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn in Left Field.

Manny's a freak of nature, pure and simple. I went into this yesterday.

And the case for Adam Dunn seems to be a series of sixes. He's six years younger than Abreu. He's drawn 100+ walks for 6 straight years. And he's hit 40+ homers and driven in 100+ runs in 6 straight years. Sure, Adam Dunn strikes out a lot... but because he strikes out a lot, he's hit into 14 double plays in the last 2 years combined. Abreu rolled in 14 last year alone, and 25 for the last 2 years. So in a twisted sort of way, it evens out.

3) Don't get any bright ideas about guys like Casey Blake.

Brian Cashman's usually good about this sort of thing. He doesn't usually fall into the "grit/hustle/heart" trap that lures lesser GMs to sign guys like David Eckstein, Eric Byrnes and Darren Erstad to inflated contracts despite statistical evidence that states that they're not very good at baseball, and probably won't stay healthy. Cashman's not usually the kind of guy who's out there looking to sign the next Scott Brosius.

Scottie, if you happen to browse over this, I'm not attacking you. Well... now that I look at the numbers, I guess I'm kinda going to attack you. After 1998, you weren't very good. And speaking of 1998... how did you get caught stealing 8 times in 19 attempts? That's terrible!! What idiot kept giving you the green light? You were a lot of things... but fleet of foot, you were not. Maybe somebody'll bring that up during Joe Torre's Bestest Manager in the World Induction Ceremony. "Hung Brosius out to dry 8 times in 1998. Pioneered Ozzie Guillen's Smartball Technique, where a team scores runs by getting slow-footed runners caught stealing."

Back to Casey Blake. How do I put this lightly? Casey Blake sucks at baseball. He didn't make it as a full-time guy until he was 29. Over a full season, he's going to hit about 20 homers, he's going to walk about 11 times, strike out about 120 times, and get on base about 10% less than Mark Teixeira. People are talking about Blake as a first baseman. He's played 105 out of 950 career games there. Adam Dunn has seen more games at first base than Casey Blake... and hits twice as many homers. And gets on base more. And has a cool nickname. Big Donkey. The Big Donkey vs. The Big Father, David Ortiz (sorry, I don't speak Spanish.)

4) Don't sign Derek Lowe.

I talked about this already. So I'll try to summarize.
Lowe is 35.
He pitches in the worst hitting division in baseball.
He's coming off the second-best season of his career.
And his best year since he won 21 in Boston in 2002.
And he's 35.
And pitches in the NL West.
Where instead of bats, people swing replica Dustin Diamond sex-toys.

5) Don't deal Robinson Cano or Phil Hughes.

Hughes was the top-rated pitching prospect in the country. For a while. That kind of potential doesn't fizzle out because of some minor, naggy-type injuries. Johan Santana didn't start dominating until he was 25. Josh Beckett dealt with naggy-type injuries until about the same time. Sabathia really showed what he was about at 26.

Phil Hughes is going to be 23. It's too early to give up on him. Period.

Robinson Cano is 25. He's a career .303/.335/.468 hitter. He has developing power. He struggled last year, which means one of two things. Either... he's a fluke who will never produce again.... or he had a bad year after signing a big contract extension. We should examine that over the next year, and make a determination regarding which it is.

My guess is, Cano bounces back, bats .300/.350/.500 with 40+ doubles, 20+ homers, and 90+ RBIs. The question is... would you rather him do that in New York or San Diego?

If the Padres really want to deal Jake Peavy, offer them an all-you-can-eat-buffet of second-tier prospects. Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Alan Horne, Darrel Rasner, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Humberto Sanchez, anybody named Duncan, Juan Miranda... Ian Kennedy?

No Hughes. No Cano. No Jesus Montero. No Chamberlain. And no Austin Jackson.

Peavy's coming from the NL West (See: Derek Lowe), so in the AL East, there's a pretty good chance that his ERA's going to bump up by about a run and a half... and if it does, do we really want to watch Phil Hughes winning 20 games a year pitching in the AAAA NL West?

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