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Mar 212010

The headline says it all. On the heels of Twins closer Joe Nathan announcing he’s going to need Tommy John surgery, the Twins and Joe Mauer have agreed to a 8 year deal worth 184 mil. Here’s the story via MLBTR:

4:47pm: The Twins have reached agreement with Joe Mauer on an eight-year, $184MM extension.  The agreement was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) while the Twins disclosed the contract’s terms – including its full no-trade clause – via press release.  The contract will cover the soon-to-be 27-year-old from 2011 through the 2018 campaign.

Rosenthal also tweets that the deal, which averages out to $23MM per year, is the fourth largest in MLB history.  The pact is topped only by Alex Rodriguez‘s $275MM contract with the Yankees, Rodriguez’s $252MM contract with Texas, and Derek Jeter‘s $189MM deal.

Yankee fans who were planning on acquiring him to replace Jorge Posada will have to look elsewhere.

That’s what Jack Curry of the YES Network said about Andy Pettitte playing beyond this season on the coverage of today’s rained out preseason game. He said that Andy made it very clear he doesn’t plan on pitching past this season, saying that he accomplished everything he wanted to do last year in playing in the new ballpark and winning a World Series. This isn’t exactly unexpected, but it’s the first time a beat reporter has conveyed this in such definitive terms.

What would this mean? I’m not sure. For those who would like to see both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the 2011 Yankee rotation, this may or may not open up a rotation spot. With Cliff Lee almost certain to become a free agent, the Yanks could simply supplant Lee in Andy’s Lefty rotation spot with a substantial (but not unreasonable) salary bump. Andy will make 11.75 mil for the 2010 season. That assumes Lee would like to pitch here, which is something we don’t know yet. But Andy hasn’t even made this official yet, and so much can change over the course of this season. For now, we just have Curry’s report that the end is near for Andy.

Mar 212010

I read this yesterday and, to be honest, it sort of made me laugh.

Here’s manager Joe Girardi discussing Marcus Thames, via George King of the NY Post:

“He has had good at-bats. I don’t get caught up in the numbers. It’s a small sample.”

And yet, this spring, Girardi has basically said that Brett Gardner will have to prove his bat, and that the fifth starter will be decided upon a handful of exhibition games (“a small sample”). It is all laughable, really. For the most part, Girardi knows what he wants to do. He likes Brett Gardner and wants him as a starting outfielder, but he’ll push him to play hard this spring just to make it clear that he has to fight for his spot given his weak bat. He also likes Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes as his fifth starter and is simply manufacturing a “competition” in order to appear evenhanded in his decision and to encourage those involved to work hard for an incentive that is not really obtainable.

This spring narrative is just noise. Girardi has a plan and it will be implemented, regardless of the spring stats.

Photo by the AP

John Sickels recently spoke to Mark Newman, and Newman said some things about the organizational philosophy that were encouraging:

When I look at it from the perspective of player development and scouting, our mandate to win yearly in the majors gives us two main challenges: our draft slot and the fact that we often trade prospects. Where we pick in the draft is always an issue, at least if we’re doing our job by winning at the major league level. We almost always have lower picks in the draft, and that makes it harder to get players with high upsides in the draft process, especially for the hitters. At times we need to trade prospects to build a major league roster that can achieve our goals, the (Javier) Vazquez and (Curtis) Granderson trades are examples.

That’s the problem for a team with the goals and expectations that the Yankees have. So how do they deal with this issue?

Because of those two factors, especially the draft slot issue, we will take risks on some players to get a high-ceiling guy in the system……

There has to be a solid reason or really outstanding tools to give a Latin player a large bonus, but if we think the risk is worth it, we will take it. It would be fairly rare for a guy with a Montero or Gary Sanchez or Arodys Vizcaino-like upside to fall to us in the draft, so we look hard to find guys with that kind of talent internationally. This is especially true for the position players, since few guys with genuine impact bats will get to us at the bottom of the first round. We have to take the risk to get guys like that somewhere, so we’ll look in Latin America. We can find tools there that are hard for us to acquire in the draft……

We have no particular bias towards high school or college players, although we do look for impact guys who might drop to us for reasons not related to their talent. The pitcher we drafted a couple of years ago, Gerrit Cole. We knew that was a risk because he had the UCLA commitment, his family is wealthy, and we knew that he had aggressive bonus demands. Because of his upside, we took the chance that we could make it work, but he went to college instead. That was one risk that didn’t pan out. But to be extraordinary involves risk, and our goal is to be extraordinary.

(The final sentence is bolded because it is pure awesomeness. That should be the official Yankee slogan.)

Basically, the Yankees address their inability to grab premium top of the draft talent in two ways. The first is to focus on injury and signability risks in the draft in order to get premium talents in the system. While this precludes getting slightly more predictable players early, the Yankees can always pick up such players later in the draft by going above slot. The second method that the Yankees use to fill the system with premium talents is to be major players on the international markets, where there are no constraints on the Yankees signing any players that interest them. The combination of these two strategies should help the Yankees keep pace with most teams in the area of talent procurement.

Mar 212010

Pat Borzi of the New York Times posted a piece in the Bats blog on Friday, which had opened with a noteworthy exchange between the Joba and Mariano Rivera. He writes:

(h/t to Mike Silva of NYBD for the link)

Rivera, even at 40, remains the most feared closer in baseball. Chamberlain was waiting by the door of the clubhouse to be taken to an autograph session when Rivera walked by. Chamberlain, already in a chatty mood, suddenly fancied himself as Rivera’s successor and started bugging Rivera about retiring.

“You’ve got to pass the torch, four-two,” Chamberlain said, using common baseball parlance for someone’s uniform number.

By then, Rivera was nearing his locker on the far side of the clubhouse. He turned to Chamberlain, smiled and said paternally, “Your time will come.”

Chamberlain answered back, “You might be 50! I might be done by then.” Rivera, ignoring the last part, responded, “Then it’ll still come,” with an equally big smile. That did not make Chamberlain feel any better. “He might pitch until he’s 106,” he said.

Not sure how much I want to read into this. Maybe Joba is being chatty and a little cocky,  and this is just some harmless banter with Joba playing up the much-discussed topic. Or perhaps these two know something we don’t. In any case, the quotes are what they are and people can draw their own conclusions. Mariano has recently stated in a WFAN interview with Mike Francesa he thinks Joba  should be a reliever, while Joba has stated numerous times in the past that he wants to start. I would take the fact that Joba is currently battling for the #5 spot more seriously than some light-hearted exchange. Hopefully, one of the beat writers will see one of these posts and get Joba on the record again, one way or the other.

Sunday Links

Posted by Steve S. at 9:52 am No Responses »
Mar 212010

Not a ton of Yankee news with Spring Training strolling along it’s usual languid pace, but there are some really tremendous Baseball reads out there in the blogosphere that deserve your attention. Here’s a few of the best things I’ve read this week:

Sabernomics: What Caused the Decline of African-Americans in Baseball?

Terrific break down of the research done by The 2008 Racial and Gender Report Card that reaches some surprising conclusions. Teaser-it’s not that the Black athlete is choosing other sports (NFL and NBA % has remained constant) and it has nothing to do with economic factors. One interesting side note, participation in youth Baseball leagues is down sharply among all groups in the US since the rise of the internet in the mid-90′s.

The Common Man: She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie

On the heels of Ron Washington testing positive for cocaine, The Common Man recounts bad managerial behavior throughout Baseball history. Drunk driving (Tony LaRussa) domestic violence (Bobby Cox), bar room fights (Billy Martin) and associations with gamblers (Leo Durocher) make Washington’s transgression pale in comparison, yet some Dallas sportswriters were calling for Ron’s head this week. To dovetail with my first item, this reminds me of the reaction I often have to NHL fights (The Devils had a doozy last night). If you saw fighting like that in the NBA, most Americans would recoil in horror and toss around terms like “thug”. But in the all-White NHL,  it’s somehow considered acceptable. I’m not saying drug use should be tolerated, but what LaRussa and Cox did was worse, and they were retained.  Maybe their tenure had something to do with it, or maybe our priorities are a little screwed up.

Chad Jennings: Aceves took long road to Yankees

Nice profile of Aceves by (friend of TYU) Chad Jennings. Goes through his days in the Mexican League, and what took him so long to get to the bigs. While were discussing Ace, his outing yesterday wasn’t quite as bad as it looked.  He pitched 4 innings of 2 run ball, leaving the game after 1 out in the 5th with the bases loaded, and Mark Melancon allowed all 3 baserunners (and one of his own) to score. Mark Feinsand has the details.

Change-Up: Stakeholders – New York Yankees

Patrick Sullivan of the Baseball Analysts does a season preview Q&A with Cliff Corcoran of Bronx Banter. They discuss the Vasquez acquisition, compare Yankee-Red Sox rotations, and the transformation Yankee management has undergone with George Steinbrenner fading into the background. Great stuff.

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