Part three of our series takes us back to 2008, which was memorable for being the first season with Joe Girardi as manager and the final year in the old Yankee Stadium, but little else. It was something of a transition year, or at least as close as the Yankees will ever get to having one. The sheer volume of moves is indicative of how many problems there were with the team that broke camp, and the Yankee GM spent much of the season trying (mostly in vain) to plug holes. Not a banner year for Brian, so if you’re a Cashman basher, this one’s for you.
Alex Rodriguez granted Free Agency.
I’m going to break my rule on not covering Yankee players who were retained as FAs for this doozy of a contract, but will refrain from giving it a grade since I didn’t grade the other Yanks who were retained after hitting free agency. Many of us a gasped the day the contract was signed, and that was before the steroid allegations were brought to light the following year, or the hip injury that has nagged Alex the past two seasons. As he did this year with the Soriano contract, Brian made it known at the A-Rod press conference that it wasn’t a contract he would have signed. He was right, Alex had thus far been paid 91 mil through the first three years of the contract and produced 14.4 WAR, or about 63 mil worth of production. Further, Alex is guaranteed 113 mil over the next 4 seasons (his ages 35-38 seasons) and has another 61 mil guaranteed for the next 3 years after that (ages 39-41). Its widely regarded as one of the worst contracts in Baseball, and while Alex is still a very good, very productive player it’s the type of deal you’re better off not signing.
November 24, 2007
Signed Dan Giese as a free agent.
Brian takes flyers on no-name pitchers all the time, but this one actually paid off. Called up on June 3rd to be a long man/spot starter, the 31 year old Giese exceeded all expectations. He pitched to a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP appearing in 20 games and starting 3 of them. Maybe it was just a first time through the league effect, but it counts.
November 27, 2007
Signed Cody Ransom as a free agent.
Yankee fans may forget, but 2008 was actually a productive year for Cody Ransom. He produced 0.4 WAR (1.8 mil) playing for MLB minimum and won a few games with his bat late in the year. It was the first 5 weeks of 2009 when he filled in at 3B for the injured Alex Rodriguez that he was overexposed. In 2009, he produced a -0.7 WAR, wiping out the positive production from 2008 and then some.
December 3, 2007
Signed Jose Molina as a free agent.
‘Panda’ was a fave with the pitchers and in the clubhouse, but was another backup who got overexposed when the starter, in this case Jorge Posada, went down with an injury. He produced 0.6 WAR in his 2 seasons with the Yanks (2.4 mil) and was paid about 4 mil. He would have been fine as a backup Catcher, but the bottom line is he didn’t earn his salary.
December 4, 2007
Albaladejo produced a grand total of -0.2 WAR over three seasons with the Yanks, while Tyler Clippard blossomed into a valuable reliever for the Nats in 2010, producing 1.4 WAR. Alby was recently released by the Yanks, so this deal’s a clear win for the Nats.
December 21, 2007
Signed LaTroy Hawkins as a free agent.
Latroy was awful for the Yanks, and Brian should have known better. He had a nice 2007 season pitching in the NL West, but the last time he pitched in the AL East was 2006 in BAL and he got hammered. He was the best pitcher available on a 1 year deal, and Brian wanted to avoid long term commitments so he could work in his up and coming prospects, but Hawkins just didn’t get the job done.
January 4, 2008
Signed Billy Traber as a free agent.
The former 1st round draft pick (#16 overall NY Mets 2000) did little to solve the Yanks need for a Lefty specialist, pitching to a 7.02 ERA after breaking camp with the club out of spring training. Low risk move that provided zero reward.
January 31, 2008
Signed Morgan Ensberg as a free agent.
On paper, looked like a good move. First Base caddy for the aging, addled Jason Giambi who just three years earlier was garnering MVP votes with the Houston Astros. Batted just .203/.263/.243 (.506 OPS) from a corner infield spot. Was released on June 10th by the Yanks and despite catching on with the Indians and Rays, never played in the majors again.
February 1, 2008
Signed Alfredo Aceves as a free agent.
The ‘Mexican Gangster’ was a godsend to the Yanks in 08/09 producing 1.5 WAR (6.7 mil) while making MLB minimum. Big part of their championship teams bullpen in 2009, and whoever scouted him out of Mexico deserves a raise.
March 12, 2008
Signed Chad Moeller as a free agent.
As with Molina, a backup catcher who was forced into more playing time than he should see due to the injury of Jorge Posada. But injuries are why you have backups around to begin with. Produced 0.1 WAR (300K) while earning around 700K for the season. Small potatoes, but didn’t work out.
June 19, 2008 (Standings)
Signed Sidney Ponson as a free agent.
Ahhh Sir Sidney. Admit it, you miss the chubby lil guy, don’t ya? A mid season desperation move for a starter who bestowed a 5.85 ERA and 1.638 WHIP upon Yankee fans in 15 torturous starts.
July 17, 2008 (Standings)
Signed Richie Sexson as a free agent.
A glittering example of statistical noise. The Yanks were getting killed by Lefties in 2008. Sexson was a horrendously undisciplined hitter who just happened to have good numbers facing Lefties that particular season. His Career platoon splits, however, were much more ambiguous. Brian was desperate, so he tried to see if he could ride the wave a bit longer, and would up wiping out on a jetty. Sexson was painful to watch, struck out in about 1/3 of his PAs with the Yanks and was released in under a month.
July 26, 2008 (Standings)
Complex deal, so I’ll just use WAR. Pitchers in this deal provided modest returns for the Pirates. Karstens has produced a total of 0.8 WAR in his 3 years with the Pirates, McCutchen was given a shot last year and pretty much flopped, producing a -0.6 WAR over 2009/10. Ohlendorf has been a nice addition to the Pirates, producing 1.9 total WAR over the past two seasons. But the centerpiece of the deal was Jose Tabata, and he provided the Buccos with a tidy 2.0 WAR in his rookie season last year.
From the Yankee side, they didn’t even get back modest returns for their investments. Marte has barely pitched, logging just 49.1 IP over three seasons with the team. He produced a grand total of -0.2 WAR, and is expected to miss all of 2011 as well. Nady produced a meager -0.1 WAR in 2008, then quickly hurt his elbow in April of 2009 which required the 2nd TJ surgery of his career. From the Yanks perspective, this was a trade you were much better off not making.
Totals:Net Plus-2/Net Minus-10