Friday, January 6, 2012

Sign? Trade? How About Both?

I read another article from River Avenue Blues regarding Edwin Jackson, in which Joe Pawlikowski mentions that the situation with Rafael Soriano during last year’s offseason is a lot like this offseason with Jackson. I won’t get into it, but if you want you can check out the article here. I’ll just say that I agree that it is similar, and disturbing.
But after reading a couple of the comments to the article I got to thinking… could the Yankees sign Edwin Jackson and trade for Matt Garza?
Say the Yankees sign Edwin Jackson, leading to me looking for a weapon that I can wrap my lips around. Okay, okay… I don’t dislike the idea of signing Jackson that bad, but after the Soriano signing last offseason you can’t blame me for being scared of the particulars of such a deal. 
At that point the Yankees would have quite a bit of depth at the starting pitcher position, both in the majors and minors. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett, Freddy Garcia, Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps, DJ Mitchell, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and now Edwin Jackson. Every single one of those guys could find a spot in a MLB starting rotation somewhere. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston, and a few others would definitely go for any of those guys. But there’s one team that would definitely be interested… the Chicago Cubs.
After signing Edwin the Yankees’ rotation would have five of Sabathia, Jackson, Nova, Hughes, Burnett, and Garcia. Of course, some people believe that the Yankees would put a 6-man rotation out there. Me? I say “not a chance”. Not that it couldn’t happen again at some point in 2012, but it’s not something they’d start out with or plan on going with long-term. If it wasn’t for injuries and ineffectiveness last season they wouldn’t have done it. If those two things hit hard again… okay. But until then I don’t see it happening.
So back to five of CC, Edwin, Ivan, Phil, AJ, and Freddy. The team is set for 2012 without making any more moves. Can they get better? Well, I’m sure they can. But do they need to? No, I don’t think so. So let’s look at the future… CC will be around another 5-6 years, Nova still has like 5 years of team control, and Jackson would be signed for probably 4 years. I don’t think Freddy, AJ, or Phil is blocking anybody. Freddy is only signed for 2012, AJ will only be around for two more years, and Phil could be put back in the bullpen coming out of Spring Training. That would leave two more rotation spots for Noesi, Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Phelps, Mitchell. And that doesn’t count lower prospects like Brett Marshall like Nik Turley. So it’s clear that the Yankees could lose some of those guys without missing a beat.
Now it’s true that not all of those prospects are going to pan out. Out of the 8 prospects mentioned, the Yanks would be lucky if 3 of them were serviceable in MLB. This is where the scouts need to step up and figure out who is worth what. Who is more likely to make it, and who is a long-shot at best? And then go from there. Could the scouts make the wrong choice? Sure they could. But taking risks is part of the game. 
The risk that would be taken is picking 3 of those names and putting them in a package for Matt Garza. I’m not saying it will only take 3 of those pitchers, as it would also take a position player such as Austin Romine too. If a catcher could do it then the Bombers could more than afford to lose one of Romine, Murphy, or Sanchez (I’d prefer Romine or Murphy, though). 
Phil Hughes, Hector Noesi, Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall, and Austin Romine sounds like more than enough. Mike at River Avenue Blues looked at what San Diego got for Mat Latos, and figured an equivalent package from New York would have been Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, Austin Romine, and Adam Warren. I think the package I laid out in the first sentence is better than that, which makes up for the different between Mat Latos and Matt Garza. Maybe even a bit too much more.
The final reason I think this could happen is that the Yankees could look ahead at the cost of Cole Hamels. Without making any more moves this offseason (at least not big ones), I truly believe the Yanks would be in on Cole Hamels… assuming Cole does hit free agency.  Well I think Cole could see a contract of like 6 years and $120 million. Well, by signing Jackson and trading for Garza this offseason, the team could avoid giving out another big contract in terms of years and money. Which by 2014 could save them a good chunk of money.
So I could see the Yankees entering the 2012 season with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Ivan Nova, and AJ Burnett/Freddy Garcia. Sounds pretty damn sweet to me.

My Reaction To “Jackson vs. Garza”

Jon Heyman recently published an article stating that when it comes to the Yankees adding a starter it’s Edwin Jackson vs. Matt Garza. Heyman says that guys like Kuroda, Jurrjens, Wandy Rodriguez, Gavin Floyd, and Roy Oswalt either don’t fit or are not what the Yankees want. I get that. Jon goes on to say that Jackson has a couple of big plusses… endurance and health. He has 30+ games started in the last 5 seasons, and has not been on the DL over the last 5 seasons. Garza on the other hand, according to Heyman, is just too expensive at this time (in terms of prospects in a trade).
My initial reaction is this… Edwin Jackson is not a #2 starter. At least not on the Yankees he’s not. I’m sure the Pirates would be thrilled to have him as their #2 starter, but that’s a dubious distinction seeing as how Pittsburgh had the worst starting pitching in MLB (according to fWAR). The asking price isn’t ridiculous as far as it’s annual average value (AAV). Scott Boras has said he’s looking for 5 years and $60 million, which works out to $12 million a season. Scott Kazmir made $12 million in 2011, and he only threw 63 pitches. Even if you look past last season Scott hasn’t had an ERA below 4.00 since 2008. So I can see Edwin getting $12 million, or even a bit more, a season. But 5 years? No thanks. Hell, the Yankees are already paying AJ Burnett $16.5 million to be the #5 starter (and that’s kind of generous, as AJ is barely worth a rotation spot).
Basically when it comes to acquiring a starter it’s a true #2 or nothing. Therefore the first question that should be asked is this… is Matt Garza a #2 starter?
In the past three seasons Matt Garza’s xFIP is 3.88, which is 51st among qualified starters in MLB. Garza’s fWAR is 9.7, which is 32nd in MLB. Simple math tells me that “yes”, Matt Garza is a legitimate #2 starter.
Matt is 28 so it’s not like we’re trading away prospects for one season. Matt can help out for at least the next two years while he’s under team control, which would take him through his age 29 season. And if he’s still doing well at that point, then I can see the Yankees bringing him back for another 5 years or so. So we can’t say we don’t want to deal prospects because he’s only a short-term solution, unlike other pitchers we’ve discussed trading for in the past (Jesus Montero for Cliff Lee?). Sure, a guy like Manny Banuelos may be able to give the Yankees a couple more “prime” seasons, but remember… there’s no guarantee about how good his “prime” seasons will be. But there’s one thing not even the best pitching prospect in the Yankee system can do for them, and that’s help them win in 2012.
That’s not to say I’m okay with trading Banuelos, I’m just making a point that Garza can give the Yankees quite a bit of help next season and in future seasons. So if the Yankees can trade for Garza without giving up 2 of their top 3 prospects, then I’m all for it.

The Yankees SHOULD Sign Hiroki Kuroda

I personally think that the Yankees should go out and sign Hiroki Kuroda. Its my personal belief that if the Yankees signed Kuroda that he could potentially be our 3rd best pitcher on the staff as soon as he walks into the room. Now the Yankees seem to have a long term plan in mind to get the payroll down to 184 ish million dollars by 2014, which is going to be tough to attain no matter what they do. Kuroda, surprisingly, fits into this mold PERFECTLY.
Kuroda, unlike CJ Wilson, Buerhle, Edwin Jackson,Yu Darvish, and every other guy out there, will only command a 1 year deal. Kuroda, unlike all those guys mentioned, will not require a No Trade Clause in his contract either which could be a plus in July of 2012. Even at a 12 million dollar salary the Yankees are still doing well to keep with the 2014 plan. I personally believe that the Yankees could sign him for as little as 8-10 million with this dragging out as long as it did but when your the Yankees its not really worth nickel and diming a guy like Kuroda over a couple of million dollars.
The beauty of adding a Kuroda is stability, among other things. Kuroda has , while not throwing out above average numbers in a weaker NL West, been the perfect example of durability and consistency. He is almost a lock for 200 IP and , in the NL West anyway, a 3 point era. You can probably expect to add a full point in ERA , in my opinion, when coming to the AL East but thats still pretty respectable for a 10 million dollar a year pitcher in this market on a 1 year deal. Kuroda adds insurance for if Phil Hughes wets the bed again, Freddy Garcia finally gets figured out or injured again, or AJ Burnett is AJ Burnett. Also he keeps the seat warm for guys like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, among others.
Guys like Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, etc in the starting rotation that perfectly fits our long term plan of slashing payroll by 2014. By then we will still have CC, Nova as a number 2, the Killer B’s, and a veteran in the 5th spot. We can be “cheap” and still be competitive with that in my opinion. Add a David Robertson as a closer instead of a Mariano Rivera and we are well on our way.
Get Greedy Pinstripe Fans…. Get Kuroda

What do you resolve to do in 2012?

I was going to write something having to do with my 10 Christmas wishes for the Yankees for 2012, but I’m a bit late on that. Besides, how many more Christmas related articles can you put up with? So what I’m going to do instead is write something totally unique… my three New Year’s resolutions for the Yankees!
Okay… okay. It’s not totally unique, but every Yankee fan has a list of things they’d like to see the Yankees do to improve. Some ideas are good, most ideas are utter junk, but my ideas are… umm… well… they’re mostly junk too. I guess that’s not much motivation to read this. I think I read somewhere that introductions should draw in the reader, making them want to continue reading. Hmm. Yeah, I should probably work on that.
How about this?
The following ideas are bound to bring the Yankees the 2012 World Series Championship, as well as another championship in 2013, and on and on. So let’s do this!
Over-selling? Really? First I under-sell the article, now I’m over-selling it? I just don’t understand this World. Well here are my 10 ideas, do whatever the hell you want with them.
1. Sign Yoenis Cespedes.
Although there are many reasons to want Cespedes, I would like to see the Yankees sign him for one reason… to replace Nick Swisher after next season. I was looking at the free agent outfielders next offseason (you can see for yourself here), and the only guy that excites me on that list is Curtis Granderson. And since he’ll likely have his option picked up by the Yankees, he’s not an option to replace Nick. Others may like Josh Hamilton, but since he’ll be 32 and command a pretty good contract, I’m going to say “pass”. That would leave Nick Swisher himself as the only other guy I’d like to see in pinstripes for 2013.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Nick Swisher. I’m a big Ohio State Buckeye fan, and Nick played baseball at tOSU from 2000 to 2002. And who doesn’t love his playful attitude? But looking outside of who he is, and into what he is, you see that he’s just not a good fit for this team. Basically Nick gives the team a good OBP and good power (in 3 years for the Bombers he’s had an average OBP of .368 while hitting 28 HRs). Well the Yankees are not short on HR hitters (Teixeira, Cano, and Granderson all had more dingers last season, and that list doesn’t include a healthy Rodriguez), and while Swisher’s OBP last season was the highest, we still had three more guys above .350… and Cano was at .349.
So by signing Yeonis not only would we have a guy that would play better in the OF (which could make the Yankee OF the best defensively in MLB), but we’d also have a guy that could hit around .300 too (last year in Cuba, Cespedes batted .333/.424/.667). And we’d have that for less money per season than what Nick would command. And speaking of money, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t effect International Free Agent signings until next offseason, so spending big on Cespedes now seems like a fine idea (click here for a good article from The Yankee Analysts regarding this subject).
FYI, I was thinking of adding “or Soler”, but with Mason Williams, Ravel Santana, and Slade Heathcott, I thought “why spend money on another OF prospect?”
2. Have Mark Teixeira stick to batting from the right side.
This one doesn’t need much explanation. All you have to do is look at last season’s splitsand you’ll understand why I say this.
  • vs RHP as LHB – .224/.325/.453
  • vs LHP as RHB – .302/.380/.587
Now it’s a very small sample size, but Mark has only faced a right-handed pitcher while batting from the right side 31 times in his career. But in those 31 plate appearances Teixeira has put up a triple-slash of .321/.355/.536. Although I wouldn’t expect those numbers in more PAs, that at least tells me that Mark is not awful vs. same-side pitching. And I’ll admit that it’s not often the Yankees will face a left-handed starter, so what Mark can do against same-side pitching is important. So whether he can hit well against RHPs as a RHB is a legit question. But looking at what he did from the left side last season, I don’t think the Yankees would be missing anything except a few home runs (and like I already mentioned, the team would be okay without a few of those).
3. When Alex Rodriguez gets a day off, put Teixeira at DH, and play Jesus Montero at 1B.
Seeing how Joe Girardi played ARod after he came off the DL on August 21st, it’s safe to say that Joe will be giving Alex a day off every week or so. If you look at Alex’s game loghere, you’ll see that after August 21st he never played more than 5 days in a row. And during that 5-game stretch he actually was the Designated Hitter once.
Although Mark is still only 31 (he’ll turn 32 in April), he’ll still need some rest (everybody does). Sometimes it will be a full day off, but mostly I’m thinking he’ll get a half day off (meaning he’ll DH instead of play 1B). Well when Alex gets a full day off, they should have Mark be the DH, and put Jesus Montero at 1B.
I believe Mark will be okay to be the regular first basemen until his deal is up after the 2016 season, when he’ll be 36. Afterall, Carlos Lee not only started 70 games at 1B last season, but also started 78 games in the OF, and he turned 35 in June. Paul Konerko turned 35 before last season, and he started 110 games at 1B for the White Sox. But after that I’d love to see Jesus Montero take over. It’s been said many times that Jesus is not a MLB-caliber catcher, but if we could at least open up the full-time DH spot for ARod in 2017 that would be great. Assuming he’ll be a Yankee his entire career, by 2018 Robinson Cano will be 35. If Curtis Granderson is brought back, there’s a good chance he’ll still be around by 2018, and he’ll turn 37 that season. Either way, I’m sure there will be at least one other player that will need to DH every once in a while by then, so getting Montero out of there would be a really good idea.
So there you go. Three ideas for the New York Yankees to do for 2012. I’d love to hear your take on these things, as well as your own ideas. So either add them right here in the comments, or go to Daily Sports Pages so you can not only discuss this but everything else Yankees as well.