Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Terry Francona Stops In . . .

So last week I had to be in Boston for a meeting.

While there were a lot of things on my mind during the day (like, of all people in this room why did I have to get sat next to a guy with swine flu who's coughing non stop all over everybody), certainly the highlight of the day was the surprise guest speaker - Terry Francona.

It brought a member of the group to tears (literally).

He mentioned while '04 gets the attention he says he tries to forget that year and focus on '07 instead. Going on to say '04 was not his team, and he was embarrassed with how the team went about their business on a day to day basis. He viewed '07 as his team - doing it the way he thought a team should do it.

Two things prepped him for the pressure cooker of Boston - being in Philly, and managing Michael Jordan in the minors.

Other than me hating him due to his Boston affiliation he actually gave a pretty good talk and seems to be a cool guy.

Based on the reaction of the people in this room - the guy could run over Gov. and would win in a landslide - they love him.


old professor said...

You are probably right when you say he could run for governor and win. The Democratic Party Senate candidate could take a lesson. Two things probably cost her the election: (a) when asked about Curt Shillings support for her opponent she indicated he was probably a Yankee Fan - obviously she had no knowledge of Boston Sports and their "legends". (b) when asked why she was not more visible, her comment was - what do you want me to do, stand outside at Fenway Park in the rain and shake hands?

Two real stupid remarks that may have led people to think - is this a person we really want to send to Washington[ forget issues like health care and the economy].

Strange the Yankees had no representatives at the Sheets audition. With their lack of activity this off-season, one has to wonder whether they are saving all of their chips to re-sign Jeter and Mo as well as go after Mauer and Crawford. Which of course means they appear to be writing this season off.

Crash said...

I'm not sure we were watching the same offseason...lack of activity??? They added a top tier pitcher to fill their #4 spot, argue all you want about his previous stint in NY and that he's an NL pitcher, etc. The guy finished 4th in the CY Young, he has made 30+ starts in 12 of his 13 MLB seasons, and is consistently near the top of the league for Ks. Great add at a relatively reasonable price tag.

Granderson is a big upgrade defensively and his bat will be huge. Johnson while not a "splash" type signing, will be a great value signing. He will stay healthy as a DH, he will hit close to .300 and as a lefty in the Stadium, probably hit 20HRs. Don't be surprised if he puts up Damon like #'s from last year.

The Yankees are definitely not spending this year in hopes of scoring next year. Mauer won't be available but Crawford likely will be. They will also need to add pitching next year with Vazquez and Pettitte not signed after this year.

old professor said...

Crash, if Vasquez was such a valuable commodity, why did the Braves give him up for many argue was not a valuable piece for the Yankees to repeat? While he may be an innings eater, lets see how he does in his second tour for the yanks. Granderson, will have his homeruns and will also come along with his 175 strikeouts (and I believe it was you who pontificated that certain outs are more valuable than others versus the view and out is an out is an out). He will have trouble advancing runners and let's not forget that he had some issues defensively at the end of the year in Detroit. In the long-run, you will get the same batting average as you got with Melky a few more homeruns and possibly the same defensive ability (but not the arm). I don't understand the facination with the team had for this guy and why they gave up on Melky who is still three years younger than Granderson and has the possibility of a greater upside.

And one last thing on Vasquez, he may turn out to be a one-year rental. The Yankees are gambling he will have a great year in 2010. If he does, he will command an increase in salary - do you see the Yankees shelling out that kind of money for a number 4 starter??

As for Johnson could be a nice addition if he stays off of the DL.

Crash said...

The Braves were shopping Derek Lowe but nobody wanted to take on $15MM. Vazquez was making a little less but still a lot for the Braves, it was a salary dump, they saved $10MM on the deal. The reason why the Yankees didn't have to give up a ton to get him is because Vazquez is essentially a 1 year rental and they were willing to take on the entire salary. And if the Yankees do sign him next offseason he becomes the #3 starter not the #4.

Granderson will not strike out 175 times this year, not even close to that #.

Mid said...

AS far as off season activity - what activity has taken place I have not liked at all.

The team essentially made no effort to re-sign the two players that contributed greatly to the last championship (Damon, Matsui) - regardless of their age, I thought they earned their last contract and deserved a shot at a new one.

And I absolutely hate the deal that landed Granderson.

Phil Coke and Melkey were showing promise, and while from an attitude standpoint Kennedy may have been lacking they gave up on the kid too soon.

Off season activity - yes, quality - NO!!!

Crash said...

You both will be praising these moves come next October/November.

Vazquez could very likely lead the team in K's have more wins than AJ and have a better ERA than Pettitte...from the #4 spot.

On a lighter side of things...boy the Mets really must suck. First it took Jason Bay to realize to other team was making an offer before he accepted the Mets deal, now Molina says I don't want your 2 year deal, I'll take the 1 year deal from SF. Then Piniero signs with the Angels. The Mets suck and Omar must be fired. They are a complete joke and should not be allowed to carry an NY in their name on their hats, uniforms, etc.

old professor said...

I have to agree with the assessment on the mets. There have been some who have indicated Minya is not making the decisions that for all intents and purposes, he is a lame duck.

Now the mets have to face the prospects that Bay may be damaged goods.

Crash, Vasquez may lead the league in strikeouts, but the Yankees gave up three players to get what may be a one year rental.

Crash said...

C'mon...really...essentially the Vazquez trade was 1 for 1 deal. Then swapped relief pitchers and added another that isn't even considered a prospect yet. Arodys Vizcaino played one season of NYP ball, that's it. Don't overreact that the Yankees gave up on this kid who could of been all world. It was a great trade.

And I believe that unless Vazquez totally implodes, he will be back with the Yankees because Cashman has nearly traded for him twice before this. He's been trying to get this guy for the better part of a decade.

Crash said...

Old Prof...just to prove my point...I believe a couple years ago you were up in arms over the Nady trade that sent Karstens, Ohlendorff and Anthony Clagget to the Pirates...well the Pirates just DFA'd Clagget. That's 2 of the three players that couldn't cut it with the Pirates (Clagget lasted long than Karstens) that you would have held on to...Nady and Marte may have been hurt most of last year, but Marte can up big in October/November. The Yankees may not have won without him. So before you start bashing this years moves let's take the wait and see approach.

Crash said...

Just saw the Pirates DFA'd another former Yankee prospect...Steven Jackson, former OF prospect. That means Jackson, Kartsens, and Claggett all DFA'd. Karstens is actually back with the Pirates in AAA after he cleared waivers.

Also reading where the Yankees were entertaining the idea of John Smoltz to round out the rotation before landing my opinion that would have been a very bad move.

old professor said...

Crash, you seemed to have left out that the Yankees contacted the Pirates about obtaining Olendorf this winter, but the Pirates passed on the trade. As for what the Yankees got: Nady spent most of the season on the DL as did Marte. And don't even go to the extent that without Marte the Yankees would not have won. You need to spend more time away from whatever it is you are consuming. The Yankees won the Championship because of the inept play of the Angels during their run to win the AL and then they had clutch hitting and great relief pitching from Hughes, Chamberlain and Mo plus two great starts from CC and two from Petitte.

Marte played a very minor role in the whole thing. Oh and Stephen Jackson is a pitcher not an outfielder. He was the same Jackson the Yankees brought up for two weeks (pitched extremely well in the spring and at AAA) and let him sit in the bullpen without ever calling his name. He was put on waivers to clear a spot on the 40 man roster for Gaudin and the Pirates picked him up.

My guess is he has had to be designated for assignment by the Pirates to clear a space for Dotel on the 40 man.

Crash said...

Postseason Stats (Let's guess which 2 Old Prof considered clutch):

HUGHES: 6.1IP, 11H, 4BB, 6R, 6ER, 1L, 2HLD, 1BLSV, 8.53ERA

CHAMBERLAIN: 6.1IP, 9H, 1BB, 2R, 2ER, 3HLD, 1BLSV, 2.84ERA

MARTE: 4.0IP, 2H, 0BB, 0R, 0ER, 3HLD, 0.00ERA

You're an embarrassment sometimes...

Crash said...

Earlier in the week I speculated about possible interest by the Yankees in Jim Edmonds...I do now have a report from the St.Louis Globe-Democrat confirming the Yankees have contacted Edmonds about playing left field. I don't mind it if he comes to spring on an invite but I wouldn't want to declare him the new LF. I hope Gardner gets a legit hot to compete for the starting job.

The Mets again display how inept they are by trading for Gary Matthews. The fact that they gave up anything to get this guy is a complete joke.

Crash said...

Brian Cashman "firmly denies" rumors about Jermain Dye and Jim Edmonds...while Johnny Damon is saying he will sign this week. Not sure who's signing with because no team has made an offer. This should be interesting.

Crash said...

Yankees are looking at the trade market to fill LF...Washington Nationals have Josh Willingham out there and it's being speculated that to make room salary wise Chad Gaudin would be moved. Willingham will make about $4.65MM, Yankees have $2MM available plus Gaudin's $2.95MM...that seems like a fit. Yankees will have to give more than Gaudin though to get Willingham, not sure what else though they would be willing to give up.

old professor said...

Regarding Willingham, offensively he is an average outfielder. He had 24 homeruns batted around 264 has an on base percentage under 4 and struck out about 100 times last year in just over 400 at bats. So he strikes out about once every four times up. Defensively, he has very good statistics - only 18 errors in his major league career.

If Washington is starting to build something with its young players, why would they want to give him up?

Yankees have made a $2 million per year offer to Damon and have given him until this weekend to think about it. My best guess is he has two choices: take the Yankee offer with incentives or retire. There does not seem to be a real market or interest in the guy which is sad because he has been a winner wherever he goes.

It would appear the economy has affected his value and Boras has greatly overestimated his value.

it would appear that Boras is also overestimating the value of Rocco Baldelli.

Crash said...

I have seen a lot of people comparing the contracts of Hairston ($2.1MM) and Ankiel ($3.25MM) to Damon only being offered $2MM. The difference is yes Damon may be slightly better than those 2 offensively, but Damon is a defensively liability. Ankiel is strong defensive fielder with a huge arm and Hairston can literally play anywhere in the field.

I keep hearing the Tigers may be interested...wasn't the whole reason the Tigers traded Granderson was to save some money? Then the Tigers sign a top notch closer in Tigers Field is a huge OF. Damon won't be able to cover it. I really can't see him fitting in anywhere. Maybe Baltimore???

Crash said...

Rumor is the A's could be interested in Damon, they will attempt to land Ben Sheets first though.

Wang's agent has said half a dozen teams are interested. His agent is quoted as saying: “We’re anticipating a major-league offer with a substantial guarantee and substantial upside.”

Not sure what these agents are thinking...Sheets' agent wants north $8MM, and Wang is expecting "substantial guarantee"? Both of these guys missed substantial time over the last couple of seasons. And in Wang's case he sucked when he was pitching. I would be surprised if Wang gets a major league deal let alone "substantial guarantee and substantial upside".

These guys are crazy.

old professor said...

Crash, exactly what do you expect an agent to say about his client - hey the guy sucks and really isn't worth more than $800,000? They are playing the game of creatiing smokescreens in an attempt to land the guaranteed deal. Let's remember, the Cardinals worked a seven year deal and $120 million with Halladay when no one else was even making an offer. The cards put an offer on the table and increased it twice - NO ONE WAS GOING TO OFFER HIM THAT MUCH MONEY. Yet the cards bid against themselves because Boras was blowing smoke.

No one is going to give Damon two years at 14 million like the Yankees originally offered either. If he wants to go back to Oakland, SEE YA. Oakland will be out of the running by June 1 and Damon will be up for trade before the deadline.

With Wang, he has already indicated he will not be pitching or looking at an offer until May -okay let him wait. Some team out there will suffer a pitching injury and decide to pay him what he wants. If it is a one year guaranteed contract so be it - he pitches well, he hits the market again and gets more. He craps the sheets - well he can go back and pitch in the chinese league.

Crash said...

Yet another spot dries up for Johnny Damon...Oakland signs Ben Sheets. for $10MM plus performance bonuses. I'm pretty sure that dries up any $$ for Damon. Who knows maybe Oakland offers $3MM to Damon and he jumps on it.

Xavier Nady signs a 1 year deal with the Cubs. Nady will make $3.3MM guaranteed plus another $2MM in incentives based on games played.

Crash said...

Yanks pick up a minor league OF Golson. He has minimal big league time with the Phillies and Rangers, but I would be shocked if we see him in the majors this year (well as a Yankee at least).

old professor said...

There is some belief out their that Oakland still has some money they can offer to Damon. At issue is the size of Oaklands park - Damon will not be hitting homeruns out of that park as easily as he hit them out of Yankee Stadium. In addition, he would have to cover more ground in Oakland than in NY.

MLB Network Hot Stove indicated now is the time for the bottom feeders of baseball to start signing free agents. The argument being that players who haven't signed may begin to worry about their future and will sign lower level contracts with teams that normally could not afford them.

The contract for Sheets - $10 million plus incentives is way out of line for a pitcher that did not pitch at all last season and whose mechanics invite injury.

Glad Nady found a club. $3 million plus incentives is not a bad deal for him. He can still hit and field the question will be can he throw from the outfield on a regular basis without undoing his arm again. He is a good club house guy as well.

Crash said...

Latest Damon rumor...Cincinnati. Except the Reds didn't call them, Boars called the Reds. Also the Reds don't have a lot of $$. They signed the Cuban kid, and reworked Scott Rolen's contract to save some money for that signing. If Damon is only going to get $2-3MM, wouldn't you want to go back to NY?

Cashman is getting pretty tired of all the Damon questions too. He made some firm comments about it.

old professor said...

Strange question to ask - there have been a lot of names thrown around lately as to who the Yankees should sign. One name not floated, but would be good for a one year contract is Melvin Mora.

While he played third base last year, in previous years he played centerfield and both corners. He has an above average arm, is a good man to have in the club house, has consistently it .260-.270 and has shown some pop (though he was limited to only 8 homeruns last year). He will be 38 next month, but would give the Yankees the one year bridge they are looking for and he hits right handed.

Crash said...

Now that's a pretty interesting name Old Prof I'll give you that one. Morra's stats have been declining pretty much every year for the past 5 years except for 2008 when he played like he was 5 years younger. He hasn't stayed healthy the last 3 or 4 season and he hasn't played the OF in about 7 years. But those were his most productive years...Mora is a gamer and I think he would fit into the clubhouse. He has experience and 3B, SS, and all OF positions so he could see significant playing time as he could spell A-Rod and Jeter as well as the OF. I would think that after all those years in Baltimore he may like a shot at winning...not sure if he's healthy or even interested in playing at 38 years old.

Intriguing Old Prof I give you that...

old professor said...

The Yankees sign - RANDY WINN. Are you kidding me. The guy hits lefthanders worse than Granderson. He has speed and defensive ability. Great so for all intents and purposes the Yankees will adopt a small ball approach to baseball.

The dealings that this team has engaged in this off-season reminds me of when the team was owned by CBS (that would be before crash, mid and scooter). The team was a line item in an overall budget. It would appear the team won the world championship last year so the owners want to take a year off from competing. The way this team is made up, they will finish third or fourth in their division.

Crash said...

Randy Winn is not exactly what I had in mind either...don't worry about last years avg vs. lefties. Over his 13 year career he has hit lefties (.280 avg against lefties). He's a switch hitter, could steal around 20 bases, low teens for power, and will hit about .285. Defensively he can still get to the ball, looks like teams respect his arm. When playing LF he had a 81% held rate (the # of base runners that held when he got the ball).

Not a great signing, but I'm not going to complain that much about it.

An Old Prof I don't think a $200MM payroll is going back to the CBS days. I heard this morning that the Yankees/Cashman were willing to go back to ownership for Damon if he agreed to $6MM with incentives. Damon/Boras declined. They're mistake not Cashman's.

old professor said...

Crash, of interesting note, last season just prior to going on their hot streak, the Yankees recognized the fact they did not have a strong bench to provide appropriate replacements should there be an injury or for pop of the bench when it was needed. Hence, the Yankees trading for Hairston and Hinske. If you look at what the Yankees have done this off season (with the exception of Vasquez)they have amassed an assortment of role players who have decent speed, can play defense, but will not scare anyone when they are sitting in the on deck circle.

The issue I was trying to make with the CBS comparision is that CBS treated the team as a line item. Set a budget a lived with it regardless of the consequences. No adjustments were made to the bottom line. This year the Yankees set a budget number to come in under $200 million. This led to decisions like the signing of Nick Johnson versus bringing Matsui back. Signing Winn and going with Gardner versus bringing Damon back. Viewing all of the individuals they signed including all of the minor league castoffs, they seemed to concentrate on quantity not quality. listed the top fifty prospects of baseball only one Yankee farmhand made the list - Jesus Montero at number 19.

Somewhere in mid-season the Yankees will have to make moves to strengthen their bench and it will cost them someone like Montero.

Crash said...

First of wasn't a money thing with was a health issue. So they signed the perennially healthy Nick Johnson for essentially the same amount.

Damon was purely a money thing. And when they added Vazquez the money for Damon dried up. Pitching and good defense wins. That's where the Yankees got stronger.

One last note, they Yankees will not be trading Montero for added bench depth. They were willing to trade him for Halladay, not Hairston. He may get traded in June or July but it will be for a big time stud player, not a role player coming off the bench.

old professor said...

Crash, you didn't just call Johnson a healthy player - check out his stats. He has spent more time on the DL than he has spent active. The guy breaks a bone while sitting in the dugout watching his teammates bat.

Crash said...

That was sarcasm Old Prof...

I heard an interesting take by someone (can't remember where/who). People seem really upset that the Yankees signed Randy Winn over Damon. The door on Damon was closed long ago, it was the media dragging him back to NY. Don't view it as Randy Winn replacing Johnny Damon. Winn actually replaces Melky. Winn should actually hit slightly better than Melky, hit about the same HR, steal a little bit more, play better defense and actually cost $2MM less than Melky. Granderson replaces Damon. Which should be about the same, if not better, production offensively (IF Granderson can raise his avg against lefties) and give a HUGE upgrade defensively.

The Yankees also now have Javier Vazquez replacing the Wang/Mitre/Gaudin spot in the rotation.

The only "downgrade" is arguably the DH spot where Johnson replaces Matsui. Johnson won't hit that many HRs or drive in that many runs, but I don't think the Yankees are expecting/asking him to. He will need to be an on base guy and that's it.

Crash said...

Here is a nice summation of the Yankees/Damon "negotiations".

Really show's that Boras and Damon are idiots (I guess living up to the title of Damon's book).

Just 2 weeks to pitchers and catcher.

old professor said...

Crash I read the aricle on Damon. It would appear the blame for Damon not coming back can be laid at the feet of Boras and to a degree Damon. You cannot blame Cashman for believing he was being jerked arount by the agent. It would appear the GMs have finally tired of the Boras approach to negotiations (with the exception of the Cardinals who seemed to bid against themselves).

There seems to be some kind of dilussion by Damon who believes he will be back to the Yankees sometime during the season or the following season.

Nice article in the NY Post on Joba,who apparently is serious about becoming the fifth starter and may report earlier than required to begin his throwing program. I believe the best option is to put Hughes in the rotation and leave Chamberlain in the pen (or leave both in the pen).

Crash said...

I think the logical fit is to put Joba in the rotation. He was stretched out last year. And despite that Hughes had thrown more innings prior to last year, they would seem to want to limit him this year. Makes no sense to me, the Yankees nearly destroyed Joba last year. I think this year if Joba goes in knowing not to worry about inning limits, you will see a much better pitcher (though I still like him in the pen).

Ideally the Yankees would like to have both of them in the rotation next year (2011).

old professor said...

Crash, as for 2011, look for Cliff Lee to replace Pettitte in the rotation.

old professor said...

It looks like another door has closed on Damon. The A's have picked up Willy Taveras from the Reds. Taveras played centerfield and was due to make $4 million.

Now that does open the door for Damon to sign with the Reds as they now have an additional four million to move toward signing Damon though that wouldn't make sense because Damon is almost 10 years older than Taveras and has less speed and would cover less ground. Hey who knows the Reds have been a second division team for a long time and probably will continue to be such. They have signed a lot of bad free agent contracts in the last couple of years.

Crash said...

Boras was calling the Reds last week...and Taveras was their CF and lead off man. I'm not sure if the Reds have the money even after trading Taveras. Because the Reds also acquired Aaron Miles who will make nearly $3MM. So that's almost a wash with the money. This may be the only landing spot for Damon so Boras may have to take whatever they offer at this point. The Reds have to know they aren't bidding against anyone else.

If Damon does go there, the Reds will make some noise in the NL Central. They will have a lineup of Damon, Phillips, Bruce, & Rolen and a rotation with some good young arms.

Crash said...

Just saw that the A's DFA'd Willy Taveras. That was pretty quick.

old professor said...

Crash, A's also signed outfielder Gabe Gross. The Reds signed free agent Cabrera for their infield - that would just about dry up any extra funds they had for Damon. With the signing of Gross, the A's are probably out of cash as well. That leaves only the Rays and possibly the Jays as landing sites for Damon. Neither of those options with astro turf would be a good fit for Damon with his history of cafe and leg issues.

Crash said...

If the Reds signed Cabrera then they can't make a play for Damon. Cabrera is real good fit for the Reds. Their pitching staff just got a whole lot better with Cabrera playing SS.

I'm telling you now...don't sleep on the Reds this year. They may not win 100 games, but they will be in the hunt for the WC late in the season. No reason they can't finish ahead of the Astros or Cubs.

old professor said...

You may be right about the Reds. They have improved their defense as well as added some pop to their offense. The only question mark for them will be whether their rotation can hold up. They are young (one of them is coming off arm surgery)and tend to wear down. They do not have a lot of depth should one of the arms go down.

Odd about Taveras. The Yankees were trying to obtain him a couple of years ago (I believe it was the year they brought Melky up for the first time)and thought he would be a great fit. Trade could not get off the ground.

Boras is trying to cover his posterior saying the Yankees hadn't made an offer in the last five weeks. Apparently he forget that the Yankees made two offers and he and his client said no. So we move on.

old professor said...

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned Melvin Mora and wondered why the Yankees weren't looking at him. Well he apparently has just signed with the Rockies for $1.3 million. The Rockiers GM said they signed him for the flexibility he gives the line-up and I quote "he can play 3b, the corner outfield positions and play some center." He would have been a better choice for the Yankees than Randy Winn.

Crash said...

Old Prof I think I agree with you about Morra.

Damon will be lucky to find a job at half of what the Yankees initially offered. I also Damon taking some shots at the Yankees through the press saying he hopes Jeter doesn't have to take a 40-50% pay cut next year. The more this drags out the more and more I dislike Johnny Damon. He really is nothing more than a mercenary.

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