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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Hinske’

The Yankees have been busy since Cliff Lee stunned the baseball world and retreated to the quiet confines of Citizen’s Bank Park, home of those welcoming Philadelphia types. (Unless you happen to be Santa Clause, that is). After devoting the entire offseason plan to signing Lee, you couldn’t really blame Brian Cashman and company if they didn’t have a plan B. But, much to my amazement and joy, they did! And they didn’t waste any time whatsoever in implementing it!

It seems plan B consists of signing every retread and injury-prone player still available. First, they landed their big-name pitcher in Mark Prior. Who cares if Prior hasn’t thrown a ML pitch in 4 years and has a history of shoulder ailments dating back 7 seasons? He was once one of the best right-handed starters in the majors. Then, virtually in tandem with signing Prior, the Yankees swooped in and grabbed C Russell Martin. Who cares if Jesus Montero is waiting in the wings to prove why he’s one of the 5 best prospects in MLB? The Yankees just signed a catcher who lost 1/2 of 2010 to hip surgery; a guy who once was an All-Star for the Dodgers but had played so well over the past three seasons that they flat out released him. To address a leaky bullpen, today the Yanks signed Pedro Feliciano, formerly of the Mets. Ok, so, he’s thrown in a ML leading 408 games over the past 5 years, but he’s only 34. Oh…right.

In defense of the signings, each does bring something positive – Martin does have a history of throwing out runners (2nd best percentage in baseball since he broke in). Prior is one of those low-risk, high-reward types; if he can throw effectively and recapture some of his early magic, he beats anything the Yankees currently have lined up for the end of the rotation. And Feliciano is a lefty-specialist who was put into bad situations over the past two years by Jerry Manuel. Nobody has been better at keeping LH hitters off base over the past three seasons.

But each also brings questions, and not just about durability. Can Martin still move behind the plate to be an effective defensive catcher? And potentially relegating Montero to the bench certainly won’t endear him to many who bleed Pinstripes – after all, we’ve been salivating at the thought of watching him launch moonshots for 3 years now. Will Feliciano be nearly as effective in the AL East, particularly against the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Nick Markakis and Carl Crawford?

In the meantime, the biggest questions surrounding the 2011 Yankees have yet to be addressed: starting pitching, a quality set-up reliever, outfield and infield depth.

Plenty of rumours continue to swirl around the team, especially when it comes to starters. Zach GreinkeFausto CarmonaCarlos Zambrano and Felix Hernandez have all been mentioned as potential trade targets. Greinke and Carmona are probably far-fetched possibilities; both have team friendly contracts with teams that are looking to bring in an entire farm system in return. While Jack Zduriencek is known for trading, you can reasonably expect that he’ll want a kings ransom in return for King Felix (after all, he did just win a Cy Young for a last place team). Zambrano may be easier to get, but his temper amy be more destructive than his ability to win 20 games. And of course, we all wait on Andy Pettitte’s decision on whether or not to come back for a 17th season.

Infield rumors were centered on Bill Hall and Jeff Keppinger. There are reports that Hall just signed with Houston, which would seemingly make Keppinger an easier get. But really, is Keppinger that much of an upgrade over Ramiro Pena? Certainly not defensively – and his bat doesn’t make up the difference. As far as RH relievers and OF go, there hasn’t been any action to speak of. On the relief front, time is getting short. With Bobby Jenks, Matt  Guerrier, Jesse Crain, J.J. Putz, Matt Albers, Kerry Wood and Joaquin Benoit already signing elsewhere, there aren’t many proven relievers left on the market. Thus far, nobody has even whispered what the Yankees plan to give their OF some depth. MLBTR has a listing of the available free agents here: there are some intriguing names on the list (including old friends Eric Hinske, Austin Kearns and Johnny Damon).

It’s only December, so Cashman gets an incomplete on this years offseason. But March is coming quickly and the most glaring problems – the ones that sent the Yankees home to watch this year’s World Series – remain, while players who could fill those voids are signing elsewhere. Heck, it was even reported that the Yankees no longer have the game’s highest payroll, a testament not only to Boston’s spending but to Cashman’s not spending.

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The trade deadline has come and gone and Brian Cashman was certainly busy over the final 48 hours, landing three new players. With Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood now wearing Pinstripes, let’s look back at what were generally considered the Yankees biggest needs heading into this year’s trade season and see how well Cashman did in addressing them.

  1. Bullpen: The struggles of Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park this year, along with injuries to Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Damaso Marte turned what looked like a major strength at the beginning of the season into a major question mark. Cashman picked up Wood hours after the Indians activated him from the DL. And that’s been Kerry Wood’s big problem throughout his career – the guy just can’t stay healthy. At one time, he was supposed to be the Next Big Thing; now, his career has devolved into that of middle innings guy. Still, Wood has a plus fastball and curve and hitters don’t like to face him. Additionally, acquiring him gave the Yankees the perfect excuse to send Park and his thrill-a-minute pitching style packing, so that’s a plus right there. Also, Cashman gave up virtually nothing to get him, other than money and a future low-grade prospect, so there isn’t much risk involved here. Of course, this doesn’t really address the eighth inning role, but adding a power arm is never a bad idea. Grade: B-
  2. Outfield bench: Replacing Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames didn’t exactly pan out. Thames has demonstrated that his all-hit, no-glove reputation is well deserved and Winn played so well he was asked to run away from Yankee Stadium. Enter Austin Kearns. Kearns represents a serious upgrade to this unit. Unlike Thames, he is a better than league-average defender at both corner spots and league-average in center, if needed. He has better than average speed, although it’s never translated to stolen bases. He has decent power from the right side, although not enough to ever be considered a power hitter. In other words, he is the epitome of a fourth outfielder even though his past teams were so awful he found himself thrust into starting roles. Once again, Cashman brought a solid player in from Cleveland for cash or the infamous PTBNL (btw, I want to meet that guy one day – he gets traded A LOT), so there isn’t much risk involved, either. The only thing keeping this from being an “A” is that Kearns doesn’t project as a guy you want starting 3-4 weeks in a row, should a serious injury occur. Grade: B+
  3. Infield Bench: This is the one area that still needs some work. Neither Ramiro Pena nor Kevin Russo are guys you really want to see with a bat in their hands, but the Yankees were unable to find any help. A waiver trade is always a possibility, but Tampa, Boston and Texas will know what the Yankees are up to and probably try to block any such move. Grade: F
  4. Designated Hitter: A full-time DH wasn’t a serious need, even if Nick Johnson is likely done. Using the DH role to rotate some of the Yankee vets would have been fine, if a strong utility guy could be found. None were, so Cashman did the next best thing: bring in some big-time thunder for the DH role. Although undeniably on the downside of very good career, Lance Berkman’s arrival means the Yankee line-up gets lengthened, with legitimate power threats from 2-8. The undeniable shocker of the trade deadline. Grade: A

Overall, I give Cashman a B- for this year’s deadline dealing, although that stands to improve if the Yanks can swing a deal for utility infielder.

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Today, we begin our look at the fourth year of Brian Cashman at the helm of the Yankees baseball operations. The previous iterations can be seen here, here or here.

Signings and Re-Signings

Re-signed Damaso Marte to a 3 year/$12 million deal.

Signed Sergio Mitre to a 1 year deal with a team option.

Re-signed Chien-Ming Wang to a 1 year deal.

Signed AJ Burnett for 5 years/$82 million.

Signed CC Sabathia for 7 years/$161 million.

Signed Mark Teixeira for 8 years/$180 million.

Re-signed Andy Pettitte for 1 year/$5.5 million plus incentives.

Trades

Traded Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez for Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira

Traded Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson for Eric Hinske

Traded Jose Veras for $3.12 in pesos (Cash Considerations).

Traded Chase Weems for Jerry Hairston

Traded Cash for Chad Gaudin

Notable Draft Picks

Zachary Heathcott

Grade for the Year: A

For the most part, this year was great for Brian. There was speedbump or two, but nothing that $500 million couldn’t fix in the long run. My favorite move? Getting rid of Jose Veras, god I hated him, but that’s neither here nor there. Everything Brian did in this year worked out like a charm as the Yankees marched on to their 27th World Series championship. Many of the moves he made also set up the Yankees for long term success as well, atleast one would think or hope.

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How can anyone question whether the Yankees or better or not? Some are debating the topic, and I’m looking to settle the argument.

Gone: Hideki Matsui, Chien-Ming Wang, Jerry Hairston Jr., Brian Bruney, Austin Jackson, Melky Cabrera, Phil Coke, Shelley Duncan, Eric Hinske, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino

Newcomers: Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree

Still up in the air: Johnny Damon

Let’s do a quick overview:

The Goners

  • If Matsui didn’t have the postseason he had, nobody would be crying if he left us. You have to judge him based on his regular season. He was nothing spectacular during the regular season, and he locks up the DH spot since he can’t play the field at all with his knee problems. This is coming from a fan of his. He is one of those players you respect in the game, but you need to know when to cut your ties.
  • Chien-Ming Wang fell off the charts dramatically. The guy has thrown only 137 innings over the past two years. He went (W-L) 1-6 with a 9.64ERA last season. What makes you think he can pitch right now? He was a 19-game winner. Not anymore.
  • Hairston, Bruney, Cabrera, Coke, Duncan and Dunn will not be missed. As for Hinske..we could use him, but he’s not a major loss.

The Newcomers

  • Curtis Granderson is taking over centerfield. He brings another power bat to the lineup, more speed, and serves as a defensive upgrade in the outfield.
  • Javier Vazquez will take the 4th slot in the rotation. He didn’t fair so well with the Yanks his first time around, but can you give him another chance? This guy could be an ace on many major league ball clubs. Power pitchers are key in the playoffs…just remember that.
  • Nick Johnson walked 17.8% of the time in ’09, which was the highest percentage in the major leagues. His .426 on base percentage was second-best in the league to Albert Pujols. Enough said? Don’t give me that..”Oh..he’s going to get injured.” You never know how the season will go. You can’t predict injuries. How did A.J. Burnett do last season?
  • The club also brought in a young bunch of players: Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree. Hoffman will compete for an outfield spot come Spring Training.

and those still up in the air

  • Johnny Damon is still undecided where he is going to play next season. His options are running out, and there is still a chance he can return to the Yankees. Let’s wait and see what happens.

This off-season, the Yankees basically got rid of players that were over the hill, had injury problems, weren’t anything special at the major league level, and some prospects that haven’t proven a damn thing. Instead, they brought in an all-star center fielder, a pitcher that could be an ace on many ball clubs and a DH that finished behind Pujols in OBP last year. This team should be stronger than last year’s. I am well aware that things don’t always work out, but this team is clearly better on paper. Now, let’s see if they can do it on the field.

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Darryl Strawberry is going to appear on ‘Apprentice’. “No, the former Mets and Yankees slugger isn’t up for a front-office position, but something a bit more television-friendly. It was revealed Monday by NBC that Strawberry, 47, is one of the cast members in the next season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” entrepreneur Donald Trump’s reality show that begins airing in March after the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.”

LoHud.com’s Chad Jennings wonders if the Yankees’ lineup would seem better if Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner swapped positions, since Granderson has the power of a corner outfielder and Gardner has the speed of a center fielder.

The agent for Chien-Ming Wang told 1050 ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that he has heard from 15 teams, whom are interested in Wang.

Blomberg wants to do radio. He  joined Ed Randall on WFAN radio and fell in love with the microphone, opening another potential avenue for the 61-year-old who for years has had a hand in everything from motivational speaking, to scouting for the Yankees, to running sports camps for youths in New Jersey. “I want to do radio,” says Blomberg, who was taken by the Bombers with the first pick of the 1967 draft and spent seven of his eight major league seasons in pinstripes. “It’s a natural thing, I love to talk to people and talk baseball.”

Bruney loves his facial hair. “I can finally grow some facial hair after four years,” he said. “That’s great. That was one of the first things I thought about. When I was traded, I said, ‘Wow, finally, I can grow a beard.’”

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution believes that if his price tag drops to well below $10MM, Johnny Damon could be a good fit for the Braves.

Strikeouts on the rise for Sanchez. “In his last four regular season appearances with Scranton, Sanchez had 22 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. During the Triple-A playoffs, he had 17 strikeouts in 10 innings. This winter in Venezuela, Sanchez has 47 strikeouts in 33 innings (his previous three winters combined he had just 22 strikeouts in 34.1 innings).”

Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wants the Yankees to stay away from free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd. 

Randy Johnson announces retirement. “I would like to officially announce my retirement. I’ve taken this long because I definitely wanted to kind of relax from the season being over and make sure I had a clear head when I made this decision, and that I would be making it wholeheartedly, and that I would stick with it. Without a doubt, 100 percent, I will be retiring at this time.”

Bay: “I just kind of assumed Damon would be back”. “I didn’t really see them having a hole,” Bay said. “They moved some guys, and I just kind of assumed Damon was going to be back. I just never really gave it a lot of thought to be honest.”

The Misery Tenor. The Yankees have moved on and they have no plans for Ronan Tynan to sing during the 7th inning stretch at future home games.

A-Rod still has Madonna on his mind. “Actress Kate Hudson reportedly dumped sportsman Alex Rodriguez, her boyfriend of nine-months, because he is still obsessed with Madonna.” (more…)

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