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Posts Tagged ‘Joel Sherman’

Bobby Abreu: Coming Back?

Bobby Abreu: Coming Back?

Over the weekend, rumors have been hot & heavy regarding a proposed trade that would send AJ Burnett and cash to the Pirates in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. Joel Sherman in this morning’s New York Post has an interesting write-up. The deal right now is hung up on the two teams agreeing to fair compensation, given the amount of money the Pirates want along with AJ.

It seems as if the Yankees are intent on moving AJ purely as a player dump, with the hope that they can free up enough payroll to find a left-handed bat for the DH spot. I’m fine with just dumping AJ, who has been the model for inconsistency throughout his career and whose Yankee career has been underwhelming (to say the least). But what if the Yanks could actually get a quality bat in return, rather than the borderline prospects the Pirates seem willing to part with? Such a deal may be possible. Ken Rosenthal tweeted
around 11:30am
 that the Angels would like to have AJ’s services. And the Angels have a serious logjam at DH/OF, with the expected return of Kendrys Morales, youngsters Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos and veterans Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells all looking for playing time. Add Albert Pujols to the mix, who is guaranteed to take over at first, and suddenly Trumbo and Morales are without a position. In short, they have seven players for four spots. Somebody will be the odd man out in that game of musical chairs and my guess is it will be Abreu.

The Yankees are familiar with Abreu, who patrolled right field for the Bombers from 2006-2008. While his skills have declined, the Yanks are only looking for a part-time left handed bat, a role Abreu could certainly fill. His power has taken a serious dive over the past two seasons, but his splits against right handers are still decent (.259/.366/.400) and after adjusting for ballparks, actually slightly better than league average (108 OPS+). And in clutch and high leverage situations, Abreu still shows the ability to rise to the occasion: in 104 “clutch” plate appearances last year, Abreu hit .306/.423/.482. We all know he isn’t anyone’s idea of a good outfielder, but the Yanks probably wouldn’t play him more than 10-15 games in the outfield anyway – not enough to have his fear of walls do any real damage to the Chase for 28.

There are two huge obstacles to getting a deal done: the first is AJ’s no-trade clause. The Angels are one of the ten teams on his list and it seems AJ is dead set on staying on the east coast. But we’ve all seen no-trade clauses get waived when the player is given enough “incentive.” I suspect AJ can be properly incented, given the difference between the Pirates and Angels chances for winning – and the difference in their home ballparks. (In case you hadn’t noticed, Angels Stadium is much more pitcher friendly than PNC Park). The other is, of course, the money. Abreu is in the last year of his deal and owed $9 million, while AJ has two years and $33 million left on his. But it seems to me that if the Yanks are willing to pay the Pirates $10-13 million for a pair of borderline prospects, then the Yankees could agree to a similar amount for Abreu. And once Abreu is off the books next year, the Yanks would look to have even more salary space next season to find a DH type than they would if they accept the Pirates trade offer. Let’s say the Yanks agree to pick up Abreu’s contract for this year and chip in an additional $5 million in cash, along with an extra $3 million for AJ to head west. $17 million is a hefty price to get AJ out of town – but I still prefer that to the Pirates offer, as the Yanks would get a known commodity for 2012 and salary relief for 2013.

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Courtesy: AP/Seth Wenig

As the 2011 preseason is now officially underway for the Yankees, it’s time for Yankee fans to fire up the hot stove and begin contemplating what the team will look like next Spring. But before you can take the first step forward, it helps to know where you are. After all, every destination has a starting point. It just happens that 2011 and #28 begins from the rubble of what was a once promising season in 2010.

So, where are the Yankees right now?

Front Office: The Yanks front office appears more stable than at any time in more than a generation. Gone are the days when Mount Steinbrenner might erupt at any moment, causing the Yanks management team a severe case of angina and filling the back pages of NYC’s tabloids. Brian Cashman, love him or hate him, seems certain to retain the General Manager’s position for the foreseeable future. While the Steinbrenner sons seem to have placed their faith in Cashman, I wouldn’t advise him to repeat last year’s disastrous offseason. While they strike me as the polar opposite of their Dad in the way they approach running the team, I also can’t imagine that the Steinbrenner demand for winning is sublimated to profits under their watch. Cashman is excellent at the operations side of the baseball business – but more player moves on par with Nick Johnson and Javy Lopez will end his run.

Field Management: Cashman already announced that bringing back skipper Joe Girardi is “job 1” this offseason. That probably says more about the lack of available managerial talent than Girardi’s skill in guiding the team, in my opinion. The only other decent manager available right now is Bobby Valentine. Somehow, I can’t see Bobby V’s penchant for grabbing the spotlight and the current front office’s desire to avoid controversy co-existing. Joel Sherman
made an interesting point about the skipper needing to loosen up a bit and have fun in an earlier column today. It’s a point that hopefully Girardi will take to heart in 2011. Oh, and hopefully he loses that infernal binder along the way, too.

Earlier today, the coaching staff shake-up began in earnest, as Dave Eiland was jettisoned. No real reason was given, but I suspect Eiland wanted out as much, if not more; than the brass wanted him gone (he did disappear for nearly a month during the regular season, for reasons nobody has ever explained). Regardless, the Yankees now need a pitching coach. I imagine with AJ Burnett due back and the real possibility of having a rookie in the starting rotation, the Yankees will look for somebody with not only pitching expertise, but a psychiatry degree. With Cliff Lee an obvious target of Yankee affection, expect a pitching coach Lee respects to be targeted.

Otherwise, don’t expect major changes on the bench. Kevin Long is still regarded as one of the best hitting coaches in the business and 3B/IF coach Rob Thompson is widely regarded as helping Robinson Cano realize his potential in the field. Bench coach Tony Pena seems likely to stay – but I’m certain if a managerial job opens up for him, he’ll jump on it.

Coming tomorrow: Core Four

Coming Wednesday: Pitchers

Coming Thursday: FIelders

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Lance Berkman

Houston Astros first baseman, Lance Berkman, was not in the lineup posted outside the clubhouse today.

Via Twitter:

Joelsherman1: “Hearing Berkman deal from Astros to Yankees is on verge of completion.”

Buster_ESPN: “Heard this: The Steinbrenners have given pre-approval to the acquisition of a large salary such as Lance Berkman or Adam Dunn.”

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Now that a White Sox – Nationals trade sending Adam Dunn to Chicago’s South Side seems more likely than ever (the White Sox just landed Edwin Jackson, who Nat’s GM Mike Rizzo is said to covet and have included him in their offer), it’s time to look for alternatives for the slugging southpaw. Mind you, I never thought Dunn (or any 1B/DH types, for that matter) are really needed in the South Bronx and I think the team needs help in the bullpen and a bench IF more than a lefty bat. But, it seems the Yankees front office has decided to find a left-handed bat they can plug into the DH role.

Option 1: Adam LaRoche, Arizona – Call him “Dunn-lite.” A left-handed first baseman, LaRoche currently sports a slash line of .254/.330/.446 and a career slash line of .271/.341/.487. Over seven seasons, he averages 1 HR every 21.4 AB’s, 1 K every 4 – and is a notorious second-half hitter. Although the rumor mill is quiet about him, it would make sense for Arizona to move him. The team is on obvious salary-dump mode and LaRoche is on a one-year, $4.5M deal with a mutual $7.5M option for next year (or a buy-out for $1.5M). One drawback for the Yankees is that option increases to $9.5M if traded. Still, it represents a way for the D’backs to shed about $4M from their anticipated payroll if they have no plans to keep him next year.

Option 2: Lance Berkman, Houston – Trades with the Astros are notoriously difficult, unless you happen to be the Phillies. However, the Roy Oswalt trade yesterday may signal that owner Drayton McClane is finally waving the white flag. The former all-star should be familiar to most fans, but here’s the upside: Berkman is a veteran switch hitter with power (1 HR every 17 AB) and one of those high-quality clubhouse types. Unlike Dunn and LaRoche, nobody has ever questioned this guy’s work ethic or desire. But he is having a down year in terms of production and has missed significant portions of the last two seasons with injuries. Although on the production side of the equation, he is walking more than ever – a sure sign that pitchers are avoiding the one true threat in an anemic Astros line-up. The money is also going to be difficult for the Yankees. Berkman is owed around $7M for the remainder of this year and he has made it clear he wants his $15M option for next year guaranteed in order to not exercise his no-trade clause. $22M for an injury plagued 1B on the downside of his career should be too much for Cashman & Co. to swallow.

Option 3: Derrek Lee, Cubs – The Cubs are rumored to be looking to shed payroll, although they have yet to make any deals. Lee is owed around $6.5M this year before hitting free agency. This would be a bit of a reach, since Lee is having a really bad year after a bounce-back type season a year ago. If you take 2009 out of the equation, then his last three seasons work to a .290/362/.408 line. While his HR production would probably increase some at Yankee Stadium (1 for every 29.5 AB over the past 3 years), you have to wonder how he would handle NYC and the post-season. In 23 career post-season games, Lee is a .263 hitter. On the plus side, Lee is considered an A+ type guy in the clubhouse. I’d consider this a real “Hail Mary” play if the Yanks were to pursue it.

Again, I don’t think the Yankees should really go hard after any of these guys, but if they happen to fall into Brian Cashman’s lap, then they might be worth it for the 2010 stretch run. Another thing to keep in mind is that these guys will almost certainly clear waivers because of the money involved, so if the Yankees still find themselves in need in mid-August odds are one or all three will be available. That leaves us…

Option 4: Nick Johnson, DL – Yes, you heard that one right. Mike Axisa reports that Johnson is resuming baseball activities in Tampa, though they’re limited to fielding grounders and soft-tossed fungoes for now. Still, if Johnson can make it back by September then he at least has a chance to redeem himself somewhat.

Author’s note – I checked the wires just before posting this. Joel Sherman tweeted the Yankees “are definitely in for Lance Berkman, considering him seriously.” Sherman also broke the news the Yankees had landed Cliff Lee, so take it for what it’s worth.

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As a baseball fan, I love this time of year. The trade rumors start flying and in the modern world of communications, they fly so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up with them.

Anyway, I just read a bunch of articles that make it appear the Nationals priced Adam Dunn right out of the trade market. Joel Sherman is reporting the Yankees consider Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo’s asking price for Dunn too steep; the Rays apparently feel the same. Now, I just read that the White Sox are basically saying Rizzo needs his head examined. The only contender remaining at this point are the Giants, and that’s more wishful speculation on the part of their fans than anything else. So, the question needs to be asked: without any real movement on a new contract for Dunn and the Nat’s suddenly without a viable trade partner for him, could the Yankees sneak in at the last minute and grab him?

It certainly seems a plausible enough situation. The Nationals are motivated to move him if they can’t sign him now, since he is a pending free agent and has expressed a desire to test the market at season’s end. The Yankees have expressed interest in bringing Dunn to the Bronx. Certainly, enough knowledgeable baseball types like Dunn (Mike Axisa at River Avenue Blues practically drools over him). As anyone who’s read my previous posts knows, I’m not that crazy about him. This is a player who takes a sort of perverse pride in being lazy, is more or less a statue in the field and strikes out at rates that make Dave Kingman look like a contact hitter. Of course, there are pluses: Dunn has inordinate power from the left side, draws a ton of walks and is impervious to injury. In other words, he’s Nick Johnson with more power and without the ability to get hurt simply by walking on a piece of bubble gum.

So, for the right price, I wouldn’t mind having Dunn on the team. I just don’t think it should be a very high price, given that this would be a two-month rental. And I’m beginning to think this is must-move for the Yankees. Not because they need Adam Dunn – the current DH rotation seems pretty effective – but because Brian Cashman hasn’t made a good personnel move since signing Mark Texeira two offseasons ago, and Cashman has already struck out twice this trading dealine (Cliff Lee and Dan Haren). I realize Hal and Hank aren’t as impetuous as their dad, but eventually they’re going to wonder if Cashman has lost his mojo – so the pressure may well be on in the front office for Cashman to show that he can still play with the big boys.

Somehow, I’m not going to be surprised to wake up Sunday morning to find out the Yanks sprung an 11:59pm deal to put Dunn in Pinstripes.

Hey Yankee Fans! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

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Joel Sherman just broke the news on Twitter:

“Congrats to pal Mike Kay, who called me about an hour ago to say got engaged to newscaster Jodi Applegate. Only the best for 2 nice people”

Congrats Michael! I’m sure Paul O’Neill is happy about this!

Jerry: Michael Kay… Elaine: Yeah? Jerry: Is getting married! Elaine: Get out!

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  Starting Pitcher Cliff Lee #36 Of The Seattle Mariners PitchesFrom MLB Trade Rumors.com: (Ben Nicholson-Smith):

The Yankees were ‘on the brink’ of acquiring Cliff Lee last night in a deal that would include top catching prospect Jesus Montero, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik wants to move quickly and has been in ‘constant contact’ with Yankees GM Brian Cashman over the course of the last week, according to Sherman. Other clubs remain involved, but the Yankees are the heavy favorite to acquire the lefty.

———————————————-

Talks are intensifying between the Yankees and Mariners, Jon Heyman of SI.com confirms. Discussions between the Yankees and Mariners appear serious and it’s ‘quite possible’ that a deal will be completed.

Sabathia-Lee-Burnett-Pettitte-Vazquez-Hughes…could it be?

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You can officially say goodbye to Johnny Damon now:

From the LoHud Yankees Blog:

Joel Sherman says the Yankees have reached a one-year deal with Randy Winn. Looks like that’s the extra outfielder.

I actually happen to like Winn, but I still rather have Damon. I’ll take it though. He’s definitely an upgrade over Gardner (well, at least I think so). Winn had a really bad year this past season. Prior to last year, he had four consecutive seasons with 10HR+.

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According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have signed LHP Royce Ring and utility hitter David Winfree to minor league deals.

Some background information from our friends over at RAB:

“Ring’s name should be familiar, he’s bounced around quite a bit and spent some time with the Mets. The 29-year-old was the 18th overall pick in 2002, but he hasn’t been able to sustain any type of success in the big leagues. He’s struggled with control, posting a 53-40 K/BB ratio in 65.2 big league innings, and it’s 191-80 in 213.1 IP at the Triple-A level. Ring’s splits against lefties are okay, but nothing special. Some will point to him as a potential replacement for Phil Coke, but I think he’s more of a replacement for Zach Kroenke.

The 24-year-old Winfree is a career .270-.318-.442 hitter in the minors, .273-.317-.460 in Triple-A. He’s spent considerable time at first, third, and in right field in his career, and TotalZone says he sucks at all three spots. I assume the righty hacker is going to take over the Eric Duncan role of filling in at the different corner every day for Triple-A Scranton.”

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