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Posts Tagged ‘MLBTradeRumors.com’

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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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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