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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Nationals’

Yesterday, I reviewed the Baby Bomber’s pitchers and catchers and evaluated their chances of making the opening day roster. Today it’s time for the infielders and outfielders. Unlike the wealth of talent behind the dish and on the rubber, there isn’t any outstanding talent in these spots, but there are some intriguing guys who might help out somewhere along the line.

Infielders – Let’s face it. As fans, we don’t want another season of Ramiro Pena’s average glove and Mario Mendoza bat. And while Kevin Russo seems like a nice kid, he wasn’t any better. Who might replace him?

Eduardo Nunez: If any of the young infielders in camp have a sincere chance of unseating Pena, this is the guy. He continues to hit decently, showing some line-drive power and decent speed. He isn’t the smoothest guy in the field, but he isn’t a liability, either. Besides, he is the guy who was supposed to replace Derek Jeter had Armageddon come to the Bronx this past winter.

Eduardo Nunez

Eduardo Nunez

Reegie Corona: Quite frankly, I don’t see much difference between Corona and Pena. Both of them get the bat knocked out of their hands by anyone who throws harder than 85mph. Both are competent, but not other-worldly, fielders. He looks targeted for AAA Scranton and will likely be first guy up should Jeter or Robbie Cano get injured.

Brandon Laird: The Yankees are sending the natural 3B to AAA Scranton to learn a “super-utility role” – 3B, 1B, RF, LF. It makes sense since both 1B and 3B are sewed up for the next few years. And I doubt the front office wants to keep bringing in retreads for reserve RH bench spots, when there may well be a better option in the high minors.

Jorge Vazquez: Look, when you’re 29 and never been on a major league roster, you might want to start thinking about taking the Crash Davis route. Vazquez possesses a slider speed bat but can’t hit breaking balls. He plays the corner spots, but is known in the minors as a defensive liability at third and barely adequate at first. He does have power and displayed it against other minor leaguers early in camp. He’s a classic “AAAA” player – too good for AAA, but will get eaten alive in MLB.

Outfielders – Fortunately, the Yanks don’t really need anything other than competent bench players here, because this is easily the most underwhelming part of the minor league system.

Justin Maxwell: Ok, so he isn’t exactly a rookie, with 122 major league appearances over three seasons. But the Nationals aren’t exactly a MLB club, either. He has a career ML slash line of .201/.319/.379 with a .698 OPS. What he brings to the table is decent speed, the ability to play all 3 OF positions adequately and the high expectations from his college career at Maryland. Hopefully, a full season at AAA (something he never got from Washington) will help him rediscover the form that made him a 1st round pick.

Colin Curtis: Yankee fans got a glimpse of Curtis last year, when he appeared in 31 games for the Bombers. He didn’t really impress, putting up a .538 OPS in 64 plate appearances. (Although he did hit a memorable homer against the Angels). The former Arizona State standout may have reached his limit. If so, that would be a shame because he certainly has a compelling back story.

Greg Golson: Yet another player that fans have seen in Pinstripes, the 25 year old Golson also saw MLB time while with the Phillies and Rangers. He has become a speedy defensive specialist, and his arm proved invaluable in a key game against the Rays last year. Still, he needs to do better than his career MiLB slash line of .263/.309/.398 if he wants to stick with the big club.

Melky Mesa

Melky Mesa: Another long shot, the 24 year old Mesa has played 5 seasons of MiLB and never reached AA. He does have speed and power but his strikeout percentage (.319) is higher than his on base percentage (.307), never a good sign. I hope he figures it out, since he is the prototypical 5 tool player. The Yanks are taking something of a chance, assigning him to AAA to start the season and skipping AA entirely.

Jordan Parraz: In 7 minor league seasons, the 26 year old former Astros and Royals farmhand has compiled a MiLB slash line of .289/.376/.438, which is decent. But he may be another case of the classic “AAAA” player, since he has yet to see the majors despite an ability to play all three OF spots and good peripherals in the minors.

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Courtesy: NY Daily News

Yesterday, the Yankees finally made a splash in the free-agent market, signing the best reliever on the market in Rafael Soriano. Signing the all-star closer definitely takes care of the 8th inning spot, so we can cross that off the list of needs heading into 2011. If the contract runs full term, then the Yankees have also addressed the question of who takes over for Mariano Rivera when the future Hall of Famer decides to retire. In all, I like the signing; although the contract is probably a bit too player friendly.

But the signing has opened up a whole new line of questions about the team, Brian Cashman and who is really running the show. Buster Olney tweeted the question that is running through quite a few minds this morning:

“Looks like there was a split in Yankees’ org. over this — since it took place just days after Cashman said he wouldn’t give up No. 1 pick.”

Let’s take a look at the other reasons many are wondering who actually pulled the trigger on the deal.

  1. The contract is extremely player friendly. Not only does it make Soriano the 3rd highest paid reliever in MLB (behind Mo and Francisco Cordero), it gives him the option to opt out after years 1 and 2. In other words, this could be a 1 year deal for $10M, a 2 year deal for $22M or a 3 year deal for $35M. Given Cashman’s known reluctance to pay out big dollars to relievers, his reluctance to spend on anyone this winter and his absolute abhorrence to player friendly contracts (see Jeter, Derek or Rodriguez, Alex), you have to wonder why he would throw that kind of money or those terms at Soriano.
  2. The Yankees have taken a beating in the tabloids for, well, basically standing pat this off-season. Cashman seemed content to avoid signing anyone of consequence, even as the Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies and even the Nationals have gone all-out to improve their teams. Despite the team’s obvious need for starting pitching, he never made a play for Zach Greinke and according to published statements, quickly gave up on acquiring Matt Garza. Cashman may be made of teflon in terms of criticism, but a certain member of the ownership group isn’t.
  3. Cashman’s history in the FA market is to make runs at the consensus best player available (like CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira) or try to find diamonds in the rough (Nick Johnson, Marcus Thames from last season). He doesn’t really have a history of targeting a big name to fill a limited role.
  4. Soriano’s agent is Scott Boras. Like most GM’s, Cashman normally treats Boras – and his clients – as if they have a combination of leprosy and bubonic plague. That he would suddenly, in less than week’s time, go from “we’re not surrendering a 1st round pick” to handing out a player friendly contract to Boras is really hard to fathom.

In other words, this looks a lot more like Hank Steinbrenner pulled the trigger on this deal than Cashman. Hank is like his father in many ways: not afraid of dealing with Boras, willing to hand out player-friendly contracts and hates the Yanks being upstaged by anyone.

So, here’s the question of the day: who do you think was most responsible for signing Rafael Soriano, and what do you think it means for the future of the front office? Let us know!

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From Fox Sports (Ken Rosenthal):

One rival executive believes the Yankees are still heavily involved with Dunn. The Yankees said they were out of the running two days ago, but that message, the executive says, might have been a warning shot at the Nationals: Quit messing around!

Other sources, however, say the Yankees indeed remain out on Dunn.

Take it for what it’s worth. I don’t think you can ever count the Yankees out, even if they say they are “out.” You guys know how they like to stay under the radar and swoop in at the last second.

Update: 3:25PM ET: Via BobKlap: Yankees keeping their distance from Dunn, for now. “No movement,” says one official.  He later said: Yankees definitely out on Dunn

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Yankees (8-11) vs. Nationals (5-14)

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Javier Vazquez (1-0, 4.50) vs RHP Livan Hernandez (0-0, 3.00)

Lineup

Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF (more…)

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Today’s game between the Yankees and Nationals has been canceled. Chad Jennings reported this a couple of hours ago on The LoHud Yankees Blog. Bummer. I finally have the time to see a couple of games, and they get rained out on back-to-back days.

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And the first deal during the Winter Meetings is Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. Yup, did not see this coming, not until rumors this morning at least. Talk about a swing of luck, going from the best team in baseball to arguably the worst team. While I would have hoped for the Yankees to keep him, I am not sad at his departure, especially with Joba or Phil able to fill the 8th inning duties.

No chance this ‘player to be named later’ is Stephen Strasburg, is there?

I wonder if this will be the only time a World Series ring will be given to a member of the Washington Nationals in Nationals Stadium…

Update: Zell’s Take: Supposedly, there was a rumor going around that Brian Bruney might be traded to the Atlanta Braves in return for some prospects. It’s hard to imagine that they would need him beside Wagner, Saito, and Soriano in their bullpen. A team interested in Bruney contacted the Yanks, and was told “he is going to the Braves.”

It turned out that the rumor was false, and he is in fact being shipped to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. Bruney had a great power arm, but it really didn’t translate into a successful season for him.

He made $1.25 million this season and lost the setup man role because of his poor pitching. This year, Bruney would have likely gotten a raise on his $1.25 million, so this is another way for the Yankees to shave some payroll.

Overall, the numbers he put up since joining the Yankees aren’t all that bad. He had a great 2008 campaign before landing on the DL, posting a 1.83ERA through 34.1IP and struck out 33 batters. I thought he would be more of a “bulldog” out of the pen in big spots and we just didn’t see enough of that.

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     Who would have thought that a major topic of this off-season would be about Nick Swisher & Xavier Nady? Cashman isn’t against trading either one, but the offer has to be good. The Braves, Nationals, & Reds are the three teams that are currently interested. I like Nady a lot, and I rather keep him over Swisher. That’s just my opinion though.

from MLB Trade Rumors:

According to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, Brian Cashman’s spending lots of time talking with other clubs about Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady. Cashman’s open to moving either player, but he says he won’t make a deal for the sake of making one: “we’re not going to do anything unless there’s a reason to do it.”

Cashman also said most reports about trade discussions have been accurate. The Braves, Nationals and Reds are among the teams who have reportedly had interest in Swisher and Nady.

The Yankees like Johnny Damon’s production and they’re not shopping him or Hideki Matsui.

Kepner suggests the Yankees should “hold on to Swisher and dangle Nady” for a number of reasons. Swisher’s two years younger and he’s under contract for $21MM over the next three years. Nady, a Scott Boras client, will be a free agent after the 2009 season.

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Why aren’t teams calling for Hudson?  /  Bonds for Yankees is hardly a handout

Bush pardon less and less likely for Rocket  /  Melky’s arbitration case

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