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Archive for the ‘The Yankees’ Category

Thanks to my cousin for bringing this to my attention today.

From Bombers Beat at the MLBlogs Network:

70 years ago, a dying Lou Gehrig stood on the field at Yankee Stadium and said goodbye to baseball, making what can only be considered the most memorable and greatest speech in the game’s history.

Today, this Fourth of July, every Major League team playing at home will conduct a special on-field ceremony to commemorate his farewell. The Yankees are hosting a special “4-ALS Awareness” ceremony on the field this afternoon at 1 p.m. and will recognize Michael Goldsmith, a lifelong baseball fan who contributed to the development of the “4-ALS” initiative.

In addition, to honor Gehrig, a “4-ALS” logo will appear on top of first base in every ballpark around the Majors. All on-field personnel will wear a patch honoring the initiative, and Yankees players will help recreate Gehrig’s speech in a video tribute.

There is a great display inside Gate 4 at the Stadium which has a large photograph of Gehrig speaking on July 4, 1939, accompanied by a continuous loop of the audio. Today would be a great day to stop in and check it out if you’re headed here.

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

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I didn’t believe the Yankees’ silence on Mark Teixeira was an indicator that they weren’t interested. Signing him made too much sense, within both the Yankees’ free-spending approach and in more pragmatic terms, as well.

Contrary to what some might think following my recent rant, I’m not generally opposed to seeing the Yankees’ sign top tier free agents. I just think they need to be much smarter about it than they have been. Their lack of long term planning often means they are forced to fill immediate holes in the lineup by taking on big contracts with players that aren’t a very good fit. For example one deal I wish they did make was for Carlos Beltran back in 2005. They knew Bernie Williams was in serious decline and that if they held off, there would not be a comparable CF available in the coming years. Indeed, the following year they found themselves in a bind and spent relatively big money on the best option available, Johnny Damon, who turned 33 that year and has been a decent offensive player when healthy but a defensive liability at the position they signed him to play. And he hasn’t been very healthy at all in the last two years, missing 40 games and nursing injuries at DH in another 70.

So, here are this Yankee fan’s pros and cons on signing Mark Teixeira (cons first):

1. Recently obtained 1B/LF Nick Swisher, whom I was excited to see receive a chance to play every day, is the biggest loser in this deal. Unfortunately, the Yankees don’t obtain players like Swisher as their first choice to start at any position. Swisher, like Wilson Betemit (who was traded to the White Sox for Swisher last month) was brought in as an insurance policy in case they didn’t obtain a more marquee player in the offseason and to step in should another starter get injured. This is only a one-year problem for Swisher. If he is able to distinguish himself in part-time duty this year, he will have more opportunities for playing time as the contracts of both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui will expire after the 2009 season, leaving left field and designated hitter open.

2. The Yankees would be wise to leave 1B/DH/LF as open as possible in the short and long terms. They have several aging core position players with multiple years remaining on their contracts who might be able to continue to produce offensively but would have to move to less demanding defensive positions. The first issue is Posada. We don’t know whether or for how long he will be able to continue to be a viable starting MLB catcher. The official word is that the shoulder that ruined his 2008 season is responding well to rehab but the front office would never readily acknowledge that the shoulder was shot if that were the case. And even if it does heal up fine, he turns 38 next season and is signed through 2011. Next is Jeter. His contract is up after the 2010 season, during which he turns 36. Assuming he’s still producing offensively, the Yanks will probably give the modern face of the franchise (and link in the historical chain of Yankee greats) 4 years or so to wind down his career. He’s already lost a step at shortstop and however things work out, he will probably have to find another position before his tenure in pinstripes is finished. And then ARod is only 1 year younger than Jeter and is signed through his 41st birthday. Personally, I’d really hate to see Jeter or Posada finish their careers anyplace else and ARod’s contract is probably untradable.

3. The Yankees have proven with the greatest World Series dynasty of the last half century that you don’t need a major thumper in the middle of the lineup to reach the promised land, much less two. Through each of those 4 Championship seasons, no Yankee player hit more than 30 home runs. During his tenure with the Yankees, Tino Martinez hit over 30 twice, in 1997 and in 2001. Interestingly, those were the only two years during Tino’s first go-round in the Bronx in which they didn’t win the World Series. While superfluously adding power hitters to the lineup may be the modern Yankee way, it has not in any way shown itself to be a of model for success for the modern Yankees. It does, however, add legitimacy to complaints about the Yankees’ excessive use of their resources and chiding of their recent playoff futility despite the unprecedented spending.

Now the pros:

1. This is the Beltran deal they didn’t make in 2005. It’s a major signing that brings short, medium and long term benefits. While it would be nice to try to remain more flexible than locking up a first baseman for 8 years will allow, this player is a top talent who still has most of his prime seasons ahead of him. He will be 37 in the last year of the contract, an age at which he is likely enough to still be productive. Next year there will not be a better player who is a better fit who Teixeira stands in the way of. There will be no need to sign another Johnny Damon next offseason. There will be no search for an offensive boost during the 2009 season. Precluded are any trades for some other team’s midseason salary dump.

2. Thanks to the Sabathia and Burnett signings, they can’t do any more major damage to their 2009 draft. With the two new pitchers, the Yanks’ 1st and 2nd round picks are already gone. I assume they will now lose another, since Teixeira is a type-A free agent, but at this point who cares about their 3rd rounder? They might as well take advantage of the opportunity to sign a top tier type-A free agent without having to sacrifice a 1st or 2nd round draft pick.

3. Boosting the offense isn’t such a bad idea. Improved production from Posada, Matsui and ARod over last year should replace some of the production lost from Abreu and Giambi, but the Yanks were 10th overall in MLB in runs scored last year and that number could stand to improve. Adding Teixeira should also re-establish offensive dominance over the Red Sox, who were Teixeira’s most touted suitors before this afternoon. This should leave the Sox unable to add the marquee power hitter they were seeking –obviously, they can’t counter this move by siging Manny Ramirez. As their lineup now stands, Bay and Youkilis are fine middle-order hitters, but they won’t provide Ortiz with anything like the protection that Manny did. And there are questions about Ortiz’ health, to boot.

4. Team chemistry. Teix has a great clubhouse reputation, which is a factor the Yankees seem to be focusing on this offseason. There’s no denying that Alex Rodriguez is a bit of a head case who likely stands to benefit from another marquee name relieving some of the pressure he feels to carry the team.

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Unlike many Yankee fans I run into these days, largely people who signed on as bandwagoners since the mid-1990s or younger fans who came of age only knowing perennial playoff appearances (until this year, at least) I have been a fan long enough to vaguely remember the 1981 World Series and acutely recall the competitive near-miss years that followed through the mid 1980s. Even though 1981 marked the last time the Yanks would see the playoffs until 1995 (that drought tragically spanning almost the entire length of the great Don Mattingly’s career) the team was quite competitive through most of the 1980s, averaging 91 wins from 1983 through 1987.

But anyone who followed the team in those days remembers a steep descent that began in the latter years of that decade, the lessons of which seem sadly forgotten by the current stewards of the franchise. It somehow escapes them that the effort to remain competitive through the 1980s was quite similar to the current approach. The Yankee braintrust in those days fell into the habit of chasing one free agent after another, each one touted as that final piece which would lift them them to the next level. In 1984 they signed 46 year old Phil Neikro. In 1985 they signed Ed Whitson. In 1986 they signed 41 year old Joe Neikro and 43 year old Tommy John. In 1988 they signed Jack Clark and John Candeleria. In 1989 they signed Steve Sax, Mel Hall, Dave LaPoint and Andy Hawkins.

I can’t find a record of how many or which of those players were class-A or class-B free agents, but most of them likely fell under one of those categories, which means those names represent an awful lot of draft picks sacrificed in exchange for supposedly established (and almost always grossly overpaid) players who never had any significant positive impact on the team.

Further sabotaging the stock of young talent in those years was the working philosophy that developing players are less reliable than established veterans and therefore are best used as bargaining chips for obtaining players who are proven assets. Prior to the 1987 season, they traded Doug Drabek (who would quickly become one of the better starters in the NL over the next 8 years) for Rick Rhoden. Later that year they traded Bob Tewksberry (who later blossomed and had some pretty good years for St. Louis in the early 1990s) for Steve Trout. The next year they famously traded Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps. Then in 1989 they traded Al Leiter for a broken down Jesse Barfield. And then in the following offseason they traded Hal Morris (who would establish himself as a career .300 hitter over the next 11 seasons) for Tim Leary.

Looking back on those free agent acquisitions and trades is a study in the futility of that philosophy. The result of this indifference to “unproven” talent and thorough undermining of the developmental system turned those yearly contenders into the doormat of the American League East. The team’s plunge in the standings was accompanied by the usual disarray and dysfunction that often surrounded the Yankees in the old Steinbrenner days, with various scandals and reports of infighting torturing the remaining faithful fans from the back pages of the newspapers. In 1990, they hit bottom, winning only 67 games. Their .414 winning percentage that year was the lowest in franchise history since 1908, when the team was still called the Highlanders and Babe Ruth’s New York debut was more than a decade away.

But for once their dysfunction served them well; in the middle of that terrible 1990 season, meddling owner George Steinbrenner was banned from baseball and forced to relinquish control of the team. And the Yankees were lucky enough to have a highly competent general manager in Gene Michael who was ready to take over the reins. With the freedom to rebuild the farm system without interference from the owner, it only took Michael several years to construct the best minor league system in MLB. His work during that period – top-rate scouting and drafting, nurturing that young talent into a an all-star core that would become heart of the team for years to come and having a solid stable of veteran role players in place as they emerged – yielded nothing short of the greatest postseason dynasty of the last half-century.

Steinbrenner’s lifetime banishment lasted three years, though even he couldn’t deny Michael’s success in his absence and the glory years of the middle and late 1990s came and went before he eventually settled back into the old way of doing business. During the championship run, signing and trading for veteran players such as David Cone, Tino Martinez, David Wells and Roger Clemens seemed like reasonable measures to maintain the team’s dominance. The young core was in place and producing at the highest level and the future was now. But Steinbrenner’s old tendencies and the annual ritual of chasing top established stars at the expense of developmental talent became the norm again and eventually took its toll.

Admittedly, the renewed disregard for player development of this decade didn’t appear to have the same detrimental effect that we saw in the 1980s. Thanks to the new big money era, 2/3 of MLB teams don’t have the budget to make competitive offers to top free agents or to make trades in which they would take on large salaries. Further, more and more small market teams began using trades for the purpose of dumping salaries and rebuilding from scratch, hoping the next crop of young talent will collectively blossom before they are eligible for free agency and mesh well with whatever marginal players they can afford to retain.

So thanks to the narrowed field of teams to compete with for established players, they managed 7 consecutive playoff appearances since the end of the glory years and the last World Series title, despite the active depletion of the developmental system. But in reality, the decline has just been slower this time around. Consider, the last World Series title was in 2000. The last World Series appearance was in 2003. The last time they won a playoff series was 2004. The last time they finished the regular season at the top of their division was 2006. And the record-breaking playoff streak that began with the Gene Michael-built team in 1995 was finally broken this October. Indeed, without a robust farm system to rely on as a source of developing young players, we watch a team that has become increasingly committed to aging and/or injury prone players with diminishing skills and ever more obscenely bloated contracts.

In September, ESPN’s Buster Olney chronicled the downfall of the Yankees’ amateur drafts of this decade. Money quote:

Consider that in the drafts of 1997-2005:

The Yankees produced a total of 10 position players who have appeared in a major league game; that is the fewest of any team in the major leagues, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The 10 position players drafted by the Yankees had accounted for a total of 888 career at-bats as of Sept. 9, which means that not only have the Yankees generated few major league position players, but they have produced no stars, and just a handful of journeymen. The draftees of the Toronto Blue Jays from the same time frame, by comparison, have combined for 27,427 big-league at-bats; the Mets, 11,469.

The Yankees drafted and developed 20 pitchers, which is tied for the 12th-most among the 30 major league teams. However, those 20 pitchers selected by the Yankees have amassed 1,852 2/3 innings in the majors — the fewest innings for any group of pitchers drafted by any team. The Oakland Athletics’ draftees rank first, at 9,686 innings, according to Elias.

Looking at the past decade more closely, the list of free agent signings since the last World Series title looks only a little better than the list from the late 80s: Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Steve Karsay, Rondell White, Tom Gordon, Paul Quantril, Jaret Wright, Tony Womack, Kenny Lofton, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth, Johnny Damon, Gary Sheffield and Roger Clemens (in 2007). And while the young players they traded away in this era haven’t proven to be significant sacrifices like we saw in the 1980s (largely because the Yankees’ developmental talent of the past decade has been so poor) the excessive contracts they took on to obtain players such as Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Alex Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu have combined with those free agent signings to send the team payroll soaring to staggering levels, making their diminishing rate of return (in terms of playoff success) all the more plain to see.

As Olney noted in his column, things began to look up for the Yankee farm system in 2005 when GM Brian Cashman successfully negotiated in his new contract the freedom to run the team without interference from the Steinbrenner-controlled Tampa office. The surprise emergence earlier that year of second baseman Robinson Cano and starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (both players were called into action when “proven” talents Tony Womack and Carl Pavano showed themselves to be anything but) provided Cashman with the argument to convince the brass to allow him to restock the eroded farm system. In 2006, left fielder Hideki Matsui’s wrist fracture led to the emergence of fan favorite Melky Cabrera, who in the following year would take over centerfield from big-time 2006 free agent signee Johnny Damon, who’s declining defensive skills had become a noticeable liability by the end of the first year of his 4 year contract.

Cashman made good on his pledge to nurture the team’s developmental talent right away. Promising young players would not be used as trade bait to acquire aging stars. The #21 overall 2006 draft pick lost to the Red Sox for signing Johnny Damon was replaced by the #18 overall pick obtained from the Phillies when they signed Tom Gordon. Gary Sheffield was traded for a trio of minor-league pitching prospects. And with the exception of Damon and Kyle Farnsworth (for whom the Yankees lost their 2nd round pick in 2006) the Yankees did not commit to any more free agent signings that required the sacrifice of draft picks through the duration of Cashman’s 3 year contract.

But the commitment seems to have ended with Cashman’s last contract. He negotiated a new deal after the 2008 season but this time (following the Yanks’ first playoff absence since before the strike of 1994) with no promise of freedom from Steinbrenner (now George’s son, Hank Steinbrenner) and no pledge to commit to the farm system. The young pitchers whom Cashman refused to trade for stud starter Johan Santana last year were supposed to usher in the new era of home grown talent. But they proved still unready for the big show while Santana was traded instead to the cross-town rival Mets.

The remedy was not hard to predict. In the past week the Yankees awarded a record-breaking $161 million over 7 years to gifted but morbidly obese starting pitcher CC Sabathia and 5 years and $82.5 million to sometimes dominant but often injured starter, AJ Burnett. Both pitchers are listed as class-A free agents, which means the Yankees will sacrifice their 1st and 2nd round draft picks in the 2009 amateur draft. This news came in the same week that the Yankees lost 4 more minor league players in the Rule 5 Draft. 3 of them looked like they might have had some promise:

2B/SS Reegie Corona hit .274 and stole 24/28 bases in AA last year. He was the 2nd player taken in the draft, by the Mariners.
Lefty relief pitcher Zach Kroenke struck out 44 in 43.2 innings with a 3.09era in AA and was promoted to AAA at the end of the year, where he struck out 10 with a 1.80era in 10 innings. He was the 12th selection.
RHP Jason Jones was 13-7 with 91 Ks in 143.1 innings and a 3.33era for AA and was promoted to AAA at the end of the year where he was 0-1 with 11 Ks and a 2.38era in 10 innings. He went #14.

Further, the Yankees chose to not offer arbitration to Bobby Abreu, who’s contract ended at the close of the 2008 season. This means that if another team signs Abreu, the Yankees will not be compensated with their 1st round draft pick. Presumably the thinking was that they did not want Abreu back and wanted to avoid the unlikely event that Abreu might accept the one-year arbitration offer. This was unlikely because Abreu is 34 years old, coming off a solid offensive season and there is a market for him. He’ll be looking for what will probably be the last big contract of his career and it would be quite a gamble for him to put off free agency another year on the wrong side of 30. And even if he did accept arbitration, the Yankees would simply have had to eat a few million dollars to move him to the team offering the best package of prospects. For a team that just gave nine figures over 7 years to a player they’ll be lucky to get 4 good seasons out of, a $3m or so investment in developmental talent sounds like a bargain.

The Yankees also chose to not offer arbitration to class-a free agent Andy Pettitte and class-b free agent Ivan Rodriguez. The markets for these players are not at certain as that for Abreu, so those decisions are not quite as easily scrutinized.

At some point you have to look at the data as a whole and acknowledge that there are several very obvious trends. The most important being that the Yankees have a history of unparralled success when they keep their farm system stocked and healthy, and that the team faces a long slow decline when they neglect the farm and enter the ugly cycle they seem destined to loop themselves back into with this off-season’s activity: sign veteran free agents who don’t live up to their billing which depletes the farm system which leaves them desperate for talent in the short term which they appease by signing free agents who don’t live up to their billing which further depletes the farm system which will again leave them desperate for talent in the short term which they appease by… etc.

A close friend and fellow Yankee fan who disagrees with me insists that such is simply the Yankee way. The only “Yankee way” that I care about is winning. The established way to accomplish that has been triumphantly displayed like no other professional American sports team has ever managed: by building from within.

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Considering Jose Molina’s superb defense, I figured the Yankee braintrust was just fine with his mediocre (at best) hitting and fully expected him to remain as the starting catcher down the stretch following the the news that Posada’s season is officially finished. Chad Moeller would continue serving ably as Molina’s backup.

Apparently I was mistaken. In 302 at bats, Rodriguez (I won’t call him Pudge – as terrific as he’s been for a long time now, Carlton Fisk is the only “Pudge” as far as I’m concerned) is hitting .295 with a modest .417 slugging percentage. That gives the Yanks two of the best defensive catchers in the game, one who can hit in the middle of the lineup, to boot.

Presumably the Yankees will pay whatever is left of Rodriguez’ $13m 2008 salary. He becomes a free agent after this season, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

I guess that eliminates the need to keep Moeller around, which is really too bad. He’s a blue collar guy who already survived being placed on waivers once and served admirably through what could have been a much more tumultuous period, helping keep the backstop position stable through the first significant injury of Posada’s career. I’m sorry to see him go and it’s a little sad to think that most new-age Yankee fans (people who wear Mattingly jerseys and t-shirts despite having no memory of those lean years, either because they are too young or are just fair weather fans) won’t remember his name a few months from now. Thanks for helping to hold it down, Chad.

Farnsworth was having his best first decent season since coming to the Bronx and I don’t know any Yankee fans who trusted him to remain dependable through the stretch run and the playoffs. Girardi has been nothing short of superb in his management of the Yankees’ bulpen and the result has been that several options have emerged to set up mariano Rivera in the 8th inning. The controversy over whether to move Joba to the rotation seems like it was years ago now. Further marginalizing Farnsworth among the Yankee relief corps was last week’s addition of Demaso Marte.

The fantasy baseball impact here is also significant. Farnsworth becomes the Tigers’ closer two days after Todd Jones was demoted in favor of Fernendo Rodney. Presumably, Rodney moves back into the setup role.

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Thats the rumor currently being reported at MLB.com

PITTSBURGH — Pirates right fielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte have been traded to the Yankees.
Though the team confirmed a trade, the Pirates have not confirmed that both players are indeed going to New York. However, according to one official baseball source, Nady and Marte have been dealt for right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and three prospects. Those prospects are believed to be lefty Phil Coke, outfielder Jose Tabata and right-hander George Kontos.

Coke pitched one inning for Double-A Trenton on Friday before being pulled.

The Pirates have not officially made an announcement and said they will do so after medical evaluations are completed.

Nady started Friday’s game and was removed after one inning. Television cameras caught Marte hugging his teammates in the dugout in the second inning, apparently shortly after learning the news.

Nady fills the most glaring void of a right-handed corner outfielder. If the Yanks decide to re-sign him, he could replace Bobby Abreu in right next year. I’m curious to see what his defense looks like.

Offensively, I’m not expecting him to match his first half production. He was one of those supposed can’t-miss prospects that never became the star that many expected. In fact, before this year, he’d never even played more than 130 games in a season. He’s having his career year now at 29 years old. His career batting average and slugging percentage are .281 and .456, respectively, so maybe I’m being a little tough on him.

And some Yankee fans might remind me of another right fielder who’s career numbers through age 29 (the year before he came to NY) were .257 and .425, respectively. Of course Paul O’Neil was a lefty coming to Yankee Stadium and brought with him a firey heart that you can never just assume someone possesses.

It’ll be disappointing to see Tabata come up in Pittsburgh. He’s only 19 and has been with the Yankees organization since he was 16 in 2005. But he’s not having a good year, his first in AA Trenton, while fellow AA OF prospect Austin Jackson (21) is having another solid season after hitting .304 at 3 levels in the minors last year.

Marte has been effective enough this year and will probably be used as a lefty specialist. With the way the Yankees bulpen has been producing, it might be hard for him to find many other opportunities but as the adage goes, you can never have too much pitching.

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It’s been a tough year, injury-wise. Damon has returned from his recent shoulder injury, courtesy of a crash into the plexiglass portion of the left field wall and Richie Sexson provides some needed pop from the right side of the plate but the likely losses of Matsui and Posada for the remainder of the season is too much missing production to do without.

The Daily News reports that they’re looking at Pittsburgh outfielders Xavier Nady and Jason Bay. Bay has bounced back strongly from his off-year in 2007 and is signed through 2009 for a very inexpensive $7.5m. He could fill the offensive void this year and might possibly free the Yankees from having to re-sign Bobby Abreu, who is in a walk year in which he made $16m. Of course if Bay doesn’t have a right fielder’s arm this might not be the best way forward, especially considering rumored asking price:

According to various industry sources this week, the Pirates want two high-level young players and a second-tier prospect in any trade for left fielder Jason Bay

That would be more than the Twins got for Santana in the offseason, though the current market for Bay is much different than the market for Santana was over the winter and of course a team that obtains Bay gets him for one and one-third seasons for around $10m, compared with the huge payday shelled out for Santana.

There’s also a report on the Yankees website that Posada is mulling whether to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder or to continue playing, taking starts at to DH/1B whenever he can. Delaying the surgery, according to Girardi, might mean that Posada won’t be fully rehabbed in time for spring training in 2009. The writer claims that the shoulder injury primarily impacts his throwing and doesn’t affect his hitting much but a check at Posada’s power numbers suggests otherwise. In 13 games this month Jorge is hitting .214 with an anemic .262 slugging percentage.

The Daily News also notes that the Yankees are looking for pitching help and have discussed starters Jarrod Washburn, Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett and relief pitchers Damaso Marte and Brian Fuentes among others. Sports Illustrated has a piece about the Yankees negotiations for Washburn.

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ESPN

Sexson fits in New York because the Yankees needed a right-handed slugger to match up against left-handed pitching — and Sexson had a .344 average against lefties this year.

Assuming the deal is completed, he’ll be in the lineup Saturday against Oakland.

The Yankees will only have to pay Sexson the prorated minimum of $390,000 from his $14 million salary with the Mariners. Seattle is eating the remainder of the nearly $6 million Sexson is owed for the season.

I really like the Yankees strategy of picking up castoffs. Every once in a while, you pick up a gem that just needed a little polish. “Big Sexy” is 33 and two years removed from his last solid season in 2006 when he hit .264 with 34 hr and 107 rbi. His numbers had been trending down since he hit 45 hr in 2003.

I was very surprised to see the contrast in his vs righty/lefty splits. In 61 at bats this year against lefties, he’s slugging .623 with 5 hr. In 191 ab vs righties, he’s slugging .304 with 6 hr. Interestingly, last year’s splits weren’t particularly pronounced. Clearly, his effectiveness against lefties is what interests the Yankees, as they have been vulnerable against left-handed pitching with Jeter having an off year, Melky hitting poorly from the right side and ARod hitting terribly wirth runners in scoring position.

He’ll presumably get starts at first base against lefty starters and occasional pinch hit at bats.

Welcome to New York, Richie.

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