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You are currently viewing archive for January 2006.

Posted by: James
Eric Mirlis checks in over at and has an interesting take on the TWO NY closers who come in to the Metallica tune of Enter Sandman. I really don't think that this is much of an issue but I can definitely see the Daily News and the New York Post trying to use this to get a rise out of their readership. Anything to sell papers, right?

However, mostly due to my Yankee homerism, I fully believe that when you think connect that particular song to baseball, most fans will connect it to Mariano Rivera, if only because of the amount of national exposure that being a Yankee and being in the playoffs every year since 1996 brings.

Credit to Dave Pinto at Baseball Musings for the link.
Posted by: James
Okay, the title is really cliched but I couldn't help myself. From the Daily News:

The deal will pay Small $1.2 million plus incentive bonuses. He made just $149,180 in 2005.

Small was one of the saviors of the Yankees' 2005 season. The journeyman was called up July 17 and finished 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA in nine starts and six relief appearances. He is one of only four pitchers to finish a season unbeaten with at least 10 decisions.

Small can earn $15,000 bonuses for starting 15 and 20 games and $25,000 bonuses for starting 25 and 30 games. The most he ever made in a single season, according to the AP, is $197,500 in 1998.

There was a nice piece on him and his family the other day in the News and the Journal News prints that Aaron seems to be taking it in stride.

"I never saw it coming," Small said from his offseason home in Loudon, Tenn. "It was a lot of fun and I was proud of some of the things I did."

Small was 8-0 with a 3.47 ERA as a starter, but enters spring training penciled into the bullpen if Pavano and Jaret Wright are healthy.

"I've heard I have an outside chance as the fifth starter, and if not maybe as a middle or long reliever," Small said. "They like my flexibility to work in any situation. I'll be ready for whatever they want me to do."

Honestly, I still get a little hung up on these salary amounts and when reporters throw around the words just and only in regards to six and seven-figure salaries. Still, after knowing Aaron's history, watching him pitch the Yankees back into first place and reading about his family, I can't help but feel very happy for him. Let's hope his magic ride continues for at least another year.
Posted by: Patrick
Our next guest in our series of interviews is SG of Replacement Level Yankees Weblog.

When you're not blogging about the Yankees, thinking about the Yankees, talking about the Yankees, reading about the Yankees or watching the Yankees, what are you doing?

Mainly working long hours for my large IT corporation employer. When I'm not working I like to work out, play guitar or read.

How long have you been blogging about the Yankees?

About 2 years. I started out just reading Larry Mahnken's stuff and then when he went on hiatus he asked a few of to help him out.

» Read More

Posted by: James
I think it, the reporters print it.

In the last post, I mentioned in closing that Piazza would be a far more attractive option as a backup catcher and now there are conflicting reports that the Yankees might indeed be interested. Newsday reports:

The Yankees have some interest in Piazza and will consider whether to offer the Cooperstown-bound catcher a contract, American League sources told Newsday yesterday.

Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano, has called Yankees general manager Brian Cashman regarding the free agent's interest in playing for the Yankees, and Cashman did not dismiss the offer. On the contrary, it is expected that the Yankees soon will consider the merits of signing Piazza - primarily as a designated hitter - if they haven't already.

Reached yesterday by phone, Cashman, back from a rare Caribbean vacation, indicated that organizational higher-ups hadn't yet weighed the pros and cons of the Piazza possibility. But he didn't close the door at all.

"We're fairly set. Our designated hitter spot is taken by Bernie Williams and Andy Phillips. But I'll keep an open mind," Cashman said. "I'm always open to consider any possibility that may help the ballclub."

» Read More

Posted by: James
Benjie Molina seems to have missed out on the free-agent shopping spree that was taking place earlier in the off-season. He wasn't even offered arbitration from his former team, the Angels. Still, he holds out hope that he will be signed soon and says there are several teams still interested, one of whom is the Yankees.

"(The Angels) just didn't do their part," Molina said of the split. "They were just trying to save my money for the younger kids. People think that the Angels offered me money but they never offered me nothing, nada. I never turned down anything because they never offered me anything.

According to Molina, several teams are still showing interest in the catcher's services. He and his agent, Alan Nero, have continued talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as the New York Yankees, who would like to find someone to platoon behind the plate along with current catcher Jorge Posada.

Molina said he would like to keep playing close to home on the West Coast, making the Dodgers an ideal fit. But the idea of putting on the pinstripes for George Steinbrenner's Yankees also has its appeal.

"(The Yankees) would be great," Molina said. "It would be a lot of fun to play there."

Molina said he believes his worth as a veteran catcher with a .273 career batting average is around $6 million a year, which is $2 million more than the possible offers he has been hearing so far. If a deal isn't reached with a Major League team soon, the idea of sitting out a season remains a possibility.

Hey, I'm a dreamer but if I was a GM and was looking for a backup catcher who wouldn't be a huge dropoff at the plate if, God forbid, Jorge was to get hurt, a certain Mr. Piazza, who is still looking for a job, would be tops on my list and would certainly be more attractive than Molina.
Posted by: James
Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small have submitted their proposals of how much they think that their services are worth and the Yankees have countered.

Chacon, who earned $2.35 million in 2005, asked for $4.15 million (a 76.6% raise!) and the Yankees countered with an offer of $3.1 million (31.9% raise). Small made $350,000 last season asked for a raise to $1.45 million (a 314.3% raise!!!) and the Yankees countered with $1.025 million (192.9% raise). If they do end up in front of the arbitrator, I think Chacon will probably get the figure he wants based on his years in the league. Chacon might have been able to ask for a little more based on the absurd market for mediocre pitching this off-season (see Washburn, Jarrod) but who knows, there are added benefits for Shawn now that he plays for NY. Small is more of an unknown quantity so the Yankees should have the advantage there. In any case, I think that we can all learn a lesson here: we should have all become professional ballplayers!
Posted by: Seamus
Alex Rodriguez has decided to play for the United States in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, according to the Associated Press. Rodriguez had initially decided against playing in the WBC because he was torn between playing for the U.S. or with the Dominican team and said he would not "dishonor" either country.

"In recent weeks, following dialogue with caring friends and players, both Dominican and American, I reached the conclusion that if I played in the Classic, I would play for the United States and honor my American citizenship," Rodriguez said in a statement on his Web site.

Well now that A-Rod has joined, it is quite possible that the entire top third of the American lineup will be Yankees (Damon, Jeter and Rodriguez). So much for the Yankees being selfish ugly Amerians.

Posted by: Patrick
Roger Weber over at Baseball Almanac ranks the greatest teams ever.

Including all teams? 1920 and later? 1927 Yankees. 1947 and later? 1961 and later? 1998 Yankees. The 1920 and later list has the Yankees in 8 out of 10 spots while the 1961 and later list (the list with the fewest Yankee entries) has them in 2 slots.

Via Steve.
Posted by: James
With most of the wheeling, dealing and signing done, here is where the Yankees stand in terms of draft picks.

-With the Damon signing, the Red Sox get the Yanks first round pick (28th overall)
-For Farnsworth, the Braves' compensation pick will get dropped down to the 2nd round (71st overall).
-With the Tom Gordon signing, the Yankees actually move up, going from the 28th pick to the Phillies' 21st overall pick. They also receive the 40th pick in the draft in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds.

In essence, the Yankees will have 2 picks in the first round and none in the second.

» Read More

Posted by: James
It looks like Jeff Nelson has decided to forgo pinstripes in exchange for some Cardinal red. St. Louis gave him a minor-league contract worth about $800,000 if he makes the big-league club out of spring training, with incentives could push the deal to more than $1 million.

As much as I liked the results that Nelson put up when he was with the Yankees, I'm happy to see him being added to another team's roster. I wasn't enthused with the rumors ealier this month that Jeff was going to be given a spring training invite. Of course, now we have word from NY Newsday that Tanyon Sturtze is still hurting.

Tanyon Sturtze took his late 2005 right shoulder woes seriously enough to spend his offseason in Manhattan so he could make thrice-weekly visits to a Columbia-Presbyterian specialist. Tests showed the Yankees reliever's pitching shoulder to be "worn down and weak," Sturtze said Friday at Mohegan Sun.

I don't think that losing Sturtze would be an enormous loss but it would explain the interest in Jeff Nelson.

» Read More

01/16: Molina

Posted by: Patrick
When Hall freezes over:

Poor Benji Molina, who weeks ago found himself without a chair when the music stopped and still is looking for a team. What were the odds that Alan Embree (Padres), Fernando Vina (Mariners) or, for that matter, Bret Boone would get jobs before Molina, who hit .295 with 15 homers and 69 RBI last year? Molina turned down three years, $21 million from the Mets and will probably wind up with a one-year deal from the Blue Jays. But now that Molina can probably be signed on the cheap, maybe the Yankees should consider signing him and releasing Jorge Posada (who they have to pay anyway next year) in order to save themselves $12 million on the '07 option that kicks in if he starts 81 games in '06? Just a thought, although they would probably have to first consult with Randy Johnson.

Now, I don't want to release Jorge. I like Jorge. Jorge's a good guy and a smart, good player. But, back in my plan, I mentioned signing Molina to split time with Jorge. Jorge could take some time at DH, possibly 1B (no idea?). He'd take time at DH away from Bernie (I'm not saying that's good or bad, but that would be a result). Back then, it did seem pretty unlikely. But, as Molina does not yet have a team, you never know. I don't want to pay Molina backup money, I want to pay him virtual starter money. Not the deal he probably could have received at the beginning, but good money nonetheless. Might he be up for a 1 year deal on a top contender and then next year, depending on what we do with Jorge, we could bring him back or let him go.

Looking back at that plan, there were 10 guys out of the 25 that we did not have under contract. We got 3 of the guys I wanted - Matsui, Bernie and Cairo. Damon for Torii Hunter (the one trade in the plan). Stinnett for Molina (as of now). Andy Phillips for Tino. ? for Damian Jackson. Farnsworth for Ryan. Dotel for Gordon. Myers for Sauerbeck.

Via Derek Jacques.
Posted by: Patrick
Our next guest is Jennifer Muller of

When you're not blogging about the Yankees, thinking about the Yankees, talking about the Yankees, reading about the Yankees or watching the Yankees, what are you doing?

I got a new job recently, so that has been taking up much of my time. I happen to be in the pre-paid phone card business now.

As a hobby I shoot archery. Just got back from league actually. On another Yankee related note, the archery shop I go to has been visited by a few Yankee players. Pettitte, Wells, Stottlemyre, Chad Curtis. Mike Stanton came in recently on a recommendation from his former teammates. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the store on any of these occasions but I get to hear all the stories.

I'm also a Rangers, Giants and Metrostars fan. So this off-season hasn't been too bad what with both boys in blue doing well this year.

» Read More

Posted by: James
SG over at RLYW has an interesting post up today about the most memorable games that he's had the pleasure of seeing. It's written well and I have to admit, I started getting nostalgic about the (admittedly far too few) Yankees games that I've been to. At the end of the post, he asks for reader submissions, so head on over to RLYW and post those memories in the comments (don't forget to post them here, as well!) - I'd love to read (and live vicariously through) them.
Posted by: James
You got it! Bryan Smith over at The Baseball Analysts has finished up his top 75 prospects and Philip Hughes came in at number 46, a little lower than what I was expecting. Still, Bryan makes some pretty good points.

46. Phil Hughes - SP - New York Yankees - 20 (A+)

Introduction: If not for a hint of arm injury at the end of the season, Hughes could be 10-15 spots higher on this list. No prep pitcher from the 2004 draft has impressed me more. However, as I mentioned, towards the end of the season, Hughes had a bout with shoulder inflammation. Combine that with a broken toe suffered in August, and Hughes' debut full season was ended shortly. The toe is not a concern, but the shoulder is, as Phil has many wondering if inflammation is hiding (or will lead to) a tear. Torn labrums are currently the worst injury a baseball player can sustain, so until Hughes proves he's past this, I will stay conservative with his ranking.

Skillset/Future: Dazzling array of pitches, delivery and control. First and foremost, the Californian has a big pitcher's frame that should only add more velocity over time. Right now, his fastball consistently sits in the low 90s, but we can maybe expect two or three more ticks soon. The key, however, is that Hughes has such good control with the pitch, only walking 20 hitters in 90.1 career innings. Conversely, he strikes out hitters at a pretty fantastic rate, notching 93 in 86.1 innings this year. This is due to a good combination of secondary pitches, namely one of the Sally League's best curveballs. If Hughes can stay out of injury, and further refine pitches three and four (change and slider, respectively), he could be one of the best pitchers on this list. If he makes it through one healthy season, my expectations (and ranking) will soar.

Suffice to say, in terms of talent, Phil Hughes is eminently drool-worthy. Then again, so was Brien Taylor and look how that ended up. Still, it seems as if Hughes has a good head on his shoulders and barring any unforseen injuries (or trades), this kid could be starting a lot of games in pinstripes in the relatively near future.
Posted by: James
An interesting piece from Lee Sinin's always valuable Around The Majors (ATM) report (and also reported in The NY Times and The Star Ledger).

9) The Yankees are reportedly interested in free agent P Jeff Nelson.

Wait, what? I'm hoping this is one of those rumors that floats around without much basis to it but if it's not, it would just be an odd move, even if it is just a spring training invite. I mean, didn't we try this once before in 2003? Didn't it fail then? Nellie is now 3 years older (entering his age 39 season) and while he was a decent reliever last year, even with injuries, there is no place to put him. They already have Ramiro Mendoza in AAA as a backup in case someone gets hurt as well as Scott Proctor (who like Nelson, is death on righties), Jason Anderson and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Called-Up (Colter Bean). Besides, wouldn't Jeff be better off trying to find a team who will give him a major-league contract? With the average salary at a little under $2.5 million dollars, I'd certainly say so. Of course, I haven't grossed over $21 million over the course of my career so I guess I'm not in a position to comment.

If Yankee brass wants to put together a reunion of the 2000 Yankees, they should have signed Mike Stanton too. Randy Keisler, Randy Choate, and Jason Grimsley should all be looking for work and I'm sure they could coax Doc Gooden out of retirement just in case they needed a spot starter.
Posted by: Patrick
The Hall of Fame results are in. Bruce Sutter is the only one headed in, with 76.9% voting for him (75% required). Goose got 64.6%. No one is pleased with that fact.

I met Gossage not long ago (shook his hand, got his autograph = meeting) and I believe he should be in and that he'll get in eventually. On the bright side, he did pick up 51 votes. Maybe next year will be his year. From this article:

It might be difficult for Rice and Gossage to gain votes next year, when Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire appear on the ballot for the first time. Each voter may select up to 10 players.

"I was planning a hunting trip next year if I didn't get in this year," Sutter said. "I didn't need to be around the phone, I can tell you that."

I agree with the guys at Pride of the Yankees:

However, we have a major gripe with that statement, if indeed it comes to fruition. Doesn't it delegitimize the Hall of Fame selection process a bit when votes for players that have been on the ballot for years (this was Sutter's 13th) receive an increase in votes only because there is a lack of legitimate first-ballot HOF-caliber players? If the trend continues, deserving players like Gossage will receive fewer votes next year simply because the quality of the 2007 class is better than that of the 2006 class. For instance, Goose's chances of entering the Hall shouldn't be affected by the presence of Cal Ripken, Jr. on next year's ballot.

Other former Yankees: Lee Smith (yeah, remember that?) picked up 34 votes (45.0%), Tommy John picked up 31 votes (29.6%) and Donnie picked up 5 votes (12.3%). Doc Gooden, Hal Morris and John Wetteland did not receive enough votes to stay on the ballot.
Posted by: James
You know you're getting closer to spring when the prospect lists start coming out. John Sickels' book will be coming out soon as will Baseball America's. The major Yankee prospect names that you can expect to see in most of those books/lists will be Philip Hughes and Eric Duncan as they are probably in the top 50 (give or take) best prospects in baseball. They are the only two to get this sort of attention right now but after this season, with the amount of talent that the Yankees have in the lower levels, I expect to see a few more Yankees on these lists next year (barring major trades/injuries).

Bryan Smith over at The Baseball Analysts has started to unveil his top 75 and Eric Duncan comes in at number 57.

» Read More

Posted by: James
Baseball America has come out with their annual Top 10 Prospects for each organization and posted their take on the Yankees' system today. I was a little surprised to see J. Brent Cox left off the list and Eduardo Nunez placed so highly, but other than that, no real shocks:

1. Philip Hughes, rhp
2. Eric Duncan, 3b/1b
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. C.J. Henry
5. Austin Jackson, of
6. Eduardo Nunez, ss
7. Marcos Vechionacci, 3b
8. Christian Garcia, rhp
9. Jeff Marquez, rhp
10. Tyler Clippard, rhp

The part of the article that's the most important is probably the closing:

In the last two years, New York has added high-end prospects at the lower levels with international signings and a more aggressive approach in the draft...Loaded Yankees affiliates won championships in the short-season New York-Penn and Rookie-level Gulf Coast leagues, but most of their best talent has yet to play above the Class A level.

I'll be chiming in over the next couple of weeks with my take on the top 10 as well as a couple of other prospects to keep an eye on during the coming season. If anyone has heard buzz about a specific prospect and want to read how they're doing, I'll be happy to take requests.
Posted by: David
Although the 1998 Yankees team was my favorite, following closely behind in second place is the 1996 team. It was the first year for Joe Torre to manage and Derek Jeter started his career. When the season ended he was a World Series champion and AL Rookie of the Year.

This team was not especially big on power, but they played the game with the attitude that every run is important and with a total team concept. They used the hit and run and the steal at opportune times and moved runners into scoring position by making productive outs.

Tim Raines was great at leading off then Jeter knew from day one knew how to hit behind the runner and also how to hit and run effectively. This team did not have to wait for the three run homer. They manufactured runs. This is what I'm hoping for some ten years later with the 2006 version of the Bronx Bombers.

Johnny Damon is a great leadoff hitter with speed. Jeter will follow and as mentioned is a great hit and run type hitter. Then the big bats follow: A-Rod; Sheffield; Matsui; Giambi and Bernie. The bottom of the lineup will have Posada and Cano. When Cano leads off an inning he will have Damon to follow. This team should score a lot of runs and simply just bash teams to death.

The potential problems I see are still the quality of the starting pitching and overall defense. Randy Johnson will be 42, Mussina is in his late thirties, Pavano is a question mark, will Chacon and Small be as clutch as they were is '05? Jaret Wright is someone prone to injuries. I think one of these guys will be traded. Carl Pavano probably has the most value considering his age and past history. The Yankees outfield defense should be better with Damon. He can go get the ball and covers quite a bit of ground. His arm though is awful. Teams will continue to go from first to third on the Yankees. Sheffield is not a great right fielder other than his arm. Matsui makes most of the routine plays but is not great at going back on the ball either. Plus, his arm is probably average at best.

I think the Yankees are a lock for postseason but they have to get over the hump. Most postseason games are close and you have to have the ability to score one run when needed. This is why I hope Torre will go back to the '96 team style and use all facets of his talent laden team. The homerun will not always come when needed.

It looks like Andy Phillips and Miguel Cairo will be the backups for Jason Giambi unless a deal is pending. J.T. Snow just signed with the Red Sox. All in all it should be a very exciting year at the big ballpark in the South Bronx. Only 86 days until the start of the regular season and only 94 until opening day at the stadium. I can't wait!
Posted by: James
According to the NY Daily News, there are talks about bring back Al Leiter.

The Yankees announced a one-year deal with utility infielder Miguel Cairo yesterday, and also had discussions to bring back lefty Al Leiter. The Yanks are talking to Leiter's agents about a nonroster invitation to spring training, where he would compete for a bullpen job and offer insurance. Leiter had talked at the end of last season about possibly retiring, but "he's receptive to this," Yankee GM Brian Cashman said.

Worst case scenario: In spring training, Al somehow harnesses his stuff again and pretends that he is pitching against the Toronto Blue Jays all the time (he killed them last year to the tune of a 2.20 ERA and a .210 AVG against), ensuring that Joe somehow finds a way to get him on the 25 man squad at some point in the season, bypassing Matt Smith in the process. Other than that, this isn't a bad move really, akin to signing Ramiro Mendoza to a AAA deal as a just-in-case backup.
Posted by: Patrick
Seamus Molloy, a Blogger here on, is our next interviewee.

When you're not blogging about the Yankees, thinking about the Yankees, talking about the Yankees, reading about the Yankees or watching the Yankees, what are you doing?

During my non-Yankee related free time, I'm usually playing poker or bowling or just watching a movie with some friends. I play Texas Hold'em a lot online late at night. I'm also a huge fan of the New York Knicks, Rangers and Giants.

» Read More

Posted by: Patrick
Well, I guess I shouldn't be shocked. First, Bernie wasn't great and now, the Yankees are the "Ugly Americans." Murray Chass has ripped the Yankees for their stance on the WBC.

» Read More

Posted by: James
April 2, 2006. Opening Day 2006 (it's day before my birthday too, just in case Jeter, A-Rod, etc. happen to read this site and feel picking me up a little something after the game).

Baseball dealings have quieted down quite a bit and most of the big names are off the table (excluding all this talk about a Manny and Miggy blockbuster) so to whet fan appetites a little, ESPN has put together a page with the projected starters for each team, both in the AL and the NL. They've bolded any new aquistions so it gives you a concise way to see how the faces on each team has changed. For instance, take a look at Florida's projection (this is just ESPN guessing, of course); five of the nine starters are rookies. Also, after losing 104 games in 2004 and 106 games last year, Kansas City is welcoming seven new players to its depth chart. Still, looking at the new guys, does anyone see why that team would be that much better in 2006?

It's not much, but it might give you some ideas for early fantasy drafts and before you know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting, spring training will be in full swing and then, we fans can start having anxiety about in-game issues again.
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