Tagged: Michael Dunn

Late Homers Allow Yankees To Reel In Marlins

GAME 66

YANKEES 9, MARLINS 4

On a night that Alex Rodriguez moved to within one of the 3,000-hit plateau it was a pair of two-run homers hit by Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran that brought the Yankees back from a 3-1 deficit to a huge victory at Yankee Stadium.

Gardner smacked his home run in the sixth inning to tie it and Beltran added his in the seventh as New York added four more runs in the eighth to sink Miami on Thursday and earn a split of the four-game home-and-home series.

Rodriguez singled to drive in the game’s first run in the first inning and he added a one-out single in the fifth off right-hander Mat Latos to give him 2,999 career hits.

His RBI single followed back-to-back singles by Gardner and Chase Headley and Gardner scored to give left-hander CC Sabathia an early 1-0 lead.

However, after Sabathia retired the first nine hitters he faced, Dee Gordon led off the fourth with a triple and scored one out later on an infield groundout by Christian Yelich.

The Marlins claimed the lead in the fifth as Jeff Baker singled and Justin Bour reached after being hit with a pitch. Baker advanced to third on a deep fly ball by Donovan Solano and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Mathis.

Giancarlo Stanton padded the Marlins’ lead to 3-1 when he connected for his major-league-leading 25th home run of the season with one out in the sixth.

But the Yankees managed to tie the game in the bottom of the frame after Latos had retired the first two batters. Mason Williams laced a double to right-center, his second double of the night. Gardner then followed by lining a 2-0 fastball into the Yankees bullpen in right-center for his sixth home run of the season.

Latos was then removed from the game and he was charged with three runs on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Sabathia also left having also yielded three runs on five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.

The Yankees took the lead for good in the seventh inning against former Yankee left-hander Michael Dunn (1-4).

Brian McCann slapped a one-out single to left and Beltran connected on a high 3-2 fastball and he drove it deep into the first level of the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.

Left-hander Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to get credit for the victory in relief.

The Yankees were able to add four more runs in the eighth off right-hander Sam Dyson on an RBI single by McCann, a wild pitch, an RBI double by Chris Young and a sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew.

Dyson drew the ire of most of the paid crowd of 38,239 by walking Rodriguez on four pitches, spoiling an opportunity for those in attendance from seeing his potential milestone hit.

The Marlins added a run in the ninth off right-hander Chris Martin on an RBI single by Mathis.

The victory allowed the Yankees to improve their season record to 36-30. They remain one game behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Marlins fell to 29-39.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Gardner’s home run was his first since June 7 at Yankee Stadium against the Los Angeles Angels. He was 2-for-5 with a single, a homer, two runs scored and three RBIs. He raised his season average to .265 and he now has six home runs and 30 RBIs.
  • Beltran is definitely making positive strides at the plate after a horrible start that had him batting .162 in April. Since May 8, Beltran is 34-for-113 (.301) with five homers and 17 RBIs. It was his first home run since May 30 against the Athletics in Oakland. He is batting .250 with five homers and 26 RBIs on the season.
  • Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with two singles, a walk, a run scored and an RBI and he has raised his season average to .278. In his past 30 games, A-Rod is batting .317 with four homers and 14 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Sabathia actually pitched well but the Yankees sputtered on offense through the first five innings until they exploded for eight runs in the final three innings. Every starter had at least one hit except Drew. So this was a really good victory for the Yankees and I do not see any negatives.

ON DECK

The Yankees will play host to the Detroit Tigers for a three-game weekend series that begins on Friday.

Right-hander Adam Warren (4-4, 3.78 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Warren gave up three runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Right-hander Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second start of the season after being activated from disabled list. Verlander surrendered two runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts in five innings in a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Advertisements

Kuroda Good, Tanaka Great As Yanks Zip Marlins

GAME 31

YANKEES 3, MARLINS 0

TAMPA – Most times in spring training everything is pretty much mundane and downright dull. But for anyone who saw Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka pitch against the Marlins on Friday it was mesmerizing and electric.

The Japanese right-handers combined to shut out Miami on six hits with no walks and 14 – count them, 14 – strikeouts as New York rolled to victory in front of a paid crowd of 10,581 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

As good as Kuroda was in his three innings of work in his final tuneup before his first start on April 2 against the Astros in Houston, Tanaka was even better.

Kuroda yielded three hits and fanned four but Tanaka (2-0) went six innings, gave up six hits but he struck out 10 Marlins in what was his best outing of the spring. Of his 82 pitches, Tanaka threw 60 strikes.

The Yankees, meanwhile, initially had troubles of their own with Marlins starter Kevin Slowey. The veteran right-hander pitched three perfect innings against the Yankees, striking out two.

This is the same Marlins pitching staff that no-hit the Yankees in the first game of the Legends Series in Panama City, Panama for a 5-0 victory on March 15. Carlos Marmol, Dan Jennings, A.J. Ramos and Michael Dunn followed Slowey with four additional no-hit innings until the Yankees touched Marlins closer Steve Cishek for two runs on three hits in the eighth inning.

The Yankees actually scored an unearned run off Marmol in the fourth inning, taking advantage of an error, some wildness from Marmol and Brett Gardner’s speed.

Gardner reached on a fielding error by shortstop Donovan Solano. Gardner stole second and later swiped third. After Marmol walked Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira to load the bases, Gardner scored on a groundout off the bat of Brian McCann.

That run held up until the Yankees added to their lead in the seventh on a leadoff double by Kelly Johnson, an RBI single by Brian Roberts and they capped the inning with an RBI single by Yangervis Solarte to score Antoan Richardson, who was pinch-running for Roberts.

With the victory the Yankees improved their spring training record to 17-12-2. The Marlins fell to 18-12.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Both Kuroda and Tanaka were absolutely dominant against the Marlins. Kuroda, 39, ends the spring with a 1-0 record and a 4.76 ERA. The ERA is a bit deceiving since he only had one bad outing. Tanaka, on the other hand, was every bit as good as advertised. He ended his spring 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA with 26 strikeouts and only three walks in 21 innings. Batters hit a mere .190 off him. For those who said the Yankees rotation was not good enough to contend in 2014 better think again.
  • Leave it to Gardner to break up a pitcher’s duel by reaching on an error and stealing two bases to get the Yankees on the board without the benefit of a hit. Gardner’s .386 spring on-base percentage proves how valuable he will be batting ninth in the lineup this season. Look for a banner year from the speedy Gardner this season.
  • Johnson is not going to hit 30 homers and drive in 120 runs like Alex Rodriguez. But Johnson did average 21 homers and 67 RBIs in his three previous seasons as a starter. The Yankees will take that and – just remember this  – A-Rod has not approached 30 homers and 120 RBIs since 2010. Johnson is hitting .267 with a home run and seven RBIs this spring.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Other than the fact the Yankees can’t seem to get many hits off the Marlins there is not much negative to say after Tanaka was so sensational.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees filled out the roles in the bullpen by awarding spots to right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Vidal Nuno. Betances, 26, had no record and a 0.73 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks in 12 1/3 innings over 10 games. Nuno, 26, had no record with a 3.38 ERA in 8 innings over four appearances (two of them starts). They will join closer David Robertson and set-up men right-hander Shawn Kelley and left-hander Matt Thornton. Right-handers David Phelps and Adam Warren also were shifted to the bullpen after they lost the battle for the No. 5 starting spot to Michael Pineda.  . . .  The Yankees informed infielder Dean Anna, 27, that he has made the team as a backup infielder and they will decide the final roster spot between utility infielders Eduardo Nunez and Solarte on Saturday. Anna was acquired in a winter trade with the San Diego Padres after he won the Pacific Coast League batting title in 2013 with a .331 average. Anna hit .262 and drove in four runs in 22 games this spring. A back injury that sidelined infielder Brendan Ryan since March 4 opened the door for Anna to make the team. Ryan will start the season on the 15-day disabled list.  . . .  Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with an infield single in six innings in a minor-league game on Friday. Ellsbury, 30, told reporters that he has recovered from a strained right calf and he is ready to start the season with the Yankees.  . . .  The Yankees announced on Friday that they have re-signed right-hander Alfredo Aceves to a minor-league contract. Aceves, 31, opted out of his contract with the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the day after being told he would not make the team’s roster. Aceves will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and will be used there as a starting pitcher.

ON DECK

The Yankees will conclude their Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday against the Marlins at home.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (2-1, 3.66 ERA) will start for the Yankees in what also will be Jeter’s final appearance as a player at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The Marlins will start right-hander Tom Koehler (1-1, 1.50 ERA).

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Transmission of this report was delayed due to technical difficulties.

 

 

 

 

Cashman’s 2011 Moves Need To Be Better Than 2010

ORLANDO, FL – Brian Cashman is truly the New York Yankees’ version of the Teflon Man.
The team’s general manager since 1998, Cashman has outlasted any general manager in the George Steinbrenner era and he is in pretty cozy with the current Hank Steinbrenner regime.
His job is like that of circus performing plate spinner. Trying to keep negotiations going on many fronts at the same time. Sometimes, like in 2009, Cashman gets lucky. After signing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to improve the pitching staff, Mark Teixeira’s wife suggested to her husband that he contact the Yankees if he really wanted to play for them.
That free agent haul spurred Cashman and the Yankees to their 27th world championship.
But then there are years like 2010. 
Cashman’s first big winter move was the acquisition of outfielder Curtis Granderson in a three-way trade with Detroit and Arizona that cost the Yankees starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, young outfielder Austin Jackson and left-handed reliever Phil Coke.
Granderson, 29, was dreadful out of the gate, got injured, stunk so more and rescued his season late by getting some tips from hitting coach Kevin Long. Granderson hit .249 in 2009, which spurred the Tigers to want to trade him. For the Yankees in 2010, Granderson hit .247.
The Yankees just hope the Granderson they saw in September (He hit .278 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs) is the real Granderson because they are stuck with him contractually for three more years.
In the meantime, Jackson nearly won the American League Rookie of the Year award. He hit .293 with four home runs and 41 RBIs and stole 27 bases as the team’s leadoff hitter. At age 23, Jackson has a very high upside.
Coke, 28, was 7-5 with a 3.76 ERA. But that does not tell the whole story. The Tigers were so pleased with Coke’s work out of the bullpen they are considering making him a starter next season. The Yankees big loss was Coke’s work out of the bullpen in 2009. They missed not having him in 2010.
Kennedy, 25, was 9-10 with an excellent 3.80 ERA with an offensively challenged Arizona Diamondbacks club. True, he might be one of those dreaded “National League pitchers.” But could he have been any worse than Javier Vazquez?
That brings us to Cashman’s other 2010 trade. He shipped Melky Cabrera and young left-hander Michael Dunn to the Atlanta Braves in return for Vazquez and lefty reliever Boone Logan. 
Vazquez was coming off a 15-10 season with the Braves. He finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. But Cashman made two big mistakes here.
No. 1: Cashman brought back the pitcher most associated with the disastrous 2004 ALCS series with the Boston Red Sox. Vazquez surrendered the grand slam home run to Johnny Damon and Yankee fans did not let him forget it.
No. 2: Cashman forgot that pitchers’ success in the National League does not translate to the American League. Vazquez was 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA and pitched less than 200 innings for only the second time since 1999. Both of those seasons Vazquez toiled for the Yankees.
To be fair to Cashman, he had no way of knowing that Vazquez would just lose his velocity on his fastball. But that is not unusual for a 34-year-old pitcher. Vazquez will not be back with the Yankees in 2010. For his sake, we hope he ends up on a team with a huge ballpark in the National League.
Cabrera was a disappointment in Atlanta. He hit .255 with four home runs and 42 RBIs. The Braves released him on Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Dunn was 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 25 appearances with the Braves. Dunn was just packaged in a trade for Dan Uggla of the Florida Marlins. At age 25, he has a bright future as a left-handed reliever.
Cashman was just lucky that Logan did not pitch like he did in Atlanta. Logan was 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 51 games with the Yankees. So basically the Dunn for Logan deal was a wash. Since Cabrera was released and Vazquez has pitched his way out of New York this is a deal that really helped neither club.
To really assess Cashman you have to look at his free-agent signings. Instead of the high-priced talent he sought in 2009, Cashman looked instead for some good picks among the low-hanging fruit.
To replace the eventual departures of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Eric Hinske and Jerry Hariston Jr., Cashman first signed oft-injured former Yankee Nick Johnson as a potential full-time DH.
Bad move.
Johnson didn’t even make it through the first week of spring training unscathed. He wore cleats to batting practice and they got stuck in the artificial surface around the batting cage and he wrenched his back.
Cashman should have seen that as a sign of what was to come. Johnson, 32, played in just 24 games before suffering yet another wrist injury that required surgery and shelved him for another season. Goodbye, Nick — again!
Cashman also signed veteran outfielder Randy Winn to compete with Brett Gardner for the left-field job Damon owned. Winn struggled all through spring training and he ended up being released after 61 at-bats in which he hit .213. 
Instead of a veteran utility infielder like Hairston, Cashman elected to stick with 25-year-old farmhand Ramiro Pena. Pena played good defense and he had some clutch RBIs among his 18 he drove in But he hit only .227.
Hairston hit .244 with 10 home runs and 50 RBis for a good Padres team. Meanwhile, Hinske hit .258 with 11 home runs and 58 RBis with the Braves, helping them to a wild-card spot.
So a fair assessment of Cashman’s 2010 winter moves was very, very poor. Instead of strengthening the Yankees in 2010, he made them weaker. Though he was eventually astute in allowing Damon and Matsui to walk as free agents, none of his off-season moves really made a major impact on the Yankees except for one.
His last addition to the team was to sign free-agent Marcus Thames as reserve outfielder and part-time DH. Though Thames struggled in spring training and he missed a month with a ankle injury, he provided power off the bench against left-handers. Thames hit .288 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs.
Many of his home runs came in a stretch in August where Alex Rodriguez was injured and Thames provided the punch the Yankees needed until Rodriguez returned.
The only salvation to Cashman’s 2010 season besides Thames was his trade deadline moves to acquire reliever Kerry Wood, DH Lance Berkman and outfielder Austin Kearns. Wood was sensational as a setup man for Mariano Rivera.
Berkman, after he recovered from an ankle injury, actually provided clutch hitting down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Kearns, however, was a bust. In 102 at-bats with the Yankees, Kearns struck out 38 times. That means
he struck out just over one out of every three at-bats in pinstripes. He is free-agent this winter and he will not be re-signed by the Yankees.
So how does Cashman keep his job?
He signs Cliff Lee, gets Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera back into the fold and convince Andy Pettitte to pitch one more season. He also will likely add some arms the rotation and bullpen and pick up a few spare parts for the bench.
Cashman has proven that you are only as good as your last move. The good news is most Yankee fans have forgotten the dreadful moves he made last winter. They don’t seem to blame him for the loss in the ALCS to the Rangers.
That is Cashman’s true gift. A real Teflon Man.

Yankees Pick Up Another Gem Starter In Vazquez

The Boston Red Sox must feel like the executives at Pepsi every time they read the sales figures of Coke.
The New York Yankees trumped the Red Sox’ signing of free-agent right-hander John Lackey by acquiring Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.
The Yankees also acquired left-handed reliever Boone Logan and in return the Braves received outfielder Melky Cabrera, left-handed reliever Michael Dunn and minor-leaue right-hander Arodys Vizcaino.
That means in the past week the Yankees have reacquired firstbaseman/designated hitter Nick Johnson and Vazquez. Could Alphonso Soriano be the next former Yankee to return?
In Vazquez, the Yankees get a pitcher who is coming off one of his best seasons in the major leagues. Vazquez, 33, was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA in 32 starts for Atlanta. In 219 1/3 innings Vazquez gave up only 181 hits and struck out 238 while walking only 44 batters.
Vazquez was second in the National League in strikeouts and he finished fourth in the balloting for the NL Cy Young Award. 
Vazquez has also thrown more than 198 innings in the past 10 seasons and was an American League All-Star selection in 2004, his only season with the Yankees. He finished the 2004 season with a 14-10 record with a 4.91 ERA. He then was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the deal that brought Randy Johnson to the Yankees.
Since 2000, Vazquez has recorded at least 10 wins and 150 strikeouts each season, making him the 10th pitcher in major-league history to accomplish the feat. According to the Elias Sports Bureau eight of the other nine pitchers are in the Hall of Fame.
Vazquez joins a rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Speculation now begins on whether the Yankees will shift Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes to the bullpen. 
Common sense would dictate it would be Chamberlain, 24, because he was a disappointing 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA as a starter and 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in the postseason in the bullpen. Chamberlain spent the final two months of 2007 season as the setup man for Mariano Rivera and was 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 19 games. 
He started the 2008 season in the bullpen but was converted to a starter at midseason. His statistics as a reliever were again better but he finished the season with 4-3 with a 2.60 ERA and the Yankees stated he would be a full-time starter in 2009, albeit with a limit of about 150 innings.
Hughes, 23, pitched 42 games out of the bullpen and was 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. However, he was 0-1 with a 8.53 ERA in the postseason.  As a starter last season, Hughes was 2-2 with a 6.59 ERA in six starts. 
If Hughes is chosen as the No. 5 starter, he will be under the same innings limits Chamberlain was under the past two seasons. Because Hughes pitched only 86 innings in 2009 he would be limited to about 140 innings in 2010.
That could mean the Yankees might allow Hughes to begin the season as a starter and skip his turn whenever they can. The Yankees then could shift Hughes to the bullpen at midseason in favor of swingman Chad Gaudin, who pitched well for the Yankees as a starter down the stretch in 2009.
The loss of Cabrera in the trade, means that this blog was correct in its assessment last week that the Yankees have not completely shut the door on Johnny Damon.
In my last post I wrote the following:
(Jorge) Posada made it known this week that he would like the Yankees to obtain another starting pitcher to counter the Red Sox’ signing of John Lackey. But if the Yankees do not like the slim pickings on the free-agent market of Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland they possibly could swing a trade of Cabrera and some prospects to land a better starter.

The speculation on Yankees’ interest in Vazquez began when the veteran right-hander turned down a deal last week that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels. Vazquez declined the trade because he did not want to pitch on the West Coast.
That alerted Cashman that Vazquez was available and he quickly contacted the Braves to see what their asking price for Vazquez might be. By dealing Cabrera, the Yankees have obviously opened up left field with only Brett Gardner left to fill it.
That likely means Cashman feels he is close to bringing Damon back to the Bronx.
Damon’s agent Scott Boras was looking for a four-year, $52 million deal for his free-agent outfiielder client. But the Yankees balked at any contract over two years and were looking to bring Damon back for two years at $7 million per season.
But because no other major-league team is offering Damon a contract of three or four years, Boras later dropped his demands to two years at $26 million and then later down to two years for $20 million. So it appears likely that Damon could be getting close to a deal the Yankees for two years at somewhere between $7 million and $10 million the two sides are haggling over.
Don’t be surprised if that deal is locked up pretty soon.
If Boras stands firm and Cashman decides to let Damon walk, the Yankees do have a fallback position in free-agent utility man Mark De Rosa, who could play left field. De Rosa, a New Jersey native, also can play second base, shortstop and third base as well as the outfield.
It still remains doubtful that with the Yankees looking to cut at least $15 million in payroll for 2010 that they would get into the bidding for slugging outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. The Yankees did go over their budget plans in 2009 when Mark Teixeira expressed and interest in signing. 
But if the Yankees feel they have no other choice they could get into the bidding easily.
But the Red Sox are now in a much weaker position in improving their club for 2010. The torn ligament in Mike Lowell’s thumb voided the Red Sox deal to send the veteran third baseman to the Texas Rangers.
The Lowell trade was Step 1 in their shift of Kevin Youkilis to third base and their trade of right-hand pitcher Clay Buchholz and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and some prospects to the San Diego Padres in return for power-hitting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. 
With Lowell still on the roster, Youkilis must remain at first and the deal for Gonzalez is likely on hold. 
The Red Sox say they would like to keep Bay as the team’s left fielder. But their four-year, $60 million offer to him was rejected and the New York Mets have made it clear that he is the No. 1 target this winter.
The Red Sox are also having difficulty in their talks with Holliday because the Cardinals are aggresively bidding to retain him as protection for Albert Pujols. Holliday has also been a more productive hitter in the National League and could be looking sign with a team that keeps him in the NL.
Meanwhile the Red Sox are overloaded with outfielders in Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew and Jeremy Hermida, who they obtained from the Marlins.
It looks like Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has put Red Sox GM Theo Epstein in a difficult position of having to raise the Red Sox payroll just to keep up with the moves Cashman has made this offseason.
Even with the Marco Scutaro signing as the team’s shortstop, the R
ed Sox have a lot of holes to fill in their offense and their bullpen that will end up costing them a lot of money. The inability to get Lowell’s contract off the books has really complicated things beyond what Epstein could have imagined.
To be sure, the Yankees loss of Cabrera is significant. Just 25, Cabrera is coming off a bounce-back season in which he had 13 homers, 68 RBIs and hit .274. He also was the Yankees’ best defensive outfielder with a very good arm.
Dunn, 24, was originally slated to become the replacement for left-hander Phil Coke, who was traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Curtis Granderson deal. The converted outfielder, Dunn had a 6.75 ERA in four September appearances after splitting most of the season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton.
Vizcaino, 19, had a 2.13 ERA in 10 starts for Class A Staten Island last year. The Dominican Republic product was rated the Yankees’ third-best prospect by Baseball America.
It would appear that Logan will now replace Coke as the team’s second left-hander in the bullpen, joining veteran Damaso Marte. Logan was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Braves. He also was a teammate of Vazquez when they both pitched for the White Sox in 2008. 
Cashman has already tried to head off speculation the Yankees are looking to sign Bay or Holliday.
“I will continue to look at any remaining piece, but it won’t be a big piece,” Cashman said. “So any speculation about some high-end player, with big ability and dollars attached on a large scale, would be inappropriate.”

Cashman, however, did not rule out the possibility of re-signing Damon. That may be a clue that the Yankees want the 36-year-old outfielder back — but only at their price.
Stay tuned . . . 

Yanks Deal A-Jax, Coke And Kennedy For Granderson


WINTER MEETINGS
DAY TWO

The future is now in the Bronx.
The New York Yankees and General Manager Brian Cashman mortgaged the most valuable piece of the team’s future in Austin Jackson by trading him to the Detroit Tigers for Curtis Granderson.
The rumored three-team deal between the Yankees, Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks was agreed to in principle by the three teams Tuesday morning in Indianapolis.
The Yankees received the 29-year-old center fielder Granderson from the Tigers and they sent their five-tool center fielder of the future in Jackson to the Tigers. The Yankees also sent left-hand reliever Phil Coke to the Tigers and right-hand starter Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks.
The Tigers and Diamondbacks also swapped three right-hand starters in the deal. The Tigers received Max Scherzer and pitching prospect Daniel Schelereth while the Diamondbacks picked up Edwin Jackson.
Granderson, who hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 stolen bases last season, brings his left-hand bat into new Yankee Stadium, where he could take advantage of the short  porch in right field. However, he hit only two home runs and batted .183 in 181 at-bats against left-handers last season. He also strikes out more than twice as much as he walks.
Patience is not a Granderson virtue.
But Granderson is a very good defensive outfielder and he will take over as the team’s center fielder. Melky Cabrera, who played center field most of last season, likely will move to left field.
GOOD NEWS FOR MATSUI?
The Yankees reportedly are interested in signing one of their two outfield free agents: Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. It is hard to read into the Granderson deal directly but it would seem that Matsui might be the choice for the Yankees to sign now.
Granderson likely would become the Yankees leadoff hitter and Derek Jeter would return to bat second. Damon, who hit .282 with a career-best-tying 24 home runs and 82 RBIs last season, is seeking a four-year deal at age 36. He spent most of his career as a leadoff hitter but was moved to second last season.
The Yankees are reluctant to go any further with Damon than two years guaranteed and perhaps a club option for a third season. But the Yankees are sure to let Damon go if any team offers him three or more years.
That would be good news for Matsui, who although he could not play the outfield last season still hit .274 with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs in only 456 at-bats. Matsui also is the only player the Yankees had on the roster in 2009 that could adequately protect Alex Rodriguez in the No. 5 spot in the batting order.
But either way, the Yankees are not likely to play either Damon or Matsui in the outfield on a regular basis now. Matsui has had surgery to both knees and Damon’s weak arm is a real liability to the Yankees. This past season a National League team scored a pitcher from second on a single to Damon and teams were even running slow-footed catchers from second base on him.
It appears both players would be limited to DH for the Yankees if they were signed.
YANKEES PART WITH A-JAX
But the biggest loss for the Yankees is the 22-year-old Jackson, who hit .300 with four home runs, 65 RBIs and 24 stolen bases at Scranton-Wilkes Barre last season. Scouts rated him the best athlete in the Yankees’ organization and they projected he would eventually hit for 20 home-run power at the major-league level.
The Tigers likely will give Jackson a chance to make their major-league roster in 2010 and replace Granderson as the team’s center fielder.
The Yankees also traded Coke, 27, who was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA with two saves last season as the team’s primary left-hander out of the bullpen. Coke lost his job in the postseason when Damaso Marte, finally recovered from a shoulder injury, pitched better than Coke in the playoffs.
The Yankees also dealt 25-year-old right-hand starter Ian Kennedy. Kennedy actually made the Yankees’ roster in 2008 as a starter but was quickly sent out after posting an 0-4 record with a 8.17 ERA in nine starts. 
His 2009 season was marred because of an aneurysm discovered under his right armpit. He had surgery to repair the problem on May 12 and returned to pitch in August. Kennedy posted a 1-0 record and a 1.59 ERA in four starts at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He also shined in a stint in the Arizona Fall League, which encouraged the Diamondbacks enough to ask for him in the deal.

ONE AND DUNN

The one saving grace is that Cashman did manage to hold on to left-hand reliever Michael Dunn, who the Yankees’ lone representative in the Futures All-Star Game this fall. Dunn, 24, a converted outfielder, also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League.

Though Dunn is a strikeout pitcher with a mid-90s fastball, he still needs to work on his command of the strike zone. Once he conquers that he likely will replace Coke as the team’s second left-hander in the bullpen.

Dunn was originally reported to have been joining Coke in the trade to Detroit but Cashman likely realized it did not make much sense to trade the second- and third-best left-hand relievers in the organization in one deal. 

Dunn is a very good prospect and keeping him out this deal was a big coup for Cashman.

MORE MOVES?

With Granderson aboard what other deals are lurking for the Yankees?

Cashman, who never let on the Granderson deal was in the works, likely will continue to play it close to the vest. But it would appear that with Kennedy gone and the Yankees close to re-signing Andy Pettitte that the team will not be too active in a potential free-agent signing of John Lackey or a trade for Roy Halladay.

The reason is that Cashman has been asked to cut $15 million in payroll for the 2010 season.

Lackey would be looking for a deal similar to the deal the Yankees gave A.J. Burnett last season and any trade for Halladay would have to include negotiations to extend his contract past 2010 and would cost similar money that CC Sabathia received last season.

That would not exactly jive with the Yankees’ desire to cut payroll and get younger. But, then again, the Yankees did not exactly meet that goal with the Granderson deal. Granderson will be paid $5.5 million this season but his contract jumps to $8.5 million next season and $10 million in 2012.

HARDEN FAST RULE

The Yankees might be looking for bargain free-agent pitching help. With veteran left-hander Randy Wolf looking to be headed to the Brewers, the Yankees might turn their sites to Rich Harden, a 29-year-old right-hander who was 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 31 starts with the Cubs last season.

Harden, whose career has been marred by arm problems, has now made 51 starts his last two seasons and he is combined 19-11 in those starts. The Yankees may feel he is cheaper alternative to slot as a No. 4 starter and would allow the Yankees to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen and Phil Hughes back to a starter in the No. 5 spot.

The Yankees having already dealt Brian Bruney and Coke may be signalling that Chamberlain may return to his setup role ahead of closer Mariano Rivera.

Hughes, who likely would be limited to about 130 innings under the same rules that applied to Chamberlain, could be switched to the bullpen at midseason to hold down his innings pitched. The Yankees use swingman Chad Gaudin as a No. 5 starter to replace Hughes.

WANG’S STATUS IN LIMBO

The Yankees are unlikely to offer arbitration to Chien-Ming Wang, which will make him a free agent. But the Yankees might look to retain him at a lower price tag. 

Wang, who had surgery to repair his right shoulder, may not be able to return to the mound until June, is currently working out and rehabbing his shoulder in Taiwan. It is unclear whether Wang will be able to harness the sinker that was his trademark pitch when he won 19 games for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007.

Wang suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot running the bases in Houston in May 2008 which ended his season. Last season, he started the season with an 0-4 record and an ERA over 30 before the Yankees discovered he had a weakness in both hips as a result of not being able to work out on his injured foot in the winter.

Wang spent a month on the disabled list and seemed to be rounding back into form when he injured his right shoulder. Wang had surgery to repair his labrum and missed the rest of the season. By re-signing Wang at a cheaper cost as a free agent, it will give the Yankees another pitching option for 2010. 

Stay tuned . . .


Yankees Deal For Granderson Looks To Be Dead For Now



WINTER MEETINGS
DAY TWO

General Manager Brian Cashman had hardly broken the seal on his honor bar macadamia nuts in his Indianapolis hotel suite before the Yankees had already made news with rumors swirling about that outfielder Curtis Granderson was heading to the Bronx.
According to FOX Sports the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks were proposing a three-way deal that would send Granderson and two Diamondback prospects to the Yankees. The Yankees, in turn, would send lefthanders Phil Coke and Michael Dunn and top outfield prospect Austin Jackson to the Tigers.
The Tigers would ship righthander Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks and the Tigers would receive young starter Max Scherzer. The Diamondbacks would also receive righthander Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.
FOX Sports did say the discussions hit a snag Monday night and that one of the teams rejected the deal.
For Cashman’s sake, let’s hope it was him.
The reason is that any discussions about trading a potential star prospect like Jackson would have be treated with caution. Jackson is simply the future centerfielder for the Yankees and Cashman already rejected one deal for Jackson last July.
When Cashman asked the Mariners their price for lefthander Jarrod Washburn and he heard Jackson’s name mentioned, Cashman shut down talks right there. Despite the Yankees need to replace Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation at the trade deadline, Jackson was a price too high to pay.
Now, it appears, Cashman is pulling the plug on this deal because Jackson may be too high a price to pay for Granderson.
In addition, it is hard to see the sense in trading the two best lefthanded relievers in the organization behind Damaso Marte. Coke pitched reliably for most of the 2009 season and only lost his No. 1 status to Marte in the playoffs because Marte was pitching well.
Dunn, a former outfielder converted to relief pitcher, is a young lefthander with potential. He was the Yankees lone representative in this fall’s Futures All-Star Game. 
Lefthanders are a scarce commodity in baseball and the Yankees might want to hold on to Coke and Dunn because Marte has some mileage on him and there is no guarantee he will stay healthy in 2010.
The loss of Kennedy also would seem odd considering that Cashman is seeking potential starting rotation help this winter. If the old adage “you never have enough pitching” is true dealing Kennedy would only make sense if the Yankees had given up on him.
There are reports that talks on this rumored deal could resume Tuesday. My guess would be that Cashman is looking to make this deal without Jackson included. If the Tigers insist on Jackson they may have to look for another trading partner.
The Yankees could use Granderson’s bat to replace Johnny Damon. But because Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are excellent defensively, Granderson would not add much to the defense. He also is woefully bad as a hitter against lefthanders. 
Since the Yankees do not have a righthanded hitter to platoon with Granderson, he and his sub-.200 average would have to slog through an entire season of futility against lefties. 
So perhaps this deal might be dead. Let’s hope so. The Yankees could do a lot better and they need to keep Jackson, Coke and Dunn.
NUMBER 99 GONE

The Yankees will have No. 99 available to any player wanting it for 2010 because Brian Bruney was dealt to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named. 
Bruney was 5-0 with a 3.92 ERA last season but has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. Slated to be the setup man for Mariano Rivera, Bruney started the season off well in April. But a sore elbow landed Bruney on the disabled list twice last season and he never really regained his April form.
Though Bruney threw hard, his command was erratic and he quickly fell out of favor of manager Joe Girardi late last season. He was left of the ALDS and ALCS rosters but was added for the World Series.
Cashman said the depth the Yankees built in the bullpen last season simply made Bruney expendable this winter. The Nationals said Bruney will be a back-end option for the woefully bad Nationals bullpen.
PRICE IS RIGHT

The Yankees reportedly offered lefthander Andy Pettitte $10 million and it was rejected by Pettitte and his agent Randy Hendricks. Other reports say that because Pettitte just relayed word through Hendricks he wanted to pitch in 2010 that the Yankees would make their first offer on Monday.
Either way, it appears Pettitte will return to the Yankees in 2010. 
It is sure thing that the Yankees will get into the right price range to please Pettitte. The Yankees also can be pretty sure that Pettitte will not be looking at other teams. If Pettitte is pitching in 2010, it will be the Yankees and no one else.
That limits Hendricks’ bargaining position but the Yankees do not wish to low-ball Pettitte as they did last winter. Pettitte, who made a base salary of $16 million in 2007, had to accept a $5.5 million deal with incentives that paid out $11 million.
The Yankees and Pettitte might settle in at $12.5 million for one last season for the 37-year-old veteran. Pettitte might creep closer to Hall of Fame status with another good regular season and playoff run.
Stay tuned . . .