Thursday, December 8, 2011
Five Yanks notes from winter meetings
By Andrew Marchand
DALLAS -- With the winter meetings now over, let's take a look back and ahead to examine why the New York Yankees did what they did and how they will move forward.
1. Do you believe in Darvish?
The Yankees never had any real interest in the free-agent pitching class. They valued C.J. Wilson as more of a No. 3 starter and weren't sure his personality would fit in New York. They think Mark Buehrle probably made a good decision going to the National League instead of the American League East, because his soft fastball might not have been amped up enough for the best division in baseball.
There are starters still on the market. Roy Oswalt's back is a concern, while Hiroki Kuroda is a guy they like, but the outlay of cash for him doesn't translate as enough of an upgrade over Freddy Garcia.
On the trade market, the Yankees know a starter such as Gio Gonzalez would be a significant improvement. The problem is the Oakland Athletics don't need to trade him. They would if they were overwhelmed. The same is true of the Chicago White Sox and John Danks; they are looking for more than the Yankees are willing to give up.
That brings us to 25-year-old right-hander Yu Darvish. Darvish's abilities are respected by the Yankees.
"He is an extremely talented player," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. "I don't think that is in dispute."
Cashman has yet to show a willingness to spend big and has talked about how the Yankees don't have significant money to spend. However, the posting fee does not count against any of baseball's taxes, so the Yankees could make a modest proposal for him and hope it is good enough.
Cashman wouldn't say whether he will bid or not, but it makes sense for the Yankees to at least put in a bid -- even a modest one -- and see how it turns out.
2. The A.J. factor
The Yankees were willing to include $8 million of the $33 million left on A.J. Burnett's contract if someone would take him off their hands, according to the New York Post. The Yankees have acknowledged they would listen on Burnett, but the fact that they are willing to pay some of his salary for him to pitch for another team is significant. If the Yankees truly want to deal Burnett, they will need to eat a lot more money. It is unlikely to happen.
However, the Yankees have learned something about these big contracts. The experiences of Burnett's deal and others have affected their decision-making so they didn't want to have to eat money on Wilson's or Buehrle's contract in a few years.
3. The Los Angeles Steinbrenners
While the Yankees sat back, the Angels and the Miami Marlins dominated the headlines from coast to coast. While many were shocked, it really made sense that the Yankees weren't in on Albert Pujols. Where would he have played? Plus, these 10-year contracts that go through a player's age-30 years and into 40 don't seem like a good long-term idea.
This is the case, even if Pujols is "Montero-like."
4. Bringing the hate back to The Rivalry
The biggest take-away from Dallas was Bobby Valentine's "hate"-filled comments. Valentine knew exactly what he was doing when said he hated the Yankees. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know Valentine.
He likely did it because he is the ultimate showman; he loves the big stage and all the attention that comes with it. He will use every means he can to get under the skin of the Yankees and their fans. Red Sox Nation, if Valentine wins, he will love every moment of it.
Now, the candid Cashman probably could go word for word with Valentine, but he declined to say the hate was mutual.
"I don't hate the Red Sox," Cashman said. "Hate is a strong word."
5. What the Yankees did and what they could do
Well, as we have expected all offseason, the Yankees will tidy up their bench by trying to re-sign Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez. The Yankees like what Jones brought to the clubhouse, and, if Chavez can stay healthy -- we know, we know, a big if -- he is a very nice insurance policy behind Alex Rodriguez and at the DH spot.
The Yankees added a lefty reliever during the Rule 5 draft in 22-year-old lefty Cesar Cabral. The Yankees paid the Royals $50,000 to get Cabral.
"His fastball gets up to 94 [mph]," Cashman said. "He is a fastball, slider, changeup guy. We like him a lot. He has ability and he can get lefties out, and we'll see what we see in the spring."
Cabral will have the opportunity to be the complement to Boone Logan from the left side.
Meanwhile, the Yankees also added Washington righty Brad Meyers. He is a 26-year-old, four-pitch guy who could replace Hector Noesi as the long man.
"That is currently a vacancy because I have no intention of Noesi doing that again," Cashman said.
Noesi is expected to start the season in either the Yankees' or the Triple-A rotation so he is stretched out.