Wednesday, December 2, 2009

But Yankee Fans Are Supposed To Be Giants Fans!

We make no secret about our NFL team of choice around here, but every once in awhile we're forced to acknowledge that there is a second NFL team that calls metro NYC home. Today is one of those days.

Somewhere this morning, Michael Kay's grossly enlarged cranium is on the brink of exploding. As you may recall, several times this season Kay reminded his announcing partner and noted Jets fan John Flaherty that Yankee fans are supposed to be Giants and Mets fans are supposed to be Jets fans.

So why then was Yankees manager Joe Girardi at the Jets' training complex yesterday? Because Jets QB Mark Sanchez has had trouble sliding to avoid getting his clock cleaned. So Rex Ryan emailed Yankee President Randy Levine asking if someone from the Yankees' organization could come teach Sanchez the finer points of sliding. So the Yankees sent Girardi, who worked with Sanchez on his technique.

What the wire stories failed to report was that after Girardi finished his sliding lesson with Sanchez, the Yankee skipper and the Jet coach discussed their philosophies of leading a professional sports team. Fack Youk received an exclusive transcript of the conversation:

Joe Girardi: So Rex, how come Sanchez takes all the snaps for you guys?

Rex Ryan: What do you mean Joe?

JG: I mean, you have three quarterbacks on your roster, why do you only use one of them?

RR: Well Mark's our starter; he's our best QB. If he's healthy, he's taking the snaps.

JG: Yeah, but you have three quarterbacks; you should use them all. Don't you ever play the match-ups?

RR: Match-ups?

JG: Yeah. I mean, sometimes doesn't it make sense to bring in your back-up since he's left handed?

RR: We don't have a left handed QB Joe.

JG: All your QBs are right handed? No wonder you're five and six. You gotta have a left-handed QB to face your left-handed defenses.

RR: It doesn't quite work that way in this sport.

JG: Ok, fine. But doesn't your binder tell you that sometimes Kellen Clemens might be a better match up than Sanchez?

RR: Binder?

JG: Yeah your binder. Your notebook. Whatever you call it. You football coaches always have some sort of sheet on the sideline.

RR: It's a play calling sheet.

JG: Fine. But sometimes one righty is better than another.

RR: Well yeah, Sanchez is better. That's why he's the starter.

JG: No, no. I mean, depending on the match-up sometimes a lesser QB is a better QB.

RR: Huh?

JG: Didn't you watch Game Three of the ALCS?

RR: Nope.

JG: Ok, look. Let's say you've got a third and long. The defense is going to bring in the dime package and probably only rush three guys. Sure, Sanchez has all the arm strength in the world, but what good is it going to do him when he's got six DBs sitting back there? So you bring Clemens in. He has less arm strength but he's more accurate in short yardage. You let all those DBs sit downfield, have Clemens dump a short one off to Thomas Jones, have him shake a linebacker or two and you've got your first down.

RR: I don't think it really works like that Joe.

JG: Sure it does Rex. You don't know what you're missing! You have free substitution by golly! You could put Sanchez right back in. Heck, if I had free substitution, I'd match-up pitchers every at bat or two.

RR: Interesting point Joe. Well listen, thanks for coming down. I really gotta get going. Practice is winding down and I don't want to be late for the post practice spread.

JG: Ok buddy. Think about what I said though, it'll change your life.
Be on the look out for a bullpen on the Jets' sideline this Thursday night.

The Many Facets Of The Billy Wagner Signing

As was reported this morning, the Atlanta Braves signed Billy Wagner to a $7M deal with a $6.5M option that vests if he finishes 50 games in 2010. Wagner is no spring chicken - he'll turn 39 next July - and he only pitched 15 2/3 Major League innings since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2009. Granted, he was effective in those innings, but signing him carries a great deal of risk. It's not the deal itself that makes the Braves acquisition interesting, though; it's what it took to get to this point and what will also change hands as a result (and the fact that the Mets screwed themselves).

If you'll recall, the Mets traded Wagner to the Red Sox after only two appearances following his return from injury for (at the time) two players to be named later. It seemed as though the Red Sox were shoring up their bullpen for the stretch run and postseason, but in retrospect it seems that Theo Epstein had a little something more up his sleeve.

One of those PTBNL was a 26 year old minor league first baseman/outfielder named Chris Carter. In six MiLB seasons, Carter had a batting line of .306/.380/.510, but only sniffed the Majors because of the Fackin' Youkstah occupying 1B and several very capable (and expensive) players taking up the corners of the outfield. However, given the absence of Carlos Delgado and the struggles of David Murphy on the Mets, he would have been a useful piece and figured to get his first taste of regular season playing time in the Bigs.

Carter was on the 40 man roster of the Sox and in order for him to be included in the trade (since it occurred after the non-waiver deadline of July 31st) he had to pass through waivers (one of the reasons teams rarely send back players on the 40 man in waiver deals). Unfortunately for him, the Yankees placed a waiver claim on Carter and denied him the MLB at bats that he must have so badly desired. Since the Red Sox decided they needed that 40 man roster spot for pitcher Dustin Richardson (who pitched 3.1 innings for them this year), they DFA'd Carter, at which point any team could have claimed him - even the Mets, which would have forced the Sox to include someone else an additional player in the deal - but no one did.

So at the conclusion of the season, Carter returned to the Sox and, in addition to Eddie Lora, a 20 year old first baseman still in the Gulf Coast League, was sent to the Mets and the deal was completed.

When the Sox acquired Wagner, he asked them to agree that they would not exercise his $8M option for 2010 in hopes that he could close somewhere else. The Sox agreed to that term, but
were still allowed to offer him arbitration.

In a perfect world, Wagner would have been a Type B or unclassified free agent since he only pitched in 17 games last year, but since the Elias Rankings take previous years into consideration, he attained Type A status. As a result, when the Sox offered him arbitration, he turned it down and now they will likely receive the Braves 20th overall pick in addition to a supplemental rounder. Since the Sox are looking for a second baseman or shortstop (depending on whether Dustin Pedroia actually changes positions) it could lessen the burden of picking up a player like Marco Scutaro, who would cost the Sox a first round pick as our buddy Jason points out.

The Braves are not all that concerned about giving up their first round pick since they actually have two Type A free agents of their own hitting the marketplace - Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez - and figure that one or both are likely to decline the arbitration offers from the Braves and sign elsewhere. They surrendered their first rounder, but signed a pitcher who could very well fill the role of closer and doubled down with a team-friendly option if Wagner performs well this year.

The Sox got one of the highest draft picks you can receive in free agent compensation (#20, since the top 15 are protected) if the Braves don't sign a higher-ranking free agent and a supplemental rounder in exchange for a spare part and a Rookie League first baseman.

And what about the Mets? They ended up with Chris Carter, who could be a somewhat useful piece on their team next year, although at 27 he has limited upside, and Eddie Lora, who is light years away from the MLB.

Did Omar Minaya overlook the draft pick compensation system when he dealt Wagner on the cheap? Did Theo Epstein have it in mind when he acquired him? I can't help but think the Sox made out like bandits here.

Arbitration Round Up

Good morning Fackers. The Yankees announced a free agent signing this week, but it's not the big news anyone was waiting on. The club signed Taiwanese teenager Fu-Lin Kuo to a contract. RAB's Mike Axisa has the details.

Meanwhile, the details are in from yesterday's arbitration-palooza. MLBTR has the full rundown of who was offered and who wasn't. For the Yankees' purposes, the only players of concern are Type A free agents who were offered arbitration. Signing any of these players would result in the Yankees forfeiting their first round pick, thirty second overall. Signing more than one, as they did last year, would result in the forfeiture of additional picks.

Here's a list of Type A's who were offered:
  • Marco Scutaro
  • Chone Figgins
  • Jason Bay
  • Matt Holliday
  • John Lackey
  • Mike Gonzalez
  • Rafael Soriano
  • Jose Valverde
  • Billy Wagner
  • Rafael Betancourt
Billy Wagner has already reached a deal with the Braves for one year, $7M, with a $6.5M vesting option. This should help set the market for the other relievers on the list.

Per usual, the Yankees have been rumored to have an interest in most players on this list. We've already poked holes in the Chone Figgins rumor. Neither Bay nor Holliday seems to be worth the cost in left field, and few relievers are worth surrendering draft pick compensation. Brian Cashman's comments yesterday seem to indicate they won't be pursuing any such relievers.

Based on that list and those comments, it appears the Yankees might only be willing to sacrifice their first rounder for Lackey, or if they turn to Holliday, Bay, or less likely Figgins to fill their current left field vacancy.