Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome Back, Andy

It's like he never left.

Andy Pettitte is coming back to the Bronx on a one year contract worth $11.75M with no incentives. This comes as no surprise both in terms of the dollar value and the fact that the deal got done. It was only a matter of time but it's nice to have it finalized.

Pettitte finished 2009 strong - as in starting the clinching game of the World Series strong - unlike in 2008 when his shoulder bothered him down the stretch. He actually made one fewer start this year than last, but had a 3.31 ERA in the second half and pitched well into the postseason, overcoming his struggles at the New Yankee Stadium. As such, the Yankees were obliged to guarantee him the money up front instead of load the contract with incentives. Seems fair to me.

With the two moves the Yankees have completed in the past 24 hours, they have made great strides towards solidifying the team for the 2010 season if you assume Joba and Hughes are filling in the 4th and 5th starter roles and Granderson is aimed for LF. While the bullpen seems a little barren and they could certainly use a DH and possibly a platoon partner for Granderson, the holes are closing and the team is starting to take shape. I'm sure Cash & Co. aren't done yet, but they are a lot further along than they were this time yesterday.

The Definitive Collection of Curtis Granderson Links

You probably haven't heard anything about it, but yesterday the Yankees made a minor trade for a player named Cletus Glandorstine Kirk Granderstone Kent Gardenerson Kirby Galdenstein Curtis Granderson. If you would like to learn about him or the trade that put him in Pinstripes, here are some helpful resources:

Yankee Blogs:
Joe from River Ave. Blues over at the YES Network.

Cliff from Bronx Banter's predictably excellent synopsis of the deal.

The Yankee Universe looks at how this affects the outfield and DH situation(s).

264 Comments over at the Replacement Level Yankees Blog

Other baseball blogs:

The ESPN Guys:

Other team's blogs:
A great breakdown of Granderson's batted ball data over the past three years.

And from the MSM:

Joel Sherman explains why the Yankees were scouting Granderson at the end of the '09 season

Best Of Luck Peter Gammons

As we mentioned very briefly yesterday, Peter Gammons has announced that after more than twenty years he's leaving ESPN at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. Shortly after the initial announcement, the predictable news broke that Gammons will be joining both MLBN and NESN.

First off, I have great respect and admiration for Peter Gammons. Many Yankee fans loathe the man for what they perceive to be blatant pro-Red Sox bias. Frankly, I don't see it. I find it akin to the anti-Yankee bias many find with Joe Buck or other on the national stage. Are we that accustomed to John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, and Michael Kay blowing sunshine up our ass that we can't stomach anything that's not definitively pro-Yankee?

Regardless, this isn't about other baseball journalists. I find Peter Gammons to be exceedingly genuine, and I think he's one of the best, if not the best ambassador the game has. Yes, I do find him to be somewhat Red Sox centric, but I don't consider it a bias, and I don't think it negatively impacts his work. Part of what appeals to me about Peter Gammons as a baseball analyst is that I find him to be genuine. That he's a fan of the game and someone who truly cares about baseball at large is evident in his work. Much of that is because in many ways Peter Gammons is still the kid he was growing up in Massachusetts as a big Red Sox fan. Even as a national baseball journalist, that's still part of who he is. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll take Gammons' slight bias as part of his character anyday - far better than the wooden delivery of Ken Rosenthal, the smarmy-ness of Jon Heyman, or even the smooth professionalism of guys like Tom Verducci and Buster Olney, who I actually like. Gammons is a fan who was fortunate enough to become one of the top journalists in the game. Isn't that what so many fans dream of doing?

Whatever your feelings on Gammons, this is a huge gain for MLBN. Let's face it, ESPN is becoming an absolute joke. It's about who's "now" or "next", or having an LA studio so Snoop or the Jonas Brothers can narrate the Top Ten each night. With Gammons gone now, Olney is the only baseball TV personality there I repsect. Most baseball fans have spent the past year raving about how good MLBN is, especially in comparison to ESPN and Baseball Tonight. This only further solidifies that position. ESPN is shifting more and more towards entertainment; MLBN is legitimate baseball analysis.

Yes MLBN has an advantage as a single sport network, and yes MLBN is not without their share of on-air morons, but I'll take MLBN over BBTN any day. In grabbing the likes of Costas, Verducci, even Rosenthal, and now Gammons, MLBN is truly making a mark for themselves.

Best of luck to Peter Gammons in his new endeavors. I certainly look forward to seeing him as part of the MLBN.

All Granderson, All The Time

Good morning Fackers. My gut reaction to the Curtis Granderson trade was indifference. Or confusion maybe. As best as I can describe, I don't think it's a bad trade, I'm just not sure it was a necessary trade. Perhaps this stems from some bias on my part, as from the start, I thought the Granderson-to-the-Yankees rumors were just unfounded rumors.

People far smarter than me (Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Dave Cameron, etc.) have labeled this a steal of a deal for the Yankees. I can understand that point of view and I can't come up with a solid counterargument against it. But my knee jerk reaction is that the Yankees had an average to just-above average centerfield platoon in 2009. Curtis Granderson is without a doubt an improvement upon that platoon, but outside of his outstanding 2007, he's been just very good rather than excellent over the past four years. I suppose that's still worth the price paid since Austin Jackson's ceiling is apparently to become Curtis Granderson, but it stings a bit to lose three guys that we've followed through the system over the past several years. I suppose any good trade has a price to pay, and the fact that I don't want to give up the likes of AJax, IPK, and Coke but that I'm not heartbroken over it means that it was a decent trade.

That said, the more I think about the deal, the more questions I come up with. In no specific order here are some thoughts and questions, some of which probably echo the multitude of thoughts already expressed on this deal:

  • Where does Granderson play? At present the Yankees don't have a left fielder, but as above, they have a decent CF platoon. Does Granderson play left? A lot of Granderson's value comes from his ability to produce as he can as a centerfielder.

  • Related to that, where does this leave Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui? There's virtually no chance they both return now, if not because of roster spots then certainly because of payroll. Does either return?

  • Granderson can't hit lefties. Gardner's a lefty, Melky's a switch hitter who can't really hit lefties either. Granderson likely needs a platoon partner. Does this mean Reed Johnson, as suggested by Keith Law and a host of others? If so, does that not leave room for Melky or Gardner? Or do we ignore Granderson's numbers against lefties and chalk it up to insufficient sample size, or assume that he can turn it around like Paul O'Neill before him?

  • Brian Cashman was quoted this week as saying the Yankees priorities are "pitching, pitching, pitching and then leftfield". I assumed that to mean they were going to acquire pitching, or at least firm up pitching. Well, they have a left fielder, potentially, but all they've done so far is subtract pitching. Don't get me wrong, no one is going to cry over Brian Bruney, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Coke. But in them you have three guys who have proven themselves capable of pitching at the Major League level in various capacities. Now all three are gone without another pitcher to show for it. It may not have a major impact on the overall talent level, but does impact the depth.

  • So much for keeping payroll down, or even reducing it. Granderson has a manageable deal for the next three to four years, but he's guaranteed $23.75M over the next three years, including $5.5M this year, with a $13M option or $2M buyout for 2013. Again, manageable, but more than what the Yankees would have been playing for the likely CF alternatives during that time.

  • The Granderson deal should all but prevent the Yankees from dealing for Roy Halladay. All Halladay rumors started with Joba or Hughes combined with AJax or Montero. While 3 of those 4 guys are still available, making such a trade would leave the Yankees nearly completely devoid of young talent at the Big League level and the top levels of the farm system. Losing AJax and IPK may not be the worse thing in the world, but I think it does make it more important to keep the likes of Hughes, Chamberlain, and Montero.

  • The Yankees have lost two relief pitchers over the last two days. Again, no big loss. But, Damaso Marte has been consistently inconsistent in the last two years and may be in the mix to be "The Eighth Inning Guy (TM)". Joe Girardi loves to match up. With Coke gone, I have to figure that barring a trade, Mike Dunn will be in the Yankee pen next year. In fact, given that the Yankees insisted he be pulled from the initially proposed deal, I imagine they have plans for him. Dunn's K rates are very appealing, but his BB rates scare me. A lot. He may be left handed Bruney. in fact he may make Bruney look like Greg Maddux by comparison.

  • Granderson appears to be another high character acquisition for the Yankees. Obviously his talent is what precipitated the deal, but given the number of talented "character guys" the Yankees have brought in over the past year following years of malcontents, I can't help but wonder if the organization is targeting players who contribute both on the field and in the clubhouse.

Anyway, those were the first things that came to mind. This one's been dissected a thousand different ways throughout the Yankee blogosphere already. I'm sure we'll have more to say over the next several days.