Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fack Youk Field Trip: The Egg

Time for another Field Trip Fackers, and with it being the baseball off-season this one will involve our other favorite pastime here: music. While the 21st Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam took place in Asheville, North Carolina this weekend, Jay and I will be heading to The Egg in Albany this evening to see Haynes' fellow Allman Brothers Band guitarist and blog favorite The Derek Trucks Band. We'll probably have a summary sometime tomorrow.

Unfortunately this show comes on a night that the Giants and Eagles meet in a crucial NFC East match up. As disappointing as it will be to miss the game, it figures to be worth it. dTb announced in November that they will be going on an indefinite hiatus in 2010, tonight's show is the band's final performance for the foreseeable future. They're a band I've seen countless time over the past decade, starting with a performance for about 20 people at Boston College's O'Connell House during my sophomore year at BC. It will be nice to catch their final performance for the next year or so.

As we've mentioned before, Derek Trucks is a relative of the oldest living former Yankee, Virgil Trucks. However, I previously fouled up the specifics of the relationship. Our last post about it was picked up by an Allman Brothers Band listserv, where Vaylor Trucks - Derek's cousin, Butch's son, and the little kid on the cover of the ABB's 1973 Brothers and Sisters album, set the record straight. Virgil is the first cousin of Butch's father, making Derek Virgil's third cousin twice removed.

Now that we have the family tree squared away we can head off to the show. Here's the Derek Trucks Band, along with Derek's wife Susan Tedeschi, covering some Derek and the Dominoes:

Yanks And Damon Worlds Apart

Depending upon which you reports you believe, the Yankees may or may not have begun negotiating with Johnny Damon late last week. Various reports state that the two sides are worlds apart, with the Yankees offering 2 years and $18M and Damon requesting 4 years and $52M. Putting aside for a second the sheer lunacy of a 36 year old with questionable defensive skills and perhaps park-inflated value wanting a four year deal with an average annual value of $13M in a depressed market, I'm fairly confident the reported offers are accurate. Damon is a Scott Boras client, and since those figures came from notorious Boras mouthpiece Jon Heyman, I believe they are the actual figures being discussed.

We can infer a few things from this. Since it's all part of the negotiating process, I'd assume both sides would be happy offering/accepting more/less than what's currently on the table. If that's the case, we know the Yankees are willing to guarantee a second year and to do so at a market rate contract similar to what Bobby Abreu received from the Angels. We also know that Damon and Boras aren't ready to cave - at least not yet - in light of the Yankees recent outfield acquisitions of Curtis Granderson and Jaime Hoffmann. I'd imagine that they'll try to hold out until Matt Holliday and Jason Bay sign, further defining the outfield market. I just don't know if the Yankees will be willing to wait that long.

Meanwhile, according to a Ken Davidoff tweet on Thursday, there is increasing sentiment that the Yankees will wind up re-signing Hideki Matsui. While the Yankees still have room for both Damon and Matsui, it's more likely that only one or the other will be back next year. The Yankees likely prefer Damon since he can split time between DH and the outfield, but if he and Boras continue to drag their feet in negotiations, the club may turn back to Matsui, who hasn't been seriously rumored to be going anywhere else.

I'm sure this will be one of the predominant Yankee story lines as we move through the next few weeks of the off-season.

Yanks Do Not Treat Wang Tenderly

Good morning Fackers. As we, and most everyone else predicted Friday, the Yankees yesterday tendered contracts to arbitration eligible players Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and Melky Cabrera, but not Chien-Ming Wang.

Wang, who made $5M last year, would have been guaranteed a minimum of $4M in arbitration. Wang missed the majority of both of the last two seasons. A freak lis-franc injury suffered while running the bases in interleague play ended his 2008 season on June 15th. After a rehab that the Yankees arguably botched, Wang returned in 2009 with three historically bad starts, culminating with a disastrous 1.1 IP, 8 ER outing against the Indians in the third game at the new Yankee Stadium, a game the Yankees eventually lost 24-4.

Following that outing, the Yankees placed Wang on the DL with a questionable "weakness in his abductor muscles" injury, allowing him to rehab in the minor leagues. But rather than allowing Wang the entirety of his 30 day rehab assignment to right his ship, the Yankees hastily activated him after just two starts, panicking after Joba Chamberlain exited a start after being hit with a line drive. Relegated to a mop up role, Wang wallowed in limbo, making three relief appearances over a ten day stretch. He was then returned to the rotation, making six starts that were mediocre at best. He exited his July 4th start against the Blue Jays, suffering from shoulder pain. Surgery at the end of July, the second shoulder operation of his professional career, officially ended his season, and likely his Yankee career.

The Yankees will likely make a token attempt to re-sign Wang to a team friendly, incentive laced deal, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen. Chances are he can find a better deal, or at least a better chance to pitch, elsewhere. There may also be some lingering hard feelings from Wang towards the organization following past contract negotiations and how his injury situation was handled. According to a Friday afternoon tweet from Brian Hoch, Wang's agent, Alan Nero, said Wang will look to move on if non-tendered. If this is the end of Wang's Yankee career, it will go down as one of the sadder chapters in recent Yankee history.

As for the rest of the Yankees' arbitration eligible players, Mitre and Gaudin and will provide added depth to the Yankee pitching staff, which will be thinner without Wang. Both will be in the mix for the back of the rotation/long man roles, and both - particularly Gaudin - may be of use in other relief roles. Meanwhile, Melky remains in the mix for the outfield, if not as a potential left fielder than in competition with Brett Gardner and recently acquired Jamie Hoffmann for back up roles.

The arbitration decisions leave the Yankees 40 man roster at 37. We'll take a look at some of the other non-tendered players during the week.