After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, General Manager Hank Steinbrenner decided that there was a lot of work to do. A lot of money was coming off the books, so the Yanks could easily afford a big name. However, Hank decided to raise payroll and acquire three big free agents, arguably 3 of the top 4. He is obviously very serious about winning, and because of all the money spent the Yanks are going to be just as good as some of the Yankee teams that played the last 14 years. (minus 2008) The division has gotten a lot stronger, though. The Red Sox are still a great team, and the Rays are just as bit as good if not better than they were last year. The will definitely be a lot of competition.
To start off this action-packed offseason, the Yankees made a small trade acquisition — Nick Swisher. They got him for pretty much just scrapes. They intended for him to play first base, but after the Tex signing he will be sharing time while playing all three outfield positions. After bringing in Swish, the Yanks made a much bigger splash when they went out and signed probably the best free agent, CC Sabathia. Just days after CC was acquired, Burnett joined the team. They were very quiet for a long time, but jumped into the Mark Teixeira bidding right before the slugger signed with the rival Red Sox. After locking those three up, they resigned Andy Pettitte even though it meant raising payroll by another 5.5 million. Outfielders Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui are still available while Xavier Nady and Johnny Damon could be pried loose if the price is right. This was obviously a fantastic offseason for the Yanks, but will the additions propel this team past the Red Sox and Rays?
I think that there’s a good chance it could. The starting pitching of this team was definitely its Achilles Heal last year. Now it’s a strength. The offense lost Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi, but Teixeira more than makes up for it. There’s no question that this team is better than it was last year, but no one knows if it’s good enough. My early prediction is that the Yankees do have enough, but they need to stay healthy. AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain are both big health risks, with the former very injury prone. Also, you don’t know if Chien-Ming Wang will reinjure his foot. The Red Sox also have some injury risk in the rotation, but the Rays have a very durable staff with the possible exception of Scott Kazmir.
I honestly do not know what will happen. This division could go to any of the three teams. But it will sure be fun to watch!
Everything had to fall into place for the Rays to be able to sign a big bat for their open DH spot. The player would need to come on a short term deal and would have to have a reasonable annual salary. Those things happened because of the overflowing market for outfielders, and the Rays are very lucky to have ‘Pat the Bat’ under contract at a very under-market rate.
This signing pushes their payroll up to the 55-60 million dollar range. I’m guessing that they are done. No major holes need to be filled, no money left. The Rays will most likely head into 2009 with their current team.
Injecting Burrell into this lineup should make the Rays offense very solid next year. They have so many players likely to improve on what they did last year, and now they add ‘Pat the Bat’ to solidify things. Carl Crawford and BJ Upton should see their batting averages come back to life. Evan Longoria should improve all the parts of his game with the more experience he is getting. Burrell is obviously going to be better than what the Rays had at DH last year. Matt Joyce will be an improvement offensively and defensively in right field. I guess that you could see Dioner Navarro come back to earth, but when you look at the lineup as a whole, it is much improved. A lineup of Akinori Iwamura – Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria – Carlos Pena – Pat Burrell – BJ Upton – Dioner Navarro – Matt Joyce – Jason Bartlett is going to be very deadly for opposing pitchers to face. The defense, rotation, and bullpen should all remain the way they were last year, and the 97-win Tampa Bay Rays look primed to contend for a playoff spot once again.
A lot of teams passed on the chance to pick up a very good outfielder. The Angels, Reds, Braves, Phillies (before they signed Raul Ibanez), and other teams could’ve easily matched this offer. This is another reason why this is such a great signing by the Rays.
Things are going to be very tight in the AL East division. The Red Sox, Yankees, and of course Rays all stand a good shot at a playoff berth. First, I will analyze the starting rotations of these teams.
The Rays have the best rotation in my opinion. A rotation of Scott Kazmir – James Shields – Matt Garza – Andy Sonnanstine – David Price is very good, and very durable. The Yankees’ rotation might have more talent, but they also have a lot of injury-prone pitchers. (examples: AJ Burnett, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes) The Red Sox rotation also has their share of pitchers with an injury history (Josh Beckett, Disuke Matsuzaka, & Brad Penny). The Rays have the most durable rotation in the AL East.
I prefer Yankees and Red Sox lineups over the Rays, but not by much. If players like Upton and Crawford bounce back they’ll have a great hitting team. I guess that with those two players rebounding, and with Longoria advancing his batting skills with more experience, the Rays might have the best offense. I still lean toward the Yanks and BoSox, however, because those teams have more power.
The bullpens should all be near the same. The Rays might see some of the relievers come back to earth, but it should still be a solid group. It is pretty much a toss up between all 3 teams.
I know that defense doesn’t make a big impact on a teams’ win-loss record, but the Rays have the top one. Maybe it will tack on a couple wins over a team like the Yankees, who have a terrible defense.
The AL East race is shaping out to be the most competitive division in the MLB next year. I don’t know who I will pick, but I know things will be very close throughout.
In a stunning move, the Yankees have signed Mark Teixeira to an 8 year, 180 million dollar contract with a full no-trade-clause. Wow! With this move, the Yanks now look like the frontrunners to win the World Series. They have spent over 400 million this offseason on 3 players. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and now Mark Teixeira will be the next faces of the New York Yankees.
I can’t believe that the Yankees are raising payroll so high. They said that they wouldn’t be going above the 215 million they had committed last season, but this might change that. 140 million dollars was committed coming into the offseason. Arbitration raises will probably add on another 10 million or so. That left them with 150 million. The Nick Swisher trade tacked on about 5 million. After signing Sabathia to a contract worth 23 million per year, it left them with 178 million dollar payroll. Burnett’s 16.5 million and Teixeira’s 22.5 million bring totals to 217 million; more than last year. I don’t have any idea how they can add payroll in this kind of economy. This whole offseason, GM Brian Cashman has been saying that the team won’t raise payroll, but they just did. They don’t have any tradable pieces aside from Hideki Matsui. There’s no doubt that he will get traded to accommodate this move. Swisher will move from first base to left field, Johnny Damon will move from left field to DH, and Matsui will be dealt somewhere. The Yanks will have to eat probably about half of his contract to move him, however. His knees are all banged up, and his bat is slipping. I don’t know of anyone who would want him unless they have an open DH spot. I guess the Mariners could make an inquiry, but I don’t think that they would want to add a player like that for only one year. I could see them buying low and then possibly selling high at the trade deadline if Hideki establishes his health. If not Seattle, then maybe the Rays could pursue him. They would have to miss out on all their other free agent options, though. Plus, the Yankees probably don’t want to trade within their division. I can’t think of any great fit for him, but there’s bound to be some team willing to take him on for only around 7 million.
If they can dump Matsui it looks like they’ll just head into the season with a 110 million dollar payroll. It was possible they would do this anyway. Mike Cameron and Andy Pettitte could have been aquired for near 10 million each. Now that Tex is a Yankee, neither option seems likely. They Yanks will have to go into the season with Phil Hughes as the fifth starter and with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera platooning in center field. Still, I would much rather have that to go along with Tex instead of Matsui, Pettitte, and Cameron. I have no idea where Pettitte will go now that the Yankee door is shut. Maybe he’ll retire if he cannot find a place he’s comfortable. The Dodgers, Brewers, and Cardinals could make some sense, at least for the team.
So, since Tex will wear pinstripes instead of Red Sox, who will where Sox? Boston will not look for a hitter anymore; they feel that Tex would be the only upgrade significant enough to trade Mike Lowell for. I agree. For the defense and leadership Lowell brings to the table, I would rather keep him instead of getting a small offensive upgrade with a player like Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell. The starting pitching looks like the position to address, now. You’d have to think that Derek Lowe is the happiest man not named Teixeira that the latter will be in New York. That will open up a spot for Lowe in Boston, or at least make them bid against the Mets. Still, I would say that Lowe is most likely to sign with the BoSox now that Tex won’t.
The Nationals will also look into backup plans. It seems as though the Nats will now turn their attention to Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. They will probably bid aggressively against the Angels for Dunn’s services, but I wouldn’t mind signing Hudson instead. There has been no interest at all shown for O-Dawg, so the Nats could get him at a rather cheap price. The Cardinals, Indians, and Giants just don’t make sense anymore. If Washington can sign him for, say, 3 years, 18 million, it will be a great deal. Much smarter than giving away 50 million+ to Dunn, or 180 million+ to Teixeira. I wouldn’t fault the Nats for waiting until next offseason to make their splash. In fact, that’d be the way I would go if Hudson doesn’t come cheap.
Now that the Yanks have added CC, Tex, and AJ, are they the best team in the MLB? Or even in the AL East for that matter? In my opinion, New York has a better rotation than the Rays, but not the Red Sox if the latter add Derek Lowe. New York probably has the best offense now with the addition of Mark Teixeira. There are some major question marks, though. Jorge Posada was hurt last year, and Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano are coming off of terrible years. The center field situation still isn’t sorted out, either. I could see Swish and Cano bouncing back, and the Yanks still could get some solid offense out of Posada. The defense will be bad, but you can live with that. The Red Sox have some question marks in their lineup, too. Mike Lowell was just hurt, and Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie weren’t great. Plus, Ortiz is coming off an injury and doesn’t have the big protection he used to. With no Manny Ramirez or no Mark Teixeira batting behind him, you might see Ortiz’s bat fall off a cliff. The catcher situation remains unresolved, and it looks like they’ll have to go back to Jason Varitek. So both teams have question marks in their lineups. It is going to be very close this year, but I give the edge to the Yankees for the division, and the edge to the Red Sox for the Wild Card. The Rays are one of my favorite teams, but I don’t like their chance of repeating.
By the way, the Yankees should take the field to Darth Vader’s theme song.
I had to take the weekend off from blogging. Sorry I didn’t let you know, but let’s get back to baseball.
The Angels are out of the running for Mark Teixeira. They pulled out when team owner Arte Moreno concluded that Tex didn’t want to play for the Angels, and would rather go to the east coast. Their 160 million offer is off the table, so Teixeira’s next team will be the Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles, or possibly Yankees. The latter don’t seem completely involved, but you never know about a team that has Hank Steinbrenner as the president.
With the Angels out, the Red Sox seem like the clear frontrunner to me. BoSox president John Henry said that “we’re not going to be a factor,” but I believe that was just a negotiating ploy. Several baseball writers have said that the Red Sox offer of 8 years, 180 million is still on the table. I’m guessing that Scott Boras went to the BoSox and stated that he had a better offer on the table from a different team. It looks like Henry effectively called Boras’s bluff, because if the unknown team was the Nationals, they would’ve signed him by now. It couldn’t have been the Angels, because they’re out, and the Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that they had not made an offer. The Orioles appear reluctant to raise their 7 year, 140 million dollar offer. So it looks like Boston’s offer of 8 years, 180 million is the best on the table. This is just me trying to draw conclusions, though. No one really knows who’s offering what except for Tex and Boras. This is making me crazy!
Now that Tex won’t end up an Angel, who will? They have about 22 million left to spend, and are looking to add a power hitting outfielder. A cheap starter could be under consideration, also. Brian Fuentes could make sense if his price drops down; the Angels are his first choice because they will give him a closer’s job, play on the west coast (where he is from), and are a contending team. I don’t consider the bullpen or the rotation a need, however, and would rather just get a great bat.
You can’t call Manny Ramirez a perfect fit, but he sure does make a lot of sense. He can DH most of the time, and is truly the only bat on the free agent market not named Mark Teixeira that can scare pitchers. If I see Manny hitting behind Vladimir Guerrero, I’m just as scared as if I see Tex. I know that Ramirez doesn’t have gold glove defense, and he has an attitude problem, but there is no difference between the two hitting wise. For some reason I have a feeling that the Angels will pass, but I don’t think they should.
If not Manny, then Adam Dunn makes a ton of sense. Dunn is no Manny or Tex, but he is still a 40 homer bat that will bring you an OBP in the .360 to .380 range. A lot of people get blinded by his poor defense, low batting average, and lack of emotion, but he is one of the most consistent bats in the MLB. He also brings some versatility because he can play both first base and left field. If I were the Angels, I would DH him, because like I said before, he has poor defense. Some other options that would make sense for Anehiem are Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, and Pat Burrell.
So the Angels are out on Tex, the Red Sox and Nationals look like the frontrunners for his services, and the Angels could pursue Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, or Brian Fuentes. I can’t wait to find out how all of this happens.
I know that it’s really early to start talking about this, but I started to wonder where Matt Holliday will sign next offseason.
Yankees (frontrunners) If my estimation is correct, the Yankees will have 158 million committed on their 2010 team unless they sign a free agent to a multiyear deal this offseason. Lets say that they’ll put their payroll in the 200 – 210 million dollar range. That would leave 42 – 52 million left to spend. The outfield corners and designated hitter look like the only holes. Holliday is the best player available in the outfield, and I’m sure that the Yanks will go all-in to try to lock up this great slugger.
Red Sox (frontrunners) They’ll pursue him partly because the Yankees are in on him, but also because they would love to add Holliday to their ball club. The BoSox inquired on him while he was with the Rockies, because they thought he would be the perfect Red Sox player. Jason Bay is a free agent, opening up a hole in left field. I’m not sure if the Red Sox would like to make record breaking contracts back-to-back years, so I don’t think the BoSox will go all-out in order to sign Holliday if they already have Mark Teixeira. If Tex goes elsewhere, look for Boston to go hard after Holliday.
Angels (frontrunners) This is pretty much the same thing as with the Red Sox. If the Angels sign Tex this offseason, they’re less likely to sign Matt Holliday next offseason. If Holliday goes somewhere else, the Angels are a big player for Matt. A lot of money should be opened up when John Lackey’s, Kelvim Escobar’s and Vladimir Guerrero contracts end. With “Vlad the Bad” not so “bad” anymore, the Halos could always look at the younger Holliday. Matt makes a lot of sense for their club if Teixeira isn’t signed first.
Dodgers (possible) If Manny Ramirez doesn’t resign in Dodger Blue, the other LA team could decide to go after Matt Holliday. I don’t know if they’ll be willing to go past the limits for Holliday the way the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels probably will. This remains a possibility, however.
Cardinals (slim chance) I named them because I think they have a chance to sign Holliday, even if it is a slim chance. They aggressively pursued him in trade talks with the Rockies, and were reportedly close to an agreement. If they did aquire Holliday, they would like to talk extension with him. So that could possibly mean that they would be willing to fork over the 200 million+ that would be necessary to sign Matt. I just don’t think that a mid-market team like the Cards would be willing to pay at least a fifth of their payroll on one player. The above mentioned teams are much more likely.
Nationals (dark horse) They’re aggressively pursuing Mark Teixeira this year, and that leads me to believe that they could do the same with Holliday if Tex signs elsewhere. Remember, they were in trade talks with the Rockies if a window for an extension would be granted. I think that means that they would be willing to offer the 200 million+ it would take to sign him. They might be outbid by the larger market clubs like the Yanks and Red Sox, but I think that they’ll throw a pretty high number in front of Holliday’s face.
The Yankees would love to sign Manny Ramirez. There are 5 major reasons why.
- He is one of the most clutch players in the MLB.
- He can hit in the playoffs.
- Their offense is declining after the loss of Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi.
- He would bring their offense to a hole new dimention.
- A signing would tick off the Red Sox.
The only obstacle in a possible Manny signing would be the payroll. The Yanks are targeting a 200 million dollar payroll, leaving them with 10 million to spend. However, it is possible. Lets say that the Yankees win the Manny sweepstakes by signing him for 3 years, 75 million. Then they would trade Hideki Matsui. Since he was recently injured, the Yankees would probably need to eat half of his contract. So, they’re dumping 6 million right there. They also backload Ramirez’s contract. Pay him 16 million in 2009, 29 million in 2010, and 30 million in 2011. They’ll be able to afford giving him 29 million in ’10 because they are shedding the 24 million between Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, and the money your paying to give Hideki Matsui away. Subtract Manny’s 13 million dollar raise and the Yanks have still got 11 million to spend. They don’t have many holes to fill after this year; only at right field, left field, and designated hitter. A first baseman could be aquired instead and that would allow the Yanks to move Nick Swisher to one of the above mentioned holes. Manny would take one, also.
I guess it’s not that likely that Manny ends up in the Bronx, but it sure is possible.
To complete their dream rotation, the Yankees have signed AJ Burnett to a 5 year, 82.5 million dollar contract. CC Sabathia and AJ get a combined total of 243.5 million from the Yankees. I think that both signings will look bad at the end of the contract. 5 years for Burnett is just way too much. Let alone the 16.5 million per year that he receives. I knew that some team was going to overpay for him, and it might as well be the Yanks because of their gigantic payroll, but it still doesn’t look good. I debated about how Ben Sheets was a more healthy pitcher and how he was also better when he was healthy here. I still think that Sheets would’ve been a better signing for the Yankees even if he got the same 82.5 million that Burnett got. But, they are the richest franchise in the MLB, so I guess they can afford to pay a lot more for a slightly better player, if AJ is even better than Sheets.
Talking about 2009, though, it looks like the Yankees are going to be a very tough team to stop. A rotation of Sabathia – Wang – Burnett – Chamberlain – Hughes would be completely sick. They might even sign another pitcher like Andy Pettitte to take Hughes’s spot in the rotation. Even though we still don’t know what the Red Sox and Rays are going to do, it is apparent that it will be a very tight race for the AL East. You could pick any of these teams out of a hat and I would believe you. It looks like there’s going to be some great baseball to watch in 2009.
Now that CC and AJ are under contract, who else will the Yankees pursue? Only 10 million is left in the case the Yankees stay at 200 million, but they could always raise payroll for the right players. It was at 215 million last year.
I know they say that they’re not going to sign Mark Teixeira, but that could change very quickly if the Red Sox pursue him. I still doubt they can match the offers of the Angels, Nationals, Orioles, and aforementioned Red Sox, but you never know.
Manny Ramirez is a huge dark horse possibility. It looks like the Dodgers aren’t terribly interested, and the market is very slow. Hank Steinbrenner wants him, and he usually gets what he wants. In the case of a Manny aquisition, Hideki Matsui would be traded. The Yanks would have to toss in some money, but it could still work. They would be shoving it in the Red Sox face if they sign Manny, and Ramirez would be the perfect consolation prize to the Red Sox signing Tex. On top of all that, Manny would be the clutch player that could come in and save the Yanks in the postseason while taking pressure off of Alex Rodriguez. This makes a lot of sense if it can be afforded.
Unless one of Manny or Tex is signed, it looks like they will sign a starter. Pettitte looks like their #1 target, while Oliver Perez or Ben Sheets could be their backup plan. It seems like they would like a short term deal. I doubt Derek Loe will wear pinstripes for this reason. The Yanks could aquire this 4th starter and/or a center fielder. Mike Cameron or Randy Winn could be had. I really like the Cameron idea. Cameron for Melky Cabrera would make a ton of sense for both teams. The Brewers create even more payroll to spend on pitching while aquiring a young center fielder with some upside. Cameron could be a stopgap for Austin Jackson in New York. This makes a lot of sense, but the Yanks might not be able to afford both Cameron and Pettitte. I wouldn’t put it past them, though, because they are the Yankees.
It is going to be a very tight race in the AL East no matter what Rays, Red Sox, or Yankees do.
P.S. Now that Burnett won’t become a Brave, will they revisit talks for Jake Peavy?