"Now, what is this site about, how Joe Torre ruined pitchers' arms? Is that it?"
-Michael Kay, August 18, 2009

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Much ado about winter

The following is my guest post at the LoHud Yankees Blog:

Following another early playoff exit, things were looking grim for the New York Yankees. Joe Torre, after 12 successful seasons, was out after what was probably his best managerial job (winning 94 games after starting 21-29), and many thought free agents Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte would follow in a mass exodus. Alex Rodriguez also opted out of his record contract during Game 4 of the World Series.

But by the end of December, the Yankees were successful in retaining their free agents. Some of their contracts bothered me, while others were smart.

Posada, a 36-year-old catcher, has played in 131 or more games behind the plate every season since 2000. I would have been hesitant to give him four years and $52.4 million at that age for fear of him breaking down, no viable replacements in-house (the catching prospects are extremely young) and a lack of position mobility. However, at the time, Rodriguez looked like he was a goner and the team couldn’t afford to lose Posada’s bat after he had a career year. The Yankees blew their chance to get any sort of discount by refusing to negotiate during spring training.

Rivera also received a bloated contract (three years, $45 million). I would have given him a two-year contract with an option, but Rivera also felt slighted that he wasn’t spoken to during the spring. Rivera had probably the worst season of his career this year, yet he was rewarded with a pay-raise ($15 million per year for a closer pitching about 70 innings is ridiculous). An option would’ve allowed the Yankees to gauge where Rivera was at the age of 40.

The biggest and most expensive move involved the reigning M.V.P. Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million contract with bonuses for home run milestones (making it potentially worth $305 million). The contract is a relative bargain, as it is not back-loaded when he’s past his prime.

Losing his right-handed bat would have been a crushing blow to the team for the upcoming season. But in the long-run, if he left, it could have been beneficial to the team. His production is irreplaceable, but the Yankees would’ve had more money to sign cheaper, quality players to stray away from the all-star lineup concept which has failed to win playoff games since 2004.

With the young pitchers likely having innings caps this season, re-signing Pettitte was a must. After declining his $16 million player option to weigh his future, he signed a one-year contract for the same amount a few weeks later. His production last season (15-9, 4.05 ERA), however, probably doesn’t warrant a deal worth that much.

I don’t like LaTroy Hawkins, but I liked his contract (one year, $3.75 million). The Yankees finally realized they shouldn’t give multi-year contracts to mediocre relievers.

Yes, this isn’t my money. However, with the luxury tax becoming a factor, the Yankees should become more cautious in their spending. They should also reevaluate their policy of not negotiating during spring training. They probably could’ve gotten Rivera and Posada to re-sign at much lower values.

I am very excited for the Joe Girardi era to begin. I loved his hire, because he won the 2006 National League Manager of the Year award with a young team and the Yankees appear to be headed in a younger direction as well. Hopefully Yankee fans will have a lot to cheer about when October rolls around this year.

Any feedback or comments are appreciated.


Andrew V. said...

...and BOOM goes the hit counter.

iYankees said...

Haha, yeah. Nice post.

BBF4 said...

Nice post, Andy.

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