What to do with an extra $20 million

The Yanks are in no hurry to close out the Mike Cameron deal. Ed Price writes:

The question for the Yankees is whether to spend $10 million on
Cameron — his salary in 2009 — or put that money to use for a better
hitter. If Andy Pettitte takes much longer to decide on the Yankees'
$10 million offer to return, that's $20 million the Yankees could spend
somewhere else — some on a lower-tier free-agent starting pitcher and
most on a hitter.

Mark Teixeira would be one choice, but according to the first person
above (who asked not to be named since he is not authorized to speak
for the Yankees), "They're throwing themselves into (that) sweepstakes,
but I don't think they're that into it."

Instead, the Pettitte/Cameron money could go toward Manny Ramirez.
That would strengthen the middle of the lineup enough that the Yankees
could afford to play Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera in center field.
And the Yankees could trade Hideki Matsui (who has no-trade protection)
or Xavier Nady to make room.

One other attraction in Ramirez is that his would be a shorter-term
contract that Teixeira's. And Ramirez, as of now, has a less
competitive market, so his price could be dropping.

There's a lot to talk about here. I am starting to wonder if there is even a compelling reason to actually bring Andy Pettitte back. He obviously is valuable, as Steve Lombardi expertly outlines in a post at WasWatching, but do the Yanks need him as a fifth starter? Should a number five be paid $10 million? Aren't there players in the system or on the scrap heap who can do a serviceable job for much cheaper? If he's supposed to be insurance against the innings that Burnett will not pitch in 2009, then why sign AJ to such a huge deal. 

Meanwhile, the Yanks' current offense is dependent on come-backs from aging hitters and one free-swinging enigma. So I'm all for the Yanks going for one big bat, and if that means redirecting the $20 million they were planning on using on Cameron (who is an incremental improvement on Melky/Gardner) and Pettitte to picking up Teixeira or Manny, then so be it. Of course, it should come as no surprise that I think the Yanks should go for Mark Teixeira (whose nickname, by the way, should be "Tesh", not "Tex" as he will never play in Texas again and it is phonetically more appropriate and evokes the ultra-brilliant jingle for the NBA on NBC. Oh how I miss Charles Oakley's inscrutable face, Pat Riley's incessant gum-chewing, etc etc). The market for Manny isn't what it is for Teixeira for obvious reasons. Teixeira is more valuable. One of the main reasons for that is that Teixeira can actually field. Another reason are their relative ages. Finally, there's the whole thing that Manny should be a DH, so a team like the Yanks might want to avoid putting another DH on its team. But then again, Manny is a ridiculous hitter. Here's a list of his OPS+ for the last 5 years:


That 126 occurred during a season when Manny had issues with his fribullator meniscus exoskelitus in the knee or whatever it was. Maybe it was mental. Maybe his skills were in decline and then they stopped declining or what have you this season. Maybe he's not declining at all, although most 36 and 37 year-old decline. In any case, Manny is valuable. He can hit a ton. It wouldn't surprise me if he outhit Tesh for the next three years, and that is not meant as a knock on the future Oriole (fingers crossed!). It's also not meant to be part of some hypothetical future argument on this site about the relative values of the Yanks' signing of Manny versus Boston's signing of Teixeira (please, dear God, please do not let this happen!).

Additionally, one of the big knocks against signing Manny is that he is awful in the field. But fielding becomes less important for a team with a pitching staff that is designed to miss a lot of bats. By adding dominant strike-out guys this off-season, Cashman and company have made their team's crappy defense less of an issue. I think FIP, which we've heard a lot about recently in connection to AJ Burnett, starts out with the words "Fielding Independent". This pitching staff is all about fielding independence. Heck, throw Dave Kingman in left field. Make Steve Balboni and Ruben Sierra your keystone combo. Watch this pitching staff do its magic!

So maybe signing Manny isn't such a bad idea, especially if the years are limited to three.

But the big catch would be Mark Teixeira. Price writes that the Yanks are worried about the length of the committment and the added price. The difference in annual salary between a Manny and Teixeira contract probably won't be that big. What's a couple of million dollars per year to the Yanks? It's the length of the committment that's the issue for the Yanks. So this is what the Yanks should do. If the Yanks are cool with spending upwards of $60 million for Manny for the next three years (and, of course, who knows if this is the case. It's been heavily implied by professional speculators recently, such as Ed Price. As an amateur speculator, I might as well follow.), why not spend that money on Teixeira, who is more likely to be valuable to the Yanks than Manny, and then let him opt out at the end of three years? This is what I imagine Boras is whispering in Teixeira's ear right before they go to sleep at Boras Headquarters: "We need a player opt out. You think you can get a lot of money now, but think about in three years when the economy is out of the tank  and even more teams are willing to spend."(Scott is not always honest, or maybe he's just always optimistic.)

The Yanks should swoop in and piss on the other teams' parades and offer the opt out that Boras yearns for. I only write this because the speculators seem to think that the Yanks are willing to go for Manny for a lot of money for short-term. If Teixeira plays according to his abilities for the next three years, he will opt out and the Yanks will have gotten the short-term contract they wanted. Of course, he could pull a Pavano and then…well that's why the Yanks won't do this. But for a team willing to gamble so much on Burnett, why not go for it again? Then again, maybe the team that is going to sign him not named the Yanks has already offered the opt out.

And now back to lesson-planning.

38 comments… add one
  • The Pettitte only makes sense if it’s a one year deal. Anything else is going to impede on the progress of guys in the farm system: Hughes, Brackman, etc…

    John - YF December 16, 2008, 7:04 pm
  • Pettitte was pretty bad last year…he can go. Trade Matsui and sign Manny to DH/platoon in LF with Johnny. Texeira would be great but are we really even in the sweepstakes? Doesn’t sound like it.

    krueg December 16, 2008, 9:39 pm
  • Actually one of the more amazing things about Teixeria, is the almost complete radio silence from the sox and the yankees on him. We havent heard as much as a peep from leaks, etc from either team. We know both are interested but we really have no idea what this means. Journalists (and ourselves) speculate regularly about $ and years but thus far its hard to tell what kinds of figures they are talking. It feels to me like Boras is playing this one perfectly, yet again…

    Sam-YF December 17, 2008, 12:46 am
  • Pettitte is a great guy who is well liked on the team and in the organization. Having said that, he’s incredibly overrated, and not worth 10 mil a year to be essentially league-average. Using Hughes/IPK/Aceves for the #5 spot makes a lot more sense.

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 7:30 am
  • I know you’re joking, Nick, but it behooves me to say that even if a pitcher has 10 Ks per 9 and gives up only 6 hits per 9 (these are fantastic numbers), that’s 23 balls that SOMEBODY needs to field. If the Yanks sign Manny, I believe that would create a defense with an average of roughly 4.2 errors per game (<--- totally made up number).

    Paul SF December 17, 2008, 8:06 am
  • “…would create a defense with an average of roughly 4.2 errors per game…”
    now that’s funny paul…my first smile of the day…sadly though, it’s probably true…i don’t have the stats to back this up, but i already see the yanks as defensively challenged…adding this guy might add offense, but it would be offset somewhat by his left field antics…he is the best cutoff man in baseball though…think it would be in the contract offer that the yanks’ll put a porta-potty on the other side of the left field wall?…

    dc December 17, 2008, 8:39 am
  • If Manny signed with the Yankees, I have no doubt he’d play RF, if he played a position at all. Much less ground to cover.
    There’s a good reason the Sox switched him from RF to LF when they signed him from Cleveland.

    AndrewYF December 17, 2008, 8:54 am
  • that’s why the porta-potty is such a stroke of genius…get it?…”porta”, “portable”…

    dc December 17, 2008, 9:27 am
  • Just thinking of Manny in a Yankee uniform is making me ill…

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 10:24 am
  • Me too, John. Me too.

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 10:55 am
  • The thought of the yankees not adding another big bat makes me sick though…We need someone to hit behind A-Rod…

    Sam-YF December 17, 2008, 11:32 am
  • So what’s the Yankees lineup look like right now?
    1. Damon, DH
    2. Jeter, SS
    3. Nady, OF
    4. Rodriguez, 3B
    5. Matsui, OF
    6. Posada, C
    7. Swisher, 1B
    8. Cameron/Melky, OF
    9. Cano, 2B
    That is a surprisingly weak lineup, much weaker than I had originally thought. It’s solid though, and good enough if the pitching is healthy.

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 11:39 am
  • Posada’s really the key. If he can’t catch, then it’s more like this:
    Damon, LF
    Jeter, SS
    Nady, RF
    Rodriguez, 3B
    Posada, DH
    Swisher, 1B
    Cabrera, CF
    Cano, 2B
    ???, C
    If his shoulder is bad enough to where he can’t hit at all, that allows Matsui back into the lineup but takes him out. Without Posada healthy, the Yanks’ scary part of the lineup is only five deep — and that assumes health for Jeter and Damon.
    It’s why I fear a late Yankee swoop-in for Teixeira.

    Paul SF December 17, 2008, 12:10 pm
  • Adding a bat is fine, just not Manny. I’ll take Dunn please.

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 12:37 pm
  • Teixeira makes too much sense for the Yankees, not knowing their books admittedly. I don’t see how they can responsibly NOT be engaged with Boras on this one.
    That’s why I think the stories that they aren’t that engaged in the sweepstakes are likely to be misinformed. I think they are involved, and I think that Cashman is doing a good job of keeping it under wraps.

    SF December 17, 2008, 1:04 pm
  • I totally agree with everything you just wrote SF. Ive been thinking the same since last week.

    Sam-YF December 17, 2008, 1:15 pm
  • If that’s the case then Matsui has to go. Too many DH’s and he is in my mind the least valuable to the Yankees right now. As much as I do want him on the team I feel like it’s an embarassment of riches. As long as it’s not Manny I’ll live with it.

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 1:55 pm
  • Frankly, I don’t see how Teixeira makes sense for either team. We’ve already covered the Sox ad nauseum (terrible contract for a good, not great, player).
    For the Yankees, after they’ve just gotten out from under the Giambi contract (who is a much better hitter than Teixeira to begin with), the proposed contract makes even less sense. If Posada can’t catch for the next three (!) years, it helps them more if he can put in time at 1B. By the time those years are up, A-Rod will have to move over there if not Jeter before him.
    Basically Giambi was the lesson for what it means to put stupid money at 1B. Even as he was mostly worth the money for four of the 7 years, he killed roster and lineup flexibility. The Yanks had to pencil him in everyday and by the end they were carrying two additional firstbasemen on the bench (Duncan and Dougie M) just to make up for his deficiencies. And his bat had a lot further to fall for him to still be a net positive.
    I have little doubt that the Yankees are playing this to drive up the cost. They know well what it means to stuck with a terrible contract, even if they got value the first few years.

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 1:59 pm
  • Manny makes more sense for the Yankees. He can play the small RF at Yankee Stadium – his arm is good enough and he can’t be worse than Abreu. And they can get him on a contract half as long and at half the cost. Damn, him hitting behind A-Rod would be ridiculous plus Manny would get all the stupid press attention for all his follies. It makes me ill just thinking about it.

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 2:13 pm
  • Too statements you can’t be serious about…one, Giambi is a better hitter? Two, Alex will NEVER play 1B. He may certainly become a FT DH down the road, but there’s zero reason to move a 3B to 1B. Almost identical footwork and range is required. Jeter from SS to 1B is way more likely being that older a slower he gets the less likely it is they can continue to pencil him in at SS.

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 2:33 pm
  • Giambi is a better hitter than Tex?
    Are you serious, or just trying to start flame wars?
    I’m going with the latter, because no person can make a statement like that and be serious.
    In Oakland, and the first couple in NY, completely juiced up, he might have been equal, and that’s a big MIGHT.

    Brad December 17, 2008, 2:44 pm
  • Seriously, you have any question that Giambi is the better hitter? Wow. Even after the last two years, Giambi has a career OPS+ of 146. Teixeira is at 134 OPS+. Plus, Giambi has always had the better OBP and SLG.
    Best years?:
    Teixeira: .308 .410 .575 151 OPS+
    Giambi: .342 .477 .660 198 OPS+
    The point is so moot it should be mute.
    1B does not require the same range as 3B. That’s not even remotely true. Besides, many fewer balls are hit to 1B than are to 3B. Both reasons are why many great 3B’s have ended their careers at 1B. A-Rod will too, if the team is smart.

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 2:52 pm
  • Giambi _was_ a better hitter, perhaps, and probably not all because of talent.. *cough*..
    When Yanks signed Giambi, he did come off an MVP season, and was close a few times, and yet people still call the contract an albatross. Though most of that is probably because he never won a ring with the Yanks, but you get the point.

    Lar December 17, 2008, 2:56 pm
  • 1B and 3B are identical positions, minus the footwork changes on throws. 1B also has the added responsibility of receiving throws on a more regular basis of course. They have the exact responsibilities on cut offs with runners in scoring position. Third base does get more balls, but that does not mean you have to have more range to play 3B. Third base is thought of as a more difficult and important position simply because a throw is involved on most fielded balls by the 3Bman. If the Yankees NEED a 1Bman, Alex can certainly handle it. But your rationale of him getting old and moving to a lesser position is just not an accurate statement. Again moving Jeter will aid the aging/slowing down process, but 3B to 1B is six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 3:04 pm
  • This feels like groundhog day…I think I have had this same argument about 5 other times…the argument was identical, but the sign in name was A little different…
    You win Dave. 1B is for lesser, slower, older athletes and Giambi is a better hitter than Tex. In an effort not to hear the same argument we heard last time, I will wAive the white flAG.

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 3:09 pm
  • Seriously, the disagreement is over the difference between “is” and “was”. Wow.
    Giambi _is_ still playing the game. Will he replicate what he did in his younger days? Of course not. But he _is_ still hitting.
    Yeah, Giambi’s contract _was_ an albatross. That’s exactly the point for why the Yankees won’t commit even more years and more dollars to an inferior hitter.

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 3:12 pm
  • Rocco Baldelli’s condition was misdiagnosed–turns out what he has is actually very treatable. Great news, especially if the Sox sign him.

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 3:26 pm
  • Jason Giambi signed with the Yankees when he was 31.
    If the Yankees structure the deal like they did A-Rod’s, they will be paying Teixeira in diminishing fashion, even as the market probably rises.
    Assuming Mark Teixeira isn’t overtaken by a “pituitary problem”, I don’t see why the Yankees wouldn’t be interested, or shouldn’t be interested.

    A SF December 17, 2008, 3:28 pm
  • got that feeling too john. to continue the cyclical nature of this conversation…..
    morgan ensberg and jason lane can both play 1st base, mash, and are available.

    sf rod December 17, 2008, 3:36 pm
  • Explain to me why, if it makes no difference, of the 14 players with 400 games at 1B and 3B, all moved to 1B later in their careers? Guys like George Brett, Tony Perez, Dick Allen, Pete Rose…they would have been just as fine staying at 3B?
    It’s unheard of to treat 1B equivalent to 3B. There’s a reason guys like David Ortiz, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder play, or used to play, 1B. The range necessary there is so small AND so few balls are hit there that it’s not that important how bad they might be. Seriously, anyone want to defend John?

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 3:45 pm
  • You have a open invitation to my summer clinic and or a practice. I’ll show you in person how identical the positions are. And PS my knowledge of the game needs no defending, so please don’t “defend John.”

    John - YF December 17, 2008, 3:53 pm
  • A bit hard to compare peak seasons when Giambi’s peak was at age 30 — Teix still has two years to go. So let’s actually do a fair comparison of where Giambi was at the stage in his career where Teix is now:
    At age 28, Giambi had a then-career-high OPS+ of 153, following years of 109, 126 and 130.
    At age 28, Teixeira had a career-high OPS+ of 151, following years of 102, 131, 144, 126 and 150.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in home runs was 41. At age 28, Teixeira’s career high in home runs is 43.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in total bases was 318. At age 28, Mark Teixeira’s career high in total bases is 370.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in runs created per game was 9.1. At age 28, Mark Teixeira’s career high in runs per game is 8.8.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in slugging was .553. At age 28, Teixeira’s career high in slugging is .575.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in weighted runs above average was 46.3. At age 28, Teixeira’s career high in weighted runs above average is 48.0.
    At age 28, Giambi’s career high in WPA/LI was 3.28. At age 28, Teixeira’s career high is 4.69.
    If the Yankees had signed Giambi to an eight-year deal after his age 28 seasons, they would have received the following years of production:
    No one would be discussing whether Giambi was worth that contract.
    I would also refer interested parties to this link, comparing Teixeira and Giambi in a number of rate stats — Teix is ahead of Giambi nearl across the board every season through age 28. The question of who is better is not yet decided, but right now, Teixeira has the lead.

    Paul SF December 17, 2008, 4:01 pm
  • Paul’s statistics > A’s stubborn insistence

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 4:11 pm
  • No one would be discussing whether Giambi was worth that contract.
    Somehow I think many people would still be discussing the two lost years at $20 million each. Those dollars buy alot of steroids, especially when they’re 25% of the contract.
    Still, there’s a reason Giambi doesn’t appear on Teixeira’s most similar comps. They just aren’t that similar. Not in approach or in results. Giambi is rightly closer to guys like Canseco and Belle. Teixeira is closer to guys like Sexson and Hrbek.
    Wait! OMG Richie Sexson hit 45 homeruns at age 28!!!!11111!!111!
    You know what else is funny about Giambi? He started his career at 3B. I wonder why the Yanks traded for A-Rod in the first place. They could have just shifted Giambi to 3B because the positions are equivalent. It’s a damn shame they didn’t.

    Dave SF December 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • Still, there’s a reason Giambi doesn’t appear on Teixeira’s most similar comps. They just aren’t that similar.
    Funny, considering you started your argument with:
    Teixeira = Giambi
    Giambi = bad move
    Therefore, Teixeira = bad move
    Hooray for Aristotelian logic!

    Atheose December 17, 2008, 5:47 pm
  • You know what else is funny about Giambi? He started his career at 3B.
    Before he gained 130lbs of muscle, lost all movement, and became a bad first baseman.
    The difference between a bad and good firstbaseman is huge. Giambi is a bad one, thus would probably be a bad third baseman as well (in fact, we’ve seen he can’t throw).
    Tiex is an AWESOME defensive first baseman, and as Paul pointed out, is better at 28 than Giambi was.
    And to boot, thus far hasn’t been named in many inciminating reports of steroid abuse, thus not leading us the conclusion that he’s getting ready to fall off a cliff and be asked to head to the minors. Like Giambi.
    Tex is better than Giambi, though I fear that most of us have been down this road with you before, so we know there is no mutual understanding or common ground to walk on. The arguments Are the sAme, but the nAme is different, for sure. wOOdn’t you agree?

    Brad December 17, 2008, 6:28 pm
  • Wow, Brad pulls out the really old alias. Nice job!

    Paul SF December 17, 2008, 9:39 pm
  • so, let me get this straight:
    rob is dave is ‘a’ is wooster?…
    i’m so confused…who am i?
    dave, or whatever your name is, give it a rest…once upon a time giambi had a promising career…they didn’t give him the mvp, he earned it, but his skills have eroded rapidly…his peak was short-lived…i think there’s way more optimism for texeira that he shows the skills to have a better overall career…i don’t think giambi was ever considered good defensively, while this is considered one of tex’s strengths…that may be the primary difference between the 2, unless you want to continue to split hairs about the other stats…you’ve harped about the differences between playing 1b and 3b, and this is my own humble opinion because i’m not an expert, and john doesn’t need defending, but i agree with him that the range required and footwork are similar if not identical…here are the differences as i see it: arm strength, and [perhaps this is a stretch] frequency of ground balls…i’m not sure if this is the case or not [paul could tell us] but i had a little league coach tell me once that 3b was called the “hot corner” for that reason…there were more right handed hitters than left handed hitters…since the natural tendency is to pull the ball, hard, you’d see way more action at 3b than 1b…the theory was to put your best athletes, both for reflexes and arm strength, on the left side of the infield…all you needed at first was a guy who could catch the throws, and field the occasion opposite field dribbler, or the rare left-handed pull hitter…not sure how/if this translates to the pros, but it always satisfied my curiosity…

    dc December 18, 2008, 8:41 am

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