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Yankees Offseason: Sabathia, Swisher, and A-Rod Key Decisions



By Mike Silva ~ October 9th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Yankees.

The hot stove began early here in New York, so it’s time to start planning for what the Yankees can do to improve their ballclub in 2012. Decisions have to be made on CC Sabathia, who is expected to opt-out, Nick Swisher who has a $10.25 team option, and even Alex Rodriguez, who is owed 6 years and $143 million going forward.

CC Sabathia

Sabathia is the first and most important decision this offseason. He has to decide whether the remaining 4 years and $92 million on his contract can be topped in the free agent market. It’s an easy yes, since there aren’t many top of the rotation options for teams in need of pitching. Both C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish come with hefty price tags, but equally hefty question marks as to whether the receiving team will be obtaining an ace.

I believe the Yankees should bring back Sabathia, but at their price. There has to be a threshold you set and force CC and his camp to blink. The Yankees still need Sabathia like they did in 2008, but there isn’t the same level of desperation. First, they are coming off a division winning season. Second, they are rich with quality arms that have top-of-the-rotation potential or the ability to acquire it via a trade.

Personally, my threshold for any Sabathia deal is 5 years. He also will need to agree to a weight clause in his contract. I know in the NBA there have been players that could double their salary if they came in under the agreed upon weight. Maybe you do something based on his Body Mass Index to make it more fair. Can the Yankees convince him to sign a contract with either bonuses or the ability for the team to void a year? Hard to tell, because I wonder how other teams in the market feel about this. If the Yankees are the only team requiring it, then its not going to happen.

I would offer Sabathia the same money that Cliff Lee signed for with the Phillies; 5 years and $120 million dollars with a sixth year option and buyout. The option can automatically vest if Sabathia comes in at the right weight yearly, and reaches a certain level of innings the final two years.

If another team gets nutty (see the Washington Nationals), and decides to equal or top Sabathia’s original deal of 7 years and $161 million, then you have to allow him to walk. The Yankees have to learn from A-Rod how signing older players to long-term contracts is not good business. You can’t sit them since they are making big money, and eventually too many of these players choke your payroll. The Yankees have eight players (including Sabathia) making $149 million in 2013. You can’t have a fat Sabathia collecting a retirement check because Randy Levine wants to tout Yankee financial power this offseason.

Be confident that you can acquire another ace or see Betances or Banuelos step up or find a trade partner for them. Seattle can’t keep saying no to trade offers for Felix Hernandez forever. Remember, Jack Zduriencik was the same guy that wasn’t going to deal Doug Fister.

If Sabathia walks, should they sign C.J. Wilson or make a play for Yu Darvish? Wilson screams of another Carl Pavano, A.J. Burnett, or if the contract gets crazy, Barry Zito. He is a guy that will want ace money, but really give you middle-of-the-rotation production. If Sabathia walks I would put great odds that Wilson winds up in New York.

I would take a step back in 2012 and reboot the roster if the Sabathia situation goes bad; not quick-fix with a risky signing of Wilson or Darvish. Give kids like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and D.J. Mitchell to play the 2012 version of Colon and Garcia. Sign a innings eating pitcher at a short-term deal at a reasonable price.

You don’t have to win the offseason every year just because you are the Yankees.

Nick Swisher

Count me as one who has become tired of the phony Swisher. Since he married actress Joanna Garcia, he seems more concerned with selling CDs and building the Nick Swisher brand, than being a very good baseball player. His energy and boyish love of the game was necessary in the Yankees corporate clubhouse back in 2009. The fact that he has basically become a corporate suit like the rest of them, but pretends to be the same guy, makes it insincere and obnoxious.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post suggested the Yanks could decline Swisher’s $10.25 million dollar option and elect to go after Carlos Beltran. That is an avenue I would explore, as long as Beltran’s deal is less than 5 years, and includes some vesting options based on games played.

Beltran is a better player than Swisher on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he was as good as his in-prime years of 2006-2008. He also adjusted to a corner outfield position seamlessly. You won’t get the elite gold glove player or stolen bases anymore, but he is still one of the better hitters in the game and won’t be expected to be a focal point in the Yankees offense, which he was asked to do with the Mets and in San Francisco.

The length of a Beltran deal is the only thing that makes me nervous. Remember, he was very close to having microfracture surgery two years ago. This is the same guy that couldn’t move in the outfield as late as the last week of spring training. A Mets player told me in March they didn’t expect Beltran to last more than half the season. The DH spot helps him quite a bit, but is 142 games realistic if he wants a 5-year deal, which is reportedly what Scott Boras will ask for?

Anyway, I cut bait with Swisher. If not Beltran, you could take a flyer on Grady Sizemore or Nate McLouth, if available, on a value deal. There are also guys like J.D. Drew, Rick Ankiel, or Ryan Ludwick that have the potential to provide production at a lesser price.

I would rather them take the Swisher money and invest it in pitching than bring him back another year.

Alex Rodriguez

Is there really a decision to make on A-Rod? He is scheduled to make $143 million the next 6 years, but can his body hold up anymore? The last three years have been full of lower body injuries. A-Rod claims he will lose weight to help him return to his 30 homer/100 RBI form, but the mind and body don’t always meet once you are north of 35. You can have the desire to return to greatness, but your body doesn’t have any juice left in the tank.

I would at least scour the trade market for Rodriguez. No one is going to take on his full salary, but what if the Yankees pay a good portion? Is that $143 million going to yield an ROI on memorabilia and gate sales? Does the Randy Levine faction of the Yankees really believe fans are coming to the ballpark to watch A-Rod? The guy missed two-months this year. The fans want a winning club, not a ride on the A-Rod memorabilia train.

There are teams that would view Rodriguez as a drawing card. I saw some people mention Miami, as they are moving into a new ballpark and claim they want to spend money.

The Rodriguez memorabilia tour is worth far more to the Miami Marlins than the New York Yankees. Could you sell them on taking on A-Rod’s deal and paying only a third? Half?

I f they do this opens up all sorts of possibilities. What if you move Derek Jeter to third and sign Jose Reyes with the savings? Maybe you can go after Albert Pujols and have him play third base. Maybe you use the money to sign Prince Fielder to be your full-time DH. All these may sound like crazy options, but it’s a better use of the capital than giving it to a player that is a star in name only.

A-Rod could have the desire to return to his 30 homers/100 RBI form, but he doesn’t have the body to do it anymore. Once the lower body goes, so does a baseball player’s game.

This is a crazy scenario, but something that I would at least take a look at.

Yes, he has a full no-trade clause, but those deals are often malleable if the players gets some goodies on the way out.

***

I will be doing my own Yankees postmortem on the radio tonight at 8pm. Chad Jennings, Yankees beat reporter for the Journal News, will be my headline guest. Tune in here live at 8pm or download the replay at my radio archive.

***

I thought Terry Francona did a great job in the FOX booth. He didn’t talk incessantly, and actually seemed to bring Joe Buck to life. When he made it point it was productive and in the flow of the game. In other words, it wasn’t about him.

Tim McCarver will be back later this week, but I saw some people tweet they wouldn’t mind a 3-man booth with Francona helping out Buck and McCarver.

I think the bigger issue is evaluating McCarver going forward. If ESPN could say goodbye to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, why can’t FOX say goodbye to McCarver. Tim’s days as an elite analyst are over. It’s been over 30 years since he wore a uniform and the game has passed him by. He talks too much and tries too hard to create meaningless shtick. He has become more of a punching bag for media critics.

Joe Buck is a solid play-by-play guy that might be even better with the right partner. I am not saying that is Francona long term- he admitted he rather be “cursing and chewing” down on the field- but what last night showed you is the FOX broadcast was better without McCarver.

***

I thought TBS did a nice job with the LDS. You can check out my review at Sports Media Watchdog.

My only complaint in the review was with the sideline reporting scenario. There needs to be more natural camera shots, less intrusive questions.  Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

TBS  also did well ratings-wise. It helped they had three tremendous Game 5 performances that included the New York and Philadelphia market. Check out this press release, which touts Game 5 of the Cardinals/Phillies LDS as the “most watched NLDS game on cable television ever.”

***

After watching how loose both Jim Leyland and Ron Washington are managing their teams in the postseason, do Yankees fans see how destructive their manager is to the team’s success? Joe Girardi is wound way too tight to manage a big league club. Too bad his contract calls for a couple of more years because I wonder if the Yanks would consider Terry Francona for the job.

Francona’s laid back persona would work well in the corporate Yankees clubhouse. The Yanks have established infrastructure that is bigger than any player or manager. The inmates won’t run the asylum in the Bronx. A laid back manager probably would have more success; see Joe Torre.

Again, a manager can do very little strategy-wise to screw up a team. The pitching staff is the most important on-the-field aspect of the job. With pitching coaches and organizational programs the manager has that blueprint handed to him. He needs to manage people and communicate. I don’t think Girardi does a good job in either of those areas.

***

Michael Kay continues to take a beating. Take this nugget via Bob Raissman

 Contrasting his analysis of the 2011 ALDS with his yap flapping during the 2010 ALCS, Michael Kay was down right cautious.

Last year, after the Yankees came back to beat Texas 6-5 in Game 1, Kay – only on Al Yankzeera’s postgame show – proudly declared the series officially “over.” That prediction did not work out well for Al Yank’s Minister of Information.

In this ALDS Kay pulled back, sort of. Instead of burying the Tigers he questioned their legitimacy. He kept pushing this notion the Tigers racked up wins at the end of the season only because they “were beating up on bad AL Central division teams” while the Yankees faced “a better level of competition” down the stretch.

How exactly did that “level of competition” thing work out for the Yankees? Kay also spent much time selling the notion Alex Rodriguez was about to bust out of his slump. Before Game 3, he mentioned how Leyland, in Game 2, considered having Jose Valverde intentionally walk Robinson Cano with two outs and two on in the ninth in order to get to A-Rod.

“That went into A-Rod’s mental Rolodex,” Kay said. “I don’t think he’s going to forget that.”

This suggests, despite Kay’s hype, A-Rod’s “mental Rolodex” has more than a few cards missing.

I watched the postgame on the YES gulag network and Kay did take a swipe at Detroit. He reiterated the Yankees lost to a lesser team, and continued to perpetuate the lazy talking points that reek of Yankees arrogance.

Want a real balanced take on the Yankees season? Listen to Sweeny Murti’s postmortem on WFAN. Sweeny actually follows the team like a reporter. He also isn’t employed by the YES network, which isn’t exactly a bastion for fair and balance analysis.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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8 Responses to Yankees Offseason: Sabathia, Swisher, and A-Rod Key Decisions

  1. tom cox

    I agree with you totally. Especially about Girardi going and tery Francona coming to the Yankess.

  2. tnt1528

    what team in their right mind would trade for an aging overpaid player who body will be brittle from steroid abuse??are you dreaming. would you trade for a guy who is breaking down every yr?..forget about fat mike’s prediction.fatter mike(francesa) hung up on a caller who asked about al alberquerque.he totally blew him off saying no person existed,then after a commercial he fumbled an explanation,which was even more laughable thne his mistake.

  3. Brien Jackson

    1. I can understand not liking Swisher, but that seems like a weird basis to prefer giving a 34 year old wish a history of injuries a large free agent contract or “taking a flyer on” an inferior player over essentially giving a one year $10.5 million contract to the guy who just led your very good offense in OBP.

    2. The Tigers were the inferior team in that series. You don’t get outscored by 11 runs over 5 games if you’re the better team. The inferior team won the series, happens every year.

  4. Mike Silva

    The run differential is a fools gold stat in this case. The Yanks beat the Tigers in two games 9-3 and 10-1, which skewed the differential. These were two pretty evenly matched teams, and after watching Texas last night, the Yanks probably were going to have a tough time beating them anyway. One less week of baseball is what we were deprived of.

  5. tnt1528

    you were deprived ,im laughing my ass off that they lost..

  6. Russ Cress

    Concerning RF — What I would do, is let Swisher go, get the draft picks (is there any way he isn’t a Type A FA?) and then turn around and try and swing a deal with the Marlins for Logan Morrison. Normally, that guy would never be available but this is a unique case in that the owner in Florida is nuts and LoMo is entrenched in his dog house right now. So, I think there is a window to get this done and the Yankees have the chips to do it.

    Florida may also be the only option for unloading Albatross-Rod. The owner is nuts, wants to make a big splash and spend money. The Yankees would probably have to pull a Texas deal and cover half that contract but since he’s a career ending injury waiting to happen it may be worthwhile to cut bait. Again, limited window with one viable option but I’d make the call, can’t hurt to ask.

    On CC, the only way he’s not back is if the Yanks can swing a quick deal for an ace. The main difference between this year and last is that Montero came up and was productive. So, this year people may call the Yankees offering trades rather than the Yankees having to call and offer Montero for a #1. Maybe after seeing him on the big league level, Jack Z realizes his mistake and tries to make amends for it

  7. Count Zero

    Some of the stuff you write is just bat guano insane. You would turn down a $10.5M one year option on a healthy player who posted a 117 OPS+ for the right to pay $14MM+ for several years to a guy who has managed to be on the field for 100 games once in the past three seasons? The best part is that the same argument you used for unloading ARod is exactly the argument against Beltran — his body is never going to be healthy again.

    ARod to the Marlins? I seriously doubt it. The Yankees would have to pay more than half of his contract, and that just isn’t worth it. Think about what you’re saying — that means the Yankees would get rid of their starting 3B, a guy who even in a down year played excellent defense and posted a 116 OPS+ in order to SAVE < $15MM a year. The Yankees don't make trades just to get salary relief.

    As to CC — no way, no how. Even if you have to pay him too much there are no other reasonable options. Wilson may not be as much money, but you will be overpaying him even more than CC. No prospect is going to give you a CC anchor in the rotation, and the Yankees DON'T rebuild. Ever. If you want to see the folly of entering a season with three unproven but highly touted prospects in your starting rotation, you need look no further than 2008 — Joba, Hughes and Kennedy.

  8. Arkius

    Clueless mike, do you even follow the Yankees?

    Since Nick Swisher came to the team he has been nothing but productive. In 2009 he carried the team in the first half. He did the same in 2010. This year he got off to a slow start, but finished strong. Get your head out of your……..ear.

    In all three of his seasons in New York he has been a very good baseball player. And as far as selling CD’s and building his brand is concerned; have you ever heard of ” Swish’s Wishes”? It’s Nick’s foundation for kids. That’s where the money from the CD’s and the “brand” recognition go to, you callous moron.

    I’m watching the Texas Rangers score some runs during game 5 of the WS the other night, and Ron Washington is jumpin’ around the top step of the dugout like he’s got a schmear of Ben-gay in his jock, and you’re going to try and tell me that Girardi is wound to tight? Are you kidding? Washington makes Girardi look like the Sphinx.

    And I can see why you’re trying to run down down Michael Kay. You’re jealous. His knowledge of sports make you look like a novice. Keep tryin’ buddy, maybe in 10 or 15 years you’ll be half as good as he is………or not.

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