Link 4-20-2011: Who’s afraid of the Yankees?

Yeah, they’re on top of the division, but looking at the New York Yankees, they’ve got some issues to deal with. Beyond the Box Score sums it up rather well, but here are three bullet points:

The rotating rotation

Even with the solid performance of Ivan Nova, they were already down a rotation spot. Now with Phil Hughes not able to repeat his early success, the Yankees are stuck with some combination of Kevin Millwood, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Andrew Brackman to fill 1.25 slots. Oh, and A.J. Burnett is the other starter. Forgive me for being underwhelmed. I don’t see any of these guys being able to produce a Hughes-like season, apart from Hughes. They need quality innings, and it’s not clear how many they can get out of this group.

Unsustainable offense

The Yankees have been on an offensive tear, thanks to a Major League-leading 29 home runs in 15 games, or a clip of two taters per contest. I know they’ve got firepower, but that’s a lot, even for them. Consider that last year, Toronto hit only 257, or 1.58 per game to lead all of baseball in that category. The Yankees are hitting .256 as a team, but have suffered from some poor BABIP (.256 as a team) so they will stand to get some more hits. But they will experience a power outage at some point, and it’s gonna hurt.

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Links 12-1-2010: The plan forming, Victor as a DH, compensation picks, trading Scutaro, Guerrier, Parraz, Spring Training schedule

It’s starting to look like a near certainty that the Red Sox will sign one of either Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford. As I’ve said before, I like the idea of adding Werth as a long-term right-handed bat with some punch, though Crawford would be a good add as well. Werth is pretty good on defense as well, while Crawford is stellar in that category. Signing either would go a long way towards replacing the offense we’ve lost from last year’s team.

Yes, it’s been a slow offseason so far, but before you start complaining about how the Sox never spend money, read this. They are simply waiting it out. Werth is a Boras client, so any offer made now would simply be used as leverage to drive up the price. Werth will almost certainly not sign before Christmas, and may even hold out until late January.

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Links 11-10-2010: AL Gold Gloves, corner infielders, Salty as the man?

The AL Gold Gloves were announced yesterday to kick off awards week, and it is a Yankee-fest. Robinson Cano wasn’t a standout in the field. And Derek Jeter again? Are you kidding me? It seems they’ve mixed up hitting and reputation with fielding yet again.

It looks like we will be in need of a corner infielder, for 2011 at least. The top free agent third basemen are Adrian Beltre, and then nobody we want. First basemen include Lance Berkman, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche. Taking the guys out who figure to sign long-term deals, that leaves us with Berkman, Lee and possibly Pena. I’d be happy to add any of these guys for 1-2 years at $5-9M/year.

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Links 11-10-2010: Sox contact every free agent, offseason predictions, Crawford vs Werth

We should clear up something: just because the Sox have contacted Jayson Werth doesn’t mean they’ve targeted him as THE acquisition for the offseason. In fact, Theo Epstein tends to work like a shrewd hedge fund manager and plan for contingencies, diversifying his free agent portfolio. Basically the Sox have many possible plans of action, and which one they take is determined by the market. If the price for Werth climbs too high, they default to another plan with someone else. Accordingly, the Sox have contacted just about every major free agent already to try and gauge who would fit well and what their expectations are. This serves the double purpose of masking our true intentions, in case someone out there wants to bid us up.

Offseason predictions

The writers at MLB Trade Rumors have taken a stab at predicting where this year’s free agents will end up. Their consensus is that the Yankees will land Cliff Lee, and the Angels will nab Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. I agree about Lee; after re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to pricey deals, I think the Yankees will land him (at over $20M per season) and basically be done. The Halos need to make a big splash, and while they love speed and are in dire need of the outfield defense Crawford would provide, they have other big problem areas, most notably third base and the rotation. I find it unlikely that they will land both Crawford and Beltre, who will command upwards of $30M/year between the two of them. The Angels featured the worst third base production in the Majors last year, and they have no internal options there. They love their Hispanic players, so my guess is Beltre goes with them (he likes the West Coast anyway).

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Links 2-11-2010: Gaby Hernandez claimed, Beckett discussion, Spring is in the air, playoff odds

The Red Sox claimed 23-year old RHP Gaby Hernandez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners yesterday. Robert Manuel was designated to make room on the 40-man roster. Hernandez has good size at 6-3, 215 and throws in the low- to mid-90s with a cutter and a power slider and is known for a very good curveball (it was rated the best in the Marlins’ system back in 2007), though he’s had trouble commanding it. He’s got pretty decent stuff and doesn’t give up many HRs, but he’s struggled at the higher levels of the minors, and especially with lefties. Read Theo Epstein’s comments on him here. He’s got two option years left, so he’s expected to join the rotation at Triple-A Pawtucket.

What should we pay to re-sign Josh Beckett? Curt Schilling says whatever it takes. Rob Bradford warns that the shoulder could be an issue down the line. One thing I’d point out is that pitching in the AL East, and particularly in Fenway, has inflated Beckett’s numbers quite a bit. Make no mistake, he is an elite pitcher who’s perfectly suited to the atmosphere here. He’s also pitched well here at below market value, so I’d be fine with overpaying him a bit to keep playing here for 3-4 more years.

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The leadoff problem?

Some writers are making a big fuss over the poor performance of Red Sox leadoff hitters. J.D. Drew is not exactly distinguishing himself in the leadoff role, going 0-12 with just one walk since the All-Star Break. The six hitters that have been employed in that role this year have produced a composite line of .256/.306/.353, with that OBP ranking 13th in the AL. The top two AL teams in leadoff OBP this season have been Seattle (.399, mainly Ichiro Suzuki) and New York (.395, Derek Jeter). In contrast, the best OBP on the Red Sox belongs to Julio Lugo (.500 OBP in just three games), who we just DFA’d, and after him, only Jacoby Ellsbury at .320 even tops .300. How much of a problem is this, really?

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Sox sweep Yankees for 10th straight win

Ellsbury steals home

Ellsbury steals home

Man, and I thought game 1 was unbelievable. The Red Sox came back from a huge deficit in Game 2, and then broke a 1-1 deadlock in Game 3 to take their 10th straight victory last night, highlighted by Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home plate in the 6th (video at MLB.com). Read more of this post