March 17, 2013

#Yankee desperation hits new lows in Chipper Jones bid

Why else would Brian Cashman ask Braves lifer Chipper Jones to come out of retirement other than he knows Kevin Youkilis isn't a full-season answer at 3B and that A-Fraud ain't coming back this year?

Is this desperation?

I say yes. If Cashman had asked a month ago, different story. But Chipper can't be in game condition until May 1 at earliest, so now it's desperation.

That said, with an admittedly small sample, the reason for the desperation is obvious. The Greek God not only isn't hitting a buck-fifty, he's not even hitting a buck. (Update: With more of a spring-training sample, that's improved.)

And apparently Scott Rolen, not technically retired, but without a job, not even a minor-league invite-to-spring-training contract, has caught Cashman's eye now, too. (Note to Cashman: There's a reason a 38-year-old third sacker who hasn't had 350 plate appearances either of the past two years, and 500-plus only once in the last five, doesn't have a contract!)

Other current options at 3B (other than my previously-suggested trade of David Freese and pitching parts for C.C. Sabathia) are basically crap. If you don't believe me, here's Yahoo's list of MLB third basemen. (Would the Giants make Pablo Sandoval an option? Would Pablo make himself an option by eating too damned much one too many times?)

Add in Mark Teixeira's injury possibly being worse, even much worse, than currently stated, and him not coming back until, say, the All-Star game. The Yankees are now talking to Derrek Lee, out of baseball since the end of 2011, and with good reason, and didn't play more than 150 games a year since 2008. That shows right there that they're worried about Tex. After all, Lee is a 1B, not a 3B. And a 1B who's been subpar defensively for years.

(Update, March 15: It gets worse. Whatever the Yankees were offering, it wasn't enough for Lee! And, Cashman was/is reportedly looking at Rolen here, not 3B; he must really be worried about Tex.

Update March 17: And, it looks like Tex's injury is worse than first realized or admitted. He has a partially torn tendon sheath, like the Blue Jays' Bautista did last year. Says he's hoping to avoid surgery and still be back by the start of June. Yeah, good luck with that.)

Then, what if the Cap'n himself, Derek Jeter, shows himself to be post-broken ankle mortal? Say .270 and a .370 slugging percentage, exactly what he had in 2010. And, that, already by the All-Star break, he's a -1 on dWAR.

(And now, March 19, Jeter's ankle is "cranky" and "stiff." Joe Girardi says he may DH to open the regular season.)

Is it possible the Yankees hit the Al East cellar? You bet your butt it is.

(Update, March 21: In fact, ESPN's David Schoenfield says he foresees something of that nature.)

So, let's say something like that happens.

What do the Yankees then do with their 2014 potential free agents, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro, Hideki Kuroda, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes et al? (I'm assuming Andy Pettitte has the brains to retire for good after this year.)

My take?

Granderson had a career year last year. He shouldn't get much more than $15M/year in the future, and not for more than three years.  But he'll probably be close enough to that this year that he will.

If the Yankees get the 2011 Seattle version of Ichiro this year, they'll offer another one-year deal, and should. Ichiro, if he is at that level, will accept, still hoping for 3K hits here in the US.

Hughes? The Yankees may be dumb enough to pay more than $10M a year for him, vs. his current $7.5. They shouldn't.

Chamberlain? I'd give him Hughes' current money, no more, on a 2-year deal laden with health/performance incentives.

Kuroda? Especially if they're smart enough to let Hughes walk, I'd do another one-year deal with him, plus an option year if needed.

Cano? ESPN's Schoenfield wonders whether, if the Pinstripes start out badly enough, especially if they then find out Tex needs season-ending surgery, the team doesn't entertain trade offers.

And, where does Cashman get the money to pursue other free agents? (Who could the Yankees trade for right now? Right.) Does he tell Hank Steinbrenner, in essence, "Hey, the A-Rod extension was YOUR decision. You have to mentally write that off"?

And if Hank says "no dice," Cashman is hopefully smart enough to already have been working on Plan B for his post-Yankees employment.

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