Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grading The Yankees Offseason

 With the Justin Maxwell trade taking place yesterday, I think that pretty much signifies the end of the Yankee offseason in terms of moves that will actually affect the 25-man roster.  That means it's time to take a look back at the moves the Yankees did make and hand out some grades.  For the purposes of this post, I'm including internal re-signings as well.

- Derek Jeter- Signed a 3 year/$51 million deal with a player option for a 4th year: C-

I wasn't all that concerned about the money in the deal.  Everybody knew that Jeter was going to be a Yankee and everybody knew he was going to get way more than his recent performance warranted because of his pedigree and because of how important he and the Yankees are to each other.  The length of the deal was what bothered me; 3 w/ a player option instead of 2 w/ a team option.  Jeter is already hanging on by a thread defensively and needs to bounce back in 2011 at the plate to make this deal worth it.

- Mariano Rivera- Signed a 2 year/$30 million deal: A-

In a perfect world, Mo would be signing 1-year deals until he decided he didn't want to pitch anymore, or at least a 1-year deal with a team option for another after 2011.  But then again, Mo has never showed any signs of falling off in terms of his production, and he always manages to stay healthy enough to pitch.  When you factor in his past performance and the fact that he's the GOAT, 15 mil seems fair to me.

- Sergio Mitre- Signed a 1 year/$900k deal: C+

The Meat Tray definitely isn't the best pitcher around, but he's better than Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin, and with Ace getting hurt again, he was the best option to have around as a long man in the bullpen.  The fact that other pursuits didn't pan out and he's now slated to be the 5th starter is not a good thing, but for the money he's being paid, I can live with having him back.

- Russell Martin- Signed a 1 year/$4 million deal: B+

Martin is an upgrade over Posada and Cervelli behind the plate, and an upgrade over Cervelli at the plate as a full-time catcher to start the year.  He's coming off 2 down years, but was once one of the best hitters in the game.  If he shows he has overcome his past injuries and whatever "issues" were plaguing him in LA, he becomes a steal for this year.  If not, he should at least be able to perform at replacement level as a cheap placeholder for Jesus and then slide into a serviceable backup role.

- Pedro Feliciano- Signed a 2 year/$ 8 million deal with a team option for a 3rd year: B-

The only thing keeping this grade above a C-level is the fact that Feliciano has a great track record of being both a workhorse (266 appearances over the last 3 years) and being wildly effective as a lefty specialist (.211/.297/.276 against in 2010).  He provides insurance and depth in the 'pen in case Boone Logan turns out to be a one-year wonder, but the money and length of the deal is something that has gotten the Yanks in trouble with older relievers before.

- Andruw Jones- Signed a 1 year/$2 million deal: A-

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la, uh-huh!  In case you couldn't tell, I was a big fan of this deal.  Jones is an upgrade over Marcus Thames or whoever else the Yankees could have brought in to fill the 4th OF spot in every way imaginable.  He mashes lefties, holds his own against righties, has some pop, and can play above-average defense in both corners.  And he's cheap.  Great signing by Cash.

- Rafael Soriano- Signed a 3 year/$35 million deal: C-

I don't disagree with the logic that a weakened rotation can be aided by a strong bullpen, but once again the length of the deal and the money becomes a big issue.  The strange inclusion of a thousand opt out clauses could be a blessing or a curse for the Yankees.  If Soriano rocks the house in 2011, he opts out, signs a new deal to close somewhere else, and the Yanks get some compensation picks.  If he bombs or gets hurt (a realistic possibility), then Damaso Marte gets a right-handed partner to sit on the bench with and suck up unearned dollars.

- Bartolo Colon- Signed a 1 year/ $900k Minor League deal: C+

Does he have anything left?  Probably not.  Can he stay healthy?  Almost certainly not.  But, he did throw well in a situation where the Yanks had plenty of eyes on him.  And if he somehow turns into Mel Clark from "Angels In The Outfield" and recaptures some magic to throw even a few innings for the Yankees in 2011, then this is a good deal.  If not, you cut his fat ass and send him back to the buffet line.

- Freddy Garcia- Signed a 1 year/$1.5 million Minor League deal: C+

Almost identical to the Colon situation, except Garcia stands to make a bit more if he manages to make the team out of Spring Training.  His chances are much more likely, given that he actually pitched in the Majors before.  If he works as a stopgap early in the season and gives some time for the Triple-A guys to get warm, get in a groove, and get ready to come up, then this deal looks better.  If he spends the whole year in the rotation, it could drop to a C-/D+ level.

- Cliff Lee- Did not sign with the Yankees: B-

I can't get on Cash or the Yanks for not bringing in Lee.  They did everything in their power to get him to join the club.  They were the first to go visit him face-to-face, they offered him the most money over a variety of different deals.  At the end of the day he just didn't want to be here and that's fine.  Long term this is good for the Yanks, as it allows them to not be tied down to another big-dollar aging pitcher and keeps a potential rotation spot open for the Killer Bs.

- Arbitration Deals- Hughes, Boone Logan, Joba all signed below market value: A+

Getting Hughes and Joba for less than they would have gotten on the open market and Logan for about what he would have gotten after his 2010 campaign is a big plus for the Yankees.  They get to fortify their bullpen and keep a potential #2 starter who is only 24 around for cheap.  The better all these guys do in 2011, the better these deals look.

- Overall- B-

The Yankees made a big push for their biggest target and missed out.  With the continued uncertainty around Andy's future, they went out and did the best they thought they could in a terrible FA market to try to improve the back end of their rotation while at the same time strengthening the bench and bullpen with (for the most part) team-friendly contracts.  At the end of the day, the Yankees are still one of the 5 best teams in baseball at worst and probably one of the 2 or 3 best at best, so you can't call the offseason a complete disaster.  If they get good production from some of these new guys and have a couple of their returning players have comeback years, people will forget about Cliff Lee and how "disastrous" this offseason was.