Monday, February 27, 2006

Some Yanks Tidbits

During my time playing catch up around the sporting world last week, it seems I missed a few tidbits about the team to which this site is dedicated. None of them were column-worthy in themselves, they got passed by. But they are news bits nonetheless, and I think it’s a great way to start the week (though probably a better way to end the week).

The most prolific of these developments involves who else but Gary Sheffield. Last Tuesday, Yankee fandom was collectively singing Brian Cashman’s praises after he sat down with Sheff and told him of the Yankees eventual plans to pick up his $13 million option for 2007. We all know Sheff’s bouts with management via the media in the past, making this a much lauded move.

Then on Friday, Bob Klapisch published a column speaking of Sheff being disgruntled with his option not being picked up right away. Sheff’s modd swings are inevitable, but I didn’t expect such a drastic shift so quickly.

Apparently everything is fine now, as Cashman and Sheff have had additional dialogue on the subject. But who is to say he won’t have another outburst this week? Or what if he starts off the season slow and beings lashing out about his contract to the media? This is the baggage you take on when signing Gary Sheffield.

The best course of action is to pick up his option now. Nothing good will come by not picking it up, and it would allow the team to put off these contract problems until next year, when Sheff won’t have an option to bitch about. Of course, he may want an extension at that point, but at age 38, he could be (and should be) considering retirement.

The only negative aspect of this scenario, as laid out to me by James Varghese over at Yanks Blog, is that Sheff’s role in 2007. Since Bernie is due to retire following this season, Sheff would be prime to move to full-time DH (and if you don’t think that now, I’m sure you will as the season progresses). Visa vi, Jason Giambi is forced into starting at first for another season, which could be proven detrimental during this season. The advantage to having signed Vladimir Guerrero is more apparent as the days go by…and this is coming from a guy who very recently defended that decision.

If you think the latest Sheff episode is frustrating, just head over to the Carl Pavano booth down in Tampa. Not only is his throwing further delayed, but he may be held out, possibly on the DL, until mid-April. I was once optimistic about the second season of Carl, but this latest injury development has me thinking we’ll never see much of a return on that $40 million.

This development has brought on two realizations. First, we got an early answer to the yearly question of when we’re going to need a fifth starter. Second, it becomes more apparent that Carl should have been dished for pennies on the dollar this winter. He’s worth zilch on the trade market and to the team now, so hindsight tells us that acquiring Jeremy Reed for him would have been a wise swap.

George guaranteed victory in the World Series, which is nice. My question: is this really news? Isn’t spending circa $200 million on your team an implicit guarantee of victory?

Much heralded prospect Phil Hughes has been wowing the likes of Jorge Posada and A-Rod over the past week, causing them to speak in hyperbole. I followed Hughes closely since learning about him during the Mark Kotsay trade rumors, and have been enamored with his performance. True, he missed much of the second half with arm complications, but initial intelligence seems to think little of it.

My major concern with Hughes is the hype. So many things have to go right for a pitcher Hughes’s age to blossom into a Major League starter, and he’s far from proven in the longevity game at age 19. But it feels nice to have a prospect rising through the system – and Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects.