"Fans at Yankee Stadium will be chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" again next year. The Yankees announced Thursday that they had agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the popular outfielder, who has been in pinstripes since 1991 and compiled statistics that put his name alongside the team’s greatest players. …
Williams’ playing time will be reduced following this week’s agreement with Johnny Damon, who takes over as the starting center fielder."
Rumor has it the Yankees will be petitioning MLB to allow them to use Williams as a "short-center" player on defense, similar to softball rules. They will argue that given their poor arms, both Damon and Williams will be needed to get the ball back into the infield on hits to the gap.
"The Boston Red Sox plucked a player from the New York Yankees, although it’s not quite retaliation for losing center fielder Johnny Damon. The Red Sox on Friday signed John Flaherty, who served as a backup catcher with the Yankees for the last three years and as Randy Johnson’s personal catcher in 2005.
The move comes on the same day the Yankees scheduled a news conference to announce the signing of Damon to a four-year deal worth $52 million. Damon spent the last four years with the Red Sox and helped them win the World Series for the first time in 86 years in 2004."
Not quite revenge for Danny Cater for Sparky Lyle, now is it?
Headline reads: "Mariners take a shot on Lawton"
"SEATTLE — Matt Lawton knew he had a limited market following his suspension for using steroids. The Seattle Mariners were willing to give him a chance, agreeing Thursday to a $400,000, one-year contract."
The Mariners seem to have cornered the market on steroid-abusing players.
At the beginning of 2005, 38 minor league players were suspended for steroid use. 8 of them were Mariners prospects.
A subsequent suspension of 11 more minor leaguers didn’t turn up any Mariners. However, on the major league level, 2005 saw 12 players suspended. 3 of them were Mariners, and now Seattle has brought Lawton into the fold.
Perhaps SAFECO FIELD ought to renamed BALCO FIELD. "Syringe Night" anyone???
"New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez apparently has decided to take a pass on the upcoming inaugural World Baseball Classic.
According to a report in the New York Post on Friday, Rodriguez told the newspaper that he would not play in the WBC because he could not decide which country to play for.
Since the reigning American League MVP was born in New York and raised in Miami, he is eligible to play for the United States. However, since his parents are from the Dominican Republic, the slugger also is eligible to play for his parents’ homeland. Since he did not want to show any disrespect to either country, Rodriguez apparently has decided not to play at all.
"After thoughtful deliberations with my family, I am announcing my decision to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic," Rodriguez told the Post. "When faced with the decision to choose between my country, the United States of America, and my Dominican heritage, I decided I will not dishonor either."
Actually, I think his agent Scott Boras is declaring A-Rod a "free agent" for this tournament, and hoping to get a couple extra million from the highest bidder. Any day now, I expect to see a press conference on the lawn in front of A-Rod’s house, announcing that ever since he was a little boy, he always wanted to play baseball for the Netherlands.
But seriously … how come the vast majority of "dual-heritage" or foreign-born players managed to make up their mind and play for one team or the other, and A-Rod couldn’t? Its amazing how A-Rod can field his position given the apparent total lack of a backbone.
"A simple second-to-first ground ball out could be a real challenge for broadcasters in Kansas City next year.
The Royals agreed Friday to one-year contracts with second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz."
Supposedly the Royals had $22 million in revenue-sharing funds to spend this offseason. I guess they’ve chosen to spend it on a raise for their Equipment Manager, for having to endure the labeling of the uniforms with these names.
On a more serious note, why didn’t Grudz want to sign with the Mets?
With these and their other moves, the Royals move from a 63-win team to …. a 65-win team!
I assume the rumored Benson ($7.5M in ’06) – Julio ($2.5M in ’06) deal is strictly to free up money for the acquisition of Vazquez from Arizona. I mean, Julio is a decent reliever, and could do well in the 6th/7th innings for the Mets, but given the lack of real #1 quality pitching after Pedro, the loss of Benson could only mean there is another deal to be made.
One possibility (2006 salaries estimates):
Arizona gets Kaz Matsui ($7.0M) and $2M of that $5 million saved in the Benson deal in cash from Mets for Vazquez ($11M) … Could the Mets also extract Alex Cintron ($360,000 in ’05) in that deal? He would be a great infield utility man, certainly an upgrade over the Joe McEwing-types of the last few years.
There is also talk of the Mets going after Barry Zito. I don’t know what the Mets could offer the A’s, there doesn’t seem to be a good match of wants/needs. Oakland is VERY close to being the #1 team in the AL West next year as it stands now, so I doubt they’d want a prospect-laden deal. But then again, the prospects they acquired or had on their AAA team (Haren, Street, Blanton, etc.) ALLOWED them to deal away Mulder and Hudson last year, and the club did just fine.
So, it appears that for $6 million per year you can be:
1) a set-up man in New York (Farnsworth) or …
2) a closer in Philly (Gordon) or …
3) 20% of the Royals roster
"While there was no announcement from New York, the representative for free agent relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth informed Atlanta Braves officials Wednesday night that his client will sign with the Yankees, two sources told ESPN.com.
In making the move to the Yankees, Farnsworth, who played at Milton High School in Atlanta, rejected the Braves’ offer to remain as their closer, the role in which he finished the 2005 season. Instead, he will serve as setup man to Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera, and replace Tom Gordon in that role."
His ERA each of the last 6 years:
So, he’s the Bret Saberhagen of relief pitchers …
Here are his lifetime stats:
Notice the "salaries"
1999 Chicago Cubs $200,000
2000 Chicago Cubs $235,000
2001 Chicago Cubs $245,000
2002 Chicago Cubs $410,000
2003 Chicago Cubs $600,000
2004 Chicago Cubs $1,400,000
2005 Detroit Tigers $1,975,000
…. which means that in the first year of his Yankee deal, he might be making more than in his entire career to date!
This sounds like a salary hedge move against Rivera’s arm suddenly acting its age.