New York Yankees: Holiday Thoughts

By Craig Williams

With the holiday season in full force, things like family, friends and “togetherness” (psh) are getting in the way of the important things – fantasy sports, kickball and analyzing the New York Yankees. Here are some thoughts and updates I want to discuss before I get summoned to spend some more “family time”.

CC Sabathia slimming down

We hear about players getting into “great shape” or the “best shape of their career” every season. Nobody really knows how much it contributes. By the time the season starts, we’ve already drafted our fantasy squads and we’re ready to watch some real baseball so nobody really remembers who wore his Sketcher Shape-ups and played with the Shake Weight all winter.

With all of that said, how can you not like the idea of CC shedding some extra pounds. At worst, it will relieve some of the stress on his surgically repaired knee. We’ll see if a slimmer CC amounts to any more than that.

Sergio Mitre

As it stands right now, Sergio Mitre is in line to be the fifth starter for the New York Yankees. I’m still hoping that Andy Pettitte comes back and makes all of this moot, but in a worst-case scenario, the Yankees are telling us that they’re willing to go into the season with a rotation of CC Sabathia – A.J. Burnett – Phil Hughes – Ivan Nova – Sergio Mitre. If bodily fluids could come out of my fingers, my keyboard would be covered in bile right now. Never mind Nova as the fourth starter – a guy who, under ideal conditions, would not even be in the rotation. The Yankees can’t possibly let Sergio Mitre take the ball every fifth day, can they?

We shouldn’t get TOO worked up yet. After all, it isn’t a forgone conclusion that Mitre will be afforded the responsibility of holding opposing offenses in check. Hopefully this becomes moot, but I’ll ask it again: can the Yankees REALLY turn to Mitre for the fifth spot? Granted, there are not a lot of easy solutions out there. A trade is not necessarily a great option, but Joba Chamberlain is – a much better option than Mitre at least. I know the Joba debate is pretty tired at this point, but as long as Mitre is in the rotation, my fingers won’t rest.

Joe Blanton

Speaking of utterly unattractive rotation options….there are whispers from fans floating around that the Yankees should make a play for the Phillies’ Blanton. Maybe its not so much that the Yankees should target him, but the idea that the Phillies want to get rid of him and the two years and $17 million remaining on his contract. Combine that with the Yankees’ perceived desperation for pitching and you’ve got a recipe for a trade.

Except not. There is a class of pitchers that I would dislike more than Sergio Mitre in the Yankees’ rotation and Joe Blanton is entrenched in this group of bottom feeders. Without getting into any nitty gritty specifics, Joe Blanton would pretty much give the Yankees the same thing that they would get from Mitre. Blanton has earned the reputation as an innings eater – something that we couldn’t come close to expecting from Mitre. The “upgrade” to Blanton is not worth the price in dollars (Mitre is signed for under $1 million) or any price in prospects though.

I don’t want any team of mine to have anything to do with Joe Blanton in any capacity whatsoever. I hate his face, I hate his wind-up and I hate even imagining the hypothetical scenario in which that chunk-nugget gets bombed every fifth day.

Manny Ramirez/Johnny Damon?

Could we see ManRam in pinstripes or a return of Johnny Damon to the Bronx? Personally, I don’t see either one happening. I wouldn’t mind either one, really, but it would obviously have to be the right price and the right situaiton. Would either one be willing to accept a bench role? More importantly, would either one be able to adjust to a bench role?

David Phelps prospect profile

Here is a nice profile of RHP David Phelps that RAB’s Mike Axisa put together. Phelps is not a flashy, exciting prospect, but he has a little more going for him than I initially realized. He’s got good control, solid velocity and he keeps the ball on the ground. He’ll need to improve on at least one of his breaking pitches (probably his curve since its ahead of his slider) and probably his change-up too if he has any hopes of cracking and sticking in the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees have several pitchers in the mold of Phelps though – unspectacular yet solid right-handers. It’ll be nice to see how these prospects continue to develop and see how the Yankees eventually utilize their minor league pitching depth.

That is all I have for right now. I wish everyone out there a happy holiday season – except for the Red Sox. They can have burnt cookies and lumps of coal.

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