MLB Trade Rumors notes today that the Giants have expressed some interest in Nick Johnson. The Nats’ first baseman, working his way back from a year lost to injury, is hitting .368/.455/.688 in the early going, and Washington could look to offload his salary. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Yankees should be right there on the Nick Johnson talks if Washington is serious about trading the first baseman. He would the perfect fit.
On the surface, it’s hard not to salivate at this one. Harden is a nasty, nasty pitcher when healthy. Unfortunately, health has not been his forte. His career high in innings pitched came during his second major league season, at age 22 in 2004. He tossed 189.7 innings that year, to a 3.99 ERA. He was good, but not great that year, striking out 167 and walking 81.
The next year, however, was when he shined (shone?). His 2.53 ERA told part of the story, but his 121 strikeouts to 43 walks told another: That of an improving pitcher. However, he missed significant time during the season with an oblique injury, which sidelined him from May 14th through June 20th, and then another torso injury which had him pitching zero games between August 20th and September 24th. Even after that, he finished the season in the bullpen, and wound up with 128 innings pitched.
The next two seasons were far uglier, as he posted a combined 72.1 innings, including just 25.2 last year. His talent is still undeniable — that splitter is among the best, if not the best itself, among active players. However, the injury concerns are just too great for the Yanks to take on this season.
The San Francisco Chronicle article I linked earlier notes that Billy Beane would likely be looking for Ian Kennedy for starters, and likely Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez on top of that. In other words, there will be a discount, but it won’t be much. Those three for a healthy and productive Harden would be a good deal. Those three, or even just IPK and Horne, for a questionable Harden is an undue risk.
Remember, we’re still trying to figure out how to fill innings. In that regard, Kennedy has superb value for the Yankees. He has an innings cap for sure, but it will be well above that of Joba and Phil. I don’t see how anyone can expect more than 100 innings from Harden. And if he hurts himself again, the entire trade is a bust. The Yanks will have given up hundreds of innings of at least replacement level pitching (presumably) for an oft-injured starter who, even if healthy, won’t give them the innings they need.
It’s a great idea in theory. But communism works, in theory. If Harden gets through the year healthy, he should be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. Maybe, then, we can start talking about trading for Harden this winter. But until he gets through 100, 120 innings without hitting the DL, I’d keep my hands off, despite the glorious upside he presents.
Because it’s never too early to start speculating on next winter, Jon Heyman at SI.com checks in with C.C. Sabathia. It is seemingly a foregone conclusion that the Indians and Sabathia will part ways in November. The Indians have acknowledged it; C.C. has acknowledged it.
And when one of the game’s top lefty starters hits the open market, we all know what that means: a good, old fashioned free agent bidding war. Sabathia figures to command a contract in excess of $100-$120 million, and of course, our favorites are right at the top of Heyman’s list of likely suitors:
1. Yankees. Long seen as the most logical destination for Sabathia, the big reason they balked at Santana was their reluctance to part with top pitching prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Since it’ll only cost them money (and draft choices), and Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte could be coming off the books, they remain the favorite. A perfect replacement in case this is Pettitte’s last year, a real possibility.
Of course, Sabathia makes sense for the Yanks whether or not Pettitte continues his “one more year” shtick or not. The Yanks have money coming off the books, and one can never have too much starting pitching, let alone lefties in the Bronx.
The Yankees will go hard after Sabathia, and they need only give up money this time. It’s a match made in baseball heaven. All Carsten Charles needs to do is turn in another top season and avoid injury. The gold is waiting for him at the end of the rainbow.
Word out of Mets camp is that Carlos Delgado will attempt to play through a hip injury. Delgado, 35, is coming off his worse season in the Bigs and isn’t getting younger or much healthier. How does this impact the Yanks? Because the Mets will surely look at the Nationals’ Nick Johnson as a potential first base option, and Nats’ GM Jim Bowden knows this. It simply complicates the Nick Johnson sweepstakes that are raging in my head.
Yes, there’s a chance that baseball’s biggest head will get a shot with the Bombers. The Yanks have expressed interest in the 30-year-old outfielder. He’d give the team a right-handed bench option.
Of course, this would be on a minor league deal, so as with Ensberg and Lane, there is no risk. If you look how the roster breaks down, the Yanks have a couple of options for bench spots:
10. TBA – bullpen
11. TBA – bullpen
12. TBA – bullpen
25. TBA – bench
And even Shelley’s spot isn’t guaranteed. So you have him, Ensberg, Lane, Nick Green, and Mench going up for two spots. Plus, it gives the team some decent insurance options should the injury bug bite during Spring Training.
Caught this one on MLB Trade Rumors, so I thought I’d share it with you. As this post’s category makes clear, there are absolutely no teeth to this story. It’s just something to ponder while you have your Sunday morning OJ.
Apparently, the Yanks think a package of Chien-Ming Wang, IPK, and Melky will be enough to land Johan Santana. I think they’re nuts. Yes, the Twins are moving to an open-air stadium in 2009, so Wang’s difficulties on turf will become less of an issue. But it will still be an issue in 2008, so if the Twins plan to contend they might not be doing themselves the greatest service by picking up Wang. Mike has said it before and I agree completely: We’re not getting Santana without Joba or Hughes.
The source also mentions an interest in Aaron Rowand to take over for Melky. Does this mean we’ll see Abreu’s option declined? Not sure. It does create another log jam in the outfield, and I’m not sure Rowand is such a sure bet to fill it well. I’m not the biggest Melky fan (shocking), but I think he stands to put up as good a season as Rowand next year. The moral: Don’t overhype this guy because he’s coming off a career year. He’s had two such years in his career. The rest have been below average.
Still, you could do worse, I suppose. If all of those pieces fall into place, yeah, why not pick up Santana for those three and then sign Rowand? This, though, would almost require Pettitte to come back, since we’re going to need at least two 200-inning pitchers in the rotation. Having them both be lefties is something we haven’t seen in quite a while.