So the Yankees are actually alive. After lying low all offseason, they swooped in and fixed their rotation problems in one night, trading for Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda. We've already covered the Montero-Pineda deal in detail here -- check out Mr. Neg's quick reaction and Whelk's Pitch F/x breakdown on Pineda -- but trades this radical don't happen very often, and its aftermath will surely affect how the rest of the offseason plays out. Already we're beginning to see a couple different things play out:
Pressurepressurepressure on the Red Sox. Both the Yankees and Red Sox entered the winter with some large holes in their rotation, and the Yankees have now filled those holes while also making their rotation stronger in the long-term. Meanwhile, the Sox have done nothing besides decide to move Daniel Bard into the rotation. Many writers are already anointing the Yankees as the favorites in the AL East, and with the Rays looking very strong (and without a guarantee that the second Wild Card will be in play this year), the fire just got turned up under the Red Sox. How will their new front office hold up?
Competition for remaining FA hitters. Now that the Yankees have traded away Jesus Montero, they have an open hole at DH. As Carson Cistulli notes, the Yankees have a number of options on how to fill the position -- including filling it internally by rotating players around -- but they are unlikely to spend much money to add a new player. As such, they could possibly end up competing with the Rays for one of the remaining free agent hitters out there. They have already been linked to Carlos Pen and Johnny Damon, so this could make for an odd, backwards bidding war.
If Pena signs with the Yankees, I might just lose it. Pena was always one of my favorite players, and him going to the Yankees now would hurt even more because there's a somewhat-plausible chance that he could end up back with the Rays. He's ours, Yankees...back off!
- Stephen Nohlgren had a piece in this Sunday's Tampa Bay Times about how both Bill Foster and Stuart Sternberg can take a step forward in their meeting tomorrow instead of merely remaining at a standstill. He proposes that Stu offers to bring spring training back to Al Lang Field, which is a good idea but may not be that feasible due to the Rays' recent investment in their spring training facility in Port Charlotte. But the idea is still sound: Stu needs to give Foster something in return for the right to negotiate with Tampa. The question is...what?
- Preliminary CAIRO projections for the 2012 season are already out. I'm waiting for ZiPs to be finished -- in my mind, they're the best system available now that CHONE is no longer public -- but CAIRO can certainly hold its own.
- Over at Baseball Nation, Wendy Thurm wrote about how the MLB Fan Cave isn't very welcoming to women. I completely agree, and her takedown of the Fan Cave is worth reading in full.
Although I'll add on caveat. In Thurm's words: "The 2011 version of the Fan Cave offered nothing for the score-keeping, numbers-crunching, roster-watching woman fan." Personally, I can't say that the Fan Cave offered much for the score-keeping, numbers-crunching, roster-watching male fan either. It was goofy and inane, and much more geared toward casual fans.