Interview with Newsday's Kat O'Brien

Kat O'Brien was nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Here's the interview.

Kevin Seefried: Joba is supposed to be the 5th starter in 08. One of your colleagues, Anthony Rieber, recently wrote a piece saying that Joba should move back to the ‘pen. Do you agree with him? Personally, I think 180 quality innings are more valuable than 70. With a bullpen that has legendary closer Mariano Rivera, distinguished veteran Damaso Marte, 08 surpise Dan Giese, the young and proven Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, and Brian Bruney, and more young guys supposed to make an impactwith Mark Melancon, Phil Coke, Jonathan Albadejo, and David Robertson all competing for spots on the roster, why would anyone want to move such a successful starter to the ‘pen?

Kat O’Brien: I would leave Joba Chamberlain in the rotation. If the Yankees had not re-signed Mariano Rivera a year ago, it would make sense to move Joba to the bullpen. But not now. If they have an injury in the rotation, they could have rotation problems again if Joba's not there.

KS: What is going on in the Pettitte negotiations? Cashman has said that he wants Andy back, and that Andy wants to come back. Is Pettitte really refusing to take a pay cut when his statistics clearly show he isn’t a
$16mm pitcher anymore? I’ve always thought of Pettitte as a class act, and to make such a big deal over a salary dispute, especially after the Yankees supported him during the whole Mitchell Report ordeal, I’m kind of surprised. Why is he being so intent on not taking a pay cut?

I guess Pettitte really doesn't want to take a 38 percent pay-cut. I suppose I can see from his standpoint, I mean, it's not like the Yankees are short on cash. That's obvious given the Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira signings. But adding Teixeira really throws a wrinkle into things. They may stand pat now and not bring Pettitte back.

KS: Since the Yanks signed Teixeira, will they look to trade one of Damon, Nady, Swisher, or Matsui? Could Cincinnati be a fit for Nady? They were rumored to be looking into trading for Jermaine Dye, might they turn their
attention to getting the more cost-efficient Nady instead?

Kat: I think the Yankees will definitely try to trade one of the aforementioned hitters, likely with their eye on getting a true centerfielder. They probably won't revisit Mike Cameron, after adding Teixeira's salary, but could find another athletic, low-cost centerfielder.

KS: What kind of role will Dan Giese have in 09? He had a great ’08, but might Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, or Alfredo Aceves end up pushing him out of the long reliver/spot starter role?

Kat: Giese will have a chance to compete for a job going into spring training. He's not assured a spot. People root for a guy like him, though, as he's a super-nice individual.

KS: With a year under his belt and some tweaking of his coaching staff, is Joe Girardi set up for a strong ’09 season? Any changes to expect in both his management on the field and off?

Kat: Everyone learns from their experiences. I expect Girardi will ease up a little bit off-the-field and will probably be more adept at handling the media. He had good and bad moments in each area this year, and I think those are two spots he could improve in.

KS: Who will be the better investment, AJ Burnett and his $82.5mm 5 year deal or Ben Sheets and the 3 year $48mm deal he will most likely get wherever he signs?

Kat: Very interesting question. I think there's similar risk in each. Probably the team that invests in Sheets has less room for error than the wealthy Yankees, but I think there is a similar risk-reward factor at play with Burnett and Sheets.

KS: What kind of a season should we expect from Robby Cano? Will he bounce back to his 06-07 form?

Kat: I think we'll see a big year out of Cano. Maybe not the hitting title contender we saw a couple years ago but I think he'll be close to his second-half '08 performance for all of 2009. He was embarrassed and motivated by the way things went last year.

KS: Finally, your best prediction at the 09 AL East standings will look like at the end of next season, the order of the 5 teams and their respective records.

Kat: After the Teixeira signing, here goes:

1. Yankees 100-62
2. Red Sox 93-69
3. Rays 89-73
4. Blue Jays 81-81
5. Orioles 77-85

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