Tim Dierkes from MLBTR answered some questions for us. Thanks Tim. Here's the interview. My comments on his answers are italicized.
Kevin Seefried: Who's a better utility player, in terms of both defense, offense, and likely financial commitment, Aaron Miles or Jerry Hairston Jr.?
Tim Dierkes: I think I would take Miles. I see similar versatility and offense from them, with better health and a smaller contract for Miles.
KS: What kind of statistics do you expect from Hideki Matsui? If he performs as you expect, what could he bring back at the trading deadline?
TD: Projection systems are calling for an .800 OPS, but those don't take his knee surgery into account. So I expect less. It's even harder to nail down his performance over a three-month span. Right now I believe he has negative trade value - if the Yankees offered him for only salary relief there would be no takers.
KS: The Blue Jays have a promising pitching staff with Halladay, McGowan, Litsch, and Marcum. If they were to add a strong offensive player, could they be a threat in the AL East? Any chance they look to add a player like Manny? (It's pretty obvious they won't go after Adam Dunn with the Riccardi-Dunn situation)
TD: McGowan is coming off shoulder surgery and could be out til May or June, so you can't count on him. Marcum is out for the season with Tommy John surgery (oops, my bad). So the rotation is a big question mark right now, and I don't see them emerging from such a tough division. No chance for Manny. For any significant acquisition it seems that they'd have to subtract payroll (Overbay, Ryan) first.
KS: The Yankees have an impressive pitching staff with Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, and Chamberlain. However, both Wang and Chamberlain saw DL time in 08. Burnett is a consistent visitor to the DL. And Sabathia has thrown over 500 innings the past two year. Who do you see resisting injury for the whole year? If the Yanks don't sign Pettitte or Sheets, then Hughes would be penciled in as the 4th starter (Joba 5th to limit innings). With Hughes already in the rotation, who do you see substituting if there are injuries? Anyone besides Aceves, Kennedy, and Giese?"
TD: Wang's injury wasn't arm-related (he tore a tendon and sprained his right foot running the bases in an interleague game in Houston. The game was followed by Hank Steinbrenner saying the NL was stupid for not having Dhs) and Burnett was healthy in '08 (first 200+ inning season since 05 and the 3rd in his 10 year career) . I do think the Yankees will sign Pettitte or Derek Lowe, pushing Hughes to the sixth starter role. I see Kennedy as the seventh starter. They'll have good depth. The biggest health risk to me is Chamberlain.
KS: What are the Twins asking for in exchange for Delmon Young? Do you see the Yankees looking in to acquiring him?
TD: A third baseman with several years of team control would make sense, and a reliever would help as well. I don't see the Yankees as a player.
KS: Who will be the biggest surprise, statistically, on the Yanks in 09? Will Juan Miranda or Melky Cabrera exceed expectations?
TD: I think Cano and Swisher will bounce back and Hughes will be useful. Not sure whether that is a surprise. Not expecting big things from Miranda or Cabrera.
KS: What effect would Jason Varitek's departure from
TD: That would depend on the replacement, but I imagine it'd be minimal. The pitchers would probably have a different opinion.
KS: Will Austin Jackson make a big-league appearance in 09? What kind of a player do you see him as when he reaches the bigs?
TD: Yes. Above average player, possibly an All-Star game or two.
KS: Cashman has said that no one is interested in Igawa. However, is it possible the Yankees could look for a contract swap, possibly with
TD: Not following...you want to swap Igawa for Johjima? (I was referring to swapping Igawa for another big contract perhaps Wahsburn, and then Johjima would catch for Igawa.) Anyway it would make sense to look into contract swaps with NL teams, if the other player has the same amount of money remaining.
KS: I expect Adam Dunn to get 3-5years and $18mm a year wherever he signs. Over a 3 year contract, who's the better player, and who's the better investment, Dunn or Manny?"
TD: That estimate seems high. Over the next three years I'll take Manny.
KS: And finally, where do you see the Yankees in October 09. Regular Season Record? Place in AL East Standings? Playoff record?
TD: 92 wins, wild card winner, lose in ALCS to Red Sox. (Lose to the Red Sox? Nonsense.) But I am terrible at predictions like this and there's much to be settled yet this offseason.(And for information on all that needs to be settled check out MLBTR for the articles, and 6P8OBJ for the analysis from the Yankees' point of view).