Conor Cashel- The Yankees spent $243.5mm on their two new starting pitchers. Was that the best way to spend the money, or should they have spent it differently?
Tyler Kepner- It's hard to tell now, of course, but it seems to me that they did what they had to do. They lost a 20-game winner and still don't know if they'll bring back a 14-game winner. So they had to do something to address the rotation. Sabathia was clearly the best guy out there, and Burnett's a huge injury risk, but it's the kind of risk the Yankees -- and perhaps only the Yankees -- can take. Never forget how much money they have and how that changes the risk/reward equation relative to other teams.
CC- What kind of return would the Yankees get for Nady if they put him on the trade market. Is he the 1st guy to go with the excess outfielders?
TK- That's a good question, and we'll find out over the next 2 1/2 to 3 months. Swisher has 3 years and $21 million left on his deal; not sure how many teams will pick that up at this stage, coming off a bad year. Nady's still pretty young, and he's coming off a very good season overall. But he'll be a free agent after the season, and he's a Scott Boras client. So both players have complicating factors. So does Hideki Matsui: a no-trade clause and two bad knees. My guess is they would try to trade Swisher first, but that 3-year commitment is a lot to ask another team to take on.
CC- Should the Yankees sign a more capable utility infielder now, like Aaron Miles, or let Ransom be the backup to start the season? If there were an injury mid-season could they pursue a trade for a player in his walk year, such as Chone Figgins or Jack Wilson?
TK- Well, Aaron Miles signed with the Cubs, so he's out. (The questions were sent before Miles signed with the Cubs) They're bringing Angel Berroa to camp, and the Dodgers got by with him at shortstop while Rafael Furcal was out last season. But Cody Ransom is perfectly fine as a back-up infielder; he plays all the positions and has a little power. How often are the Yanks going to sit Teixeira, Cano, Jeter or Rodriguez, anyway? Almost never, unless they're hurt. If somebody does get injured, then sure, you look at guys in their walk years as obvious trade candidates. But it's not a big issue at the moment. They can always find guys to fill in here or there.
CC- Jason Giambi has been regarded as a great, personable, and friendly guy throughout his time in New York. Do you think his absence will have any effect on the clubhouse?
TK- I think they'll miss him, yes, but the trade-off for Teixeira's production in the field and at the plate is a no-brainer. Teixeira spoke about accepting the responsibility of leadership, and that's good to hear; from all accounts he's extremely prepared and serious about his work. Giambi spent a ton of time in the batting cage, and he was great in the clubhouse. He was very popular with teammates, not just for his zany antics but for his generosity -- nobody paid more attention or gave more credit to the staffers and the ancillary people around the team than Jason. He also wasn't afraird to get in a guy's face, and that's important. But Damon is still around to fill that role, and the Yankees' clubhouse is actually fairly harmonious, as far as I can tell.
CC- Which of the Yankee prospects do you think will make the biggest impact in 2009? Who will be the most successful over the course of their career?
TK- If Mark Melancon stays healthy, I tell you what, there's no reason to think he won't be a very successful closer. I could see him making his move to the big leagues this season, giving the Yankees another lights-out setup guy to go with Brian Bruney. Melancon has the stuff and especially the makeup to be very valuable to the team. Austin Jackson's a great kid, too, and he's learning rapidly in the minors. I'd expect to see him in center in 2010 as long as his current rate of progress continues.
CC- This one's just for kicks. What kind of big unexpected trade would you like to see the Yanks make? Who would be the players on both sides?
TK-No idea. Maybe Michael Kay for Vin Scully? One Fordham guy for another.
Thanks again to Tyler Kepner!