Tim Dierkes was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for us. Here is the interview.Conor Cashel- If you were Brian Cashman, would you regret signing A-Rod to the 10 year deal, now that his use of PED's has come to light? Despite Brian Cashman saying otherwise, could you see a deal that would bring a 3B in to fill in for A-Rod? Do you think that Cody Ransom will work out as the backup?
Tim Dierkes- I would regret the contract, yes. Perhaps more so because of the hip condition than the admitted PED usage. I don't believe A-Rod has used PEDs in recent years, but that is only a guess. Regarding the contract, there is just so much that can go wrong in the course of ten years when you are paying top dollar. His defense and health may start to decline even if he does continue to hit. I could see a very minor deal for another third baseman...like a minor league deal for Mark Grudzielanek, something along those lines. I expect Ransom to be the team's worst regular when he's out there.
CC- What was the best free agent signing this offseason? Which organization came out as the "biggest winner" of the offseason?
TD- I liked a lot of the one-year deals - Randy Johnson, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson, Brad Penny. With the focus on winning in 2009, you have to give the Yankees the claim to the best offseason since they brought in three star-quality players.
CC- Which of the Yankee acquisitions (Swisher, Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira) do you see having the biggest impact on the team in the short term? Long term?
TD- Short-term Sabathia, long-term Teixeira. Tex is more of a steady performer with less risk of injury, but Sabathia could burst onto the NY scene as a 7 win player in 2009 and lead a revamped rotation.
CC- There has been much discussion over who will play RF for the Yankees next season. If you are Joe Girardi, who is your everday RF? Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady? Do you go with a platoon?
TD- Platoon doesnt really make sense, as Swisher hit lefties pretty well before last year. I'd go with Swisher, Nady would get plenty of playing time as a quality fourth outfielder/bench bat.
CC- What major trade deadline deals could you see happening? Who could the Yankees potentially pick up at the deadline to ease their CF situation (if Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner don't work out)? Do you see Austin Jackson coming up at some point in the year if Gardner and Melky don't give the Yankees what they are looking for?
TD- It would not surprise me to see Roy Halladay dealt. Rick Ankiel, Erik Bedard, and Adrian Beltre are other possibilities. The Yanks could go after Ankiel or renew the Mike Cameron talks. Marlon Byrd could also make sense. I can see Jackson taking over at midseason with a respectable first half.
CC- With the weak economy, it has been suggested that some teams may be in full salary dump mode come midseason. Could you see this happening to any teams in particular? What kind of players would be traded both on the salary dump side and the salary pick-up side?
TD- I could see a team like the Tigers dumping salary en masse, with someone like Magglio Ordonez being a well-paid player but not an albatross. The Tigers also have many truly bad contracts. The Astros have Miguel Tejada (others would have to be willing to waive no-trade rights). The Blue Jays have Vernon Wells. The Rangers could try to move Kevin Millwood and/or Vicente Padilla.
CC- Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano are all coming off rough seasons, whether it be due to injury or just poor playing. Which of these players is most likely to return to their full potential? Who's return to potential/strength will have the biggest impact on the team's success?
TD- I see Cano as the most likely to bounce back, with an honorable mention to Swisher. The 2008 seasons of those two players seem more the product of bad luck than health. But Posada's potential bounce back will have the biggest impact because catcher is so hard to fill and if he has to DH there's nowhere to play Matsui.
CC-Last time we spoke to you, you predicted that the Yankees would finish with 92 wins, win the Wild Card , but lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Have your predictions changed over the last 3 months?
TD- That still seems like a reasonable outcome to me...I could see the Yanks winning even more regular season games maybe. I know this looks like a cop-out but I can see the Yanks, Red Sox, and Rays all winning more than 90 games and any playoff outcome involving those three would not surprise me.
CC- Just for fun, let's hear what you think the 3 biggest hot stove headlines will be in December 2009?
TD- 1. Matt Holliday's free agency
2. Even less free agent spending for non-star players