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The Yankees have begun talks with Andruw Jones

Jan 8, 2011, 8:52 AM EDT

Andruw Jones

According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Yankees have started talks with free agent Andruw Jones, though a deal is not believed to be close. Heyman wrote earlier this week that the Bombers were considering Jones.

The Yankees are pursuing Jones in part because they need a right-handed hitting outfielder, but also because they are concerned about Marcus Thames’ defense. The 33-year-old Thames was a nice surprise last season, batting .288/.350/.491 with 12 home runs, 33 RBI and an 841 OPS, but he can’t touch the versatility or defensive reputation of Jones.

Jones, who will turn 34 in April, batted .230/.341/.486 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI for the White Sox last season, including a .256/.373/.558 batting line in 102 plate appearances against southpaws.

We have become accustomed to players switching teams pretty frequently these days, and Jones has done his fair share of that over the past few seasons, but there would be something weird about seeing him in a Yankees uniform. It feels like it was just yesterday that he hit home runs off Andy Pettitte and Brian Boehringer in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series.

  1. baseballstars - Jan 8, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Leave it to Brian Cashman to sign washed up free agents but walk away from talented ones (like Rafael Soriano). Maybe they can sign Carlos Delgado and Jose Canseco. Hell, Hank Aaron might want to play, doesn’t hurt to ask.

    • genericcommenter - Jan 8, 2011 at 10:33 AM

      You mean leave it up to Cashman to find pieces that fit a need ( right handed bench outfielder who can actually play the field a little), and not pay $8 mil ( or whatever) for multiple years AND give up a 1st round draft pick for a setup man?

      • baseballstars - Jan 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        There’s no way that Andruw Jones, in almost any way, fits a need for the Yankees. Unless they are looking for a player whose defense has decreased and who has a massive hole in his bat. So what if the Yankees lose a first round draft pick on Soriano, it’s not like they recently have a good track record of developing their picks. I’ll take a known commodity that knows how to do the job over an unproven.

  2. pisano - Jan 8, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Here we are in January and the Yankees are looking at a washed up aging right handed bat that hit .230 last year and strikes out too much. I hope they realize they have plenty of guys in that line up that strikeout way too much. Cashman seems to avoid what the Yankees need is a front line pitcher. They have some chips to trade, first and foremost the Fat Toad (Joba). They can package him with a couple lower tier minor league prospects and get a solid starter. I’ll guarantee if the Sox were in this position the problem would have already been solved. Speaking of the Sox, if Cashman doesn’t wake up soon the Sox will run away with the AL east. They just might do it anyway with the team they have right now.

    • bigharold - Jan 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM

      “Cashman seems to avoid what the Yankees need is a front line pitcher.”

      Lee decided on Phillies and the Yankees decided that Grenke wasn’t a good fit or worth it. How is that avoiding a Yankee need? What front line starter is available that the Yankees avoided? Garza? The Rays would have never traded him within the division, let alone to the Yankees. Pavano? Like that would ever happen.

      “They can package him with a couple lower tier minor league prospects and get a solid starter.”

      Really, if so, for who? And, if Chamberlain is such a slouch how would be a that him and lower tier prospects get anything worth trading for?

      “… if Cashman doesn’t wake up soon the Sox will run away with the AL east.”

      Not with the pitching the RS have. The RS have bigger question marks at pitching than the Yankees. To date the RS have merely replaced offense that they let walk. Anybody that thinks they are the prohibitive favorite for the AL East isn’t paying attention.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 8, 2011 at 9:37 PM

        Dude. The Sox have far fewer question marks in their rotation than New York. Lester and Buchholz are pretty even with Sabathia and Hughes (despite Buchholz’s pretty ERA last year). But it’s a big difference after that. Pretty sure Boston can find a better #3 than Burnett out of Beckett, Lackey, and Matsuzaka. Heck, two of those three were far better than Burnett last year. And the back of the Yankees’ rotation is replacement level.

        It’s not the Phillies, but Boston’s got one of the better front two, plus three overpaid but above-average starters. Most people who aren’t Sox haters have Boston as one of the better pitching rotations. Check out some actual projections from any of a number of fantasy sites. Or FG’s sabermetric wisdom-of-crowds fan projections. Or even Yankee sites like the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog http://www.rlyw.net/index.php/RLYW/comments/extremely_early_cairo_2011_mlb_projected_which uses their inhouse projection system, Cairo.

        And by what measurement are Crawford and Gonzalez merely replacements for Beltre and Victor? Not to mention full seasons from Pedroia and Youkilis.

        Honestly, the Sox have questions. No team doesn’t. But they have fewer than almost any team.

      • bigharold - Jan 9, 2011 at 1:11 AM

        “The Sox have far fewer question marks in their rotation than New York.”

        Dude … wrong! Beckett, Lacky and Matsuzaka have nothing on anybody including the Yankees. And, that’s if Pettitte doesn’t come back. If Pettittte comes back the RS bottom three are clearly in fact worse.

        And, the RS BP was terrible last year. Even the Nation, which is hoping for the best, thinks Papelbon’s best days are behind him. What happens if Bard needs to replace him early in the season? Papelbon has a complete meltdown and the pen falls into disarray. Adding Jenks and Wheleer is fine. They’re clearly better than what the RS had last year but that’s in part because the RS BP sucked last year. Neither of these additions are dominant pitchers. With the RS pitching they are’t running away from anything!

        “Most people who aren’t Sox haters have Boston as one of the better pitching rotations.”

        Again, ..really? Year in and year out the Nation proclaims the dominance of of the RS pitching so in 2011 what else is new?

        “And by what measurement are Crawford and Gonzalez merely replacements for Beltre and Victor? ”

        Mostly by the facts. Go to baseballreference.com and compare the offensive out put of Beltre/Martinez versus Crawford/Gonzalez last season. They are practically identical. And keep in mind that Martinez as a C/DH only played in 127 games. So, AB&VM combination totaled 281 games and CC&AD together played in 314. The cumulative totals for each two players for HRs and RBIs is close yet the RS pair from last year played in 10% more games than the RS pair of next year.

        “Honestly, the Sox have questions. … But they have fewer than almost any team.”

        They have far more than the Nation, or anybody that is paying attention, is willing to concede, Splashy acquisitions aside. The best thing that came from the signings was that the players they replaced are in fact a couple of years younger than those they replaced.

        I can’t wait for the season to start. Right around Memorial Day the Nation will realize that the RS aren’t running away with anything and they’ll start to squirm. Around the ASB the “Excuse-a-tron 5000″ will be broken out to explain why the Yankees aren’t dead and why the RS aren’t doing better.

        Dude, .. they call them the Bronx Bombers for a reason.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM

        Last year, offensively, Beltre and Victor don’t compare to Adrian and Crawford. Especially if you use advanced metrics, but even going by traditional counting stats (or, as you called them, “facts”):

        Victor + Beltre: 148 Rs, 181 RBIs, 48 HRs, 3 SBs,

        Adrian + Crawford: 197 Rs, 191 RBIs, 50 HRs, 47 SBs,

        Using traditional counting stats has many many problems, including that Crawford as a leadoff man had more chances for Rs than RBIs while Adrian on the Padres had few chances for either; yet they combined to beat Victor/Beltre easily in both categories.

        Using Victor’s missed time as a reason he’s better defies all reason. The guy’s only averaged 118 games the last three years. Catchers have a low standard for playing time, and there’s no reason to think that Victor will match even that going forward given his propensity for injury. That’s a negative, not a positive, sir.

        And then, of course, there’s the Red Sox health last year. Homer fans will often think all their players will be healthy next year, which is unrealistic. But it’s also unrealistic to think that Boston will be as unbelievably unhealthy as they were last year. They will gain a ton of offense by having a healthier Pedroia and Youkilis, and having an OF where Drew isn’t first in playing time (!) and Ellsbury and Cameron something like 6th and 7th.

        As to pitching, honestly, I pointed you to non-Red Sox sources (even a well-respected Yankee source in RLYW), not, as you say, “the Nation proclaiming.” In fact, until I looked at some objective projections, I was harsher on Matsuzaka and Lackey than I should have been, not realizing how much better Lackey’s peripherals were than his results last year, and in my memory Matsuzaka had been terrible last year, when he was, in fact, merely league average. Look at fantasy projections in particular: fantasy is great for projections because no one is giving their homer bias, since their desire to WIN can only come from objective projections. The first two pitchers in both rotations are approximate washes, but you will not find ANY non-Yankee-fan who thinks Pettitte-Burnett-Nova-Mitre is better than Lackey-Beckett-Matsuzaka-Wakefield. I covered the other guys before, but Pettitte was held to 129 innings last year due to injury, is now 39, and hasn’t started preparing for the season yet. Every day that goes by makes him less likely to return. I would not be counting on him as a factor next year for the Yankees.

        That said, I DO think the Yankees will improve their rotation, if not before the season starts than definitely before the trade deadline. Having such a poor back of the rotation isn’t the worst thing in the world, considering it gives you easy positions to upgrade.

        But right now, given the rosters both teams have to work with, Boston is a clearly superior team.

        tl;dr: you’ve got some rose-colored number-reaching going on, my friend, in order to allow you to trash Boston.

  3. Old Gator - Jan 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    At the rate things are going with the Borg this offseason, they might view him as a viable fourth starter in their rotation. He always had a great arm. Or, he could be an early inning blowout specialist setting up the FAT TOAD. The possibilities are endless.

  4. Ari Collins - Jan 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Good move by Cashman if he picks him up. I think he’d probably be the best 4th OF out there. People forget the guy’s still only turning 34 next year, and he’s been very productive in the last couple of years. Look up his numbers, you’d be surprised. He’s also still a good defender, if no longer otherworldly.

    • pisano - Jan 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM

      Yeah! that .230 BA knocks me on my ass. I’d take my chances with someone else.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 8, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        I’m pretty sure the Yankees look at more than just BA. Don’t have to look that much deeper, either. It’s right in the post: “.230/.341/.486 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI for the White Sox last season, including a .256/.373/.558 batting line in 102 plate appearances against southpaws.”

        I understand that it sucks watching your team mostly stand pat, but they won 95 games last year and Jones would be better than any 4th OF the Yanks had last year. It would be a good pickup.

  5. yankeesfanlen - Jan 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    This is why I find it inexplicable that we didn’t get Crawford. Historically, we would have swept in and just done the deal. Jones is a better fielder than Thames? Fine- so what. That’s not the biggest priority I can think of.
    THE FAT TOAD must go and now we’re getting to the point where the FA market is exhausted, so trades have to be made. Let’s find some unsuspecting GM to lift this burden. And if THE FAT TOAD wins the Cy Young, God bless him. Get Soriano and have the starter pitch 5 innings (or AJ 3) then turn it to the pen.

    • pisano - Jan 8, 2011 at 1:27 PM

      Your post makes alot of sense, I hope Cashman starts using his head or the Sox will run away with the division.

    • bighitterthelama - Jan 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM

      I’m not sure why there’s so much panic over the failure to add Crawford (not an area of need) and the continued employment of Joba. Just because some people were sucked into the “next Roger Clemens” hype surrounding Mr. Twirling Fist Pump doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been a cheap, serviceable, reliever who is also only 25 years old. There was only one first class free agent starter on the market. Cashman offered 7 (!) guaranteed years and roughly 3 gazillion dollars and Lee chose somewhere else. Why does that mean the next smart move is unloading assets for a middle-of-the-rotation starter? In January?

      Andruw Jones can be a solid 4th outfielder who plays against lefties and doesn’t cost much so he carries little risk. A signing like this (if it happens) retains flexibility for Cash and the Yanks to pursue in-season trades or moves next offseason. I’d like to know how many commenters in here think the yanks won’t win 90+ games this year.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 8, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Yankee fans are simply unused to Boston making big moves while the Yankees try for a big name and get outbid. And yeah, they have an irrational hatred of Joba.

        Anyway, well argued. And I have the Yankees at about 92 wins, assuming they make a couple Jones-like signings, and a trade or acquisition of a starter or two between now and the deadline. Which is a pretty safe assumption. If they go through the whole season with their current roster, they’re probably a bit below 90 wins.

        Of course, I also have the Rays in the 85-90 win range, and I think they could well use the $6 million from Garza to get a good DH and reliever and add a win or three.

      • yankeesfanlen - Jan 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        I certainly do think the Universe is going to win 95+ games this year. My Crawford comment comes as putting in a solid on-base and base stealing potential with Gardner as 4th outfielder, not some cheap-o that we’ve had in this position (as well as DH) for some years.
        As for THE FAT TOAD, the best you can come up with is cheap and serviceable. So is a 1998 Buick, and since I always viewed him as nothing more than this, particularly with the Class of ’08 including Kennedy and Hughes not functioning to any benefit at the time, I’m more than tired of him screwing up 75% of the (limited) games he allowed into.
        Hughes was worth waiting for, THE FAT TOAD can go to browner pastures.

      • bighitterthelama - Jan 8, 2011 at 3:17 PM

        Interesting that you think Hughes was worth waiting for. Look at the comparison of Phil Huges in 2010 vs. Joba’s career as a starter (via Pinstriped Bible):

        Joba: 4.18 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 2.04 K/BB, 1.48 WHIP, .322 BABIP
        Phil: 4.19 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 2.52 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP, .275 BABIP

        Adjusting for BABiP would lower Joba’s comparable WHIP make him as good a choice as a starter, not just as a middle relief specialist. Of course, you are free to explain that Hughes is just a ’98 Buick too, but I don’t think that is what you were getting at. It’s a moot point anyway, since Cashman seems resigned to Joba in the pen. Id love to see them throw him back it the mix for a rotation spot and then see how the first 2 months play out.

        The emotion around Joba (positive and negative) is lots of fun and makes for great banter in the offseason, but it distracts from his actual value.

      • yankeesfanlen - Jan 8, 2011 at 3:30 PM

        The first two months are probably going to be tough enough without (gasp) THE FAT TOAD as a starter. The stats are interesting, but when the game is being played there’s always a misplaced walk that does the ol’boy in.
        Watching THE FAT TOAD is excruiating to me- his head goes in every nook and cranny of the cathedral except where the batter is. Little League fist pumps don’t do much for me either. So Hughes gets style points as well.
        If we wanted Dallas Braden, we could HAVE him. Maybe we do- AJ.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 8, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        Your memory is colored by your obvious bias against “the fat toad”. He messed up 75% of the games he was in? Actually, he didn’t allow any runs in 71% of his outings.

        The point is that Joba’s better than Yankee fans seem to think, and he’s cheap. And farther, if he’s as bad as you think, you ain’t getting anything in return for him. You aren’t going to trade your middle reliever and lower tier prospects to get anything of value.

        Actually, the real point is that just because Andruw Jones’ upgrade over Thames isn’t going to bring the Yankees a championship on its own doesn’t mean it wouldn’t still be a good move, and has nothing to do with any of the moves the Yankees missed out on.

      • yankeesfanlen - Jan 8, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Ari- I know we can’t revise history and Crawford is duly signed and it’s coulda-woulda-shoulda now. As you can see as well the Crawford-Gardner combo (and I think Gardner is progressing well, he may be even better in a revised batting order) is better than a rent-a-fourth-outfielder that we’ve been doing for years now. I stand by my comment from the other day- bring Johnny back to do it and mix in DHing when Grumpy has to (sigh) catch.
        Further, I retain the right to my opinion that THE FAT TOAD, as it currently stands, will not have a long and industrious career, and I refuse to believe that mis-management has caused his problems. If we’re stuck with him as reliever, so be it, I will open a libation during his tenure in the sixth and seventh innings and hope that this too will pass. Also will reserve the right to throw a fit if he starts. To me, his stats speak of nothing more than an “artful dodger”.
        Naturally this discourse is only representative of my position as an abnoxious Yankee fan.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        And let’s not forget – the FAT TOAD attracts bugs. That’s probably a good part of why he’s fat.

    • bigharold - Jan 8, 2011 at 7:10 PM

      “…I find it inexplicable that we didn’t get Crawford. Historically, we would have swept in and just done the deal.”

      Where is the logic of coughing up a huge contract to fill a void that doesn’t exist by replacing a player, Gardner, with an incrementally better player of the exact same type? Aside from the fact that Gardner is slightly younger, there are two significant differences between Gardner and Crawford, 1. Crawford is far more expensive for years to come and 2. Crawford will give you about 10-15 more Hrs per year. But, nobody is signing Crawford as a HR hitter.

      Since the Yankees already have enough power hitters is Crawford really worth the difference? No, and it’s not even close.

      What I find inexplicable is why Yankee fans or haters think the Yankees missed out by not signing Crawford. There is no reason or logic supporting that notion.

    • mtner77 - Jan 9, 2011 at 4:35 AM

      “THE FAT TOAD must go and now we’re getting to the point where the FA market is exhausted, so trades have to be made. Let’s find some unsuspecting GM to lift this burden.”

      Good luck on that one. You think some GM will trade you a serious SP for…. Jobo? Funny stuff!

      (Why do Yankees’ fans think that other teams will give up real value for their castoffs?)

      Aww, but look at the bright side Lenny. You still have “Beep-Beep-the-Jete” at three times his worth.

      I have no interest in the Sox-Yankees feud. (Like most, I seriously dislike BOTH). But some poster’s here have tried to say the Yankees’ rotation (as it stands) is better?? Delusional. (And that is IF Pettitte comes back. If he doesn’t? Ut-oh).

      Like most MLB fans, from teams with little money, and even less hope, I have enjoyed this off-season. To watch the “storied franchise” being, well, out Yankee’d… Absolutely priceless.

  6. Kevin S. - Jan 8, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    The only think that signing Crawford would have done was allowed Cashman the flexibility to trade Gardner or Granderson for a 2nd or 3rd starter. Of course, a fit might not have been available (just because, for example, Granderson-for-Cain is a fair trade doesn’t mean the Giants would want to do it). Making Gardner a fourth outfielder is a complete waste of resources.

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