They’re playing great baseball and everything, but the Yankees have to be worried about their health at some point, no? Three of the core four, as all the cool kids are calling them, have gone down: Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and now Andy Pettitte, all sidelined with injuries. Now those cool kids are calling them the “sore four.” Wait, that’s not cool. That’s kind of lame.
But the point is taken: three-fourths of the crew that are currently gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated for their unprecedented resilience are ailing. They’re getting Rivera and maybe even Posada back in time for the Red
Sox series this weekend. Pettitte is more of a concern given that, as
Buster Olney wrote this morning, “inflammation” is not really a
diagnosis. It’s a symptom, and it can mean any number of things, some of
which could be serious.
In light of all of this, the question has to be asked: isn’t it funny how all the “core four” fans like to pretend that Andy Pettitte never played for Houston?
Wait, that’s not the right question. The right question is: can the Yankees deal with these injuries and still keep up with a Rays team that seems to be unstoppable?
So far so good, as Francisco Cervelli has filled in nicely for Posada and Joba Chamberlain could close for a lot of teams. Likewise, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Robbie Cano and Derek Jeter are all playing great baseball. It’s a team with so many weapons that one or two can go down and things can be OK. But it’s certainly not ideal. Especially Pettitte’s injury, because there isn’t some easy answer for the rotation if he’s down for long.
Winning a championship is not simply a matter of writing checks. You need luck and above all else you need health. The Yankees have had those two things in abundance for the past 15 years. If it doesn’t hold up they can forget repeating.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.