Yanks Take Care of Business at Winter Meetings

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Yanks Take Care of Business at Winter Meetings
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This year's winter meetings seemed to be a lot more active than last year's, didn't they?

This may have had a lot to do with its location.

In 2008, the event was held in Vegas. This surely presently all sorts of obstacles in terms of getting actual work done.

I'm not sure Scott Boras ever ducked out of Spearmint Rhino long enough to hold his annual messianic press conference. And then there were the rumors about the Hendricks Brothers, a young redhead, and a snapper fish.

I don't even want to know what Brian Cashman did to try to satiate his bottomless secular appetite.

This year, the meetings shifted from Las Vegas to Indianapolis, which, in terms of a scenery change, is the equivalent of moving from...well...Las Vegas to Indianapolis.

I have nothing against Indianapolis, mind you. It's the midwest's third-largest city after all (thanks Wikipedia !), not to mention the humble host of Star Wars Celebration convention II and III.

And don't forget about the Indy 500 , which (I believe) is a bi-annual competitive eating contest. Go Kobayashi!

ANYWAY, what I'm trying to say is that there wasn't much to do in Indianapolis this week other than sign or trade professional baseball players.

And that's exactly what your New York Yankees did.

Last year, the Yankees made the biggest splash of the Vegas meetings when they signed CC Sabathia. The Yanks were in the thick of things again this year.

Let's take a closer look at what Bomber business went down this week in beautiful Manningapolis.

I'll break it down in order of importance:

 

Signed Free Agent LHP Andy Pettitte To One-Year, $11.75 Million Deal

Who knows where the Yankees would've been if Pettitte didn't turn back the clock in 2009?

Last winter, New York essentially brought back the veteran as a $5 million insurance policy. But when Joba Chamberlain struggled and Chien-Ming Wang became a ghoulish spectacle, Pettitte was asked to be much more. By the time the postseason concluded, the 37-year-old had delivered his club 18 wins, including the clinchers in the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

That is what you call "stepping up".

The starting rotation remains a question mark, particularly in the back end, but re-signing Pettitte was a big piece of the puzzle. Bringing back the staff security blanket was an essential move for Cashman.

 

Detroit Tigers Traded RHP Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks; New York Yankees Traded RHP Ian Kennedy to Arizona Diamondbacks; Arizona Diamondbacks Traded Daniel Schlereth and RHP Max Scherzer to Detroit Tigers; New York Yankees Traded CF Austin Jackson and LHP Phil Coke to Detroit Tigers and Detroit Tigers traded CF Curtis Granderson to New York Yankees.

To simplify the clutter above, let's just call this "The Granderson Trade", or perhaps "The Day Melky's Glow Sticks Died".

The deal makes sense for all three teams. The outfield was a relative weak point for the Yankees in 2009, shoddy corner defense sandwiching the high-effort, middling production tandem of Melky and Brett Gardner in center.

The Tigers, meanwhile, had made it clear they were looking to get younger and cut payroll. The Yankees made a natural dancing partner.

I don't really care what the hell the Diamondbacks do, but Edwin Jackson is tall and throws fast.

The biggest departure for the Yankees is Jackson, which the club had groomed as its next big homegrown talent. He had a solid season with Triple-A Scranton, batting .300 with four homers, 65 RBI, and 24 steals in 504 at-bats.

I wish the best to Kennedy, a once promising prospect who can't seem to get upright. Coke, meanwhile, is the type of middle reliever who is always two bad months away from a weekend arc-ball league. He'll always have that ring, though.

I was once a huge Granderson guy, but his numbers the past two seasons do scare me. His batting average in 2009 was a whopping 53 points below his '07 mark (.302 to .249), while his splits against left-handers sunk 76 points from '08 to '09 (.259 to .183).

Is it weird that Granderson, 28, would go into a two-year decline in what are typically known as a player's prime seasons? Well...yeah. But Jim Leyland also smoked enough cigarettes in that time to make Nat King Cole blush, so maybe we'll just mark this off as a second-hand smoke issue.

Bottom line here is that taking on Granderson is well worth the risk. The Yankees acquired a dynamic former All-Star who can hit for power, steal bases, and can pick it in center. That's a rare commodity in this game.

Señor Cashman is on fire.

 

Traded Brian Bruney to Washington Nationals for Jamie Hoffmann

Let's give a big River & Sunset send-off to Mr. Bruney, whose taken his Nu-Metal-inspired tattoos and bad haircuts to Obamaland.

This is good news for the 27-year-old, who will now enjoy the benefit of disappointing just 12,000 home fans instead of his usual 46,000.

Bruney was always a curious case. All summer, I tried to convince my dad that the right-hander was one mechanical adjustment away from being a lockdown setup man. But Bruney never could get it together, unable to find consistency after elbow soreness led to back-to-back early trips to the DL. When Phil Hughes emerged as the Eighth-Inning Guy, Bruney disappeared faster than a latter-day Kelsey Grammer sitcom.

Call me stubborn, but I still think Bruney has the ability to succeed at the big league level. I wouldn't be surprised to see him flourish with the heinous Nationals, becoming a under-the-radar holds machine for your fantasy team in 2010.

It's equally possible, however, that he'll be what he's always been, an up-and-down middle reliever with durability issues. You can't lose to much sleep cutting ties with that.

Hoffmann – who was in the Dodgers' organization – was the first pick of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. He's said to be a right-handed outfielder who can hit lefties. The Yankees could use one of those, and Cashman said Hoffmann will get a chance to break camp with the parent club.

I may try to Willie "Mays" Hayes it here and grab that spot in Tampa myself. Unfortunately, I can't hit righties or lefties. Big character guy though.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus .

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