Ibanez, Rivera, Chavez, Burnett and Break

Let’s catch up on various happenings around the Yankees:

A.J. Burnett is gone. It’s not his liberation, it’s ours. Having contemplated this event in these pages for more than a year, I’ve no more to say. We’ll never see the "prospects" involved in the deal again—well, maybe the pitcher—but it doesn’t matter. I keep thinking of "MacArthur Park": "Someone left the cake out in the rain… And I’ll never have that recipe again." Whereas Richard Harris seemed kind of broken up about that, I just don’t care. Strikeouts are important, especially when your inner defense isn’t the rangiest, but effectiveness trumps all.

According to just about everyone who was there, Joe Girardi slipped today and referred to Eric Chavez as being on the team. It should surprise no one that the manager assumes (or knows) he’s going to have the third baseman once a few details are ironed out. There can’t be too many other teams chasing the dregs of Chavez’s career. I don’t mean to perseverate on Chavez the way I did on A.J. Further, I realize that the qualities I have suggested the Yankees need in a reserve third baseman basically require them to acquire another starting third baseman, the kind of player who is always in short supply. Still, the alternative, to give Chavez and Eduardo Nunez a ton of at-bats, is really self-punishing. I sometimes think about the Yankees making a low-risk deal with the Reds for the last year of Scott Rolen’s contract. The Reds have a cheaper/younger option in Juan Francisco...

Mariano Rivera said he has made up his mind about retiring/not retiring. Minds can change, events can force changes. Nolan Ryan was pitching in his age-46 season when his elbow went "twang" (inspiring the famous Judy Garland parody, "Twang Twang Twang Went the Trolley") and that was that. Rivera’s intentions here in February don’t strike me as terribly interesting or relevant. Mike Schmidt intended to play in 1989, but he had to admit he was cooked before the end of May. Tommy John might still be pitching today if Dallas Green hadn’t released him three days earlier. Babe Ruth was going to play for the Braves in 1935 and did… for 28 games. Rivera isn’t in the same decrepit state as some of those other players, but the universe has a way of deciding things for us, or as John Lennon sang just before he was shot to death outside his own apartment building, "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

Raul Ibanez has officially signed. He was clearly the cat the Yankees were after all along. Yankee Stadium will probably do some nice things for him, but that will only be a cosmetic gloss on a player who has had trouble hitting away from Philadelphia the last couple of years. Last week on the radio show, we debated Ibanez vs. Bobby Abreu. Abreu’s power is gone, but he still has some speed and his walks are still there. He would have been a better choice, assuming the Angels were willing to move him in some non-A.J.-flavored deal for nothing much at all.

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