Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey died on Tuesday at the age of 33, according to a tweet by Halsey’s agency, O’Connell Sports.
Halsey spent three years in the Majors from 2004-06, pitching one season each with the Yankees, D-backs and Athletics. The lefty appeared in 88 career games, making 40 starts, and went 14-19 with a 4.84 ERA.
Daaaang, that is messed up. Our condolences to Halsey’s friends and family.
Halsey was involved in two distinctive moments in Yankee history.
1. He was traded along with Javy Vazquez and Dioner Navarro for Randy Johnson after the 2004 season.
2. He started the famous “Jeter dives into the stand” game for the Yankees against Pedro Martinez in July of 2004.
After being traded from Arizona to Oakland, he had two infamous incidents…
1. He gave up Barry Bonds’ 714th home run
2. He went off on the Oakland Athletics when they decided not to call him up from the minors in 2007 to replace an injured starter. He felt that they were about to call him up before they learned he was scheduled to get an MRI exam because they feared that if he were injured while on the Major League roster, they’d have to pay him the Major League Disabled List salary and not the Minor League Disabled List salary. He went off on them in a dramatic rant: “I kept going in and saying, ‘My arm is bothering me, it’s not right,’ and they said, ‘Oh, it’s just biceps tendinitis, you’ll be fine.’ Then they send you down and screw you. I’m grinding it out, trying to be a team guy, and I get fucked . It’s all just a business decision, because if I came up and pitched Tuesday and then had an MRI and had to go on the DL, they’d have to pay me major-league DL money. It’s such a mom-and-pop organization.” He did, indeed, have a problem that required surgery. The Athletics released him after the season.
Reinstated New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez admitted to use of performance-enhancing drugs during a meeting with the Drug Enforcement Administration in January, according to a report from the Miami Herald.
Two sources confirmed details of the Herald’s report to ESPN.
The Herald, citing a written “report of investigation,” says Rodriguez told the DEA that he paid Biogenesis doctor Anthony Bosch for testosterone cream, testosterone gummies and HGH injections. According to the report, one such injection took place in the men’s room of a Miami nightclub.
“Rodriguez injected the HGH into his stomach,” the DEA report stated, according to the newspaper. “Rodriguez said Bosch told him the HGH would help with sleep, weight, hair growth, eyesight and muscle recovery.”
According to the report, Rodriguez was also trained in tricks to beat a urine test.
“Bosch advised him to only use mid-stream urine for MLB drug testing,” the DEA report stated, according to the newspaper. “Bosch told Rodriguez not to use the beginning or the end urine stream.”
This marks the first time Rodriguez has admitted to using PEDs between late 2010 and 2012. In 2009, the Yankees third baseman admitted to using PEDs while with the Texas Rangers in 2001.
So, A-Rod just admitted to doing the thing that he had already been suspended a year for doing? I know we have to keep the news cycle going, but was there a single person around who did not think A-Rod used steroids in 2010-2012? His whole case seemed to revolve less around “I am innocent of this claim” and more around “You don’t have nearly enough proof to ‘convict’ me.” And after they ‘convicted’ him anyways, he decided to help the DEA in their case against his cousin after his cousin decided to blackmail him for $900,000 (is it too difficult to write $900,000? Why do all the headlines involving the blackmail say “a million dollars?”) using information that turned out to not mattter since A-Rod got ‘convicted’ even without it going public.
So sure, I guess any news is news, but this really doesn’t seem to change the narrative much.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Put the Panda heads away, Yankees fans; Pablo Sandoval isn’t coming to the Bronx. And you can add Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields to that list while you’re at it.
According to a source, the Yankees have no plans to pursue either Scherzer or Lester, the top two free agents on the market this winter. Shields, the third-best free-agent starter, is also off the Bombers’ radar, as is Sandoval, the Giants’ postseason hero who was given a $15.3 million qualifying offer by San Francisco before Monday’s deadline.
Instead, the Yankees are interested in bringing back two of their own, free agents Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, neither of whom was eligible to receive a qualifying offer after being traded to the Bronx this past July. A source said the Yankees would engage the pair aggressively in an attempt to lock them up.
In many ways, I think that this is very much the smart thing to do, especially as it would assure that the Yankees would have a first round draft pick. The Yankees’ second half record was 37-31 after finishing the first half with a .500 record at 47-47. That suggests that the additions the Yankees made in the second half changed the team fairly noticeably. And that record was produced without the services of Mashiro Tanaka, so it is not even like you can say, “Yeah, but if Tanaka gets hurt they’re screwed.” So I think just simply re-signing all of their own free agents would put the Yankees into contention next season.
However, that’s the rub - this current plan does not sound like they plan on re-signing two notable free agents from their current squad - neither Hiroki Kuroda nor David Robertson, which would mean that they’re relying on CC Sabathia and no injuries to Tanaka or Pineda (and, I guess, a return to health by Ivan Nova eventually) for the rotation to continue to be strong and relying on…I really don’t know who for the bullpen to continue to be strong. Maybe they plan on signing Andrew Miller to replace Robertson? I don’t know, but I think that they need at least one more starter on top of McCarthy (whether it be Kuroda or Jon Lester, who would not cost the Yankees a first round draft pick) and I think they need one more reliever. I’d prefer Lester and Robertson. Otherwise, I’m okay with going into next season with the same offense as last season (just with A-Rod DH-ing, Beltran playing right field, Drew playing short, Headley playing third, Prado playing second and Chris Young returning as a fourth outfielder who will inevitably play every day at times). I think that is a contending team. Just a full season of Prado and Headley alone will help.
Monday, November 3, 2014
The Yankees may check in on World Series hero Pablo Sandoval, but with his asking price over $100 million, they are focusing on bringing back Chase Headley for third base and have already begun those negotiations.
The Yankees like Sandoval, of course, but they are also quite comfortable with Headley, who played well for them after coming over from San Diego. Headley also found New York much more to his liking than he expected, according to people around the team.
Alex Rodriguez is eligible to return this year, but the pursuit of Headley suggests the Yankees see A-Rod as more of a DH or part-time first baseman, assuming he’s able to make it back after a year off due to his Biogenesis ban.
I approve of this, but boy, I wonder if he’ll just become too expensive for this to be a realistic fit. With Aramis Ramirez surprisingly opting in to his $14 million player option with the Brewers (he had an interesting, if noble, reason for not seeking out a multi-year deal, which is that he A. Loves playing in Milwaukee and B. Isn’t sure if he will want to play after this season but would feel morally obligated to finish out his contract if he signed a two or three year deal), there are only two major third basemen on the open market (three if you count Hanley Ramirez) - Headley and the aforementioned Sandoval. I could see the Yankees and the Red Sox getting into a bit of a bidding war over Headley (or the Giants and the Yankees if Sandoval goes elsewhere), so I hope that they can re-sign him for a reasonable amount of money. I’d be fine with 3 years/$39 million, but I fear he’s going to get more than that. More like the deal that Jhonny Peralta got (4 years/$53 million).
Scouts believe Yoan Moncada could be the best teenage prospect to come from Cuba in years.
Now, Moncada is one step closer to making his Major League dream a reality.
Moncada, 19, a switch-hitting infielder from the city of Cienfuegos, has established residency in Guatemala and is petitioning for free agency with Major League Baseball, according to an industry source. He must still be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can come into a final agreement with a club.
Moncada has a showcase tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12 in Guatemala.
Because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Moncada will be subjected to the international signing guidelines, but it’s unclear if he would be eligible to sign during the 2014-15 international signing period, which started July 2 and ends June 15, 2015, or during the 2015-16 signing period, which starts on July 2, 2015.
Obviously, he sure sounds like he would fit in well with the Yankees, right? The dude is faster than Rusney Castillo and Rusney Castillo is FAST.
An interesting issue, though, is the international free agent rules. Not only will the Yankees (and Red Sox and Rays) be unable to sign him if he doesn’t become eligible before June 15, 2015 (why he wouldn’t become eligible by then is beyond me, though), if they sign him now they will have to pay a 100% tax on whatever bonus they sign him for. Considering the recent increase in how much Cuban free agents are making, that could get crazy expensive. How much can you realistically give him if you have to pay the same amount as a tax? However, his market might be surprisingly light if he comes out this year, since likely it would only be teams that were already over their draft limit that would be willing to sign him, since teams that planned on going over their allotted pool money next year would not be willing to “blow their wad,” so to speak, on Moncada without the ability to ALSO sign a bunch of July 2nd guys, like the Yankees and the Red Sox did. So we might be just talking about the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and one or two other teams (granted, just getting the Yankees and Red Sox involved is typically enough on its own to get a bidding war going).
Should be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
We already knew about the Yankees almost certainly extending David Robertson a qualifying offer, but Jon Heyman has some new news about the possibility of Hiroki Kuroda receiving one, as well:
The Yankees appear to be leaning strongly toward extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer to star closer David Robertson, and while they haven’t made the ultimate call on veteran starter Hiroki Kuroda, they don’t seem especially likely to make him the same offer.
He notes later in the piece…
There is some belief Kuroda could retire, anyway, but it is hard to see anyone signing him to his usual one-year deal for more than $15.3 million and being willing to give up the draft choice. The $15.3 million salary probably isn’t too far above Kuroda’s value, though, making the choice difficult. He was 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA this past year.
I really don’t see much of a downside of offering Kuroda the qualifying offer. If he accepts it, so be it. That’d actually be a pay cut for him and he’s likely worth $15 for one more year. He had his worst year in years and obviously has a major possibility for collapse, seeing as how he’d be 40 years old next season, but he still delivered a 2.4 bWAR and a 3.5 fWAR, so he should be worth the money. And if he turns it down, then he either retires or the Yankees get a pick. Retirement is most likely, but why risk it?
EDITED TO ADD: The Yankees have now officially offered Robertson a qualifying offer and not Kuroda.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
The first significant move of what will be a busy offseason for the Yankees comes Monday when the club is expected to extend a qualifying offer to closer David Robertson.
Robertson will have a week to accept or decline the offer, which this year is $15.3 million. He and 120 others in the sport officially became free agents on Thursday.
No free agent to date has accepted a qualifying offer since its origin in 2012, but Robertson might be tempted to become the first. Although he is likely to command a good deal of attention as a free agent—the righthander is by far the best reliever available—Robertson is unlikely to get a deal with an average annual value approaching the $15.3 million he would make by accepting the offer.
If Robertson, 29, declines the offer, he and the Yankees still could work out some kind of long-term deal. If he signs elsewhere—such as with free-spending Detroit, which has had closer issues in recent seasons—the Yankees will receive a draft pick as compensation.
This has long been seen as a bit of a fait accompli, and it is one of the more interesting decisions among all of the free agents destined to be offered qualifying offers this year. For most players it is a no-brainer to turn down the qualifying offer, from Max Scherzer to Pablo Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez. They’ll all either match or beat their qualifying offer on the open market (or get a long term deal close enough to the qualifying offer for it to be worth their while to turn down the qualifying offer). It remains to be seen if Robertson can do the same. The largest contract ever given to a free agent pitcher (that didn’t re-sign with his own team) was the four-year/$50 million deal Papelbon got a few years back. Robertson is in roughly the same position, results-wise, that Pabelbon was when he signed that deal and Robertson is a year younger. However, contracts for closers have generally trended downward since then. On the other hand, there have been very very few closers on the open market as good and as young as Robertson. There have been a lot of guys in their mid to late 30s. Robertson will play next season at age 30.
So whether he accepts the qualifying offer will depend on whether he thinks he can get a deal similar to Papelbon’s. If he can, then yeah, he should turn down the deal. If he can’t, then $15 million in a single season is such a huge chunk of change, especially for a guy who could just enter the market again next season at 31 years of age.
I suspect that he turns it down and gets a deal similar to Pabelbon’s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he just takes the qualifying offer. The one result that I would be mildly surprised be at this time is Robertson signing a long-term deal with the Yankees. They really seem to be in on Betances as the next closer. So they’ll be happy to go year-to-year on Robertson if he’ll be willing to be “just” the highest paid closer in baseball in annual salary for the next year or two.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
The article is well worth reading on its own, but if you’re just interested in the list itself, here it is:
TOP 10 PROSPECTS
1. Luis Severino, rhp
2. Aaron Judge, of
3. Jorge Mateo, ss
4. Greg Bird, 1b
5. Gary Sanchez, c
6. Ian Clarkin, lhp
7. Rob Refsnyder, 2b/of
8. Jacob Lindgren, lhp
9. Luis Torrens, c
10. Miguel Andujar, 3b
Seems fair to me. Although I would probably flip Judge and Severino.
EDITED TO ADD: And I meant to also note that I found their ranking of Mateo to be a bit too premature. He has crazy upside but so much of that is theoretical at this point.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Cleaning out my locker on my final day at Yankee Stadium was harder than I thought. Not for any emotional reason—although it was definitely a little sad—it’s just that I had never really done it before. Even when we moved from the old Yankee Stadium to the new one before the 2009 season, someone packed everything for us.
So about a week after the season was over I took one last trip to the clubhouse, and spent a long time staring at everything in and around my locker. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do. I gave a bunch of stuff to the clubhouse guys and then just started throwing things out. Someone finally moved the garbage can closer to me so I didn’t have to keep walking over to it.
There were a few special items I knew I wanted to take home: The two bats I used for my last hits in Yankee Stadium and last hit at Fenway Park, the bases the Red Sox gave me from my final game. There were other items, too. But more than any one thing, I know what I’ll miss most of all is the people. So after spending way too long trying to figure out what to take, I just decided to box it all up and ship it to my house in Tampa. I wanted to spend my last afternoon hanging out with the clubhouse guys.
It’s the end of an era, and a damn fine era it was.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
What was Bumgarner good for? Two innings, maybe. If the Giants have a lead and he’s pitching well, maybe three. It was hard to see him doing more than that. It was also easy to see this whole endeavor not working out. His first pitch was 85 and away from the target by a bunch. He fell behind, 2-0. He gave up a hit to the first batter he faced. If the next three hitters doubled, who here would blame Bumgarner?
It was the situation that was a jerk. It was a team with no better choice than a 39-year-old with an ailing hip and floating sinker, with the backup plan being a young pitcher on two day’s rest. A young pitcher who was going to set a postseason record for innings pitched.
Bumgarner threw 34.4% of his team’s World Series innings. That’s pretty damn impressive on its own. It’s even more impressive when you consider the quality of those innings as well.
And thus the 2014 MLB season is officially over. And we can commence all our focus to the Yankees and their enthralling pursuit of a new
scapegoat hitting coach.