Friday, February 20, 2015
There was a time, between his Tampa tent revival and Biogenesis, when Yankees voices were not drilling down into Alex Rodriguez’s performance enhanced past. When it came to pinstriped cheaters, like Andy Pettitte and Jason (The Giambalco) Giambi, this was also standard operating procedure.
This is not to say the performance-enhancing stylings of these players were never mentioned. They were — briefly, before voices moved on to real baseball matters. There was every reason to believe orders, er, suggestions about ignoring, er, dealing with Yankees PED issues were passed directly down to the broadcast booths from the Yankees’ high command.
What little common sense we have tells us this is all about to change. Does anyone really believe Yankee poohbahs, like prez Randy Levine, whom Team A-Rod figuratively defecated on, are going to mind if any Bombers broadcasters direct verbal heat at Rodriguez?
And if you can cleverly eviscerate A-Rod in the process, you too may be next in line for a Monument Park ceremony.
Balanced commentary coming out of the booths concerning A-Rod will be brief and fleeting. Your Yankees world has been officially turned upside down. Suzyn (Ma Pinstripe) Waldman is torn. She knows the stain on Rodriguez’s career is indelible.
“But I find him impossible to dislike,” Waldman, the Yankees radio analyst, told me during a telephone conversation. “I’m not defending him. I think what he did was stupid more than anything else. I know he’s lied. He’s made every wrong decision. He says things and does things and you just want to say ‘Why?’ I also know you can’t go wrong for dumping on Alex. This is what its become. What’s he supposed to do?”
Suzyn, let me introduce you to Mel Hall.
Seriously, I don’t think Rodriguez is an evil person. He may be an unusual person and I think he’s done some stupid things and made some very bad decisions. In my opinion that doesn’t warrant the level of venom he has received and likely will receive over the rest of his time in the spotlight.
Do I wish the Yankees were not on the hook for the contract that they signed him to? Yeah. It was a terrible contract the moment it was signed, even without any knowledge of Rodriguez’s PED use. But it did bring us 2009, and it’s not to blame for the rest of the team being in the shape they are in now. We can blame the dummies that signed that contract for that.
I have no idea if Rodriguez will ever have another regular season PA as a Yankee. I am certain that the Yankees would do everything legally possible to avoid that from happening if they could recoup the sunk cost that they likely assess Rodriguez as right now. And I’m sure Rodriguez is aware of that, and for that reason I am sympathetic to him trying to fight back against that happening. I also think some lawyers took advantage of that and gave him horrific legal advice to swindle him out of millions of dollars, and as a desperate person he fell for it. Again, that doesn’t make him the devil incarnate in my opinion.
I’m rooting for Rodriguez and I’m not really 100% sure why. I guess part of it is the common theme in the prior thread that he’s not as bad as MLB and the Yankees. Part of it is the absurdity of him somehow becoming an underdog of sorts. And I’m sure a large part of it is because watching him in 2005 and 2007 and 2009 was watching true greatness on the field and I’d love to see a few more glimpses of that before he goes.
I have no problem with people who feel Rodriguez is scum and who wish he would go away forever.
But I am not one of those people.
In other news.
“This offseason, I got to go back to working out and getting strong,” Teixeira told reporters, including the Times-Tribune. “That’s who I am. I’m a big, power-hitting first baseman and I have to be strong. Last year I wasn’t.”
TAMPA — Nothing the Yankees saw in a second private viewing of Yoan Moncada at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday evening changed their mind about his talent.
Nevertheless, if the price tag is as high as some people believe, the Yankees likely will pass on the 19-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman from Cuba.
“It would be a surprise if he got $40 [million] to $50 million,’’ said an executive with a team not interested in Moncada.
To me this reads as much as a negotiating ploy as anything. But there is a certain price point where Moncada would not be a good investment. I just don’t know what that is.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Yankees announced today that they have come to terms with RHP Jared Burton on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Burton, 33, had spent the last three seasons with Minnesota, where he was 3-5 with a 4.36 ERA and three saves in 68 relief appearances in 2014. For his major league career, Burton is 18-19 with a 3.44 ERA and 10 saves in 367 relief outings over eight seasons with the Twins and Reds.
Burton had an excellent 2012 season out of the bullpen after doing little up until that point in his career and followed that with a decent 2013. But his 2014 was bad enough that the Twins did not pick up his 2015 option. He will play next season at 34, so I doubt he makes it on to the roster to start the season and is more likely to serve as organizational fodder. Sort of like the similar Scott Baker signing (although Baker had more sustained success in the Majors).
CLEVELAND—Jason Giambi spent this offseason weighing whether to step away from baseball after a Major League career that spanned two decades. The veteran slugger maintained a media silence throughout the winter months, choosing to consider the decision in private with his family.
On Monday, the 44-year-old Giambi took the final step in a storied career, announcing his retirement from the game of baseball. The former designated hitter and first baseman had stints with the A’s, Yankees, Rockies and Indians, evolving from an MVP-caliber slugger in his prime to a clubhouse leader and bench player in his final two seasons in Cleveland.
Giambi was one of the more interesting players I’ve had the opportunity to write about during my time blogging. One of my favorite posts was this one on the last version of this site, where I wondered if Giambi was cooked. It was a reasonable question at the time, considering he was hitting .109/.288/.283 on the day it was posted. He hit .262/.383/.527 with 30 HRs in 506 PA over the remainder of that season.
It wasn’t the first time Giambi had made a Lazarus-like return from the dead. In 2005 he was hitting .198/.381/.321 on May 9 and there was talk about sending him to the minors. My memory says he was benched for a few days to work on his swing and perhaps to clear his head, then returned to the lineup in a road series against Oakland. He hit a go-ahead double in the seventh inning against lefty Ricardo Rincon in the May 15 game of that series and then hit .290/.456/.591 over the final 430 PA of 2005.
2008 was his last really useful season, and although he hung on for another six seasons he was replacement level during that stretch. He probably won’t get a Hall of Fame vote because of the PED taint and his relative lack of counting stats, but his performance from 1999-2002 (OPS+ of 177, bWAR of 29.9 and a slash line of 326/.452/.612) was sublime.
Giambi made blogging easier, because he was engrossing. Even if you didn’t like Giambi, which a lot of Yankee fans didn’t, he was compelling. In hindsight his contract wasn’t the disaster a lot of people expected as the Yankees paid him $120M and got 22 bWAR out it, which works out to about $5.5M per WAR.
I always wished that Giambi and Mike Mussina would have had a chance to play on the 2009 World Series winning Yankees but it wasn’t meant to be. But Giambi was a very entertaining player to watch in pinstripes and I’ll remember his career with fondness.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Andy Pettitte will have his No. 46 retired by the New York Yankees and receive a plaque in Monument Park, a source confirmed to ESPN.com.
Pettitte will become the 18th member of the Yankees to have his number retired. Pettitte was known for his big-game performance, helping the Yankees win five championships during his career.
The news of the honor was first tweeted by Pettitte’s son, Josh. The Yankees are also likely to retire Bernie Williams’ No. 51 and Jorge Posada’s No. 20 in the future, according to a source.
Good for Pettitte. He deserves the honor (plus, let’s be honest, it was unlikely people were going to choose #46 anyways, even if it wasn’t officially retired).
I imagine that the Yankees will parcel these things out depending on how attendance is doing.
Friday, February 13, 2015
The Yankees couldn’t help having that conversation with me, because I barged in on the middle of it. The week before my first day, a group lunch at Sheppard’s Place, the cafeteria attached to the press box, had led to an exciting discovery. Half the front office sat together and spitballed: director of pro scouting Billy Eppler, director of quantitative analysis Michael Fishman, pro scouting manager Will Kuntz, baseball operations assistant Steve Martone, and Alex Rubin, an intern who had started the previous season.
The night before, backup catcher Jose Molina had guided Phil Hughes through six scoreless innings in Detroit, and the conversation turned to Molina’s defensive edge over regular starter Jorge Posada, who often frustrated observers by catching pitches so awkwardly that he cost his pitchers strikes. Could it be, someone wondered, that the gulf between Molina’s and Posada’s gloves could make up the difference on offense between one of baseball’s worst-hitting catchers and one of its best? The consensus was that it wasn’t possible, and the group tabled the idea.
But Rubin — who would eventually2 be hired as a full-time analyst before leaving to work for the MTA as a self-described “transportation sabermetrician”3 — had gotten curious. He was on Team Posada, and he wanted to be proven right. After lunch, while he was supposed to be doing data cleanup, he started researching the size of the strike zone with Molina and Posada behind the plate.
I thought this was an interesting read about some of the stuff we aren’t necessarily aware of that teams do behind the scenes. Pitch framing has obviously become more widely discussed, but this takes place in 2009 when it was still relatively un-quantified.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
So there’s hardly a guarantee Eovaldi can duplicate his durability from a year ago, but if he does, the Yankees would like to harness his talent into becoming a better pitcher.
His ERA was significantly higher at home last season than on the road (4.66 to 4.06), which is somewhat surprising considering Marlins Park is typically considered a pitcher’s park. And despite the fact he can flirt with 100 mph on the radar gun, he struck out just 142 batters.
He already has begun working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Eovaldi said his primary focus will be to work on his off-speed pitches.
You know who else flirted with 100 mph? Kyle Farnsworth…
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
1) Luis Severino, RHP, Grade B+/Borderline A-
2) Aaron Judge, OF, Grade B+/Borderline A-
3) Greg Bird, 1B, Grade B+/Borderline B
4) Rob Refsnyder, 2B, Grade B
5) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B
6) Jacob Lindgren, LHP, Grade B
7) Ian Clarkin, LHP, Grade B/Borderline B-
8) Luis Torrens, C, Grade B-/Borderline B
9) Miguel Andujar, 3B, Grade B-
10) Jorge Mateo, SS, Grade B-
11) Tyler Austin, OF, Grade B-/Borderline C+
12) Eric Jagielo, 3B, Grade B-/Borderline C+
13) Domingo German, RHP, Grade C+/Borderline B-
14) Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+
15) Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+
16) Jake Cave, OF, Grade C+
17) Angel Aguilar, SS, Grade C+
18) Alexander Palma, OF, Grade C+
19) Ty Hensley, RHP, Grade C+
20) Austin DeCarr, RHP, Grade C+
While the Yankees farm system is not at the very top of the organization rankings,it has improved over the last couple of years, should continue to improve, and certainly rates as an upper-tier system. The large amount of Grade C+ talent gives depth and since much of that talent is quite young and projectable with potentially higher grades to come, there is a lot to look forward to.
Are things finally looking up? Most of their talent is still a bit too far away, but a few leaps forward in 2015 and this could be one of the top ten farm systems in baseball. That doesn’t really mean much in and of itself, but I think it’s an encouraging trend and points to a team that will be a lot more interesting to follow in the near future.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
TAMPA, Fla.—New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild says offseason reports on Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka’s right elbow have been positive.
“So far he’s felt good,” Rothschild said Monday at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “He’s had a good winter.”
Tanaka is throwing and doing his normal conditioning program in Japan. Signed to a $155 million, seven-year contract in January 2014, Tanaka went 13-5 with a .277 ERA over 20 starts. He missed 2½ months while rehabilitating a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow and returned for two late-September starts. Boston chased him with an eight-run second inning in his finale on Sept. 27.
Tanaka’s .277 ERA has to be one of the most amazing feats in baseball history. That he did it with a shredded elbow is even more awe-inspiring.
I’m not going to say the Yankees’ season hinges on Tanaka’s elbow. He could go 35-0 with a .276 ERA this year and they still might not make the postseason. But a healthy Tanaka is almost imperative for them (in addition to a lot of other stuff) if they are going to get to the 90 or so wins they would need to get into the postseason.