Saturday, November 16, 2013
Ever since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series, they have been in a decline. In 2010, they lost in the American League Championship Series; in 2011, they lost in the American League Division Series; and in 2012, they lost in the American League Championship Series to the Detroit Tigers, who were then swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. This past year, of course, they had a respectable 85-77 record—but the team allowed 21 more runs than it scored: 671-650. This was the first time since 1992 that the Yankees had a negative run differential.
Attendance at Yankee Stadium has been declining, along with the team’s record. In 2010, total attendance at Yankee Stadium was 3,765,807, an average of 46,491 per game. In 2013, attendance was just 3,279,589, a loss of almost half a million, and the average attendance was 40,489 per game.
Television ratings for Yankee games are also in decline. Just six years ago, in 2007, the television audience for the average Yankee game reached 454,000. Last year, the television audience for a Yankee game was just 244,000, a decline of more than 100,000 from the 2012 season and of more than 200,000 viewers, well over 40 percent, in only a half-dozen years. Lower ratings and lower attendance have real consequences for the team’s overall revenues.
More important, fewer fans means fewer paying customers on the Metro North trains that now take fans to Yankee Stadium from the northern suburbs. The new Metro North station at Yankee Stadium has been a striking success, well worth the public investment of $91 million; suburban fans can drink their beer without worrying about driving home after baseball games or finding their way to the parking lots surrounding the stadium or driving home tipsy after a game.
How can this be true if Hal Steinbrenner has committed to fielding a championship-caliber team?
The Yankees are going to save some money by getting under the salary cap. They’re going to lose much more money than that in revenue and in the value of the franchise when they put a 70 win team on the field to get under the salary cap. But fret not, because they have made procedural changes that will turn their fallow farm system into a player development machine that will lead them to the promised land.
Friday, November 15, 2013
“We’ve just got to start fixing the problems,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got to start filling the holes, one by one, and we’ll cross each bridge as they come.”
He added: “We will have a fair amount of money to spend to try to fill the holes, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Steinbrenner admitted his dual pursuits — rebuilding an 85-win disappointment into a playoff contender while lowering the payroll beneath the $189 million luxury-tax threshold — was “difficult,” but they will press on. The organization intends to open negotiations with the representatives for second baseman Robinson Cano, their highest-priority target and the priciest player available.
In the process, Steinbrenner refused to elevate Cano’s status as higher than his other issues. The Yankees hope to bolster their starting rotation, upgrade their catching situation, fortify the left side of their infield and possibly find a high-profile right fielder like Carlos Beltran or Shin-Soo Choo.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
ORLANDO, FLA. – Major League Baseball is withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason.
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said Japanese officials had not acted quickly enough on MLB’s proposal for a new agreement and that a new proposal will be forwarded.
From what I’ve read, the new proposal was stupid anyway. But for those of us that were hoping to see Tanaka in pinstripes, don’t count on it now.
Gammons: Yankees and Brendan Ryan Have a Deal Set Pending a Physical
We all figured that bringing Brendan Ryan back made a whole lot of sense (he is relatively cheap and it was awesome to see such an amazing defender at shortstop, making him excellent Jeter insurance at short) and Peter Gammons is now reporting that the Yankees have had a deal set in place with Ryan for a while now and it is only pending a physical for Ryan since he had minor surgery recently.
Here is Gammons’ tweet on the topic (where he somehow managed to spell both Ryan’s first and last name wrong).
ORLANDO — Baseball’s offseason tends to move at a slow, deliberate pace, but the Yankees are hoping to speed things up in a major way.
The Yankees are “moving fast” in an attempt to sign both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, according to a source, hoping to make a preemptive strike with a “full-court press” to get both players secured before a major market develops for the pair of free agents.
In Beltran’s case, they may already be too late.
At least six teams have already expressed serious interest in Beltran, who turns 37 in April. The Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox appear to be the frontrunners, although the Royals, Indians and Mariners are also making a push for the eight-time All-Star.
According to a Texas source, the Rangers are in the process of scheduling a trip for Beltran to visit Dallas, though two other teams are believed to be doing the same for the outfielder.
Beltran is the Yankees’ top outfield target as they look to upgrade from the Ichiro Suzuki/Vernon Wells combination that would currently play right field. A source said the Yankees have “no interest” in either Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury — both Scott Boras clients — as each is seeking a deal of at least five years.
The Yankees would like to sign Beltran to a two-year deal, but they might be forced to give him a third year based on the number of interested teams.
This is shaping up to be the best offseason since the 2003-2004 version!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
ORLANDO — Robinson Cano has shown his true stripes to Brian Cashman, and they’re not pinstripes.
As the Yankees attempt to bring back the free agent second baseman, the GM knows loyalty to the team he has played for his entire career won’t be a major factor in his decision.
“He loves the money,” Cashman said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think we’ll have a substantial offer. Somebody might come in and have a much more substantial offer. It’s just the way it works.”
Cashman expects Cano to choose the highest bidder, without giving the Yankees any home team discount. Of course, the highest bidder very well could be the Bombers.
I don’t begrudge Cano going for his payday. I hope he remains a Yankee, but not if it’s going to be an obscene overpay. If he’s able to get something better than 7 years or so from some other team, best of luck to him. I don’t think I’d go past that.
If Cano does leave, I don’t think the Yankees can realistically contend in 2014. Unfortunately, they’ll probably have signed Carlos Beltran for five years with five player options for his ages 42-46 seasons by the time Cano signs with the Dodgers…
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
ORLANDO—The Yankees breathed a collective sigh of relief when outfielder Curtis Granderson rejected their $14.1 million qualifying offer, and will now commence with their plan to sign an even bigger big-time outfielder to replace him.
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are the top two stars they seek, targets 1 and 1A, according to a person familiar with their thinking, with Jacoby Ellsbury a hair behind the other two stars.
Choo and Beltran appear very popular on a market with fairly limited power. The Yankees also like top power-hitting catcher Brian McCann, on whom they are bidding.
The Yankees already have moved on from Granderson, who they believe struck out too much. The crosstown Mets have said they may be interested in Granderson, who is believed to have some interest in playing in his hometown of Chicago.
I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what the Yankees could do this offseason to get back into the division title picture and it came to me. They should sign a 37 year old outfielder with bad knees and give up the highest draft pick they would have had since 2005 while doing it.
In an off-season filled with uncertainty, the Yankees passed the first phase with no surprises as three players turned down qualifying offers from the team. The Yankees had made the offers — set by Major League Baseball at $14.1 million — to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda.
The 10 other Major League free agents who were given offers by their teams also declined them, and they are free to sign elsewhere.
“No surprises,” General Manager Brian Cashman said at the general managers’ meetings in Orlando, Fla. “When we made the qualifying offers, we did not expect anyone to accept.”
Any of the three could still re-sign with the Yankees, but if they sign with other teams, the Yankees would receive a draft pick as compensation. And if the Yankees sign any of the other 10 who declined offers, they must surrender a draft pick to the player’s former team.
No surprise, although I thought there was an outside chance Granderson would accept. Of the three, the only one I think is likely to be back next year is Cano. Granderson probably ends up with the White Sox, and Kuroda is probably going to want to go to either a contender (ie, not the Yankees) or back to Japan. If the latter happens, the Yankees do not get a pick for him.
Cano is probably the first order of business, but I don’t see any urgency to sign on his part. If the Yankees have given up on their self-imposed payroll limit for 2014, they could start poking around at other players to fill some of their holes, but I don’t think they have, which means their hands are going to be constrained by Cano as well as the Alex Rodriguez situation which should eventually be settled by 2015.
In other words, I’m not expecting much noise over the next few weeks. But I’m sure they’ll be leaking about how interested they are in all the good players that are out there to appease a fan base that is rapidly losing interest in the team.
Monday, November 11, 2013
TERMINAL C, Newark International Airport – The versatility of Stephen Drew makes him appealing to the Yankees. A life-long shortstop, he also possesses the ability to play third base. The Yankees desire fortification at both positions.
The fate of Alex Rodriguez will not be decided until December, if not later, and the team must develop contingency plans for his potential season-long absence. The team also seeks a more dependable backup for Derek Jeter, in addition to a long-term successor. Their attempt to fulfill these obligations for 2013 backfired when Kevin Youkilis received $12 million to play 28 games and Eduardo Nunez missed months with a lingering oblique strain.
On Monday afternoon, Drew is expected to reject the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox. So he could, in theory, sign with the Yankees as a hybrid, both the stop-gap and the successor: Drew would spend 2014 as the team’s third baseman. If Rodriguez returns in 2015 and Jeter segues into the role of designated hitter (or retires), the team would be set with a shortstop solution.
It is an idyllic scenario. It is also far-fetched, based on conversations with people around the game. Drew does not intend to shape his free agency based on the whims of one organization, marketing himself as a Swiss Army Knife able to fill multiple roles on a roster. Instead, his agent Scott Boras will promote him as the best shortstop in a seller’s market.
I’m not crazy about the idea of signing Drew anyway, so yeah, let’s hope it’s far-fetched. Is Drew likely better than what the Yankees are going to get out of SS/3B right now? Yeah. Is he worth what he’ll likely command on the open market? Probably not.
Friday, November 8, 2013
While David Robertson is clearly the top incumbent candidate to replace the retired Mariano Rivera, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t just handing him the job this winter.
“We haven’t anointed anybody the closer, so I don’t know,” Cashman said. “I know Robertson wants it. But we’ll see how the winter shakes out and how the competition in spring training takes place.
“We’re going to look at everybody and anything and see where the winter takes us. The bottom line is, we have to get a collection of talent to bring to spring training. The cream rises to the top, and we have to find as much cream as possible.”
With all of the questions the Yankees have to address Robinson Cano, the rotation, catching, to name a few closer might not be at the top of the list with a potentially effective option in Robertson already in house.
Still, the uncertainty is all part of the messy business of replacing an icon once all the emotional farewells are over. The Yanks, in fact, have already made inquiries about elite relievers.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Yankees were one of five teams to express interest in Grant Balfour, the demonstrative Oakland closer who had a 2.59 ERA last season and was 38-for-41 in save opportunities. Balfour, who will be 36 in December, averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked 3.88 per nine.
If the Yankees are going to give up on the $189M payroll, then I’d be ok with them looking at adding a closer type on a short-term contract, like Balfour, who I thought would have been a better value signing than Rafael Soriano way back when. But if they aren’t giving up on tying their own hands and costing themselves hundreds of millions of dollars to save thirty million or so, it makes zero sense.
In other words, I’d expect them to keep their goal of a $189M payroll while blowing way more money than they should on a proven closer.
It’s time for the first set of my 2014 CAIRO MLB projections.
They can be downloaded via this link.
I expect there to be some errors in here so let me know if you see anything that looks off.
Things like pitcher wins, losses and saves and hitter runs and RBI are based on a weighted average of the last four years and will change as roles and teams change so keep that in mind. At some point I’ll add projected platoon splits as well. I’ll also be adjusting playing time and rosters as the offseason unfolds so expect several updates as we move towards spring training.