The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

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CBS Sports: Yankees’ Ellsbury Says He’s ‘Ready’ For Opening Day
(40 Comments - 4/1/2015 9:42:14 pm) Yankees send Lingren to Minors
(74 Comments - 4/1/2015 8:50:09 am)

NY Post: Defiant CC Sabathia doesn’t give a ‘f–k’ about poor spring outings
(15 Comments - 3/30/2015 4:30:55 pm)

ESPN New York: Masahiro Tanaka to start opener
(38 Comments - 3/29/2015 1:39:04 pm)

Fangraphs: Who Might Adam Warren Be?
(43 Comments - 3/27/2015 8:46:45 pm)

Fox Sports: Jeter’s replacement already earning eye-popping praise from Yankee vets
(17 Comments - 3/26/2015 4:21:57 pm)

NY Post: Betances: My velocity ‘nowhere near where it should be’
(16 Comments - 3/25/2015 8:44:42 pm)

NY Post: Do Yankees have one closer, two closers or none?
(34 Comments - 3/25/2015 10:07:43 am)

Newsday: Jose Pirela suffers concussion after crashing into wall
(13 Comments - 3/24/2015 8:54:12 am)

NYDN: Hal Steinbrenner talks Yankees, Tanaka, Teixeira, Beltran and soccer in the Bronx
(77 Comments - 3/22/2015 9:18:49 pm)


Current Projected

Look what people have to say about the RLYW!

CAIRO just takes the Marcels and changes the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.

Wow, two stupid posts in one day. I think you’ve reached your yearly quota.

I don’t know if any of you current posters were around for that, but if so, I just can’t understand how you can call yourselves Yankee fans. Pathetic quitters is what you sounded like. Of the lame posts I could stand to read, the only person who had any confidence in the Yankees at that point was a (yeesh) Red Sox fan.
Jeter is King

Quite the attitude you have SG. Maybe you should shitcan this blog and join Steve at WasWatching? Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years. Jeez… and some people think Yankee fans are entitled.

This site is best viewed with a monitor.

Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

CBS Sports: Yankees’ Ellsbury Says He’s ‘Ready’ For Opening Day

Ellsbury has no worries about being ready for the April 6 season opener against Toronto.

“I don’t have any issues,” he said, adding: “I’m ready now.”

April Fools!

--Posted at 9:42 am by SG / 40 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 30, 2015 Yankees send Lingren to Minors

After Sunday’s 7-0 victory over the Astros, the Yankees optioned outfielder Ramon Flores to Triple-A and re-assigned seven players—catchers Francisco Arcia and Kyle Higashioka, infielders Cole Figueroa and Jonathan Galvez, outfielder Slade Heathcott, left-hander Jacob Lindgren and right-hander Nick Rumbelow—to Minor League camp.

Lindgren had enjoyed a strong spring, posting a 1.23 ERA in eight appearances spanning 7 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old was a long shot to make the club, with just 25 professional innings under his belt, but Cashman said earlier on Sunday that Lindgren had made a good impression in camp.

“Obviously, we’ve kept him this long for a reason—because he’s continued to open people’s eyes,” Cashman said.

Like a lot of you, I was surprised by the move, as Lindgren has looked so good and when he was drafted, everyone pointed out at the time that it seemed like the plan was to get him to the Majors as soon as he showed that he could pitch there, and he certainly seems to have shown he can pitch in the Majors. Chad Jennings, though, had an interesting take on the situation at LoHud...

I have no idea what the Yankees are going to do about those final two spots in the bullpen. I think Chase Whitley is a favorite for one of those spots, if only because I think they’ll want another long man other than Esmil Rogers (and all the other long relief candidates have been sent away). What I can’t figure out is who the favorites might be for that last spot in the pen. I do think it’s worth noting that Chris Martin and Chasen Shreve are on the 40-man and have options, and I think that final bullpen spot might be very flexible early in the season. For that reason — because the 12th reliever might have to go up and down to Triple-A a few times — I’m not surprised the Yankees steered away from Jacob Lindgren. He’s looked great, but I imagine that once he’s on the big league roster, the Yankees want him to stay there. Why not carry Martin or Shreve out of camp, send him down for a sixth starter in late April, and then think about adding either Lindgren or Andrew Bailey?

I think he’s probably correct that both Lindgren and Bailey (presuming Bailey remains healthy) will return to the Majors, so whoever makes the roster now will likely be a placeholder.

--Posted at 10:56 am by Brian Cronin / 74 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

NY Post: Defiant CC Sabathia doesn’t give a ‘f–k’ about poor spring outings

TAMPA — Nine and two-thirds inning of game work for CC Sabathia this spring, the last five of those coming Saturday at the Yankees’ minor league complex for Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the Pirates’ affiliate Indianapolis. Five home runs allowed.
A reporter asked the veteran lefty how much stock anyone should put in the results we’ve seen so far.

“I don’t give a [expletive] what stock they put in it,” Sabathia said, as the Yankees were losing a 10-2 game to the Orioles at Steinbrenner Field. “It is what it is. I’ve had spring trainings where I’ve given up a lot of runs and went out and had a good season. I’ve had spring trainings like last year where I didn’t give up [any] runs and I gave up [six] in the first game [April 1 at Houston]. So you all can put stock in whatever you want. I’m not really worried about it.”

So this was new: a defiant Sabathia. We haven’t seen much of this before. Nor had we heard him drop an F-bomb in a formal interview.

I haven’t seen any spring training so I have no idea how Sabathia’s stuff looks.  But that’s more important to me than his actual results.

In other pitching news, the Yankees have released Scott Baker and re-assigned Kyle Davies.  They will be missed.

--Posted at 2:26 pm by SG / 15 Comments | - (0)

Friday, March 27, 2015

ESPN New York: Masahiro Tanaka to start opener

It’s official: Masahiro Tanaka will make the Opening Day start for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 6 at Yankee Stadium, ending the six-year Opening Day run of the former ace, CC Sabathia.

The announcement from manager Joe Girardi on Friday morning was hardly a surprise, since it was clear last season that Tanaka had assumed the role of ace from Sabathia, whose effectiveness has been compromised by elbow and knee injuries and a significant loss of fastball velocity over the past two seasons.
. With the exception of Tanaka’s last outing against the New York Mets, he has pitched well this spring, showing virtually no ill effects from the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament he suffered last July that cost him two months of his rookie season.

I admire the fact that this clearly WAS a tough call for Girardi to make, just based on sentimental reasons. He’s a real softie. Let’s hope this is the first of six straight Opening Day starts for Tanaka with the Yankees!

--Posted at 2:37 pm by Brian Cronin / 38 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fangraphs: Who Might Adam Warren Be?

It looks like Adam Warren has a spot in the Yankees rotation going into the season. And, according to our depth charts, he has a chance to hold that spot until at least Ivan Nova‘s mid-season return. Given the health histories of some of the veterans ahead of him, that means he could start all year.

Could he start all year? What might we expect from him, given his arsenal and transition from the bullpen to the rotation?

Warren seems well suited for the transition. He regularly threw five pitches last year, as you might expect from a college starter coming out of a good program like University of North Carolina’s. It’s those five pitches, with examples all thrown in one five-out appearance last September 21st, that can give us a structure for this introduction.

Interesting article by Eno Sarris where he looks at the odds of Warren’s strong bullpen performance transitioning to being a good starting pitcher, and one of the key aspects is that Warren did not do the traditional reduction of his pitch arsenal in relief that many relievers do, so he’s particularly well-suited for the transition to starting. The article paints a pretty optimistic case for Warren as a starter.

Tip of the hat to keith for the link!

--Posted at 4:55 pm by Brian Cronin / 43 Comments | - (0)

Fox Sports: Jeter’s replacement already earning eye-popping praise from Yankee vets

“Didi is unbelievable, as good a shortstop as I’ve seen,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “And I’m not overexaggerating.”

Keep in mind that Teixeira is a 12-year veteran, and was teammates in Texas with Rodriguez in 2003 when A-Rod was still one of the top defensive shortstops in the game.

I had to ask Rodriguez if he shared Teixeira’s opinion on Gregorius, whom the Yankees acquired from the Diamondbacks last Dec. 5 in a three-team deal in which they sent right-hander Shane Greene to the Tigers.

Say what you want about A-Rod, but few players match his passion and knowledge for the game. He even talks in scouting shorthand, using single digits (2 to 8) when referring to the 20-to-80 scouting scale, in which 50 is considered major-league average.

When I informed Rodriguez of what Teixeira had said about Gregorius, he replied, “That’s a helluva compliment.”

And then A-Rod broke down Gregorius like a scout.

“He has a rare combination of speed and explosiveness. But what you don’t see is an incredibly strong arm that is so accurate. That combination is lethal,” Rodriguez said.

“What you see in a lot of young players are 6 or 7 arms, but then their accuracy is 3 or 4. Which is normal, par for the course. As they get older, they go from a 7-1/2 arm to about a 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 and their accuracy goes to about 6. But when you have that combination at 25 years old of crazy range, 7-plus arm, 7-plus accuracy ... even Ozzie [Smith], he had 7 accuracy but he didn’t have 7 arm strength.

“[Gregorius] has made plays from the hole, from his back foot, throwing the ball 90 mph across the diamond from his back foot. You don’t see that. It also makes it a lot easier for your third baseman to play third base.”

Man, it is kind of crazy how interesting Alex Rodriguez is when he just talks shop. There is a great sidebar to the article where A-Rod talks about the game is so different now due to the shift, that things have dramatically changed in just the year he was away.

--Posted at 3:40 am by Brian Cronin / 17 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NY Post: Betances: My velocity ‘nowhere near where it should be’

TAMPA — Delin Betances didn’t know his fastball topped out at 94 mph on Tuesday night against the Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
All the Yankees’ giant right-handed closer candidate understood was that it was short of the gas he hurled last season when he lived in the high 90s and reached 100 mph a few times.

“I haven’t asked about it, but it’s nowhere near where it should be,’’ Betances said after a rocky frame in which his first eight pitches were out of the strike zone. “The more I pitch, that will come. Last year in spring training I trusted it more. This year I am trying to do too much instead of trusting what I have. The more I pitch the better I feel. I have always been like that.’’

Since Betances won’t have to protect any leads for a team that will score roughly zero runs this season, I don’t think this is much of a problem.

--Posted at 8:14 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NY Post: Do Yankees have one closer, two closers or none?

TAMPA — Dellin Betances’ lone major league save came on July 7, and as the right-hander pointed out Monday, it was a two-inning outing.

With the way Joe Girardi is talking this spring, the Yankees may have more non-traditional saves in the works, so the manager can take advantage of having both Betances and lefty Andrew Miller in the back of the bullpen.

“In years past we had a clearly defined closer,’’ the manager said of Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. “There was never a question. In looking at the candidates we have, neither one of them has ever really closed. I know David Robertson hadn’t closed, but he was an eighth-inning guy for five years.’’

The uncertainty doesn’t seem to bother Betances or Miller.

The Yankees are collecting potential closers like the Red Sox used to collect aces.

--Posted at 9:12 am by SG / 34 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Newsday: Jose Pirela suffers concussion after crashing into wall

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Joe Girardi wanted to see versatile Yankees spring sensation Jose Pirela in centerfield. But he certainly didn’t want to see this.

Pirela suffered a concussion and was taken by ambulance to Tradition Medical Center after crashing into the centerfield wall on what turned into an inside-the-park home run for leadoff batter Juan Lagares of the Mets in the first inning.

The Yankees announced Sunday night that Pirela had been discharged from the hospital and that all tests came back normal.

Hopefully he’ll be fine.

--Posted at 1:23 pm by SG / 13 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

NYDN: Hal Steinbrenner talks Yankees, Tanaka, Teixeira, Beltran and soccer in the Bronx

TAMPA − Hal Steinbrenner is fully aware of the lack of customary buzz for this coming Yankee season. He doesn’t have to be told he’s got a lot of bloated contracts on his payroll and that he hasn’t been getting nearly enough bang for his buck from his biggest stars. The Yankee owner and managing general partner knows the days of a consistently sold-out Yankee Stadium are over until further notice — and what a third straight season out of the postseason money will do to his season-ticket fan base. He gets it.

--Posted at 12:41 pm by SG / 77 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

NY Post: The disclaimer to Yankees’ Eovaldi’s filthy, 98-mph stuff

TAMPA — Watching Nathan Eovaldi dominate the Phillies on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, a question couldn’t be ignored: How does a pitcher with his type of electric stuff take a 15-35 career record into his first Yankees season?

Yes, it was spring training against a split squad of Phillies who had maybe two regulars in the lineup. Yet his fastball danced on the black of the plate at 95 to 98 mph and a hard slider was clocked at 89.

With health questions attached to Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, Eovaldi didn’t bring that issue with him from the Marlins when the Yankees figured his age (25) and durability were worth sacrificing Martin Prado.

Still, 15-35 in parts of four pitcher-friendly NL seasons certainly drew red flags concerning the right-hander’s ability to win in the AL East.

That remains a question, but Sunday’s electrifying outing can’t be ignored.

--Posted at 8:51 am by SG / 69 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unsung Yankee History: How a Dramatic Phone Call Saved the 1996 Offseason From Going to the Birds

This is the second in a series of examinations (second in three years, so don’t hold your breath for the third) into different games, events and decisions that impacted Yankees history in some way, shape or form. Stories that are not as famous as, say, “The Flip” or Babe Ruth calling his own shot, but still have a place in Yankees history, especially for die-hard fans.

Today we look at how the Yankees nearly lost David Cone to the Baltimore Orioles before the 1996 season.

Going into the 1996 offseason, the Yankees were in a curious position in the world of baseball payrolls. After a brief period in the late 1980s/early 1990s where they fell as far back in overall payroll as 9th in 1991, the Yankees had steadily climbed their way back up the charts and by 1994 once again had the highest payroll in baseball. However, unlike the 2000s, the difference between the Yankees and the rest of the pack wasn’t nearly as pronounced. The Yankees finished the 1995 season with a $10 million payroll advantage over the second-place Baltimore Orioles ($58 million to $48 million). However, the Orioles and their billionaire owner Peter Angelos were well-prepared to duke it out with the Yankees during the offseason. In fact, after closing the gap in 1996 and 1997, the Orioles actually ended up with a higher payroll than the Yankees in 1998, the last time that happened until 2014, when the Los Angeles Dodgers passed the Yankees (the Dodgers are set to finish with the highest payroll this season, as well).

The Orioles and the Yankees went after a number of the same players that offeason. In many of the instances, the Orioles came away with their man. Both teams wanted All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar. The Orioles nailed him down with a three-year/$18 million deal ($6 million annually was a lot back then). They also vied for BJ Surhoff, who signed with the Orioles on a three-year deal for roughly $4 million. Both teams tried to trade for Cincinnati’s impending free agent lefthander David Wells. The Orioles succeeded (the Yankees, of course, then signed Wells when he became a free agent at the end of the season). The biggest prize of the offseason, though, was star pitcher David Cone. Both teams wanted him badly and it was quite a battle to see where he would end up (a battle where the Yankees shot themselves in the foot a few times).

After coming over to the New York Mets in 1987 (in a horrible trade by Cone’s hometown team, the Kansas City Royals, a trade Cone’s then-teammate, Hal McCrae, later recalled as “I still remember that day, March 28, 1987, when Cone was traded. My initial reaction was not good. It got a whole lot worse after that”), Cone became one of the top pitchers in the National League for a number of years. With free agency looming after the 1992 season (a season that ended in disaster for the Mets, leading them to be known as “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”), the Mets dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays. After helping them win their first World Series in franchise history, Cone returned to the Royals as a free agent on a rather large deal for its day (3 years/$18 million). After winning the Cy Young for the Royals in the strike-shortened 1994 season, it was clear to everyone that Cone would have to be traded, as the Royals were drastically shedding payroll between the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Right before the 1995 season started, Cone was dealt back to the Blue Jays (still ostensibly the defending World Champions due to the 1994 World Series being canceled).

The Blue Jays woefully overestimated how good they were and entered the 1995 trade deadline thirteen games under .500. Cone was a key trade asset, but since he was an impending free agent, that lowered the number of teams willing to part with substantial assets (as few teams felt that they would be able to re-sign Cone). The Blue Jays at first were looking to get a number of impact players but in the end found themselves haggling with the Yankees over just one such player. Marty Janzen was the Yankees’ top pitching prospect and they were refusing to include him in a deal for Cone. Ultimately, after the Indians traded for Ken Hill, the Yankees felt that they had to counter, so they gave in and traded Mike Gordon, Jason Jarvis and the aforementioned Janzen for Cone. Don Mattingly, still well known for how much he enjoys young players, noted about the deal, “What’s not to like? I don’t even know the other three guys … It’s kind of like with John Wetteland. We got him for nothing.”

Cone went 9-2 with a 3.82 ERA as the Yankees made the playoffs for the first time since 1981. Cone then won Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners. However, after going up 2-0, the Yankees lost two in a row heading into the make-or-break Game 5. Cone started the game and clung to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. The immortal Doug Strange pinch-hit for catcher Dan Wilson. On Cone’s 4.456th pitch (okay, just 147th), Cone walked in the tying run in the game. In defense of Yankee Manager Buck Showalter sticking with the gassed David Cone, it was not as if Showalter had Mariano Rivera ready in the bullpe…oh, what’s that? He did? Rivera came in and quickly ended the inning by striking out the next batter. The Yankees lost the game in the eleventh inning. Still, even with the disappointing end to their season, it seemed like the Yankees wanted to resign Cone and Cone wanted to resign with the Yankees.

Then a little problem happened. The Orioles were very public in their interest in Cone and offered him three years/$15 million. However, on December 15th, 1995, Cone flew to Tampa with the intent on signing a three year deal worth $18 million, plus two $5.5 million options for 1998 and 1999 that had $1.5 buyouts, making the total guaranteed value of the deal three years/$19.5 million. That was the highest guaranteed yearly average value for a pitcher in baseball history (the options were tied in to incentive clauses where if Cone reached the incentives, the options would go from team options to two player options). However, as Cone made his way down to Tampa, the Orioles made it known that they were now out of the running for Cone. When he arrived, the Yankees, presumably feeling that he no longer had any other suitors, bizarrely changed the terms of the deal. Now the buyouts were only $1 million and not $1.5 million. Cone later recalled, “The money was on the table and then it was taken off, and that’s when the talks broke down. I hate to give a general response as to why this happened, but I chalk it up to a miscommunication.” Cone left Tampa fuming over the Yankees’ choice of negotiating tactics. The Orioles were now very much back in the hunt.

The Orioles could only go as high as three years/$17.7 million, but they were offering something that the Yankees were not, a no-trade clause for the first two years of the deal. For a guy who had just been traded twice in a single season, stability meant a lot to Cone. However, he was now using his leverage to make other demands, as well. The Orioles had just signed All-Star closer Randy Myers as well as well-regarded set-up man, Roger McDowell. Cone told the Yankees that they had best retain the services of John Wetteland if they wanted him to re-sign with them. The Yankees had been flirting with not offering Wetteland arbitration because he was looking to get nearly $5 million in arbitration. The Yankees ended up settling with Wetteland for $4 million (plus a $4.6 million player option). It is very possible that they would have re-signed Wetteland anyways, but surely it helped that it made Cone feel better about the Yankees’ chances in 1996.

Another way that the Yankees were having trouble with the negotiations was that, due to an illness of a family friend and some health problems of his own, George Steinbrenner was M.I.A. during the heart of the process. Cone was feeling neglected. He was so close to signing with Baltimore that he actually took a physical for them! However, before the day was saved by the Yankees, a third team surprisingly got involved. Cone’s old team, the Mets, tried to convince him to return to them for three years/$15 million, using Mets closer John Franco to really sell Cone on the idea that if he bailed on New York for Baltimore, the fans would never forgive him. Cone later noted, “There was a four-hour span where I really considered the Mets. I saw how Knick fans treated Pat Riley (the Knick GM who had recently surreptitiously quit on the Knicks to go become the Coach and President of the Miami Heat), and I tried to imagine what it might’ve been like around here.” Still, Cone was ultimately ready to sign with Baltimore. The only thing holding up the deal was some debate between his agent and the Orioles over some deferred money. Cone later pointed out:

I probably would have signed if it wasn’t for those guys in the front office haggling over deferred money at zero percent interest. I’m telling you, when I talked to my financial guys they said it may be a couple hundred grand they were haggling over at that point. Not to piss on a couple hundred grand, but in the grand scope of things, a couple hundred grand shouldn’t hold things up.

Luckily, at seemingly the last possible moment, Steinbrenner called Cone from a pay phone outside a Tampa hospital. Not only was he restoring the full $1.5 million buyouts, he was offering Cone a full no-trade clause throughout the length of the contract (and not just the first two years like Baltimore). Cone related the situation:

“It was that dramatic call from Mr. Steinbrenner, when he told me he wasn’t signing me to trade me, that got the deal done. That cleared everything up. . . . All along I was looking more for a reason to stay than a reason to leave. In the end, it came down to a chance to control my future and know if I do my job, I won’t get traded. I don’t have to wonder anymore which eight or nine teams are coming after me before July 31(the trade deadline).

Cone was the Opening Day starter for the Yankees in 1996, but after beginning the season 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA, he suffered an aneurysm in his pitching arm. He missed most of the season, but returned in August. In his first game back, he did not allow a hit until he was forced to come out of the game due to being on a pitch limit. Rivera came in and gave up a hit to take away the committee no-hitee. The Yankees made the playoffs and after trailing 2-0 in the World Series, Cone won Game 3 of the Series and the Yankees went on to sweep the series.

Perhaps Cone’s finest season was his 20-7 1998 season where he came in fourth in the Cy Young balloting. He had met the incentives in his contract so the 1999 option for $5.5 million was now his. Instead of exploring free agency, though, Cone worked out a one-year deal with the Yankees for $8 million (plus $1.75 million in incentives - Cone got all of the money in 1999). Cone looked to get a two-year deal after a less than impressive 1999 season (although he did throw a perfect game during the season) but ultimately had to settle for one last one-year deal from the Yankees for $12 million. Cone ended up winning four World Series titles in his five and a half seasons in New York, and that number would have been a big ol’ zero if it weren’t’ for that dramatic phone call from George Steinbrenner back on December 20th, 1995.

Thanks to John Giannone and the New York Daily News for the great Cone quotes!

If anyone has a suggestion for a future Unsung Yankee History piece (which, at this rate, will be in 2018), drop me a line at This is a condensed version of a piece I wrote a few days ago that I lost due to getting logged out of the system.

--Posted at 3:08 am by Brian Cronin / 104 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NY Post: ‘Blessed’ Yankees prospect elicits Stargell, Stanton comps

TAMPA — For top Yankees hitting prospect Aaron Judge, the miracle already has happened.

No matter what baseball has in store for the massive Judge, who is just 22, grace has touched his life.

Judge knows that, and so do his parents, Patty and Wayne Judge, two recently retired teachers from Linden, Calif.

Walk through the Yankees clubhouse and you will notice Judge quickly has made an impact — not only with his ability and his disciplined yet powerful approach to hitting, but with the way he carries himself.

Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, a man who knows something about the gift of being able to launch a baseball, said this about Judge: “He’s got power like [Willie] Stargell. He’s got outstanding plate discipline. It’s nice to see him at home plate with a 3-1 count.’’

Judge, 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, is ticketed for Double-A Trenton to start the year. Whenever the outfielder gets to The Bronx, you can be sure his parents will be there to enjoy the moment. Patty retired two years ago. Wayne retired this year. Both were physical education teachers.

--Posted at 9:49 am by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

NY Times: Yankees’ Skipper Plugs Holes in a Leaky Ship

Hidden by his ubiquitous shades and his Joe McCool manner, Girardi, the Yankees’ 50-year-old manager, runs a team that has more bruised and broken — not to mention decrepit — parts than any man could be expected to keep track of.

He has a coterie of aging stars in possession of spectacular, yes-I’ll-sign-that! long-term contracts. All are in various states of disrepair and hoped-for repair.

His amiable onetime ace C. C. Sabathia, 34, is rehabbing from an operation on a degenerative knee. His new ace, Masahiro Tanaka, has a partially torn elbow ligament. His No. 2 pitcher, Ivan Nova, had a fully torn elbow ligament and is expected back by the summer.

There are promising kids wending their way up through the minor leagues. There is a formidable bullpen, as well as professional hitters and a sweet-fielding new shortstop. But Yankees management has embraced the mausoleum marketing phase of team decline: Unable to flog more retirement tours, they have turned to retiring numbers, planning days to celebrate Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams.

--Posted at 1:08 pm by SG / 51 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Nationals (3-0) @ Yankees (3-2-1), Sunday, March 8, 2015, 1:05 pm

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Satan 3B
Garrett Jones 1B
Chris Young RF
Jose Pirela 2B
Nick Noonan SS

RHP Adam Warren

--Posted at 8:25 am by Fabian / 18 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Phillies (0-0-1) @ Yankees (0-0-1), Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 1:05 pm

Didi Gregorius SS
Beelzebub DH
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Tyler Austin RF
Ramon Flores LF
Mason Williams CF

RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Watch as The Bronx Bombers continue their UNDEFEATED Spring Training campaign!

--Posted at 1:02 pm by Fabian / 115 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Inaugural Major Injury of the 2015 Season

The team just announced that minor league catcher Luis Torrens has been diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He will undergo surgery tomorrow performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

I was really looking forward to see what Torrens did this year. Tough loss for the system.

--Posted at 5:11 pm by Fabian / 23 Comments | - (0)

Yankees (0-0) @ Phillies (0-0), Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 1:05 pm

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Chris Young RF
Garrett Jones 1B
Jose Pirela 2B
Austin Romine C
Kyle Roller DH
Jonathan Galvez 3B
Nick Noonan SS

RHP Adam Warren

The Yankees are probably going to be less than good this year, but it’s Spring Training! Severino! Bird! Judge! Refsnyder!

First Spring Training observation: Matt Stairs the player kind of intimidated me, Matt Stairs the announcer looks like Louis CK.

Top of the 1st:
It has to feel awful to give up a single to Chris Young the day after he struck out against a pitching machine.

Chris Young single. Garrett Jones single. Jose Pirela single. Bronx Bombers on the board!!!

Hooters ball girls are a thing?

Bottom of the 1st:

Gotta love the Phillies broadcast team highlighting that Howard was 4th in RBI in the NL last year. Keep the phaith.

The Phillies, according to their broadcast…have 5 hitting coaches this Spring. Is lack of hitting coaches a market inefficiency? Are the Phillies more analytical than ESPN thought?

I don’t think Adam Warren is good enough to be a capable starting pitcher because he doesn’t get a lot of ground balls or whiffs at the major league level. However, he used to get a lot of ground balls in the minors. I am of the opinion that the ground balls disappeared because the hitters were better, but if he can get guys to ground out his role gets more interesting. Especially considering Tanaka and Pineda are due for the DL any minute.

Top of the 2nd:

Kyle Roller is better than Garrett Jones. Not as veteran though.

Bottom of the 2nd:

Every foul ball near a Hooters ball girl on this broadcast makes me fear for Matt Stairs’ job security.

Pirela gets his first error of the Spring attempting to make the barehanded turn on a DP ball. Did not have a clean grip.

Warren should be done. Nice start to the Spring for him as he kept the ball low. The pitch for the final out was a meatball that wasn’t squared up though.

Top of the 3rd:

6 pitches. 3 outs on the ground. WOE.

Bottom of the 3rd:


Severino strikes out his first batter of Spring Training on a slider away, looking.

Severino strikes out his second batter of Spring Training on a fastball, swinging.

Groundout to 3B after Severino shatters the bat with a fastball in. Can’t wait for his first Dr. Andrews appointment.

Top of the 4th:

Romine swings at everything and doesn’t have a ton of power. It’s extremely frustrating.

Bottom of the 4th:

Severino is human. Hard single up the middle. If he was an inch taller it would have been an out. This is why short right handed starting pitchers can’t be trusted.

Single up the middle off of a slider that moved like a curveball. Is Severino a product of Yankee hype?

Severino gives up his first run of the Spring on a Ryan Howard single. Tried to tie him up inside with a fastball, but Howard was able to pull his hands in and muscle a single to RF.

A lot of sliders from Severino today. Thought we would see more of his change-up. Gardner catches a pop up to LF for the first out of the inning.

Bloop single to LF and Severino’s day is done. At this point you have to wonder whether you should deal him now because he doesn’t look good enough to help out the Flat Ground Squad.

Top of the 5th:

Nothing happened.

Bottom of the 5th:

Pretty much every reliever in the Yankee system throws hard and has good stuff + Joe Girardi is sort of a bullpen wizard = There’s no reason to ever worry about the Yankee bullpen*

*-They still should have given Robertson a blank check

Top of the 6th:

Aaron Judge grounds out to shortstop after a solid AB.

Greg Bird pops out to left field after a short, for him, 4 pitch AB. He was extremely impressive when I saw him in AA last year.

Rob Refsnyder works a walk in his first Spring AB. Can’t wait for Stephen Drew to be our starting 2B.

Bottom of the 6th:

I badly want JR Murphy to win the backup C battleso that throw into CF pains me way more than it should.

Top of the 7th:

Mason Williams pops out to left on pitch 3 of the at bat after taking the first two pitches. He looked slimmer in the upper body than the last time I saw him.

Watching Cito Culver hit and having Luis Sojo flashbacks.

Bottom of the 7th:

Lindgren’s slider is ridiculous. Just filthy. I’m just curious about the velocity on his fastball

Refsnyder with the throwing error on a routine groundball to 2B. Tied with Pirela for the Spring lead. Stephen Drew nods silently.

Lindgren struggling with the strike zone a bit. Either his control needs to get better or his fastball needs to sit in the mid 90s in order for him to be effective at the Major League level.

Top of the 8th:

Jake Cave, who I kind of like, quickly grounds out to first.

Slade Heathcott, whose bandwagon I left a long time ago, doubles to right center field after working a 3 ball count.

Judge works a walk. Coming out of the draft there was a lot of talk about how raw Judge was, so his patience at the plate has been pleasantly surprising.

I love watching Greg Bird hit. Can’t wait to hear the amount of times he gets called “a professional hitter.”

Bottom of the 8th:

A hard throwing RHP did things.

Top of the 9th:

Mason Williams rips a double to RF. Nicely hit.

Slade Heathcott with a nice RBI single. He’s made it through half a game without injury.

Aaron Judge game tying True Yankee Moment time?


Greg Bird is just the best. I love him so much.

Refsnyder looks anxious.

Bottom of the 9th:


--Posted at 12:26 pm by Fabian / 54 Comments | - (0)

NY Post: Calculating win projections, and why Yankees aren’t stacking up

The website FanGraphs features a pair of projections systems, Steamer and ZiPS, which have spit out their anticipated 2015 statistics. Collectively, they have the Yankees finishing 82-80 by scoring 669 runs and allowing 664.

The 2014 Yankees permitted exactly 664 runs. For this group to produce the same pitching effort, it must overcome the departures of Shane Greene, Hiroki Kuroda, Brandon McCarthy and David Robertson, all of whom pitched very effectively last year. As The Post’s Joel Sherman wrote on Sunday, the Yankees’ bullpen will need to step up its already impressive effort of recent years. It also should help on the defensive side to have Gregorius and Stephen Drew occupying the middle of the infield for an entire season, assuming Drew rebounds offensively.

Let’s talk offensive rebounds. The 2014 Yankees scored 633 runs, so 669 runs would represent a 5.2 percent increase. The projection systems assert that Drew, Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Gregorius, Chase Headley, Garrett Jones, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira will hit better than they did, relative to the rest of the American League, in 2014. The numbers point south for Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez (working off his 2013 stats, since he missed all of last year due to suspension).

You don’t need a doctorate in math to see the origin of these estimations. For instance, you’d expect Beltran’s production to dwindle with age, and he’s turning 38 in April. However, his plummet from 2013 with St. Louis (.830 OPS) to 2014 with the Yankees (.703) was so precipitous that you’d forecast a jump back toward his career norms.

I’ll take the under on runs scored and the over on runs allowed.  I’ll take the under on wins and the over on losses.

--Posted at 10:23 am by SG / 6 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 2, 2015

NY Times: 2=Jeter, 3=Ruth, 4=Gehrig. ... In the Bronx, Numbers Are Finite.

If the Yankees like to imagine they do things bigger and better than anyone else, they approach retiring numbers with the same gusto.

They have retired 18 numbers, and by the end of this summer, another three will be decommissioned: the No. 20 belonging to catcher Jorge Posada, pitcher Andy Pettitte’s 46 and the 51 worn by center fielder Bernie Williams. And it will not be long before Derek Jeter’s 2 joins them.

In addition, 21, which belonged to right fielder Paul O’Neill, seems to have been given an off-the-books retirement. In the 14 years since O’Neill retired, it has been awarded only briefly, in 2008, to LaTroy Hawkins and Morgan Ensberg, according to

Throw in No. 0, which has never been worn by a Yankee, and that makes 23 numbers that are unavailable.

“They’re going to have to go to triple digits pretty soon,” said Ryan, a backup shortstop. “I don’t think they want to have to go to negative numbers.”

It would be nice if the Yankees could put a team on the field that would pull in attendance which wouldn’t have to be artificially propped up by these days honoring good (but in many instances not great) players.  Yeah, you retire Derek Jeter’s number.  Do you really retire Tino Martinez’s?

I guess it’s not going to be a big deal going forward since they won’t extend or re-sign any of their drafted/developed players once they hit free agency so it’s not like we have to worry about Robinson Cano Day or David Robertson Day. 

--Posted at 9:41 am by SG / 48 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Capital New York: The price of Hal Steinbrenner’s expertise

But the problem here isn’t whether Yoan Moncada alone is plying his trade in New York or Boston. He may be a superstar, he may flop, he may get injured. Adding that kind of prospect to a farm system and major league team largely bereft of high-ceiling middle infielders made a ton of sense, but the Yankees should have other similar opportunities.

The real worry out of the Moncada incident is this: Just how much will the gap between what Hal Steinbrenner thinks he knows about the baseball business, and what he actually knows, cost the New York Yankees? Increasingly, it looks like it could be quite a bit.

--Posted at 3:02 pm by SG / 77 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CBS Sports: Yankees execs reportedly ‘fuming’ at A-Rod for arriving early

But while the early start may have lessened the media boom, it also caught the Yankees by surprise, leaving Brian Cashman and the team’s media relations staff scrambling for answers when asked about Rodriguez’s rumored arrival.

The Yankees had no issues with A-Rod arriving on Monday, but team officials were fuming that he hadn’t alerted them to his plans.

“He’s learned nothing,” said one baseball executive. “He’s the same old guy. He just did what he wanted to do.”

This team is run by a bunch of jackasses.  I’m not sure I’m even a fan anymore.

--Posted at 11:30 am by SG / 112 Comments | - (0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Boston Globe: Red Sox sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, report says

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Yoan Moncada, a 19-year-old star from Cuba, has agreed to sign with the Red Sox according to a report by

Moncada is a switch-hitting infielder with power and speed who left Cuba in June and quickly became the subject of an intense bidding war. The Sox, according to the report, will give Moncada a $30 million bonus.

At that price, I find if awfully disappointing the Yankees were not the winning bidder.  Sure, he may turn out to be a bust, but how often do you have a chance to add a 19 year old with tons of physical promise whom scouts seem to like (including the Yankees’ own scouts) for money and nothing else?

I’m not surprised, because this is the way Hal Steinbrenner runs the team now.  But I am annoyed.

--Posted at 10:27 am by SG / 85 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, February 22, 2015 Yankees’ CC Sabathia gained how much weight?

An offseason an a knee surgery later, Sabathia’s back. Back with the Yankees. And back to being among baseball’s largest hurlers, weighing 305 pounds this spring, he told reporters at George M. Steinbrenner Field Saturday, the first day of pitchers and catchers workouts this spring.

Manager Joe Girardi, however, said he’s not even thinking about Sabathia’s weight.

“Whether he’s 2 pounds heavier or 2 pounds less, I’m not worried about it,” the manager said. “That’s not my concern.”

Sabathia doesn’t appear concerned with his waistline, either.

Instead, he’s more concentrated on his knee, which didn’t appear to give him any problems during a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday morning. Mixing fastballs with change ups to catcher John Ryan Murphy, Sabathia completed the workout having hardly broken a sweat. It was the first time he’d thrown off a mound since a minor league rehab start in the middle of last season.

I’m not sure how to feel about this.

--Posted at 8:08 am by SG / 50 Comments | - (0)

Friday, February 20, 2015

NYDN: Alex Rodriguez ‘impossible to dislike’ says Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman

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.

NY Post: Mark Teixeira is rebuilt, ‘getting strong’ and ready for a comeback

“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.”


NY Post: Yankees remain wary of price tag for Cuban star Yoan Moncada

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.

--Posted at 9:34 am by SG / 40 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Yes Network: New York Yankees sign Jared Burton to minor league deal

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).

--Posted at 6:52 pm by Brian Cronin / 92 Comments | - (0) After 20 seasons, Giambi calls it a career

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.

--Posted at 9:17 am by SG / 20 Comments | - (0)

Monday, February 16, 2015

ESPN: Yankees to honor Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte will have his No. 46 retired by the New York Yankees and receive a plaque in Monument Park, a source confirmed to

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.

--Posted at 9:34 am by Brian Cronin / 22 Comments | - (0)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Grantland: Frame Jobs

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.

--Posted at 10:35 am by SG / 41 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

NY Post: Yankees’ big plan to harness Nathan Eovaldi’s 100-mph heat

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…

--Posted at 9:26 am by SG / 37 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Minor League Ball: Sickels: New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 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.

--Posted at 9:12 am by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TGS NY: Reports positive on Masahiro Tanaka

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.

--Posted at 8:23 am by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

Monday, February 9, 2015

NY Post: 20-year-old flame-thrower could be Yankees’ rotation savior

If the Yankees plan on contending in 2015, they will need significant bounce-back years from high-profile players like CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, something general manager Brian Cashman conceded on Friday.

But for the Yankees to get back to the top of the AL East on a consistent basis, it won’t necessarily be up to Sabathia and Teixeira or Carlos Beltran, who the Yankees also hope is healthy and productive after he was neither last season.

Instead, their future success likely will rely more on some names fans may hardly know right now, but who will be in major league spring training for the first time this season.

And perhaps at the top of the list is right-hander Luis Severino, who has bolted up the Yankees’ farm system and become one of their top prospects.
“He’s made a lot of progress,” said Gil Patterson, who has worked with Severino as the Yankees’ minor league pitching coordinator. “It’s hard to believe he isn’t even 21 yet.”

Severino might be the one of the best five starting pitchers in the Yankees organization right now but I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see him in the majors this year.  He’s coming off a season where he threw a career-high 113 innings, and he will be 21 years old.  The Yankees’ offseason points to an unusual (for them) patience, and I don’t think they will disrupt that unless they turn out to be better than I expect them to be and Severino is the difference between making a run at a postseason spot or not. 

--Posted at 12:31 pm by SG / 22 Comments | - (0)

Friday, February 6, 2015

NY Times: On Deck for the Yankees, From South Korea, Rob Refsnyder

At the end of all those baseball showcases in Orange County, Calif., the format would often be the same. Few of the coaches and children who had come together for the day knew one another. The director would stand in front of the players and call out the names of those who had excelled that day: the best fielder, the best arm, the best hitter.

The name Robert Refsnyder was called out frequently, and as the Korean-born boy rose to accept his award, the people looked at him almost in bewilderment. The face did not match the name.

“Yeah, that’s me,” he would say, laughing to himself. “I’m Rob Refsnyder.”

At some point this year, whether in spring training, on opening day or later in the regular season, Refsnyder is likely to be introduced to Yankees fans for the first time, and some of them may look at him with the same bemused expression that the players and coaches at those California showcases wore.

Amy Mihyang Ginther with her birth mother, Park Jeong-hee, at Park’s home in Gimcheon, South Korea.Why a Generation of Adoptees Is Returning to South KoreaJAN. 14, 2015
Refsnyder is a top Yankees prospect, a gifted hitter who has been invited to his first major league spring training this month and hopes to soon become the team’s starting second baseman. He was adopted from South Korea by parents with German and Irish backgrounds, as was his older sister, Elizabeth, who was a talented softball player in college.

In 2012 Refsnyder was selected out of the University of Arizona in the fifth round of the amateur draft — adopted, in a sense, by the Yankees. He raced through the ranks of the minor league system, batting .297 with a .389 on-base percentage and 508 total bases in two and a half seasons, and now provides hope to fans who have been waiting for the Yankees’ farm system to produce the next Robinson Cano or Brett Gardner.

Very nice article in the Times on Refsnyder and how he has become a sort of spokesperson for adoption, even if that was not what he would have wanted for himself growing up. It’d be nice if Refsnyder stuck on this team.

--Posted at 2:44 pm by Brian Cronin / 29 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

NY Post: How the Yankees gambled big on most glaring weakness

The Yankees offseason checklist looked something like this:

1. Find a shortstop – priority one.
2. Improve the defense.
3. Deepen the bullpen.
4. Get younger.
5. Avoid further risky, long-term investment.
6. Protect the best of the farm system and add to it when possible.
7. Create roster depth and flexibility.
8. Put safety nets in place for the rotation.

The Yankees accomplished seven of the eight objectives – everything but creating a better security blanket for their fragile rotation. Yet, even while checking off so many items on their list, the success of the Yankees’ offseason is, at best, to be determined.

The most encouraging thing about the Yankees accomplishing their objectives is that they did it without mortgaging their future in any significant way.  I don’t think they are going to be any good in 2015, but I can see a scenario where they are pretty good in 2-3 years now, and I couldn’t see that last year.

--Posted at 9:23 am by SG / 24 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Yahoo: Sources: With MLB rule change, Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada is now a free agent

Star prospect Yoan Moncada is a free agent after Major League Baseball overhauled its rules regarding Cuban players, paving the way for a bidding war to sign the 19-year-old infielder, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports.

Players who present sworn affidavits to Major League Baseball stating they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not Cuban government officials can sign with major league teams immediately, sources said. MLB distributed a memo to teams Tuesday afternoon outlining the changes.

I’m not sure why we would care, since he’s going to sign with Boston.

--Posted at 6:16 pm by SG / 34 Comments | - (0)

MLB: If Shields’ price has dropped, Yankees should open wallet

So now, we could be at or nearing the point where Shields’ best contractual hopes are in line with the Yanks’ most logical levels of commitment. In fact, with so many teams locked into their current budget parameters, it’s not inconceivable that Shields might be dropping into Ubaldo Jimenez (four years, $50 million) and Ervin Santana (four years, $55 million) territory. And if that’s the case, the Yankees have the need and resources to pounce.

The need, actually, is obvious. Shields wouldn’t make the Yankees a clear favorite in the AL East, but is a player who, if we believe the sabermetricians, made a four-win difference for the Royals in 2014. And for whatever it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections see the Yankees as an 80-win team. Another four wins could be the difference between contention and mediocrity.

If you can get Shields for anything in the four year, $60M range, I think you’d have to do it.  Even with the potential loss of a first round pick.  Of course if the choice is Yoan Moncada or Shields, give me Moncada.

--Posted at 9:52 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Monday, February 2, 2015 Where will Yankees play Alex Rodriguez? A lot of positions

As spring training nears, the Yankees seemingly continue to formulate a plan on how to best use the returning Alex Rodriguez.

It seems the way they’ve chosen is to use him in a few places.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi plans to use Rodriguez at third base, designated hitter and will also see if he can play first base as well. Third baseman Chase Headley was re-signed to a four-year deal this offseason and Mark Teixeira remains ensconced at first.

“I think it’s only fair to see where he’s at physically,” Girardi told the New York Post. “We have to take our time and not make an evaluation too early in spring training, because he hasn’t played a lot in the last year-and-a-half.”

They should play him at shortstop so he can set the career record for homers by a shortstop.  Then maybe they can throw him a $6M milestone bonus for the achievement..

--Posted at 9:19 am by SG / 19 Comments | - (0)

Friday, January 30, 2015 Yankees sign pitcher Scott Baker

The Yankees have signed journeyman pitcher Scott Baker to a minor league deal, according to a Baseball America report.

Baker pitched for the Rangers last season, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA in 17 relief appearances and eight starts. He had a 1.19 WHIP.

Baker spent the first seven years of his career with the Twins. There he went 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA as a starting pitcher.

Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. He missed the entire 2012 season and made just three starts in 2013.

Baker had an excellent stretch there for Minnesota from 2008-2011 before he required Tommy John Surgery in 2011 (4.4 WAR in 2008, 3.3 in 2009, 1.7 in 2010 and 4.3 in 2011), but he missed all of 2012 and nearly all of 2013 recovering from the surgery. He is a good warning that not every pitcher recovers fine from Tommy John Surgery. He was awful last year for Texas, but I assume that the Yankees are willing to bet that perhaps a little bit of that 2008-2011 talent resurfaces and he might be able to help in the rotation at some point this season.

The most likely scenario, though, is that he doesn’t start a single game for the Yankees this season.

--Posted at 2:21 pm by Brian Cronin / 36 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Japan Times: Tanaka says everything fine after workout with former Rakuten teammates

SENDAI – New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who missed two months last season due to an elbow injury, worked out ahead of his second big league season on Thursday.

Using the indoor facility of his former club, the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka ran sprints, practiced fielding and played catch — in which he mixed in some breaking balls.

“So far so good — including that (the elbow),” said Tanaka, who returned from a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow to make two starts at the end of the season.

I hope I can get over my fear that Tanaka’s elbow ligament is going to snap on every single pitch he throws this year, because it’s going to make it a bit harder to enjoy his starts.  I guess this qualifies as good news anyway.

--Posted at 10:28 am by SG / 33 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yahoo!: Sources: Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada’s free agency imminent

Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada no longer needs a specific unblocking license to play baseball in the United States, paving the way for Major League Baseball teams to pursue him with a contract most expect to shatter bonus records, government and major league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Recent changes by the Obama administration allow native Cubans who can prove permanent residence in a third country to receive a general unblocking license and avoid the sometimes-arduous application process for an Office of Foreign Asset Controls specific license, which was previously needed to do business in the U.S. Moncada, who left Cuba for Guatemala in August, has a permanent residency document, a Guatemalan National Identity Card and a statement from a Guatemala-based bank as proof of residency, sources familiar with his case told Yahoo Sports.

Any person who meets the requirements for a general unblocking license no longer will be issued a specific unblocking license, a Treasury Department official told Yahoo Sports, putting the onus on MLB to verify Moncada’s residency and allow teams to begin negotiating contracts with him. Moncada had been waiting for a specific license from OFAC since late September, sources said, the only holdup in an expected bidding war for his services.

MLB was drafting a letter to OFAC on Tuesday asking for a meeting in the near future to clarify the new regulations and potentially change league policy, which requires a specific unblocking license. Should a meeting take place soon, one league official estimated Moncada could be free to negotiate with teams within two weeks.

Remember that last piece I wrote a couple of hours ago?

Well, apparently the Baseball America article in that piece has led to a change in MLB policies. The Baseball America article claims that the U.S. government no longer required specific licenses, but MLB was still requiring them. Obviously, after it came out, people started drilling MLB about it and they said, “Okay, we’ll go with the current standard.”

So expect Moncada to be up for bidding soon - hopefully the Yankees can find a way to sign him. I’d give him up to a $45 million bonus (that’d be $90 million total, with the 100% penalty). Anything over that, I’d let another team take him, although I guess $50 million wouldn’t be too nuts.

--Posted at 7:03 pm by Brian Cronin / 31 Comments | - (0)

Baseball America: MLB, Not OFAC, Is Why Yoan Moncada Can’t Sign

Major League Baseball, not the United States government, is the reason that Yoan Moncada and several other Cuban players have yet to begin their careers.

The U.S. has an embargo against Cuba, which means Cuban nationals must be regarded as “unblocked” by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before they can work for a U.S. company.

Moncada, though, has already met the government’s requirements to be able to begin his career. Moncada has permanent residence in Guatemala. Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s “general license,” which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC. That goes beyond what the government requires from Cuban players to be able to begin their careers, and with some players waiting six months to receive their licenses, MLB’s policy has added a significant bottleneck for those players.

Obviously, this seems like a bit of a cause for concern since the Yankees need Moncada to become eligible during the current international free agent signing period, which ends June 15th.

That said, Yoan Lopez went through this and ended up signing, so I think this just delays things. Lopez started his process about two weeks before Moncada started his, so I imagine Moncada will become eligible soon. Unless, of course, there is some vast conspiracy to keep the Yankees or Red Sox from signing him. That seems unlikely.

--Posted at 3:39 pm by Brian Cronin / 9 Comments | - (0)

Monday, January 26, 2015

NY Daily News: Yankees working to void milestone bonuses for Alex Rodriguez

The frayed relations between the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez are bound to be front and center when their one-time superstar reports to spring training next month with the goal of not only making the team but of cashing in on the marketing bonuses tied to his move up the ladder toward the all-time home run record.

As the Daily News first reported Saturday, the Yankees have declined to meet with Rodriguez as he attempts to mend relationships with Major League Baseball and prepares to re-enter the game following his season-long drug suspension, and are preparing for a battle to nullify the marketing bonuses that are separate from the remaining $61 million on A-Rod’s player contract.

Rodriguez, who has 654 career home runs, needs to hit just six more to tie Willie Mays’ 660 and become eligible for a $6 million bonus. The marketing deal also calls for him to receive $6 million if he ties Babe Ruth (714), another $6 million if he ties Hank Aaron (755) and yet another $6 million if surpasses Barry Bonds (762) to become baseball’s all-time home run king.

The Yankees, however, now view the marketing bonuses as worthless and invalid, according to sources, the result of Rodriguez’s suspension for violating the game’s collectively bargained drug policy and his scorched-earth attack on baseball and the Yankees. The club plans to do battle with its onetime superstar over paying the bonuses, and is prepared to fight Rodriguez if he files a grievance with the Players’ Association.

On the one hand, this sounds idiotic by the Yankees because it’s only drawing more negative attention to them for what is likely to be just an additional $6 million. An additional $6 million that could possibly not even come into play if A-Rod is not physically ready to play baseball. The guy is coming off an entire year’s layoff and he has had multiple hip injuries and he’s 39 years old. It is not hard to believe at all that he might not be able to be the Yankees everyday designated hitter this season, in which case he might not even get the six home runs needed to pass Willie Mays.

On the other hand, since this is a separate marketing deal, the Yankees have an actual chance of winning this fight. They can’t void his playing contract, but they at least have a real chance of successfully arguing that his steroid use has made this marketing deal valueless.

Going back to the first hand, though, if I’m A-Rod’s lawyer, I use this case to basically put the Yankees into the pillory through discovery. Do you really think that the Yankees had no idea that A-Rod was using steroids? Why would they want to open themselves up to the negative PR for a measly $6 million? If the other milestones were to ever actually come into play, the Yankees should be thrilled, since that would mean A-Rod is actually healthy and producing at a high level.

I imagine, though, that this is more a matter of the relationship between the Yankees and A-Rod being so toxic that the Yankees would gladly drag themselves through the mud if it meant damaging A-Rod in any way (granted, I do believe that it legitimately does gall them to pay him $6 million for a meaningless event).

--Posted at 2:58 pm by Brian Cronin / 27 Comments | - (0)

Fangraphs:  Evaluating the Prospects: New York Yankees

The Yankees’ drafts have been solid the last two years, with the three late first round picks from 2013 ranked 2nd, 6th and 8th in the system and all are at least meeting expectations so far, with RF Aaron Judge strongly beating them. Rival clubs kept pushing me to move up 2014 2nd rounder (the first Yankees’ pick) LHP Jacob Lindgren up the list; he should be a fixture in the late innings for the club very soon.  The depth here is outstanding and is a function of solid drafts, an influx of international signees and some recent trades that added depth to the 40 FV group.

With this bulk process in mind, the Yankees have the most short-season clubs of any other organization: two in the DSL, two in the GCL and two more in Pulaski and Staten Island. With that many roster spots to fill, the team can sign as many players as they want and not be forced (like many teams are) to avoid signing multiple high profile players at the same position that are at the same level. Yankees officials joked that making their Low-A Charleston roster is much more difficult now, with one comparing it to being a top recruit for Alabama’s football team, but struggling to get on the field because they’re so deep with touted players.

I’ve been updating a grid with the updated rankings for each system and the Yankees are the deepest team in all three subsections of the Others of Note section, along with having the most 40 FV players and are just a couple short of having the most 45 FV players. Tampa Bay is the only other team with close to this kind of depth, but the Yankees have two top-end talents (RHP Luis Severino and RF Aaron Judge) that the Rays can’t match, which helps separate the Bombers from Tampa Bay and other deep systems. Right now, I have the Yankees as the 10th best system in baseball, but with the bulk of high upside young talent and five of the top six prospects likely returning to next year’s list making it better than 50/50 that they’ll be even higher next year.

Interesting read by Fangraphs about their evaluations of the Yankees minor league system. FV, by the way, stands for “Future Value.” 40 and above typically means you have a legit shot at making the Majors. Tanaka, for instance, is a 70.

And yes, as others have already noted, this massive article does appear to need a little bit of editing, as there are some sentences that just don’t make sense due to missing or confusing words. One notable one being “To give you an idea of how much Lindgren in his junior season at Mississippi State, I saw him pitch as a sophomore and he was so generic that I didn’t even pull out my camera to get a couple pitches to refer back to later.”

--Posted at 2:38 pm by Brian Cronin / 5 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

NYDN: Yankees not in play for Shields with A-Rod’s contract back

In case you held out hope that the Yankees would turn to James Shields now that Max Scherzer is officially off the market, well, the club is apparently sticking to its pledge this winter to stay away from big free agent contracts for starting pitchers, GM Brian Cashman reiterated on Wednesday.

And the return of a certain Yankee slugger may have something to do with that.

“We in fact had some contracts coming back on with Alex Rodriguez returning from his suspension. That was $21 million dollars coming back on the payroll.” Cashman said Wednesday night during an interview on WPAT-AM 930. “. . . We’ll still have about the second-highest payroll and I don’t see it going any higher.”

Yeah, I’d pass on Shields as well.  But not because of Rodriguez’s deal.

--Posted at 10:18 am by SG / 76 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NYDN: Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez works out with Barry Bonds in California: report

Alex Rodriguez is apparently seeking a blast from the past in his quest to return to baseball after two hip surgeries, advancing age, bruising steroid investigations by Major League Baseball and the federal government, and, oh yes, a season-long suspension.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Rodriguez has been spending time getting hitting tips at a San Rafael, Calif. baseball training facility from another steroid-stained slugger, home run king Barry Bonds, whose own battles against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs rival few players other than Rodriguez.

According to the Chronicle, Bonds — who spent time tutoring Giants hitters last season — has also worked with Dexter Fowler, who was traded Monday from the Astros to the Cubs, but his star pupil is Rodriguez, who will report for spring training with his Yankee teammates in Tampa in mid-February to attempt a comeback that is sure to generate controversy all across the game.

There are worse players to work out with than one of the greatest hitters of all time.  Who incidentally struck out every single time he faced the great Mariano Rivera.

--Posted at 9:21 am by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)

Monday, January 19, 2015

NYDN: Nationals sign free agent Max Scherzer while Yankees never made bid

So it appears, once and for all, with Max Scherzer reportedly agreeing to a seven-year deal with the Nationals late Sunday night, the Yankees weren’t bluffing about keeping a lid on spending this winter.

That makes sense for their long-term future, saying no to another huge contract likely to look bad on the back end. But it also makes it hard to see, considering the fragile state of their starting rotation, how they can be serious contenders in 2015.

In any case, after all the speculation, much of it from baseball executives and scouts, that the Yankees were lying in the weeds on Scherzer, it turns out they never got into the bidding for the top pitcher on the free-agent market, according to a team source.

Instead Scherzer goes to the Nationals, as first reported by And while that will make life tougher in the NL East for the Mets and their publicly-stated intention to make a huge leap to post-season contention in 2015, his signing for the moment surely resonates more loudly in the Bronx.

GM Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine had been publicly saying for months they weren’t going to spend huge money on a pitcher such as Scherzer. But their history of such signings, combined with the injury-related uncertainty that surrounds their starters, made it hard to believe.

Did anyone here really think the Yankees were going to make a stealth run at Scherzer?  I sure didn’t.

Can’t say I blame them.  They’re not a Scherzer away from being one of the better teams in baseball. 

--Posted at 9:55 am by SG / 30 Comments | - (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

TGS NY: Better, worse or about the same? Scouts weigh in on Yankees’ offseason moves

NEW YORK—In the post-Jeter era, the Yankees are in a yet-to-be defined transition stage in their history. Are they retooling? Rebuilding? Or just plain regressing?

They haven’t made the playoffs in two years and, if they are going to return to the postseason, it very well could be on the backs of newcomers like Andrew Miller, Nathan Eovaldi and Sir Didi Gregorius.

No one knows what will happen in 2015, with 13 new faces and Alex Rodriguez showing up in Tampa next month, but we asked scouts and executives to give us their take on the Yankees’ offseason so far.

For the most part, they like what they’ve seen.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” one scout said. “Are they at the top of the perch? No, but they are going in the right direction.”

I think the Yankees are about as ‘good’ as they’ve been the last two seasons, as in they are probably a team that will likely be outscored and will be lucky to finish at .500.  But I do think I’m fine with the offseason they’ve had.  There was nothing that could have realistically been done to turn this into a good team.  I guess they could have traded Melky + IPK + ??? for something awesome, but aside from that…  Instead, they’ve brought in some younger players with some potential and have kept their farm intact while maintaining a puncher’s chance at the postseason if a lot of things happen to break just right.

I’m not sold on Didi Gregorius being an average SS or Nathan Eovaldi being anything more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, but they at least might be better than that.  So that’s something.  And while the likelihood of Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda pitching 200 innings this season are slim, it’d be a pretty awesome young front of the rotation if they can do something close to that.

I miss the days of a just about sure-fire 95 win team, but this is where we are now.

--Posted at 11:21 am by SG / 37 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

MLB: Steinbrenner: Yanks might not be done making moves

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz.—Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner said on Wednesday that he’s happy with the progress his club has made trying to improve so far this offseason, and he wouldn’t dismiss making more significant roster additions before Spring Training opens in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 20.

“It’s not over until it’s over. We still have a full month before Spring Training,” Steinbrenner told a group of reporters as the first day of this week’s quarterly Owners Meetings got underway. “We’re always going to continue to improve. I’m not putting a cap on it. We’ve certainly filled some holes that we had. We’ll keep going for the next few weeks.”

Yay.  More middle relievers coming!

--Posted at 9:50 am by SG / 19 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CBS Sports: Yankees trade for Rockies RP Chris Martin, DFA Gonzalez Germen

The Yankees acquired reliever Chris Martin from the Rockies on Tuesday. The Rockies will receive cash considerations.

The 28-year-old Martin made his MLB debut in 2014, posting a 6.89 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 16 relief outings.

In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated reliever Gonzalez Germen for assignment.

I can’t believe the Yankees are getting rid of a True Yankee™ like Gonzalez Germen for a guy who had a 6.89 ERA and 1.66 WHIP last year.  Farewell Gonzalez, it was a pleasure to have you in pinstripes.

I can’t tell you a damn thing about Martin, aside from the fact that he’s a reliever who has options left and he didn’t really cost the Yankees anything.  So sure, why not?

--Posted at 6:34 pm by SG / 14 Comments | - (0)

NYDN: Yankees prospect injured in beating posts throwing video

Ty Hensley, the Yankee prospect who suffered a fractured jaw and other injuries in a beating in his native Oklahoma Dec. 28, posted a video of himself throwing a pitch on Instagram Sunday.

“Hope everyone is just as excited for the 2015 season as I am!” Hensley wrote in an accompanying message.

“He has thrown a couple of times,” Hensley’s agent, Rob Martin, wrote in a text message to the Daily News. “Biggest issue is pain threshold and breathing (with) jaw wired shut still. But arm feels good!”

In this particular throwing session, Hensley made about 30 throws from flat ground at a sports facility in his native Edmond.

“Ty is very determined for this not to set back his throwing progression,” Martin wrote.

Last week, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office charged NFL hopeful Anthony Morales with felony assault and battery stemming from an incident Dec. 28 that apparently started after an argument about athletes’ signing bonuses, according to court papers.

Morales pleaded not guilty and was released on $8,000 bond. Hensley’s lawyer says he was attacked by Morales, but Morales’ lawyer says Morales was defending himself. There’s a court date next month for the case.

Pretty crappy story, but it’s good to see Hensley throwing.  Even if it’s off flat ground.

--Posted at 8:16 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)

Monday, January 12, 2015

NY Post: At long last, the Yankees have a hitting coach

The Yankees are set to replace fired hitting coach Kevin Long with Jeff Pentland, a source confirmed.

And they also plan to add Alan Cockrell as an assistant hitting coach, with Joe Espada taking Mick Kelleher’s spot as infield coach.

Long was let go shortly after the season ended and the Yankees missed the playoffs for a second straight year. Pentland was first named as a potential replacement for Long in The Post last month.

The 68-year-old Pentland was the hitting coach for the Marlins, Cubs, Royals, Mariners and most recently the Dodgers in 2010 and 2011. Last year, he served as the Marlins’ hitting coordinator.

He told The Post last month when asked about the Yankees’ job, “It’s a great city and a great organization.”

I am not sure exactly why anyone would want the Yankees’ hitting coach job.

--Posted at 8:46 am by SG / 26 Comments | - (0)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hardball Talk: Yankees, Red Sox “heavy favorites” for Yoan Moncada

Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports that the Yankees and Red Sox are the “heavy favorites” to sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.

Moncada, who is still just 19, is considered a fantastic prospect. He’s expected to land a contract in the $30-40 million range. He’s still not eligible to be signed, however, as he has not received official clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control and won’t be able to start negotiating with teams until he gets that clearance.

Yeah, he’ll be a Red Sock.

--Posted at 12:43 pm by SG / 56 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

TGS NY: Why the Yankees still want Stephen Drew

The Yankees are finalizing a one-year contract with Stephen Drew that will pay him $5 million. If he plays a lot, he can push his salary to $7 million. The deal could be done by the end of the week.

Drew is not popular with the Yankees fan base, but here in January the Bombers see value in a player who was originally looking in the $8 million-plus range.

Competing: When camp opens next month, Drew will be competing with Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela for the second base job. He also will offer insurance at short with Sir Didi Gregorius and Brendan Ryan.

At second, Drew should be the favorite, if he shows he hasn’t completely forgotten how to hit. He batted .162 last year with the Red Sox and Yankees, striking out an incredible 75 times in 271 at-bats.

While the Yankees will likely present the competition as a race without a lead horse, Refsnyder probably would be aided by spending more time at Triple-A learning second. Refsnyder and Pirela could be utility guys on the big club. I would give Pirela a slight edge to break camp with the Yankees.

I guess the way to look at is that Drew is probably better than Brendan Ryan, who I can’t see remaining on the roster.  I also think there’s a non-negligible chance that Drew will be better than Gregorius.

As it is now, the Yankees probably have to carry 8 relievers to justify the fact that they keep trading for them, but let’s say they go with a 12 man pitching staff.  That leaves four bench spots, one for a backup catcher and one for Chris Young as the backup OF.  If Drew is starting, then Ryan has a spot on the bench, along with someone else like Pirela, who could conceivably back up most of the IF and OF.  The Yankees can use Brian McCann and Chase Headley to back up first base, and maybe Alex Rodriguez could back up both corners.  But I think they’ll likely jettison Ryan and eat the money he’s owed, because I can’t see any sane teams taking his contract.

This probably cuts into Refsnyder’s chances at playing in MLB this year, but from everything I’ve seen and read it seems like he may need more work on his glove anyway.  I think justifying paying $5M for Drew to save service time on Refsnyder is silly because I’m not sure the extra savings from that is even worth $5M.

Signing Drew is not a bad move.  It just feels like an uninspired move for a team that needs a lot to go right to be a legitimate contender for a postseason spot.  And for me, it makes the team slightly less interesting than the team that had a very good chance of having Refsndyer at 2B on Opening Day. 

Not that that team was all that interesting either…

--Posted at 10:28 am by SG / 46 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 Source: Yankees finalizing 1-year deal with Drew

The Yankees are finalizing a one-year agreement with infielder Stephen Drew, who is expected to return to the club as their starting second baseman for the 2015 season.

The deal, which was not confirmed by the club, will be worth approximately $5 million plus performance bonuses, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, and is pending the passing of a physical.
Drew, who turns 32 in March, is hoping to bounce back after a lost 2014 season in which he rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox and missed Spring Training before eventually re-signing with Boston. He did not appear in a big league game until June 2.

Almost the entirety of Drew’s value comes from him being a good defensive shortstop, so they sign him to be a second baseman only? That is not the best idea.

The early indications were that Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder would compete for the second baseman job, but now not only does that not appear to be the case, it looks like neither of them even have a role on the team. The Yankees have already said that they plan to platoon the right-handed slick-fielding shortstop Zbrendan Rtan with Didi Gregorious at short to start the season. So that means that they no longer have room to keep either Pirela or Refsnyder on the Major League squad (the Yankees have room for thirteen position players, meaning a four-man bench. That bench is currently Rtan, JR Murphy/Austin Romine, Chris Young and Garrett Jones). I find it difficult to believe that Stephen Drew is going to outperform Refsynder, even with Refsnyder’s defense being possibly poor.

I don’t think this particularly helps the 2014 Yankees and it definitely robs them of one of the few areas on the team where there was legitimate hope for a player to beat his projection, which is very important considering how poorly the overall team projects at this point in time.

Perhaps the Yankees will part ways with Rtan now? That would allow them to carry Pirela as a platoon mate for Drew at second and then have Drew and Gregorious just split the remaining shortstop at-bats against left-handed pitchers, while giving Refsnyder time to play every day in the minors. Plus, a $5 million salary is not so high that the Yankees would be unable to shed Drew midseason if they decided to go a different direction, like they did last season with Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson (like perhaps Refsnyder forces the issue by performing really well in the minors). The Yankees’ 40-man roster was filled before this signing, so someone needs to go and it could be Rtan (although there are still some fungible players on the 40-man that could easily go before Rtan, like Eury Perez, so it is not a big issue). The 40-man could also play a role in who would be Drew’s platoon-mate, as Pirela is on the 40-man and Refsnyder is not.

Finally, I will give them this - Drew’s value comes from being a good defensive shortstop, but he is a good defensive second baseman, as well. So the Yankees will have an outright good infield defense this season for the first time in many, many years. Teix, of all people, is the weak point in the infield defense, and he’s still pretty good at first.

--Posted at 12:20 am by Brian Cronin / 96 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 Yankees re-sign former top prospect Slade Heathcott

The Yankees re-signed Slate Heathcott, a former top prospect, Monday, a person with knowledge of the transaction confirmed. Heathcott, just 24, was non-tendered last month.

Heathcott returns on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The New York Post was the first to report the news.

Heathcott was the Yankees’ first round pick, 29th overall, in 2009 and seemed to have a promising future. However, a series of injuries derailed his progress and cut down his value.

He missed significant periods of time in 2013 and 2014 with right knee issues. He had surgery on that knee last year and played just nine games, all for Double-A Trenton.

Heathcott likely will never deliver on all of that potential, but I can’t say that it doesn’t please me to see him get another chance with the Yankees. Him putting it all together for another team, while unlikely, would be brutal.

--Posted at 8:29 am by Brian Cronin / 32 Comments | - (0)

NY Post: Yankees spoke to Willie Randolph about coaching spot

The Yankees remain on the lookout for both a hitting coach and first base/infield coach and Willie Randolph was among those interviewed during the process.

The former Yankee second baseman and coach interviewed a month ago, according to a source. Mick Kelleher, who was let go along with hitting coach Kevin Long following the season, worked with the infielders and Randolph would figure to be a potential fit for that role.

Randolph, who was on the Yankees’ staff for 11 seasons after an 18-year playing career, also managed the Mets from 2005-08.

Randolph would be one very over-qualified first base coach, but if he wants the job, that’d be cool with me. Perhaps the Yankees plan to move Tony Pena back to first and have Willie become the bench coach again? But then that would leave Pena as the too over-qualified first base coach. Man, Tony Pena really should get another crack at a manager gig.

--Posted at 6:46 am by Brian Cronin / 4 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fox Sports: Yankees finally have prospects to make something happen

The Yankees are unlikely to trade for Cole Hamels. But you know what? At this point, they probably could.

They’ve got Didi Gregorius, a young shortstop the Phillies like. They’ve got catchers, premium young arms, some intriguing bats.

“We’re much deeper now,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “We’re much more flexible. We’re younger, more diverse.”

Of course, the Yankees should have taken this approach years ago, but better late than never. For once, they’re actually getting more players back than they’re giving up in certain trades. Their farm system, ranked 18th by Baseball America last season, probably has ascended to the top 15 and could be nearing the top 10.

So, why wouldn’t Cashman use his newfound prospect power to go get Hamels, particularly when the Yankees’ rotation remains full of questions?

For one thing, Cashman would need to replace Gregorius, whom he acquired to be his new shortstop. For another, the GM probably is reluctant to sacrifice the rest of what it would take to get Hamels, particularly at a time when he finally is operating from a position of strength.

Remember, the Yankees under Cashman balked at trading right-hander Phil Hughes, outfielder Melky Cabrera and two others for lefty Johan Santana after the 2007 season. They then signed free-agent lefty CC Sabathia the following winter and went on to win the ’09 World Series.

Hamels or no Hamels, Cashman may not be done maneuvering, even after making six trades between Nov. 12 and Jan. 1. Right-hander Luis Severino, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America, is close to untouchable; the Yankees believe that he could make an impact in the majors this season. But, Cashman, speaking generally about future acquisitions, said, “I’m open to anything.”

Open, and capable of making something happen.

Haven’t seen an article like this for a while - a puff piece about the Yankees!

I think Rosenthal is overselling Gregorious and Eovaldi, but he’s right that the Yankees are slowly but surely developing some good young talent (other than relievers, of course, which they always seem to be good at developing), which is good to see.

--Posted at 11:04 pm by Brian Cronin / 39 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Yes Network: New York Yankees deal left-handed pitching prospect Manny Banuelos to Atlanta Braves

The New York Yankees have reportedly started off the New Year with a trade involving one of their long-time top prospects.
On Thursday afternoon, YES Network’s Jack Curry tweeted that the Yankees have traded LHP Manny Banuelos to the Atlanta Braves for a pair of bullpen arms, RHP David Carpenter and LHP Chasen Shreve.

Other sources later confirmed the deal on Twitter, and the team made it official Thursday night.

Banuelos, 24, has long been considered one of the organization’s brightest prospects, from his signing as an international free agent in 2008 through his Tommy John surgery in 2012 and subsequent 2014 return. He split last season, his first action since the surgery, between three levels, going 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 76 2/3 innings spanning 26 appearances (25 starts).

Carpenter, 29, was a key piece of the Braves’ bullpen the last two seasons, going 10-5 with a 3.62 ERA and three saves in 121 appearances and striking out 141 in 126 1/3 innings. He will likely slide into the relief role that was vacated when Shawn Kelley was traded to San Diego earlier in the week, and as a first-year arbitration eligible player, Carpenter will be under team control through 2017.

Shreve, 24, made his major-league debut last season, posting a 0.73 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. An 11th-round pick of the Braves in 2010, the lefty had a career 3.22 ERA in the minors (including a 2.67 mark between Double-A and Triple-A last year) and will join a now-loaded group of southpaw relievers in the upper levels of the Yankees system.

While certainly not an awful trade, it sure as heck didn’t make a whole lot of sense, either. The Yankees just dumped Shawn Kelley in part because he didn’t have a role on the 2015 team and they then went out and traded for basically Shawn Kelley (to be fair, Carpenter is under team control through 2017 while Kelley was only under control through this season).

Shreve, though, is at least an intriguing prospect. He pitched really well in the Majors last season.

It’s a fair deal for both teams, so I’m fine with it, but the player with the most upside in the deal is clearly Banuelos, so it seemed odd for the Yankees to deal him to bolster an area that really didn’t need much help bolstering. Unless, of course, they just have lost faith in Banuelos completely, which very well might be the case.

--Posted at 8:47 pm by Brian Cronin / 44 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NY Times: Yankees Send Shawn Kelley to Padres for Johnny Barbato

In another transaction that adds youth to the team and saves a few dollars, the Yankees traded the veteran right-handed relief pitcher Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres for a 22-year-old minor league right-hander, Johnny Barbato, a promising pitcher who missed much of last year with an elbow injury.

Barbato had a 2.87 earned run average and 33 strikeouts in 311/3 relief innings for Class AA San Antonio in 2014, but the Padres shut him down because of a sore elbow, and he may eventually require surgery. The Yankees were aware of the extent of the injury before making the trade.

Barbato could be an interesting prospect if he wasn’t damaged goods.  But he is damaged goods.

Kelley was inconsistent last year, but his peripherals and 2013 performance point to that being a fluke rather than his newly established level.  I guess in the big picture the Yankees got two mostly useful seasons out of Kelley at a minimal cost then flipped him for a potential asset down the road, which should be applauded.

That being said, this move makes the 2015 Yankees worse but I don’t think it’s a big deal.  And Hal gets to save a few more bucks, which is always good to see.

--Posted at 9:05 am by SG / 50 Comments | - (0)

Monday, December 29, 2014

CAIRO 2015 Extremely Early and Completely Useless 2015 Projected MLB Standings

Around this time every year I take a run at some projected standings for the upcoming season.  As the title says, this is extremely early and completely useless so think of it more as a goof than anything too serious.  So using the latest version of CAIRO which I’ll probably update this week and the depth charts from MLB Depth Charts and Rotochamp as a rough gauge of playing time, here’s how the 2014 MLB season looks as of November 20.

Fair warning, despite Hal Steinbrenner’s horseshit claims the Yankees are probably not “championship caliber.”

Date 12/29/2014
American League
TM W L RS RA Div WC1 WC2 PS% W+/-
Red Sox 86 76 802 759 25.8% 9.7% 9.0% 44.6% 76-95
Blue Jays 85 77 761 716 24.4% 9.8% 9.3% 43.5% 76-95
Orioles 85 77 723 677 23.6% 9.5% 9.3% 42.5% 75-95
Rays 80 82 630 626 14.6% 6.5% 7.3% 28.3% 71-90
Yankees 79 83 667 672 11.6% 6.2% 6.8% 24.5% 69-89
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Tigers 86 76 697 660 32.8% 7.1% 6.6% 46.5% 76-96
Indians 85 77 726 691 29.5% 7.2% 7.5% 44.2% 75-95
White Sox 80 82 716 724 17.5% 5.4% 5.9% 28.9% 71-90
Royals 80 82 647 664 16.1% 4.8% 5.8% 26.8% 70-89
Twins 69 93 666 773 4.0% 1.0% 1.9% 7.0% 59-79
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Mariners 90 72 660 593 40.4% 10.3% 8.6% 59.4% 80-99
Angels 87 75 674 630 31.9% 10.4% 8.6% 50.9% 78-97
Athletics 84 78 667 655 21.2% 8.8% 8.5% 38.5% 74-93
Rangers 72 90 726 813 4.5% 2.2% 3.2% 9.9% 62-81
Astros 66 96 673 811 2.1% 0.9% 1.8% 4.7% 57-76
National League
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Nationals 97 65 700 568 63.9% 8.5% 6.2% 78.7% 87-106
Marlins 83 79 645 630 16.0% 8.0% 9.2% 33.2% 73-93
Mets 82 80 625 604 13.9% 7.7% 8.6% 30.2% 72-92
Braves 74 88 589 647 4.6% 2.7% 4.2% 11.5% 64-83
Phillies 66 96 571 696 1.6% 0.7% 1.5% 3.8% 56-76
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Cardinals 91 71 649 564 41.5% 9.8% 9.2% 60.5% 81-101
Pirates 89 73 649 589 32.3% 9.8% 10.3% 52.4% 79-98
Brewers 81 81 671 659 14.0% 6.6% 8.2% 28.8% 72-91
Cubs 76 86 651 680 7.2% 3.6% 5.5% 16.3% 66-86
Reds 73 89 617 678 4.9% 2.5% 4.0% 11.4% 63-83
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Dodgers 96 66 694 575 52.8% 13.7% 8.3% 74.8% 86-106
Giants 91 71 638 557 34.4% 16.3% 11.1% 61.8% 82-101
Padres 80 82 610 618 8.9% 6.9% 8.4% 24.2% 70-89
Rockies 72 90 741 831 3.1% 2.3% 3.8% 9.1% 62-81
Diamondbacks 66 96 562 681 0.9% 0.7% 1.7% 3.3% 56-75

W: Projected final 2015 wins
L: Projected final 2015 losses
RS: Projected final 2015 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2015 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation

I guess I’m a bit surprised to see the Rays ahead of the Yankees but nothing else in the East stands out.  Then again, it’s not like one game is that meaningful given the margin of error inherent in an exercise like this.

Just eyeballing the rest of the majors, nothing really stands out although I’m guessing the Dodgers and Nationals projections are too high and I need to look at why that is.

Anyway, the Yankees aren’t going to project as much better than .500, even if they add Max Scherzer.  But their division isn’t great so they should have chance at the postseason, I guess.

Happy Hal-idays!

--Posted at 10:15 am by SG / 84 Comments | - (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

ESPN: Hiroki Kuroda to return to Japan

Hiroki Kuroda is returning to Japan to pitch for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, an official with knowledge of the move told, confirming Japanese media reports.

The 39-year-old right-hander went 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts last season, his third with the New York Yankees.

Kuroda signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 2008 season after an 11-year career in Japan.

The Yankees believe they are set to begin the 2015 season with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Capuano in the rotation, a source told Plus, they have Ivan Nova due to return from Tommy John surgery in late May.

It was very much an expected move, so I’m not, like, devastated or anything like that. But boy, Cashman really needs to pick up another starter. “The Yankees believe they are set” sounds like “Bubba Crosby will be our starting center fielder.”

Thanks for three great seasons, Kuroda!

--Posted at 9:31 pm by Brian Cronin / 17 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

NYDN: David Phelps: Alex Rodriguez has friends on Yankees

Phelps, 28, credited A-Rod with helping him make the transition to the big leagues back in 2012, going so far as to say, “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s an incredible teammate who went out of his way early in my career to help me out. My first couple outings, I’d be in the dugout or in the clubhouse and he would come over and pick my brain; things like, ‘Why did you throw this pitch in this situation?’ ” Phelps said.

“Even when we were rehabbing in Trenton a couple years ago, he pulled me over and we talked about the business side of the game, protecting players’ rights, that kind of stuff. He’s incredibly intelligent on the field and with the business side of baseball. He has a lot to offer younger players.”

But, but teh STERIODS???!

Anyway, happy holidays or at least happy day off to all.

--Posted at 10:00 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Monday, December 22, 2014 Cashman pushes Yankees forward with youth movement

The Yankees are prepared to open the 2015 season with a 24-year-old shortstop and a 23-year-old second baseman. Three of their projected five starting pitchers could be 26 or younger. Out in the bullpen, Shawn Kelley might be the only reliever who has celebrated a 30th birthday.

Yes, friends, the Yankees are getting younger. Never saw that coming, did you? This shift toward more youth is one of the interesting storylines of general manager Brian Cashman’s offseason.

He remains focused on keeping the Yankees competitive. At the same time, he has started something of a transition at a time when his farm system appears to be stronger than it has been in years.

The Yankees still won’t qualify as a young team. They’ll still be counting on some older players, but not nearly as many as in recent years when Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte were part of the core.

I applaud the Yankees trying to get younger, but I am just not that comfortable that the young players they’ve brought in are particularly good.  But if they were definitely good, they wouldn’t have come at the price they did.

It kind of happened suddenly, which is why my initial reaction to the Yankees trading Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones was negative.  Upon a bit more thought, if the Yankees do actually now have a plan that doesn’t involve signing a bunch of washed up players while hoping for a dead-cat bounce, I embrace it.

It means they will probably not be very good this year, but they haven’t been very good for the last two seasons either.  But they should at least be a bit more interesting to watch than they have been over the last two seasons.

--Posted at 9:05 am by SG / 103 Comments | - (0)

Friday, December 19, 2014

NY Post: Yankees to get Marlins’ Eovaldi for Prado in five-player swap

The Yankees are close to bolstering their biggest question mark.

The team is finalizing a deal with the Marlins on a deal that would send Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and first baseman Garrett Jones plus power pitching prospect Domingo German, The Post’s Joel Sherman confirms.

Eovaldi, who turns 25 in February, went 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA last season for the Marlins. He gives the Yankees a proven arm in a rotation filled with unknowns.

This was a real gut punch, as watching a healthy Prado hit was one of the few things I was looking forward to with the 2015 Yankees on the offensive side of things, so it seemed quite curious to trade away one of the few strong parts of their biggest weakness. However, all said and done the trade is a pretty equal value deal, with the Yankees picking up a young pitcher who should at the very least eat up some innings. He’s likely a better bet to be a #4 starter than Phelps was. And Garrett Jones IS useful insurance for the inevitable Teix/A-Rod/Beltran injuries. And the Yankees might really be high on Rob Refsnyder, who could make up a lot of the value Prado was going to give just by himself, not even counting Eovaldi.

So while I don’t like the move, I understand it. Cashman is a smart GM when it comes to trades, so I really should just trust him. Plus this frees up about $6 million that could be put towards their budget for a starting pitcher, in which case this could be a really significant move if it helps them to land Scherzer.

EDITED TO ADD: Apparently the Yankes are paying $3 million of Prado’s salary this season and $3 million of his salary next season as part of the deal. I definitely don’t like that part. So this just frees up $3 million this season. 

--Posted at 1:59 pm by Brian Cronin / 132 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ESPN New York: Yankees not targeting Max Scherzer

Yankees president Randy Levine confirmed Thursday that the team is highly unlikely to bid on right-hander Max Scherzer, the top starting pitcher in this offseason’s free-agent crop.

“The chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million or over in my opinion is virtually none,’’ Levine told reporters at a midtown news conference to announce a broadcast deal between the YES Network and the New York Football Club. “At the end of the day you have to be realistic in any organization.’‘

Max Scherzer, 30, is believed to be seeking a deal in line with the six-year, $155 million contract Jon Lester recently signed with the Cubs.
Levine did not mention Scherzer by name, but his words echoed those of two sources who spoke to Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

“He’s a great pitcher,” the source said of Scherzer, “but not even the Yankees can have three $25 [million] to $30 million pitchers on the payroll. You just can’t.

Honestly, I still wouldn’t count them out on Scherzer, as that sure sounds like it might be a case of them trying to drive his price down.

--Posted at 11:01 pm by Brian Cronin / 90 Comments | - (0)

NY Post: Yankees give a stiff-arm to veteran closer Jason Grilli

The Yankees have not said they are done adding pieces to a revamped bullpen, but it doesn’t appear veteran reliever Jason Grilli will be joining the cast.

“We talked to Cash [Brian Cashman], and he said ‘not at the moment,’ ’’ said his agent, the former slugger Gary Sheffield, when asked if the Yankees were interested in the right-handed Grilli, who has 50 career saves. “We will sit back with the offers we have and wait.’’

The Yankees probably have more pressing needs than their bullpen, although I still would have liked to see them bring in a closer like Grilli and use Betances and Miller more optimally.  But one will be the closer, and one will pitch the eighth, and they’ll lose a bunch of games in the sixth and seventh instead.

In addition to Grilli, Rafael Soriano is a free-agent reliever with plenty of closing experience. The 34-year-old, who pitched for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, has 207 career saves.


--Posted at 9:17 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

USA Today: The Yankees are making A-Rod a DH, and he could actually help them there

After signing free agent third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year deal, Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested that returning slugger Alex Rodriguez will become a full-time designated hitter for the rest of his tenure in pinstripes.

“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman told the Associated Press. “Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side.

“We look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us.”

I’m not all that optimistic that Rodriguez is going to hit enough to be a tremendous DH, but Yankee DHs hit .230/.290/.372 last season.  Their only positions that had a lower OPS than that were right field (only two more years!) and shortstop.

Because of that, Rodriguez doesn’t necessarily have to be a tremendous DH to be an upgrade on last season.  CAIRO projects him at around .252/.333/.399, which is barely above replacement level at DH.  But over 500 PA, the difference between Rodriguez’s projection and the Yankee D"H"s last season would be about 14 runs.  That’s like a month’s worth of runs for the Yankees these days.

Anyway, I am not expecting a damn thing from Rodriguez this year, but I would absolutely love it if he has a decent season.  Not just because it would help the Yankees, who need a lot of help, but because it would annoy a lot of people.  And what’s better than annoying people, really?

--Posted at 10:13 am by SG / 48 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

YES Network: LHP Capuano returning to Yankees

Jack Curry is reporting that the Yankees have re-signed Chris Capuano for 1 year/$5 million.

I like Capuano as a back of the rotation arm, but the Yankees still need at least one more starter for me to be sanguine about their rotation next year. Hiroki Kuroda would do it, honestly. But Scherzer (at a more reasonable, sub $200 million, contract) would be better.

--Posted at 12:52 pm by Brian Cronin / 42 Comments | - (0)

NY Post: How Chase Headley perfectly embodies the 2015 Yankees

Perhaps no transaction better illustrates where the Yankees are right now than signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract.

The business model that has mainly enriched the Yankees for nearly four decades — see problem, throw wallet at problem — has ebbed toward being obsolete to them.

The number of elite position players in the game is at an historic low. The subset of those that ever become available to the Yankees is minuscule. The number of teams that could battle the Yankees for that minuscule group is larger than ever, both in free agency and trade.

I agree with Joel Sherman’s point here.  It’s a lot harder to bring elite players to your team from elsewhere now.  This is why the Yankees will be mediocre until they start producing their own talent again.

--Posted at 9:56 am by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yankees To Sign Chase Headley

Per Jon Heyman’s Twitter:


headley signing with yanks. 4 yrs, a little north of $50M

A year longer than I’d have preferred, but the terms seem fair overall.

--Posted at 11:03 am by SG / 69 Comments | - (0)

NYDN: Max Scherzer not likely to end up with Yankees, Brian Cashman says

Yankee fans hoping to see Max Scherzer in pinstripes probably won’t like what GM Brian Cashman said in a television appearance late Sunday night.

Asked by NBC’s Bruce Beck about Scherzer, the best free agent starter available this winter, Cashman said, “I think that’s a lot higher level than we’re willing to play in right now.

“I don’t think Yankee fans will be looking at Max Scherzer.”

Of course, Cashman could be posturing and the Yankees’ wants and needs could evolve over the off-season. But the club has been saying that it is unlikely to pursue a long-term contract for a pitcher that probably soars toward $200 million.

--Posted at 8:28 am by SG / 17 Comments | - (0)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Projecting the 2015 Yankees on December 12, 2014

In yesterday’s thread, there was some discussion about FanGraphs’ depth charts pegging the Yankees at around 82 wins.  Quickly eyeballing their depth charts told me that their playing time estimates are way off.  So I figured I’d take a shot at my own version of this and see how good the 2015 Yankees appear to be as of today, using the latest version of CAIRO which I just uploaded.


Fair warning before I start, it’s not pretty.

Let’s start with the position players.

Lineup Player Pos PA avg/obp/slg wOBA Outs BR BRAR Def WAR
1 Brett Gardner LF 525 .259/.337/.408 .320 353 65 14 5 1.9
2 Martin Prado 3B 575 .277/.331/.413 .318 404 67 20 5 2.5
3 Jacoby Ellsbury CF 575 .275/.337/.419 .323 391 75 28 4 3.2
4 Brian McCann C 500 .237/.307/.426 .307 360 57 23 0 2.3
5 Carlos Beltran RF 500 .264/.334/.455 .330 343 66 18 -5 1.3
6 Mark Teixeira 1B 415 .223/.319/.425 .313 292 50 6 4 1.1
7 Alex Rodriguez DH 300 .252/.333/.399 .315 207 35 2 0 0.2
8 Robert Refsnyder 2B 475 .251/.320/.385 .303 338 49 9 0 0.9
9 Didi Gregorius SS 500 .239/.307/.357 .289 354 48 10 -2 0.8
Starters 4365 .255/.325/.410 .313 3044 512 130 12 14.2
Bench Player Pos PA avg/obp/slg wOBA Outs BR BRAR Def WAR
John Ryan Murphy C 250 .224/.277/.356 .269 187 22 5 0 0.5
Austin Romine C 100 .224/.278/.340 .266 76 8 1 0 0.1
Chris Young OF 375 .228/.312/.420 .307 263 45 10 0 1.0
Eury Perez OF 200 .254/.296/.336 .276 144 18 -1 0 -0.1
Jose Pirela IF 150 .251/.305/.362 .288 107 14 2 0 0.2
Greg Bird 1B 100 .218/.311/.374 .296 71 11 0 0 0.0
Brendan Ryan SS 210 .209/.278/.290 .253 156 15 -1 3 0.2
Jonathan Galvez IF 50 .229/.286/.350 .273 37 4 0 0 0.0
Nick Noonan IF 20 .215/.263/.293 .244 15 1 0 0 0.0
Bench 1455 .230/.294/.359 .281 1056 137 16 3 1.9
Team Total 5820 .248/.318/.397 .305 4100 649 146 15 16.1

BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Outs: Estimated outs made at bat (including DPs)
Def: Estimated runs saved compared to average at position, pro-rated for playing time
WAR: BRAR + Def divided by 9.5

Although I have WAR listed for comparative purposes, we only really care about runs.  With this depth chart and these projections and based on the league average of about 4100 outs made at the plate in a typical season, the Yankees do figure to have a slightly better offense than last year according to linear weights, although they only pick up about 16 runs over last year’s meager 633.  Obviously, there are some assumptions here that may have a big impact on what they actually end up doing.  Robert Refsnyder may not make the team at all if they end up signing Chase Headley.  Or he could hit so well in spring training that he breaks camp as the starter and gets 600 or more PA and exceeds his projection while doing it.  But based on injury history and ages, I think these depth charts are realistic as of right now, although I am always open to suggestions.  We could even do a community playing time forecast if people are so inclined.

So that’s half of the team.  What about the other half? 

SP1 Masahiro Tanaka 165 150 64 20 32 161 3.61 3.25 3.33 3.5
SP2 Michael Pineda 165 142 62 17 38 137 3.55 3.29 3.45 3.6
SP3 CC Sabathia 150 155 84 22 42 134 4.86 4.29 4.10 1.1
SP4 David Phelps 150 149 79 20 61 126 4.79 4.39 4.42 1.2
SP5 Bryan Mitchell 100 113 63 15 54 72 5.65 5.25 5.21 -0.2
SP6 Ivan Nova 100 107 51 14 32 78 4.63 4.38 4.38 1.0
SP7 Luis Severino 50 54 25 5 17 41 4.38 3.96 3.81 0.6
SP8 Jaron Long 40 46 19 3 11 25 4.31 3.70 3.66 0.5
SP9 Jose De Paula 40 47 29 5 15 26 6.04 5.00 4.51 -0.2
SP10 Manny Banuelos 20 23 14 4 13 15 6.72 6.08 6.55 -0.3
Starters 980 985 492 127 315 817 4.52 4.09 4.09 10.8
CL Andrew Miller 70 51 26 6 31 96 3.26 2.88 2.80 1.4
SU Dellin Betances 70 60 29 6 36 83 3.77 3.41 3.46 1.0
SU Shawn Kelley 60 54 29 7 24 71 4.01 3.77 3.49 0.7
MR Adam Warren 60 58 26 6 23 49 4.04 3.88 3.95 0.7
MR Justin Wilson 50 46 27 5 26 41 4.82 4.49 4.43 0.1
MR Preston Claiborne 50 54 26 4 24 40 4.65 3.98 3.90 0.2
MR Esmil Rogers 50 55 29 7 20 40 4.99 4.83 4.65 0.1
MR Jacob Lindgren 30 30 19 2 21 30 5.11 4.55 4.05 0.0
LR Danny Burawa 30 34 19 2 23 27 5.39 4.89 4.55 -0.1
Relievers 470 442 230 45 229 476 4.41 3.93 3.81 4.2
Total 1450 1428 723 172 543 1294 4.49 4.04 4.00 14.9

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 9.5)

Again, even though WAR is listed here, we only care about runs.  In an ideal world, the Yankees get 200 innings out of Tanaka and Pineda and Sabathia can stay healthy and pitch to that projection and give them another 180-200 innings.  In the world I live in, it’s not a question of if Tanaka’s elbow will go, it’s a question of when.  I’m also not sanguine on a full and healthy season out of Pineda.  I can’t imagine Sabathia’s knee will ever allow him to make 30 starts again in a season, and I’m also not sure that projection is not a pipe dream and his days of being a better than replacement level pitcher are gone.  Phelps should be a fairly reliable back of the rotation guy.  You can flip Warren and Mitchell if you like, but Warren doesn’t project much better as a starter.  And Nova may not be able to pitch at all, or may not be any good if he does.

CAIRO LOVES Luis Severino and Jaron Long, but that’s just minor league translations and I’m not sure either is a good bet to reach their projections.  It doesn’t particularly like anyone of the other potential starters.  It has never like Manny Banuelos and I’m not sure why.

The bullpen looks a little better, particularly if you think Betances is better than his projection.  I think most of the lower depth relievers can exceed their projections if used appropriately by Joe Girardi, but adding another strong reliever would be a big help.

But the most glaring weakness on this team right now looks like the rotation.  And as much as I didn’t want the Yankees to get involved in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes, I can’t see how they can go into the season even pretending to be “A Championship Caliber Team™” without him.

If the Yankees don’t make any other moves, here’s the net.

 RS 649 
 Def 15 
 RA 723 
 wpct .460 
 p162 75 

I figure out estimated winning percentage using PythagenPat, and remove the estimated defensive runs saved from the projected pitcher runs allowed.  Even with all that, the Yankees look like a 75 win team.  Maybe you can pretend they will exceed their run differential again like they have the last two seasons and get to 77 or 78 wins.

Adding Scherzer and Headly might give them 6-7 more wins.  That might make them a fringy contender.  And if I’m pessimistic on the health of Tanaka/Pineda, they can obviously be better than that.  But a middle of the road guess without lots of hopeful assumptions pegs them as a bad team right now.

Imagine what they would look like if CAIRO wasn’t designed to make the Yankees look super-awesome!

--Posted at 9:26 am by SG / 91 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: Dodgers Sign Brandon McCarthy

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million. That’s a lot, but not unreasonable.

It’s getting late early this offseason. They could really use Headley a lot, but they really need two starting pitchers. I like Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million a heck of a lot better than Max Scherzer for whatever it is he is asking for (I think 50% of the moon) or Edinson Volquez for any sort of deal. Hiroki Kuroda, please don’t retire!

If the Yankees have budgetary problems, why in the world did they give Andrew Miller 4 years/$36 million?

The Yankees seem to excel the last few years at having confusing offseasons.

--Posted at 1:53 am by Brian Cronin / 80 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NY Post: Brian Cashman’s complicated Yankees wish list

SAN DIEGO — While the likelihood of the Yankees seducing Max Scherzer or James Shields remains small, general maanger Brian Cashman failed to shut the door on the possibility the club will sign one of the free-agent starters.

“It’s not in my best interest to say,’’ Cashman said when asked if the Yankees were going to get in on the high-end starters after not spending money to retain closer David Robertson, to whom they didn’t make an offer.

So one day after watching Robertson sign a four-year deal for $46 million with the White Sox and leave the Yankees’ closer job vacant, the Bombers continue their search for a third baseman, a starter and bullpen help.

The hardest part of projecting what the Yankees could do this year is figuring out their mess of a rotation.  While a front three of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia could be very good, they could also be hurt and/or ineffective.  And who the hell is the fifth starter now after David Phelps, Adam Warren?  Waiting for Ivan Nova to come back from ligament replacement surgery is probably not going to be a panacea as it takes time to get back to full strength, and we don’t necessarily even know exactly what a full-strength Ivan Nova actually is.

The Yankees probably need at least two starting pitchers, because their organization depth in the rotation is pretty crappy.  Where will they find them?  Who knows…

--Posted at 8:25 am by SG / 53 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: White Sox to Sign David Robertson

The White Sox have agreed to sign David Robertson to a four-year deal worth more than $40MM, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).  Robertson has been zeroed in on landing a four-year deal this winter and he found a team happy to give him one with a solid average annual value.

I guess the Yankees’ leverage wasn’t as good as they thought (by the way, when they say “in excess of $40 million,” they better mean close to $50, but I think it might very well be that the Yankees felt that Miller and Robertson were interchangeable and Miller didn’t cost a draft pick).

I get the logic behind this move, I really do, but man, it still is not a fun feeling.

It also sort of kills me that the White Sox are going for it so big right now (this signing, trading for Shark, signing LaRoche) in large part due to the fact that they have three star players signed to super affordable contracts, allowing them a lot of room to expand payroll - Chris Sale is one.

The other two, though, are 1. Jose Abreu, who the Yankees didn’t go after because, what? They wanted to keep DH open to rest guys? I seriously don’t know their motivation in not at least giving Abreu a look to drive his price up at the very least. The dude ended up signing for less than $12 million a year and the Yankees paid Carlos Beltran $45 million over 3 years at the same time and
2. Jose Quintana, who the Yankees cut (to be fair, unlike Abreu, no one here was saying, “No, not Jose Quintana!” And we complain about, like, David Adams being DFAed, so I’m not really saying that the Yankees screwed up so much as it was just an annoyingly bad break). .

Robertson always had trouble for some reason with the White Sox, so it is kind of funny to see him go pitch for them.

The Yankees are now down to just four players still on the team from the 2009 World Series Champions.

Thanks for a good Yankee career, David! I wish they had extended you before it got to this!

--Posted at 12:46 am by Brian Cronin / 83 Comments | - (0)

Monday, December 8, 2014

NY Post: Yankees bought leverage for Robertson, Headley talks

SAN DIEGO — The acquisitions of Martin Prado in July and Andrew Miller last week were, of course, designed to improve the Yankees.

But in each case the Yankees also saw players who would create depth to withstand defections and, perhaps, give them leverage in negotiations.

One of Brian Cashman’s selling points to ownership on taking on Prado not just for the rest of 2014, but also the two years at $22 million he is owed through 2016 was that players of Prado’s skill level would cost far more in free agency.

Prado does give the Yankees a lot of flexibility in how they go about filling the gaping holes they have on their roster.  The more I think about it, the more I am ok with letting Headley go and giving Robert Refsnyder first crack at 2B, with Prado at 3B.  On paper, it might cost the Yankees about two wins, but I just don’t like the idea of committing to Headley for four years given his age, his known back issues and his good but not great track record.

As for Robertson, I would love to see him back, but if the Yankees decide he’s not worth what it will take to sign him I’d be fine with them finding a stop-gap type like Jason Grilli to pitch the ninth so they can leverage Betances and Miller more optimally.  I’m not sure I’d be as good with them anointing Miller or Betances as ‘the closer.’

--Posted at 11:53 am by SG / 37 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Yankees Starting Pitching - The Now (briefly), The Near Future and the Distant Future

We’ve been telling ourselves that the Yankees rotation is a strength all offseason. It very well could be, but it’s tenuous, especially following the Gregorious-Greene trade (and I’m not a huge fan of Greene). Even with CC relegated to a mid/end of the rotation starter, the Yankees rotation has serious elite level potential. When they were healthy, Tanaka and Pineda were top tier pitchers, Tanaka was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball when he was actually pitching.

Unfortunately, they were not healthy. Pineda still carries concerns over the sturdiness of his shoulder and Tanaka is pitching with a compromised elbow. Phelps is OK as a back end starter, he might even be an above average 4th starter. No one is really sure what CC is anymore, It’s possible that he could pull a Mussina and reinvent himself as a crafty (actual) lefty. But he’s likely going to be more of a left-handed Phelps.

Even though I didn’t have a ton of faith in Greene’s ability to repeat his 2014 success, moving him opened up a huge hole in the rotation, not just in the fact that he was one of the 5 projected rotation members, but that he was also the only dedicated starter without any recent or pertinent health issues.

Nova will return at some point to bolster the rotation, and he could be anywhere from the #2 he has teased in the past to the AAAA starter he has confounded us with as well. Where it was important that the Yankees sign an established MLB starter before, it is now nearly as important that they sign 2. They have Whitley, Warren, Esmil Rogers and Jose De Paula but (spoiler) none of them are guys you want making a ton of starts.

Even if they do, with the health question marks surrounding the rotation, it is nearly certain that the Yankees will have to dip into their MiL depth. So let’s take a look at what’s available:


Let’s start with the only guy on this list who received any MLB time in 2014: Bryan Mitchell. Mitchell has been a Yankees top prospect for years. He’s always had huge stuff, a big fastball matched with a great curve and good tertiary pitches. The problem has always been his control/command. Despite his suspect ability to locate the ball, he’s steadily progressed through the Yankees MiL system and ended 2014 at AAA. In many ways he’s similar to Nova who also always had huge stuff, but never was able to parlay said stuff into dominant MiL results.

Here’s the general scouting report on Mitchell. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball with movement. He actually has the ability to consistently throw strikes, but he does not have the ability to reliably spot it within the zone. Backing that up is an incredible hard curve that represents his clear #2 pitch. But, he’s not a 2 pitch guy, he also boasts a change up and a cutter, both of which have shown plus potential. Mitchell is a mirage of potential, if everything can come together you have a top of the line pitcher on your hands, maybe even an Ace. But he still needs to learn to aggressively throw strikes and trust in the dominance of his raw stuff. If he doesn’t it’s pretty easy to see the CAIRO projection below being very accurate.
CAIRO - 5.65 RA/ 5.21 FIP in 93 innings for -0.4 WAR (-0.9 WAR over 200 innings)

With Mitchell out of the way, Manny Banuelos looms large. This is a guy who has been on the verge of making the ML since 2012. However, since then he’s been injured and slightly underwhelming. One commenter on this board foolishly predicted that Banuelos would have a significant impact on the Yankees rotation in 2014 (I won’t name names). Instead, Banuelos reasonably spent the year shaking off rust and relearning how to pitch after basically 2 years off of pitching. In some ways, Banuelos is similar to Mitchell. He’s got big stuff but big questions. As a lefty, Banuelos sits in the low to mid-90s with his fastball and boasts a plus changeup and flashes a plus curve to complement his heat. Since his big 2010, Banuelos has struggled some with throwing strikes, partially because of an uptick and stuff and partially due to an elbow injury that culminated in TJS. However, in his innings limited return in 2014, he showed improved control with the same stuff he displayed before his injury.

Banuelos’ size is a small concern, he stands only 5’10,” but regaining his standing as an elite prospect by showing he can pitch deep into games is far more important. In 2014, he rarely breached 3 innings in a start, primarily because the Yankees wanted to limit his workload in a return season after nearly 2 full years off. With 3 plus pitches and ability to throw strikes and command all 3 from the left side, he’s still a potential front-end starter. But he has to regain his stamina before he is a ML option. Since the bulk of his upper minor numbers are a bit uninspiring due to his issues with control related to his injury, CAIRO is not particularly optimistic, I don’t think Banuelos will have an issue out performing his projections if he is called upon.
CAIRO - 6.72 RA/6.55 FIP in 65 innings for -0.8 WAR (-2.5 WAR over 200 innings)

We’ve already hit two guys with long standing hype, with those two out of the way, it’s hard to ignore the Yankees prospect with the most helium: Luis Severino. Severino has had two exemplary season in the Yankees system, dominating the low minors and broaching the high minors across two years from 2013 to 2014. Realistically, there’s no reason to expect Severino until 2016, but things could go really poorly for the Yankees, or more optimistically, really, really well for Severino. He has the ability to blast through AA and AAA and force a promotion to the ML if everything really clicks and the Yankees have a need.

In some ways, Severino is the right handed version of Banuelos. He’s a bit undersized (6’ flat), but boasts a big fastball and plus secondary pitches. He sits in the low to mid 90s, but can vary his fastball from the low 90s to the mid-90s with an easy motion that provides deception and good movement. As for secondary pitches, he boasts a slider and a changeup, giving him good weapons against both sides of the plate. While he boasts good stuff across the board like Banuelos and Mitchell, he doesn’t carry any major questions, consistently showing the ability to throw his pitches for strikes deep into games.
CAIRO - 4.38 RA/ 3.81 FIP in 52 innings for 0.5 WAR (1.9 WAR over 200 innings)

Other potential 2015 contributors: Zach Nuding, Jaron Long

But, the future doesn’t end at the end of 2015. The Yankees have other pitching prospects who will be ready sometime after 2015:


Ian Clarkin was one of the Yankees 3 first round/compensation round picks in 2013. He’s a lefty with a fastball in the low 90s and a very good curveball. He rounds out his repertoire with a changeup that still needs work, but is a viable pitch now. Long term, he has a chance to develop a bit more velocity and have his changeup develop into a 3rd plus pitch. As it is he looks like he could be a solid mid to front of the rotation starter combining his mature approach to pitching with 3 solid to plus pitches. Clarkin could break in sometime during 2016 if the Yankees are aggressive with him, but 2017 is a more likely date for him to make the MLB as a regular.

Ty Hensley is a big, powerful righty, basically your prototypical power pitcher. He sits in the low to mid 90s from the right side with the ability to hit the upper 90s. His fastball isn’t just velocity, also showing late movement to help prevent solid contact against it. A 12-6 power curve is his clear second pitch, grading out as a plus, he has the ability to throw is in the zone for strikes and out of the zone for swings and misses. His changeup is still developing and is the most important pitch for him to develop into the frontline starter he has the potential to be. Sadly, he’s been sidelined by a series of injuries to his core, including surgery for a sports hernia. During limited time in 2014 Hensley displayed the ability to limit hits while striking out plenty of batters. The potential is there, Hensley just needs to stay healthy and build up some stamina on his arm. Due to his injuries, he’s probably about a half season behind Clarkin, despite being drafted a year earlier. Look for him sometime in 2017.

Austin DeCarr was the top starter taken by the Yankees in the 2014 draft (3rd round). He has an interesting back ground and is a guy worth keeping an eye on. He was drafted out of HS, but was really in a “post-grad” year, so he’s around a year older than a normal HS pick. Unlike most high school picks, there’s not a ton of projection for DeCarr, he’s already as big as you’d like to see him, 6’3” 220. He throws reasonably hard, sitting in the low 90s, but there’s not really any hope of any improvement. Fortunately, he backs that up with a hard, hammer curve that is fearsome. His changeup still needs work, and his whole package is a bit raw (coming from a Northern state). But he could move quickly and looks like potentially a solid, if unspectacular starter. He has an outside chance to make the MLB in 2017, but 2018 is more likely.

Other guys to keep an eye on: Rookie Davis (2016), Brady Lail (2016/17), Caleb Smith (2017), Domingo Acevedo (?)

--Posted at 6:28 pm by Snuggles T. Porcupine / 32 Comments | - (0)

Friday, December 5, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees To Sign Andrew Miller

The Yankees and Andrew Miller have agreed to a four-year, $36MM contract, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. Miller is a client of Frontline Athlete Management.

The 29-year-old Miller (30 next May) broke out in a huge way in 2014, pitching to a 2.02 ERA with an eye-popping 14.9 K/9 (an AL record), 2.5 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 62 1/2 innings for the Red Sox and Orioles. He went on to throw another 7 1/3 shutout innings with an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in the postseason as well. Miller will pair with Dellin Betances — an electric breakout story himself — at the back of the Yankee bullpen, giving manager Joe Girardi a pair of dominant late-inning options.

This probably means David Robertson is gone, which sort of stinks, but CAIRO projects them almost identically for next year.

Robertson 68 67 53 22 21 7 24 2 88 2.97 2.83 2.84 14 1.4
Miller 62 60 46 22 19 5 26 4 82 3.26 2.88 2.80 11 1.1

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 10)

When you see that, and you factor in that the Yankees will likely be spending less on Miller and will gain a compensation pick when Robertson signs elsewhere, this is a pretty solid move.  If they do bring back Robertson as well, they could have a really nasty back-end of the bullpen, but I can’t see that happening at this point.

It was a treat to see Robertson come up as a non-prospect and become a truly magnificent reliever, and I’m sad that he’s likely gone, but it’s pretty hard to justify paying him what he’s looking for.  I wish the Yankees had tried to extend him prior to the season when they may have been able to keep him at a more reasonable committment, but they didn’t and here’s where we are now.

Last year was Miller’s first truly dominant season, but his stuff is top-shelf, and he’s got a great prospect pedigree.  He’s also a completely different pitcher now as a reliever than he was when he was a struggling starter.  I don’t know that he carries more risk to be ineffective than any other pitcher, really.  So I’ll give the Yankees a lukewarm thumbs up here, only because of my emotional attachment to Robertson.  As a pure baseball move, I can’t find fault with this if this is the going rate for a high-end free agent reliever.

--Posted at 3:57 pm by SG / 54 Comments | - (0)

CBS New York: Report: Yankees Acquire Didi Gregorius, Trade Shane Greene In 3-Team Deal

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.
It’s a three-team deal with the Tigers and D-backs. Detroit is getting starting pitcher Shane Greene from the Yankees and Arizona is getting starting pitcher Robbie Ray and a minor leaguer from Detroit.
According to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti, general manager Brian Cashman tried to acquire Gregorius at last year’s Winter Meetings but was unsuccessful.

This trade really doesn’t make sense for Detroit, as they specifically targeted Robbie Ray in the Doug Fister trade just last year and now they’re flipping him for Shane Greene? Weeeeird.

As for the Yankees, this is getting a very strong value for Shane Greene, who had a great rookie season but whose minor league numbers never suggested that he would be as good as he was in his first year as a Yankee, suggesting perhaps that there was a crash coming. Gregorius is a very good defender with such good range that it should help whoever the Yankees pair him with at second. In addition, there are signs that Gregorius’ is not as bad of a hitter as he has shown in the Majors so far. As Marc Simon pointed out, Gregorius was one of just 34 Major Leaguers with a hard hit rate of 20% or greater last season. That’s a good sign for a hitter (he was right behind Giancarlo Stanton). Plus, as a lefty he should do well with the short porch at Yankee Stadium (his first Major League at-bat was a home run at Yankee Stadium).

Good move by Cashman, although it highlights that the Yankees now really need another starting pitcher, possibly two even.

--Posted at 10:47 am by Brian Cronin / 74 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TGS NY: Source: Yankees cooling on Chase Headley, high on Rob Refsnyder

Now, however, the Headley fever seems to have cooled, especially since the Pablo Sandoval deal with the Red Sox—five years, $95 million—seems to have stiffened Headley’s resolve to get a five-year deal of his own. According to a baseball source I spoke with Tuesday, the Yankees are not willing to give Headley five years, considering his age (31 in May), so-so offensive production the past two seasons, and lingering lower back problems, which could lead to surgery at some point over the length of a five-year contract.

This could all be posturing, of course, in the hopes that Headley will back off on his demands. Or it could be that the Yankees are seriously considering an influx of youth in their infield.

The source, who has intimate knowledge of the team’s inner workings, said the Yankees are exploring the possibility of using Martin Prado at third, where he has played most of his big league games, and giving young Rob Refsnyder every opportunity to win the second-base job in spring training.

“There are a lot of people in [the Yankees’] organization who want to give Refsnyder a shot,” the source said. “They think he’s [their] best hitter.”

No way in hell I go to five years on Headley.  Refsnyder does appear to deserve a chance, and CAIRO thinks he’s ready to hit passably well at the MLB level in 2015 (.251/.320/.385).  Sadly, that line may actually make him the Yankees’ best hitter.  If he hits his 65% CAIRO forecast of .261/.337/.412 he is almost at Headley’s baseline.

Even if Refsnyder’s not their best hitter (and it’s not fair to ask a rookie to provide the kind of dynamic game-changing offense that TPBG™ provides), Refsnyder at least provides some intrigue and is a player I would find interesting to watch on a team that has become increasingly difficult to watch.  His glove is likely still a work in progress and he may not hit right out of the chute, but I would be fine with the Yankees taking a chance on him. 

Hopefully if they do so, they’re willing to be patient with him if he exhibits any growing pains.

--Posted at 2:31 pm by SG / 91 Comments | - (0)

CBS Sports: Yankees non-tender Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, David Huff

The Yankees non-tendered outfielder Slade Heathcott, and pitchers Jose Campos and David Huff prior to Tuesday’s deadline, making them free agents, reports the New York Post.

I’m a bit surprised that the Yankees non-tendered Heathcott and Campos, but without knowing what their medical reports look like I’ll assume they know what they’re doing.  I’ll ignore the fact that they could have kept them both for less than one-fourth of what they will be paying Esmil Rogers to provide replacement level innings, because that makes it harder to assume that they know what they’re doing.

As for Huff, I expect him to be in pinstripes again at some point during the 2015 season.

--Posted at 9:34 am by SG / 17 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 Yankees Avoid Arbitration With Esmil Rogers

I was on the fence with whether the Yankees would non-tender Esmil Rogers, as they definitely seemed to be a fan of him after they picked him up and he certainly has some talent, so it is not a huge shock that they avoided arbitration with him and re-signed him to a deal for $1.48 million (roughly half of which is guaranteed), but it is still a bit of a surprise, especially since that means that there is one less 40-man roster spot available for other moves.

Ben-Nicholson Smith reported it first. Jon Heyman was the first one to get the $1.48 million figure.

--Posted at 7:58 pm by Brian Cronin / 17 Comments | - (0) Stay or go? Yankees must decide on 6 arbitration-eligible players

The Yankees have a bunch of decisions to make today.

Teams have until midnight to offer new deals to unsigned players. The Yankees six players eligible for salary arbitration. If it doesn’t offer one of them a contract, he would become a free agent.

Some of the Yankees’ decisions are easy — of course they’ll offer Michael Pineda a contract. But what about relievers David Huff and Esmil Rogers, two players they might consider replaceable?

The six Yankees eligible for arbitration are:

David Phelps
Shawn Kelley
Ivan Nova

I am guessing they will tender everyone but Huff and Rogers.

--Posted at 9:23 am by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Monday, December 1, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees In “Serious Pursuit” Of Andrew Miller

The Yankees are in “serious pursuit” of lefty Andrew Miller, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). Olney adds that given the teams that are showing the most interest in Miller, a four-year deal is likely, as others have indicated.

Miller was said last week to have multiple three-year offers already in hand, leading to further speculation that four years was the likely outcome. Over the weekend, reports indicated that he’d pared his list of possible destinations down to eight clubs, with AL East rivals Boston and Baltimore among the teams to have shown interest. On Saturday, Miller’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that the lefty was advancing toward a decision.

So as I read this, I wonder to myself if I would rather have Miller for the next four years at let’s say $10M or Robertson at $12M?  Luckily, I can just ask CAIRO.  Here’s how it compares the two for 2015 as Yankees.

Miller: 60 IP, 46 H,  22 R, 19 ER, 5 HR, 26 BB, 82 K, 3.26 RA, 2.88 ERA, 2.80 FIP
Robertson: 67 IP, 53 H, 22 R, 21 ER, 7 HR, 24 BB, 88 K, 2.97 RA, 2.83 ERA, 2.84 FIP

I’d rather have both honestly, but that’s not very likely.  I suppose you can make the case that you’d rather have Miller, the difference in salary (if there is one) and the draft pick over Robertson.  But Robertson has been better for longer and Miller has never been as good as he was last year.  They are the same age so that’s not an issue.

Give me one and I suppose I’m happy.  Well, not happy.  Less unhappy.

--Posted at 9:16 am by SG / 47 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

NYDN: Yankees rule out Jimmy Rollins for shortstop

The Yankees must find a replacement for Derek Jeter, but apparently it’s unlikely to be Philadelphia star Jimmy Rollins.

The Yanks found the price tag for a potential trade for Rollins too high when they called the Phillies to broach the subject, a baseball official with knowledge of the conversation confirmed. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported via Twitter Wednesday that the Yankees offered a “utility player” and the Phillies had much more in mind because of how much they value their shortstop.

Plus, Stark reported, Phils GM Ruben Amaro described Rollins as “somebody we want on our club” who would be “very hard to replace.”

Amaro seems like a serious pain in the ass to deal with, doesn’t he?

Rollins would have been a nice stop-gap pick up at the right price.  CAIRO projects that Rollins would hit .247/.323/.385 in 637 PA as a Yankee, which would be worth about 2.6 offensive WAR.  But he only would have been a temporary solution to what currently looks like a long-term need.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful that Amaro is not the Yankees’ GM.  And I am thankful for the readers here.  Enjoy your meals!

--Posted at 8:06 am by SG / 55 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NYDN: Yankees won’t get into bidding war for Chase Headley, according to source

Pablo Sandoval collected a payday of nearly $100 million from the Red Sox. Now Chase Headley is primed to cash in with a meaty contract of his own.

No, Headley won’t be looking at a deal approaching nine figures like the Panda did, but with Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez both headed to Boston, the 30-year-old now represents the best −only? − third baseman available on the free-agent market this winter.

The Yankees remain interested in bringing Headley back to the Bronx, where he hit .268/.371/.398 in 58 games, a stark improvement from the .229/.296/.355 slash line he posted in 77 games with the Padres before being traded to the Bombers.

Headley was believed to be seeking a three-year deal when the offseason began, but now that Sandoval and Ramirez have scored deals of five and four years, respectively, Headley − a better defender than Sandoval, although a slightly lesser offensive weapon − is likely to land himself a four-year deal worth $56 million-$60 million according to two industry sources.

I finally got around to starting my 2015 CAIRO projections, which are probably not ready for release quite yet, but they peg Headley to hit something like .254/.348/.414 with 18 HRs over 594 PA as a Yankee in 2015, which would be worth about 2.5 wins above a replacement level 3B.  If you believe DRS, he projects to save about seven runs over an average 3B defensively.  If you lean more towards UZR, he’s closer to 10 runs above average defensively. 

Let’s say he’s a 3.5 win 3B right now, and would likely lose about 0.6 wins per year.  A four year deal for Headley gets you about 10 WAR.  What’s the fair market rate for that?  Apparently it’s $56-60 million which seems reasonable.  I think I’d do it if I were the Yankees, although if I were the Yankees there’s a whole bunch of other crap I’d be doing as well. 

--Posted at 8:03 am by SG / 42 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NY Times: This Time, the Yankees Shrug as the Red Sox Spend

In years past, if the Boston Red Sox made a high-profile acquisition in the off-season, the Yankees sometimes reacted with one of their own.

When Boston signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Yankees went and picked up Kei Igawa. When the Red Sox were close to signing Mark Teixeira, the Yankees swept in at the last moment and stole him away. And when the Red Sox wanted Jose Contreras, the Yankees opened the vault for him, too.

But those days have been over for a long time. On Monday, the Red Sox committed nearly $200 million to sign Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez in a surprising combination of moves that resembled Yankees tactics of the past. But the Yankees barely flinched.

They remained quiet, sticking to their off-season plan to add specific and moderate pieces without spending nearly as lavishly as they did a year ago. Back then, the additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson came at a cost of roughly half a billion dollars over the length of all the deals, and the Yankees still did not make the playoffs.

The hope is that the contracts will still pay off, particularly with Ellsbury, McCann and Tanaka.

Yeah, keep hoping.

--Posted at 10:16 am by SG / 26 Comments | - (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

CBS Sports: Sweeny’s Yankees Notes: D-Rob, ‘Replacing Jeter,’ Finding A Lefty Pitcher

I spoke to an MLB executive this week who believes David Robertson will get a three-year deal for $39 million or a four-year deal for $52 million. Some pretty good neighborhoods to occupy.

I would think the three-year deal is one the Yankees would easily do, but the four-year deal is something they might have to think more about. Consider that in two years Dellin Betances will hit arbitration and start to make more significant money, too.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m fascinated by Jimmy Rollins. He turns 36 next week, but has only one year left on his contract in Philadelphia for $11 million. He’s realistically only slightly above average at this stage, both offensively and defensively. But Rollins is also a veteran with leadership skills and some swagger. Those qualities will serve him well as the guy “replacing Derek Jeter.” It’s not a long-term commitment, and if the Yankees are willing to take on the entire salary it might not take a lot in prospect cost to get him.

Robertson’s gone.  I guarantee it.  It bothers me that the Yankees didn’t try to extend him before last season when they could have probably kept him for a more reasonable price.  Then again, it’s not like closer is going to really matter with the team looking like a mid 70s win team, maybe high 70s if things break just right.

As for Rollins, sure, why not?

--Posted at 9:24 am by SG / 73 Comments | - (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baseball America: Yankees Sign No. 23 International Prospect Bryan Emery

Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, the No. 23 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Yankees.

Emery, 16, was the last available player from Baseball America’s Top 30 international prospects list for July 2, and the signing gives the Yankees 10 of those top 30 players.

Emery is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with a loose swing from the left side. He had been switch-hitting, though he’s hit exclusively lefthanded in recent months. He’s strong and generates easy, explosive power, though leading up to July 2, there were mixed reviews about his game hitting, partly because of his environment.

Adding young and talented players is certainly a good thing.  And Emery’s young enough that he should be hitting his peak age of 27 by the time the Yankees are relevant again.

--Posted at 9:25 am by SG / 47 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014 Which Yankees will get Rule 5 Draft protection today?

Today is the deadline for teams to add Rule 5 Draft eligible players to their 40-man rosters. Any players who are eligible, but aren’t added to a roster, can be plucked away by other teams during the Dec. 11 selection.

Players eligible for the draft mostly include high school and international players signed in 2010 and college players signed in 2010.

The Yankees currently have 36 spots filled on their 40-man roster. Here’s a look at the notable players they will consider protecting.

I’ll save you the pain of watching the slide show and list the 10 players the article runs through:

1. Tyler Austin, OF
2. Mason Williams, OF
3. Kyle Roller, 1B
4. Mark Montgomery, RHP
5. Branden Pinder, RHP
6. Cito Culver, SS
7. Zach Nuding, RHP
8. Matt Tracy, LHP
9. Nik Turley, LHP
10. Danny Burawa, RHP

I think Burawa and Austin are just about locks to be added to the 40 man roster.  That leaves two spots for the other eight, although they could also free up spots being held by some of the more fringy players on the roster, like David Huff, Eury Perez, Zelous Wheeler, or Jacoby Ellsbury.

Update: Per Mark Feinsand on Twitter:

The Yankees added OF Tyler Austin, RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Branden Pinder & OF Mason Williams to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5.

--Posted at 9:39 am by SG / 46 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fangraphs:  Yoan Moncada Is Affecting All of International Baseball

I point all of this out because this international bonus pool penalty fund had about $10 million in it through the first two signing periods under the new roles.  After the Yankees obliterated bonus records this year, along with less extreme overages by the Red Sox, Rays and Angels, another roughly $23 million was added to the fund.  Given the runaway hype train that is Moncada’s projected bonus, I’d estimate his upcoming deal will add another $40 million to the fund.  That means that a fund that was probably never intended to have much more than $10 million in it will soon have over $70 million in it.  In effect, the leeway around MLB’s international rules will net them over $70 million that some argue should be going to these kids, but instead will presumably be going toward creating an international draft, the one thing nearly no one involved in this market wants to happen.

Another excellent article by Kiley McDaniel about the world of international baseball, specifically about the fund where the penalty money on whichever team bids on Moncada will go - it really does sort of sound like the Yankees will almost single-handedly destroy the current international free agent system. Although, it sure looks like they’re just playing the game as presented to them. Make sure to read the article - there’s also a really good section where McDaniel explains how an international draft wouldn’t really work for anyone.

Tip of the hat to Snuggles for the link.

--Posted at 1:33 pm by Brian Cronin / 27 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NY Post: How Elvis Andrus fits into Yankees’ winter juggling act

Everything the Yankees have their prints on comes with a catch.

How much of Elvis Andrus’ money will the Rangers swallow if they are serious about moving the 26-year-old shortstop who begins an eight-year deal worth $118 million in 2015 that houses a $23 million vesting option for 2023?

With the Yankees looking for Derek Jeter’s replacement, they are intrigued about adding a young player with six years of big league experience and a two-time All Star. Yet, several talent evaluators doubt the Yankees have what the Rangers are looking for — starting pitching and/or a corner outfielder — unless the Rangers go into full salary dump mode.

The Rangers also are interested in seeing how much interest there is in 32-year-old outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who has six years and $116 million left on his pact. But the Yankees are set with Brett Gardner in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and have their fingers firmly crossed that Carlos Beltran will be able to play right field.

There’s been a lot of recent murmuring about the Yankees and Andrus, so there might actually be a fire to go with all of that smoke. If that’s the case, I do appreciate that the narrative is already about the Rangers eating money on the deal.

By the way, yesterday I made a joke about Jon Heyman articles and how they always seem to end up with stuff like “This Scott Boras client is undervalued” or “A mystery team is interested in this Scott Boras client.” Well, shockingly enough, Heyman has a new article out - “Might Yanks revisit their low-key winter plan and shoot for Scherzer?” Here’s a choice quote, “Scherzer looks like such a standout as a free agent—a 30-year-old pitcher with a dynamic fastball, stellar change-up and slider, and an emerging curve—that it’s been shocking to see such abject silence to this point.” Boy, I wonder who Scherzer’s agent is?

--Posted at 4:07 am by Brian Cronin / 33 Comments | - (0)

Monday, November 17, 2014

NY Daily News: Yankees bullpen Brian Cashman’s top priority, following model of Kansas City Royals

It’s a changing game where, as both the Royals and the Giants demonstrated, the bullpen is everything now. As Cashman discovered last year when CC Sabathia went down and was hardly missed, and the subsequent loss of Masahiro Tanaka was likewise barely felt, you don’t need a 250-inning, 20-win horse to compete. It’s nice if you have one (or two, if you’re the Los Angeles Dodgers), but the vast majority of starting pitchers now are out of the games after six innings and/or 100 pitches, and if you don’t have the relievers who can consistently get you those last nine outs, you’re sunk.

This is why re-signing David Robertson is Cashman’s absolute top priority and why, if Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy get above-market, four-year offers elsewhere, the Yankees will simply move on.

With Robertson in tow, and Dellin Betances supported by Wilson and emerging system lefty Jacob Lindgren, plus Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren, the Yankees could have one of the deepest bullpens in the AL.

The Yankees would like to re-sign McCarthy, but as much as they were impressed by how his ability to produce ground balls played to Yankee Stadium, they aren’t allowing themselves to overlook his entire career — which is essentially that of an under-.500 pitcher, with an ERA of over 4.00 and more hits allowed than innings.

Much like Peter Gammons, while I disagree with most of Bill Madden’s positions on baseball-related matters, I do respect him as one of the top baseball insiders out there (and unlike say, Jon Heyman, Madden doesn’t seem to have a particular angle with his insider information. No “Sources say that this Scott Boras client has multiple big offers out there” or “The most undervalued free agent out there right now is this Scott Boras client”). So when Bill Madden says that the Yankees’ top priority is re-signing David Robertson, I tend to believe him. However, that information conflicts with other insiders who say that Headley is the Yankees’ top priority. It will be interesting to see which insider is correct.

By the way, speaking of issues I have with Madden, check out this quote:

Meanwhile, with or without Headley, Cashman knows he’s going to need a backup first baseman but that could be anyone, from free agent Mike Carp to unsung, non-roster system guy Kyle Roller, who hit 26 homers between Double-A and Triple-A this past season. Did somebody say Alex Rodriguez? Only in Fantasyland.

Out of nowhere Alex Rodriguez insults? You know you’re reading the Daily News!

--Posted at 5:57 am by Brian Cronin / 45 Comments | - (0)

Friday, November 14, 2014

NY Post: Yankees’ offseason strategy is like high-stakes game of chicken

The Yankees have unleashed their July strategy in November.

So often the stalking horse of the offseason, including last year when they spent nearly half-a-billion dollars on four major free agents, the Yanks are deploying a more deliberate strategy this time.
It is the ploy general manager Brian Cashman so often uses during the season in trade discussion: 1) Aggressively make clear what you want. 2) Define a price in dollars or player return that you are willing to pay. 3) Do not budge much, if at all, from that price. 4) Be able to walk away if the price is not acceptable and move on to the next option.

This is essentially high-stakes chicken, seeing who will blink. The Yankees gamble that regardless of what the other side says, they really do not have other good options and eventually will come back to the Yanks. Often it is because teams are looking to move dollars, and the Yankees correctly surmise they are the only ones willing to accept it.

We saw this, for example, play out twice during last season with the Diamondbacks. The Yankees offered Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy and waited more than a month until Arizona eventually accepted that.
Then, in the few weeks before the July 31 trade deadline, the Yankees offered Pete O’Brien for Martin Prado. Arizona was fixated on catcher John Ryan Murphy. The Yanks actually became convinced the D’backs would not blink in that request. Then, with less than an hour to go until the deadline, Arizona called to say it would accept O’Brien.

And we already have seen this strategy shifted to this offseason.

Interesting info from Sherman about the Diamondbacks asking for Murphy. What I also found interesting today was reading somewhere else that Cashman had tried to trade Cervelli for Justin Wilson two years ago. I remember him trying to trade Cervelli for a Pittsburgh reliever, but I didn’t know it was Wilson.

--Posted at 3:48 pm by Brian Cronin / 39 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014 Yankees working on multiyear deal for Robertson

The Yankees have opened negotiations on a multiyear deal with free-agent closer David Robertson only days after the right-hander turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer, general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday as the annual General Managers Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore went into their second full day.

“I met with Robertson’s guy yesterday,” Cashman said, referring to Robertson’s California-based agent Scott Leventhal, during his media availability. “We had our first post-qualifying offer turndown discussion. There’s really nothing to report, but yeah, we met with him for a while.”

Man, what is up with these headlines? First the Yankees “land” Justin Wilson and now this headline, which sure makes it sound like the Yankees and Robertson are working out a deal while the actual article itself makes it sound like Cashman and Robertson’s agent are only barely touching base with each other and not actually coming together to do a deal as of yet. I don’t think there is anything here to really report about, but since they were so willing to go with this headline I figured I couldn’t pass up posting it here in case they actually are a lot closer to a deal than we think.

--Posted at 4:52 am by Brian Cronin / 37 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Yankees land reliever Wilson from Pirates

he Yankees have acquired left-hander Justin Wilson from the Pirates in exchange for catcher Francisco Cervelli, both clubs announced on Wednesday evening.

Wilson, 27, was 3-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 70 appearances with Pittsburgh in 2014, and he projects to compete for a bullpen role with the Yankees this coming spring. In three Major League seasons, the lefty is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 136 appearances.

“Thank you Pittsburgh!” Wilson said on his Twitter account. “Will never forget the great time I had with the Pirates. Going to miss the organization and my teammates, but excited to join the Yankees! Tradition and a first class organization. Can’t wait for Yankee baseball. Hope I look good in pinstripes!”

You have to love that headline. “No way, they didn’t land THE Justin Wilson!” How do you title it “Yankees land Wilson”? Wilson is a legitimately talented pitcher and has room to grow and might become a top notch reliever (he’s already a good one) but you don’t “land” guys like him.

Silly rhetorical semantics aside, I don’t like the deal but I don’t hate it either. I’d like to believe that Cervello had more trade value than a decent reliever, but maybe he didn’t. I sort of trust Cashman to know what Cervello’s trade market was. And between Murphy and Romine, the Yankees should have enough at backup catcher, especially considering Cervello’s penchant for getting injured. It’s hilarious that the Pirates will be going with a Cervello/Chris Stewart catching platoon next season. They are apparently following up a repeat of the 2012 Yankee catching platoon (Martin/Stewart) with a repeat of the 2013 Yankee catching platoon (Cervello/Stewart)!

Anyhow, good luck to Cervello. He was a fave of mine, so I hope he does well (but not too well, of course).

--Posted at 11:23 pm by Brian Cronin / 8 Comments | - (0)

NY Post: Yankees potential future 1B hitting moonshots in desert

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Greg Bird hasn’t made it to the major leagues yet — not even to Triple-A, for that matter — yet the Yankees minor-league first baseman enjoyed a taste of big-league exposure earlier this month.

He trended on Twitter.

“I don’t have Twitter. I don’t do any of that,” Bird said Monday, at Salt River Fields, before his Scottsdale Scorpions played the Salt River Rafters in Arizona Fall League action. “But I heard. Later on, people started texting me and stuff.”

I haven’t been this excited about a Yankee hitting prospect since Jesus Montero!

Bird is interesting, at least.

In other news, the Yankees have signed Jose DePaula.  If you’re like me, your first thought was, “Who?”

An executive familiar with De Paula said, “He is a hard-throwing lefty. He can be a starter if he stays healthy. He has been a Four-A guy to this point, but he does have upside.”

Seems like a reasonable type to take a flier on.

--Posted at 2:20 pm by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

ESPN: Robertson seeks ‘Papelbon money’

New York Yankees free-agent closer David Robertson turned down the chance to have the highest closer salary for one season in baseball history. Now he has his eyes on the largest contract ever given to a reliever.

Robertson is looking for “Papelbon money” in initial talks with teams, a baseball official with knowledge of the discussions told

In 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to the richest overall reliever contract, a four-year, $50 million deal. If Papelbon finishes 15 games in 2015, his contract will vest for a fifth year at $13 million more, making it a total of five years and $63 million.

If Robertson and his agent, Scott Leventhal, can persuade one team to offer “Papelbon money,” it is doubtful the Yankees would match. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not a big believer in paying relievers not named Mariano Rivera such large amounts on a multiyear deal.

I understand seeking Papelbon money is a significant difference from getting Papelbon money, but it sure does look like Robertson’s time as a Yankee is coming to a close. I suppose if they replaced him with, say, Andrew Miller, there would not be much of a drop-off in the bullpen, but man, I continue to think that they handled Robertson’s contract fairly poorly. There is no way in the world that he would not have signed an extension after 2012, and it likely would have been seven figures per year and not eight (probably about $8 million a year). I personally tend to think that it was the fault of their ill-fated plan to get under $189 million in 2014, but it is also possible that it is just another example of them playing the extension market poorly (even after doing a great job with Cano’s extension, which you’d think would make them question their extension philosophy - although you could easily argue that their philosophy did not change, that they continue to only consider extensions for superstar level talents like Cano).

--Posted at 1:44 pm by Brian Cronin / 11 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TGS NY: Betances places third in Rookie of Year vote

Betances, whose career record is 5-0, came in third place in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He finished behind Jose Abreu, who was the unanimous choice.

The Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (16-4, 3.04 ERA) was second. Shoemaker had 12 second-place votes to Betances’ seven.

The third-place finish is still a nice exclamation mark on Betances’ incredible run. A year ago, Betances appeared as if he might be a big bust, one who might be stuck in the minors another year. Around this time last year, the Yankees found out that Betances had another minor league option, meaning they could potentially stash him away at Triple-A in 2014.

Instead, from the beginning of spring training until the end of the year, Betances was the Yankees’ best reliever and one of the most dominant in all of baseball. Of his 270 outs, half were from strikeouts. The 135 broke Mariano Rivera’s rookie record.

With David Robertson declining the Yankees’ qualifying offer and free to sign with any team, Betances could enter next spring as the Yankees’ closer.

You wonder how the Yankees will replace Betances when he ascends to closer after their failure to re-sign David Robertson. I’m not sure more Adam Warren in high-leverage situations is a good thing.

--Posted at 10:29 am by SG / 38 Comments | - (0)

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