Tuesday, November 24, 2015
President Barack Obama honored legends Yogi Berra and Willie Mays with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House Tuesday.
Obama even dropped a Yogi-ism.
“One thing we know for sure,” the president said, “if you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”
Very nice job by the President. It’s a shame that Yogi didn’t live to receive the honor.
Yankees’ catching prospect Gary Sanchez, as you may have heard, lit up the Arizona Fall League the past two months, socking seven home runs (league leader) and tallied 55 total bases.
And for those efforts, Sanchez earned the fourth slot on MLB.com’s annual Top 20 prospect list.
Writes MLB.com’s Jim Callis:
He earned a $3 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 thanks to his power and his arm strength, and both were on display as he topped the Fall League in homers (seven), RBIs (21), extra-base hits (14), total bases (55) and catcher caught-stealing percentage (.615).
Knocked in the past for his lack of effort and indifference to catching, he played with passion and showed enough receiving ability to play behind the plate in the Majors.
Sanchez was part of the September call-up contingency for the Yankees this season (0-for-2 in his only at-bats) but may be on the fast track to the big leagues with last season’s backup, John Ryan Murphy, traded two weeks ago to the Minnesota Twins.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees pick up a veteran backup catcher type in case Sanchez isn’t ready—someone like Dioner Navarro, Bryan Pena or Geovany Soto—but I think they are hoping that Sanchez is ready to backup Brian McCann this year and begin transitioning into the starting catcher by the end of McCann’s contract in 2018.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Last week Andy Van Slyke made the news for, among other things, ripping Robinson Cano in a radio interview, claiming that he was lazy, loafed and ended up getting coaches fired in Seattle. There has been a ton of criticism of Van Slyke for saying that, and today John Harper in the Daily News offers several quotes from the Mariners’ former third base coach, Rich Donnelly, defending Cano and his work ethic.
Buried deep in that story, however, is this bit:
So maybe Van Slyke is just so bitter about being fired that he needed someone to blame. But even if Cano has had the best intentions as a Mariner, one long-time friend who spoke to him recently says the second baseman is not happy in Seattle, especially with a new regime in charge there now, and that he’d love to somehow find his way back to New York
My first thought was that Cano slept in his bed so now he has to make it and I wouldn’t take him back.
Upon further thought I decided to look at what was left in Cano’s contract compared to a contract that is likely even worse than his.
A weighted average of Cano’s bWAR from 2012-2015 pegs him around 5.8 in 2016. Assuming a 0.7 win decline per season over the remaining eight seasons of his contract ends up with him providing about 26.5 bWAR for $192M, a rate of $7.2M per bWAR.
A weighted average of this other contract I was thinking of puts that player at roughly 3.0 bWAR in 2016. Assuming the same rate of decline for that player over the five remaining seasons of his deal gives you 8.2 bWAR at a cost of $105M, a rate of $12.9M per bWAR.
Obviously, you’d rather pay $7.2M per win that $12.9M per win but the $87M difference in total remaining commitment is a pretty big risk. However if that were to be reduced by a certain amount with Seattle throwing in some money, would it make sense for the Yankees to at least kick the tires on a Cano for Ellsbury trade? Say, Cano plus $50M for Ellsbury?
On paper it makes sense, but the egos involved make me think it would never, ever happen.
Here’s the problem with the Yankees trading left fielder Brett Gardner: Their only other athletic position players are shortstop Didi Gregorius and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees need more such players, not less. But they also need controllable starting pitching, and if principal owner Hal Steinbrenner will not authorize an increase in spending, they might need to move Gardner and/or closer Andrew Miller to get it.
It’s a classic rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul scenario.
Gardner batted only .206 with a .592 OPS after the All-Star break, but .302 with an .861 OPS before that. New hitting coach Alan Cockrell, who was with the team last season in an assistant’s role, has acknowledged that playing through a wrist injury contributed to Gardner’s slide.
As for Miller, trading him would diminish the Yankees’ greatest strength — their bullpen. Such a move could be particularly unwise, considering that Dellin Betances has thrown more pitches than any reliever in the American League the past two seasons.
If such financially motivated measures seem to make little sense, the Yankees’ failure to trade potential free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano at the non-waiver deadline in 2013 season remains utterly baffling.
The team essentially was out of contention at that point, and Cano already had rejected an extension offer in spring training, before switching agents from Scott Boras to Roc Nation. The Yankees surely knew that Cano wanted a monster deal, and that they did not want to give it to him.
Cano in a trade could have brought back premium young talent at a time when the Yankees were re-focusing on their farm system. Instead, the team lost Cano and Curtis Granderson and signed Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in free agency, failing to gain even a draft pick in the process.
Two years later, the Yankees are working under self-imposed financial restrictions, restrictions that could cost them Gardner and/or Miller.
I’m already resigned to the fact that Gardner is gone, but it’d be pretty shady to sign Miller to a four year deal then trade him after one season. But I will try and reserve my snark to see where they are at the end of the offseason.
Friday, November 20, 2015
This is a match made in money. Always remember what 16-year-old Harper said about his career ambitions as a Sports Illustrated cover boy in 2009:
“Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can’t wait,” he told the magazine.
I also vividly remember Harper ogling Yankees batting practice before a spring training game a few years ago. Every other member of the Nationals was off the field, except Harper. He kneeled on one knee and watched Yankee hitters intently until being summoned by GM Mike Rizzo, who essentially told Harper it wasn’t nice to stare at others, especially when they play for the other team.
Can you see this guy packing up his trophies in two years and going anywhere except New York? Come on. That’s a clown question, bro.
Get younger. Get a drawing card. Get a guy to build your team around for the next 10 years. Check, check, check.
Younger. That’s a key concept when we talk about the Yankees, isn’t it? Do you know that Harper, who turned 23 last month, is six months younger than stud outfield prospect Aaron Judge? Harper will be 26 when hits free agency.
I asked an executive recently who had a better chance of playing right field for the Yankees in 2019, Judge or Harper. The response I got was “Judge in left, Harper in right.”
One can only hope, but I sure hope the Yankees aren’t planning out the next five years on the assumption that Harper will definitely be a Yankee, because that would be stupid.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
DALLAS—This was progress, real measurable progress. In the end, that’s what the 2015 season represented to the Yankees on so many levels. It wasn’t just that they returned to the postseason, although that’s the ultimate measuring stick. It was how they got there that was so impressive.
It was two rookies—right-hander Luis Severino and first baseman Greg Bird—making significant contributions when called upon. It was the progress that catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Aaron Judge, right-hander James Kaprielian and others made in the Minor Leagues.
It was the realization that the franchise finally is capable of being what managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has envisioned them being: a roster not built largely around big-ticket free-agent signings.
“I feel better than I did two or three years ago,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday during a break in a regularly scheduled quarterly Owners Meetings. “It was frustrating. It’s frustrating to have all the injuries we had two years in a row and not have anybody that’s capable of coming up and filling the void.
“We’ve been saying these names to our fans for two or three years now. We’ve been showing video highlights of [Double-A] Trenton and [Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre], what they accomplished and what they do. Hopefully, people are getting excited about them.”
Steinbrenner will not apologize for his team’s wealth. He emphasized that the Yankees will continue to spend on big-ticket free agents when it’s needed. But Steinbrenner has never seen it as the best way to do business. His ultimate goal is to get the Yanks under baseball’s $189 million luxury-tax threshold.
“All I know is what I’ve said before,” Steinbrenner said. “I shouldn’t have to have a $200 million payroll to win a world championship. It’s been proven over and over again. The last couple of years, the money that has come off [the books], we’ve had to put it back in to fill voids because we haven’t had the young players to do it with.”
For those dreaming of David Price or Jason Heyward, you can go ahead and stop.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
1. Stephen Strasburg
Oh, he’s an ace, alright. Probably. He comes with risks (Tommy John history, a lousy 2015 season, Scott Boras), but if you’re going to pay for talent, it helps if the pitcher has talent. Strasburg has talent. He practically leaks talent. Uh, anyone want to get some rags and help us out with this talent? It’s sort of getting everywhere.
But, yes, Strasburg has the potential to lead a rotation. Most definitely. Don’t forget just how awe-inspiring he can be at his best.
2. C.J. Wilson
He used to be okay! He’ll be 36, but I could see a team giving him a two- or three-year deal.
Wilson might be the second-best pitcher on the 2016-2017 free agent market.
3. Jered Weaver
Wait, he throws 83 miles per hour.
4. R.A. Dickey
Wait, he’s 83 years old.
5. Andrew Cashner
So much untapped talent that doesn’t have to show up just because you want it to. The Gil Meche of a new generation.
6. Jesse Chavez
Perfectly acceptable, for the most part, kind of.
7. Brett Anderson
Solid pitcher, but he just accepted the qualifying offer because he correctly figured that teams wouldn’t want to give up a draft pick for him.
8. Ivan Nova
Power sinker when right, but he’s been hurt or bad for two years now
9. Jake Peavy
The last time he threw more than six innings in a start was 2007. Hold on, I should look that up, but I’m pretty sure ...
10. Jorge De La Rosa
He’s like the Jorge De La Rosa of pitchers.
Thus endeth the list of the top 10 pitchers available in next year’s free agent market.
The Yankees didn’t clear much payroll this offseason, which may tempt them to wait until next season when Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran come off the books.
But waiting may not be a good idea.
Monday, November 16, 2015
So as they plan for 2016, the Yankees must wonder again: How much can they reasonably expect from their aging middle-of-the-lineup guys? And what should or can they do to avoid an overreliance on a duplication of that surprising production?
“I’m going to try to upgrade our roster and not worry about regression on certain guys,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week at the General Managers’ Meetings. “If that’s a possibility, it’s a possibility.”
Oh, it’s a possibility, all right. Teixeira put up 4 ¹/₂ superb months, slashing .255/.357/.548 with 31 homers in 111 games — his best production in three years, at least — before going down with a right shin fracture. He now has failed to play in more than 123 games since the 2011 season.
I’m fairly certain Cashman understands about regression and the likelihood of Teixeira and Rodriguez being less productive next year, but it doesn’t serve him any purpose to talk about it in public.
As luck would have it, the Yankees could have replacements in hand for both should they get injured assuming they’ll have someone to put in RF so they can slide Carlos Beltran to DH and with Greg Bird around. Health’s only part of the risk of regression with both Teixeira and Rodriguez, but it’s probably the biggest one.