Monday, October 29, 2012

2012-2013 Winter Calendar

River Avenue Blues posted a beautiful article outlining the calendar of events ahead for what looks to be yet another busy and exciting offseason for Major League Baseball. If you want to know anything from how long teams have to pick up options, offer contracts, how long players have to negotiate with their former teams exclusively, when players are officially free agents, when the Winter Meetings are, etc just check out the write up on RAB. Enjoy!

Martin, Teixeira, & Cano Named Finalists For Gold Gloves

The finalists for the Gold Gloves were announced today and three Yankees names were on them, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, and Robinson Cano. The winner will be announced Tuesday 10/30 on ESPN 2 at 9:00 pm ET. I am especially surprised to see Cano and Martin getting recognition for these awards finally as Cano has always been considered to be lazy in the field and lackadaisical. The rest of the finalists can be seen here just in case you were wondering.

Cano, Granderson, and Aardsma's Options Picked Up

I just posted about the Yankee free agents, and noted that Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and David Aardsma could join them should the team decline their 2013 options. Well, not one minute later I read at MLBTradeRumors (via Mark Feinsand's Twitter) that the Yankees did exercise those options.

Now it's time for the team to sign Cano to an extension!

Yankee Free Agents

The free agent season is officially upon us, although a free agent's former team has exclusive negotiating rights for the next 5 days. Not that you should expect anything close to "big" news, as any free agent that's worth anything is going to wait until all teams can negotiate... thus driving up the price for his services.

Twelve Yankees are included among the 137 total that filed for free agency...

Eric Chavez
Pedro Feliciano
Freddy Garcia
Raul Ibanez
Andruw Jones
Hiroki Kuroda
Derek Lowe
Russell Martin
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Ichiro Suzuki
Nick Swisher

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and David Aardsma could join those twelve players, should their options for 2013 not be picked up (highly unlikely). Rafael Soriano will probably be the 13th Yankee to be a free agent, as he's expected to decline his player option for 2013, but after the news that Rivera may retire the Yanks could re-sign him.

Hyun-Jin Ryu To Be Posted

I posted an article regarding Ichiro Suzuki this morning, and now there's another Asian player making the news.

The Yonhap News reported that Hyun-Jin Ryu, who plays for the Nanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, will be posted by his team. The Eagles had originally said they would not post Hyun-jin, as they wanted him for their rotation the next season, but apparently they will give in to Ryu's wishes. However, the team seems a little more willing to reject an offer, should it not live up to their expectations. Unfortunately they are not making their expectations known.

Mike Axisa at River Avenue Blues suggested that it could cost $20-$25 million to cover the posting fee and contract for Ryu, but he admits that it's just a guess. Just keep in mind that we're not talking about the next Yu Darvish here. The KBO is not on the same level as Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. But Hyun-Jin is only 25 years old, and is a lefty with four average to above average pitches, so he's at least intriguing to the Yankees.

Offseason Decisions: Ichiro Suzuki

And I tip my hat to you, sir.

I wouldn't mind if Ichiro Suzuki returned as a part-time player, but I don't want to count on a guy that had an OPS+ of 86, 95, and 84 in his last 2+ seasons in Seattle, as a regular player. I understand the idea that a player can become disinterested and unmotivated being on a bad team, but I just don't buy into it. When we acquired Ichiro I hoped that a move to a contender made a difference, but I'm not going to lie and say I expected it to. The fact of that matter is, if the game itself can't motivate them, not to mention a salary of $17 million, then I can't help but question that player's ability and/or makeup. I'm not a professional athlete, so I could be totally off on this point, but it's really hard for me to believe in somebody like that.

Another thing that gives me pause about Ichiro being an everyday player is that he just turned 39, which to be honest isn't that big a problem since he'd only command a one year contract... two at most. But we're talking about a guy who's value is largely wrapped up in his legs. I mean, if Ichiro can't steal 30+ bases in a season, and cover as much ground in the outfield, then his value to a team goes down quite a bit. And we mustn't forget that Brett Gardner should be healthy next season to pick up that part of the game for the Bombers.

Although Suzuki is unlikely to bat .300+ again, he still hit .272 and .283 the past two seasons. So there's certainly reason to like him in that regard. But look at his on-base percentage the past two seasons... .310 and .307, which is way off from his career OBP of .365. Looking at his numbers you may think his walk rate was the issue. Ichiro's career BB% is 5.9%, and his 2012 number was a major outlier at 3.3%. If he'd had the same BB% in 2012, his OBP would have been .321 thanks to walking 14 more times. So walks were not the only issue.

When I said "walk" this is what popped into my head.

The other 44 points missing from his OBP simply come from not getting as many hits. Unfortunately his batting average on balls in play, along with his line drive percentage, tells me that it wasn't a matter of being a unlucky. To be frank, age is catching up to him, as it would to any professional athlete (except for Derek Jeter, apparently). So even if Suzuki was able to increase his walk rate to normal levels, would you really want a guy that hits .280/.321/.390 (.390 was his slugging percentage in 2012, which was higher than in 2011) in the regular starting lineup? I mean, Eduardo Nunez hit .292/.330/.393 this past season, and he even played a bit in the outfield, so he could be almost the same guy as Suzuki anyway... and Eddie is already in the organization in 2013.

Ichiro has apparently said that he'd like to return to the Yankees, and that money is not an issue. The question in my mind is "would he come back as a part-time player?" If he's looking for a full-time gig in New York then perhaps he should see if the Mets are interested, because at that point I'd rather thank him for what he did in 2012 and wish him the best elsewhere.

No thanks, I think I'd rather retire.