Monday, January 21, 2013

Yankees Sign Thomas Neal To A Minor League Deal

The Yankees have added more scraps depth to the minor leagues and more competition in Spring Training by signing former Cleveland Indian Thomas Neal to a minor league deal. Neal was moved off the 40 man roster to make room for former Yankees player and recently acquired Nick Swisher. The only reason he was signed is because he is a right handed out fielder who holds a triple slash of .316/.382/.412 against southpaws the last two seasons. This will be Neal's age 25 season so let us hope that Brian Cashman has found lightning in a bottle once again.

Should We Feel Confident For 2013 & Beyond

This has been an off season to remember, or forget depending on how you want to look at it, especially for the fans that have been spoiled to grow up watching the Yankees during the dynasty years of the mid 90's until as recently as 2009. We have all seen guys come through the system like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and a plethora of others guys that I am unintentionally forgetting that have all had huge impacts on not only the regular season but also have played big parts in our five World Series titles in the last seventeen seasons. We have also seen the Yankees go out and bid against themselves getting the biggest free agent prizes like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Hideki Matsui, and probably 600 other free agents that George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have gotten into pinstripes. With the ability to have a seemingly infinite budget both in free agency, with International Free Agents, and in the draft the Yankees and Brian Cashman have not been afraid to pull off big trades involving prospects for proven veteran pieces to make another World Series run which was fun to watch for all of us until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was applied with a luxury tax. With the newest CBA now under full effect with even harsher penalties up to a 50% tax for repeat offenders who go over the luxury tax threshold the Yankees are finally starting to feel the heat and the restraints put into place.

We have been hearing about it for the last couple of off seasons now that the Yankees have a plan to get under the luxury tax threshold before the 2014 season, which is going to be set at $189 million, in order to reap the fiscal benefits that come along with it. The Yankees have continuously operated in the red as an business, although the YES Network has always more then made up for the short comings by the actual team, so the idea to get under the threshold to save some money and restart the penalties if we decide to go over in 2015 make sense on paper but do they really make sense in the real world? I personally have my doubts and my question has always been whether the fiscal savings by getting under the threshold would outweigh the fiscal hit the Yankees would take if we were mediocre on the field not only in 2014 but this season as well. Can the Yankees really compete in what is an ever growing competitive American League East AND follow through with the austerity budget in what seems to be like a rebuilding project? Sure, we can, but the only way that is going to happen is if we put our faith into Brian Cashman's alter ego, Ninja Cashman. Let's not beat around the bush our farm system, especially in the upper levels, is depleted and barren and not going to really help us in major spots in 2013 and beyond besides for maybe a David Adams, Corban Joseph, Adam Warren, or a Mark Montgomery. While those are nice pieces for depth or in a pinch aside from Montgomery none of these guys are the can't miss type guys that we will need to keep the payroll down and still compete. The only way we are going to get this done is if Ninja Cashman can pull off a trade or two that brings us a young and effective piece without creating too many other holes but can we really bank on that? I am glad that you asked...

I took it upon myself to look at the last six seasons worth of trades, no matter how minor, and evaluated each one specifically to evaluate whether or not we should really put our faith into Ninja Cash or if we should expect to miss the playoffs the next two seasons. I am just going to hit the high spots because I do not think anyone puts much weight into trades like when we acquired Justin Maxwell from the Nationals in 2011 for some guy whose name I cannot pronounce and have to copy and paste his last name(Adam Olbrychowski) to make sure the spelling is correct. Let's look an evaluate the trade history of Ninja Cash:

On July 23rd 2012 the Yankees traded minor leaguers DJ Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki while we were in Seattle playing the Mariners. This trade worked out beautifully for the Yankees because we were never going to give either of these guys a shot for the big club and in 67 games Ichiro gave us a 0.8 WAR, wreaked havoc on the base paths, and was one of the few Yankees to not totally disappear when the calendar changed to October. Verdict: Good Trade

On April 4th 2012 Brian Cashman traded away George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants for Chris Stewart. This trade never made much sense to me because while I can agree and get behind the fact that relievers are a dime a dozen and George Kontos was not exactly young or a "can't miss guy" can you not say the same thing about back up defensive minded no bat catchers? Especially when the Yankees already had a capable backup, albeit not exactly defensive minded first, in Francisco Cervelli already on the roster. Kontos went on to have a pretty good season for the eventual World Series champions while we were without guys like Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain and Chris Stewart did nothing of note for the Yankees. Granted Chris Stewart looks more and more like our starting catcher in 2013, which I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, so there is time to get some value out of this trade. Verdict: Bad Trade

On January 23rd 2012 the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Seattle Mariners. As much as this trade hurt because I have watched Montero come through the system and salivated at the idea of his power in Yankees Stadium the trade made sense because Michael Pineda was a power arm with 5 years left of team control and filled a need. Jose Campos was also considered to be able to walk into camp and be listed in our Top 5 Prospects list right away and had much more potential then Hector Noesi ever thought of having. The trade is obviously incomplete as even after the 2013 season we will still have 3 years left of Michael Pineda and Jose Campos is still only in Charleston you have to wonder if Pineda will ever come back and be effective for the Yankees. The only redeeming factor in this trade is the fact that Jesus Montero once again seems to be without a true position and did not exactly tear the cover off of the ball while Hector Noesi got lit up in Safeco. Verdict : Fair Trade

On July 31st 2010 the Yankees acquire "Kid K" Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for at the time was two players to be named later, who later turned into Matt Cusik and Andrew Shive, and cash. Kerry came over and absolutely dominated out of the Yankees pen with a 0.69 ERA in the second half for the bombers while to date neither Shive or Cusik have done anything for the tribe. Verdict : Good Trade

On December 22nd 2009 the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez. While in Atlanta Melky Cabrera was absolutely terrible and quickly traded to Kansas City, Mike Dunn has not done anything to lose sleep over, and Arodys Vizcaino is going to miss the 2013 season with Tommy John surgery. While Boone Logan has been somewhat of the LOOGY we have been searching for the last five to ten seasons Javier Vazquez was absolutely terrible for the Yankees. It is a lot to give up just for essentially a LOOGY but since we did not give up anything that has come back to bite us to date this trade gets my approval. Verdict : Good Trade

On December 8th 2009 the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Tigers hooked up in a three team trade that saw The Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson from Detroit while giving up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers and sending Ian Kennedy to Arizona with other lesser pieces moving back and forth. Curtis started out well for the Yankees and has compiled a 13.2 WAR since the trade the pieces we gave up have compiled a 26.8 WAR in the same time period. Austin Jackson has turned into one of the better lead off men and center fielders in the American League, Phil Coke has dominated us in the playoffs out of the pen, and Ian Kennedy is one season removed from becoming a 20 game winner. Curtis Granderson has forgotten how to take routes in center field and has become an all or nothing kind of home run hitter that the Yankees were trying to get away from. Verdict : Bad Trade

Our final trade we are going to look at was on November 13th 2008 where the Yankees acquire Nick Swisher and reliever Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit, Jeffrey Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. This was a classic buy low move after Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago and rebounded nicely in four seasons for the Yankees. We gave up nothing of note and got a fan favorite in return that the Yankees are scrambling and struggling to replace after leaving via free agency this season. Swisher has compiled a 15 WAR in his time in pinstripes where Betemit, Marquez, and Nunez combined have brought Chicago a 2 WAR. Verdict: Excellent Trade

I know that I have missed a few trades but for the sake of space I hit the high spots and wen't over the bigger of the trades and according to my tally I have one excellent trade, three good trades, one fair trade, and two bad trades. Trades, much like the MLB draft, are a crap shoot because you never know what you are going to get but on the bigger trades Ninja Cash seems to get the better end of the deal more often than not. I am not the most patient Yankees fan and I definitely hate settling for anyone less then Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton this off season, hence the name Greedy Pinstripes, my faith in my General Manager and the teams commitment to winning will never waiver. Ninja Cash has been fantastic at finding cheap value late in the off season and in traded and I have full confidence that he will again in 2013 and 2014 to keep this team in contention.

Yankees Sign Reggie Corona To A Minor League Deal

The Yankees signed once highly touted prospect Reggie Corona to a one year minor league deal to bring him back to the club after being released. After having a pretty significant arm injury in 2010 after colliding with an outfielder that has basically kept him out of baseball since he finally looks to be healthy and had a decent winter ball this year. The 26 year old will bounce back from AA Trenton to AAA Scranton if I had to guess as a depth infielder.