Friday, January 25, 2013

George Kottaras Comes Off Board, Signs With Royals

George Kottaras was designated for assignment last week by the Oakland Athletics after they acquired John Jaso in the Michael Morse trade. The Yankees never seemed to show interest in the left handed hitting walk machine catcher for some reason and he has officially come off the board today being claimed by the Kansas City Royals. Kottaras was attractive because of the fact that he will only earn $1 million in 2013 and will be under team control through arbitration through the 2015 season but for whatever reason the Yankees seem confident in Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli, and Chris Stewart.

Alex Rodriguez Could Miss All Of 2013 Season

Brian Cashman while talking to WFAN New York in a radio interview said that there is a possibility that Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire 2013 season after his left hip surgery in January. There was no set back or instance that prompted this so it is not like the Yankees fans have anything to worry about but A Rod has a long way to come back from a second hip surgery so I guess this is a possibility. With all the set backs and such we saw last year with injuries I can see where this could be a concern for the Yankees. Still even with that said I am still willing to file this under the "nothing to see here" folder.

Yankees To Hold Benefit For WCBS Employee

I will send you to Lohud and Chad Jennings for all the details but I wanted our readers to see that the Yankees will be hosting a Hot Stove benefit for a WCBS employee, Carlos Silva. Carlos is a WCBS radio producer and engineer and has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and will be getting help from John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Joe Girardi, Mark Teixeira, Mariano Rivera and Brian Cashman to pay his medical bills. This benefit will be held at Times Square Hard Rock Cafe in New York starting at 6:00 pm with a VIP Meet and Greet followed by the Hot Stove forum. There will also be an auction, seen at ,  for such items as a hitting instruction session with Robinson Cano, a pitching instruction session with Mariano Rivera, bat boy/girl for a day, and other great prizes.  Check out the links for all the details and if you can make it and help out then I highly recommend everyone going out and doing their part to support a member of the Yankees family. For the Yankees being the "Evil Empire" we sure do the right thing time and time again, stay classy New York!

David Robertson & Yankees Avoid Arbitration

I'm back, baby!

David Robertson and the Yankees have avoided arbritration, agreeing to a $3.1 million deal.

Robertson was filing for $3.55 million, while the team had countered with $2.85 million. With D-Rob now all set for 2014, the Yankees have avoided arbitration with all five of their eligible players.

Letting Cano Walk... My Response

B-bye New York!

In the comments section of my post regarding Tim Lincecum and the 2014 offseason and roster, Joe in Brooklyn made a great point regarding the Yankees re-signing Robinson Cano. Here is that comment...
I think you bring up some interesting points but I fully expect Cano to be playing somewhere else. He's represented by Scott Boras and isn't signing before free agency for anything less than $200 million, he's resentful of the fact that he is playing on a below market deal now (he's made public comments about that) and he's mentioned there won't be a "home town discount", not that Boras does that often (Jered Weaver). The Yankees can't afford to have another anchor on the payroll during his decline phase. I'd rather see them invest that money spread out over a few players in a similar manner to what the Red Sox did this season with an eye to 2015-2017 when guys like Harper, Hosmer, etc. become free agents and Tex and Arod are off the books. They can then reinvest the big salaries in guys from age 26-28 seasons who are entering their prime as they enter free agency rather than free agents who are nearing the exit to their prime (Cano, Granderson). 
Hosmer and Harper are both represented by Boras and have very good chances of making it to free agency. 
Also, I know a popular opinion is to trade someone who won't sign an extension to get "value" greater than a draft pick, but I don't see how the Yankees are able to trade him for value that would be greater than what he will provide this year in addition to the draft pick. For contending teams the smart move isn't always to move a guy for a couple of sacks of balls just because he's in his walk year. They will have gotten great value on Cano's deal and no one is trading anything that's worth more than what Cano will be able to provide to a contending Yankees team this season.
To start, if a team wants a player of the caliber of a Robinson Cano it's going to cost them. Sure, a team could pull off a big trade in order to acquire a player on a team-friendly deal, but waiting around for that opportunity would be stupid. Those types of things come around only once in a great while, and it's not like the Yankees would be the only team trying to trade for that particular player. Let's not forget that the Yankees don't have a whole lot as far as trade fodder, either. The good trade fodder they do have is currently in AA or lower, and therefore wouldn't get that type of MLB star on a team-friendly deal. And who knows if those top prospects in the low minors turn into something or flame out.

We just spent a ton of time talking about trading for Justin Upton, and while he's not making as much as he would have if he were a free agent this past offseason, Justin's still making $38.5 million over the next 3 years, and that's part of 6 year extension that bought out one of his pre-arbitration and all 3 of his arbitration years. There's two points I'm trying to make here... 1. young stars are being locked up through their arbitration years at a much higher rate than we've ever see, and 2. contracts for such players are no longer that team-friendly. That's another reason why I was happy with the trade of Montero for Pineda last year, because Michael Pineda was a guy that looked to be a possible stud pitcher, and he wasn't signed to any sort of extension which means the Yankees could cut bait completely should they want to.

So sitting back and saying "let's not sign that free agent star and wait for a younger star on a team-friendly deal to be traded" is not a recipe for continued success, which is what the vast majority of Yankee fans demand. On that note, waiting to see if a Mason Williams becomes that type of player is not a recipe for continued success either, because we just saw a top prospect in Manny Banuelos have a horrible injury-plagued season. Waiting on that big trade or prospects to develop into stars is something rebuilding teams do... not what the Yankees do. If you're one of those fans that's willing to wait a few years to win that's great, but even Hal Steinbrenner has said that's not the Yankee way.

And let's keep in mind that during Cano's decline years, the Yankees will no longer have Alex Rodriguez nor Mark Teixeira around. ARod is signed through 2017, and Tex is signed through 2016. Robbie Cano's decline years likely wouldn't happen until after those players are gone, and being the only player with a deal worth $20+ million a year would still allow the team to compete. Heck, if they can compete now with $50 million tied up in players worth half of that combined, then they could do it with half that much tied up in one player.

As for Joe's point about trading players looking to be on their way out, I totally... 100%... agree that trading them while trying to contend is silly. I've heard from a lot of people that say Cano may be on his way out of New York after this season, so the Yankees should look to trade him. Like Joe said, Robbie would give the 2013 Yankees enough value that trading him could be counter-productive, as the players they got in return may not give the team as much value. Especially since the Yankees are looking to contend in this year. Sure, it makes sense for 2014 and beyond, thanks to getting some good prospects and another draft pick (assuming they'd give Cano a qualifying offer, and Cano would turn it down).

The last thing I want to say is that not re-signing Cano could make things interesting. There are other free agents outside of Tim Lincecum that interest me. I'm a fan of Martin Prado, for instance. The guy consistently hits .300 with an on-base percentage over .350, and if he continues to run like he did last season then those 15-20 stolen bases would be nice too. Martin could also play 3B while ARod moves to full-time DH duty. And since Prado would likely sign a deal of 4-5 years, we wouldn't have him into his later 30s when a player really starts to decline.

Jacoby Ellsbury could be another interesting free agent. It's too bad he only played in 74 games last season (although it did hurt the Red Sox, and hurting the Red Sox is always a good thing... hehehe), but if Jacoby can bounce back in 2013 and come close to his 2012 batting line of .321/.376/.552 with 32 home runs then perhaps we could see him in the outfield instead of somebody like Corey Hart.

Or what about Phil Hughes? The Yankees could look to bring him back, lining him up behind the duo of Sabathia and Lincecum, and knocking Ivan Nova out of the rotation (by the way, I'm not confident that Nova is going to bounce back and be a good starting option).

Like I said, it could be a really interesting offseason should the Yankees and Cano decide to part ways. But I don't see that happening. Robbie is one of the players a team builds around, and in order to get one of those players a team has to pay for it. And we're lucky enough that the Yankees are one of the few teams that can sign one of those players and still compete should that player decline earlier than expected (see Alex Rodriguez).

Looking Ahead To 2014

No, you will not win Homecoming King in 2014.

Since this offseason hasn't been very exciting at all, regardless of the fact that the team has signed quite a few players for a decent chunk of money, I decided to jump ahead a year and see where the team would be, and if any free agents jumped out at me.

I'm going to start by reminding everybody that Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and David Aardsma will all be through with the Yankees after this upcoming season. You may be thinking, "hey, he forgot that Joba Chamberlain will also be a free agent". You'd be half correct, as he would be a free agent, but I haven't forgot about him. You see, I think the Yankees will bring him back, unlike the other players mentioned as free agents.

I also believe that Chris Stewart, who will be going into his first year of arbitration, will be designated for assignment. That means he'll either be with another team in 2014, or he'll be in AAA. But I don't see the team keeping a 2nd arbitration eligible catcher along with Francisco Cervelli, when they have a pre-arbitration catcher like Austin Romine able to fill in as the starter or backup.

Everybody wave goodbye to Chris!

Before I show you the 2014 team so far, I wanted to add that I see the Yankees trading for somebody mid-season. For one, I don't believe Ichiro Suzuki is going to have that productive a season. Secondly, I think the Yankees are going to find their offense lacking a bit in the power department, and will want to bring in a fairly big bat. Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues took an early look at some possible mid-season trade targets, and the one that stuck out to me was Corey Hart. Mind you, that .270 batting average of his last season wasn't fantastic, nor was his .334 on-base percentage, but those 30 home runs sure were pretty impressive. And since the team will have a hole in the outfield when Granderson leaves after this season, and the other free agent outfielders don't exactly get my motor running (keeping in mind the team is not going to shell out the money to bring Grandy back, or sign a guy like Ellsbury), I can see the Yankees bringing Hart back to the team.

Oh, and I'm also assuming the Yankees re-sign Robinson Cano. The idea of an extension, which could save a bit of money towards the Luxury Tax, apparently won't happen. But I can't see Mr. Cano wearing a different uniform after 2013... that's for sure.

So without any further adieu, here is how the 2014 Yankees roster currently looks, including each player's contract's average annual value...

C - Austin Romine $500,000
1B - Mark Teixeira $22.5 million
2B - Robinson Cano $23 million
3B - Alex Rodriguez $27.5 million
SS - Derek Jeter $14 million
LF - Ichiro Suzuki $6.5 million
CF - Brett Gardner $4 million (arbitration 3... $2.85m in 2013)
RF - Corey Hart $11 million (traded for mid-season 2013, re-signed for 3 years/$36m)
DH -

BE - Francisco Cervelli $1.5 million (arbitration 1.... this was tough as I had to go by the fact that Jarrod Saltalamacchia got $2.5m in 2012 from Boston)
BE - Eduardo Nunez $500,000
BE - Tyler Austin $500,000
BE -

SP1 - CC Sabathia $22.125 million
SP2 -
SP3 - Michael Pineda $2 million (arbitration 1... Hughes got $2.7m in 1st year of arbitration in 2011)
SP4 - Ivan Nova $2 million (arbitration 1... Hughes got $2.7m in 1st year of arbitration in 2011)
SP5 - David Phelps $500,000

CL - David Robertson $5 million (arbitration 3... Robertson will receive $3.55m-$2.85m in 2013, and got $1.6m in 2012)
SU - Joba Chamberlain $4 million (re-signed for 3 years/$12 million)
RP - Mark Montgomery $500,000
RP - Clay Rapada $1.5 million (arbitration 1... Logan got $1.2 million in his 2nd yr of arbitration)
RP - Chase Whitley $500,000
RP -
RP -

15 Players not on Active Roster ~$3 million

TOTAL: $149.625 Million

That total doesn't include bonuses and the Yankees’ portion of the league’s player benefits that are added into the $189 million Luxury Tax threshold. That amount is expected to be in the neighborhood of $12 million for 2014. So that $149.625 total immediately jumps to $161.625.

Yes, even this guy got a bonus, and he plays for the freakin' Mets.

I can see the two bullpen, and the offensive bench, spots being filled with players from within the organization, who would all make around the league minimum as pre-arbitration players. So that would raise the payroll another $1.5 to $163.125 million.

The DH spot could be trickier, as I'm not sure the team has somebody in the minors that could step into that slot in 2014. It would be great if I was wrong about that, and somebody like Ronnier Mustelier could step in there. That would be nice as Ronnier has also played some 3B in the minors, meaning he'd be able to give ARod a half day off (meaning ARod would be the DH that day, while Mustelier started at 3B). Just because it helps me with the rest of this thought, I'm going with Mustelier filling in at DH/3B. Since Ronnier would be in his pre-arbitration years, that means he'd make around the league minimum. So add another $500,000, making the new total $163.625 million.

So at this point, in order to stay at or under the $189 million Luxury Tax threshold, the team has $25.375 million left to spend. This is where I'm going to look at that last remaining hole on the team... the 2nd starting pitcher.

Now, let me ask you this... do you trust that Michael Pineda could line-up behind CC in 2014? What about Ivan Nova or David Phelps? Hey, I could see those guys rounding out the bottom 3 of the rotation, but no chance one of those three could fill that #2 spot. That spot I'd like to see get filled by 2014 free agent to be Tim Lincecum.

Last season didn't go so well for The Freak. His ERA jumped up to 5.18 in 2012, from 2.74 the prior year. His WHIP went from 1.207 in 2011 up to 1.468 in 2012. I was trying to see just what the issue was for Timmy last season, and found that it wasn't lack of movement on his pitchers. You can see here from his Brooks Baseball Pitch F/X info that his vertical and horizontal movement didn't change at all. As for his velocity, that didn't drop much either. Mind you, it did seem to go down a bit, but that honestly seemed to be due to having just lost 30 pounds in the offseason. See, Timmy was having some knee soreness, and he felt he needed to lose weight. Turns out he may have lost too much, as pitching coach Dave Righetti (RAGS!) said he'd "showed up too little".

In all, Lincecum's ERA did go from 6.42 in the 1st half of last season to 3.83 in the 2nd half. So I think Lincecum's issue are far overblown. Besides, he did play quite a big part in the San Francisco Giants' World Series victory.

"That's not the Yankees celebrating, so I don't care."

What it comes down to is this... How much for Big Time Timmy Jim? Well, Zack Greinke just got a 6 year deal worth $147 million from the Dodgers. A deal with an average annual value of $24.5 million. I actually see Lincecum getting a little bit less per season, having come off a bad year, along with pitching in the National League his entire career. I don't mean to say they can't hit in the NL, so his stats are inflated, it's just that many pitchers have had trouble with going from the NL to the AL. Therefore, I'm seeing Tim's AAV being in the $23 million range.

As for the length of his deal, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees offer Lincecum an extra guaranteed year, or at least an option for a 7th year. So I'm going to say the Yankees could sign Tim Lincecum for 7 years and $161 million. That would give them a total payroll of $186.625 million, giving them a little wriggle room for things like Hart's contract, arbitration cases, and other miscellaneous costs throughout the season.

Let's take one last look at what the 2014 Yankees could look like...

C - Austin Romine
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Robinson Cano
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Derek Jeter
LF - Ichiro Suzuki
CF - Brett Gardner
RF - Corey Hart
DH - Ronnier Mustelier

BE - Francisco Cervelli
BE - Eduardo Nunez
BE - Tyler Austin
BE - Pre-Arbitration Player

SP1 - CC Sabathia
SP2 - Tim Lincecum
SP3 - Michael Pineda
SP4 - Ivan Nova
SP5 - David Phelps

CL - David Robertson
SU - Joba Chamberlain
RP - Mark Montgomery
RP - Clay Rapada
RP - Chase Whitley
RP - Pre-Arbitration Player
RP - Pre-Arbitration Player

Not bad.