Monday, October 7, 2013

What I'd Like To See For 2014: Infield

Last week I wrote that I will be going over what I'd like to see the Yankees do this offseason. Actually, I said I was going to post this in the morning, but as you can see I failed at that. So I hope you aren't too upset with me.

"Where is that post he promised?!?!"

Instead of a big long introduction here, I'm going to get right into it. By the way, remember that I'm not going to assume any trades occur. I'm going by free agency only. At the same time, unlike in last week's introduction to this series, I'm going to be shooting for a payroll below $189 million.

So here we go...

We've talked about the situation with Robinson Cano to death, so I'm not going to go into it again right now. Not to mention the fact that we're going to be talking about him a hell of a lot from now on. Let's just say for now that I see Cano wearing Yankee pinstripes again next season, which settles second base.

Moving on...

On the surface it seems that the Yankees need to find themselves a new third baseman. Unfortunately the list of free agents at that position is less than inspiring, making me lean towards signing Michael Young. Then, like I pointed out in the introduction of this series, I thought about the fact that Derek Jeter just isn't cut out for shortstop any more. But I don't think Jeter should be become a bench player, either. So why not move him to third base, and look at acquiring the shortstop of the future?

There are actually two free agent shortstops that pique my interest... Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta. I talked about who I'd rather have in the introduction last Wednesday, but let's take a closer look at each player.

Initially, after looking at their stats, I leaned to Peralta. In their last three years, Jhonny has hit .279/.335/.439 while Drew has hit .242/.320/.401. So Peralta has him beat in every category, including an average of 15 home runs a season as opposed to only 8 for Stephen.

But then I looked deeper at the numbers. Jhonny's 2013 stats before he was suspended are simply not to be believed. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was a very high .379, while his line drive percentage (LD%) was also way out of whack at 29% as opposed to a career average of 20%. So that batting line of .305/.361/.461 this season has skewed things. Peralta's probably closer to the .269/.325/.431 hitter he was between 2011 and 2012, when both his BABIP and LD% were more like the norm.

You also have to take into account that Drew missed the first 73 games of the 2012 season due to breaking his right ankle, so his batting line of .223/.309/.348 that year is most likely an outlier. My expectations for Stephen Drew in 2014 are more along the lines of .250/.325/.420, which is between what he did in 2011 and this season.

Both Peralta and Drew are good fielders at shortstop. Mind you, they aren't going to challenge Brendan Ryan as one of the best fielding shortstops in the game, but they are definitely not in the Eduardo Nunez category over there either. So when it comes to defense it's a wash.

The straw that breaks the camel's back, though, is Biogenesis. The Yankees already have two guys that have been suspended due to being linked with the PED distributing clinic (Cervelli and Rodriguez), and I highly doubt they'd be okay with acquiring another.

Oh, and Stephen Drew is a left-handed hitter, which is always interesting when it comes to playing 81 games at Yankee Stadium.

"Lefties love me."

While I'm a big fan of Brian McCann, and believe the Yankees should look hard at bringing him on board, the team just has too many options at catcher right now. I don't think Cervelli is going to return and put up the same numbers he did in April, but I think he's earned the right to be the starting backstop in 2014. Then there's Austin Romine and JR Murphy who could battle for the backup job. As for Chris Stewart, it's time to part ways. For one, there's just not room on the roster, and secondly, he's not that good. He was brought in for his defense, yet he's had a ton of passed balls this year. It's not like AJ Burnett is throwing to him day in and day out, either. On top of the Yankees already having a viable catching solution in house, paying McCann would likely mean having one of Zoilo Almonte, Ichiro Suzuki, or Vernon Wells as a starting outfielder. That, or the infield could have one of Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, or Brendan Ryan in it regularly. McCann and one of those guys, or Cervelli and Granderson. I’ll take Cervelli and Granderson.

A back-up first baseman is important as he would play fairly often, since Teixeira will likely need some rest to keep his wrist healthy. That's where my choice for the starting right fielder comes in. You'll read about him in next week's post about the outfield, but let's just say he has experience at first as well.

Whether he's at shortstop or third base, the fact is Jeter can not play everyday. Which is why it's important for the team to have two viable options on the bench to play for him. Those men are Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez.

Catcher - Francisco Cervelli $1.5 million (arbitration 1)
First Base - Mark Teixeira $22.5 million
Second Base - Robinson Cano $25 million (signed for 7 years/$175 million)
Third Base - Derek Jeter $14.375 million
Shortstop - Stephen Drew $13 million (signed for 3 years/$39 million)

So there you go... my 2014 Opening Day infield. I'm sure you're ready to type your comments calling me an "idiot", "fool", or some other less than flattering word. So go for it. Heck, I'm sure a trade or two will go down, which will change my feelings entirely. But as of right now, this is where I'm at.

"I'm going to give this thing a workout telling Bryan how dumb he is."

Yankees Rank Two In Florida State League Top Prospects

The New York Yankees have ranked two players in the High A Florida State League Top 20 Prospects list. Gary Sanchez has ranked 7th at the list as a catcher and Mason Williams came in at 19th in the outfield. Byron Buxton of the Twins topped the list, and every list he is eligible to be on, followed by the Twins Miguel Sano and the Cubs Javier Baez. Sanchez was praised for high raw plus plus power and his throwing arm while his footwork, mechanics, blocking, and receiving are still considered to be question marks.

Dellin Betances Unlikely To Play In Winter Ball

In what is going to be a make or break season for Dellin Betances as a member of the New York Yankees things are not going as planned. Dellin asked for permission from the Yankees to go to winter ball and keep his arm fresh but, right now anyway, it seems unlikely that Mark Newman, senior vice president of baseball operations, and company will allow Betances to do that in an attempt to keep his arm fresh.

Betances believes that the extra work will help with him repeating his delivery and building on what was a strong 2013 season after being moved to the bullpen. Dellin may have a point as he posted a 6.00 ERA as a starter with the Scranton Railriders with 19 hits allowed, 19 runs allowed, 16 walks, and 25 strike outs in 24 innings. As a reliever Dellin posted a 1.35 ERA with 33 hits allowed, 26 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 60 innings. Dellin says the repetition of pitching every other day rather than every fifth or sixth day is the reason for his performance and confidence.

I can understand not wanting him to pitch all year round but it is not like the Yankees gave him a real shot to earn his spot this September. I can see both sides of the argument but you can limit him in winter ball if you really wanted him to go so I don't know. I just hope this does not effect Dellin in 2014 because he will be relied on heavily after the retirement of Mariano Rivera.

Robinson Cano Named A Finalist For Hank Aaron Award

The Hank Aaron Award recognizes the best offensive player in Major League Baseball and the Yankees representative for the 2013 is obviously Robinson Cano. Every team gets a representative and the award is decided by votes by a Hall of Fame panel plus online voting by the fans. You can head over to and and vote for our second basemen to win the award.

Here is a list of all the nominees:

Alex Rodriguez Hearing On Hold Until Next Tuesday

In the latest Alex Rodriguez saga that will just not go away we learned that the arbitrator in charge of Alex Rodriguez's appeal of his 211 game suspension, Frederic Horowitz, had prior engagements and cannot meet with Alex this week. His appeal is set to resume at the earliest next Tuesday the 15th which means the Yankees offseason plans get put on hold for yet another week at least. Do not worry though we will not have to go without drama I am sure as Alex is still the part of two separate lawsuits, one against Bud Selig and Major League Baseball and the other against the Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad. The Bronx is Burning again.

Cubs Willing To Top Yankees Offer For Joe Girardi

The Chicago Cubs are playing hardball when it comes to replacing their manager Dale Sveum and are targeting current Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees met with Girardi and offered him a new three year deal, reportedly, somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 -$5 million annually but the Cubs seem willing to top that. While the Cubs cannot officially negotiate with Girardi until November 1st after being denied permission to talk with the manager by the Yankees organization the Cubs are making it very clear that they will top any offer that New York makes. This could get interesting, and ugly, very fast. Stay tuned.

Ask A Greedy Pinstripe: Edition One

We asked our twitter followers and readers to send us in their questions for this offseason for our first ever "Ask A Greedy Pinstripe" post here on the blog. This is much like your run of the mill mailbag type question scenario except we totally expect to do it better then every one else. Maybe that is me being sarcastic, maybe that is me being biased, and maybe you will never know which one.

Submit your questions for edition two on twitter by tweeting @GreedyStripes or by emailing us at the greedy pinstripes on g mail dot com. Now on to the questions!

I want to say first and foremost thank you to @ThaChosenOne as you are the first person to ever ask us a question for our Ask A Greedy Pinstripe portion of the site. #SlowGolfClap Okay now back to work.

I think the Yankees do not even know who they will target this off season, nobody does and nobody will until this whole Alex Rodriguez mess is sorted out. If A Rod is suspended like we all expect him to be then I think the Yankees will use that $27.5 million AAV to go after a combination of Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, and Matt Garza in that order. I think we will go after at least two of those and ultimately end of signing one of them to a deal. Tanaka and Kuroda would be nice but I could not see us signing more then one of them if Garza is signed.

If we whiff on all three of these guys then I could see us going after an Ervin Santana, Tim Lincecum if he is not resigned by the Giants (although I think I would prefer him in the bullpen), and maybe even a Tim Hudson. We need a veteran starter or two to replace possibly Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes so the Yankees will be very active in the starting pitching market this offseason.

Good question here because the Yankees fans always want to know who the next hired mercenary and fan favorite will be and in 2014 I think it will be Jose Dariel Abreu. I know this is not the big splashes that we have grown accustomed to, this is not the Mark Teixeira or the CC Sabathia or the Alex Rodriguez additions we have grown to be spoiled by. I really think it goes to show you just how weak the free agent pool is in 2014 with all the teams locking up their young talent long term earlier then usual. While Abreu is not going to be anywhere near the top of anyone's free agency power rankings list he makes sense for the Yankees, in my opinion, as he fills a huge offensive hole while severely upgrading the DH position while also allowing us to give Mark Teixeira a night off or two every now and then. The Yankees will presumably not have many at bats for aging veterans outside of Derek Jeter in 2014, especially if Alex Rodriguez gets suspended, so we can afford to have a DH only type that delivers raw 30 home run power to the lineup, .250-.275 batting average and all.

Honestly this started out as a joke way back in the offseason before the 2009 World Series year and it has really taken fire. If you all remember that was the offseason the Yankees went on a huge spending spree signing CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, and traded for Nick Swisher a year after missing for the playoffs for the first time since the strike shortened 1994 season. I was posting on sports forums back then and had a pretty significant following there and started to tease about how we needed to "get greedy and get Manny (Ramirez). I, looking back and hindsight being 20/20 and all, guess I was kind of trolling because I wanted no part of Manny Ramirez on the team but I still clamored for the need for more right handed power and brought up how he could solve all of our runners in scoring position, clutch hitting, and postseason hitting woes all in one shot.

I decided to leave that site later in the 2009 season for another opportunity elsewhere and took, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest, 85%-90% of that forum with me to my new site. I did not know the following that I would accumulate taking on the "big shots" and the "veterans" of this very well known forum and when I asked why they decided to follow me it was always the way I handled myself during the Manny Ramirez debates and how they liked how I thought outside the box. We spent a few years over at the new place and had your typical "I am tired of working for someone else" and "I wanna be my own boss" kind of epiphany and decided to get into the blog world. Anyone who has ever started a blog knows that coming up with the name is first step and probably the hardest part for most but this came easy. Bryan Van Dusen and myself decided to name ourselves The Greedy Pinstripes and the rest is history.

I will assume that you mean David Price since there is no other Price available this offseason and to answer that question, um no? He is not a free agent, the Rays have not made him available yet, and will never trade him within the division and probably not within the American League if they can help it.

Masahiro Tanaka seems like an easy decision and the Yankees have been watching him very closely since the news broke that he would be posted this offseason. I think whether we get him or not depends on the new Japanese League posting system rules that are said to be implemented this November actually are or not. If we stick with the ole "highest bidder in a closed bid gets exclusive rights" system I think there is one team, the Chicago Cubs come to mind, will blow us out of the water simply because they can. If we go to the new proposed rules in time where the top three bidders are revealed and the player gets the decision of who he will negotiate with I think we will absolutely be in the top three and will be chosen by Tanaka.

Jose Abreu I think we should go after as I have been clamoring for him shortly after he defected from Cuba but we have only just recently heard that the Yankees are interested. Abreu has been hosting showcases at the Yankees minor league complex in the Dominican Republic so there is always that and at the end of the day I think the Yankees will sign Abreu because everybody thinks that they won't.

I think I can do a whole lot more than three but I will go ahead and stick to my top three for simplicity sake. Honestly I do not think the Yankees get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.  If the YES Network ratings were not down over 30%, if we did not miss the playoffs in 2013, and we did not see failure after failure in the minor league system I think we would give it a real shot but they are, we did, and they did so there you have it. I am not expecting the Yankees to go all circa 2009 and sign the top three or four free agents but I can see us delaying the luxury tax threshold reset for a year or two.

Secondly I think the Yankees are going to go with a team that is at least 50% homegrown next season 25 man roster wise.  I think we have a home grown player at catcher in Francisco Cervelli, third base in Eduardo Nunez, short stop in Derek Jeter, second base with Robinson Cano, left field in Alfonso Soriano (yes I know he technically signed out of Japan so sue me), center field in Brett Gardner, right field eventually in Zoilo Almonte, two out of the five starting rotation spots in Adam Warren and Ivan Nova, and at least five out of the six or seven relievers that we will carry in David Robertson, Preston Claiborne, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, and Matt Daley. I also expect our back up catcher, Austin Romine, our back up infielder, David Adams, and our first in line for a starting rotation spot in Vidal Nuno will all be homegrown. I know, as I eluded to above, that many fans are expecting the Yankees to rebuild and retool but I cannot see it.

Finally what I think will surprise everyone is the fact that the Yankees and Brian Cashman will make zero, count them, zero trades this offseason. With the implementation of  the second wild card along with more and more teams locking up their young talent years before free agency  to long term deals means to me that more and more teams think that they are in it for the long haul. Also teams will be holding onto their talent for the July 31st trading deadline. I do not see any glaring salary dumps that the Yankees have seemingly fallen in love with and I cannot see the Yankees taking any of those guys while making a run at the $189 million luxury tax threshold so this will be another cold and long offseason for the Yankees and their fans.

That's it for this edition of Ask A Greedy Pinstripe. Once again if you want to be a part of the next edition of this please submit your questions as we will try to make this a frequent part of the blog. We like to let our readers and followers be heard and part of the discussion as much as we can because we are nothing without you guys. Go Yankees!

Understanding & Breaking Down The 2014 Payroll

The talk of the 2014 off season for the New York Yankees will center around the 2014 luxury tax thresh hold that the Yankees are trying to get under. The luxury tax is set at $189,000,000 and would provide some nice financial benefits if we were to get under the total all season long including a "reset" on penalties for going over the tax. The Yankees have said that this is the goal but this will not get in the way of a World Series championship and will not keep them from putting the best team on the field but that remains to be seen in my opinion. Before we get too far into this let us take a look at the 40 man roster that we will have the day the World Series ends:

Matt Daley
Cesar Cabral
David Huff

Using the roster above here is a list of the most notable contracts on the books for the 2014 season:

Alex Rodriguez -- $25,000,000 ( AAV hit of $27,500,000)
Vernon Wells -- $21,000,000 (AAV hit of $0)
Mark Teixeira -- 22,500,000 (AAV hit of $22,500,000)
CC Sabathia -- $23,000,000 (AAV hit of 23,250,000)
Alfonso Soriano -- $18,000,000 (AAV hit of $4,000,000)
Ichiro Suzuki -- $6,500,000 (AAV hit of $6,500,000)

Money on the books = $116,000,000 (AAV hit of $83,750,000)

Here is a list of guys that will get a raise, however marginal, via arbitration. Instead of taking another guess at what these players will make I will instead just list their 2013 salaries:

Brett Gardner (3rd time)
2013 salary - $2,850,000

David Robertson (3rd time)
2013 salary - $3,100,000

Shawn Kelley (2nd time)
2013 salary -$935,000

Jayson Nix (2nd time)
2013 salary - $900,000

Ivan Nova (1st time)
2013 salary - $575,600

Michael Pineda (1st time)
2013 salary - $528,475

Francisco Cervelli (1st time)
2013 salary - $515,350

Chris Stewart (1st time)
2013 salary - $515,100

David Huff (1st time)
2013 salary - $494,000

Here is the bare minimum for this list of arbitration eligible players. Keep in mind that I did not take a guess at what they would make so this number WILL go up.

$10,413,525 but expect that to be AT LEAST in the $15,000,000 range when all is said and done. 

There are a few things working for the Yankees this year on the payroll front believe it or not. Here is the most notable things working in the Yankees favor this year:

  • The Yankees paid their final $8,500,000 payment to AJ Burnett for him to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates so that amount automatically comes off the Yankees payroll.

  • The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will pay Vernon Wells $18,600,000 this season to play for the New York Yankees and we are on the hook for $0 this season (AAV wise since his contract was heavily back loaded), thus making him a free player for lack of a better word. The Toronto Blue Jays will pay the rest of his contract by paying us $3,642,857.

  • Alex Rodriguez may be suspended for the entire 2014 season meaning his $25,000,000 will not be on the books for this coming season. His Average Annual Value, or AAV as is used in the new collective bargaining agreement, will be $27,5000,000 worth of credit for the Yankees payroll and luxury tax.

  • The Chicago Cubs will be paying $13,000,000 of Alfonso Soriano's salary to play for the New York Yankees this season keeping us on the hook for $5,000,000. With the back loaded contract that Soriano signed with the Cubs we are only on the hook for $4,000,000 when you use AAV.

Here is a list of the massive amount of dollars coming off the books for the Yankees this season. Granted it looks great to see all these millions coming off the board you have to remember that we also have all these holes to fill:

Hiroki Kuroda $15,000,000
Andy Pettitte $12,000,000
Mariano Rivera $10,000,000
Kevin Youkilis $12,000,000
Curtis Granderson $13,000,000
Robinson Cano $15,000,000
Phil Hughes $7,150,000
Mark Reynolds $6,000,000 (Entire 2013 contract)
Brendan Ryan $3,250,000 (Entire 2013 contract)
Boone Logan $3,150,000
Travis Hafner $2,000,000
Joba Chamberlain $1,875,000
Lyle Overbay $1,250,000
Mike Zagurksi $490,000

Money coming off the books for 2014: $102,015,000

All of this before the potential Robinson Cano mega contract, a qualifying offer to Curtis Granderson worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,000,000, and trying to bring back a Hiroki Kuroda with a raise on his $15,000,000 contract from 2013. Derek Jeter also has a $9,500,000 players option that has to be exercised or declined three days after the World Series is over. Keep in mind that we also have to replace our third baseman, second basemen, two starting pitchers, the greatest closer of all time, some bench pieces, and our manager. Obviously a lot of these can and will come from within but still the Yankees have a tough task ahead of them this winter.

The straw that is going to break the camels back in this case is if Derek Jeter comes back for the 2014 season. If Jeter accepts his player option and comes back for $9,500,000 next year his AAV hit would be $15,500,000. If Jeter declines his players option his $9,000,000 will still be on the hook for this years luxury tax PLUS whatever he signed for. I think most people thought it was going to be Robinson Cano and not Derek that kept us from our goal of $189,000,000 but it may be our 39 year old captain.

Will it be tough, sure, but can it be done? I am starting to doubt it honestly the more I decipher the new collective bargaining agreement.

This Day In New York Yankees History 10/7

On this day in 1939 the Yankees rookie Charlie Keller becomes the first rookie to hit two home runs in the same game in World Series history as the Yankees beat the Red 7-3.

On this day in 1952 the Yankees won their fourth consecutive World Series title after beating the Dodgers in game seven at Ebbets Field. Gil Hodges went 0-21 in the series which prompted Dodgers fans to take their prayers to churches asking for God's help with their first basemen.

On this day in 1995 the Yankees would give up a grand slam to Edgar Martinez, the Seattle Mariners DH, in game four of the ALDS to force the decisive game five. The Yankees would lose 11-10. You have to wonder how far the Yankees go this year if they let Mariano Rivera, who made the postseason roster as a reliever, pitch in a couple of these games.

On this day in 2007, with the Yankees down 2-0 against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, George Steinbrenner made it clear that if the Yankees did not make it past this series that Joe Torre would lose his job. Torre is the longest tenured manager in the Boss's tenure and would see the Yankees coming from behind to win 6-4 before losing the series.

On this day in 2009 the Yankees set a new franchise record for most home runs in a season with their 243rd home run of the season. The home run came off the bat of Alex Rodriguez who would hit two home runs including a grand slam in his final at bat of the season bringing his stats to 30 home runs and 100 RBI's. A Rod had seven RBI's in the same inning setting a new American League record.