Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cheaper, Alternative Options the Yankees Should Pursue this Offseason

The Yankees are planning on making some moves this offseason after failing to make the playoffs for only the second time in 20 years. For the last few years we’ve heard how they’re trying to cut their payroll to $189 million to get under the luxury tax, but in order to compete next year, it is clear that they have to very aggressive this winter.

Currently, the 2014 team’s payroll is at $96.4 million (could be $25 million lower if Alex Rodriguez is suspended). However, much of that money is invested in three or four players. With a certain second baseman along with other top free agents this offseason  asking for high pay, it may be better for the Yankees to pursue other, cheaper options to put a team together in the fashion of the Red Sox. Here are four players the Yankees should consider if they decide not to go crazy.

1. Second base: Omar Infante instead of Robinson Cano
Cano is by far the best second baseman in baseball and it isn’t even close. It will be completely impossible for the Yankees to replace his .300+ average, 25+ HRs, 100+ RBIs, and ~.900 OPS that he is good for every year. However, with his asking price at about $300 million, it may be wise for them to let him walk. So then they to get creative to get a replacement, and nobody is as good as Cano.

Omar Infante has had a relatively quiet career, having two spots with the Tigers while playing a few years in Atlanta and two with the Marlins. Since 2009, he’s pretty much been league average offensively, but did managed to hit .318 with a 113 OPS+ this year. He plays a sound second base, with a positive UZR/150 in the last few years. He is not Robinson Cano, nobody is, but he will be significantly cheaper, as he made just $4 million in the last two years. He’s only a year older than Cano, and he’s projected by FanGraphs to get a three year deal worth $27.5 million. That may be more worth pursuing than giving in to Cano’s demands.

2. Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski instead of Brian McCann
The Yankees are desperate for stability behind the plate, as their catcher situation’s (mostly journeyman Chris Stewart and rookie Austin Romine) combined offensive production was in the bottom five in the majors. Brian McCann is an easy answer; he’s been one of the best in the game for the last eight seasons. However, he too is looking for a big pay day, possibly one that’ll get him $80-$100 million. It could be a huge risk, and the Texas Rangers are also after him, so the Yankees could look elsewhere on the market.

A.J. Pierzynski is a guy the Yankees could look at if they don’t pursue McCann. After a career season in Chicago in 2012, the 37 year-old only got one year for $7.5 million from Texas. He put up decent numbers closer to his career norms this year; 17 HR, 70 RBI, amd a .722 OPS. He threw out basestealers at a much higher rate than McCann (33% vs 24%). A one year deal is possible, and a two year deal isn’t too bad even for a guy in his late 30s, especially if they decide to go cheap at catcher.

3. Outfield: Corey Hart over Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Shin-Soo Choo

The three big free agents in the outfield this offseason are all looking for big pay days, but all could end up on the wrong side of 30 very soon. Carlos Beltran, once again associated with the New York Yankees on the rumor mill, has manged to stay healthy in each of the last three years and has been productive, but it would be a mistake to give a to-be 37 year-old with knee problems a two year deal, especially since his defensive skills have declined sharply.
Shin-Soo Choo would bring an excellent batting eye to the top of the Yankee order but his defensive skills are also getting worse and he’s slowly becoming a platoon player (.612 OPS vs LHP this year). Jacoby Ellsbury is potentially an MVP candidate and top five-tool talent, but his injury history is a red flag for a player who’s primary skill (speed) hardly ever beats the age curve. He could be the next Carl Crawford.

Enter Corey Hart. Over his previous three seasons, he’s averaged close to 30 HR and a .857 OPS while totaling close to 10 wins in that span. You’d think he too would be up for a raise, but he missed all of 2013 with surgeries on both knees. This will easily knock down his value by a lot, making him cheap for the Yankees to pick up. When healthy, the guy can hit, especially LHP (career .896 OPS against southpaws). He’s a decent outfielder and can also play a little first-base. When you compare what Ellsbury, Choo, and Beltran will get, a one year deal for Hart has a great chance of becoming an absolute steal.

4. Pitcher: Josh Johnson over Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ricky Nolasco

The top three pitchers of this offseason (other than Masahiro Tanaka) come with plenty of risk. Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza have been around; solid, middle of the order pitchers who aren’t exactly overpowering but give you innings. But that’s just it. They’re really just middle of the rotation caliber starts, probably not worth the $50-$60 million they’re projected to get.
Ubaldo Jimenez is an interesting case. He has some of the best potential stuff in the game and showed it in the first half of 2010 with a 15-1 record and a 2.20 ERA. After that, he struggled in the years to follow. Only this year did he get back to his capability, as he finished the season with a 2.40 ERA and 131 strikeouts in his last 120 innings (20 starts). Jimenez isn’t asking for as much as Nolasco or Garza, but he seems to be a higher risk. High risk, high reward.

A safer option is Josh Johnson. Like Jimenez, he was once budding into one of the game’s best pitchers three years ago, but injuries have derailed him. He strikes out a lot of guys and has good control. Yeah, he was pretty brutal with the Blue Jays this year but he was limited to just 81 innings due to a series of injuries to his arm. He gave up home runs at a 18.5% clip, much higher than his career norm. A 3.58 xFIP suggests a rebound could be in the works for Johnson in 2014 if he’s healthy. With his injury history, he will be much cheaper than the three I already mentioned (and I don’t even want to mention Ervin Santana. He’s got red flags all over him). Johnson could be a perfect #2 or #3 in the Yankees rotation.

Brandon Mauk is a contributer to The Greedy Pinstripes. You can follow him on Twitter @B_Mauk

Shortstop Arruebarruena Defects From Cuba

Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena has defected from Cuba and will look to be cleared in time to sign with a major league team for the 2014 season. Arruebarruena is known for his slick hands on the defensive side and has drawn comparisons to Jose Iglesias in the field, the Detroit Tigers shortstop.

Arruebarruena is 23 years old and has played his six seasons in Cuba so he will not affect or count against his teams International spending cap and would be a true free agent once he is cleared. Arruebarruena has established residency in Haiti so it should not be long before he is cleared by the United States.

Earlier in the season Arruebarruena was ranked as the 10th best prospect in the World Baseball Classic to not already be signed to a major league team. Arruebarruena is not considered to be a fast or a smart runner on the base paths  or in the field but has a quick first step that allows him to get away with more than most.

Thank God the Yankees don't put names on the back of their uniforms, huh?

Raicel Iglesias Declares Residency In Mexico

Raicel Iglesias has declared residency in Mexico after defecting from Cuba and is now awaiting clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control to become a free agent and free to sign with any team. Iglesias and his contract will not count against a teams International free agent spending pool and will be a true free agent when he is cleared this month by the OFAC.

Iglesias is 23 years old and possesses a 92-95 MPH fastball with swing and miss breaking stuff that keeps hitters off balance. Iglesias has questionable control though and will more than likely begin his career in the minor leagues to get some more development and seasoning before coming to the Major Leagues.

Iglesias should be cleared this month and free to sign before GM's meet at the Winter Meetings in December.

Javier Lopez Comes Off The Yankees LOOGY Board

Just a few days ago the New York Yankees and left handed reliever Javier Lopez expressed mutual interest in each other but it looks like Lopez is now officially off the Yankees board. Lopez and the San Francisco Giants are said to have agreed on the years on a mutli year deal and the money and are just finalizing everything now. Lopez will stay with his Giants and the Yankees will have to look elsewhere if they want to replace Boone Logan.

Lopez is 36 years old and is coming off of a season where he pitched to a 1.83 ERA with a 8.5 K/9 ratio and a 2.7 BB/9 ratio in 39.1 innings pitched in 2013. Lopez is basically the equivalent of Joba Chamberlain against right handed hitters but is the equivalent of Mariano Rivera to same handed batters and would have been nice to have but not on a multi year deal.

Yankees Will Not Wait On Robinson Cano

The New York Yankees President Randy Levine gave us a ton of sound bites to talk about today including one that stated that the Yankees would not wait on Cano. Robbie is said to be willing to wait until January to sign him mega deal if need be but the Yankees are not going to be that patient. The Yankees are going to sign free agents and if that affects the amount of money they have left to sign Cano then so be it. If the Yankees can actually stick to this then I say good for them and I am 100% in agreement.

Here is one last quote from Levine to think about tonight in response to if the Mets could have Robinson Cano:

"Yes. For $300MM they can ... We want Robbie Cano back. We think the offer we made him is very competitive and it shows that we want him to be a Yankee for a long time and be the face of the franchise. But until they come down from the $300 million, there's really nothing to talk about."

Yankees Interested In Raul Ibanez Reunion

The New York Yankees reportedly have "some interest" in bringing back former Yankees hero Raul Ibanez as the DH for 2014. Ibanez is 41 years old and is coming off of a .242/.307/.487 triple slash with 29 home runs with the Seattle Mariners in 2013 and is two years removed from all those magical home runs in the playoffs for the Yankees. Brian Cashman must get a discount at a thrift store or something for signing all these guys, only reason I can think of.

New York Yankees Hot Stove Wrap Up

Meanwhile in the New York Yankees hot stove season...

Video Proof We Need To Forgive Steroid Users: Part 1

Hello everyone it's me again, Daniel Burch, and I am still advocating for the forgiveness of steroid users. I know that ESPN, MLB Network, the New York Post, etc. have not told you that it's okay to forgive these guys yet so I understand your reluctance but hear me out. I have asked, and honestly it started out as a joke, to forgive ALEX RODRIGUEZ and then, and I was serious this time, I asked you to forgive FRANCISCO CERVELLI and then I asked to forgive ALL STEROID USERS. This time I bring video proof to back up my case that these men need to be forgiven not because they did nothing wrong, shouldn't be punished, and were in the right but because it is the only way the Yankees are going win #28 in the next four to five seasons. Also, I was made fun of for saying that it was the only way it was going to happen but I truly believe that. Maybe this video proof will make my point, although I doubt it will register with most.

I think the 2009 season is the perfect example of why we need to forgive Alex Rodriguez and all steroid users so I will start there. February 9th Alex Rodriguez went on national television and admitted to his steroid use, limiting it to his time with Texas and not with his time in New York, stating that he felt compelled to live up to the mega contract that he had signed. Alex also had a pretty major hip surgery that would keep him out of the 2009 season until May 8th of that season and he wasted no time. Below is A Rod's first at bat where, spoiler alert, he hit a home run on the first pitch that he saw.

Alex was boo'd, the fans hate him, all stuff we have grown accustomed to see. Seeing as that game was in Baltimore let's see A Rod's first at bat in Yankee Stadium in that 2009 season on May 15th.

Again a mixture of boo's and cheers from the Yankees faithful. Was it because he is a douche? Was it because he admitted to his steroid use? Who knows, and frankly who cares, but no player can perform three or four times out of ten under that kind of scrutiny every single at bat, nobody.

The thing was though, and I will end Part 1 like this, the fans got on Alex's back by the end of the season and look what happened. The two home run and six RBI day on the final game of the season to hit the 30 home run and 100 RBI plateau that carried him all the way into the postseason. Alex was a different kind of player, noticeably relaxed, in the 2009 postseason. If you watch the above two videos and watch this and see how differently the fans and his teammates treated him I think you can tell where I am coming from here. I know you may not want to but the fact remains that if we ever want this kind of production from our steroids users then we have to forgive them, get on their side (because the grass is no greener on the holier then thou side), and get on with what the Yankees do best, winning World Series championships. Enjoy the 2009 Alex Rodriguez postseason montage, remember what we had, think about what could be going forward if he give him this kind of support again, and check in tomorrow for Part 2 of this series where we look at the 2013 season after yet another steroid scandal.

Don Larsen Perfect Game In The World Series Biography

Feeling nostalgic again as I found this Don Larsen biography about his perfect game in the World Series against the Dodgers. It even has interviews with Yogi Berra who caught the historic game. Enjoy.

This Day In New York Yankees History 11/19

On this day in 1939 the Yankees all star outfielder Joe DiMaggio would marry his well known actress girlfriend Dorothy Arnold at St. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco. DiMaggio met Arnold on the set of the movie "Manhattan Merry Go-Round" in which Joe had a very minor role in.

On this day in 1968 the Yankees right handed pitcher Stan Bahnsen was named the American League Rookie of the Year. Bahnsen put up a 17-12 record with a 2.05 ERA and 162 strikeouts in his rookie campaign. Del Unser of the Washington Senators finished in second place, a distant second place.

On this day in 2007 Alex Rodriguez received 26 of the 28 first place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to win the Most Valuable Player award. A Rod belted 54 home runs and knocked in 156 RBI's while posting a .314 batting average to bring home the MVP award. This would be Alex's third MVP award overall and second with the Yankees, his first coming in 2005.