Sunday, December 15, 2013

News & Notes From The Past Week

I can't wait for this movie. Even if it's coming way too late.

It's been a while since I've written anything around here. Not that I haven't wanted to, but I can't seem to find a topic worth discussing. At least something to discuss at length. But the bug is biting pretty darn hard, so I decided to simply touch upon some of the recent happenings with the Yankees.

  • Yankee fans were all atwitter, and they tweeted a lot too, regarding Robinson Cano saying he wasn't shown any respect by the Yankees. I don't think this is a case where Robbie felt that he was actually disrespected, like Brian Cashman wouldn't return his calls or laughed at him for some reason. I think this was a case where Cano simply didn't think the Yankees offered him what he was worth. Personally, I think the Yankees did offer him what he is worth. Face it, Robbie has never won an MVP, and never led the league in any batting category. So why pay him close to A-Rod money? The fact is... the Mariners overpaid.
  • The Yankees lost out on Omar Infante, who was easily the best free agent second baseman. That's too bad, but it's hardly a big deal. Sure, I wanted to see the Yankees sign Omar, but he's hardly a guy worth shedding tears over losing. It's highly unlikey that he repeats his 2013 season, as his triple-slash of .318/.345/.450 was way higher than his career marks. Not to mention that the team seems to be putting together a pretty good offense. So avoiding a four-year contract for a player over 30 is okay with me. Besides, the Yankees have some trade chips, so acquiring a second or third baseman (with Kelly Johnson taking the other spot) could very-well happen.
  • Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain signed with the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers, respectively. Yeah, this is as close to non-news as it comes. While I'm happy to see Joba gone, there are three reasons I'm okay with the loss of Boone Logan... David Huff, Cesar Cabral, and Vidal Nuno.
  • Thank you, Mr. Cashman, for not dealing away Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips. Phillips is an A+ defender, but his bat has gone down in each of the last three seasons. Having a 32-year old for another four years and $50 million is not awesome. Actually, Phillips has been on my fantasy baseball team for the past couple of years, and if I kept him again I'd have another Yankee on the team. That would be cool... I guess.
  • Speaking of Gardner, I would only deal him if the team got something good to great back. I've heard a #4 starter or higher, but even that wouldn't be enough for me. Not because I think Gardy is worth that a ton, but because the team has plenty of guys that could fill the #4 spot. They should be looking to acquire a #2 or #1 starter, not a bottom of the rotation one. And if a young second or third baseman could be had for Gardner, then so be it.
  • I didn't see the press conference when he said it, but knowing how playful Curtis Granderson can be, I'm sure he was joking when he said that real New Yorkers are Mets fans. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was a backhanded complement, since being a Mets fan is so hard since the team stinks.
  • The Rule V Draft happened and... I don't care. Knowing how few Rule V Draft picks actually do something in MLB, I've probably already spent too much time discussing it.
  • Major League Baseball is moving towards banning home plate collisions. While some baseball purists are up in arms over this, saying that home plate collisions are part of the game, I say "balderdash". Well, I would actually use word other than "balderdash", but this is a family website. Player safety should be rule #1, no matter what level of sport you're in. We've seen too many former athletes suffer from head injuries. Even if this rule only prevents one player from suffering due to getting a serious concussion, then it's a good one. 
  • I can't help but laugh at some of the people figuratively standing up and applauding Joe Torre for being elected to the Hall of Fame. It's not because he doesn't deserve it, it's that I remember a ton of Yankee fans and writers saying he was overrated due to having great teams to manage. As if anybody could do what Torre did. It's a lot of the same people that used to bash George Steinbrenner for meddling too much in baseball operations, only to say they wish he was around today.
  • Finally, I think it's incredible that the Yankees are going to honor Nelson Mandela by giving him a plaque in Monument Park. Some may wonder what he has to do with the Yankees, well Mr. Mandela gave a speech in Yankee Stadium back in 1990. Either way, if Jackie Robinson deserves one for what he did for blacks in Major League Baseball, Mr. Mandela deserves one for what he's done for humankind. Whether it was baseball, or life in general, the lessons he taught people will live on forever.
I don't know if this will become a weekly thing, but I'd really like to write more than I have lately. Of course, if enough people comment, perhaps I'll be forced to continue this. Not that I'm begging for comments or anything. LOL

Have a good one, Yankees fans!

Yankees "Absolutely No Intention" Of Trading Gardner

The New York Yankees have once again stated that they have "absolutely no intention" of trading now left fielder Brett Gardner this offseason. Gardner's name has become a popular one for rival GM's since the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to play center field. Randy Levine puts to sleep any possibility, for whatever his word is worth anyway, that the Yankees will look to move Gardner to clear a spot in the outfield and some money for the Hal cap.

Here is a quote from Levine while on ESPN Radio's Ian O'Connor Show:

"We think he's going to be on the roster," Levine said. "One of the reasons the baseball people signed Jacoby Ellsbury is the two of them together present a tremendous dynamic one-two or nine-one, whatever Joe Girardi decides to write in at the top of the lineup. One will play left, one will play center, and it's a tremendous defensive situation. So, no, there's absolutely no intention to move Brett Gardner."

Yankees Finally Showing Interest In Mark Reynolds

The Yankees are finally interested in Mark Reynolds cementing the idea that Brian Cashman is a Greedy Pinstripes reader. Just the other day I mentioned letting Kelly Johnson start at second base for us, signing Mark Reynolds for third base, and shoring up the pitching and calling it a day. The Yankees are now showing interested in Reynolds to provide some right handed power as our starting third basemen and part time first basemen.

Reynolds hit .236/.300/.455 in 36 games with the Yankees this season after posting a .215/.307/.373 with the Indians before being released. His defense is horrid at third base, let's not mince words, but he may end up being the best option we have outside of Alex Rodriguez at third this offseason. The Twins, Brewers, and Rays are also said to be interested in Reynolds who made $6 million last season.

Mark Ellis Comes Off The Yankees Board

In a bit of a head scratcher Mark Ellis has come off the board as the St. Louis Cardinals have signed the 37 tear old second basemen to a one year deal pending a physical. I would think that Ellis would be a part time player in St. Louis which leads me to believe the Yankees were never really all that interested. You would think a guy like Ellis would want playing time but then again maybe he felt like he had a better chance at a ring with the Cardinals, who knows. Omar Infante is a Royal, Robinson Cano is a Mariner, Mark Ellis is a Cardinal, and it looks more and more likely that Kelly Johnson is the Yankees starting second basemen.

Do You Want This Man As Your Closer Next Year?

(Courtesy of Ashley Papelbon's Twitter)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

That's a difficult question to answer for many Yankee fans for a variety of reasons.  Jonathan Papelbon isn't and has never been very well-liked in Yankeeland.  That will happen when you're wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform and have a brashness and arrogance about you that borders on obnoxious sometimes.  One thing he has been over the course of his career is a very good closer, and like his left-handed starter teammates in Philly he may be available via trade for the right price.  Part of that price may include outfielder Domonic Brown as part of a package deal, which raises more questions about just what the hell the Phillies are doing this offseason.  But with the Yankees looking for veteran bullpen help and with their progress slowed on other fronts, they may want to consider putting a call in to Ruben Amaro about their former nemesis.

Putting aside the previous laundry, there's still some things to like about Papelbon as a player.  He just turned 33, so he's got gas left in the tank, and even though his fastball velocity has started to tail off he's maintained a very good level of performance thanks to some adjustments to his offerings.  Papelbon has started working a 2-seamer in a lot more over the last 3 seasons, along with an improved splitter and the occasional slider he can go to for a swing and miss.  He pitched to a 2.92/3.05/3.51 slash line this past season with 29 saves in 36 chances.  For the 6th straight year, he threw more than 60 innings and while his K rate dropped dramatically (22.4% from 32.4% in 2012), he did cut down on his walks (4.3% BB rate).

On the other side of the coin, the 2013 drop in K rate and the surely related drop in velocity were pretty serious.  According to PITCHf/x, Papelbon lost almost 2 MPH on both his 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs and almost 4 on his slider.  His stuff wasn't close to what it has been and it showed in his peripherals.  His O-Swing rate was way down (31.8% from 36.4% in 2012), his Contact rate was up (78.3% from 74.7% in 2012) and his 10.6% Swinging Strike rate was the lowest of his career.  Now that decline has started to set in for Papelbon and set in in what appears to be a big way, there's reason to be concerned about how much longer he can continue to be effective.

Part of that concern comes from the years and money remaining on his contract.  Papelbon has 2 years remaining on the 4-year/$50 million deal he signed with the Phillies before the 2012 season, at $13 mil per year.  He also has an option for a 5th year at another $13 mil that vests if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games over the next 2 seasons.  If the Yankees were interested in him, they'd have to assume they were taking him on for 3 years and $39 million and that's a big price tag for a guy showing signs of potentially major decline.

There's also the matter of what Philly would want in return.  The asking price for Papelbon won't be nearly what it would be forCliff Lee, but they're still going to want at least 1 useful, Major League-ready piece and the Yankees' young pitchers who fit that description aren't exactly future top-of-the-rotation studs.  We just saw how much they value Brett Gardner when they declined Cincy's trade proposal for Brandon Phillips.  Do they valueDavid Phelps the same way?

I'm not crazy about bringing in Papelbon personally, but I could get behind it if Philly was willing to pay some of his remaining salary and wasn't asking for too much in return.  He's reliable, he's durable, and he has plenty of experience pitching in big games and in the AL East.  If the Yankees still aren't sold on D-Rob as closer material, Papelbon is probably the best possible option for the job.  He won't come cheap, and it would involve putting some past hatred and bad memories behind us as Yankee fans.  But if we could do it for 28 games of a washed up Kevin Youkilis, I think we could do it for Papelbon.

Being posted as a part of Syndicated Sunday from An A-Blog From A-Rod

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/15

On this day in 1980 Dave Winfield became the highest paid player in Major League history and the history of sports at the time when the New York Yankees handed him a 10 year deal worth $16 million. Makes Robinson Cano turning down $175 million into perspective on where the game has come from in the last 30 years.

On this day in 1981 the Yankees continued their spending ways when they signed Ron Guidry to a four year deal worth $3.6 million to keep him in New York. Gator averaged nearly 17 wins per season during the four year contract for perennial terrible Yankees teams.