Friday, January 17, 2014

Expected Minor League Assignments From Newman

Chad Jennings of LoHud interviewed Yankees Vice President Mark Newman over the phone, SEEN HERE, and Mr. Newman was nice enough to give us some expected minor league assignments for some of our bigger names. Obviously minor league camp is some two months away so these are not set in stone nor are they concrete but this can give all you prospects guys something to look forward to and give you a general idea of what the Yankees are thinking.

Eric Jagielo - High A Tampa Yankees
Aaron Judge - High A Tampa Yankees
Gosuke Katoh - Staten Island Yankees
Slade Heathcott - Trenton or Scranton, depending on his rehab

For the entire write up from Jennings click the link above. There is some speculation on Jose Campos, Manny Banuelos, Ty Hensley, Ian Clarkin, Michael Pineda, and other minor league assignment thoughts. Also Chad touches on the winter league games including the show that Zoilo Almonte put on and gives us a Tyler Austin update, it's a good read so check it out.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration With All Eligible Players

I am a little behind on this as my job actually expected me to work today, what a concept I know, but the New York Yankees have now agreed to deals for 2014 with all of their arbitration eligible players. Last night the Yankees agreed with Francisco Cervelli on a one year deal worth $700K and now they have agreed with their other four players Ivan Nova, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and Shawn Kelley.

Kelley has agreed to a deal worth $1.7625 and can earn another $25K if he appears in 55 games or more. Kelley was projected to earn $1.5 million in arbitration so he got a slight raise, good for him. Gardner agreed to a deal worth $5.6 million in his final year of arbitration on the heels of speculation that Gardner could earn as much as $8 million in arbitration. Gardner was initially projected to earn $4 million so he also got a nice little raise over 2013. Robertson agreed to a deal worth $5.215 million also in his final year of arbitration after being projected to earn $5.5 million. That is still a nice piece of change for an 8th inning man, although I expect him to be the closer eventually, before he heads into free agency. Finally Nova agreed to a deal worth $3.3 million after being projected to earn $2.8 million in arbitration. After an up and down season he did enough to get a raise so good for him.

I like to hear that none of our players are going to court for their cases, none of them are being greedy, and we now have a clearer picture at our payroll. Now if we could solve this whole Masahiro Tanaka thing...

Staten Island Yankees Announce 2014 Coaching Staff

The A Rod Suspension Makes Me Miss The Boss

Previously on The Bronx is Burning II

Alex Rodriguez's name was scribbled on a piece of paper and sold to Major League Baseball by a drug dealer thus making him the star witness of a case against the players. Alex Rodriguez was then suspended for 211 games after everyone else on that same piece of paper that Anthony Bosch had to be paid millions of dollars to produce only got 50 game suspensions and Ryan Braun took a 65 game ban. Months went on and Alex returned to baseball only to get beamed by opposing pitchers because he was using his right to appeal the decision. Alex's season finally ended with a leg injury and the appeal to Frederic Horowitz began, not that he ever had a chance. The MLB's star witness, Horowitz, apparently made his case because A Rod's ban was "reduced" to 162 games, more than 100 games more than anyone else and 97 games more than the guy with the failed test that blamed the Fed Ex guy. Now we wait as Alex takes his case to the Supreme Court, again his God given right, and drags this out some more. The problem I have with this whole ordeal is how little support Alex has been given throughout the whole process.

The Major League Baseball Players Association and the MLB Players Union were put in place to protect the player, where in the world were they during this whole ordeal? The New York Yankees are on the hook for a whole lot of money to Alex Rodriguez this season and beyond, you would think they want to protect their investment, no? Surely they are not THAT worried about saving somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million are they? Is this what we've been reduced to? Coupon clipping and penny pinching? George Steinbrenner, wherever you are, must be rolling over in his grave right now.  

Times like these make me really miss the boss. Not because this site was sort of inspired by him and his greedy ways when it came to acquiring players and talent but because, especially in the latter part of his career and his life, he stood up for his players. The way this whole thing has gone down George would probably be banned from baseball again, and would be happy to do it for the Yankees. You know why? Because bottom line, hate the man or not, Alex Rodriguez makes us a better team. Bottom line. Makes us a better team on Hal's Excel spreadsheets and makes us a better team on the field. George knew that, George could recognize that, and George would have done everything he could to make sure his investment, and the team he loved so much, were protected.

If I could just have one wish it would be to bring back George for just one more day. Not to have fun with it and fire Billy Martin for a 19th time but to fire Randy Levine and tell his sons "sorry, not sorry" and sell this team to someone else. Those three men are a disgrace to this game and to the Yankee pride. Selling their souls, and the Yankees soul, for $25 million bucks. 

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #74 Wade Boggs (Again)

Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters in his generation and switched sides of the rivalry from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1993. Boggs would win the American League Gold Glove Awards for the Yankees in 1994 and 1995 adding a glove to his batting entourage. In 1996 Boggs made his 11th consecutive start at third base in the MLB All Star Game and capped the season with a thrilling World Series victory over the Atlanta Braves.

74 days until Yankees Opening Day

David Robertson vs. Grant Balfour - The Ultimate Battle

I am growing more and more aggravated with the idea among Yankees fans that Grant Balfour should be closing for the Yankees in 2014 and not David Robertson. Instead of waste all the stats and knowledge in a comment, we have a great discussion going on in our comments section by the way for those who have missed it all these years, I thought I would rather put it into a post for all to see. I really think it is a gamble to put Balfour in the 9th inning role for the Yankees, and I want to point out that I would be more than willing to have him set up for Robertson and he has said he would be willing to pitch in the 8th, and I think it is a fools bet for anyone who thinks otherwise. I can sit up here all day on my soap box and tell you about the risks and rewards of going all in on Balfour but I would rather just show you. Read on...

One of the more common complaints about D Rob is that he walks too many batters:

D Rob's BB/9 in 2013 - 2.4
Balfour's BB/9 in 2013 - 3.9 

Another is that D Rob throws too many balls and plays with batters too much:

D Rob throws a ball 35.6% of the time in 2013
Balfour throws a ball 38.4% of the time in 2013

"But D Rob screws around too much and sees too many 3-0 counts:"

D Rob 3-0 counts seen in 2013 was 10
Balfour's 3-0 counts seen in 2013 was 14

"Well D Rob throws too many pitches!"

D Rob threw 4.02 pitches per plate appearance in 2013
Balfour threw 4.35 pitches per plate appearance in 2013

"Well closers put guys away quick!"

D Rob saw 65 0-2 counts in 2013 and threw 35 strikes in those counts
Balfour saw 58 0-2 counts in 2013 and threw 32 strikes in those counts

oh and David had 13 strike outs on three pitches in 2013
Balfour only had 12...

"Strikeouts make for a good closer:"

D Rob had 77 K's in 2013
Balfour had 72 K's in 2013

"But Balfour has more fire!"

Well you got me there. Worked for Mariano so it should work for Balfour as well. Oh wait...

Balfour gave up seven home runs to Robertson's five home runs and if you remember my BIP post on Balfour from earlier in the offseason if Balfour had pitched in Yankee Stadium in 2013 his home runs could have doubled, or more!! Double the home runs which means you add runs to the ERA, the 2.59 ERA that was already 0.55 points higher than Robertson's 2.04. You also add some points to the WHIP, the same 1.197 WHIP that was 0.157 points higher than Robertson's 1.040 WHIP in 2013. That also means lowering that 145 ERA+ to a number even farther below Robertson's 199 ERA+ in 2013.

Leave the "fact" at home that Balfour is doing it in the 9th inning and Robertson is doing it in the 8th because I don't wanna hear it. Robertson is doing it in a bigger market and in a smaller stadium in a better division with more success. It's not like Robertson has ever been given a real shot at closing anyway because if you can remember he was injured himself a mere 12 days after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in 2012 and lost the job to Rafael Soriano, not because Robertson was necessarily bad, albeit he wasn't great, but because Soriano was too good to put back in the 8th inning. Looking at the above and using common sense tell me again why anyone wants Grant Balfour closing games in New York next season?

The Pitching Predicament: What Happened?

It’s incomprehensible to most long-time observers and fans how the Yankees pitching rotation has been reduced to a big question mark. Let’s look back. During the latter stages of the 2012 offseason, the Yankees dealt A.J. Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates because they had an influx of pitchers and Burnett seemed expendable. The Yanks acquired Hiroki Kuroda in that off-season and made the much maligned trade for Michael Pineda. Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos were also being plugged as the “next big thing,” yet neither of them have entrenched themselves into the starting rotation yet.

As the 2013-2014 off-season progresses, the Yankees find themselves with a pitching predicament. Outside of C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova, the rest of the starting rotation are question marks. It is expected that David Huff, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno will compete for the final two spots in the rotation. Despite missing two full seasons, Pineda might compete for a rotation spot, but it is doubtful that he will get it since no one knows what to expect out of him. The rest of the competitors are not sure things either and neither are the known members of the starting rotation. C.C. Sabathia is coming off a career-worst season. Hiroki Kuroda is coming off a late season fade and Ivan Nova has been up-and-down the past couple of seasons.

Poor drafting continues to plague the Yankees development as they struggle to find stable successors to some of the great pitchers of the 2000s. Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Andrew Brackman were once mentioned as the future stars of the pitching staff. Instead of being the next Mike Mussina, Andy Pettite (or even Roger Clemens), all of the above-mentioned pitchers are either in Yankees minor league system or no longer with the team. Hughes and Chamberlain signed with Twins and Tigers this off-season. Kennedy was a part of the three-team trade for Curtis Granderson in 2009. (Granderson recently signed with the New York Mets.) 

The last time the Yankees produced an everyday player was in 2005. This off-season the Yankees have made numerous front office changes. Let’s hope this will help the Yankees position themselves for success in the long run.

In the meantime, the Yankees have some serious pitching issues to work through before they can be considered legitimate playoff contenders again. Signing Masahiro Tanaka is a must. Even though it has been reported that the Yankees are not enamored with Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jiminez, or any of the pitchers on the market, the team should consider signing at least one of them to bolster the rotation. When he was available, the Yankees should have gambled on Mark Mulder as a low-risk/high-reward option. Johan Santana now falls into that category for the Yankees.

The Yankees have to focus on developing young starting pitchers and they need to draft better and/or scout better rather than rely on pitchers such as Sidney Ponson, Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon as they have done in the past. While that strategy might be effective, it is not worth taking a gamble on when the Yankees have enough resources to sign a top tier pitcher in free agency or trade for another middle of the line starter. Even though some acquisitions – such as Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Javier Vázquez (twice), or Jeff Weaver did not work out – they still provided the team with flare. We’ll have to wait and see if the front office maneuvering can bring back the once feared pitching staff that the great Yankees teams were known for in the 1990s and 2000s.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/17

On this day in 1970 the Yankees drafted Fred Lynn in the January phase of the free agent draft. The Chicago native would become the first player in baseball history to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year Awards in the same season but he did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1975, not with the Yankees. Lynn chose not to sign with the Yankees.

Not really Yankees history as much as Houston Astros history but on this day in 2005 the Astros offered Roger Clemens $13.5 million in arbitration after Clemens asked for $22 million. That amount would make Clemens the highest paid pitcher in Major League history and would be the most given in arbitration passing the Yankees Derek Jeter in 2001 when he received $18.5 million.

On this day in 2006 Alex Rodriguez announces that he will be a member of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Rodriguez had the option to either play for the United States team or the Dominican Republic's team, the homeland of his parents, but chose the USA.