Monday, January 20, 2014

Where have you gone, Jorge Posada?

While everyone awaits the winner of the Tanaka sweepstakes, the uncertainty surrounding the current occupant of the catching position is being overlooked. Over the years, Yankees fans have been treated to watching a number of great players in that spot: Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Elston Howard, Bill Dickey and Jorge Posada just to name a few.

As Posada’s era was nearing its conclusion, Yankees brass set their sights on Jesus Montero as the heir apparent. As we waited for Montero to mature into that role, Russell Martin succeeded Posada as the Yankees new everyday catcher in 2011. He seemed to be in that position for the foreseeable future, since he was in the middle of a career renaissance. At the time, Martin was coming off two injury-riddled seasons with Los Angeles Dodgers.

Neither Montero or Martin ended up being the next great Yankees catcher, as Martin signed elsewhere last offseason and the team grew disillusioned with Montero. The Yankees viewed Montero’s defensive play as a liability and then flipped him to the Mariners for a chance to grab Michael Pineda. The front office believed Pineda would blossom into a star. However, history has shown that Yankees/Mariners trades don’t really work for the team. Remember when George Steinbrenner traded a future perennial all-star (Jay Buhner) for a player he perceived to be better (Ken Phelps)? 

As we look back, it is safe to say that Martin was a pit stop between great Yankees catchers. The next “great” Yankees catcher – Gary Sanchez – is still in the minor leagues and is not expected to be major league ready for a few years anyway. The Yankees, at one point, viewed Francisco Cervelli as the successor to Posada, but clearly his career has been relegated to back up catcher. While he did win the starting job last year, he failed to solidify himself as the starter. Injuries and suspected PED use have also played a factor in how Cervelli’s career has turned out.

Austin Romine, one of players who Cervelli beat to gain the starting job, has not reached his true potential yet. Romine was named the Yankees fourth best prospect heading into the 2009 season but has yet to play a full season with the big league club yet. He has competed for the starting catching job in every spring training since 2011, but never won the job and started the year in the minor league teams.

Ineffectiveness at the position as well as prospects not living up to their “hype,” has led the Yankees to turn to Brian McCann. Cashman has said that McCann is the “next great Yankees catcher.” Based on his career thus far with the Atlanta Braves, it seems as McCann will be able to hold down the fort and be one of the great Yankees catchers for this generation. And then hopefully Gary Sanchez will follow in his footsteps once he is called up to the big leagues. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out.

Yankees Family Mourns Another Of Our Own

The Yankees family lost another member over the weekend when we Carlos Silva lost his battle with cancer, he was 50 years old. Silva produced the games for John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman and is survived by his wife and his children. I will be honest I did not know much about Silva as I tend to stay away from Sterling during games but  he was a part of the family and was taken from us way too young. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his friends and his loved ones. Cancer sucks!

Tanaka Sweepstakes Down To Cubs And Yankees

The Masahiro Tanaka lottery will come to an end this week, either way, and word is coming down that Tanaka is choosing between two teams, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees. I will embed the tweet when I am not on my iPhone but for now here is the link to the tweet:

This is all coming off the heels of Tanaka's wife mentioning that she preferred her husband to play on the west coast. Chicago has never been mentioned all along by anyone in the Tanaka camp so they must have offered him a pretty sweet deal, hopefully one that is not too good to refuse.

Lyle Overbay Lands Minor League Deal w/ Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are doing their best Pittsburgh Pirates impersonation by grabbing up all the former New York Yankees they can. First they signed Mark Reynolds to probably be their every day first basemen and today they signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league deal. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and likely includes numerous opt out dates if he does not make the major league roster. This one does not hurt as much as the Reynolds signing since we really had little use for Overbay in 2014. Thanks for the memories Lyle.

Derek Jeter Resumes On The Field Activities

For the first time this offseason, and for the first time in far too long, Derek Jeter was on the field today doing his normal offseason workouts and drills. This is great news considering that the captain was fresh out of a walking boot this time last year. Last season Derek saw himself on the disabled list four times and was limited to 17 games all season long. In an interview that we posted last week with Jeter and Harold Reynolds from MLB Network on MLB Tonight Jeter admitted to rushing back too early so it is good news to see the captain getting his normal workout routine started. Hopefully this is just the beginning for Jeter on his way to a long, healthy, and productive 2014 season.

Could Or Should We Steal Kendrys Morales

The free agent market for Kendrys Morales is drying up rather quickly after the Baltimore Orioles signed Delmon Young to a deal to presumably be their designated hitter. Looking around the league I haven't seen many teams that would be interested in the Scott Boras client so should the Yankees jump, beef up the lineup and the bench, and convince Morales to be a part time player?

Morales is just 30 years old and will be 31 by the time the season really begins to heat up in June so he would fit in with the aging Yankees core. Morales is a switch hitter that the Yankees love and that balance out the lineup, and to add he has shown he could stay healthy unlikely other Yankees switch hitting, here's looking at you Brian Roberts. Morales is listed as a designated hitter but can be hidden at first base to give Mark Teixeira a day to a day and a half off a week when he is not DH'ing or riding the bench.

Morales missed the entire 2011 season with that nasty leg injury that he suffered on a walk off home run celebration of all things but bounced back well proving the leg was finally healed. Could the Yankees convince Morales to ride the bench, maybe try to learn some third base in a pinch, get into games three or four games a week, and pitch him the whole "win a championship" here talk? I doubt it, but it would be nice if we could because teams are not exactly beating down his door on Major League deals right now.

Here are his career stats courtesy of Baseball Reference:
2006 LAA 57 215 197 46 10 1 5 22 17 28 .234 .293 .371 .664 71
2007 LAA 43 126 119 35 10 0 4 15 6 21 .294 .333 .479 .812 111
2008 LAA 27 66 61 13 2 0 3 8 4 7 .213 .273 .393 .666 73
2009 LAA 152 622 566 173 43 2 34 108 46 117 .306 .355 .569 .924 139
2010 LAA 51 211 193 56 5 0 11 39 12 31 .290 .346 .487 .833 129
2012 LAA 134 522 484 132 26 1 22 73 31 116 .273 .320 .467 .787 119
2013 SEA 156 657 602 167 34 0 23 80 49 114 .277 .336 .449 .785 123
7 Yrs 620 2419 2222 622 130 4 102 345 165 434 .280 .333 .480 .813 120
162 Game Avg. 162 632 581 163 34 1 27 90 43 113 .280 .333 .480 .813 120
LAA (6 yrs) 464 1762 1620 455 96 4 79 265 116 320 .281 .331 .491 .823 119
SEA (1 yr) 156 657 602 167 34 0 23 80 49 114 .277 .336 .449 .785 123
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/19/2014.

What Do The Projections Tell Us?

Last Thursday, over at, Paul Swyden wrote an article showing that the projected infield for 2014 falls incredibly short of the infield the Yankees had in their championship season of 2009.

They're not as young good as they were five years ago.

While the 2009 foursome of Mark Teixiera, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter had a combined fWAR of 19.7, the 2014 foursome of Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, and Derek Jeter are projected to have a combined fWAR of only 4.8*.
*going by the Oliver projections at

There's a good chance Swyden was just preying on the pessimism of a lot of fans, as well as playing to the Yankees haters, in order to get more views. So I decided to take a look at all of the projected starters for next year's squad, and compare them to the World Champion 2009 team. It didn't make things much better.

Here we have the starters for the 2009 Yankees, along with their fWAR for that season...

C - Posada 2.3
1B - Teixeira 4.9
2B - Cano 4
3B - Rodriguez 4
SS - Jeter 6.8
LF - Damon 3.2
CF - Cabrera 1.4
RF - Swisher 2.9
DH - Matsui 2.2
Total: 29.5

And here we have the projected starters for the 2014 Yankees, along with their projected fWAR...

C - McCann 4.1
1B - Teixeira 1.5
2B - Ryan 1.1
3B - Johnson 1.1
SS - Jeter 1.1
LF - Gardner 3.5
CF - Ellsbury 3.8
RF - Beltran 2.4
DH - Soriano 1.5
Total: 20.1

Although the catchers and outfielders made things a bit closer, you can see that the front office has some more work to do before the season starts. Also, keep in mind that I don't expect Brendan Ryan or Kelly Johnson to get as much work as their 2009 counterparts (Cano and Rodriguez). The thing is, both of those men could very well be part of a platoon along with guys like Eduardo Nunez, Brian Roberts, and Dean Anna.

Of course, hitting is only half the game. I was going to compare the top five starters for the 2009 Yankees to the projected top five starters for the 2014 Yankees, but that's pretty much impossible.

One, the 2009 Yankees didn't have a true #5 starter. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, AJ Burnett, and Joba Chamberlain combined for 130 starts, while the remaining 32 starts were split up between five pitchers.

Two, after the top three (Sabathia, Kuroda, and Nova), the 2014 Yankees rotation is totally up in the air. If Masahiro Tanaka is signed (by the way, I don't have a good feeling about him being ending up in Yankee pinstripes), then things may get easier.

So the only thing we can really say is that the rotation needs the most work since the Yankees don't even have a real starting rotation in place.

In conclusion, the front office has some work left to get to the same level of their 2009 championship squad, and some players (Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira) will have to play above their expectations.

"Wondertwin powers... activate!"*

*I know they're not actually twins, but work with me here.

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #71 Jim Leyritz

Jim Leyritz was known as "The King" since he was a multi-dimensional player with a big knack for coming up with a big hit. In the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves Jim batted .375 with a home run as the Yankees brought the trophy back to the Bronx. Lightning would strike twice as the Yankees took down the Braves again in 1999 and Leyritz blasted a clutch home run in Game 4 as New York completed a sweep for the ring. That home run was also the last home run hit in the 1990's decade which is kind of cool to have on your resume.

71 days until Yankees Opening Day

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/20

On this day in 1931 33 year old Joe Sewell signs with the New York Yankees after being released by the Indians. Sewell will hit .282 during his three seasons in New York before heading to the Hall of Fame after his 1934 retirement.