Friday, October 10, 2014

Cashman Admits That It's Not Safe to Assume A-Rod Can Play Third

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman admitted in his press conference today that it's not safe to assume Alex Rodriguez can play third base in 2015. 

Cashman, fresh off a three-year contract extension he reached with the team this afternoon, and the rest of the Yanks have often stated this season that they believe in the veteran's abilities. Rodriguez, 39, was suspended all of last year for allegedly using steroids, the second time he had been accused of doing so in his career.

“I don’t think it’s safe to assume that (Rodriguez) can play third base,” Cashman told The LoHud Yankees Blog. “Obviously Alex has been a third baseman in years gone by. He missed obviously a full year. With his age and missing a full year, (the Yankees saw) how it affected Derek (Jeter), how it affected Mark Teixeira, for instance. You have some perspective. This is a very difficult game."

Cashman said that he still has confidence in the troubled infielder, but added that he doesn't think it's likely that he'll be able to get through the entire schedule. 

"Alex is up for that challenge," Cashman said, "there’s no doubt about it, but I think that with Martin Prado here to provide flexibility, as well as potential acquisitions whether it’s free agents or maybe trades that present themselves over time, I think from the chair that I sit in, I think it’s safer to assume that might not be something that he can handle the whole year.”

Currently, the Yankees seem to want A-Rod to start, but also appear to be weighing their options. At this point, obviously, nothing is certain with Rodriguez, a fact that could lure the club into aquiring another guy this offseason. Again, could. 

Cashman Extended, Long Fired, Kelleher Let Go

The New York Yankees made a series of personnel moves today when the team announced a new three year contract for General Manager Brian Cashman. The new deal will keep Cashman with the team through the 2017 season as he turns 50 years old when the deal expires. The terms of the deal have not been announced yet but Cashman made $3 million a year on his last contract so you can expect some sort of raise with this new contract.

Also the Yankees announced the firing of hitting coach Kevin Long who had one season remaining on his contract. Long has been the Yankees hitting coach and self proclaimed hitting guru since the 2007 season and seems to be the scapegoat for the team's struggles in 2013 and this season. Mick Kelleher's contract was up at the end of the season after spending time as the Yankees first base coach and will not be offered a new contract. Kelleher was also the team's infield instructor and has been in this position since the 2009 season.

Change is on the horizon for the Yankees.

MLBTR: Free Agency Outlook Chase Headley

One of the game’s best defensive third basemen reaches free agency this winter in Chase Headley.  Headley’s MVP-caliber 2012 season saw his offense reach lofty heights, but two years later that’s looking like an anomaly.
Headley’s only Gold Glove award came in that magical 2012 season, but he’s got a good chance at another one this year.  By measure of Ultimate Zone Rating, Headley was the best defensive third baseman in baseball in 2014.  If you prefer Defensive Runs Saved, Headley ranked third.  He was a top ten defender in 2012 and ’13 as well, so it’s not just a one-year fluke.
MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Headley’s defense is a major contributor to his value, leading to roughly four wins above replacement in each of the last two seasons.  His WAR ranks tenth among all third basemen for 2013-14, easily ahead of this offseason’s likely top-paid third baseman, Pablo Sandoval.  At worst, Headley is Sandoval’s equal, but defense hasn’t caught up with offense in terms of free agent spending.
Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs for the Padres in 2012, despite playing half his games in San Diego.  19 of those home runs came in the season’s final two months.  He hit .269/.343/.392 prior to that season and .246/.338/.387 since, and it’s not hard to see that one of these is not like the others.  However,  the switch-hitting Headley remains capable of a solid on-base percentage, posting a .371 OBP and walk rate near 13% in his 224 plate appearances for the Yankees this year.  He is, on the whole, still an above average hitter.
Having been traded midseason, Headley is not eligible for a qualifying offer.  Fellow free agents Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will certainly require draft pick forfeiture, and perhapsAramis Ramirez too, but Headley is free of that limitation.
Prior to being traded to the Yankees, Headley hit an abysmal .229/.296/.355 for the Padres in 307 plate appearances.  His Padres’ walk rate of 7.2% was well below his career norm.
Upon the trade, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs examined Headley’s batted ball profile, and it wasn’t promising.  Headley was in “steady offensive decline,” wrote Blengino, who explained, “his decline in batted-ball production has been solely attributable to diminished fly ball authority.”  Did Headley’s 224 plate appearances after the trade represent a reliable return to form?  That will be a crucial question for offseason suitors.
Headley’s recent injury history may be perceived as a negative, though it could also be considered an explanation for his offensive struggles in the first half of the season.  He received an epidural in June and avoided going on the DL for his back.  After the epidural, Headley hit .273/.359/.400 in 312 plate appearances.
Headley was born in Colorado and resides in Tennessee with his family.  The Headleys recently welcomed a new baby into the world, their second child.  According to the Padres’ 2014 media guide, Headley played varsity baseball and basketball all four years in high school in Colorado, and was also valedictorian.  He began college at University of the Pacific in California and later transferred to the University of Tennessee, where his older brother was attending.
According to a profile by’s Corey Brock in January 2013, Headley owns a large farm in Western Kentucky and has a passion for bow hunting.  A religious man since his freshman year in high school, Headley told Mark E. Darnall and Bruce A. Darnall in 2012“My goal is to have Jesus be the center of everything.”
Any team without an established, reliable third baseman could consider Headley this offseason.  Given the uncertainty that comes with Alex Rodriguez, a return to the Yankees is possible.  The Red Sox, Astros, Royals, Brewers, Giants, Blue Jays, and Nationals could also seek help at third base, though some of those clubs might only want a short-term solution.
Headley’s competition on the free agent market will include Pablo SandovalAramis Ramirez, and Hanley Ramirez.  Whether Aramis Ramirez hits the open market could be a big factor for Headley, as well as whether Hanley Ramirez signs as a third baseman.  The trade market could feature Luis ValbuenaTrevor Plouffe, and Pedro Alvarez.
Expected Contract
Headley has never had a multiyear deal in his career, and I think he’ll value long-term security this offseason.  The question is whether he signs a three or four-year deal.  A few potential comparables to consider are Shane Victorino‘s three-year, $39MM deal from two years ago and Jhonny Peralta‘s four-year, $53MM deal from last offseason.  I think Headley will sign afour-year, $48MM deal.

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Buck Showalter

With Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles readying themselves to play in the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals I thought this would be the best time to remember a Yankee of the past, Buck Showalter.

William Nathan “Buck” Showalter III was promoted to the New York Yankees coaching staff in 1990 and eventually replaced Stump Merrill as manager before the 1992 season. Showalter spent four seasons as the Yankees manager posting a 313-268 record. The Yankees finished in first place during the strike shortened 1994 season in which the World Series was cancelled and won the first ever Wild Card in 1995. Buck was named Manager of the Year for the American League by the Associated Press in 1994 and was the American League manager for the 1995 All Star Game. Showalter was the manager that lef the Yankees to the playoffs for the first time since 1981 when the team lost to the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS.

Showalter and Gene Michael will always be credited with building the team that won five World Series championships, seven American League Pennants, and thirteen American League East division titles. Showalter went on to manage the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks after leaving the Yankees in 1996 and even won 100 games in 1999 but was replaced after the 2000 season. 

The Yankees fired Showalter in 1995 and the team won the World Series in 1996. Arizona fired Showalter in 2000 and won the World Series in 2001. Ironic?

Derek Jeter and Turn 2 Racked Up This Season

Many around the league wonder if the only reason Derek Jeter announced his retirement so early in 2014 was to maximize profits for his Turn 2 Foundation, himself, the Yankees team, his Player’s Tribune blog, etc. When you look at the tally from the 20 clubs that honored Jeter this season you have to think maybe they are onto something here. Was the whole farewell tour an elaborate scheme from someone who is looking to go from being a businessman to a business, man?

When the final tally came in Jeter had raised $367,666.66 for his Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter also made an estimated $9 million in endorsement deals this season which was roughly $7 million more than the second highest endorsed player in Major League Baseball.

Jeter also made money for Major League baseball as in game’s he played an estimated 735,000 fans flocked to see Jeter one last time, an average of 38,761 fans per game. The average ticket price in the majors is $27.93 so Jeter alone roughly brought in another $1,082,594.73 into MLB single handedly. Of course not every single fan that attended these games were there for the sole purpose of seeing Jeter but the average attendance in these games were 8,397 higher than the average attendance in 2014 so you can easily chalk up at least $234,528 up to Jeter alone.

This is all before you consider the money he has brought into the shop, Steiner Sports, Movado, Gillette, Gatorade, Nike,  New Era, Louisville Slugger, Heritage Auctions, Visa, Avon, and third party ticket companies like our friends over at Ticket Monster.

Jeter’s impact on the game was substantial both on and off the field and it’s really amazing when you can start to put this impact into numbers like we have seen today. Happy Friday everybody!

Clayton Kershaw has Playoff Demons

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been one of the best pitchers in all of Major League Baseball since he broke into the league but that success has not always translated into the playoffs for whatever reason. The Dodgers were once again sent home in October after two bad starts for Kershaw in the series and three losses to the St. Louis Cardinals. The shot that left Kershaw crouched, beaten, and clutching his knees came off the bat of the Cardinals Matt Adams and has many around the league wondering if Kershaw will ever figure it out in the postseason.

Kershaw missed the first six weeks of the season in 2014 and still managed to finish with a 21-3 record and a 1.77 ERA but has had his issues with the Cardinals in his career. Kershaw since the beginning of the 2012 season has gone 44-13 with a 1.67 ERA against teams that are not the Cardinals and has a 1-7 record with a 5.69 ERA in eight starts against St. Louis in the same time frame. Kershaw has his struggles against St. Louis but has his demons in October as he has a career 1-5 record including four straight losses with a 5.12 ERA in the playoffs, something that will not get it done in Los Angeles.

Good news for Kershaw is he is still young and on a team that now seems committed to winning so he should have plenty of more opportunities to turn this thing around. Also it should help ease his pain when he is awarded the NL Cy Young Award later in the month and possibly the MVP Award as well. If Alex Rodriguez can exercise his demons then surely the best pitcher on the planet can too. 

TGP Daily Poll: Kansas City Keeps the Winning Streak Alive

The Kansas City Royals will keep their postseason magic and winning streak alive tonight when they beat the Baltimore Orioles in Game One of the 2014 ALCS.

Vote in our poll. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/10: Yankees/Mariners Set ALCS Record

The New York Yankees have set many records along the way in their storied franchise history but on this day in 2000 the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners set an ALCS record for all the wrong reasons. In the Game One matchup where Seattle won the game 2-0 the Mariners struck out nine times while the Yankees struck out 13 times combining for 22 strikeouts in a single ALCS Game for the record.

Also on this day in 1964 the New York Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals to take a two games to one advantage in the World Series. The walk off hit came in the form of a home run off Mickey Mantle’s bat, his 16th of his World Series career breaking the major league record held previously by Babe Ruth. Mantle also became just the fifth player to ever walk off in a Fall Classic game.

Finally on this day in Yankees history New York claimed a pair of World Series championships for the franchise. The first was on this day in 1951 when the Yankees beat the Giants in six games for their 14th World Series championship. New York was on the winning side again in 1956 when they beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games to capture the team’s 17th World Series title.