Saturday, October 11, 2014

Asdrubel Cabrera Would Be Willing to Play Second Base Next Year

Nationals' Switch Hitter Asdrubel Cabrera said that he'd be fine with playing second base next year if it meant he'd have a better chance of winning.

Cabrera, who was traded from the Indians to Washington July 31, is a lifelong shortstop, and could be a Yankees target this winter for either position. In his career, which began in 2007, he has batted .268 with 87 home runs and 451 RBIs, also appearing in two All-Star games during that time.

"I mean, I don't know," Cabrera recently told MASN. "It depends. A team like (the Nationals), a good team that want me to play second, I would love to stay here. I just want to win. I've got eight seasons already. I want to be in the World Series one day."

Cabrera said he'd like to stay with Washington, but that whether or he does so isn't up to him.

"I would love to stay here," he said. "A lot of good guys. A good team. I would love to stay here. But it's not my decision."

If Cabrera ends up leaving the capital for the Yankees this offseason, it's not known exactly what they'd do with him. As things stand, New York has seemingly unlimited options for each of their 2015 infield spots, with the futures of Alex Rodriguez, Chase Headley, Stephen Drew and Martin Prado all somehow being mysteries at this point.


Now that Kevin Long has been fired it is time to bring Yankees legend Tino Martinez back to the Bronx and let him be the hitting coach for the New York Yankees. Tino has experience in the hitting coach position as he was once the coach in Miami with the Marlins. Obviously that didn't end well and we all know the story so I won't get into that again but I can't see lightning striking twice, especially in New York.

Tino would command immediate respect from anyone and everyone walking through those gates game in and game out. Tino is also a professional and a professional hitter with a great approach, attitude, and work ethic. Tino would add immediate credibility to the team and I truly believe he could work wonders with the likes of Brian McCann and the other lefties on the team.

Long is gone and I have been clamoring for Tino to become the hitting coach since early in the year and now is the chance. Brian Cashman, I know you're reading.

2015 Yankees If I Were GM: The Infield

If I were the General Manager of the New York Yankees I think the team would have 30+ World Series championships by now but I digress. Here would be my plan if I were the GM of the Yankees.

First and foremost I would have to replace Derek Jeter in the infield and in the lineup. I have already stated that I would go hard after Hanley Ramirez for the shortstop position but I feel that this may be unrealistic. While Hanley would be nice every GM needs a backup plan and my backup plan is Martin Prado. He has played shortstop before and is still young enough, mobile enough, agile enough, etc. to play the position in my eyes. This leaves a glaring hole at second base that I would fill with Robert Refsnyder from Triple-A. Also to fill out the Yankees infield I would bring Chase Headley back on a three or four year deal, whatever gets it done. Of course I want to see a Pinstriped Panda in Pablo Sandoval but I cannot see him leaving the West Coast.

This leaves you with an infield of Mark Teixeira at first base, Refsnyder at second, Prado at short, Headley at third, Alex Rodriguez as your DH, and Brian McCann as your catcher. On the bench you have Headley as a capable backup for first base while Rodriguez gets his turn at third base and you have Brendan Ryan as a capable backup at any of the infield positions. I would also re-sign Jose Pirela for a bench role also since he can play multiple infield and out positions.

This infield gives you a ton of options offensively and defensively allowing everyone to get playing time while still staying fresh. I also think with Refsnyder’s bat that the team gets an incremental increase in productivity from last season’s infield. A full season of Prado and Prado Jr. (Pirela) gives this team an absolute ton of options for manager Joe Girardi, options that a veteran and injury prone team needs during the 162 game marathon. 

Stephen Drew May Owe JJ Hardy a Thank You Card

When the news broke that JJ Hardy signed a three year extension with the Baltimore Orioles making him the highest paid shortstop in all of baseball my initial reaction, well after the four letter word came out, was that Stephen Drew and Hanley Ramirez just got expensive. Drew may end up owing Hardy a thank you card before it’s all said and done because this extension may have sealed the deal for Drew and the Yankees in 2015.

The Yankees need someone to replace Derek Jeter and Hardy was considered to be the best offensive option on the board. Many around the league do not consider Ramirez to be a legitimate option at shortstop going forward leaving a very weak shortstop class that may now be headlined by Drew. The Yankees also don’t have much in the way of shortstop and major league ready prospects that could fill the hole making Drew look more and more attractive as the offseason drags on.

New York could always plug Martin Prado at shortstop and let Robert Refsnyder have second base or the team could live with Hanley’s less than stellar defense until they could move him to third base to replace Alex Rodriguez. It seems more and more likely that the Yankees fans will have one more season of Stephen Drew in pinstripes, and we can all thank JJ Hardy. 

Why Nelson Cruz?

In this morning's edition of the TGP Daily Poll, the question of Nelson Cruz reaching free agency was broached. It was unanimously voted that Cruz wouldn't be like JJ Hardy and sign an extension with the Orioles, thus reaching free agency. Many people would love for that to happen, as it would allow the Yankees to make a bid for the Dominican slugger.

But why would the Yankees want Cruz?

Besides having that great smile around?

While his 40 home runs this season may make you stand up and say "wow", keep in mind that it's the most homers he's hit in a season in his career. His next highest HR total was 33 in 2009. In the four years since that '09 season, Cruz hit an average of 26 bombs a year, which ranks 23rd in MLB over that time period (Miguel Cabrera hit the most home runs during those four seasons with 156).

Edit: I should have pointed out that Cruz did miss games in August of 2013 due to suffering a thigh contusion at the end of July that season, so he very well could have hit 4 or 5 more home runs that season, pushing his total above 30 that year. And he had problems with that same thigh in 2010, which likely suppressed his HR total that season too.

The point is... expecting him to hit 40, or even 30, home runs in 2015 is pretty optimistic.

Then there's the fact that Cruz had a line drive percentage this past season much higher than his career norm. Between 2009 and 2013 his line drive percentage was 18%, but he saw that number jump way up to 23% in 2014.

So I'll reiterate.. if you think Nelson Cruz is going to come to the Yankees next year and put up another 40 homers, or even 30 homers, then you're just as optimistic about him as myself and others are about CC Sabathia coming back as an effective pitcher.

But let's put the home run totals aside and look at the biggest issue with signing Mr. Cruz.

Where does he play?

The Yankees already have two guys on the roster to play right field, that being Carlos Beltran and Martin Prado. That's assuming we'd even want Cruz in right field. I mean, he's not exactly a gold glover in the outfield anymore. The current Orioles slugger hasn't posted a postive UZR in right field since 2010. So even if you argue that the reason Buck Showalter kept Cruz at DH most of the season was because they already had Nick Markakis in RF, it doesn't mean that Nelson would have been any good there anyway.

Now, I'm sure plenty of you are pointing out that having Carlos Beltran in right is hardly an improvement over Cruz. And you'd be right. Heck, I'd accept that Cruz is better in the field than Beltran. But there's a big difference between the two... Beltran is already under contract with the Yankees.

Not only is Beltran already around to (hopefully) play in RF most of the time in 2015, but the team also has Martin Prado, who played 60 innings out there last season. I suppose Prado could play 2B regularly, but what about giving youngsters like Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder a shot?

And don't even get me started with the designated hitter slot. I mean, the team is chock full of players that will need to see DH days fairly often (see Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran himself).

Even if Nelson's bat was a perfect fit for the team, you can't ignore the fact that there's just no place for him to play.

One more thing... what do you have left with Nelson Cruz if he doesn't post 40 home runs? Not much. Cruz hit .271 with an on-base percentage of just .333, and both of those numbers are higher than he hit in his previous three seasons. So even continuing to bat that well overall is being optimistic.

Twenty-five or so home runs, a sub-.270 batting average, a sub-.330 on-base percentage, well below average defense when he does play in the field, and no room for another person that should see the majority of his time at DH. Why in the World should the Yankees make a play at Nelson Cruz?

Derek Jeter Has Never Followed a Script

Derek Jeter has always been at his best during his 20 season career when he improvised in a situation, usually a big situation. Jeter was never one to follow a script and always did things his own way. Just look at his final game in New York as the Yankees were leading 5-2 heading into the 9th inning with one of the best closers in the game on the mound in David Robertson. Three runs and a blown save later Jeter was up to bat with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 9th.

Jeter had not collected a walk off hit in over seven years before that walk off single in his final Yankee Stadium at bat as the Yankees won the game by the score of 6-5. This was just one of many instances where Jeter’s intangibles and “head in the moment” mentality and flare for the dramatic took center stage. Jeter is best known for “The Flip,” his “Mr. November” home run, the Jeffrey Maier home run, the leadoff home run in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series, the dive into the stands in July, 2004, the 3,000 hit (with an exclamation point as Michael Kay was recorded saying), and other magical moments that I could list for another 10 or so pages if I wanted to.

What will Jeter do next? Obviously besides the Player’s Tribune blog he has started nobody knows and that’s probably for the best. Derek Jeter doesn’t like to follow a script. 

TGP Daily Poll: Orioles Won’t Lock Up Nelson Cruz before End of Season

The Baltimore Orioles have already taken one option off the board for the New York Yankees this offseason when they signed shortstop JJ Hardy to a three year extension and are reportedly in talks with another potential option for New York in Nelson Cruz. I can’t see Cruz selling himself short after taking a discount to play with Baltimore in 2014 and doing so again without testing the market. Cruz will hit free agency.

Vote in our poll. 

I Love Stats: Yankees Trade Joe Gordon

I have done these posts a few times now because like the title states, I love stats. I love it when the stars align and things end the way they should. For instance, Derek Jeter finished his postseason career with an even 200 hits and Mariano Rivera finished with an even 42 saves, the number he wore on his back.

On this day in 1946 the New York Yankees traded second baseman Joe Gordon to the Cleveland Indians for right handed starting pitcher Allie Reynolds.  The future Hall of Famer ended his Yankees career with exactly 1,000 games played and exactly 1,000 hits. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/11: Game 5's

For the first time since divisional play began in 1995 all four American League and National League Division Series went to a decisive Game 5 on this day in 2012. The Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles knotted up their series with the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees joining the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants as they beat the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds the day before to send their series to a Game 5. In case you were wondering St. Louis, New York, San Francisco, and Detroit all won their elimination games.

Also on this day in 2006 Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger die in an airplane crash. Lidle was learning to fly the four person plane crashed into an Upper East Side high-rise building in New York.

Finally on this day in 2002 former Yankees and Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter was hired to be the manager of the Texas Rangers. The Cubs, Brewers, Mets, and Devil Rays all were courting Showalter before he decided to sign in Texas.