Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sabathia Confident A-Rod Can Help Out Yankees

Yankees' Pitcher CC Sabathia is confident returning Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez can help out the team next season.

Sabathia, coming off an injury-shortened 2014 in which he went just 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA, seems to be one of the few who still believes so. Rodriguez, 39, didn't play at all this year, staying off the field for all 162 games due to alleged steroid use.

“I don’t doubt [he can produce],” Sabathia told the New York Post today. “I don’t. He’s a great player."

Sabathia said that he doesn't expect Rodriguez to be the same player now as he once was, but that he's still talented enough to contribute.

"He’s had a year off, obviously, but he’s been working and hopefully had some time to get healthy," he said. "I think he can come in and obviously, he’s not gonna be the A-Rod of winning MVPs, but he can come in and contribute.”

The Yankees likely hope that will be the case as well, though it's tough to assume they consider it a guarantee. Rodriguez, now the longest-running member of their club, currently has no set position for next April, a fact that's not that surprising considering Chase Headley and Mark Teixeira's clear defensive superiority at this point in time.

2015 Yankees Arbitration Salary Predictions

Ivan Nova

2014 Salary - $3.3 million
MLBTR Prediction - $3.3 million
My Prediction - $3.5 million (I like to be different)

Shawn Kelley

2014 Salary - $1.765 million
MLBTR Prediction - $2.5 million
My Prediction - $2.25 million

Michael Pineda

2014 Salary - $500K
MLBTR Prediction - $2.1 million
My Prediction - $3 million

Esmil Rogers

2014 Salary - $1.85 million
MLBTR Prediction - $1.9 million
My Prediction - $2 million

David Phelps

2014 Salary - $500K
MLBTR Prediction - $1.3 million
My Prediction - $1.75 million

Francisco Cervelli

2014 Salary - $700K
MLBTR Prediction - $1.1 million
My Prediction - $1 million

David Huff

2014 Salary - $500K
MLBTR Prediction - $700K
My Prediction - $750 K

Quick Hit: Mick Kelleher Retired After 46 Years

Happy retirement goes out to Mick Kelleher, former first baseman of the New York Yankees. Kelleher announced that he would retire after spending the last 46 years in Major League Baseball. Good luck and good health in all the endeavors you find yourself in after baseball, you will be missed.

2015 Yankees: The Case for Michael Morse

Yesterday on the blog we made the case for right handed power bat, outfielder, and first baseman Michael Cuddyer and today we will make that same case for San Francisco Giants slugger and free agent to be Michael Morse. Morse, like Cuddyer, is a right handed power bat that can play an adequate outfield while also being able to back up at first base. Morse is obviously more of a DH type then an every day positional player but we're talking about a bench role here.

Morse hit .279/.336/.475 this season in a huge ballpark in San Francisco while hitting 16 home runs. Morse, unlike Cuddyer, didn't have any issues staying on the field this season as he played in 131 games in 2014. If you put Morse on the 2014 Yankees he leads the team in batting average while placing fourth in home runs and RBI.

With Morse being a borderline defensive liability the Yankees would have to rotate him in and out of the lineup quite often. This sounds like it could be an inconvenience but with the DH spot conceivably clogged once again and with aging and brittle stars like Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira the extra rest could actually benefit the 2015 Yankees. Morse would not command a huge salary nor would he command a longer termed deal, two years max, making him the ideal right field and fourth outfielder spot this offseason for Brian Cashman and the Yankees.

MLBTR: New York Yankees Offseason Outlook

The Yankees will have to make additions while sorting through several high-priced injury question marks on their roster as they try to rebound from consecutive years outside the postseason.
Guaranteed Contracts
  • Masahiro Tanaka, SP: $133MM through 2020 (Tanaka can opt out after 2017)
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, OF: $126.8MM through 2020 ($21MM club option for 2021, $5MM buyout)
  • Brian McCann, C: $68MM through 2018 ($15MM club option for 2019, can vest to become player option)
  • Alex Rodriguez, 3B: $61MM through 2017
  • C.C. Sabathia, SP: $48MM through 2016 ($25MM vesting option for 2017, $5MM buyout otherwise)
  • Brett Gardner, OF: $48MM through 2018 ($12.5MM club option for 2019, $2MM buyout)
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B: $45MM through 2016
  • Carlos Beltran, OF: $30MM through 2016
  • Martin Prado, IF: $22MM through 2016
  • Brendan Ryan, SS: $2MM through 2015 ($2MM club option for 2016, become $1MM player option if declined)
Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)
Contract Options
Free Agents
The emotion of the Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera retirement tours over the last two seasons may have softened the blow of missing the playoffs for Yankees fans.  Now that the last of the “Core Four” has retired, eyes are focused on the present and what the Steinbrenner family, the newly-extended Brian Cashman and a revamped baseball operations department will do to get this team back into contention.
When the Bombers missed the playoffs last year, they responded by spending over $500MM on new contracts for free agents and re-signed talent.  It doesn’t seem like the Yankees are prepared for another spending spree, in part because two of last year’s big signings (Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran) underperformed.  Combine those setbacks with a huge swath of injuries that sidelined almost the entire Yankees rotation, and it’s somewhat surprising that the club managed to win even 83 games.
The biggest issue facing the Yankees is that many of their highest-paid players can’t be counted on to stay healthy or play up to their usual standard in 2015.  C.C. Sabathia is returning from knee surgery and has already suffered a decline in performance in recent years.  Mark Teixeira managed to play in 123 games last year but his wrist problems will always require a backup option.  McCann and Beltran could’ve just had off-years, or they could possibly be on the decline as well.
And then there’s Alex Rodriguez, returning from his year-long suspension as a complete mystery in terms of what he’ll be able to contribute.  The plan for A-Rod seems to be a rotation between DH, third base and possibly first base, to spell Teixeira.  Until the Yankees know if Rodriguez can handle regular time at third, however, it will somewhat hamstring their other winter plans.  They have an interest in bringing back Chase Headley, though obviously Headley will want to play every day, and limiting Rodriguez to a 1B/DH role will cut down on the DH at-bats that might be needed for another aging players like Beltran or McCann.
One possible solution would be to pencil Martin Prado in as the third baseman and to acquire a stopgap option to play second or give prospect Rob Refsnyder a shot at the job.  If Rodriguez’s body can hold up under regular playing time at the hot corner, then Prado can then primarily play second base, with the occasional game at 3B to spell A-Rod.  Prado’s versatility is a nice tool for the Yankees to have, and since he posted an .877 OPS in 137 PA after joining the club at the trade deadline, his bat may have awoken after a rough first half with the Diamondbacks.
With Rodriguez likely looking at a healthy share of DH at-bats, Beltran will have to see much more time in right field than the 32 games he played at the position last season.  Beltran’s elbow injury both kept him out of RF and likely played a big role in his struggles at the plate, so if he’s healthy, he could be back to his usual productive self.  For depth’s sake, however, the Yankees will definitely look to add a backup outfielder who could regular playing time or at least would be Beltran’s late-inning defensive replacement.  Someone like Gerardo Parra(who the Brewers could non-tender or look to trade this winter) would be a nice fit in this role.
Replacing Jeter is impossible from a big-picture standpoint, though replacing Jeter’s 2014 on-field production (-0.3 fWAR, 73 wRC+) at shortstop shouldn’t be hard.  There will inevitably be a big media spotlight on whichever player becomes Jeter’s successor at short, and the Yankees have a couple of options: they can pursue a young shortstop as a true long-term heir apparent, or they could look for an established veteran (who might be more used to the pressure) to play the position for a few seasons until a younger option can be groomed or acquired.
If New York chooses the veteran route, there are free agent shortstops like Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie available.  Hanley Ramirez is the top free agent shortstop on the market, though if the Yankees are indeed hesitant about giving big money to players over 30 years old, then a player with Ramirez’s injury history and defensive limitations wouldn’t be a good fit.  Stephen Drew could be re-signed at a relative discount price, though it’s hard to see the Yankees handing Drew the starting job coming off his poor 2014 season.  It’s possible the Yankees’ top choice to replace Jeter may already be off the board, as J.J. Hardy signed an extension with the Orioles rather than test free agency.
If the Yankees went for a younger option at short, they could talk trade with the Diamondbacks or Cubs, each of which have a surplus of young shortstops.  Chicago’s surplus, of course, is of a higher pedigree since it involves former All-Star Starlin Castro and blue chip prospects Addison Russell and Javier Baez.  As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote in his recent Cubs offseason outlook piece, however, the timing may not be right for the Cubs to trade their middle infield depth.  Plus, even if Chicago was willing to deal, the Yankees may not have the prospect depth to meet the enormous asking price the Cubs would demand for any of those players.  Swinging a deal for one of Arizona’s slightly lesser-regarded young shortstops (Didi GregoriusNick AhmedChris Owings) could be a more palatable option.
The Yankees acquired Prado using one piece of their catching surplus in prospect Peter O’Brien, and the club still has John Ryan MurphyFrancisco Cervelli and Austin Romineall battling for the backup job behind McCann.  Any two of these players could be expendable with top prospect Gary Sanchez on the farm, though Sanchez has yet to play beyond the Double-A level and is at least a season away from getting serious consideration from a big league job.
The biggest trade chip the Yankees have, of course, is their financial might.  Headley, Prado and Brandon McCarthy were all acquired for a fairly negligible prospect return at midseason since New York was simply able to take those contracts off the Padres’ and Diamondbacks’ hands.  Rather than surrender draft picks to sign qualifying offer free agents or deal away what little farm depth they have, the Yankees could pursue more trades with rivals looking to create payroll space.
If the Yankees did want to make a splash in free agency, however, Jon Lester could be an attractive target since (due to the fact that he was traded at midseason) he can be signed without any draft pick compensation.  The Yankees have a particular admiration for Lester, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, and the southpaw would bring both quality and much-needed durability to New York’s rotation.  Max Scherzer could also draw interest from the Yankees this winter as another front-of-the-rotation upgrade, not to mention James Shields, who is expected to be available at a lower price than those other two aces.
While adding a top starter could technically give the Yankees a rotation surplus if everyone is healthy, that’s a giant “if” given how many injury-plagued starters are in the rotation.  C.C. Sabathia is returning from knee surgery and even if he’s 100 percent health-wise, the lefty has still been on the decline for the last two seasons.  Ivan Nova will be out until May at the earliest as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.  Michael Pineda looked dominant when he was on the mound, yet had another injury setback when he missed three months with a bad shoulder.
The most tenuous injury situation involves Masahiro Tanaka, who took MLB by storm in his rookie season before a slight UCL tear caused him to miss 10 weeks.  Tanaka returned to make two starts in late September and reported he was pain-free, so for now, it appears the righty may have dodged the Tommy John bullet.  Any recurrence of the injury, however, could lead to surgery for Tanaka and at least a year on the DL.  Tanaka is yet another high-paid superstar the Yankees don’t know if they can count on in 2015, and his uncertain health status is the club’s strongest argument for making a play for the likes of Scherzer, Lester or Shields.
Shane Greene‘s strong rookie season earned him a spot in the 2015 rotation, so presuming that leaves New York with a tentative starting quartet of Tanaka, Greene, Pineda and Sabathia.  If the Yankees don’t land that ace-level pitcher, they could turn to familiar faces in McCarthy (who is open to a return) or Hiroki Kuroda, who is again weighing retirement or a return to Japan.
Kuroda faced the same choice last offseason and rejected a $14.1MM qualifying offer before re-signing with the Yankees on a one-year, $16MM deal.  It stands to reason that Kuroda will receive another QO this winter — if the Yankees were comfortable in issuing him a qualifying offer last year before knowing if he’d return to MLB, they’d probably feel similarly comfortable this year.  Kuroda still posted solid numbers and 199 IP at age 39 last season, and he’ll draw enough interest from teams that I’d suspect he’ll reject this offseason’s $15.3MM qualifying offer to look for another slightly-richer one-year pact.  It’s fair to assume the Yankees have the inside track on Kuroda’s services if he does return, though the Dodgers and Angels are also looking for starting pitching and can offer Kuroda a job closer to his home in southern California.
Dellin Betances‘ phenomenal success as the Yankees’ setup man has led to speculation that he could take over as closer in 2015 and New York could afford to let David Robertsonleave in free agency.  The Yankees are one of the few teams who can afford to issue a qualifying offer to a closer, and while it’s possible the QO could scare off some teams who don’t want to give up a first-round pick to sign a one-inning pitcher, MLBTR’s Steve Adamsargued that Robertson’s status as the best closer available will still land him a significant deal, possibly in the range of four years and $52MM.  A lockdown bullpen has been such an important part of recent Yankees history that I can see the Bombers re-signing Robertson and re-teaming he and Betances to create a lot of seven-inning games.
With or without Robertson, expect the Yankees to pursue a veteran lefty reliever to fill the hole left by Matt Thornton, who was let go on waivers last summer.  Andrew Miller stands out as the best left-handed option (and one of the best relievers in general) available in free agency, and he could serve as Betances’ setup man.  The Yankees could take a page from the Royals’ book by signing Miller AND re-signing Robertson, sandwiching them around Betances to create a terrifying late-game relief trio.
David HuffDavid PhelpsShawn Kelley and Esmil Rogers are all eligible for arbitration this winter and since all pitched well in 2014 (at least peripheral-wise in Kelley and Rogers’ cases), expect all four to be tendered contracts and brought back into the bullpen mix.  The Yankees could also exercise their inexpensive team option on Andrew Bailey for 2015, though since hasn’t pitched at all since undergoing shoulder surgery in July 2013, Bailey is just a lottery ticket at this point.
The rumor mill inevitably connects the Yankees to virtually every top free agent during the offseason, both because agents like to raise their clients’ asking prices by claiming the league’s big spenders are interested and because the Yankees usually do cast a wide net.  Throwing more money at free agents might leave the club with even more albatross contracts, however, and even the Yankees have a spending limit.  It’s more likely the Yankees will look to fill their roster holes through trades rather than free agency, though expect them to explore all options lest the playoff drought extend to three years.


TGP Daily Poll: Your 2014 World Series MVP

Pablo Sandoval will win the 2014 World Series MVP award for the San Francisco Giants.

Vote in our poll.

Quick Hit: Cesar Cabral Elects Free Agency

New York Yankees left handed relief pitcher Cesar Cabral has elected free agency after spending the last two seasons in the organization. Cabral was originally claimed and acquired by New York in the Rule 5 Draft before the 2013 season and missed the season with a stress fracture in his throwing elbow. Cabral won a spot in the Yankees bullpen in 2014 only to falter and struggle with command and control before being designated for assignment. Not Cabral will look to latch on with another team in hopes of fetching a major league deal.

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/22: 2003 World Series All Tied Up

On this day in 2003 the Yankees Jeff Weaver gave up a home run to the Marlins Alex Gonzalez to tie the series up at two games each and give the Marlins a 4-3 victory in 12 innings. This game also ended the Yankees consecutive games winning streak in extra innings at seven games.

Also on this day in 2000 in Game 2 of the Subway World Series the Yankees extended their World Series consecutive games winning streak to 14 games. The Yankees beat the Mets 6-5, not that anyone really remembers the score. This game will always be remembered for Roger Clemens innocently, yes I am completely biased and humble, throwing a bat in the general direction of Mike Piazza. This came on the heels of Clemens drilling Piazza in July which resulted in the benches clearing before cooler heads prevailed.

Also on this day in 1974 the Yankees and a Giants pulled off a trade that saw Bobby Bonds come to New York and Bobby Murcer head to San Francisco. This, at the time of course, was considered to be the biggest one for one trade in the history of baseball. Both players made over $600,000 marking the first time two players making that much money were traded in the same deal. Murcer was donned the next Mickey Mantle while Bonds was donned the next Willie Mays so this was a huge trade at the time.

Finally on this day in 1967 Joe DiMaggio was named the Athletics executive vice president and consultant for the team. DiMaggio was also named a part time hitting coach and a public relations advocate for the club although Joe would leave the A's after just two years with the organization.