Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chance to Play for Yankees "Trumps Any Sentimentality" I Had for Japan: Capuano

Earlier this winter, it seemed Chris Capuano was bound for Japan.

The 36-year-old left-hander, 76-87 with a 4.28 ERA in 12 major league seasons, had said how much he "loved" the idea of crossing the Pacific, and since the Yankees were thought to be considering going on a spending spree at the time, it looked like a sure thing Capuano's days in the U.S. were over.

Instead, though, Capuano surprised us all by signing a one-year/$5-million deal with the team Tuesday, likely guaranteeing himself a turn in its 2015 rotation. And why he did do it? The same reason as Chase Headley: because it's the Yankees. 

"I love Japan, but if you get the opportunity to pitch here, in a city like New York, that trumps any sentimentality I had towards Japan," Capuano told Sirius XM's Major League Baseball Radio Wednesday. "I still wouldn't rule it out at some point, but a chance to play for the Yankees, on a good contract, I couldn't pass that up." 

Capuano made just $2,250,000 last season, so his new contract is certainly an upgrade for him. It pays him five times what the Yankees are set to hand out to Michael Pineda and Dellin Betances combined next year, just to give you an idea of how much it is.

Problem is: the Yankees might not have had to surrender that high of an amount to retain him, with Capuano claiming he wasn't actually that close to moving overseas. 

"It more just expanded my options of possible teams I was looking at," he said. "[Brian Cashman] is a straight shooter, he said the best five guys will be out there starting."

As of now, it appears three of those five will be Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Pineda, though Ivan Nova is also expected to start in May.

That being said, it's a safe bet Capuano will have a month to prove he's worthy for the fifth spot before Nova's return, probably doing so against a large group of other candidates including David Phelps, Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell. Yet that may not be all of the guys with whom the veteran will have to compete, as the names of Manny Banuelos and Chase Whitley have too come up in recent weeks.

Normalizing The Relationship Between The United States And Cuba

Earlier today President Barack Obama announced that the United States is taking steps to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.

While this is a huge story in the grand scheme of things, seeing as how things between the United States and Cuba haven't been "normal" for 50 years, baseball fans can't help but wonder how this affects Cuban players and Major League Baseball.

One really good thing about this announcement is that we should no longer hear horror stories about how players have defected from Cuba, putting themselves and/or their families in danger. Not to mention those defectors no longer being able to see their families once they left Cuba.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean Cuban players will be totally free to sign with an MLB club should they wish to. Chances are some type of system will be set up to make it a little tougher to acquire those players.

One possibility would be a posting system similar to the one used for Japanese players. In case you don't remember how that one goes, any MLB team can negotiate with a player from Nippon Professional Baseball as long as they agree to give the Japanese team that player is leaving a $20 million posting fee. Of course, the NPB team has to agree to post the player first. This is how the Yankees got Masahiro Tanaka.

Then there's the system in place with the Mexican professional baseball league. In that, the team that signs a player from the Mexican League has to pay said player a signing bonus, and 75% of that bonus goes to the team from Mexico.

There are other implications affecting baseball other than acquiring Cuban players. Things such as Cuba being able to field teams in the World Baseball Classic made up of players other than those still in Cuba. Or what about MLB games being played in Cuba, where the game is huge? Heck, this opens up the possibility of an expansion team being put in Cuba (note: I find that unlikely, as the country probably couldn't support an MLB team, but possibly a minor league one.).

This story is much bigger than baseball, and we're unlikely to see the effects on of this new relationship on the game for many years, but you can be sure that everybody involved in Major League Baseball is paying close attention.

Best Yankees Infield Defense Since 1998?

Do the 2015 New York Yankees have the potential to be the best infield the team has had defensively since 1998? In a word, YES. While the team will come nowhere close to being the best infield offensively the team has ever had, that’s arguably the 2009 Yankees infield according to WAR, but defensively this team can hold its own with the best of them.

Mark Teixeira (5.6 dWAR) may need a day once in a while, or two times a week, but still has one of the best gloves at first base picking many balls in the air and the dirt that most players couldn’t get to. Martin Prado’s (3.8 dWAR) best and most natural position is second base and excels because of his range and strong throwing arm that plays in the outfield and third base. Didi Gregorius (-4.6 dWAR but should improve playing every day) is known for his infield defense and spectacular range and throwing arm and while still learning has all the tools to stick at shortstop in the long term. Chase Headley (20.4 dWAR) is considered to be a premier defensive third baseman that the metrics, and Yankees fans, love at the hot corner. This along with strong defensive candidates in Brendan Ryan and Jose Pirela on the bench has the making for an incredible infield defense. Taking into account the four starting infielders defense WAR’s in 2013 you come up with 25.2 dWAR and you can expect that number to rise after a full season for Gregorius and one position, most days anyway, for Prado.

In 1998 the Yankees trotted out slick fielding Tino Martinez (4.0) at first base, Chuck Knoblauch (-4.0) at second base, Derek Jeter (2.0) at shortstop and Scott Brosius (12.0) at third base. Their defensive WAR’s combined for the 1998 season, considered to be arguably the greatest Yankees team and greatest baseball teams of all-time in case you forgot, was 14.0 dWAR. Let that sink in and think about that for a second. The team may not out-slug anyone but I don’t see many flares or ground balls getting through either.

Run production hasn’t worked for the Yankees much in the past 10-15 years so it looks like New York is taking a stab at run prevention and it’s a sight for sore eyes. 

* all stats courtesy of and their fielding value tab

The Yankees Lineup and Infield w/ Chase Headley

Chase Headley is back in the fold in the Yankees infield which simplifies and pretty much etches in stone New York’s plan for the infield defense. Let’s take a quick look here at what the Yankees lineup and infield defense may/will look like in 2015.

1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Martin Prado
SS: Didi Gregorius
3B: Chase Headley
C: Brian McCann
DH: Alex Rodriguez

BN: Brendan Ryan
BN: Jose Pirela
BN: John Ryan Murphy

  1. 1.       Brett Gardner
  2. 2.       Martin Prado
  3. 3.       Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 4.       Brian McCann
  5. 5.       Mark Teixeira
  6. 6.       Carlos Beltran
  7. 7.       Chase Headley
  8. 8.       Alex Rodriguez
  9. 9.       Didi Gregorius

Joe Girardi Screwed the Yankees, Bryan Mitchell for 2015

The New York Yankees and specifically Joe Girardi had a golden opportunity in 2014 and the team and their manager let it pass them by. Pretty early in September I think the team knew they were not going to make the playoffs and by the time Derek Jeter was ready to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium and their fans it was a mathematical assumption. Instead of the Yankees doing what normal teams do in September when they are not involved in a pennant race, evaluate young and major league ready pitchers and prospects, the team kept running the likes of Chris Capuano out there. Capuano had very little to no chance of being a Yankee in 2015 but Bryan Mitchell and Manny Banuelos do and now the team doesn’t know what they have in either of them heading into the season.

Spring Training stats can be deceiving as pitchers are always ready long before the hitters are. Timing in hitting takes a lot longer to get back then a 90 MPH fastball and seven inning stamina. You learn a lot more about a guy, specifically a pitcher, when they are facing live competition at the major league level from the month of June and on. New York called up Mitchell multiple times last season and let him rot on the bench for the most part rather than evaluating what they had in him. Imagine what the Yankees season had been like if they had done the same with the recently traded Shane Greene in 2014, a disaster.

Girardi’s continued reliance on veterans and ignorance to what the team has in the minor league system has hurt the team and will especially hurt the team in 2015. The Yankees need starting pitching in the worst way heading into the season with a slew of well documented question marks in the rotation and instead of knowing what the team has in Mitchell and Banuelos the team will either head into the spring and the season ill prepared or Brian Cashman will grossly overpay for a mediocre pitcher for far too many years. Either way, and I’ve said this before, I’m not having fun anymore. 

TGP Daily Poll: Yankees Will Add Starting Pitching Before Christmas

Brian Cashman is not allowed a Christmas holiday and break until he adds at least a starting pitching option to the major league roster, and he will before December, 25th.

Vote in our poll and leave a comment in the comments section stating who you would like to see the Yankees sign this week and next. 

Mediocrity and Chris Capuano

This is the route the team is going to go huh? 38 players on the 40 man roster just became 39 and the team just became a little more mediocre. Chris Capuano? Again? What happened to pitching in Japan? Really, this is the best the team could do? Really? Shaking my head, I’m done.

He wasn't bad for New York last season but he wasn't great either. The Yankees don't need solid they need great, unless they want mediocrity of course.  

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/17: Hip Hip Jorge, Rivera, A Rod and Pettitte

On this day in 2007 the Yankees continued their offseason of resigning their own free agents as they signed 38 year old closer Mariano Rivera to a new three year deal. The deal was worth $45 million and came on the heels of the Yankees resigning Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year deal worth $275 million, Jorge Posada for four years and $52.4 million, and Andy Pettitte for one year and $16 million.

Also on this day in 2004 a three way deal involving the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks fell through when the Dodgers backed out at the last second. The deal would have brought Randy Johnson from Arizona and Kaz Ishii from the Dodgers to the Yankees, Shawn Green and Brad Penny being sent to the Diamondbacks from the Dodgers, and Javier Vazquez and prospects going to the Dodgers.

Also on this day in 2003 the Yankees finalized a three year deal with Gary Sheffield worth $39 million. Sheffield was coming off of season where he put up a .330 batting average with 39 home runs and 132 RBI's. There was also a team option for $13 million for the 2007 season that brought Sheffield to New York after he made his name with the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, and the San Diego Padres.

Finally on this day in 1924 the New York Yankees traded three pitchers to acquire Urban Shocker from the Browns. Shocker is coming off of four consecutive 20 win seasons after the Yankees traded him to St. Louis in 1918.