Monday, December 29, 2014

Are the Yankees Still Planning to Pursue Max Scherzer?

They've stated multiple times this offseason they have to intention to do so, but are the Yankees still planning to pursue former Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer?

Fox Sports' JP Morosi says yes, using the team's 2008 treatment of first baseman Mark Teixeira as evidence. He believes the Yankees are just staying quiet to draw attention from themselves, but still might make a run at Scherzer later this winter.

"A search of newspaper archives [regarding Teixeira] for mid-December of that year revealed the Yankees were not comfortable paying Teixeira more than $160 million," Morosi pointed out. "[The Yankees] were merely 'on the outskirts of the pursuit' for him and had done all their major spending on other areas of the team."

Teixeira went on to sign with the Yankees for eight years and $180 million December 23, seemingly making an upcoming offer to Scherzer likely. However, the Yankees also spent big on guys like CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett that year, and the team hasn't done such a thing recently.

Not to mention, the Yankees are cautious of inking expensive arms right now, having seen the negative effects contracts like Sabathia's ultimately cause. 

"So if your question today is whether I believe the Yankees are pursuing Scherzer, the answer is an emphatic yes," Morosi wrote nonetheless. "The New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium could have been renamed the 'We Are Not Signing Max Scherzer Bowl,' and I wouldn't have been convinced."

Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi are all already guaranteed starting jobs in 2015, so it's tough to speculate where Scherzer would fit into the Yankees' rotation if a part of it. Chris Capuano is probably flexible, but then what will the club do when Ivan Nova comes back from Tommy John surgery?

Indeed, acquiring someone like Scherzer would bring up questions for the Yankees, but if they want to seriously contend for the World Series next season, they might just have no choice but to get it done. 

Yankees Trade Shawn Kelley to Padres for Minor League Pitcher

Barbato. (Screen grab via

The New York Yankees have officially traded RHP Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Johnny Barbato. Kelley is on the 40 man roster and Barbato is not so essentially the Yankees cleared a 40 man roster spot with this move begging the question if this is part of a bigger deal. New York also saved about $2 million with the deal and continued their process of getting younger across the board.

Barbato, if healthy, will presumably start the season in Triple-A in his age 22 season. I say if healthy because Barbato was shut down last season due to elbow soreness and there is at least a possibility that he will need Tommy John surgery.

Here's a quick scouting report on Barbato:

He pitches with mid-90s velocity and verve, attacking hitters with a live fastball that sinks and runs as it nears the plate. He throws a true curveball in the high 70s that features extreme break through the zone, and he locates and mixes his two pitches well enough to boast a career strikeout rate of 9.2 per nine innings … Barbato has the raw stuff to zoom to [New York] in 2015 and gradually work his way up to a setup role. - 

Remembering 2014: Derek Jeter Highlights

Derek Jeter's 2014 Highlights 

Remembering 2014: Mark Teixeira Highlights

Mark Teixeira's 2014 Highlights

Recapping the Yankees Offseason to Date

Just a quick recap of the New York Yankees offseason to far. Not for the faint of heart unfortunately.

11/9 - Yankees re-signed Chris Young

11/12 - Traded Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson. The team also signed Jose De Paula to a major league contract.

11/18 - Re-signed Andrew Bailey to a minor league deal

11/20 - Yankees protected Danny Burawa, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Branden Pinder from the Rule 5 Draft. On the same day the team sent Zelous Wheeler to Japan for cash and signed infielder Jonathan Galvez to a minor league deal to be the next Yangervis Solarte.

12/5 - Yankees signed Andrew Miller to a four year deal after trading Shane Greene in a three team trade for Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team also re-signed Jose Campos to a new minor league deal.

12/15 - Signed Chase Headley

12/16 - Signed Chris Capuano

12/19 - Traded David Phelps and Martin Prado to Miami for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German. New York also traded for Gonzlaez Germen from the New York Mets for cash considerations. In a corresponding roster move the team designated Preston Claiborne for assignment and lost him to Miami later in the week.

Kuroda Accepted Less Money to Return to Japan: Report

Hiroki Kuroda wasn't exactly torn between the Yankees and Japan.

The 40-year-old right-hander accepted a deal worth five times less to return to the Hiroshima Carp, according to a report from The Japan Times. Kuroda's new contract with the Carp, worth just one year, will pay him ¥400 million, or $3.32 million. 

But that's not much since Kuroda's offer from the Yankees must've therefore been somewhere around $16.6 million, a price the Carp are thankful he turned down. 

"I am grateful for the choice Kuroda has made," Carp manager Koichi Ogata told The Times. "This will raise the motivation of the players and have a significant impact on the team."

If Kuroda's recent numbers with the Yankees are indicative of his talent, the Carp certainly should improve with him in their rotation, as Kuroda has been a reliable force for New York since 2012. In three seasons with the Yankees, Kuroda solidly went 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA, often not getting much run support. 

The Carp expect he and Kenta Maeda, who was originally expected to switch to MLB this offseason, to lead their pitching staff in 2015, and considering the more difficult level of American play, Kuroda should have no problem doing so. 

“The club has persevered with the negotiations," Ogata said, "and I feel this shows how determined the club is to win the pennant next season."

Kuroda likely won't have much trouble fitting in with Hiroshima, having pitched for them for 11 years from 1997-2007. He left them for the Dodgers before 2008, and stayed with Los Angeles through 2011.

Kuroda then joined the Yankees, where he became somewhat of a mentor to Masahiro Tanaka last season, to be the team's no.2 starter, working behind CC Sabathia for the entirety of his tenure with them.

Most Popular Article of the Week: George Steinbrenner & The Ghost of Yankees Past

Set the scene, picture Hal Steinbrenner sitting at his desk in his multi-billion dollar home with any bill less than a $50 burning in the fireplace for no apparent reason. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s making his list and he’s checking it twice to make sure he didn’t miss anybody. Chris Young, check. Andrew Miller, check. Didi Gregorius, check. Nathan Eovaldi, check. Chris Capuano, check. Chase Headley, check. Garrett Jones, check. Beside that list was another list, a more general and generic list, which Mr. Steinbrenner moved to satisfied with his findings on the first list. Find a shortstop to replace the great Derek Jeter, check. Find a closer to replace David Robertson, check. Improve the pitching, check. Emulate the Kansas City Royals bullpen from 2014 with a three headed monster, check. Keep Alex Rodriguez off the field at all costs, check. Bring back Brian Cashman, check. Fire Kevin Long, check. Fire Mick Kelleher, check. Replace both Long and Kelleher, he’ll have to get back to that. Steinbrenner, satisfied with his offseason even though it’s Christmas Eve and two of the top 10 free agents are still on the board, Hal decides to go to bed in his 8,000,000,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets when he hears something knocking at the door, a ghost.

“Son, it’s me. What in the world are you doing?” says the ghost of George Steinbrenner. Hal, shocked, replies that he was going to bed for tomorrow was Christmas Day and he had hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of presents to open in the morning and wanted to get an early start. This angered the ghost of Yankees past and he snatched Hal out of the bed and ushered him into the kitchen where he poured him a very ironically and strategically placed glass of Kool-Aide. Hal, thinking it was some of his 1996 wine he had ordered from Italy just three days prior, took a big swallow only to realize his mistake, spit out the wine and ask his father “What in the world are you feeding me?” The ghost of Yankees past, which that grin that he was so known for especially around the months of July and November – January, replied “I am simply giving you what you are feeding the greatest fans in the world, the Yankees fans. Now come with me while I show you the error of your ways.”

In a flash George and Hal Steinbrenner sat in the living room of a die hard Yankees fan who owned a blog called The Greedy Pinstripes. Daniel Burch could not see or hear the Steinbrenner’s but they could hear him and watched as he ferociously typed away on a piece about how the Yankees should “get greedy” and “sign Scherzer” and “trade for Tulo” and something along the lines of “World Series caliber team.” That’s when Hal began to shudder as he knew where this conversation was going. He looked up at his father and caught a glimpse of a father looking down at his son in a way that showed not anger, but disappointment. The same disappointment that Daniel had on his face when he waved his hands in a dismissive fashion, closed his Google Chrome and did not click save changes on his post.

Without saying a word, because the ghost of Yankees past knew a word did not need to be muttered, he flashed in an instant to another Yankees fans house, that of Mr. Michael Brogna. Michael was frantically checking Twitter every so often wondering who and what would happen next like he had been for the last number of weeks with little results. Again the look of disappointment on a true fan sporting the interlocking N and Y and once again the utter look of disappointment on the ghost of Yankees past’s face. Hal could hardly look his father in the eyes now and simply replied with a “We spent over $500 million last season and it got us 85 wins.” This angered the ghost of Yankees past and for the first time since they left the Steinbrenner Mansion the eldest Steinbrenner broke his silence and spoke. “We can’t live in the past, we’re always looking towards the future. Nobody cares what you did last season unless it brought us all the ultimate goal of a World Series championship. Can’t you see what you’re doing and how it is affecting the bottom line you care about so much? Look at the attendance the last two seasons as well as the ratings on the YES Network, you know that network I broke my back to build for you to sell less than five years after my death, after putting out such a mediocre team on the field. They sucked and you should be fired. In this market you have to spend money to make money. How much money is this team going to make with declining attendance and no 3,000 hit chase, no farewell tour of a member of the Core Four and no player’s jersey that we can’t keep on the shelves before Spring Training? Don’t answer that as I have one more stop to make tonight if we’re quick enough, so let’s move.”

The third and final stop on the journey went to the home of a Mr. Alex Emmanuel Rodriguez. Rodriguez was on the phone and the Steinbrenner’s only caught the tail end of the conversation. Rodriguez, speaking to an undisclosed person on the other end, was overheard saying “and the best part is I am still going to get $61 million over the next three years and everything they have done pretty much assures me that I don’t have to do anything for it. It’s free money. All I have to do is play once a week, hit my six home runs to tie Willie Mays, collect my extra $6 million bonus and go home to Miami for the winter. They think they are hurting my feelings not guaranteeing me a contract and not giving me any playing time like it’s going to hurt my ego but I’m over it. Two steroid allegations, a steroid suspension and millions of dollars in lost wages will really mature a guy and make him see the bigger picture. I’m not going to simply retire and declare myself physically unable to play I am going to sit on the bench and collect my money like any other person would. Call me Albert Belle, call me Bobby Bonilla, call me Centaur, call me whatever you like as long as the check doesn’t bounce.” And with that the look of disappointment from the ghost of Yankees past went from disappointment to anger. With a flash the two were back in the Steinbrenner kitchen with that same glass of orange Kool-Aide sitting on the counter.

This time the ghost of Yankees past did not have to say anything, it was Hal that did all the talking. “I understand what you’re trying to show me sir and I get it. You gave complete control to Brian Cashman and I, my brother and Randy Levine took that from him. We signed Alex to that monster deal and big against ourselves much like we did with Rafael Soriano. I refused to write checks to Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and another notable international free agents because of the fear that a Jose Contreras contract put in my heart some 15-20 years ago. I’m the one essentially letting Robinson Cano walk and I’m the one trading the Shane Greene’s of the world while I give Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts one year “reclamation” deals. It’s on me sir and I intend to fix it. I no longer will live in your shadow and I will no longer live in the rearview mirror of the Los Angeles Dodger’s accountants. Dad, get me the phone!”

The ghost of Yankees past handed his son the iPhone 6 Plus and he proceeded to call agent Scott Boras. Within minutes a blank contract and check were faxed to Max Scherzer while a list of available players and prospects were being drawn up and prepared to send to the Colorado Rockies. With his final action the younger Steinbrenner called Mr. Brogna, Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Burch and each phone call had an entirely different tone to it. An apology to Mr. Brogna came after an olive branch containing season tickets for life in A Rod’s luxury suite. That suite was easily handed to Michael because the next call was to Rodriguez and he was told to take his $61 million dollars and go, anywhere but here, and don’t come back. The final call to Mr. Burch was a more somber call and conversation which ended in Hal asking Mr. Burch to be his Peter Brand. Mr. Burch, embarrassed, asked Hal “who is Peter Brand?” with a laugh Hal simply responded “you know, Jonah Hill from Moneyball.” Burch, with a sheepish laugh and with an intended fist pump” screamed “YES!!!” into the phone.

The deals were done, the Yankees were better, the fans were happy, Hal’s conscience was clear and his understand hit a new level while the ghost of Yankees past simply disappeared into the infinite abyss. Hal never knew what happened to the ghost of Yankees past, whether he had been real or an eerily vivid dream, but Hal understood what needed to be done and he did it. Hal did not sell the team and the screams for him to sell the team almost immediately stopped. The Yankees went on to win their 28th, 29th and 30th World Series championships before the turn of the century and once again a dynasty was in place just like the way it should be. All thanks to an old rich guy with bad hair and a huge checkbook, a pissed off ghost and one Yankees fans undying love for the team. The faith and love for the team returned and the fans returned to the Bronx in flocks all to live happily ever after.

Well except for the ghost of Yankees past, he was still dead. The End. Merry Christmas everyone.

ICYMI: BREAKING: Kuroda to Return to Japan in 2015

A little bit of breaking news that affects the New York Yankees specifically as Hiroki Kuroda has finally made his decision for the 2015 season as he will be returning to Japan and not pitching in the majors. Kuroda was very solid for the Yankees in his three seasons in New York and it always seemed like Kuroda would pitch in the Bronx, in Japan or retire in 2015 with no other options. Apparently that option has led him back to where his career began in his native country of Japan.

Good luck for the rest of your career Hiroki and thank you for all you gave the team. We appreciate you.

Dates to Remember For Remainder of Offseason

Just a few dates to remember for the rest of the offseason since the New Year is right around the corner.

1/6/15 - Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and likely John Smoltz will be elected into the Hall of Fame while Don Mattingly likely will not in his final season. 

1/13/15 - Arbitration filing

1/16/15 - Arbitration numbers exchanged

2/1 - 2/21 - Arbitration hearings 

2/20/15 - Pitchers and catchers

2/25/15 - Full squad reports

4/6/15 - The  return of Alex Rodriguez

A new chapter begins

So, the New York Yankees have finally made some moves. Trading for Sir Didi Gregorius in a three team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers was a start. Later that same day, by acquiring Andrew Miller, David Robertson – who seamlessly replaced Mariano Rivera – left to sign with the Chicago White Sox. Shane Greene was traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Gregorius trade. The Yankees are replacing the retired Derek Jeter with a real-life knight. (Bad joke aside, Gregorius has big shoes to fill). The Yankees re-signed Chris Capuano on a one year deal.

Many fans (including myself) were puzzled at the Yankees offseason strategy as the rest of the division has been busy reloading and has improved tremendously.

As it turns out, Brian Cashman was not finished. Friday’s activity was a big deal: the Yankees re-signed Chase Headley to replace Alex Rodriguez as the starting third baseman and traded Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins in a five player trade. In the Prado trade, the Yankees sent Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Garret Jones and pitching prospect Domingo German. And top it all off, the Yanks and Mets also completed their first trade since 2004 when the Yankees acquired reliever Gonzalez Germen for cash.

Now that the core four era has officially ended, the Yankees are attempting to re-launch those dynasty years. In doing so, the Yankees are finally trying to bolster the team through the farm system again, by giving Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela a chance to become the starting second baseman and trading or signing young talent. The re-upping of Capuano and acquisition of Eovaldi helps ease the departure of Brandon McCarthy.

The Yankees are at long last getting younger, instead of irresponsibly spending money on players who are past their prime. It seems as if this new era is off to a good start.

Only time will tell if the Prado trade was a bust. But for now, there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic that the Yankees are finally heading in the right direction.

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/29: Melissa Ludtke

On this day in 1977 Melissa Ludtke filed a lawsuit against major league baseball, the New York Yankees, and New York city officials after the Sports Illustrated sports writer was denied access to interview players in the locker room during the World Series. Wonder if Reggie didn't want her to see the straw that stirred the drink.

Also on this day in 1933 Babe Ruth lost an opportunity to manage the Cincinnati Reds after being denied a release from the Yankees by Jacob Ruppert. Ruth was 38 years old at the time and was coming off a .301 season with 34 HR's and 103 RBI's in the 1933 season.