Thursday, January 8, 2015

Randy Johnson: I have "no remorse" about coming to Yankees

He might not have left such an impression on the locals when he was with them, but retired major-league pitcher Randy Johnson enjoyed his time with the Yankees.

Johnson said so during a press conference Wednesday, one in which this year's newest members of the Hall of Fame were announced. Johnson, the only player in the class who ever played in the Bronx, was elected to Cooperstown Tuesday with appearances on 97.2 percent of the writers' ballots, the highest total of the four inductees. 

But it's unlikely many of those votes came due to his performance with the Yankees, a rather short period which lasted from 2005-2006. 

"I had no remorse about coming [to the Yankees]," Johnson told The Bergen Record's Pete Caldera. "I know it might be hard for a lot of people to believe that. [But] I came to New York because I wanted to. I love New York."

Johnson was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Yankees in exchange for Javier Vasquez, Dioner Navarro and the late Brad Halsey in January of 2005, ending a six-year stint with Arizona. He went 5-0 against the Red Sox that season and 17-8 overall, seemingly setting himself up for a nice run with the club.

But his ERA skyrocketed to 5.00 in 2006 while he threw 20 2/3 fewer innings, causing the Yankees to deal him back to the Diamondbacks the following winter. 

"I still managed to win 34 games in two years," Johnson said, preferring to look at his stats positively. "It wasn't the exciting Randy that people had witnessed against the Yankees, but I still gave everything I had."

Johnson was selected to the Hall this week in his first time up for the honor, joining two others in accomplishing the feat. Former Brave John Smoltz and former Met Pedro Martinez made up that duo, and longtime Astros OF Craig Biggio completed the entire group.

It is yet to be revealed which team's cap Johnson will wear on his plaque, but it's a safe bet the one with the interlocked "NY" won't be it. 

What is Wrong w/ the World?

What in the hell is wrong with the world today? Anyone with a Twitter account can tell you that Yankees prospect Ty Hensley is a great guy. The young man is truly humble and truly appreciate of everywhere he has been, everyone who is a fan and appreciates everything that he has. That’s not based on what he says when the cameras are on that’s based on phone calls, Tweets, direct messages, etc. It shows in the way he carries himself, the way he still continues to interact with his fans, the media, etc. that you can tell it’s not just a big PR move, the word genuine comes to mind.

That brings me to the shocking news that broke that Hensley was attacked “brutally” over the holidays which left him unconscious and hospitalized. Hensley has since been released from the hospital with multiple jaw fractures and is recovering at home with his family. No word on why the attack happened, whether it was a robbery, etc. and the family asks for privacy at this time. Obviously our thoughts and our prayers go out to Ty and his wonderful mother who you can see passed down her own “genuine” demeanor to her son. We also hope and pray that whoever is responsible for this heinous act is brought to justice and forced to pay for what they have done.

This is terrible and it couldn’t have happened to a better person and that’s a shame, a damn shame. 

Alex Rodriguez Taking Ground Balls at 3B

A photo posted by Alex Rodriguez (@arod) on
Earlier in the week we showcased a picture from Alex Rodriguez's Instagram account of him swinging the bat and taking swings in the batting cage. Today we continue our Alex Rodriguez stalking by once again embedding a picture from his Instagram, this time he is taking ground balls at third base at Miami High School.

Article Revisit: Is Robert Refsnyder Now Trade Bait?

Not so long ago I was down and out thinking that my favorite prospect Robert Refsnyder was destined to be trade bait in New York, so I wrote about it. Then Brian Cashman traded Martin Prado and others to Miami thus opening the door for either Refsnyder and/or Jose Pirela only to close the door shut again with a Stephen Drew signing. Is Refsnyder now trade bait, again, or am I simply overreacting? You be the judge because I know, and fully admit, that my fandom and my attachment to prospects gets in the way sometimes. 

Writing this blog feels like filling out the paperwork on a death certificate for me but I think it has to be done. I truly do believe that the signing of Chase Headley may have unofficially ended the tenure in pinstripes for Robert Refsnyder. Refsnyder overall is major league ready, although obviously his defense and footwork at second base could use some work, and is now blocked at his natural position of second base for two years behind Martin Prado, his second position in right field for two years behind Carlos Beltran and now third base is blocked for at least four years with Headley. The Yankees need pitching and the team thinks pretty highly of Jose Pirela and that’s not a great combination for Refsnyder.

Players will get hurt this season and the Yankees will need an infielder at some point which is a given but the signings of Nick Noonan and Cole Figueroa point towards there being “plenty” of depth in the system. The fact that Pirela and Prado can play everywhere along with Brendan Ryan being pretty versatile himself truly helps the team and hurts Mr. Refsnyder.

Barring a big time signing like a Max Scherzer or a James Shields or another acquisition for a starting pitcher via trade or free agency I worry about the future of Refsnyder in pinstripes. I have beat the drums for Refsnyder’s call up for months now and the beating and the candles may be all for nothing if the Yankees don’t solidify that rotation and fast. A Refsnyder and Romine deal makes sense to the Yankees I just hope that it isn’t enough elsewhere.

Stay tuned…

This Team Continues to Lack Direction & Planning

The New York Yankees are officially making moves simply to make moves, I’m convinced of it, and there is no plan of attack and no direction for this team right now. FYI, before you comment in the comments section, mediocrity and failure is not a direction in my book, they are the New York Yankees dammit. For much of the offseason the team looked to be getting younger, more versatile, cheaper and more dependent on their own homegrown players and then Stephen Drew showed up.

I understand the signing, I truly do, because it gives the Yankees a true low risk high reward guy that can bounce back offensively and be a real bargain at only $5 million. On a win now team and an offensive juggernaut this signing is ideal because it gives Refsnyder one more year or at least a half a year, which I agree he needs defensively, to work on his tools and such and it also allows Jose Pirela a bench option. It also gives the team a true backup at shortstop if the team decided to move on from Brendan Ryan. The problem here is, in my opinion, the team is not a win now team and the team is not an offensive juggernaut.

Even if Drew bounces back and plays to the back of his baseball card or better the Yankees team will still struggle as a whole to score runs, again in my opinion. Drew does make the defense better but honestly Refsnyder, and WAR supports this theory, gives the Yankees a right handed bat that would truly help the lineup. Drew just makes it easier for opposing managers to bring in a left handed LOOGY and mow down more than half of our lineup in the later innings.

I’m not mad about the signing I just wish the Yankees would go one way or the other. Either go young, rebuild and retool on the fly or go all in and spend, spend, spend. No words right now. 

Should MLB Eliminate Guaranteed Contracts?

TGP commenter Jeff Levin is having a pretty good week.

"That's right, ladies. I'm awesome."

On Sunday Daniel posted an article covering a conversation he and Jeff had in the comment section of a previous article. Here we are today, and it's my turn to bring up a quick conversation that Jeff and I had on Monday in another comment section.

Mr. Levin felt that it wasn't right that players in Major League Baseball had guaranteed contracts. Why should Alex Rodriguez get paid all $61 million left on his contract after admitting to steroid use, having two hip surgeries, and producing at replacement level when he has played recently*?

* I wanted to be fair and point out that while ARod hasn't played like he did in 2007, his triple-slash of .265/.352/.428 with 25 home runs in 710 plate appearances between 2012 and 2013 is better than "replacement level".

Jeff didn't mean to just pick on Alex, as he did mention others that haven't lived up to their contracts like Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Carl Crawford, and Barry Zito. No matter who he did or didn't bring up, or whether you feel they did or didn't live up to their contracts, Jeff brings up a very good point. Especially when you see players in the National Football League get cut and lose money all the time.

While the chances of teams being able to cut players without paying them the money left on their contracts are as good as a salary cap being implemented in MLB, that doesn't mean it's pointless to talk about.

Okay... maybe it is pointless. But why not do it anyway? It's not like you have something better to do than read about baseball. Am I right?

I agree that teams should be able to cut players based on under-performing, being convicted of a crime, or failing a drug test (and probably a few other things, but I'll let you discuss that below). But I don't agree that those players should lose every cent owed to them. At least not in every case. I mean, if a players is convicted of rape or murder, then MLB should totally cut ties with the player and not pay him another penny.

But if a player goes from finishing in the top five of Cy Young Award voting for three straight years from 2009 to 2011, to having a combined ERA of 4.87 from 2013 to 2014, then perhaps their team shouldn't be on the hook for all $73 million left remaining on his contract (assuming his option for 2017 vests).

"Wait a second..."

Let's keep going with the case of CC Sabathia. There could be a clause in his contract stating that if his ERA rose above 4.50 for at least two straight seasons, the Yankees could cut him and only have to pay him 50% of the money remaining on his contract. In Sabathia's case you have a vesting option to deal with, and my thought would be that it would be considered guaranteed. Therefore, the Yankees could cut CC now and only have to pay him $36.5 million instead of the $73 million still remaining (again... assuming the vesting option is guaranteed).

Of course, CC's high ERA could be due to injury, meaning the reason for cutting him may have to be different, but you should understand where I'm coming from.

This could all just be more Yankees fans crying about having to pay big money to under-performing players that make a ton of money like Rodriguez, Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira. But I don't think you can totally dismiss this idea, either.

Oh, and one last thing, regarding the first picture in this article... I doubt Jeff looks like Neil Patrick Harris.

DFA Candidates for the New York Yankees

The Yankees currently have a full 40 man roster after trading for Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter and signing Stephen Drew to a one year deal worth $5 million. If New York wants to make any more moves this offseason, for example adding Robert Refsnyder to the 40 man roster or hope that Scott Boras gives us Max Scherzer in a package deal for the Drew signing, someone will have to be designated for assignment. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, the Yankees have plenty of DFA candidates heading into the 2015 season and Spring Training.

Jose De Paula is a left handed pitcher among a slew of left handed pitching and may be the last guy on the depth chart and the bottom guy on the totem pole making him one of the more obvious choices for designation. Others include Gonzalez Germen who was acquired from the New York Mets in a trade between the two New York teams, Eury Perez, Ramon Flores and if we want to live in dream land Alex Rodriguez.

One man who is probably safe but could ultimately be designated with the Drew signing in Brendan Ryan. Ryan is on the team solely for his ability to play shortstop at a major league level. Drew can fill that void as well as long as Jose Pirela is on the bench to back up at second base (and everywhere else) in case of injury or an emergency. 

Yankees Lineup with Stephen Drew

With the addition of Stephen Drew to presumably play second base for the New York Yankees the defense looks to be improved but the offense will likely struggle once again in 2015. The lineup is very left handed heavy, which is not uncommon for Yankees lineups, and lacks true pop in many (most) positions. Let’s take a quick look at the starting lineup for New York is the season started today.

-          Jacoby Ellsbury (CF)
-          Brett Garder (LF)
-          Carlos Beltran (RF)
-          Mark Teixeira (1B)
-          Brian McCann ( C)
-          Chase Headley (3B)
-          Stephen Drew (2B)
-          Alex Rodriguez (DH) *Hitting low here to break up lefties but probably hits behind Headley*

-          Didi Gregorius (SS) 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/8: Goose Gossage Meets the Hall of Fame

On this day in 2008 Rich "Goose" Gossage, in his ninth year on the ballot, is the only player to receive more than 75% of the writer’s votes, tallying 85.5%, and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Goose played for 22 seasons, most notably with the Yankees, and compiled a 124-107 record while saving 310 games and posting a 3.01 ERA.

Also on this day in 2004 Don Zimmer, fresh off of resigning as the Yankees bench coach, was named as a Senior Baseball Adviser for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Zim would be a coach during Spring Training and pregame practices at all regular season home games, most road games, and assisted the team with community affairs.

Also on this day in 1990 Johnny Sylvester, a terminally sick boy whom Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run for in the 1926 World Series, died at the age of 74. Ruth did hit that home run against the St. Louis Cardinals as promised and the then 11 year old recovered from his illness. This story was showcased in the movie The Babe Ruth Story, although the facts in the movie have been proven to be less than accurate.

Finally on this day in 1913 Frank Chance became the manager of the New York Highlanders, soon to be the Yankees. The veteran manager will finish next to last in the league with a 57-94 record and will compile a 117-168 record in his two year stint in New York.