Friday, January 23, 2015

Catching Up on a Busy Day

Instead of flooding the site with post after post about some of the more minor stuff that went down today I figured I would lump it all into into post to catch you up quickly.

- Ichiro Suzuki is a Miami Marlin after signing a one year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million.

- Eury Perez was claimed by, you could have probably guessed, the Atlanta Braves after being designated for assignment to accommodate the Stephen Drew signing.

- Jose Pirela was hit by a pitch in the right hand in a Winter League game and the initial X- rays were negative, that's always promising.

Guillermo Heredia Defects from Cuba

The latest and the greatest product from the Serie Nacional has defected from Cuba in hopes of landing a deal in the United States and the Major Leagues. Guillermo Heredia is a soon to be 24 year old center fielder that is old enough to not count against international spending limits and caps. Ben Badler ranked Heredia as the 11th best prospect in Cuba back in August but that was obviously before the emergence of Yoan Moncada and Yoan Lopez.

Heredia runs well and could stick in center field in the majors with a strong arm and good enough range. Heredia at one time hit .343/.449/.527 in 2011-2012 before coming back down to Earth the next season. Heredia did not play other than one at bat this season due to his defection from the country.

Heredia is still a long way away from signing as he has not even declared residency anywhere or been unblocked by the United States government but all of these guys that get cleared before July 2nd intrigue me. The Yankees cannot sign anyone during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 signing periods for more than $300,000 so it almost makes sense to overpay for anyone and everyone at this point, no?

We May See the Best ARod in a Long Time in 2015

The Alex Rodriguez comeback tour is a little less than a month away and the circus is warming up their tent just waiting for it. Honestly though if you think about it what does Alex have to lose and to prove in 2015? Alex is not going to the Hall of Fame, his final tally on home runs and numbers overall will mean little to nothing to most, his expectations from the team and the fans is as low as it has ever been and the pressure is more on a rookie shortstop than the man approaching Willie Mays on the all-time home run list and 3,000 hits. Could we see the best A Rod that we have seen in a long time in 2015? Absolutely.

We all know, no matter what he or anyone says, that the media and the constant questioning and spotlights affected Alex. It affected him on and off the diamond and only magnified in the playoffs. Who is going to be watching Alex all that close in 2015 after say his first month of games or so? It’s not likely anybody will be besides his fans, the few of us that are left, and that is when we may finally see the true A Rod. The A Rod without performance enhancing drugs and the A Rod without the media circus and fuss that usually accompanies him wherever he goes.

Alex, barring Alex being Alex (also known as bring an idiot), may finally get the chance to relax, get comfortable at the plate and have a pretty productive season. I am under no illusions that we will see anything close to his MVP caliber numbers at 40 years old (mid-season) and coming off a second hip surgery but I would be ecstatic with .270 20 HR and 65 RBI. I think the Yankees ultimately would be too in what has the signs of being an anemic lineup in 2015.

It may be wishful thinking and Alex once again may turn into his own worst enemy but if everything goes as planned Rodriguez may just quietly enjoy a good 2015 season. Fingers crossed. 

Being a Yankees Fan from Afar

Recently I was approached on Twitter by one of our followers to answer a few questions about the New York Yankees and their brand. He is in the middle of doing a research paper on the Yankees, their brand, sports brandings, etc. so that was going to be the general gist of the line of questioning. Of course I immediately agreed and we swapped contact information while I waited for the questions to be emailed to me. To make a long story short I answered the questions and he and I got to talking afterwards and I learned he was from England. In one of the questions I mentioned that I had moved from the Bronx to Atlanta, GA and we got talking about how hard it is to be a fan from afar.

He mentioned having to stay up all hours of the night to watch the Yankees game live and naturally when I say live I mean on the television or the internet. He does not get to watch the Yankees Hot Stove, the Yes Network, the recaps of the games he missed on Sportscenter or the games live. Living in England and being a fan from afar has taken away probably the greatest part about being a Yankees fan, interacting with other fans on a day to day person and rooting for your team while watching live in the stadium.

So here I am complaining in the email, before I knew his location of course, about only getting to see the Yankees once every three or four years and having to pay top dollar for seats when he has never been to Yankee Stadium and never seen the Yankees live. Talk about feeling about three inches tall! It did warm my heart to hear that he has a savings fund going and his plan is to come over and see Yankee Stadium within a decade. I’m complaining about seeing my team once every three or four years and he has to save for the better part of a decade just to see them once.

I tend to ramble on and I don’t want to get too long winded with this so I will simply end it here. Don’t take for granted your ability to turn your TV on and watch the YES Network or to jump on the subway and see your favorite team in the Bronx. What you feel is a part of your everyday life is something that some people would save and sacrifice to enjoy just once. We ARE the greatest fans in the world and we ARE a family and that is truly special about being a fan of the New York Yankees, whether domestic or abroad, whether close or whether afar. 

Interesting Way to Get Around the Luxury Tax

When teams sign or trade for big time free agents the art of deferring payments is not something new in Major League Baseball but the Max Scherzer contract brought up an interesting aspect of the deferral. As we all know Scherzer signed with Washington for seven years and $210 million with 50% of that money being deferred out over an additional seven seasons. So many times we have seen the Bobby Bonilla’s of the world getting paid millions of dollars for being retired due to deferrals and do not blink an eye but could a team that is looking to get under the luxury tax threshold use this to their advantage?

I found it interesting when Jon Heyman tweeted out that, for luxury tax purposes anyway, the Nats were on the hook for a shade over $191 million rather than $210 million due to the deferral of money. Now while an AAV of $27.29 million is a miniscule discount from $30 million it is a discount nonetheless. Could a team like the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Phillies or any other big market team with staying power financially take advantage of this loophole?

Naturally these deals would have to be reasonable as I am sure MLB and the Player’s Union have to come to terms and agree on them but this could work for New York. With an absolute ton of money coming off the Yankees books after the 2016 and 2017 seasons the Yankees, while employing this strategy, could conceivably still go large with their spending and get under the cap for one season to get the fiscal benefits of the penalty reset.

Whether Rob Manfred and the league would allow this on a large scale remains to be seen but I personally would rather the Yankees be ahead of this curve than behind it. Try it out, all the league can do is continue to show their bias against the team and say no. 

The Alex Rodriguez Story that did NOT Break This Week

Remember earlier in the week when news broke, twitter broke and the internet as a whole broke when Alex Rodriguez was reported to be working out with Barry Bonds? Well I dug deeper into that story recently and I found out that there was a bit of news, a nugget as my good friend from Bleeding Yankee Blue Robert Casey would say, that no one seems to be reporting on. While Alex is in San Rafael, California working out with Barry Bonds and taking batting practice at the Future Prospects batting cages he is also working out with former teammate Edgar Martinez.

Why was the longtime Seattle Mariners DH and probably Hall of Fame player not mentioned in the original article about Rodriguez and Bonds? It’s simple, it doesn’t garner clicks. Honestly I probably won’t get many views for this post but I don’t care frankly, it’s the news and I feel compelled to report on it COMPLETELY. Again quoting Mr. Casey from BYB when I say “get it right, not get it first.”

Former Yankees Update: Kelly Johnson

Somehow I (purposely) missed this little bit of news Wednesday regarding a former member of the New York Yankees. Kelly Johnson signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves continuing the mass exodus of former Yankees players to Atlanta. The 33 year old Johnson received an invite to spring training and will compete for a roster spot as a utility player.

Johnson began his career with the Braves after making his major league debut there back in 2005 where he stayed through the 2009 season. Johnson played for the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox in 2014 playing second base, third base, first base and the outfield. Combined Johnson accumulated a .215 average with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 2014 in his three stops. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/23: Masahiro Tanaka Press Conference

There is not much history on this day in New York Yankees history so I want to use this opportunity to remind all Yankees fans that we got Masahiro Tanaka yesterday. Just in case you missed it here is the press conference from when New York introduced their newest starting pitcher and toy. Happy Friday everyone.