Monday, January 26, 2015

Yankees Trying to Void HR Milestone Triggers in A Rod's Contract

This time last year many around the league as far as fans go were stuck rolling their eyes at every new lawsuit that was coming out of the Alex Rodriguez camp. Turn the calendar to 2015 and to the best of my knowledge Rodriguez has not sued anyone, although he has been sued by his former brother in law, but this time the Yankees are going after him. New York is trying to void the "milestone home run" triggers that are built into his contract that includes an extra $30 million for tying and passing some of the games greats.

New York does not believe they are on the hook for these five different milestone triggers worth $6 million each because the deal was signed as a part of a marketing deal. The marketing deal as a part of the 10 year and $275 million contract was meant to be profitable for both sides. The Yankees organization no longer feel the deal is profitable to them, and honestly they are right. The Yankees also, naturally, brought up his performance enhancing drug suspension and allegations for reasons to void the triggers.

Rodriguez will earn $6 million each for tying Willie Mays 660 home runs, tying Babe Ruth's 714 home runs, tying Hank Aaron's 755 home runs, tying Barry Bonds 762 and passing Bonds for the all time leader in home runs.

Here are the quotes from those associated with the team:

The Yankees, however, now view the marketing bonuses as worthless and invalid, according to sources, the result of Rodriguez's suspension for violating the game's collectively bargained drug policy and his scorched-earth attack on baseball and the Yankees. The club plans to do battle with its onetime superstar over paying the bonuses, and is prepared to fight Rodriguez if he files a grievance with the Players' Association.

Now, the Yankees will argue that Rodriguez signed the agreement under false pretenses and has rendered the marketing opportunities worthless based on years of lies, deception and, finally, admission to DEA agents last year that he had paid $12,000 a month to Anthony Bosch for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

New MLB Commissioner Manfred willing to give A-Rod second chance

Alex Rodriguez's relationship with former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig definitely had its issues, but his one with Selig's successor seems to be a little better. 

At least that's the tone new league administrator Rob Manfred appeared to set during a recent sit-down with ESPN's Karl Ravech, in which Manfred was questioned about his thoughts on the troubled slugger. Manfred, who took over for Selig Sunday, clarified in the conversation that the decision to suspend Rodriguez for all of last season was Selig's alone, and that from now on it will be him calling the shots. 

"I've had a nice dialogue with Alex Rodriguez since all the litigation was resolved," Manfred said. "We've spoken on a number of occasions and it has been a positive dialogue."

Rodriguez openly expressed his displeasure with Selig numerous times last year, and denied his alleged steroid use vehemently before privately admitting it in January. When his punishment was initially announced last winter, he sued MLB in an attempt to overturn it, ultimately to no avail. 

Nonetheless, Manfred has no problem with Rodriguez's return. 

"Once [a penalty for PED use] is over, that individual is entitled to try to resume his career, assuming he can still play," Manfred said. "If you approach it with that mindset, I think you can get past whatever rhetoric went on."

Rodriguez is expected to be the Yankees' starting DH this season, probably serving as the team's backup third baseman as well. It's presumable many throughout the Yankees' fanbase won't be fond of him when he takes the field this April, nor will some ever accept him back into the game.

Fortunately for the veteran, though, Manfred isn't one of those people.

"Yeah, I do," he said when asked if he has the ability to forgive Rodriguez. "I think that's part of what makes the bargain of severe penalties work."

ICYMI: If the Yankees Sign Yoan Moncada

We all learned yesterday that the New York Yankees held a private workout for Yoan Moncada which made me wonder what the team would do if they signed him. Obviously at just 19 years old the second baseman would likely start his professional career in the minor leagues creating a pretty significant logjam in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. With Robert Refsnyder and Jose Pirela looking more and more likely to head to Triple-A to start their seasons would Moncada possibly force the hand of Brian Cashman into a trade?

There is a flurry of scenarios that could happen here including, but not limited to, trading either Rrefsnyder or Pirela (or both) to clear the logjam. This gives Moncada a clear path to the major leagues and possibly brings back the starting pitcher the Yankees have presumably been after all offseason long. This chain of events could also spell the end of the Brendan Ryan era in New York as Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius could split time and bounce around at shortstop giving Moncada the bulk of the playing time at second base. Another scenario includes, although is highly unlikely, that Moncada can play third base (and he can, physically) and bumps Chase Headley to first base, Mark Teixeira to the DH spot and Alex Rodriguez and/or Garrett Jones off the team all together.

A lot can happen if the Yankees sign Moncada and it will likely shape the remainder of the offseason and the rest of the calendar year if they do. Honestly though, it will more than likely shape it in a good way for the foreseeable future. Bring me Yoan.

Fixing Brandon McCarthy May Lead to Fixing Nathan Eovaldi

Syndicated Sunday... on a Monday. This user from the Fangraphs community blog explains how the New York Yankees fixed Brandon McCarthy after coming over from Arizona and how they can do the same with Nathan Eovaldi this season. It's a long read, and it all will not be here on the blog so CLICK HERE for the entire post, but it's a great read. Especially if you like sabermetrics.

Brandon McCarthy got off to a rough start in 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Between the atrocious ERA (5.01) and the seemingly endless supply of baseballs leaving the yard (HR/FB rate of 20%), the D’Backs cut their losses and dealt McCarthy to the Yankees in early July for Vidal Nuno. What the Yankees saw was a pitcher who was terribly unlucky and just needed a little more time for variance to run its course. Well, and maybe a few things that needed adjusting.
McCarthy was among the league leaders in BABIP at the time of the trade with a .345 mark, and many seemed to think this number had to come down. BABIP after all is pretty volatile, and takes several years to stabilize, so we can expect a large amount of variance in a time period as short as a few months. The real questions are: how deserving was McCarthy of an inflated BABIP? Are there tendencies that make some pitchers more prone to higher rates than others? What can teams do to fix higher BABIPs?
First, let’s take a look at McCarthy’s zone profiles in 2014 before being traded.
No wonder hitters were teeing off against McCarthy; lefties saw plenty of offerings over the middle of the plate while righties were exclusively pitched low-and-away. Hitters could walk up to the plate with confidence knowing they’d either get a pitch in their wheelhouse or only in a few spots. This took any advantage of unpredictability out of the hands of McCarthy and subjected him to a higher than average BABIP.
Now, let’s look at how they changed after being dealt.
After coming over to New York, McCarthy looks like a completely different pitcher. The biggest changes appear to be throwing inside on right handed hitters and keeping the ball away from left handed hitters. His new found ability to mix up his locations helped keep hitters off-balance.
As for McCarthy’s pitch selection before and after the trade, that changed as well.
Left Handed Hitters
Right Handed Hitters
Left handed hitters saw a dramatic increase in four-seamers, with the sinker, cutter, and curve all being mixed in rather evenly. Righties also saw a drift away from the sinker and a more even distribution of pitches. The result was a modest .307 BABIP from July onwards. This all makes me wonder if the Yankees have found a market inefficiency — pitchers with an excellent skill set, an inflated BABIP, and zone profiles plus pitch arsenals that were all too predictable. Alter the sequencing to fix the pitcher, and you’ll see the outcomes line up more accurately with the underlying skill set.
Well, if they did it once, can they do it again? Or at least try to?
Enter Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has impressed scouts for years with a blazing mid-90′s fastball. Unfortunately, the results haven’t matched his potential. Like McCarthy, Eovaldi was marred by the same tendencies- an inflated BABIP (.323) with an ERA that’s well above his FIP (4.37 vs 3.37), but he had an impressive walk rate (1.94 BB/9). His zone profiles provide some insight as well:

Most Popular Article of the Week: 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.

Yankees to Alex Rodriguez: Talk to the Hand

Alex Rodriguez met with now Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred last week and reportedly apologized for his steroid use and the black eye that it left on himself and the game. Reportedly Rodriguez wanted to do the same with the New York Yankees before the season and was immediately denied any sort of meeting from the team. Really?

The team stated that they would not meet with Rodriguez until Spring Training begins next month. Rodriguez has reportedly spoken with Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Yankees manager Brian Cashman but team officials reportedly denied having any sort of meeting with their third baseman.

I'm not really sure I understand continuing to shun a player that is trying to extend an olive branch, especially one who you owe $61 million to over the next three seasons or more including incentive bonuses and milestones, but maybe that's just me.

Yankees Watch Hector Olivera Work Out

According to Jesse Sanchez of and his Twitter feed the New York Yankees were in attendance when the latest defector from Cuba worked out for MLB teams. His name is Hector Olivera and his name alone attracted over 200 scouts to come watch him work out in the Dominican Republic.

Olivera is 29 years old and will not count against any of the international spending rules or limitations this season, he will be a true free agent. Sanchez has yet to be unblocked by the United States government or declared a free agent by Major League Baseball so we are still a little way away from any potential signing but four or five teams including the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, the Texas Rangers, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees are said to be interested.

He may be one of the more older players to come over from Cuba but he can flat out hit, take walks and get on base and that is sometimes enough in the majors.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/26: Welcome Back Andy

On this day in 2009 the New York Yankees signed Andy Pettitte to a $5.5 million one year contract. The then 36 year old signed for half of the Yankees original $10 million offer but could earn the additional $4.5 million based on innings pitched incentives as well as an additional $2 million for staying healthy and on the active roster.