Friday, October 9, 2015

FYI: Qualifying Offer Set at $15.8 Million for 2016

From MLB Trade Rumors:

The 2015-16 free agent season’s qualifying offer value has been set at $15.8MM, according to a tweet from Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal. That represents an increase, of course, but the rise isn’t nearly as great as it has been in the past.

The QO system used a $13.3MM number in its first year, which increased to $14.1MM and then to $15.3MM last fall. The qualifying offer value is determined by averaging the 125 contracts leaguewide that have the highest average annual values.

Here’s a quick refresher on how the qualifying offer system works: Teams can offer their departing free agents a one-year deal, at the established price tag, within five days of the conclusion of the World Series. Over the next seven days, players who receive the offer are allowed to talk with other teams and decide whether to take the single-season pact. If they reject it, then draft implications attach: their former team stands to gain a compensation pick in the following year’s draft, while a new signing team must give up their highest non-protected draft choice.

There are plenty of other elements of the system, of course, and you can check out thisold-but-good overview for more. For an understanding of why the qualifying offer matters so much, read this great explanation of why “avoiding the qualifying offer” is so important for a free agent’s value.

Players traded in mid-season are not eligible to receive a qualifying offer. So, for example, the Royals can make a qualifying offer to Alex Gordon but cannot extend one to Johnny Cueto or Ben Zobrist.

And remember: we still have yet to see a player accept a qualifying offer. While several QO-declining players have seemingly experienced market impacts after being saddled with draft compensation, the opportunity to test the open market in search of a multi-year pact has thus far proved compelling.

2015 Yankees: Mark Teixeira 2015 Highlights

How much did the team miss this man at the end of 2015? Greg Bird was great, don't get me wrong, but he was not the middle of the order presence that took the pressure off the Brian McCann's, the Alex Rodriguez's and the Carlos Beltran's. Get well soon Mark!

Changing the Wild Card Round to Best-of-Three Games

I know what a lot of you may be thinking, especially non-Yankees fans, here comes one of those spoiled rotten Yankees fans ready to complain about the fact that his team lost in the AL Wild Card and now he wants to change everything around to better suit him and his team. Well… yeah and no I guess. The good thing about everything I write is that it’s on the internet and can be researched back either on the blog or on twitter, I wanted a best-of-three series when they announced the one-game playoff and I’ve wanted it in every season since. Look it up. I understand the reasoning behind a one-game playoff, money and viewership on television, but it’s not a great way to reward a team for their 162-game grind of a schedule (even if you’re trying to punish the teams a bit for not winning their own division).

Take the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates for instance. Both teams had better records than the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers but are being punished for playing in the same division as the St. Louis Cardinals. Pittsburgh won 98 games this season and barely had an advantage in the standings to host the one-game playoff. Sure the ratings for the game between them and the Cubs were great but would two more games just like it not be even better?

Two more games equals more money in the pockets of the owners and the television markets but it’s also more money in the pockets of the players, the league and the participating teams. A best-of-three series showcases the immense amount of young and possibly unknown talent to the casual baseball fan of the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Houston Astros the night before in a record-breaking ratings matchup with the New York Yankees, and could possibly bring more hardcore fans into the game with this new knowledge of the players and teams.

Sure expanding the season and the World Series into November sucks but you have to give something to get something. Give up the one-game playoff and grow the brand, the teams and the sport. It’s a risk and a “give” worth taking in my opinion and that’s whether the Yankees are in it or not. 

The Yankees New Trade Partner: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

I have said this numerous times in my blogs because I truly believe it, I think teams have a “screw the Yankees” policy when it comes to trading players. Some teams presumably think the Yankees have enough resources because of their financial powers that they just flat out refuse to deal with Brian Cashman which leads to either no activity at the July 31st trade deadline or trades with the same teams over and over again. That list of teams is the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Seattle Mariners, the Detroit Tigers under Dave Dombrowski, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves. With the addition of Billy Eppler as the team’s new GM, Brian Cashman’s former assistant general manager in New York, could the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim join that list for the Yankees?

The bad news for New York, and the good news for Eppler, is that the Angels are a win now team that are unlikely to send some of their aging veterans or best players over to the East Coast in the type of trade that the Yankees like to make. New York hasn’t made a blockbuster trade probably since the Alex Rodriguez trade and don’t look like they will be putting together a deal for Mike Trout anytime soon but could a trade for an infielder or a fourth outfielder potentially be in the works?

Who knows, you may just have to stay tuned… 

“We All Know We Can’t Fire Owners” & I Ask Why Not?

In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of days the New York Yankees fell to the Houston Astros in somewhat embarrassing fashion in the American League Wild Card Playoff round on Tuesday night. I personally dreaded getting back on Twitter Wednesday morning, and that’s sad because I absolutely love Twitter, interacting with you guys and putting the social back into social media, because of the “fans” backlash and reactions to the game from the previous night. After about the 100th “Girardi shouldn’t have benched Ellsbury” tweet (although if he benched Young or Gardner and either went 0-4 the same tweet would have been made with a different name inserted into it) and after the 500th “Fire Girardi” tweet I put out an extremely tongue in cheek response basically asking why we don’t just fire the owner instead of the Yankees manager and GM? I got the above response and it got me to thinking, why couldn’t we fire the owner? I believe we could!

I’m not one of those fans advocating for the firing of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman. Honestly I would prefer that one or both of them be elsewhere in 2015 only because I think the team needs a new look, a new direction and new leadership. Matt Williams was fired in Washington for losing his grip on the postseason, the NL East Division lead and the grip in the clubhouse and I’m merely curious why Girardi is getting a pass. If CC Sabathia could be seen visibly staggering he was so inebriated in the clubhouse after a game in Baltimore by the beat writers and reporters how did Joe not know? Again, I’m not advocating for his firing as much as I’m simply asking the question that many people are asking and don’t have the avenue to voice it but I’m getting too far off topic here.

Can you fire an owner? Yes and no, it obviously depends on the owner. Could you have fired George Steinbrenner? Absolutely not. Why? The Yankees were his hobby, his entertainment and probably his first and true love.  George ran the team into the ground multiple times during his tenure and operated in the red many seasons while investing his own money or the revenue he gathered from the YES Network back into the team simply to keep the lights on and the checks from bouncing. Hal Steinbrenner on the other hand, and I’m assuming because I don’t know him personally, is more about the bottom line and making money rather than truly winning at all costs. How do you make someone lose interest in a business venture? Hit them in the wallet.

Don’t want the Steinbrenner family owning the Yankees? Don’t want Girardi managing or Cashman “making the calls” on player personnel? Stop buying Yankees gear. Stop buying tickets. Cancel your YES Network subscription, although the Steinbrenner family sold most of their stake in the company already, and cancel your MLB TV subscriptions. Don’t pay to park, don’t pay to watch and don’t pay to eat there. That’s how you do it. If you’re not willing to do that, and again I’m not because I don’t necessarily want them gone as much as the next guy, then please stop complaining about it. I believe it was Gandhi who said “be the change you want to see in the world.” He was a smart man, do it!

Could Stephen Drew’s Vestibular Concussion Explain His Woes in 2014/2015?

The end of Stephen Drew’s tenure with the New York Yankees came to an abrupt halt this season when the Yankees second baseman was diagnosed with a vestibular concussion late in September. Drew had a pretty severe concussion in 2013 when he was a member of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox that took roughly three-and-a-half months to fully heal and recover from according to reports. Could that concussion and the lingering side effects be the reason or explanation for his less than stellar 2014 and 2015 campaigns?

A concussion is a serious brain injury and is very difficult to assess and treat as MRIs and CT scans are almost always normal. If not treated properly, these concussions can cause both short- and long-term problems. One treatment that is getting more and more attention is the use of vestibular physical therapy for individuals who have been concussed.

When someone first sustains a concussion, the initial treatment is rest. At that time they should be managed by their physician. Studies show that 80% of those who suffer a concussion have their symptoms go away completely within the first three weeks. Unfortunately, some people have symptoms that last even longer. Common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, noise and light sensitivity, balance difficulties, difficulty with concentrating, difficulty remembering, difficulty sleeping, and/or emotional symptoms. Oftentimes a concussed person will complain of difficulty with driving, difficulty with reading a computer, difficulty reading books, and difficulty changing gaze focus. One of the most common complaints that vestibular therapists hear is that they just feel “off” or “foggy.”

In a game where everything is analyzed and in a game where a matter of inches can make or break you every single play of every single night battling a head injury has to be difficult. The problem for Drew is, and I am speculating here as I do not have concrete evidence to back up this statement, that he reportedly felt fine and had no lingering effects of a concussion until almost the end of September. For all we know the problem may have been minor enough to adjust to or not even notice in your everyday life but it could have been something that could make or break you when trying to judge a pitch at 100 MPH.

An interesting nugget specifically linked to sports figures with vestibular concussions from medscape:

"Therefore, if this system is compromised in some way following concussion, it makes sense that a reaction time would be slowed. This is an important point, as athletes with this impaired reaction time may be at greater risk for subsequent injury until they are no longer impaired."

The participants in the study had sustained their injuries more than 21 days earlier and completed computerized neurocognitive tests and symptom reports at their initial clinical visits. They also received vestibular screening, which includes clinical interview and exams evaluating vestibular dizziness and vestibulo-spinal and vestibulo-ocular domains.

To be honest we’ll probably never know what happened to Drew and whether it was this concussion or Father Time merely catching up to him and his bat in 2014 and 2015. The article above says that most MRI's CT scans or tests come back normal. If the Yankees feel like they get nip this concussion in the bud then I am all for a bounce back type season on the New York bench in 2016 because at least now we may have a reason for his struggles instead of merely grasping at straws. 

Pinstripe Alley's Annual Sporcle Quiz

Every season our friends over at Pinstripe Alley put together a sporcle quiz giving you a shot at guessing every player that played for the team in that particular season. In years past I have been quite good at these quizzes, one year (2014 I believe) I fell just one player short of a perfect score, so I decided to take another shot at it in 2015. How well did I do and can you do better?

This year the pitching killed me, who would have thought. I did less than what I expected only getting 51/56 but I did get every single position player. Post yours in the comments section!

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/9: Jeffrey *Bleeping* Maier

Set the stage, the year is 1996 and the New York Yankees are at home playing the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. New York was trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the eight inning when Derek Jeter sent a deep fly ball to right field that cleared the fence for a game tying home run according to umpire Rich Garcia. Baltimore outfielder Tony Tarasco and manager Davey Johnson protested that a young fan, Jeffrey Maier, had interfered with the ball. The Yankees went on to win the game and the series and many think the young man changed the game and the series.

Also on this day in 1961 the Yankees would capture their 19th World Series Championship when they beat the Cincinnati Reds in Game 5 by the score of 13-5. Johnny Blanchard, a reserve player, would hit two home runs and bat .400 in the series.

Also on this day in 1958 the Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves in Game 7 of the World Series for their 18thWorld Series Championship. This was also the Yankees seventh World Series win of the decade capping off an incredible streak.

Also on this day in 1938 the Yankees became the first team to win three consecutive World Series titles when they beat the Chicago Cubs in four games.

Finally on this day in 1928 the Yankees would win their third World Series Championship in the franchise’s history as they completed their second consecutive sweep in the Fall Classic. Babe Ruth hit three home runs in the World Series game and the Yankees as a team hit five in the contest.