Monday, January 18, 2016

Yankees, Didi Gregorius Avoid Arbitration

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 2001 World Series Game Two HERE

Game 2 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Age Is Just a Number

For years, the fans, columnists, and anyone under the sun has claimed the Yankees are too old to compete for a World Series. When Jason Heyward signed with the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason and indicated that the Cardinals age was a reason he left many reporters took that as an indication that the Yankees had no shot at signing him either.

With the infusion of young talent like Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino and Greg Bird on the roster I wanted to see how many older players the Yankees are using in comparison to their five most recent World Series victories and the two years they failed to make the postseason.

The results are not what I thought they were going to be. First off the Yankees last five World Series victories.

In 1996, the Yankees used 48 total players, 5 players were 35+. Older players made up 10.4% of the roster.
In 1998, the Yankees used 38 total players and 6 players were 35+. Older made up 15.8% of the roster.
In 1999, the Yankees used 39 total players and 7 players were 35+. Older players made up 17.9% of the roster.
In 2000, the Yankees used 34 total players, and 11 players were 35+. Older players made up 32.4% of the roster.
In 2009, the Yankees used 45 total players, and 7 players were 35+. Older players made up 15.56% of the roster.

Next up the last two times, the Yankees missed the playoffs as well as 2015 to bring it all together.

In 2013, the Yankees used 56 total players and 8 players were 35+. Older players made up 14.3% of the roster.
In 2014, the Yankees used 58 total players and 8 players were 35+. Older players made up 13.8% of the roster.
In 2015, the Yankees used 56 total players and 4 players were 35+. Older players made up 7.1% of the roster.

The Yankees have been using fewer players 35 and older as the years have gone on which would seem contradictory for a team described as "old." The key, however, is the overall usage of the older players. They are using fewer players, but they are relying on them more.  In 2000 when the Yankees used 11 35+ players only 3 of them were regular contributors, David Cone, Roger Clemens and Paul O'Neill. In 2013, the Yankees used eight 35+ players, and all of them were expected to be regular contributors. The 2000 team had older players play in a combined 487 appearances. The 2013 team had older players play in a combined 589 appearances.

That trend continued in 2015 as three of the four older players the Yankees used were regular contributors. The Yankees look to reverse this trend through the on the fly rebuild they have been going through. In 2016, I estimate the Yankees will again have four 35+ players but younger players like Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks will allow them to use Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez more effectively.

ICYMI: This Ain't A Scene It's A --- Damn Arms Race

Prepare yourselves Yankees fans because the American League East is not a scene anymore, it's about to become an arms race. The New York Yankees have beefed up their bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and put out a potential CC Sabathia-less starting rotation with every pitcher under 28-years old while the Boston Red Sox added David Price and Craig Kimbrel. Not to be outdone the reigning and defending AL East Champions added Drew Storen from the Washington Nationals along with JA Happ and a severely underrated Jesse Chavez to beef up their pitching staffs. There won't be many easy inter-division games this season, even the Rays and Orioles are pesky, and it's all going to come down to pitching.

The Yankees have a plethora of options in case one of their starters go down and Joe Girardi, as he loves to do, has a ton of options to mix and match in his bullpen as the season goes on. Names like Bryan Mitchell, James Kaprielian, Luis Cessa and Chad Green can step into the starting rotation alongside presumed long reliever Ivan Nova while the list of bullpen options for Girardi and the Yankees would take me until late into the weekend to list. To hit the high points you have Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, Chasen Shreve, Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody, Johnny Barbato, Kirby Yates and the minor league signings like Vinnie Pestano.

Could the options be better? Sure, most teams could say that though. Are there plenty of options now and plenty of insurance? Again, sure. As it stands now with everyone healthy and ready to go, obviously a lot can change between now and then. I'm just glad the Yankees have plenty of available arms ready for the arms race that will soon become the American League East Division.

* The title references a song by Fall Out Boy and is not my own. Send them the hate mail :)

Most Popular Article of the Week: If Not Justin Upton then Who?

The New York Yankees are in a bit of a unique situation this offseason. The team has needs, every team does, but the team lacks a true position where they can upgrade the offense and team easily. There are at least seven players vying for the starting rotation and another 10+ vying for the final bullpen slots on the team. The offense is seemingly full and will see breakout rookies like Greg Bird and Robert Refsnyder starting the season in Triple-A while there’s little to no room to improve the defense without a chain reaction of trades. I have said many times this offseason that the team should be at least willing to discuss a potential trade of an outfielder to make room for Justin Upton with little traction coming from my blog posts, if not Upton then who else would make sense for the Yankees this offseason?

If not Upton then what Yoenis Cespedes? This is the obvious answer if the Yankees are looking for some right-handed pop in the lineup and another outfielder that can play in all three outfield positions. Cespedes, unlike Upton, would not require the forfeit of a first round draft pick though as he was not linked to a qualifying offer this offseason. The list of teams said to be interested in Cespedes is dwindling, especially after San Francisco signed Denard Span to a three-year deal, so you have to wonder if the one or two year pillow contract we discussed for Upton earlier last week would apply to Cespedes as well and whether he would take it or not. All signs point to no since teams like the Chicago White Sox and others have been willing to give Cespedes a three-year deal but you would have to think the window to win in New York is better than that of Chicago.

If the Yankees want to go back to #TooManyDamnHrs they could always shock the baseball world and go after Chris Davis as well. Davis, although better suited as a DH at this point in his career, has played at first base, third base and the outfield although none were considered to be adequate attempts defensively. You don’t acquire a player like Davis for his defense or his batting average though you acquire him for his 50+ home run power, which may translate to 60 home run power inside Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees may decide his bat is worth finding at bats for. New York would presumably have to beat Baltimore’s $154 million offer they have left on the table for Davis though which may be the biggest obstacle.

The final piece could bring a pitcher back to New York and that pitcher could be Wei-Yin Chen. I would hate to lose the draft pick for a pitcher that’s not an ace but Chen has a proven track record not only in the American League but in the AL East, which counts for more than people realize I think. Chen is just 30-years old and has a career 3.72 ERA pitching in the East while throwing in at least 185 innings in three of his first four seasons. Chen, like former teammate Davis, won’t come cheap making him unlikely to ever don pinstripes under this current regime but he’s the only pitcher out there that may be actually worth the risk and worth the reward.

Meet a Prospect: Lane Adams

The New York Yankees have some flexibility for maneuverability after reshaping their 40 man roster this winter and it seems that anyone that becomes available with any sort of upside may be destined to wear pinstripes. We’ve seen it many times this winter with the signings of Anthony Swarzak and Vinnie Pestano and we’ve seen the trades for Tyler Olson and Ronald Torreyes but one of these men are already no longer on the team's 40 man roster. Torreyes was designated for assignment and traded to the New York Yankees just last week and already he has been designated for assignment again, this time to make room for the newest Yankee to grace the 40 man roster, Lane Adams. Adams is now a former member of the Kansas City Royals.

This is Meet a Prospect: The Lane Adams Edition. Lane Weston Adams was born on November 13, 1989 in Oklahoma where he attended Red Oak High School. Playing for the school’s basketball team Adams scored a whopping 3,251 points which was good for the fifth-highest scoring total in the school’s basketball history. This caught the attention of Missouri State University who offered him a basketball scholarship but the Kansas City Royals took a chance and drafted him anyway in the 13th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First year Players Draft. The rest, as they say, is history. Adams signed with Kansas City opting not to go to college and immediately begin his professional career in baseball, not basketball.

Adams spent the 2009-2013 seasons in the Royals minor league system until the team came calling on September 1, 2014 calling him up to the Major Leagues for the first time. Adams made his MLB debut that night replacing Raul Ibanez as a pinch runner in the 8th inning against the Texas Rangers. Adams was back in the minor leagues for the entire 2015 season before being designated for assignment this winter by Kansas City. The Yankees made a waiver claim on Adams and was awarded the designated hitter leading the team to designated Torreyes for assignment.

Adams is listed as an outfielder on Baseball Reference but is more thought of as a DH in many prospect circles. Adams is a big guy, he’s 6’4” and listed at 190 lbs. on Baseball Reference and is an imposing right-handed bat in the batter’s box. I cannot lie I’m a bit excited about adding his big build and big bat to the team. Welcome to the organization Lane and more importantly, welcome to the family. 

The Dee Gordon Extension and Didi Gregorius

The Miami Marlins may finally be doing things right as an organization. So many times in the past we’ve seen the team “buy” players and a championship here or there only to have a fire sale the next season so team owner Jeffrey Loria can presumably line his pockets with money. That’s another blog post for another day though and the team is getting a bit of a pass for the past after locking up players like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and most recently Dee Gordon to long term deals. Gordon signed a five-year deal with an option for a sixth leaving many to wonder if the Yankees should consider doing this now with some of their young guys, namely Didi Gregorius.

Gordon was under team control through the 2018 season before signing this new deal that extends five years and is worth $50 million before an option year for a sixth season. Gordon will receive a hefty raise annually from his $2.5 million he made in 2015 but don’t let it be confused, Gordon deserved it and this is still an absolute bargain for Miami. Gordon won the National league batting title in 2015 after leading the league with 205 hits and 58 stolen bases. Gordon finished the season batting .333 despite missing 17 games of the season with a thumb injury. Gordon was an All-Star for the second time in 2015 and was chosen as Miami’s MVP after leading all second baseman in fielding percentage as well at batting.

Gordon was great in 2015 and while Didi was good he wasn’t Gordon. I’m in no way comparing the two I am merely comparing their situations as middle infielders who had breakout seasons respectively. I am only mentioning this now rather than in a year or two after the team evaluates whether they are getting the Gregorius that played the first two months of the season in the Bronx or the Didi that played the final four months inside Yankee Stadium. If New York wants to save a few dollars though, and it’s obvious that they do, they may want to take the opportunity to pounce now while the iron is hot and not smoldering.

Didi did not lead in fielding percentage nor did he lead the league in hitting but without the first month and a half to two months of the season he quietly had a fantastic season. Truth be told, and this may be the Yankees homer in me talking, he should have won the Gold Glove at the position in 2015 and should have received more praise for the offensive work he did the second half of the season. Locking him up now would cost the Yankees in the short term but I truly believe it would save them a lot of money and a lot of heartache later on down the road. Using Gordon’s deal as a starting point would not be the worst thing in the world for either side but if it’s going to happen it needs to happen now. 

Fantasy Baseball: Who are the Chicago White Sox?

Some of the bigger named free agents are finally starting to come off the board and we as fans are inching closer and closer to our fantasy league’s with every passing day. You know what’s weird? I love to analyze the players that should be drafted and should be stayed away from but I lose interest in fantasy sports after the initial draft. Maybe it’s a lack of time to invest into the league daily or maybe I just feel like the work is done at that point, who knows. But anyway, I carry on today bringing you some fantasy advice and analysis for a fellow American League team that should have a few unknown players to the casual fans, the Chicago White Sox.

We know about the bonafide fantasy baseball stars the team have in Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier but I am more interested in the lesser known names that can ultimately make or break your fantasy team from year to year. Players like Carlos Rodon, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera.

Let’s start with Lawrie who I advocated for and asked the Yankees to sign because of his ability to not only play second base, a need at the time, but also third base, a current need for the Yankees. Lawrie qualifies at both positions this season and is coming off a season in which he set career highs in home runs, 16, and RBI, 60, while playing healthy and hitting in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark in Oakland. The most important part about it is that he did it quietly. Everyone wants 15 home runs and 60 RBI power at second base on their fantasy team and for all those who don’t get Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier and the other top second baseman should take a chance on Lawrie.

Rodon may finally put it all together in 2016. Finally. Rodon will have to improve on his walk totals, he had 4.53 walks per nine innings in 2015, but if he can and can improve on his 47% groundball rate and 9.0 K/9 strikeout rate he may easily replace the production of Jeff Samardzija and then some. He may be an intriguing 20th round or so pick for you if you’re already stacked at pitching.

Finally we showcase Melky Cabrera who may be one of the best second hole hitters in all of Major League Baseball. Melkly is a switch-hitting outfielder who should hit for power and draw a ton of walks in the White Sox order. He should also benefit from Abreu hitting behind him and Frazier hitting fourth while Eaton hitting leadoff should give him plenty of RBI chances with his gap power. If you need on base and decent home run and RBI numbers at DH or the outfield then Melky may be your guy.

This is the White Sox, if I missed anyone please let me know below in the comments section. Hope this helps!

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/18: Enter Rafael Soriano

On this day in 2011 the New York Yankees announced the signing of the highest paid 6th and 7th inning pitcher in the history of the world in Rafael Soriano. A management driven deal was struck for Soriano for three years and $35 million after he led the American Leagues in saves with 45 in 2010.

Also on this day in 1947 there was a bit of a Yankees related misunderstanding going down in Detroit. The Tigers owner thought Hank Greenberg had posed in a Yankees jersey and sold the 1946 American League home run leader, 44 home runs, to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greenberg joined the National League home run leader from 1946 in Ralph Kiner who hit 23 home runs.