Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yankees Spring Training Open Thread 3/23

So what happened today down at Yankees spring training camp? Let's get caught back up!

The New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals are currently facing off head-to-head in the Grapefruit League with Masahiro Tanaka taking the mound for the Yankees against Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. Should be a good one.

Alex Rodriguez announced he would retire after the 2017 season today, no surprise to anyone. His contract expires after the 2017 season and Alex said it's "time to go home and be a dad."

FORBES estimates the Yankees are still the most valued franchise in all of Major League Baseball at $3.4 billion.

More when the game is over!

The Yankees Won’t Have an “Adam LaRoche” Situation

The Chicago White Sox and their clubhouse policy has been under fire here in recent weeks after the abrupt retirement of first baseman and DH Adam LaRoche. The White Sox signed LaRoche to a free agent contract and had one more year remaining on the deal before LaRoche decided to retire at the end of last week over a squabble with the White Sox front office. LaRoche had a clause written into his free agency contract that stated his son, Drake LaRoche, could be in the clubhouse and with his father during games in the regular season but the White Sox President Kenny Williams asked LaRoche to “dial it back” with his son. This angered LaRoche and many of his teammates, most notably ace Chris Sale, causing the ruckus to explode. This has given the White Sox organization a black eye of sorts but this kind of thing won’t be happening in the Bronx.

Brian Cashman was asked about the incident this week and how the Yankees would approach a potential squabble like this and Cashman squashed any idea before it even started. Cashman was quoted as saying “the entire facility is our facility and we control it. We control the rules governing that facility. So, that’s the policy.” Cashman went on to continue saying “we provide some latitudes because we try to create a good working environment for our people as well as an opportunity for a family to intermix, but it’s a workplace.”

Cashman went on to stipulate that the New York Yankees owned that workplace and owned that clubhouse, that dugout, that field and that training room and it’s the New York Yankees that dictate access to these facilities. Not the players. Isn’t that the way it should be? To be fair though the White Sox did dictate that access for Drake when they signed LaRoche and put it in his contract that he could have his son in the clubhouse and on the field with them. They dictated it and then they took that dictation away and that’s what angered so many.

The Yankees allow players to have their sons in the clubhouse after games, win or lose, and allow the players to have their families at the ballpark earlier in the day. The children and families must be gone before the team takes the field for batting practice though which I feel is more than fair for all sides and parties.

Gladly manager Joe Girardi’s family-friendly attitude and the rules set forth will likely keep this from ever becoming an issue in New York. One would hope anyway. 

Pitching For An Extension

While the 2017 rotation can be set from within, the only sure thing for the 2018 rotation is Luis Severino.

"Follow me, boys!"

Ivan Nova is now going into his third year of arbitration, and will therefore be a free agent after this season. Masahiro Tanaka can opt-out of his contract following the 2017 season. The final season of CC Sabathia's contract is 2017. And finally, both Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi will go into their third and final years of arbitration in 2017.

When it comes to Sabathia I think we can all agree that he will not be re-signed (at least that's what we hope). However, when it comes to Tanaka opting out of his current contract, I can see the Yankees bringing him back after tacking on a couple of years to the three he'll leave on the table ('Hiro will only be 29 around the time of his opt-out). So while Severino will be around, and even if we assume Kaprielian will be ready, that still leaves two open spots for the 2018 starting rotation.

Prospect humpers will likely point to two guys that could fill those spots from within.

One of them is Ian Clarkin. While many believe that Clarkin has the most upside in the system, thanks to three pitches rated to be average or better, his health is a big question. A good and healthy 2016 will go a long way in helping determine what the Yankees do.

The other prospect that some rave about is Brady Lail. It's believed that Lail will find himself either at the bottom of the rotation or as a good middle reliever. Brady has had some issues with command, while his fastball and changeup are his only average to better offerings. If he can at least refine his curveball then a spot in the 2018 rotation is possible, but I'm not holding my breath.

"I believe in you, Brady!"

So as of this moment the Yankees are looking to see if James Kaprielian, Ian Clarkin, and Brady Lail can be counted on for the 2018 starting rotation. If even one of those guys pans out I think the team would be really happy, and that's something that I don't think is being too optimistic at all. All three of them working out? Highly unlikely. But let's say two out of three of those guys have great 2016 seasons, making their outlook for 2018 look close to certain.

To make things easier from here on out I'll predict that Kaprielian and Clarkin are the two that make it. That means the 2018 rotation will consist of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, James Kaprielian, and Ian Clarkin. Which means one of three things will happen after this season...

1. The Yankees will look at free agency for another starter.

2. Extend Michael Pineda.

3. Extend Nathan Eovaldi.

Knowing the team's desire to get under the Luxury Tax threshold, the first option is the least likely thing to happen. Especially when you look at the list of free agent pitchers to be, and the only guy to really stand out (Stephen Strasburg) is not going to come cheap.

One of the final two possibilities will likely be the way the team goes. Frankly, neither one of those two stand out to me. Both of them have at least some injury concern, and both have flashed moments brilliance between moments of failure. If you look at their ages that doesn't help clear things up, either. Pineda is going into his age 27 season, while Eovaldi is going into his age 26 season.

Michael Pineda is my bet to earn an extension this season due to his higher upside. While his ERA was actually a bit higher than Eovaldi's last season (4.37 to 4.20), Michael gives up less walks (1.2 walks per nine innings last season to Nathan's 2.9) and strikes out more (8.7 K/9 in 2015 versus 7.1). And keep in mind that 2015 was Pineda's last full season (or close to it) since after 2011, while Nathan has thrown nearly 580 innings in that same timeframe.

In conclusion, if things work out like I think they will, the 2018 starting rotation look like this...

1. Masahiro Tanaka
2. Luis Severino
3. James Kaprielian
4. Michael Pineda
5. Ian Clarkin

I'm interested in hearing what you think of my plan, or what you would like to see happen.

Yes, I'm fishing for comments. Now shut up!

Corporan, Romine Not Going Down Quietly

The forgone conclusion heading into spring training this season was that Gary Sanchez was going to be the Yankees backup catcher heading into the 2016 season.New York sold us all on a catchers competition with Carlos Corporan, Austin Romine and Sanchez but it was originally thought to be a competition in name only. Sanchez makes perfect sense for the 2016 team so why wouldn't he be the favorite? He's right-handed and can give both Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez rest throughout the season and can add doubles and home run power rather than a defense only type like Corporan and Romine but what makes the most sense on paper doesn't always happen in real life.

Romine has shown some bat consistency this spring hitting three doubles in his first 18 at-bats while his defense and throwing game is much improved this spring. Meanwhile Corporan has what Sanchez and Romine don't have, true MLB experience. Corporan has 232 games under his belt with three teams in six seasons but he also owns just a .118 batting average in 17 at-bats this spring.

The Yankees may be more inclined to give Corporan the job if he earns it since he has a late-March opt-out date written into his minor league contract while Romine could be designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. Romine is out of minor league options as Corporan is so either one or both will have to make the team or both will have to be passed through waivers and allowed the opportunity to play elsewhere and/or hit free agency.

it is worth mentioning that if Sanchez spends more than 35 days down in the minor leagues the Yankees could delay his free agency by a season and give either Romine or Corporan an extended look at the MLB level. Will the Yankees give the job to Sanchez straight out of camp or will they save a few dollars and delay his free agency by a season like a small market team does? Either way it looks like Sanchez is the catcher of the future so the end will always justify the means, at least in this situation.

Yankees ST: New York Yankees @ Washington Nationals 3/23

Current Yankee vs. Future Yankee? Who knows, what I do know is that the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals will face off head-to-head today inside Washington's Space Coast Stadium in the latest between these two clubs this spring training. As the Grapefruit League schedule begins to wind down we are starting to see more mid-season type games and pitching match-ups and less of the fun and fruitful spring training games. This game is no exception as the New York Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka, the current Yankee, to the mound to face off against Stephen Strasburg, possibly a future Yankee?

The game will be played at 5:05 pm ET and can be seen on MASN locally in Washington and on MLB Network and MLB TV nationally. Enjoy and Go Yankees!

MLB Plan: Invest Heavily In Your Youth

Major League Baseball is a game that is in transition. The “old-timers” are on the way out and the youth and aggression is taking over the league. We saw just this week a former top closer in Rafael Soriano retire at age 36 after toiling around the minor leagues for parts of two seasons looking for work and we’ve also seen the likes of Maicer Izturis and Chone Figgins, reasonably young guys who can still be useful, also announce their retirement. Why is this new trend occurring you may be asking yourself? Because MLB has a plan and they have stuck to their plan, the plan being to invest heavily in their youth and young prospects.

Major League Baseball released their financial data to the Associated Press this week and it showed that across the board the players received right at 50% of the net revenue in 2015 like they have every year since 2006. What the data also showed was that money spent on amateur players and minor league players rose a whopping 29% in 2015.

Overall MLB net revenues, or how much the league made after all the bills were paid and MLB Network dues were spent, rose from $7.16 billion in 2013 to $8.15 billion in 2015. In the big leagues the players received a nice $4.15 billion in total salary last season while amateurs and minor league players received $540 million, up from $420 million in 2013.

The influx of Cuban and other international free agents amounts for much of the spike in money spent on amateurs especially after the Boston Red Sox gave Yoan Moncada $31.5 million and three other Cuban-born players signed for $8 million or more each including Yoan Lopez, Roberto Baldoquinand and Pablo Fernandez.

Major League Baseball has a plan and that plan is to spend heavily on their youth and invest in the game’s future. So far, so good. 

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This Day In New York Yankees History 3/23: Howard Spira Arrested

On this day in 1990 Howard Spira was arrested for extorting money from George Steinbrenner, the former Yankees owner. The Yankees owner paid Spira $40,000 in January to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield.