Tuesday, December 24, 2013

News & Notes From This Past Week

Like most people, I've been pretty busy recently (I think there's some holiday coming up), so my weekly recap was pushed back a couple of days. I'm actually driving 450 miles later today to be with my family, and then I have to drive 450 miles back to central Ohio since I work on Thursday. By this time next week I'm going to be so happy.

So let's see what's happened lately...
  • The Yankees signed two players without spending $100+ million! First, the team acquired Brian Roberts on a one-year deal worth $2 million plus incentives. Roberts has missed a ton of time over the past four years due to a really bad concussion suffered in May of 2011, along with having surgeries on his right hip labrum and right hamstring in 2012 and 2013. I think he'd make a fine player when healthy, but the last time that happened was the same year the Yankees last won the World Series, which for us Bombers fans seems like decades ago. While Roberts is unlikely to be the everyday second baseman, his experience along with switch-hitting ability will be nice.
  • Matt Thornton will also be joining the Yankees for 2014 and 2015, after signing a two-year contract worth $7 million. I thought the Yankees would be okay when it came to lefty relievers, thanks to having a choice between David Huff, Cesar Cabral, and Vidal Nuno, but Cashman and company thought otherwise (again.... UGH!). From 2008 to 2010, Matt was an awesome reliever, striking out 11 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately that strikeout rate has fallen each season since 2010, all the way to 6.2 batters per nine innings last year. But Thornton is still very effective against left-handed batters, as they could only muster a batting line of .235/.267/.370 against him in 2013. I think the team could still use somebody like Grant Balfour to pair with David Robertson in the last couple of innings, but bringing Thornton on board definitely makes up for the loss of Boone Logan.
  • The new posting system between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball, which we've known about for a while now, was made official last week. The posting team can request any amount up to $20 million, and any team that agrees to that price can negotiate with the player. Soon after that various reports saying Tanaka would be posted, Tanaka would not be posted, and Tanaka might be posted popped up. That means somebody will be right, somebody will be wrong, and many others wasted our time.
  • The Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo $140 million for seven years, only $13 million less than they gave Jacoby Ellsbury, but Choo and his agent Scott Boras turned it down. I'm a fan of Choo, as I love the fact that he gets on base around 40% of the time, but I think that's a bit much for a guy that can't hit left-handers. Sure, you're going to face a righty more often, but if you're making $20 million a year you should be able to hit anybody. This non-signing led to the Yankees signing Carlos "The Mets Can Suck It" Beltran.
  • Speaking of Carlos Beltran, his signing was finally made official on Friday. At the press conference on Friday, Carlos had plenty of negative things to say about the Mets, who clearly soured on Beltran towards the end of his time playing for New York's red-headed stepchild of a baseball team. The Mets openly criticized Carlos for missing a visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Beltran was busy building a high school in Puerto Rico), and for the knee surgery he had in 2011. But when Carlos said "when they say all of that, of course I was hurt because you can’t believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down" I had to laugh. I mean, the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez for ten years and they seem to be doing all they can to get out of that deal.
  • Kevin Youkilis, who just missed out on winning the American League MVP award in 2013, signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. The Yankees and every other MLB team didn't want Youk, so he figured this was the only way he could possibly play on the same team as Masahiro Tanaka.
  • The Yankees were hit with a $28.1 million Luxury Tax bill for last season. They weren't alone, unlike just about every other year, as the Dodgers had to cough up $11.4 million themselves. After a quick search through their couch cushions at home, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner gave Bud Selig a bunch of bags with the money symbol on them, while apparently smirking and saying "whatever" under their breath.
I'm not expecting the Yankees to pull a "Teixeira" and sign somebody right before Christmas, so we can all relax for the next couple of days. But before I head out for my 900 mile round trip I want to thank each and every one of you for sharing our passion for the Yankees, and wish you a safe and happy holiday.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)