Friday, October 31, 2014

Ex-Yankees Closer Rivera Doesn't Think A-Rod's Return Will Be a Distraction

Former Yankees Closer Mariano Rivera doesn't think next season's return of Alex Rodriguez to the team will be a distraction.

Rivera, talking to The New York Post's Mike Puma yesterday, actually seemed to give Rodriguez a rather good amount of sympathy. According to the future Hall of Famer, since the troubled third baseman has accepted his punishment, he should be considered just as legitimate as everyone else going into next April, an opinion many tend to disagree with.

“He paid his dues, he paid his suspension and he’s legitimate like the rest of the league," Rivera said. "Hopefully he comes ready to play and does well for the team, because he has a contract. He has to be there for the team and hopefully he does well.”

Rivera added that with Derek Jeter now gone he's not sure whose team the Yankees are now. One month into their offseason, as most have probably noticed, numerous names have already come up as possible successors to the longtime Pinstripes' shortstop, those of Hanley Ramirez, Korean Free Agent Jung-Ho Kang, and Asdrubel Cabrera included.

“I don’t know whose team it’s going to be – as long as [Rodriguez] performs for the team,” he said.

That's certainly a big "as long as," especially when one considers that Rodriguez hasn't played more than 100 games since 2012. Nonetheless, since he did still hit a respectale .272 that year it'd be illogical for the baseball world to not at least give him another chance in 2015, regardless of what off-the-field issues he's recently gotten himself into.

Yankees Will Offer David Robertson a Qualifying Offer

And the offseason begins for the Yankees... Good call by Brian Cashman and company. I hope he accepts.

Yankees Sign Eric Chavez

Eric Chavez is back with the New York Yankees but not at third base, this time Chavez will be a special assignment scout. Chavez was a backup third baseman for the Yankees and will return to the organization off the front line. Having Chavez back in the organization is fun for the fans and could potentially be a precursor to another move. Many around the league consider Chavez to be a hitting coach type guy later on down the road and the Yankees may be ready to hand him that job is, say, Marcus Thames was named as the MLB hitting coach.

Stay tuned...

Mark Reynolds is a Suitable Plan C

Mark Reynolds was a member of the New York Yankees during the 2013 season as Brian Cashman tried to acquire some much needed right handed power. Cashman's plan was to bring in Reynolds and have him lead the team along with Alfonso Soriano to the postseason. Obviously that plan did not work and Cashman did not bring Reynolds back for 2014 as he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on a one year deal worth $2 million even though he made a ton of sense for the Yankees this season, will New York bring him back to the Bronx in 2015?

The Yankees are not planning on Alex Rodriguez playing 100+ games at third base this season and may not expect that total out of first baseman Mark Teixeira either making the need for a backup player at both positions even more dire. Chase Headley played the second half with the Yankees this season and is being viewed as a Plan A or Plan B on the team in my opinion. Reynolds is actually a better first baseman than Headley in defensively and is considered to be above average at third base, both a need for the Yankees. Reynolds is also a power hitter, although it is more of a power or nothing type of attack, and is right handed which balances the lefty heavy Yankees lineup.

Reynolds may not be the Yankees Plan A or even a Plan B but he would be a pretty good Plan C this offseason.

2015 Free Agency Royal Rumble – Bullpen

Ladies and gentleman welcome to the 2015 Major League Baseball free agency Royal Rumble brought to you by The Greedy Pinstripes. Tonight we have all the potential bullpen outfield options for the New York Yankees heading into this winter in one ring vying for the contract of a lifetime, let’s go down to the ring.

In the red corner stands former Yankee Rafael Soriano, in the blue corner stands Andrew Miller, in the green corner stands Koji Uehara, and in the black corner stands Joba Chamberlain. Let’s get it on!

To be honest I added Joba to the list more or less for nostalgia and a joke, more so for the latter than the former, and I personally throw him over the top rope and leave the true winner of the day. Miller walks up and shakes my hand as I leave and continues to show me his qualifying offer after I am out of the ring while Uehara throws him over the top rope and to the floor. Uehara is 40 years old and is now tired from throwing Miller over the top rope and does not help the team get any younger as Soriano eliminates him from the contest. 

Soriano is the winner and will receive a one year deal at $10 million to help the Yankees bullpen in 2015.

Right a Wrong, Sign Torii Hunter

Before the 2013 season the New York Yankees were set to lose Nick Swisher to free agency. Almost immediately after the World Series ended and free agency began the name Torii Hunter was linked to the Yankees to be their right fielder and Swisher's replacement. As we all know Hunter wanted a two year deal, that he got in Detroit, while the Yankees refused to go above two years for the then 37 year old. New York ended up with Ichiro Suzuki on a two year deal in his age 39 season, I don't get the logic either, but the Yankees are in the position to right a wrong this offseason by bringing Hunter to the Bronx.

Hunter is now in his age 39 season but has not significantly dropped off in his production at the plate or in the field. Hunter spent much of the season batting in the #2 hole and playing right field for the Tigers this season. Hunter has played in at least 140 games in each of his last four seasons and has compiled at least 16 home runs and 80 RBI. In fact if Hunter was on the Yankees in 2014 he would have led the team in runs batted in.

It's hard to depend on Carlos Beltran in the outfield for more than 100 games so it would be a good idea to get someone that can split time with him. Hunter is right handed and could play the outfield while Beltran played DH or took the day off while balancing the Yankees lineup. Hunter is undoubtedly looking for a place to win a World Series before he retires and with him on the team that very well could be the Yankees.

Baseball America's Top 10 Yankees Prospects

Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and John Ryan Murphy stepped aside, as a few newbies found there way onto Baseball America's Top 10 Yankees Prospects.

After a great season, in which he had an ERA of 2.52 and a strikeout rate of 10.1/9IP between three different minor league levels, Luis Severino landed at the top of the list.

Here is the list...

1. RHP Luis Severino
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Jorge Mateo
4. 1B Greg Bird
5. C Gary Sanchez
6. LHP Ian Clarkin
7. 2B Rob Refsnyder
8. LHP Jacob Lindgren
9. C Luis Torrens
10. 3B Miguel Andujar

If Not Hanley Ramirez, What About That Cuban Guy?

Yesterday I posted an article going over my ideas for the offseason. That post was done with only free agents in mind, as you can't predict trades. If the Yankees could make a deal for a better hitter at third base than Chase Headley, then I'd be okay with finding a better defender to play shortstop. The bottom line is that the team needs to do is improve the offense.

Now, I'm picturing numerous people yelling at their computer monitors, with the name "Pablo Sandoval" being said somewhere between all the spit. My response to Sandoval is two-fold...

Stop yelling and let me explain.

For starters, the Giants have a history of re-signing guys that are key to the team and the fans love. Look at Tim Lincecum, and his 2-year $35 million deal, as evidence.

Secondly, I don't trust the guy. I'll never fully believe a guy that's overweight is somebody you can count on for five or so years.

He's an extreme example, but Cecil Fielder garnered MVP votes from his age 26 season through his age 29 season. After that he not only didn't get a single MVP vote, he didn't appear in any All Star games, and he only had one more healthy season (1996, when he was traded to the Yankees). In fact, if it wasn't for being able to hit quite a few home runs between the ages of 30 and 33 (and by a "few" we're talking 28, 31, 39 and 26), he would have been a below replacement-level player.

Sandoval hasn't got as much power as Fielder did, doesn't get on base as much as Fielder did, and his batting average... while higher than Fielder's... is nothing to get excited over (.279 over the past two seasons).

Perhaps Chase Headley can improve on his last two seasons, and get closer to what he was 2012. But I'm not counting on that, and neither should the Yankees. They need to find a sure way to improve the offense first. And Hanley Ramirez seems to be that guy.

Unless, like I said in the introduction, the team could swing a trade. Or...

"You've got my attention. Now, this better be good."

If the Yankees could either void the remainder of Alex Rodriguez's contract, or decide to just release him, then that would open up the DH slot for Carlos Beltran. Then the Yankees could sign Headley for third base, find a better defender for shortstop, and improve the offense by adding a middle of the order bat in outfielder Yasmani Tomas.

At 24 years old Tomas has yet to reach his prime. Baseball America gave him a 70 out of 80 on the power scale, and go on to say he's a decent runner for his size. While Yasmani could jump right into MLB, BA went on to say that he may need to spend some time in AAA to get accustomed to things in MLB. If so, the Yankees would want to add a good 4th outfielder who could handle things for a couple months or so until they call up Tomas.

However, there would be risks. Tomas ran into an outfield wall last season, which resulted in him losing playing time during the second half of the Serie Nacional season. His power that season took a big hit, as he could only manage 6 home runs (he had 15 the year before). But the fact that he was able to continue to hit well (batting average at .290), along with a solid on-base percentage of .346, makes me think the power will return.

And due to all the hurdles Yasmani needs to jump through before even being eligible to sign a contract, such as gaining residency in another country and get an unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, he may not be able to sign until well into 2015. At that point the other good options could be off the table.

Perhaps just signing Hanley Ramirez would be easier, but there are options rather than dealing with more sub-par defense from our shortstop. Let's hope Brian Cashman and Co. are smarter than I am.

The Best Freak Injuries In Major League Baseball

Jose Canseco accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun on Wednesday which got me thinking what were some of the best freak and accidental injuries in Major League history? Here is my list, what's yours?

  • Sammy Sosa threw his back out in 2004 when he sneezed twice and got back spasms. 
  • Chris Coughlin tore a meniscus putting pie in the face of Wes Helms in 2010. 
  • Marty Cordova fell asleep in a tanning bed in 2002 and missed games due to the burns.
  • Joel Zumaya hurt his wrist and forearm playing Guitar Hero in 2006. 
  • Hunter Pence walked into a sliding glass door after getting out of a hot tub in 2008. 
  • Jeff Kent broke his wrist washing his truck in 2002. 
  • Carlos Quentin broke his wrist punching his bat in 2008.
  • Carl Pavano ruptures his spleen shoveling snow 

Does This Mean The Mets Wont Be Amazing In 2015?

The last time the Kansas City Royals won the World Series was the 1985 season when rookie pitcher Brett Saberhagen won a decisive Game 6. Saberhagen had some help as the Royals put up 11 runs on the board in that contest to force the Game 7 that Kansas City would ultimately win. Enter Game 6 of the 2014 World Series when rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura shut down the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 behind a 10-0 victory for the Royals. As we all saw in Game 7 the San Francisco Giants showed that a stud lefty is more valuable than home field advantage any day.

In 1986 the Amazing Mets won the World Series over the Boston Red Sox in the Bill Buckner series. Does this mean the Mets wont come out of nowhere and win the 2015 World Series? Hey, you never know. 

Quick Hit: Happy Halloween

This is every kid's dream isn't it? Halloween on a Friday or Saturday night so you can stay out all night conning people out of their candy and stay up all night eating it all? Happy Halloween everybody from everyone here at The Greedy Pinstripes.

We have a drinking idea, every time you see an Elsa you take a shot. Get the paramedics on call first though!

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/31: A Rod in the Middle Once Again

On this day in 2009 Alex Rodriguez hit a long fly ball in right field at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia that resulted in being the first instant replay call in World Series history. Originally the fly ball was called a double but the play was overturned and ruled a home run in the Yankees favor. If you can remember back that far this was the ball that hit the camera on the fence in right field and bounced back into the field of play.

Also on this day in 1957 Yogi Berra ruffled a few feathers when he admitted that the Yankees returned money to their players from fines collected in the Copacabana fight. Players like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Moose Skowron to name a few were involved in a brawl while celebrating Billy Martin's 29th birthday in May.  This obviously garnered some unwanted publicity for the storied New York Yankees franchise so the fines handed down were supposed to calm the waters until Yogi blew the lid off of the whole ordeal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Yankees Considering Reunion w/ the Rally Cricket

Back during the 2012 playoffs when Raul Ibanez was on the team and pinch hitting for Alex Rodriguez a few followers and I donned Ibanez the "Rally Cricket" after a few clutch home runs or five. News broke today that the Yankees may be interested in a reunion with Ibanez, this time in a hitting coach role.

Ibanez is 42 years old and very likely to retire after the season after being left off the World Series roster. Reportedly the Yankees waited until the World Series was over to gauge his interest in the job before signing another coach.

This will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

Report: Yankees, Red Sox Interested in Headley

The Yankees and Red Sox could end up in a race to sign free agent Third Baseman Chase Headley this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports.

Headley will hit the market this winter after a solid 58-game stint with the Yankees in 2014. During that time, the career .265 hitter somewhat-disappointingly batted just .216, but still managed to collect a respectable six home runs and 17 RBI. 

From Heyman's article:  

"Boston has been long rumored to have its eye on [Pablo] Sandoval, but Headley makes sense, as well. The Red Sox seek production after their awful offensive season.
Sandoval and Headley are both free agents, with the incumbent teams both interested in re-signing them. The Giants have made no secret about wanting to keep Sandoval, and they have a terrific track record of keeping their starters, especially through their recent mini dynasty -- though they seemed to prefer a three-year deal in spring training, with Sandoval said to be seeking a $100-million-plus contract at the time.
The Yankees are said to want to re-sign Headley in what is an indication they have doubts whether Alex Rodriguez can return as a starting third baseman."
Headley said earlier this offseason that he has interest in staying with the Yankees, but doesn't mean the Red Sox are off the table. Coming off a dismal 71-win campaign during which they traded away Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Stephen Drew, it's clear that they're looking to build a contender for next year, with Headley possibly being a piece to that puzzle.
He'd certainly be cheaper than Sandoval, whom the Yankees may also take a look at. Nonetheless, since the Giants probably won't just let Sandoval walk after winning the World Series, it's definitely possible that Headley will eventually have to choose which side of baseball's biggest rivalry he wants to be on for 2015, although a bidding war between the two at this point still doesn't appear likely considering the infielder's decling stats.
Either way, this could get interesting.

MLBTR: Free Agency Outlook Jason Hammel

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers

A bounceback stint with the Cubs made Jason Hammel, a 6’6 righty, one of the most anticipated summer trade targets, and he ultimately became the second piece in the deal that sent top prospect Addison Russell to Chicago. But the 32-year-old faded in Oakland and now joins a loaded market for mid-level starters. Hammel’s reps at Octagon will go out looking for multiple years, but can he achieve it without taking a lower AAV?
Though he went through a rough stretch after moving to Oakland, putting a hurt on his bottom-line results, Hammel actually finished quite strong. He allowed just 14 earned runs over his last 50 2/3 frames for the A’s, good for a sub-3.00 mark that was more reminiscent of his sturdy open to the year with the Cubs. On the whole, you can’t argue with 176 1/3 innings of 3.47 ERA pitching, and that’s what Hammel delivered in 2014.
Neither is there reason to believe that those figures were the result of some dumb luck. Hammel did benefit from a .272 BABIP and 78.3% strand rate, but the 12.0% home run-per-flyball rate fell above his career average and could be due for a bit of regression. ERA estimators were generally supportive of the final earned-run tally, as Hammel posted a 3.92 FIP, 3.57 xFIP, and 3.50 SIERA.
Best of all, Hammel showed a restored ability to generate strikeouts. Back in 2012, his breakout year with the Orioles, Hammel posted 8.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. In 2014, after a drop in the intervening year, he landed at 8.1 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine. He also has maintained his fastball velocity in the 92-93 mph range, a tick off from ’12 but in line with his career standards. And he increased the usage of his slider, with positive results.
Hammel also managed reasonable effectiveness against batters from both sides of the plate, yielding a .305 wOBA to lefties and a .297 mark to righties.
In spite of his overall success last year, Hammel is not without his areas of concern. For one thing, the stellar groundball rate he reached in 2012 (53.2%) has dropped over a dozen percentage points in each of the last two years. That could be due in part to the fact that he has gone to the four-seamer more frequently, with his two-seam offering dropping in effectiveness.
Likewise, Hammel has seen an advanced proclivity to allow the long ball. His home run-per nine figures have both returned to the levels they sat when Hammel was struggling to establish himself at Coors Field. And pitching in Wrigley Field does not offer an excuse; the park actually landed in the middle of the pack in terms of permitting the long ball, and Hammel did not exhibit strong home/road splits in this department.
Then there is the question of durability — or, perhaps more to the point, innings. Hammel did miss significant time over 2012-13 with knee and elbow issues. He came back to deliver an injury-free 2014, of course, but those recent, reasonably significant issues cannot be discounted entirely.
On the whole, while his medical sheet does not look overly concerning, Hammel has yet to finish a season with more than 177 2/3 frames to his record. He nearly matched that mark this year, logging 176 1/3 innings, and probably would have bettered it had the A’s not skipped his turn down the stretch. But the fact remains that Hammel has not established himself as a 200-inning workhorse, even when he has been healthy — a fact which delivers its own concerns.
Hammel is married with one child. He writes on his personal blog that he loves spending extra time in the offseason with his wife, Elissa, and young son. LEGO construction, in particular, seem to be a preferred family pastime.
Per a somewhat outdated profile, Hammel resides in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, close to his wife’s hometown. Hammel himself was born in South Carolina and graduated from high school in Washington. He also attended Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon, from where he was plucked in the tenth round of the 2002 draft.
This is where things start to get tough for Hammel. On the one hand, in terms of recent results and career workload, Hammel looks like a better bet than Scott Feldman, who landed three years and $30MM on last year’s market. And he is a good deal younger (or less risky) than the roughly comparable arms that landed two-year deals last year: Bartolo Colon(2/$20MM), Scott Kazmir (2/$22MM), Tim Hudson (2/$23MM), and Bronson Arroyo(2/$23.5MM).
But this is a different market, one that includes a good number of arms that offer more extended track records or higher upside.
I’ll crib from Tim Dierkes’s profile of Santana. As Tim noted there, the second tier of starters (behind the big three) includes not only Santana but names like Kenta MaedaBrandon McCarthyFrancisco LirianoJustin MastersonJake Peavy, and Hiroki Kuroda(assuming the latter decides to pitch). Other than Kuroda, the only players even eligible to receive qualifying offers are Santana and Liriano, meaning that Hammel will not stand out in that regard.
In some respects, Hammel’s trajectory over the last three years looks something like that of Santana entering last year’s market: first a strong year that made him look like a long-term piece, then a dud that led to a change of scenery, chased with an ultimately fulfilled chance to re-claim value. But 2013 Santana was arguably the second-best arm available in a thin market. For Hammel, there’s a case to be made that he lands outside the top ten.
Expected Contract
Though the competition is fierce, the volume of good arms loose on the market also indicates that multiple clubs will be looking to fill in the gaps that were left. But last year, in a free-spending environment that blew out previous cash outlays and awarded significantly more deals of three-or-more years in duration, only eight pitchers got more than two yearsguaranteed, with six others getting a second year (and that’s if you include Tim Lincecum, who was extended just before officially reaching free agency).
Ultimately, I think there is a decent chance that Hammel ends up being one of the hurlers who falls through the cracks somewhat and does not maximize his value in a competitive market. While a two-year deal at a strong AAV cannot be discounted as a realistic outcome, I’ll predict that Hammel gets a third year but has to sacrifice some annual salary to do so, landing at the Feldman deal with a three-year, $30MM contract.

2015 Free Agency Royal Rumble – Starting Pitching

Ladies and gentleman welcome to the 2015 Major League Baseball free agency Royal Rumble brought to you by The Greedy Pinstripes. Tonight we have all the potential starting pitching options for the New York Yankees heading into this winter in one ring vying for the contract of a lifetime, let’s go down to the ring.

In the red corner stands former Red Sox Jon Lester, in the blue corner stands Max Scherzer, in the green corner stands James Shields, and in the black corner stands Brandon McCarthy. Let’s get it on!

James Shields and his “Big Game” moniker walk up to Jon Lester and before Shields can really get going the monkey that was on his back promptly named “postseason” with his 5.00+ ERA T-shirt forces Shields out of the ring and out of the running for the contract. Scherzer and McCarthy tangle before Scherzer’s qualifying offer becomes a factor and the Yankees first round pick knocks him over the top rope and onto the floor eliminating Mr. Scherzer.

Jon Lester vs. Brandon McCarthy for the contract. The devil we know vs. the devil we know. We’ve known Lester longer watching him pitch in the American League East and in the World Series while McCarthy spent parts of three months with the club. McCarthy unleashes his secret weapon, the short term contract, and knocks Lester out of the ring and out of the match.

You’re winner for the free agent starting pitcher that the Yankees should sign this winter is, Brandon… McCarthy! McCarthy does not block the production of the young kids for the long term like Lester does and would not require the AAV that Lester would either. McCarthy’s reward is a two year deal worth $30 million plus incentives. 

Let The Free Agent Battle Royal Begin!

The World Series is over so now it’s time to let the free agent battle royal begin. The New York Yankees have many positions to fill including, but not limited to, a combination of third base, second base, shortstop, right field, a fourth outfielder, the bench, and maybe some pitching. There are plenty of attractive names out there in Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, and others that New York could be inclined to bid on.

Then you have the players with some international flare in Yasmany Tomas, Kenta Maeda, and others that New York could acquire for another pennant run. It’s going to be slow for a while but the offseason has officially begun Yankees family. Now it’s time to get to work. 

My Ideas For The Yankees Offseason

Now that that pesky World Series thing is out of the way, it's time to get the offseason started.

While a number of writers are breaking down what the Yankees should do this offseason by going position by position, I thought I'd skip those that don't need attention, and move to their more pressing problems. I mean, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have center and left field pretty well covered. The same goes for right field, as the team is likely hoping Carlos Beltran can play the majority of games there, or could play Martin Prado out there again like they did last season. Oh, and you can pencil in Brian McCann as the Opening Day starter at catcher.

Then you come to the left side of the infield, the bullpen, and of course... the starting rotation. I suppose a backup first baseman shouldn't be ignored, either.

McCann didn't do a bad job, but another option would be nice.

I wanted to lead off with the starting rotation. While I understand people wanting to see the Yankees sign Max Scherzer or Jon Lester, I don't understand why some people see it as a need.

Per Fangraphs WAR, Yankees' starters were 3rd in the American League. Two of the guys returning to the team next season, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, were ranked 2nd and 3rd among starters. However, keep in mind that they each missed quite a few starts, and without those missed starts they could have easily been the top two starters on the team. There's good reason to be worried about each player's health, but that doesn't mean the Yankees should go out and spend upwards of $150 million for Scherzer or Lester in case either or both of them go down again. You have to plan on those two being around. That doesn't mean not having depth, but "depth" falls on guys like David Phelps and Shane Greene... not somebody making over $20 million a season. I've said it plenty of times before... spending that much money should be done on guys needed, not simply wanted.

CC Sabathia has at least 2 more years left with the Yankees (he has an option for another year depending on the health of his left shoulder), and that makes some fans sad. Not me. You see, even though Sabathia probably won't ever again be the ace we saw years ago, that doesn't mean he's worthless. In 2013, quite possible his worst season as a professional, CC was still ranked 46th among qualified starters. So while I wouldn't want him starting big games for the Yankees, as a #3 starter I'm perfectly content. Stop thinking about what he's paid, and just think about what he can or can't do for the team.

Shane Green is somebody that's caught the eye of many in the Yankees organization. In 14 starts last season he posted an ERA of 3.79, while striking out just over a batter an inning. And keeping half of batted balls on the ground bodes well for a guy that would pitch most of the time at homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. That doesn't mean I think Shane should be thrust into the top of the rotation, but as a 4th or 5th starter I think he'd not only do well but could excel.

So there we have four starters for Opening Day. By the way, I said "for Opening Day" because a month or two into the season Ivan Nova will return from Tommy John surgery. And if Ivan can pitch anything like he did in 2013, then the Yankees will be in a very nice position.

On the surface you might think the Yankees just need somebody to give the team a few starts until Nova returns (David Phelps?), at which point the rotation will be all set, but I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. Sure, I may be optimistic about the health of Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia, but I'm not stupid. Even if those three didn't miss a single start in 2015, there's still a chance that Green gets hurt, Nova suffers a setback during rehab, or Phelps has issues.That means bringing in another pitcher as insurance. And not just any "insurance," but good "insurance." And to me that guy is Brandon McCarthy.

While Lester and Scherzer will likely demand contracts in the range of 7 years and $165 million, McCarthy could be looking at a deal around 3 years and $45 million. No matter how good he was last season, Brandon has missed way too much time over the years to warrant being given a deal much higher. Should Brandon go down with injury again, a contract like that would be much easier for a team like the Yankees to stomach, making it a good gamble in my opinion. And if McCarthy does stay healthy, then the Yankees have an average starter at worst.

Yeah, this picture has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. But it's NPH, and he's awesome.

Since we're on the subject of pitching I'm going to next take a look at the bullpen. Last season, again... per Fangraphs WAR, the Yankees were tied with the Royals as having the best bullpen in baseball. And while middle relievers have something to do with that, I'm more concerned with the two guys that the Yankees depend on most in the 'pen...the closer and set-up man. Dellin Betances, who busted out in a huge way last season, will be back next season. And while he may not be quite as dominant in his sophomore season in MLB, I see no reason why he won't be among the better relievers yet again. However, just because he could very likely thrive as the new closer, that doesn't mean the Yankees should let David Robertson walk away.

The loss of Robertson would leave gigantic shoes to fill. Face it, the Yankees were lucky last year when they didn't find a suitable replacement for Mariano Rivera. Even though Robertson was there to step into the closer's role, the set-up spot was hardly solidified. If it wasn't for Dellin stepping up like he did, then there's a good chance the team would have been eliminated from postseason play much sooner than they were. And I sure as hell don't want to go into next season hoping to get lucky again. So re-signing Robertson should be fairly high on the team's to-do list this offseason. In fact, they should get it done as soon as possible so they can move on to other things.

Onto the infield... I really think the team should bring back Chase Headley. Not only will the team not have to give Headley a large contract like they would somebody like Pablo Sandoval, but the guy has shown a love of New York. That means quite a bit to me.

On that note, the fact that Carlos Beltran wanted to be a Yankee so bad that he turned down two larger offers makes me believe in him bouncing back. Playing poorly is bad enough for a professional athlete, but doing so in a place where you really want to play has to hurt quite a bit more.

Back to Headley...

Chase's wOBA of .347 is pretty good, and would be welcome back. Sure, I'd like to see him get some more power back, as a .398 slugging percentage (what he did with the Yankees last season) is cringe-worthy, but being able to get on base as often as he did is certainly a good thing.

Then you have Headley's ability to play 1B. Mark Teixeira is not going to be able to play a ton in the field, as he has a fairly good size injury history (as mentioned in a previous article of mine), making Headley's ability to handle 1B every so often a good one. And in that case you can play either Alex Rodriguez (whose contract is not going to be terminated... sorry) or Martin Prado at third.

I suppose I should have mentioned that I really don't think Alex Rodriguez is going to be able to play regularly at third base. With all his hip issues, his missed time due too suspension, and the fact that he was an average defender there in the first place, I think ARod will spend the majority his remaining MLB career as a designated hitter.

Then again, it might be a good idea to just release Rodriguez. The team would probably be better off, as it's highly likely that Alex has to go on the DL again at some point anyway. Not to mention that they will have to give DH time to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira too.

That's probably a dream, though. So might as well include ARod when talking about the 2015 Yankees.

Yeah, that looks better.

That leaves the most pressing concern... shortstop. The only guy within the organization that could regularly take over the position is Brendan Ryan, and I really wouldn't want a guy that's hit .234/.295/.314 in his career to get anything close to regular playing time. And looking at the free agency pool doesn't get me excited either.

Asdrubal Cabrera has hit pretty bad the past two years, Jed Lowrie's bat isn't much better, and Stephen Drew doesn't instill a ton of confidence at the plate either. For a team like the Yankees, who were pretty bad offensively last season, those options are bad, bad, and bad. Then we come to Hanley Ramirez.

Now, I'm well aware of the fact that Ramirez is a shortstop by name only. As a matter of fact, he reminds me of a player that is good for fantasy baseball, as he's eligible at a premium position, but in reality you probably wouldn't play him there. But when thinking about Ramirez I remembered two things...

  1. The Yankees have to put offensive ability before defensive ability. Run prevention wasn't nearly as big a problem as run production.
  2. The Yankees previous shortstop wasn't the greatest defender, either.

At 30 years old, with a little work, I think Hanley could get the job done at short for a few more years. That doesn't mean I think he could win a Gold Glove, but I don't think he would be a huge liability on defense. And assuming he were signed for five years, third or first base could open up for him to be moved to.

Again, run production is the key thing to gain this offseason, and Hanley's the best option to get that done.

So let's review...

  1. Sign Brandon McCarthy
  2. Re-sign David Robertson
  3. Sign Chase Headley
  4. Sign Hanley Ramirez

I believe the top three things could happen pretty soon. The Yankees should take advantage of their exclusive negotiating window with Robertson and get him locked up, while McCarthy and Headley have said they loved their time with the Yankees and would like to return. I don't know much of anything about what Ramirez is thinking, so he could be tough. Perhaps he bought a house and is settled on the west coast, making it easier for the Dodgers to retain him. But he did play for the Marlins and the Mets before going to LA, and playing for the Yankees is still attractive to baseball players.

So you bring back the majority of what was the best pitching staff in the American League last season, improve on offense with Ramirez over Jeter, and hope guys like McCann and Beltran can get back to their pre-2014 selves. Not to mention Alex Rodriguez being able to come back from missing the last 1+ years and contribute, and Mark Teixeira being able to cope with a something as minor as a hangnail without needing to take a day or two off. What I'm saying is the Yankees have a tough hill to climb to be true contenders in 2015, but it's not impossible to do so either.

Seriously, Mark... get up and play already.

TGP Daily Poll: Less Than 10 Players Get Qualifying Offers

The World Series is over and now it’s time for the offseason and the offseason gets started with Qualifying Offers. I predict that less than 10 players will receive qualifying offers this winter.

Vote in our poll!

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/30: Joe Replaces Joe

On this day in 2007 the New York Yankees signed manager Joe Girardi to a three year deal worth $7,500,000 to replace longtime manager Joe Torre. Girardi was coming off of a Manager of the Year award with the Miami Marlins in 2006 and beat out coaches Don Mattingly and Tony Pena for the job. Girardi would be the Yankees 42nd manager in their storied history.

Also on this day in 2001 President George W. Bush became the eight President to attend a World Series game and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. This all obviously came on the heels of the September 11th terrorists attacks. Bush brought the nation back together with his thumbs up and his perfect strike off the mound. 'Merica!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Odds of the Yankees Signing This Winter's Top Free Agents, According to Bleacher Report

With the conclusion of the World Series tonight, it'd certainly seem appropriate for fans of each and every MLB team to start looking forward to the offseason.

And by the offseason, obviously. I primarily mean free agency, the time every year where the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. So with that, thanks to Bleacher Report, here are the odds of the Yankees signing this winter's top talent, along with my thoughts on them.

1. Victor Martinez: 5%
According to the site, Martinez, 36, currently wants a four-year deal, something the Yankees just aren't gonna give him. I still expect them to show some interest in him this December, but ultimately not enough to cut a deal.

2. James Shields/Jon Lester: 15%
With this duo, writer Kenny DeJohn simply stated that the Yankees' acquring either of them isn't likely, as the ex-AL East hurlers are both going to ask for top dollar and around seven years. This seems about right, seeing as both are climbing in age.

3. Andrew Miller: 20%
I've always liked Miller, but I like David Robertson more. Give him the money instead.

4. Asdrubel Cabrebra: 50%
It's him or Stephen Drew. Yes, Drew's good on defense, but since Cabrera can also hit I'd definitely make a run at him. It just seems like doing so would help the team more.

5. Brandon McCarthy: 75%
No comment necessary. 

Read the full article here.

Derek Jeter - The Clean Up

Derek Jeter used his Player's Tribune to let the fans in on what it was like to clean up his locker at Yankee Stadium after the season and his career was over. It's an unprecedented read from the Yankees captain and it's a deep, well written, and great read. Check it out HERE and see below for an excerpt.

So about a week after the season was over I took one last trip to the clubhouse, and spent a long time staring at everything in and around my locker. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do. I gave a bunch of stuff to the clubhouse guys and then just started throwing things out. Someone finally moved the garbage can closer to me so I didn’t have to keep walking over to it.
There were a few special items I knew I wanted to take home: The two bats I used for my last hits in Yankee Stadium and last hit at Fenway Park, the bases the Red Sox gave me from my final game. There were other items, too. But more than any one thing, I know what I’ll miss most of all is the people. So after spending way too long trying to figure out what to take, I just decided to box it all up and ship it to my house in Tampa. I wanted to spend my last afternoon hanging out with the clubhouse guys.

Update on the BYB Hub

Last week Robert Casey of Bleeding Yankee Blue founded the BYB Hub which is basically a one stop shop for baseball bloggers and news sites. Whether you're distinguished as a "pro" or a "rookie" or "prospect" your work can be seen by all in one place. This idea is truly golden and I am in full support of this so I wanted to keep you guys in the loop of what is going on.

At the time of this writing the BYB Hub now has 11 blogs up on the hub and are being automatically updated on the hub giving the sites automatic exposure. You could be #12 by joining the BYB Hub by clicking here.

Yankees Could Be Interested in Cuban Andy Ibanez

The latest player from Cuba to officially defect from his native country in hopes of landing a major league deal in the United States is Andy Ibanez and he is a second baseman. Ibanez is 21 years old and stands 5'10" and 183 lbs from the right side of the plate.

Ibanez does not have any "premium tools or star upside" according to Baseball America but is overall solid at about everything he does on the diamond. Ibanez won the equivalent of a Gold Glove Award in his rookie season in 2011-2012 and slashed .267/.377/.435 in 280 plate appearances last season in Cuba. With all this said many speculate that Ibanez would start out no higher than Double-A ball and more than likely in Low-A or High-A in the minor leagues.

Ibanez did not play the necessary years in the Serie Nacional and would be subject to 2014-2015 International spending caps. Teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays have already gone over their caps for this season and could easily swallow the penalties to sign Ibanez as a long term investment for their minor league systems.

If the Yankees could land him it wouldn't hurt to have the project and the depth in the system but if he went elsewhere that would be okay too.