Friday, January 10, 2014

New York Makes Tanaka's Top 3 City Wishlist

Masahiro Tanaka has three cities that he would prefer to play in over all the rest and New York is one of them, Los Angeles and Boston being the other two according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Five teams step ahead of the pack obviously with the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, and Red Sox early favorites if you believe the report. The Mets and Red Sox have all but counted themselves out of the sweepstakes which leaves the three teams we knew would be there hot and heavy from the beginning. So what does this news mean for the Yankees and their possibility of signing Tanaka? Absolutely nothing.

Yankees Monitoring Johan Santana's Rehab Progress

According to Andy McCullough the New York Yankees are one of many teams monitoring the rehab progress of southpaw Johan Santana. Santana is recovering from a second torn shoulder capsule, the first usually being a death sentence for pitchers, and has yet to throw off of a mound yet. This news is coming off the news that Brian Cashman is willing and probable to replicate the 2011 offseason in which he dumpster dove for starting pitching and ended up signing Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. If the Yankees don't win the Masahiro Tanaka lottery we may see a few Johan Santana type signings in the Yankees future.

Yankees Winter Ball Playoffs Update

Last month we gave you all an update from the various Winter Leagues that Yankees prospects were taking part in and now those same players are playing in the playoffs, time for another update.

Zoilo Almonte:

.262/.295/.333 and six RBI's in 10 playoff games

Jose Pirela:

.269/.321/.269 in six games, all in the outfield. Pirela is normally a middle infielder

Adonis Garcia:

.313/.371/.438 through seven playoff games all that third base. Garcia is normally an outfielder

Ronnier Mustelier:

.286/.375/.286 in only four games with zero power

Zelous Wheeler:

The new guy on the block posted a .318/.400/.500 through seven games

Single Game Spring Training Tickets On Sale Tomorrow

New York Yankees single game Spring Training tickets go on sale tomorrow, Saturday 1/11, at 10:00 am ET at either Steinbrenner Field in Tampa or on Be sure to get your tickets to see all the Yankees new toys and some of the kids you have been following for so long.

Yankees Officially Sign Matt Thornton & DFA Vernon Wells

Although Vernon Wells started off really hot for the Yankees, hitting .301/.357/.538 with 10 home runs in his first 38 games, his OPS was a pathetic .495 for the remaining 92 games he appeared in. So the news that the Yankees have designated him for assignment, in order to make room for Matt Thornton (whose deal became official shortly after Wells was DFA'd), should not be surprising. Especially when the Yanks already have more than enough outfield options.

Can CC Sabathia Figure It Out?

"I'm sure I can figure out how to get guys out."

In all of the talk about Masahiro Tanaka, as well as other possible pitching acquisitions like Matt Garza, Yankees fans have (at least for now) forgotten about the Yankees' "ace who wasn't an ace in 2013".

I hate to bring up painful memories, but CC Sabathia had the worst season of his career in 2013. His ERA+ of 85 was easily the lowest it's ever been, his win-loss record was barely over .500, his ERA and WHIP were also at career highs, and he gave up more home runs than ever before. For the first time in six years, CC failed to get any Cy Young or MVP votes, and didn't make the All Star team.

While there were slight changes in the movement of some of his pitches, particularly his sinker which has been a bit flatter in the past two seasons, the majority of CC's problems have revolved around velocity.

Sabathia's PitchFX data can be seen here, which shows that all of his pitches have slowed down. Unfortunately I don't expect that velocity to come back, as CC is now 33 years-old. I don't mean to say it's impossible, but I'm not pointing out anything groundbreaking when I say that people lose strength more often than they gain it as they age.

Then again, how fast a player can throw a ball can depend on more than his strength. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that Sabathia's average fastball returns to the 95-96 mph area. But the big man doesn't seem too concerned about that...
“(The velocity) doesn’t mean a lot. I’ve figured out I can pitch with it or without it. Whatever that is. Whether it’s 90 to 92, or 92 to 94. I can pitch both ways. As long as I’m healthy and I’m strong, and I feel good, it is what it is. I’m 33 years old, turning 34."
CC clearly knows how to pitch, as it takes a heck of a lot more than velocity to make it in the big leagues, something that Mr. Sabathia has done for 13 years. I think it just takes time to learn how to adjust to certain things, and that's what we've seen for the last year or so.

Although nothing is clear, the Yankees' pitching rotation in 2014 could look pretty good. Just think... CC Sabathia figures out how to pitch good to great again, Hiroki Kuroda stays solid, Ivan Nova builds off of his 2013 season, Warren/Phelps/Banuelos or another young pitcher stands out, and the team brings in another top-of-the-rotation starter like Masahiro Tanaka. Add that to a revamped offense and you have the making of a team that could go all the way.

Looking around at all the pessimistic Yankees fans out there I may be in the minority, but I'm really looking forward to what the Yankees do next season.

-quotes courtesy of Meredith Marakovitz's interview for YES with CC Sabathia.

Article Revisit: Joe Blanton As A Plan C?

If the Yankees miss out on Masahiro Tanaka and really do not like the other options in Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, & Matt Garza to name a few what would the Yankees do to fill their razor thin rotation? Would Brian Cashman dumpster dive, which he has already stated that he would, would he build the rotation from within, or would he just throw his hands up and say the hell with it? Obviously the latter is not happening with Cash in a contract season and with so many question marks down on the farm right now Cashman may have to try and catch lightning in a bottle again. Enter Joe Blanton.

The bad on Blanton is obvious but the good you may have to look a little deeper to see. Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA in the first year of a two year deal worth $15 million, which is bad. The good thing is he is on a one year deal, is affordable with a $7 million AAV, and would be easily obtained for scraps, a PTBNL, or cash in a trade, which is good. The Los Angeles Angels are even reportedly willing to eat salary to move him and if they don't they are prepared to release him before Spring Training, again good. Why would we want him though, right? Keep reading.

Blanton, using advanced metrics, was an average pitcher or maybe a tick above in 2013 in the American League. His xFIP was a respectable 3.84 which was 26th best in the AL. Yankees ace CC Sabathia's xFIP was 3.76, albeit in a down year, Jimenez's xFIP is 3.62 in 2013, and Santana's xFIP was 3.69 in 2013.

Blanton still misses enough bats, 7.33 K/9 in 2013, and keeps it in the strike zone, 2.31 BB/9, which is another attractive element to look at. You would also have to think that Blanton's 2013 BABIP, batting average on balls in play, has to come down from an insane .346 and come back closer to his career .305. One alarming rate though is his fly ball rate which produced a home run which was a staggering 19.1%, up from a career 11.0%, would probably not translate well into Yankee Stadium if this were to come to fruition.

Blanton's numbers may not look great, pitching in the batter friendly Citizens Bank Park for four of the last five seasons has not helped that,  but the guy can give you 175-200 innings and has all the signs of improving next season with a change of scenery. If it comes down to Spring Training and we still need a starting pitcher lets make sure that change of scenery happens in the Bronx.

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #81 David Wells (Again)

David Wells was brought into the New York Yankees fold before the 1997 season and made history the very next season when he threw the 13th perfect game in modern Major League history. In a 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on 5/17/08 the southpaw got six groundouts, 10 fly outs, and 11 strike outs.

81 days until Yankees Opening Day

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/10

On this day in 1983 a preliminary injunction is issues by the New York Supreme Court barring the Yankees from playing their opening games against the Detroit Tigers in Denver, Colorado.  The Yankees asked for the games to be moved due to fears that their renovations to the new Yankee Stadium would not be completed on time.

On this day in 2002 the Yankees signed David Wells to a two year deal worth $7 million to re-join the team. Wells was coming off missing the second half of the season after having back surgery. Wells posted a 34-14 record including his perfect game in his last two year stint with the Yankees from 1997-1998 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens.