Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yankees 2015 Opening Day Countdown - 113 (Year 3)

It is officially 113 days until Opening Day so 113 years ago in New York Yankees history the team looked a little something like this:

In the Yankees second season their team name was the New York Highlanders and they played their first games during the 1903 season. Let’s take a quick snapshot of that historic team as we countdown to Opening Day.

Team overall record: 72-62
Place finished: 4th in American League
Wins leader:Jack Chesbro (21-15)
Home runs leader: Herm McFarland (5)
Manager: Clark Griffith

Teixeira "Definitely" an Everyday First Baseman, Cashman Says

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira struggled to stay healthy in 2014, but team GM Brian Cashman said that won't affect his role in the future.

Cashman, speaking at last week's Winter Meetings, instead assured reporters Teixeira will start again next year, claiming the veteran won't go through the same wrist issues he has in the past. Those problems and others limited Teixeira to just 123 games last season, a campaign in which he hit just .216.

“I think Mark Teixeira is definitely an everyday first baseman,” Cashman told's Brendan Kuty. “I think he’ll prove that this year. I think last year is something he felt will be part of the process and he feels it won’t be part of this year’s process."

Yankees fans probably hope that means Teixeira's offensive numbers will go back up, as the veteran's coming off the worst year at the plate of his career. His aforementioned batting average, 22 home runs and 62 RBIs were all personal lows, excluding the numbers he put up in 15 contests in 2013.

And those stats weren't the only ones to slip, with the infielder's on-base and slugging percentages also reaching just .313 and .398, respectively. 

"In terms of his recovery and rehab, last year was expected for him," Cashman said. "And that won’t be expected going forward.”

Teixeira is just one of many uncertainties for the Yankees as they prepare to play without Derek Jeter for the first time since 1994, Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Beltran being two of the notable others. 

But Teixeira seems to be the most prominent due to his contract, which is set to pay him $22.5 million over each of the next two seasons. That annual salary trails only CC Sabathia's for highest on the club, more than Alex Rodriguez's and Michael Pineda's combined.

Recapping the Winter Meetings 2014

It's Sunday and the wild and active Winter Meetings are over. Let's take a time on this lazy Sunday to recap just what happened. Spoiler alert, if you're looking for something Yankees related here you're not going to get it. Anyway, carry on. I'm not going to list every move but just the notable and impact ones. 

Cleveland Indians – Traded Joey Wendle for OF Brandon Moss from the Oakland Athletics.

Chicago Cubs – Traded RHP Zachary Godley and RHP Jeferson Mejia for C Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks. 
Chicago White Sox – Traded RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, 3B Rangel Ravelo and SS Marcus Semien for RHP Jeff Samardzija and RHP Michael Ynoa from the Oakland Athletics. 

Chicago White Sox – Signed RHP David Robertson.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Traded LHP Andrew Heaney for 2B Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Miami Marlins – Traded C Austin Barnes, RHP David Hatcher, LHP Andrew Heaney and SS Enrique Hernandez for RHP Dan Haren, 2B Dee Gordon and SS Miguel Rojas from the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Detroit Tigers – Traded RHP Jonathon Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez for RHP Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds. 
Detroit Tigers – Traded RHP Rick Porcello for  OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Alex Wilson and LHP Gabe Speier from the Boston Red Sox. 
Miami Marlins – Traded RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach for RHP Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds. 

Announced 12-12 or later
Boston Red Sox – Traded RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Allen Webster and another minor leaguer for LHP Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
San Diego Padres – Traded C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Joe Wieland, and RHP Zach Eflin for OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federowicz from the Los Angeles Dodgers. 
Los Angeles Dodgers – Traded a minor league package for SS Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. 
Chicago Cubs – Signed RHP Jason Hammel
Pittsburgh Pirates – Signed LHP Francisco Liriano
Chicago Cubs – Signed LHP Jon Lester
Houston Astros – Signed RHP Luke Gregerson
Houston Astros – Signed RHP Pat Neshek
Los Angeles Dodgers – Signed RHP Brandon McCarthy
Boston Red Sox – Signed RHP Justin Masterson
Kansas City Royals – Signed 1B Kendrys Morales
St. Louis Cardinals – Signed 3B/1B Mark Reynolds
Minnesota Twins – Signed RHP Ervin Santana

Quick Hit: Something to be Excited About Regarding Didi Gregorius

I think we all expected the player to replace Derek Jeter to catch a little flak, even if he was Troy Tulowitzki, but the amount of negativity towards Didi Gregorius is mind boggling. First and foremost we posted the BIP locations from Chase Field in Arizona and transferred them to Yankee Stadium and saw over the course of a season Didi could be (in a perfect world of course) a 10-20 home run guy in New York or more. Let's remember the guy is 24 years old, will be 25 in 2015, and has plenty of room to grow into himself. That didn't do any good for fans apparently so here we are defending the signing again.

Let's remember first and foremost that Gregorius was a part time player in Arizona with Chris Owings getting the bulk of the every day at bats. Some players aren't simply made for sitting on the bench five days a week and coming up and getting a hit. This was evident by Gregorius' .204 average coming into the final three plus weeks of the season. Didi started to get more opportunities at the plate and raised his average to the .226 we have all been jumping around about. In his last 10 games Didi hit .342 showing you just how valuable regular playing time can be for a young player.

The Yankees either need to add run prevention or run production to the team, I can't see the team adding both this winter, and Didi does both even marginally. His defense and range is much better than Jeter's while his bat, if managed right, could far exceed Jeter's as well. Blasphemy I know but Didi could be better than Jeter was in his last five to seven seasons besides that monster 2012 season from the Captain. So calm down, Didi will be fine as long as you stay off his back after his first 0-4.

Quick Hit: Jed Lowrie the Backup Plan for Chase Headley

The New York Yankees seem to be posturing and negotiating hard for Chase Headley because the team presumably feels like they need him for the 2015 season. While I would agree there because of his stellar defense, his switch hitting bat and his ability to play first base I don't think I would break the bank for Chase, pun intended. Not as long as Jed Lowrie, a viable third base, shortstop and second baseman, is available on the free agent market.

The team is already talking about platooning Brendan Ryan and Didi Gregorius and I ask, why? If you bring in Jed Lowrie he can play shortstop against left handed pitchers with Martin Prado playing third base while Didi sits on the bench. Against right handed pitching Lowrie would be back at third with Prado at second and Didi at shortstop. New York has also said they don't want to go above three years for Headley and that is conveniently the same number of years that Mr. Lowrie is said to be asking for in the market right now.

If you look at the stats Lowrie is comparable in about every offensive stat in his career with Headley except for in the home run department, although Lowrie has hit 52. If you take away that career year from Headley while still with the Padres and you have an exact match of players here only one is a lot more expensive than the other.

(statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference)

Lowrie wants a reported three year deal worth 3 years and $30 million while the asking price for Headley seems to sit at 4 years and anywhere from $48 - $65 million. For the same player. This doesn't even seem to be a question to me, fiscal responsibility or not, sign Lowrie. Sure Lowrie has a not so nice injury history, see Headley's back if that's your argument for the incumbent Yankees third baseman, but splitting time with the aforementioned players and Joe Girardi's uncanny insistence on giving "players a day" I think Lowrie would be just fine. They are both 30 years old and if human cloning were possible or legal I would think they were the same player. Save a year on the contract, around $20 million or more and bring the team even more flexibility and even more options for Girardi in the infield. Lowrie can learn first base, get it done.  

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/14: F Youk!

On this day in 2012 Kevin Youkilis became the latest member of Red Sox nation to come over to the Dark Side and sign with the New York Yankees. Youk signed a one year deal worth $12 million to be the third basemen in New York.

Also on this day in 2010 Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees offer of $150 million for a $120 dollar deal to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee joins Roy Halladay in probably what is the best rotation in all of baseball down in Philadelphia.

Also on this day in 1985 Yankees outfielder Roger Maris dies after a two year battle with lymphatic cancer at age 51. Former Yankees teammates Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, John Blanchard, and Bill Skowron served as pall bearers.

Also on this day in 1960 Major League Baseball expanded its team base two additional teams with the "new" Washington Senators and the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees southpaw Bobby Shantz was selected by Washington and Yankees righty Ed Grba was selected by the Angels in the expansion draft.

Finally on this day in 1950 four owners were selected to choose a new commissioner for baseball, as soon as possible. The Yankees owner Del Webb, Braves owner Lou Perini, Cubs owner Phil Wrigley, and Indians owner Ellis Ryan were the four men who chose the new commissioner.