Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yankees President Levine: Team's Chances of Signing Scherzer "Virtually None"

In case it wasn't already clear, the Yankees don't plan to pursue Max Scherzer this offseason.

Team President Randy Levine made sure reporters knew it during a press conference Thursday at NYY Steak, restating the same rhetoric GM Brian Cashman has been for weeks. He said the Yankees are looking to improve themselves before spring training starts, but don't want to do so by spending big bucks.

“The chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million [per year] or over in my opinion is virtually none," Levine told The New York Post's George King. "At the end of the day, you have to be realistic in any organization.’’

The Yankees spent $503 million last winter, so their caution to dish out longterm contracts here is certainly understandable. Their 2013 signings of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury haven't really worked out so far, and the $275 million they committed to Alex Rodriguez in December of 2007 hasn't proved worthwhile either.

Still, with their current rotation not looking too promising, many are convinced they need a guy like Scherzer in order to contend next year, a notion Levine isn't buying.

“We are out there looking, but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization," he said. "Looking at our pitching staff, for example, we have two guys (referring to Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia) with a lot of money and we have to build around that."

Tanaka and Sabathia are indeed set to get paid a lot from now through 2016, $44 and $48 million to be exact, respectively. That includes $45 million in 2015 alone, 19 percent of the Yankees' approximately $236 million payroll.

Yet it's tough to think a group comprised of Chris Capuano, David Phelps/Adam Warren and other question marks could lead New York back to the playoffs, necessary as its inexpensiveness may be.

The Brad Halsey Story Gives Me Goosebumps

I was on my way to get some lunch on Wednesday when my good friend Robert Casey of Bleeding Yankees Blue sent me a text telling me that if I read just one thing today make it the USA Today article about the life and death of Brad Halsey. I was skeptical at first because the guy died on Halloween in an accidental rock climbing incident, there were no stories or speculation of foul play, drug use etc. I thought it was case closed on a tragic event in a too short life until I read THIS ARTICLE that gave me absolute goosebumps reading it. I will post an excerpt here and encourage you all to click the link HERE to give them some views and read the rest of the article. It's long and it's tragic but the read is amazing.

Accident or suicide?


No cuts or scratches. No sign of a struggle. No evidence of homicide, the detective concluded. Both legs looked broken, he noted, likely caused by the impact of a fall. Probably suicide, the detective said he thought early that Halloween afternoon.

Then Guerrero checked Halsey's black Honda parked nearby. On the passenger's seat he found a baseball glove, a baseball and a flier advertising pitching lessons Halsey was offering. No suicide note.

A week later, with an autopsy showing Halsey died from blunt force injuries, Guerrero told the captain of investigations at the Comal County Sheriff's Office he thought Halsey likely died in an accidental fall. Yet the detective says he still wonders, and the case remains open pending the completion of a toxicology report.

Like his death, Halsey's life was filled with questions and doubt. Although he had a journeyman career — playing for three major league organizations and two independent teams in a decade — Halsey packed memorable moments into his 286 1/3 innings as a big-leaguer.

He emerged from Westfield High School in Houston and junior college obscurity to be one of the top pitchers for a University of Texas team that won the 2002 College World Series. Two years later he was pitching for the New York Yankees.

He won his first career start by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Less than two weeks after that, Halsey was on the mound at old Yankee Stadium and starting the game against the Boston Red Sox in which Derek Jeter famously made "The Dive" into the stands after catching a foul ball. And in 2006, while pitching for the Oakland Athletics, Halsey gave up Barry Bonds' 714th home run, tying the slugger with Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list.

Public records and interviews with former coaches, teammates and friends show Halsey was quiet, private, quirky, smart and witty. But his behavior changed as he tried to hang on to a fading baseball career and fell victim to prescription and recreational drug abuse.

Less than four months ago, police found Halsey walking chest-deep in the nearby Comal River and identifying himself as Lucifer. Officers had responded to a call about a man who fit Halsey's description throwing rocks at people floating by on inner tubes and talking to people no one else could see.

Halsey said he was prepared to fight "Mitch," but witnesses said they saw no other man. After Halsey exited the river and turned unruly, police put him in shackles and drove him to an area hospital for evaluation. The police report noted Halsey had mental problems due to drug use.

A few months earlier, according to two men who spent time with the former pitcher in the last months of his life, Halsey told them he had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The men also said Halsey made an outrageous statement, claiming he was on cocaine and other drugs when he gave up Bonds' historic home run and had spent much of the $1 million he made during his baseball career on drugs.

"He always seemed like he was running from something," said James Pankey, an instructional coach in the San Antonio area who along with an acquaintance, Tripp Deason, detailed Halsey's alleged disclosures.

Halsey's mother said the psychiatric diagnoses were "not accurate" but offered no further comment. Former teammates, including Jason Kendall, the A's catcher when Bonds hit the home run, said they saw no evidence Halsey used drugs.

Robert Refsnyder Now Trade Bait?

Writing this blog feels like filling out the paperwork on a death certificate for me but I think it has to be done. I truly do believe that the signing of Chase Headley may have unofficially ended the tenure in pinstripes for Robert Refsnyder. Refsnyder overall is major league ready, although obviously his defense and footwork at second base could use some work, and is now blocked at his natural position of second base for two years behind Martin Prado, his second position in right field for two years behind Carlos Beltran and now third base is blocked for at least four years with Headley. The Yankees need pitching and the team thinks pretty highly of Jose Pirela and that’s not a great combination for Refsnyder.

Players will get hurt this season and the Yankees will need an infielder at some point which is a given but the signings of Nick Noonan and Cole Figueroa point towards there being “plenty” of depth in the system. The fact that Pirela and Prado can play everywhere along with Brendan Ryan being pretty versatile himself truly helps the team and hurts Mr. Refsnyder.

Barring a big time signing like a Max Scherzer or a James Shields or another acquisition for a starting pitcher via trade or free agency I worry about the future of Refsnyder in pinstripes. I have beat the drums for Refsnyder’s call up for months now and the beating and the candles may be all for nothing if the Yankees don’t solidify that rotation and fast. A Refsnyder and Romine deal makes sense to the Yankees I just hope that it isn’t enough elsewhere.

Stay tuned…

Does Brian Wilson Make Sense?

Assuming the former Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson is willing to shave his beard and be normal, which he has stated he would not consider in previous seasons, would the recently designated RHP make sense for the Yankees?

Let’s start at the beginning when on Tuesday the Dodgers designated Wilson for assignment eating his $9.5 million in salary for 2015. This left Wilson as a free agent free to sign with any club he chooses. Wilson is 32 years old and is coming off a season in which he posted a 4.66 ERA in 48.1 IP last year with the Dodgers in their bullpen.

Wilson’s ERA and metrics were bloated in 2014 after having a strong second half in Los Angeles in 2013 and the Dodgers were right to simply eat his contract and let him walk away. Just because he will come on the cheap doesn’t mean he makes sense for the Yankees. To put this into layman’s terms, and I can’t believe I am saying this out loud, Wilson may be worse than Shawn Kelley if he came to New York and makes absolutely no sense for the Yankees in 2015 or beyond. 

TGP Daily Poll: New York Will Remain Quiet Until After New Years

Tuesday I predicted that the team would sign a starting pitcher before the end of the year and they signed Chris Capuano. Today I predict the Yankees are done signing and acquiring players for the calendar year of 2014.

Vote in our poll!

Yankees 2015 Starting Rotation

With the Chris Capuano signing etched in stone now the Yankees starting rotation heading into the 2015 season is likely etched in stone as well. While the group is expected to be shaken up a bit if/when an injury occurs and when Ivan Nova returns this is where the team stands as of today. Leave your thoughts about the state of the rotation in the comments section.

In no particular order although looking at it this is probably the order:

-          CC Sabathia
-          Masahiro Tanaka
-          Michael Pineda
-          Chris Capuano
-          David Phelps

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/18: Roger Clemens on Defense

On this day in 2007 Roger Clemens went on the defensive when it came to his name being mentioned in the Boston Red Sox loving, Bud Selig loving, Mitchell Report. As you probably remember Clemens trainer Brian McNamee stated in the report that he injected Roger with performance enhancing drugs at least 16 times from 1998 with the Blue Jays to 2000 and 2001 with the Yankees.

Also on this day in 2001 Yankees legend Tino Martinez would leave New York after being replaced by free agent Jason Giambi when he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Tino signed for three years and $21 million.

Finally on this day in 1973 the Yankees announced the signing of manager Dick Williams. The Yankees would keep their manager for two days before American League president Joe Cronin voided the deal since the Yankees were in the middle of a legal showdown with Charlie Finley.