Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thoughts on the Johan Santana rumors

Ah, Johan Santana. He hasn't pitched in a few years, and the last time he did he really wasn't that great. He went just 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 games with the Mets in 2012, a season sandwiched between a couple lost to injury. Still, Santana's a guy with a likable history, so the fact the Yankees are reportedly showing interest in him isn't much of a surprise.

He was a stud pretty much every year from 2003-2010, going 122-60 while never letting his ERA surpass 3.33 or his WHIP 1.23. In 2004 and 2006, when Santana was still a member of the Twins, he even won 19+ games, helping him collect a pair of Cy Young Awards before getting traded to New York in 2008.

Then again, that was the Santana of the past. The current one, unfortunately, tore his shoulder capsule prior to the 2013 season before being bought out the following winter, and though he was inked to a minor-league deal by the Orioles last year, he's still yet to return to the majors. Maybe the Yankees should be the ones to change that, or at least try to.

Just think about it. Santana, a relatively-young 36, is said to be solely focused on adding onto his legacy, and doesn't care much about the money. That being said, the simple act of inviting him to spring training and maybe giving him a temporary spot in Triple-A if he's good in March can't hurt anything, especially since the Yankees' present rotation isn't likely to stay healthy.

I mean, is anybody here actually confident CC Sabathia will get the job done next season? I personally don't even think he'll make 20 starts, but even if he does, will it be pretty? What about Nathan Eovaldi? Chris Capuano? Basically, there are many questions surrounding the Yankees pitching staff right now, so bringing in someone like Santana for the sake of his potential isn't a terrible idea.

What do you think? We all know Santana probably won't contribute much if acquired by the Yankees, but should that really hold them back from signing him?

Yankees, Ivan Nova Avoid Arbitration on $3.3 Million Deal

The New York Yankees and Ivan Nova have avoided arbitration and agreed to a one year deal worth $3.3 million. Nova made that exact amount in 2014 and will once again in 2015 after missing the majority of the season on the DL after Tommy John surgery. One interesting note I didn't know, hat tip to Chad Jennings of Lohud, that most (not all) deals that avoid arbitration are non guaranteed. And if you didn't know, now you know.

Tamp Yankees Announce 2015 Coaching Staff

Tampa, Fla. - The New York Yankees Player Development office has officially announced the 2015 Tampa Yankees Field Staff. The team's new Manager will be Dave Bialas with Pitching Coach Tommy Phelps and Hitting Coach Tom Slater. Returning from the 2014 season are Coach JD Closser, Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Siara, and Athletic Trainer Michael Becker.

Dave Bialas begins his first season in the Yankees organization and enters his 44th season of professional baseball as either a player (1972-82) or coach/manager (1982-present). He has a minor league managerial record of 965-968 (.499), having previously managed in the Cardinals (1982-92) and Cubs (2000-01, 2012) systems. He has earned a league's "Manager of the Year" honor twice including with the Florida State League in 1987. He served as the Atlanta Braves minor league field coordinator from 2013-14. Bialas was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round of the 1972 First-Year Player Draft and spent his entire professional career in the Cardinals minor league system (1972-82).

Tommy Phelps enters his eighth season as a coach in the Yankees organization and his first with Tampa. He spent six seasons as the pitching coach for Double-A Trenton (2009-14) after serving as the Yankees' minor league rehabilitation coach in 2008. Most recently, the Trenton pitching staff ranked second in the Eastern League in strikeouts in 2014 (1,093) and allowed the fewest home runs in 2013 (85). Phelps pitched for 14 seasons from 1993-2006 in the Montreal (1993-99), Detroit (2000-01), Florida (2002-04), Milwaukee (2005) and Yankees (2006) organizations.

Tom Slater enters his seventh season as a coach or instructor in the Yankees organization and his first with Tampa. He most recently served as the Yankees' minor league hitting instructor in 2013 and 2014and was Double-A Trenton's hitting coach in 2012, helping the Thunder lead the Eastern League in home runs and slugging percentage. He managed short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2011, winning the NYPL Championship. He also served as the GCL Yankees manager in 2009 and 2010, leading the team to a first-place finish in '09. Prior to joining the Yankees, he spent four seasons (2005-08) as the head coach at Auburn University.

JD Closser returns for a second season with Tampa after making his professional coaching debut with the club in 2014. In 2012 and 2013, he worked as a coach in the USA Baseball National Team Development Programs. Closser was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and spent four seasons in the Diamondbacks' minor league system (1998-2001) before he was traded to the Rockies and spent five seasons in their organization (2002-06). Closser made his Major League debut on 6/30/04 and played in 36 games with Colorado that season.

Michael Becker begins his fourth season as a trainer in the Yankees organization and second with Tampa. He worked with Single-A Charleston in 2013 and short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2012. He previously worked as an athletic training student intern at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes- Barre during the 2010 season and graduated from Ithaca College with a B.S. in athletic training in 2011.

Joe Siara enters his third season as a strength and conditioning coach in the Yankees organization and his second with Tampa. He spent 2013 with short-season Single-A Staten Island. Siara graduated in 2006 from Indiana University with a degree in kinesiology and exercise science. In 2008, he received a master's degree in human performance from the University of Florida.

Johan: The Next Great Gamble

So, with the news being so slow of late you cannot help but scrape for everything and anything. The coaching staff seems to be all wrapped up, but is the pitching staff? One time great, Johan Santana, is now back out there trying to regain his old form and help a team. Help them with what, I am not sure but to me it seems like by actually throwing from the mound. He is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, like we haven't heard that joke before, and hopes that teams desperate enough for his services will come calling. So right now we have a once great pitcher, lengthy injury history, and mid to late 30's. Qualifications that Brain Cashman loves to hear.

Johan would be a work in progress, has been ever since he left the Twins. The man was so smooth, no doubt about that. Yet, can he come back like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, can he show he still has something left in the tank like those old heads that reclaimed their careers for a spell with the Yankees? All questions I hope we do not have to answer, ever. Santana is a great guy, and I would love for him to fight back and earn a job on some team, preferably in the NL West.

The Yankees are doing their "due diligence" by scouting him at the Winter Leagues and hoping that his stuff is still there. Last season the Yankees also were all about the game of love with Santana. Seeing him as another project for Rothschild and company; why not take a chance. Santana however decided to sign with the Orioles, and thus went out and tore his Achilles tendon in an extended spring training game before ever reaching the major league club that year effectively ruining a shot at a comeback. Santana however has worked his evil ways, and is back again looking for the Yankees to come calling with an opportunity to help the club. Do I see him being a better option than Chris Capuano, yes, but then again Babe Ruth is a better option than Capuano and I do not see us bringing him in anytime soon.

I do hope you are feeling better, Santana. Yet, I do not want to have to root for you to save our club and instead just save your career. I know it is a long shot, it is hard to come back from shoulder surgeries. In the end we can only pray that if Cashman is serious that he can bring you in cheaply and hopefully you work some black magic man. I would rather take a chance with Shields, but I know money is an issue there. Why not just buy low, expect the worst and hope for the best. I will root for you regardless Santana because honestly I love reclamation projects and you are too good of a person to not have a comeback. Good luck to you, and hopefully you catch on somewhere if not with us.

Books about Baseball to Pass the Time

The MLB offseason right now has went from a snail’s pace to something slightly slower than a snail’s pace and frankly, I’m bored. When I’m not working on the blog, working my 9 to 5 or being a dad I am usually reading so I figured why not share my favorite baseball related books that I’ve read. Maybe they can help you pass the time while we wait on pitchers and catcher to report, James Shields and Max Scherzer to sign and Opening Day. If I missed one or haven’t read one then please leave that in the comments section below for everyone to take advantage of, thanks.

Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell

-       -   This book collected Angell’s New Yorker columns from 1972 to 1976 which talked about changes in the game of baseball, the Oakland A’s Moustache Gang, Hank Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record, the 1975 World Series and so much more.

Red Smith on Baseball: The Game’s Greatest Writer on the Game’s Greatest Years

-       -   Many of these columns are a bit outdated for my liking, the 1940’s and 1950’s, but the amount of wit and humor that Smith uses encourages me and drives me to be a better writer.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

-          - Who hasn’t read Moneyball or at least seen the movie right?

The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle with Peter Golenbock

-          - The author and the title kind of give this one away but it is the story of the 1978 World Series champion New York Yankees. George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin (again) and Reggie Jackson make for pure entertainment. 

Meet a Prospect: Chris Martin

In an effort to continue stockpiling every single bullpen arm in Major League Baseball, especially those tall enough to be centers in the NBA, Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees acquired Chris Martin from the Colorado Rockies for cash considerations yesterday after Martin was designated for assignment by his former team. Martin will need a 40 man roster spot and does have minor league options remaining so expect him to be in the thick of things this spring training. Let’s meet the man and see exactly what he brings to the table.

Chris was born on June 2, 1986 and attended Arlington High School in Arlington, Texas. During his baseball career in Arlington he did enough to be drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 18th round of the 2004 MLB First Year Player’s Draft but did not sign and instead attended McLennan Community College. The Colorado Rockies then drafted Martin in the 21st round of the 2005 Draft and once again he did not sign. Instead Martin signed with the Fort Worth Cats of United League Baseball but did not get to pitch in a game before tearing his labrum.

Martin spent the next five seasons out of Major League Baseball and baseball period before signing with the Grain Prairie AirHogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball after a tryout with the team. He did enough there to warrant a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 where he stayed until he trade to Colorado along with Franklin Morales for Jonathan Herrera deal on December 18, 2013. Martin toiled around in the Rockies minor league system before getting called up to the majors on April 25, 2014. Martin’s numbers were less than impressive with Colorado posting an ERA north of 6.00 which led to him being designated for assignment on January 5th.

New York has snatched up the big, and I mean big listed at 6’ 8”, right handed relief pitcher and will stash him presumably in the minor leagues while hoping for the best. If not the Yankees can always start their own basketball team with Martin, Dellin Betances, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Brett Gardner running the point. 

As Long As Scherzer Is Available There's a Chance

I plan on fully taking advantage of this perfect opportunity to use a Dumb and Dumber reference and picture on the blog in case you are scratching your head right now. As long as Max Scherzer is available on the free agent market there's still a chance that the New York Yankees get involved. Honestly, the longer this draws out, the Yankees chances may increase with every passing day that Scott Boras uses the “no news is good news” excuse with his client.

There are no obvious suitors for Scherzer or James Shields for that matter which may force the hand of Boras and his clients to lower their demands. At the same time this may backfire and a team like the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or the Arizona Diamondbacks to name a few may pounce and get their man for a little more than they wanted to spend just because. We’ve seen it happen both ways in recent memory and neither would surprise me. One thing we will not be seeing with either of these men is another Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew incident, they will get signed. Will it be with the Yankees?

Yes, I’m saying that there is a chance. This part of the offseason is where Brian Cashman does his most damage. The money has been shelled out and many teams are content and set with their rosters, now it’s time for Cashman to snatch up the best of the rest. This time though, unlike other times, the best of the rest includes the best on the free agent market in Scherzer. Stay hopeful Yankees family. 

TGP Daily Poll: Max Scherzer & James Shields Sign This Week

I know I have done a couple of these before and they have been wrong each and every time but I have to get it right eventually, right? Max Scherzer and James Shields will both sign this week.

Vote in our poll on knoda!

Staten Island Yankees Announce Coaching Staff

Here's the press release from the team:


STATEN ISLAND- As Spring Training approaches, the Staten Island Yankees have received their 2015 field staff as assigned by the New York Yankees:

Pat Osborn – Manager
Osborn enters his second season in the New York Yankees organization after leading the Gulf Coast League Yankees2 to a 35-25 record while winning their division in 2014. Before joining the Yankees, Osborn served as the manager for the independent Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs from 2011-2013. After his collegiate playing career at the University of Florida, Osborn was taken in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Cleveland Indians. Osborn began his pro career in the New York-Penn League, playing a total of 54 games in 2002 and 2003 with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The new Baby Bombers skipper played six seasons in the minors for the Cleveland Indians (2002-2007) and Houston Astros (2007) organizations. After leaving affiliated ball, Osborn played for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs from 2008-2010, where he eventually took over as manager. Osborn follows 2014 manager Mario Garza as the second consecutive Florida Gator to don the pinstripes in Staten Island.
Butch Henry – Pitching Coach
After playing seven seasons in Major League Baseball, Henry took his first coaching position as a roving pitching instructor for the Sarasota Reds (GCL) in 2004. In 2005, Henry became the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds Rookie affiliate, Billings Mustangs. Following his two seasons in affiliated ball, the Texas native made his way back to his hometown of El Paso to become the manager of the El Paso Diablos of the independent American Association. Henry was skipper of the Diablos from 2006-2010, earning 2007 Manager of the Year in the American Association and being inducted into the El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. As a player, Henry was selected in the 15th round of 1987 draft by the Cincinnati Reds right out of high school. He went on to play seven seasons in MLB with five teams: Houston Astros (1992), Colorado Rockies (1993), Montreal Expos (1993-95), Boston Red Sox (1997-98) and Seattle Mariners (1999). Henry posted a 33-33 record with a 3.83 ERA during his career, but one of his most notable achievements came at the plate. In 1992, Henry became the only player in MLB history to record an inside-the-park home run for his career hit.
Ty Hawkins – Hitting Coach
Hawkins returns to Staten Island as the team's hitting coach for a 10th consecutive season. Hawkins guided the Baby Bombers to a New York-Penn League-best 52 home runs in 2009 and a league-high in batting average and runs scored during the team's championship run in 2006. Hawkins has also coached for AA Trenton (2005), Single A Tampa (2004), Single A Battle Creek (2003), Single A Greensboro (2002) and Gulf Coast Yankees (1999-2001). The hitting coach also spent time coaching at the collegiate level with Vanderbilt and Illinois. Hawkins played his college ball at Old Dominion, helping the team reach the NCAA Regionals in 1990. Ty also appeared in 69 minor league games in 1991 for the New York-Penn League's Erie Sailors and the Midwest League's South Bend White Sox.
Eric Duncan – Defensive Coach
This will be Duncan's first season coaching in professional baseball after serving as a volunteer coach at Seton Hall for the last three years while pursuing his degree in political science. The former Baby Bomber was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round, 27th overall, in the 2003 draft.  Duncan returns to Staten Island after a short stint with the Baby Bombers in 2003. In only 14 games with Staten Island in 2003, Duncan drove in 13 runs while batting .373 with two home runs, four triples and five doubles. The highly touted prospect earned the honor of Arizona Fall League MVP in 2005, a year that featured future MLB stars Matt Kemp, Joey Votto and Adam Jones. In 2006, Duncan was named Top Rookie for the New York Yankees in Spring Training. The New Jersey native made it as high as AAA in his career playing for four different organizations: New York Yankees (2003-09), Atlanta Braves (2010), St. Louis Cardinals (2011) and Kansas City Royals (2012).
The Staten Island Yankees are the Single A-Short Season Affiliate of the New York Yankees and play at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George. The Staten Island Yankees are six-time New York-Penn League Champions (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011). For more information, visit

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/14: Jesus “Beast” Montero

On this day in 2012 the Yankees traded top prospect Jesus Montero along with Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. This deal has been a bit of a disaster for both teams until 2014 when the Yankees finally got a glimpse of their young right hander. All the while Montero showed up to Mariners camp 40 lbs. overweight and was trolled by a news reporter in a minor league dugout with an ice cream cone. Yeah, New York won this trade.

Also on this day in 1987 Yankees and Athletics ace Catfish Hunter and outfielder Billy Williams were elected to the Hall of Fame. Hunter was one of the game's first big money free agents when he signed his very lucrative deal with New York.

Finally on this day in 1970 former Yankees top relief pitcher, now known loosely as a closer, and New York Mets general manager Johnny Murphy dies of a heart attack.