Archive for December, 2010
An extra-special day • 12.25.10
Hi everyone, Sam here. First, let me wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas. For those who don’t … well, Merry Saturday.
There is, however, something we all at LoHud can get behind today, regardless of religion: And that’s wishing Chad a very happy birthday. When Pete left there were, obviously, very big shoes to fill but Chad has done a terrific job as the beat writer at The Journal News and I’m glad to call him a friend.
As he mentioned earlier, Chad is home in Missouri with his family, so I can only imagine his birthday celebration will be fantastic. At the very least, I hope it won’t involve a medical board deciding whether or not to revoke his license or a surprise party that comes only moments after a key political ally switches parties in embarrassing fashion. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, however, if it involved watching some West Wing.
Whatever the fanfare, happy birthday Chad. We’re all glad you’re here.
Merry Christmas from Missouri • 12.25.10
Just wanted to wish everyone in LoHud land a Merry Christmas.
I actually opened two gifts last night, and the first was a book on Yogi Berra, which I’m pretty sure my uncle found appropriate because he came from St. Louis and moved on to the Yankees.
Whatever you have planned for today, I hope you’re able to take at least a moment to stop worrying about the Yankees rotation and enjoy some time with friends and family. If not that, at least enjoy a quiet and peaceful Saturday.
In fact, try to enjoy the entire weekend. I can’t imagine there being much baseball news until Monday at the earliest. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Whatever it is you celebrate, just enjoy it.
Notes and such on a snowy Christmas Eve • 12.24.10
It’s snowing in Missouri. Two years in a row with snow on the ground Christmas is pretty unusual where I grew up, but it makes my mom happy, so that makes me happy.
My brother-in-law is slowly making his way down I-55, and I’m excited about spending the holiday with friends and family tonight and tomorrow. Whether you’re celebrating or not, I hope you all enjoy the weekend and get to be around some of the people closest to you.
For now, just a few notes from a predictably slow day for baseball news.
• Good stuff from Ben Shpigel, who writes that Andy Pettitte’s decision about whether to return might impact his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame.
• Jack Curry has heard that the Yankees have discussed the idea of signing Manny Ramirez, but Manny being Manny in the Bronx seems even less likely than the Yankees bringing back Johnny Damon.
• Speaking of players unlikely to come back, Buster Olney thinks it’s unlikely that Marcus Thames will return to the Yankees.
• At the top of that Olney link is poll of 16 talent evaluators who were asked to pick the top rotations in baseball. They agreed with Olney that the Phillies and Giants are Nos. 1 and 2 by quite a bit. Not good news for the Yankees: They ranked Boston and Tampa in a tie for third.
• Over at MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo profiled the Yankees farm system and the success it had this year. “We don’t sit around patting ourselves on the back,” Mark Newman said. “We had good fortune this year. We had a bunch of guys come back from injury and a bunch of guys have good years.”
Fewer missing pieces than you might expect • 12.24.10
On the day Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia, Brian Cashman said this:
“We have a championship caliber team. There are areas that could be improved upon. There are players in this marketplace currently that could assist there, but will we solve all the problems that we have right now? I don’t want to mislead people and say, ‘Yeah, we’ll take care of that right now this winter.’ It doesn’t have to happen in the winter time. We have up through the summer to get everything we need necessarily fixed.”
Those words didn’t carry much weight because the Yankees seemed to have too many holes to ignore. But then again, consider the 2010 Opening Day roster. Aside from Andy Pettitte, the changes from then to now haven’t been especially significant, and most should be considered addition by subtraction. The roster concerns seem to have more to do with performance than personnel.
Derek Jeter SS
Still with the team. This time he’s coming off the worst season of his career, not a near MVP season.
Nick Johnson DH
Gone. He had 12 hits last year.
Mark Teixeira 1B
Still with the team. A model of consistency the previous six years, last season he slugged below .500 for the first time since he was a rookie.
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Still with the team. Had 125 RBI in a down year.
Robinson Cano 2B
Still with the team. Emerged as one of the game’s elite players.
Jorge Posada C
Still with the team. Nagging injuries took their toll last season. This time he’ll be the primary designated hitter.
Curtis Granderson CF
Still with the team. Made significant improvements down the stretch last season.
Nick Swisher RF
Still with the team. Finally had an all-star season and moved up from the No. 8 hole.
Brett Gardner LF
Still with the team. A complete unknown at this time last year.
Francisco Cervelli C
Still with the team. Likely to return to the exact same role as last season.
Ramiro Pena INF
Still with the team. Could return to the utility role. Could be replaced by Eduardo Nunez or an outside candidate.
Marcus Thames OF
Gone. Wasn’t with the Yankees at this time last year. Didn’t sign until just before spring training.
Randy Winn OF
Gone. Also wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Brian Cashman tried to buy low, but Winn made 16 starts before being designated for assignment.
CC Sabathia LHP
Still with the team. Still at the top of the rotation. Still a Cy Young candidate.
A.J. Burnett RHP
Still with the team. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine he could be any worse than he was last season.
Andy Pettitte LHP
Unknown. While he’s considering retirement, he’s also considered the rotation’s most significant missing piece. Injury limited him to 21 starts last season.
Javier Vazquez RHP
Gone. Last winter’s big rotation addition managed 26 largely forgettable starts.
Phil Hughes RHP
Still with the team. And this time he doesn’t have to fight for a spot in spring training.
Mariano Rivera RHP
Still with the team. Same as always. Age would be a factor if he were anyone but Mo.
Joba Chamberlain RHP
Still with the team. Not fighting for a rotation spot this time.
Dave Robertson RHP
Still with the team. Had a 2.27 ERA and held opponents to a .207 batting average in the second half last season.
Damaso Marte LHP
Injured. Likely to miss all season. Essentially replaced by Pedro Feleciano.
Chan Ho Park RHP
Gone. Wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Allowed one more hit than Rivera, despite pitching fewer than half of the games.
Alfredo Aceves RHP
Gone. Non-tendered after missing almost all year with a back injury. Pitched in 10 games last season.
Sergio Mitre RHP
Still with the team. Actually coming off a pretty solid season, in a much better spot than at this time last year.
Associated Press photos of Jeter, Cervelli, Sabathia and Rivera
Not a creature was stirring • 12.24.10
Last year, it was on December 22 that the Yankees finally added a significant piece to their rotation, making the trade with Atlanta that brought Javier Vazquez back to New York.
Two years ago, it was on December 23 that the Yankees completed a massive offseason by signing first baseman Mark Teixeira as the third and final piece of a free agent overhaul.
In the recent past, the days leading up to Christmas have been productive for the Yankees.
This year, it’s already Christmas Eve. and if the Yankees have a holiday surprise in store, they’ve kept it well hidden.
Steinbrenner’s FBI file released • 12.23.10
George Steinbrenner’s FBI file was released today, and it included a 1970s memo from Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox asking for an intense criminal investigation into Steinbrenner’s campaign contributions.
Of course, Steinbrenner was ultimately convicted of illegal contributions.
Kind of interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes stuff that led up to the conviction.
A few more notes and links from today.
• Brain Cashman acknowledged the obvious: There’s no clear place for Johnny Damon on the Yankees roster. Cashman said checking in with Damon was “something (the Yankees) do with every free agent.”
• The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a deal with lefty Arthur Rhodes. The Yankees seem to have their lefty situation addressed with Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan, plus some depth on minor league deals. If they were to go after another lefty, the most logical remaining target might be Brian Fuentes, who could serve more of a setup role than a lefty specialist role.
• In completing the Adrian Gonzalez trade, the Red Sox decided to trust Gonzalez that he would negotiate a contract extension during the season, and that he would base it on the current market value. “We gave them our word that we were going to negotiate during the season in good faith,” Gonzalez told ESPNBoston. “We’re not going to go in there and ask for Albert Pujols’ contract, something along those lines.”
• The drunk driver who killed Nick Adenhart has been sentenced to 51 years to life in prison. There’s nothing good about that story. Nothing but sadness all over.
Associated Press photo
B.A.T. set to honor The Boss • 12.23.10
George Steinbrenner will be honored at this year’s B.A.T. fundraising dinner. Here’s the announcement passed along by the Yankees.
The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) will celebrate the legacy of the late owner of the New York Yankees George M. Steinbrenner III as it hosts its 22nd annual “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner Presented by Natural Balance Pet Foods” on January 25th at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. Founded in 1986, B.A.T. is dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family through financial grants, healthcare programs and rehabilitative counseling. More than $23 million in grants have been awarded to date, benefiting more than 2,700 members of the Baseball Family.
Baltimore Orioles broadcaster and B.A.T. Board Member Gary Thorne will emcee the event, and Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan will serve as the Dinner Chairman. More than 30 former Yankees, including Hall of Famer’s Rickey Henderson, Whitey Ford and Goose Gossage along with Darryl Strawberry, Mike Pagliarulo and Jesse Barfield are expected to be on hand to celebrate the legacy of Steinbrenner, affectionately called “The Boss.” Additional members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame that are scheduled to be present include, Hank Aaron, Ralph Kiner, Earl Weaver, Gary Carter, Frank Robinson, and Orlando Cepeda.
“We are honored to pay tribute to the legacy of one of Baseball’s most successful and legendary owners in George M. Steinbrenner III,” said B.A.T. Executive Director Joseph Grippo. “The Steinbrenner family and the New York Yankees have been, and continue to be, tremendous supporters of the B.A.T. organization, and we are grateful their contributions over the years. I would also specifically like to thank the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bob Watson for their dedication to helping the Baseball Family and to the community. The Baseball Assistance Team is proud to celebrate their support at this year’s Dinner.”
A special award is given at the Dinner each year: the Big BAT/Frank Slocum Award. Former All-Star First Baseman and General Manager Bob Watson will be presented with the 2010 Big B.A.T./Frank Slocum Award for his continuous support and generosity to the B.A.T. organization.
The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be recognized as the recipients of the annual Bobby Murcer Award. In 2009, B.A.T. established the award in honor of the late B.A.T. Chairman, MLB All-Star and Yankees legend. The award is presented to the team in both the American League and National League whose players contribute the most amount of money to B.A.T. through the B.A.T. Payroll Deduction Program that year. Bobby’s wife Kay Murcer will present the awards.
In addition to Hall of Famers and former Yankees, more than 100 former players are expected to attend, including Roberto Alomar, Steve Garvey, Frank Catalanotto, Randy Winn and Brett Butler. Other former New York players Bud Harrelson, John Franco, Cleon Jones, Howard Johnson, Rusty Staub and Ron Swoboda are also scheduled to be in attendance.
“Pretty shocked,” Eiland moves on • 12.23.10
More or less echoing Joe Girardi’s comments at the end of the season, former Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said he fully expected to be back in pinstripes until a call from Brian Cashman telling him he was not being re-hired.
Eiland told ESPNNewYork he was “pretty shocked” by the decision. Cashman said, “He knows why” the decision was made.
“There’s no bad blood, no hard feelings, no animosity at all,” Eiland said. “I don’t necessarily agree with the decision they made, but I respect it. There’s a lot of great people there. I wish them the best, but when we go up against those guys I’m gonna give everything I have to beat them.”
Eiland’s version of events pretty much fits with Girardi, who said he expected to have his staff back until Cashman said the team would go in another direction. Once again, neither Cashman nor Eiland elaborated on the reasons for the change or the reasons for Eiland’s month-long absence.
“Can Phil Hughes repeat his 18 win season? Can Ivan Nova or Sergio Mitre step into that fourth or fifth spot? There’s a lot of questions,” Eiland said. “They got a bit of work to do if they want to catch up to Boston’s starting staff or match up with the Rays’ starting staff as well. They didn’t get the big fish they wanted in Cliff Lee, but obviously, the Yankees have the resources to get what they need when they need it. I’m sure Brian Cashman and his staff will do what they have to do.”
Associated Press photo
A few minor signings • 12.23.10
Baseball America’s latest set of minor league transactions includes quite a few names coming and going in the Yankees organization.
Signed: RHP Ronny Marte (re-signed), RHP Mark Prior, RHP Leonel Vinas, LHP Steve Evarts, LHP Jose Quintana (re-signed), C Gustavo Molina, 1B Myron Leslie (re-signed), SS Doug Bernier
Released: RHP Justo Arias, RHP Harold Garce, RHP Charlyn Garcia, LHP Matt Jernstad, LHP Juan Marcano, LHP Erick Tapia, 1B Trent Lockwood, 2B Luis Parache, 3B Ronald Morillo
Most of the signings were already known. Of the new names, Evarts stands out as a former supplemental first-round pick who had pretty good numbers in the Braves system before injuries kept him off the mound. He’s also had some off-the-field problems. With outfielder Cody Johnson also in the Yankees system, the Yankees now have two of the Braves top three picks from the 2006 draft.
I can’t tell you anything about the guys who were released. They were pretty far off the radar.
A year of trades for the Yankees • 12.23.10
One year and one day after last winter’s trade for a Javier Vazquez, a look back at the Yankees trades from December to December.
December 7, 2009
RHP Brian Bruney to the Nationals for OF Jamie Hoffmann
Why? Because Bruney was due for an arbitration raise and the Yankees outfield depth was woefully low.
Good move? Didn’t really matter. Bruney probably would have been non-tendered anyway, and the Yankees at least got to take a look at a guy who’s now on the Dodgers 40-man roster. No harm done. Hoffmann was a Rule 5 pick who didn’t stick. Bruney was a reliever on his way out.
December 8, 2010
RHP Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, LHP Phil Coke and CF Austin Jackson to the Tigers for CF Curtis Granderson
Why? Because the Yankees were worried about Jackson’s holes and didn’t have a spot for Kennedy. In Granderson, they seemed to be getting a proven player who basically represented Jackson’s best-case scenario.
Good move? Little too early to say. Jackson, Coke and Kennedy each had good years, but Jackson showed the holes that the Yankees expected — a ton of strikeouts, not much power — and Kennedy might have benefited from the change of scenery. If Granderson continues the strides he made in the second half of last season, he’ll be better than any of the three players the Yankees sacrificed to get him.
December 22, 2009
CF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn and RHP Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan
Why? Because the Yankees needed consistency and durability at the back of the rotation, and those had been trademarks of Vazquez for 10 years.
Good move? No. Vazquez was a complete disappointment, but Cabrera wasn’t very good either, and Logan for Dunn was basically a wash. This seemed to be a big trade, but in the end, the left-handed relievers were the best pieces. Even Vizcaino took a step back, making only 17 starts because of a torn ligament. The Yankees got a compensation pick when Vazquez signed the Florida, so that helps make up for the loss of a very young prospect.
January 26, 2010
INF Mitch Hilligoss to the Rangers for OF Greg Golson
Why? Because the Yankees needed outfield depth much more than infield depth.
Good move? Sure. Hilligoss had a nice year — .296/.365/.370 between High-A and Double-A — but Golson played a role in New York, and he should be around to do the same next season whenever the Yankees need him. Hilligoss would still be no higher than fourth or fifth on the utility depth chart. Golson is probably at the top of the outfield call-up list.
March 9, 2010
RHP Edwar Ramirez to the Rangers for cash considerations
Why? Because Ramirez had been designated for assignment to make room for Chan Ho Park.
Good move? At least they got something for him. Ramirez actually didn’t do much more than Park. He was ultimately traded to the A’s, pitched 11 innings in the big leagues and he’s now floating through free agency, probably destined for a minor league deal somewhere.
July 30, 2010
RHP Zach McAllister to the Indians for OF Austin Kearns
Why? Because McAllister was quickly becoming overshadowed in Triple-A, Kearns was hitting pretty well in Cleveland and the Yankees needed a right-handed fourth outfielder.
Good move? Looked good for a little while, but ultimately no. Through his first 17 games with the Yankees, Kearns hit .275/.373/.451 and was especially helpful during that August road trip through Texas and Kansas City, but he was dreadful in September. McAllister didn’t pitch any better for Triple-A Columbus than he had for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he was passed by a ton of talent coming through the Yankees system, but it wasn’t worth losing him for three good weeks from Kearns.
July 31, 2010
RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes to the Astros for DH Lance Berkman
Why? Because the Yankees needed to created a platoon at designated hitter, and Berkman gave them someone who could legitimately hit lefties. Melancon’s time and come and gone, and Paredes was an afterthought in the Yankees system.
Good move? Yes. Berkman got off to a slow start, but when he came off the disabled list he hit .299/.405/.388 through the month of September, and he was better than most of the Yankees hitters in the playoffs. I’m one of the few Melancon believer still out there, but he had his chances to prove himself in New York and never did. Unless Paredes significantly exceeds expectations, this will have been a worthwhile trade.
July 31, 2010
INF Matt Cusick and RHP Andrew Shive to the Indians for RHP Kerry Wood
Why? Because the Yankees had a chance to solidify the bullpen without losing any key pieces of the farm system.
Good move? You bet. No offense to Cusick and Shive, but they were pretty far off the prospect radar in the Yankees system. Wood, meanwhile, seemed to magically bring the bullpen together to make it one of the Yankees absolute strengths down the stretch. If the Yankees had continued their playoff run, the Wood trade would have been considered one of the great turning points of the season.
November 18, 2010
1B Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks for RHP Scottie Allen
Why? Because Miranda is out of options and had no spot on the big league roster.
Good move? Sure. It’s too early to know whether Allen will turn into anything of value — he’s not even 20 years old yet — but Miranda was completely expendable. With Jorge Posada ready to get most of the DH at-bats and Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, Miranda had no place in the organization and it was best for everyone involved to send him elsewhere and get something in return.
Associated Press photos of Bruney, Cabrera and Kearns