The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for October, 2011

Highlights from Sabathia’s conference call10.31.11

CC Sabathia said he was never worried and never considered the possibility of playing for another team.

“I was confident that we would get to an agreement,” he said during tonight’s conference call. “I wanted to stay here. I want to be here. I love it here. I love pitching here. I love being a part of the Yankees organization, and I’m just so happy to be able to come to an agreement.”

Here are a few highlights from tonight’s call.

What was the most important factor in the contract talks?
“My family. My family being good. Everything going from there. I made the decision to come to New York on my family. I have four kids, so making sure everything was comfortable with them. My kids, my son loves it here. All my kids love it here, my wife loves it here – and I do, too. I love pitching for the Yankees fans. It was an easy choice… It was just more time. That’s all it was. It was never a question about money or anything like that; it was just being more time. I want to end my career here, make sure I end my career as a Yankee. Hopefully I’ve done that.”

How badly did Sabathia want to avoid the drama of free agency?
“It was a big motivation. I didn’t want to be a part of being a free agent and doing everything, opting out and doing all that stuff. It was clear to everybody that I wanted to be a Yankee, wanted to end my career as a Yankee, and hopefully I can do that.”

When did Sabathia know he was comfortable in New York?
“I think the whole time. I always felt comfortable here. I always felt like I wanted to be a part of this organization, community, and I feel good being a part of it going forward… I felt good the way I was (from the beginning), the way I felt in the clubhouse, the way I felt with the organization. It was up to me to go out and perform.”

Was controlling weight discussed in the contract talks?
“It’s something I’ll do regardless for me and be proactive. It is what it is for me. I just need to go out and be healthy, try to do what I can to be out there for every start. To be there for the team. For me, that means losing weight. So that’s what I’ll do… I felt great going into the season last year. I got a little lax during the season, but I feel great. My arm feels great, my shoulder, my knee, whatever. I feel good.”

Did the six-man rotation impact Sabathia’s second half?
“I’m not going to say that. I’m not going to sit here and say that the change in my routine had anything to do with the last month. It is what it is. When it was my time to go and they give me the ball, I go out there and pitch. It is what it is.”

Does Sabathia think this helps his chances of reaching 300 wins?
“You kill me with that. You always know I don’t care about that. Who cares about that? I care about ending my career healthy. You know me.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees make it official with CC10.31.11

Here’s the official press release from the Yankees, with a comment from general manager Brian Cashman. 

The New York Yankees announced today that they have agreed to a contract extension with LHP CC Sabathia. The original contract, which had four years remaining on it through 2015, will have a fifth-year extension for 2016 and a vesting club option for a sixth season in 2017.

Sabathia, 31, has played three seasons with the Yankees since joining the club as a free agent prior to 2009 season, going 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA (705.0IP, 249ER). Over that span, he has won at least 19 games each season, becoming the first Major Leaguer with three straight 19-win seasons since Randy Johnson (2000-02) and just the fourth Yankee in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Vic Raschi (four straight, 1948-51), Red Ruffing (4, 1936-39) and Jack Chesboro (4, 1903-06).

“CC is the ace of our pitching staff, a leader in our clubhouse and a driving force for the Yankees in our community,” said Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman. “He is exactly the type player and person that Yankees fans and this organization can be proud of. We are excited that he will be wearing the pinstripes for many years to come.”

In 2011, Sabathia went 19-8 (.704) with a 3.00 ERA (237.1IP, 79ER, 230H, 61BB, 230K) in 33 starts. He ranked among the leaders in wins (second in AL, tied for fourth in Majors); strikeouts (second in AL, fourth in Majors); innings pitched (fourth in AL, tied for fourth in Majors); and winning percentage (fourth in AL, eighth in Majors).

As a Yankee in the postseason, Sabathia is 5-1 with a 3.54 ERA (61.0IP, 24ER) in 11 appearances (including 10 starts). He made five starts in the 2009 postseason, going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA (36.1IP, 8ER), as the Yankees won the 27th championship in franchise history.

Since his debut in 2001, Sabathia, has 176-96 (.647) record with a 3.51 ERA in 355 career starts, marking the most wins in the Majors. Over the same span, he is second in innings pitched (2,364.1) and strikeouts (2,017), tied for second in shutouts (12), and third in complete games (33) and starts. He is a five-time All-Star (2003-04, ’07, ’10-11) and won the 2007 American League Cy Young Award as a member of the Cleveland Indians, going 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209K.

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Sabathia signs new deal with Yankees10.31.11

The Yankees have a conference call scheduled for later tonight. For now, here’s the AP.

NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia is staying with the New York Yankees, agreeing Monday to a new deal that adds $30 million to his existing contract. Sabathia had until midnight to opt out of his current agreement, which had $92 million remaining over the next four years in $23 million annual salaries.

The new deal adds a $25 million salary for 2016 and gives the Yankees a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Yankees had not yet announced the deal.

The option becomes guaranteed if Sabathia does not end the 2016 season on the disabled list because of a left shoulder injury, does not spend more than 45 days of 2016 on the DL with a left shoulder injury or does not make six or more relief appearances in 2016 because of shoulder issues. He retains a hotel suite on trips, a no-trade provision and the right to buy tickets.

Sabathia agreed to a $161 million, seven-year deal with New York before the 2009 season. The 31-year-old left-hander has gone 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA during the regular season for New York

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Reggie Jackson sounds off tonight on MLB Network10.31.11

Reggie Jackson is the guest on tonight’s season premier of MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Reggie interview without some level of controversy. MLB Network passed along a few quotes, including this one about Jackson’s relationship with manager Billy Martin.

“I never had an understanding of Billy Martin,” Jackson said. “I did not accept the way he managed me. I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there… I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample. There are players that played for him that would tell you that [he made racist or anti-Semitic comments about those players]. So there was an uneasiness, a knowledge about the person that I was very uncomfortable with.”

Martin’s son has already publicly defended his father.

In the interview, Jackson talks about his relationship with George Steinbrenner, his relationship with Thurman Munson, and his opinion of performance enhancing drugs.

“I think baseball fans recognize the players that hit their 550 or 500 home runs, or maybe 6-700 without PEDs,” Jackson said. “And I do think that the true fan separates the seven or eight that were accused or proven that they took PEDs.”

Watch the interview on MLB Network tonight at 9 p.m. ET. It was filmed in Cooperstown during the National Baseball Hall of Fame festivities.

Associated Press photo

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Teixeira, Cano and Gardner finalists for Gold Gloves10.31.11

Baseball’s Gold Glove Awards are going prime time. Tomorrow night, ESPN2 will televise the first ever Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show to announce each league’s top defensive player at each position.

Leading into the show, three finalists have been announced for each position. Tomorrow’s one-hour awards show begins at 10 p.m. ET.

The Yankees have three finalists.

First base
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Casey Kotchman, Rays
Mark Teixeira, Yankees

Second base
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Ian Kinsler, Rangers

Left field
Alex Gordon, Royals
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Sam Fuld, Rays

Russell Martin had a nice year behind the plate, but he’s not in the mix. Neither is Derek Jeter, who’s taken more heat than praise for his previous Gold Gloves. It’s worth noting that former Yankees prospect Austin Jackson is a finalist in center field.

Associated Press photo

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Garcia named Type B free agent10.31.11

A Yankees source today confirmed that Freddy Garcia will be a Type B free agent this winter. Of course, to receive compensation, the Yankees would have to offer Garcia arbitration and I’m not sure that’s likely.

Garcia is the Yankees only free agent who qualifies as a Type B. CC Sabathia and Rafael Soriano both qualify as Type A free agents, but Soriano isn’t expected to opt out and the Yankees are obviously trying to lockup Sabathia rather than lose him for a couple of draft picks.

If Sabathia does hit the open market, he obviously would be offered arbitration.

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A few quiet mid-day notes and links10.31.11

Still no word on CC Sabathia and nothing official on Brian Cashman — word is the Cashman announcement won’t come today — but some other teams are making news with names you’ll recognize.

The Braves actually found a trade market for Derek Lowe. Details are unknown, but Atlanta has reportedly moved Lowe and his ugly contract — have to assume the Braves are paying most of that — to the Indians. It’s worth noting that this is the last year of Lowe’s contract. There are two more years on A.J. Burnett’s deal.

Aramis Ramirez has voided his contract in order to become a free agent. As much as the Yankees could certainly use a productive corner infielder to spell Alex Rodriguez, a massive contract to Ramirez would probably be overkill.

• Grady Sizemore hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and now the Indians have declined his option. Not sure I’d put him in the same boat as Eric Chavez as a player who’s going to have to settle for a minor league deal because of his injury history. Someone will take a chance on his talent.

• Speaking of Chavez, one alternative for his spot is off the market as Eric Hinske’s option was picked up by the Braves. But Nate McClouth is available. That’s a guy who’s definitely trending the wrong way.

• All the best to Tony LaRussa, who’s going out on top, announcing his retirement just days after winning the World Series. Does that affect Albert Pujols’ free agency? Those two were apparently very close.

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Waiting for CC10.31.11

So far, everything has gone as expected.

The Yankees picked up the options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher, they declined the option on Damaso Marte, and they settled on a new deal with Brian Cashman (a deal that could become official at any moment). Now they’re waiting on CC Sabathia.

We all knew this day would come.

It’s been assumed since March — since before that, actually — that Sabathia would opt out, and that’s still the assumption. It’s also been assumed that the Yankees would work hard to retain him, and that’s certainly the case.

If this day ends with Sabathia opting for free agency, it won’t be a stunning blow. It will be a perfectly predictable event. The Yankees will still be the overwhelming favorites to have Sabathia in their rotation next year, and Sabathia will still be a guy making a sound decision for himself and his family.

We’ve all known this day was coming. Now it’s here.

Associated Press photo

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Game 7 most watched baseball game since 200410.30.11

This sort of announcement is always good the game of baseball. Here’s the release from MLB…

Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, which saw the St. Louis Cardinals win their 11th World Series title, averaged 25.4 million viewers on FOX. That figure makes it the most watched baseball game since 2004 when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series erasing a drought of 86 years.

Except for the historic 2004 World Series, Game 7 drew the most viewers of any baseball game since Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.

The World Series was a huge success for FOX delivering the best Friday night in the history of the network. Game 7 was the highest rated and most watched Friday night telecast on any network since the 2010 Winter Olympics and easily gave FOX its sixth primetime win in seven nights. It was also the highest rated night of primetime on any network since the start of the 2011-12 broadcast season.

The 14.7 U.S. household rating for Game 7 brings the 2011 World Series average rating to 10.0, which is +19% higher than last year’s World Series, featuring the same American League team and a National League team (San Francisco Giants) with twice the number of TV households as compared to St. Louis.

The 2011 Cardinals, who were 10.5 games out of first place in late August and were twice down to their last strike in Game 6, captured the imagination of St. Louis resulting in a 52.7 rating in the market, which was higher than any of their previous marks in the 2004 or 2006 World Series. When the Cardinals won the World Series, 89% of households in St. Louis that had their televisions on were tuned in to see the game.

Associated Press photo

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Short Season Year in Review10.30.11

Even when I was covering minor league baseball, I found it hard to put too much stock into short season and rookie ball numbers. These guys are a long way from the big leagues, and the game is full of guys who put up numbers in short season and rookie ball, but fizzled long before the majors.

That said, first impressions matter, and that’s certainly what these early levels are about. In Staten Island, the Yankees went 45-28 with one of the league’s best lineups and a strong pitching staff. They won the New York-Penn League, making Staten Island the Yankees most successful affiliate this season.

Hitter of the Year: CF Mason Williams
The Yankees fourth-round pick in 2010 was arguably their most buzzworthy selection. While top pick Cito Culver was met with doubts, Williams was instantly praised for his high-end ceiling. He played only five games last year, but this season he earned even more believers with a terrific all-around season in Staten Island. He hit .349/.395/.468 with 28 stolen bases and a league-leading 94 hits (10 more than anyone else). He’s a left-handed hitter but actually had more success against lefties than against righties. Next season will be a new sort of challenge as he’ll play his first full season, but already Williams is challenging Slade Heathcott as the team’s top center field prospect.

Starter of the Year: RHP Bryan Mitchell
Really, there wasn’t a huge difference between any of Staten Island’s top three starters, but — fair or not — Mitchell is certainly the name that stands out. The Yankees convinced him to sign rather than attend North Carolina, and he was the most highly touted starter on the Staten Island staff. His results improved as he threw more innings later in the year. In his last four starts, Mitchell had a line of 21 IP, 17 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 9 BB and 17 K. He’s far from a finished product, he showed glimpses of his potential.

Reliever of the Year: RHP Branden Pinder
Plucked out of college in this year’s draft, Pinder was Staten Island’s closer and finished second in the league with 14 saves. Opponents hit just .152 against him, and he struck out 38 — with just five walks — in 31 innings. He allowed a total of four runs all year, one of them on a home run in his final appearance of the regular season. In the playoffs, he was 3-for-3 in save opportunities with six strikeouts, one hit and no walks. It was an impressive debut from a 16th rounder.

Breakout performance: LF Shane Brown
At this level, pretty much every good performance could be considered a breakout performance. Brown stands out because he was a 23rd round pick last year and hit just .234 without much power in the Gulf Coast League last season.  This season, he clobbered the New York-Penn League with a .446/.544/.635 slash line, and when he was promoted to Charleston in mid-July he kept hitting (.321/.418/.382 after the promotion). The on-base percentage might not be a fluke. Brown had more walks than strikeouts in the GCL last year, and he did it again at each stop this season.

Disappointing numbers: SS Cito Culver
Last year’s first-round pick hit .327/.405/.464 during the month of July, but on the whole, his .250/.323/.337 slash line was uninspiring. The Yankees believe in Culver’s glove and think he’ll be able to stick at shortstop. They also drafted him knowing that he was young with some work to do. The bright side is that Culver hit .324 with a .388 on-base percentage, and obviously that month of July shows that the bat has potential, but those hoping for a huge, breakout season were left wanting more.

Top prospect watch: 2B Angelo Gumbs
Williams and Culver were the top prospects on this team, but Gumbs was a second-round pick last year, moved to second base because Culver has claimed shortstop, and hit a solid .264/.332/.406 this season. He hit third quite a bit, showing the Yankees have some faith in his bat, despite the fact he’s a middle infielder. He’s extremely young, and when Baseball America profiled him as the Yankees 25th-best prospect, it noted that Gumbs is seen as a raw, long-term project.

Notable: Nice year for RF Ben Gamel, the team’s 10th-round pick last year who hit .289/.373/.432 with good production against both lefties and righties… In a return to Staten Island, UT Casey Stevenson played all four infield positions plus right field and greatly improved on last year’s numbers, hitting .272/.374/.386… 1B Reymond Nunez showed improvement in his second half-season in the States… This year’s 21st-rounder Zachary Wilson was the team’s primary third baseman and hit .256/.346/.457 with a team-high 10 home runs. He also spent some time in the outfield… 3B Tyler Austin continued to hit after a promotion from the Gulf Coast League… Finally healthy enough to pitch, RHP Caleb Cotham had 29 strikeouts in 21 innings for Staten Island.

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