Archive for October, 2011
Eight Yankees become free agents • 10.30.11
The MLB Players Union released the list of players who became free agents today. It includes eight Yankees.
Offseason beginning to move forward • 10.30.11
The past week started as another slow one for the Yankees. The World Series was still going on, free agency hadn’t started and the offseason was a quiet mix of speculation and organizational meetings.
But things started happening in the past few days, and the offseason could heat up in the next week.
The Yankees first big player news of the offseason came late last night when the Yankees officially exercised their options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Cano was a no brainer and Swisher an expected decision, but even so, those moves got the ball rolling.
We already know general manager Brian Cashman has agreed to a new deal, and that agreement could become official in the next day or two. CC Sabathia’s opt-out date is tomorrow, and the Yankees clearly want to keep him.
The offseason is upon us, and it’s starting to move.
A few other notes from the past week…
• MLB and the players union agreed to delay the start of free agency 24 hours because of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Free agency officially started last night at midnight, and players can sign with new teams beginning Thursday.
• The Yankees renewed their broadcasting deal with WCBS.
• Cashman was in a minor car accident on same day the news broke that his new contract was settled.
• The Angels hired a general manager, and it was not Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer.
• Former Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland was named the pitching coach in Kansas City.
• Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp were named the Hank Aaron Award winners. Will they also be the MVPs?
Associated Press photo
Yankees pick up options on Cano and Swisher • 10.29.11
The Yankees just announced that they have picked up the 2012 options on both Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.
The only other looming options are both player options, one for CC Sabathia and another for Rafael Soriano. Although nothing is official, it’s expected Sabathia will opt out and Soriano will not.
A year ago, the Yankees avoided arbitration with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan, and now all three are eligible once again. Dave Robertson and Brett Gardner are arbitration eligible for the first time, and the Yankees signed Russell Martin knowing he had one more year of arbitration eligibility.
That’s six arbitration decision as it is, and there was almost one more.
Chris Dickerson’s name is on MLBTradeRumors list of players who just missed out on super-two status.
A Yankees arbitration decision with Dickerson would have been interesting. He’s been a productive hitter against right-handers, he’s proven he can be a valuable platoon or bench player, and the Yankees could use a fourth of fifth outfielder. But Dickerson is left-handed, so he doesn’t perfectly fit the Yankees needs, and they barely used him even when he was on the big league roster this season.
If he’s making the minimum next year, there’s little reason not to bring Dickerson back and let him compete for a spot on the bench. If the Yankees had to pay him a little more, they might have faced a real decision about whether to bring him back.
Turns out, the Yankees might have done the Diamondbacks a favor by giving Ian Kennedy only one second-half call-up back in 2009. He’s another who just missed out on super-two status.
Former Yankees spot starter and current Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard did qualify for super-two, so he’ll make a little extra next season. The Rays are also going to have to start paying extra for David Price and the Red Sox are going to have to pay more for Daniel Bard.
Low-A Year in Review • 10.29.11
Early in the season, when Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy were hitting, there was plenty of excitement to go with Charleston’s losing record. Even individual success, though, proved inconsistent and the RiverDogs finished with just 55 wins — only 10 more than short season Staten Island.
There must be some expectation of inconsistency at this level, and the Yankees certainly saw that up and down the roster and throughout the season. Charleston was near the middle of the South Atlantic League — but still in the bottom half — in most offensive categories, and it was roughly the same for the pitching staff, which had the league’s second-most strikeouts but also its second-most walks.
Hitter of the Year: C Gary Sanchez
There were no flawless Hitter of the Year candidates in Charleston this year, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be at this level. The guys who got off to hot starts were gone by mid-season, and the guys who stuck around showed some of the growing pains that come with youth and inexperience. Ultimately, the team’s top prospect was also it’s best overall hitter. Sanchez played in just 82 games — he finished the season on the DL with a broken finger — but he led the team with 17 home runs, 12 of them coming in just 38 games in the second half. A slash line of .256/.335/.485 is far from perfect, but the power stands out, and the guy has yet to turn 19.
Starter of the Year: LHP Nik Turley
Only one Charleston starter reached 100 innings this season, and that was Shane Greene, who had a 4.37 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Instead, I’ll go with Turley, who made just 15 starts before a promotion and a broken hand that ended his season in mid-July. Those 15 starts, though, were terrific. Through 82.1 innings, Turley had 82 strikeouts, 21 walks, a .224 opponents batting average and 1.11 WHIP. His 2.51 ERA would have been the second-lowest in the league had he qualified. Turley’s been getting healthy and seems in line to open next season in Tampa. He’s a bigger prospect than his 50th-round draft selection indicates.
Reliever of the Year: RHP Tommy Kahnle
Like a lot of pitchers at this level, Kahnle’s walk total was way too high this season — 49 walks in 81 innings — but his 112 strikeouts is outrageous and hard to overlook. Kahnle ranked 13th in the league in strikeouts, and did it without a single start. Opponents hit .223 against him, and right-handers managed just a .205 average. A fifth-round pick in 2010, this was Kahnle’s first full season of pro ball. He was drafted out of college, so it wouldn’t have been out of the question to see him move beyond Low-A this season, but Kahnle showed the potential to be a dominant strikeout pitcher out of the bullpen.
Breakout performance: RHP Mark Montgomery
For a while it seemed this would be a breakout year for one of Charleston’s top hitters — Slade Heathcott, J.R. Murphy, Ramon Flores, Rob Segedin — but injuries and slow second half performances changed things. Certainly Turley had a breakout season in the Charleston rotation before his promotion. Ultimately, no one burst onto the scene quite like Montgomery, a 11th-round draft pick this year who had 41 strikeouts in 24.1 innings for Charleston. He allowed just 17 hits, only three of which came in his last eight outings (he had 14 strikeouts and three walks in that span). If a breakout season is one that grabs your attention, Montgomery’s certainly fits the description.
Disappointing numbers: RF Kelvin De Leon
Back in 2008, De Leon had a nice year in the Dominican Summer League, and the Yankees have spent three years waiting for him to replicate that success in the States. Despite leading Charleston in RBI, De Leon put up another powerful but ultimately disappointing season. He hit 14 homers, but had a .221/.282/.369 slash line. He struck out 147 times, fourth-most in the league. It’s not that there were huge expectations for De Leon, but there was certainly some hope that this might be the year he broke out. Instead he was right with Anderson Feliz and Eduardo Sosa falling short of those hopes.
Top prospect watch: C/3B JR Murphy
Obviously Sanchez was the top-rated prospect on this team, and Heathcott was close behind, but Murphy entered the year near the bottom of the Top 10 and he some early noise with a .297/.343/.457 slash line in Charleston (he hit .321/.381/.509 in an eye-opening month of May). One of the more intriguing bats in the Yankees system, Murphy was promoted to Tampa in mid-June and had his season cut short by a broken foot in July (just days after a four-hit, four-RBI game). Murphy will have to wait until next year to see if he can build off an encouraging first half.
Notable: LF Ramon Flores had more walks than strikeouts in April and a .375 on-base percentage in the first half. In the second half, his batting average and slugging percentage stayed roughly the same, but his on-base dipped to .329. For the year he hit .265/.353/.400 with 11 homers and 13 stolen bases… 3B/LF Rob Segedin hit .323/.396/.482 before a mid-June promotion to Tampa, where his numbers dropped to .245/.311/.309. The third-rounder is currently in the Arizona Fall league… 1B Kyle Roller hit .305/.379/.545 in Charleston and followed that by hitting .265/.365/.427 in Tampa. Not bad for a first full year as a pro… Middle infielders Anderson Feliz, Jose Mojica and Jose Toussen combined for 72 errors and none had an OPS higher than .649… After barely pitching the past three years, RHP Manny Barreda had 82 strikeouts and a .247 opponents batting average in 74 innings out of the bullpen… Last year’s 12th-round pick RHP Dan Burawa jumped from Charleston to Tampa and is wrapping up his year in the Arizona Fall League.
Now it all begins (but not really) • 10.29.11
The World Series is over, but Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union have jointly announced that they are delaying the start of the offseason. From the press release:
The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) today announced that in connection with the collective bargaining process they have agreed to delay the start of the free agency period for 24 hours, to 12:01 a.m. (EST), Sunday, October 30th.
The players association will release its list of free agents and potential free agents on Sunday, and those free agents will be able to sign contracts with new teams beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.
It’s already been clarified that the official start of free agency has no affect on CC Sabathia’s situation. His contract says he has until three days after the World Series to decide whether to opt out, so he’ll have to make that decision by Monday.
Three other key dates to keep in mind…
Last date for teams to offer salary arbitration to ranked free agents. The deadline is at midnight.
Last date for a player who declared free agency to accept an arbitration offer from his former team. The deadline is midnight.
Last date to tender contracts. Again, the deadline is midnight.
A championship back home • 10.29.11
Chase’s parents were married during the 2009 ALCS, and I missed two games of that series to be a groomsman. Chase was born six weeks ago, and I got the first picture of him while I was on a layover in Minneapolis. Last night, Chase’s father — one of my oldest friends from back home — introduced me to his son, through Skype, during Game 7 of the World Series.
How could I ever forget that?
People ask me all the time whether I still cheer for the Cardinals, and the answer is… well, the answer is complicated.
I grew up in Southeast Missouri, and I honestly can’t think of a single friend from high school who rooted for another team. When my dad taught me about baseball, he taught me about Bob Gibson and Lou Brock and Julian Javier. I remember Jack Buck’s voice more clearly than I remember my grandfather’s.
Covering baseball, though, changes things. The job takes away almost all of the fan experience, and it has to be that way. A reporter can love the game, but he can’t live and die with every pitch, no matter which team is playing. When David Freese tripled in the ninth inning of Game 6, my first thought was of all the running game stories that had just died a horrible death. If the Yankees played a series at Busch Stadium, my job wouldn’t change, I’d just have lunch with old friends before I went to the park.
So, no, I don’t cheer for the Cardinals. Not really.
But last night, two friends sent me a video of their little girl saying, “It’s not cold, it’s Freeeeeesing!” after the Cardinals tied the game in the first inning. A few innings later, little Chase appeared on my computer screen, and I waved at him for the first time. This afternoon, my dad will call, and he’ll tell me all about Chris Carpenter and Allen Craig. He’ll probably tell me all about 1964, too (sorry Yankees fans, but he loved that team).
No, I don’t cheer for the Cardinals any more — not really — but truth be told, I’m glad they won. I’m glad because four of my friends were watching from the seats in right field, and my parents were watching on their television at home, and little Schuyler Anthony was watching from her daddy’s lap while she wore her Cardinals t-shirt and cheered for her favorite third baseman. I’m glad the Cardinals won because Chase Welker got to see it happen.
He might not remember it, but I will. Baseball’s always been good for memories like that.
Associated Press photo
World Series Game 7: Rangers at Cardinals • 10.28.11
After one of the most memorable World Series games ever played, the Cardinals and Rangers will decide the title in tonight’s Game 7 in St. Louis. “The reality is that if we don’t win (tonight),” Lance Berkman said, “(Game 7) becomes just a footnote to a nice season. But if we win (tonight), this is the stuff of legends.”
• Before the game, the Cardinals put LF Matt Holliday on the disabled list with a sprained wrist. He’s been replaced on the roster by speedy rookie Adron Chambers.
• The Rangers suffered two injuries of their own last night, but RF Nelson Cruz and C Mike Napoli are healthy enough to stay in the lineup for tonight’s finale.
• Rangers starter Matt Harrison is looking for redemption after lasting just 3.2 innings in Game 3, which was a lopsided Cardinals win. The Cardinals will go with their ace, Chris Carpenter, on short rest.
• According to MLB, at the peak viewing of last night’s wild Game 6, nearly one-third of TVs that were turned on in America tuned to the game. In St. Louis and Dallas, 80% of TVs that were turn on were showing the game.
• Tonight will be the 38th game of the 2011 Postseason (out of a possible 41). That’s tied with 2003 for the most games required to crown a World Series champion.
• Chris Daughtry is singing the National Anthem and former Cardinals starter Bob Forsch is throwing the first pitch.
Ryan Theriot 2B
Allen Craig LF
Albert Pujols 1B
Lance Berkman RF
David Freese 3B
Yadier Molina C
Rafael Furcal SS
Skip Schumaker CF
Chris Carpenter RHP
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Josh Hamilton CF
Michael Young 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Nelson Cruz RF
Mike Napoli C
David Murphy LF
Matt Harrison LHP
Associated Press photo
Done deal • 10.28.11
See what happens when you go outside for a coffee? News starts to break that’s hardly news at all.
Nothing surprising here, negotiations between the Yankees and Brian Cashman have apparently come to a conclusion.
Yesterday I heard that the deal was all but done, just tying up loose ends. Looks like it’s finished now. It’s been moving in this direction since the end of the division series.
The Yankees have made it clear that Cashman will not be commenting on anything until after the weekend, so it looks like there won’t be anything official until Monday.
Cashman in minor car accident • 10.28.11
Ten minutes after sending an announcement about the new radio deal, the Yankees also passed along word that general manager Brian Cashman was in a minor car accident last night.
It happened around 7:30 p.m. in Norwalk, Conn. Cashman was going to pick up dinner when his car slid on wet pavement and bumped the vehicle in front of him. According to the Yankees, neither car was damaged and no injuries were sustained.
No word on whether the dinner was intended for CC Sabathia as a last-ditch attempt to get him to stick with his current contract.