Archive for October, 2011
Yankees extend radio agreement with WCBS • 10.28.11
Here’s the short announcement from the Yankees.
The New York Yankees today announced that the organization has extended their current radio agreement with WCBS 880 through the 2012 season. The Yankees retain the option to extend the agreement for another year; however the parties intend to continue discussions about a longer term partnership.
Additionally, it is anticipated that radio announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will each return to the radio booth.
Considering an alternative in right • 10.28.11
It’s well established that the Yankees are chasing CC Sabathia, and bringing back their ace has become a clear priority this winter. The lineup, on the other hand, is near the bottom of to-do list. Yankees seem willing to stick with more or less the same offense — with Jesus Montero taking Jorge Posada’s spot at DH — but if they’re going to shake it up, right field might be the place to make a change.
At their organizational meetings this week in Tampa, the Yankees discussed their in-house options and potential free agent targets. Of course Carlos Beltran’s name was mentioned. As expected, though, the Yankees seem to be leaning toward retaining Nick Swisher and letting Beltran land elsewhere.
Which would you rather have?
This year: .260/.374/.449
Past three years: .267/.368/.486
Career postseason: .169/.295/.323
Games played the past three years: 450
This year: .300/.385/.525
Past three years: .298/.384/.497
Career postseason: .366/.485/.817
Games played the past three years: 287
I’ve written this before, but to me, Swisher is an easy call. Beltran has been a better player, but I’m not sure he’s been overwhelmingly better. This isn’t a comparison of a superstar vs. a fourth outfielder. Swisher’s been plenty productive these past three years, and his defense seems to be improving. Three reasons to lean toward Swisher.
• The commitment. Even if the Yankees could sign Beltran for the same amount of annual money, the last thing they need is another multi-year deal with a player in his mid-30s who doesn’t have the cleanest health record.
• The injuries. Beltran played only 81 games in 2009 and only 64 in 2010. He’s coming off a relatively healthy season — even then he was shutdown for a while — but he’s no guarantee to last one full season, much less three. Swisher’s been banged up the past two years, but he’s played through a lot of bumps and bruises.
• The playoffs. Obviously Beltran has better postseason numbers, but I have a hard time making too much of it. For one thing, Beltran hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2006, when he was a 29-year-old center fielder. Swisher’s a better player than he’s shown in the postseason, and I can’t put too much emphasis on those relatively small samples.
* Hard to predict the free agent market at this point, but the corner outfield market exploded last winter and Beltran is coming off a contract that paid him $18.5 million the past four years. He won’t get that much, but he and Michael Cuddyer seem to be the top corner outfielders on the market, so Beltran’s not going to settle for a small contract. Earlier this year, Joel Sherman predicted at leaset three years, $42 million.
Associated Press photo
Report: DiPoto to be named Angels GM • 10.28.11
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Angels are ready to name Jerry DiPoto their new general manager. DiPoto was the vice president of scouting and player development — and briefly the interim GM — for the Diamondbacks.
Why does a Diamondbacks executive taking an Angels job matter on a Yankees blog?
Because the Yankees pro personnel director director Billy Eppler interviewed for the job twice, and the Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer generated some early buzz for the job. For now, this seems to clear the way for the Yankees to keep two of their most trusted decision makers.
Last night could have been different • 10.28.11
Postseason games: 96
Postseason innings: 141
Postseason ERA: 0.70
Postseason saves: 42
Postseason loses: 1
Not so easy, is it?
Associated Press photo
World Series Game 6: Rangers at Cardinals • 10.27.11
After last night’s rain, the World Series resumes tonight with Game 6 in St. Louis. The Cardinals are going with their only left-handed starter, while the Rangers are using their only right-handed starter. It’s a rematch of Game 2, which the Rangers won with a late comeback.
• The Cardinals are preparing themselves for the idea that this might their last game with Albert Pujols. For the record, absolutely none of my friends back home are prepared for this situation.
• Even though it pushed back their first chance to clinch — and opened the possibility of Chris Carpenter pitching Game 7 — the Rangers were OK with baseball’s decision to postpone last night’s game.
• Out in St. Louis, the great Rick Hummel wrote that history is actually on the Cardinals side now that they’re coming home down three games to two. As Hummel wrote: Seven of the last eight times a team has returned home trailing 3-2 after five games in the Series, the home team has won both Game 6 and Game 7.
• According to FOX, Game 5 drew the highest Dallas-market television rating of any Rangers game in franchise history and surpassed the local rating for every game of the NBA Finals (which the Mavericks won).
• As you might imagine, FOX is rooting for a Game 7 in hopes of big ratings.
• The Cardinals are bringing back David Eckstein — their 2006 World Series MVP — to throw the first pitch. Vince Coleman — leadoff man of my youth — will “deliver” the game ball.
Rafael Furcal SS
Skip Schumaker CF
Albert Pujols 1B
Lance Berkman RF
Matt Holliday LF
David Freese 3B
Yadier Molina C
Nick Punto 2B
Jaime Garcia LHP
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Josh Hamilton LF
Michael Young 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Nelson Cruz RF
Mike Napoli C
Craig Gentry CF
Colby Lewis RHP
Associated Press photo
Boras: Just kidding! • 10.27.11
Scott Boras said he was joking when he told the New York Post on Wednesday that he wanted the Yankees to re-work and extend Robinson Cano’s contract.
“Cash and I have talked three or four times in the last three days. My statements were in jest. Cash always returns my phone calls,” Boras told The Post today. “My conversations with Cash about Robinson have nothing to do with the options. We fully expect the options to be exercised.”
High-A Year in Review • 10.27.11
When the season started, it was the Tampa roster that created the least buzz of any Yankees affiliate. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances had moved up to Double-A, Slade Heathcott and Gary Sanchez were still in Low-A, and High-A Tampa was left to a handful of mid-level prospects and unknowns.
Of course, it was Tampa that won more games than any other Yankees minor league affiliate, primarily on the strength of a solid lineup and a group of pitchers who weren’t quite overwhelming but held their own. The team’s ERA was near the bottom of the Florida State League, but individually, enough pitchers did well enough to win 74 games, one more than Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and nearly 20 more than more highly touted Charleston.
Hitter of the Year: LF Zoilo Almonte
Part of the reason the Tampa roster thrived is that Almonte finally had a breakout season. He played in only 70 games before a promotion to Double-A, but he still led Tampa in home runs, finished second in RBI and put together the team’s most impressive slash line at .293/.368/.514. Signed out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2005, Almonte finally had a decent year in Staten Island in 2009. He was a little bit better last year in Charleston and Tampa, and this year he showed a mix of power and speed before his Double-A promotion. He didn’t do nearly as much with Trenton, and he’ll likely try to avoid following Melky Mesa’s footsteps with a return to Trenton next season.
Starter of the Year: RHP Brett Marshall
In his last 10 outings, Marshall allowed more then three runs only once and more than two runs only twice. He had a 2.84 ERA through that stretch, finishing the year at his very best, despite the fact he easily surpassed his career-high for innings pitched. In his second year back from Tommy John surgery — a year in which Baseball America ranked him the 11th-best Yankees prospect — Marshall got better as the year progressed. He turns 22 next spring, and should have Double-A in his sights coming out of spring training.
Reliever of the Year: RHP Ryan Flannery
Could have gone several ways here — Chase Whitley, Preston Claiborne, Jose Quintana — but I’ll go with the Tampa closer who walked only five guys all year, had more than twice as many ground outs as fly outs, and led the team with a 0.89 WHIP. He was a 47th-round pick in 2008, and he’s certainly not a big name in the system, but that’s a nice year. Looking for the reliever who made the biggest name for himself, that’s probably Whitley, who had a 1.68 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and earned a Double-A call-up in his first full season.
Breakout performance: OF/2B Ronnier Mustelier
Really, Almonte is probably the best pick here, but I’ll go with an odd pick. Mustelier is a 27-year-old out of Cuba. He’s too old for this level, and he’s in his first year with the Yankees, but he also hit .333/.378/.524 while playing all over the field. It’s only 126 at-bats, but that line makes you take notice, and a guy in Mustelier’s spot needs to make people pay attention quickly. There’s no time to wait a few years for a breakout season. He needed to make a quick impression, and he did, and now he’s playing in the Arizona Fall League (he’s hitting out there as well).
Disappointing numbers: CF Slade Heathcott
The number that matters is the number five, as in five at-bats. The Yankees top pick in 2009 was expected to start the year in Low-A, move fairly quickly to High-A and improve on last year’s so-so numbers. He got off to an incredible start in Low-A, moved up despite a considerable drop in production, and wound up on the disabled list after only one game with Tampa. He didn’t play past the end June. Starter Jairo Heredia also had his season cut short at the end of June, and another starter, Jose Ramirez, struggled in a brief High-A strint, but Heathcott’s injury was one of the biggest blows to the system this year.
Top prospect watch: CF Abe Almonte
Aside from Marshall — who’s something of a wild card given the injury history — none of the Yankees elite, big-name prospects spent a lot of time in Tampa this year. Whitley could certainly fit here, but we’ll go with a guy who seems perpetually on the verge of building some legitimate prospect buzz. A converted infielder, Almonte put up season totals perfectly in line with his previous two years, but in the second half he hit .317/.367/.478 with 17 stolen bases and nine triples. The Yankees have to hope it as a sign of things finally coming together, or was it too little, too late?
Notable: In no way is SS Walter Ibarra an elite prospect, but he did give the Yankees his best season this year with a .297/.333/.421 slash line and 10 stolen bases… 3B Rob Lyerly hit .315/.363/.462 to earn a promotion to Double-A in the middle of June. The 2009 sixth-rounder hasn’t shown typical corner infield power, but he’s hit and advanced… RHP Scottie Allen, the player the Yankees got from Arizona for Juan Miranda, opened the season in Tampa but went down to Charleston after a 7.21 ERA through 16 appearances. The Charleston numbers were even worse… Mentioned LHP Jose Quintana briefly above, but he did have a terrific year while splitting time between the rotation and bullpen. He had 10 wins, a 2.91 ERA and 1.12 WHIP… Signed as a free agent last year, RHP Josh Romanski had a 3.16 ERA in the Tampa rotation, went to Trenton and had a 2.04 ERA as a reliever… 1B Luke Murton led Tampa with 62 RBI and 28 doubles… OF Deangelo Mack hit .300/.364/.464 to earn a Double-A promotion, while C Kyle Higashioka hit .238/.300/.372 to earn a demotion to Low-A, where his numbers were even worse… Best pitching stats on the team belonged to INF Emerson Landoni who pitched in one game, threw two scoreless innings and got the win.
Chavez undecided about retirement • 10.27.11
Eric Chavez is still trying to decide whether to retire this offseason. He was limited to 58 games this season, mostly because of a foot issue, but proved a helpful part-time player off the Yankees bench. He hit .263/.320/.356 for the season and his agent said he, “would deeply consider a return to New York if there is a fit.”
Of course, there could be a natural fit for Chavez in the exact same role he filled this season. Alex Rodriguez seemed worn down at the end of the year, and an experienced corner infielder — hitting left-handed seems to be a plus — could give the Yankees a natural alternative to limit Rodriguez’s workload next season.
Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird are in-house options to spell Rodriguez at third, but Nunez struggled defensively this season and Laird has four big league hits and batted .260/.288/.422 in Triple-A this season.
Chavez’s overall numbers weren’t especially impressive, but he can still play the field and before the injury he was plenty productive at the plate.
The risk and reward of Robinson Cano • 10.27.11
The Yankees have Robinson Cano under contract through the next two seasons. Club options will pay him $14 million next year and $15 million the year after, and the Yankees will exercise those options without hesitation. It’s not small money, but it’s a bargain for one of the best players in the game.
Today, the New York Post reports that Cano’s agent — newly hired Scott Boras — has reached out to the Yankees for a contract extension.
“I called Cash to ask about dropping the options and he hasn’t returned the call,” Boras said.
It was Bryan Hoch who first pointed out that Cano was asked about this very scenario back in February.
On asking for an extension: “I would never do that,” Cano said. “Those are things that has to be their decision. I’m just going to come in and focus on playing baseball.”
On hiring Boras last winter: “They have a great company,” Cano said. “A company that can do everything for you, not only on the field, but off the field too. That’s why I went there. It’s nothing that I’m just thinking about a big contract or anything.”
To be fair to Boras, his job is to get the best deal possible for his client, and certainly it makes sense to ask the Yankees for more money and more years when Cano’s coming off back-to-back MVP-caliber seasons. It also makes sense for the Yankees to decide this is not the time.
Back in 2008, when the Yankees signed Cano to the current contract, he’d played three seasons in the big leagues. He was a very good player, but he didn’t have the track record to be considered one of the game’s elite. The Yankees bought out his arbitration years and made a real commitment at the time when the risk was clearly on the team.
That risk paid off, and now the Yankees have a smart contract with a great player. There’s a lot to be said for locking up Cano beyond 2013, but Cano doesn’t seem upset with his current deal, and he’s about to get a $4-million raise. With two years left on the current, the Yankees have the leverage here, and they don’t have to be in any rush.
Associated Press photo
Draft slotting system still being debated • 10.27.11
Late last night, The Associated Press moved an update on MLB’s negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The last major issue involves a slotting system for the draft. Putting such a system in place would eliminate a team’s ability to spend big money to sign late-round picks, a strategy the Yankees have used in the past. Here’s the update from the AP.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — While the NBA struggles with negotiations during its lockout, signing bonuses for amateur draft picks is the last major issue left in talks for baseball’s new labor contract.
Representatives for players and owners met Tuesday in New York, people familiar with the session told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcements were authorized.
Commissioner Bud Selig wants a system of fixed signing bonuses that tie the amount to when a prospect is drafted, known as slotting. Players have traditionally said the signing bonuses should be the subject of negotiation.
While draft bonuses are the last big issue, those provisions are tied to other parts of the agreement, such as the luxury tax, the reserve system and the minimum salary, the people said.
Players and owners have come to an understanding on how to handle testing for human growth hormone, but not necessarily a definitive agreement, one of the people said.
The current agreement expires Dec. 11, and talks have proceeded throughout the year without the rancor that surrounded negotiations during the NFL and NBA lockouts.
Following eight work stoppages from 1972-95, baseball has had labor peace since the 7½-month strike in 1994-95 that canceled the World Series for the first time in nine decades. The sides agreed to a contract in August 2002, hours before the scheduled start of a strike, to conclude an agreement without a work stoppage for the first time since 1970. They struck a deal in 2006 on the day of World Series Game 3 in St. Louis, nearly two months before their agreement was to expire.