Archive for November, 2011
Week in Review: Considering a Nunez swap • 11.20.11
Last week’s GM Meetings came and went without much news coming out of Yankees camp. The real intriguing stuff came out last night when John Harper reported that, during last week’s meetings, the Braves told the Yankees they were interested in Eduardo Nunez.
Harper has a source who wonders if the two sides might be able to eventually build a deal around Nunez and Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens.
“They need offense,” Harper’s source said of the Braves. “They need a shortstop because they don’t want to bring (Alex) Gonzalez back, and they like Nunez a lot.”
Nunez for Jurrjens is unlikely to say the least. Even if the Braves asking price for Jurrjens falls — and even knowing the difference in salary — Nunez alone wouldn’t be enough to get the deal done. Harper suggests including Nick Swisher in some way, and we all know Brian Cashman is on record saying he would be willing to give up offense for pitching.
Is it going to happen? Right now it’s impossible to say it’s remotely close, but the Braves like Nunez and the Yankees need a pitcher. That’s a starting point.
The rest of the week in review.
• Eric Chavez wants to play next year, and his agent contacted Cashman last week to check on the possibility of a return to the Bronx. Cashman has said he could be interested in bringing Chavez back for a reprise of last year’s bench role.
• CC Sabathia finished fourth in the American League Cy Young race. Former Yankees starter Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the NL Cy Young race.
• Ivan Nova finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year race, and Joe Girardi was fifth in Manager of the Year. MVP is announced this week.
• The Yankees made their moves to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. They added David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell, Zoilo Almonte, David Adams and Corban Joseph to the 40-man roster.
• The new collective bargaining agreement is nearly official, and it’s going to include some significant changes to the draft and international signings. Should be announced this week.
• The Yankees signed lefty Mike O’Connor and re-signed right-hander Grant Duff to minor league deals.
Associated Press photos
Yankees getting into the holiday spirit • 11.19.11
Truth is, the Yankees are good about things like this. You see plenty of individual players getting themselves heavily involved in philanthropic organizations, on Thursday night Brian Cashman slept outside to promote relief for young victims of homelessness, and the organization as a whole does multiple events like the ones listed here. The Yankees sent a schedule of some of their holiday season plans. Here are some of the highlights.
• On Wednesday, November 23, the Yankees and Legends Hospitality will provide a Thanksgiving meal for approximately 200 local residents at the Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network (SCAN). Located in the Bronx, SCAN has provided support to thousands of New York City-based at-risk families since 1977.
• On Thursday, December 8, the Yankees will partner with Community Board 4 (CB4) to host the 2011 4 + 44 Awards Ceremony at Yankee Stadium in the Delta SKY360 Suite. During the event, local police officers will be recognized for their commitment to making a difference in the lives of CB4 residents.
• On Wednesday, December 14, the Yankees, along with White Rose and members of the Bronx clergy, will hold their 18th annual Holiday Food Drive from 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Non-perishable food will be accepted at Yankee Stadium’s Gate 2. Fans who donate at least 30 pounds will receive a voucher good for two tickets to a designated Yankees home game in 2012. Last year, more than 105,000 lbs. of food was collected and distributed to families in need throughout the Bronx.
• Yankee Stadium will once again transform into the North Pole on Friday, December 16, when the Great Hall plays host to the 2011 Winter Wonderland. This event, held in conjunction with the Bronx Borough President’s Office, will treat several thousand local youth to a holiday extravaganza complete with holiday decorations, festive music, food and drink, as well as a holiday gift for each child in attendance. Approximately 5,000 local children enjoyed last year’s event.
• The Yankees will host the 2011 Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Varsity City Championship Football game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, December 6, at 5:00 p.m. Last year, approximately 6,000 fans were in attendance to witness Fort Hamilton and Lincoln High School compete for the City Championship.
• On December 20, the 2011 MVP Scholar Athlete Awards Ceremony will take place at Yankee Stadium. The night will honor 11 scholar-athletes from each of the five boroughs of New York City and will recognize these individuals for their outstanding academic and athletic achievements. In addition, the 55 scholar-athletes will be recognized on field during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 30.
Can you name all of the 2011 Yankees? • 11.19.11
Someone emailed me this link, and apparently they found it from our friends over at River Ave. Blues. It’s a Sporcle quiz that asks a very simple question:
If you’ve never done anything with Sporcle, it’s incredibly simple. Basically, you have 10 minutes to type in the last name of every player who got into a game for the Yankees this season.
I’ll give you a hint: The guy in the picture above is one of them.
It took me less than two and a half minutes to get all but four names. Those last four were all relief pitchers, and three of them were lefties. Getting those last four took a while, but with 2:31 to go I typed in the last player I needed. It’s harder than you might think. You start out like a tornado of Yankees knowledge, then you hit an immovable wall. That was my experience anyway.
Good way to kill a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon in mid-November.
Associated Press photo
Looking for holes on the 40-man • 11.19.11
After yesterday’s changes, the Yankees 40-man roster stands at 39. That leaves one open spot for any free agent additions the Yankees make this offseason, it also leaves just one open spot for any trade that adds more players than it takes away. In other words: Chances are, the Yankees are going to have to open a few roster spots this winter.
These spots could be vulnerable.
It looks like this is a lost contract. After having shoulder surgery late last season, it seems Feliciano will not pitch a single inning during his two year deal with the Yankees. The team can’t put him on the 60-day disabled list until spring training, but they could go ahead and DFA him to open a spot on the 40-man. It’s worth noting that they could have done the same with Damaso Marte last winter and chose not to. If there’s the slightest chance Feliciano could pitch this year, the Yankees might hold out hope and hold onto him.
Unless the Yankees are able to swing a trade, there really aren’t many pitchers on the roster who they could easily lose. Dellin Betances is obviously not a DFA candidate, Cory Wade pitched very well last season, George Kontos emerged as a cheap long relief candidate and both David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell were just added. Of the 17 pitchers on the 40-man, Whelan might be the most vulnerable. He had a terrific Triple-A season — a breakout of sorts — but the Yankees didn’t give him a September call-up and quickly sent him back down after his mid-season promotion. Makes you wonder how much of a future they see in him.
Let me start by saying that in no way do I believe the Yankees want to DFA Laird, and in no way do I believe he’s at risk of being DFA. That said, the Yankees are now carrying nine infielders on their roster, and five of them — including Eduardo Nunez — are more like utility bench candidates. That’s a lot of spots to devote to such a limited role, especially when you think Eric Chavez is a candidate to return. If the Yankees had to DFA one infielder, who would it be? Nunez has a big league job, David Adams and Corban Joseph were just added and would surely be claimed, Pena is their only real shortstop option after Nunez and Laird is a good bat coming off a so-so year.
Greg Golson or Justin Maxwell
Only because they’re out of options, and the Yankees also have Chris Dickerson as an out-of-options outfielder who could compete for a bench role this spring. Both Golson and Maxwell have some big league time, and Maxwell was having a strong Triple-A season before he got hurt this year, but the Yankees aren’t going to have enough roster spots to keep all three of Golson, Maxwell and Dickerson on the 40-man roster throughout the season. If they had to open a spot, they could prioritize and pick which one(s) they want to truly look at in spring training.
As it stands, Curtis is the only Triple-A outfielder who’s on the 40-man and can be shipped to the minors. He’s also a guy who can play all three outfield spots and could certainly play a bench role during the season. There is obvious value in that, but he’s also coming off a lost year, and the Yankees could take their chances on getting Curtis through waivers. Not an ideal situation since the team could lose Dickerson, Golson and Maxwell, but it’s certainly an option. Curtis is playing pretty well in winter ball as we speak. Melky Mesa is a similar situation. He has options — and upside — but he didn’t play like a big leaguer down in Double-A this season.
The Winter Meetings are in two weeks. If you’re looking for a benchmark, some sort of target date for when the hot stove might actually heat up, the Winter Meetings are as good as anything. The GM Meetings certainly didn’t bring much action.
“The free agent (market) is moving at a glacial speed,” Brian Cashman told the New York Post. “And the category I’m shopping in, I don’t believe guys are jumping off the board this week. The players I’m interested in won’t be coming off the board anytime soon. But trade stuff is different. That can move fast, if someone finds the right match.”
Cashman made it clear in Milwaukee that, right now, the trade market is too expensive for his taste. He’s willing to make a move, but the asking prices are too much. He’s rejected offers, and he’s had offers rejected.
The free agent market might find some traction with next week’s collective bargaining agreement announcement, for now though, it’s “glacial” and we’re all left waiting something to heat up.
Notes and links heading into the weekend • 11.18.11
After three nights in an upscale Milwaukee hotel, Brian Cashman spent last night sleeping on the street in Times Square to bring awareness to the struggles of homeless youth.
“There are some sad, powerful stories that exist that create a feeling of hopelessness,” Cashman told the New York Daily News. “We’re trying to communicate that homeless doesn’t mean hopeless. There are very tragic circumstances, but these kids are just amazing. They just need help getting back on track.”
Cashman is heavily involved with Covenant House and was taking part in the CEO Solidarity Sleepout.
A few other notes and links…
• Dave Robertson and his wife Erin were honored at Winning Beyond Winning’s annual Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner. Erik Boland was there, and wrote that Robertson is still hungry after his breakout, all-star season. “It’s the big leagues, it’s the New York Yankees,” Robertson said. “I don’t want to get beat and not do well because I’m not prepared. I’m going to train as hard as I can. I’m going to hold my ground and try to keep my spot.”
• Anytime a former star hits the market as a potential risk-reward bargain, that player becomes an instant and lasting topic of discussion. This winter, Grady Sizemore fits the description, but he’s reportedly in serious talks to return to Cleveland.
• Former Yankees long reliever Lance Pendleton has signed a minor league deal with the Astros. It was the Astros who took Pendleton in the Rule 5 draft last winter, then the Astros signed him after the Yankees DFAd him during the season.
• The Yankees have re-signed minor league reliever Grant Duff. Injuries knocked him off track, but a couple of years ago he was starting to make a name for himself with a big fastball in the upper levels. Not saying you should put him at the top of your prospect list, but he still has a chance to make some noise and gain traction, kind of like Kevin Whelan did last season.
• Speaking of minor league signings: Former first-rounder Eric Duncan has signed with the Royals. He had a nice year with the Cardinals Double-A affiliate last season. Another familiar name, Sean Henn, has signed with the Mariners. Joe Thurston — CC Sabathia’s cousin — has signed with the Astros, who are stockpiling 4-A players.
• Just a heads up that Donnie Collins is back to some Yankees blogging over in Scranton. Donnie’s a welcome perspective on this organization, but lately he’s had his hands full with his other beat: Penn State football.
Let’s get right into the notes. The Arizona Fall League season ended this week, so the Yankees down there — including new 40-man additions David Phelps and Corban Joseph — are finished for the year.
• After three consecutive starts without an earned, Hector Noesi allowed five hits in just 1.2 innings in his most recent Dominican Winter League outing. He was charged with five runs, but only two were earned because of a couple of errors behind him. Overall, he’s still carrying a 2.31 ERA this winter.
• In his only start after winning the Arizona Fall League’s Pitcher of the Week, David Phelps went five innings on Thursday. He allowed two runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out six. Another solid outing. His Fall League ERA dipped slightly to 4.41.
• Getting regular time at shortstop — with some time at third base — Ramiro Pena is hitting .294 down in Mexico. He’s made one error in 10 games.
• Getting all of his Arizona Fall League time at third base and designated hitter, utility prospect Ronnier Mustelier kept hitting, including doubles in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. Granted, it’s an offensive league, but he hit .344/.354/.516… Also in Arizona, Rob Segedin hit just .250 and didn’t homer after Oct. 27, but he got all of his time in left field, which is key for a guy used to playing third… Corban Joseph was the other Yankees position player in the Fall League. He just had a two-hit game, but he still finished hitting just .227 down there.
• Colin Curtis went deep off Carlos Zambrano for his first home run of the winter. Finally back on the field after missing this season because of a shoulder injury, Curtis is hitting .320/.452/.480 in Venezuela. He’s hit first, second, third, seventh and ninth in the lineup, and he’s played all three outfield positions (mostly left field). He has as many walks as strikeouts and he’s 1-for-1 stealing bases.
• Prospect catcher Gary Sanchez is getting a little more playing time in the Dominican. He had a three-hit game on Sunday and he’s batting .364, but he still has just 11 at-bats in five games. He’s just not seeing much playing time down there. That’s to be expected for a guy that young.
• Jorge Vazquez went 4-for-5 with two home runs on Wednesday. The guy just keeps crushing the ball down in Mexico. He’s hitting .345/.400/.655 with 33 RBI in 28 games.
• Also down in Mexico, Pat Venditte is holding opponents to a .211 batting average. He’s allowed one run in his past four outings, and he’s doing a good job against both lefties and righties. Neither side is hitting better than .227 against him.
• Chase Whitley pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League on Wednesday, and his ERA went down to 1.62 with a .200 opponents batting average down there. He’s building on a strong regular season… A good finish to a rough stint, Dan Burawa pitched 1.2 scoreless on Tuesday and finished with a 7.53 ERA in Arizona… The other Yankees pitcher in the fall league was Preston Claiborne who finished with a 3.00 ERA, .256 opponents batting average and eight strikeouts with seven walks. He was charged with one run in his last three outings.
Here’s the latest from The Associated Press about the soon-to-be-announced collective bargaining agreement. Ken Rosenthal says the deal will be officially announced on Tuesday.
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players and owners have reached a tentative verbal agreement on a five-year labor contract and hope to have a signed deal by next week.
Negotiators reached an understanding when they met late Thursday at the InterContinental O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the agreement still was being drafted.
The sides hope to sign a memorandum of understanding in time to announce the agreement Monday or Tuesday. The last item to fall in place was the luxury tax on high payroll teams.
The agreement, the first for the union since Michael Weiner succeeded Donald Fehr as head last year, would replace the deal expiring Dec. 11 and would give baseball 21 years of labor peace since the 1994-95 strike.
Under the agreement, there will be a new restraint on the amount of money a team spends each year to sign selections from the amateur draft, with teams going over a threshold being penalized with a type of luxury tax.
In addition, there will be a separate restraint on the amount of money spent to sign international amateur free agents from nations such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cuba. There also will be a committee established to review the system for international signings, leaving open the possibility of a new system during the term of the deal.
Negotiators also worked to lower the percentage of major league free agents who require the highest form of draft pick compensation for the teams losing them.
As part of the deal, players and owners are agreeing to add an extra wild-card round to the playoffs. The extra round will be one game, winner take all.
Yankees add five to 40-man roster • 11.18.11
This afternoon, the team added RHP David Phelps, RHP D.J. Mitchell, OF Zoilo Almonte, INF Corban Joseph and INF David Adams to the 40-man roster. All five would have been eligible for the Rule 5 had they not been protected with a 40-man spot.
None of the five is a significant surprise. The only one who stands out is Adams, a third-round pick in 2008 who suffered an ankle injury in early 2010 and lost most of the past two seasons.
That said, the guy can hit. He’s hit .291/.375/.447 in the minor leagues, not a bad bat for a guy who’s primarily a second baseman, with some experience at third. He would have been a no-brainer for protection if not for the injury.
The other four seem to be fairly obvious decisions. Mitchell and Phelps are coming off strong Triple-A seasons, Almonte had a breakout season and Joseph is a solid utility candidate.
Cespedes won’t come cheap (surprise!) • 11.18.11
If the Yankees want to take a chance on Yoennis Cespedes, they might have to pay him like a proven big league outfielder.
At this week’s GM Meetings, Cespedes’ agent was clearly positioning his client as an immediate impact player, and reports are that he expects to be paid as such. Peter Gammons reports a price range between $35 and $50 million.
The Yankees don’t have a ton of upper-level outfield depth, but they also don’t have a pressing need for a big league outfielder. The challenge for their scouts is to decide whether Cespedes is worth the risk (and the money). Signing him could certainly create some ripples through the rest of the roster.