The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for December, 2011

Rodriguez ‘fine’ after procedure in Germany; Okajima added12.28.11

Some Yankees news, courtesy of The Associated Press:

NEW YORK — The Yankees say star third baseman Alex Rodriguez is fine after having special treatment on his right knee and left shoulder in Germany earlier this month.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez had plasma-rich platelet injections following a recommendation from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said today that the team gave its permission after vetting the process.
Rodriguez’s treatment was first reported by the New York Post.
Cashman says Major League Baseball and WADA have approved the procedure, and that it is also performed in the United States. The Yankees say Rodriguez went to the doctor in Germany because he’s at the top of this field.
Rodriguez had surgery on his right knee last July and saw his power drop in the second half and postseason. He played in 99 games and hit 16 home runs. He has 629 career homers.
Cashman says Rodriguez is “100 percent” right now and that there are “no red flags” going into spring training. Cashman says he expects Rodriguez to be able to play every day.
The Yankees also said they’ve reached agreement with 37-year-old lefty Hideki Okajima for a non-roster invite to spring training. Once a staple of the Boston bullpen, he spent most of last year in Triple-A for the Red Sox. The Yankees envision him as a possible lefty specialist.

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Happy Holidays from the LoHud Yankees Blog12.25.11

For those of you celebrating Christmas today, I hope you’re having a great one surrounded by friends and family and egg nog. And of course, I hope you got exactly what you wanted (if you wanted Albert Pujols under the tree, you might have been disappointed).

Whatever you’re celebrating, enjoy it, and everyone here at the LoHud Yankees Blog is wishing you a wonderful holiday season. So are the Yankees. 

As for me, I’m just now enjoying the first leg of a three-stop holiday tour of North Carolina, Missouri and Michigan. I’m off next week, so some of the familiar names from The Journal News will be manning the blog through what is almost always a slow week in baseball.

I’ll see you all in the new year. Less than two months until pitchers and catchers…

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Associated Press photo

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Reggie, Bernie and O’Neill discuss life as a Yankees outfielder12.24.11

Here’s a little Christmas Eve television viewing if you’re interested…

Tonight on the YES Network, Michael Kay will play host to a panel of great Yankees outfielders: Reggie Jackson, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams (with Yogi Berra in the audience).

The three discuss their arrival with the Yankees and what it took to be a great outfielder in pinstripes.

Here’s O’Neill discussing the intensity of October:

“I think your concentration level is so different,” he said. “You ask Reggie if he could do that all year. I don’t know that you can impose that on yourself, the importance of a game in August, as you can in September… People watch a game, a World Series game, and at the end of it, it was just a baseball game.

“It wasn’t a baseball game if you’re playing as part of the New York Yankees.”

It Gets Early Out There: The Outfielders premiers on the YES Network tonight at 6 p.m. ET.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 459 Comments →

Not a creature was stirring12.24.11

It’s Christmas Eve, which means one more day until Santa brings all the best toys to all the good girls and boys. Where does that leave the Yankees? On the naughty list?

Not really.

Truth is, the Yankees opened their biggest gift early this year. When all of the baseball world expected CC Sabathia to opt out after the playoffs, the Yankees ace instead agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in the Bronx through at least 2016.

Not long after, the Yankees picked up their options on Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, paying more than $5 million to assure that the key pieces of the American League’s second-highest-scoring offense will be back next season.

Up next was Freddy Garcia, re-signed to a reasonable one-year deal that helped satisfy Brian Cashman’s desire for a little veteran depth at the back of the rotation.

The stocking stuffers have been a couple of Rule 5 relievers and the rights to a utility infielder from Japan. The packages tet to be fully unopened are Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances; the top prospects Cashman has refused to unload in a trade for a starting pitcher.

It’s been an unusually quiet winter for the Yankees — and it’s left plenty of fans begging for some sort of new, shiny toy under the tree — but the bulk of this roster was already assembled long before Santa began loading his sleigh. There wasn’t much to be done this winter, and so the Yankees haven’t done much. In so many ways, that’s a gift of its own.

Whether it’s a gift worthy of Santa remains to be seen.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 284 Comments →

‘Tis the season12.23.11

I first mentioned this idea last March, and I’ll probably mention it again as we get closer to the Grapefruit League schedule. But this holiday season also seems like a good time to mention it.

Two springs ago, a reader of this blog named Mike donated extra Yankees spring training tickets to Big Brothers and Sisters of Tampa Bay. Afterward, he got an email that read, in part…

Scott and I really appreciate the generosity of the individual donating those tickets. Scott loves sports but I don’t think he knew how packed that game was going to be until we got there. I think that was the spring training game of the year.

Mike has suggested similar donations from other Yankees fans who end up with extra spring tickets (or from Yankees fans who feel like donating a gift to a worthy cause this time of year). He asked that anyone interested email him — — and he’ll put you in touch with his contact with Big Brothers and Sisters.

You can buy spring training tickets online right now.

Associated Press photo from last spring

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Trade Felix? An opinion from Seattle12.23.11

Oakland did it again yesterday. Continuing their aggressive rebuilding process, the A’s traded away another good, young starting pitcher for a haul of prospects. First it was Trevor Cahill to Arizona, and yesterday it was Gio Gonzalez to Washington.

If things workout just right, Oakland will have landed four starting pitchers for the price of two. They will have also added a starting catcher, a reliever and a toolsy outfielder. Of course, that’s assuming all of these prospects live up to their potential.

Given those returns — and the Padres return for Mat Latos — should the Mariners consider trading arguably the most valuable starting pitcher in baseball? Yankees fans aren’t the only ones constantly dreaming up prospect packages that might lure Hernandez, and he could generate a larger return than Gonzalez, Cahill or Latos.

Out in Seattle, though, at least one Mariners reporter argues that there’s still no sense dealing Hernandez. Even a massive group of prospects, or a short-term MVP candidate like Robinson Cano wouldn’t be enough. Check out the link, because a lot of it centers on the idea of dealing Hernandez to the Yankees. And thanks to my friend Sweeny Murti for pointing me to the story.

Associated Press photo 

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 150 Comments →

The 25-man roster as it is today (take two)12.23.11

Back on November 27, I wrote a blog post about the Yankees 25-man roster as it was at that moment. Only players under contract at the time were eligible, and I started the post by saying, “the Yankees could make a big move at any moment… but Brian Cashman has talked about a conservative offseason approach.”

Cashman has lived up to that expectation. Here’s an updated look at a potential 25-man roster based on players currently under contract. Not much has changed in the past six and a half weeks.

C – Russell Martin
1B – Mark Teixeira
2B – Robinson Cano
3B – Alex Rodriguez
SS – Derek Jeter
LF – Brett Gardner
CF – Curtis Granderson
RF – Nick Swisher
DH – Jesus Montero

Absolutely nothing has changed here. The only minor change is that the Yankees have made it crystal clear that Martin will be back for a second season in pinstripes. It still looks like these might very well be the Yankees starting position players on Opening Day.

C – Francisco Cervelli
INF – Eduardo Nunez
OF – Justin Maxwell
OF – Chris Dickerson

Back in November, my first comment about the Yankees bench was: This is one spot where the roster is likely to change quite a bit. So far it hasn’t changed at all. The Yankees are interested in re-signing Andruw Jones, and they now know Eric Chavez wants to play again, but they haven’t completed a deal with either. I’d pencil Hiroyuki Nakajima into a roster spot ahead of one of the outfielders had he agreed to a contract by now, but he’s still unsigned.

LHP – CC Sabathia
RHP – Ivan Nova
RHP – Phil Hughes
RHP – A.J. Burnett
RHP – Freddy Garcia

Hey look, something’s changed in the past month and a half! By re-signing Garcia, the Yankees might have put their entire 2012 rotation into place. Cashman is still looking for starters, but the elite talent is off the free agent market and the trade market has been too costly for Cashman’s taste. After declaring from the beginning that the rotation would be their offseason priority, is it really possible the Yankees will go into spring training with essentially the exact same rotation as last year?

Closer – Mariano Rivera
Setup – Dave Robertson
Setup – Rafael Soriano
Middle – Cory Wade
Lefty – Boone Logan
Lefty – Cesar Cabral
Long – Brad Meyers

Last time I did this, I cheated by including Joba Chamberlain, who almost certainly will not be ready for Opening Day. This time around, I’ve adjusted to include the two Rule 5 picks (even though it’s hard to imagine both sticking). More likely is that one of the Rule 5 guys makes the team — I’d guess that Cabral has the upper hand as a second left-hander — and the other spot is filled from within the system (someone like George Kontos or D.J. Mitchell winning the long relief job, for example).

Bottom line: This isn’t a bad roster. The bench could use a more proven bat, but otherwise, this team could be pretty good as long as the rotation holds up. It probably seems worse only because it’s so shockingly similar to what it was six weeks ago, or even three months ago.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees luxury tax bill keeps shrinking12.23.11

The Associated Press reports that the Yankees once again have been charged with baseball’s largest luxury tax, but it’s their lowest in nearly a decade and it’s been steadily declining in recent years. Here’s the AP with the details.

The New York Yankees have been hit with a $13.9 million luxury tax bill, their lowest since 2003.

The fee, assessed Thursday by Major League Baseball under its labor contract, is down from $18 million last year and $25.7 million in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series.

Boston, which missed the playoffs this year, is the only other team that will have to pay a tax. The Red Sox received a bill for $3.4 million, up from last year’s $1.5 million.

Season-ending payroll information and the tax was sent to teams and obtained by The Associated Press.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, checks to pay the tax must be sent to the commissioner’s office by Jan. 31.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 567 Comments →

Swisher: “We feel we have an amazing team”12.23.11

Nick Swisher was on the YES Network last night, and he took some exception to the idea that the Yankees haven’t enough enough to improve themselves this winter.

“I think it’s time to put us back on the map,” he said. “I think with the guys we have going into this season, we feel confident. A lot of people are saying, why haven’t the Yankees made any moves? Well, we didn’t win the most games in the American League last year with just nobody. We feel we have an amazing team, and we’re going to go out there and hope we prove that this year.”

As it is, the Yankees most significant loss from last season is Jorge Posada, who has been replaced — upgraded? — by the arrival of Jesus Montero. Otherwise, the Yankees are missing some pieces from the bench and they lost some rotation depth when Bartolo Colon became a free agent, but otherwise they’re bringing back almost the exact same team that finished last season.

“In New York, people expect to win, and we want to win for them,” Swisher said. “Regardless of whatever lineup we put on the field, we will be competitive.”

Check out the rest of the interview to hear Swisher talk about the holidays, his offseason trip to visit troops overseas and his personal goals for this winter and next season.

“I just turned 31,” he said. “I don’t feel it, but this is my eighth season in the big leagues. It’s about time to really turn that on.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 951 Comments →

A few Thursday night notes and links12.22.11

Just a few notes and links as we move closer to the holiday weekend.

• Brian Cashman has already said that teams have approached him about trading for almost everyone on the roster, and today Ken Rosenthal brought some specifics. Rosenthal wrote that the Indians inquired about Nick Swisher, but it’s hard to see such a trade going anywhere.

• Given the fact they weren’t remotely in the mix for Yu Darvish and seem to be avoiding massive financial commitments, it should come as no surprise that our friend Marc Carig tweeted today that the Yankees chances of getting Yoenis Cespedes are “slim and none.”

• The Red Sox have their new pitching coach, having hired Bob McClure for the job. 

• Looks like another big name is off the market with Carlos Beltran agreeing to a two-year deal with the Cardinals. Seems like he’ll slide into right field while Lance Berkman replaces Albert Pujols at first. The significance for the Yankees is that Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay were all mentioned as possible destinations for Beltran.

• Remember Mitch Hilligoss? Probably not. He was traded for Greg Golson a few years ago, and he’s since been released by the Rangers. 

• A back-of-the-rotation innings eater came off the market with Jason Marquis signing a one-year deal with the Twins. … A reserve corner infielder also came off the market with Mark DeRosa signing with the Nationals.

Associated Press photo

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