Archive for December, 2011
LoHud Yankees chat tomorrow • 12.21.11
Before I start flying all over the country for the holidays, let’s have one last 2011 chat.
I’ll be chatting on Thursday starting at noon. The Yankees haven’t done much, which oddly gives us plenty to talk about. What have they missed, what could they do and how will a quiet winter affect 2012?
Stop by if you can.
LoHud Yankees Blog. Noon. Chat. See ya there.
Andruw Jones seems to be a natural fit for the Yankees bench, and the Yankees have publicly admitted that they’re interested in bringing him back, but a Jones return might not be as easy as originally thought.
Mark Feinsand reports this morning that the Yankees and Jones have made little progress on a new deal, and he has a source who indicates multiple teams are in the mix to sign Jones. Feinsand has reason to believe the Red Sox are one of those teams.
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have a left-heavy outfield. In fact, the Red Sox projected starting outfield is entirely left-handed, leaving a natural fit for Jones as a platoon player off the bench.
For the Yankees, Jones would play a similar platoon role, the same one he played last season. The free agent market offers plenty of other right-handed outfielders, but replacing Jones might require taking a risk on a less-proven player or convincing an established player to take a diminished contract and diminished role.
The Yankees currently have lefty Chris Dickerson and righty Justin Maxwell to compete for outfield bench jobs.
The Yankees ace was watching his favorite football team this weekend, and outfield bench candidate Chris Dickerson was there with him. A picture of the Big Man seems as good a way as any to lead into a few notes and links from today.
• Andrew Marchand hears that the Yankees bid less than $20 million on Yu Darvish. Obviously that’s not even in the ballpark. The Blue Jays were seen a favorite in the bidding, and missing out on Darvish has fueled plenty of speculation that Toronto might still look to spend big one someone this winter.
• Jon Heyman hears that executives expect Gio Gonzalez to be moved now that Yu Darvish is off the board, and the free agent market is without a truly elite starting pitcher.
• Casey Blake has signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Rockies. Does that set the market for the Yankees to sign a backup corner infielder?
• Former Yankees minor leaguer Eric Hacker has signed with the Giants.
• Good friend Bryan Hoch answered some questions in a mailbag over at Yankees.com this afternoon. Go check that out.
• Speaking of answering questions, I’m going to host a chat here on the blog at noon on Thursday. I’ll post another reminder at some point tomorrow. Stop by if you can.
Associated Press photo
When the Yankees chose to protect five eligible players from the Rule 5 draft last month, the most unusual choice was second baseman David Adams. It wasn’t necessarily a bad choice — Adams has a potent bat, and it’s not out of the question he could stick on a big league roster or be hidden on a 60-day disabled list — but it was unusual because Adams hasn’t played anything close to a full season since 2009.
The Yankees, though, believe in his ability to hit — especially for a second baseman — and they’re hopeful that a lingering ankle injury will finally go away so Adams can get back on track and keep taking steps toward the big leagues.
“He’s still rehabbing,” Mark Newman said earlier today. “We’ll see how it goes. We’re hopeful. He works his rear end off. He’s a fabulous guy, and he’s got ability.”
Newman admitted that he couldn’t remember a player in Adams’ situation being protected, but the Yankees didn’t want to risk losing the former third-round draft pick.
Drafted out of the University of Virginia in 2008, Adams opened in Double-A less than two years later. He was hitting .309/.393/.507 through 39 games in 2010 — putting up numbers hard to ignore from a second baseman — when a ankle injury sent him to the disabled list. Initially labeled a sprain, later tests finally revealed a broken bone, at which point Adams had to shut down everything.
He played only 29 games last season, none past early August, and right now he’s rehabbing down in southern Florida. At this point, it’s mostly about building strength, Newman said. The injury actually bothers Adams more when he runs straight ahead, not so much side-to-side. It’s been a long process, but Adams is scheduled to show up in Tampa for early spring training work in mid-January.
“I’ve never heard of someboby losing their career because of this,” Newman said.
By protecting him on the 40-man, the Yankees made sure they wouldn’t lose the player either.
Jerry Crasnick reported this afternoon that Roy Oswalt is now seeking a one-year deal — backing off hopes for a three-year contract — with plans of proving he’s healthy.
In theory, Oswalt seems to fit the Yankees needs — a bigger, more expensive version of last year’s Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon deals — but the Yankees interest is already being shot down, and even Oswalt’s agent denies recent conversations with the Yankees.
Another potential short-term rotation addition is Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Brown has heard he’s on the verge of a deal with an unknown team. Of course, the Yankees are one of the teams that told Brown it’s “not us.”
A few mid-December minor league notes • 12.20.11
Just checked in very briefly with Mark Newman, the Yankees vice president of baseball operations down in Tampa. The Yankees complex is dotted with assorted minor leaguers every offseason, but Newman said he also see Dave Robertson on a daily basis.
“He works out, then goes fishing,” Newman said.
A few notes on the Yankees minor league system…
• Center fielder Slade Heathcott is still rehabbing from his second shoulder surgery. Newman said it’s “going fine” and Heathcott should be able to at least go through some drills in spring training. Whether he’s ready to open the season is still uncertain.
“Depends on spring training,” Newman said. “We’re not going to push him at all, and we’re not going to let him push himself.”
• One of Heathcott’s teammates, J.R. Murphy, is ready to go after an ankle/foot injury. Newman said he should be 100 percent by spring training, and although he has worked at third base and the outfield, Murphy will “predominantly” catch next year.
• The Yankees kept Justin Maxwell on the 40-man roster because they believe he’ll be healthy and could contribute off the bench next season. He had a good, but injury-shortened year in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. “He’s got some tools, and he’s a high-caliber individual who works,” Newman said.
• Newman denied a report that Jorge Vazquez is going to play in Japan. “News to me,” Newman said. “Still on my board. Still under contract.”
• Former supplemental-round pick Jeremy Bleich is still rehabbing from 2010 shoulder surgery. He didn’t pitch at all last season.
• Lower-level pitching prospect Jose Ramirez did not pitch past August 11, but his sore elbow never required surgery. “He’s alright,” Newman said.
• Although he’s moved quickly through the system and went to the Fall League this offseason, Newman said it’s too early to put reliever Chase Whitley on the big league radar.
• Newman seemed high on Cuban utility man Ronnier Mustelier, another Fall League guy who played in High-A last season. He wasn’t a big name on the international market, but the Yankees believe he could be a legitimate big league option down the road. “He’s got some tools,” Newman said. “He can hit, and he plays a lot of different positions. He can run. Built like a running back. He’s strong, stocky. He’s got a chance to help us in the future as a corner utility guy.”
• The Yankees have not had any talks about bringing back Mark Prior, and Newman doesn’t expect that to happen. “Right now I would say no,” he said. “But never say never.”
• Newman said there’s a chance the Yankees will have to wait to get the bulk of their minor league signings done. If they don’t happen in the next couple of days, they won’t happen until after the holidays, sometime in January.
• The entire Scranton/Wilkes-Barre coaching staff — Dave Miley, Butch Wynegar, Scott Aldred and Frank Menechino — will be back next season, running the team through a bizarre schedule of road games.
Now what? • 12.20.11
The Yu Darvish showcase showdown finally came to an end last night when the Rangers were announced as the high bidders with a whopping $51.7 million posting fee. Texas now has 30 days to negotiate a deal with the Japanese superstar.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have two months to make some kind of move that will excite their fan base.
It might not happen.
Brian Cashman has been preaching patience this winter, and the Yankees have been practicing what they preach. This hasn’t been the free agent spending spree of 2008. There has been no repeat of the 2009 trade for Curtis Granderson, and it’s hard to find an available free agent who could be this year’s Rafael Soriano.
So what’s next for the Yankees now that Darvish is officially off their radar?
Other teams have traded for top young starters this winter, but the costs have been steep, and Cashman hasn’t been willing to meet those demands in his own trade talks. The biggest names still on the free agent market don’t seem to fit the Yankees needs. There are other big names on the international market, but like Darvish, they come with hefty price tags and no guarantees.
Could this be the winter when the Yankees aren’t spending, and aren’t bluffing?
Associated Press photo
Rangers win the Darvish sweepstakes • 12.19.11
Here’s the short and to-the-point press release from Major League Baseball.
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League have informed Major League Baseball that they have accepted the highest bid for the negotiating rights to 25-year-old pitcher Yu Darvish, it was announced this evening. The highest bid in the posting process was submitted by the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers now have a period of 30 consecutive days to sign Darvish to a Major or Minor League professional contract.
Jeter returns home • 12.19.11
Derek Jeter was back home in Kalamazoo this weekend, having his high school’s baseball field officially named in his honor and hosting 300 local children during a Christmas event for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Our friend Bryan Hoch has pictures from the Turn 2 event, where Jeter made a surprise visit with Santa Claus.
The Kalamazoo Gazette has video of Jeter’s speech at Kalamazoo Central High School.
“I used to live right behind the school,” Jeter said. “And to myself I always thought, ‘This is my field’ because I spent probably more time on that field than I did at home.”
In typical Jeter fashion, it’s a very quick and gracious speech. Worth checking out.
Associated Press photo
A young perspective on Curtis Granderson • 12.19.11
I got this email just before the Winter Meetings. A 10-year-old named Haley Smilow went with her family on a baseball road trip this summer — 26 games in seven stadiums in the month of August — and along the way, she did a Q&A with Curtis Granderson for Baseball Youth Magazine.
Her family, with permission from the magazine, passed along the interview.
1.) In August my family is following the Yankees to US Cellular Field, Kauffman Stadium, Target Field and Camden Yards with stops at Miller Park, Wrigley and Busch Stadium. Do you have a favorite ballpark and why? Is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well other than Yankee Stadium?
I like the Anaheim Angles Stadium because it has good weather to play in and the playing surface is well taken care of, making it a nice place to play ball. I also enjoy the Rally Monkey because he is fun to watch but as a player it means that the Angels are doing well. Other stadiums that I like to play in are Mariners Safeco Field and of course at home in Chicago at US Cellular Field and Wrigley.
2.) Since I am going to be in Chicago, who has the best Pizza in Chicago? Who in New York? Do you like Deep Dish or Thin Crust Pizza?
My favorite Pizzerias in Chicago are Lou Malnali’s, Giordanos and Gino’s and in New York Artichoke Basille’s. Sometimes I like Dominos thin crust pizza, because I like my crust crunchy. If I am really hungry I will order deep dish.
3.) Coney Island Hot Dogs or Nathan’s Hot Dogs?
Since I played in Detroit I would have to say Coney Island Hot Dog’s
4.) What is your favorite meal?
I really love Thanksgiving dinner because you get to eat a little bit of everything and you can go back over and over for more helpings.
5.) My little brother is a fan of WWE, I heard you are as well. Who are some of you favorite wrestlers of today?
Of course I like CM Punk because he is a great wrestler and from Chicago. Jon Cena is another favorite. I also like the Diva’s because they work hard and are as good as the guys.
a.) Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have an older half sister, Monica.
6.) In your book All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It, you share the lessons that you learned growing up, what is one lesson you would tell the Baseball Youth readers if they haven’t read the book?
The selection of friends, good and bad, positive or negative and the people you surround yourself with, will shape your whole life.
7.) I also know you are an ambassador for MLB and have traveled to England, Italy, South Africa, China, and New Zealand is there any place you would really like to go and represent MLB?
I have never been to South America so that would be amazing. I would also like to go to Japan and Australia, those would be on my top 3 list.
8.) Why did you choose the #28 in Detroit and #14 in New York?
I was given the #28 in college, which was great because the numbers 2 and 8 are my favorite numbers, so it was both of them together. When I became a Yankee Joe Girardi was #28 so I chose #14 because that was my number from high school.
9.) I get to go to a lot of Yankees games and have noticed that you have two rituals can you to explain them?
a.) When you step up to the plate you tap it with the bat from left to right then the top, why?
No particular reason I guess it is just a habit.
b.) When you are leading off from first and the pitcher makes a move you always walk around first base same way every time, why?
Because I don’t want to get picked off or called out.
c.) Do you have any other rituals or superstions?
I only chew sugar free bubble gum. Curtis asked Haley “Do you like gum?” make sure you take a hand full when you leave the dug out.
10.) What is it like in the dugout before and after a game?
It is a fun place filled with energy and lots of handshakes. We are always meeting people before games. After the game it depends if we won or lost. If we win everyone is happy and celebrating and if we lost we need to move on to the next game.
11.) When you are on the road do you share rooms with your teammates?
In the majors we get our own rooms. In the minors we share rooms. I used to share with Ryan Raburn, Joel Zumaya and David Espinosa.
12.) AJ Burnett has created a celebration for a walk off win, a pie in the face. Have you ever gotten pied?
No, I have not been pied. If I get pied it means we won, but I am afraid it will burn.
13.) Who is the biggest practical joker you have ever been on a team with? Have you ever been the victim of a practical joke?
Brandon Inge on the Tigers will do funny pranks, silly ones and even some gross ones. We had a little battle going when I played for Detroit. Once I opened his car and filled it with paper and construction tape making it a big mess inside the car and out. Jorge Posada is a real joker as well.
14.) In 2007 you became just one of four players in MLB history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs & 20 stolen bases in a single season, what are some of your other accomplishments you are proud of?
Graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago and that I am 1 of only 37 players with college degrees. Making it to the 2006 World Series.
15.) Do you have any other favorite sports besides Baseball?
I like basketball, especially college ball. I also like hockey, football and bowling, and I used to run cross-country.
a.) What’s your favorite team?
The Kansas Jayhawks.
16.) Who would you consider your closest friends on the Yankees?
Of course I have special bond with my fellow outfielders Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. But I also like to hang out with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Russell Martin we go out to dinner and movies together.
Photo from the Smilow family