Archive for October, 2012
With a dozen free agents already, plus a closer who’s likely to opt out by the end of the week, the current Yankees roster is full of holes. Naturally, there’s been a lot of early focus on the players who are leaving, and which players should be brought in to replace them.
But there is a murky middle to be considered.
The Yankees have seven players eligible for arbitration. That means some non-tender candidates, some inevitable raises, and some shifting payroll. The fine folks at MLB Trade Rumors have a formula to help determine how much an arbitration-eligible player is likely to receive, and it’s been proven to be fairly accurate. Here are their expectations for the Yankees.
Expected salary: $5.7 million
2012 salary: $3.2 million
A $2.5-million raise is significant, but it’s not enough make Hughes a non-tender candidate. He’s still searching for some consistency, but he’s taken some steps forward, and right now the Yankees need him. If they can find some other starting pitchers on the market, they might be able to trade Hughes, but until then, they need him to carry his strong second half into next season
Expected salary: $2.9 million
2012 salary: $2.5 million
A tiny raise is expected, but even without a raise, the Yankees might consider non-tendering McGehee. He was brought in specifically to hit left-handers while Alex Rodriguez was on the disabled list, but heading into the offseason, the Yankees really have no need for a right-handed corner infielder.
Expected salary: $2.8 million
2012 salary: $2.8 million
Want to miss out on a chance to make some money? Blow out your elbow in the first month, then miss almost an entire season heading into your second year of arbitration. Tough blow for Gardner, but going forward, the injury is going to save the Yankees some money. I tend to think Gardner will get at least a small raise, but nothing significant.
Expected salary: $2.8 million
2012 salary: $1.9 million
Given a fourth year of arbitration, Logan reached career highs in innings, games and strikeouts-per-nine. The end result looks like a million-dollar raise if the Yankees want to keep him as their top left-handed reliever. Logan’s really solidified his standing in the bullpen, so it’s easy to expect him back.
Expected salary: $2.7 million
2012 salary: $1.6 million
Have to think Robertson would be in line to make even more if he hadn’t missed that month with an oblique injury, and especially if he’d stuck in the closers role after his brief audition. Regardless, $2.7 million remains a bargain for one of the top setup relievers in baseball.
Expected salary: $1.8 million
2012 salary: $1.67 million
Chamberlain used to be ahead of Robertson in salary, and in the bullpen pecking order, but that’s changed because of injuries and inconsistent results. Instead, Chamberlain remains relatively affordable. At some point, the Yankees might have to pick and choose from their young-but-experienced relievers, but for now, they can keep all of them.
Expected salary: $900,000
2012 salary: Minimum
Trade Rumors listed Nix among its non-tender candidates, but I’m not sure I agree. A less than a million dollars, Nix is still a cheap utility infielder who won over the Yankees with his steady play last season. Given the team’s uncertainty about Eduardo Nunez’s role, and the desire to have someone reliable behind Derek Jeter, my guess is that Nix will be back.
Associated Press photos
The roster as it is today • 10.30.12
A dozen Yankees became free agents yesterday. It was perfectly predictable, but seeing the names come off the roster brings a new appreciation for the current state of the team. Still waiting to find out whether Rafael Soriano is going to opt out, but for now, this is a rough estimate of the Yankees 25-man roster if today were Opening Day.
The offense isn’t a complete mess. The top seven hitters in his lineup are legitimate Opening Day options, and all nine deserve consideration for at least a reserve role. The most glaring holes are at catcher and right field. If the Yankees don’t land a proven everyday catcher, they might as well let the prospect Romine sink or swim. His upside as an everyday guy is much higher than the alternatives. Dickerson proves there’s a little bit of outfield depth in place, but his value to the Yankees comes as a fourth or fifth outfielder, not as an Opening Day starter.
Chris Stewart C
Jayson Nix INF
Corban Joseph INF
Ronnier Mustelier OF
Half of this year’s bench is still on the roster, and it’s not beyond imagination that both Stewart and Nix will be back for another season. Beyond that, though, things are slim. Right-handed Casey McGehee doesn’t do much to balance Rodriguez or Nunez, so I went with the lefty Joseph instead as a kind of Eric Chavez fill-in. The outfield is loaded with left-handed center fielders, so Mustelier gets my vote as a right-handed balance over Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte.
The rotation thins out quickly, and there’s no chance the Yankees are going to let it stay that way. As it stands, they would have little choice but to count on Nova bouncing back, Phelps building off his rookie year, and Warren carrying his Triple-A second half into next season. Those three fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation might not be out of the question, but considering general manager Brian Cashman’s focus on starting pitching, the Yankees are going to add at least two starters — maybe more– before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The bullpen is in better shape than any other piece of the roster. There’s a heavy assumption that Soriano is going to opt out, but there’s also a heavy assumption that Mariano Rivera is going to re-sign. Even with questions about Rivera’s age and injury recovery, the Yankees have significant late-inning depth considering the offseason is only a day old. The minor league system even provides additional depth with Chase Whitley and Juan Cedeno coming off strong Triple-A seasons, and Mark Montgomery rising fast from Double-A. There’s obviously some risk here — Rivera’s entering uncharted territory, safety net Soriano almost certainly will be gone, Aardsma and Chamberlain are wild cards at this point — but this is pretty good bullpen depth heading into the winter.
Associated Press photos
Full list of free agents • 10.29.12
Because I’m sure many of you are curious — and because it could be a handy list throughout the offseason — here’s the complete list of players who filed for free agency today.
BOSTON RED SOX
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
NEW YORK METS
NEW YORK YANKEES
SAN DIEGO PADRES
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
TAMPA BAY RAYS
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Mark De Rosa
The following players are eligible for free agency pending contract options. Some of these options have already been declined or exercised — Granderson, Cano and Aardsma, for example — but here’s the complete list just in case:
A few Monday notes and links • 10.29.12
I’m out of town for the week, but I’m hoping everyone back in New York — and various other spots out east — is handling the storm without any problems. Stay safe everyone. Here are a few links and notes from this first day of the offseason.
• Wally Matthews reports that Joe Girardi has called Alex Rodriguez to begin mending any problems that might have been created by Rodriguez being benched this postseason. A source tells Matthews that the call went well, with Rodriguez apparently holding no hard feelings.
• Until today, I’d honestly forgotten that David Aardsma’s contract had an option for next season. I really thought it was a normal two-year deal. Anyway, Mark Feinsand says the 2013 option is for $500,000 plus incentives. Certainly worth a shot.
• After a disappointing World Series appearance as a 22-year-old Yankees starter, Dave Righetti never got back to the Series until he became the Giants pitching coach. Jack Curry wrote about Righetti’s new postseason legacy in San Francisco.
• One-year Yankees reliever Luis Ayala had his 2013 option picked up by the Orioles. Ayala was a surprisingly good pitcher for the Yankees in 2011, but he was allowed to walk and wound up being even better for Baltimore.
• Left-handed starter Ryu Hyun-jin is reportedly going to be posted by the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. I only know what I’ve read about him today, but the numbers are good, and his experience suggests he’s a guy who could be expected to pitch in a big league rotation right away.
Associated Press photo
Minor League Year in Review: Triple-A • 10.29.12
Playing without a home field, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees — nicknamed the Empire State Yankees for the season — still managed to win the IL North and advance to the postseason.
Dave Miley was an easy choice as the league’s Manager of the Year. The pitching staff was middle of the pack in team ERA, despite a rotation that wasn’t nearly as prospect heavy as expected. The lineup scored the league’s second-most runs, despite a constant rotation of middle of the order hitters as veterans Dewayne Wise, Steve Pearce, Jack Cust and Russell Branyan came and went.
Player of the Year
2B Corban Joseph
Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo were the only Scranton/Wilkes-Barre players with more than 360 at-bats this season, so it’s a strange group from which to choose an MVP. Russo was probably their most consistent bat — he was there all year and was a steady on-base guy — and Laird led the team in RBI, but neither had the kind of all-around numbers that make you think of a team MVP. Steve Pearce was Scranton’s best player early, and Chris Dickerson was incredible in the second half, and Ronnier Mustelier was a significant boost after his promotion from Double-A.
Ultimately, I was left trying to choose between Jack Cust and Corban Joseph. Truth be told, Cust might be the best choice for his all-around stats — on-base percentage, run production, with the team through the end of July — but to me Scranton’s season was defined by it’s 22-win month of August, when the players had to be drained but they kept winning to take the division. Cust was gone then, and Joseph was providing much of the run production lost when Cust, Pearce and Russell Branyan were cut loose. Overall, Joseph delivered a .266/.366/.474 slash line through 327 Triple-A at-bats. He’s always had a nice bat, but the emergence of such power has made him a different sort of prospect, in my eyes.
Pitcher of the Year
RHP Ramon Ortiz
It would be much more exciting to pick one of the young guys for this spot, but really, it was Ortiz who emerged as the staff ace after David Phelps landed in New York, Dellin Betances struggled, Manny Banuelos got hurt and D.J. Mitchell was traded. Prospect Adam Warren had a terrific second half — 2.98 ERA after the all-star break — but the rotation wasn’t constantly evolving like the lineup, and the overall advantage belongs to Ortiz, who had a 3.45 ERA while leading team with 169.1 innings at 39 years old. Also worth mentioning: Long reliever Chase Whitley, who led the team with a 1.07 WHIP.
OF Chris Dickerson
The prospect breakout was Joseph, but I’m already picking him as the team MVP, so I’ll give this spot to Dickerson. How does a 30-year-old break out? By being designated for assignment in the spring, then putting up such good numbers in the second half that he was given a September call-up and suddenly deserves consideration for a big league bench job next season. Dickerson has always been able to hit right-handers, even at the big league level, but a slight mechanical adjustment helped him hit lefties to the tune of .328/.439/.418 and he remained productive in limited big league at-bats down the stretch. Might have been on the postseason roster if not for Brett Gardner’s speedy recovery from elbow surgery.
RHP Dellin Betances
Injuries were the most disappointing thing about fellow top prospect Manny Banuelos and Austin Romine. With Betances, the disappointment was in the results. Sure, he wasn’t perfectly healthy either, but this was supposed to be the year Betances began to push for a spot in the big leagues. Instead, his command was so erratic he was actually demoted to Double-A. Betances walked nearly as many as he struck out with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then he was knocked around through 10 starts with Trenton. He’s trying to get some things straightened out in the Arizona Fall League, but for now, this wasn’t a lost year for Betances. It was just a bad year.
OF Ronnier Mustelier
Granted, he’s 28-year-old old, but at this point it’s hard to leave Mustelier out of the prospect discussion. He might not be a future everyday player at the big league level, but he continues to show enough bat — and enough versatility — to suggest he could at least play a bench role as early as next season. Building off a strong debut in 2011, the Cuban outfielder and third baseman jumped quickly from Double-A to Triple-A this season, hitting a combined .314/.371/.488. His numbers dipped a little bit when he joined Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he was still a good all-around hitter. His platoon splits are not especially extreme, and he could fit the profile of a four-corners bench player that the Yankees often talk about.
Odds and ends
Drafted in 2010, Chase Whitley has moved quickly through the Yankees farm system, and he jumped to Triple-A after just two games with Double-A Trenton this year. Routinely pitching up to four innings at a time, Whitley held opponents to a .213 average while showing the flexibility of a late-inning setup man or multi-inning long reliever. Could be in the big league mix from the moment spring training opens. … Coming off a bad 2011, Kevin Russo rebounded with a .284/.358/.351 slash line that made him the regular leadoff hitter through much of the season. He spent significant time at second, third and all three outfield positions. … Adam Warren‘s second-half improvements suggest he’s still next in line among the Yankees young starters. … In just a month on the Triple-A roster, Melky Mesa struck out 43 times but also hit nine homers. … Although he had some good months mixed in, Francisco Cervelli hit just .246/.341/.316 in his unexpected return to the minors. … A lot of moving parts in the Triple-A bullpen, but left Juan Cedeno was one of the points of stability. So was veteran left-hander Michael O’Connor who bounced from the bullpen to the rotation with a 3.73 ERA while helping in a variety of roles.
There’s certainly something to be said for a team winning under these conditions. Says a lot about the coaching staff, says a lot about the veterans willing to play through it, and says a lot about the young guys who weren’t flustered by it.
There was no standout on the roster, but Joseph, Mustelier, Dickerson and Mesa did enough to suggest they could be — at least — big league role players in the immediate future. Even guys like Russo, Cust and Branyan did enough to suggest they could have helped this year given the right circumstances and the right needs (kind of like Pearce and Wise, who did play a limited roles).
The pitching staff was supposed to be all about the rotation, but Warren was really the only young starter who didn’t lose significant prospect status because of injury, trade or performance. Instead, it was a series of relievers who emerged. Cody Eppley wound up sticking in New York, while Ryota Igarashi and Justin Thomas pitched well enough to earn limited big league time. For next year, keep Whitley, Cedeno and Preston Claiborne on your radar (as well as some Double-A relievers who we’ll dig into later in the week).
Associated Press photo of Betances
The folks behind the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards have announced a short-list of nominees at each position for their awards. Winners will be announced during the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Announcement Show on Tuesday at 9pm ET on ESPN2.
Three Yankees are finalists: Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.
Here’s the complete list of American League finalists.
Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox
Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals
Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
Dustin Ackley – Seattle Mariners
Robinson Cano – New York Yankees
Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
Brandon Inge – Oakland Athletics
Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals
Elvis Andrus – Texas Rangers
J.J. Hardy – Baltimore Orioles
Brendan Ryan – Seattle Mariners
Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
Desmond Jennings – Tampa Bay Rays
David Murphy – Texas Rangers
Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
Jeff Francoeur – Kansas City Royals
Josh Reddick – Oakland Athletics
Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
Jake Peavy – Chicago White Sox
C.J. Wilson – Los Angeles Angels
Associated Press photo
The Yankees just sent an announcement saying they have officially picked up the 2013 options on Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and David Aardsma. No surprises there.
Still waiting for a decision from Rafael Soriano.
Twelve Yankees file for free agency • 10.29.12
No surprises here, but the Players Association has announced its full list of 137 players who filed for free agency this morning. They become eligible to negotiate with any team at 12:01 am ET on Saturday. For now, there is an exclusive negotiating window with each free agent’s former team. These are the 12 Yankees who filed.
Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and David Aardsma have club options in their contracts, so it’s at least possible — though unlikely — that those three will also become free agents. Rafael Soriano has a player option in his contract, so it’s also possible — and very likely — that he too will become a free agent.
Winter begins now • 10.29.12
Pitching was, in fact, the key to the kingdom.
On a strength of a good, young pitching staff — and some hits when they really needed them — the Giants finished off an improbable postseason run by sweeping the Tigers in the World Series. Last night’s Game 4 finished the job, with Marco Scutaro driving in the winning run with a 10th-inning single off former Yankees lefty Phil Coke. Giants closer Sergio Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th, beginning with former Yankees prospect Austin Jackson and ending with triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
So, that’s it.
Baseball’s offseason officially begins today.
Players eligible to become free agents will file immediately. It shouldn’t take long for us to know whether the Yankees are picking up the options on Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, and whether Rafael Soriano will opt out of his current contract. By the end of the week, the Yankees will have decided whether to extend qualifying offers to Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda and (probably) Soriano.
Winter came early for the Yankees, but the offseason didn’t truly begin until today.
Associated Press photo
Giants going for the World Series sweep • 10.28.12
It was exactly a year ago that the Cardinals finished their World Series comeback, won Game 7, and gave my friends back home a championship. Tonight the Giants will try to do basically the same (without the comeback, of course).
If the Giants can finish off a World Series sweep tonight in Detroit, the baseball offseason will get started — for the second year in a row — on October 29. Free agency was delayed a day last winter because of the CBA negotiations, but for the most part, we’re on pace for a nearly identical winter schedule.
Of course, that all depends on tonight’s Game 4, which starts at 8:15 p.m. ET on FOX. Tigers starter Max Scherzer will try to keep Detroit alive against arguably the best pitcher in the National League, Matt Cain.
“You try to trick yourself into thinking it’s another game, but you know what’s going on,” Cain said. “It’s like your mind and your body, they know what’s going on.”
Said Scherzer: “I’ve already gotten to pinch myself and say I’m in the World Series. (Tonight) when I go out there it’ll be business as usual for me competing and trying to beat the Giants.”
Associated Press photo