The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for November, 2012

Friday night notes and links: Romine, Rivera, Heathcott11.30.12

It’s been kind of a busy day. Or maybe it just feels that way because I started it by standing on top of a building early in the morning. Here are a few additional notes and links as we head into the weekend.

• With the Yankees opening behind the plate, Jack Curry made the case that Austin Romine should be given a legitimate chance to start at catcher next year. “As the Yankees march toward a world where their payroll will be under $189 million, they need some talented players who are also inexpensive,” Curry wrote. “Romine can be one of them. Why not give him a chance to show it?”

• Ken Rosenthal has the incentives in Mariano Rivera’s contract: $500,000 for ALCS MVP, $1 million for World Series MVP and $1 million for Rolaids award.

• Detroit seemed to be a possible landing spot for Rafael Soriano, but the Detroit News reports that the Tigers are not shopping for a closer and will let a prospect try to win the job in spring training.

Speaking of former Yankees relievers, Cory Wade became a free agent today.

• Russell Martin is officially with the Pirates. The signing was announced this afternoon.”It’s going to be different,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a challenge but I think the Pirates have a young and electric club. There is a lot of talent there and I don’t think we’re as far away as winning as maybe people outside baseball think we are.”

• To open a roster spot for Martin, the Pirates designated Jeff Karstens for assignment. Karstens has pitched pretty well since going to Pittsburgh in the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady trade.

• Baseball America named Slade Heathcott the sixth-best prospect in the Arizona Fall League. None of the other Yankees made the list, but Heathcott won a spot ahead of some fairly significant names. BA notes that one evaluator considered Heathcott the top prospect in the league.

• In the wake of B.J. Upton’s contract becoming official, Jon Heyman took a look at the outfield free agent market and noted that “a four-year deal seems well within reach” for Nick Swisher. Heyman also says that Shane Victorino, who’s been loosely linked to the Yankees, already has some three-year offers. Speaking of Swisher, he told USA Today that he’s not paying attention to the coverage of his free agency.

• Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions include no Yankees surprises. Kevin Russo has signed with the Tigers, but we already knew that. The only other name that stood out to me was lefty Wilkin De La Rosa who re-signed with the Reds. De La Rosa was actually on the Yankees 40-man for about 20 minutes one year. He pitched pretty well for the Reds Double-A team last season.

• Finally, our old friend Chan-Ho Park has retired from baseball.

Associated Press photo

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Rivera signing official; Miller claimed; Nix and Storey DFA11.30.12

The Yankees just officially announced the Mariano Rivera contract. Along with that, they announced that right-hander Jim Miller has been claimed off waivers and that Jayson Nix has been signed to a Major League contract to avoid arbitration.

Here’s the twist. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees have designated Nix and Mickey Storey for assignment.

UPDATE: The Nix contract is for $900,000 and he’s agreed to accept the outright assignment to Triple-A if he clears waivers. Basically, if he clears, he’ll come to Yankees camp as a non-roster invitee with a chance to win back his utility job.

Here’s the full announcement from the Yankees.


The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed closer Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, to a one-year contract for the 2013 season.

Rivera, who turned 43 on Thursday, has recorded at least one save in each of the last 17 seasons (since 1996), marking the longest such streak in American League history and tying Lee Smith for the second-longest such streak all time behind John Franco’s 18 consecutive seasons. His 608 career saves are exactly twice as many saves with one team as Jeff Montgomery—who ranks second in saves among players who spent their entire career with one club—had with Kansas City (304).

In 2012, Rivera was 1-1 with five saves and a 2.16 ERA (8.1IP, 2ER) in nine relief appearances for the Yankees before having his season cut short by a torn right ACL on May 3. He underwent surgery to repair the tear on June 12 and missed the remainder of the year.

Despite missing the majority of 2012, over the last 10 seasons (2003-12), he leads the Majors with 365 saves. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the oldest pitcher in franchise history to record a save and just the second to do so after turning 40, joining Jim Kaat, who earned two saves as a 40-year-old in 1979.

“Like I’ve been saying, I didn’t want to go out like that,” Rivera said. “I didn’t want that to be the last image. But it wasn’t an easy decision because there’s more than just baseball with me. I have to consider my family and the church, too. But I feel like we have a great group of guys and a team that can compete for a championship. I’m not just coming back to play. I’m coming back to win.”

Since earned runs became an official statistic in the National League in 1912 and the American League in 1913, Rivera’s 2.21 career ERA is the second-lowest all time among pitchers with at least 1,000.0 innings pitched, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, trailing only Eddie Cicotte’s 2.20 career ERA.

A 12-time American League All-Star, Rivera has posted a sub-2.00 ERA in eight of the last 10 seasons since 2003. From 2008-11, Rivera became the only pitcher in Baseball history with at least 60 appearances and a sub-2.00 ERA in each of four consecutive years. He has pitched in at least 60 games in 14 different campaigns, the most such seasons all time.

Rivera’s 42 postseason saves—18 in the ALDS, 13 in the ALCS and 11 in the World Series—and his 96 postseason appearances, are all Major League records, while his 0.70 ERA (141.0IP, 11ER) in postseason play is the lowest all time (minimum 30.0IP). He was part of his fifth World Championship team in 2009, recording the final out in each of the Yankees’ three postseason series-clinching wins en route to the club’s 27th World Championship. Rivera has allowed just 1ER over his last 25 playoff appearances (31.1IP, 0.29 ERA) since Game 4 of the 2005 ALDS vs. the Angels.

The Panama native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on February 17, 1990, and is currently the longest-tenured Yankee (17 yrs, 105 days). His 18 seasons with the club are tied with Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and teammate Derek Jeter for most by a player in franchise history.

Additionally, the Yankees claimed RHP Jim Miller off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. Miller, 30, went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA (48.2IP, 14ER) in 33 relief appearances over four stints with the A’s in 2012. He held opposing batters to a .217 (39-for-180) opponents batting average, including a .136 (11-for-81) mark against left-handed hitters. Originally selected by the Colorado Rockies in the eighth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Miller has appeared in 47 career Major League games with Baltimore (2008), Colorado (2011) and Oakland (2012), going 2-3 with one save and a 2.42 ERA (63.1IP, 17ER).

The Yankees also signed INF Jayson Nix to a Major League contract, avoiding arbitration. To make room for the two additions to the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated Nix and RHP Mickey Storey for assignment.

Associated Press photo

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Yankees to tender contract offers to everyone11.30.12

A team spokesman just announced that the Yankees “do not anticipate having any non-tenders” before tonight’s deadline. Obviously something crazy could change between now and then — thought I honestly have no idea what that would be — but for now, go ahead and count on everyone on the roster being tendered a contract offer.

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Seven years later, another unlikely scenario11.30.12

One interesting coincidence about the obvious comparison being made today…

Looks like it was exactly seven years ago — to the day — that Brian Cashman suggested Bubba Crosby could be the Yankees starting center fielder in 2006.

“Center field is not easy to fill,” Cashman said on November 30, 2005. “That’s why I continue to say that Bubba Crosby could very well be that guy. I know he’s sitting at home somewhere saying, ‘I hope they don’t do anything.'”

Of course, roughly a month later, the Yankees signed Johnny Damon, and within a year Crosby was out of the organization.

Question is: Given the Yankees financial limitations going forward, was there reason to believe Cashman today when he said another unproven in-house backup — Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, etc. — could be a Yankees regular next season? Does Cervy stand a better chance than Bubba?

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Odds and ends from Cashman11.30.12

Standing at the top of the Landmark Building in Stamford this morning, Brian Cashman talked about more than his catching situation. These are a few of the miscellaneous notes.

• Cashman said he’s actively looking for additional infield depth. “It’s an area that I will focus on, but whether anything materializes from that area (is impossible to say). We have people on the roster currently. It’s just, what’s the ability to upgrade on it? What’s the availability in terms of what’s in the marketplace, both free agent and trade? Does any of that make sense with the cost associated with it, whether it’s your assets as a player or a dollar amount? And if you do anything in that capacity, how does it take away from all the other areas on the field that we need to address as well?”

• With Mariano Rivera’s new contract about to become official, Cashman said he feels no need to add another late-inning reliever. “On top of Mariano?” Cashman said. “I don’t think that’s necessary. I’m not opposed to it, but it’s not on the need list. If we get something added to the bullpen, it would be something that presented itself that made too much sense in the marketplace, whether it’s trade or free agency or what have you. It wouldn’t make much sense given the team needs and the remaining dollars that we have.”

• Cashman indicated that he has not had any — or at least not very many — conversations with Eric Chavez. He’s not even sure whether Chavez wants to play another season. “That I’m not aware of either way,” he said.

• Derek Jeter’s recovery is going well, Cashman said, and the Yankees still expect Jeter to be ready for Opening Day. “Actually very good,” Cashman said. “He had a checkup a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina and everything is going very well, so he’s going to be ready for us by Opening Day. He’ll be a restricted player early in camp, but all indications are very strong for a full and healthy recovery. He just has to wait it out, that’s all.”

• Of course, today’s New York Post including a not-so-flattering photo of Jeter looking out of shape. “The one thing you don’t have to worry about is Derek Jeter,” Cashman said. “Bottom line is, the most important thing Derek can do right now is rest. … I saw that the picture said he’s heavy. I can’t tell you he’s heavy. Even if he was, I’m not worried about Derek Jeter in that capacity in any way because you’re not going to find anybody more committed to being the best that he can be than Derek Jeter.”

• Cashman said none of Jeter’s checkups have indicated anything about him being out of shape.

• Cashman being predictably vague on the trade market: “I’m engaged. I’ve talked to everybody on several occasions to make sure that there’s no opportunities that we’re going to miss out on. If there’s a chance to match up, you explore those options, but matching up is difficult.”

• Big picture look at the Yankees offseason going forward: “We obviously have more work to do,” Cashman said. “The priority has been pitching, and step by step, we’re getting that piece back together again. I think we’ll feel really good about the staff as we start. There’s two sides of the ball, you’ve got to do defense and an offense. The defensive side, I think is getting addressed pretty strongly, and the offensive side we’re going to have to start focusing on.”

Associated Press photo

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Cashman says Yankees willing to stay in-house at catcher11.30.12

Believe him or don’t believe him, but Brian Cashman said this morning that the Yankees are willing to stick with their in-house, defense-first options at catcher.

“At the very least, that’s our fallback,” Cashman said. “But we are going to have to pursue a lot of areas on this club: The bench, right field, potentially catching, maybe not. It’s possible that our catchers are right here on this roster right now. That is very possible, and more likely than not, to be honest. But we’ll see. Patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait.”

Last night, Russell Martin agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates. Indications are that the Yankees are not particularly excited about the other top catchers on the free agent market, and there’s no obvious trade target out there. Currently, the Yankees have backup catchers Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, prospect Austin Romine, and recently designated for assignment Eli Whiteside.

“We do have placeholders there,” Cashman said. “We have people that can handle and run the game. The offense is an area that, currently with what our roster provides, will be a downgrade from what we’re used to. But the most important aspect of those games is (defense).”

A few other catching notes from Cashman…

The Yankees were not surprised by Martin’s signing
“This isn’t something that caught us off guard. It’s something we were very well aware of. The agent was very honest with us, as well as the player, Russell. The best shot we took at retaining him was in spring training and obviously it was more difficult and now he’s moving on.”

Cashman felt he could only put so much money toward the catching position
“I like Russell Martin. I’m a big Russell Martin fan. But ultimately we have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful how we spend our money. The market for Russell was aggressive, as it should have been, and our focus has been on our pitching and after that I have a lot of different holes to fill and we need to be careful how we allocate our remaining funds to make sure we can fill all the holes. I feel we were fortunate to have Russell Martin for the two years that we had him, and I’m sorry to see him go. I think the Pirates got a really good one. But at the same time, I think we’ll find ways to cushion the blow as we always try to do.”

Romine is currently expected to open in Triple-A, but that could change
“I think he’s on the outside looking in, but when you get this close to the big leagues, things can come quick. If you’ve got a lot of talent, things can come quick. That talent, it can close the gap very quickly. At this planning stage, the plan would be for him to be at Triple-A everyday and having a full year at Triple-A, but we’ll see.”

Right field is a higher offseason priority than catcher
“I would say so, yeah. … We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. We’ll engage the market – the trade and free agent market – but our big focus has been on our pitching, like we’ve been talking about.”

Associated Press photo

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What goes up…11.30.12

This is a familiar moment….

There are many things I didn’t expect when I took this job, and the general manager’s annual holiday descent is one of them. But, here I am, on my way out the door to once again watch Brian Cashman rappel down a building.

This morning’s practice session — the main event is this weekend — took an interesting twist last night. No longer is Cashman going to going through a few practice runs and then talk about the predictable signings of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Now Cashman is going to be asked a lot of questions the guy he didn’t sign.

Russell Martin is heading to Pittsburgh for an unlikely reunion with A.J. Burnett.

The Yankees are now without an everyday catcher and without a clear path to find a replacement.

It’s kind of a what goes up, must come down situation. Finding a catcher is inevitable for the Yankees. One way or another, they’re going to pick someone to put behind the plate on Opening Day, and that decision will be one of Cashman’s pivotal moves of the winter.

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Martin reportedly agrees to terms with Pittsburgh11.29.12

The Yankees top choice at catcher is off the market.

According to Ken Rosenthal and David Waldstein, Martin has agreed to a two-year, $17-million deal with the Pirates. For the past few days, Pittsburgh has emerged as a favorite to sign Martin, and now the Yankees are without their top choice behind the plate.

Martin spent the past two years with the Yankees, and although his batting average has dipped considerably, he remains a potent power hitter with a good eye and a strong defensive reputation. In a thin catching market, there are few alternatives available.

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Miley named Manager of the Year by Baseball America11.29.12

Well deserved honor for Yankees Triple-A manager Dave Miley. Here’s the announcement from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (please note that the Mantle pun is not mine!).

MOOSIC, Pa. – Ironic that the manager of the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate might just need a bigger, “mantle”. Scranton/Wiles-Barre skipper Dave Miley has been named Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America, the preeminent publication in the industry. It is the second significant accolade of 2012 for the veteran field general, who also took International League Manager of the Year honors for a second time in SWB pinstripes.

But while his 2007 squad won the division by 7.5 games, and his 2008 unit won the Governor’s Cup, his 2012 efforts might mark the zenith of his career. Despite having to play its entire season without a true home stadium while PNC Field underwent a $43.3 million reconstruction project, SWB posted the second-best record in the International League at 84-60.

“No home games and win the division, that’s pretty unbelievable,” Mark Newman, senior vice president of baseball operations for the New York Yankees told the publication. “He is a really good person and very good at his job.”

Miley championed SWB to its fifth division title in six years as a Yankees affiliate. In 23 seasons as a minor league manager, the 50-year-old Miley owns a record of 1,973-1,610 (.551).

“I tell the players the first day of the season, everybody has aspirations to get to the big leagues or go back to the big leagues. That goes from the clubhouse guy all the way through,” Miley told Baseball America. “If you aren’t going to be in the big leagues, Triple-A with the Yankees is tremendous to me. It’s been great. I have been treated outstanding. The communication involved has been great. We all want to be in the big leagues and go back to the big leagues, but it has been a great experience.”

Miley is currently in Puerto Rico managing Indios de Mayaguez for the second straight year after winning the Puerto Rican League title a year ago. His squad sports several Yankees’ farmhands including an SWB alumnus in right-hander Preston Claiborne, and possible future RailRiders like shortstop Angelo Gumbs, first baseman Luke Murton and outfielder Adonis Garcia.

“Dave’s work in 2012 was mind-blowing,” said SWB RailRiders president and general manager Rob Crain. “Under rare and difficult conditions, he authored the type of season most would find unbelievable on a movie screen. Sincere congratulations to him from the entire RailRiders family.”

Associated Press photo of Miley, Chris Dickerson and Triple-A trainer Darren London

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Stark: Rivera contract expected tomorrow11.29.12

Still no new contract for birthday boy Mariano Rivera, but ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the deal is expected to be finished tomorrow. Stark says the deal is expected to be worth $11-12 million, a modest cut from the $15 million Rivera made last season. Stark’s report fits with what I’ve heard this week — and what most every other Yankees beat writer has been reporting — that the Yankees and Rivera have the basics in place and expect the deal to be finalized before next week’s winter meetings.

UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi hears the deal will be worth $10 million.

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