Archive for November, 2013
Right now the Yankees 40-man roster sits at 39 players, and we know they’re on the verge of adding Brendan Ryan and Brian McCann. That means at least one roster spot needs to be opened almost immediately. It’s worth noting, though, that it doesn’t always make sense to open a roster spot by non-tendering a player. If it’s all about opening a 40-man spot, the Yankees would be better off designating for a assignment some of their younger players who might clear waivers and remain in the organization.
Really, I see only two really strong non-tender candidates on the current roster.
1. Chris Stewart — The Brian McCann signing more or less wiped out his chances of making the team out of camp. Might be worth adding a Stewart-type on a minor league deal, but the Yankees — and Stewart — would be better off going in a different direction.
2. Jayson Nix — Perfectly good utility infielder, but with Brendan Ryan signed to a multi-year deal, Nix doesn’t have much of a role to play. Again, might be worth getting a Nix-type on a minor league deal — they’ve already done that with Yamaico Navarro — but it’s not worth keep Nix on the roster and giving him an arbitration raise.
Those two are arbitration eligible, in line to make roughly a million apiece, and have already been crowded out by offseason moves. That’s what makes them good non-tender candidates. The other marginal Yankees players who could come off the 40-man at some point don’t come with an overwhelming need to non-tender. It might happen, but the benefit is limited and a DFA might be a better way to go. Guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells are signed to guaranteed deals, so non-tendering them isn’t really an option and serves no purpose.
3. Matt Daley — Given all the holes the Yankees have to fill, it’s hard to imagine Daley staying on the 40-man all winter. He could absolutely be non-tendered, but as a guy who’s making the minimum, there’s not much upside to it. Could DFA him instead and do basically the same thing. If I had to guess right now, I’d say he’ll be non-tendered just because there’s not much for him to do going forward.
4. David Huff — Could legitimately make the roster as a left-handed reliever and possible spot starter, but the crowded 40-man just doesn’t leave much room for him. He’s apparently not arbitration eligible, which means there’s little financial upside to non-tendering him. That said, he probably should have the right to refuse a outright assignment to the minors, which means a DFA is basically the same as a non-tender. Seems like their fourth-best non-tender candidate to me.
5. Brett Marshall — Now we’re into the guys with almost no reason to non-tender. Marshall is coming off a pretty bad year in Triple-A, and he’s clearly behind David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno in the fifth starter / long reliever pecking order. But he does have a good sinker, and if the Yankees can’t keep him on the 40-man, might as well DFA him in hopes of clearing waivers and keeping him in the system. Might not keep his 40-man spot, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worth a contract.
6. Eduardo Nunez — The Brendan Ryan signing creates real questions about the role for Nunez going forward. The Yankees clearly felt the need to get additional shortstop insurance, and basically leaves Nunez third in the pecking order. Non-tender him, though? Surely there’s still some trade value in a relatively young guy who has some offensive potential. I would think that a few teams would be interested in getting a first-hand look at him. And he’s still not arbitration eligible. Unless the Yankees have decided Nunez has absolutely no value, they might as well at least tender him a contract offer and see what happens.
7. Ramon Flores — A perfectly good outfield prospect with some speed and a good eye at the plate, but Flores could become a victim of numbers at some point. He shouldn’t be non-tendered, but he could be DFA to open a roster spot. Flores does a lot of things pretty well, but he’s been primarily a left fielder and he’s never hit for power. Even his speed numbers are not overwhelming. He’s just not a typical corner outfielder, and that might hurt him given the roster crunch.
Associated Press photos
State of the Yankees at the end of November • 11.30.13
Last day of November, the Winter Meetings are a little more than a week away, and the Yankees are still waiting for a few key issues to resolve themselves. They’ve made one huge splash, given themselves a few options and shortstop, and made it clear that they’re open for business with money to spend (for the moment anyway). Here’s the state of the Yankees, position by position, as we prepare to head into December.
Biggest upgrade possible
The Yankees made their first offseason splash by signing Brian McCann to a five-year deal. That’s a potent left-handed hitter at a position that was previous filled by a series of defense-first options. Hard to imagine a single-position upgrade more significant than this one.
No real change here, and there probably won’t be a significant change. Mark Teixeira is still under contract, and still working his way back from last season’s wrist surgery. It’s going to be several months before we know the true state of the Yankees at first base. Depends entirely on Teixeira’s ability to be a productive hitter again.
The Yankees remain in negotiations with Robinson Cano, who’s the best player on the free agent market and apparently wants to be treated that way. No other serious bidder has emerged, and the Yankees have made it clear they want to re-sign Cano. It’s just a matter of finding a contract that satisfies each side. If not, then onto the complete mystery of Plan B.
The circus continues
Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing is finished, but he’s still waiting for a judgment from the arbitrator. It might be a while before we have any idea whether Rodriguez will play next season. Unless you count some utility types, the Yankees have not signed anyone to replace him just in case.
Handful of options
Derek Jeter was given an unexpected new one-year contract, meanwhile Brendan Ryan was signed for two years with an option for a third. Oh, and Eduardo Nunez is still in this mix somewhere. Jeter says he fully expects to play the position next year. The Yankees have said the same, but they’re clearly preparing for an alternative.
One more year
When the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano, it wasn’t a half-season rental. They have Soriano under contract for 2014 as well, and left field is his. It seems unlikely there will be any movement here.
One last year
This is Brett Gardner’s final year of arbitration, which means he’s eligible for free agency next winter. With Curtis Granderson gone, the Yankees really have no other center field option, so the job is Gardner’s barring a surprising roster move.
The Yankees have Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Well, but they also have shown no indication that they’re satisfied with that underwhelming veteran platoon situation. Carlos Beltran emerged as an early offseason target, and the Yankees remain heavily in the mix to sign Beltran to what is likely a two- or three-year deal.
Up for grabs
The Yankees have made no moves toward securing a full-time DH. If they’re going to sign someone to plug into this role, it could very well be a cheap option who’s brought into spring training to compete for at-bats. For now, it looks like a revolving door of veterans.
Keep us posted
The Yankees want to go after Masahiro Tanaka, but he’s not exactly available right now. While MLB tries to sort out changes to the Japanese posting system, the Yankees have to wait for their top pitching target. They’re also waiting for a decision from Hiroki Kuroda. Aside from those two, the Yankees have not been seriously linked to any starting pitcher.
D-Rob until further notice
Mariano Rivera has retired, and for now the 2014 closer job is safely in the hands of Dave Robertson. The Yankees might eventually sign someone to compete for the job, but the entire pitching market has been slow to move this offseason. The Yankees most significant bullpen move has been electing not to protect a handful of hard-throwing minor leaguers who could be lost in the Rule 5 draft.
Associated Press photos
I like Phil Hughes. He was always good to me in Scranton, and always good to me in New York. He remained easy to get along with whether he was an elite prospect, an all-star starter, a frustrated guy on the disabled list, or a struggling starter being booed off the mound at Yankee Stadium. I like the guy, he just didn’t pitch well.
It was there at times — the big fastball, the put-away curve; two seasons with at least 16 wins — but Hughes never found the consistency that would let him live up to massive expectations. Not even close, actually. He seemed to be heading that way in 2010, then took a massive step back in 2011, put some things back in order in 2012, and then had a 2013 walk year to forget. Brutal. Yankees couldn’t even make a qualifying offer to get a draft pick out of him.
But Hughes also has pretty decent timing, because the starting pitching market is awfully bad.
Josh Johnson, who’s two years older than Hughes and coming off an even worse season, just got $8 million from the Padres. Dan Haren, who’s been trending the wrong way for two years now, got $10 million from the Dodgers. Jason Vargas, who’s steady but certainly not overwhelming, got four years from the Royals.
In that market, George King reports that Hughes seems to be in line for a two-year deal worth roughly $15 million. The Twins have emerged as an early candidate after already signing a four-year deal with Ricky Nolasco (whose 4.37 career ERA isn’t that much better than Hughes’ 4.54). I like Hughes, and I hope he does well, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe he’ll have another chance in the Bronx.
Associated Press photo
Two quick coaching notes • 11.29.13
1. The Diamondbacks have reportedly hired Mike Harkey to be their new pitching coach. Harkey had been the Yankees bullpen coach, and he’s a close friend of Joe Girardi, but obviously a pitching coach job is tough to pass up. Congratulations to Mike. As for replacing him in the bullpen, Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred jumps to mind if only because of his experience and the fact he’s well liked and respected in the organization.
2. According to George King, the Yankees have a new strength and conditioning coach, hiring a guy named Matthew Krause to replace Dana Cavalea. Krause had been in the same role with the Reds. From the outside, it’s pretty hard to evaluate a strength and conditioning coach, but you can read quite a bit about Krause’s approach in a series of articles online. Cavalea was let go this offseason after seven seasons as the Yankees strength and conditioning coach.
Yankees tickets opportunity available online • 11.29.13
Consider this post nothing more than a heads up. We’re probably in for a pretty quiet weekend, but if you want to use that time to get a head start on purchasing tickets for next season, you can do so. Here are the basic details from the Yankees. They sent this press release while I was on vacation last week and I stumbled on it late last night.
The New York Yankees today announced special holiday on-sale opportunities exclusively for MasterCard cardholders to purchase tickets for select 2014 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June.
Beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET on Black Friday (November 29) and continuing through 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24, MasterCard cardholders may purchase specially priced individual game tickets to select 2014 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June by visiting www.yankees.com/priceless and www.yankeesbeisbol.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 469-9849 or (800) 943-4327 (TTY). This on-sale opportunity will not be available at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office or Ticketmaster outlets.
Fans purchasing tickets during this on-sale can take advantage of the “MasterCard Preferred Pricing” program that is new for the 2014 regular season. When fans purchase individual game tickets using their MasterCard card, they can save up to $15 per ticket in select seating categories.
Yankees Season Ticket Licensees using their MasterCard card can take advantage of this special ticket opportunity with a pre-on-sale from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET on November 29.
Additionally, from Black Friday (November 29) through Cyber Monday (December 2) only, there will be a special “Buy 2, Get 2” offer. Fans can save up to 50 percent off select seats with this opportunity by using their MasterCard card and the code MCB2G2. The “Buy 2, Get 2” offer is valid for seven games during the 2014 season (April 8, April 9, April 15, April 16, April 29, April 30 and May 1).
Select MasterCard $5 and Half-price Games will be available for purchase during the above on-sale promotions.
The specifics of 2014 regular-season ticket specials (eg: Senior Citizen, Student, Youth, Military Personnel) will be announced at a later date.
The on-sale for all other 2014 individual game tickets will be announced at a later time.
Yankees season ticket plans, starting at $90, are now available on both a full-season and partial-season basis. For complete season-ticket information, please visit yankees.com or yankeesbeisbol.com, contact the Season Ticket Sales and Service Department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (212) YANKEES [212-926-5337].
Associated Press photo
Black Friday shopping with the Yankees • 11.29.13
I’ve never participated in the whole Black Friday thing. I’ve never stood outside of Best Buy at midnight and never flooded into Target with a list of potential bargains. But I think it understand the general premise. Good stuff relatively cheap, correct?
Most of the players connected to the Yankees this offseason are going to be anything but cheap. Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka are going to require significant spending, but at some point, the Yankees are surely going to look for some smaller contracts to fill smaller holes.
On this day of discount shopping, here are a few smaller-ticket items that the Yankees might be in the market for this winter.
The Yankees aren’t really in a position to spend big money on a third baseman, because they’re not sure yet whether they need a third baseman. And, frankly, none of the available third basemen seem to be worth a significant investment. That said, the Yankees know Alex Rodriguez is likely to be suspended for at least part of the season, and even if he’s not, they’re going to need someone to fill in at third base from time to time. Eduardo Nunez, David Adams and Brendan Ryan are in-house possibilities, but at some point the Yankees might be in the market for a veteran with some power, maybe someone who’s fallen through the offseason cracks and suddenly stands out as a buy-low option. Mark Reynolds perhaps? We’ve already seen them grab a few utility types to provide minor league depth.
Cesar Cabral is on the roster, but he’s hardly a sure thing, and David Huff could be a prime non-tender candidate. Having lost Boone Logan to free agency, the Yankees have an obvious place for a left-handed reliever, and they could try to find a bargain in a guy who’s a strict left-on-left specialist. There seems to be a decent chance the Yankees will spend more heavily on a late-inning option — either a potential closer, or a new setup man to let Dave Robertson move into the ninth inning — but the bullpen has enough holes to be worth looking for a few more relief options to at least compete for jobs in spring training and perhaps provide minor league depth during the year. A lefty would be a welcome addition.
Backup center fielder
This isn’t a must-have, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Without Curtis Granderson, the Yankees center field depth hinges on Ichiro Suzuki and Zoilo Almonte (and maybe Adonis Garcia if he’s productive in Triple-A). Even if the Yankees sign Carlos Beltran, that’s a guy who’s started just seven games in center field the past three years. It’s hardly a given that Ichiro and/or Almonte will be productive enough to be worth a roster spot all year, and what if Gardner goes down in spring training? Could Ichiro or Almonte actually play center field every day in Yankee Stadium for a while? Some sort of fringy but experienced center fielder might give the Yankees some insurance.
A power hitter
Defensive position is a secondary concern. At this point, it seems possible the Yankees will head into spring training without an everyday designated hitter, which might be necessary with this roster of position players who could use a few DH days now and then. But it might also seem like an opportunity to some veteran hitter who has power and needs an opportunity to make a team. Maybe it’s a Lyle Overbay-type who might agree to a minor league contract in the hope of playing well in spring training and winning some platoon at-bats. Whether the Yankees have room for a guy like this might depend on their expectations for guys like Nunez, Ichiro and Vernon Wells, but a veteran hitter might be see this roster construction it as an opportunity to out-hit the other options and force his way into the mix.
Associated Press photo
Happy Thanksgiving! • 11.28.13
Barring some sort of surprise negotiation breakthrough, it’s probably going to be a fairly quiet holiday weekend for the Yankees. Of course, by writing that I’m basically guaranteeing that I’ll have to step away from some sort of family function to handle a bit of massive breaking news, but I guess I’ll take my chances.
Just wanted to jump on the blog quickly this morning to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
Go eat something delicious. Hug someone you love. Listen to Alice’s Restaurant at least once all the way through. Just enjoy the day and imagine all of those Brian McCann home runs sailing out to right field next season. I’ll be spending the day with my sister, her husband, her in-laws — they were kind enough to invite me — and my five-month-old nephew. Haven’t seen the kid since just a few days after he was born, so I obviously have a lot to be thankful for.
Enjoy the holiday everyone. Thank you all for making my job awfully fun.
Associated Press photo
I was going to include this in the previous post, but it’s not really news, and it’s a wonderful way to head into the Thanksgiving holiday. So let’s give it it’s own post.
Wayne Coffey gives us a nice look into the charitable work done by CC Sabathia and his wife Amber. There’s a great anecdote about CC offering to send some of his own shoes to a kid in California who was having a hard time finding shoes that fit. A lot of athletes make donations and do really nice work in the community, but it always strikes me just how present the Sabathia’s are for their charitable work. CC’s a very genuine guy, and he’s very much a part of the work he does. Nice story about Wayne, and very fitting for the upcoming holiday.
If you’re looking for more of a baseball story and not a feel-good Thanksgiving story: Here’s Sabathia on the Yankees attempts to re-sign Robinson Cano.
“As his friend, I know how difficult it is going through this process,” Sabathia said. “Everybody thinks it’s a fun time, but I know how stressful it can be. I won’t hound him about it. I know he has his representation, and they are doing what they can do with (Brian Cashman). We’ll see what happens, but I definitely want him to stay and I feel like he’s going to stay.”
Associated Press photo
Brendan Ryan gets two-year deal with Yankees • 11.27.13
Ken Rosenthal chimes in with the details of the Brendan Ryan contract: Two years, $5 million with a club and player option for a third year. With incentives, the deal could be worth $10 million.
It’s not the dollars that stand out, it’s the years. Two years, maybe three, for a utility infielder — especially one who’s hit .217/.283/.294 the past four years — says a lot about the state of the middle infield in the Yankees minor league system. There are some interesting young guys in the lowest levels, but up top, there’s very little at second base and shortstop. Corban Joseph just had shoulder surgery, David Adams didn’t hit much in his big league debut, and new addition Dean Anna is more of a grinder utility type than a potential everyday fill-in. There’s not much knocking on the door to suggest Ryan won’t have a role to play in the next year or two.
And then, of course, there’s Eduardo Nunez, who was given a chance to secure a long-term utility job — and maybe play his way into everyday status — but never showed enough consistency to give the Yankees confidence. He’s flashed strong tools from time to time, but the offense and defense have rarely been there on a consistent basis. Nunez is still not arbitration eligible, so there’s little reason to non-tender him, but the Yankees could most certainly shop him around in hopes of trading him to fill a hole elsewhere.
Ryan is a terrific defender, and at the very least his glove probably puts him at the top of the infield bench pecking order. He could handle shortstop if Derek Jeter isn’t up to the task, and he could be a one-dimensional alternative at either second base or third base should the Yankees need a replacement at those positions (which certainly isn’t out of the question).
At 31 years old, Ryan isn’t an all-star and he might never be an everyday player for the Yankees, but he’s also the type of player that the Yankees simply don’t have in the upper levels of their minor league system.
Associated Press photo
A few late-afternoon notes and links • 11.27.13
A few late afternoon notes on this cold and rainy day here in New York. Things feel pretty quiet at the moment, and they’ll probably stay that way until next week.
• The Yankees and Robinson Cano will continue negotiations after the Thanksgiving weekend. Mark Feinsand reports that Cano’s side has come down from its early $310-million request, but only “very slightly.” No surprise that these negotiations seem likely to stay tense for a while. The Yankees are considering a massive commitment, and Cano is trying to get his life-changing deal (knowing he’ll be too old for a contract like this next time he hits the market).
• Dr. Chris Ahmad has filed court papers defending himself against the claims of Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit: “Whatever injuries plaintiff may have sustained at the time and place alleged in the complaint were caused in whole or in part or were contributed to by the culpable conduct and want of care on the part of the plaintiff.” Christian Red has the story over at the Daily News. Suing the team doctor was never going to end without a fight.
• Andrew Marchand mentions the idea of the Yankees signing Omar Infante as a sort of super utility type — comparable to what Tony Phillips used to be in Oakland and Detroit — who plays every day, but at various positions. I love players like that (I grew up with Jose Oquendo and the National League game, and I specifically liked Phillips), and I think a regular utility type seems especially appealing given the current state of the Yankees infield, but I wonder how it would play out long term. I just think the Yankees would be better of focusing on specific roles for now, then looking into this sort of alternative plan later. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t hate the idea, just seems like there are better hitters out there who can fill obvious holes. Have to assume that, at some point, the Yankees won’t have this many questions all over the place.
• Luis Cruz is going to play in Japan next year. So there’s one offseason mystery solved. You can all stop emailing me about him now!
• Interesting story over at Baseball America about a low-level Yankees pitcher who’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft because of unusual signing circumstances. It’s an interesting situation if you’re into this super nerdy minor leagues stuff — basically, Cuban lefty Omar Luis has a big arm and got a big signing bonus, but he’s never played above rookie ball and the Yankees chose not to protect him — but it probably has no impact. The chances of Luis being drafted and actually sticking on a big league roster are incredibly slim, just a kind of curious and unusual situation. I’d say Chase Whitley, Tommy Kahnle and Danny Burawa are Yankees pitchers with a much better chance of being lost in the Rule 5.
Associated Press photo