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


Pinch hitting: Derek Levandowski

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 31, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

I can relate to today’s Pinch Hitter. It turns out, Derek Levandowski used to cover the Durham Bulls, and there’s really nothing like that random connection of having each covered the International League at some point. Derek grew up in upstate New York, but he now lives in North Carolina, works as the marketing coordinator for World Tavern Poker, and tweets under the handle @DereksCurveball.

Derek wrote that he’s been a Yankees fan since the days of Spike Owen and Mel Hall, and for his post, Derek’s looking ahead to the task facing Dave Robertson: Replacing Mariano Rivera.

Mariano Rivera, Joe GirardiLIFE AFTER MO

Right now the Yankees appear to have David Robertson penciled in as their closer for the 2014 season.  This has a lot of baseball people torn, as Robertson is one of the better setup men in all of baseball, and it takes a special mentality to pitch in the ninth inning rather than the eighth.

Can Robertson do the job?

If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you have heard that sort of question before — in the winter 1996-97.  John Wetteland, fresh off of a 43-save season and a World Series MVP, was a free agent and it was his desire to come back to the Yankees for 1997 and beyond.  The Yankees, however, had other plans, believing their 27-year-old setup man, Mariano Rivera, might actually make a pretty good closer.

There was a lot of concern among the Yankees brass and the Yankees fans that the ‘formula’ (Rivera for the seventh and eighth innings, Wetteland for the ninth) was too good to break up.  Early on, it appeared those concerns may be legitimate as Rivera struggled in early 1997, surrendering two home runs in April after allowing only one in all of 1996.  Fans might also remember that 1997 was the season that Rivera blew a crucial save to the Indians in the ALDS, lighting the fire for a trio of Yankees championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Mo ended up being pretty good, though, when all was said and done.

Flash forward to 2014. Having stood atop the mound for four championships, Rivera is now a part of Yankee lore, and it’s time for someone to fill his unfillable shoes. For the time being, that man appears to be Robertson, a 28-year old from Birmingham, Alabama who has all of eight career saves (a mere 644 less than Mariano Rivera).

Robertson has been superb as a set-up man, posting a 1.91 ERA over the last three seasons. But is he ready to close?

Let’s assume that this time the Yankees won’t be as lucky as they were with Rivera, and that Robertson is, for whatever reason, unable to handle the closer’s role with the Yankees. Or, let’s assume the Yankees decide at some point over the next few weeks that Robertson would be better suited for the eighth inning. What are their potential fallback options?

External Options

Obviously free agency is still in progress and there are several free agent arms still out there: Fernando Rodney is 36 years old and coming off of solid 37-save seasons.  Rodney had a 3.38 ERA, which is about 1.5 runs higher than Yankee fans are used to, which could lead to a tough adjustment.

Jonathan Papelbon is 33 and coming off of a decent season with the Phillies, and may be available via trade – but at what cost? Francisco Rodriguez has been around forever, but he’s just 32 and spent most of last season as a setup man, posting a 2.70 ERA.

Shawn KelleyIn-House Options

Shawn Kelley : Kelley was lights-out against right-handed batters for most of 2013, and posted a very closer-esque 71 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.  However, he also posted a very shaky 4.39 ERA and allowed eight home runs.

Preston Claiborne: Claiborne arrived on the scene without much fanfare in 2013 but still put forth a solid rookie campaign, posting a 4.11 ERA in just over 50 innings.  His strikeout rate was somewhat less than you would like to see for a late-inning reliever, at 7.5 per nine, but that could improve with experience.  He also has very solid command, walking just 14 hitters along the way.  Claiborne has also shown great poise for his age, as he will play at just 26 years old in 2014.

Dellin Betances:  Despite a lack of Major League success, Betances seems the most ‘built’ for the closer role.  A dominant minor league season after being transitioned from the starting rotation (108 strike outs in 84 innings, and a 2.68 ERA) could mean that Betances is ready to step into a major league bullpen, but he would likely need some seasoning before he could step into a closer’s role.  There is no question about his stuff though, merely his command and intestinal fortitude.

Matt Thornton:  The 6’6, 235 lb lefty features a very good fastball and was part of the 2013 Red Sox World Championship team, however the Yankees signed him to be their lefty out of the pen, not their closer, and it’s unlikely they would transition him from that role.

Outside Of The Box

Michael Pineda: Pineda was part of the now infamous Jesus Montero trade. Pineda suffered a torn labrum during the spring of 2012 and required surgery that kept him out until mid-way through the 2013 season. He has still yet to appear in a Major League game for the Yankees.  However, now that the Yankees have signed Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, if Pineda does not win the fifth spot in the rotation, he could be a great option for the closer’s role.  His numbers at AAA were very respectable, a 3.86 ERA in 6 games (albeit as a starter), with 26 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.

Reports were that Pineda was hitting 93-94 on the gun, and that should theoretically get even better as he is another year removed from shoulder surgery. At 6’7, 260 pounds, he would also bring an imposing presence to the mound.

Scrap Heap

At this time last year, who would have predicted that Edward Mujica and Koji Uehara would be closing for two teams headed to the World Series? Maybe the answer for the Yankees is Johan Santana or, if possible, someone even less likely. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, it will not be Mariano Rivera. 

Associated Press photos

Comments

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102 Responses to “Pinch hitting: Derek Levandowski”

  1. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:11 am

    There are other options but that is a nice summary Chad.

    :)

  2. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I should have said Derek.

    Sorry.

    :(

  3. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 9:14 am

    just watching on msnbc that the NFL league administration is run as a non profit so the super bowl is a non profit enterprise.

    baseball gets no such tax exempt status. nor the nba

    turns out a political deal was made way back.

  4. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Derek

    Good post and it brings up a real concern.

    If I remember correctly, one big concern with Wetteland was that he often put himself in trouble before putting out the fire. That is something I have concern with, and it could be unfounded concern, David Robertson.

    Kelley has a nice slider, but gives up too many homers. And Jeff Nelson’s was better.

  5. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:16 am

    External:

    JJ Putz, someone from the Nats or A’s

    Internal: J-Ram

    Scappers: Hanrahan, Bailey

  6. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:17 am

    YT-

    I call those type of guys “cardiac closers”.

    :)

  7. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 9:18 am

    An article Handicapping the Non-Roster Invitees

    http://itsaboutthemoney.net/ar.....-invitees/

    Some of us should try out!!

    :)

  8. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:18 am

    http://riveraveblues.com/tag/dellin-betances/

  9. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 9:19 am

    MTU

    Will DRob be one of the ” Cardiac Closers?”

  10. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:21 am

    YT-

    If I had to guess I’d say yes.

    It might be difficult for him to pitch on consecutive days.

  11. AAA January 31st, 2014 at 9:22 am

    baseball gets no such tax exempt status

    ==============================

    Don’t think baseball has much of a gripe here. They still have their antitrust exemption, no?

  12. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:25 am

    YT-

    I just checked and D-Rob’s WHIP has been excellent the last 2 years.

    So maybe not.

    ;)

  13. AAA January 31st, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Robertson has slowed his walk rate pretty significantly over the past couple seasons. I think he’ll be fine as a closer.

  14. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Cash

    Good morning. Thanks for the article. One relief pitcher, a lefty, Caesar Cabral, seems to be the favorite as the second lefty out of the pen.

  15. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:27 am

    YT-

    I think Nuno would be excellent too.

    ;)

  16. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 9:28 am

    “Don’t think baseball has much of a gripe here.

    i don’t know the exact comparison concerning the antitrust laws with baseball and football.

    but it’s a given to me that the NFL is not a non profit organization.

    it looks like a “pigs at the trough ” situation.

    goodell makes like 30 million a year. for running a non profit?

  17. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Have to go and run some errands, now that the roads are clear after the 2 inches of snow that paralyzed the city. :(

    Have a great day.

    Until later.

  18. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Wouldn’t mind seeing Krod or Hanrahan get a shot. Trade candidate: Drew Storen.

  19. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Adios YT.

    Later.

  20. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 9:30 am

    if there’s anything that girardi is good at , it’s at figuring out a bullpen.

    i think while it may start out a problem, girardi will get it up to snuff as the season goes.

  21. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Morning.

    not sold on Drob because he never done it. I also think f Drob lose a tick or two on his FB that his effectiveness will drop precipitously, with his small frame and workload past few years I worry about it. Stats wise, it’s easy transition, but don’t always play that way.

  22. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I know I am definitely pulling hard for Robertson to succeed.

    Always thought the world of that kid.

    :)

  23. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Fuji, G had the horses, I think he was good at managing workloads.

  24. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:32 am

    MTU:

    I see Nuno as more of a swing man, long releiver, spot starter. He was very impressive in his few appearances last year, including a very good outing against Tampa Bay. Alot depends on the status of Pineda. Even if healhty, I bet the Yanks play it safe with Pineda and leave him Tampa when they break camp in order to protect his arm from the early season cold weather up here.

  25. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:33 am

    D-Rob doesn’t need full velo to succeed IMO.

    He’s learned to cut his FB.

    And has that wicked curve.

  26. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Of course, nobody is sold on DRob yet becuase he hasn’t closed yet. I think he has the mentality and toughness to do it. He’ll need to use fewer pitches than normal though if he is to go on back to back days or 3 days in a row.

  27. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:35 am

    If I recall correctly, Drob struggle mightily as closer when Mo went down in 12. Sori was the Yankee closer probably for a good reason. It’s a very small sample, but it could a preview in what’s to come. Yankees are not looking for closer but an elite closer as well.

  28. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Tackel-

    maybe.

    But I also think the Yankees want to know what they have in Pineda.

    I think Phelps is next in line.

    I think Nuno can do a lot out of a pen.

    I was sort of surprised when they let Huff go.

    I thought he was pretty decent out of the pen.

    Cabral has stuff but poor control.

  29. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Tackel, a lot ppl seem to take assurance of his EIG bodywork and assume it will be a seamless transition.

  30. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Dark horse for this year’s pen- J-Ram.

  31. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Whitley, Claiborne, Montgomery, Burawa, Bleich.

    Any of whom might also help.

    Plenty of potential BP arms.

  32. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Are both Romine and Murphy going back to AAA ?

  33. Blojaldo January 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Oscar Madison says:
    January 31, 2014 at 8:48 am
    Bret The Hitman January 31st, 2014 at 8:26 am
    Cashman the prospect hugger’s list:

    Hughes*
    Joba*
    Gardner*
    Brackman*

    *caucasian

    Austin Jackson
    Jesus Montero
    Melky Cabrera

    The one exception is Ian Kennedy who ran his mouth publicly about deserving a rotation spot.

    =======

    Just wondering why your post has the * caucasian label ? Meaning ? Those guys are preferred over the others ?

    IF Kennedy was vocal then good for him, maybe more Yankee prospects should be more vocal too so they actually get a shot if they perform instead of languishing in the minors although in Kennedy’s case he got traded and has been able to perform elsewhere
    ———-
    I agree with Oscar. Brett, what does a players ethnicity have to do with anything?

  34. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Have the Yanks converted J-Ram to a releiver? I still have hopes for him as a starter. I guess becuase of his recent injuries, alot of people assume he will end up in the pen.

  35. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am

    We talk about our concerns for the IF D but no one has mentioned the effect that McCann will have on it.

    He does not throw well. Avg. at best. Maybe below.

    Pitchers are going to be forced to hold runner’s a lot better.

  36. blake January 31st, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Robertson is hardly the problem….he’ll be fine. The problem isn’t him closing…..it’s that if he’s closing he can’t pitch the 8th. That’s where the issue is.

  37. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Kennedy was vocal, maybe a little too vocal for his own good when he was here. He did not take kindly to criticism, and seemed in denial when he did not pitch well, claiming that he didn’t pitch badly and that one bad pitch here or there did him in.

  38. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Tackel-

    No. Not officially but it would not surprise me to see him there.

    Of course we hope for more.

    ;)

  39. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:50 am

    McCann’s throwing was affected by a shoulder problem. Suposedly he is healthy now, so we’ll see about his throwing now.

  40. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Tackel-

    I don’t think he was ever particularly good.

    Maybe I’m wrong ?

    Too lazy to look it up.

    :)

  41. Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Blake, I agree with you on DRob. Thats why I’d like to see them bring in a KRod or a Hanrahan or trade for a JJ Putz. Not sure how Kelley will handle the setup role. Rodney will not sign anywhere where he is not the closer.

  42. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Kennedy is where he belongs.

  43. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Thornton will be fine as a setup LOOGY.

    They just need to find the other half.

  44. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I got a feeling that more Yankee pitchers will be throwing splitters before long.

    ;)

  45. blake January 31st, 2014 at 9:57 am

    “Blake, I agree with you on DRob. Thats why I’d like to see them bring in a KRod or a Hanrahan or trade for a JJ Putz. Not sure how Kelley will handle the setup role. Rodney will not sign anywhere where he is not the closer.”

    agreed

  46. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 9:58 am

    all the yankees had to do was to sign Balfour and put Drob back EIG. I still don’t get it, it’s not that I think Balfour doesn’t have his flaws it’s just offer more assurance than any other combo that’s avail to em.

  47. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:01 am

    The issue with Drob is more of stamina concern the way he pitches. Drob don’t often get away with mistakes, he paints the corner high and low in 4 quadrant and hitters normally go out there in looking for fb while laying off his nasty cu. That normally results in so or long abs. Drob could be in trouble if he pitches back to back to back on a regular basis.

  48. blake January 31st, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I do think the Yankees are a better team now that they were a year ago…..but they have left themselves some serious question marks in the infield and bullpen. Just seems like to me after spending all the money they have and after dumping a budget they had been positioning for for 3 years that they’d want to address everything they could and try to win now.

    This team for me right now could make the playoffs and could win it all if everything goes totally right……they could also miss the postseason if some of the injury risk they have crops up. Still time to fix it….and options to fix it are still there and probably availble for 60 cents on the dollar.

  49. UpState January 31st, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Rays To Sign Wilson Betemit

    only 10 ML AB’s in 2013

    only 62 MiLB AB’s in 2013

    ….guessing he was injured ?

    Even this “iron-glove” third baseman is better than Nunez.

  50. UpState January 31st, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Tackelberry January 31st, 2014 at 9:49 am
    Kennedy was vocal, maybe a little too vocal for his own good when he was here. He did not take kindly to criticism, and seemed in denial when he did not pitch well, claiming that he didn’t pitch badly and that one bad pitch here or there did him in.

    ========================

    IPK’s NL & AL splits are huge.

    He should stay away from all AL teams.

    (that said – IIRC he actually beat the Yankees last year…Luis Cruz just couldn’t pull that game out for us…so sad.)

  51. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Kennedy has a pretty average repertoire, if he doesn’t locate perfectly, he gets hammer. That might be even more of an issue in a DH league while facing a good offensive team. It’s like Javy, sometimes their stuff don’t match up against a patient and good offensive team.

  52. blake January 31st, 2014 at 10:18 am

    MLB Network PR ?@MLBNetworkPR 1m
    “If I could’ve spent 13-14 years at second base, I would’ve loved to see what would’ve happened.” – Michael Young on #MLBNHotStove
    Retweeted by MLB Network

    probably nothing different…..still nice career…..not a HOFer or anything either way. 104 career OPS+….even at 2B not good enough.

  53. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Michael Young was a terrific hitter and really good all-around player.

  54. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 10:21 am

    DRob will lead the AL in saves this year.

  55. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Y’s-

    :shock:

  56. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:23 am

    how good of a talent evaulator is Dave Dombrowski?

  57. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:25 am

    cash-

    One of the best IMO.

    Why ?

  58. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 10:25 am

    in a way, i like that drob doesnt have another closer in the pen. I like that it’s all on his shoulders. I think he’s the kind of guy who will step into the void and come through when the whole team is counting on him.

    extend him now!

  59. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Y’s-

    I hope you are right. I’m pulling for him big time.

    That said, you really have your neck out there w that prediction.

    :)

  60. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:28 am

    random thoughts MTU, as the author of Expos, Marlins and now Tigers farm system, he is pretty damn good at evaluating and developing his own system as well as I identifying others.

  61. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 10:29 am

    “probably availble for 60 cents on the dollar.”
    ==========================================
    plus the luxury tax….. .6 x 1.5= .9

    its like their getting the senior citizen’s discount!

    appropriate! :)

  62. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Cash-

    He is very shrewd IMO.

    Wish he were our GM.

  63. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Won’t be long now and you’ll be hearing “Play ball”.

    :)

  64. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:33 am

    meh to extending Drob, closer can be had yearly for a price tag that doesn’t fluctuate much.

  65. blake January 31st, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Still don’t get that Fister trade for the Tigers…..Dombrowski was on the radio yesterday and he tried to explain it like they wanted to get Smiley in the rotation and that Fister was a FA in 2 years so they wanted to get a return for him etc……The Tigers are a worse team than last year IMO…..if they don’t get Scherzer signed then really have to question their offseason. Dombrowski is great in general but kinda a weird offseason…..don’t mind the Fielder deal but the Fister trade makes them worse.

  66. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Most important characteristic a good closer has to have is a short memory.

    ;)

  67. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 10:41 am

    While I would of course like an additional established reliever for the bullpen, I think it is less crucial than the infield. Girardi is pretty good with the pen, and there are a number of candidates in AAA who the Yanks could tap if necessary to create a capable bullpen. On the other hand, I don’t see that sort of depth in AAA when it comes to the infield.

  68. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:42 am

    WYH-

    Agreed.

  69. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I hope you folks back East don’t get the storm that is over us right now.

    We needed water badly but not all at once.

    :(

  70. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 10:46 am

    It’s Day 4 of the “Jeff Baker is juuuuust about to sign with some team” watch.

  71. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Y’s-

    I’ve heard reported that Baker’s D is not very good at 3b.

  72. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Detroit have spanked the NYY in recent playoff history, like to get some revenge!

  73. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Cash-

    I’d like for the Yankees to steamroller all of baseball.

    :)

  74. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 10:56 am

    MTU, guys like Friedman, Beane, Dombrowski have such secure power structure in their respective seats, it would take Yankees offering combine powers of levine and cashman to lure em. that said, I take those 3 and see how this franchise would look under their stewardship in 5 years.

  75. DONNYBROOK January 31st, 2014 at 10:59 am

    With the “mixing-and-matching” done today, the “Closer” role is on its’ way out. All you have to do is look at the salaries that “Closers”, are having to accept, and it’s obvious how that role is Now being viewed by MLB Mgt. The Last guy to get legit Closer $$$ along with any real length of contract was Papelbon, and that’s going back a ways. Teams are even to the point of jamming the Bushes with Proven relievers, so they can burn one out at the MLB level, and simply call another up from the Minors. The concern over whether Robertson will have success as a Closer is a misnomer. That job is a Gone Goose.

  76. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Cash-

    Unless any GM is given sufficient autonomy I’m not sure it helps all that much who’s running things.

    The meddling by the non-baseball people is a problem for any potential GM IMO.

    I think you agree.

    That needs to be KO’ed first. Hal need to straighten that out. Doubt he will though.

    ;)

  77. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 11:00 am

    No internal or external option is going to be Mariano. We’ve been unbelievably spoiled by his consistent greatness and have to accept that the Yankees may lose a few games that he would have closed out.

    We’ve also seen that bullpen is not an area where you need to make a huge investment in terms of dollars or human assets to have it work effectively. Consider the fact that over the last two years Boston has traded Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick and a host of young players for Mark Melancon, Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan and yet it was a guy they picked up off the scrap heap who ended up as their dominant closer.

  78. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 11:01 am

    my guess is that tiger’s ownership mandated a payroll figure they had to get under in order to keep sherzer. Fister was trending in the wrong direction the past 2 years.

    What I find surprising is that they didnt seem to get much back for him. It seems like the Nationals just sent them some minor league spare parts in return.

  79. Michelle B. of Yankee Stadium West January 31st, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Jeff Baker update

    He isn’t pricing himself out, he wants a 3rd yr option. Its his last contract and he wants security. Seems some teams want to give him a MiL contract with a spring training invite and guarantee his pay if he makes the team. I think he’s somewhat disspointed in the market and he also thinks Stephen Drew is holding some teams up.

  80. Cashmoney January 31st, 2014 at 11:01 am

    MTU, when Hal was asked Yankee mission statement yearly I believe this was the response from hank…

    Chad Jennings : Wrong! Hal, Hank, what is best in baseball?
    Hank : To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

  81. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:02 am

    DB-

    It is huh ?

    Then who is that who stands out there alone in the ninth ?

    ;)

  82. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Michelle-

    thanks for the update.

    Arroyo doesn’t even have an offer to turn down. Now that’s strange.

    :shock:

  83. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Cash-

    That’s how I feel.

    I do not want it close.

    I want us to bludgeon our opponents.

    To instill fear and awe.

  84. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Cash-

    Like Vikings !

    :)

  85. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:10 am

    We should offer Baker at least a 1 year guaranteed deal with a cheap option or 2.

    Sounds like he would take that.

  86. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Baker/Johnson at 3b would mash.

    D would be avg.

  87. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 11:12 am

    “Unless any GM is given sufficient autonomy I’m not sure it helps all that much who’s running things.”

    the way to get rid of levine is make him gm.

    the sooner he is, the sooner he’s gone.

  88. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Fuji-

    Newman should have been gone yesterday.

    Levine should be forced to stick to marketing/finance/scams.

    Baseball stays w the baseball people.

  89. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 11:15 am

    id rather add baker than drew myself.

  90. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Free Hank.

    :)

  91. blake January 31st, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 10:41 am
    While I would of course like an additional established reliever for the bullpen, I think it is less crucial than the infield. Girardi is pretty good with the pen, and there are a number of candidates in AAA who the Yanks could tap if necessary to create a capable bullpen. On the other hand, I don’t see that sort of depth in AAA when it comes to the infield

    totally agree and have said the same more or less……the bullpen is a problem potentially but it’s a problem you can fix during the season and Girardi and the Yankees have shown a knack for this…..granted it’s easier when you have Mo but they still are pretty good with pens……the infield is a different story…..once the season starts it’s going to be much more difficult to address and fix that if it goes south. Basically the the bottom could fall out of the infield totally and they won’t be able to really fix it because either nobody is available or because other teams outbid them for solutions (Headley).

  92. PhiltheThrill January 31st, 2014 at 11:17 am

    DRob will be a good closer.

  93. blake January 31st, 2014 at 11:18 am

    “id rather add baker than drew myself.”

    I’d rather add both but clearly Drew would help them more…..he can play SS and can play every day. Baker would help them but he’s a specialist….he’s only gonna play vs LHP and he is more limited defensively.

  94. blake January 31st, 2014 at 11:19 am

    “DRob will be a good closer.”

    to me this isn’t the question…..the question is who’s getting the ball to him?

  95. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 11:22 am

    “the infield is a different story…..once the season starts it’s going to be much more difficult to address and fix that if it goes south”

    Yes. The notion that if the infield becomes a problem the Yankees can just “fix it” is wildly optimistic.

  96. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 11:42 am

    blake January 31st, 2014 at 11:19 am

    “DRob will be a good closer.”

    to me this isn’t the question…..the question is who’s getting the ball to him?
    ————-

    Again, I think that sorts itself out. One thing the Yankees have is a ton of live arms that can fill that role.

    Between Kelley, Claiborne, Betances, Cabral, Montgomery, Phelps, Warren, Burawa, Whitley, Daley, Herndon, Coello – maybe Jose Ramirez (though I hope not). They’ll probably get Kahnle back from the Rockies. You don’t need the “proven guy” in the pen.

    Maybe they’ll make the oft rumored Ichiro for Putz deal – but given how critical Ichiro was in recruiting Tanaka I doubt it. Maybe they’ll make another Shawn Kelley type deal, sending a minor leaguer who is being squeezed out of a position to a team for a reliever (Austin Romine to the White Sox for Nate Jones maybe?)

  97. Revenge of Stoneburner January 31st, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Yanks have a bunch of average starting pitching prospects who might be able to play up in the pen (kind of like Phil Hughes!!!) – just do not return them to the rotation after being done – that’s for the big boys

  98. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 11:44 am

    The Yankees are putting their faith in the Captain. If he comes though, the infield will be fine.

    I dont know that I agree with that plan b/c I question how healthy Jeter will be.

    But if I have to put my faith in one player, I could do alot worse than Derek.

    First Base is a different story. There are still alot of available 1B and probably will continue to be once the season starts.

  99. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 11:46 am

    id do ichiro for putz in a heartbeat. a 5th wheel for a veteran BP arm is a nice tradeoff.

  100. blake January 31st, 2014 at 11:47 am

    “Maybe they’ll make the oft rumored Ichiro for Putz deal – but given how critical Ichiro was in recruiting Tanaka I doubt it.”

    I don’t very much…..Cashman said the only person actively involved in the recruitment process was Matsui and Ichiro is gone next year anyway. I don’t think the Yankees would have made any promises about keeping Ichiro or anything if they could move his money……

    The pen may be an issue but it’s one that can be addressed either via trade or by just trying a bunch of kids until one of them works. Again the infield is a different story….

  101. Howler January 31st, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I’d do Ichiro for a Beer guy in the stands in a heartbeat.

  102. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    The problem with fixing the infield is numbers.

    Assume that you have a current 25 man roster of:

    Ellsbury – CF
    Jeter – SS
    Beltran – RF
    Soriano – DH
    McCann – C
    Tex – 1b
    Johnosn – 3b
    Roberts – 2b
    Gardner – LF

    Bench: Cervelli, Ryan, Ichiro, _______

    Rotation
    CC
    Tanaka
    Kuroda
    Nova
    Pineda

    Pen:
    Thornton, Cabral
    Robertson, Phelps, Kelley, Claiborne, Betances

    That leaves 1 bench spot open for someone out of the group of Anna, Sizemore, Nunez, Pirela, Wheeler, CoJo to grab – sure you can sign Drew and move Johnson to the bench, but all you’ve done then is move your most reliable (in terms of health) player out of the starting lineup – you still have the same three question marks in it.

    You can sign Jeff Baker for the bench, that’s fine – but Sizemore can give you most of what Baker can offensively against LHP and he’s a better defensive player too.

    You can sign Drew and Baker, put Johnson on the bench and delete Ichiro with Soriano and Johnson serving as your back up OF options (Gardner gives you coverage in CF)

    Realistically though, the fourth spot on the bench isn’t going to be what protects the team against injuries in the infield – If Jeter goes down long term then it will likely be Nunez, not Ryan, coming up from the minors to play. If Roberts gets hurt, hopefully CoJo’s shoulder is healthy and he can hit like he did in 2012, or Jose Pirela can continue to progress, or Dean Anna or Scott Sizemore. At 1b, that’s a little more thin…Zellous Wheeler and Kyle Roller are both 3b, maybe they could move over…maybe they sign a Casey Kotchman to a minor league deal – the answer is I don’t know.

    Bottom line with all of this is that when you have only 2 bench spots that can go to infielders and have 3 infielders with serious health questions – you’re not going to have coverage there in the event someone gets hurt – that coverage has to come from the minor leagues. That’s where the Yankees need to add protection.

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