The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Looking at 10 former Yankees on the Hall of Fame ballot


I love the Baseball Hall of Fame. The place is incredibly well done, and no matter how many times I go, I still want to stop and look at everything. I’ve been with my family, I’ve been with friends, and I’ve been with people who knew next to nothing about baseball. The experience is always great.

But I don’t get too worked up about who’s in and who’s out. It’s just not my personality, I guess. I tend to think of it as a historical museum first and foremost — a place that documents the history of the game — and in that way, I wouldn’t have a problem with steroid users being enshrined (it’s part of the game’s history, like it or not). At the same time, I recognize it’s one of sport’s highest honors, and in that way, it can’t be treated as nothing more than a history lesson. So, however you want to think of the Hall of Fame is fine by me. I just know that I enjoy it, and I think it serves a powerful purpose as a platform for debate and discussion.

I also like that the annual Hall of Fame ballot includes a lot of players who have no chance of induction, but have done enough to be worth remembering if only for a moment.

Here, then, are the 10 one-time Yankees on this year’s ballot.

Aaron Boone — Fifty-four regular season games with the Yankees, forever remembered for hitting one incredible home run (he’ll also be remembered for the knee injury that came right before the Yankees traded for a replacement third baseman, Alex Rodriguez). Boone was never a Hall of Fame player, but he was an all-star once and he was a perfectly good infielder for quite a while.

Tony Clark — Another guy who spent just one year with the Yankees. He hit 16 home runs for them in 2004, a year the Yankees used Clark, Jason Giambi, John Olerud and four starts from Travis Lee. Clark hit 251 home runs and slugged .485 in his career. Now he’s director of the players association.

Roger Clemens — Won seven Cy Young awards — one of them with the Yankees — but his Hall of Fame chances are slim because of the steroid issue. Clemens got just 35.4 percent of the vote last year. That’s not nearly enough. He was of course a great pitcher, and even at 44 years old gave the Yankees a solid partial season in 2007, his final year in the big leagues.

Tom Gordon — A starting pitcher when he was young, Gordon moved into the bullpen full-time at age 30 and immediately led the league in saves. That was in 1998, and he would continue to pitch through 2009, including a two-year stint with the Yankees — which included an all-star appearance — in 2004-05. He pitched for a long time, and he pitched pretty well.

Randy Johnson -- One of the headliners of this year’s ballot, Johnson was a 10-time all-star and a five-time Cy Young winner. He’s one of the great left-handed pitchers of all-time, but his two-year stint with the Yankees was largely a disappointment including a career-high 5.00 ERA in 2006. Even after those down years in New York, Johnson still holds the record for strikeouts per nine innings with 10.6.

Don Mattingly — Wildly popular among Yankees fans — and honestly, as someone who grew up in middle America, I’d say he was pretty popular among almost anyone who grew up watching baseball in the 80s — Mattingly was one of the game’s best hitters when he was healthy, but his career was fairly short and he’s never come particularly close to Hall of Fame election. This is his final year on the ballot. Really great player, even if he’s not a Hall of Famer.

Mike Mussina – This is Mussina’s second year on the ballot, and he got only 20.3 percent of the votes last year. Might never be elected, but man, he was really good. His best years came with the Orioles, with whom he made five all-star teams and finished top five in five Cy Young races. He finished his career with the Yankees, capping his career with his first 20-win season. Seven Gold Gloves, a 3.42 ERA in the postseason, and 270 career wins. Really, really great career.

Tim Raines — The Hall of Fame seems to have sparked a fresh look and new appreciation for Raines’ career. He got just 46.1 percent of the vote last year, but there does seem to be a push to at least try to get him elected. By the time the Yankees got him in 1996, Raines was a valuable part-timer in his late 30s, and he played a role in two championships. Before that, he was a potent leadoff man and reliable base stealer; one of the great players in the 80s.

Gary Sheffield — An elite player whose career bounced through eight different organizations. The Yankees had Sheffield for three seasons, during which he was a two-time all-star, a two-time Silver Slugger and once finished second in MVP voting. He finished his career with 509 home runs, and he hit better than .300 in eight different seasons. This is his first year on the ballot.

Lee Smith — Except for a few starts and middle-inning appearances early in his career, Smith was a pure closer. He retired as the major-league leader in saves — a mark that’s now held by Mariano Rivera — and he currently ranks third all-time. Smith was top five in Cy Young voting three times. His stint with the Yankees lasted just eight games (with three saves) in 1993.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 6:43 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Watch for falling dominoes after Boston’s big moves

For another perspective on the current state of the hot stove, here’s Paul White from USA Today:

Pablo SandovalBy adding Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the Boston Red Sox have jolted the off-season market.

The free agency focus is now on pitching (Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, David Robertson) and pop (Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera). But the real impact of Boston’s moves could be a trading frenzy among teams with few other options.

So, what have the Red Sox wrought?

A look at how some of the dominoes now line up:

The left side: Boston practically cornered the market on shortstops and third basemen, leaving but Chase Headley feeling left out. Headley doesn’t know where he’ll be playing next season, but he’s clearly atop what’s left among free-agent options at third base. Mark Reynolds anyone? Alberto Callaspo? Kelly Johnson?

And it’s not a whole lot better at shortstop with Jed Lowrie, Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Headley already is assured of cashing in but, with no draft pick compensation required because he was traded during last season, he’s that much more enticing — not only to the Yankees and now Giants but also to a smaller market team like the Brewers, who stand to lose free agent Aramis Ramirez.

The other potential winners here are teams with a surplus of talented infield prospects. The Cubs top that list with shortstops Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and more — and that doesn’t even include untouchable third baseman Kris Bryant — while the Diamondbacks have shortstops Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings plus third basemen Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury.

Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, Jim Rice, Carl YastrzemskiThe rivalry: No Red Sox move is made without speculation about a Yankees reaction — and vice versa. Let us remind both teams the Baltimore Orioles are AL East champions at the moment. Still, Boston entered this off-season with one advantage it still holds — even after adding Sandoval and Ramirez, the Red Sox’s current salary commitments for 2015 are roughly $15 million below the Yankees.

And we’re still waiting for Brian Cashman’s first big move. Cashman was particularly successful upgrading the Yankees on the fly with incremental moves during the 2014 season — think Headley and Brandon McCarthy — and he’ll be hard-pressed to do anything more than that this winter.

Ramirez, no matter how much longer he’s seen as a viable shortstop, was the most impactful free-agent candidate to replace Derek Jeter at shortstop or make sure Alex Rodriguez is a DH rather than a third baseman.

Beyond Headley or the remaining shortstop options, Cashman’s frequent, “We’re still the Yankees” proclamations (translation: “We’ve got cash”) have little effect here.

It’s going to take a trade or two to make significant change in the Bronx. Enter two more Red Sox advantages.

Boston clearly is in position to make almost any trade it wants at this point. Its surplus includes a huge stable of appealing prospects plus established major leaguers with contracts that won’t deter potential suitors.

The Yankees can’t claim either of those attributes. They’ll need some serious creativity to deal for the likes of Troy Tulowitzki or have to gamble correctly on young talent from teams such as the Cubs or Diamondbacks.

Even buying time for a year with a trade for someone like Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins isn’t any more appealing an option. The only impact potential free agent at either shortstop or third base a year from now is Washington’s Ian Desmond and, by the way, the Yankees’ current 2016 payroll commitment of $169.7 million is even more than what’s already on the books for 2015.

Pablo SandovalThe champs: Only the Giants front office knows for sure if being out-bid by the Red Sox for Sandoval is disappointing or a successful case of offering just enough to save face with fans and not get a player who sought a commitment you’d rather not make.

Regardless, there’s an opening at third base and in the middle of the order and there’s nothing in the pipeline to wait for.

The Giants were pursuing Cuban free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas, a signing that could have eased pressure to find a power bat for third base. Whether it’s an outfielder, a big-time pitcher such as Lester or something else, San Francisco’s optimum course could be to make a significant upgrade at another spot and try to plug third base from among the mostly mediocre options.

The Padres? San Diego really was all-in on Sandoval and deep into the competition for Tomas.

If you said, “The Padres?” you’re not alone. And that’s precisely the point as new general manager A.J. Preller looks to make an immediate impact.

Besides, Jayson Werth isn’t available. This doesn’t look so different than the Washington Nationals signing Werth to a widely maligned seven-year, $126 million contract four years ago, a move designed to put Washington on the map as a free-agent destination.

Werth and Washington are very much on the map these days. The Padres have made it clear they’ll keep up the search for impact offense via free agency or trade.

The rest of the West: That would be the Dodgers, of course, the defending division champs who have been temporarily overshadowed by another World Series parade in San Francisco. Ramirez takes some significant offense out of their lineup but, much like the Red Sox, Los Angeles has the farm system to parlay into a replacement. And there’s also that much-dissected outfield surplus should anyone be inclined to take on a hefty salary.

The Dodgers have prospect Corey Seager on the way — and there’s still some speculation his long-term landing spot could be third base. But for the year or so until his arrival, they have the trade pieces to outbid the Yankees for perhaps Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox or Rollins.

Thanks, Red Sox, for all the fun your $200 million or so could buy us.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 3:10 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Not so thankful: Where do the Yankees have their greatest need?

Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman

Enough with holiday happiness. On to the greater issues at hand.

There’s so much attention understandably focused on the Yankees need for a shortstop, but that’s hardly the only position of weakness on the current roster. Based on the guys currently in place, here’s an attempt to rank the positions in terms of immediate need. It’s hard to compare a pitching staff against an individual position, but I’d go with something other than shortstop at the top of the list.

Michael Pineda1. ROTATION — Even if everyone is healthy, the Yankees still have a rotation opening coming out of spring training. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Shane Greene can fill four spots, but there’s still an opening while the Yankees wait for Ivan Nova to fully recover from Tommy John surgery. David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell and Manny Banuelos are really nice bits of rotation depth — with Luis Severino waiting in the wings — but given the overwhelming health concerns of the top three starters, it’s hard to overlook the clear need for a starting pitcher. Doesn’t have to be an ace, but the Yankees need someone.

2. SHORTSTOP — How many teams are fully satisfied with their starting shortstop? Almost every shortstop in the game either doesn’t hit enough, doesn’t field enough, doesn’t stay healthy enough, or isn’t nearly young enough. It’s a position of imperfection, and right now the Yankees have an imperfect solution in all-glove, no-bat Brendan Ryan. It’s a position of definite need and certainly a position that could be upgraded, but it’s not like there’s absolutely nothing in place. One caveat: At the very least, the Yankees absolutely need a backup shortstop. After Ryan, the position depth completely disappears.

3. SECOND BASE — I honestly think you could make the case — though not a particularly strong one — that the Yankees current roster has greater need at second base than at shortstop. What they have at shortstop is a guy who’s proven he can defend the position, but has not proven he can hit. What they have at second base are two guys who have never been considered especially strong defensive players, and who haven’t proven they can hit in the big leagues. The fact Martin Prado is floating out there as an alternative eases the desperation, as does the fact both Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder have shown legitimate promise.

4. BULLPEN — Relievers are too unpredictable to think of them individually. They must be a collective, and depth is essential. Each one might have a role to play — some roles more important than others — but it can’t be a one-man show. That means, as great as Dellin Betances was last season, the Yankees need more. Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren have been good, and Justin Wilson is a nice addition, but the bullpen is still an arm short. If it’s not Dave Robertson who fills the void, it has to be someone.

5. THIRD BASE — Without making another change to the Yankees roster, you’d have to assume one of the young guys handles second base and Martin Prado starts at third. That’s why I put third base fifth (even though we all know the two positions are really intertwined). Based on what’s in place, third base has a logical everyday starter in Prado, a wild-card who could be productive in Alex Rodriguez, and a handful of prospects in Eric Jagielo, Dante Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar. If the Yankees add a third baseman, it’s really in an effort to upgrade second base by moving Prado.

Carlos Beltran6. RIGHT FIELD — The short-term concern here is all to do with Carlos Beltran’s health and production (which are two pretty important factors for any player). The Yankees committed to Beltran last year, and they have little choice but to stick with him next year. He’s coming off a bad season, though, and it’s hard to look at Chris Young’s entire 2014 campaign and think he’s a lock to provide everyday production should Beltran stumble. Tyler Austin could be an in-house replacement at some point, but he’s basically had a half-year of production in the past two seasons.

7. FIRST BASE — If Mark Teixeira hits like he did in the first three months of this season — with that .474 slugging percentage that’s not too bad by today’s standard — then the Yankees should have at least a power threat at first base. If he continues to slide like he did in the second half, then the Yankees might be in trouble. Providing an immediate alternative is Kyle Roller, who hit pretty well in Triple-A last season and should be in the same role next season (provided he’s not taken in the Rule 5 draft). There’s also Greg Bird who’s slated for Double-A and could hit his way into the big league mix by September.

8. LEFT FIELD — Although he was long considered a fourth outfielder, Brett Gardner just made Buster Olney’s list of the Top 10 left fielders in baseball. Behind him, the Yankees also have Young looking for another opportunity to hit his way into regular at-bats. Beyond that, there’s Ramon Flores, who’s having a great winter and looked pretty good in Triple-A before hurting his ankle this season. There’s also Pirela, the second baseman who has considerable experience in left. It’s a position of relative strength, just not overwhelming strength.

9. CATCHER — Even after a disappointing season, Brian McCann still counts as a pretty good everyday option behind the plate. he has a good reputation with his pitchers, and he showed his power late in the year by hitting eight home runs in the month of September. Beyond McCann, the Yankees have a legitimate young player in John Ryan Murphy, plus a potential backup in Austin Romine, plus a high-potential prospect in Gary Sanchez. McCann’s first season left a lot to be desired, but it certainly didn’t leave the Yankees in the market for a catcher.

10. CENTER FIELD — Not only is Jacoby Ellsbury still one of the better center fielders in the game, but the Yankees also have both Gardner and Young capable of playing the position should Ellsbury go down with one of his fluke injuries. Ellsbury’s a long-term answer locked into a long-term contract, and just in case, the Yankees have Eury Perez still on the 40-man while they hold out hope that either Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams — or both, why not? — will eventually live up to the raw potential they showed just a few years ago.

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 11:50 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Being thankful a day after Thanksgiving

Orioles Yankees Baseball

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m still feeling a little bit of the holiday cheer, so here are 10 Yankees — some retired, some prospects, some all-stars, some role players — who are worth the Yankees feeling thankful that they have them (or had them) on the roster. Those of you waiting for the Yankees to make a big move this winter should be thankful the Winter Meetings are only a little more than a week away. Surely they’ll do something by then? Right?

Derek Jeter – For two decades, the Yankees had this guy playing shortstop on the field and representing the organization in the public eye. That’s a pretty strong combination, and Jeter was up to the task. Be glad you saw it happen.

Masahiro Tanaka – Be worried about his elbow, of course, but be thankful for everything else about him. The Yankees were hesitant to get in on the most recent big-money international free agents, but when they finally jumped into that market, they got a guy who can really pitch. And a guy who doesn’t blink in the New York spotlight.

Brett Gardner – A college walk-on who was routinely dismissed as nothing more than a fourth outfielder, and now he’s a legitimately good left fielder. He’s a homegrown guy who’s made good on his highest potential.

Brian McCann, Dellin BetancesDellin Betances – Homegrown in every way. He grew up as a Yankees fan, and just when it was basically time to give up on him as a prospect, he moved to the bullpen and became one of the best relievers in baseball. Amazing.

Martin Prado – He’s not going to be a superstar, but he’s a wildly valuable part of this current roster. The Yankees have questions at second base, third base and right field, and Prado could handle any of those.

David Phelps – Kind of a young, pitching version of Prado. He was never an overwhelming prospect, but he’s a valuable guy to have around whether as a reliever or starter. Every team needs a Phelps.

Francisco Cervelli – Can we, for just a moment, be thankful that we got to see this guy pump his fist and scream and get excited all the time? This winter was clearly time to move on – and he brought back a much-needed lefty – but Cervelli was fun to watch while he was around.

Luis Severino – Prospects are fun. They can become disappointments, but while they’re still prospects, anything’s possible. And with Severino, the ceiling is awfully high. There are others — Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez — who leave room to dream.

Rob Refsnyder – It’s one thing to dream about young, high-ceiling prospects. It’s another thing to see a solid young player climb high enough to actually have a chance to make the big league roster. Refsnyder could have that chance in a few months.

Yogi Berra – The Yankees are an organization of history and tradition, and right now, all of that is perfectly captured in an icon who still shows up once in a while with a smile and a wave. Hard to dislike Yogi.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Parade-Helium Facts

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! To celebrate, here’s a picture of a giant Uncle Sam balloon floating down Sixth Avenue. Creepy, huh?

Just wanted to post quickly to say thank you for reading. This will be my sixth season on the Yankees beat. Thank you for hanging with me during those awkward first few years when I was figuring it out, and thank you for sticking around during these awkward recent years when I’m still figuring it out.

I’m spending this Thanksgiving with my girlfriend’s family, and I’ve been told to expect absurd amounts of food and a lot of jokes. Sounds like exactly the kind of Thanksgiving I enjoy.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I’m sure you do too. Go hug someone, or eat something, or work if you have to. Just enjoy the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

ICYMI: Yankees Black Friday and Cyber Monday ticket deals

According to Jesse Sanchez, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is off the market, having signed a six-year deal with the Diamondbacks. With Carlos Beltran locked into right field and Alex Rodriguez set at DH, there was never much chance of the Yankees getting involved in the Tomas market. For now, I just wanted to re-post this ticket information as we wait for the holiday to start. Stay warm and safe out there, folks. Here’s the press release from the Yankees:

Royals Yankees BaseballThe New York Yankees today announced special holiday on-sale opportunities exclusively for MasterCard cardholders to purchase tickets for select 2015 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) and continuing through 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 24, all fans using their MasterCard may purchase specially priced individual game tickets to select 2015 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June as part of the “MasterCard Preferred Pricing” program, which offers discounts of up to $15 per ticket in select seating categories when purchasing using a MasterCard.

Select MasterCard $5 and Half-price Games will be available for purchase during the above on-sale.

Additionally, from 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) through 11:59 p.m. on Cyber Monday (December 1) 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 and the code MCB2G2. The “Buy 2, Get 2” offer is valid for four games during the 2015 season (May 8, May 22, May 26 and June 18).

Fans interested in taking advantage of the above special single-game MasterCard on-sale opportunities may purchase tickets by visiting or, 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.

Existing Yankees Season Ticket Licensees using their MasterCard will have special advanced access to all of the above ticket specials during an exclusive pre-on-sale from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. ET on November 28.

Also on sale on beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) will be 16-game, 12-game and nine-game value plans for the 2015 regular season. The 16-game, 12-game and nine-game plan offers are available for all fans regardless of the form of payment. Nine-game plan offers are available starting at $90. Existing Yankees Season Ticket Licensees, regardless of the form of payment, may begin purchasing these value plans at 8:00 a.m. on November 28.

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at 6:12 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Can the Yankees adjust to this infield market?

Ryan Hanigan, Stephen Drew

It’s a good time to have a shortstop. It’s a bad time to desperately need one.

This afternoon, Jayson Stark reported that the Yankees checked with the Phillies about the possibility of trading for Jimmy Rollins, but the “asking price was so high, (the) Yanks moved on.” Notice there’s no mention of Rollins’ no-trade protection, only the Phillies asking price standing the way of worthwhile discussion.

That’s for a one-year rental of a soon-to-be 36-year-old.

It’s becoming clear that this is a seller’s market for shortstops, and the Orioles’ deal to extend J.J. Hardy just might be the best decision of the hot stove season. With the position thin throughout the majors — and the Yankees, Dodgers and Mets all in the market — it’s going to be costly finding a replacement for Derek Jeter. It’s going to be costly in terms of dollars, in terms of prospects, or in terms of risk (meaning the possibility of taking on a guy who really shouldn’t be an everyday shortstop).

In this market, $2 million for Brendan Ryan actually seems like a pretty good fallback plan.

And as many have noted, it’s not only shortstop that’s become a difficult market. Essentially, two possible third basemen signed with the Red Sox this week, which leaves Chase Headley in a position of absolute strength. The Indians have reportedly backed away from Headley already, and it’s worth wondering just how far past their comfort zone — in terms of years and dollars — the Yankees are willing to go for a good glove, a solid bat and a bad back.

Given the market, here are four questions:

Chase Headley1. Aren’t Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera viable alternatives to Headley? We’ve talked since September about the flexibility of Martin Prado, and we’ve talked this winter about Lowrie and Cabrera being better fits at second base than shortstop. If the Headley market is booming, is this a chance to move Prado to third, sign Lowrie or Cabrera to play second, and leave open the break-glass possibility of moving Lowrie/Cabrera to shortstop in a pinch?

2. Alternatively, is this the time to blindly trust the farm system and take a slightly larger gamble on Alex Rodriguez? Let Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder fight for the second base job, make Prado the everyday third baseman, and bank on the idea that Rodriguez can play enough third base to serve as legitimate infield depth. Instead of a 2B/3B, maybe find another bat to rotate between designated hitter, right field and first base.

3. Of course, none of the second/third base alternatives solves the shortstop problem. I suppose the situation could reach the point that Ryan really does become a viable everyday option (stick with the glove; bat him ninth). There’s a lot to be said for signing Stephen Drew to a one-year deal, but he might get more than that in this market. Given the shortage, why wouldn’t Drew ask for two or three years even after a bad season? If we know he has value, you can bet he knows it too. And I’m struck by something Buster Olney said: Don’t forget that Ian Desmond is set to become a free agent after this season. His price tag might be enormous, but he also might be worth it.

4. Does this situation reach a point — after the Red Sox and Blue Jays have reloaded, after the targeted position players have come off the market — that the Yankees simply go light on hitting and sink their resources into Max Scherzer? It would require taking yet another risk on yet another long-term contract for yet another player who could be hurt or useless within a few years. There’s little indication the Yankees plan to go that route, but there’s also little indication that this offseason is going as planned. It’s still early, and there’s time for things to play out differently, but plans change all the time.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at 3:39 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Sabathia: Yankees health will be the key to next season

Each year, our offseason focus inevitably moves to the idea of something new. A potential trade partner. A possible free agent splash. A young kid who’s ready to break into the major league lineup. Frustrating as it might be, this might be the year for the Yankees offseason to stay focused on something old.

“Just to be healthy, I think, (would make a difference),” CC Sabathia said in an interview with YES Network. “I don’t know how much we need (in terms of new additions) — I don’t evaluate the talent or anything like that – but I know myself, Nova, Big Mike, if we can stay healthy for a whole year, I think we have a better chance of making the playoffs.”

APTOPIX ALCS Yankees Tigers BaseballAt this point, it seems entirely possible that the Yankees are going to stay away from the biggest names on the free agent market, and their desire to get help from within might leave them hesitant to give up the prospects necessary for a game-changing trade. But even if the Yankees were to land some sort of marquee addition, this team is going nowhere if it doesn’t get serious contributions from the players already in place.

Power from Mark Teixeira. Productive at-bats from Alex Rodriguez. Right field durability from Carlos Beltran. A strong second year from Dellin Betances. And a lot of innings from the trio of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Sabathia.

“The knee, I have no complaints,” Sabathia told YES. “I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in.”

Three years ago, Sabathia was a top-five Cy Young candidate. Two years ago he was an all-star. A year ago, he wrapped up another season of more than 30 starts and 200 innings. This winter, though, he’s 34 years old, coming off yet another surgery, and looking back on the two highest ERAs of his career. Can he be a 30-start, 200-inning guy again?

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely.”

Getting those innings would be nice, but the Yankees need more than innings. They need good innings. With Tanaka and Pineda there’s a reasonable expectation that simply being healthy will equate to legitimate production. To some extent the same is true for Ivan Nova, though after Tommy John surgery there’s some fresh uncertainty with him. Sabathia, though, is one of many overwhelming wild cards on the roster. He might be the team’s least predictable player other than Rodriguez.

“I haven’t been out on the field much (lately),” Sabathia said. “So I’m ready to get out there.”

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at 12:05 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

After Hanley and Pablo, a look at the AL East

Hanley Ramirez

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and the Red Sox have most certainly stolen the baseball headlines heading into the holiday (we’ll see if that changes in the next 24 hours). Here’s a quick look at the state of the American League East at this point in the offseason. Two teams have made big additions, one seems to be going the other direction, and two are still waiting to make significant noise.

ph_592518 ph_430945ORIOLES
Last year: 96-66
Key players lost: Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz are free agents after playing key roles in what was an explosive offense. The Orioles have also lost Delmon Young, who was a useful part-timer.
Early additions: Shortstop J.J. Hardy signed a contract extension before he hit the market
Not exactly a transaction: Catcher Matt Wieters should be healthy after missing most of this season.
Money issue: The Orioles have a ton of used-to-be-young players who are hitting arbitration.
One key need: Reports indicate the Orioles are trying to bring back Markakis, but right now they have no set right fielder. They could use some power without Cruz and after Chris Davis had a down year.
Worth mentioning: Reliever Andrew Miller pitched in 23 games after coming to the Orioles in a mid-season trade. Not exactly a key part of their full season, but certainly a key piece down the stretch. That’s another free agent to replace.

Ellsbury TanakaYANKEES
Last year: 84-78
Key players lost: Derek Jeter’s retirement is the big-picture loss, but Dave Robertson’s free agency might be the bigger issue. The Yankees also came to rely on mid-season additions Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy. Oh, and Hiroki Kuroda might retire.
Early additions: Lefty Justin Wilson and fourth outfielder Chris Young are on board as role players.
Not exactly a transaction: Obviously the return of Alex Rodriguez will be among the most significant roster changes for next season. Also, Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia should return from injuries, but there’s no not-exactly-a-transaction player move quite like the return of A-Rod.
Money issue: The Yankees are indicating that they don’t plan to go after the biggest names on the market, but we’ll see if they have a big-money surprise up their sleeve for either Jon Lester or Max Scherzer?
One key need: The Yankees have been clear that shortstop is their priority, but a rotation full of uncertainty needs some help too.
Worth mentioning: Nothing to write that hasn’t been written on the blog many times before. If this were any other team, though, I’d probably point out that health and veteran performance will be a huge issue next season.

ph_431145 ph_430832BLUE JAYS
Last year: 83-79
Key players lost: Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus are free agents; Adam Lind and Anthony Gose were traded away.
Early additions: The big signing was the Russell Martin deal, but the Blue Jays have also traded for young infielder Devon Travis, traded for reliever Marco Estrada, and claimed both first baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers.
Not exactly a transaction: He was already in place, but the Blue Jays now seem ready to give prospect Dalton Pompey at least a chance to win the everyday center field job. Pompey is Canadian, just like Martin and just like third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Money issue: The Blue Jays freed up some money by trading away Lind and declining a team option on Brandon Morrow. They obviously took on some money by signing Martin. They don’t have any massive arbitration cases to deal with.
One key need: The Blue Jays could use an upgrade at second base, but mostly they just need a bat. And there’s room to add one, even if he’s strictly a designated hitter.
Worth mentioning: Toronto’s been pretty active this winter, and the team wasn’t awful last year. Are they one big move away from contending?

ph_446334 ph_450314RAYS
Last year: 77-85
Key players lost: David Price was traded last season; Jeremy Hellickson and Joel Peralta were traded earlier this winter. They’re aren’t players necessarily, but it’s hard to ignore the fact the Rays also lost their manager and general manager.
Early additions: Mostly just some young guys in those Hellickson and Peralta trades.
Not exactly a transaction: Starting pitcher Matt Moore should come back from Tommy John surgery at some point next season. That surely makes up Hellickson, but it doesn’t make up for Price.
Money issue: Catcher Jose Molina has been released despite being owed more than $2 million next season.
One key need: Well, they need a manager for one thing. For years the Rays seemed to be defined by their manager and their crafty front office, but all of that has changed considerably this offseason.
Worth mentioning: After years of holding on and beating up on the big guys without spending a ton of money, the Rays to be in more of a rebuilding mode. They still have a core in place, but it’s clearly an organization in transition.

ph_467055 ph_456030RED SOX
Last year: 71-91
Key players lost: The Red Sox shipped away a bunch of key players at the trade deadline, including Jon Lester. Craig Breslow became a free agent this winter, but that’s nothing compared to the mid-season losses.
Early additions: The Red Sox signed Koji Uehara to a new two-year deal, but the bigger splash came this week with the one-two free agent punch of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.
Not exactly a transaction: The Red Sox have yet to see a full season from Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo or Allen Craig. They technically aren’t offseason moves, but those mid-season additions could have a real impact next year.
Money issue: It seems the Red Sox are ready and willing to spend. The only question is exactly how far are they willing to go with their payroll?
One key need: At this point, pitching is their only clear need. They’ve thoroughly reloaded their lineup, but their rotation is full of holes and uncertainty. Do they really still have the money to bring back Lester?
Worth mentioning: Right now, the Red Sox seem thoroughly overloaded in the outfield corners, setting up the very real possibility that they could make a fairly significant trade at some point.

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at 8:58 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Kennedy: What’s DiMaggio’s value in today’s open market?

Joe DiMaggio Marilyn MonroeJust because I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing and reading about the Red Sox making a big splash on the free agent market, here’s something completely different.

On Sports Illustrated’s website, Kostya Kennedy — who’s written a book about Joe DiMaggio — tackles the question: What kind of contract would an in-his-prime DiMaggio get today?

Today would have been DiMaggio’s 100th birthday, which is what sparked the topic, and Kennedy a great writer for this sort of thing. From his piece:

Along with all that DiMaggio is known for — his all-around intensity and excellence on the field, his 10 World Series titles in 13 seasons, his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, his indomitable hitting streak—he’s also known, in SABR circles anyway, for putting together arguably the most impressive six-year start to a career for any position player of his time or since. Better than those of Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle or Hank Aaron, kind of like that of Albert Pujols, and better, by a long shot, than what the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton has done in his first five years.

Why are those six years important? Because by today’s rules, a player generally has six full years before reaching free agency. Three years before arbitration, three years of arbitration, and then the open market.

From there, Kennedy works to compare DiMaggio to some more modern superstars. He accounts for defense, for championships, and for the superstar-creating impact of the 56-game hitting streak. I won’t reveal the number, mostly because it’s a link worth clicking, but on Joe DiMaggio’s birthday, Kennedy’s story is a fun one to read.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 5:54 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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