Archive for the ‘Misc’
If the Yankees don’t find another move that they like, their 2015 roster might have been set by yesterday’s five-player trade and a relatively minor bullpen acquisition. At the very least, their current roster leaves a reasonable set of expectations going forward, with only one roster spot completely wide open and another up for grabs between two clear candidates. Things could obviously change with one or two additions between now and spring training, but for the time being, here’s a look at the Yankees roster based on who’s currently in place.
The Yankees lineup seemed set before yesterday’s trade. Now, there’s a bit of uncertainty at second base. Are the Yankees really going to give the kids a chance to play every day, or are they going to find a veteran alternative — Asdrubal Cabrera, perhaps — to fill the spot coming out of spring training? Outside of second base, the lineup seems to have very little wiggle room.
C: John Ryan Murphy
INF: Brendan Ryan
OF: Chris Young
OF/1B: Garrett Jones
Yesterday’s addition of Jones gave the Yankees a left-handed bat off the bench, but it took away some of the teams flexibility. For a while, it seemed that final bench spot would be filled by someone capable of playing second, third and the outfield corners. For now, it’s filled by someone who can play first base, can vaguely play right field, and might hit enough to be a platoon designated hitter. Jones provides depth at three positions of uncertainty, but he leaves Ryan and Rodriguez needing to back up in the infield.
Just a few days ago, the Yankees had two fairly wide-open spots in their rotation. Now they’ve filled those spots with one left-handed veteran and one right-handed 24-year-old who could become a long-term solution if all goes well. Capuano could easily be the odd man out if/when Ivan Nova is ready to pitch again. Eovaldi clearly has a rotation spot locked up unless things really go off the rails next season.
Here’s the most open spot on the Yankees roster. Now that the Yankees have five starters in place, Rogers seems most likely to win a spot a long reliever and Warren seems to fit best as a go-to middle-innings guy. But there’s still an open spot that could eventually go to a free agent reliever (maybe an experienced closer), or perhaps a new addition (Gonzalez Germen has big league experience), or maybe to a young guy who makes an impression in spring training (Chase Whitley could give plenty of innings, Jose Ramirez and Branden Pinder have youthful upside, Jacob Lindgren seems to have a bright future, and Andrew Bailey is a real wild card).
Associated Press photos
I had this post planned before the Yankees got busy making moves. If you’re interested in things not involving the loss of Martin Prado and the addition of a young starter, here are a few updates from winter ball:
• A little less than two weeks ago, Esmil Rogers reported and began pitching a little bit in the Dominican Republic. Rogers has made three appearances this winter, and all three have been starts. His first start was pretty good (four innings, six strikeouts, one earned run), his second was brutal (2.2 innings, six hits, five earned runs), and his most recent start was outstanding. On Thursday, Rogers went five scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and 10 strikeouts. Brian Cashman has mentioned Rogers as a potential rotation candidate in spring training, so the fact he’s getting stretched out this winter seems at least mildly significant.
• Because of the Winter Meetings, it’s now been two weeks since we did one of these winter ball updates, and in that time, Adonis Garcia has gone nuts at the plate. He has six multi-hit games — and 18 hits total — in his past 12 games. Three of those hits have been home runs and five have been doubles. Garcia wasn’t having a particularly good winter down in Venezuela, but now he’s hitting .305/.356/.450 while spending all of his time in left field and right field (not time in the infield this winter). The Yankees Triple-A outfield will be crowded next season, but Garcia’s an interesting right-handed bat.
• Speaking of that crowded Triple-A outfield, Ramon Flores continues to put up great numbers while getting his first dose of significant winter playing time. As the regular left fielder for the Tigres de Aragua, Flores has a .320/.403/.456 slash line with nearly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (28). In his past five games, Flores has walked five times and struck out only once. Flores has gotten a little bit of time in center field and right field this winter, and he could be an interesting bench option for the Yankees at some point next season.
• And while we’re speaking of bench options, it seems Jose Pirela is a legitimate favorite to win a spot as a big league reserve next season. And his production this winter is doing nothing to diminish his chances. While playing mostly second base and third base — he’s gotten a little bit of time in the outfield corners, but he’s mostly played the two spots where he could most easily backup in New York — Pirela has hit .313/.415/.560 in Venezuela. After not stealing a bag all winter, he now has one stolen base in each of his past two games. He’s also has exactly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (24).
• Pirela’s winter ball teammate, Ali Castillo, has seen his numbers slide a little bit, but he’s still having a nice winter while getting time at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and designated hitter. Castillo has five hits in his past nine games, but two of those were triples and two were doubles, so he’s still hitting .299/.342/.397. Castillo was the regular shortstop in Trenton last season, but it’s worth wondering if the Yankees offseason minor league additions will crowd him out of a Triple-A promotion next season.
• Acquired late last season and so far kept on the 40-man roster for outfield depth, Eury Perez has seen his winter go from bad to worse. He opened the season as the regular left fielder and leadoff hitter for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. He’s since lost his everyday job, and in a part-time role his bat has gone completely silent. Perez hasn’t had a hit since November 18, going 0-for-19 while playing very sparingly. In those past 19 at-bats, he’s struck out seven times, and he currently has 21 strikeouts with no walks this winter. He’s hitting .194/.202/.258 and he’s been caught stealing the two times he’s tried to swipe a bag.
• Outfielder Adam Silva has barely played in regular season minor league games since joining the Yankees in 2013, but this winter he’s getting some regular at-bats back home in Australia. The 20-year-old is hitting .270/.343/.365 as a regular right fielder.
• Just when reliever Diego Moreno was getting on a roll again in Venezuela, he’s hit another rough path. Since our last update, Moreno’s pitched just three times and has allowed six earned runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batter. His winter ERA is up to 5.40 with a 1.45 WHIP and a .291 opponents’ batting average. He does have at least one strikeout in 10 straight outings.
Associated Press photo
Well, quite a bit has happened since I got on this airplane. Here are some quick thoughts about all of the Yankees pieces that have moved around in the past two hours or so:
Two things that immediately jump to mind about the key piece coming to the Yankees in the Marlins trade:
1. He’s young. In that way, this reminds me very much of the Didi Gregorius acquisition. Yes, Eovaldi has plenty of warts – he gave up the most hits in the National League last season, he’s never had huge strikeout numbers despite his velocity – but he was born in 1990 and has 79 big league starts already. This guy is younger than Branden Pinder, who has some legitimate promise and was just added to the 40-man roster last month. Eovaldi is 24. Masahiro Tanaka just turned 26. Michael Pineda turns 26 in January. Ivan Nova will be 28 all next season. Suddenly CC Sabathia and placeholder Chris Capuano are the only members of the Yankees rotation who are in their 30s. And that’s to say nothing of Manny Banuelos, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and — eventually — Luis Severino. Just like at shortstop, the term “upside” actually applies to this Yankees rotation for 2015 and beyond.
2. He pitched 199.2 innings last season. That’s two-thirds of an inning more than Hiroki Kuroda pitched last season, and Kuroda led the Yankees in innings pitched by quite a bit. The Yankees have some obvious questions about rotation durability, but Eovaldi gave a bunch of innings and 33 starts last season. It’s true that a young arm could blow out under the weight of a heavy workload, but that’s an unavoidable hazard. The Yankees need someone who can provide some durability in the rotation, and Eovaldi has done it before.
Jones plays three positions: First base, right field and designated hitter. Those happen to be three positions where the Yankees face real uncertainty about durability and production.
This addition seems to be a safeguard for Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez, but it comes at the cost of roster versatility. Barring another move, the addition of Jones basically fills the Yankees bench John Ryan Murphy, Chris Young, Brendan Ryan and Jones. There’s no longer space for a Jose Pirela-type utility man (Pirela might win the second base job, but that’s not the same as having a guy that versatile on the bench).
So does this mean Ryan to backs up both shortstop and second base, Rodriguez backs up at third base, Jones backs up at first base, and a Jones/Young platoon backs up in the outfield corners?
Here’s what the numbers show: The prospect coming to the Yankees is a 22-year-old kid who spent 2014 in Low-A with a 2.48 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP, 8.2 strikeouts per nine, and 1.8 walks per nine.
Here’s what Baseball America says: Just a few days ago, German was named the Marlins sixth-best prospect, and here’s what the magazine wrote about him in connection to today’s trade: “Pitchability isn’t German’s strength right now, but throwing strikes is. He has an easy delivery he repeats well to go with a loose, live arm that produces above-average life on a heavy sinking fastball that sits in the 91-96 mph range and touches 97. He’ll need to develop his secondary stuff to be a future rotation option in Miami.”
Here’s what an opposing team’s scout had to say: “Chance to be a back-end starter or potential bullpen piece. (In rookie ball in 2013), the fastball was 91-94 but needed strike control and polish. Excellent feel for the changeup (83-87) and wider break (on the) curveball (78-81) that needed to tighten. Interesting arm to acquire.”
When the Yankees traded Shane Greene to get Gregorius, Billy Eppler called it robbing Peter to pay Paul. In that way, the Yankees today robbed Paul to pay back Peter. Instead of giving up a young starter to help the infield, the Yankees today gave up an infielder to add a young starter.
Barring another move for someone like Asdrubal Cabrera, the Prado trade leaves second base wide open for either Pirela or Rob Refsnyder, and the Yankees really do seem willing to let those two battle for the job. Doesn’t mean that will happen — if a guy like Cabrera can be acquired on a good deal, I”m not sure they would/should pass up the opportunity — but the Yankees are clearly opening the possibility that seemed to close when they acquired Chase Headley.
Prado was a nice fit for this team — he can play a lot of positions, and that’s nice for a team with so many questions in the lineup — but he wasn’t especially cheap, and trading him let the Yankees get younger in both the rotation and infield. I like Prado a lot, but I think there’s a chance Refsnyder can be just as good offensively while Pirela can be just as versatile (though probably not as good) defensively.
Let me start by saying Phelps was one of my favorite guys on the Yankees roster. Not that he was a go-to source for anything — he’d always laugh at me when I’d try to get real information out of him — but we’re both from Missouri and found that common ground a long time ago before he ever reached the big leagues. When I grew a bit of a beard last spring and kept it through the season, Phelps gave me a hard time about it at every opportunity. I tried to return the favor by giving him a hard time about choosing Notre Dame over the University of Missouri. On a personal level, I liked having Phelps around, and I truly believed — and still believe — that he made some real strides just before that minor elbow injury last season.
That said, I’m not sure the Yankees were ever sure what to do with Phelps. They knew he could start, but it seemed they never really wanted to trust him with that job unless forced to do so. They knew his stuff might play up in short bullpen stints, but Adam Warren and Dellin Betances had jumped ahead of him in that pecking order. He was a useful piece for many jobs, but he never really had a specific job.
In that way, I can understand sacrificing him for a guy who’s nearly four years younger with nearly 200 more big league innings. I hope Phelps gets a chance to establish himself in Miami. I hope his young family is happy down in Florida. I hope he has a long career. I’m just not sure that long career was ever meant to happen with the Yankees.
I know almost nothing about Germen, and what I do know about him can be found on his page at Baseball Reference: He strikes out quite a few guys, puts a decent number of guys on base, and just turned 27 years old in September.
Don’t really need to know much about him to make this evaluation: The Yankees believe Germen is better than Claiborne.
Although he had a really, really good first month or so in the big leagues, Claiborne was never an overpowering bullpen arm and he was never a guy predicted to have a significant role in New York. I honestly thought he might be designated for assignment out of spring training this year, and I still think there’s a chance he’ll clear waivers and stick with the Yankees as Triple-A depth.
Purchasing Germen and designating Claiborne is clearly all about the Yankees trying to get incrementally better. I don’t think Claiborne was meant to play a significant role going forward, and I’m not sure Germen will either.
Associated Press photo
The Yankees just announced the move:
Germen, 27, did not record a decision in 25 relief appearances with the Mets in 2014, posting a 4.75 ERA (30.1IP, 16ER). He also spent time with Triple-A Las Vegas, going 3-1 with six saves and a 2.38 ERA (22.2IP, 6ER) in 18 appearances out of the bullpen.
In 54 career Major League relief appearances over parts of two seasons with the Mets (2013-14), the La Romana, D.R., native has gone 1-2 with one save and a 4.31 ERA (64.2IP, 31ER). He was originally signed by New York-NL as a non-drafted free agent on October 10, 2007.
This trade marks the first between the Yankees and Mets since December 3, 2004, when the Yankees acquired LHP Mike Stanton in exchange for LHP Felix Heredia.
To make room for Germen on the 40-man roster, RHP Preston Claiborne was designated for assignment.
Associated Press photo
Here’s the official announcement:
The New York Yankees today announced they have made a five-player trade with the Marlins, acquiring RHP Nathan Eovaldi, INF Garrett Jones and RHP Domingo German in exchange for RHP David Phelps and INF Martin Prado.
Eovaldi, 24, went 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA (199.2IP, 97ER) in 33 starts with the Marlins in 2014, establishing career highs in games started, innings pitched and strikeouts (142). In 83 career appearances (79 starts) with Los Angeles-NL (2011-12) and Miami (2012-14), the right-hander has gone 15-35 with a 4.07 ERA (460.0IP, 208ER) and 321K.
The Houston, Tex., native was originally selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and was acquired by the Marlins with RHP Scott McGough from Los Angeles-NL on July 25, 2012 in exchange for LHP Randy Choate and INF Hanley Ramirez.
Jones, 33, played in 146 games in 2014, hitting .246 (122-for-496) with 59R, 15HR, 53RBI and 33 doubles in his first season with the Marlins. In 854 career Major League games with Minnesota (2007), Pittsburgh (2009-13) and Miami (2014), the left-handed batter has hit .253 (703-for-2,780) with 335R, 174 doubles, 117HR and 383RBI.
Jones has hit at least 15HR in each of the last six seasons (2009-14), one of 16 Major Leaguers—and one of just four in the National League—to accomplish the feat. He has appeared in two career postseason games, both in the NLDS with Pittsburgh in 2013, going 0-for-2.
Born in Harvey, Ill., Jones has seen time at first base (468 games), right field (285 games) and left field (21 games) in his Major League career. He was originally selected by the Braves in the 14th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. Jones signed a two-year contract with Miami on December 10, 2013, extending through the 2015 season.
German, 22, spent the 2014 season with Single-A Greensboro, going 9-3 with a 2.48 ERA (123.1IP, 34ER) and 113K in 25 starts for the Grasshoppers. He led the team in strikeouts and tied for the team lead in games started, setting career highs in both categories. The San Pedro de Macoris, D.R., native has made 77 career minor league appearances (44 starts), going 20-10 with a 2.33 ERA (293.2IP, 76ER) and 286K. He was originally signed by the Marlins as a non-drafted free agent on August 8, 2009 and added to Miami’s 40-man roster on November 20, 2014.
Phelps, 28, went 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA (113.0IP, 55ER) in 32 games (17 starts) with the Yankees in 2014. In 87 career Major League appearances (40 starts) over three seasons with the Yankees (2012-14), he has gone 15-14 with a 4.21 ERA (299.1IP, 140ER). He was originally selected by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Prado, 31, was acquired by the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31, 2014 in exchange for minor leaguer Pete O’Brien and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. In 143 combined games with the Yankees and Diamondbacks in 2014, he hit .282 (151-for-536) with 62R, 26 doubles, 12HR and 58RBI. He played in 37 games with the Yankees following his trade, batting .316 (42-for-133) with 18R, 9 doubles, 7HR and 16RBI. Originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on February 13, 2001, Prado is a career .291 (1,075-for-3,691) batter with 78HR and 426RBI in 981 games with Atlanta (2006-12), Arizona (2013-14) and the Yankees (2014).
The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 40.
Associated Press photo
Yankees get Eovaldi from Marlins • 12.19.14
I’m about to take off on a flight home, so of course the Yankees are making moves.
A source has confirmed Jack Curry’s report that the Yankees are on the verge of trading Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and prospect Domingo German.
More to come.
Well, the Padres have successfully traded for an all-new outfield, and they’ve also acquired what used to be the Red Sox third baseman of the future.The Yankees, meanwhile, are clearly trying to avoid losing their top young players in massive trades like the ones happening in San Diego.
Here’s the MLB Trade Rumors ranking of the top 50 free agents heading into this offseason. Only the bold names are still available. How many would still fit the Yankees roster (and their budget)?
1. Max Scherzer – The top player on the market is still available. That was predictable, largely because agent Scott Boras tends to take his time getting his high-end players signed. The Yankees are said time after time that they’re not going to get involved in the Scherzer bidding. Question is, whether that’s posturing or an honest assessment.
2. Jon Lester – Cubs
3. James Shields – Heading into this offseason, Scherzer, Lester and Shields were seen as the big three on the market, but the narrative certainly shifted to the Big Two, with Shields left quietly overshadowed. There’s been very little speculation or solid information about Shields’ future.
4. Hanley Ramirez – Red Sox
5. Pablo Sandoval – Red Sox
6. Victor Martinez – Tigers
7. Melky Cabrera – White Sox
8. Russell Martin – Blue Jays
9. Nelson Cruz – Mariners
10. Yasmany Tomas – Diamondbacks
11. Ervin Santana – Twins
12. Kenta Maeda – No longer expected to be posted.
13. David Robertson – White Sox
14. Brandon McCarthy – A’s
15. Francisco Liriano – Pirates
16. Chase Headley – Yankees
17. Andrew Miller – Yankees
18. Justin Masterson – Red Sox
19. Aramis Ramirez – Brewers
20. Colby Rasmus – His name is mentioned from time to time, but Rasmus has yet to find a home. As a left-handed center fielder, he’s a pretty terrible fit for the Yankees. The team already has two of those.
21. Jed Lowrie – Astros
22. Jason Hammel – Cubs
23. Asdrubal Cabrera – Now that Headley and Lowrie are off the market, Cabrera stands out as the top infielder available. He might have been an option for the Yankees — either at second base or third base — had they not signed Headley. Now there’s really nowhere for the Yankees to put Cabrera.
24. Nick Markakis – Braves
25. Adam LaRoche – White Sox
26. Jake Peavy – Giants
27. Hiroki Kuroda – The Yankees say they’re still not sure what Kuroda is planning to do. Is he going to retire? Does he want to come back? Does he want to pitch elsewhere? Even though he’s almost 40, another one-year deal with Kuroda could help add some stability to the Yankees rotation. Go into spring training with Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Kuroda and Capuano? A lot of risk there, but also some decent upside.
28. Mike Morse – Marlins
29. Michael Cuddyer – Mets
30. Alex Rios – Royals
31. Edinson Volquez – Royals
32. Luke Gregerson – Astros
33. Torii Hunter – Twins
34. A.J. Burnett – Pirates
35. Sergio Romo – Giants
36. Francisco Rodriguez – Of all the experienced closers still on the market, it’s Rodriguez who ranked highest on MLBTR’s list. He’s coming off a good season, and he’s one of a few pitches who could add some late-inning depth for the Yankees.
37. Rafael Soriano – Of all the experienced closers still on the market, it’s Rodriguez who brings the most familiarity at Yankee Stadium. He was a very good replacement closer back in 2012, and he’s been perfectly solid in the two years since. Though he would fit best for the Yankees on a one-year contract, at his age, I wonder if he might be looking for one last multi-year deal.
38. Ryan Vogelsong – Re-emerged out of nowhere back in 2011, and now that he’s 37, it seems to be a question of how much longer until he disappears again. That said, Vogelsong had a 4.00 ERA last season, so he might not be finished just yet. Hard to rule him out as a potential Yankees target at some point. They’d clearly like to add more rotation options.
39. Aaron Harang – Bad 2013, but Harang had a 3.57 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP while once again pitching more than 200 innings in 2014. Turns 37 in May and faces basically the same question as Vogelsong: when will he stop being an effective back-end starter?
40. Nori Aoki – Perfectly solid on-base guy still in his early 30s. No place for him on the Yankees roster, though.
41. Billy Butler – A’s
42. Stephen Drew – If the Yankees really wanted him, he would be on the roster already and penciled in as the starting shortstop next season. Instead, he’s still on the market, and apparently considering the possibility of playing second base. I still find it weird that he can’t take advantage of the thin shortstop field to get a job at his original position, but what do I know?
43. Emilio Bonifacio – Doesn’t turn 30 until April and he can play multiple positions, including second base and center field. Doesn’t hit much, but he can run enough to make a difference off the bench. Could only imagine the Yankees getting involved if they feel Jose Pirela can’t play a utility role next season, but Pirela might be a better offensive player.
44. Casey Janssen – Pretty solid track record as a closer in the American League East. He’s coming off a bad second half, but otherwise, he was pretty good as the Blue Jays closer for three years. Yet another guy who could give the Yankees a ninth-inning option beyond Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.
45. Pat Neshek – Astros
46. Brandon Morrow – Padres
47. Jason Grilli – One good season as a big league closer. Mostly used as a good setup man the past four years. Fits into that group with Rodriguez, Soriano and Janssen as late-inning relievers who could — if the Yankees wanted to try it — takeover the ninth inning out of spring training.
48. Brett Anderson – A’s
49. Josh Johnson – Padres
50. Jung-ho Kang – Finally posted this week. He was a power-hitting shortstop in Korea, and there’s some question about whether that power and defense will translate at the big league level. Hard to imagine the Yankees getting involved now that they have Headley and Didi Gregorius filling the holes in their infield.
Associated Press photos
Lohud Yankees Blog looking for pinch hitters • 12.19.14
It’s good to have a fresh perspective and a new voice every once in a while, and for years — long before I showed up — the Lohud Yankees Blog has found that through the Pinch Hitters series. During those slow weeks in late January and early February, we look for outside opinions and unique points of view — something different as we transition from the offseason toward spring training.
To find those new voices, we’re looking for anyone who would like to write a guest blog post — 400-500 words or so — about anything related to the Yankees. It could be favorite Derek Jeter memory, an optimistic Aaron Judge prediction, or a less-than-glowing rotation evaluation. Look back on a favorite player, look ahead to the coming season, or look around for solutions to the problems on the current roster.
Whatever you’d like to say, email your ideas to me — a few sentences explaining what you want to write — and I’ll make some choices, looking for a variety of topics and styles. In early January, I’ll begin contacting those chosen as this year’s Pinch Hitters. Please, no more than one proposal per person. It’s not necessarily first come, first serve, so take your time coming up with what you want to write.
The absolute cutoff for submissions will be Sunday, January 4. I’ll post a few more reminders between now and then. Send your ideas to: cjennings (at) lohud.com. Thanks everyone. As always, I’m looking forward to it.
Associated Press photo
A few notes and links on the Thursday night, exactly one week before Christmas (things tend to go quite the week of and the week after Christmas):
• This should come as no surprise given the rest of the talk coming from the Yankees front office this offseason: team president Randy Levine said today that he doesn’t expect the Yankees to spend on any of the market’s top remaining free agents. Without saying the name, he was saying the Yankees won’t get Max Scherzer. “We’re always out there looking, but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization,” Levine told Newsday’s David Lennon. “You look at our pitching staff for example. We have two guys who make a lot of money, so you have to build around them. The chances of us bringing in another guy who makes $25 million or over are, in my opinion, virtually none.”
• As for less-expensive alternatives to Scherzer, it seems you can eliminate Japanese starter Kenta Maeda. A report out of Japan says the Hiroshima Carp have told Maeda he will not be posted this offseason. In theory, he would have been the third-best starting pitcher left on the market behind Scherzer and James Shields.
• One risk-reward rotation possibility is off the market. Kris Medlen, who was awfully good with the Braves before requiring a second Tommy John surgery, has agreed to a two-year, $8.5-million deal with the Royals. As you can imagine, the deal is loaded with incentives that could push the money much higher if Medlen stays healthy and delivers a lot of innings.
• Very cool story from Tyler Kepner, who wrote about his obsession with baseball cards — particularly the cards of his youth — in an ode to former Topps executive Sy Berger. I loved baseball cards as a kid, and I still get a complete set of Topps from my mother every year on my birthday. If you’ve ever opened a pack of baseball cards, I’m sure you can appreciate Tyler’s piece.
• A lot of stuff out there today about the baseball impact of yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. is restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba. I’ll point out just a few worth checking out: ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that there is “skepticism among executives familiar with baseball in Cuba that the landscape of baseball will see a marked shift anytime soon.” Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote that the news didn’t catch the baseball world off guard. “The MLB commissioner’s office has had internal discussions about what to do if the embargo was lifted and Cuba ever opened up. So have team personnel.” At Forbes, Maury Brown wrote about changes in scouting, changes in documentation and the possibility of a major league team in Cuba in the distant, distant future.
Associated Press photo
By my count, the Yankees added 10 brand new players to the big league roster — players who had not been in the organization when the season started — between the July 15 All-Star Game and the end of the regular season.
Second-half moves like that happen every year as teams try to plug holes here and there, but the Yankees’ second-half additions stand out because of just how many have either re-signed, stayed on the roster, or otherwise impacted the organization going forward. This list isn’t made entirely of lingering players, but there are lot of them.
LHP Rich Hill – Signed to a minor league deal immediately after the all-star break, Hill was allowed to leave via free agency this offseason. Perhaps his lasting impact is the fact he was the guy called up when the Yankees let go of Matt Thornton on waivers. That was a money saving move, and having Hill in Triple-A presumably made it a little easier (there really wasn’t another lefty to bring up before Hill was added to the mix).
3B Chase Headley – Seems safe to assume Headley would have been on the Yankees radar this offseason regardless of his second-half stint in pinstripes, but the Yankees clearly liked what they saw, and Headley has acknowledged that he enjoyed the New York experience more than he expected. Would these two have found common ground without that late-season audition? Maybe not.
LHP Chris Capuano – The Yankees were desperate for a starting pitcher, and Capuano was available. He had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees acquired him, and he pitched like a good No. 5 during his 12-start stint as a rotation replacement. As other rotation options came off the table earlier this month, the Yankees eventually found their way back to the guy who pitched better than expected late in the season.
2B Martin Prado – Of all the names on the list, this is the only one clearly intended to be a long-term fix. The Yankees planned to use Prado in the outfield last season, but he wound up playing all over the field, and it was that versatility that made him a strong fit going forward. His ability to play second base has freed the Yankees to re-sign Headley, and Prado’s ability to play the outfield might eventually free them to add Rob Refsnyder.
SS Stephen Drew – Perhaps this was the audition that had the opposite impact of Headley. Finishing off a strange year in which he signed late and missed spring training, Drew came to the Yankees at the trade deadline with the expectation that he could learn and new position and improve his offensive numbers. The first part was no problem — Drew looked good at second — but the offense never got better. It seems telling that Drew’s still on the free agent market.
RHP Esmil Rogers – A waiver claim at the trade deadline, Rogers showed moments of promise mixed with moments that explained why he was so readily available in the first place. As the season was winding down, Rogers didn’t have a defined role and he entered this offseason as a prime non-tender candidate. The Yankees, though, got him to take a pay cut as they prepare to give him one more look as either a long man, a one-inning reliever, or possibly a starter.
OF Chris Young — This move was easy to mock at the time. Young, after all, had been released by the Mets earlier in the season and there seemed little chance that such a castaway would play any sort of role with the Yankees. But he signed a minor league deal, got a September call-up, hit a few home runs, and wound up with a new one-year deal as the team’s fourth outfielder. That late signing might have made all the difference.
LHP Josh Outman – Basically added to the mix because he seemed like a better left-on-left option than Hill, but late in the year it was Hill getting more of the prime matchup situations, and Outman wound up dumped back into free agency. Hard to remember Outman was ever on the roster in the first place.
RHP Chaz Roe – A late acquisition turned September call-up, Roe is a former first-round pick who pitched two innings for the Yankees, walked three guys, allowed three hits, gave up two earned runs and was never heard from again.
OF Eury Perez – End-of-the-season waiver claim who got 10 at-bats before the end of the season. He might have been let go this winter, but Perez was given an extra option and now seems likely to open the season in Triple-A as a bit of right-handed outfield depth. He has some speed to go with a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. Probably not a guy who’s going to play a significant role going forward, but he’s still in the mix at this point.
Associated Press photos