Archive for the ‘Misc’
It’s a done deal: The Red Sox have signed Pablo Sandoval. Late last night came word of Boston’s deal with free agent Hanley Ramirez, and tonight it’s been confirmed that Sandoval is also joining the ranks. Our old friend Pete Abraham cites a source who says the Red Sox might not be done, either. Pete says the latest signings will not necessarily keep the Red Sox from bringing back Jon Lester. Here’s Janie McCauley of The Associated Press on the newest Red Sox third baseman.
Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a multiyear contract, and the switch-hitting slugger informed the San Francisco Giants he’s leaving.
“Got the call. He is going to the Red Sox,” Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans said Monday.
Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, had pondered an offer from the Giants worth close to $100 million over five years, a person with knowledge of that proposal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no deal had been announced by the Red Sox.
“Yes, we have an agreement with the Red Sox and we’re on our way to Boston,” Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, said by telephone from Florida while about to board a plane to Boston.
The Giants said they were in touch Monday morning Vasquez, who told the club Sandoval would make a decision by day’s end.
The burly switch-hitter was beloved in the Bay Area, where fans sported panda hats in his honor — including a quartet of oversized heads on a few fans during the franchise’s latest championship run. His lasting memory will likely be the moment he leaned back on bent knees and raised his arms in triumph after winning another World Series championship last month.
Sandoval, 28, met with the Red Sox last week. After winning his third World Series title in five years with San Francisco, he indicated he wanted to retire with the Giants. He is coming off a three-year deal that guaranteed him $17.15 million.
Sandoval joins a big-spending Boston team that finished last in the AL East, one year after winning the World Series. The Red Sox will not forfeit the No. 7 overall pick in June’s amateur draft but will give up a later selection.
San Francisco will receive an extra pick between the first and second rounds.
The Giants now are likely to show interest in free agent third baseman Chase Headley. Sabean said when the season ended that Sandoval was the No. 1 priority before anything else got done to build the 2015 roster.
Headley, acquired by the Yankees from San Diego in July, could be an option to take over from Alex Rodriguez as the primary third baseman if New York is able to re-sign him.
Associated Press photo
This will be Don Mattingly’s final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. This year’s ballot was announced earlier today, and it’s headlined by an impressive group of first-year pitchers as well as holdover Craig Biggio, who was two votes away from induction a year ago. Here’s the full ballot, along with an Associated Press story on the candidates.
The ballot: Rich Aurilia, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Troy Percival, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.
Craig Biggio, who fell two votes short of the 75 percent needed in the 2014 balloting, tops 17 holdovers on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot announced Monday. That group includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.
Johnson went 303-166, won five Cy Young Awards. The Big Unit struck out 4,875, second only to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.
Martinez, a two-time Cy Young winner, was 219-100, struck out 3,154 and led the major leagues in ERA five times.
Smoltz is vying to join former Atlanta teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted this year along with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Smoltz had a 213-155 record and 154 seasons, the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. He was 15-4 in the postseason.
Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield and players’ association head Tony Clark also are among the first-time eligibles.
Don Mattingly will appear on the ballot for the 15th and final time after receiving 8 percent last year. The Hall’s board voted in July to cut a player’s eligibility from 15 years to 10 but grandfathered players in the 11-15 group, which also includes Alan Trammell (14th year) and Lee Smith (13th).
Players who have admitted steroids use or been tainted with accusations of use have fallen short.
McGwire, entering his next-to-last year of eligibility, received 11 percent last year, down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, dropped from 38 percent to 35 in his second ballot appearance. Bonds, a seven-time MVP and baseball’s career home runs leader, fell from 36 percent to 35. Sosa, who hit 609 homers, dropped from 13 percent to 7 and is close to falling below the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.
Voters are the approximately 600 writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 27. Results will be announced Jan. 6.
Players elected, along with choices announced Dec. 8 by the golden era committee (1947-72), will be inducted July 26 at Cooperstown.
Associated Press photos
Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions are out, including what seems to be the Yankees first attempt to add some upper-level infield depth. They’ve signed former Padres prospect Jonathan Galvez to a minor league deal (the move actually popped up on MLB.com’s transactions over the weekend).
Still just 23 years old, Galvez has a career .280/.366/.427 slash line in the minors, and he slashed .280/.354/.449 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season. He played shortstop in the past, but it seems telling that most of his upper-level experience has come at second base, third base and left field. I was told that the Yankees see him as someone who can move around the field.
However, a scout from outside the organization gave this scouting report:
“Poor defender. Bad instincts. Bat plays through AAA. Not a (major league) guy.”
It would be easy to dismiss a guy like this, but Yangervis Solarte and Zelous Wheeler were also career minor leaguers at this time last year, the Yankees brought them to big league camp, and each one wound up getting time in the big leagues (Solarte, in particular, became a lineup regular and a huge surprise). Maybe Galvez has a similar trick up his sleeve.
Bottom line is, the Yankees need some infield depth, and Galvis can at the very least move around and plug various holes for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hard to see him as a major-league option, though, unless he plays his way into that conversation.
A few other notes from the latest round of BA transactions:
• The other Yankees signing listed is relief pitcher Andrew Bailey. We already knew about that one. The Yankees agreed to terms with him a few weeks ago, bringing the veteran reliever back into the minor league system after a year lost to shoulder surgery. It’s a low-risk move that could pay off if Bailey gets healthy again. At his best, he’s been a very good major-league reliever. Kind of a quiet wild card for next year’s bullpen.
• Baseball America reports that outfielder Jose Figueroa has been released. Now 21 years old, he signed out of Mexico back in 2011 and actually had a decent year in the Gulf Coast League this season. He hit .290/.353/.419 while playing all three outfield spots. He was pretty old for that level, though.
• Other familiar names from this round of minor league transactions: Pat Venditte has signed with Oakland (we already knew that), Jeremy Bleich is with Pittsburgh (already knew that, too), Jairo Heredia and Corban Joseph have signed with the Braves (as Atlanta keeps gathering former Yankees prospects), Mikey O’Brien is with Baltimore, Brennan Boesch has signed with the Reds, Brett Marshall is with the Rockies, and Doug Bernier is back with the Twins.
It’s not even Thanksgiving, and already four of the top free agent hitters are off the market.
Victor Martinez re-signed with Detroit, Russell Martin landed in Toronto, Hanley Ramirez signed with Boston, and Pablo Sandoval is going somewhere. Nothing official on Sandoval’s destination — some reports say Boston, others suggest it’s not a done deal — but his agent told Alex Speier that a decision will come today, which means Sandoval’s effectively off the market, whatever the destination.
What does it mean for the Yankees?
First, they never seemed to be in on any of these hitters. They don’t have space for a pure designated hitter, they signed their catcher last winter, and both Ramirez and Sandoval were the kind of high-risk, high-dollar deals that the Yankees would like to avoid (Ramirez in particular seems like a risky investment, despite his obvious talent).
What this really does for the Yankees is open the door for the next tier of free agents, the ones that seemed more likely for the Yankees in the first place. Three things:
1. Chase Headley is now the top third baseman on the market, and the Yankees have done little to hide their interest in re-signing him. For a while it seemed Boston might be the most significant competition for Headley, now it might be San Francisco. Either way, there’s now very little keeping Headley from determining his true market value and figuring out all of his options.
2. Whether Ramirez was a true shortstop is now a moot point. He’s off the market, and the group of free agent shortstops begin with Asdrubal Cabrera (assuming you trust his defense), Jed Lowrie (who also might be the best second baseman on the market), and Stephen Drew (who’s probably the best defensive option out there). The Yankees never seemed focused on Ramirez, but other free agents might have been waiting for him to set the “shortstop” market.
3. The pitching market really hasn’t moved. The biggest free agents on the market are starting pitchers, and there are big names emerging as trade candidates as well (Jordan Zimmerman, Cole Hamels, we already saw Shelby Miller traded). The Yankees have made it clear that they want to add at least one starting pitcher this winter, and they’d clearly like to add a reliever now that Dave Robertson is a free agent — relievers seem valuable this offseason — but while hitters have come off the board quickly, pitchers are taking their time.
Associated Press photo
Maybe you weren’t asleep quite yet when Ken Rosenthal reported late last night that Hanley Ramirez is heading to Boston to finalize a deal with the Red Sox. The deal is reportedly for five years and roughly $90 million. That’s not much more base salary than Russell Martin got from Toronto.
What this means is that the Red Sox might have landed the market’s best position player. Or they might have gotten a guy who can’t play shortstop and might not stay healthy for more than half of next season. Ramirez can be a dynamite offensive player — career .300/.373/.500 slash line; .283/.369/.448 last season — but there have long been questions about his defense, and he’s had as many as 550 plate appearances only once in the past four years.
When he’s on the field, though, Ramirez is an awfully good player. The Red Sox are well aware, having developed Ramirez in their farm system before trading him in the Josh Beckett deal back in 2005.
As for what the Red Sox will do with Ramirez now that they have him back — shortstop? third base? outfield? — that might depend on the rest of their roster. Boston already has young shortstop in Xander Bogaerts, and Jon Heyman reported this weekend that it seems possible the Red Sox will land not only Ramirez but also Pablo Sandoval this offseason.
“The Red Sox could even make it a triple play if they are able to lure both those positional stars, plus their former ace Jon Lester, who they are also talking to,” Heyman wrote.
The Red Sox finished just one win better than the Astros last season, but their late-season moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Joe Kelly and Rusney Castillo suggested a team looking to rebuild, not for some distant future, but for the immediate future. A last-place team in 2014, they seem to be gearing up for a legitimate run in 2015.
We’ll see what the Yankees do to try to follow suit.
Associated Press photo
Even in the context of a pretty quiet winter (so far), this really was a quiet week for the Yankees.
The biggest news came on Thursday when the Yankees protected four prospects from the Rule 5 draft while also opening one 40-man roster spot by sending Zelous Wheeler to Japan. Wheeler made his major-league debut this season after signing a minor-league deal last winter. He was an obvious DFA candidate — despite the Yankees lack of infield depth — and the team turned his spot into a few hundred thousand dollars.
More significant were the four prospects added to the 40-man roster.
Tyler Austin was an easy choice for protection given his strong second half and his potential as an impact hitter. Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder were also obvious candidates because of their big fastballs and potential to help out of the big league bullpen as early as Opening Day.
The curious choice was Mason Williams, who was protected despite underwhelming offensive numbers the past two years. He’s a good runner and a strong defensive player, and the Yankees felt he was too much of a Rule 5 risk if left exposed (could easily have fit as a team’s fourth or fifth outfielder). Also, the Yankees haven’t given up on his upside. Just two years ago, many outlets considered Williams to be the Yankees top prospect.
• Three big bits of news that didn’t involve the Yankees this week: Giancarlo Stanton signed a record contract with the Marlins; Russell Martin agreed to a five-year deal with the Blue Jays; and there was a high-profile trade that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis and Shelby Miller to Atlanta. For the Yankees, it’s the Martin deal that stands out. He’ll be back in the division one year after a terrific season with Pittsburgh.
• Two bits of news that seem to work in Dave Robertson’s favor: Zach Duke got a three-year deal to pitch out of the White Sox bullpen, and Andrew Miller reportedly has multiple three-year offers already on the table. It seems teams are willing to give money and years to relievers this offseason, and Robertson is arguably the top relief pitcher on the market.
• Brian Cashman did his annual sleep-on-the-sidewalk thing on Thursday night, helping raise awareness and funds for Covenant House. At the event, Cashman said he’s still not certain whether Hiroki Kuroda wants to pitch next season, but he’s still expecting Kuroda to pitch somewhere — either in the U.S. or Japan. The Yankees are certainly in the market for a starting pitcher, so that could be an option at some point.
• Speculation about Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada continues to gain steam, and this week Baseball America declared the Yankees to be the favorites to sign the 19-year-old. The sooner Moncada is cleared by the government, the better for the Yankees, who can’t sign him after July 2 because of penalties for overspending this year.
• The Yankees did add one more international free agent this week, reportedly agreeing to a contract with Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery. That’s the latest piece in a massive international haul for the Yankees this season.
• Among the notable Yankees left exposed to the Rule 5 draft are first baseman Kyle Roller and relief pitcher Mark Montgomery. Roller put up strong offensive numbers in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, but all-bat players are not ideal Rule 5 fodder — hard to carry a guy like that on the bench — and the Yankees decided to take their chances, though one source indicated the team gave consideration to putting him on the roster. Montgomery, on the other hand, once seemed to be the team’s top relief prospect, but that was before a shoulder injury and disappointing numbers in the upper levels.
Associated Press photos
The Yankees sent this announcement a few days ago. Just something to keep in mind for those of you looking to grab some tickets for next season.
The 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 www.yankees.com/priceless or www.yankeesbeisbol.com, or by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 469-9849 or (800) 943-4327 (TTY). This on-sale opportunity will not be available at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office or Ticketmaster outlets.
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 www.yankees.com 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.
The specifics of 2015 regular-season ticket specials (eg: Senior Citizen, Student, Youth, Military Personnel), as well as the 2015 regular season promotional schedule, will be announced at a later date.
The on-sale for all other 2015 individual game tickets will be announced at a later time.
Select Yankees season ticket plans are now available on both a full-season and partial-season basis. For complete season-ticket information, please visit yankees.com or yankeesbeisbol.com, contact the Season Ticket Sales and Service Department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (212) YANKEES [212-926-5337].
For group tickets for individual games during the 2015 regular season, a Yankees group sales representative can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (212) YANKEES [212-926-5337]. Individual-game suites are available by contacting the Yankees Premium Sales and Services department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 508-3955.
Now that the Arizona Fall League has finished, we’re getting some hard numbers on the pace-of-play initiatives being tested down there. According to MLB.com:
In addition to the 20-second pitch clock, games at Salt River employed two-minute, 30-second time limits on breaks between innings and between pitching changes. And each team was limited to three “time out” conferences per game, inclusive of meetings between pitchers and catchers, coaches and pitchers, and coaches and batters.
The average game time of the 16 games played at Salt River, in which the clocks were enforced, was two hours and 42 minutes — a full 10 minutes quicker than the Fall League average in 2013. A closer look at the numbers shows that extrapolating the average time per plate appearance from the MLB average of 77 plate appearances per game would equate to an even brisker average game time of two hours and 39 minutes.
And here’s a quote from former Yankees prospect Pete O’Brien, who was catching in the Fall League:
“I know I’ve been talking to some guys and they feel rushed,” O’Brien said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out. When things are going good you don’t really notice the clocks, but when the wheels start coming off a little bit, you start worrying about the clock.”
The numbers themselves are interesting, but Rob Neyer makes a good point: Isn’t this about pace of play and not time of game? As he wrote for FOX Sports: While I agree that Americans’ attention spans have gotten shorter, I think all that means is they want less time between action. And if the action keeps coming, they’ll keep watching. What’s more fun to watch? A crisply played, action-packed game that lasts three hours, or a snooze-fest that goes 2:30?
Neyer makes the case that getting some help from television (which tends to slow things down between innings) and by creating a new set of expectations in the minor leagues (where players get used to taking their time between pitches) would help speed up the action. If the games are shorter, that’s great. What seems more important, Neyer argues, is essentially that the games feel shorter.
Associated Press photo
The Yankees made their single most significant 40-man roster change on Thursday when they protected four prospects from the Rule 5 draft and sent Zelous Wheeler to a team in Japan. At the time, the team announced that there were 38 players on their roster, but it seems to have been a miscount — Mason Williams wasn’t listed online — and the 40-man instead sits at 39 players.
That leaves one open spot, with the Yankees likely to add at least four players before it’s all said and done (shortstop, third baseman, starter, reliever). Trades could obviously change things, but here’s a look at the current 40-man roster, with the ways it might change in the coming months.
I’ve tried to break players into major leaguers and minor leaguers, though there’s obviously some overlap with plenty of minor leaguers perfectly capable of winning a job on the big league roster in spring training.
Depending on the way he’s progressing in spring training, I suppose the Yankees could open the season with Nova on the 60-day disabled list if they have a non-roster guy they’d like to carry on Opening Day (perhaps Andrew Bailey or Rob Refsnyder, for example). It’s also worth wondering how the Yankees view Campos given last year’s surgery. Is the presence of Banuelos, De Paula and Mitchell as immediate rotation depth enough to risk losing Whitley if/when the roster gets tight? He has options and would surely be claimed, but given the alternatives, Whitley could theoretically become a DFA candidate if the Yankees add more than one starting pitcher.
Easiest way to open a couple of roster spots might be to non-tender Huff and Rogers. Huff is coming off a nice season, and he’s certainly a useful piece, but he might have become expendable with the additions of Wilson and De Paula. As for Rogers, he’s going to be fairly expensive for a guy who might not even deserve a big league roster spot. If the roster gets tight and the Yankees have to open another spot, Claiborne could be a DFA candidate. Depends entirely on how the Yankees feel about him compared to recent additions Burawa and Pinder.
Clearly the Yankees would prefer to have both Murphy and Romine in big league camp so that they have two young options for the backup catcher role (at the very least, Romine’s good insurance in case Murphy gets hurt in March). But it’s worth noting that Romine’s out of options, and it’s entirely possible the Yankees are going to have to DFA him eventually anyway. He’s more likely to be claimed in the winter than at the end of spring training — right now team’s might see him as being worth a look; in late March they’d have to seriously have a spot for him — but would the Yankees rather risk losing Romine or risk losing one of the pitchers who could provide legitimate depth during the season?
Given the way Pirela played last season, and the way he’s continued to play this winter, it’s hard to see any of these guys as a real DFA candidate under any circumstances. Ryan is the only legitimate shortstop in place, and the Yankees have made it clear that they’re committed to bringing Rodriguez back next season. Pirela seems to be a legitimate bench candidate, if not a potential starting second baseman. He’s listed as a minor leaguer here because there’s certainly a good chance that he could end up back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he also might be a favorite for a bench role if the Yankees don’t add a significant utility type this winter. Ultimately, there aren’t enough infielders for the Yankees to risk losing one of them on waivers.
Now that the catchers are thinned out, this is where the Yankees roster is most overstocked, but it’s also a spot without an easy way to trim. All of the minor league outfielders have options remaining, which makes then an easy target on the waiver wire. Now that Young is in place as a right-handed fourth outfielder, Perez might be more expendable than he was at the beginning of the offseason, but he’s also the most experienced and reliable of the minor league outfielders on the 40-man. Trading one of Flores, Heathcott or Williams might make sense given the depth of left-handed outfielders (which goes beyond the 40-man to include guys like Jake Cave and Taylor Dugas).
Associated Press photo
Brian Cashman just slept on the streets of New York City (again), and in a few weeks he’s going to climb down the face of a building (again). Cashman is once again participating in the Heights & Lights event in Stamford, CT. It’s happening the weekend before the Winter Meetings, which means an early morning on a cold rooftop asking Cashman about free agents and trades. Here are the details from a press release distributed by the the city of Stamford:
On Friday morning, December 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 am (ET), Rick Reichmuth, FOX News Channel’s Meteorologist, Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees and Bobby Valentine, Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University will rappel from the one of Stamford, CT’s tallest buildings, the Landmark Building. Santa’s Elf, Brian VanOrsdel will be on hand, strapping Brian and Bobby in and guiding them down the 22 stories of the building, all the while broadcasting live on the FOX News Channel, “FOX & Friends” morning newscast.
The event marks the start of Rappelling Santa’s arrival in Stamford and is a good practice run for the rappelling crew for Sunday’s Heights & Lights program.
On Sunday, December 7 at 5:00 pm, Brian Cashman, Bobby Valentine, Santa and friends are scheduled once again to make their daredevil descent down the 22 stories of the Landmark Building, for Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp’s Rappelling Santa. After the rappel, Santa’s busy holiday schedule will take him straight up Bedford Street to Latham Park where he will join the Stamford Community for music with The Cast of Peter Pan Jr. from Saxe Middle School and the lighting of the Holiday Tree, donated by Bartlett Tree Company.
Practice Rappel: Friday Morning, December 5, 2014 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Heights & Lights Rappel: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Rappel at Landmark Square, Broad Street;
Tree Lighting at Latham Park, Bedford Street, Stamford Downtown
Heights & Lights is presented by Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp. and sponsored by The Advocate, 95.9 The Fox, Star 99.9, WEBE 108, Bartlett Tree Company, Happyhaha.com and The First Congregational Church of Stamford and brought to you by Stamford Downtown and The City of Stamford. Free Cocoa at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. THIS EVENT IS FREE!
Associated Press photo