Archive for the ‘Misc’
Odds and ends on a busy day • 12.06.13
A lot going on today, here are a few mostly small extras.
• Just to make sure, I asked one Yankees official if there was any consideration of putting Alfonso Soriano at second base. I was told the idea hasn’t been brought up once. It’s been eight years since Soriano played second base regularly. Hard to believe the Yankees would try to move him back there now.
• We’ve heard about nearly official deals with Jacoby Ellsbury, Kelly Johnson and now Hiroki Kuroda. That’s three guys who seem to be “on the 1-yard line,” as Brian Cashman put it today. But there could be at least one more on the verge of happening. Cashman was asked if he was on the 1-yard line with more than two guys. He said, “yeah.” Asked if he’s on the 1-yard line with more than three guys, Cashman said, “Uh huh.” Could be he’s referring to some minor league deals. Could be he’s closer than we know on a significant piece. Just something to keep in mind.
• Sounds like the Yankees next bullpen coach is going to be Gary Tuck, who’s been a coach for the Yankees in the past and who previously worked as a coach under Joe Girardi in Florida. “I don’t have it done, but more likely than not, Gary Tuck will be our bullpen coach,” Cashman said.
• Former Royals manager Trey Hillman has joined the Yankees to work in pro scouting and player development. … Former Cubs manager Mike Quade is the Yankees new roving outfield and base-running instructor. That means he’ll be working with minor league kids at all the different levels. … Eric Hinske was a Yankees scout for about a month before he took the Cubs first-base coach job. “He was here,” Cashman said. “He was involved. He helped me with Brian McCann, and now he’s gone.”
• Cashman said that Jay Z told the Yankees to simply call him “Jay” during the Cano negotations. Cashman said his conversations with Jay Z were really no different than his conversations with any other agent. They agreed on the talent and intangibles of Cano, just spent their time discussing contract desires. Cashman said there was really nothing unusual about negotiating with a music icon.
Associated Press photo
Robinson Cano is obviously the story of the day, which helps explain why I’ve failed to mention Curtis Granderson’s new deal with the Mets. Here’s a quick AP story on the other ex-Yankees standout who signed elsewhere today.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the deal was pending a physical and no announcement had been made.
Granderson, who turns 33 in March, comes over from the crosstown Yankees and gives the Mets much-needed power in their punchless outfield. He batted .229 with seven homers and 15 RBIs this year, when injuries limited him to 61 games. But he surpassed 40 homers in each of his previous two seasons in pinstripes.
The move marks general manager Sandy Alderson’s most expensive free-agent signing — by far — after three years of bargain shopping as the Mets rebuilt.
A three-time All-Star, Granderson provides proven thump from the left side of the plate to complement right-handed hitter David Wright in a lineup that managed only 130 home runs last season — tied for 25th among 30 major league teams.
New York also signed free-agent outfielder Chris Young to a $7.25 million, one-year contract this offseason. Granderson has played center field most of his career but spent time in both left and right last season. He figures to fill a corner spot with the Mets, who plan to use defensive whiz Juan Lagares or Young in center.
New York’s outfield combined to hit .238 this year (29th in the majors) with 50 homers (tied for 24th) and 209 RBIs (16th), according to STATS. The group also includes speedy left fielder Eric Young Jr., the NL stolen base leader.
Granderson turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees to test the open market. The Mets, however, would not have to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign him because they own the 10th overall selection. The top 10 picks are protected.
Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011, when he led the American League in runs (136) and RBIs (119) and finished fourth in MVP voting. He had 43 homers and 106 RBIs in 2012, taking advantage of the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.
The Mets hope his power will translate to spacious Citi Field, where it’s more difficult to clear the fences.
Granderson’s numbers have declined each of the past three years, down to a .317 on-base percentage and .407 slugging mark last season. He also is prone to strikeouts — whiffing 364 times from 2011-2012 — and joins a Mets lineup that fanned 1,384 times this year, tied with Atlanta for most in the NL.
But his bat is a significant upgrade for the Mets, starved for offense following their fifth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field. Now, the club can focus on other areas of need — shortstop, first base, the pitching staff — heading into baseball’s winter meetings next week.
Granderson was on the disabled list twice last season after getting hit by pitches.
He missed the first 38 games after breaking his right wrist when he was plunked by Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ in his first plate appearance of spring training on Feb. 24. Not long after he returned, Granderson broke a knuckle on his left pinkie when he was hit at Tampa Bay on May 24.
That kept him out until August, making Granderson one of several Yankees stars to be sidelined much of the season. New York was unable to overcome all the injuries, missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years.
Granderson’s agreement with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.
Associated Press photo
The Yankees were unwilling to top the Mariners’ contract offer to Robinson Cano, but it had relatively little to do with the luxury tax and the $189 million payroll goal.
According to a source, the Yankees made it known that they were willing to give Cano seven years at $175 million, which would be an average annual value of $25 million, which is even more than the annual salary of Cano’s reported 10-year, $240-million agreement with the Mariners. Where the Yankees drew a line was in the number of years, not the amount of money.
Say this for the Yankees, they learned from their mistakes and were unwilling to repeat the Alex Rodriguez disaster.
The Yankees made a seven-year investment into Jacoby Ellsbury. At a little less than $22 million per year, Ellsbury will be under contract through his age-36 season. He won’t turn 37 until the final few weeks of the guaranteed portion of his new deal.
Cano has reportedly signed a 10-year deal with the Mariners. He’s a year older than Ellsbury. At $24 million per year, Cano will be signed through his age-40 season. If the Mariners are a playoff team at that point, Cano will turn 41 in the postseason of his final season under the new deal.
“Both are really bad in my opinion,” one rival executive said in an email. “But Cano is probably worse just because of the extra three years. I think you have to hope to get any kind of reasonable return after four (or) five years on either one.”
Associated Press photo
Remember a few hours ago when Robinson Cano’s negotiations with the Mariners were falling apart and people were exploding?
Cano has now reportedly agreed to a 10-year deal with Seattle. I believe Jon Heyman first reported that the teams were getting close to a deal, and Enrique Rojas reported the terms to be 10 years, $240 million.
That’s a massive contract, which is clearly what Cano was looking for all along. Never much indication the Yankees wanted to give that much money or that many years. Makes obvious sense to stay away from a contract like that, but now the Yankees seem to facing a world without Cano, which is a huge blow in an offseason in which they’ve been very aggressive with other free agents.
Finally off the Connecticut rooftop and back home in Westchester, and the story of the day is already coming out of Seattle.
The Daily News reported early this morning that Robinson Cano’s negotiations with Seattle fell apart last night after Jay Z asked for more money and a longer contract. According to the report, Cano flew to Seattle with an eight-year, $200-million offer in hand, and the Mariners were believed to be willing to go nine years, $225 million. When Jay Z asked for 10 years and $252 million, the Daily News report that Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln “exploded” in anger.
Have to assume that’s a figure of speech, otherwise my friend Mark Feinsand is really burying the lede.
Having just rappelled down a building in Stamford, Brian Cashman had — predictably — very little reaction to the news.
“I just keep it basically simple,” Cashman said. “Robbie’s and his agents’ job is basically to find out what his choices are. Brodie and Jay are trying to put him in a position to make an informed decision, and it takes time, so that’s the process. Our job is to inform him of what our comfort level is, and measure it against everything else. I just kind of keep it simple. … The only thing that’s really relevant is the level we’re willing to commit to and hopefully that somehow matches up with the same interest on his end. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to have a player.”
Cashman said he talked to Jay Z and Brodie Van Wagenen — Cano’s representatives — twice yesterday. He wouldn’t go into details, but Cashman said he has the sense that Cano is ready to sign right now if he gets the right offer in the right place.
“They have numbers in their mind,” Cashman said. “And if somebody’s willing to reach that, and it’s the right locale, they’ll be ready to make a decision.”
As he always says this time of year, Cashman said he’s letting the process play out while staying constantly engaged with the key figures.
“Everybody is replaceable,” Cashman said. “That’s a team concept. Some people are harder to replace than others, no doubt about it. I don’t think anybody would have the attitude that anybody is going to make or break your future, but you certainly can invest for good reason into players who can try to make your future brighter. That’s what we’re trying to do with Robbie amongst others. If it’s not to be, it’s not to be, and we’ll continue to do business as we have and try to collect as many great players as we can.”
For whatever it’s worth, Cashman said he’s “on the 1-yard line” with more than three players. Wouldn’t say who, but we already know Jacoby Ellsbury is basically a done deal, and Kelly Johnson is expected to be announced soon. Now Jon Heyman reports that a one-year deal with Hiroki Kuroda is almost done.
Associated Press photo
It’s that time of year. It’s cold outside, every coffee shop I walk into is playing Christmas music — I honestly don’t mind — and Brian Cashman is about to rappel down a building in Connecticut. Brutal. I really enjoy the holiday season, but I this morning comes far too early every year.
Yes, I’m up and out the door, heading to Stamford to talk to the Yankees general manager. I realize it’s not an unthinkable hour to be awake. My dad, after all, has honestly been up for more than an hour, and he’s probably been to the gym already. And he’s on central time. So I don’t mean to complain. It’s just that early morning rooftop events don’t fit naturally into a baseball writer’s schedule.
So why get up when Cashman just talked to a huge group of writers yesterday? Because of Robinson Cano.
Last night, Cano was said to be landing in Seattle for a meeting with Mariners, who were apparently ready to offer nine years and $225 million. You might notice, that’s the same average annual salary as a seven-year, $175-million offer, which the Yankees are said to be willing to give Cano. Maybe the longer deal is worth it, but I tend to agree in every single way with this terrific piece by Ken Rosenthal.
If Cano turns down a similar but shorter offer from the Yankees — a fairly massive offer, by the way — to sign with the Mariners, it will be a rather odd and single-minded decision. If the Yankees let the Mariners beat them by offering more years at the same AAV, that will also be a curious decision considering how well Cano fits the Yankees current and long-term needs.
Hard to predict what’s going to happen here, but it’s going to be an interesting day in Seattle. And it’s an early morning in Stamford.
Oh, and don’t forget, we’re doing a chat at noon!
Associated Press photo
McCann: “It was a perfect match” • 12.05.13
Walking into today’s press conference, everyone already knew that Brian McCann had signed with the Yankees. We knew the Yankees would say nice things about him, and we knew he would say nice things about the Yankees. Most everything involving McCann this afternoon was something less than news. It was really an introduction to the team’s newest everyday catcher, a guy who the team believes will fit with the tradition of great Yankees catchers.
There wasn’t a ton of McCann news today, but it was a pretty well-done event that got the job done. McCann got his jersey, and people got to know him a little bit.
We’ll wrap up the day with a quick look at how the McCann contract came together from three people involved in the process.
“We thought it was a big possibility for us. We thought our ballpark would be very attractive for him. He’s still young. He’s played seven years, he’s been an all-star numerous times, but he’s still very young. And we do feel he has a chance to be extremely productive. This ballpark should play to his skill level really very well. And to me, what I really fell in love with, I mean you can look at the offensive numbers, you can look at how his pitching staff has been successful, but it’s the way he plays the game, and the intensity he brings. … How bad we wanted him, and how he was such a great fit in this ballpark and in this lineup, and how the leadership qualities that he had would play very well here.”
“We were on him right when the season ended. It was a pretty predictable move, I think anybody who follows this game recognized the Yankees needed an upgrade at catcher, number one, and that this particular catcher, offensive especially, profiles for this ballpark — left-handed with flyball characteristics in his bat — so this is a real perfect fit, and hopefully he’ll a long productive career here that continues with the Yankees. I had a lot of conversations with his agent, BB Abbott, and we shared with him like we shared with all free agents that we’re gonna be very aggressive. We want to move sooner than later, and if you’re ready not just to do the dance, but agree, we’re ready to rock and roll. We don’t want to mess around. We made a significant offer that clearly got their attention and led them to say, let’s fly up and meet.”
“You just know it’s a winning organization (with) tradition, but when I got to meet the people behind that, it was a big reason why I wanted to be here to be a big part of this process. I went to dinner with them, it turned into a three-hour dinner. We got to talk a lot. They got to know who I was as a person, and I got to know them. It was a perfect match, a perfect fit. … When the Yankees call you and you go through the process I went through, you leave blown away. There’s a reason they’re the New York Yankees. You walk in here, everything’s bigger. They put attention to detail on everything. They make you feel the way that you want to feel. … I wanted to be on the East Coast. I wanted somewhere where family was a big deal and right away, family was so big around here. Just the perfect fit, what they were looking for from a player standpoint, what I was looking for in an organization. Once we met for dinner, I think both sides were excited.”
Associated Press photos
You all know that I love the West Wing, and I’m especially fond of President Bartlet’s ability to move on quickly with a two-word catch phrase: “What’s next?” That phrase kept popping into my head during today’s Brian McCann press conference because, let’s face it, he’s last month’s news. What’s next is Robinson Cano.
“At the end of the day, usually it just comes down to the financials and where we sit versus the field,” Brian Cashman said. “I don’t know what the field is doing and how they’re doing and what people are willing to do. I just know, at the end of the day, we will have — or have put forward already — offers that we are very comfortable with and higher than where we thought we would be to try to retain him.”
The Mariners have emerged as an aggressive candidate for Cano. One report today suggests they’re willing to go up to $230-240 million to sign him. Another reports says they’ve made an offer no higher than $200 million. Either of those figures seems higher than the Yankees want to go.
“Look, we’re still talking,” Hal Steinbrenner said this afternoon. “Nobody has given up. We’re still talking, but obviously we’re a decent distance apart. We’re just going to have to see, day by day. That’s all we can do. … Robbie has been a great Yankee, Robbie is a great player. We’re going to keep plugging away at it until it either happens or it doesn’t. There’s only two options, right? Only two possibilities here.”
Cashman said he met with Jay Z in person some time after last month’s GM Meetings. Conversations, Cashman said, have been ongoing. The Yankees are certainly giving every indication that they still have enough money budgeted to give Cano a significant contract and still stay beneath $189 million in total payroll.
“It’s an absolute goal, yes,” Steinbrenner said. “I think we could do it, but it’s not going to come at the expense of fielding a good team. Right now we’re still under it. Right now we’ve still got a decent amount to spend, quite frankly, and we’re going to. We’re going to put it back into the team the way we always do.”
• McCann basically announced the Jacoby Ellsbury signing during his official press conference, and Joe Girardi talked about Ellsbury as if he were already on the official roster. Cashman, though, wouldn’t confirm the signing, saying he could only talk about moves that are officially completed.
• Girardi made it clear that he expects to play both Ellsbury and Brett Gardner next season. “I think it gives you obviously tremendous defense in your outfield, where these guys are going to cover a lot of ground,” Girardi said. “They both can put a lot of pressure on a pitcher when they’re on the base paths, and their ability to go from first to third or first to home on a number of base hits. We think Jacoby’s home run total will probably rise a little bit playing in this park compared to Fenway. Yeah, I’m excited to have both of them.”
• It seems Alfonso Soriano will have to slide into right field fairly often, but Girardi wasn’t willing to commit to that. “That’s something that internally we’re going to have to talk about,” Girardi said. “This has happened pretty quickly with Ellsbury, and I haven’t had a chance to talk with Brian about what our plans are in the outfield, but it’s something we’re going to have to evaluate, yes.”
• Presumably because of the Ellsbury signing, Cashman was asked whether he has plans of trading Ichiro Suzuki. “Do I have any plans to trade Ichiro?” Cashman said. “I wouldn’t comment other than the fact we’re trying to improve our club in every which way. But there’s really nothing more I can add on that.”
• As they’ve said all winter, the Yankees once again declared Derek Jeter to be their starting shortstop for next season. “Nobody is going to work harder to get back than him, we know that,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re not going to know (about his progress) until Spring Training. He’s our starting shortstop right now.”
• With Hiroki Kuroda clearly a target at this point, isn’t there some concern about his brutal final month or so? “I think that’s the wear and tear, and us maybe having to push him a little harder than we wanted to,” Girardi said. “I think he’ll be okay. He seemed to respond pretty well coming back last year.”
• The Yankees say they’re looking for relievers, but whether they’ll go after a closer remains to be seen. “(Dave Robertson)’s obviously going to get every opportunity right now, as it stands,” Girardi said. “I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen as we move forward here, but he’s going to get every opportunity. … It’s a new role for whoever comes in. I can’t tell you that the closer won’t be signed, and I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. But right now he’s the favorite.”
• Clearly McCann is an offensive catcher, but Girardi said he’s sold on McCann’s defense. He bases some of that on the success and improvements of the Atlanta pitching staff through the years, but Girardi also gained confidence based on conversations with McCann. “We talked about how he likes to study hitters, and his approach to doing it,” Girardi said. “We talked about having to make in-game adjustments. We talked about the other hitters that you have months and months of statistics, but how sometimes how important it is to watch what they’ve been doing the last week or two as well. Sometimes guys will chase pitches they wouldn’t normally chase when they’re in a rut. We see hitters go into slumps, and it’s important that you recognize short term and long term, and what your pitcher has. And I think he knows how to do that.”
• The Yankees made no secret — why would they? — that they’re intrigued by the idea of McCann’s left-handed pull approach in Yankee Stadium. “If you look at my career, a lot of my fly balls go right-center field, sometimes down the left-field line,” McCann said. “But the majority of my home runs go to right field. In Atlanta, you sometimes have to pick your count and kind of cheat to hit a home run. (Playing in Yankee Stadium) is going to make me a better all around hitter.”
• McCann will wear No. 34. He wore No. 16 in Atlanta, but that wasn’t available with the Yankees. So how did he choose No. 34? No kidding, he said it’s because Eric O’Flaherty and Derek Lowe wore that number, and he really liked playing with those two guys. “There are a lot of numbers retired here,” McCann said. “There’s slim pickens.”
• Any hesitation to enter the New York media circus? “Not at all,” McCann said. “I welcome that. When you grow up, you want to play this game at the highest level. The Major Leagues is that, and this is an extra step. Everything you do is magnified. But what a great opportunity it is, a great opportunity.”
• Final word might as well go to Steinbrenner, who was asked about the team’s roster priorities going forward: “I think at this point, we’ve added a great catcher,” he said. “We need more hitting, we know that. That was our Achilles heel to a certain extent, not to mention injuries, last year. We need more hitting, but we also haven’t signed Kuroda, he’s still out there. There’s a few other pitchers out there. We’re not done with pitching, one way or the other, that’s for sure. We need another bat or two.”
Associated Press photos
Just got back from the Brian McCann press conference, which was more of a Yankees-in-general media event than a McCann-specific situation. McCann was the star of a show — he did a press conference, then a lengthy sit-down session with print media — but Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi were asked a lot of questions that had little to do with the Yankees new catcher.
Predictably, very little news came out of those questions.
Steinbrenner said the Yankees still have a lot of money to spend and every intention to spend it. I’m not sure he used the exact words “goal not a mandate,” but he certainly stuck with that stance regarding the $189-million plan.
Girardi spoke fairly openly about Jacoby Ellsbury, though Cashman refused to confirm that the Yankees have signed the center fielder. Girardi said he likes the idea of having both Ellsbury and Brett Gardner in the same outfield and in the same lineup. He likes having such an overwhelming speed element, but acknowledged that he’s still not sure who will play right field. It’s possible Alfonso Soriano will be there, but Girardi indicated that the Yankees aren’t positive Soriano can play the position.
McCann seemed like a good guy. He said he was overwhelmed during a visit to Yankee Stadium earlier this winter. He met with several members of the front office, had a lengthy get-to-know-you dinner, and spoke on the phone with Mark Teixeira. McCann said it was important for him to stay on the East Coast, and he was sold on the Yankees commitment to winning and family. His wife, children, brothers, parents and in-laws were all at the press conference.
As for actual news, the most significant news was probably something I’ve already mentioned: Cashman gave every indication that he’s expecting to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda.
“We have a need for starting pitching, and I would love to retain Kuroda,” Cashman said. “I have maintained dialogue with Steve Hilliard, his agent. We’ve had a great relationship and healthy dialogue so far. I believe he wants to come back, and we’re trying to make that happen, but I have nothing to show for that yet.”
So, Kuroda definitely wants to come back?
“Yes, he wants to come back,” Cashman said. “He’s going to pitch, but whether he’s going to pitch here or Japan or somewhere else here (in the United States), I don’t know yet, but all indications are he is definitely interested in coming back to the Yankees. That’s the indication, but there’s no guarantee.”
Associated Press photo