The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Back on the job, Brian Cashman has plenty of work to do

Tony Pena, Brian Cashman

After missing the playoffs two years in a row, Brian Cashman was given a vote of confidence last week in the form of a new three-year contract. He’ll be given an opportunity to get the Yankees back on track, and there’s a lot of work to be done. In no particular order, here are 10 things Cashman has to do between now and the start of spring training:

David RobertsonMake a decision on Dave Robertson – Qualifying offer? Multi-year contract? Transition to Dellin Betances in the ninth? One way or another, the Yankees have to make a Robertson decision fairly quickly. Qualifying offers have to be in place by the fifth day after the World Series. There’s really no one else who stands out as a qualifying offer candidate, but the Robertson decision is a big one.

Sort through the mid-season additions – The Yankees get the first crack at their own free agents. This winter, that means having the right to early discussions with a bunch of guys who weren’t around for very long last season but could be worthwhile targets this offseason. Brandon McCarthy was terrific after the mid-season trade from Arizona. Is he the kind of guy to stabilize a rotation full of uncertainty? What about bringing Chase Headley back to play third base, pushing Alex Rodriguez to designated hitter? Is Stephen Drew a buy-low option at shortstop? Could Chris Young be a right-handed fourth outfielder after his surprising month of September? He wasn’t a mid-season addition, but it’s also worth reaching out to Hiroki Kuroda to get a feel for his plans going forward. The Yankees get the first chance to talk to these guys. Might as well take advantage of it.

Trim the excess from the roster – Mostly this means finding a home for the Yankees catching depth. Essentially the Yankees are carrying three players — Francisco Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine — for one big league job and possibly a role as Triple-A depth. Would be better to flip that abundance for something more useful. Could do the same with some of the team’s solid young pitching. Might even be worth shopping around some of the team’s young left-handed outfielders.

Choose the next shortstop – Maybe this is an oversimplification, but to some extent this is what it comes down to: pick a guy and go get him. Maybe that’s a buy-low option on Drew. Maybe it’s a risk signing of Hanley Ramirez. Maybe it’s some free agent in between or a trade possibility that makes sense. Ultimately, weigh the cost and the production and make a choice. Someone gets to be the next shortstop of the New York Yankees. Go find him.

Pick your battles with roster openings – The everyday lineup really has only two holes: shortstop and designated hitter. If Rodriguez is going to be the designated hitter, then third base is open. Bottom line is, though, the Yankees aren’t going to go out and spend big money on a third baseman, and a right fielder and a designated hitter. They’re not going to put $10 million a year into a bench player. So they have to pick their battles when it comes to finding the right pieces. Same with the pitching staff. Is it worth going all in on a guy like Max Scherzer or is it more practical to sign rotation depth and trust that Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda can be the Nos. 1-2 starters next season?

Mark TeixeiraCheck on veteran players (then check again) – As a matter of course the Yankees will check in with guys like Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran to find out how they’re doing, but given the nagging injury problems that impacted the lineup last season, those routine status checks seem to carry significant meaning this offseason. Is Teixeira feeling stronger? Is Beltran back to his old self after surgery? How’s CC Sabathia’s knee (and how are his early bullpens going)? Is Tanaka feeling anything in that elbow? Is Ivan Nova still progressing as planned? What in the world is going on with A-Rod? The motto has to be: no surprises on the day spring training opens.

Fill out the coaching staff – The Yankees decided that Kevin Long was no longer the man for the job, and they decided to get rid of all-time nice guy Mick Kelleher to further change the dynamics of the staff. Clearly the Yankees did this with some alternatives in mind. Bring Mike Harkey back and adjust the staff accordingly? Reunite Joe Girardi with his old friend Dante Bichette (another hitting coach with a son in the minor league system)? Maybe get Frank Menechino back in the system? Push popular Triple-A manager Dave Miley into the mix? The Yankees decided to make a change. Firing guys was step one. Time for step two.

Build depth from the outside — There are key prospects who could break through into Triple-A either late next season or in early 2016, but for the time being, the Yankees might have to supplement their depth with smart low-risk signings. Cashman’s usually be very good at this — just this year he found some help from minor league free agents Yangervis Solarte and Zelous Wheeler — and he might have to do it again. Maybe a reunion with a Scott Sizemore-type who could add some experienced third base depth? Almost certainly going to need a Triple-A shortstop who could step into a big league bench role if need be.

Protect the Rule 5 eligible prospects – Quite often, the significant Rule 5 decisions are fairly easy. Top prospects are definitely protected, then the team picks and chooses among the more fringy players. This winter, though, the Yankees face a particularly curious choice about gifted but under-performing prospect Mason Williams. The team also has to choose among a fairly large group of upper level relievers that could follow Tommy Kahnle’s path out of the organization and into another team’s bullpen.

Put someone in charge of the minor leagues – Mark Newman, the Yankees longtime vice president of player development, is retiring this fall. That leaves the Yankees with a significant void in their front office, and Cashman will surely be involved in the search for the next executive to oversee the farm system. Things will roll along pretty smoothly for a while, but someone needs to step into that role pretty soon. It’s a big job for an organization that desperately needs to get more production out of its minor leaguers.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 8:59 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Week in review: Change and status quo

Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi

Just a few days after the Yankees season came to an end, Hal Steinbrenner went on the radio and made it clear he wanted to re-sign general manager Brian Cashman.

He said no such thing about the Yankees coaching staff.

On Friday, less than two weeks into a disappointingly long offseason, the Yankees signed Cashman to a new three-year contract. They also fired hitting coach Kevin Long and first-base coach Mick Kelleher.

“Being in my chair, I’m responsible for it all — offense, defense and pitching,” Cashman said. “I’ve got to find a way to get our fan base back to enjoying October sooner than later.”

While Cashman might take responsibility, it was Long and Kelleher who took the fall for the Yankees failure to reach the postseason for a second consecutive season. The Yankees offense finished 13th in the American League in runs scored. Cashman said the Yankees would look for a new “voice” at pitching coach. Replacing Kelleher, it seems, was more about opening a spot to change the dynamic of the staff as a whole.

“As you change the dynamic of the staff, it has to come at the expense of some personnel,” Cashman said. “In this case, it’s Mick. There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward, (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff. That despite Mick’s high qualities, some of the people I’m interested in talking to will do the same.”

For Cashman, it’s a chance to stay in the role he’s held since 1998. A three-year extension could give him a full 20 years as Yankees general manager.

“Being in this chair for 17 years, I’d say every winter has got its challenges,” Cashman said. “I don’t feel that this one is any different in terms of challenges. The bottom line is, we want to maintain our strengths and attack our weaknesses. To be able to do that, you’ve got to go to the available player talent pool, both in the trade market, your farm system as well as the free agent market. From there, hopefully put things together that’s going to play well. Obviously we know from our fan base’s perspective that we need to do better than we’ve done for the past two years.”

Alex Rodriguez• While Joe Girardi has said he hopes to have Alex Rodriguez starting at third base next season, Cashman made it clear that he’s not banking on it. “I think it’s best to assume that we should have contingencies in place,” Cashman said. “I don’t think it’s safe to assume that he can play third base.”

• Cashman revealed that Girardi has talked to Rodriguez about getting some work at first base, presumably as a backup to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees lacked a true backup first baseman throughout this season, and it cost them when Teixeira missed time with nagging injuries.

• Cashman would not tip his hand regarding plans for free agent Dave Robertson. The Yankees have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to their closer. “What happens as we move forward with him and the qualifying offer is yet to be determined,” Cashman said.

• With all the other coaches still under contract, Cashman indicated that he does not expect to make any other coaching staff changes. “If we choose to make any other changes we’ll let you know,” Cashman said. “Otherwise everything is status quo until then.”

• The Yankees still need to find a new shortstop, and one option came off the table when the Orioles signed J.J. Hardy to a three-year contract extension with a option for a fourth year. The free agent market is still relatively deep at the position.

• Qualifying offers will be set at $15.3 million according to a report by The Associated Press. That’s a raise of almost a million from last year.

• World Series rings and MVP plaques were stolen from the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. Not cool, people. Not cool at all.

• Forbes named the Yankees the most valuable team brand in all of sports. So that’s nice.

• YES Network announced that viewership was up this season. Specifically, game viewership jumped 15 percent from last year. Amazing the difference Derek Jeter can make.

• The Arizona Fall League got started, and Greg Bird got off to a terrific start.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

National League Championship Series gets started tonight

Santiago Casilla, Tim Hudson

Again from the good people over at The Associated Press, here’s a breakdown of the National League Championship Series, which gets started tonight in St. Louis.

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Schedule (all times EDT)
Game 1, Today, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.)
Game 2, Sunday, Oct. 12, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.)
Game 3, Tuesday, Oct. 14, at San Francisco (4:07 p.m.)
Game 4, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.)
Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 16, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.)
Game 6, Saturday, Oct. 18, at St. Louis (4:07 p.m.)
Game 7, Sunday, Oct. 19, at St. Louis (7:37 p.m.).
All games on Fox or FS1.

Season Series: Giants won 4-3.

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Matt AdamsProjected Lineup

Giants: CF Gregor Blanco (.260, 5 HRs, 38 RBIs), 2B Joe Panik (.305, 1, 18), C Buster Posey (.311, 22, 89), 3B Pablo Sandoval (.279, 16, 73), RF Hunter Pence (.277, 20, 74), 1B Brandon Belt (.243, 12, 27), LF Travis Ishikawa (.252, 3, 18 with Pirates and Giants) or Michael Morse (.279, 16, 61), SS Brandon Crawford (.246, 10, 69).

Cardinals: 3B Matt Carpenter (.272, 8, 59), CF Jon Jay (.303, 3, 46), LF Matt Holliday (.272, 20, 90), SS Jhonny Peralta (.263, 21, 75), 1B Matt Adams (.288, 15, 68), C Yadier Molina (.282, 7, 38), 2B Kolten Wong (.249, 12, 41, 20 SBs), RF Randal Grichuk (.245, 3, 8) or Oscar Taveras (.239, 3, 22).

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Projected Rotation

Giants: LH Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA, 219 Ks, 217 1-3 IP), RH Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73 ERA with Boston and San Francisco), RH Tim Hudson (9-13, 3.57), RH Ryan Vogelsong (8-13, 4.00).

Cardinals: RH Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38, 227 IP, 3 shutouts, 5 CGs), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74), RH John Lackey (14-10, 3.82 with Red Sox and Cardinals), RH Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74).

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Bullpens

Giants: RH Santiago Casilla (3-3, 1.70, 19/23 saves), RH Sergio Romo (6-4, 3.72, 23/28 saves), LH Jeremy Affeldt (4-2, 2.28), LH Javier Lopez (1-1, 3.11), RH Jean Machi (7-1, 2.58, 2 saves), RH Hunter Strickland (1-0, 0.00 in 9 games), RH Yusmeiro Petit (5-5, 3.69 in 39 games, 12 starts), RH Tim Lincecum (12-9, 4.74, 1 save in 33 games, 26 starts).

Cardinals: RH Trevor Rosenthal (2-6, 3.20, 45/51 saves), RH Pat Neshek (7-2, 1.87, 6 saves), LH Marco Gonzales (4-2, 4.15 in 10 games, 5 starts), RH Seth Maness (6-4, 2.91, 3 saves), LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.61), RH Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.03, 1 save), LH Randy Choate (2-2, 4.50), RH Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.20 in 19 starts).

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Matchups

These teams have dominated the National League this decade, combining for the past four pennants and three World Series titles. The Giants won it all in 2010 and 2012, and the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 before losing to Boston last season. … St. Louis leads the majors with 30 postseason wins over the past five seasons, while San Francisco is second with 26. … This is the fourth NLCS meeting between these teams, with the Cardinals winning in seven games in 1987 and the Giants taking a five-game series in 2002 and a seven-gamer in 2012. San Francisco rallied from 3-1 down two years ago, outscoring St. Louis 20-1 over the final three games to spoil the Cardinals’ bid for a repeat title under first-year manager Mike Matheny. The Giants have six regulars, two starters and five relievers still on the roster from that series. … Posey and Pence struggled in the 2012 NLCS. Posey hit .154 with no extra-base hits and Pence batted .179. Vogelsong won both his starts, allowing two runs in 14 innings. … The Giants won three of four in St. Louis this year and lost two of three at home vs. the Cardinals. … Molina is 4 for 25 in his career against Vogelsong. … Bumgarner pitched seven scoreless innings in his first game vs. the Cardinals this season and allowed five runs over five innings in the rematch. … Molina threw out nearly half the runners (21 of 44) who tried to steal against him this year. … The 39-year-old Hudson has reached an LCS for the first time in his 16 major league seasons.

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NLDS Nationals Giants BaseballBig Picture

Giants: After winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012, the Giants (88-74) are hoping to make every other year a pattern. San Francisco missed the playoffs following each of those championships but got back this season as the second NL wild-card team. … The Giants advanced by beating Pittsburgh 8-0 in the wild-card game behind a four-hitter from Bumgarner and a grand slam by Crawford. San Francisco then knocked off NL East champion Washington in four games in the NLDS, winning three one-run games and an 18-inning epic during a low-scoring series that featured only 18 runs. … The Giants have won 11 of their past 12 postseason games under manager Bruce Bochy, including six straight on the road. … After relying on stellar pitching during those two title runs, the Giants are more balanced this year, finishing fifth in the NL in runs and seventh in ERA. But the starting pitching has stepped up in the playoffs, with a 1.04 ERA through five games. … Workhorse RHP Matt Cain made just 15 starts because of a season-ending elbow injury, and two-time Cy Young Award winner Lincecum was removed from the rotation and has not appeared in the playoffs. … Bumgarner is a threat at the plate, batting .258 with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .470 slugging percentage this season. The last pitcher to have more RBIs in a season was Mike Hampton with 16 in 2001 for Colorado. … Panik is hitting .345 since Aug. 4 and provided a big spark with his midseason call-up. … Posey batted .393 in September but was slowed during the final week of the season with a bad back. … Hudson will pitch in his first LCS at age 39 after being on teams that lost seven times in the Division Series. … Morse has just two at-bats since Aug. 31 because of a strained oblique but could be ready for this series.

Cardinals: Steady as can be, the Cardinals have reached the postseason four years in a row for the first time in franchise history. And they don’t stop there. This is St. Louis’ fourth consecutive trip to the NLCS and ninth in 15 seasons. … The Cardinals (90-72) held off Pittsburgh by two games to repeat as NL Central champs. Then they beat Clayton Kershaw twice in a playoff series for the second straight year and eliminated the Dodgers again, this time 3-1 in the NLDS. Last season, St. Louis defeated Los Angeles in an NLCS that lasted six games. … The final two wins against the Dodgers were low-scoring games, but there was just enough timely hitting — and some long-dormant power has finally emerged. Adams batted .190 against lefties but diligent work on the curveball machine sharpened him for his homer off Kershaw in the crucial at-bat of Game 4. … Wainwright is one of baseball’s elite starters and probably was the MVP of a team that was inconsistent offensively. He was well-rested for his Game 1 matchup with Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, but both aces faltered as St. Louis won 10-9 in a surprising slugfest. … The rotation is deep and the back end of the bullpen has been solid, too. The side-arming Neshek worked a perfect eighth in the last two games, rebounding from a spate of ineffectiveness at the end of the season and early in the Dodgers series. … Wacha struggled to regain his form following a two-month stint on the DL due to a shoulder injury. After taking home NLCS MVP honors as a rookie last season, he was parked in the bullpen during this year’s NLDS and did not pitch. … Gonzales, a 22-year-old rookie drafted in the first round out of Gonzaga last year, threw three scoreless innings against the Dodgers and went 2-0 in relief. … The 35-year-old Lackey came on strong down the stretch and showed his big-game bonafides with seven stingy innings in a Game 3 win over Los Angeles. … In his first full season as a closer, Rosenthal was among the game’s best, giving hitters more to worry about than just a fastball that tickles triple digits. He saved all three playoff wins against the Dodgers. … Molina’s return for the final month of the season from a torn thumb ligament was a plus, even though he wasn’t that productive at the plate. … Peralta is one of baseball’s best-hitting shortstops and had a big second half in his first season with St. Louis. … The Cardinals were 51-30 at home and 39-42 on the road.

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Watch For:

— Time Warp. Working on 10 days’ rest, Wainwright threw up a dud in the Division Series opener when he was tagged for six runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings at Dodger Stadium. There’s some concern that he didn’t have much life on his pitches in that game, perhaps a result of fatigue from being such a reliable innings-eater all year. But he was 5-0 in September with a 1.38 ERA and two complete games. He lost twice to the Giants during the season, including his shakiest outing of the year in May when he was rocked for seven runs in 4 1-3 innings. Wainwright will have seven days off before facing Bumgarner in Game 1.

— Leadoff Loss. The Giants miss Angel Pagan’s bat at the top of the lineup. He batted .304 from the leadoff spot this season, fifth-highest in the majors. Blanco has struggled in his place, going 2 for 22 in the playoffs and batting just .213 from the No. 1 spot in the regular season, the second-lowest mark in the big leagues.

— Power Surge. After totaling a paltry 105 homers this season, second-fewest in the majors ahead of only Kansas City, the Cardinals finally flexed their muscles in the Division Series. They belted seven homers in four games, including five by left-handed hitters off Dodgers lefties. Carpenter, who had eight homers in the regular season, joined Albert Pujols (2004) as the only Cardinals players to homer in three consecutive postseason games. Carpenter made the most of his six hits, totaling seven RBIs.

— Potent Panda. Sandoval has keyed San Francisco’s postseason success during the past two trips, even after having his 14-game postseason hitting streak snapped in the clincher vs. the Nationals. Kung Fu Panda is batting .368 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 18 postseason games. That includes his three-homer performance in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit on the way to MVP honors.

— Late-Night Lightning. The Cardinals scored eight runs in the seventh inning to stun Kershaw in the NLDS opener and totaled one hit before their rally in the seventh during the Game 4 clincher. In the 2011 World Series, they were down to their last strike before beating Texas in Game 6, and in the 2012 playoffs they shocked Washington late before falling short against the Giants.

— Vogel-Strong. Vogelsong started the clincher in the Division Series, allowing one run in 5 2-3 innings. That made him the only pitcher in MLB history to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. Curt Schilling is the only pitcher to have a longer streak at any point in his career, going six straight postseason starts allowing one run or less from 1993-2001. The 37-year-old Vogelsong, a journeyman who was out of the majors from 2007-10, finally found his niche in 2011 with San Francisco, the team that originally drafted him. He has a 1.19 postseason ERA, and the Giants have won all five of his starts.

— Postseason Pedigree. Last fall, Lackey became the first pitcher to start and win a World Series clincher for two different teams when he pitched Boston past St. Louis. The other came as an Angels rookie in 2002. He has a 2.92 ERA in 20 postseason games and seven wins, one in each of his last four series.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 7:05 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Baseball’s offseason schedule ahead

Yankees Astros Spring Baseball

Now that the Yankees have their general manager in place, here’s a quick look at the rough offseason schedule ahead.

Oct. 21 — World Series begins, city of American League champion.

Nov. TBA — Deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their eligible former players who became free agents, fifth day after World Series.

Nov. TBA — Deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers, 12th day after World Series.

Nov. 10-12 — General managers’ meetings, Phoenix.

Nov. 19-20 — Owners’ meetings, Kansas City, Missouri.

Dec. 2 — Last day for teams to offer 2015 contracts to unsigned players.

Dec. 8-11 — Winter meetings, San Diego.

Dec. 8 — Hall of Fame golden era (1947-72) vote announced, San Diego.

Jan. 13 — Salary arbitration filing.

Jan. 16 — Salary arbitration figures exchanged.

Feb. 19 — Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.

Feb. 1-21 — Salary arbitration hearings, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Feb. 24 — Voluntary reporting date for other players.

March 3 — Mandatory reporting date.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 12:45 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees look to “change the dynamic” of their coaching staff

Kevin Long, Robinson CanoHard to say how much of a team’s success or failure depends on a hitting coach. Even harder to define the impact of a first base coach or an infield instructor.

In announcing on Friday that both Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher were being fired, general manager Brian Cashman stopped short of blaming them for the Yankees shortcomings, but he made it clear that the organization felt the need to make some sort of change.

“We let the season play out, let everybody put all hands in,” Cashman said. “We were able to fix a number of issues, but the one issue we couldn’t fix was the offense.”

It was Long who seemed most on the hot seat after the Yankees finished 13th in the American League in runs scored. That said, it’s only fair to mention that through Long’s first six years as hitting coach, the Yankees were consistently among the highest-scoring teams in the game.

“I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything,’” Cashman said. “I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”

So the Yankees know they’ve had success with Long in the past, and they seem happy with the work he did this season. The decision to fire him is where the vagaries of the job come into play.

Was Carlos Beltran’s bad season because of the coaching he received or because of the bone spur in his elbow? Could a different hitting coach have gotten more out of Mark Teixeira or has Teixeira simply declined as a hitter? Is there someone who can better teach Brian McCann to beat the shift, or is he simply a player susceptible to defensive adjustments?

“I don’t make changes lightly,” Cashman said. “I’ve never made a coaching change in-season. Not one. It takes a lot for me to make some adjustments, and obviously the belief is always to try to find better and upgrade if I can. It’s tough because I know Kevin’s good at what he does. I believe (that), but I’m looking for a different voice maybe with a different message and approach to some degree. It’s my job to continue to find different ways to improve upon the offensive side. That will be from some internal options, some external options, and obviously by today’s conversation, it’s also going to be from a change in the leadership from the dugout.”

An overall change in leadership also seems to be at the root of the Kelleher decision. A wildly popular personality in the clubhouse, Kelleher was responsible for an infield that played poor defense in the first half of the season, yet Cashman made it clear that he placed the defensive blame on the players themselves. Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts simply were not a good defensive group in the first half.

“I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies,” Cashman said. “That was personnel related.”

It seems, then, that the decision to let Kelleher go was about opening a spot for a new addition as much as anything.

“I think the overall direction of the staff as we move forward will be better served with some personnel that we’re going to interview,” Cashman said. “As you change the dynamic of the staff, it has to come at the expense of some personnel. In this case, it’s Mick. There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff. That despite Mick’s high qualities, some of the people I’m interested in talking to will do the same. I don’t want to go into any specifics. I think Mick is good at what he does, he’s a good infield instructor and he’s very positive, but there are some more things that I want to add to the staff with Joe Girardi. And in my dialogue with Joe, we look forward to interviewing some personnel that can bring those things to the table.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

American League Championship Series gets started tonight

Alex Gordon

From the good folks at The Associated Press, here’s a quick look at the American League Championship Series, which starts tonight in Baltimore.

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Schedule: (all times EDT)
Game 1, Tonight, at Baltimore (8:07 p.m.)
Game 2, Saturday, at Baltimore (4:07 p.m.)
Game 3, Monday, Oct. 13, at Kansas City (8:07 p.m.)
Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Kansas City (8:07 p.m.)
Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at Kansas City (4:07 p.m.)
Game 6, Friday, Oct. 17, at Baltimore (8:07 p.m.)
Game 7, Saturday, Oct. 18, at Baltimore (8:07 p.m.).
All games on TBS

Season Series: Royals won 4-3.

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Eric HosmerProjected Lineups

Royals: SS Alcides Escobar (.285, 3 HRs, 50 RBIs, 31 SBs), RF Nori Aoki (.285, 1, 43, 17 SBs), CF Lorenzo Cain (.301, 5, 53, 28 SBs), 1B Eric Hosmer (.270, 9, 58), DH Billy Butler (.271, 9, 66), LF Alex Gordon (.266, 19, 74, 12 SBs), C Salvador Perez (.260, 19, 70), 2B Omar Infante (.252, 6, 66), 3B Mike Moustakas (.212, 15, 54).

Orioles: RF Nick Markakis (.276, 14, 50), LF Alejandro De Aza (.252, 8, 41 with White Sox and Orioles), CF Adam Jones (.281, 29, 96), DH Nelson Cruz (.271, MLB-best 40, 108), 1B Steve Pearce (.293, 21, 49), SS J.J. Hardy (.268, 9, 52), 3B Ryan Flaherty (.221, 7, 32), C Nick Hundley (.243, 6, 22 in 218 ABs with Padres and Orioles) or Caleb Joseph (.207, 9, 28), 2B Jonathan Schoop (.209, 16, 45).

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Projected Rotations

Royals: RH James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA, 227 IP, 180 Ks), RH Yordano Ventura (14-10, 3.20, 159 Ks), LH Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.71, 128 Ks), RH Jeremy Guthrie (13-11, 4.13, 202 2-3 IP, 124 Ks).

Orioles: RH Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34, 150 Ks), LH Wei-Yin Chen (16-6, 3.54), RH Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65), RH Miguel Gonzalez (10-9, 3.23).

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Relievers

Royals: RH Greg Holland (1-3, 1.44, 46/48 saves), RH Wade Davis (9-2, 1.00), RH Kelvin Herrera (4-3, 1.41), LH Brandon Finnegan (0-1, 1.29 in 7 games), RH Jason Frasor (3-0, 1.53), LH Danny Duffy (9-12, 2.53 ERA, 113 Ks in 31 games, 25 starts), LH Tim Collins (0-3, 3.86 in 22 games).

Orioles: LH Zach Britton (3-2, 1.65, 37/41 saves), RH Darren O’Day (5-2, 1.70, 4 saves), RH Tommy Hunter (3-2, 2.97, 11/17 saves), LH Andrew Miller (5-5, 2.02, 1 save in 73 games with Boston and Baltimore), RH Brad Brach (7-1, 3.18), LH Brian Matusz (2-3, 3.48), RH Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57 in 20 starts), RH Ubaldo Jimenez (6-9, 4.81 in 25 games, 22 starts).

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Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, David LoughMatchups

Though both clubs were perennial winners during the 1970s and early ’80s, this is their first meeting in the postseason. They played for the first time in 1969 after the Royals became an expansion team — Kansas City won that very first game, then Baltimore took the next 23. … Both squads will be well-rested (and maybe a little rusty) with four days off after finishing Division Series sweeps on Sunday. … Shields, who pitched for the Orioles’ AL East rival Tampa Bay from 2006-12, has plenty of experience against Baltimore. He was 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts against the O’s this year and is 11-7, 3.52 ERA in 26 career starts, including two shutouts. Markakis, 21 for 71 (.296) with two HRs and eight RBIs, and Jones, 14 for 46 (.304) with a homer and six RBIs, have the most success against Big Game James. … Tillman shut out the Royals in with a five-hitter in May, but he gave up 20 runs in four previous starts against them. Gordon has homered twice off Tillman in 13 at-bats. … The Orioles did not face Vargas this season. In eight games against him, they are hitting just .224 (46 for 205). Cruz, in his first season with Baltimore, had four homers and eight RBIs while hitting .333 (10 for 30) for Texas against Vargas. … Joseph gives the Orioles the best chance of slowing the Royals’ running game. He threw out 23 of 57 potential base stealers this year. Hundley nailed only 5 of 27. … Ventura struck out a combined 17 in two starts against the O’s this season. … The Royals are hitting .313 (47 for 150) with five homers against Chen in six games over his three-year major league career. Chen, a 16-game winner this year, held Kansas City to three runs in 12 1-3 innings in two games in 2014. … Kansas City is just 9 for 46 (.196) against Norris. Still, Norris was outpitched by Duffy — relegated to the bullpen so far this postseason — in a 1-0 loss in May.

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Big Picture

Royals: After ending a 29-year postseason drought, the Royals (89-73) continued their winning ways in the playoffs. They rallied twice in the AL wild-card game for a thrilling 9-8 victory in 12 innings against Oakland, then won their first two ALDS games on the road against the Los Angeles Angels in 11 innings on homers by Moustakas and Hosmer. That made Kansas City the first major league team to win three straight extra-inning playoff games. The series clincher was much easier, an 8-3 victory at home for a three-game sweep of the Angels, who had the best regular-season record in the majors at 98-64. … The Royals also took the last three games of the 1985 World Series against St. Louis, so they’ve won seven consecutive postseason games — in a span of three decades. … Kansas City wins with solid starting pitching, a nasty bullpen, daring on the basepaths and sensational defense. Baseball fundamentals. During the regular season, KC ranked last in the majors with 95 home runs but first with 153 steals. … The speedy Royals swiped seven bags in the wild-card game against the A’s, including one that helped set up the tying run in the 12th inning. Cain made a series of spectacular defensive plays against the Angels, also thwarted by Aoki’s glove and the arm of reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Throw in the clutch homers by homegrown hitters Hosmer and Moustakas, and the rollin’ Royals certainly have some serious October mojo going under manager Ned Yost.

Orioles: After clinching their first AL East title in 17 years on Sept. 16, the Orioles (96-66) coasted to the finish. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter provided position players with ample rest and gave his pitchers an extra day off between starts. Although the Orioles went 5-6 down the stretch, Showalter deemed keeping the team fresh more important than carrying momentum into the postseason. … That strategy paid off in a three-game sweep of AL Central champion Detroit that put the Orioles in the ALCS for the first time since 1997. Baltimore is looking for its seventh pennant and first since 1983. Showalter, meanwhile, has reached the LCS for the first time in four postseason appearances. … This is only Baltimore’s second trip to the playoffs since 1997. The previous one, in 2012, ended with a Division Series loss in five games to the New York Yankees after the Orioles beat Texas in the wild-card game. … Baltimore is still missing three key players. All-Star catcher Matt Wieters had season-ending elbow surgery in May, 3B Manny Machado had season-ending knee surgery in August and 1B Chris Davis is serving a 25-game suspension for using amphetamines. Davis would be eligible to return in Game 6 of the ALCS, but it seems unlikely Baltimore would put him on the series roster and be willing to play a man short for five games. … Although the Orioles led the majors with 211 homers, pitching has been a big reason for their success. All four starters in the playoff rotation reached double figures in wins, and the back end of the bullpen has been solid, especially since Miller’s arrival on July 31.

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Watch For:

Lights Out Late. Both teams rely on stingy bullpens that were a key to their success early in the playoffs, so runs could be hard to come by in the late innings. Herrera left the ALDS opener against the Angels after five pitches with a strained forearm but tossed a scoreless inning in Game 3.

Cruz Control. A dangerous thumper all season, Cruz is often at his best in October. MVP of the 2011 ALCS with Texas, he owns a 1.059 OPS with 16 homers and 32 RBIs in 37 postseason games. Following the Biogenesis investigation, Cruz served a 50-game suspension last year with the Rangers for violating MLB’s drug agreement. Then he spurned a $14.1 million qualifying offer from Texas and took an $8 million, one-year deal with Baltimore, plus available bonuses. He had a much better year than even the Orioles could have imagined, carrying a depleted lineup at times, but his power production tailed off during the final two months of the season. He turned it back on once the playoffs began, going 6 for 12 with two homers, five RBIs and four runs in the sweep of Detroit, which started three straight Cy Young Award winners.

Managing Expectations. At the helm of his fourth big league team, the respected Showalter has a well-earned reputation as one of the game’s best team-builders and tacticians. It might seem he’s wound pretty tight, but no small detail escapes him. Yost, on the other hand, was once fired by Milwaukee in the middle of a September playoff race, and some of his curious moves have drawn the ire of Royals fans. With both bullpens stacked and the benches often in play, this could become an interesting chess match.

Karma, Baby. The Royals believe this is finally their time. They were counted out for much of the season, languishing below .500 on July 22. They were counted out again in the wild-card game before two late comebacks. Perhaps the same karma that won them Game 6 of the 1985 World Series — the infamous Don Denkinger call — has reared its head for a franchise that was downtrodden for decades. But the Orioles also waited a long time to taste success, and they’ve relished the underdog role while overcoming one obstacle after another this year.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 8:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman notes: Long, Kelleher, Rodriguez, Robertson

Just a few quick notes and some leftovers from today’s Brian Cashman conference call:

Masahiro Tanaka• Anything Kevin Long could have or should have done differently with this offense? “I think he tried everything in his power,” Cashman said. “By his own assessment, I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything.’ I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”

• On whether Mick Kelleher was to blame for the Yankees defensive problems in the first half: “That was more personnel-related,” Cashman said. “When we lost players like Cano, for instance, who was an exceptional defender, to free agency; or when we lost Alex to a suspension, for instance. We had Derek Jeter coming back, as well as Mark Teixeira, from injury. Those players possessed a certain amount of ability, and I think Mick addressed that to the best of his abilities. As we were able to acquire better defenders as the season went on and they presented themselves, we obviously improved our team defense. I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies. That was personnel related.”

• Interesting comment about the decision to get rid of Kelleher: “There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward, (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff.”

• The latest on Alex Rodriguez’s offseason workouts: “Matt Krause, our strength coach, just visited with him yesterday in Miami to continue the process that I talked to you all about in Boston at Fenway Park at the end of the season,” Cashman said. “That we’re going to be reconnecting with Alex, all of our staff. Alex reached out and said, ‘Hey, let’s start proactively doing that.’ That’s what Alex is about. He’s proactive and trying to put himself in the best position to be successful and hit the ground running when he gets reactivated.”

• On whether the Yankees want to bring back Dave Robertson or let Dellin Betances transition into the closer role: “What happens as we move forward with (Robertson) and the qualifying offer is yet to be determined,” Cashman said. “But we thank David, and we’re proud of what he’s done here and how he’s handled himself here. The final decision that has to be made here first and foremost is yet to be made. Because of that I don’t think it’s really fair to speculate on alternatives in house. It’s obviously a tough role, and if you’ve never done it, I’d answer that question the same way I answered it maybe to David’s anguish last year, all winter, where I would not assume that anybody could do that. It’s just not that type of role that you could guarantee someone can easily transition to.”

• Any other coaching changes coming? “These are the moves we’re making,” Cashman said. “And any other moves that we choose to make or want to pursue, obviously we’ll reveal them. If we choose to make any other changes we’ll let you know, otherwise everything is status quo until then.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 6:16 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman: It’s not safe to assume A-Rod can play third

Alex Rodriguez

During today’s conference call to discuss his new three-year contract, Brian Cashman made it clear that he’s approaching this offseason with the assumption that he needs someone other than Alex Rodriguez to play third base.

That might mean a free agent addition, might mean a trade acquisition, and it might mean a decision to trust either Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela to handle second base so that Martin Prado can shift over to third.

“I don’t think it’s safe to assume that (Rodriguez) can play third base,” Cashman said. “Obviously Alex has been a third baseman in years gone by. He missed obviously a full year. With his age and missing a full year, (the Yankees saw) how it affected Derek (Jeter), how it affected Mark Teixeira, for instance. You have some perspective. This is a very difficult game. Alex is up for that challenge, there’s no doubt about it, but I think that with Martin Prado here to provide flexibility, as well as potential acquisitions whether it’s free agents or maybe trades that present themselves over time, I think from the chair that I sit in, I think it’s safer to assume that might not be something that he can handle the whole year.”

So Rodriguez could be the third baseman, but it’s safer for the Yankees to proceed as if he might have to be a designated hitter (one who might be able to help out at first base from time to time).

“I’m open to pursuing third base options is what I’m saying,” Girardi said. “Alex can help us as an everyday third baseman, he can help us in a DH role, and I know Joe Girardi conveyed to me that he talked to him recently about getting some work at first base. … I’m just airing that I’m open to all options, and that could be from our own roster where we have two guys like a Refsnyder or a Pirela could be competing from our system for that everyday job at second, and maybe that pushes Prado over to third. It could be some free agent candidates, like some we have here like a Chase Headley that we could pursue. It could be other options.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 5:02 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Source: Long and Kelleher out as Yankees coaches

Kevin Long, Derek Jeter

I believe it was our friend Mark Feinsand who had it first…

A team source has confirmed that the Yankees have fired hitting coach Kevin Long and will not bring back infield coach/first base coach Mick Kelleher. Long had one year left on his contract. Kelleher’s contract expired at the end of the season.

Long is essentially taking the fall for an offense that ranked 13th in runs scored in the American League. Through much of his time as the Yankees hitting coach, Long’s lineups were among the most productive in baseball, but multiple veteran hitters underperformed his season. Kelleher is, I guess, taking the fall for the Yankees bad infield defense this season? To be fair, I’m not sure what he was supposed to do about it, but it’s hard to be surprised that the Yankees wanted to make changes somewhere.

When asked about the coaching staff earlier this month, neither Joe Girardi nor Hal Steinbrenner would commit to keeping everyone, seemingly setting the stage for today’s decisions.

UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: Brian Cashman has confirmed the changes to the coaching staff. “We will be making a change,” he said. “I talked to Mick and Kevin earlier today. I do not have replacements, but have some candidates clearly in mind I want to talk to.”

Cashman said that infield defense problems had to do with the players themselves, not Kelleher. He said infield defense is not the reason for making that particular change. Without going into specifics, Cashman said the Yankees felt the need to change some dynamics to the staff as a whole, and that’s the reason for the Kelleher decision.

As for Long, Cashman stated the obvious in saying that the offense simply never got going this season even after making mid-season additions. “I don’t think I can find someone who works harder or cares more,” Cashman said.

UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: My bad. Thought Kelleher was on a one-year deal, but Cashman says Kelleher was actually signed through 2015, so he has been fired rather than simply not retained. Cashman said the rest of the coaching staff is also signed through next season. For now, they’re expected to return.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 3:30 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees re-sign Brian Cashman to three-year contract

Here’s the official announcement from the team:

Joe Girardi, Brian CashmanThe New York Yankees today announced that the club has re-signed Brian Cashman to a three-year contract to serve as Senior Vice President and General Manager.

Cashman, 47, joined the Yankees organization in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the Minor League and Scouting Department and has served in his current role since February 3, 1998. In all, his clubs have earned a postseason berth in 14 of his 17 seasons as GM (1998-2007, ’09-12), claimed 12 Division titles, six American League championships and four World Series titles. His feat of reaching the playoffs in each of his first 10 seasons (1998-2007) remains unmatched in Baseball history.

Over the course of his time with the Yankees, he has earned five World Series rings, including four as General Manager, becoming the first GM to win four World Series titles since the Dodgers’ Buzzie Bavasi in the 1950s and ‘60s. He has earned his World Series titles with two managers – Joe Torre and Joe Girardi.

Cashman has the third-longest tenure among current general managers in Baseball (behind San Francisco’s Brian Sabean and Oakland’s Billy Beane) and is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Hall of Famer Ed Barrow led the team from October 28, 1920, to February 20, 1945.

He became the second-youngest General Manager in Baseball history when he was named to the post at age 30. In his first season in 1998, he became the youngest-ever GM to win a World Series. With subsequent championships in 1999 and 2000, he became the only GM in Baseball history to win world titles in each of his first three seasons. A pennant in 2001 gave him four straight League Championships, placing him alongside Barrow (1936-39, four) and fellow Yankees Hall of Famer George Weiss (1949-53, five) as the only GMs in Baseball history to win four-or-more straight league titles at any point in their careers.

Cashman’s lifetime winning percentage of .594 (1,633-1,117-2) is the highest of any General Manager with at least five seasons of experience since 1950, and marks the best team winning percentage in the Major Leagues since 1998.

His career as a full-time Yankees employee began following his graduation from Catholic University in 1989, when he became a full-time Assistant in Baseball Operations. He was later promoted and transferred to Tampa, Fla., where he served as Assistant Farm Director from 1990 to 1992. He returned to New York and became Assistant General Manager, Baseball Administration in November 1992.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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