The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Day 3 Yankees notes: A-Rod, relievers, infielders, Rule 512.10.14

Alex Rodriguez

Yankees strength coach Matt Krause was in Miami today to get an updated evaluation of Alex Rodriguez.

“He talked to (Rodriguez) maybe a month ago, maybe longer,” Cashman said. “And then he assessed him now. He’s working hard. Obviously he’s continuing to get ready for spring training, and he’s moving in the right direction.”

This was strictly a physical fitness evaluation, not an evaluation of baseball skills or performance.

“I know he’s weighing him in and stuff like that,” Cashman said. “Like all our players, he’s got a report weight that we’re hopeful they hit. He’s approaching that. He’s not at the spring training weight that we desire just yet, but there is progress, and he continues to tweak. Matt continues to tweak his conditioning program. They’re building a relationship. They don’t know each other, so that’s good (that they’re spending time together). This is not just Matt checking on Alex. He’s seeing McCann, Gardner, Ellsbury, all our guys. He’s going across meeting up with everybody.”

Chase HeadleyA few other notes from today’s Cashman media session:

Winter Meeting progress
Without getting into specifics, Cashman said he remains engaged with a bunch of trade and free agent possibilities. He’s been talking to Chase Headley, but wouldn’t say whether there’s been progress between the two sides. Cashman did say the pitching market is “going to go fast,” and the Yankees are obviously engaged with various starters and relievers.

“I honestly can tell you that we’re patient,” Cashman said. “We’re not going to do something that we don’t feel comfortable with.”

For whatever it’s worth, Cashman said he’s not planning to meet with the media before he flies back to New York tomorrow, and he said that’s because he’s not expecting the Yankees situation to change between now and then. But you really never know. The Yankees are clearly in serious talks with a wide range of possibilities, it’s just unclear whether any of those talks are going to lead to something in the next 18 hours or so.

Potential bullpen additions
Cashman wouldn’t comment on a report that he’s shown interest in former Giants closer Sergio Romo, but he made it clear that he’s still open to adding another piece to the bullpen.

“If it’s the right guy, I have no problem signing a (reliever) to a major league deal,” Cashman said. “If it’s the right guy; if it fits with everything else we’re also trying to accomplish. We also have a lot of good young arms. It’s just, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. We have trade opportunities, so it can come in a lot of different ways whether it’s from within, whether it’s non-roster invite, major league signing from the free agent market, or trade. It’s tough to say right now.”

Today’s infielder trades
The Dodgers traded second baseman Dee Gordon earlier today, and the Phillies are said to be finalizing a Jimmy Rollins trade. Cashman acknowledged that he checked on the availability of both players. He asked about Rollins early in the offseason and was told only that the asking price would be higher than the Yankees would be willing to pay. No names were discussed, the Phillies just made it clear they would need a ton in return (might have been a kind way of telling the Yankees that Rollins wouldn’t waive his no-trade to play in New York).

As for Gordon, that conversation happened this week. “I just said, ‘If you see any fits, let me know,’” Cashman said. “They were down the tracks with (the actual trade to Miami). This was yesterday or two days ago when his name surfaced as a potential move.”

Tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft
Sounds like the Yankees won’t take anyone in tomorrow’s draft. They have three spots open on the 40-man, but Cashman clearly plans to add at least three more players this offseason.

“As of right now, I don’t think I’ll be active in the Rule 5 draft,” Cashman said. “But I know our guys want to talk to me about some things. The certain amount of roster spots that we have, and we have a certain amount of needs still to fill, so I think those roster spots can go quickly because of our needs. I’m not sure that Rule 5 is going to make sense for us this year because of that.”

Reaction to Boras
Earlier today, Scott Boras said that Max Scherzer would give the Yankees a World Series caliber rotation. Cashman laughed when he heard the quote.

“Good,” he said. “That means he likes the four we’ve got.”

Associated Press photos

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Girardi keeping an eye on A-Rod this winter12.10.14

Alex Rodriguez

Joe Girardi has been watching video of the Yankees greatest mystery heading into next season, but even Girardi’s still not sure what to expect from Alex Rodriguez.

“We text, we email, we talk on the phone,” Girardi said. “We do different things, see videos. It’s been good. I know he’s working extremely hard. And that’s going to be a hot button in spring training, and we’ve just got to go through spring training and see where he’s at. He hasn’t played a lot in two years.”

Girardi said Rodriguez has been hitting, running and lifting — “a little bit of everything,” Girardi said — but it’s still to early to have a sense of how much he’s capable of doing next season. The Yankees are preparing for him to be a designated hitter, but they haven’t ruled out some time at third base and maybe a few reps at first base. Girardi said he doesn’t expect Rodriguez to work on first base this winter. If he’s going to get any time at the position, it will happen during spring training.

“I said, we’ll talk about it in spring training, because let’s see the makeup of our club,” Girardi said. “If we have another first baseman, if I want to give Tex a day off, then we can put the other one in there. If we don’t, we could possibly move (Rodriguez) over there. I’ll see if he’s comfortable, and go from there.”

It’s all about seeing at this point. Rodriguez’s workout videos seem to be an effort from Girardi to stay engaged, not necessarily an effort to fully evaluate. Brian Cashman said he hasn’t spoken to Rodriguez very much this offseason, and even if they were in constant communication, it might not make a difference.

“We’re never going to know until we get him out there playing in games and stuff, what we’ve got,” Cashman said. “Even in fairness to him, as he’s knocking the rust off, like whether you’re playing every year or not, it’s hard to judge people in spring training regardless. It probably is something you have to get in-season to, in the early portion.”

Associated Press photo

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Notes from Day 2: Coaching staff on the back burner12.09.14

Joe Girardi

General manager Brian Cashman said he’s not particularly close to finding a new hitting coach, and that process might have to wait a few days to get rolling again.

“I’ve got that on the back burner,” Cashman said. “There’s too much going on right now with the trade and free agent market to get distracted.”

Cashman also denied a report that Marcus Thames will be the team’s assistant hitting coach next season.

“That’s false,” Cashman said. “I have not talked to Marcus Thames at all, actually. … I’m looking for a head guy first, and then I can consider if I want to play with an assistant or not. I saw there was a report out there that we hired an assistant or were planning on hiring an assistant. We’ve got to go with the head guy first and then talk about if we even want to have an assistant to the head guy. But we don’t have a head guy.”

Joe Girardi said the same thing about the coaching search being put on the back burner for now, then he was asked about the possibility of bringing in Hideki Matsui as a coach.

“We love having him around, wherever it’s at,” Girardi said. “Whether it’s in the course of the season, whether he’s walking in our clubhouse and being around the guys, whether it’s in Spring Training. He’s a real pro. And he has a lot of information that he can pass on to younger players, to older players, about how to play the game and how to approach an at bat, how you hit through a long season. Matsui was one of the favorites in the clubhouse, as well. And we love just having him around. He brings a smile to everyone’s face.”

Not exactly an endorsement. Not exactly a dismissal.

A few other notes from this second day of the Winter Meetings:

Dellin Betances• Although there’s no clear closer now, Girardi said he will not plan to have a closer by committee next season. “I think it’s important they have an idea how they’re going to be used,” Girardi said. “But sometimes it takes time to develop that. When we started out this season Betances was pitching the fifth and sixth inning. In the end he was pitching sometimes the sixth, seventh inning. So that takes time to get ironed out.”

• Girardi has not talked to Didi Gregorius, but he has a message planned. “I think the most important thing for Didi, and I’ll stress it, and I’ll have all the coaches stress it and the people around him, you just need to be yourself,” Girardi said. “You don’t need to try to be Derek. I think Robertson did a really good job of filling in for a superstar, a legend, a Yankee legend and was just himself. And we need to pay attention to that and make sure that Didi (knows): hey, go out and play, just do what you do.”

• Biggest remaining need? “When I look at our club, I think you have to think about the depth of the rotation,” Girardi said. “And as I said, we’re going to get Nova back, which is going to help. But in the back of your mind there’s some question marks. Michael Pineda has not thrown 200 innings in a while. CC is coming off his injury. Yeah, we feel good about it, but until you get into the rigors of the season you’re not really sure exactly what’s going to happen. And Tanaka is coming off an injury, and we feel good about that. But like I said about CC, you have to go through it. You need depth in your rotation. You have to. I don’t know how many starters we used last year, but I know we lost four. So we used a lot and that’s something that’s a concern.”

• Girardi said he’s spoken to Chase Headley this winter, but he has not spoken to Brandon McCarthy.

• Cashman said he has not heard from Hiroki Kuroda or Kuroda’s agent, so the Yankees still don’t know whether Kuroda plans to pitch or retire next season.

• Girardi has seen videos of Alex Rodriguez’s offseason workouts, but Cashman said he hasn’t had any recent communication with A-Rod. “We’re never going to know until we get him out there playing in games and stuff, what we’ve got,” Cashman said. “Even in fairness to him, as he’s knocking the rust off, like whether you’re playing every year or not it’s hard to judge people in Spring Training regardless. It probably is something you have to get in-season to in the early portion.”

• The Yankees checked in on the possibility of trading for Jeff Samardzija. “There wasn’t a match from their perspective,” Cashman said.

Associated Press photo

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Girardi walks a fine line in managing A-Rod11.11.14

Joe Girardi, Alex Rodriguez

Later today, the BBWAA will announce its choices for Manager of the Year, and we already know Joe Girardi will not finish in the top three. I had a Manager of the Year vote this year, and Girardi did not appear on my three-person ballot. That’s not to say I thought he did a bad job — I actually thought Girardi had a pretty good year — but it’s hard to vote for a manager whose team largely underperformed, even if the manager himself might be not at fault.

I bring it up only because this morning I was reminded of one thing Girardi does pretty well: He handles the Alex Rodriguez situation.

Whatever the Alex Rodriguez situation of the moment might be — fighting with the front office, suspended for performance enhancing drugs, thoroughly unable to hit — Girardi stays on A-Rod’s side without necessarily condoning his actions.

“We live in a forgiving world in the sports world,” Girardi said. “His job and his main concern has to be just getting prepared to play and doing his job. That’s what he needs to do.”

That’s the only thing Girardi can say at this point. He’s neither judge nor jury. He’s not a lawyer. He doesn’t determine Rodriguez’s salary, decide whether his contract is void, or have any say in whether Rodriguez is suspended or active. Girardi’s the manager, and so he manages. And when it’s come to arguably his most difficult player, Girardi’s managed pretty well.

These are the past three years of the Girardi/A-Rod relationship:

Alex Rodriguez2012: Rodriguez’s bat went stone cold down the stretch, which prompted Girardi in the postseason to replace him with late-inning pinch hitters or bench him against right-handed starters. Rodriguez never outwardly complained. In fact, he seemed to genuinely respect the decision. “I’m Joe’s biggest fan,” Rodriguez said that October. “Joe has always respected me the utmost, and I’ve given it right back to him.”

2013: Rodriguez returned from a hip injury only to be suspended, appeal the decision, and engage in an uncomfortable war of words with the Yankees front office. Brian Cashman acknowledged it was awkward for him to have a conversation with his third baseman, but Girardi said, “I haven’t seen our relationship change.” Girardi kept the relationship all about baseball, and in the middle of all the organizational tension, when Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster threw at Rodriguez during a game in Boston, Girardi went berserk. “You just can’t throw a baseball at someone because of your feelings toward them,” Girardi said. “I don’t care what the hitter has done or allegedly done. I will defend that person until I’m blue in the face.”

2014: Rodriguez was suspended for a full season. His name was rarely mentioned during the season, and he was still mostly out of sight and out of mind until this month when new reports opened fresh dialogue about his misdeeds. Some of it seemed custom made for reality television or dark episodes of Scandal: drug deals, cover ups, accusations of urinating on the floor. Even though he’s clearly knows about all of it, Girardi moves on as if he’s ignored it.

“My job is to get him ready to play baseball and to make sure he’s in that right frame of mind,” Girardi said this morning. “I’ll watch him carefully, and we’ll talk. We have open lines of communication, and like I said, I’ll see where he’s at. I won’t make it public, but I’ll see where he’s at.”

Everything about Rodriguez’s off-the-field noise seems to go against Girardi’s very core as a person. There are awkward conversations to have with his children. There are awkward questions to answer with the press. There are awkward messages to send to the public. But Girardi handles it as well as could be expected. He supports Rodriguez as a player and shows genuine concern for him as a person, but Girardi leaves no doubt that he disagrees with Rodriguez’s many poor decisions as a liar and a cheat.

Girardi moves on because he has little choice but to move on.

“When Alex has walked into spring training, when hasn’t there been a lot of attention on him in the last five years?” Girardi said. “Yeah, there’s going to be attention, some of it is going to be negative, some of it will be positive. We’ll deal with it. … My job is worrying about preparing him to play, and making sure that he’s prepared and how he’s doing physically every day.”

Associated Press photos

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Yuri Sucart: “The situation we are in right now, it doesn’t make sense”11.06.14

RodriguezIn the interest of providing another part of the story, here’s one more link to another article about Alex Rodriguez and his relationship with Yuri Sucart.

This one comes from Newsday, and while it’s not as scandalous as the Daily News report — there’s no mention of urination in this one — it does include more angry comments from Carmen Sucart, Yuri’s wife, who says A-Rod’s cousin is dying and has to defend himself publicly. Yuri was interviewed, but he apparently refused to answer questions specifically about Rodriguez.

“The situation we are in right now,” Yuri said, “it doesn’t make sense.”

In a lot of ways, that’s hard to argue. I suppose we always have to keep in mind the motivation behind any statement that comes out of a situation like this, but what’s clear is that the Sucarts are upset and feel abandoned at best. At worst, they feel under attack.

“The reason I decided to come out is, it’s time already,” Carmen Sucart said. “We had to cleanse our soul.”

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Seeing A-Rod through different sets of eyes11.06.14

ALCS Yankees Tigers Baseball

The latest Alex Rodriguez revelation comes with a lot of angles, a lot of questions, and a lot of opinions. Frankly, it’s kind of a depressing topic of discussion — there’s just so much disappointment involved — but this is the reality of the game, and this is the reality of one of the sport’s most recognizable figures. In my mind, it’s worth looking at it through different sets of eyes. I’ve given my take. Here are some links to others.

• Buster Olney suggests the Yankees should take Wednesday’s report as a sort of final straw, one last bit of evidence that Rodriguez has gone too far in his efforts to deceive baseball in general and the Yankees in particular. Olney writes that now, more than ever, the Yankees have reason to enforce a conduct clause as a way out of a bad contract. “That validity of the conduct clauses has never really been challenged; nobody knows for sure whether they are at all enforceable,” Olney writes. “Could any team have a better opportunity to test-drive a conduct clause?”

• As only he can, Mike Vaccaro writes that this is only the latest chapter in an long line of Rodriguez embarrassments. “This should make you feel … something, no?” Vaccaro says. “Shock, horror, outrage, even pity if you are a forgiving type. But do you really feel any of that? Can you?”

• Ken Davidoff takes a more practical look at the situation with a list of five questions that have popped up in the wake of the latest Rodriguez revelation. His basic analysis is that not much seems likely to change given this new bit of information: “This was embarrassing for A-Rod, given how strongly he had denied the allegations, but it’s not like MLB can seize this documentation right now and do something with it.”

• One thing Ian O’Connor doesn’t want to hear is an apology. I tend to agree. I’d love to see and hear Rodriguez come clean to the public, but at this point, saying he’s sorry would be just another lie. “We know that he is not sorry he used performance-enhancing drugs, again,” O’Connor writes, “and that he is only sorry he got caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Again.”

• If you’re among those who expect nothing to change in the wake of the latest A-Rod news? Well then, Mark Feinsand has you covered, because the reality is that Rodriguez is still working out, still preparing for a comeback, and still seems a near lock to be in the Yankees lineup on Opening Day. “If anything, this is just making him more determined,” Feinsand heard from a source who saw Rodriguez working out in Miami last weekend. “He just wants to prove everybody wrong.”

• One bonus of working at a Gannett paper is that I have full access to my USA Today colleague Bob Nightengale, who wrote a strong column about the ongoing Rodriguez drama. No need for a link on this one. Below is Nightengale’s take on the situation. It’s a good read, full of the familiar anger and lingering questions that hang over all of this.

Alex Rodriguez;If Alex Rodriguez doesn’t want to tell the truth, we’ll go ahead and tell it for him.

The man is done.

The New York Yankees don’t want him back.

Major League Baseball never wants to see him again.

And what fan wants to pay money to watch a deteriorating athlete who has been on the field for only two months since 2012, coming off two hip surgeries and one drug suspension, about to turn 40, and who may never have played a game clean his adult life?

Yet, as much as want to hide from Rodriguez, we can’t stop hearing or talking about the man who betrayed anyone who believed in him.

He has been reinstated back into baseball for all of one week, and he’s capturing the headlines as if Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe are back walking along Broadway together.

One day, we find out that he paid his cousin $900,000 in hush money, the next, we get the low-down that he spilled his guts last January about his used of banned substances to Drug Enforcement Agency officials.

When does it mercifully stop?

The Yankees can’t legally stop him from turning their spring training camp into a circus act, unless they’re willing to pay him $61 million to go away.

And Rodriguez may be filthy rich — earning in excess of $350 million over his career — but he’s not turning his back on that.

So Rodriguez will show up to Tampa in February to collect his money. The Yankees will play him in spring training as much as humanely possible, and treat him as inhumanely as possible, forcing him to take the longest bus rides across Florida.

And the moment he breaks down, the Yankees will have him undergo every test known to mankind, and declare that he’s physically unable to play.

The Yankees get their insurance money. Rodriguez gets the remainder of his contract. And everyone goes home happy.

See ya at the old-timers’ game, buddy.

Or maybe the charade ends before we get to spring training.

Alex RodriguezThe suits at Major League Baseball’s Park Avenue office were busy Tuesday determining if there were legal grounds to suspend Rodriguez again, after sitting out all last year.

Major League Baseball officials had no comment on the Miami Herald report that revealed detailed testimony from Rodriguez’s Jan. 29 hearing with DEA officials. Rodriguez, according to the report, admitted to paying and using performance-enhancing drugs, even shooting up in the bathroom of a nightclub.

There’s no reality show that can match this saga. Where else can you pay $12,000 a month for drugs, $200,000 to suppress the evidence, and promise your cousin that he can be a millionaire if he keeps his mouth shut?

There’s a better chance of the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros playing in the 2015 World Series than Rodriguez being punished again by MLB. After all, there wasn’t one shred of evidence uncovered in the Miami Herald report that MLB’s investigators weren’t aware of, having paid for documents themselves.

Yet, sitting in front of DEA officials in a conference room, with the promise of immunity if he told the truth, and the authority to send Rodriguez to prison if he lied, Rodriguez sure told a different story than the one he’s been telling us the last two years.

There was no more talk of director Tony Bosch being some whack job just to save himself from prison. Matter of fact, Rodriguez even praised him for telling him how to beat drug tests.

Now that he was being honest, maybe MLB wasn’t on a witch hunt to personally hurt him, making sure that no more home-run records were broken.

OK, so maybe the Yankees really weren’t in cahoots with MLB to spare them from paying the rest of his contract.

Yes, it was evil to leak stories that Yankee doctors intentionally misdiagnosed his original hip injury, and then were instructed by Yankee president Randy Levine to foul up his next one to assure that he could never play again.

And, he was lying to everyone’s face when he said the only PED use during his career happened during those wild days with the chemical-happy Texas Rangers.

So much for that knock-down, drag-out fight that Rodriguez promised would clear his name.

Rodriguez now admits that he sought any drug, no matter the cost, in a desperate attempt to reclaim his status as the best damn player in the game.

He not only would be healthier and stronger than anyone in the game, Bosch told him, it would help with his sleep, weight, eyesight, even hair growth. If the effects lasted more than four hours, hey, no reason to call your doctor.

Bosch was his doctor.

Yuri Sucart, his cousin, was the middle man. And everyone in the game sure got used.

The Yankees, who had no comment on the report, did issue a press release saying that spring-training opens Feb. 20 for pitchers and catchers. All position players report Feb. 25.

There’s one other important date no one mentioned.

It’s Feb. 9, the day Sucart’s trial is scheduled to begin in Miami. He has pleaded not guilty to seven federal felony charges. Rodriguez, according to prosecutors, will be called in to testify.

Rodriguez is going to have to tell the truth. This time, we’ll all be able to hear.

Associated Press photos

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Only A-Rod can control the story at this point11.06.14

Alex Rodriguez

For months and months, Alex Rodriguez managed to stay quiet. No more picking fights with the front office. No more reckless interviews on the radio. No more bombshell reports in newspapers and magazines. He was suspended, and he mostly disappeared. Out of sight, and — as much as possible — out of mind.

When his name popped up again on Wednesday, once again linked to that Biogenesis clinic of mistakes and regret, there seemed to be two popular reactions:

1. False outrage. Pretending that Rodriguez’s admission somehow made his steroid use more real. Now the Yankees have to get rid of him! An overreaction given what we already knew. Yesterday’s news was only scandalous if you believed Rodriguez’s previous denials. If you were among the vast majority who thought he was lying all along, then Wednesday’s report was little more than further confirmation.

2. False indifference. Pretending that this story is old and tired and shouldn’t be written or reported any longer. No one cares about A-Rod anymore! Way too far on the other end of the spectrum. Just because Wednesday’s report didn’t change much, that didn’t mean it wasn’t news. It was another bit of information in one of the most important baseball stories of the past two decades. Of course it mattered.

Alex RodriguezThe reality of Rodriguez’s ongoing PED saga is somewhere between the two extremes.

Logically, we all know he cheated. We know he jumped into the seedy world of performance enhancing drugs. We know he wasn’t alone in doing so. We know he tried to cover his tracks. And we know he’s been suspended a full year for doing so. His legacy is forever tainted because of his decisions, and it’s hard for any new bit of information to significantly alter that situation. To a large part, what’s done is done.

Emotionally, we also know that this story still matters. We’re talking about one of all-time greats, a guy who was once on track to break records and become the greatest all-around player of his generation. He could have been the face of baseball, but he’s instead become the face of the Steroid Era. The story is bigger than one player or one team. There is historic significance to every detail.

The story will never go away, even if it never really changes, and the only person who can even remotely take control of it at this point is Rodriguez himself.

As long as bits and pieces continue to trickle into the media, we’re going to keep having days like yesterday (and there are some really good investigative journalists out there who are going to find this stuff, because that’s what they do). The story is going to keep popping up from time to time, and Rodriguez is going to be the distraction he surely doesn’t want to be.

Best thing Rodriguez could do at this point is acknowledge it. Publicly. Rip off the Band-Aid. Expose all the scars. Not in an effort to clear his name (we’re way past that), and not in an attempt to get into Cooperstown (that’s never going to happen). Coming clean — and then playing clean, no matter what the results — would be all about Rodriguez playing these final three years of his contract with some shred of dignity.

If there are no more secrets to expose, no more details to come to light, then maybe we can finally move forward without pretending this is nothing or acting as if it’s everything.

Associated Press photo

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Wednesday notes and links: A-Rod, Richardson, Halsey11.05.14

Antoan Richardson

A few notes and links from this surprisingly busy Wednesday…

• Not that there was any reason to doubt today’s Miami Herald report, but attorney Frank Quintero Jr., who represents one of the other men charged in the federal Biogenesis investigation, confirmed to The Associated Press that the Herald story is true. “I can for your report confirm that the report by the Herald is accurate as to what Rodriguez said,” Quintero said in an email to the AP. “I don’t have a dog in this fight. My client has no involvement with ANY major league players concerning the use of banned substances.” Quintero Jr. represents Lazaro Collazo, the former University of Miami pitching coach.

• According to the team’s transactions page, the Yankees have outrighted Antoan Richardson to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That means he’s cleared waivers and is off the 40-man roster. I assume that also means he’s allowed to elect free agency, which he surely will. Richardson signed as a minor league free agent last winter, having not played in the big leagues since 2011. He was a September call-up who went five-for-five in stolen base attempts (though he also made some early base-running blunders) and hit .313/.353/.313. If Richardson has a spot in Yankees history, it’s surely the fact he scored the winning run in Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium at-bat. Given the Yankees upper-level outfield depth, there’s really no obvious role for Richardson next season.

• Former Yankees left-hander Brad Halsey died in a climbing accident on Friday. His agency, O’Connell Sports, announced Halsey’s death in a tweet: “We are sorry to hear of the passing of longtime client, Brad Halsey. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family during this difficult time.” Halsey was just 33 years old. He was an eighth-round pick in 2002 and made seven starts for the Yankees in 2004. He went on to pitch in Arizona and Oakland. After a stint in independent ball, Halsey returned to the Yankees minor league system in 2011 to pitch for a while with Double-A Trenton.

• From Baseball America’s latest round of minor league transactions, the Yankees have re-signed right-hander Andury Acevedo. A former infielder in the Pirates system, the 24-year-old’s had a bunch of strikeouts and a bunch of walks since joining the Yankees and moving to the mound. He was 23 in short-season ball most of the year, so he’s been old for his level (understandable given the role switch). Probably not a guy worth having on the radar, but you never know. One other recognizable name from the latest minor league transactions: reliever Kevin Whelan — who came over in the 2006 Gary Sheffield trade and made two big league appearances with the Yankees in 2011 — has signed with the Athletics. Whelan got back to the big leagues for one game with the Tigers this season. He pretty consistently strikes out a ton of guys in Triple-A.

Associated Press photo of Richardson

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The truth of Alex Rodriguez’s overdue admission11.05.14

Alex Rodriguez

It seems important to point out what exactly we learned about Alex Rodriguez today.

We learned that after firing off yet another public denial, Rodriguez stepped behind closed doors in late January and admitted everything. The drugs. The money. The process. All of it. Rodriguez told federal investigators that Biogensis was real, he was a client, and the whole seedy thing happened while A-Rod was strutting in and out of the Yankees clubhouse.

What we did not learn from today’s Miami Herald is that Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Yankees. We knew that already. Found out about it nearly two years ago when the Biogenesis scandal broke. Confirmed it through a full year of investigations and leaks and bold statements from every corner.

Rodriguez was suspended this season because he used performance enhancing drugs from 2010 to 2012. The fact he admitted it doesn’t change it.

Alex RodriguezAnd in that way, this latest chapter changes very little about the story as a whole. It might actually be the first bit of good news we’ve heard in a while.

By sitting out all of the 2014 season, Rodriguez paid his penalty. He lost a bunch of money, he might have lost his ability to be a productive major-league player, and he certainly lost his credibility.

None of us believed his lies in the first place, so coming clean is a good thing. We’ve seen that over and over again with Jason Giambi or Andy Pettitte or Mark McGwire, all of whom earned some measure of acceptance and forgiveness by admitting their mistakes. We saw it again last winter when Jhonny Peralta owned up to his own Biogenesis connection and was quickly rewarded with a four-year, $53-million deal with the Cardinals.

Rodriguez decided a while back that he was going to lie and he was going to cheat. In order to keep the plan going, he had to do more lying and more cheating. As things started to unravel and the situation grew desperate – more lying, more cheating.

It’s a familiar cycle. We don’t have to condone it to understand it.

Shocked this morning to discover that Rodriguez was shooting testosterone into his gut? Appalled that he had a remarkably simple method for avoiding detection? Aghast that he was paying his cousin to make transactions on his behalf?

Come on. The details are sordid and make for juicy reading, but it surely takes more than that to surprise us at this point.

Rodriguez’s admission is mostly just another bit of embarrassment for a player who’s gone through plenty of it these past two years. According to the Herald, Rodriguez’s testimony came just 18 days after he his 2014 suspension was announced. That means it came less than three weeks after Rodriguez released a bold public denial in which he called the suspension an “injustice,” said the investigation was “corrupt,” and claimed to be fighting for the rights of all players.

“(The) deck has been stacked against me from day one,” Rodriguez said.

That much was true. The deck was stacked against him. And Rodriguez did the stacking, one lie on top of another.

But, again, we already knew that, and baseball’s already punished him for that. Rodriguez has caused plenty of damage to his legacy, to his team, and to his sport. Telling the truth is perhaps the least damaging thing he’s done.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Election day in the Yankees clubhouse11.04.14

Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ichiro Suzuki,

It’s election day, so let’s have some fun with that!

I’m not going to say that I hope you all voted today. I’ll say instead that I hope you got yourself educated on the issues, really looked into the candidates and the possibilities, and then voted. That’s the way to take the responsibility seriously.

This blog post is one way to not take it seriously.

Remember being a senior in high school and voting on class personalities? If not, I’m sure you at least understand the reference. It’s not like voting for a senator or voting for an amendment. It’s done with a sense of having a good time, and that’s what this blog post is about. Here are a few suggestions for the leading candidates for various class superlatives on the current Yankees roster.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballMost Likely to Succeed – Jacoby Ellsbury
With good reason, we focus a lot on the uncertainty of the Yankees current roster (and we’re going to focus on it again in a few sentences), but it’s interesting to do the opposite. What’s the most reliable piece heading into next season? I’d argue it’s Ellsbury, who more or less lived up to expectation in his first season with the Yankees. Factoring in track record, injury concerns, age, and everything else, I’d say Ellsbury is as reliable as it gets for next season.

Least Certain to Succeed – Masahiro Tanaka
Not least likely to succeed, just least certain. There can be no doubt about Tanaka’s talent – the first half of his rookie year proved his stuff can be plenty effective against major league hitters – but we also know that his elbow ligament was slightly torn last season. We know he can succeed, just can’t be certain he’ll have a successful 2015.

Class President – CC Sabathia
It will probably be several years before we see another Yankees captain, and the current roster really has no one quite like Derek Jeter in terms of clear clubhouse leadership. Recognizing that reality — acknowledging there’s no natural fit for team captain — who carries all those qualities you think of in a Class President? I think Sabathia fits best. He’s most certainly respected, he’s incredibly well liked, and he’s been around almost as long as anyone in the room.

Brendan RyanClass Clown – Brendan Ryan
This is not intended as a joke about Ryan’s talent or impact. This is intended literally to point out that he’s a bit of a goofball. In a clubhouse full of veterans, where the word stoic is far more applicable than silly, Ryan is a breath of fresh air. He was in good spirits despite rarely playing last season, and there were days he literally went bounding through the locker room laughing like a little kid. As long as it doesn’t cross the line from amusing to annoying, I tend to think a clubhouse needs a guy like that.

Teacher’s Pet – Martin Prado
Honestly, I’m kind of guessing here, but doesn’t Prado seem like exactly the kind of guy a manager could fall in love with? Willing and able to play anywhere in the field. Willing and able to hit basically anywhere in the lineup. Willing (and sometimes able) to play hurt. Does all of that with a real sense of professionalism. With good reason, I could see Prado becoming a Joe Girardi favorite.

Greatest Overachiever – Brett Gardner
Walk-on in college. Labeled a fourth outfielder throughout the minor leagues. Relegated to platoon playing time when he got to the big leagues. Even Gardner’s believers seemed to always acknowledge that he might not actually become an everyday guy, yet this season he landed a multi-year deal and led the Yankees in WAR (according to Baseball Reference; FanGraphs had him second). That’s defying expectation in a big way.

Greatest Underachiever – Brian McCann
At this point, I’m just piling on against a player who I still believe could be a really nice hitter next season (he was awfully good in September). But, the thing with McCann’s disappointing season is that it can’t be blamed on injury or age. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano had some excuses in place. McCann never really had one — and to his credit, he never made one — for his disappointing year.

Michael PinedaMost Anticipated – Michael Pineda
If we’re looking ahead to next year, then Rob Refsnyder might fit in this spot. If we’re looking beyond next year, then maybe Luis Severino or Aaron Judge. If we’re looking back to last year, then it’s surely Tanaka. But as a combination — last season, next season, and beyond — the anticipation of Pineda is difficult to overlook. The Yankees waited years to finally get him on the field, and they still haven’t seen what he can do in a full season.  

Mr. Nice Guy – Adam Warren
Here’s the thing: If Adam reads this and sees a “Mr. Nice Guy” category, he’ll know that he’s going to win it. So will every one of his teammates. It’s not that there are a bunch of jerks in that room — Francisco Cervelli? Incredibly nice guy. Zelous Wheeler? Impossible to dislike. CC Sabathia? Ivan Nova? Brett Gardner? All invited to any dinner I’m attending. — but Warren’s a really, genuinely, nice guy. I don’t know how else to describe him. By the way, Chase Whitley might have been the choice here, but he’s made fun of Missouri football too many times. Total jerk, that guy.

Least Popular – Alex Rodriguez
I know, I know, this one is too easy. But who else fits this description, and what other distinction best fits this player? Rodriguez has gone beyond a lightning rod. At this point, he’s simply a cautionary tale about bad contracts, and performance enhancing drugs, and poor public relations decisions. Rodriguez will probably be booed a lot next year, but if he hits, I bet he’ll be cheered again.

Life of the Party – Dellin Betances
Not in the usual sense. Betances isn’t the life of the party because he’s an over-the-top personality (he’s actually pretty subdued for the most part). He’s the life of the party because he was surely the best thing about last season, and he’s one of the absolute bright spots heading into next season. If you want to look at the roster and find an undeniably good thing, a young success story like Betances — who’s not tied to a bad contract, who’s still in his 20s, who came up through the minor league system, who still has an exciting future — is about as good as it gets for the Yankees right now. The life of the party brings excitement when things get dull, and that’s certainly what Betances is doing.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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