The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Thursday notes: “Not a bad person… but Alex has made bad decisions”02.26.15

Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez

Predictably, unavoidably, today’s first full-squad workout in Yankees camp was dominated by Alex Rodriguez. He was the center of attention, the one player who drew the most cameras and eyes from the media, and the one who drew the most reaction from the crowd. That reaction, by the way, was all positive as far as I could tell. A lot of cheering when he had a good round of batting practice. I honestly didn’t hear a single boo.

The topic of Rodriguez will fade a little bit over time, but he’s a fascinating figure in this camp, and one of the teammates who knows him best is Mark Teixeira. After today’s workout, I actually thought Teixeira did a great job talking about the A-Rod situation. He talked about some tough issues, and managed to walk the line between supporting his teammate and condemning steroid use. He also provided some insight into Rodriguez’s challenges going forward.

TeixeiraRodriguezAsked whether Rodriguez has changed, Teixeira offered a reminder that we’ve been here before
“That is a tough question to answer. I don’t know. He’s the same guy that I’ve known a long time. We came here in ’09 under very similar circumstances, if you guys remember, and we had a great year. He did a great job of putting it behind him and playing baseball. The entire team did a great job of putting it behind us, so that’s what I’m expecting this year.”

Missing a lot of time and trying to be a great hitter again; Teixeira went through it last year
“I think the difference is he’s well past his surgery, so I think that’s great for Alex that he’s well past his surgery. He’s not in a rehab mode that I know of. I think he feels pretty good, and that’s the difference probably.”

What’s the last thing to come as a power hitter?
“The carry is the last thing that comes back; the ball carrying. There’s a lot of cage work in the offseason. You want to hit line drives and you want to hear the ball off the bat, but you really don’t know how it’s carrying. At least for me, I’m working on my hands more in the offseason, and then slowly in spring training – I won’t hit many home runs early in spring training in batting practice –as we get closer to the season, I want to see that ball backspinning, carrying out of the ballpark because that’s what I need to do at the plate.”

What’s the state of the game with performance enhancing drugs?
“I think it’s better than it’s ever been. I came up in ’03 when we had some weird testing where there was testing but you could still do it and there were no penalties or whatever. And there were still a lot of guys doing it. There were. I think the middle 2000s, late 2000s, baseball did a great job of putting things in place. You’re always going to have cheaters. You’re always going to have guys who are trying to beat the system no matter what it is – taxes, breaking the speed limit, whatever. So for us to think no one is going to try to bend the rules is a little naïve, but I give the commissioner’s office a lot of credit (and) I give the players association a lot of credit for working together to try the best we can.”

How does Teixeira view PED users?
“I’ve been outspoken. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all, but if you’re willing to take that chance, then that’s something you have to look in the mirror. I’m not going to stay anything that’s going to change anyone’s mind. It’s one of those situaitons. It is what it is. We all had kids in school who cheated on their tests, and we all worked hard and maybe got a B and they got an A. That’s life.”

So how does he reconcile that opinion with his friendship with A-Rod?
“There’s a lot of people that make bad decisions. Alex is not a bad person. I’ll be the first one to tell you that. I’ve known Alex for a long time, but Alex has made bad decisions, and he’s owned up to them. Hopefully now we can kind of get past it. That’s something that, if he was still denying it and still coming in here and put on a different face (it might be a different story). He told everyone he was sorry for what he did.”

Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi• It was quickly overshadowed by A-Rod, but today really started with Larry Rothschild once again bringing up the idea of a sixth starter. How realistic is that? “We’ll see,” Brian Cashman said. “In a perfect world, it’s something that’s a great concept. I think more realistic, what we’ll see, is someone taking a sixth spot and pushing guys back (for one start) or skipping a starter a turn in the rotation. I think that’s probably more realistic than finding six quality arms to run through out there every six days on a consistent basis. But you hear many a times, the interest level in having a six-man rotation, and there’s a lot of positives from that. But it’s hard to pull off.”

• Cashman made it clear that the Yankees have to find five starters before they start to figure out a sixth starter. “If we’re ever in a position to be fortunate enough to have six quality arms that can compete for a win on a daily basis in the rotation, then I think we’ll be in a position to implement that,” Cashman said. “But first things first.”

• Speaking of which, here’s Joe Girardi on Tanaka’s morning bullpen: “Very good. Forty pitches, threw all his pitches, arm strength looked really good. We’ll continue to move him along, we’ll get him ready for a game, I don’t know when we’ll get him in a game, but that was good.”

• As the Yankees started taking ground balls, the first thing I noticed was Girardi standing directly behind Rob Refsnyder at second base. Girardi, though, said not to read into his positioning. “I was next to the first baseman, then I was next to the second baseman, then I stood next to the shortstop, and then I proceeded to third base,” Girardi said. “So I stood next to everybody today. … For me, it’s conversation; talking to some of the players I didn’t know. I have not had a chance to be around Galvez, Noonan, Refsnyder. I thought it was important. Cole Figueroa. I thought it was important I talk with everyone today.”

• Jacoby Ellsbury said he’s willing to hit anywhere in the order — he had to hit third last year — but Girardi wouldn’t give us any real indication about his plans for the lineup. “I think you have to see the makeup of our lineup, and who we decide is going to be in the lineup on a fairly regular, everyday basis,” Girardi said. “We’ve thrown around some ideas, but I think it’s too early to put an order together. The good thing is I’ve got 39 more days or something like that.”

Alex Rodriguez• The Yankees had a lengthy team meeting before today’s workout. Teixeira said Rodriguez did not speak during the meeting. As far as I could tell, all interaction with Rodriguez was positive today. He stretched with Carlos Beltran, and took batting practice with Teixeira, Greg Bird and Jose Pirela. “Obviously, if he does well, it only helps the team,” Jacoby Ellsbury said. “From that standpoint, I think we all hope he has a good season.”

• Rodriguez got his first-baseman’s glove today, but he hasn’t started breaking it in. He did all of today’s defensive drills on the left side of the infield. “We’ll have him do early work (at first base),” Girardi said. “When we do some of the team defenses, (he will be) running through it in both places so you have some idea. As far as (having him play first in) a game, I don’t know yet, but you do want to get him comfortable before you send him out there.”

• First full-squad workout, and no Derek Jeter. First time that’s happened in two decades. “It was a little strange not seeing Derek out there today,” Girardi said. “We were doing the mass infield (drills), and he wasn’t there. It was kind of strange to me.”

• Or maybe, it wasn’t strange at all. “He retired,” Cashman said. “It never crossed my mind.”

• Final word goes to Girardi: “When I look at things today, I think the pitchers are a lot further along. I was very pleased with what I saw from Tanaka. I’ve been very pleased as far as what I’ve seen from our pitchers as a whole. One thing that sometimes stands out but you don’t always realize is how big these guys are. I know I’m shrinking at a slow rate, but God, they seem to be getting bigger.”

Associated Press photos

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Ten factors to determine the success or failure of Cashman’s winter02.09.15

Brian Cashman

When I put out the call for Pinch Hitters, I honestly didn’t expect to get one in defense of Brian Cashman. That said, I kind of like when these posts go against the typical public opinion, and this winter, a pro-Cashman blog post certainly qualifies.

Now that James Shields has landed in San Diego, we know the Yankees are not going to make a free agent signing any bigger than Chase Headley. They’re going to roll the dice in the rotation, lean heavily on the bullpen, and hope for bounce-back seasons from several veteran hitters.

As a general rule, I’m of the opinion that the Yankees needed to restrict spending this offseason to avoid some familiar pitfalls, so I mostly agree with Daniel’s morning post: I basically think Cashman did a fine job under the circumstances. There are plenty of questions in the rotation and the lineup, and the farm system seems a year away from making a major contribution, but the Yankees did manage to get younger without adding any huge-risk contracts.

I think it was a reasonable approach to the offseason, but it clearly comes with considerable risk. Whether it works in the short-term will depend on several touch-to-predict factors.

Here are 10 issues that may determine whether we look back at Cashman’s offseason as a real success or a total failure.

Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann1. Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow
Of all the health questions in the Yankees’ rotation, none is as significant as Tanaka’s torn elbow ligament. When the injury came to light last season, some of the top medical experts in the world recommended the Yankees postpone surgery and try to rehab the injury. The Yankees listened, followed that advice, and Tanaka returned to make a couple of late-season starts. The elbow, though, still looms as a ticking time bomb. Whether it was his decision or not — his evaluation or not — Cashman will most certainly take the heat if Tanaka’s elbow blows out between now and the postseason. If it holds up, the Yankees have their ace. If it doesn’t, Cashman will have missed out on the opportunity to acquire a ready replacement in Max Scherzer or Jon Lester.

2. Brian McCann’s bat
Last winter, there seemed to be near universal agreement that McCann was a natural fit for the Yankees. There were certainly those who wanted the team to stay away, but the Yankees have a long tradition of impact catchers, and McCann’s left-handed power and pitch-framing reputation made him an obvious target. Cashman gave him a five-year deal, despite the presence of John Ryan Murphy and Gary Sanchez. Now the Yankees are committed, and McCann stands out as the one middle-of-the-order slugger who can’t blame injuries of last year’s diminished production. His bat remains a key piece of this lineup, both in the short term and the long term. If he doesn’t produce for a second straight season, McCann’s contract is going to look like an overwhelming problem going forward.

3. Stephen Drew’s return
A one-year, $5-million deal isn’t a make-or-break contract for the Yankees. In this case, though, it seems like an all-or-nothing decision for Cashman. If Drew struggles to another sub-.200 batting average, Cashman is going to look foolish for giving a second opportunity to a player who performed so poorly a year ago (especially when there were younger second basemen in place). If Drew bounces back to his 2013 level of production — providing a great glove and decent power for a middle infielder — Cashman will appear savvy, taking advantage of a buy-low opportunity (especially for a player who provides insurance at not only second base but also at shortstop).

Dellin Betances4. The ninth inning
Whoever takes the job, the Yankees need someone to effectively close the door in the ninth inning. It stands out as an especially sensitive issue because of the decision to let Dave Robertson sign with the White Sox for marginally more money than the Yankees gave Andrew Miller. Cashman has said the decision was based, at least partially, on the draft pick compensation tied to Robertson. A draft pick, though, is no sure thing, and right now the Yankees don’t have a single reliever with significant ninth-inning experience. Robertson was a known quantity. If Miller or Dellin Betances or whoever else can’t handle the closer role, Cashman will have neglected a job that the Yankees — after two decades of Mariano Rivera — should appreciate as much as anyone.

5. The fifth starter
Top-of-the-rotation concerns aside, one of the Yankees most pressing rotation issues is the apparent lack of depth. If healthy, the Yankees seem to have a perfectly good top four, but right now their fifth starter is Chris Capuano, with relievers Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers looking like the most immediate sixth starter candidates. Pitching prices got out of control this winter — four years for Brandon McCarthy, eight figures for Brett Anderson — but the Yankees certainly went into the offseason recognizing their need for rotation help. They acquired Nathan Eovaldi, but also gave up Shane Greene. Essentially, Cashman chose to roll the dice on the health of his in-place starters, the return of Ivan Nova, and the short-term ability of Capuano. A big contract would have been a big risk, but the alternative isn’t exactly risk-free.

6. Everything about Didi Gregorius
This was the choice at shortstop. With Derek Jeter retired, the Yankees were left with a glaring hole at a position once claimed by an icon. Cashman chose to make a trade for a 24-year-old kid who’s never proven he can be an everyday player in the big leagues. If Gregorius is a great defensive player (and others are able to provide some offense), the decision might look like a solid one. If Gregorius can actually hit beyond his Arizona numbers, the decision could look like a great one. But if Gregorius falls flat, the Yankees will have given up a young starting pitcher — one who might have solved some of those familiar rotation issues — for a guy who does nothing to solve an issue the Yankees had to see coming for several years.

Joe Girardi, Chase Headley7. Everything about third base
There was little Cashman could do this offseason about Alex Rodriguez. Unless ownership decided to simply cut ties, Cashman was stuck with a roster that included a 39-year-old coming off a year-long suspension after a series of injuries and several seasons of declining numbers. All Cashman could do was try to work around the Rodriguez issue. He did so by making his most expensive commitment of the winter: a four-year, $52-million deal with Chase Headley, a player with a history of back problems and only one season with more than 13 home runs. It was a fairly risky deal, but if Headley plays well — and doesn’t cause a stir with A-Rod — it will look like a reasonable reaction to a difficult situation. If Headley gets hurt or doesn’t produce, it will stir questions about the decision to give such a contract while trading away a guy like Martin Prado.

8. Three names: Judge, Bird, Severino
Rob Refsnyder and Jacob Lindgren might be the first chance to make the big league roster, but the perceived value of the Yankees farm system could hinge heavily on the continued development of Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Luis Severino. Those are the high-end, upper-level talents — or at least, those are the perceived high-end, upper-level talents — and those three are natural in-house solutions for the bad contracts that currently belong to Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. Younger guys like Jorge Mateo and Luis Torrens might help eventually, but Cashman needs a minor league victory sooner than that. Get Judge, Bird and Severino to Triple-A this year — perhaps even to New York before the end of the year — and the Yankees will at least have a farm system that seems ready to provide immediate impact.

Manny Banuelos9. One other name: Manny Banuelos
Prospect success goes both ways for Cashman. If he’s going to get credit for the success of those he’s kept, he has to take the blame for those he’s traded away. Even without a single inning in the big leagues, Banuelos was pretty close to a household name as far as prospects go (at least among Yankees fans). He was kind of like Jesus Montero in that way. Fans were waiting for him and expecting big things, and Cashman traded him away. If Banuelos gets back on track with Atlanta and lives up to his potential, Cashman will have given up a young, much-anticipated young starter for a couple of relief pitchers. Even if David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve are great, that trade will look ugly if Banuelos is racking up wins in Atlanta.

10. Yoan Moncada’s free agency
This is a strange fit on this list for two reasons: 1. it will have absolutely no impact on the 2015 Yankees, and 2. it will probably have very little to do with Cashman himself. That said, if ownership is willing to pay a massive price to sign the market’s most coveted international free agent, Moncada could very well stand out as the Yankees most impressive signing of the offseason. It will show a willingness to spend big bucks, it will give the farm system a huge talent — and a big name — and every evaluation of the Yankees’ winter will have to include the fact that, while they passed on a guy like Scherzer, they went all in for Moncada. It will make very clear that Cashman came into this offseason with a plan to get younger and build for something long-term.

Associated Press photos

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Pinch hitting: Daniel Burch02.09.15

Brian Cashman

Our Pinch Hitter this morning is Daniel Burch, who’s here for the third year in a row. A transplanted Yankees fan who runs TheGreedyPinstripes.com, Daniel is a father to two “future Yankees All-Stars.” He’s also a husband to “the most patient and understanding woman alive.” These are, of course, his evaluations. But I’m sure he’s correct. “I’m truly blessed for everything in my life,” he wrote, “and everything that is to come.”

For his post, Daniel is taking that same positive attitude while assessing the work of the Yankees’ general manager.

Brian CashmanEver since Brian Cashman took over as the general manager of the Yankees in 1998, he has enjoyed success. While much of that success came early on in his tenure and was, in large part, due to the late George Steinbrenner’s checkbook, the Yankees GM has reinvented himself in recent years with his new found power and control over the personnel decisions for the team.

Every once in a while we see shades of The Boss in owner Hal Steinbrenner, whether it’s when he’s signing Rafael Soriano or contributing to a second Alex Rodriguez contract, and honestly we probably always will see those types of moves from the higher ups, but we can now say with confidence that, overall, this is Cashman’s team. For better or worse.

Yankees fans are some of the most passionate and subsequently some of the most emotional fans in all the world, and they come with some of the harshest and toughest criticisms you will ever hear. Any fan can go on Twitter, Facebook, Lohud, or any other social media site or blog to make a comment or ask a question about a trade or signing involving the Yankees, and that fan is bound to get a flurry of responses. Some of those responses will be positive, but for the most part it seems those opinions have turned negative regarding Cashman and his decision making.

Truth be told, I’m not sure why.

On a long enough timeline — and Cashman has had one of the longest general manager tenures I have seen in my lifetime — every GM acquires Javier Vazquez twice and signs Carl Pavano for nine wins at four years and $40 million… right?

Cashman has not made those same mistakes this offseason. He has instead continued to stockpile young talent, hard throwing pitchers, and additional depth at almost every position. Many fans expected Cashman to fold under the pressure and give ludicrous contracts to Brandon McCarthy or give in to insane trade requests for broken Troy Tulowitzki, but instead he got creative and made some smaller moves.

Instead of yet another question mark and a ton of salary in Tulo, the Yankees acquired a young and promising shortstop in Didi Gregorius and a perfectly capable stopgap in the fifth starter slot in Chris Capuano.

Instead of setting the team back even further with another asinine contract for Max Scherzer, the Yankees instead stayed the course, stuck to the plan and showed a willingness to rebuild on the fly.

There is a finish line. It conveniently comes when Cashman’s current contract ends after the 2017 season, and for the first time in over 20 seasons, the Yankees can see it. The team cannot see that because Randy Levine jumped in and demanded a $12 million AAV for a seventh-inning pitcher; the team can see it because of the work Cashman has done since he was given full control over player decisions and personnel.

Another common complaint against the Yankees GM is the lack of player development and the faults of the farm system. While for a long time that was an absolutely legitimate concern and gripe, the tides are turning down on the farm, and we may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

MLB Pipeline is releasing its Top 10 lists per position right before Spring Training, and the Yankees have a Top 10 right-handed pitching prospect in Luis Severino, a Top 10 second base prospects in Robert Refsnyder, a Top 10 first baseman in Greg Bird and surely just missed having a Top 10 outfielder in Aaron Judge. Also Kylie McDaniel, a former Yankees scout and current writer for Fangraphs, even went as far as to name the Yankees the 10th-best farm in all of baseball and possibly the “deepest in the game.” The rankings and the write ups from McDaniels and others suggest a pretty good farm system without even mentioning the likes of Gary Sanchez, Ian Clarkin and the slew of international free agent signings the team has made in the past few months.

For better or worse, this is finally Cashman’s team, and in a couple seasons, when the plan is complete and has come to fruition, I may no longer be the last standing apologist for the Yankees’ GM.

Associated Press photos

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Week in review: Yankees stay quiet during loud Winter Meetings12.14.14

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This was a pretty intense week in baseball, and that’s because the Winter Meetings did not disappoint this year. At least not in the bigger picture. This was a week full of player movement. There were blockbuster trades and massive free agent signings, and each night in San Diego seemed to include some sort of plot twist.

The Yankees, though, stayed quiet throughout.

“I honestly can tell you that we’re patient,” Brian Cashman said. “We’re not going to do something that we don’t feel comfortable with. … We got the Cervelli thing done with Justin Wilson, and there was a long period of quiet. We got Chris Young a month after we put an offer out on him, and eventually he came back after he went through the circuit and felt comfortable with where we were at. We made a little adjustment to get it done. And then the Didi thing took a while. Some things may take longer than others in terms of solving every need that we desire, but we’ll see.”

Clearly there’s still work to be done. The Yankees have only three starting pitchers in place (plus a handful of back-end rotation possibilities). The don’t have a clear closer (though they have a few options they could choose from). Their infield is still uncertain with second base and third base possibilities still on the market (while Rob Refsnyder remains in place as an internal option).

The Yankees took some small steps forward early this offseason. They added a left-handed reliever and a right-handed fourth outfielder. They added a little bit of pitching depth with one free agent signing and a few players added to the 40-man roster. They made their first major additions by finding replacements for Derek Jeter and Dave Robertson.

This hasn’t been a silent winter for the Yankees, but this past week was full of noise, and the Yankees didn’t make any of it.

“We’ve got meetings with a lot of people,” Cashman said. “We’re still obviously trying to affect some trades or potential free agent signings. We’ll just stay at it.”

David Robertson• The Winter Meetings move that most directly impacted the Yankees was the White Sox four-year deal with Dave Robertson. Cashman had created the impression that the Yankees might sign Robertson to former a super-bullpen with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, but that was all about creating a false impression. The Yankees never made an offer, and Robertson’s fate was sealed as soon as Miller was signed.

• Speaking of Miller, he made it clear during a conference call that he doesn’t care about his role in the Yankees bullpen. He didn’t ask the Yankees to name him closer, and he’ll be happy if the Yankees sign a closer this offseason. Last season, Miller and Betances proved the value of a dominant multi-inning middle reliever, and there’s a chance those two will be used the same way next season if the Yankees sign another reliever to handle the ninth. Cashman has said that’s still a possibility.

• Another former Yankees pitcher who landed elsewhere: Brandon McCarthy agreed to a four-year deal with the Dodgers. The Yankees left no doubt that they wanted to bring McCarthy back to add some rotation depth, but four years is a massive and risky investment for a guy who’s had such trouble staying healthy (this season was the first time McCarthy ever reached 200 innings, or even got particularly close). The Yankees weren’t willing to go four years, and so McCarthy landed in Los Angeles during a flood of rotation signings.

• Cashman said the Yankees have put their coaching staff openings on the back burner while focusing on player movement. Still no new hitting coach, and no new first-base coach, and Cashman shot down a report that Marcus Thames had been hired as an assistant hitting coach. Cashman said he hasn’t interviewed Thames and hasn’t decided whether the Yankees will have an assistant hitting coach next season.

• Also still unknown: the status of Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees have not been told whether he wants to pitch next season.

• Strength coach Matt Krause went to Miami to check on Alex Rodriguez. Cashman said Rodriguez is making progress this winter — he’s moving closer to the weight he’s expected to reach before spring training — but it’s still far to early to have any idea how well Rodriguez will handle full baseball drills.

• The build up to the Rule 5 draft always seems more significant than the draft itself, and that was certainly the case this year. The Yankees picked four eligible players to protect, and that seems to have done the trick. The Yankees didn’t lose anyone in the Rule 5 draft — in either the major league or the minor league portion — and they didn’t add anyone either. Cashman said he preferred keeping the three open roster spots open.

Associated Press photos

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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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Cashman to once again rappel for Stamford holiday event11.21.14

Brian Cashman just slept on the streets of New York City (again), and in a few weeks he’s going to climb down the face of a building (again). Cashman is once again participating in the Heights & Lights event in Stamford, CT. It’s happening the weekend before the Winter Meetings, which means an early morning on a cold rooftop asking Cashman about free agents and trades. Here are the details from a press release distributed by the the city of Stamford:

Yankees Cashman BaseballOn Friday morning, December 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 am (ET), Rick Reichmuth, FOX News Channel’s Meteorologist, Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees and Bobby Valentine, Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University will rappel from the one of Stamford, CT’s tallest buildings, the Landmark Building. Santa’s Elf, Brian VanOrsdel will be on hand, strapping Brian and Bobby in and guiding them down the 22 stories of the building, all the while broadcasting live on the FOX News Channel, “FOX & Friends” morning newscast.

The event marks the start of Rappelling Santa’s arrival in Stamford and is a good practice run for the rappelling crew for Sunday’s Heights & Lights program.

On Sunday, December 7 at 5:00 pm, Brian Cashman, Bobby Valentine, Santa and friends are scheduled once again to make their daredevil descent down the 22 stories of the Landmark Building, for Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp’s Rappelling Santa. After the rappel, Santa’s busy holiday schedule will take him straight up Bedford Street to Latham Park where he will join the Stamford Community for music with The Cast of Peter Pan Jr. from Saxe Middle School and the lighting of the Holiday Tree, donated by Bartlett Tree Company.

WHEN:

Practice Rappel: Friday Morning, December 5, 2014 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Heights & Lights Rappel: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM

WHERE:

Rappel at Landmark Square, Broad Street;

Tree Lighting at Latham Park, Bedford Street, Stamford Downtown

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Cashman: Yanks open to adding more than one starting pitcher11.21.14

Brian Cashman slept on the street last night. He’s done it once a year for a few years now, all to raise money and awareness for Covenant House, an organization that works to help homeless youth.

“You’ve got to see the great work these people are doing for people who just need a fighting chance,” Cashman said.

Talking to the media last night, Cashman said a lot of the stuff we’ve come to expect this time of year. Which is to say, he didn’t say much. No real revelations here, but here’s a little bit of what he had to say.

Joe Girardi, Brian CashmanOn Hiroki Kuroda’s plans for next season
“I haven’t heard anything officially. Do I think he will play and put himself back in play for the major leagues as well as the NPB in Japan? I would think, yes. The guy is way too talented. I know he’s 38 or 39, but he’s way too talented to give it up and retire. If he wants to keep playing, he’ll have a market. That’s not an issue. But I have not officially heard that he wants to do anything. … I wouldn’t say (whether the Yankees want Kuroda back). Every dollar counts to something. Everything we do has to be accounted for, so it will have an impact on something else. It depends on the entire context of the roster. But I do need starting pitching, so he’s clearly an area that would solve some issues. We’ll see.”

Surprised by Russell Martin’s contract?
“No. He’s been great. I’m not surprised. The catching market is thin; that’s why Pittsburgh proactively went after Cervelli the way they did, in anticipation of losing (Martin). I was surprised he wound up in Toronto because I think everybody expected a different location for him. I thought two other places, if I had to predict before the winter where he might wind up. Toronto got themselves a hell of a player. I’d rather it not be them because they’re in our division. But I’m not surprised by his contract.”

On Brandon McCarthy and the possibility of adding two starters
“Obviously (McCarthy) did a tremendous job for us. He put himself in a hell of a position to command respect in the free agent market. Clearly we have interest but that’s about as far as I can really say at this point. … No (signing McCarthy wouldn’t keep the Yankees from signing another pitcher). I mean, bottom line is, I think you’re asking if I’m open to adding more than one starter. Yeah, I’d be open to that.”

Any 40-man additions difficult decisions?
“No. I think they were all layups for various reasons. So, no. We added who we felt we had to add. You’d prefer that you didn’t have to add anybody and guarantee that you’d get them back. But that wasn’t the case with any one of these guys. So, hence their additions.”

On the Yankees priorities this offseason
“I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority. Kind of reinforce our pitching (as well). I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on. Bullpen, clearly with the Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That’s a handful right off the bat. I can’t really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I’m just going to say we’re doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field.”

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Cashman raising awareness for homeless youth11.17.14

Brian Cashman has done this before, and he’s doing it again, sleeping on the streets to raise awareness about homeless kids. Rock solid cause, and good work by the Yankees GM. Here’s the press release with details.

Brian CashmanNew York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and New York City Football Club Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti will sleep on the streets of New York City as they join more than 750 leaders in sports, entertainment and business in a nationwide Sleep Out for homeless youth on Thursday, November 20.

This nationwide movement of solidarity will raise awareness for the plight of kids on the street and will begin in New York with a Candlelight Vigil in Times Square at 6:00 pm at the pedestrian plaza on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets. The Vigil will feature inspirational performances by Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Capathia Jenkins.

“Covenant House is a place where homeless youth not only find a safe place from the streets, but also a place where kids who have had a tough start in life get a second chance,” Cashman said. “Covenant House provides job training, education and long-term housing — everything that homeless young people need to turn their lives around.”

“There are thousands of homeless youth in New York City, which is difficult to understand,” Pernetti added. “Covenant House gives young people a safe place to sleep, a shower and food — all the immediate care that they need when coming in off the streets. The organization then works with each youth on a plan for his or her future. I encourage everyone to sleep out or support one of the sleep out participants on November 20.”

“We’re honored to have Brian, Tim and all of these selfless sports and business leaders sleeping out as a unified, powerful voice for our kids at Covenant House,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “All of these leaders are selflessly using their amazing gifts to bring hope to the 1,900 kids who are in our shelters each night.

“November 20 will be a night when Brian, Tim, and people who care about kids all across the country will raise candles of hope during a National Candlelight Vigil and then sleep on the streets in solidarity with homeless kids,” said Ryan. “No one is saying sleeping out for one night is comparable to what homeless kids go through. But our Vigil and our Sleep Out will raise awareness and funds needed to save the lives of kids who are right now living and dying on our streets. It will be a powerful night of hope for our kids.”

Other executives who are sleeping out for the youth at Covenant House include Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman, owners of The Meatball Shop restaurants; Gail Grimmett, Sr., Vice President for Delta Airlines; and employees from the leading luxury home builder, Toll Brothers, who will have Sleep Out teams in Atlantic City, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia.

Associated Press photo

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Nightengale: Trade market could be lively this winter11.14.14

We’ve already heard Brian Cashman said that this year’s GM Meetings were a little more busy than usual. It seems that sentiment stretches beyond the Yankees general manager. Here’s USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with his piece wrapping up this week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix. It includes a lot of references to the Yankees, and it definitely leaves the feeling that several teams laid significant groundwork the in the past week or so.

Brian CashmanThey parted company Thursday, promised to keep in touch, and by the time they get together again next month in San Diego, the baseball landscape could look entirely different.

The four-day Major League Baseball general manager meetings concluded with just two free agent signings and a couple of small trades, but the GMs predicted a potential tidal wave of trade activity over these next few weeks.

“I think it’s going to be an active trade market,” says Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “There’s a lot of aggressive conversations going on. It seems like there’s a lot of teams looking to change their clubs.”

Considering the woefully thin free-agent market, which just lost one of the biggest prizes when DH Victor Martinez agreed Wednesday to a four-year, $68 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, teams have little choice but to interact with one another.

“I expect it will be a pretty busy trade season,” Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels says, “because the free-agent market has areas that are really lacking. It pushes teams toward the trade table.”

The biggest marquee position players on the market are San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, Baltimore Orioles DH Nelson Cruz and Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin.

The Giants want him Sandoval back, and the Boston Red Sox are trying to lure him into a visit next week. Yet, with the Giants showing a sense of urgency, there may be no need for Sandoval to make that Boston flight. The Orioles are doing the same with Cruz, visiting with him Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Hiroki Kuroda, Francisco Cervelli, Derek JeterThe Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays may have cornered the market on Martin, and considering the Pirates traded for New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, they realize that it may be time to drop out of this high-priced poker game.

The market has been quiet for the three premium free-agent starting pitchers. Oakland A’s ace Jon Lester is being heavily courted by the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, with the loser likely sent back into the trade market where the Philadelphia Phillies have Cole Hamels waiting. Max Scherzer and James Shields also are awaiting mega offers, which could impact the trade market.

And, once again, the Yankees are being stealth, refusing to tip their hand on whether they’re willing to write a $100 million check, after spending $480 million on last year’s market.

They already have committed $170 million to just 10 players on next year’s payroll, after spending $232 million a year ago, according to the 40-man rosters submitted by teams to Major League Baseball’s central office, and obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

“It will be high, I can tell you that,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman says. “It will be impressive.

“I’m just hopeful the roster will be as impressive.”

Brandon McCarthyThe Yankees, who are still hoping to get out of the $61 million they owe Alex Rodriguez, may simply try just to keep their team intact from a year ago, trying to retain free-agent closer David Robertson and starter Brandon McCarthy.

Yet, after missing the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time in 20 years, agent Scott Boras says the Yankees may have no choice but to call his Newport Beach, Calif. office, and enter the Scherzer sweepstakes.

“The Steinbrenner history has always been we’re going to win,” Boras says. “It serves their brand. It serves their model to do everything they can to win.”

“This guy is a No. 1 pitcher. There aren’t that many of them. It’s the difference between a good team and a World Series team.”

The game is so flush with money these days that even the Miami Marlins are willing to write the biggest check in franchise history to retain Giancarlo Stanton, who’s eligible for free agency in two years. They’ve had serious conversations about a long-term contract, ranging from six to 10 years in length.

“We’re trying to get away from having to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Marlins president Mike Hill says. “Enough of that. We want to win.”

The Marlins will keep Stanton through at least this season, no matter whether he signs an extension or not, Hill says. They have let teams know they won’t even listen to trade proposals, so teams stopped asking.

“We’ve been up front since last offseason that we weren’t trading him,” Hill said. “I think that message has been received.”

While Stanton will remain in Miami, there are plenty of other All-Star outfielders on the open trade market. The Boston Red Sox are listening on Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and the Dodgers have teams know they are willing to trade Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or even Matt Kemp.

Just not Yasiel Puig.

“I think that’s most likely the best course of action,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. “Things play out in different ways, but I’ll be surprised if it’s not in a way to move an outfielder to address an area that’s not as deep.”

The Atlanta Braves also have two of the finest young outfielders available on the market in Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, and are shopping catcher Evan Gattis, too.

“We obviously have all options open,” said John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations. “Nothing is settled here.”

Or anywhere else for that matter.

It’s that time of year.

Let the trades begin.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees look to “change the dynamic” of their coaching staff10.11.14

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

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