Beware of the Blue Jays • 11.21.12
The Blue Jays have been loading up for a serious run, bringing in Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, among others, from Miami and signing Melky Cabrera. They just hired John Gibbons for a managing sequel. Between the Jays, the Orioles and the Rays (and the Red Sox will presumably be more competitive), it should make for a great division race with the Yankees.
I asked Brian Cashman Tuesday night about the Blue Jays’ offseason and the impact on the Yankees.
“Toronto has done a lot,” Cashman said. “They’ve been very aggressive. I’ve been obviously associated with the Yankees since ’86, so I know the sleeping giant that exists up there. It’s a great baseball town. They’ve had a huge amount of success in the past. They’re fighting from the development standpoint, from the trade standpoint, from the free-agent standpoint, to get back to that. And they’ve been doing it for quite some time.
“Last year wasn’t a true reflection of how good they could have been because they got derailed with injuries and unexpected underperformance. That happens in the sport of baseball. So last year they were better than what they showed on the field, and I think their additions are certainly going to serve them extremely well.
“They’ve been on the map as far as we’ve been concerned. They’ve been one of the best teams in the game in the first half of every season the last few years. The second half, things have gone different for them. …
“It’s just more competition. It’s not surprising. You tip your cap to them. We recognize what’s going on up there. But it doesn’t change how we go about our business. We feel we know what we need to do and we’re going to try to execute it, just like they’re trying to do the same.”
I think the kings of fourth place are going to be formidable throughout for a change, if they stay healthy. Like that Blue Jays lineup. The Yankees will surely do a few more things this offseason. Do you think they ultimately should fear Toronto?
The Nova mystery • 11.21.12
Ivan Nova obviously has ability, but as we saw in the second half, he misplaced it somewhere. He went 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA after the All-Star break, and finished 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA and a .288 opponents batting average. Plus, the Yankees didn’t let him near the mound in the postseason.
I asked Brian Cashman during Tuesday night’s conference call about his concern level about him going forward.
The GM didn’t sound too worried.
“I feel really good about Nova,” Cashman said. “He’s a good young arm. His maiden voyage a year ago was terrific, and he finished strong. He won one of our two playoff wins the previous year. And then this year, sophomore growing pains or whatever you want to call it. But at the same time, his strikeout total soared and his walk total reduced. So it was an interesting year for him.
“The stuff is there. He’s a good, young, under-control, not-even-arbitration-eligible starter with a boatload of experience, both positive and negative. I, without a doubt, consider Nova a rotation starter in the majors. It’s just, where’s he going to slot himself as we go into 2013? At the back end or toward the middle of the rotation.
“So that’s how I look at Nova. The equipment is there. His determination is there. Like anything, you get on the right side of the mountain, when you’ve got the positive things rolling, with his ability, you can take off. If you get on the wrong side of the mountain, you have to struggle through it and fight through it. That’s how he ended up in the end, where he was on the wrong side of the mountain, probably of confidence. But that’s nothing I worry about with him. He’s a very confident guy.”
This is the link to my story today for The Journal News and LoHud.com about the positive move of re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and a quick summary of Tuesday’s happenings. But I didn’t have room for Cashman’s take on the current rotation, minus Andy Pettitte, at least for the moment:
“On paper, we do have five starters. If you go through it, you’ve got CC, Kuroda, Hughes, Nova, Phelps, but we would certainly like to add to that and lengthen it and deepen it and strengthen it.”
Cashman relieved; Jeter projection • 11.20.12
Brian Cashman had a conference call tonight with reporters in conjunction with the re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda.
“It’s a relief to know that Hiroki is back,” Cashman said. “… It’s a short-term deal that provides flexibility as we move forward and gives us an important, valuable arm to our rotation.”
Cashman didn’t have any update on Andy Pettitte’s thinking as far as a return.
He did say: “The pitching is our priority and has been our priority. So we’ll continue on those efforts.”
Cashman did talk up Ivan Nova as a starter despite his second-half struggles. He said Michael Pineda looked good recently throwing on flat ground, but that the Yankees aren’t ready to count on him yet for the rotation. He said the Yankees are still in talks with Mariano Rivera, and that he had no concerns over the closer’s reconstructed knee. Cashman also had praise for the Blue Jays’ big offseason. And here’s Cashman’s view on Derek Jeter’s return following his broken ankle.
“He’ll be our Opening Day starting shortstop,” Cashman said.
Brian Cashman was just on the Dan Patrick Show, and he was asked whether C.J. Wilson is at the top of his offseason wish list.
“I’d say it’s fair to say C.J. Wilson is probably the best pitcher on the marketplace right now since Sabathia’s been taken out and retained here,” Cashman said. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to tell anybody that he’s the most attractive candidate.”
Obviously, in a public interview like this, it’s smart to take everything Cashman says with a grain of salt, but he’s also usually one to hedge on everything. He’s not necessarily a guy who makes declarative statements like that on a whim.
Cashman cautioned that putting Wilson at the top of the list is strictly because of performance and talent. It does not take into account the contract Wilson might be after.
“You have your priority list and how it looks,” Cashman said. “But then it gets rearranged by cost analysis.”
A few other highlights from Cashman’s 10 minutes or so on the show:
• Patrick asked twice about Albert Pujols. “I think he would be on anybody’s wish list,” Cashman said. “In our circumstances, our roster, he doesn’t fit… It’s not an efficient way to try to allocate your resources.”
• Cashman said he never heard from another team about becoming their general manager this offseason.
• Is is better to build a team specifically for the postseason? “I think the (regular season) long haul is a true reflection of what your team is,” Cashman said. “Our team, I don’t think, played up to its maximum potential in October, for that one week.”
• Despite the Phillies being knocked out this postseason, Cashman said his basic philosophy hasn’t changed. “I still think pitching is the key to the kingdom,” he said. “I think that’s the recipe you have to strive for. It doesn’t mean an automatic. Nothing does. But I think that’s the right way to go.”
• Cashman said bringing back CC Sabathia “was not a layup” and there were some nervous moments. “That’s never a fun process,” Cashman said. “But the resolution we’re really happy with, and we know he is.”
• Funny question from Patrick: Does Cashman believe his time with the Yankees will end when he retires or gets fired? “I would say that normally you get fired,” Cashman said, laughing. “I think it’s a healthy way to look at it. I think at some point, they usually tell you to go.”
Random bit of information: Cashman said he could most easily impress Patrick by showing him the Yankees conference room. It was built for draft preparation, and the walls are magnetic so that the Yankees can easily make lists and move names around. Right now, those walls are used to rank free agents by position. During the season, it has every team’s roster.
Cashman said there are five TVs — including one massive big screen — so the executives can watch five games at once, or they can pull up computer information on any of the screens. Cashman said his son plays X-box in there.
“That’s the wow room,” Cashman said. “When people come here, they’re going to get blown away by that.”
Associated Press photo
Yesterday’s Brian Cashman conference call didn’t start with discussion of his contract, or discussion of CC Sabathia’s contract. It started with Cashman discussing his upcoming Solidarity Sleepout with Covenant House. Cashman is on the board of direction for the foundation which works to fight homelessness among young people.
“I’ve had a chance to meet some pretty inspiring kids who are fighting for, obviously, a lot,” Cashman said. “They’re fighting homelessness. They’ve obviously had a curveball thrown their way, in many cases not by their own fault… Nobody is obviously trying to compare one night of sleeping in the streets to what a homeless child goes through, but the effort here is to try to raise up to a half million dollars to benefit the programs as we move forward.”
It sounds like a pretty powerful event with some pretty powerful people in the New York area. Here’s the bulk of a press release with details of the event.
New York – On November 17th at 6 pm, the 21st Anniversary Covenant House Candlelight Vigil in Times Square, sponsored by Aviva USA life and annuity company, will feature the first-ever Covenant House CEO Solidarity Sleepout, with over 40 influential leaders sleeping outside in the shadow of the Covenant House New York Crisis Shelter in solidarity with homeless youth.
“On November 17th and 18th, we are going to transform Times Square and our crisis shelter into centers of hope and solidarity for homeless youth,” says Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “Natalie Grant will light up Times Square with her inspirational performance. And after the vigil, we will march back to our crisis shelter with 300 of our homeless kids and an incredible group of CEOs and business leaders will sleep in cardboard boxes outside our crisis shelter.”
“These are leaders who have selflessly decided they want to walk in our kids’ shoes, and experience, if only for one night, some of what our kids go through,” said Ryan. “We will sleep out to show our support and to raise awareness that thousands of young people are struggling to survive every night on our streets.”
The vigil will also feature homeless youth from Covenant House, who will share stories of their journey through homelessness to independence. Following the Vigil, Covenant House will host the CEO Solidarity Sleepout on the concrete near the shelter at 460 West 41st St. with high-ranking executives hoping to improve this corner of the world, including Philip Andryc of Berens Capital Management; Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees; Bill Donahoe of Allegiance Retail Services/Foodtown; Gary Dubois of Crum & Forster/Seneca; Dave Eklund of Aeolus Reinsurance; Tom Glocer of Thomson Reuters; Jeff Kaplan of Deerfield Management; Geraldine Laybourne, co-founder of the Oxygen Network and chairman of Alloy Entertainment; Julio Alfonso Portalatin of Chartis Growth Economies; George P. Reeth of Companion Property and Casualty; Adam Silver of the NBA; and Strauss Zelnick of Zelnick Media.
Associated Press photo
Alex Rodriguez used two terms yesterday to describe the status of his sprained thumb. He said he thought it was a “one-day injury” and a “day-to-day” one.
At the time I considered them the same thing. How wrong I was. A-Rod is out of the lineup again today, making the thumb at least a two-day injury.
“Give him today and we’ll see how it is tomorrow,” Joe Girardi said.
He felt well enough to field ground balls and do team toss. That means he’ll at least have a glove on, which he said is the most painful part. Girardi said there was a chance, though it sounded slim, that if he feels so pain-free during those drills that he begs back into the lineup, he’d get the green light. But with the manager tending toward caution I think it’s unlikely.
Rodriguez was seen with a giant wrap on his left hand yesterday in the dugout, but Girardi said that looked scarier than it was.
“That’s Geno,” Girardi said of trainer Gene Monahan. “These are old-school medicines that Geno puts on people.”
Rodriguez suffered the injury backhanding a ball on Sunday.
• Brian Cashman said the current roster is likely going to be the one you see down the stretch and in the playoffs. He doesn’t see the club making any deals.
“I’m going to continue to scan everything, but no, I’m not optimistic that we’re going to do anything,” he said. “I think this is most likely what we’ve got.”
• Trevor Cahill, tonight’s Oakland starting pitcher, has not been bad this season. His 4.17 ERA is just a bit above average. But the Yankees have absolutely destroyed him. He’s 0-2 with a 14.54 ERA in two starts against them this year, and 0-4 with a 13.50 in four career starts.
“This is a young man that has good stuff but we seem to be able to make him work,” Girardi said. “We got some fortunate hits off him last time. We got some walks that hurt him.”
• Today is Brett Gardner’s 28th birthday. I asked him if he ever feels like he’s getting old or worries what age will eventually do to his legs, which are essentially his livelihood.
“Some days you feel young and some days you feel old,” he said. “Sometimes you get tired but for the most part, knock on wood, this season I’ve been healthy and I’ve felt really really good. Age is just a number.”
He leads the team with 36 stolen bases. He is the first Yankee since Alfonso Soriano in 2001-03 to steal 30 bags in consecutive seasons.
Cashman: Waiver deals unlikely for Yankees • 08.13.11
The waiver-deal deadline is Aug. 31. But Brian Cashman, who stood pat at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, isn’t counting on outside help coming now for the Yankees, either.
“I think … what you see is what you’re going to get,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be some changes. I highly doubt it. It’s not likely you’re going to see anything between now and Aug. 31 because of the waivers, guys not clearing.”
Maybe they will look in-house and see if Manuel Banuelos can help out of the bullpen before the season is out since they already have too many starters right now. Or maybe they can give him a taste of things here. The 20-year-old lefty is 0-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts since being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He took the loss at Syracuse Friday, allowing three runs, six hits and four walks and striking out three over 5 2/3. He left trailing 3-1 and the final was 7-4.
And what about Jesus Montero? The 21-year-old righty-hitting catcher is batting .283 with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 96 games. He went 2 for 5 with a solo homer Friday. He’s at .289 with three homers and five RBI over his last 10 games.
Yankees postgame: No deal • 07.31.11
Brian Cashman said he called around, that the goal is always to improve the pitching. But he didn’t find what he was looking for at the right price. So the rotation remains as is. The Yankees didn’t make a move before the nonwaiver trade deadline at 4 today.
“I just feel like we’re a lot deeper,” Cashman said. “I’m willing, by the position I’ve taken in the last three weeks, to rely on that than go out and pay an enormous price on something that I’m not certain what it’s going to provide. …
“We have one of the premier rosters in the game right now.”
Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have combined for 18 wins. Cashman also praised the improvement in A.J. Burnett and talked about Phil Hughes just having to find the consistency. But most of all, he talked about the organizational pitching depth.
First there’s Ivan Nova with nine wins and no spot. Then there’s Adam Warren, the 23-year-old Triple-A righty. Cashman said he’s “a legitimate starting choice for us right now.” But they’re highest on Manny Banuelos, who appears to be on the fast track. The 20-year-old lefty has earned a promotion from Double-A Trenton. He’s scheduled to make his debut for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday. Cashman didn’t rule him out of the major-league picture for this season, either.
“He’s obviously got ability that the whole industry has taken notice of,” Cashman said.
Cashman also didn’t rule out moves before the waiver-deal deadline Aug. 31.
“It doesn’t mean we’re done shopping or done looking,” Cashman said. “But at the same time, I’m very comfortable with the decisions we made. I like our team. We’ll continue to look for ways to make it better. I think we have some very talented young kids. They might come up here and it’ll be interesting to see their attempt to make it better.”
Brett Gardner, who had the decisive three-run triple in today’s 4-2 win over the Orioles, didn’t think a trade was necessary.
“Everybody has been playing pretty well,” Gardner said. “You hear people talking — not players, teammates or coaches, but outside, media, things like that — about trying to get a pitcher. But I don’t really see where we need one. Our guys have been throwing the ball great.
“Freddy and Bartolo were two great pickups in the offseason. Both those guys have been tremendous. I think we’re right where we want to be at.”
Mariano Rivera took the no-deal outcome as a positive.
“That gives the whole team confidence that the front office, the manager and everybody, has confidence in us,” he said. “We have a great team, so we just have to go out there and fight.”
*Derek Jeter’s right middle finger took a beating in this series. He took a grounder off of it Saturday night. Then Jake Arrieta hit him on the knuckle with a third-inning 91 mph fastball in this finale. Jeter came out an inning later for a pinch hitter.
“I just have problems gripping, which can affect throwing and swinging, which is a problem when you’re trying to play baseball.” Jeter said.
X-rays were negative. He’s day to day. He hopes to play tonight in Chicago. But Joe Girardi wasn’t so sure.
“Could it be a day or two? I think it could be a possibility,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
*Freddy Garcia extended his career-high streak to 59 2-3 innings without allowing a homer, the longest streak now for starters in the majors. He also improved to 54-23 in day games, a .701 winning percentage, the best among active pitchers. Why’s he so good on the day shift?
“Maybe because the players go out and they don’t have no rest,” Garcia said, smiling. “I don’t know. I love to pitch day games. It’s always been that way.”
*Francisco Cervelli pinch hit for Jeter in the fourth and played two innings at second, his first time there in his career. His one chance resulted in a low throw to second, but he still got the force. Cano moved from DH to second in the seventh.
“(Girardi) told me to get ready and then I started putting my shin guards on and he said, ‘You’re going to play second base.’ I said, ‘Alright,’ ” Cervelli said. “I was surprised, but you just do it.”
*The Yankees finished the homestand 7-3. They are 9-1 now vs. Baltimore.
Trade deadline dead ahead • 07.25.11
The nonwaiver trade deadline is set for 4 p.m. on Sunday, so you have to wonder what the Yankees are going to do. It’s hard to envision Brian Cashman standing pat.
The Yankees are 59-40 and 5 1/2 up in the wild card. It’s hard to envision them not making the postseason. But they probably could use some reinforcements for October, especially considering their 1-8 record against the Red Sox so far. They trail Boston by three games. They are also just 6-5 since the break.
“As we move toward the trade deadline, I don’t get too caught up in publicly saying what I think we need or don’t need because we have to win with the guys in the room,” Joe Girardi said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing. You can’t say you wish you can go get this guy or that guy because it takes two teams to trade and a lot of times it doesn’t happen.”
It’s hard to argue with the overall body of work Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have provided this season. Phil Hughes does make you wonder sometimes, though, like he did with Friday’s start. A.J. Burnett has generally kept the Yankees in games and probably should be better than just 8-8. Do they need to acquire another quality starter behind CC Sabathia even if the cost is tremendous? Do you want Ubaldo Jimenez or Wandy Rodriguez here?
And should they bring in another righty bat considering Andruw Jones is at just .218 and Jorge Posada is at .118 from the right side and .223 overall?
What do you think?
When the Yankees put Phil Hughes on the disabled list, they technically labeled the injury as “right shoulder inflammation,” but until today, there was no indication that the inflammation was a serious concern. Joe Girardi always referred to it as a dead arm issue, and Hughes himself said time and again that he did not know of any traditional injury.
Turns out, the inflammation might have been a bigger problem than the Yankees ever indicated.
The possibility of thoracic outlet syndrome “was a much bigger concern” according to Brian Cashman, but on April 28, the Yankees gave Hughes a cortisone injection. Either because of that that shot, or maybe because of the extended rest, Hughes is now indicating to the Yankees and their doctors that he feels “110 percent” better, according to Cashman. How exactly he feels better, Cashman couldn’t say, but he said he’s far more optimistic today than he was when Hughes left for St. Louis a few days ago.
“It sounds like he’s in a much better mental place, so we’ll see,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. Ultimately, with where we’re at, the recommendation has been another two weeks of rest and then we’ll get him going. Clearly he’ll have to build his arm strength up again, and that will be that true test if we’re through the woods.”
Cashman guessed that Hughes is six to eight weeks away from rejoining the Yankees rotation. Dr. Ahmad has recommended that Hughes rest for two more weeks before beginning a throwing program. There are no further tests planned.
“Hopefully this is just a bump in the road,” Cashman said.
• Highlight of my day at Comerica: Girardi was asked whether Mariano Rivera would be available today. “He was a little upset when we said he was off duty yesterday,” Girardi said. “So I think he’d probably want to strangle me if I told him he was off today.”
At that point, someone noticed Rivera was stretching right in front of us and suggested Girardi tell him — as a joke — that he would not pitch tonight. Girardi stood up, yelled “Hey Mo” and gave him a thumbs up.
Then Girardi slowly turned it to a thumbs down, indicating Rivera was down for tonight’s game. The look on Rivera’s face was positively murderous. I mean it. One of the kindest, classiest men in all of baseball, and Rivera looked like he would rip Girardi’s face off.
So, yeah, Rivera’s available tonight.
• Regular day off for Russell Martin. He’ll “probably” get another day off this weekend in Texas.
• Girardi is obviously encouraged by the way Brett Gardner is hitting and reaching base lately, but there are no plans to move him back into the leadoff spot at this time. “We always discuss our lineup,” Girardi said. “We discuss different ideas every day. Is that something that I have a plan to do? No, not really.”
• Francisco Cervelli hasn’t had much time with Freddy Garcia, but Girardi gave Cervelli advance notice that he’d be catching tonight’s game. “I told Cervi to watch his last couple of starts and see what he’s doing so he would have a better understanding,” Girardi said. “He doesn’t have much of a history, but you hope the learning curve would be pretty quick.”
• Victor Martinez is off the Tigers disabled list and batting fifth behind Miguel Cabrera. Does that change the way the Yankees approach Cabrera? “I think you look at the score, the time of the game, the situation,” Girardi said. “You have to remember, you have one guy that’s been down for a while, too, and none of us really know how Victor’s swinging. But we know how Miguel’s swinging.”
• Eduardo Nunez went through extensive fielding drills before tonight’s game. Girardi said those drills were planned for yesterday but the session was rained out.
Associated Press photos