Why? Because the Yankees McCann!…
I have to admit that the Yankees’ free agent signing of former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann caught me by surprise. Like so many people did last Saturday, I went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. No sooner than I walked out the theater after the movie, I immediately saw the alerts the Yankees had signed McCann.
I had heard the Yankees were interested in McCann, but so were other teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Colorado Rockies. I thought the Rangers were the most likely landing spot. It’s a winning organization in a city that puts more pressure on the local football team. The cost of living is reasonable, and the area is spacious. There’s not too much to dislike about Texas…well, outside of those hot humid summers, the long drives to get anywhere, and the infrequency of trees (at least in North Texas). I also thought the Boston Red Sox might have an advantage with former McCann backup David Ross on the roster. Either Texas or Boston offers the chance for World Series participation.
But in the end, it was the Yankees’ offer (number of years) in combination with the short porch in right field which is very attractive for the left-handed slugger.
I had Brian McCann as my catcher on my fantasy baseball team this year and his health caused me to seek other options. While he was on the DL, I leaned on his Braves replacement (Evan Gattis) among others. So, McCann’s health is an obvious concern. But if healthy, he is a tremendous addition to the team. He gives the Yankees their best offensive threat from the position since Jorge Posada retired. Russell Martin would occasionally get hot, but he is not close to the hitter that McCann is. Plus, McCann’s leadership abilities are well documented. When Chipper Jones retired, he gave a strong recommendation for McCann as a team leader.
Nothing against Francisco Cervelli, but I think he is better suited to backup someone like McCann than to start. He had his moments last year before getting hurt and then the subsequent suspension, but he’ll get his opportunities when McCann rests or moves to DH. I am fine with the number of years on the contract because I think McCann is an excellent bridge to super prospect Gary Sanchez. When Sanchez is ready for the majors, it will be time to slide McCann to first or DH anyway. It also frees GM Brian Cashman to potentially include other catching prospects like Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy is potential trades.
Signing McCann was a great start to the off-season but there is obviously still much work ahead for Cashman and the Yanks.
Where are we?…
As we turn the page to Thanksgiving, the Yankees have their manager, backup shortstop and catcher in the fold. They are rumored to be the leaders for the services of free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, although I have heard he has a preference for staying in the NL (I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I personally believe he’d have even greater success in the American League). I like the idea of Beltran in right.
As it sounds, Robinson Cano’s camp is still asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million. They’ve dropped “slightly” from the initial figure of $310 million, but anything in the Alex Rodriguez area of contracts is too much…even for arguably the team’s best player. I would rather see the Yankees use the money on multiple key players, shift the offense to other positions and then backfill second base with someone like Omar Infante. I still hope there are compromises made on both sides to bring Cano back to the Bronx, but if it is not meant to be, I don’t want to see the Yankees overspend.
So far, no help for the starting rotation. Several notable free agent pitchers in a market void of any aces have already signed. Dan Haren with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tim Hudson with the San Francisco Giants, and Ricky Nolasco with the Minnesota Twins. I don’t think the Yankees were linked to any of those guys, but the smaller the free agent pool, the more intense the competition becomes at least for the guys who can win 12-14 games for you. I know the Yankees are rumored to be heavily counting on the posting of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka if MLB and the Japanese are able to come to an agreement for a new posting system. But you have to wonder what Plan B will be. So far, I have not heard much about Hiroki Kuroda but I would like to see the team try to bring him back for one more year.
The next few weeks will go a long way toward determining how strong and competitive the 2014 Yankees will be.
Coaching staff intact…well, almost…
Several weeks ago, I heard that Joe Girardi’s entire coaching staff would be returning. However, today, I saw that the Arizona Diamondbacks have named Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey as their new pitching coach. Congratulations to Mike! Larry Rothschild is not going anywhere so it is good to see Harkey get his opportunity elsewhere. Now, the Yankees will be in the market for a new bullpen coach. Say, I wonder what Mariano Rivera is doing… 😉
Well, that’s all for now. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!
Isn’t this kind of like pulling my finger- and toe-nails?…
One thing I’ve learned with these extended A.J. Burnett trade talks, patience is not my middle name and it’s not one of my virtues! While the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero came very fast and furiously, the potential Burnett trade has been dragging for an eternity. There’s no question the Yankees have identified the Pittsburgh Pirates as the prime target. It’s been reported that the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels were willing to make a trade that would have brought the return of Bobby Abreu to the Bronx, but it was nixed by A.J. as the Angels were one of the ten teams on his no-trade list. This actually blows my mind to think that he’d turn down the Angels, arguably one of the best teams in the major leagues with Jered Weaver and Albert Pujols, but he’d be willing to go to Pittsburgh. To me, and maybe I am off-base, baseball is about winning and championships. Nothing against the Pirates, but the Angels, as currently built, will see deep October sooner than the men from the Steel City.
Granted, Burnett would be the #2 starter on the Pirates staff and no better than #5 on the Angels. But, c’mon, how much pressure can there be pitching behind Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana? With Burnett in a low-risk situation, the Angels would have an absolutely ridiculous starting rotation and one that would clearly put the Philadelphia Phillies in an inferior position as baseball’s best rotation. But Mrs. Burnett apparently has issues with flying, so the perfect situation for Burnett won’t happen.
What will it take to consummate the deal with the Pirates? I’ve read the Yankees have proposed a sliding scale…the more money the Pirates take in salary, the less the Yankees will seek in terms of prospects. I do think that Burnett could excel in Pittsburgh. There’s pressure but it is certainly nothing like playing in New York. A.J.’s problems tend to be mental as there is no questioning the value of his great arm. I think A.J. can relax and trust his stuff better in a lower-pressured situation.
For the Yankees, I think the #5 slot is Phil Hughes’ to lose regardless of the contract the Yanks gave to Freddy Garcia. Garcia will be the long man and spot starter. That leaves no room for Burnett, and of course, that would only bring a bad attitude if he reports to camp with the Yankees. So, hopefully, GM Brian Cashman can put the distractions of his poor sleeping partner decisions to rest long enough to hammer out the deal with the Pirates within the next 24-48 hours. With the recent promotions of Assistant GM Jean Afterman to SVP and Angels GM Candidate #2 Billy Eppler to Assistant GM, maybe the second string is working this one. I don’t care if George Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, is working this one, let’s just get it done…
Sorry, A.J., I love your arm, but I haven’t wanted to see a player leave New York this bad since Ed Whitson was a Yankee.
Welcome to New York…err, Tampa!..
I really enjoyed reading some of the early reports about new pitcher Michael Pineda. He reported to camp early and talked about how excited he was to be a Yankee. He gave glowing reports of his interactions with Robinson Cano, and it is easy to see that he’ll mesh very nicely with “King of the Hill” CC Sabathia. Passion and intensity are two qualities that I’ve always respected, and Pineda seems to have “it”.
If Ken Griffey, Jr and Gary Matthews, Jr can do it, so can Donnie Baseball, Jr…
I realize that minor league OF prospect Preston Mattingly is getting a bit long in tooth after two failed tries with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, but he is still only 24 years old. I know that he’s getting “old” for a prospect, but it would be a wonderful story for Mattingly to seize the opportunity with the Yankees and prove that he can be the talent that he was once projected to be with the Dodgers. So far, I’ve liked what he has had to say. He certainly has his father’s positive attitude and realistic perspective, even if he isn’t the player his father was. I’d like nothing more than to see Preston eventually earn a spot on the Yankees roster. I am biased because his father was my favorite player and is the reason that the Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite NL team. Let’s hope that good things happen for a deserving son of a great legend…
Scratching nails on a chalkboard…
It rubs me wrong every time the Yankees sign a former Boston Red Sox player. Well, I might be okay if the Yankees picked up Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury or Dustin Pedroia. But otherwise, I really have no desire to see former Red Sox players pull on the pinstripes. Conversely, it is even harder to watch former Yankees sign with the Red Sox. When the Yankees cut ties with Alfredo Aceves due to his injury history, my immediate thought was a potentially huge mistake. At that point, I was hoping someone like the San Diego Padres would sign Aceves, but unfortunately, the Red Sox swooped in and captured Aceves. He went on to have a brilliant season with the Sox in the bullpen, and is a valued member of their pitching staff heading into 2012. So, it pained me today when I saw that the Red Sox had signed former Yankee pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. I realize that Ohlendorf had a miserable 2011 season with the Pirates, but I’ve always liked the guy who the Yanks acquired when they dealt Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks a few years ago. I am really hoping that Ohlendorf doesn’t become the next Tim Wakefield for the Sox.
Clearly our loss…
Baseball-speaking, today was a very sad day. I had heard that Gary Carter was battling cancer, but it was still hard to hear the news that he had passed. I think back to when I first became aware of baseball and a Yankees fan. It was in the mid-1970’s. In those early years, I was focused primarily on the Yankees. I was aware of other teams and players, but I can’t say that I know too much about them. Thurman Munson was the catcher and he quickly became my favorite player. I could never fully appreciate the greatness of Johnny Bench because of my admiration for Thurman. Same holds true for Carlton Fisk, who I always saw as a Red Sock even after his trade to the Chicago White Sox. My world changed on August 2, 1979, and it caused me to step back and look at the bigger picture. Only then did I begin to truly appreciate the value of great players on other teams. At that point, the catcher of the Montreal Expos quickly rose to the surface, for me, as one of the premier players at his position. There was something very clutch and special about Gary Carter. He went on to drive the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986, and proved that he was the catcher of my era. I am glad that he saw his entry into the Hall of Fame and there’s no question that he packed more into 57 years than I’ll ever experience regardless of how old I live to be. A good man, a proud father, a legendary baseball player. Gary, we will never forget you.
Maybe Phil Jackson would like to have one more shot…
I had fun on Saturday night when the New York Knicks came to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a Knicks fan (my first year!), I was excited to see what Lin-mania was all about. He was a little off that night, but at the end, it was Jeremy Lin’s basket that proved to be the game-winner. The T-Wolves, or the Muskies as they were referred to that night in tribute to a former Minneapolis basketball team from the 60’s or 70’s, had led the game from the start. The Knicks had caught the T-Wolves a couple of times, but then Minnesota seemed to drop a few consecutive buckets to pull ahead again. But at the end, Lin was not to be denied, and “Lin-sanity” continues. It’s funny because I bought the tickets to the game hoping to see Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and neither player dressed for the game. But all things considered, Lin was the perfect substitute.
Yes, it was exciting to see the opening of Fantasy Baseball…
It’s fun to see the return of fantasy baseball. I’ve already set a few teams with ESPN and I think my first draft is this weekend. I am looking forward to when they open the live drafting functionality. I like fantasy baseball if for no other reason than it helps you know and understand players on other teams than just your favorite team. If Jon Lester heads my starting rotation or if Jacoby Ellsbury is roving my outfield, I am okay with that. Granted, when Lester and Ellsbury come to Yankee Stadium, I’ll be pulling for L’s and O-fer’s but when Lester shuts down the Rays or Ellsbury slams a homer to beat the O’s, there might be a smile on my face.
Baseball, let’s get started…
IP 4.1, H 7, R 7, ER 5, BB 1, SO 1, HR 1…
Okay, that’s a lousy pitching line any way you slice it. I recognize that Sergio Mitre, fresh off the DL, was rusty, and you can’t expect perfection. But I was not a Mitre fan before and I am not one now. I think there are better pitching options on the roster as fill-in’s for injured Andy Pettitte. I would rather see Dustin Moseley get a shot to start before taking another chance on Mitre. Moseley, by the way, pitching yesterday too, and his line was much more appealing:
IP 4.2, H 1, R 0, ER 0, BB 1, SO 1, HR 0
As for trading for an option like Dan Haren of the Arizona Diamondbacks, I am reluctant at best. I really want to see the Yankees pursue Cliff Lee in the off-season, and I am fearful that adding a pitcher like Haren and his salary would be a detriment. We saw last off-season when the Yankees held the line and allowed Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui walk rather than increase payroll above $200 million. I do think that Andy Pettitte will give hard consideration to retirement after the season. There is uncertainty with Javier Vazquez who will be a free agent, and there are still questions about Phil Hughes who has been mired in a slump for the past month (not to mention a innings limitation).
This is a tough call. The Yankees do need to maximize their own resources for starting talent, but in my opinion, it doesn’t start with Mitre. If Moseley is not the answer, then reach into the farm system and give Ivan Nova or Zach McAllister a shot.
The awful performance by Mitre put the Yankees into a hole that they were unable to recover from in losing to the Kansas City Royals, 7-4. It did hurt in the 4th inning when Robinson Cano hit into a double play on a great play by Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. The DP left the bases empty with two outs after the Yankees had scored a run at the start of the inning with Mark Teixeira’s lead-off home run. Facing a 6-1 deficit, Jorge Posada followed Cano with a solo home run. Had Betancourt not made such a great play on Cano, the Yankees would have had two men on base when Posada came to the plate. Had he homered in that situation, the score could have been 6-4 instead of 6-2 which would have given the game a completely different complexion.
Still, the Yankees had a shot in the bottom of the 9th inning with Mark Teixeira at the plate with two men on. He had hit two home runs earlier in the game, so this was a terrific opportunity for three home runs. But he grounded out to end the game.
John Munson/The Star Ledger
No home runs for Alex Rodriguez, who remains at 599.
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Today, the Yankees will see if Phil Hughes can turn it around. He’ll face Sean O’Sullivan, who beat Hughes and the Yanks 10-2 last Tuesday while wearing a Angels uniform.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Both Nick Swisher (Achilles heel) and Brett Gardner (acid reflux) will be back in the starting line up today so that’s a positive sign.
This is a great day for a Yankees win!
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Milestone achieved at Yankee Stadium but not that one…
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
On a night when everyone was watching and hoping for the 600th home run by Alex Rodriguez (which he failed to do), Jorge Posada delivered his 1000th RBI of his career. He hit a RBI double in the first inning off Kansas City Royals starter Brian Bannister.
Al Bello/Getty Images
A.J. Burnett looked much better in the 7-1 win over the Royals. His performance was shortened by a rain delay which limited him to 5 innings, but he only gave up 4 hits and no runs. He also walked a batter, and struck out 3. It was enough for A.J. to even his mark at 8-8, as relievers Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo secured the victory for him. Albaladejo’s stay with the Yankees was brief as he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for today’s starter, Sergio Mitre (who was activated off the DL).
Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger
A-Rod went 2-for4 but no home runs in his quest for 600. In today’s game, he will face the pitcher who gave up his 500th career home run (Kyle Davies). Hopefully, Alex will get the home run sooner rather than later so that he can move on. I remember watching when Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run, and how magical the night was. I realize it won’t be like that for Alex, given his steroids admission, but it is still a monumental feat. Hitting home runs takes great hand/eye coordination and Alex, regardless of his past admissions, is still one of the better players of his era.
Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger
Nick Swisher missed the game when he woke up with soreness in his Achilles heel. He had been penciled in to start in right. Colin Curtis, who has really proven that he is a good hitter, took his place. Curtis will get another start today in place of Brett Gardner in left. Gardner is dealing with an acid reflux problem that apparently dates back to his childhood. Swisher is still out so Marcus Thames will start in right.
There have been rumors that the Yankees are talking with the Arizona Diamondbacks about starting pitcher Dan Haren, but all reports this morning are that the teams are far apart and nothing is imminent. I know that I voiced frustration with Joba Chamberlain in my last post, but I would hate to see him go to Arizona for Haren. I keep hearing that the D-Backs want a major league ready pitcher in addition to prospects, so it is very unlikely the Yankees could get Haren for, say, Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister. It just seems that the price tag would be too high, not to mention Haren’s high salary. He is certainly no Cliff Lee, so it would be very hard for me to justify paying a King’s ransom for him. I know that I want another option in the starting rotation than Mitre, but I suspect the Yankees will wait until closer to the deadline when there is a greater sense of urgency for teams to move certain guys. Perhaps the Yankees make no moves, but if there is none out there that make sense, then they should pass. Hopefully, guys like Curtis and Albaladejo can step up to fill crucial needs.