He has swing and miss ability!…
My first thought hearing the news (allegedly, as there has been no official announcement yet) that the Yankees signed free agent first baseman Chris Carter was the team had captured last year’s strikeout leader. Great if the signing was for a pitcher, but not so great when it is a hitter.
Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Still, for a team with questions at first base, the signing makes some sense. It’s not a given that Greg Bird will pick up where he left off in 2015 given that he missed most of last year due to injury (playing only in the Arizona Fall League).
The other first base candidate (Tyler Austin) was completely off the Yankees’ radar last off-season. He had a surprisingly good year to recapture prospect status and came up with some big hits in the Bronx at the end of the year. But he is not the second coming of Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi or Mark Teixeira.
Carter will end many innings with strikeouts, but the potential for the big smash to win games is there. He provides help from the bench if Bird captures first with a strong Spring performance or is there for a platoon if necessary. He also provides insurance at DH for Matt Holliday who has spent a fair amount of time on the DL over the last few years.
For only $3.5 million (and one year), Carter is a good investment. He can play his way into a new contract with the Yankees or the parties can decide to part ways at the end of the year which fits with Hal Steinbrenner’s desire to get under the luxury tax threshold next year.
We’ve been spoiled by great first basemen over the years, but I didn’t enjoy the various Teixeira ailments that plagued the team in recent years. I am hopeful that Bird grabs the position and runs with it. Carter will be there for insurance.
Wanted: Starting Pitchers…
I had been hopeful the Yankees would sign a veteran pitcher to bring to camp but it doesn’t look like it will happen. Jason Hammel had been my choice, but he recently signed with the Kansas City Royals as they attempt to recover from the devastating passing of Yordano Ventura. Doug Fister is still out there, but I don’t think he’ll be coming in for the Yankees. So, it looks like the Yankees will fill the two open spots in the rotation with in-house candidates. Clearly, they have to be hoping for a rebound by Luis Severino who failed miserably as a starter last year (finding success only in the bullpen). But with off-season work with Pedro Martinez, maybe Sevy can show he is capable of becoming a good starter at the major league level.
I would love for James Kaprielian to take the other spot, but I recognize that he is not ready yet. He’ll need more time in the minors and might get a chance later in the year. Luis Cessa and Chad Green will be given every opportunity, but Jordan Montgomery is quickly becoming my favorite. Last year, he pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 19 starts with AA Trenton, and then 0.97 in just 6 starts with AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. At 6-6, he is a formidable presence on the mound with the pitches to match. His time may be now. Severino and Montgomery have the potential to make the back end of the Yankees rotation quite strong, which would certainly help the question marks that exist in the front end.
Credit: Jason Farmer/Scranton Times Tribune
It’s exciting that baseball is almost back. Pitchers and catchers will report on Valentine’s Day (that must have made a bunch of wives and girlfriends very happy) so we’re only days away. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago Aroldis Chapman was on the mound winning a World Series. It will be good to see him back in blue (well, a darker shade of blue than we last saw him in). The excitement of spring training and the limitless possibilities it brings is fun.
Welcome back, Yankees!
Sad Day for Detroit and all of Major League Baseball…
On a final note, my deepest sympathy and condolences to the Detroit Tigers, their fans, and the family of their late owner Mike Ilitch who passed away yesterday. He was great for the Tigers and for the city of Detroit. He will be missed. It’s unfortunate that he was unable to see a Tigers championship or the opening of the new Little Caesars Arena for his other team, the Detroit Red Wings.
The first swing is a strike…
OK, I am bummed. Today’s news, aside from the fact that my beloved Minnesota Vikings and San Jose Sharks lost games, was the Boston Red Sox naming former Yankee Chili Davis as their new hitting coach. I had really hoped we’d see the return of Davis to New York to replace the departed Kevin Long. However, it is not meant to be. Not sure if Davis decided not to wait on the Yankees, or if they made a lower offer, or if Davis simply looked into the crystal ball and saw greater potential with the 2015 Red Sox hitters.
I wish Chili the best in his new job, and I am sure that he’ll be a huge benefit for Yoenis Cespedes given their prior success together in Oakland.
Where does that leave the Yankees? At this point, Dave Magadan is probably the strongest name on the board. Dante Bichette has been mentioned as a possibility. I have not kept up with Dante’s post-playing career, but he is an intriguing name given his close friendship with Manager Joe Girardi and his son is a prospect in the Yankees system. Another name that intrigues me is Jason Giambi. Not sure if he is ready to pull the plug on his playing days, but he’s obviously already moved into a mentoring role and would be a great guy for the position. With so many teams moving to the two hitting coach approach, I think the Yankees should follow suit regardless of who gets the job. A perfect combo might be Magadan with Hideki Matsui as his assistant hitting coach.
While I am disappointed that Chili Davis is no longer an option, I wonder if the team has already made its decision. Reports are that a new coach could be named by Tuesday which leads me to believe the Yankees have either made their decision or they’ve significantly narrowed the choices.
Hopefully next week brings some good news regarding Joe Girardi’s coaching staff. It’s funny. When your team is not in the World Series, you are anxious for the WS to end so that the Hot Stove League can begin.
Speaking of the World Series, I am pulling for the San Francisco Giants by default. My NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers but sadly they couldn’t make it to the NLCS. As a Bay Area resident, it’s not too hard to default to the Giants even if they are the Dodgers bitterest rival. It doesn’t matter that the Giants have that ‘been there, done that’ feel to them whereas the Kansas City Royals are returning to a stage they haven’t seen since 1985. I am ready for another Orange October…
Where do we go from here?…
December 6th. For years, this has been the anniversary of my graduation from Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. But on December 6, 2013, it may have been the most tumultuous day in Yankees history in terms of arrivals and departures…or at least in recent memory.
The day started with news that talks had broken down between Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners. It stirred renewed hope that Cano would find his way back to the Bronx, but as quickly as the reports had come about the Mariners’ CEO blowing a gasket at salary demands from the Cano Camp and ending talks, the reports came that Cano had accepted a ten year deal from the Mariners for $240 million. Cano never called the Yankees before taking the offer, but it was a given they would not match.
It’s hard to watch your team’s best player walk away for nothing. But in this situation, I think the Yankees made the right call. After the fiasco of the Alex Rodriguez contract and what an albatross it has become, it is clear that extended contracts are not good for baseball. I saw one writer yesterday who wrote that the only player worth a ten year deal, right now, would be 22-year-old Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. I think that’s a fairly accurate statement.
When the Yankees signed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira to long-term deals in 2009, both of those players were significantly better players than they are today. They can continue to perform at a high level but at this point, it is equally possible for them to continue performance regression.
I can remember how painful Jason Giambi’s had become by the end. Even David Winfield’s ten year contract, regardless of how great the player was, had been a mistake as the player and the owner were bitter enemies by the time the contract expired.
I thought the Yankees’ offer of 7 years for $175 million was fair. If the Cano Camp (Team Jay Z or rather, CAA) had been more sensible in their meetings with the Yankees, I am sure that Cano probably could have squeezed out an additional year. However, Cano was dead set on getting a ten year contract, so that clearly nailed the coffin on his Yankees career. Of the two organizations, the Yankees and the Mariners, I feel strongly that the former would be more willing to take care of Cano at the end of the contract. In other words, at the end of 7 years, if the player was continuing to play at a high level, the Yankees would pay a new contract commensurate to performance with a premium paid for past accomplishments such as they’ve done with Derek Jeter. I know the Jeter negotiations were very tense a couple of years ago but this off-season’s re-signing was at a higher dollar amount than any other team would have paid. As for the Mariners, I highly doubt that Cano will be in Seattle at the end of the ten years. When he begins the eventual downward trend as he ages, Seattle will be looking to move the contract, even if they have to pay cash, to cut their losses. The odds that Cano would have been in New York at the end of 7 years would have been substantially greater.
I am not sure that Cano has fully comprehended how he has trashed his Yankee legacy. I personally have no desire to ever see the player honored in Memorial Park and have absolutely no qualms with the team re-issuing #24 to another player. Maybe time will heal the feelings, but Cano showed no loyalty or respect for the fans of New York and simply took the money and ran. He was a good Yankee, but he was not a great one. For a player who enjoyed being a star in New York City, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to being out of the spotlight. The crowds attending Seattle away games will be smaller and will have far fewer “home team” fans in attendance. With the Yankees, it’s like being a rock star as Jason Giambi once said. Nothing against Seattle, it is a beautiful city and a great ballpark, but it is a team that is, and will continue to be, inferior to the much stronger Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and Oakland A’s. They do not have a history and tradition of winning and I do not expect that to change. Cano has his money. Good for him. But his days of playing for an organization that wants to win every year and considers missing the play-offs to be a disaster are over.
With Friday’s flurry of activity, it was almost an afterthought that the Yankees also lost outfielder Curtis Granderson. Grandy has a good player for most of his Yankees career, but of course, he missed the majority of the 2013 season due to injuries. He leaves the Yankees for a tougher park to hit with the New York Mets. Maybe his game will play well for the Mets, or maybe he becomes the next Jason Bay. The Yankees did not show a strong desire for Grandy’s return after he rejected the team’s qualifying offer and had more preference for guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, or even the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. At the moment, with the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, there wouldn’t have been any room in the crowded outfield for Granderson. While the Yankees have stated they intend to keep Brett Gardner and move him to left field (pushing Alfonso Soriano to DH), I still suspect that Gardner will be expendable in the team’s pursuit of quality starting pitching. I see the DH role being better utilized for guys like Derek Jeter and Brian McCann as ways to rest them than moving the admittedly defensively challenged Soriano there on a full-time basis. My feelings about Granderson’s departure are significantly different than those of Cano. I felt that Granderson made the best decision for him both personally and professionally. I am thankful he was a Yankee and I wish him well with his new team. I am sure that he has a few more productive years ahead of him.
Friday also saw the return of starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and the addition of outfielder Carlos Beltran. It’s apparent that Beltran’s arrival is tied to Cano’s departure since the team finally acquiesced to Beltran’s desire for a third year, but both signings are essential for the 2014 Yankees. With only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova holding down spots in the starting rotation, Kuroda is a key anchor for the rotation. He may be no more than a #3 starter next year, but he is a strong stabilizing force. The Yankees still need more starting pitching besides the hope that Michael Pineda and/or some of the Triple A arms will be able to take spots.
I really was unsure if Kuroda would return. It has been said that he wants to play a final year in Japan before he retires, and there was talk that he might be interested in returning to Southern California since his family still lives there. But Kuroda is an honorable man, and it was so telling in his final year with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he didn’t want to be traded because the Dodgers were the team he started the season with and he didn’t want to go elsewhere. I did wonder if the pull off the Dodgers, assuming they were interested, would have been too much. But I think Kuroda has enjoyed playing for the Yankees and his sense of loyalty led him back to the team for one more year. It’s a pleasure to have him back in the fold.
Welcome to the Bronx, Carlos Beltran! Granted, the Yankees have more to do if they want to return to October baseball, but Beltran is one of the post-season greats. Some guys thrive when the pressure is on (unlike Alex Rodriguez) and Beltran is a leader in that category. It has always been said that he wanted to play in the Bronx and had been willing to sign for a discount when he ultimately signed with the Mets. He finally gets the chance at the latter stages of his career. He is an offensive upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells, and helps to offset the loss of Cano’s production.
It is interesting that the 2014 Yankee outfield will be comprised of two guys who played for the opposing teams in the 2013 World Series. One with a ring and one without. At the moment, they’ll be joined in the outfield by Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano although, as previously stated above, I think Gardner will be moved for pitching help.
December 6th will long be remembered as the day the Yankees lost Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, but brought in Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Beltran. There is much work yet to do with Cano’s loss, but the arrivals of Beltran, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury bring guys with something to prove. Kelly Johnson is also a Yankee and the starting second baseman at the moment, although I do think he’ll be the super-sub by the time the team breaks camp next spring. I do not know who will be the second baseman in 2014 but the Yankees will figure it out. As David Robertson said, they always do.
From Beantown to the Bronx…
I have heard many Yankee fans voice frustration about Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract (primarily the length, not the dollars). I know that he has had his health challenges, but I like the move. I respected Ellsbury during his days in Boston and I like the elements of his game. It can be argued that he is Brett Gardner, but he is a better version. As a player who once said that he’d never play for the Yankees, it is nice to see that the history and tradition of the organization were overriding factors, in addition to the monetary reasons. The Red Sox weren’t going to extend the years to Ellsbury so it was inevitable that he’d leave. There is a sting with the Red Sox Nation that he went with the Yankees, and there are probably parallels to the Cano situation (dollars over loyalty), but at the end of the day, I am glad that Ells is a Yank.
And then there’s next week…
As the baseball winter meetings loom on the immediate horizon, there should be more activity for Yankees fans. This winter is so dramatically different than last year’s status quo approach. After missing the play-offs and the retirement of a few players, there were more holes to fill. Brian McCann solidifies the catching position, and Francisco Cervelli will return, after now that he’s completed his 50-game suspension and is healthy, to be McCann’s caddy. McCann gives the Yankees a better catcher than they had in 2012 starter, Russell Martin, and the strongest offensive threat at the position since the retired Jorge Posada.
Jacoby Ellsbury gives the Yankees options. He strengthens the team up the middle, and like McCann, has a swing that tailored for Yankee Stadium. He may not hit a lot of home runs, but he’ll be a terror on the bases. His presence, despite what the team says publicly, makes Brett Gardner expendable. For a team with weak prospects at the upper levels, it will take a Brett Gardner to bring a quality return. The Yankees need better starting pitching, a second baseman, and some help in the bullpen. They also need to cover for the expected absence of the Loser, Alex Rodriguez. So, if there are any certainties, it is that the Yankees will be active next week. I am sure that the website, MLB Trade Rumors, will be busier than Grand Central Station over the holidays.
Ala The Walking Dead, let’s say goodbye to those that we’ve lost…
- Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
- Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
- Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins
- Chris Stewart, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Mike Harkey, bullpen coach, now pitching coach, Arizona Diamondbacks
Thanks for the memories, but rest assured, we’ll be okay.
Maybe the Yanks should be spending some extra cash on PowerBall…
I get that $200 million is a lot of money, and the Yankees have been the only team to play in that neighborhood “salary-wise” until the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the party. But I am surprised to hear Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner making comments about the disbelief in fan reaction to the team’s non-activity outside of re-signing its key free agents. Yes, that point is huge. Re-signing Huroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Andy Pettitte were essential to the team’s hopes for 2013 so I do not dispute the importance of the team taking care of those players. While I like the signings of 3B Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner, there are huge injury risks prevalent with both players. I could be wrong but I doubt either player gives the Yankees at least 140 games this year.
My point and frustration with the Yankees ownership is the loss of free agents catcher Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Nick Swisher to the Cleveland Indians. Catching is left to a couple of career back-ups, including one recently associated with PED rumors, unless touted prospect Austin Romine can step it up and make his presence felt in the Bronx sooner rather than later. In right field, the Yankees do have Ichiro but he’s not getting any younger. He certainly won’t provide the pop that Swisher could. He’ll make more happen on the base paths, but isn’t that what Brett Gardner is for? Sometimes, a team needs to make a move to excite the fan base. I do not equate that to throwing money away to satisfy the fans, but making calculated, smart moves that give the team something to build upon.
As it stands, the possibility the Yankees lose Robinson Cano to free agency is high. Yes, ownership makes the comments about how they want him to be a Yankee for life. However, I seriously doubt the organization is going to give an 8 to 10 year deal to a 30-year old veteran player even if he is the team’s best player. We have A-Rod to thank for making ownership a bit gun shy, and rightfully so. I think the single biggest detriment to keeping the Yankees from winning the World Series in the next few years is A-Rod. If you could take those dollars and invest them in better, cheaper resources, the team would be much stronger and the goal of coming in under $189 million next year would be possible.
If catching is a debacle and the older Yankees show their age, this is going to be a very long season. Personally, I think this will be Manager Joe Girardi’s most challenging year. He’ll be riding the hot seat all year long, especially if the Yankees get off to a sluggish start in April. It is a given that Mark Teixeira’s bat won’t show up until around Memorial Day so I am fearful the team will become too dependent on guys like Youk and Hafner which could overexpose them and increase the likelihood of injury. Now would be the time for infielder Eduardo Nunez to step up in a huge way…
The argument can be made that every team in the AL East has the ability to play better than .500 ball, and all have the wherewithal to win the division outright. My guess, at this point, is the division goes to the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving the Yanks, Red Sox, Orioles and Rays to fight it out for a Wild Card spot.
But it’s a long season, and there is always the potential the Yankees do make the necessary moves to ensure a strong chance for October success.
The Giambino back in the AL…
I saw a report this morning that former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has signed a $750,000 minor league deal and invitation to training camp with the Cleveland Indians. It seems a bit strange to see Giambi on a team managed by Terry Francona, but if used in the right way, Giambi could help the Indians. As the Toby Keith song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”. While I think Giambi should have retired, I am sure that he’ll begin his coaching career soon enough and it’s not a bad idea to learn a trick or two from one of the better managers in baseball.
It’s just a number…
Although the Yankees active roster on MLB.com has not been updated, it looks like Kevin Youkilis is going to wear #36. I would have preferred to see the team dust off Jorge Posada’s #20 given that was Youk’s number in Boston. I am not trying to be disrespectful to Jorge, but I’ve never been a big fan of retired numbers unless the guy was an absolute legend like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Posada had a great career, but I simply do not put him in the same category with catching greats Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra or Thurman Munson. With all the retired and reserved Yankee numbers, it is inevitable that many players will be joining Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the 60’s or higher.
Time to head to Florida and Arizona…
With all the snow Boston has received this weekend, it’s hard to believe that baseball training camps start to open this week. It feels much more like baseball weather where I sit in California as temps are expected to reach the 70’s this week, but for my friends in Boston, I am hoping all are safe and warm. It was a good thing that Truck Day happened before the weather emergency. Even as a Yankees fan, I would never wish ill will on the Red Sox or their fans. As they say, you have to beat the best to be the best and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Yes, Brian, I want to believe…
“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”
I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.
With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment. For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback. I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York. I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano. It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture. As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.
If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano. There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.
Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge. No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited. I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left. Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year. I am not sure what the best answer is for right. The best options are only available through trade.
I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked. I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.
With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”. When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte. But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down. There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes. I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.
I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team. If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season. But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.
Tino, Tino, Tino!…
I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox. The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly. I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization. Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years. Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for. That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.
Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies. Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager. While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him. If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.
The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…
Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers. I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization. Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association. Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac. Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.
It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group. While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive. For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example. Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding. $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players. The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts. It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.
In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes. I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level. I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…
The only non-dramatic series of the 2012 post-season…
Sadly, the 2012 season is over for the New York Yankees. But admittedly, I did not feel the team had the horses to win the World Series this year. I know, any team can get hot and take the championship (i.e., 2011 St Louis Cardinals), but the team’s hot and cold hitting pattern bothered me. As the saying goes, “good pitching beats good hitting” so the Yankees’ hitting problems are magnified in the play-offs as they continually face #1 or #2 type starters. If Robinson Cano had gotten hot, maybe it would have been different but no one rose to the challenge in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.
The ALCS loss by sweep was painful. For me, it probably ranks with the 1976 World Series when they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. If memory serves, they won the World Series the following two years so I guess there is hope for next year! Well, maybe not. But all things considered, I’d rather be embarrassed on the ALCS stage than the World Series. That’s probably awful to say because who wouldn’t want their team in the World Series and I am no different. But I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees looking as pathetic in the World Series as they did in the ALCS if that makes any sense.
The 2013 season – optimism or pessimism?…
On the heels of Derek Jeter’s successful ankle surgery that will have him out for 4-5 months, there are reports that CC Sabathia will be consulting with Dr. James Andrews for his ailing left elbow. Apparently, the ligament is intact so there’s hope that either rest or minor surgery to shave the bone spur in his left elbow will be the cure. This definitely bears close watching over the course of the next few months. If CC is unavailable to pitch in 2013, the Yankees would be lacking a legitimate #1 starter. I have not heard how Michael Pineda has been doing, but he’ll be expected to help fill the void in the rotation regardless of what happens to CC, assuming that he is healthy. This was a difficult year for young Yankees pitching prospects, with injuries to Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the latter of whom will be lost for 2013 due to Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees really need to do what it takes to ensure that Hiroki Kuroda returns for one more year, and hopefully, Andy Pettitte will decide to go for one more tour around the American League. With the Houston Astros moving to the American League in 2013, Andy would be assured of playing a few league games at home. It would be a great farewell tour with Andy pitching in Houston while standing on the mound with the interlocking N-Y on his hat.
Another year in, and I still don’t know what the Yankees have with Phil Hughes. At times, he is so promising, but others, such a disappointment. I am not sure that he can be trusted to be anything more than a #5 starter with his inconsistency. The Yankees have tough decisions to make on both Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain, two pitchers who have seemingly been intertwined since they arrived in New York.
I am concerned about Alex Rodriguez and the huge adverse impact of his contract on the team. The production no longer matches the pay, and of course, the pay prevents those dollars from being spent more wisely. The Yankees will have to settle for “less” in other areas, which will further handicap the team’s productivity. If the Yankees can find a way to move A-Rod, regardless of the cost, I would be in favor of it. I’ve never been a big A-Rod fan, and I would prefer to see his association with the Yankees eliminated.
I want the Yankees to re-sign Robinson Cano, but if the cost is a 10-year, behemoth mega-million contract, I am not so sure the team should go down that road. I am tired of these long-term deals where the player only performs to the level of the contract for the first few years. Cano’s silent bat in the play-offs also was a red flag for me. It’s disappointing because Cano has been one of my favorite players, but the future of an organization should not be tied to one or two players. The St Louis Cardinals are an organization that always seems to make the right decisions for the good of the team, and it has worked out well for them. They are a win away from the World Series despite letting one of the best hitters in baseball walk away last winter.
I do not want to be disrespectful of Derek Jeter and I recognize that he had a great 2012 season, but the fact remains that he’ll be a 39-year-old shortstop coming off ankle surgery heading into next season.
When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, it looked like a great signing…much better than the previous first base commitment to Jason Giambi. But after a great 2009 season, Teixeira has not been the feared hitter that I thought he would be. He has been great defensively, but never delivers the key, clutch hit. Those ice cold starts to begin seasons are getting longer and longer.
I do believe the Yankees need to re-sign catcher Russell Martin. I’d also like to see them either invest in a stronger back-up catcher or commit to Francisco Cervelli over Chris Stewart.
I had great respect for Eric Chavez when he was the starting third baseman for the Oakland A’s early in his career, and I’ve thought he was a great role player for the Yankees over the last couple of seasons. But now is the time for the Yankees to move on and find a strong, reliable third base option to spot A-Rod (or replace him if they can somehow find a way to move A-Rod to Miami or Phoenix).
In the outfield, I am hopeful the healthy return of Brett Gardner will be a positive. I have mixed feelings about re-signing Ichiro Suzuki. I thought he rebounded to have a very productive end of the season, but the Yankees are too full of guys nearing or at 40 years of age. A healthy Gardner can replace what the Yankees have in Ichiro…well maybe not the hitting ability, but all other components of his game. I like Curtis Granderson and even though he underperformed in the play-offs, I would still like to see his return. I’ve been a big fan of Nick Swisher, and have appreciated how his personality lightens the Yankees clubhouse. But right field is an area in need of improvement. If the Yankees can get Swisher to re-sign for a reasonable amount of dollars and years, maybe it makes sense to bring him back. But if his expectation is 5-7 years at dollars approaching $100 million, then the team should let him walk.
I am not in favor of bringing either Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez back. Ibanez had some tremendous hits in the play-off series against the Baltimore Orioles, but the Yankees need to strengthen their bench with younger players who have greater upside.
I am glad to see the Yankees commit to both GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi for the 2013 season. I think both, if given the resources and support, can bring the team back to championship level. At this point, the Yankees seem to be in an inferior position to the last place Boston Red Sox in terms of roster flexibility. The Sox ability to unload dead contracts on the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the season was huge. Now that the Sox have their guy as manager (John Farrell), there’s no doubt that we’ll see an improved Red Sox team next season. If the AL East was highly competitive in 2012, it will be even more so in 2013. The difference between first and last place could be which team makes the best decisions this off-season. The margin for error will be less than it has ever been.
I hate to be so doom and gloom, but the Yankees have much work ahead of them. Despite baseball’s highest payroll, they have a team comprised of older ballplayers that are experiencing the inevitable declines in production. The dollars committed to unproductive players like A-Rod and Teixeira are an albatross for a team that wants to reduce its payroll by 2014 to avoid excessive financial penalties. The Yankees do have the talent in the front office and certainly the resources to persevere so how they navigate the next few months will determine if the Yankees are a team of promise and destiny at the start of the 2013 or just another aging ball club that has seen its better years.
A fan of whatever team plays the Tigers…
Despite being an American League fan, it will be hard for me to cheer for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. With the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage against the San Francisco Giants heading into tonight’s NLCS Game 6, my preference is for the Giants to somehow find a way to overcome. But if they are unsuccessful and the Cards advance to face the Tigers, I will pull for St Louis. Residing in the Bay Area, the Giants are a “hometown” favorite for me; while the Cardinals are a “sentimental” favorite (my first major league baseball game as a kid was in St Louis). Plus, as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and San Jose Sharks, it would be tough for me to pull for any city that boasts the Lions or the Red Wings.
At this point, I am ready for the Hot Stove League to begin…
Joe says it so it must be true!…
So now even manager Joe Girardi is expressing interest in a left-handed bat! Joe’s joined the club of us overly intelligent, know-more-than-Brian Cashman fans! LOL! Just kidding. But it is interesting to see a key Yankee figure express the need for additional help. With free agents Raul Ibanez (wow, I almost typed Mondesi!), Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon lurking on the sidelines, GM Brian Cashman recently indicated the Yankees would pursue help via trade.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Obviously, the Yankees need to unload a pitcher. With three starters vying for the #5 spot in the rotation (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes), it’s clear that this is going to end badly for one or two pitchers. All things considered, I think you have to put Phil Hughes in the rotation. The Yankees HAVE to prove that 2010 was not a fluke (or not). Plus, Hiroki Kuroda, at 37, is not destined to be a long-term Yankee. Sure, the Yanks could go hard after Cole Hamels or Matt Cain as a replacement following the 2012 season but I still subscribe to the ‘dance with the one who brung ya’ theory. Well, at least until he proves us wrong. I know, the leash is overly long, but Hughes is still young, and he can still be a force in the rotation. He’d certainly be cheaper than either Hamels or Cain in the foreseeable future.
So, where does that leave Burnett and Garcia? I think Garcia is the best option to plant in the bullpen as the long man and #6 starter in the event of injury in the rotation…at least until Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos are ready later in the year. This means shipping Burnett and lots of money to another team is probably best case scenario. Trading Hughes would be foolish since the return, following his poor 2011 season, would be under market value. Plus, Hughes has more long-term value to the team than Burnett. There’s no way the Yankees re-sign Burnett at the expiration of his contract. He’ll see the same door as Jason Giambi with a slight push from behind.
But, and that’s a big but, what does Burnett bring in trade? He is not going to bring a young slugger, that’s for sure. More than likely, it would only be someone else’s albatross, ala Alfonso Soriano. I still think one of the available free agents is the best option for the left-handed bat, but I am sure whatever move Cashman makes will be the best one for the organization.
Wanted: Someone who’s butt can withstand splinters…
As for the additional infield bench support to accompany Eduardo Nunez, I still would really like to see the return of Eric Chavez even though Bill Hall’s name has been mentioned more frequently as of late.
“Buck, we really need to be the focus of the tabloids”…
I have to admit that I am surprised to see the teams mentioned as possibilities for Manny Ramirez. No, I don’t want Man-Ram calling 161st and River home, but the teams mentioned…Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays…seem like odd fits for a guy that has to spend 50 games on the suspended list. With the emphasis on youth in Oakland and Baltimore, I’d question whether having Manny on the team is worth it in terms of the negative impact he can have. Younger players are far more impressionable, and no team, even the Blue Jays, need a distraction. Maybe Manny can still swing it. I acknowledge that he was once the most feared hitter in the AL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the hitter he once was. Age sucks, but it happens to us all…
A funny thing happened to the Phillies on their way to the World Series…
Edwin Jackson to the Washington Nationals on a one-year deal was a good move for the Nats. Outside of the New York Mets, the NL East is a scary division. Yeah, the Philadelphia Phillies have the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels), but there are too many other question marks to make them the clear favorite. I don’t think the Miami Marlins will win the division but they’ll make noise. The Braves, the Nats. That’s a tough division. Then, there’s the Mets…
With a New York-Boston Super Bowl upon us, it’s weird that I, as a Yankees fan, find myself on the Boston side of the battle. That seems so wrong on so many levels. But it is what it is…go Patriots!