Prize Fight between Betances and Levine called off…
The Yankees avoided an off-the-field fight yesterday when they signed all of their arbitration-eligible players to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, including Dellin Betances who lost his fight at the arbitration table last year. It sparked angry (and, in my opinion, unnecessary and ridiculous) words from Yankees Team President Randy Levine. This year, Betances gets the $5 million he sought a year ago when Levine said that “five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.” Personally, I think Betances will rediscover the magic and will resume his role as one of the elite setup artists in baseball. He is worth the money, regardless of what Levine may think.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, New York Post|
I was glad to see the Yankees stayed a couple of dollars shy of the $29.4 million total projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Not that MLB Trade Rumors is the foremost authority, but they were fairly accurate in their projections.
Here are the actual one-year settlements for the arbitration-eligible players:
Didi Gregorius, $8.25 million
Sonny Gray, $6.5 million
Dellin Betances, $5.1 million
Adam Warren, $3.315 million
Aaron Hicks, $2.825 million
Tommy Kahnle, $1.3125 million
Austin Romine, $1.1 million
Chasen Shreve, $825,000
Total: $29.2275 million
Gregorius accepting $750,000 less than his projected amount of $9 million was the difference-maker in bringing the total for all players under $29.4 million. Gregorius has one more year of arbitration before he hits free agency. I really hope the Yankees look to lock him up on a new long-term deal next off-season rather than wait for him to hit the free market. Same with Sonny Gray.
Yu had me at…
Following the Yankees’ ‘did they or didn’t they’ make an offer to free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is funny. Earlier in the week, Michael Kay reported on his show the Yankees had offered Darvish a 7-year contract for $160 million. On Twitter, Darvish responded “They don’t give me offer yet”. Darvish subsequently clarified his position with “Sorry guys. My mistake. Actually they did make offer the numbers are not correct.”
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Nothing against Darvish, I like the pitcher, but I wouldn’t want to devote in excess of $20 million per year to the pitcher even if the Yankees could somehow find a way to move Jacoby Ellsbury and his heavy contract or trade someone like Brett Gardner or David Robertson. Yesterday, Dodgers Nation posed a question to their fan base if they wanted the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish. The immediate reaction was negative, with many lingering feelings of disappointment and resentment over the awful World Series performance given by Darvish. Not that I feel a couple of poor (very poor) starts should define Darvish, but the October Stage is not made for everyone. It was a red flag that Darvish might not be a guy who can elevate his game when the stakes are at their highest. If money was no object, then I’d gladly be willing to accept Darvish on the team. But in the grand scheme of things for a team trying to stay under $197 million, the money is better served in other areas.
Please Keep Numbers 29 and 77 Ready…
We are now only a month away before pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Tampa, Florida. With so many free agents still available, it would seem that we’ll be playing exhibition games before some big names know what jerseys they’ll be pulling on. I continue to preach for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal to take third base and provide backup support at first for Greg Bird. Of course, I’d also trade Brett Gardner despite his leadership qualities and status as the most tenured Yankee to open up a significant role for Clint Frazier. So, my views are obviously ‘Up goes Frazier(s)’.
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters|
I thought we’d see more baseball activity last week than we did. Admittedly, it seems like I feel that way every week yet we continue to hear crickets. Yes, the Mets re-signed Jay Bruce but the off-season continues to move along very slowly. I don’t believe owners are guilty of collusion. I think this year has been a wakeup for owners who do not want to give extended contracts to guys and end up with ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ situations on your hands. Plus, you have the added factor that MLB’s two biggest spenders are furiously trying to keep payroll under $197 million. I am hopeful the current sluggish market conditions bring quality third base help to the Yankees.
R.I.P. to a Legendary Sportcaster…
I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of retired sportscaster Keith Jackson. Growing up in the 70’s, he was the premier voice of College Football and so many other top sporting events to me. His style and grace were legendary qualities. So many times in my life I’ve said “Whoa, Nellie!”, thanks to Jackson. He passed away Friday night in the Los Angeles area, where he made his home. Farewell, Keith. May you rest in peace. Heaven has gained a tremendous Angel and we will miss you.
|Photo Credit: LA Times|
Have a great long weekend, Yankees family! Go Yankees!
A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…
This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002? Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found. For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft. Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams. But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.
Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers. He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.
But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from. I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).
I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.
But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees. I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past. But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.
2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball. The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.
2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been. Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.
For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen. Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year. Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.
In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round. Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively. Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen. Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.
Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister. He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season. That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s. McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.
I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees. I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.
2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it. Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.
As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees. Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole. Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation. What could have been…
This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level. It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.
It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive. In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability. For the Yankees, they are successful despite it. I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system. This is not rocket science. Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.
Stupid is as stupid does…
The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck. After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass. Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to. So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda. This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees. Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.
For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision. I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.
For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps. But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly. Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.
Yeah, but at what price?…
I am bummed…
After years of trade rumors involving Yankees prospect Jesus Montero, I thought he was finally home free and slated to be a member of the 2012 Yankees unless a trade for the seemingly untouchable Felix Hernandez were to materialize. So, to hear tonight’s news that the Yankees have traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners is a shock since it did not involve the aforementioned King Felix.
I was perusing the MLB Trade Rumors tonight when I saw the blurb that the Mariners were close to acquiring an “young impact hitter”. Of course, there aren’t too many guys that fit that description and Montero is near or at the top of the list. I didn’t suspect a King Felix trade since there have been no signals that the Mariners are interested in trading him, so my immediate reaction was the fear of trading Montero for something else. My fear has been justified as the word has come the Yankees traded Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi, a potential candidate for the starting rotation, to Seattle for pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos. I know nothing about Campos (whether he is a high or mid level prospect or just fodder for the lower leagues). So, this trade was clearly about Pineda, 22, who made the All-Star Team as a fill-in for Justin Verlander last year during his rookie season. I recognized that Pineda was a quality pitcher, and I had him on a few of my fantasy baseball teams.
But still, I bought into the hype that Montero was going to be an offensive force. I recognized that he was a liability at catcher, and that Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli represent the best catching tandem at the moment until Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are ready to advance. To ask a young player to start at DH does seem to be a poor major league decision, but I was looking forward to seeing Montero star in pinstripes. His bat would have found a good spot in the starting lineup. Maybe a few years down the road, this trade will look great for the Yankees if Pineda wins the Cy Young or becomes the ace of the staff. But right now, I am just shocked. It’s not the type of move that one can embrace or create excitement among the fan base. I truly would have preferred a short term deal to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt as opposed to giving up young, quality talent. I also liked Noesi, and knew that he was a viable candidate for the starting rotation.
At the moment, and this could change in time, I think the advantage goes to the Seattle Mariners. I am assuming that they have the young pitching talent, to go with Noesi, to find a suitable replacement for Pineda in the rotation. Meanwhile, they get one of the best young bats in the game today. This takes a little heat off first baseman Justin Smoak so perhaps now he can thrive. Right now, I rate the Yankees rotation as CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. This means that Freddy Garcia is the pitcher most likely to be cut unless the Yankees can find a home for Burnett.
Maybe he missed pitching to #55…
Okay, after an off-season of solitude, Friday the 13th has just become Yankees Night. The latest word is the Yankees have signed former Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Based on recent reports, I had expected Kuroda to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Bobby Valentine’s experience with Japanese players, in my mind, gave the Sox the clear advantage. Regardless of what transpired and why he decided to come to New York (Russell Martin?), he’s an innings-eater and fits nicely in the back of the rotation. So, if the news of Kuroda’s signing is accurate, I need to update my starting rotation…CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Kuroda (although an argument could be made for why Hughes should be at the back end of the rotation). The wild card is Hughes, so do the Yankees keep Burnett for long relief and a potential return to the starting rotation if Hughes falters or do they simply cut their losses? I suspect that it will be the latter with Freddy Garcia held in reserve. I also think this virtually confirms that we’ll see Dellin Betances and/or Manny Banuelos in the starting rotation at some point during the season.
My second favorite team is my National League favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, so I have to say that I enjoyed the starts I saw from Kuroda in his Dodger days. He may be older, but he’s a quality pitcher. He’s not going to shut down the opposition but he’s going to keep you in the game. I would have preferred Edwin Jackson if no other reason than age (and Jackson’s ability to occasionally be a very dominating pitcher). But still, it’s hard to find fault with the Kuroda signing. I’d rather go with Kuroda over Roy Oswalt. I’ve got to believe that the Yankees figured out the game plan for A.J. Burnett before the events of today unfolded so it’s likely that another deal is forthcoming before pitchers and catchers head for Tampa next month.
The fingerprints of Cash or Hal?…
I always wonder on these types of days if these moves were effected by GM Brian Cashman or if Hank and Hal Steinbrenner got bored and decided to take matters into their own hands. I am not sure that there’s a move out there that could excite me at this point, but there’s no question the Yankees have a better rotation. My primary concern still remains a quality backup third baseman for those inevitable A-Rod absences (i.e., trips to the DL). But now, with Montero in Seattle and Posada on the beach waiting for Old Timer’s Day, who is going to be the DH? At the moment, it’s a DH by committee with a rotation of A-Rod, Andruw Jones, and others. It does make one believe that there is a potential acquisition for a veteran hitter in the making. Bring back Johnny Damon? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
The sleeping giant has awakened…
I know the Yankees objective is to get under $189 million in salary by 2014, but the team is always a sleeping giant. If the Texas Rangers can come up with $51 million just to talk to Yu Darvish, you know the Yankees are capable of so much more. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold. After a season of inactivity, the Hot Stove League just got warmed up for the Yankees…
There has been no Yankees news this week as it appears
the team’s focus is on Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Kansas State and
It always concerns me when I hear that the team cannot
focus on pressing matters when there is a specific focus in another area. Haven’t the Yankees heard of
multi-tasking? Instead of worrying about
whether the Wildcats or the Orangemen will win the inaugural New Era Pinstripe
Bowl, I really wish resources were dedicated to finding a pitching staff that
can compete with the Boston Red Sox.
As it stands, the Boston Red Sox have to be the clear
favorite to win the AL East so that leaves the Wild Card up for grabs. There will be no shortage of AL East
competition, without even getting into the other divisions. Baltimore and Toronto both figure to be
improved, plus there’s no way that you can count out the Tampa Bay Rays. Maybe in years past, you could pencil in the
Yanks for at least a Wild Card slot, but that’s certainly not going to be the
case in 2011.
I was reading MLB Trade Rumors and saw their column about
“Unfinished Business: AL East” and have to admit that the Yankees entry
Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder. The rest of the Yankees’
offseason centers on Andy Pettitte‘s decision, since that will determine whether Brian Cashman has to
pursue a Jeff Francis/Freddy Garcia type or rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. The team will likely add a fourth outfielder who bats right handed
and consider utility infielders and relievers.
At this point, it sounds more and more like Andy Pettitte
will be staying home in Deer Park, Texas for the season. If that’s the case, any of the above options
spell doom for the Yanks. I am not
convinced that A.J. Burnett will have a bounce back season so we are potentially
looking at a rotation that features only two (out of five) solid starters in CC
Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Sorry, but
that’s just not going to get it done against the likes of the Red Sox, Rays,
Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Angels, A’s or even the Orioles.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
If, somehow, the Yankees managed to get by all of the AL
teams to advance to the World Series, they’d be ousted by the Philadelphia
Phillies, San Francisco Giants, or Milwaukee Brewers.
I hate to be so doom and gloom when spring training is
still several months away but it is discouraging to see the other strong teams
get stronger while the Yankees wither away.
Unless you are 23 or 24, time is not your friend. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not going
to magically have their best seasons ever.
Those days have come and gone.
I do still think that Andy Pettitte will return although
the odds against it increase with each passing day. If I was part of the organization for as long
and successful as Andy, it would be very hard to turn down the team’s appeals
for my return. If they needed me, I’d be
there regardless of the personal sacrifices involved as long as I knew that I
could perform at a high level.
Therefore, I’d be very surprised to see Andy turn his back on the
organization. That’s why I think he’ll
give it one more year and then close the book.
Even if Andy comes back, GM Brian Cashman has to do
more. The setup combo of David Robertson
and Joba Chamberlain does not instill a great sense of confidence based on
their performance last year. Plus, the
day will come when Mariano Rivera simply doesn’t have it anymore and the team
needs to be prepared.
How do you talk the Florida Marlins into trading Josh
Johnson or the Seattle Mariners out of Felix Hernandez? I don’t know but that’s what Brian Cashman is