Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Brief Blueprint for the Off-Season

Sign Mark Buehrle
Buehrle has started at least thirty games and tossed at least 201 IP in each of the last eleven seasons, and his ERA and FIP have been below-average exactly once in his career, way back in 2006. While he may not represent the "1B" to Sabathia's "1A" that many Yankees fans are clamoring for, such a pitcher does not exist on the market (and paying C.J. Wilson as if he is such a pitcher is foolhardy at best). Buehrle's consistency makes up for the modest upside, and I would have a great deal of faith in him as the Yankees Game 2 starter.

Sign Yu Darvish
You can find further thoughts on Darvish here. Suffice it to say that I believe in his potential, and that upside is worth the gamble, particularly when his posting fee would not count against the luxury tax. This assumes, of course, that Darvish is posted ... which is apparently fifty-fifty at this juncture.

Re-Sign Andruw Jones
Jones battered left-handed pitchers to the tune of a .286/.384/.540 slash line in 2011, good for a 151 wRC+, and he remains a solid defender in both left and right-field. In my mind, there isn't a better option on the market.

Trade A.J. Burnett
This is easier said than done, of course - but the Braves ability to unload Derek Lowe gives me the faintest glimmer of hope. Burnett has the look of a sunk cost at this juncture, and freeing up a roster spot and $6 MM or so (assuming the Yankees pick up around $10 MM per season) would be quite beneficial. If the Yankees can acquire a lottery ticket prospect along the way, that's just gravy.

Follow me on Twitter - @Domenic Lanza

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Sox Hire Valentine

The Boston Red Sox have picked Bobby Valentine to be their next manager and the sides were working to complete a contract, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. Several media outlets in Boston, citing anonymous sources, reported earlier in the evening that Valentine would be the team's new manager.

An announcement could come by Thursday.

"He's got it. I just spoke to him a little while ago," Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed Valentine in the minors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a telephone interview with the AP.

Rumor: Yanks Interested in Kyle Drabek

From Bob Elliot:
The New York Yankees are interested in right-hander Kyle Drabek, who made 14 starts in the Jays rotation and the next 15 at triple-A Las Vegas. The Yanks have CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett in the rotation. They are reported to have re-signed right-hander Freddy Garcia. Yankees people are asking Jays scouts questions and as well as Phillies people, who had Drabek in the minors: Why the control problems after never having any? Why did the Jays take his cutter away? Can he be fixed?
Drabek, Baseball America's 25th best prospect in 2010 and 29th best in 2011, has been a pretty big disappointment since going over to Toronto in the Roy Halladay deal a couple years ago.

He did have a solid first season in the minors for the Jays and even won 2010 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. He then started the 2011 season on the Jays staff, but after 14 starts he was 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA he was sent down the minors. His struggles continued at Triple-A Las Vegas where he went 5-4 with a 7.44 ERA. Eventually he would get called up in September for a few relief appearances and finished the 2011 MLB season with a 6.06 ERA.

Still, with all the struggles he had last year the kid isn't even 24 yet, and as you all know, one bad season doesn't mean a young pitcher is done. It's also worth noting that interest from the Yankees doesn't mean the Jays are ready to give up on the guy they got for Roy Halladay. So for now I'd say this is just another meaningless winter rumor.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (11/27-12/3)

This Week in Yankees History 

November 27th - December 3rd

November 27th

1892 - Former Yankees P Leslie “Bullet Joe” Bush (1922-1924) was born. On December 20, 1921, “Bullet Joe” Bush was traded by the Boston Red Sox along with P Sam Jones and INF Everett Scott to the New York Yankees for INF Roger Peckinpaugh, P Jack Quinn, P Harry Collins, and Bill Piercy. “Bullet Joe” would go 62-38 in 115 games with 61 complete games and six shutouts for the Yankees, before he was traded on December 17,1924, along with pitchers Milt Gaston and Joe Giard to the St. Louis Browns for veteran starter Urban Shocker.

1920 - Former Yankees P John ”Bear Tracks“ Schmitz (1952-1953) was born. On August 1, 1952, he was selected off waivers by the New York Yankees from the Brooklyn Dodgers. John went 1-1 in 8 games with 2 saves for the Yankees during the 1952-1953 AL seasons. On August 28,1952, Johnny was traded by the Yankees along with outfielders Jim Greengrass, Bob Marquis, P Ernie Nevel, and $35,000 to the Cincinnati Reds for veteran P Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell. On February 16,1953, John was purchased by the Yankees from the Reds. After appearing in 3 games with 1 save and a 0-0 record; John Schmitz was selected off waivers by the Washington Senators from the Yankees on May 12,1953.

1937 - Former Yankees P William “Bill” Short (1960) was born. Before the 1955 American League Season, the New York Yankees signed Bill Short as an MLB amateur free agent. In 1959, Bill was named the Pitcher of the Year for International League, with a 17-6 record in 27 games with a 2.48 ERA, while playing with the Richmond Virginians (AAA). In 1960, Bill went 3-5 in 10 starts for the Yankees. On November 27,1961, Bill was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles from the New York Yankees organization in the 1961 MLB Rule 5 player draft.

Bill would pitch for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds finishing with a 5-11 career record in 73 games (1960,1962,1966-1969).

1941 - New York Yankees CF Joe DiMaggio is named 1941 American League Most Valuable Player. His 56-game hitting streak edges out Boston Red Sox OF Ted Williams and his .406 BA for the AL MVP award (votes: 291 for Joe DiMaggio and 254 for Ted Williams).

Marchand: "There is almost no way they are signing C.J. Wilson"

Via Andrew Marchand:
As one of the insiders who talks to insiders, I, too, have been told that the Yankees might just sign Freddy Garcia and not do much else this offseason. This is what is emenating out of the Bronx.

... Unless the Yankees trade Nick Swisher, it is hard to see where they add to the offense. Maybe Yoenis Cespedes could be signed as the Yankees look toward Swisher's free agency after this year.

On the pitching side, the Yankees don't really like the prices vs. talent of any of the starters. Could they make a huge splash with Yu Darvish? That seems possible, even with their Kei Igawa experience. There is almost no way they are signing C.J. Wilson. Mark Buehrle may be better suited for the National League, in their opinion. Edwin Jackson is no better than what they have. Roy Oswalt has a back issue that concerns them. Hiroki Kuroda likes life in Los Angeles or Japan.
Um, wasn't last season's quick exit from the playoffs enough to realize that they don't have what it takes to win? Hopefully, there is nothing to this report and the Yankees will indeed try to improve on last year, otherwise we might as well start looking towards 2013 because they're not going anywhere next season with CC, Nova, Burnett, Garcia and Hughes as their starting 5.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Yanks Close To Resigning Garcia!/DavidWaldstein/statuses/139557965190545408

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mo Will Likely Need Vocal Cord Surgery

From Anthony McCarron:
The Yankees' quiet offseason got what they hope is only a minor jolt Tuesday when closer Mariano Rivera revealed that he might need surgery on his vocal cords. Rivera, who spoke barely above a whisper at a charity event, said they’ve been bothering him for about a month.

“Every time I talk, it gets worse and worse,” the Yankee closer said while hosting 42 children and their families for a Thanksgiving meal at his New Rochelle restaurant, 42 Clubhouse Grill. “I thought it was a little simple thing and I went to the doctor and she said they might have to do something. I think they have to scrape them.”

It’s unclear whether any procedure would affect Rivera’s preparations for spring training or the 2012 season. As Rivera put it, “When you’re talking about surgery, there’s no ‘simple.’” Still, it’s unlikely to be a major problem for the closer, who turns 42 next week - it’s not his seemingly ageless right arm, after all.

Brian Cashman, citing the HIPAA privacy rule, refused comment on the matter. Rivera said he is headed to the doctor on Monday for another examination, which could determine whether he needs surgery.
I'm sure everything will go smoothly and Mo will be fine. Again, like the article says, it's not his right arm.

Ticket Price Increase Hits Creatures Hard

From Flip Bondy:
Many Bleacher Creatures are now being asked to shell out as much as $1620 for a full season ticket plan next season, up from $15 to $20 per game, and are beginning to wonder how much longer they can afford to populate Section 203.

“People are groaning about going from $972 to $1620 (for the full 81-game plan) just because Nick Swisher waves at us,” said Mike Donahue, a long-time Creature. “As the economy gets worse, the deforestation begins.”


Many Creatures already were dismayed this season to discover that half-season ticket plans only entitled them to purchase tickets to half the playoff games.
Not only will the Creatures face this price increase, but they'll do it while prices for 70% of the other seats in the stadium stay the same. Wow, what a joke. It's like the morons in the GOP are running this team.

Yet another example of big business raping the little guy. Sadly, in this case, that evil big business happens to be our favorite baseball team.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cashman Shoots Downs Jurrjens Talk

From Wallace Matthews:
First was GM Brian Cashman texting me, "Don't waste your breath,'' when I asked about the deal, and then came another source, who insisted upon anonymity, and said, "Number one, we're not trading Nunez, and number two, there's concerns that Jurrjens has a serious knee injury.''
I honestly don't understand why Cashman is so determined to hold on to Nunez (remember the Cliff Lee deal?) but obviously you can't trade for damaged goods.

So today we've heard rumors that the Yankees don't want Jurrjens and Darvish may not be coming to the states. To me, that makes CJ Wilson the main target--at least if any of the above is true.

Darvish to Come To The States? It's 50-50

Yu Darvish's father, Farsa Darvish, spoke about his son's future this weekend and Yu's move to the states might not be as likely as once thought:
“Yu and I are talking about having a family meeting once the Nippon Series is over.”

“At this point it’s about 50-50.”
Jeff Passan has more on the topic. Sources are saying that Darvish wants to change baseball.... in Japan. Darvish also apparently has a problem with the posting system.

(Hat-tip to LoHud)

Verlander Wins AL MVP

From the NY Post:
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson did not win AL MVP, but a former teammate did.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander won the award on Monday and became the first pitcher to earn the honor since Oakland's Dennis Eckersley won in 1992 and the first starter since Boston's Roger Clemens in 1986.

Granderson, whom the Yankees acquired from Detroit after the 2009 season, finished fourth in the voting...

...Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was second with 242, Bautista third with 231, Granderson followed with 215, and Verlander's Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera came in fifth with 193 points.
With a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA you're not going to find any complaints about this award, even if he already won the Cy Young.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Braves Interested in Nunez

From John Harper:
Brian Cashman has always said he never regretted clinging tightly to Eduardo Nunez back in July of 2010 when the young infielder might have been the final necessary piece in the proposed trade for Cliff Lee. So would the Yankee GM give him up now if it meant a chance to acquire Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens?


The Braves think highly enough of Nunez’s potential, according to a major league source, that they might consider trading Jurrjens, their 25-year-old All-Star righthander, to the Yankees in a deal built around the 23-year-old shortstop.

At the GM meetings last week the Braves reportedly were asking for a very high price in return for Jurrjens, but the source expects that price to come down.

“They’re willing to trade him,” the source said, “because they have plenty of young pitching without him, he’s starting to make big money — and he’s a (Scott) Boras guy who’ll be gone (as free agent) in two years.

“They need offense, they need a shortstop because they don’t want to bring (Alex) Gonzalez back, and they like Nunez a lot. They know the jury is out on him defensively, but they think his offense is strong enough that he could move to the outfield if he can’t be their long-term answer at short.”

A Yankee source, meanwhile, says that last week the Braves let the Bombers know they’d be interested in dealing for Nunez, but didn’t discuss Jurrjens or any specific players on their side.
Harper also mentions that Nick Swisher could also be part of a potential deal, since he could fill the Braves' void in the outfield.

I'm not sure how possible this actually is, but if the Yanks can actually make a deal like this I think they'd have to go for it, especially if things fall through on the FA pitching market. And if the Yankees do unload Swisher, I'd expect them to go after Cuban defector Yeonis Cespedes (which they'll probably do anyway).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yanks Add 5 To 40-Man Roster

Via Chad Jennings:
The Yankees made their moves to protect young players from the Rule 5 draft, and they included their high-upside, injury-marred second baseman.

This afternoon, the team added RHP David Phelps, RHP D.J. Mitchell, OF Zoilo Almonte, INF Corban Joseph and INF David Adams to the 40-man roster. All five would have been eligible for the Rule 5 had they not been protected with a 40-man spot.

Selig Talks About Baseball's New Rules

From Pete Caldera:
Baseball’s wild card just got wilder, with one more team per league added to the postseason mix.

The new playoff system could be implemented as early as the 2012 season, according to commissioner Bud Selig, who also announced the transfer of the Houston Astros to the AL in 2013 – creating a balance of 15 clubs in each league.

Selig dubbed Thursday as “a very historic day,” as MLB’s general managers and quarterly owners meetings wrapped up at the Pfister Hotel, in the commissioner’s hometown. “[It’s] a monumental day,” he said.

First, baseball’s owners unanimously approved the Astros sale from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane, who paid $615 million according to The Associated Press; that’s a cut from the original $680 million sale price.

For the sale to go through, Crane had to agree to the Astros switching from the six-team NL Central to the four-team AL West, thus creating the balance desired by owners and giving the Texas Rangers a natural rival within their division.

To make the schedule work, Selig said there would be interleague play throughout the regular season beginning in 2013.

In announcing the addition of two wild-card teams, Selig said his panel favors a dramatic one-game playoff to determine which club advances to the division series – a system that puts far greater emphasis on winning the division.

“This will be very good for us,” said Selig, who was optimistic – but not certain – that the new playoff format would be adopted for 2012.

“I say that with some reservation, because we have some work to do,” Selig said. “But I’m hopeful.”
The article goes on to mention that there doesn’t appear to be any opposition on any side and that new system is likely to be ratified.

Jayson Stark also mentioned today that this "is just the beginning. Once the new labor deal gets finished, there's a whole lot more coming -- changes that will affect big-league payroll disparity, revenue sharing, the draft, free agency and the broad scope of the business of baseball." Clearly, none of this will help the Yankees.

The Houston move to the AL makes sense. The leagues should have the same amount of teams. And I guess the new playoff system will help the division winners, so that's probably a good thing. But when it comes to the addition of more interleague games I couldn't be more against it.

Interleague play, as it is now, is unnecessary, boring, and clearly the novelty wore off about 5 years ago. Why add more? Does Selig really think fans are eagerly awaiting another thrilling Indians-Pirates series? Please just admit that interleague play is stupid and let it go the way of the dinosaurs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kevin Goldstein Ponders Cole Hamels

Yesterday, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus posted an endlessly intriguing and entirely speculative article on both BP and ESPN Insider - what would it take to pry Cole Hamels away from the Phillies?

Working with an unnamed MLB executive, Mr. Goldstein determined that the Phillies would, or perhaps should, look for a replacement in the rotation, bullpen help, insurance for the middle infield, and athletes with high upside. Mr. Goldstein then breaks down several potential offers from eight teams ... one of which is, of course, the New York Yankees. The content is insider-only, but the Yankees package is comprised of Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi, Austin Romine, and Mason Williams.

First, allow me to say that I would accept that deal in a heartbeat were I in Cashman's shoes. I would help the players pack and drive them to the airport myself, then pat myself on the back for a job well-done.

That being said, however, I do feel that this deal is a bit ... light. Banuelos and Noesi could provide some immediate help in the rotation or bullpen, to be sure, but things get shaky beyond the two. Romine is fairly close to the Majors, but Ruiz is signed to a very team-friendly deal through the end of next season, and I'm just not too sure that the Phillies would jump on Romine as a key to a deal for Cole Hamels with that in mind, regardless of Romine's up and down 2011. Mason Williams is a stud prospect, and I think he'll make a few appearances on top-hundred lists - but he's several years away, and so much can go wrong in such a long period of time. Banuelos, Noesi, and Romine could help the team immediately, and Williams would be one of their top prospects ... but it seems too paltry, to me.

What, then, would I give up for Hamels? Or, perhaps more realistically, what do I think the Phillies would ask for? Considering Mr. Goldstein's very sensible criteria, I would think something like this could make such a deal happen - Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Romine, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph, and Williams. Betances injects more upside into the deal, and he could likely step into the bullpen and dominate immediately. Nunez and Joseph provide insurance at SS and 2B, respectively. Nunez's shaky defense is certainly a hindrance, but the tools for success remain there.

Would I do that deal? It would be hard not to, in my mind. It's certainly a shot to the system, but Hamels is a legitimate ace - and he won't turn 28 until December. He's lefthanded, he induces a nice amount of ground balls, he strikes out nearly a batter an inning, and his walk rates are consistently above-average. If such a package could bring Hamels to New York with a long-term deal ... I don't think anyone in their right mind could say no.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Igawa Won't Stop Yanks From Going After Darvish

From Mark Feinsand:
After wasting $46 million on Kei Igawa over the past five years, would the Yankees be willing to roll the dice on another Japanese pitcher if Yu Darvish becomes available?

It’s very possible.

Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday that the Igawa disaster wouldn’t stop the Yankees from signing another Japanese pitcher if that’s the move they believe makes the most sense.

“Every person is different; every player is different,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re going to look at every single one. We’re going to look at every single option, and we’re going to analyze it. It will be a go or no-go, but we look at each person as an individual.”


“It’s difficult when you don’t have as much film on a player to watch, and you don’t have as many scouts who have laid eyes on that player before,” Steinbrenner said of the risk associated with signing players from places such as Japan or Cuba. “There’s no doubt it’s difficult, but I had never heard of El Duque until he came here.

“There have certainly been players that came out of those countries that have been great. But there’s less intel and there’s less to go on, so you’ve really got to rely on the guys that have seen him down there, and the scouts that are down there on a full-time basis. But there’s no doubt it’s a more difficult decision.”
Glad to see the Yankees aren't going to let the Igawa mistake stop them from taking a real look at Darvish. From everything I've seen and read, he looks like the best pitcher to come out of Japan, and at least appears to have the biggest upside.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yanks Sign Mike O'Connor!/SI_JonHeyman/status/136803594023350272
A little extra left-handed depth can't hurt.

In 35 outings in '06, '08 and '11 with the Nationals and Mets, O'Connor is 4-10 with a 5.30 ERA. Nine of those appearances came last year with the Mets when he posted a 2.70 ERA.

Heyman: Yanks Think Price For Wilson is Too High!/SI_JonHeyman/status/136822142435196929

Yanks Invite Wilson To New York

From Marc Carig:
Pleased with what he described as general manager Brian Cashman’s “aggressiveness,” C.J. Wilson’s representative said today the Yankees have extended an invitation to visit New York, where he would meet with some of the team’s top decision-makers.

Wilson’s agent Bob Garber, who met with Cashman at the general managers’ meetings, refused to divulge whether figures were exchanged. But he called the meeting productive.

“I told him where we were at, they understood, and want us to come out,” Garber said. “I think it’s a good fit. We have a lot of teams we have to narrow down. I think the Yankees are a team that we’ve narrowed down as a team we want to spend a little time with.”


“I think it was very productive and who wouldn’t really want a pitcher who has been to the last two World Series?” Garber said. “I think Brian is in a situation where he doesn’t want what happened to Cliff Lee to happen again.”
Garber also says in the article that there are six or seven teams that they're in "serious talks" with.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jurrjens on Yanks Radar?!/SI_JonHeyman/status/136166427899076608

Yanks Among Several Teams Interested in Sizemore

From MLB Trade Rumors:
There's no shortage of interest in Grady Sizemore this offseason. The free agent outfielder has drawn interest from eight teams, according to's Jerry Crasnick. The Cubs, Rangers, Giants and Yankees are potential suitors for Sizemore, along with the Phillies, Rockies, Red Sox and Indians.
A few years ago he was one of the best center fielders in the game, but since knee injuries have kept the 29-year-old mostly on the DL for the last few years. Knee injuries to players whose game is based a lot on speed scare me and I have little confidence that he can regain his old form. Swisher is also signed through next year so I don't really see any need to sign another outfielder who isn't going to be (or won't want to be) a bench player.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A-Rod: "I expect to be who I have been in the past.”

Third-basemen Alex Rodriguez told the New York Post a couple days ago that the Yankees have already made two HUGE acquisitions: 1) re-singing CC, and 2) re-acquiring Alex Rodriguez.

I know what you're thinking - "re-acquire" A-Rod? Isn't he already on the team? Well that's basically what he told Joel Sherman.
“The Yankees made two big moves this offseason,” Rodriguez told The Post by phone. “Keeping CC, and I expect to be who I have been in the past.”

That is Rodriguez’s way of saying the Yankees are going to reacquire A-Rod, and not the 2011 version, which even Rodriguez could not sugarcoat much, calling it “close to embarrassing” and “the worst year of my career.”

No, Rodriguez is imagining being the 30-homer/100-RBI automaton he was the previous 14 seasons. He expects to be a cleanup hitter because he should be, not due to emeritus status. He envisions being a reason why the Yankees push forward in October and not — like in 2011 — a reason they do not.

“I know Yankees fans were disappointed last year, but [they] won’t be next year,” Rodriguez said.
Sherman goes on to say that A-Rod began his off-season workouts three-weeks earlier, and plans to lose at least five pounds. And who knows? Maybe age is just a number, and A-Rod can be, well, A-Rod again. Good luck Alex, we'll see where you're at come February.