Friday, December 30, 2011

Andruw Jones Re-Signs with the Yanks!/JonHeymanCBS/status/152850424486047744

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Harper on A-Rod's Terrible Terrible Contract

From John Harper:
In case you’d forgotten, A-Rod still has six years remaining on his contract, which means he’ll turn 42 in July of the final year of his deal, 2017, at which point he’ll still earn $20 million, down from the $31 million he made last year.

By then, well, the only question was supposed to be how many more home runs had Rodriguez hit than Barry Bonds in surpassing him to become baseball’s all-time home run leader. Now the question, after four straight injury-marred seasons, isn’t just whether A-Rod will get near Bonds’ record but whether he can play anywhere near his superstar level of old.

It’s not about his bat speed but simply his ability to stay healthy. He was an iron man for much of his career, averaging 158 games played from 2001 through 2007. Of course, we know that he had some help in at least some of those years, since A-Rod has admitted using steroids from 2001-03.

But in any case, injuries have prevented him from playing more than 138 games in any of the last four seasons. Because he needed arthroscopic knee surgery last summer and then dealt with a thumb injury upon his return, A-Rod last season played in only 99 games, a career-low, while hitting only 16 home runs.

The drop-off in power last year was clearly linked to his knee injury. Rodriguez, remember, had a spectacular spring training last March, hitting with an explosiveness in his swing that had been absent since hip surgery in the spring of 2009. Hitting coach Kevin Long was so wowed that he was predicting a return to 2007-like numbers; A-Rod hit 54 home runs that year in winning his third MVP award.

So you could make a case that Rodriguez should return to form. He insisted the knee surgery, which repaired torn cartilage, wasn’t anything serious enough to limit him in the years to come, and indeed, it’s the most common of surgeries for pro athletes.

Only now you have to wonder. If it was still enough of an issue for him to seek radical treatment earlier this month, following Kobe Bryant’s advice in getting Orthokine treatment on his right knee — and left shoulder — then it can hardly be dismissed as something that won’t bother him in the future.
We can clearly see the side-effects of A-Rod's contract with the way the Yankees have handled this offseason, and I suspect that won't change for the life of the deal.

It's a deal that, in my opinion, will go down as the worst contract ever handed out in baseball, if not all of sports. I had hoped the Yankees wouldn't let it change the way they do business, but obviously it has.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yanks Said No To Beltran.... Again!/JonHeymanCBS/statuses/151680430146453504
Poor Carlos. Being turned away by the Yankees twice can't be fun. That said, at $13 million a year for two seasons, I can understand why the Yanks said no.

The Fiscally Conservative Yankees

Over these past two months, countless Yankees fans - myself included - have lamented Cashman's apparent lack of activity within the free agent marketplace. C.J. Wilson, Yu Darvish, and Mark Buehrle have signed, with nary a murmur of genuine interest from the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt remain available, yet appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. Beyond those five - all of which appear to be a fair upgrade over any number of the starters on the Yankees current payroll - it would seem that there isn't much to be excited about, regardless of the front office's plan of action (or lack thereof).

This begs a simple, yet important question: why? There are two legitimate answers to the question, I think, and I would argue that they are fairly well intertwined.

With respect to the five aforementioned starters, I think a reasonable argument can be crafted in favor of the Yankees disinterest. Wilson, for all of his success in 2010 and 2011, is 31 ... with two years as a starter on his resume. For that, he received a five year deal worth $75 MM - a figure which includes a hometown discount for the Angels. Does that represent a sound investment?

While I do buy into Darvish's potential, we should not forget that that's all we have to work off of - his potential. He has never pitched stateside, and, despite his dominance in the NPB, the historical NPB to MLB transition has been rocky at best. The issues of a different ball, a new culture, and starting every five days are very real, even for a starter of his caliber. Is that package worth a $100 MM or better investment? And, for comparison's sake, did Stephen Strasburg receive a $100 MM bonus? No.

Buehrle has been remarkably consistent for the past decade or so, but is he really worth $58 MM from his age-33 through 36 seasons? Further, consider that he may have cost the Yankees more, as New York state taxes are fairly costly, whereas Florida's are nonexistent.

As for Oswalt and Kuroda, remember that both are older (34 and 36, respectively), and neither have pitched outside of the National League. Oswalt is also coming off of some fairly disconcerting back issues, and Kuroda is only a few months removed from expressing an unwillingness to pitch on the East Coast. There seems to be at least a bit of risk, even on a one-year deal.

Perhaps I am lying to myself, or even sipping the Cashman Kool-Aid. After all, I have argued for all five being a worthwhile pursuit for the Yankees, and I am somewhat reneging on previous statements. However, considering the risks involved, a large investment may well have resulted in a hindsight-fueled lambasting, not unlike those levied against A.J. Burnett and Alex Rodriguez.

The most pressing reasoning for the lack of spending, however, may well be something that has not been discussed here - the ramifications of crossing the luxury tax line under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Joel Sherman does a tremendous job of outlining what the Yankees have to gain by dipping under that line prior to 2014 here. For our purposes, the key passage is this:
As an organization, they are saying they are driven to have a payroll of $189 million or less in 2014 when that becomes the luxury tax threshold. Because the incentives that come via the new CBA are just too great for them to ignore.

For if they are at $189 million or less for the three seasons from 2014-16, they not only avoid paying one cent in luxury tax, which would rise to 50 percent for them as repeat offenders, but they also would get roughly $40 million in savings via the to-be-implemented market disqualification revenue sharing program. However, only teams under the luxury-tax threshold get reimbursed in this program, which is designed to prevent big markets such as Toronto and Washington from receiving revenue sharing dollars, which in turn will lower how much teams such as the Yanks pay (as long as they are under the threshold).

And even if they just went under $189 million for 2014 before going over again in 2015, the Yankees would receive serious benefits. They would get about $10 million in the revenue sharing disqualification program. Also, by simply going under the threshold once, the Yankees would go back to having a 17.5 percent tax rather than the 50 percent that begins in 2014 for them if they never go under. Keep in mind that since the luxury tax went to 40 percent for them in 2005, the Yankees have averaged paying $25.75 million in tax annually.
As per Cot's Contracts, the Yankees currently have $72.125 MM tied-up in Rodriguez, Teixeira, and Sabathia for the 2014 season. That leaves a bit over $116 MM to re-sign Granderson and Cano ... and fill an additional twenty roster slots.

With that in mind, the Yankees hesitance to give long-term deals to Wilson, Darvish, or Buehrle is understandable and wholly justified. Standing pat with Ivan Nova, and giving shots to David Phelps, Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances, all of which would be making the minimum in 2014, in order to see if they could play a role in the team's future may well take precedence over a one-year flier on Kuroda or Oswalt. For the rotation, this may well be a transitional year. As disconcerting as that may be in terms of going all-in for the World Series ... it makes sense for the team's financial future.

The Yankees will be a competitive team this year. I'm loath to point to the team's record last year, or the successes of Garcia and Nova, or anything of the sort - but there is talent throughout the roster, and every team has its fair share of question marks. All things considered, this isn't rebuilding so much as it's ensuring a more stable future, both in terms of salary commitments and roster spots. As someone that enjoys watching a solid team year in and year out, I respect that.

In the end, it boils down to a rather simple terms: frustrating, yet understandable.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Yanks Sign Okajima

From Anthony McCarron:
The Yankees have agreed to a minor-league contract with former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, according to multiple reports. Okajima, who turned 36 on Christmas Day, will be invited to spring training and could compete for a spot in the Yankee bullpen as a second left-hander alongside Boone Logan.

Okajima, who came to the majors from Japan before the 2007 season, has held lefties to a .218 average, .277 on-base percentage and .323 slugging percentage over five seasons. He was an all-star as a rookie with the Red Sox when he was 3-2 with a 2.22 ERA and five saves.
There's not much to be happy about regarding this signing. After three solid seasons to start his career in the States, Okajima has faded a bit, going just 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA over 63 appearances in 2010 and 2011. Last year he spent most of the year in Triple-A. His batting average against vs. lefties has also gotten worse with each passing season.

Kobe Bryant's Assist To A-Rod

From Mike Puma:
According to multiple sources, the Yankees third baseman recently followed a recommendation from Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star, and traveled to Germany for an experimental therapy called Orthokine on his bothersome right knee.

The innovative procedure was performed on Rodriguez — with the Yankees’ blessing — within the last month, according to one source. The Yankees first cleared the procedure with the commissioner’s office to avoid the appearance that Rodriguez might be receiving impermissible treatment.

Rodriguez, the source said, would not have had the procedure without the Yankees’ permission. Last season, the team was blindsided by a report that pitcher Bartolo Colon had undergone controversial stem-cell treatment.

Orthokine involves taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge, a machine used in laboratories to spin objects around a fixed axis. The serum is then injected into the affected area — in this case, Rodriguez’s knee.

Bryant underwent the same treatment last summer to try to strengthen his right knee. He also reportedly had the procedure done in October to treat a chronic left ankle ailment.

It remains unclear if the procedure actually works long-term.
Let's hope it does work. With the lack of any significant moves this offseason the Yanks are going to need a pretty big year from A-Rod.

Report: Yanks Just Trying to Drive Up Price For Kuroda

From Wallace Matthews:
It has been reported in several places that the Yankees and Red Sox are actively pursuing free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, but the baseball sources I have spoken with over the past week say it is unlikely the Yankees will make a bid on the 37-year-old former Dodger.

The reason? Once again, the luxury tax.

Kuroda is known to want in the neighborhood of $12 million or $13 million for a one- or two-year deal, which may not seem like much when you consider the Yankees are paying A.J. Burnett $16.5 million a year for each of the remaining two years on his contract.

But when you add in the 40 percent luxury tax surcharge, that pushes Kuroda's price to around $17 million a season, which may be a bit much to gamble on an aging pitcher with a 41-46 career record (3.45 ERA) who has never pitched in the American League.
Why is it that the Yankees are treating this offseason like they're the damn Pittsburgh Pirates?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Swish, This Team Isn't Amazing

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all that jazz to Yankee fans everywhere. It's been an incredibly quiet off season for the 27-Time Champs, as Brian Cashman has been far too busy repelling down buildings than improving a, quite frankly, borderline 90 win team as it stands today.

As much as I'd love to say "this team is great, they won 97 games last year!", I really can't. Yes, last year was a great season considering the circumstances the team was under. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Ivan Nova all pitched above and beyond anyone thought going into the season. But ultimately, the Yankees fell short of even the ALCS, losing to the Tigers in a heart-breaking 5-game series. While Game 5 was not to hang on the pitching (the Yankees left the bases loaded, what, 15 times that game?), it still doesn't change the fact that the pitching is the Yanks' #1 concern once again.

CC, Nova, and what? A.J. is, well, he's A.J. A bounce back season from him should not be anticipated. Garcia, as great as he was last year, is still 35, and I wouldn't bank on him having another year like 2011. And then you have the 5th spot. Whoever gets it - Phil Hughes or Hector Noesi; well, they don't even have real expectations going into the season. If the Yankees were to make the playoffs again, I don't think even the Mets would be scared to face this staff.

The offense, while still one of the best in baseball, also has some red flags. Alex Rodriguez is probably the biggest concern. Turning 37, A-Rod is no longer an MVP-candidate. No longer in the top 5 players list. He is an aging star who hasn't played in 150 games since 2007. While it seems like he can still hit around .280 and play an above-average third base, he's not a cleanup hitter anymore, and probably won't hit 30 home runs again unless he makes some calls to his cousin Yuri.

Another concern in that offense has to be the captain, Derek Jeter. While having a superb second half of the season, Jeet too is declining and will be 38 next June. As ageless a legend Jeter will go down as, every great player goes through this. This could be Jeter's last year as the starting shortstop, and it's hard to say he'll play so well that the front office decides otherwise next season.

The reason why I don't go out and say "Cash, you need to this....." is because I really don't see him doing anything. They want to stay under the luxury tax, and, despite there being still nice pieces on the market in Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, if Cash really wanted to do something, he would have done it already.

And the Yankees, as they stand today, are in for a wake-up call next season. We can hope and pray that the Yanks will surprise us again, but I'm an optimistic realist. I can't see the Yanks making the playoffs next season, and if they were to, they'd fall well short of #28, as they did in 2011.

Rays, O's & Phillies Interested in Jorge

The Tampa Bay Rays appear to have interest in signing free-agent catcher/designated hitter Jorge Posada, according to a report from ESPN Deportes.

Posada could serve as a backup at first base, DH and catcher, the story states, which potentially would give the Rays a 36-year-old starting catcher in Jose Molina and a 40-year-old reserve in Posada. During the 2011 season, the final year of a four-year, $52.4 million deal with the Yankees, Posada played just six innings behind the plate.

There is still a decision to be made by Posada, who is drawing interest from the Orioles and Phillies according to the same report, as to whether he will return for the 2012 campaign or retire. Posada has a .273 average with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBIs in 1,829 career games played over 17 years. He was a major contributor to four Yankees World Series championship teams, producing 11 postseason homers and 42 RBIs in total.
I'd hate to see Jorge sign with another team, especially one the Yanks would have to play 18 times, but who am I to tell the guy what to do, right?

That said, I do believe signing on somewhere else for one or two more sub-par years wouldn't do much for his legacy in this game.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marry Christmas Everybody

Hoping all you Yankees fans have a very Merry Christmas, and to those of you who don't celebrate the whole Christmas thing, Happy Holidays! The Yankees may not have gotten much this year, but the Giants beat the Jets yesterday and the Knicks season tips off this afternoon against those hated Celtics, so we have that going for us, which is nice.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Swish Says Yanks Have "An Amazing Team"

From Chad Jennings:
Nick Swisher was on the YES Network last night, and he took some exception to the idea that the Yankees haven’t enough enough to improve themselves this winter.

“I think it’s time to put us back on the map,” he said. “I think with the guys we have going into this season, we feel confident. A lot of people are saying, why haven’t the Yankees made any moves? Well, we didn’t win the most games in the American League last year with just nobody. We feel we have an amazing team, and we’re going to go out there and hope we prove that this year.”


“In New York, people expect to win, and we want to win for them,” Swisher said. “Regardless of whatever lineup we put on the field, we will be competitive.”
You can throw me in the line of people who are saying, "why haven't the Yankees made any moves?". If I were grading the Yankees offseason to this point, it would get a D-. They're no better than they were when the season ended, and being that it ended with a ALDS exit the word "amazing" is not one I would use to describe it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yanks Hit With $13.9M Luxury Tax

From The AP:
The New York Yankees were hit with a $13.9 million luxury tax bill Thursday, their lowest since 2003.

The fee, assessed by Major League Baseball under its labor contract, is down from $18 million last year and $25.7 million in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series.

Boston, which missed the playoffs for the second straight season, is the only other team that will have to pay a tax. The Red Sox received a bill for $3.4 million, up from last year's $1.5 million.

Season-ending payroll information and the tax was sent to teams and obtained by The Associated Press.
Looks like the Yankees are getting closer to where they want to be financially, which is good, I guess.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Are The Sox Trying To Steal Jones?

From Mark Feinsand:
For weeks, it has appeared to be a foregone conclusion that Andruw Jones would return to the Bronx next season, but that’s no longer the certainty it once seemed.

The Yankees have stayed in touch with Jones’ agent, Scott Boras, but a source said the two sides have not made much progress despite the mutual desire for a reunion. The source added that “several” other teams have expressed interest in the 34-year-old outfielder — one of which is believed to be the rival Red Sox.

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are searching for a righthanded power bat to share time in the outfield, a role Jones filled admirably last season in New York.
Cashman and Co. have done very little, if anything this offseason to improve the team, the least they can do is sure up the bench. Get it done, Brian.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (12/18-12/24)

This Week in Yankees History

December 18th - December 24th

December 18th

1918 - Outfielder Duffy Lewis returns from the military, he is traded by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees. He goes along with front-line pitchers Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard for P Ray Caldwell, P Elmer “Slim” Love, C Roxy Walters, OF Frank Gilhooley, and $15,000. The Detroit Tigers had turned down a deal for Dutch Leonard on the 16th. The Boston Post newspaper reports, "It will take a lot to convince Boston fans that they got the best of this one."

1930 - Former Yankees 1B Bill "Moose" Skowron (1954-1962) was born. Bill Skowron hit .296 in 12 years with the Yankees with 156 HRs and 672 RBI's. He was named to the AL All Star team 1957-1961. In 1958, he led the AL 1st baseman in fielding. He appeared in 7 World Series with the Yankees and 1 with the Dodgers (1963). Bill was traded to the Dodgers for starter Stan Williams during the winter of 1962. Now Bill works with the Chicago White Sox community relations department. He is still a very popular player with the Yankees fans on Old Timer’s Day games.

1930 - Former Yankees minor league INF Mike Baxes was born. Before the start of 1951 AL season, the New York Yankees obtained Mike Baxes from San Francisco Seals (PCL) as part of a minor league working agreement. Before the start of the 1952 AL season, the Yankees returned Mike to San Francisco Seals (PCL), after expiration of minor league working agreement. On September 21,1955, he was purchased by the Kansas City A’s from the Seals (PCL). Mike played 2B and shortstop for the A’s. On April 12,1959, Mike was traded by the Kansas City A’s along with OF Bob Martyn to the Yankees for INF Tom Carroll and minor league OF Russ Snyder. Mike never played for the Yankees at the MLB level, he was sent to Richmond (AAA). Also his brother Jim played in the majors during the 1950’s with the Dodgers.

1950 - New York Yankees OF great Tommy "Old Reliable" Henrich calls it a career as a MLB player. He accepts a MLB coaching position with the Yankees.

1956 - Former New York Yankees American League All Star and MVP (1950) shortstop Phil Rizzuto signs as a Yankee radio-TV announcer. The New York Yankees will have him replaced veteran baseball announcer Jim Woods. The Yankees will have him join Red Barber and Mel Allen in the booth.

1957 - Former Yankees P Bob Ojeda (1994) was born. On January 28, 1994, Bob Ojeda was signed as a MLB free agent with the New York Yankees. Bob appeared in only 1 game for the Yankees in 1994. On May 5, 1994, Bob was released by the Yankees.

1958 - Former Yankees P Scott Nielsen (1986, 1988-1989) was born. On February 14, 1984, Scott was traded by the Seattle Mariners along with P Eric Parent (minors) to the New York Yankees for INF Larry Milbourne. In 1986, Scott went 4-4 for the Yankees. On January 5,1987, he was traded by the Yankees along with P Mike Soper (minors) to the Chicago White Sox for P Pete Filson and INF Randy Velarde. On November 12,1987, Scott was traded by the White Sox along with P Richard Dotson to the Yankees for OF/1B Dan Pasqua, P Steve Rosenberg and C/DH/1B Mark Salas. In 1988, he went 1-2 and in 1989 he posted a 1-0 mark for the Yankees. On July 10,1989, Scott was traded by the Yankees to the New York Mets for OF Marcus Lawton.

1967 - The Chicago White Sox send veteran 3B/1B slugger Pete Ward to the Yankees for P Mickey Scott and cash. Pete Ward was at the end of his MLB career playing with back problems.

1968 - Former Yankees reserve C Hank Severeid (1926) passed away (1891-1968). On July 22, 1926, Hank Severeid was selected off waivers by the New York Yankees from the Washington Senators. He appeared in 41 games for the 1926 Yankees, hitting .268. In the 1926 World Series, he played in all 7 games for the Yankees, hitting .273.

1973 - The New York Yankees announced the signing of Richard Williams as manager, precipitating a legal showdown with Oakland A's Owner Charlie Finley. Two days later, American League President Joe Cronin rules that the Yankees cannot sign Williams that he is still legally contracted with the Oakland A’s.

1993 - Top New York Yankees pitching prospect Brien Taylor injures his shoulder in a fight near his home in North Carolina. The Injury will require surgery and cause Taylor to miss the entire 1994 season. Taylor, who signed for a $1.55 million bonus in 1991, has yet to make it to the majors.

2002 - The New York Yankees signed MLB free agent 3B Todd Zeile to a contract. Todd will appear in 66 games for the 2002 Yankees, hitting just .210. On August 18,2003, Todd was released by the Yankees.

2009 - The New York Yankees sign MLB free agent and former Yankee 1B/DH Nick Johnson to a one-year contract with an option for 2011 American League season. He is expected to play DH and bat second in place of Johnny Damon, whom the Yankees announced they would not seek to re-sign. Damon will sign with the Detroit Tigers. Nick Johnson will miss most of the 2010 AL season due to wrist injury that required surgery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rangers Win Rights To Darvish!/JeffPassan/status/148977539929473024

Report: Yanks Not Getting Darvish

Just another report to confirm what most of us already knew. Here's the update via Marc Carig:
If Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish indeed throws his first major league pitch next season, it will not be in a Yankees uniform.

The Yankees are "not getting him," a person with knowledge of the situation said today, on condition of anonymity because the posting process is still ongoing. Darvish's Japanese team has until Tuesday to decide whether to accept the highest bid to negotiate with Darvish.

The Yankees submitted a bid. But the only way they can emerge with Darvish is if it proves to be the highest on the table, and the person with knowledge said the Yankees' bid will not be high enough to top those they believe were submitted by a pair of American League rivals, the Rangers and Blue Jays.

"A ridiculous number," the person with knowledge said, while declining to offer exact figures.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winning Bid For Darvish Higher Than Dice-K's

From Franz Lidz:
Contrary to published reports, the top sealed bid submitted for star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish on Wednesday was the highest in the history of the posting process, exceeding the record $51.1 million fee that the Boston Red Sox paid the Seibu Lions for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, according to Japanese league officials.

Though the identity of the major league franchise that won exclusive negotiating rights to the 25-year-old right-hander has yet to be revealed, Japanese league officials say that the offer to Darvish's team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, is higher than the $40-48 million range that has been reported in the U.S. and Japan.
Wow, with the recent failures of Japanese pitchers I didn't think it would be that high. Oh well, still wish he was headed to the Bronx.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Looks Like The Jays Won The Darvish Bidding

From George A. King III:
Having made a posting bid above $40 million and possibly close to $50 million, the Blue Jays are the favorites to land the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.

There is a belief the Cubs also made a large bid on the right-hander but a number hasn’t been attached to their bid.

The Yankees made a bid Wednesday night, but it’s not expected to top what the Blue Jays submitted. The Rangers are also believed to have bid.

According to several sources with knowledge of the situation, the Blue Jays’ made the monster bid on orders from owner Rogers Communications.

By Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, for whom Darvish pitched the past seven years, will either accept the highest bid without knowing the identity of the team or reject it.

If accepted, the winning club will have 30 days to cut a deal with Darvish...!/JimBowdenESPNxm/status/147646968397697024
Great, not only will the Yankees not sign Darvish, but he's likely headed to a division rival.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yanks Did Bid On Darvish!/JackCurryYES/status/147114057625894912
There are also rumors flying around that the Yankees bid was a modest one, but I believe that's just speculation at this point. However, if that was the case than the Yankees most likely won't be the winners.
If you're wondering it'll be a few days until we hear who won the bidding:!/JeffPassan/status/147144181259833344
I'd really like to find out that the Yankees made the winning bid here, although itd doesn't seem likely.

Sox Trade For Former Yankee Mark Melancon

From WEEI:
According to multiple sources, the Red Sox acquired Astros closer Mark Melancon in a trade Wednesday for pitcher Kyle Weiland and Jed Lowrie.

Melancon, 26, a 2006 draft pick of the Yankees out of the University of Arizona, had Tommy John surgery late in 2006 and missed the 2007 season. He made his debut for the Yankees against the Red Sox in 2009. He was traded to the Astros last year as part of the Lance Berkman deal. The right-hander went 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves in 25 chances for the lowly Astros this past season. He had 66 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings.

Weiland, 25, debuted for the Red Sox this season, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA. He is expected to be given a spot in the Astros rotation.
The Sox also signed Nick Punto to 2-year deal worth $3.5M.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Piniella on Verge of Signing on with YES

From the NY Daily News:
Sweet Luigi is headed back to the Yankees.

Lou Piniella, a fan favorite as both player and manager, is deep in negotiations and close to signing a deal to return to the Bombers as an analyst for the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network. He also will likely serve as a spring training instructor.

According to industry sources, Piniella will do a limited number of appearances for YES in the broadcast booth and studio.

Piniella would join YES’ cast of analysts that includes Ken Singleton, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Al Leiter and play-by-play man Michael Kay.

Piniella is no stranger to the Yankees broadcast booth. After being fired — for the second time — as Bombers manager by George Steinbrenner in 1988, Piniella still had a year left on his contract. He spent the 1989 season in the Madison Square Garden Network’s Yankees booth.
Welcome back!

Brackman Signs With Cincy!/JonHeymanCBS/status/146636347443126274

Monday, December 12, 2011

Details of Freddy's Deal

According to the Post, Garcia, who is guaranteed $4 million next season, can make up to $5,575,000 next season thanks to some incentives included in his new deal. Garcia will make an additional $250K for starts 25, 27, 29 and 30, $275K for 31, and $300K for 32. With Garcia's spot in the rotation pretty much set, as long as he stays healthy he should be able to cash in on most of those.

WTF: Beckett is mad at Kevin Long?

From Kevin Kernan:
Boston ace Josh Beckett, who always seems to be upset about something, is ticked off at Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long for mentioning that Beckett takes too long between pitches, which can throw off the rhythm of the hitter.

That was the word from new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in comments made Saturday at the Red Sox “Christmas at Fenway’’ event.


On an ESPN telecast in August, Valentine criticized Beckett for his slow pitching pace, saying, “That’s a half hour added to this game of him standing around and us sitting around watching him do nothing.’’

Valentine was correct. The Aug. 7 game between the Yankees and Red Sox lasted 4 hours, 15 minutes. Beckett started that game and pitched six innings in Boston’s 3-2, 10-inning victory. Valentine spoke to Beckett last week and said at the winter meetings that Beckett is still quite upset. Valentine and Beckett, though, worked out their differences, Valentine said in the interview Saturday and it is Long on the receiving end of Beckett’s ire.

Basically, the pitcher who takes too long between pitches is upset with Long for mentioning that fact.

“Kevin Long started complaining about him taking too long,’’ Valentine explained at the event. “And [Beckett] felt, ‘Why don’t I take long and if [the hitters] don’t like it, then that’s exactly what I want to do? Whatever they don’t like, and what makes them uncomfortable, makes them unsuccessful.’ So he said that and we at ESPN fell into his trap ... or we bought into Kevin Long’s strategy to reverse his success. I get it. Maybe I did and there was frenzy about what Kevin said and I was reiterating it.”
As you might expect, Kevin Long didn't care:
Long, reached by The Post yesterday, said he was merely stating the obvious to Valentine and the ESPN broadcast crew at the time and that it was Valentine who ran hard with his own comments about Beckett’s pace, backing up Long’s point of view.

Long is not losing any sleep over the fact that Beckett is upset with him, telling The Post, “I kind of think this is humorous.’’
Is this really the sort of thing that upsets these losers in Boston? Get over it, freakin' crybaby.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yanks Aren't Confident They Can Sign Nakajima!/Jon_Heyman/status/144576688913780736

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yankees Contacted the Mets About Niese!/SurfingTheMets/status/144580575217467392!/Joelsherman1/status/144586471876206593

Upon first hearing about Niese's availability, I was cautiously optimistic that the Yankees would, at the very least, inquire about the young lefty. While Niese may not offer the upside of Gio Gonzalez or the experience of John Danks, I believe that he is not too far removed from either, and is quite likely to come at the most reasonable cost.

For those of you unfamiliar with Niese, he has produced the following over his two full-ish seasons with the Mets:

2010 - 173.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 47.7 GB%
2011 - 157.1 IP, 4.40 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 51.5 GB%

Niese mixes five pitches - four-seam and two-seam fastballs (around 90 MPH), a cutter (his primary weapon against righties), a 12-to-6 curveball (his strikeout pitch), and a rarely utilized change-up. Though he is a bit more effective against left-handed batters, he does not show a worrisome platoon split, which speaks volumes about the effectiveness of his cutter.

There is a bit of downside with Niese, in that he has struggled to stay healthy over the past two seasons. Hamstring and oblique issues have hampered him intermittently and, while there hasn't been any permanent damage or throwing-arm related injuries, durability may very well be a concern. And, of course, the National League caveat applies.

Should the reports of the Mets asking price be accurate, I believe that the Yankees could and should make a strong push for Niese. The team does not necessarily have a chip comparable to Hammel, but I could see Hector Noesi as an appealing option to step into the Mets rotation in April ... and he may be preferable to someone like Hammel, due to his cost and team control. I suspect that this will garner a bit of grief, but I would be willing to offer Dellin Betances as the principal piece in the deal, which speaks more to my opinion of Niese than my valuation of Betances. Should the Mets desire a bat, I would seek to package Austin Romine, Eduardo Nunez, and one of David Adams, Corban Joseph, or Brandon Laird. Nunez is incredibly far removed from Reyes' stratosphere, but he and Romine would be able to step in all but immediately and fill very real holes on the Mets roster (and at a very affordable rate, which is an integral consideration).

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Darvish Announces He's Coming To America

From the AP:
Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish ended months of speculation today by saying he intends to make a move to Major League Baseball.

The 25-year-old right-hander, considered the best pitcher in the Japanese professional leagues, wrote on his blog that he had decided to use the posting system, which allows MLB teams to bid for the negotiating rights to Japanese players who have yet to become free agents.

"I have decided to use the posting system," he said. "I wanted to tell my fans directly, so that is why I am posting this on my blog."


"I owe a lot of thanks to my team," Darvish said, adding he would provide more details at an upcoming news conference.
And let the bidding begin!

Pujols & Wilson Sign With The Angels!/Buster_ESPN/status/144793656577101824!/BNightengale/status/144794917699457024!/Buster_ESPN/status/144813502052319232
Great, now we have to face Pujols multiple times each season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yankees Win Bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima!/Ken_Rosenthal/statuses/144465421842653186!/Jon_Heyman/statuses/144469589273755648

There have been reports stating that Nakajima was hoping to land on the West Coast, and I suspect (though cannot confirm) that he would prefer a starting gig as he is currently in the prime of his career. As such, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the Yankees offer, whatever it may be, to serve as their primary utility infielder - it would not be unprecedented for Nakajima to spurn the Yankees and elect to return to Japan.

Last summer, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and FanGraphs stated the following about Nakajima in a run through some Japanese prospects:
Nakajima gets my vote as Japan’s second best hitter, behind Aoki. Nakajima doesn’t quite match up with Aoki’s pure contact skill or plate discipline, but is still very good in both categories and adds a bit more gap power to the equation. Nakajima is a back-leg hitter, with a big stride that he will occasionally shorten up. On the turf, Nakajima plays a solid shortstop, among many good shortstops in his league.
In a lengthier follow-up, after Nakajima asked to be posted (and subsequently denied), Newman wrote about his glove:
Good glove, pretty good arm. I’ve seen some commentary speculating that he’s better suited to second base in MLB, but I don’t see why he shouldn’t get a chance to play shortstop. Nakajima has played his career on turf, in his home games at Seibu Dome and most of his road games, as all of the Pacific League teams have turf infields. The turf-grass adjustment was tough for Kazuo Matsui, but Tadahito Iguchi did fine so it can go either way.
And his bat:
Nakajima is a good contact hitter who uses the whole field. I see him as a line drive/gap hitter; in Japan he’s been around 20 hr and .500 slg for the last four years or so. He’s also gotten better at drawing walks over the last few years, but he’s still not great by American standards. Generally speaking, though, there are fewer walks and strikeouts in NPB. Like many Japanese NPB hitters, he has a complex swing, with a long stride and a lot of leg movement. I think he will shorten up his stride and cut down on his lower body movement in MLB, which will likely cost him some power.
Reports indicate that Nakajima is an above-average baserunner, and his numbers seem to bear that out (as well as much of Newman's scouting report).

Based upon the information on-hand, Nakajima does fit the profile of a solid utility infielder. I am a bit leery of the transition from the NPB to the MLB, particularly in cases where the player's numbers don't jump off the page, but the expectations seem reasonable. So long as the contract is reasonable, I think that Nakajima is a solid gamble.

On another note, I imagine this is indicative of the Yankees willingness to move Eduardo Nunez. His name has popped up in several rumors, and the rumor that he was the breaking point in the non-trade for Cliff Lee persists to this day. I suppose it may also mean the Yankees are going to allow him to play every day in Triple-A, but that would be somewhat unprecedented - particularly when the team could likely include him in a package to upgrade the rotation. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Rumor: AJ's Available But Nobody Wants Him

From George A. King III:
The Yankees have inserted A.J. Burnett into the trade market at the Winter Meetings, The Post has learned.

According to multiple teams, the Yankees have let it be known they will listen to offers for Burnett and are willing to pay $8 million of the $33 million Burnett is owed over the next two seasons.

“We will listen on anybody,’’ GM Brian Cashman said without getting specific.

Even with the Yankees swallowing about a quarter of Burnett’s contract, they haven’t gotten a nibble. First, Burnett, who will be 35 in January, would still be owed $12.5 million this coming season and next. Secondly, Burnett hasn’t pitched well (21-26) the past two seasons and has suffered a dip in velocity.

However, the fact that the Yankees have progressed to the point they are listening and willing to eat cash could be an indication they believe there is a move they can make to add a starter good enough to fall in behind ace CC Sabathia.

Cashman said, “I don’t have significant money for free agents’’ because of the dollars allotted for his bevy of stars, meaning adding an arm will likely come through a trade.
Not a surprise nobody is interested. I can't imagine this goes anywhere further unless the Yankees pick up even more money, and if that's the case then you have to wonder if making that kind of deal is even worth it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kuroda Open To East Coast!/DavidWaldstein/status/144157250892726272!/Joelsherman1/statuses/144169419864678400

Interesting... The money is a lot for a middle of the rotation guy, but signing Kuroda makes some sense if the Yankees are going to avoid some of the higher priced talent out there. They won't be locked into a long-term deal, he's coming of the best of his four big league seasons, and has thrown right around 200 innings for two straight years.

What do you guys think?

Rumor: Yanks Working On Gio Gonzalez Deal - UPDATED

(Update) Apparently the asking price was not as reasonable as originally reported:!/BobKlap/status/144208306636984320
***Original Post***

Not sure how credible this is, so take it with a grain of salt, but here's the info from NYBD:
A source down at the Winter Meetings informed me of a 3-way deal being discussed between the Yankees, Oakland, and Kansas City. The players discussed were:

Yankees get: Gio Gonzalez

A’s get: LF Brett Gardner from Yanks, 1B Clint Robinson from Royals.

Royals get: RHP David Phelps, OF Michael Taylor, and a PTBNL from Yanks that is expected to be off 40-man roster.
Gonzalez is a solid pitcher and he's only 26, so I guess this isn't a terrible deal. At the same time, I really don't think the Yankees should trade Gardner. His speed and defense do a lot for this team, even if he finds himself in a deep slump every now and then. And with the Yankees, and their money, I'd much rather see them avoid trades, and throw some money at a free agent (Darvish, Wilson, etc...). If they're going to continue to raise ticket prices and force the average fan to stay home, the least they can do is continue to buy themselves into the post season.

Nats Asked Yanks About Gardner!/masnNationals/status/144110811760181248
Glad the Yanks said no.

Yankees May Be Frontrunner for Cespedes!/FrankiePiliere/statuses/143795991827587072

I find myself very torn on Cespedes.

The Yankees are lacking high-impact outfield prospects in the upper levels of the farm system, which could be an issue with Swisher (2012) and Granderson (2013) approaching free agency. Signing Cespedes would quash that issue immediately, albeit at a fairly high cost, while (possibly) allowing the Yankees to shop Swisher for help in the rotation. The latter, of course, assumes that Cespedes is ready for the Show ... which he very well may be. Based upon Cespedes' Cuban League statistics, ZiPS guru Dan Szymborski projects a .270/.331/.435 line, with 23 HR and 9 SB in 2012. I would take such production in a heartbeat.

It's also worth noting that the track record of Cuban position players is superior to their pitching brethren. Yunel Escobar, Alexei Ramirez, and Kendrys Morales (pre-injuries) have met expectations in recent memory, Tony Perez is in the Hall of Fame, and Tony Oliva has a fairly compelling argument, to boot.

Despite this, the risk is still obvious. Cespedes will command a fairly substantial contract and a spot on the 40-man roster, and he does not have any experience in the United States. In transitioning to Major League Baseball, he will also have to deal with language and cultural barriers. Considering that he will likely seek a guarantee to start in the Majors at some point in 2012 ... I would argue he's even more of a gamble than Yu Darvish.

In the end, I think Cespedes is a worthwhile gamble, particularly if he is willing to work his way from Double-A to the Majors. I would be hesitant to deal Swisher and open 2012 with Cespedes manning right field, but if the front office is confident in the Cuban wunderkind's ability to step into the Yankees line-up, I suppose I could be swayed.

Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yanks Looking At Danks

In case you haven't heard, it's been reported several times that the Yankees are interested in Jon Danks. Well, don't get your hopes up, because as you can see from Jon Heyman's tweet below, the asking price, for now, is insane.!/SI_JonHeyman/status/143754553710489600
Danks is a decent pitcher (8-12, 4.33 ERA, 3.82 FIP in 2011), but he's not worth either of those guys. I'd rather see Noesi get the spot in the rotation than see the Yanks even trade one of them for Danks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

ESPN: Jose Reyes Headed To Miami

From ESPN:
The Miami Marlins and shortstop Jose Reyes agreed to terms on a six-year, $106 million deal Sunday, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

The guarantee for the first six years totals $102 million, sources told's Jayson Stark. The deal includes an option for a seventh year, with a guaranteed $4 million.

Sources told ESPNDeportes' Enrique Rojas that the option would be worth $22 million.
According to the article, the Marlins, who also just signed Heath Bell, will now turn their attention to free agent 1B Albert Pujols.

Cano & Damon Pushing Ortiz To Yanks?

From The Sports Xchange:
Robinson Cano(notes) would like to see his friend David Oritz jump from the arch-rival Boston Red Sox to his New York Yankees and Johnny Damon(notes), the former teammate of both players, said it would be a good idea.

"Shoot, I was trying to tell him if he went to New York his 30 home runs turns into 40," Damon said while at Ortiz's celebrity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic, according to The Boston Globe. "He still has a great chance to win. I'm happy I got to experience both sides (of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry). Both sides were very incredible for me.

"… As a baseball fan, I would love to see him stay in Boston," Damon said. "But being a part of it, I know there may be some opportunities and less drama elsewhere."

Cano, also attending Ortiz's tournament, had earlier said he would welcome Big Papi to the Bronx.

"It would be a good idea, having another lefty on the team," Cano told the New York Daily News. "We all know he's a great hitter. Last year, a lot of people were saying, 'He's done.' He proved a lot of people wrong. I like people, when they're down, they prove people wrong. He came back, did a great job."
I know there really isn't a need to bring in a big bat, but I would certainly have no problems if the Yankees were actually interested in signing Ortiz. Not only would it add a very good lefty bat to the lineup, but it would crush Red Sox fans.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Morosi: Yanks, Tigers, Marlins Most Interested in Cespedes!/jonmorosi/status/143032749270368256

There was also this related bit of info from Chad Jennings:
Brian Cashman was asked today whether the new collective bargaining agreement will impact his pursuit of international free agents this winter. Teams are about to pay a premium when they spend big on the international market — and there are some premier international free agents out there — but Cashman wouldn’t comment on the issue.

“I’m not prepared to talk about what the new CBA does to us and how we have to adjust to it,” he said. “I’m still sifting through all of it. It’s a big document, and as you go through it you’re having meetings on every aspect of it as well as trying to do the job at the same time.”

Friday, December 2, 2011

More From Heyman: Posada Would Like To Sign With Marlins!/SI_JonHeyman/status/142617700936593409!/SI_JonHeyman/status/142620493160255489

Heyman on Yanks: Chavez, Jones, Gonzalez!/SI_JonHeyman/statuses/142692746895962112
I like the idea of bringing Jones and Chavez back a lot. They were both solid bench players and there's no reason they can't do the same, or better, next year. Chavez obviously has his health issues, but even if he has to spend some time on the DL it's worth bringing him back.

As for Gonzalez, since coming to the AL he's certainly been knocked down a beg going 3-5 with just 2 saves and a 4.27 ERA in 85 appearances for the O's. Prior to his move to the AL, Gonzalez had an impressive 2.57 ERA 302 appearances for the Pirates and Braves. Clearly age is either catching up with the left-hander, or he's a pitcher better suited to face lineups where pitchers hit.

He was pretty good against lefties in 2011, holding them to a triple-slash of .214/.264/.311, so maybe there's some value there. Not sure the move is necessary, but as I've said a thousand times, extra pitching is always a good thing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Marchand: Wilson Won't Visit NY

From Andrew Marchand:
As we have reported on this site for weeks (months?), the Yankees are not that hot for C.J. Wilson. In fact, even though, his agent requested a trip to the Bronx, the Yankees said no.
He goes on to say that he puts the Yankees chances at getting Wilson at about 5% I'm starting to think he's right. For the Yankees to say no to a visit, they either want nothing to do with him, or, they want nothing to do with him at the current asking price. Either way, it does look like Wilson to the Yanks is highly unlikely.

Hughes Talks About 2012

From Mark Feinsand:
Joe Girardi says he fully expects the 25-year-old to be in the Yankees’ rotation next season, but Hughes told the Daily News Wednesday that he knows he must deliver to keep his job. Part of that is coming into camp fitter than ever.

“I’m at a point where the patience is running out,” Hughes said during a telephone interview. “I’m not a prospect anymore and I’m not 21 years old anymore. You’re gauged on what kind of year you had, not what you’re capable of doing.”


“I’m certainly not at the point in my career where I can come in and go through the motions, and if I give up eight runs in an outing, it’s all good because it’s spring training,” Hughes said. “ For me, coming off a bad season, I’m trying to do as much as I can to make sure that I’m ready to go when spring training rolls around.”

The first step was a return last month to Athletes’ Performance Institute in Los Angeles, where he trained in 2008-09. Hughes reported a few pounds overweight last season, and while he doesn’t attribute his velocity or injury issues to conditioning, he couldn’t rule out a link, either.

“It’s hard to say, but if there’s even a 1% chance that it did, then I’m doing everything I can now to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Hughes said.


“It’s always good to hear your manager say that he expects you to be in that spot,” Hughes said. “But at the end of the day, if you don’t do what you’re expected to do, there’s going to be somebody that will.”
It's time for Hughes to really take that step forward and I'm glad to hear he's working hard and making sure he comes into camp in shape. The sad part is that he wasn't in shape last year, which is unacceptable and probably should have been talked about more when it was an issue. Either way, it's going to more than just losing a few pounds to get Hughes back on track.