Thursday, February 4, 2016

Will Yankees’ Brett Gardner remain a valuable commodity?

It’s a business and the New York Yankees believe outfielder Brett Gardner is a valuable commodity. All the same, it will be interesting to see if Gardner’s value as an asset grows or diminishes during and after the 2016 season. Is this the final season in Gardner’s contract that his performance will considerably influence his worth to the club as a trade piece?

Brett Gardner
Photo credit: Keith Allison
Gardner is one of the few Yankees with a contract that has some value for a multitude of teams. As such, New York was open to listening to offers for the home grown player this offseason.

I’d argue that one of the reasons the Yankees extended Gardner with a four-year, $52 million deal in 2014 which takes him through the 2018 season (there is team option for 2019) was in part to use as a trade asset. The Yanks know full well they have the potential for duplicate production from Jacoby Ellsbury, who the club invested $153 million in during the same offseason. They might rather ship Ellsbury, but his contract is not perceived as one which will be moved easily.

Gardner had an interesting 2015 season, in which he was on the top of his game in the first half, leading to his first All-Star selection. However, Gardner suffered a severe let down in the second half of the season which might have adversely affected his value. Gardner played a bulk of the second half with a nagging left wrist injury, but he neglected to blame his performance on the ailment.

The Yankees surely see Gardner as a player who can outperform his contract value based on the lengthy streaks of positive performance he’s provided during his tenure in the Bronx. However, the fact that Gardner is still in New York might mean that potential trade partners did not value Gardner as high as the Yankees. Those clubs certainly based their valuation on the significant slumps he has also suffered from.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Losing Greg Bird puts wrinkle in Yankees’ 2017 plans

The New York Yankees had it all mapped out for 2017; that is until Greg Bird was found to have a torn labrum forcing him to miss the entire 2016 season.

Greg Bird
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
Bird was to take the reins at first base from Mark Teixeira and be part of the new young core of the Yankees. With Bird’s eye-opening performance in Teixeira’s stead at the end of the 2015 season, the club could not help but feel comfortable knowing the latter’s contract was set to expire at the end of this season.

Out with the old and in with the new. It was simple, and it might not happen now.

At issue for the Yankees is whether or not to go forward with the plan in 2017. Bird would have had another full season to build on his spectacular 2015, had he been able to play this season. Now, he’ll be coming off a full season away from the game, and be recuperating from an injury that often derails careers.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Yankees pitching cannot rely on Betances, Miller and Chapman alone

ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote Friday about the trend around Major League Baseball in which teams seem to be concentrating on more than just fortifying the backend of their bullpen, but rather creating dominating groups. The New York Yankees certainly fit that bill after adding Aroldis Chapman this offseason to an already potent combination of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

What’s interesting about the situation is that the front offices do not necessarily want this to be the case. Take this quote from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

"It has always been easier to build great bullpens than great rotations ... Believe me, I'd rather have five guys who can give you nine innings every day and give you 250 innings a year, and have an ERA under 2.00, and compete for Cy Youngs. But I don't have that."
This of course makes sense because one thing the Yankees did experience toward the end of the 2015 season was some of their relievers wearing down. It happened to Betances, who saw increased walk rates in the season’s final month, and it was disastrously evident for Chasen Shreve, who went from extremely competent to woefully disappointing. Adding Chapman might help curtail some of Betances’ use, but let’s face it Yankees manager Joe Girardi is not going to hold back on deploying the three-headed monster as often as possible.

And that means the Yankees have to get some length from at least two of their starters on a regular basis, AND they need to receive ample, and more importantly, quality assistance from the relievers who precede Betances, Miller and Chapman (B-M-C from here out when referenced together).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yankees ignore Fister, agree with Nova

The New York Yankees rotation is not set in stone, but it’s fairly simple to lay it out with the caveat that health could derail the group. In alphabetical order here is the assumed five-man rotation for the Yankees with three weeks left until spring training begins.

1. Nathan Eovaldi
2. Michael Pineda
3. CC Sabathia
4. Luis Severino
5. Masahiro Tanaka

There is plenty of talent there to help the club reach the postseason in 2016, but it’s not sound judgment to believe it will take just these five starters. Each of the pitchers above, except for Severino, missed time on the disabled list in 2015. And this will be Severino's first full season in the big leagues, so expecting completely smooth sailing for him is also questionable.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dissecting recent Steinbrenner comments on state of the Yankees

New York Yankees principal owner and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke with reporters Wednesday at the Owners’ Meeting about the state of the Yankees as spring training approaches. He covered a few topics of which I’ll dissect a bit here.

Payroll steadiness

Hal Steinbrenner
Photo credit: Jeffrey Putnam via Flickr
Steinbrenner has not relented on the notion that the club does not have to raise payroll substantially beyond the current approximation of about $215 million. Steinbrenner has discussed at length and reiterated that when significant money comes off the books – as it will in each of the next two offseasons – the club will be prepared to put a good portion of that cash back into the payroll.

I’ve been a proponent of this method that the Yankees have been working within over the last few seasons. With an up and coming farm system with one player already inserted (Luis Severino) and others getting ready to take over in key spots soon (Greg Bird and Aaron Judge) the Yankees will be more willing to reinvest at other areas of the roster.

Steinbrenner’s thoughts on payroll are always scrutinized by fans. He’s not especially loved by many who believe the Yankees should spend much more than they do considering the revenue the club drives. In my view, the business side of the organization is run quite well and I feel that when the long-term and cost-draining contracts are finished, the club will spend accordingly.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Yankees acquire right-handed reliever Kirby Yates

The New York Yankees announced they have acquired right-handed reliever Kirby Yates from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations.

The Yankees are surely in need of right-handed relief help as I mentioned earlier this week at SNY. However, I was thinking someone with a bit more of a chance to make an immediate impact than I figure Yates will provide.

Yates, who turns 29 in March, owns a 5.27 ERA (5.33 FIP) in 56.1 innings with a .253 BAA in 57 career relief appearances over parts of two Major League seasons (2014-15) with Tampa Bay. Yates has had some success in his limited major league career against right-handed hitters (.237/.295/.414) against him in his career.