Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 New Year’s Resolution for the Yankees’ franchise

Individuals pronounce resolutions every New Year’s Day, so why can’t an entity like the New York Yankees do it as well? Sure, I could create one for general manager Brian Cashman, or another for Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, but in the end they have to act as one collective unit in order to get back to being a continually successful (and by that I mean a playoff team) franchise.

So what should the Yankees’ resolution for 2015 be?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yankees’ bullpen tinkering rolls on

The New York Yankees had one of the strongest bullpens in baseball in 2014, and if the trend continues in 2015, it will be with a markedly different looking set of players. With Monday’s trade of Shawn Kelley, the Yankees opened up another spot for a young reliever in 2015.

The Yankees seem to be set at the backend of the bullpen with Justin Wilson, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances set to tackle the latter innings. Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren are holdovers from last season, but it remains to be seen in what capacity they’ll serve manager Joe Girardi, as both can be stretched out or used as one-inning middle relievers.

From there, the Yankees would need to fill two slots. They could stay in-house or surely the Yankees could sign players to minor league deals with spring training invites. Looking at how this offseason has transpired to date, I’d expect them to stay within the franchise to fill the roles.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Yankees lose old safety net in Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda did the same thing he did each of the last two offseasons; he went home to Japan to contemplate what he’d do the following season. His previous decisions took time to formulate but Kuroda eventually opted to return to the Bronx. This time he's staying put in Japan as Kuroda signed with the Hiroshima Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, the team he began his professional career with.

Kuroda had been the Yankees most consistent and durable pitcher since 2012, going 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA (3.68 FIP). He tossed 620 innings across 97 starts during his three years in New York. While pitchers continually went down with injuries in 2014, Kuroda, at 39-years-old, was the one constant.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Yankees taking a “Long” time to hire hitting coach(es)

Remember how the New York Yankees HAD to move to fire someone after their second straight season missing the playoffs? And remember how Kevin Long was considered the main scapegoat after the Yankees persistently fielded fledgling former All-Stars and a slew of replacement level players in an ever-changing lineup? Well, Mr. Long now has a job with the crosstown Mets and the Yankees are still looking for his replacement.

Just how important is a hitting coach’s job? Or how important is it to the Yankees?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela for Yankees’ second baseman?

Let’s assume that the New York Yankees are serious about having Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela battle it out in spring training to become the team's next starting second baseman. Who is better suited for the position if they both have reasonably similar spring performances?

Refsnyder comes with the prospect tag, ranking #6 on MLB.com’s top 20 Yankees' minor leaguers, while Pirela has done nothing but impress and steadily move himself along the organization, even breaching the big leagues last September.

At the plate, both Refsnyder and Pirela have been productive. Refsnyder slashed .300/.389/.456 with 19 doubles, eight homers and 33 RBIs in 333 plate appearances with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2014. He has a career slash of .297/.389/.444 in just over 1,300 minor league plate appearances. Refsynder is not a threat on the bases.

Pirela, in 581 plate appearances at Scranton in 2014, slashed .305/.351/.441 with  20 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs. He drove in 60 runs and scored 87. Pirela added 15 stolen bases (caught seven times). Across just under 3,500 plate appearances in the minors, Pirela owns a reasonable .273/.339/.391 line, though he’s had OPS marks of .804, .771 and .792 the last three seasons showing consistency and improvement compared with his first few seasons in the minors.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Yankees’ youth movement continues with trade

The New York Yankees announced Friday that they acquired RHP Nathan Eovaldi, INF/OF Garrett Jones and RHP Domingo German from the Miami Marlins in exchange for INF/OF Martin Prado, RHP David Phelps and cash.

The trade continues the Yankees trend of getting younger on the roster. Eovaldi is just 24 and German is 22. It seems to, for the moment, free up a battle for the second base job between Rob Refsnyder, who turns 24 in March, and Jose Pirela, 25. Earlier this offseason the Yankees received Didi Gregorius, 24, from the Arizona Diamondbacks via trade.

Good news: Randy Levine says Yankees unlikely to add lavish salary

We’ve heard that the New York Yankees would not spend lavishly this offseason quite frequently from general manager Brian Cashman, and Thursday the Bombers’ president Randy Levine echoed those statements in an interview with Newsday’s David Lennon.

"We're always out there looking, but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization," Levine said. "You look at our pitching staff, for example. We have two guys who make a lot of money, so you have to build around them. The chances of us bringing in another guy who makes $25 million or over are, in my opinion, virtually none."

It’s hard for me to understand why this is such a big deal to fans. So the Yankees decide to try to become somewhat more responsible with their money and some of the “faithful” are beckoning for George Steinbrenner to return from the grave.

The key word in the Yankees' mantra this offseason is “lavishly” not “cheap.” The Yankees have already spent $95.5 million this offseason on just four free-agents according to MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent tracker. Of that total, $88 million was guaranteed for Andrew Miller and Chase Headley alone. Not exactly chump change.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yankees don't need a "proven" closer

The New York Yankees currently possess an area of strength, potentially their only one at the present time, in their bullpen. With the addition of Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson to the fold, combined with the return of Dellin Betances, the Bombers have a very strong back end of the bullpen. You know what? The front end is pretty good too.

Add Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren (I’m not buying the starting rotation talk for him) Esmil Rogers (or the loser of the fifth starter role) and potentially add Jacob Lindgren to the mix and the Yankees don’t have any holes in the pen as far as I’m concerned.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Capuano signing signals Yankees intent to wing it

The New York Yankees agreed to terms with left-handed starter Chris Capuano on a one-year, $5 million contract for the 2015 season Tuesday according YES Network's Jack Curry via Twitter. The deal has not been officially announced by the team.

This is not exactly what some Yankees fans were looking for, but it does indicate that the club might be intent on winging it when it comes to fielding a rotation for the 2015 season.

With CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova all suspect to injury the Yankees figured to build a good deal of rotation depth during the offseason, but many hoped it would center around a deal for Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields. That’s looking more and more like a pipe dream with Lester already signed with the Chicago Cubs and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggesting that Scherzer’s contract wishes are too rich.

“I don’t think the pricier stuff is realistic in this particular year,” Cashman said as reported by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “I’m open to any legitimate opportunities that present themselves.”

For the most part it seems like the Yankees are hedging their bets on the injury-riddled returning crew, hoping to get the most out of their potential upside and back it up with stopgap contracts like Capuano’s and those already in the system.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yankees choose stability with Chase Headley

According to multiple reports first noted by FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal, third baseman Chase Headley will be signing with the New York Yankees for four-years worth $52 million per a tweet from CBSSports’ Jon Heyman. The deal is pending a physical. The Bombers were adamant about their desire to re-sign Headley from the moment the season ended and while it might have cost more than initially suspected, the deal is a good one for the Yankees.

What if Chase Headley spurns Yankees?

CBS New York’s Sweeny Murti wrote Monday that free agent third baseman Chase Headley is nearing a decision and the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants remain the likely landing spots. The Yankees are eager to hear Headley’s decision so they can get to work on other moves.

Headley, who has a dubious four-year, $65 million “offer on the table” with a mystery team, is wanted back in New York and from some accounts, including Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s, the third baseman wants to remain in pinstripes. In the Yankees new found desire to sign deals that they feel will not hamstring the team’s future the Bombers will likely not go much higher than four-years and $50 million in their offer to Headley. If Headley turns to the Giants or another team what are the Yankees’ options?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Will Yankees choose now or the future?

The Winter Meetings were exceptional if you’re into big signings and huge trades, but not for some fans of the New York Yankees. For many Yankees fans, it was a downer, especially after the previous Friday when they signed Andrew Miller and traded for Didi Gregorius. What the meetings provided for Yankees fans is a wake-up call on how the club will be doing business in the future.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not pulling the trigger in a reactionary way. He will not sacrifice cash and the future of the club by signing contracts which could turn sour quickly, or be a drain at the end of the term. Cashman is going to hold his ground and rebuild this system whether you like it or not.

Or so I hope.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Will Yankees cave in for Max Scherzer or James Shields?

Believe what you may in the New York Yankees desire to stay away from nine-figure salaries this offseason, but with Max Scherzer and James Shields on the market it will be tough for the team to shy away from a truly dominant pitcher, or one who can dominate, both of whom they could absolutely use.

Let me begin by saying that I fully support the notion of steering clear of a $200 million-plus contract for Scherzer. I’m not of the belief that he’ll be worth anything at the end of the seven or eight years he’d be under contract. On the other hand, I would completely understand if the Yankees shoved it all aside and took their chances with the right-hander.

As for Shields, he’s not going to cost as much, and his term will not be as long, but he has significantly more mileage on his arm than Scherzer. For over $100 million, the Yankees would have to think just as hard about signing "Big Game" James.

What will Yankees general manager Brian Cashman do?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How does Jon Lester signing with Cubs affect Yankees?

How does a signing in the National League affect the New York Yankees? Well, there are multiple ramifications to Jon Lester’s six-year, $155 million pact with the Chicago Cubs.

He’s not on the Red Sox


I believe first and foremost, having Lester out of the AL East is good for everyone in the division except the Boston Red Sox. Further, since the Red Sox did not sign him, it puts less “pressure” on the Yankees to delve into the Max Scherzer sweepstakes. If the Yankees want Scherzer that is fine, but to do it as a response to a Red Sox move is not thinking it all the way through in my opinion.

The Red Sox could still use some of their prospects to bring in a guy like Cole Hamels, but the Yankees shouldn't have to assume anything at this point.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Poof! Yankees fine with Houdini's final act

David Robertson got what he wanted – a massive contract for a reliever – and the New York Yankees will be just fine as Houdini heads to the Windy City.

Robertson has reportedly agreed to sign a four-year, $46 million contract with the Chicago White Sox. The deal was first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today via Twitter. Robertson indeed will make "Jonathan Papelbon" money, coming up slightly short in average annual value to Papelbon’s deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Until yesterday, there was still some speculation that the Yankees could engage and try to re-sign Robertson. According to a tweet from Jack Curry of the YES Network, the Yankees never made Robertson an official offer. Word that the Yankees were willing to go to four years, but only if they could keep the average annual value of the deal lower might have been overblown. The Yanks obviously decided they would not, and in my opinion it will not matter.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Expect productive Winter Meetings for Yankees

As the Winter Meetings kick off Monday in San Diego, California, the New York Yankees are poised to build upon last Friday's big haul of Didi Gregorius and Andrew Miller. What can we expect from the Yanks? If nothing else, expect the Winter Meetings to be productive for the Yankees.

Now that does not mean Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is going to come away with a completed roster by the end of the four-day event. However, he and his staff will at the least make strides toward filling out that roster and getting a better understanding of the market. By the end of the week the Yankees might better understand how they enter spring training hoping to try to get back to the postseason after missing it for two straight seasons.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Yankees sign Andrew Miller, continue great day

The New York Yankees, considered “quiet” this offseason, got extremely loud Friday trading for Didi Gregorius and signing Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36 million contract according to Jack Curry of the YES Network via Twitter.

Miller has established himself as a dominant lefty reliever the last couple of seasons, but he’s no LOOGY. Miller gets batters from both sides of the plate out with an exceptional strikeout rate of 14.9 batters per nine innings.

Miller held right-handers to an outstanding .145/.245/.202 slash line and lefties to an incredible .163/.206/.261 line in 2014 for the Boston Red Sox and then the Baltimore Orioles.

The move gives the Yankees two of the most devastating relievers in the game with Dellin Betances ready to build on his rookie campaign.

During a radio interview on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio 98.7 FM in New York, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Miller was not told he would close and said the pitcher was willing to pitch wherever manager Joe Girardi felt he was needed. Cashman also said that the door is not closed on David Robertson.

New York Yankees: After Miller, Headley, what’s next?

The New York Yankees find themselves in the heat of some of the recent offseason rumor mill, but have yet to make an impact free-agent signing. They did just pull off a trade for Didi Gregorius, but will now turn their attention back to the free-agent market.

Andrew Miller is reportedly close to making a deal and the Yankees are considered involved, while Chase Headley has a reported four-year, $65 million deal on the proverbial table. Once they both sign there will be an abundance of questions to follow.

Miller, the best lefty reliever on the open market, and arguably the best reliever period on the market, is said to be looking at a four year deal in the $40 million neighborhood. The Yankees are said to be OK with a four-year deal, if it keeps the average annual value of the contract down per a tweet from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

My question is this; what if the Yankees or another team for that matter offered Miller a three-year deal in the $36 million neighborhood? Would he bite and then hope he performs as expected thus setting himself up for one more big payday at the age of 33? Wouldn’t he be more apt to secure another solid deal at 33 rather than 34, and eliminate the prospect of back to back declining years?

Yankees spin Shane Greene into Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees turned a nice rookie season from Shane Greene, a 26-year-old pitcher with no previous prospect hype, into Didi Gregorius, a soon to be 25-year-old shortstop with recent prospect hype who possesses above-average fielding skills and some potential upside at the plate. Gregorius was initially traded from Arizona to Detroit for pitcher Robbie Ray.

The Yankees will control Gregorius through 2020 and he’ll immediately be penciled in as the starting shortstop. This deal seems like a no-brainer to me considering what was out there on the free agent market and what it cost the Yankees.

The Yankees had been described as having interest in Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox and Troy Tulowitzki in trade speculation and Stephen Drew as a free agent fit to replace iconic Yankee Derek Jeter. Gregorius will make the league minimum and could free up money not tied up in a shortstop long term for a run at Max Scherzer or Jon Lester. Each of the other shortstop options above would have cost better (and more) prospects and/or more in salary.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New York Yankees: Go get Andrew Miller AND David Robertson

The New York Yankees opened this offseason pledging to abstain from handing out long-term, nine-figure deals. However, after the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays made impressive steps to improve their teams via free agency, we’re beginning to hear whispers about the Yanks getting involved in the Jon Lester sweepstakes, and they’ve been mentioned numerous times to be contemplating a run at Max Scherzer. Might I suggest they cool those thoughts and work to sign two of the best relievers in the game, Andrew Miller and David Robertson?

I’m certainly not the first to think this. During a chat on Twitter yesterday William Tasker, a great follow and someone whose writing I enjoy, brought this up and I simply thought because of the Yankees’ stance to not give out a four-year deal to a reliever, they wouldn’t think about it doing it twice.

I’ve also been suggesting that if the Yankees land Miller, they might go after Scherzer because they’ll gain a compensation pick from letting Robertson go. That would soften the blow of losing what would be their first-round selection by signing Scherzer. Then there were rumblings about the Yankees being involved in the Lester bidding. It got me thinking that I’ve been looking at this, and maybe the Yankees have too, the wrong way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yankees’ non-tender choices provide hints to bullpen structure

Now that the non-tender deadline has passed, the New York Yankees bullpen situation looks a little clearer, at least at the front-end and for the time being.

After non-tendering lefty David Huff and signing right-handed Esmil Rogers (thought to be a non-tender candidate himself) to a $1.45 million contract ($750K guaranteed) the Yankees more or less showed their hand in that either David Robertson or Andrew Miller will be their choice for the last back-end reliever addition to the roster before spring.

The Yankees have Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, Rogers and Dellin Betances on the 40-man roster today. That leaves one spot for either Robertson or Miller, and another for a long reliever, who would likely be the loser of a fifth starter competition in the spring.

The Yankees' decision to keep Rogers is interesting to me, but someone in the franchise obviously likes the potential his arm carries and they figure to see how he and others pan out in spring training before deciding who makes it north.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Yankees’ non-tender decisions are not clear cut

The New York Yankees will make decisions by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday on arbitration-eligible players currently occupying a spot on the 40-man roster and whether to extend them a contract for the 2015 season. They have six such players – David Huff, Shawn Kelley, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Michael Pineda and Esmil Rogers. Who will they keep and who will they cut?

Huff is on the bubble with the acquisition of Justin Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Francisco Cervelli. Also, considering Jacob Lindgren is knocking on the door, Huff could be the odd man out. Despite Huff’s estimated $700K contract per MLB Trade Rumors, there are other lefties (Tyler Webb and James Pazos) in the minor league system ready to take steps up the ladder. Huff’s 1.85 ERA in 39 IP is dirtied by a 4.00 FIP. Further, if the Yankees do indeed make a push for Andrew Miller, Huff is just a waste of a roster spot, though his inexpensive salary could simply make him a DFA candidate down the road.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Yankees turning left in bullpen?

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports via Twitter that the New York Yankees are in “serious pursuit” of prized lefty reliever Andrew Miller which could spell the end of David Robertson’s tenure in the Bronx.

Miller has already received multiple three-year deals this offseason, pushing speculation that a fourth year will ultimately be needed. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, both of whom Miller pitched for in 2014 are interested in bringing back Miller. Robertson on the other hand is looking for a contract in the four-year, $50 million neighborhood as a starting point.

Major League Baseball Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes estimated a four-year, $32 million deal for Miller, but that number figures to rise.

What’s interesting about the pursuit of Miller is not just the length and cost of the deal for a player who might not be considered a closer, but the fact that it will provide the Yankees with three talented southpaws in the bullpen. The Yankees just traded backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for lefty Justin Wilson (controlled through the 2018 season) and used their first pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Jacob Lindgren who is believed to be knocking on the big league door.

Miller and Wilson are able to get right-handers out just as well as lefties, so this is far from a too many LOOGY’s in the pen issue. But it does provide Lindgren with a soft landing spot in the bullpen to do exactly that – simply get lefties out – as he gains experience.

Further, if the Yankees indeed sign Miller and choose to walk away from Robertson, the Bombers would net a compensation pick in the 2015 draft as the right-hander was tagged with a qualifying offer.

How do Miller and Robertson compare over the last three seasons?