Friday, January 30, 2015

Yankees again crossing fingers with Masahiro Tanaka

Just over one year ago the New York Yankees and their fans were full of excitement with the signing of Japanese right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. While not certain his success in Japan would translate in the states, there was something about his makeup which suggested he could. The club crossed their fingers after making a $175 million total investment and right off the bat, Tanaka put their minds at ease.

Fast forward and there is still excitement about Tanaka taking the hill, but it is still accompanied by finger-crossing and now a sense of dread because of the partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) suffered in July of last season. You see, this could become a full out tear at any point – soft tossing, long tossing, bullpen session, spring training, regular season, 2016 and beyond. You get the point; Tanaka’s elbow is a ticking time bomb.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can Yankees' CC Sabathia resuscitate his career?

The New York Yankees have a slew of questions concerning its 2015 rotation and near the top of the list is whether or not CC Sabathia can resuscitate his career.

Sabathia suffered from right knee discomfort in 2014 which ultimately resulted in season-ending surgery in July. He amassed just 46 innings of work last season, cutting a string of seven straight seasons in which he tossed at least 200 innings.

And that might be the issue going forward. Sabathia, 34, has a lot of mileage on his left arm, and without figuring out how to compensate for diminished velocity, it’s hard to see him showing much improvement than he displayed from 2013-14.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yankees can’t distance themselves from A-Rod no matter how hard they try

The New York Yankees made the proverbial bed when they agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract with Alex Rodriguez. They hopped right into the sack with A-Rod when they added a separate milestone contract to the mix, believing they would cash in on his pursuit of Major League Baseball’s career home run crown.

Admissions of performance-enhancing drug use and a full-year suspension for Rodriguez's part in the Biogenesis scandal have doused any relationship the Yankees want to have with the former slugger.

Problem is, the Yankees are tied to him contractually and will never be able to remove him from their history. He’s played with two other teams, but it’s the Yankees who he is associated with and that sends ownership’s blood pressure sky high.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yankees’ Carlos Beltran is healthy and set for 2015 rebound

New York Yankees right-fielder Carlos Beltran had a rough inaugural season in the Bronx, due in large part to a bone spur in his right elbow which forced the veteran to take three separate cortisone shots. He had offseason surgery, has been rehabbing ever since and is said to be on target for full workouts with the team when spring training begins in Tampa next month.

Beltran, who turns 38 in April, was recently profiled by Yankees Magazine and was shown to be working out without holding back. In the spot he says that he’s finally pain free and working hard to put last season behind him. That is certainly welcome news for the Yankees.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Can Yankees’ Mark Teixeira find his stroke in 2015?

The New York Yankees are banking on the middle of their lineup to produce a lot more than they did in 2014 and first baseman Mark Teixeira is a big part of it. The questions about Teixeira are not new; does he have it in him to be on the field enough to generate the type of offense the club needs? And can he find the stroke to get it done?

Recent history says no to both questions. The switch-hitting Teixeira has played in just 271 games over the last three seasons. He missed almost all of 2013 and played in 123 games in both 2012 and 2014. He turns 35 in April and he’s battled numerous ailments since his last healthy season in 2011.

It’s true that the Yankees have a better backup in Garrett Jones than they did in 2014 when the club tried several players in the role. But the truth of the matter is they want – and need – Teixeira in the lineup at least 140 times this season. To expect more is unrealistic and getting less is simply not helpful.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Is the Yankees' bench better in 2015?

The unsung heroes of a baseball team often live riding the pine, and it might not be different for the 2015 New York Yankees. The assumed regular lineup for the Yankees has some question marks, which makes the bench an important piece of the overall puzzle. Did the club create a bench that is better than the one crafted for 2014?

At the start of the 2014 season the Yankees bench consisted of Ichiro Suzuki, Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte and Francisco Cervelli. As of now, the 2015 bench has Brendan Ryan, Chris Young, Garrett Jones and most likely John Ryan Murphy. Jose Pirela and Austin Romine have a chance with hot springs to overtake Ryan and Murphy respectively.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yankees set to prosper from deep farm system

The New York Yankees are in the midst of a strategy shift concerning how they run their on-field business. After years of over the top free-agent signings, some with great reward and others now bogging down payroll, the club has begun to resurrect its farm system and combine it with their financial might with a look to sustainability.

The Yankees have one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball according to respected minor league scout Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs. It may not contain the best of the best players, but it’s grown in terms of the quantity of quality players at all levels.

The Yankees are not likely to turn into the Tampa Bay Rays where it concerns payroll, but there is certainly a new-found desire to mix in young talent, some of which is being developed in the minor leagues.

The Yankees have several talented players knocking on the door, a few more are a year or two away and others won’t get their call to the Bronx, but could find themselves climbing the ladder in another organization.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yankees' best offseason decision was passing on Max Scherzer

The New York Yankees were seemingly never in on Max Scherzer, and that’s a good thing. The club, from the outset of the offseason, claimed they were not going to get roped into another nine-figure deal with a player, let alone a pitcher this time around. And with the Washington Nationals signing the former Cy Young award winner to a seven-year, $210 million deal this past weekend, we can finally say the Yankees are sticking to a plan with the future in focus. The non-move was their best decision of the offseason thus far and it demonstrates cohesive management and a committed strategy going forward.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Yankees’ offense centers on Brian McCann

The New York Yankees ran out a pathetic offense for a better part of the 2014 season. It cost the hitting coach his job and the club a spot in the postseason. If 2015 is going to be any different, Brian McCann is going to need to shoulder more of the offensive weight than his teammates.

Is he up for the task?

Before you start naming other players who might influence the offense more than McCann, I’ll give you reasons why I feel they can be tempered, and not considered more important than McCann.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are a package in my view – and a pretty good one at that. One or both of them will get on base and at a good enough clip individually, if not together. But, when one is not performing well, the other likely will be. Having one hitter at the top of the lineup that can get on base and make something of walks and singles is great, having two is a luxury and lessens the pressure on both hitters.

If you think of Carlos Beltran as the number three hitter, you’ve got someone who if healthy can regain some of the lost production from last season. I don’t believe that Beltran’s issues were completely about his elbow injury, but I do believe they affected his play and he will bounce back if he is fully healed. I just don’t think he’s as important as McCann, and I’ll explain why shortly.

Yankees could exchange salary arbitration figures with three players

The New York Yankees might end up exchanging salary arbitration figures with right-handers Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and David Carpenter if they don’t come to an agreement Friday by 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Yankees have not had an arbitration hearing since 2008 and the likelihood of one with any of these players is slim. The club and the players would still have ample time to come to an agreement before a hearing takes place if an accord is not reached Friday. The hearings begin Feb. 1 and end Feb. 21.

The usually spot-on team at MLB Trade Rumors supplied the following projected salaries for the players -- Pineda ($2.1 million), Eovaldi ($3.1 million) and Carpenter ($1.1 million). The Yanks reached an agreement with Esmil Rogers Dec. 2, 2014, on a split contract worth $750K guaranteed and $1.48 million if he stays will the big league club. Earlier this week the Yankees agreed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract with Ivan Nova for $3.3 million.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Steinbrenner fails to close Yankees' door on Scherzer

New York Yankees’ managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke Wednesday with reporters at the Owners Meetings in Arizona and his comments left open the chance that the team might make one last splash before the offseason ends. Cue rabid fans, Scott Boras and Max Scherzer drooling over the prospects.

Steinbrenner’s statement, via The New York Daily News, was vague at best.

“Look, it’s not over till it’s over,” Steinbrenner said. “We still have a full month before spring training. We’re always going to continue to improve. I’m not putting a cap on it. We’ve certainly filled some holes that we had. We’ll keep going for the next few weeks.”

Steinbrenner followed it up with a cautionary tale that his front office has been touting for the entire offseason.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yankees, Ivan Nova avoid arbitration

The New York Yankees avoided arbitration with right-handed starter Ivan Nova on a one-year non-guaranteed contract according to the club. Nova will earn $3.3 million, exactly the same amount as he was paid in 2014. Nova was one of four Yankees eligible for arbitration.

Nova, who just turned 28, is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be back in late May or early June. He made just four starts in 2014 compiling a messy 8.27 ERA (6.91 FIP).

It’s unsurprising that Nova would get the same contract value. He’s coming off a major surgery and there is no telling how he will perform.

Yankees keeping an eye on Johan Santana

The New York Yankees have been reconstructing their roster this season from all angles with the most common theme being youth upside or short-term, no-harm deals to add depth. The Yankees were in attendance for Johan Santana’s two-inning outing Tuesday night in the Venezuelan Winter League and according to the New York Post’s Dan Martin a team source said the club “will keep an eye on him.”

Santana, a 36-year-old southpaw, has not appeared in a Major League game since 2012, when he went an uninspiring 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA (4.09 FIP) for the New York Mets. He missed the entire 2011 season due to shoulder surgery.

Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, had surgery again on his left shoulder in 2013, and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in June 2014 while pitching an extended spring training game for the Baltimore Orioles.

I’m not certain what the Yankees’ desires here would be other than to take a non-risk flyer on a pitcher who once dominated the sport. Santana has not had a productive season beyond replacement level since he posted a 3.4 fWAR in 2010 so chances of a full comeback especially given his injury history is minimal at best.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Arms buildup: Yankees acquire reliever Chris Martin from Rockies

The New York Yankees continue to fill their system with big power pitchers, acquiring right-handed reliever Chris Martin from the Colorado Rockies for cash considerations. The deal was first reported by YES Network’s Jack Curry via Twitter.

Martin, 28, appeared in 16 games for the Rockies in 2014, registering a 6.89 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 15.2 innings. It was Martin’s first taste of the majors. He struck out 14 batters and walked four. Martin has minor league options available, thus supplying the Yankees with increased bullpen depth. The Rockies designated Martin for assignment Jan. 5.

The Yankees have been accumulating plenty of bullpen depth this offseason, bringing in a substantial number of relievers, adding to an already strong part of their system. Martin, who owns a 3.09 ERA in just under 300 minor league innings, stands 6-foot-8 and throws in the mid-90’s. He's piled up strikeouts as a minor leaguer (8.4 K/9) without sacrificing control (2.0 BB/9).

Yankees’ coaching staff announced; Pena, Thomson swap roles

The New York Yankees finalized their 2015 coaching staff with a formal announcement Monday. The club officially added three new members to the staff and made an intriguing transition of roles for two returning coaches.

The Yankees hired Jeff Pentland to be their hitting coach and Alan Cockrell to be his assistant, replacing Kevin Long who was fired over three months ago. I commented fully on the hitting coach situation Monday.

The Yanks also hired Joe Espada to be the team's third base and infield coach. He replaces Mick Kelleher who served as the Yankees infield and first base coach for several seasons. Espada recently held the third base coaching position with the Miami Marlins from 2010-13. He was a member of the Yankees scouting crew last season.

In order to accommodate Espada's place along the third base line, the Yankees moved Rob Thomson to bench coach and Tony Pena is sliding over to coach first base. Thomson was manager Joe Girardi's bench coach in 2008 and Pena was the Yankees' first base coach from 2005-08 so there is some familiarity in the roles.

Larry Rothschild and Gary Tuck remain the pitching coach and bullpen coach respectively.

Thomson replacing Pena is an interesting move in my opinion. One might see Pena's move from bench coach to first base coach as a demotion, especially when replaced by someone who was not all that effective in their previous role like Thomson.

Monday, January 12, 2015

For Yankees, is two better than one?

After just over three months, the New York Yankees have hired a hitting coach, and someone to work alongside him, marking the first time in franchise history the team has employed a two-headed hitting coach system. The YES Network’s Jack Curry was first with the reports via Twitter Sunday.

Jeff Pentland, a longtime hitting coach for several teams, and most recently a hitting instructor for the Miami Marlins will assume the head hitting coach role, while Alan Cockrell who has been a roving hitting instructor for the Yanks, assumes the assistant hitting coach job. Cockrell was the hitting coach for the 2007 National League Champion Colorado Rockies, and had a two-year stint with the Seattle Mariners.

What is the reasoning for the approach and will it work?

Friday, January 9, 2015

What’s on Yankees' agenda before players report to spring training?

Major League Baseball announced Thursday the official dates that clubs will begin workouts at their respective spring training sites. The New York Yankees’ pitchers and catchers will ramp up Feb. 21 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 26.

It seems as if the Yankees have solidified the positional side of the roster after the Stephen Drew signing and their bullpen is pretty stacked. So, what is on the Yankees' agenda from now until then?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Alex Rodriguez stubbornly ignores Yankees

Either you have to admire New York Yankees circus ringmaster Alex Rodriguez – or wonder if he’s insane. Rodriguez has more or less been told by the team that he’s got no shot of playing third base, yet he trots out onto his old high school field in Miami and takes grounders. He wants everyone to see how much he wants it. Then he posts a photo to his Instagram account for all to witness – sending the hidden message – I can still do it, see?

Rodriguez feels he can compete for the starting job at third base. It’s laughable.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yankees re-sign Stephen Drew creating multiple roster scenarios

The New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with Stephen Drew, which carries incentives that could tack on an additional $1-2 million. The agreement was first tweeted by CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman Tuesday night. The contract will not be finalized until Drew passes a physical. Drew, who turns 32 in March, would be the Yankees starting second baseman if the season was to begin this morning.

What does this mean for the Yankees’ roster? Well, it’s created multiple options from which the Yankees can operate from this point through the season.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Two rotation flyers Yankees might consider

The New York Yankees have made six trades this offseason and signed four free agents. It’s been a pretty busy winter thus far. But, when looking over the roster, it does appear that the Yanks are begging for a lot to go right in terms of their rotation.

Each of the five starters currently penciled in have question marks of some sort and while there is player ready to return in May and depth in the minors, it seems the Yankees might be interested in taking a flyer on a veteran starter before spring training begins in Tampa next month.

Let me preface the remainder of this article by saying that I’m not suggesting these players will be saviors for the Yankees, nor that they have to go out and sign them. I’m merely noting their availability as a means to supply depth to an area in which the Yankees can’t have enough.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yankees add to bullpen, deplete rotation depth

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn’t exactly making moves at the pace of San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller, but he’s certainly been active this offseason, and he’s likely not done.

The Yankees traded once highly-touted left-handed starter Manny Banuelos to the Atlanta Braves for relievers David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve. Carpenter, a 29-year-old righty has 188 major league appearances to his credit, wielding a 3.62 ERA (3.42 FIP). Shreve, a southpaw, is just 24 and made his major league debut in 2014. In 12.1 innings in Atlanta, Shreve posted a 0.71 ERA (1.43 FIP). He owns a 3.22 ERA in 276.2 minor league innings.

By the looks of what the Yankees have in the pen, I don’t suspect they’ll make any other moves here. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson and Carpenter all seem to be locks to make the team. Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Shreve, Jacob Lindgren, Chase Whitley, Danny Burawa, Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez and Andrew Bailey all have the potential to round out the bullpen when camp breaks.