Entering today’s third day of the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, the New York Yankees are no further in their off-season plan than they were this past Friday after re-signing pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. So what gives? There have been plenty of rumors flying on the blogosphere, Twitter and other social media outlets.
Brian Cashman Hasn’t Liked What He’s Heard So Far…
and Ichiro Suzuki
became the obvious trade chips for the Bombers, and rumors have circulated that either one of them could be headed to such plush destinations as Cincinnati, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, or Seattle. The Yankees are in need of bullpen pieces, a third baseman, a second baseman, and starting pitching. Most likely if either Gardner or Suzuki are dealt, Brian Cashman is going to have to add to the deal to make another team give up top shelf talent.
Reports over this past weekend had the Yankees in on Brandon Phillips
, who supposedly is now off the market, along with teammate Homer Bailey
. Reds’ general manager Walt Jocketty stated that the Yankees planted the Phillips rumor as a negotiating ploy with the now-departed Cano, and that Bailey is not available for trade. Again, where does that leave the Yankees? They had passing interest in Oakland’s Brett Anderson
, but he’s been dealt to the Colorado Rockies. The Cubs and Theo Epstein could be the only viable trade partners with the Yankees for starting pitching.
Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija
refuses to sign and extension, and the Yankees might be able to put a package of Gardner, and a young power arm such as Manny Banuelos
or Rafael De Paula
together with a JR Murphy to fetch their long desired arm. The Yankees could call the Phillies about either Cole Hamels
or Cliff Lee
, but if that happens, forget about the $189 million dollar payroll threshold, and plan on emptying what little is left in the farm system.
Brian Cashman told members of the media earlier Tuesday that he’d prefer to deal Ichiro over Gardner, but knows that Gardner holds more value in any trade scenario. Maybe one taker for Ichiro would once again be the Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro
is looking for a cheap bat, and with Ichiro making only $6,5 million on what amounts to a 1-year deal, the Phillies in turn, could send cantankerous closer Jonathan Papelbon
to the Bronx to take over the closer’s role. Papelbon has two years and $24 million remaining on his current deal, with a third vesting option year based upon how many games he completes. Add in the bonus of Papelbon wanting to stick it to his former mates up in Boston, and the Yankees could have a taker for the 40-year old Ichiro.
No matter what happens, Brian Cashman still has holes to fill, and a matter of days to begin laying the groundwork for any deals that may occur once the Winter Meetings come to a close. Stay tuned…
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Brett Gardner & Ichiro Suzuki Could Both Be Dealt During The Winter Meetings
The New York Yankees struck multiple times during the early stages of free agency, signing Brian McCann
, Jacoby Ellsbury
, Kelly Johnson
and Carlos Beltran
in a little over a two-week period. While the team saw All Star second baseman Robinson Cano
chase the dollars to Seattle, the extra value added by saving upwards of $175 million dollars allows general manager Brian Cashman to fill multiple holes his roster still has heading into the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
The two biggest trade chips the Yankees have, are outfielders Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. There has been interest in Gardner in the past, and a few teams checked in on Ichiro towards the non-waiver trading deadline this past July. The Yankees are in search of a second baseman, a third baseman, some arms in the bullpen including a closer, and one more starting pitcher. Along with trades, there is still plenty of free agent money available to fill needs on the bench, the rotation, and the bench as well. Let’s take a look at some of these options in both the trade market and in free agency down in Orlando.
1. Ichiro Suzuki to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon.
Before you fall out of your chair, think about this: Papelbon’s skills are in decline, and he’s looking for a big bounce-back season, the Phillies know he needs a change of scenery, and he has two years remaining with a third year vesting option on his current contract at $13 million per season. Papelbon had a down season by his standards with only 29 saves, but he still posted a 2.92 earned run average. As everyone is well aware, Paps is a high-intensity closer, who many feel would relish the chance to come back to the AL East and stick it to the Boston Red Sox.
As for Ichiro, he comes at a very affordable $6.5 million in his final year on his current deal, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro
is searching for productive, cheap outfielders. Ichiro hit over .320 against left-handed pitching this past year, and stole 20 bases. His defense isn’t Gold Glove-caliber any longer, but he is still good enough to cover anywhere in the outfield the Phillies would need him. The deal makes sense for both sides, and the only question would be, will it happen given Papelbon’s reputation as a distraction in the clubhouse when things don’t go his way?
2. Brett Gardner and JR Murphy to the Cincinnati Reds for Brandon Phillips.
I’m not buying for one second that everything is peachy between the outspoken Gold Glove second baseman Phillips and Reds’ management. General manager Walt Jocketty attempted to put a band-aid over a gut wound by personally calling Phillips and inviting him to Reds Fanfest this past Friday. Earlier in the week, the Reds had said Phillips would be dealt by the end of the Winter Meetings. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and I think Gardner would be a perfect fit for that ball park, and provide another speed option for new manager Bryan Price
to pair with rookie Billy Hamilton
. The two could be table setters for Votto and Bruce. JR Murphy provides the Reds with depth at catcher, and he should be ready to stay at the big league level within the next two years.
As for the Yankees, acquiring Phillips softens the blow of losing Cano to Seattle. While not in the same strata with the bat as Cano, Phillips would slot in perfectly into the Yankees newly lengthened lineup with the acquisitions of McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran. The Yankees would have him under control for the next four seasons, at a very affordable non-Canoish $50 million dollars. Phillips also provides another strong right-handed bat that the Yankees are sorely lacking. Will it happen? I give it 65-35 odds of Phillips being a Yankee at week’s end.
3. Eduardo Nunez and a second-tier prospect to the Atlanta Braves for Dan Uggla.
While Uggla’s power and average were down in 2013, he is highly affordable for a right-handed hitting power stick at $13 million dollars over the next two seasons. He has 25+ home run capabilities, and while he will never win a batting title, the primary piece going to Atlanta in this deal–Eduardo Nunez hasn’t quite lived up to expectations either. Nunez didn’t help his case in recent days when he Tweeted congrats to Robinson Cano on his new deal. The Braves have always been high on Nunez, and the deal could work out nicely for both teams. Does the deal happen? Only if the Yankees swing and miss on both Phillips and free agent Omar Infante
4. Brett Gardner and Rafael De Paula to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija.
Again, the deal makes a ton of sense for both teams. The Cubs have made several attempts to lock up Samardzija with a long-term extension, and he’s having none of it. The only chance they have is to deal him for an area of need, that being an impact outfielder. If the Cubs were in total losing mode, Ichiro might fit the bill here, but general manager Theo Epstein believes the Cubbies are only a year or two away now. Gardner is in his prime, and could be the Cubs lead-off hitter for the next five or six years.
The Yankees in return, get the missing starting pitcher they need. Samardzia is young (29 in January), strikes out 9 hitters per inning, is durable (213.2 innings pitched in ’13), and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2016. Even if the Yankees were to make this deal, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Yankees at the head of the pack if Masahiro Tanaka
is posted. The team still isn’t sure what Michael Pineda
is capable of in terms of health heading into 2014.
De Paula is a young power arm who could be ready for Chicago as early as late 2014. He is a strikout machine, averaging double-digits in his K/9 ratio in two of his first three pro seasons, and averaged over 9 Ks per inning last season. He would be under team control for the foreseeable future, and replaces the power arm the Cubs are giving up in Samardzija. Do the Yankees and Cubs make this deal? I think it’s slightly better than 50-50.
5. Ichiro Suzuki to the San Francisco Giants for Marco Scutaro.
This deal could me a match made in heaven. The Giants are in need of an outfielder, while the Yankees are still in search of a second baseman and utility infielder. Scutaro can play both middle infield positions, and Ichiro provides speed and defense for San Francisco. Neither player is as young as spring time, with Scutaro having just turned 38 years old, and Ichiro just hit the big 4-0. The money on both player’s contracts is about even for average annual salary, with Scutaro making just over $100,000 or so more. Ichiro can still hit lefties, while Scutaro brings just under a .300 average to the Yankees.
The plus here for the Giants, is that San Francisco, much like Ichiro’s former home in Seattle, has a large Asian population, and the Giants might get a bump in attendance and media coverage as Ichiro marches towards 3,000 career hits in the big leagues. The Yankees on the other hand, would have a viable option to mix and match with Kelly Johnson, and to give Derek Jeter
the occasional day off at shortstop. I’m not sold on Brendan Ryan
playing more than in a very limited reserve role. The odds of this deal going down? Better than you might think.
I could go on and on with hypothetical deals that Brian Cashman may or may not make during this week’s Winter Meetings in Florida, but I’ll stop here. Be aware, that the odds of both Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki remaining on the Yankees roster by week’s end, are zero and none. This is when Cashman will role up his sleeves and complete the Yankees off-season plan to return them to glory. There are holes to fill, and a mix of free agent acquisitions and shrewd trades should accomplish that goal.
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The Yankees Have Struck Early & Often in Free Agency
I can honestly say that in the 30+ years that I have been following Major League Baseball, I do not recall a pre-Winter Meetings flurry of free agent movement as I’ve witnessed over the past couple of weeks. The dominoes are falling at breakneck speed. While normally, it is not uncommon for fringe players to accept offers early on, while the top-tier players begin negotiating their deals at the Winter Meetings, there aren’t many top-tier players left to speak of.
After a disappointing 2013 season, one in which the New York Yankees missed the post-season for only the second time since the strike-shortened 1994 season, fans were not sure what approach the team’s management was going to take heading into the off-season. Always lurking is the much talked about $189 million dollar payroll ceiling that if met, will reset the team’s luxury tax rate considerably, and as early as the 2014 off-season, the Bronx Bombers could return to business as usual. There has also been a strong feeling among the Yankees faithful, since George Steinbrenner handed over control of his team to sons Hal and Hank, and with his eventual passing, that the younger Steinbrenners were more concerned about the bottom line than they ever were with winning championships. While managing partner Hal has always stated that he would do what must be done to put a championship-caliber team on the field, 2013 showed a side of the Family Steinbrenner, that would make their father roll over in his grave. Pinching pennies, allowing key components of the team leave via free agency, and replacing them with retreads, has beens, and over the hill players that quickly showed their age.
Surprised were Yankees fan when the team struck the first big blow of the free agent period, signing away catcher Brian McCann
from the Atlanta Braves for $85 million dollars. While everyone was delighted with the signing, a black cloud began surrounding the thought of second baseman Robinson Cano
possibly leaving because of ridiculous contract demands that the Yankees were not going to meet. An unknown team was now in the mix, yet the Yankees held firm, stating they would not discuss $300 million and 10 years, let alone anything beginning with a “2″. The team informed Cano’s agent, Jay-Z, that they would not wait around and would move forward in assembling a team with or without Cano being a part of that.
The next domino fell when the Yankees shocked the baseball world and inked Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury
to a 7-year deal for $153 million dollars. Reports have suggested this move irked Cano to no avail, and that he felt disrespected by the Yankees. The two sides briefly spoke by telephone over the next day or so, and once again, the Yankees held firm at no more than 7-years, $175 million. The Yankees, sensing that Cano could be a lost cause, signed infielder Kelly Johnson
to a 1-year contract. The unknown team quickly became known, and by Friday morning, Robinson Cano was no longer a member of the New York Yankees. He willingly left the Bronx for the Pacific Northwest, signing a 10-year, $240 million dollar contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Never a team to cry over spilled milk, the Yankees struck again by late Friday morning, re-signing their own free agent, starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda
to a 1-year deal for $16 million dollars. Reports throughout the day said the Mariners weren’t done, and now that they had Cano on board, they were going for the free agent knockout, and were believed to be all-in for free agent slugger Carlos Beltran
, a possible trade partner for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price
, and highly interested in Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp
. Once again, the Yankees struck hard and fast, and by late Friday night, multiple media reports stated that the Yankees had signed Beltran to a 3-year deal worth $45 million dollars. The math thus far has been simple. For McCann, Ellsbury, Johnson, Kuroda, and Beltran, the Yankees spent $299 million dollars. The Mariners spent $240 million for one player, that being Cano.
The Yankees are looking to make their entire 25-man roster stronger, by allowing their best offensive force to walk away for greener pastures. Cano will find plenty of those in the State of Washington. While the Mariners are going to need quite a bit of help to surround Cano with viable lineup mates, the Yankees are not close to being finished spending the extra cash they saved by Cano signing with Seattle.
Now that the outfield is in place (Gardner/Ellsbury/Beltran) along with their designated hitter slot (Alfonso Soriano
), and they have a healthy Derek Jeter
and Mark Teixeira
returning from injuries, along with McCann, the only every day slots left to fill are at third base (until the Alex Rodriguez
situation is resolved), and the vacancy left by Cano.
The re-signing of Kuroda took care of half of what general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees needed, in filling 400 innings from two slots in their rotation. While it may take until January for the new MLB/Japanese League posting system to be fully worked out, and with it, the posting of #1 pitching target Masahiro Tananka, the Yankees are also waiting to find out the fate of their third baseman. If Alex Rodriguez is suspended for 211-games, the Yankees can wipe his $25 million dollar salary off of the books as well in 2014.
So who are some of the remaining targets for the Yankees heading into the Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL next week? Don’t be surprised if Brett Gardner
is dangled as a possible trade piece to solve any number of holes the Yankees have remaining. Gardner could be dealt to San Diego for Chase Headley
, as a preemptive strike against A-Rod’s impending suspension. Gardy could find himself headed to the Queen City, to fetch the Yankees back Cano’s replacement, Brandon Phillips
. Or, one of the more unlikely scenarios, Gardner could end up in Chicago, bringing back power arm Jeff Samardzija
That is only one set of options. I had a short chat late Friday evening with Ken Davidoff, national baseball writer for the New York Post
, and when I asked him about the Gardner for Phillips deal, he believed the Yankees probably didn’t have as much interest as fans think they would. I think most believe the next piece of the Yankees puzzle in rebuilding their lineup, comes by signing Omar Infante
to fill the shoes of Cano. Infante would be a bottom-third of the order hitter, play solid defense, and do the little things that have been missing from the Yankees’ lineup for several years.
Of course we can’t just discuss the hitters, while they are the sexy part of any baseball team, championships are won with starting pitching and the bullpen. Cashman has yet to clearly state whether or not the Yankees are in the hunt for a closer, but reports from earlier in the week stated the team was in contact with Joe Nathan
right up until the time he chose to sign with the Tigers on a 2-year deal. While there are not a plethora of top-tier closers available, there are serviceable closers on the market. Let me say this now: nobody will ever be Mariano Rivera
, so whomever the Yankees sign, will be a downgrade.
I’m still sold on Grant Balfour
on a 2-year, $18 million dollar deal. Nathan received 2-years and $20 million, but he’s been doing the closer thing a lot longer than Balfour. The Yankees could go cheaper yet, and look to the likes of guys such as Fernando Rodney
, John Axford
, or Francisco Rodriguez
. If the Yankees really wanted to make things interesting, they could trade for the newly made available Jonathan Papelbon
from the Phillies. Paps still has 2-years and $12 million per remaining on his current deal, and his skills are beginning to deteriorate somewhat. Back to Balfour for a moment…he’s emotional, he’s a competitor, and he has never backed down from a hitter under any circumstance. I think he is the perfect fit–albeit a complete 180 degree difference than his predecessor in Rivera, but he would fit well in New York. I think Balfour would feed extremely well off of the energy of the Stadium, and the heat of being in a constant pennant race.
The Yankees still have some parts to move around to make this roster complete. Besides seeking one more starting pitcher, the team needs to decide what to do with Ichiro Suzuki
and Vernon Wells
. Both can’t remain on the roster come opening day, and Ichiro probably provides the most value on the trading market. Wells can play all three outfield positions, and can serve in the traditional fourth (but really fifth) outfielder role. Kelly Johnson will be the Yankees super-utility guy, capable of playing all four infield positions and the outfield in a pinch. The backup catcher role will be one of the few spring training battles between Francisco Cervelli
and Austin Romine
. Whomever fails to win the backup job will most likely find themselves back at Triple-A. Brendan Ryan
was retained on a 2-year deal as insurance for Jeter, so he’s not going anywhere, while the same can’t be said for Eduardo Nunez
, who might not have endeared himself to the Yankees front office by going on to Twitter and congratulating Robinson Cano on his new contract. I suggested to my followers on Twitter yesterday evening, a hypothetical trade in which the Yankees deal Nunez and a second-tier prospect to the Atlanta Braves for power-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla
. It wasn’t well received. Oh well, it was an idea.
Aside from a closer, second baseman, and a couple of bullpen arms, the big question is the hot corner. While I have never been a lifelong fan of Mark Reynolds
, I think he showed the Yankees enough during his late season stint in the Bronx to warrant a 1-year, $6 million dollar deal. The man will never win a batting title, but he did combine to hit 21 home runs between Cleveland and New York. He plays better than average defense, and can man both first base and third base.
Now what about the starting pitching? We’ve already discussed the Yankees desire to sign Tanaka, but the team is less than thrilled with the other top-tier free agents starters. It’s a small group led by Ubaldo Jimenez
, Matt Garza
is the middle of the road guy, and Ervin Santana
along with Bronson Arroyo
bring up the rear. Each pitcher is flawed in their own way, and so far during the free agent period, underperforming starters are getting more money than they should be (See Phil Hughes
, Josh Johnson
, and Scott Feldman
). I’ve discussed the possibility of using an extra outfielder to acquire an arm, but one other, under the radar option who could prove to be a steal on a 1-year deal…Roy Halladay
. Sure, he missed most of 2013 with shoulder surgery, but Halladay once owned the AL East as a member of the Blue Jays. While his is at the end of his career, if he is fully recovered, and can prove his velocity has returned, he could prove to be a cheap option who provides quality across the board.
Thanks for the read, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @Billy_Brost
. You can find more of my thoughts and musing about the Yankees on Yanks Go Yard, Yanks in Exile, and on Overtime. Enjoy your weekend!
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The Yankees Still Have Pressing Needs
The New York Yankees can’t get caught up in the media frenzy that is Robinson Cano
agreeing to a 10-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. I’ll give the Yankees all the credit in the world. For once, they held firm to their stance of not bidding against themselves, and in the end, Cano chose his paycheck over his legacy as a career Yankee. There is nothing more the Yankees can do except role up their sleeves, and continue building a championship-caliber ball club, albeit one without #24 in the middle of the lineup.
With today’s announcement that the Yankees have agreed to a new 1-year, $16 million dollar contract
with Hiroki Kuroda
, some of that work has been taken care of. New York is still on the hunt for one more rotation arm to plug-in along with Sabathia and Kuroda, and the latest news surrounding the latest on the new MLB/Japanese posting system is making is harder to determine whether or not Masahiro Tanaka
will be donning pinstripes in 2014. There have been several reports suggesting that the Rakuten Eagles may not post Tanaka at all, as they were the only team opposed to the new agreement.
Along with needing one more starter, the Yankees now have to address their vacant second base issue, and lessened the blow with the recent signing of Kelly Johnson
to a 1-year deal. The Yankees view Johnson more as a super-utility guy than an everyday second baseman. What are the Yankees options now that Cano is off the market? The MLB Network reported on Wednesday evening, that Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips
will be traded by the Cincinnati Reds by the end of next week’s Winter Meetings. The Yankees wouldn’t be losing much in defensive ability, and Phillips provides enough on offense to make the Cano departure not felt nearly as badly as some might think. A second, less expensive option the Yankees have been examining, has been free agent Omar Infante
. While not even close to the same caliber of player as Cano or Phillips, Infante would not be as expensive on a 1 or 2-year deal either. He’s entering his age-32 season, is a career .279 hitter, and would fit nicely in the bottom third of the Yankees order. Don’t be shocked to see this move happen towards the end of next week if Phillips winds up elsewhere.
The Yankees still have decisions to make in regards to the Alex Rodriguez
situation. While again, the Johnson signing will help alleviate an potential absence A-Rod may provide, it doesn’t take care of the problem. As I suggested yesterday, there are a couple of avenues the Yankees could take to solve the third base problem. The first is to trade Brett Gardner
to the San Diego Padres, and acquire a solid run-producer in Chase Headley
. The other, less expensive option is to bring back Mark Reynolds
on a 1 or 2-year deal. He has proven he still has thunder in his bat, and plays better than average defensively.
Now that the money the Yankees had previously set aside for Cano is back in use, the Yankees could get very creative on how to spend the remaining dollars. The team could keep Gardner, sign Reynolds, and move the aging Alfonso Soriano
to full-time designated hitter. Gardner would shift to left as Ellsbury takes over in center field, and the Yankees could once again become big time players to sign either Carlos Beltran
to his desired 3-year deal in the neighborhood of $50-$55 million dollars, or hand out another long-term contract to Shin Shoo Choo. A cheaper option than both Beltran and Choo, would be exiled Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz
. Cruz would provide average defense, but another right-handed power stick in the middle of the lineup. My wild card option, who I love and think would be a great fit as both first base insurance for Mark Teixeira
, and could serve in the DH role, is switch-hitting run producer Kendrys Morales
The bullpen is still a glaring issue that needs to be addressed as well. We still don’t know the Yankees thought process on David Robertson
taking over for Mariano Rivera
as the closer, but if the fact that the Yankees had discussions with Joe Nathan
prior to him signing with the Detroit Tigers is any indication, the team is looking outside the current roster to fill that need. Still available is whom I believe to be the best closer on the market in Grant Balfour
. He may require a 3-year deal in the $9-10 million per year range. If the Yankees don’t want to go that high on a closer, cheaper options may include Fernando Rodney
, John Axford
, Francisco Rodriguez
, Chris Perez
, or Joaquin Benoit
Aside from needing someone to close out ball games in the Bronx, the team still needs to address their situational lefty slot in the bullpen. The leading candidates to fill that role include Yankees free agent Boone Logan
, and former Braves lefty Eric O’Flaherty
We now find ourselves back to addressing the final slot in the starting rotation. Among the free agents not named Tanaka, the Yankees have to seriously consider a flawed group consisting of Ubaldo Jimenez
, Matt Garza
, and Ervin Santana
. While any of the three would fit nicely behind Sabathia and Kuroda, Jimenez is most likely the best fit, and the most expensive. Garza has the most success and experience against the American League East, and Santana is the wild card with his notable up and down seasons.
Depending on how the game plan plays out with the outfield, second base, and third base, the Yankees bench will consist of versatile players who can play multiple positions. As of this writing, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan
, Ichiro Suzuki
, Vernon Wells
and Francisco Cervelli
would make up the reserves. While I don’t believe that both Ichiro and Wells will be on the opening day roster, the Yankees need insurance for Mark Teixeira in case he is not fully recovered from the wrist surgery that ended his 2013 season, and that is where I feel Mark Reynolds gets the edge. He can play both corner infield positions as well as serve in the DH role occasionally.
Thank you for the read, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @Billy_Brost
. You can also follow my work on Yanks Go Yard, Yanks In Exile, and Overtime Sports.
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Chase Headley Could Replace A-Rod
New York Yankees fans have to be feeling pretty good less than 48 hours after experiencing a day of news reports that reported free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran
in Kansas City meeting with the Royals, and then the bombshell that the Seattle Mariners became the front-runner to swipe away second baseman Robinson Cano
. The Yankees got the last laugh however, as late Tuesday night, reports started to trickle through the various social media outlets that Jacoby Ellsbury
had signed a 7-year contract to leave the Red Sox for the Yankees.
Now that the dust has settled, the Yankees have some interesting scenarios in which to consider to address their remaining needs. We can’t forget that earlier today, the N.Y. Post reported that Mariners ownership will not okay the needed $200 million to sign Cano, and appear to be out of the hunt.
The Yankees still need a right fielder, as the signing of Ellsbury gives the Bombers two center fielders and a left fielder. Brian Cashman could deal Brett Gardner
, who is still trying to be consistent with the bat, to the San Diego Padres for third baseman Chase Headley. Gardner would give the Friars a speedster on the basepaths and an upgrade up the middle defensively. Headley provides a solid replacement option if Alex Rodriguez
is suspended for any length of time.
The Yankees can then get back in to their pursuit of Beltran, upping their offer by as little as $2 million dollars and guaranteeing him a third year on his new contract. After looking at what the Yankees just handed Ellsbury given his injury history, 3-years at $50 million for Beltran isn’t a stretch.
If Cano returns now that the Mariners are out, Brian Cashman is going to have to get creative to fill out the pitching rotation. I still like the idea of bringing back Hiroki Kuroda
on a 1-year deal, and then going all-in on a back-loaded contract for Masahiro Tanaka
. For whatever reason, if Tanaka chooses to go elsewhere (The $20 million dollar posting fee will be met by several teams), look for the Yankees to make a strong run at either Ubaldo Jimenez
or Matt Garza
Yes, Brett Gardner is still at the center of a deal, but this time, Cashman deals him to Theo Epstein and takes care of a rotation issue by acquiring right-hander Jeff Samardzija
. This provides a younger power arm for the Bombers, and they can then decide whether they want to go one more round with Kuroda, make their best effort to get Tanaka if he wants to pitch in New York, or go a little higher in the bidding for Jimenez or Garza. This option also allows for the Yankees to sign Beltran, and bring back Mark Reynolds
to fill-in for A-Rod if and when he receives his suspension.
Thanks for the read, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @Billy_Brost.
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Carlos Beltran could return to Kansas City
Reports are beginning to surface this morning that free agent slugger Carlos Beltran arrived in Kansas City on Monday, and is listening to his original team, the Royals make their pitch as to why he is the final piece of a puzzle that would help lead the Royals back to where they haven’t been since 1985…the post-season.
It appears the Royals are ready to make a substantial offer to bring back one of their own homegrown players, who has since made his mark in Houston, New York with the Mets, the Giants, and most recently, the St. Louis Cardinals. What exactly is Beltran looking for? A guaranteed third year on what will most likely be is final big league contract. Beltran is entering his age-37 season in 2014, has several suitors, including the Yankees, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, along with the Royals.
For the Royals to make this deal happen, they will need to rid themselves of some higher-end contracts, and the name that first comes to mind, is DH/1B Billy Butler. The Royals are either going all-in for a playoff run in 2014, or they have bigger plans, as staff ace James Shields will be a free agent at the end of next season.
What does this mean for the Yankees? It has long been assumed that once Curtis Granderson turned down New York’s qualifying offer, that Beltran became the primary outfield target. The Yankees have been in contact with Beltran’s representatives, but the snag of the guaranteed third year on the contract has been the difference between Beltran signing on the dotted line, and him sitting in Kansas City as we speak, listening to a tempting offer to bring his career full circle. Beltran returning to the Royals, and leading them over the hump is a romance story in the making. A once promising young player, being dealt because the organization was headed in the wrong direction, only to finally get it right and bring back their former centerpiece to lead the charge to top off a borderline Hall of Fame career. It doesn’t get much better than that if you are a Royals fan.
The Yankees and Royals were once fierce rivals during the 1970s and 1980s, but with the Royals living in baseball oblivion, not having fielded a playoff team since 1985, they have done largely forgotten to the fan base in the Bronx. Brian Cashman is now in a battle for a very important piece to the Yankees off-season plan. If he loses out on Beltran, Cash is going to be forced into one of four options: re-sign Granderson, offer longer, more lucrative contracts to either Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin Soo Choo, or consider signing recently PED-suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz. Given Beltran’s track record in the post-season, and his continued ability to be a consistent run producer, Cashman may have no choice but to overwhelm Beltran and give in to the third year demand. By the end of the three-year deal, Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, and most likely Alex Rodriguez will all be gone, leaving Beltran to continue hitting from the designated hitter slot in the lineup.
It’s not a matter of money. It’s a matter of whether or not the Yankees want to take the risk of Beltran’s baseball skills going over the cliff somewhere between the second and third year of the deal. If the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman are indeed in win-now mode, the answer is simple…give the man the third year and be done with it.
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For those fans of the New York Yankees who are getting excited about the possibility of the team pulling the trigger on a trade for Los Angeles Dodgers‘ outfielder Matt Kemp, you need to come back to reality. The injury-prone outfielder is another Carl Pavano waiting to happen, but at a greater cost.
First and foremost, the Dodgers aren’t going to give Kemp away. The Yankees don’t have the prospects in the minor league system to put a package together to satisfy what the Dodgers would be looking to get in return. Secondly, the rumor that the Yankees have dangled former Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia as trade bait is hog wash. The Yankees are in the market for pitching, and anyone short of Miguel Cabrera coming to the Bronx, most likely wouldn’t be able to pry Sabathia, who is the only proven starter on the roster away from the Yankees. Finally, Kemp is still owned six years and $128 million dollars on his current deal. Sure, the Dodgers might be willing to eat a large portion of that, and maybe they aren’t. Should the Yankees really shackle themselves with yet another albatross contract in the hopes that Kemp is healthy?
The upside of Matt Kemp is intriguing no doubt, but for a player to be entering his age-30 season, and to have as many medical issues (shoulder, ankle, hamstring) as Kemp has had over the past couple of seasons, these have to be red flags to any potential team taking him on. Kemp did finish second in NL MVP voting back in 2011, and if the Dodgers were convinced he would return to his former MVP form, why would they be so willing to unload him? The Dodgers are trying to trade rape someone, and if the Yankees have any common sense whatsoever, they will politely decline. Perhaps Brian Cashman is just doing his due diligence, but this deal makes ZERO sense. While the team might be willing to go over the $189 million dollar payroll threshold to return to contender status, it doesn’t mean they have to be stupid.
An example of a shrewd move, was Cashman bringing in much-needed right-handed power by re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs are eating most of the big salary, the Yankees gave up very little, and at age 38, he plays every single day. Soriano has played in at least 137 games each season for the past four years, hitting at least 32 home runs for the past three. Of course Soriano is not nearly as gifted defensively as Kemp is when Kemp is healthy, but that is the key: health. The Yankees have Soriano under a manageable contract for one more season, and can make a decision to his future with the team at that point. If the Yankees traded for Kemp, they are on the hook for SIX more years no matter how he performs. The length of the deal–even if the Dodgers were to pay 100 percent of his contract, is just too long to take that kind of risk. The last thing the Yankees need after a disastrous 2013, one in which the team was devastated by injuries, is to add another problematic, injury-riddled player to the current roster, no matter what his potential may be when healthy.
One more tidbit of information to keep in mind regarding Matt Kemp: he has been to the post-season twice, and hasn’t quite lived up to superstar expectations. He is a career .226 hitter in October, with two home runs, and five RBI. As a Yankee fan, I don’t want another choke artist calling the Bronx home. I want a proven post-season performer, no matter how attractive the option may be.
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There are some impressive names on the Yankees’ wish list
The Yankees sent shock-waves throughout the rest of baseball over the weekend, when they signed the top free agent catcher, Brian McCann to a 5-year, $85 million dollar deal, with a vesting option for a sixth year that will push the contract well beyond $100 million dollars. Ideally, by the end of the contract, McCann will be manning first base when Mark Teixeira‘s contract expires and he either leaves for another team or retires, as he has stated he is leaning towards. That would give top Yankees’ prospect, catcher Gary Sanchez to take over for McCann behind the plate full time. Enough about McCann though, he is already in the fold.
The remaining free agent targets all have issues that surround them, but if the Yankees can sign three of the six on their wish list, they should be primed to challenge the Boston Red Sox for American League East supremacy once again. Now that the catcher position has been upgraded, the most important piece for the Yankees to focus on is their own player, second baseman Robinson Cano.
There has been plenty of media coverage thus far, stating that Cano and his agent, rapper and music mogul Jay-Z, are pursuing the most lucrative contract in major league history. One of two things are going to happen: either another team besides New York is going to feel the pressure to make a splash in free agency, and give Cano his desired 10-year, $300 million dollar contract, or Cano and his agent will come to their senses, and accept a more realistic 6-year deal in the realm of $180-200 million dollars and return to the Bronx for the remainder of his career. Nobody is questioning Cano’s ability to be a middle of the order force, but entering his age-31 season, and the fact that the Yankees have two albatross contracts on the books (A-Rod and Sabathia), the Yankees certainly will not take the chance of three times being the charm on a long-term deal of that magnitude. If the Yankees and Cano can somehow come to an agreement that works for both sides, the Yankees everyday lineup could be the most dangerous in all of baseball.
With the departure of Curtis Granderson for free agency, the Yankees have a handful of choices to examine to replenish both their outfield and their lineup. Again, in a perfect world, Carlos Beltran would be joining holdovers Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano in the outfield in 2014. Beltran is a perfect fit for the Yankees right now. Sure, he will be entering his age-37 season in ’14, his legs and defense aren’t what they once were, but the Yankees will be paying for goes beyond stolen bases and mediocre defense. Beltran brings a professional bat, one who switch hits with power, won’t be expected to carry the burden of the lineup alone, and most importantly, a player who performs at an elite level in the postseason, which is something the Yankees have sorely lacked over the past few seasons. Beltran should come to the Bronx on either a 2 or 3-year deal, in the $16-18 million dollar range.
Another option for the Yankees is free agent outfielder Shin Soo Choo, most recently of the Cincinnati Reds. Choo was traded from the Cleveland Indians to Cincy to bolster a sagging lead-off spot, and he upped his dollars by having a career year. The knock on Choo, and many people are unaware of this because of how good his overall numbers are, is that he struggles mightily with left-handed pitching. Against southpaws in 2013, Choo hit only .200 with a single bomb. Very Granderson-esque. His defense is adequate, and his power numbers would get a nice bump with the short porch in right field. His natural position is right field, so if the Yankees were to bring him in, the contract most likely would be for about the same amount of money annually as they would pay Beltran, but on a longer term deal. Choo will be entering his age-32 season, meaning he is looking for one big pay day before his skills start to deteriorate. Something in the range of a 5 or 6-year deal would be adequate to secure his production. What Choo brings to the table, that was lacking with Granderson, is his OBP was over .400, he walked over 100 times, and scored more than 100 runs.
Someone that has been flying under the radar, but has been discussed by the national media as a nice fit in the Bronx is former Angel and Mariner, Kendrys Morales. He is a productive switch hitter, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 80 for an anemic Mariners lineup, while slugging .449. Morales would provide nice depth at both first base for Mark Teixeira who is returning from a serious wrist injury, as well as getting consistent at-bats at designated hitter. The nice thing about Morales, is that he is still in his prime, entering his age-31 season in 2014, and if the Yankees chose to bring along any of their young catchers slowly or dealt them away for additional pieces, Morales could slide into the first base gig full time once Tex walks away at the end of his deal. I think a 4-year deal in the $48 million dollar range is not out of the question. Other offensive options for the Yankees to consider, but are severely flawed for one reason or another include Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (injury concerns) and Nelson Cruz (PED suspension).
Now that we’ve discussed the offensive targets for the Yankees, our attention will be turned to rebuilding the starting rotation. Gone are Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and possibly Hiroki Kuroda. Pettitte walked away after a brilliant career, Hughes is an unrestricted free agent, as is Kuroda. Of the three, Kuroda still has a chance to come back, but has been toying with the idea of either retiring or heading back to Japan to pitch closer to home. The Yankees have an eye on one big fish that would fit nicely into their rotation immediately, most likely in the #2 spot in the rotation…his name is Masahiro Tanaka.
The 25-year old is now the apple of the Yankees’ eye, as he posted a season for the ages in 2013, going 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and also struck out 183 hitters. While his K/9 ratio was down from his career norms to a 7.8, he only allowed 6 home runs in 212 innings pitched. Scouts have said his stuff is as electric as current Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish, but that Tanaka throws more strikes consistently. The only roadblock to the Yankees completing the deal already, is that the MLB/Japanese posting system for players is under reconstruction, and a new, more updated system is set to be announced sometime in December or shortly after the new year. The Yankees will have to ensure that they are the highest bidder, and then be able to negotiate a contract that satisfies the player. Look for Tanaka, assuming the Yankees get the winning bid, to sign him to a Darvish-like 6 years, $60 million dollar deal. He will come cheaper than ANY free agent, middle of the rotation starter currently on the market.
Once the Yankees secure the negotiation rights to Tanaka, and come to a decision on the future of Kuroda with the team, there is one last gaping hole that the Yankees need to address: replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera. For the first time since 1997, someone other than Rivera will be named the full time closer in the Bronx. Both the Yankees and their fans have been dreading this day since the turn of the decade, and the Bombers received a glimpse of life without Rivera when he went down with a season-ending knee injury during the 2012 season. Unlike then however, the Yankees have no clear cut answer on the roster, and some believe the Yankees missed the chance to secure an elite closer at the end of last season, but allowing Rivera-replacement Rafael Soriano to enter free agency, and eventually sign with the Washington Nationals.
While the closer market is not as fruitful as it was this time one year ago, there are a couple of options the Yankees will be looking at in an attempt to continue keeping the back end of the bullpen a team strength rather than allowing it to become a weakness. The first of these targets is reliever Joe Nathan, who turned down his $9 million dollar team option to test the free agents waters one last time. He will be going into his age-39 season, and in terms of post-season failures, the Yankees owned Nathan. Fortunately for both he and the Yankees, he has been lights out against everyone else. Nathan’s velocity dropped in 2013, after coming back from Tommy John surgery, but scouts have raved about how much smarter Nathan is rather than just relying on one or two pitches. He now out thinks hitters and has developed into much more of a “pitcher.” The Yankees could snag him on a 2-year, $12 million dollar year deal.
The other top option, is a few years younger, and fits more of the “closer mentality” mold than does Nathan. While Nathan is now the major league’s active leader in saves with the retirement of Rivera, former Rays and A’s reliever Grant Balfour is a vocal, fiery closer who doesn’t hesitate to go after hitters both on and off the mound. At the age of 36, Balfour could provide the Yankees a longer term option who knows the American League East. Balfour would also be cheaper in terms of average annual salary. The Yankees could sign Balfour to a 3 or 4-year deal in the $10 million per year range.
While I’m sure other names will come to the surface as happens every single off-season with free agency and the Yankees, these players are the targets the Yankees will focus on in their attempt to rebuild a team that fell drastically short of expectations in 2013. While the $189 million dollar salary ceiling is a nice goal, the Yankees as an organization cannot withstand a second straight season of falling attendance, falling television ratings, and another season without post-season baseball in the Bronx. The holes are obvious, and this year’s free agent class has the ability to put the Yankees over the top for World Series title #28 sooner rather than later.
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Beltran Is Seeking A Three-Year Deal
While most of the national media has been reporting for the past 48 hours or so, that it the next target that the New York Yankees will most likely be outfielder Carlos Beltran, fans from what I’ve seen and read, have mixed feelings. Comments such as “…he’s too old, the Yankees need to get younger” and “Why do the Yankees always sign players PAST their prime?” These are valid questions, but when you look closer at what adding Carlos Beltran to the mix in the Bronx would mean, perhaps fans can and will change their minds.
Over the past three seasons (one in which he played for both the Mets and Giants), Beltran has averaged 26 home runs, 88 runs driven in, and has had an OPS+ of 137. His batting average over that same span is just over .290. Beltran’s average annual salary topped the $15.1 million dollar mark. Now these numbers are nice, but for that kind of money, wouldn’t you expect some “extra” production when it matters most? During his last two post-season appearances with St. Louis (prior to that was in ’06 with the Mets), his batting average came in right at .299, with 5 home runs, 21 runs driven in, 14 runs scored, has an OBP of .385, and slugged .529. What do these numbers mean exactly? In comparison, Player A’s average annual salary was $7.9 million, hit only .151, had 4 home runs, drove in 7 runs, scored 12 runs, had an OBP of .225, and slugged .293. Player A signed a free agent deal last off-season, which will make his average annual salary for the life of his current contract $14 million over 5 years (the fifth year is a vesting option season.). While Player A is currently entering his age-33 season, and Beltran will be playing in his age-37 season, is an extra $1.1 million dollars more worth the drastic differences in production when it really matters most? As Yankee captain Derek Jeter once stated…”Winning the division is fine, but that’s not our goal. If we don’t win the World Series, the season has been a disappointment.” Have you figured out who Player A is yet? It is none other than former Yankee right fielder Nick Swisher.
While Beltran is entering the final years of what is a borderline Hall of Fame career, he hasn’t indicated that his bat speed is slowing down, and is still a very valuable asset in a lineup, when surrounded by other run producers. Will Beltran drive in 100 runs and hit .320 ever again? Highly doubtful, but the Yankees aren’t paying for that. As of right now, the deal with Beltran is hinging on a third year to the contract offer. The Yankees and other suitors thus far, are willing to only go with 2 years, and it appears the first team to cough up the third season, will get Carlos Beltran. The Yankees aren’t planted in concrete with their 2-year offer, and Beltran’s people aren’t saying the third year is mandatory. Beltran has longed to wear the pinstripes, and the Yankees have an immediate need in right field, as an upgrade over the elderly Ichiro Suzuki. We’ll come back to this issue in a moment.
Player B, who is currently on the open market, seems to be more to the liking of Yankee fans, and message boards and blog posts have stated that the Yankees should go with a longer term deal for this player, because he is younger. Let’s look a little bit closer and see if Player B might be a better signing than Beltran. Player B hits left-handed, can play all three outfield positions, and is entering his age-32 season. The splits for Player B facing left-handed and right-handed pitching are scary to say the least. Against right-handed starting pitching, Player B hit .321, had 20 home runs, drove in 46 runs, scored 93 runs, had an OPB of .454, and slugged .546, in 500 plate appearances. Now for the downside: against southpaw starters, Player B hit .200, with 1 home run, 8 runs driven in, 14 runs scored, had an OPB of .351, and slugged .265 in 212 plate appearances. Player B is looking for a 5 or 6-year deal, at a price much higher than his former average annual salary of $4.17 million. Player B had made one post-season appearance, so the sample size is far too small to say he produces come October. Who is Player B you might be thinking? Former Indians and Reds outfielder Sin Shoo Choo.
While fans and some media believe the Yankees need to get younger, it is about winning and producing in October. Swisher’s poor performances made his “rah-rah” attitude wear thin quickly. The Yankees were smart to let him walk away, and to even consider signing Choo to a long-term deal, not knowing A. If he can handle the pressure and expectations of playing in New York and B. How he will perform when it TRULY matters in the Bronx, is a risk the Yankees simply can’t take. Carlos Beltran is a known commodity, has played in New York before, and is a proven post-season performer throughout his career, and proved it once again this past October in helping lead the Cardinals where? All together now…THE WORLD SERIES! If a third year is what it takes to add a piece to the puzzle for a legitimate run at title #28, Carlos Beltran is not only the right choice as the Yankees next free agent target to upgrade the outfield, Carlos Beltran is the only choice.
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Don Mattingly Has Cast A Large Shadow Since Leaving The Bronx
Just in case anyone needed a reminder, it has been 18 seasons since former Yankees captain Don Mattingly played his last game, a heartbreaking Game #5 loss in the Kingdome in Seattle. Many changes were made during the 1995 off-season: Mattingly hung up his spikes, Buck Showalter was shown the door (or accepted a position to build the Arizona Diamondbacks depending on whom you talk to), and a young shortstop from Kalamazoo, MI opened the ’96 season as the starter.
Another important move was finding a suitable replacement for Donnie Baseball. When new general manager Bob Watson pulled the trigger, sending Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis to Seattle, the Yankees had their answer: Tino Martinez. The interesting thing about Tino, is that he was coming off of his best offensive season in the bigs in ’95, and played a large role in the Mariners overtaking the Angels to win the AL West. He hit a career high .293, with 31 home runs and 111 runs batted in. He was in the prime of his career, and the Yankees didn’t see any sign of slowing down from the slick fielding first baseman. We’ll return to Tino in a little bit, when I can tie all of the common threads together.
While Martinez served an admirable six seasons in his first stint in the Bronx, by the end of the 2001 post-season, the Yankees had grown tired of failure after failure on Martinez’s part, especially during the World Series, where he hit just .190 in the Yankees’ 7-game defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. To make matters worse for Tino, a top free agent was hitting the open market, whose dream it was to wear the pinstripes, thus began the Jason Giambi era in the Bronx.
Prior to coming to New York, Giambi had finished in the top two in American League MVP voting in both 2000 and 2001 (winning the award in ’00), and posting batting averages of .342, .333, and .314 to go along with 114 home runs and driving in 379 runs…all while playing in the cavern that is Oakland. Giambi lived up to his billing during his first season in New York, hitting .314, with 41 home runs, and driving in 122 and finishing fifth in the MVP balloting in 2002. The Yankees couldn’t slow down the wild card Angels, and the four-time defending American League champions were out, while the Angels took the Giants to the limit and brought home their only World Series crown. As with Tino, we will return to Giambi in a little bit.
By the end of the 2008 season, Giambi, much like Tino before him, had worn the Yankees brass thin with his decreasing all-around production. He was never a stellar defensive first baseman, and by the end of his contract with the Yankees, he knew he was in his final days in the Bronx. The Yankees failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 1994 strike-shortened season, and big changes were coming in the Bronx.
The Yankees opened their wallets yet again on the prize first baseman of the 2008 free agent class, this time signing Mark Teixeira, who had produced several excellent seasons in Texas, Atlanta, and Anaheim. Unlike Martinez and Giambi though, Tex was a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the dish, and had arguably the best glove to enter the Bronx since the departure of…that’s right, Donnie Baseball himself. Prior to coming to New York, Tex had put up three .300 or better seasons, had averaged 33 home runs or more since becoming the everyday first baseman in Texas at the tender age of 23, to go along with five 100 r.b.i. seasons. As a reward, the Yankees snatched him from the clutches of the Boston Red Sox with an 8-year deal worth $180 million dollars.
So why the trip down memory lane with the various successors to Mattingly’s throne? Since 1995, there has been an alarming rate of pattern behavior from each of the big name, big money replacements who have donned the pinstripes. Call it what you will, but I firmly believe that once each of these men arrived in the Bronx, and looked down that right field line, they became completely enamored with going yard as much as humanly possible. Throw batting average, on-base percentage and the like right out the window. This turned into a modern replay of the old time television classic “Home Run Derby”, where host Mark Scott’s favorite line that was repeated multiple times each week was “It’s a home run or nothing here on Home Run Derby.”
Now, let’s tie all of this together. Tino who was coming off of the aforementioned .293 hitting season, continued to roll for his first couple of seasons in the Bronx, posting averages of .292, and .296 respectively during the ’96 and ’97 seasons. From that point forward, he never topped the .281 mark again. While his power fluctuated, he only topped the 30 home run mark twice, while his average and power began to slide with each passing season, the lone exception being 2001, where Tino hit 34 out.
Giambi fulfilled what he was supposed to be probably better than any of the three men during his time in New York. He topped the 30 home run plateau in five of his seven seasons in the Bronx, but his once high batting average went over the cliff quickly. After his initial .314 campaign in ’02, he never hit higher than .271 in his remaining six years in Yankee Stadium, and bottomed out at .208 during the ’04 season.
As for Teixeira, the drop off has been just as dramatic as Giambi’s. After posting a .292 batting average during his first season with the Yankees in 2009, he has morphed into Giambi almost overnight. The following seasons, he posted averages of .256, .248, and .251. I’m not even including the paltry .151 he hit in 2013, which was an injury-shortened season. From his first season in ’09, to his last full season in ’12, his slugging percentage has dropped 90 full points. The Yankees remain on the hook to pay him $22.5 million dollars per season for the next three years.
The problem with each of these players, is the right field porch. They each became homer happy, and have forgotten what brought them to the Bronx in the first place: all around offensive production. Martinez, Giambi, and Teixeira in short order, became a one-trick pony. Opposing teams implemented dead pull shifts for both Tino and Giambi, and now do the same thing for Tex. Rather than using the entire field, they are hellbent on beating the shift, which more times than not, result in easy outs when the ball is pulled to the right side of the infield. Advice of hitting instructors be damned, they are going to do it their way come hell or high water.
To be honest, I’m sick and fricking tired of watching it. I grew up a Mattingly guy, and even though a back injury zapped his power in the later years of his career, he did what he was supposed to do to be a team player: take a walk, hit a sac fly, use the entire field. By the end of Tino and Giambi’s runs in New York, I was ready for them to leave. As for Tex, I’ve been barking for the Yankees to find a taker for him since 2011. Do I like Teixeira? I like his power and run producing ability. What I don’t like is the Curtis Granderson mentality that he has to drive the ball out of the yard every single time, or he’s going to be retired. How about using the entire field to his advantage, taking a walk every now and again, and passing the baton to the next hitter in the lineup. Nothing infuriates fans more than to see a big money player regress to the point where they can’t root for him anymore. For me, that time has come and gone with Tex, just as it came with Tino and Giambi. The Yankees are spending a crap ton of cabbage for production, and as fans, we expect that same production. All I can say is, at least with the consistency of newly signed Brian McCann, I won’t have high hopes, when I already know what McCann is.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece, and I want to wish each of you a happy and safe holiday weekend. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, eat lots, watch some pigskin, and I’ll be back on Friday with another post unless something breaking occurs during the Thanksgiving festivities. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Billy_Brost
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It’s been a pretty sweet ride for New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. For the most part, he has had an open checkbook to spend as needed to acquire the players to be able to do all that matters in the Bronx…win World Series titles. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Cashman has been less than stealth in executing many of those move throughout his tenure. Heading into the 2013 off-season, Cashman is under more pressure to deliver title #28 than he ever has been. Not only have many of his signings and trades blown up in his face, but off-field distractions have put egg on the face of the Yankees as an organization.
While some believe the Yankees went too far with the Brian McCann signing in terms of years, it was a necessary evil to cover up another mistake: allowing Russell Martin to defect to Pittsburgh for very affordable money. Don’t get me wrong, Russell Martin can’t be mentioned in the same breath talent-wise as McCann, but with the $189 million dollar payroll ceiling always lurking, the McCann signing might have been avoided altogether if Cashman had simply re-signed Martin.
We can’t forget about the trade that sent Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda. On the surface, it initially appeared that the deal was going to work out for both teams, that is until reality happened. Montero has struggled hitting at the big league level, and was suspended for PED use. Whether Cashman and the Yankees were aware of this activity, we will never know. It hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows for the Yankees on their end either. Pineda has struggled with injuries and weight issues since coming to the Bronx. A once promising young power arm, the Yankees still don’t know for sure if Pineda will ever recover to be what they had hoped he would become. During the Yankees 2009 title defense, Montero would’ve been able to net Cliff Lee from the Mariners, but Cashman held his chips, Lee went to Texas, and the Yankees haven’t seen the World Series since.
And what about the albatross contracts Cashman handed out to C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez? I’ll give Cashman credit for one thing. The A-Rod debacle isn’t his fault. When A-Rod opted out of his contract, Cashman was the first to say let him walk. It was the Steinbrenner regime that made that mistake happen. Cashman should have been more vocal, selling the idea that a player like current AL MVP Miguel Cabrera was on the market from the Florida Marlins that same off-season that the Yankees handed A-Rod his new deal. Instead, Miggy went to Detroit, and well, the rest is history. Sabathia, after opting out of his contract, made the Yankees bid against themselves to retain his services. While Sabathia never truly hit the open market, Cashman is the one who gave Sabathia the opt-out clause in his original contract. Now the Yankees have a so-called ace, who dropped a ton of weight, has fought leg and arm injuries, and is a shell of his former self.
Speaking of mistaken opt-out clauses, Cashman had to know that the great Mariano Rivera wasn’t going to be the Yankees closer forever. Cashman opposed the signing of Rafael Soriano, who in turn, helped save the Yankees season in 2012 when Rivera blew out his knee. The opt-out clause was in Soriano’s contract, and rather than using the foresight to see Rivera was just about done, and pay Soriano one year’s worth of closer money to keep him under team control, Cashman allowed Soriano to walk away. Now Cashman is once again trying to play catch up, trying to decide whether to use set up man David Robertson as the heir apparent to Rivera, or to sign a less-talented closer to fill the gap for the present time until a better candidate presents himself down the road.
We can’t forget about the contracts handed out to A.J. Burnett
and Mark Teixeira
. As I discussed in my piece, “Pattern Behavior
“, the Teixeira signing has been a nightmare other than his initial season in the Bronx. He has morphed into Jason Giambi
overnight, and I’m not talking about the good Giambi. The Yankees are on the hook for Tex until the end of the 2016 season, and I’m vomiting in my own mouth thinking about how bad Tex will be statistically by the end of that deal. Cashman was able to unload Burnett onto the Pirates, but at the cost of eating a large portion of that money.
I could go on and on with obvious mistakes that Cashman has made. I’ve said since what seems like the dawn of time, that Brian Cashman had absolutely no business ever being the Yankees general manager. He’s like a kid that eats too many sweets, and throws caution to the wind. He has preached patience, and the development of a solid farm system. His patience and farm system have produced zilch. Cashman could pick up the phone any time he wishes, and consult with the man who built the most recent Yankee dynasty, Gene Michael, but he hasn’t and he won’t. Ego and pride are powerful things, and they can be the undoing of any talented individual.
Entering the 2014 season, we are all well that the Yankee dynamic has changed dramatically since George Steinbrenner gave up control of his beloved franchise to his children, and since his death, the franchise is headed in the wrong direction. While many of Cashman’s mistakes were made under the Boss’ watch, everyone associated with baseball knows how heavy a fist he had when getting involved with free agents and trades. Cashman no longer has the excuse that it was the Boss’ doing. No longer can Cashman hide behind the shadow of the Steinbrenners. If the Yankees fail to return to glory in 2013, I would fully expect to see Brian Cashman looking for work within days of the Yankees elimination in 2014.
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Bruce Chen showed why he has been the Royals best and most consistent pitcher in recent history by keeping the Minnesota Twins off balance throughout Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory. Chen (5-5) outdueled Francisco Liriano allowing only four hits through seven innings with no walks. Chen was pulled out of the game in the eighth inning with only 88 pitches thrown. Greg Holland held Minnesota in check in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton, in typical fashion, made things interesting in the ninth by allowing runners on first and second before eventually picking up his 14th save. Kansas City’s only run came in the second inning after Eric Hosmer reached base on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored on a Brian Pena single to left.
Side Note: Eric Hosmer continues to show signs of improvement raising his batting average to .218. Prior to this week, Hosmer had hit in 11 of 12 games for a .356 average with six of 16 hits going for extra bases.
49 year old Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to ever win a game in major league baseball as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3. Moyer (1-2) allowed only six hits and two unearned runs in the victory. Brooklyn Dodger Jack Quinn held the title as the oldest pitcher to win a game at 49 years and 70 days old back in 1932. Moyer is 49 years 150 days old.
Joakim Soria could be facing Tommy John’s surgery after an MRI showed damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Soria has made two all star appearances in five seasons.
The Royals get outfielder Jason Bourgeois and catcher Humerto Quintero in a trade with the Houston Astros for minor league lefty, Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later.
Humerto Quintero, 32, will be sharing the catching duties for the Royals while Salvador Perez recovers from his knee injury. Quintero will get $1 million this year and hit free agency after the 2012 season.
Look for Jason Bourgeois to become the Royals 4th outfielder this season. The 30 year old Bourgeois can play all three positions and has also played some second base. Bourgeois will be arbitration eligible for the first time after the 201 season. They Royals place Manny Pina on the 60-day disabled list to make room for the new acquasitions.
Looks like Brayan Pena will be getting more work than at first though. After innitial reports had Salvador Perez out only a few weeks, the Royals announce today that the star catcher will be missing 3-4 months instead. This means the Royals won’t have the services of Perez until mid-June at the earliest.
This means the catcher will be missing the first half of the season. Bad news for the Royals who just signed Salvy to a long-term contract extension that could keep him in a Royals uniform up to 2019.
The Kansas City Star reported the Royals may be interested in 40 year old vet, Ivan Rodriguez as a possible replacement. This news came before the announcement of how long Salvador was really going to be out.
Kansas City Royals 21 year old catcher Salvador Perez will be earning his newly signed 5 year, $7 million contract from the disabled list, at least for the short-term. Perez hurt his knee while warming up newly acquired pitcher Jonathan Sanchez on Tuesday. On Wednesday Perez tweeted, “Heading to KC today — Thanks to all the fans for the support. I will work hard to be back as soon as possible. God bless you.” Early reports have stated that the catcher has a torn meniscus and could miss up to 8 weeks, but the severity of the injury has yet to be determined.
Perez, who is known for his strong arm and defense behind the plate, made a splash during his rookie campaign in 2011, by batting .331in his first 39 major league games and gunning down several base runners.
Being a Royal’s fan born after 1985 just isn’t very fun. They have basically never been watchable. We have seen stars come up in the system and then go when the team couldn’t afford them. We were then sold on “The Process” by new General Manager Dayton Moore. Finally, last year, signs of hope were finally seen. While Mike Moustakas couldn’t hit left handed pitching to save his life, Alcides Escobar is as anemic on offense as most back up catchers and Johnny Giovatella is as effective with the glove as 97% of Congress, positive signs existed. Escobar lead the league in several defensive metrics and definitely had the most “wow” plays. Moose showed some really solid power (even though I have never seen more 50 feet off foul balls), both Manny Pina and Salvador Perez showed incredible defensive catching skills and at least some pop at the plate. However, the man who gives us hope is Eric Hosmer. The Wizard of Hoz.
The kid is a physical specimen and a dedicated athlete of the highest order. The type of guy that the Royals never seem to acquire. The type of guy that got me to sit down and watch every single Royals game that was broadcast on Fox Sports Kansas City. I’ve always been primarily a basketball and football type of guy, mainly because the Royals were always awful. Something was different about Hosmer. The way he walks up to the play, the way he stares down the pitcher. Even if he only finished 3rd in the AL Rookie Of The Year voting, I will always remember 2011 as the year that got me reinterested in baseball.
None of this is to say that he is already perfect as a ball player. Most defensive metrics show that he was actually a horrendous defensive first basemen. Many scouts agree that this is as a result of his positioning, so it is something that is fixable. His 19 homeruns last year was good, but if he is going to be the type of impact player the Royals need, he needs to be hitting around 30. The 11 stolen bases were very nice, showing the potential to possibly become a 30-30 guy. As a rookie, his Offensive WAR was 2.3 (his defensive WAR is another story); if he just doubles that number, he qualifies as a superstar. However, his largest flaw is that he simply just does not walk. The guys over at Royals Review recently wrote an article covering his woes (http://www.royalsreview.com/2012/1/26/2732992/will-hosmers-walk-rate-limit-his-upside). This is the area he most needs to work on. Recognize the off speed stuff and don’t chase in the dirt. Simple, but certainly not easy.
So, yeah, Royals fans. Be optimistic. Finally, the franchise has given us reason to believe in their positive words. All of the young guys, in addition to some significant upgrades made in the pitching rotation and bullpen (especially if they sign Edwin Jackson), and The Hoz…there is something there. The AL Central is a miserable division. The Prince Fielder signing may lead people to believe that The Tigers are a juggernaut but with his defense and going from the AL to the NL, it may not be as big of a difference as people believe. In short…Go Big Blue!
Get ready Royals fans. The losing tradition that has followed Kansas City Royals baseball since the late 80′s is about to become extinct. Over the years, fans have lost faith in our boys in powder blue, and understandably so. We’ve seen a managerial change every 2-4 years, repeated finishes in the AL Central cellar, and All Star calibre players traded away for prospects that never pan out. For the past few years we’ve heard all about the loaded farm system, the minor league championships and the top 5 draft picks. But still, the major league club has been one of the worst in the majors over the last decade. But finally, the wait is over. The Kansas City Royals future, for the first time, can be seen on opening day of the 2012 season.
You say: “This is the Royals, for crying out loud, they’ll never be a winning team again.”
Realistically, if you look within the division, the Royals are in a good spot. There isn’t really a clear cut number two team behind the Detroit Tigers. The hot start Cleveland Indians faded mightily down the stretch, losing their final 4 games and 6 of their final 10 to finish two games below .500. The Chicago White Sox are in a rebuilding of sorts after loud mouth manager Ozzie Guillen packed his bags and took the talents of the staff ace Mark Burhle with him to South Beach. It’s tough to say what first year manager Robin Ventura can bring to this club. Then there’s the Twins. They have two excellent hitters (Morneau and Mauer) who can’t stay healthy. They lost solid bats in Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer via free agency. I don’t see how Ron Gardenhire can mold this team into a playoff contender again without some major changes. The Royals are in a perfect spot to catch some teams by surprise and a 2nd place finish for the leagues youngest team is not out of the question. Watch for all the MLB projections to come out in the next few months and don’t be shocked to see the Royals up near the top of the division.
You say: “Yeah well as soon as their players become stars they’ll just trade them away.”
This used to be a legit concern. Anyone who still uses this reasoning for why the Royals won’t win is still living in 2002. Get with the program! Former GM Alan Baird built the tradition of selling high and getting minimal return. Not anymore. Dayton Moore has built this team from the ground up. The Royals have been one of the most active teams in all of baseball in international scouting and spending via the draft. They’ve overpaid for draft picks in order to lock down talented youth. The investment is starting to flourish. So after the painstaking years of throwing money into the grooming of youth talent of our system, it would be ludicrous to sell them away. In the recent seasons we’ve seen GMDM lock up lights out closer Soria and doubles machine Billy Butler. He’s spent loads of money to make sure we sign high draft picks like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and most recently, 5-tool talent Bubba Starling. Moore’s current project is working out an Alex Gordon extension after his breakout season. It’s apparent that Moore intends to keep our core group of players together. If there are any big names being swapped away via trade (ala Melky Cabrera) it’ll be for an impact prospect or major league contributor instead of middle class prospects like we saw throughout the 1990′s and early 2000′s.
You say: “This team is too young to be successful. The core group of guys need more seasoning.”
Again, a legit concern for the 2012 club, especially in the starting rotation. But keep in mind that this group of players have played together for several seasons and, most importantly, they’ve been successful at every level. These kids, most of whom will be in the lineup come opening day, have dominated the minor league system. Last season, even though the elite prospects were already in the bigs, both the Omaha (AAA) and Arkansas (AA) affiliates won their divisions and made the minor league championships. The Royals will have 4 positional players (all infielders) entering their sophomore campaigns. The old men in the starting group are Gordon and Frenchy, both of whom had excellent seasons defensively (with Gordon winning a gold glove in LF – his first full season at the position). In fact, Gordon and Francoeur finished 1-2 in the majors in OF assists. Alcides Escobar, the oldest of all infielders at 25 years old, led the majors in putouts at the shortstop position and he has multiple gold gloves in his near future. The projected starting lineup of the 2012 Royals has an average age of 25 years old. Let that sink in for a minute. The major difference between the 2012 Royals and the Royals of the past is that this seasons squad expects to win. They’ve done it at every level and it won’t be long before they take the AL Central and, perhaps, the AL Pennant. You can enter your own “Angels in the Outfield” quip here, but still, the dream season could actually happen. The talent is there and it won’t take long for this group to learn how to win at the big league level and when they do, watch out!
Dear Denver Broncos,
Maybe at halftime you guys should have yelled out your safe word, because you were getting raped. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the destruction of a team as much as I did yours on Saturday night. Much like the Titanic your were sunk en route to your final destination and died and icy death. Hope you enjoyed it because next year won’t go as well. I think now everyone knows how to stop that 1994 Lee’s Summit High School offense.
Giggling and now a huge Patriots fan.
Dear New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49’ers,
Wow I know shootouts are a common occurrence in the Bay Area, but you guys took that to a whole new level. Did Barry Bonds sneak in and jack you guys up with steroids? One thing you guys may want to invest in for the future is defense. I’m surprised the lights didn’t go out in this one.
The guy that is glad he didn’t bet on the over/under for that game.
Dear Vernon Davis,
I know emotions run deep in sports, but I couldn’t tell if you just caught the game winning touchdown, watched your first child be born or a found out a relative just died. If that catch was to win the Super Bowl I may have got it, but it was a divisional playoff game. I know the Golden Globe Awards were Sunday Night and maybe you were trying to win for Best Dramatic Performance, but you were a bit late getting nominated.
The guy wondering if you take your own Facebook photos.
Dear New York Giants,
Wow!! You guys must have watched Rocky 4 Saturday Night. You straight knocked out Drago. You proved to the world that the Packers were not a machine, that they were indeed human and in the middle of the tundra. This is why I have been saying all year that Eli Manning should be MVP. Careful though both your and the Niners are coming off dramatic wins and next week is anyone’s game.
That guy that should have picked you to win.
Dear Anthony Davis,
I don’t know you were old enough to have starred in the early 80’s movie called Enemy Mine. You and Dennis Quaid worked beautifully together in that movie. Cheesy special effects but still. It’s good to know you ball like a boss and are a gifted actor. Tell Coach Cal I said hi.
Big Wildcats and Sci-Fi fan.
Dear Kansas City Royals,
I know your owner is the former penny-pincher, cheap skate, clueless about baseball, CEO of Wal-Mart, but why the freak are you guys not signing Roy Oswalt? I know you guys suck and you probably always will, but really? Don’t forget that the All-Star Game is in Kansas City this year and its going to be a bit embarrassing if we don’t have any players on the team.
The guy that thinks Planned Parenthood should be your sponsor because you are indeed the abortion of MLB
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