I would like to wish all the readers of WasWatching.com a very happy and healthy new year. And, may all your resolutions for 2014 come true!
Steve Fishman shares some emails between Randy Levine and Alex Rodriguez. It’s must read material. How about this one:
July 30, 2012
Rodriguez is out with an injury, having fractured his hand five days earlier when hit by a pitch. Levine makes a reference to performance-enhancing drugs that he later refers to as a “bad joke.”
Levine: How r u feeing since u left Robby [Cano] under 200, he needs some steroids fast!
If MLB has any cojones, at the least, they will fine Levine for making such a statement…even as a private joke.
Most hits by a right-handed batter in American League history, through 2013:
Brian Cashman signed Hiroki Kuroda for one year (2014) at $16 million this off-season.
Of course, the Yankees have the well documented issue of trying to get their 2014 payroll under $189 million.
That said, would it not have made more sense to offer Kuroda a three year deal, paying him $3 million for 2014, $8 million in 2015 and $8 million in 2016 – with a gentlemen’s agreement that the Yankees would release him after the 2014 season where he would still get paid and could unofficially retire?
My 9-year old son and I spend a lot of time talking about hitting. And, to be candid, he knows more about swing mechanics than most kids in the 4th grade. Is this good? Well, if not, blame me…I suppose.
In any event, today, he’s not feeling all that great today – fever and a sore throat – and, it’s a soaker outside since the morning. So, we decided to chill in the family room this afternoon and pop the “2009 World Series Film” into the Blu-Ray player.
Well, we’re watching it – and the footage has a lot of A-Rod homers including a few in slow motion and super slo-mo.
After see a few of these Alex Rodriguez big flies, my son says to me “I don’t get it. A lot of times he seems to hit the ball off the end of the bat. But, when he hits it, the balls travels so far and goes out of the park.”
Out of the mouth of babes, right?
Paging Dr. Anthony Galea…
Everyone thinks that, potentially, the Alex Rodriguez situation could be a major headache in Yankeeland next season – at least at the start of the year. But, what about the Derek Jeter situation?
The Yankees captain will be 40-years old next summer. The last time he was an above average fielding shortstop was 2009. And, that was a bit of a fluke – since he was below average in the ten seasons before that year. Last season, he was limited to 17 games as he could not completely rehab from an injury that he suffered five months before the start of the season. Oh, and, he will be in the last year of his contract in 2014.
The only way Jeter has a soft landing next season is if he comes out of the chute and is playing well both in the field and at the plate.
Now, it’s not impossible. There have been guys who have hit .280 and slugged .400 or better in their “Age 40″ seasons in the last 30 years or so. And, if Jeter can reach those levels, given his past performance and stature in Yankees history, I am sure that all concerned parties – meaning the team, media and fans – will give him a buddy pass on not having “Jeterian” numbers at the plate. Of course, the fielding thing, especially with his recent injury, is a whole ‘nother matter.
But, what if Jeter is batting a buck-ninety, as he did last year on the season, come May 1st? How long will the Yankees be patient with him? How long will they bat him near the top of the line-up? If they are not patient with him, given Jeter’s pride, how will that go down? Further, if he’s still not playing well by June 30th, how long will the team and/or Jeter let it go? If he’s not contributing to the team, or, worse, if he is hurting the team, how long do you keep him on the roster – especially when you consider his age and contract situation?
The biggest thing here is that Derek Jeter is a Yankees legend. And, everyone wants to see his career end in an acceptable fashion. Yet, will it? Or, will the whole thing just become an ugly situation for the franchise and the icon in 2014? It’s not outside of the possible outcomes, all things considered, is it? Related, is there any way possible that, if Jeter’s season is terrible come the summer, that he pulls a Mike Schmidt and just retires a few months into the season? What do you think?
Finding a valuable painting in a basement happens now and then in the art world, but finding a baseball-related image in the depths of your house — on a wall, no less — has to be even more unusual. That’s what happened according to Reddit user DimensionsInTime, who said they moved some boxes to reveal what you see above.
The silhouette on the left, showing the image of a young boy, is clearly labeled “Mike Trout” in what might one of the earliest Trout autographs on record. The figure on the right belongs to Mike’s brother Tyler. Of course, the discovery doesn’t come completely out of the blue — DimensionsInTime said that they purchased the house from Mike’s parents.
So, was the image chipped away and preserved for future memorabilia purposes? No — according to DimensionsInTime, they’ve already painted over it.
Who was the smartest Yankees player ever? I don’t mean in terms of baseball smarts. More so, I mean in terms of general intelligence?
Reggie Jackson? Mike Mussina? Joe Girardi? Bobby Brown? Doc Medich? Jim Beattie? Someone else?
You tell me.
John Manuel, in Baseball America, does a great job at looking at the Yankees recent front office failure:
The Yankees really had no choice.
They have their own television network. They play in a $1.5 billion ballpark and face more scrutiny than any other team. So when the major league team fails, as it did in 2008 and again in 2013, the front office has to act.
In the 2008 offseason—with the team shutting down Yankee Stadium II to move into Yankee Stadium III—that meant signing A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira to contracts worth more than $423 million. That trio helped the Yankees hoist their 27th World Series championship in 2009.
It remains to be seen if the 2013 free-agent class produces similar results, but the Yankees have used a similar approach this offseason. They let Robinson Cano walk, wisely choosing not to match the Mariners’ 10-year, $240 million contract. But they added punch to the lineup by signing catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran for a combined $283 million.
The Yankees acted because they had to. As they found out in 2013, they didn’t have any prospects ready to help in the Bronx.
Those in charge of the farm system haven’t changed for nearly a decade: Mark Newman (senior vice president of baseball operations) and Damon Oppenheimer (VP of scouting) have run the player-development and scouting departments since 2005, and general manager Brian Cashman has run the organization since 1997. Media rumblings in New York in 2013 hinted at potential changes after the farm failures, but nothing significant has happened.
Nothing significant has happened for the Yankees’ player development system with regard to hitters either. The organization hasn’t drafted and developed an everyday player since the 2005 draft, when it took Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson. Cano, their last homegrown star, was signed in 2001. The only other hitters originally signed by the Yankees who got significant major league time in 2013 were Jose Tabata of the Pirates, whom the Yankees signed in ’04, and Jesus Montero of the Mariners, signed in ’06.
The Yankees have identified talent on the mound. They have missed much more with hitters, especially in the draft, starting with their ’07 class. It started with a needlessly lavish contract for righthander Andrew Brackman, whose $3.35 million bonus remains the largest in Yankees draft history, and continued with seven-figure bonuses for hitters such as Bradley Suttle and Carmen Angelini. The Yankees also look to have missed with top picks in the 2010 (Cito Culver) and 2011 (Dante Bichette Jr.) drafts.
The 2013 season was a rough one for the Yankees’ top hitting prospects. Outfielders Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin (injuries) and Mason Williams (poor performance) struggled, and the once-productive Latin American program has faltered as well, with top prospect Gary Sanchez the only current product in full-season ball who profiles as a regular.
This is all true. And, yet, no one is ever held accountable for this situation? So, why should it ever change in Yankeeland?
I recently had a chance to speak with a current major league (right-handed) hitter. He offered that the two toughest pitchers he had to face were Justin Masterson and CC Sabathia. On Masterson, he said that his stuff was filthy and his arm angle and release point were pure misery. On Sabathia, he made an uncomfortable face and shared, “When he’s out there on the mound, he’s just so big, it’s like a walrus is throwing the ball at you.”
Yes, Maddog. It’s a true story.
Hmmm…maybe CC should put the weight back on?
And, for the kiddie’s, here’s a clip starring Brian Cashman as Mr. Whoopee…
The sad news via Roch Kubatko last night:
I have the unfortunate task of passing along news that former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair died tonight.
From what I understand, Blair collapsed in a Pikesville bowling alley. He was 69.
Blair played his first 13 seasons with the Orioles and was part of the 1966, ’69, ’70 and ’71 World Series teams. He won two titles with the Orioles and two more with the Yankees.
Blair won eight Gold Gloves and was named to the American League’s All-Star team in 1969 and 1973. His final season came in 1980 with the Yankees.
Blair, who won seven straight Gold Gloves from 1969-75, was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1984.
It was Blair’s home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series that accounted for all the scoring in the Orioles’ 1-0 victory over the Dodgers. They went on to complete the sweep for their first world championship.
Paul Blair was the greatest fielding center fielder of all-time. Sixty-nine is too young. This is very sad. He was, without question, a great baseball man. And, he will be missed.
Paul Blair and Son, 1966
What are the chances that both of these babies break the Yankees way? In any event, are favorable decisions on both of these the only way the Yankees will be a contender in 2014?
Barring any breaking and hot baseball-related news, I do not expect to be posting many entries to WasWatching.com over the next four days. Therefore, I wanted to take this time now to wish all the readers of this blog a safe and happy holiday season.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday observance.
Look for more stuff here starting next week!
Via Joel Sherman –
The Yankees have accomplished the near impossible — they had the oldest player in the majors (Mariano Rivera) and the oldest starter (Andy Pettitte) retire and yet somehow have gotten older this offseason.
Thus, the Yankees saw one of their biggest problems — the decay physically and statistically in older players — and doubled down on it rather than run away. This is what happens when you have a putrid farm system combined with a never-rebuild philosophy combined with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend. You buy for today, the heck with tomorrow — and, by the way, today is no given either with this much seniority.
Because this comes at a time when seemingly more effective PED testing has coincided with fewer older players performing well, which only has elevated the value of above-average players in their 20s. Yet, a week after pitchers and catchers arrive at George M. Steinbrenner Field in February, Brian McCann will turn 30, meaning the Yankees will not project a starting position player in his 20s.
Can this work? Maybe. The Yankees are not employing older bums, but players with significant pedigree. However, the problem — like last year — is sheer volume. Maybe a few Yankees graybeards will recall their prime, though two who excelled in 2013 — Rivera and Pettitte — are now gone. But the chances six or seven perform at a high level are not good. And there are no talented youngsters ready to step in to provide quality and energy.
You know, the Yankees in 2014 will be even older than the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies.
If you look at the top five single game attendance crowds at the previous Yankee Stadium, they are Opening Day crowds against teams like Oakland, Kansas City, Texas and Detroit where they drew 56,000+ fans.
If you look at the top five single game attendance crowds at the current/new Yankee Stadium, they are all games against the Red Sox from games played in July, August and September where they drew 49,000+ fans.
So, does this mean the only way the Yankees can pack their new Stadium to the rafters is when Red Sox Nation comes to town and takes over the Bronx?
Via Joel Sherman –
The better the Commissioners Office does with the arbitrator in the Alex Rodriguez case, the worse the Yankees’ 2014 team will probably be.
Think of it this way: If Fredric Horowitz honors all or most of the 211-game suspension imposed by Bud Selig, then all or most of Rodriguez’s salary will vanish from the books for the 2014 season. That provides essentially the only way for the Yankees to get under $189 million for next season, but not by so much they could afford to address their remaining problems well.
But if the arbitrator goes light on A-Rod — and the lightest would probably be 50 games — then most of his salary would remain on the 2014 books and there would be just about no way the Yankees could get under $189 million. And once that is a reality, they may as well spend what they have to in order to, say, land Masahiro Tanaka (if he is ever posted) and sign perhaps Fernando Rodney to close.
Because as one member of the organization said to me, “We either have to be under $189 million or up over $200 million or more. Think how dumb it would look if we worked for a few years to get under $189 million and we didn’t and we were at like $192 million and just missed. Either we go under or way over.”
More importantly, if they just miss, would anyone be held accountable for it?
The story via Wally Matthews –
And yet, here we are, on Dec. 18, and the [Carlos Beltran] deal is not officially done.
I called GM Brian Cashman this morning to ask what was up and was somewhat surprised by his response: “There are terms to do, physicals to take, items to be worked out when you do a contract … There’s no scoop here. Nothing’s falling apart. I don’t have time to deal with stupid questions like this.”
Funny, I never implied, or thought, that anything was “falling apart,” just was looking for a heads up as to when the next rollout news conference might be. If that was a stupid question, I plead guilty. But the GM’s response seemed just a tad, well, over the top. Seems as if it would have been just as easy to say, “No biggie, we’re just working out some details but it’s going to get done.”
That would have settled the matter. The way he responded only unsettled it, at least in my mind.
For the moment, let’s take Cashman at his word, that the delay in announcing the Beltran signing is perfectly routine.
But if, just if, the deal winds up “falling apart” — his words, not mine — this conversation will have turned out to be prophetic.
…I don’t have time to deal with stupid questions like this…
I bet, if it were Erin Andrews asking the question, then Cash would find the time.
Via Jeff Passan –
In the aftermath of Robinson Cano’s defection to Seattle, New York presented [Shin-Soo] Choo a seven-year, $140 million deal, three sources outside the Yankees’ organization told Yahoo Sports. When Boras countered asking for more money – one source indicated he wanted “Ellsbury money,” or $153 million over seven years – the Yankees pulled the offer and signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal.
Asked to confirm the Choo offer, Yankees officials declined comment.
Good luck to Choo, if he thinks he can get a better deal than that offer.
Welcome to the world, Tyrus Raymond Cobb.
Only going back 5 years for this one.
WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP, name the clean-up batters for each team in the first official regular season game played in the “new” Yankee Stadium.
Via Baseball America -
Another one of Cuba’s best players has left the island, the latest in a wave of defections that isn’t expected to slow down.
Rusney Castillo, a 26-year-old center fielder who had been one of the top players in Cuba, has left the country to pursue a contract with a major league team, Baseball America has learned.
Castillo has played five seasons for Ciego de Avila in Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, so he will be able to sign as a free agent exempt from the international signing bonus pools.
That process could still take several months, since Castillo will have to establish residency in another country, have Major League Baseball declare him a free agent and the U.S. government’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clear him to sign. Once that process is complete, Castillo should draw interest as a free agent who could either go straight to the majors or get a tuneup in Triple-A before moving up.
Castillo is short but has a strong, athletic frame at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive righthanded swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate. Primarily a center fielder in Cuba, Castillo has also played some second and third base, so his versatility could be a draw for some teams. He’s an aggressive, high-energy player, though some teams see him as a fourth outfielder.
When Yoenis Cespedes was in Cuba, Cespedes was the star center fielder on the Cuban national team, with Leonys Martin the up-and-comer. With Cespedes and Martin gone, Castillo stepped in as Cuba’s national team center fielder at the World Cup in October 2011 in Panama. Castillo was a standout at the tournament, hitting .512/.524/.854 in 10 games, going 21-for-41 with two home runs, two triples, four doubles, one walk and two strikeouts. He made the tournament’s all-star team after leading the World Cup in batting average and slugging while ranking fourth in on-base percentage.
Castillo was coming off an excellent year in Serie Nacional in 2010-11 in which he led the league with 29 stolen bases in 35 attempts and hit .324/.373/.555 with 18 home runs in 400 plate appearances.
In 2011-12, Castillo hit .332/.395/.545 in 420 plate appearances, belting 16 home runs with 32 walks, 42 strikeouts and 22 stolen bases in 29 attempts. He led the league with 28 doubles, ranked 13th in batting average and tied for third in the league in steals. Last season was a down year for Castillo, however, as he hit just .250/.352/.342 in 43 games.
The last time scouts could have seen Castillo outside of Cuba was in November 2012, when Castillo traveled to Taiwan and Japan for some exhibition games with the team that Cuba ended up sending to the World Baseball Classic in March. When the final WBC rosters were released, Castillo was a notable omission, with Cuba opting to bring 22-year-old Guillermo Heredia as its center fielder instead.
Before Castillo left the island, a statement released by Cuba’s National Information Agency from Victor Cuesta, the baseball commissioner of Ciego de Avila, noted that Castillo was suspended from the national team for a “violation of the code of ethics of revolutionary baseball.” In other words, Castillo was likely suspended for trying to defect.
This is a must read for all Yankees fans. He nails it.
Via the AP –
The New York Yankees were hit with a $28 million luxury tax bill, pushing their total past the $250 million mark since the penalty began in 2003.
According to Major League Baseball calculations sent to teams Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the only other team that exceeded the tax threshold this year and must pay $11.4 million. Boston finished just under for the second straight year, coming in $225,666 shy of the $178 million mark.
Figures include average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters, earned bonuses and escalators, adjustments for cash in trades and $10.8 million per team in benefits.
Because the Yankees have been over the tax threshold at least four consecutive times, they pay at a 50 percent rate on the overage, and their $28,113,945 bill was second only to their $34.1 million payment following the 2005 season. The Yankees are responsible for $252.7 million of the $285.1 million in tax paid by all clubs over the past 11 years.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said he hopes to get under the threshold next year, when it rises to $189 million. That would reset the team’s tax rate to 17.5 percent for 2015 and get the Yankees some revenue-sharing refunds.
But following agreements Tuesday on a $2 million, one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a $7 million, two-year contract with left-hander Matt Thornton, the Yankees are at $177.7 million for 15 players next year, when benefits are likely to total between $11 million and $12 million. Their only hope to get below the threshold appears to be if an arbitrator upholds most of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension, relieving the team of a large percentage of the third baseman’s $25 million salary.
Or, in other words, until A-Rod is suspended, don’t look for the Yankees to add any more players.
There’s no way anyone will let him play again if he does a tell-all book and documentary. The story, via the Post –
Alex Rodriguez is about to seal a multimillion dollar deal for a tell-all book about his legal battle with MLB, with which he plans to lift the lid on the “full dirt of Major League Baseball’s tactics” he claims have been used against him.
Sources exclusively tell Page Six that HarperCollins and Random House are two of the top publishers battling for the real A-Rod story, and that a deal could be signed in the next few weeks.
Alex has also recently had several meetings with filmmaker Billy Corben — whose work includes the acclaimed “Cocaine Cowboys,” which depicts Miami drug culture in the 1970s and ’80s — about making a documentary about his battle to stay on the field.
A source tells us: “A number of publishers are vying for the book, with offers coming in over $5 million. Alex has met with several publishers over the past few weeks and has meetings with others right after the new year.
“This book is going to go into the real low-down dirt of MLB tactics and collusion with the Yankees to get him out of the game. Alex has also had meetings with Billy Corben on a ‘30 for 30’-type documentary about his story.”
Corben’s studio, Rakontur, set up with partner Alfred Spellman, produced “The U,” a documentary about the championship history of the University of Miami football program for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. It became the highest-rated documentary in the network’s 30-year history when it debuted in December 2009. Alex has long-standing ties with the university.
The source noted it’s unlikely ESPN would screen an A-Rod doc, given its close relationship with MLB, but Corben could take it to HBO.
The Yankee third baseman is waiting to hear if his 211-game suspension will be upheld by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz but remains optimistic that he will be allowed to play next season. The ruling is expected to be handed down in January.
The lucrative book deal comes at a good time. Alex’s legal fees from this process will be astronomical and, if he is suspended, he could lose more than a year’s pay — $25 million for 2014.
I wonder where Greg Holland will be land on this list when it’s sliced from 2010 to 2015? Not bad for a 10th rounder out of Western Carolina University.
Yankees have signed lefty reliever Matt Thornton to a 2-year deal. He will make $3.5 million each season.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 17, 2013
Just don’t let him face a righty.
Hey, it could be worse. It’s not Felix Heredia, Damaso Marte, Buddy Groom, Gabe White, Billy Traber or a toasted Pedro Feliciano.
This is never going to work. What are the odds of Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts playing more than 40 games together up the middle for the Yankees in 2014?