Via Bob Klapisch –
Remember all that off-season chatter about Brett Gardner being traded, especially after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury as a free agent? You can forget the subject was ever raised, as Gardner agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $52 million Sunday.
Even though he wasn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, the Yankees had no intention of letting Gardner slip away, giving him a huge raise over the $5.6 million he’s earning in 2014.
“The numbers worked out for both sides,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “Brett is tough, and has really developed into a solid, everyday major league player.”
Gardner’s willingness to forego free agency might’ve seemed odd considering how much outfielders are currently earning, including Ellsbury’s $153 million, seven-year deal. But as much as Gardner was “intrigued” by possibly testing his value on the open market, he also said he was “scared” of free agency.
That, along with his desire to begin and end his career with one team, moved along negotiations that began a few weeks ago and ended with Sunday’s announcement.
Where Gardner fits in 2014 largely depends on several other factors, including how many times Derek Jeter is used in the DH spot. If the captain is healthy, Gardner will be in left field every day, especially at home where he and Ellsbury, with their speed, will be especially suited for the Stadium’s vast dimensions in left-center. But if Jeter can’t play more than 120 games at short, and instead needs to increase his DH at-bats, the Yankees might be forced to use Alfonso Soriano in left more than they’d like. The Bombers would like to use Soriano as the primary DH and limit his exposure to right field, where he has never played.
For now, however, Gardner is happy with the deal and happy to be staying put. “Where I come from [Holly Hill, S.C.], this is a lot of money,” he said.
That’s a lot of money for a guy whose lifetime OPS+ is 97 (in 2,228 big league PA). Of course, yes, that’s just the bat and you have to include Gardner’s glove into the equation as well.
To me, Gardner is a lot like Lance Johnson. And, it would not shock me to see him have good seasons for the next four years – in terms of being a league average hitter with speed who plays very good defense.
I’m not saying he will do that…just that he might/could do it.
Time will tell…
Also: What does this say for the state (and future) of Yankees outfield prospects, now that the Yankees have two runners locked up long term – and that Beltran will be around, contractually, for a while?
Via CSN -
The Yankees and Andrew Bailey have agreed to an incentive-laden minor league, Buster Olney tweets.
Bailey had surgery in July to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and the Red Sox were comfortable letting him walk. Bailey managed to record just 44 innings after being acquired by the Red Sox from Oakland in a 2011 winter trade.
Following the surgery, Bailey likely won’t be ready to pitch until mid-May at the earliest.
There were reportedly more than 15 teams interested in Bailey’s services, but in the end, the Yankees end up poaching their second Red Sox of the offseason. The Yanks signed Jacoby Ellsbury earlier in the winter.
Born in New Jersey and went to High School there. And, he attended college on Staten Island. Expect the Yankees to work the local boy angle coming home to death…
Consider this David Aardsma, Part II.
Cashman specializes in this move – signing those who should be left for dead.
The story -
Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays strolled into the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse Saturday morning, a small bag hanging over his right shoulder. The next member of the 600-homer club to walk through the door will bring considerably more baggage.
Barry Bonds is scheduled to return to the Giants from March 9-17, serving as a special instructor for the organization’s young hitters. Bonds has long wanted to take on a more active role with the organization, but the two sides have not been connected in an official capacity since 2007, Bonds’ last season in Major League Baseball.
The years since have been filled with performance-enhancing drug allegations, a perjury trial and a conviction for obstruction of justice, but the Giants are not worried about Bonds being a distraction.
“He’s part of what we’ll do here,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s going to be part of the group of instructors, like (Will) Clark, (J.T.) Snow or (Jeff) Kent. He’s going to be like the other guys and help where he can.
“I don’t have any concerns.”
During an appearance at AT&T Park in 2012, Bonds told reporters that he had approached Giants CEO and President Larry Baer about working for the club in some form. The conversations have continued informally since then, and the Giants felt that the timing was finally right to bring back one the best players in baseball history, albeit one with a complicated history.
“Collectively within the organization, we felt that given Barry’s desire to continue to contribute to the Giants, we should be open-minded about giving him the same invite that we have given to other players in the past,” Baer said.
The first thing I thought of, for whatever reason, when hearing this story was Barry’s old recliner. More on that:
The chair in front of Barry Bonds’s lockers at Pacific Bell Park is big and black, a $3,000 Sharper Image leather recliner so large that it appears to block off one side of the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse. All other members of the team — no matter how well established — sit in dinky folding metal chairs, the kind found leaning against the back wall of high school auditoriums. Sometimes, when San Francisco scribes feel like taking a poke at Bonds’s legendary ego, they will write about his four lockers and his Moby Dick of a recliner.
“You know, it’s just a massage chair,” says Bonds, reclining three hours before a recent Giants home game, an ice pack on his neck as he glances at the movie showing on the 32-inch TV on the floor by his footrest.
I wonder if the chair will be showing up with Bonds this spring training?
Via Sean McAdam –
The rivarly between the players on the field — save for an occasional Ryan Dempster target practice at A-Rod — has cooled. But as long as Larry Lucchino and Randy Levine are around, the Red Sox and Yankees will always be the Hatfields and the McCoys.
In his annual spring-training meeting with the media on Friday, Lucchino seemed to take more than a little satisfaction in watching the Yankees spend more than a half-billion dollars this winter on free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka, trying to play catch-up to the world champion Red Sox.
“We’re very different animals,” the Red Sox CEO said of the Sox and Yanks. “I’m proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together.”
By contrast, the Sox continued the philosophy that brought them a championship, signing complementary players — like catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitcher Chris Capuano — to cheaper, shorter-term deals.
The Yankees, said Lucchino, “are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. And I can’t say that I wish them well, but I think that we’ve taken a different approach.”
Well, you knew Levine — the Yankees’ president and CEO, who has tangled with Lucchino in the past — wouldn’t take that lying down.
“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees,” Levine said. “But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place.”
“[Boston general manager] Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series,” continued Levine, “but I’m confident [Yankee GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi] and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”
Lucchino and Levine are both blowhards who need to learn to stay quiet. Lucchino only talks when he team has done well and then he crawls under a rock when they tank. And, Levine needs to learn that playing the ghosts card died in 2004. On the whole, they both need to wake up and realize that they are not Williams and DiMaggio, or Fisk and Munson, or even Schilling and A-Rod, and no one wants to hear a couple of stuffed shirts trying to be macho.
Via the Dallas News -
Ferris pitcher Evan Pontley had a simple philosophy at Mabank on Monday night: stick mainly with his fastball, and “throw it as hard as I could.”
It resulted in the game of his life.
Pontley pitched a complete game no-hitter in a 13-3 win, striking out 22 batters – one more than the number of outs in a seven-inning game.
“Everything I threw was working,” Pontley said.
After the first inning, Ferris actually trailed 2-0, despite Pontley striking out the first six batters. The two batters that scored during the inning reached on dropped third strikes and throwing errors by the catcher, scoring on a passed ball and a dropped third strike.
“I was a little embarrassed after that first inning,” Ferris coach Matthew Wolfe said. “That would drive any coach crazy, and I think it took a few years off my life. But they gathered their composure and played pretty flawless after that.”
Pontley struck out the first 20 batters he faced until a fly-out in the sixth inning.
Ferris (1-0) tied the game in the third inning, and broke it open with a nine-run sixth inning.
At that point, Wolfe went to Pontley – whose pitch count was in the low 80s – to ask him how he was feeling.
“He said, ‘I don’t feel anything. I’m finishing this game,’” Wolfe said. “And I’m like, ‘You bet.’”
Pontley finished allowing no hits, no earned runs and one walk, throwing 97 pitches. A Class 3A all-state shortstop last season, he went 2-4 at the plate as well, with two RBIs and a run scored.
According to the National Federation of State High School Association’s record book, Pontley’s effort is tied for seventh-most in high school history. Lingleville, Texas pitcher Brett Jennings holds the record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game, with 24 in a 6-3 loss to Santo in 1986. Pontley said it was “unbelievable” that his game on Tuesday could put his name in the national record book.
“It’s crazy – and means the world to me,” he said.
Sounds like the kid was throwing strikes…at least a bunch of them swinging.
It’s a very small group:
Pretty cool that most of these guys are still alive.
In his first professional season, Derek Jeter batted .210 (in Rookie and A-Ball, combined). The next year, he had 56 errors during the year.
In the end, things worked out pretty good for him, eh?
Via Grantland –
It’s hard to overstate how bad this Yankees infield might be from first base all the way around to third. Aside from the Grantland-approved Brian McCann signing, things are bleak. Mark Teixeira is coming off a lost season and has admitted that his wrist hasn’t fully healed; Brian Roberts is expected to start at second despite failing to play more than 77 games in a season since 2009; Derek Jeter is almost 40 and is coming off an injury-ravaged year; and Kelly Johnson looks like the best bet at third with Alex Rodriguez suspended.
The Yankees obviously addressed needs by spending loads of money to get McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka, but it would be a mistake to use last year’s 85 wins as a baseline and assume the Yankees will now coast to 90-plus. This team was so old and leaky in 2013 that it’s a damn miracle Joe Girardi coaxed it to a better-than-.500 finish. The offseason additions are nice, but the Yankees’ former best player is now in Seattle, the bullpen looks weaker without Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte’s quiet consistency will be missed in its own right.
This is a good team, but it still might not be a playoff team.
Can’t disagree with any of this…
Brian Johnson is a prospect in the Red Sox chain. If he makes it, I wonder how many times he will be asked about this:
Man, that was scary. Glad he turned out OK.
Brian Cashman compares Joe Torre and Joe Girardi -
“There are more similarities between the two than differences,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told MLB.com behind the batting cage on Tuesday morning, as the Bombers worked out at George Steinbrenner Field. “They both love people. They both have huge hearts. They both had great careers as players. They know the game.”
And the differences?
“There definitely are some, but both approaches work,” Cashman said. “Torre was an amazing communicator, trying to be in touch with each individual player. Girardi is an intense preparer. I just think Girardi is more in tune with that new-age area of statistical stuff. [Torre] wasn’t. But they each found their way to success. It really comes down to the players we give both that make or break their win-loss record.”
Asked if a manager could survive in the Majors today without taking that Sabermetric approach, Cashman said:
“No, I don’t think so. Today’s manager, you need to be prepared like anything else. You need to be willing to utilize the valuable information sitting there right in front of you. If you don’t, you’re just hurting yourself and you’re just relying on luck.”
…You need to be willing to utilize the valuable information sitting there right in front of you. If you don’t, you’re just hurting yourself and you’re just relying on luck…
I guess this doesn’t apply to GMs?
It’s pretty darn close.
Via the Post -
Looks like the crowd is going wild for Derek Jeter’s final season!
This fan, perhaps wearing sunglasses, sneaked into Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Saturday to check out Yankees spring-training workouts.
Raccoons are a common sight throughout Tampa and St.Petersburg, but few are known baseball fans.
Eagle-eyed Post photographer Charles Wenzelberg spotted the raccoon and acted fast to snap this incredibly cute image.
“If was a freaky moment and I happened to get it,” Wenzelberg said.
The Post lensman had been in the outfield photographing a rainbow that had appeared over Steinbrenner Field. Then a loud noise startled Wenzelberg — and the raccoon.
“I heard this banging sound – something fell, maybe it was a baseball bat, I don’t know – but it must have startled the raccoon because I see it running out of the Yankees dugout and into the stands,” said Wenzelberg, who swung his camera toward the fleeing critter.
Then again, I would rather go for a run than play a video game…
Another Cashman “nugget” that tarnished quickly.
Great stuff from a great baseball author.
Via John Harper -
Kevin Long considers Robinson Cano practically a son, they grew so close over the years in the Bronx. And that bond, forged during their countless sessions in the batting cage, allows him to speak frankly about the $240 million man who is now a Seattle Mariner.
That is, while Long couldn’t be prouder of what Cano accomplished as a Yankee, it bothers him that neither he nor anyone else could get through to the second baseman about his notorious lack of hustle, knowing it’s likely to tarnish his standing, especially with the fans.
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Long was talking about Cano’s habit of not running hard to first base on routine ground balls, nothing else. And it was particularly frustrating for him because he helped Cano overcome his other bad habits over the years, centering around his nonchalant nature that once led Joe Girardi to bench him for lazy defense.
“He overcame so much while he was here,’’ Long said. “As a young kid there were holes everywhere. There were holes in his swing, in his makeup, in his body composition. This kid grew and grew and grew.
“All the other stuff … he’d take plays off in the field, he’d give away at-bats in RBI situations. He made a lot of personal decisions to get over the hump in those areas. People don’t know how hard he worked, how many times he was the one asking me to do extra work in the cage.’’
I won’t debate Cano’s dogging it at times. But, please, can someone get Kevin Long to shut up? He talks way too much…
It’s an interesting thought – what if Jeter is SO BAD this season that the Yankees release him at some point during the season? Could that EVER happen? Related, would Jeter retire during the year and beat them to the punch? Of course, this all begs the question: How bad would BAD have to be for this to happen?
Would it have to be an OPS of .542 – like he had last year – or less? Is that the magic number? If so, where is the line in the sand? Is it May 1st? July 4th? August 15th?
Does it matter if the team is winning and in first place? Would that allow a struggling Jeter to hang on? Or, if the team is losing and Jeter is terrible, does that make a decision on his roster spot more urgent?
You tell me.
Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, if I recall correctly, didn’t make it through their final season in Yankeeland. And, I know some Hall of Famers – Mike Schmidt comes to mind – hung them up during a season. It does happen, sometimes.
Via George King -
Alex Rodriguez is gone for a year and Robinson Cano is in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees don’t have a batter with the muscle to put on a power show during spring training batting practice.
Sure, it was the first day of BP, but the performance by neophyte catcher Pete O’Brien at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday was impossible to ignore, since it reminded some of how easily Darryl Strawberry launched balls out of the park.
“The buzz today was all about Pete O’Brien,’’ hitting instructor Kevin Long said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Miami native who was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Miami.
O’Brien, 23, hit balls over the batter’s eye in center field and high off the new scoreboard in left-center.
“What puts his swing at a different level is the ease of it,’’ Long said of the right-handed hitting O’Brien, who swatted 22 homers and drove in 96 runs last season for Charleston (Single-A) and Tampa (Single-A) while batting .291 (130-for-447) in 119 games. He drew 43 walks and fanned 134 times. “He is not a guy winding up and jumping out front. He has a good, short compact swing. Obviously, he is very explosive.’’
Asked to compare O’Brien’s swing with former prospect Jesus Montero’s, Long said, “O’Brien’s is a much cleaner swing.’’
Since the Yankees are deep in organizational catching and O’Brien needs work behind the plate, there is a good chance he will be shifted to the outfield at some point, although he is scheduled to start this coming season as a catcher.
I had a chance to meet Pete O’Brien at the South Atlantic League All-Star game last year, albeit briefly. And, he seemed like a really nice guy. I hope he gets a chance to start the season at Trenton this season. I would look forward to seeing him in Double-A. I just hope that Kevin Long doesn’t mess him up any time soon.
I really wish they would reassign #13 this spring too…
Jim Fregosi was pretty good when he was young, eh?