• What We Learned From The Cliff Lee Outcome

    Posted by on July 10th, 2010 · Comments (18)

    By noon yesterday, it seemed like Cliff Lee to the Yankees was a done deal. Five hours later, the Texas Rangers swooped in and nabbed him. While adding Lee to an already strong Yankee rotation would have been fun, losing out on him is more beneficial in the long run. It was also educational. here is what we learned:

    The Yankees have faith in Jesus. After news broke that the Yankees were hot on Lee’s trail and willing to trade top prospect Jesus Montero for him, some fans speculated that the organization had lost faith in the catcher. This echoed the sentiment put forth last winter when the Yankees attempted to trade Montero to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. The fact that the organization was willing to part with the 20 year-old for players of Halladay and Lee’s caliber is a testament to Montero’s ability.

    Other teams have faith in Jesus. The Blue Jays and Mariners have now both scouted Montero extensively, and were likely open to trading their top commodity for him. You know a player has value when his return yields one of the best pitchers in the game. Anyone else find it interesting that the Mariners still wanted Montero, despite his .253 batting average? Scouts see something in him, and while his bat may be more attractive than his glove, he is still a special player. So is David Adams, evidently.

    The Rangers will not resign Lee. Texas is currently dealing with some serious financial woes, and there is no chance that they can sign him to a contract extension during or after the season. On that same hand, why would Lee want to sign with Texas? Unless he has an extraordinarily good time, is comfortable with giving the Rangers a bargain and loves pitching in Arlington, expect him to become a free agent.

    The Yankees are serious about adding Lee. The mere act of offering a prospect like Jesus Montero (and Adams) for Lee demonstrates how badly the Yankees want to have him in the rotation. Now, some have argued that Brian Cashman was simply trying to drive up the Mariner’s asking price, but I think the Yankees were serious. Why else would they allegedly give the Mariners a “take it or leave it” offer? Although the baseball world has already come to this conclusion, it seems fairly certain that the Yankees will simply hand Lee a blank check this winter.

    So, unless the Rangers beat the Yankees in the ALCS, this situation worked out in the best possibly way. The Yanks were able to keep two of their better prospects, Lee went to a team that probably won’t resign him and Brian Cashman can now focus on adding a bat and some relief arms.

    Two Players The Yankees Should Target

    Posted by on July 7th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    The non-waiver trade deadline is nearly upon us, and the Yankees will need to address certain holes if they want to remain competitive in the division. Obviously there is a strong need to improve the bullpen, but with Nick Johnson’s season in doubt and Alex Rodriguez losing playing time thanks to his bum hip, there are two players the Yankees should focus on:

    Ty Wigginton (.253/.339 /.448) has already been connected to the Yankees, who view him as a part-time player. The journeyman infielder would provide depth off the bench, fill in as the designated hitter and support the ailing Alex Rodriguez at third base. Despite Ramiro Pena’s superb defense, the Yankees cannot continue to use the light-hitting shortstop as a backup for Rodriguez. Wigginton has already slugged 14 homers this year and has been a fairly consistent player throughout his career, so unless his bat completely freezes up, the Yankees would get a productive player. According to Ken Rosenthal, the O’s want a young shortstop in return for the 32 year-old, and the Yankees have plenty of infield depth in the minors. It will probably cost the Yankees Eduardo Nunez, but perhaps Brian Cashman could send Reegie Corona and an additional prospect to Baltimore.

    Matt Capps (3.11 ERA/22 SV/4.57 K/BB) is not the best arm on the market, but with Mo’s knees giving out, the Yankees need to add another pitcher with closing experience to the bullpen. Nat’s prospect Drew Storen is ready to close out games for Stephen Strasburg, and GM Mike Rizzo may be willing to part with Capps and his 97 MPH fastball for a mid-level prospect or two . The high number of hits allowed is a cause for concern, but he’s worth taking a chance on, especially if the Yankees can catch lightning in a bottle with some of their other Triple-A arms.

    Reegie Corona

    Moseley May Join Bullpen

    Posted by on June 28th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    According to Chad Jennings of The Journal News, Scranton starter Dustin Moseley has been pulled from his scheduled start – a strong indication that the Yankees will add him to the big league roster before the deadline of his opt-out clause. This could be the end for Chan Ho Park in pinstripes.

    Moseley, coming off hip and elbow surgery, signed with the Yankees at the start of spring training and was never in the mix for the long reliever job. Fast forward to July: Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves are hurt. Chad Gaudin is inconsistent. Park cannot pitch multiple innings. It seems like everything has fallen into place for Moesely to get a shot in the pen.

    Although his Triple-A numbers are somewhat underwhelming, giving Moseley a shot is not a horrible option. The Yankees need to identify their needs prior to the trade deadline, and if they are able to solidify the pen, they can simply focus on acquiring a bat. If Moseley falters, they know that adding a bullpen arm is the better option.

    That said, I think we can expect a league-average showing from the former Angel. He’s demonstrated that he can be a somewhat effective pitcher in the past, and although he’s struggled at times in Triple-A, he’s also had some very strong performances. Only time will tell, but I thin we’ll be seeing him with the Yankees very soon. It might not be for long, but at least the Yankees will get a fresh arm in the bullpen.

    Catching Up With Jamie Hoffman

    Posted by on June 19th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    If you would have polled Yankee fans six months ago, most would have thought that a Hoffman would be patrolling the outfield in Yankee stadium – not a Huffman – but baseball works in funny ways.

    Back in December, the Yankees traded troublesome right-hander Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a first-round pick in the Rule V Draft. Bruney pitched his way out of Strasburg-ville and Hoffman was sent back to LaLa Land before the Yankees broke camp. The trade ended up being a wash for everyone – except the Dodgers.

    Although he’s not playing at the major league level, versatile outfielder Jamie Hoffman is playing quite well for the Albuquerque Isotopes, posting a .318/.374/.455 line with four homers and nine stolen bases in 63 games. The Dodger outfield is pretty crowded right now, and there are several solid outfielders in Albuquerque, so its doubtful that Hoffman makes it to the majors before September, but the Yankees sure could use a little extra depth right about now.

    Hammy Forces Park To Disable List, Logan Promoted

    Posted by on April 16th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    A hamstring injury sustained during yesterday’s bullpen session will send veteran reliever Chan Ho Park to the disabled list, the Newark Star Ledger reports.  Park,the owner of a 4.76 ERA in 5.2 innings, will be replaced by left-hander Boone Logan. The 25 year-old southpaw will add extra situational support in the Yankee pen and should help convince fans that the Javier Vazquez trade was not a one-sided deal (sarcasm intended). Logan has pitched very well for Scranton, notching a 1.35 ERA and 9:1 K/BB ratio in six innings. Let’s hope Park’s hamstring – and digestive track – feel better soon.

    File This Under…

    Posted by on March 19th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Trades that almost happened:

    The Yankees are weighing a possible trade with San Diego for pitcher Matt Clement and outfielder Eric Owens, as well as separate deal for Colorado’s Pedro Astacio, after the Baltimore Orioles scuttled a proposed three-team, 11-player blockbuster trade that would have altered the Yankees’ lineup, rotation and bullpen.

    This proposal is on the table: The Yankees could trade Alfonso Soriano, a star infield prospect playing in Class AAA, along with Jason Grimsley, a major league pitcher, and Brandon Knight, a minor league pitcher, to the Padres for Clement, a hard-throwing right-hander, and Owens, who would fill the void in left field created by Shane Spencer’s season-ending knee injury. (source)

    Matt Clement and Eric Owens for Alfonso Soriano, Jason Grimsley, Brandon Knight and a major league pitcher? I’m glad the Yankees never pulled the trigger here. Clement and Owens were traded to the Marlins a year later and nether player lived up to expectations. Both are coincidentally no longer active.

    The aforementioned rumor came after the news that a three-team blockbuster between the Orioles, Yankees and Padres fell apart. That deal would have sent Clement, B.J. Surhoff and Donnie Wall to the Yankees in exchange for Soriano, Adrian Hernandez, Grimsley and Marcus Thames.

    The Yankees were attempting to limit the defensive responsibilities for David Justice and were previously linked to Milwaukee’s Jeromy Burnitz, Montreal’s Rondell White and allegedly turned down a swap of Oakland’s Matt Stairs for Randy Keisler. The Yankees also attempted to directly acquire Surhoff from the Orioles, but were reluctant to give up Soriano. They should have just traded for Stairs.

    The Yanks ended up not making any significant moves prior to the July 31st deadline. They did claim Jose Conseco off waivers and signed Luis Polonia during the first week of August.

    Bullpen Could Be Ideal Spot For Aceves

    Posted by on March 19th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    We’re now well into spring training and the candidates for the final slot in the rotation are separating themselves from the pack. Logic dictates that a youngster like Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain will open the season as a starter, but if the Yankees opt to evaluate the candidates based on their spring training performance, Alfredo Aceves is the clear winner and Sergio Mitre is still in the mix. If you are one of the fans that think Alfredo Aceves should be named the fifth starter, I recommend you stop reading this post. Then again, you probably did not read it based on the title.

    The final spot in the rotation should be occupied by Hughes or Chamberlain. At this point, Hughes looks like the better option, but the spring is still young. Upside is something the front office will take into account, but there are other reasons why Ace should be sent to the pen. Joe Girardi will have to evaluate what would help the team more: a solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher who will make 25-32 starts or a stud reliever that will help preserve wins in 40-50 games. I’m inclined to go with the later. When you take upside into account, it becomes a no-brainer. As good as Aceves has been, Hughes and Chamberlain both have more potential. There is an excellent chance that one of them could finally realize that potential this year as a starter.

    Plenty of teams have found success with a league-average fifth starter, especially when they have an extremely sturdy bullpen. If Hughes or Chamberlain performs above the league average lines, the Yanks will be in even better shape. Especially considering that one of them will probably also be joining Aceves in the pen. A relief corps anchored by Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Chamberlain/Hughes and Aceves is just way too strong to pass up. Especially if Chan Ho Park, Damaso Marte and Mark Melancon exceed expectations.

    Cano To Bat Fifth

    Posted by on March 15th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Interesting news out of Bradenton this morning. According to Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, Robinson Cano will move to the fifth spot in the batting order. The 27 year-old second baseman who averaged 19 home runs and a .306 batting average over the past five seasons will now be responsible for protecting and driving in the likes of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez:

    “I think it’s always been somewhat projected that he would move up in the lineup,” Girardi said. “He’s got so much ability and tools, but with young players, sometimes you want to ease him in. To me, Robbie’s not a young player anymore, even though he’s young on this team.”

    “You want somebody hitting behind A-Rod so they can pitch to him, so I’m going to have to step it up early in the season,” Cano said. “I know what I went through last year, so for Girardi to put me fifth, that means that he trusts me. He thinks I’m ready.” (source)

    Batting Cano fifth is not a terrible idea – he does own a career batting average on the north side of .300 – but there could be some drawbacks here, namely his numbers with runners in scoring position and knack for grounding into double plays. For example, Cano grounded into 22 double plays in 2009, which tied him for fourth in the American League. Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson has only hit into 18 double plays during his entire career. Now, a lot of that has to do with where each player hits in the batting order, but it does demonstrate how Granderson’s speed could be beneficial in the five-hole.

    Speed aside, you can’t ignore Cano’s high-contact approach and line drive swing. His superior numbers against lefties and room for offensive improvement are reason enough to give him the nod over Granderson. I think that this could also be a case of Girardi attempting to inspire Cano and reduce the amount of pressure on Granderson. If Robbie falters, I’m sure the former Tiger will move up in the batting order.

    Feinsand also listed the probable regular season batting order. Nick Johnson will bat second, and Cano will likely be followed by Jorge Posada, Granderson, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. When taking a hard look at that lineup, debating on who should hit where really becomes unnecessary. No matter what, this team will score runs.

    2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Preview

    Posted by on March 12th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Fans that grew accustomed to Shelley and Eric Duncan will see a very new Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankee roster going in to the 2010 season. This team will feature a slugger behind the plate, a brick wall down the left side of the infield and an overcrowded outfield – not to mention a pitching staff comprised of journeyman like Dustin Moseley and exciting prospects like Ivan Nova. First, a projected 24-man roster:

    Catchers: Jesus Montero, Mike Rivera, P.J. Pilittere.
    Comments: Barring an injury, we probably will not see Jesus Montero in New York until September. The Yankees can afford to give the 20 year-old one more season in the minors to improve his defense and further perfect his swing. Unless Frankie Cervelli’s concussion is more serious than originally thought, Mike Rivera will serve as a very capable backup backstop. Pilittere could see some time in Double-A. It depends on whether or not the club opts to carry an extra pitcher.

    Infielders: Juan Miranda, Reegie Corona, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo, Chris Malec, Jorge Vazquez.
    Comments: The Scranton infield will likely consist of Miranda at first base, Corona at second, Nunez at short and Russo at third; arguably one of the better defensive infields in the International League. Former Mexican League standout Jorge Vazquez will probably see time at first, while Malec will reprise his role as the utility infielder. Russo and Nunez are both terrific defenders and will definitely help the pitching staff feel more comfortable.

    Outfielders: Colin Curtis, Greg Golson, Jon Weber, Reid Gorecki, David Winfree.
    Comments: I don’t think one can truly name a starting outfield here, but its likely that Colin Curtis, Greg Golson and David Winfree will see the majority of the playing time because of their youth and ceiling. Weber will probably be used as a corner outfielder and designated hitter, the Yankees will need the extra left-handed pop in the lineup.

    Rotation: Kei Igawa, Zach McAllister, Jason Hirsh, Ivan Nova, George Kontos.
    Comments: I can’t see the New York Yankees opting to carry Kei Igawa as the second lefty when Mark Melancon is a viable option to strengthen the big league pen. The Japanese lefty will likely anchor the rotation and cement his title as the winningest Scranton Wilkes/Barre Yankee. McAllister should build upon his strong 2009 campaign in the two-hole, while Jason Hirsh looks to live up to his name. George Kontos and Ivan Nova will likely end up as major league relievers, but they will help build a formidable Triple-A rotation in 2010.

    Bullpen: Boone Logan, Jonathan Albaladejo, Romulo Sanchez, Keven Whelan, Zack Segovia, Dustin Moseley, Royce Ring, Amaury Sanit, Eric Wordekemper.
    Comments: I know I listed nine players, but five or six of these pitchers will make up the Scranton pen. Obviously Boone Logan, Jon Albaladejo, Dustin Mosely and Royce Ring have a great shot, but I could see Romulo Sanchez as the closer. The Yankees may opt to let Wilkin De La Rosa, Keven Whelan and Amaury Sanit develop in Trenton.

    Coaching Staff: Dave Miley, Butch Wynegar, Scott Aldred, Aaron Ledesma, Darren London, Lee Tressell.
    Comments: The entire coaching staff is set to return in 2010. Dave Miley will enter his fifth season as the manager of the Triple-A affiliate and will aim to lead the club to their third straight appearance at the Governors Cup. Butch Wynegar and Scott Aldred will reprise their roles as the hitting and pitching coaches. Darren London will enter his 18th season as the Triple-A trainer. A strong coaching and training staff is important for Triple-A, and they are aware of the delicate balance of development and competitiveness that is necessary for both individual and team success.

    Projected Lineup:

    SS – Eduardo Nunez – R
    CF – Greg Golson – R
    1B – Juan Miranda -L
    C – Jesus Montero – R
    DH  – Jon Weber – L
    RF – David Winfree – R
    LF – Colin Curtis – L
    3B – Kevin Russo – R
    2B – Reegie Corona – S

    Overall Comments: The 2010 club will feature strong infield defense and above-average speed at the top and bottom of the order. The heart of the batting order, Miranda-Montero-Weber, should provide enough offense for the team to remain competitive. It will be interesting to see how the team deals with David Winfree and Greg Golson, who are both young enough to be considered prospects. The rotation should be another asset, especially if Jason Hirsh can pitch as well as he did in 2009. Players to Watch: Jesus Montero, Colin Curtis, Greg Golson, Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova.

    Checking In With Shelley Duncan

    Posted by on March 10th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Shelley Duncan became an instant fan-favorite during the middle of the 2007 season, smacking seven homers in 34 games and earning praise for his energetic and exuberant style of play. He never really stuck in the majors and spent the majority of the next two seasons amassing a .262 AVG and 42 home runs in 183 Triple-A games, earning International MVP honors in 2009. After getting sent outright to Scranton, Duncan elected to become a free agent. He eventually signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians, where he is currently battling for a backup first baseman and outfield job:

    “I don’t really think about (the competition). If I start thinking about that, I’ll take focus off the work I need to get done. As long as I take care of myself, focus on myself and what I need to do to get ready for the season, I’ll put myself in position that I need to be in.”

    Duncan went on to talk about his 2009 season with the Scranton Yanks:

    “It was my third year in the league, a lot of experience. I didn’t really change much. As you get older you get wiser and get better. It’s a case of being in a place that I’m comfortable. I was really trying to work my way out of that league and unfortunately just didn’t really have a spot open up.”

    Always a classy guy. Duncan will compete with Andy Marte, Beau Mills, Chris Gimenez and Wes Hodges for a bench spot. He currently has two hits in three games this spring.

    Nick Johnson’s History Could Help Marcus Thames

    Posted by on March 5th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Throughout his career, the major knock on Nick Johnson has been his inability to stay healthy. When not on the disabled list or struggling with injures, Johnson is a very solid offensive player capable of posting a batting average north of .280, drawing 80+ walks and hitting 15 or more home runs in a given season. His 2007 season with the Washington Nationals is a fine example of the designated hitter’s ceiling, and with some luck, he could come close to those numbers in 2010…if he can stay healthy.

    That’s a big IF, and it always has been with  him. He’s been placed on the disabled list at least eight times during his career. He’s been on the 60-day disabled list three times. Needless to say, when you hear that something is bothering Johnson, you begin to worry. Its hard to be optimistic with a player who has only appeared in 59% of his games during an eight year career. Anyway, guess who’s balky back is in the news again:

    Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson was scratched from the lineup on Thursday with a stiff lower back…”I could have played,” Johnson said. “But I felt it back there, so I told them.” (source)

    As it turns out, one of his spikes got caught during batting practice which injured his back. He told reporters that he would have played if it had been a regular season game, but it does make you wonder. What if Nick Johnson deals with the injury bug again this season? The Yankees are a much different team than the Nationals and Marlins. They need to be competitive, so every player needs to be at the top of their game and generally healthy. Like the title of this post states, Johnson’s injury history could help outfielder Marcus Thames make the team.

    Right now, Thames is competing with Jamie Hoffman for the final position player slot, but the Yankees may have to seriously consider carrying a player with designated hitter experience rather than an extra Randy Winn. Yes, should Johnson miss extended periods because of  injuries, the Yankees could use Jorge Posada as the designated hitter and let Frankie Cervelli catch, but that depletes the bench and could cause problems in extra-inning games. Also, having another player on the bench who could juice the lineup with extra left-handed power has to be more attractive than any commodity Hoffman can bring.

    Discussing An Alternate Yankee Uniform

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (20)

    The New York Yankees brandish the most noticeable and famous uniform and logo in professional sports. Everyone knows the pinstripes, and everyone buys the merchandise. According to SportsScanINFO25 percent of the money spent on MLB merchandise were on Yankee-related items in 2007. Next in line were the Cardinals who were responsible for only 8.6 percent of MLB merchandise sales that year. The Yankees also owned the highest dollar share of MLB Licensed products during the third quarter of 2009. So it is fairly obvious that the club is always on top of the current sales charts.

    Needless to say, hats and jerseys make up a large portion of those numbers, and although it goes against the Yankee credo, they could generate some extra revenue by creating a third or alternate jersey. The money made from those uniforms would quickly make up for the decrease in luxury box sales.

    I know the Yankees are not hurting for cash, but it would be fun to image what an alternate jersey might look like. Using my photoshop skills*, I tinkered with the road uniform and came up with this:

    The typical away uniform usually includes the city name across the chest, not the team name. I can’t see the organization changing the home jersey, so if they ever were to add analternate uniofrm, it would be something we only see on television or while on vacation.

    I initially used the “bat and hat” logo on the Yankees cap, but it looked strange, so I moved it to the sleeve. The interlocking “N-Y” is what makes the hat distinct, so abandoning that would never be a good idea. The script across the chest helps give the uniform a classy look, while maintaining the gray and navy blue color scheme.

    Yes, this alternate road uniform is very similar to the current road uniform, but the Yankees are not the type of organization to drastically change what they wear. If they ever were to implement an alternate uniform, I’m sure it would remain very simple, and we definitely would not see any new colors.

    So, if you were in charge of creating an alternate Yankee uniform, how would it look? Also, if you enjoy uniform tweaks, be sure to check out Uni Watch. Especially this post and this post.

    *base uniform courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net

    Baseball Prospectus 2010 On Jesus Montero

    Posted by on February 24th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    I received my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2010 in the mail yesterday and wanted to share some of their insights on uber-prospect Jesus Montero:

    Montero can flat-out hit and might be ready to hit in the majors now if it weren’t for his lack of position. Teams are phobic about grooming young players as designated hitters, but every once in a while, the farm system produces a special hitter, an Edgar Martinez or Frank Thomas, whose natural, God-given position is DH. Like those fellows, Montero could be propped up in the field from time to time, particularly at first base, but he’s clearly not a catcher, at least not right now.

    Montero is only 20 and could figure out how to catch eventually, perhaps at the same age at which a college-trained catcher might be drafted, but his bat is propelling him forward to fast for his glove to keep up. Obviously, Montero would be more valuable if he could stay behind the plate; the same was true of Carlos Delgado, Paul Konerko and even Jimmie  Fox…If he does hit (at the Triple-A level) there is no point in holding him back waiting for some revelation of defensive ability that might never come…

    BP projects a .299/.352/.498 line for Montero next season and compares him to Torii Hunter, John Buck, Justin Huber and Derek Bell. Personally, I think Montero will eclipse Hunter as a hitter, but sometimes prospects don’t work out. Regardless, Kevin Goldstein rated the 20 year-old as the fourth-best prospect in the game:

    He’s almost assuredly not a catcher in the end, and it’s almost assuredly not going to matter. In terms of pure hitting ability, no prospect matches Montero, whose ability to put up big numbers in horrible hitting environments at levels a player at his age has not right to be in has everyone projecting him as a monster force in the big leagues.

    There you have it. The “experts” do not seem very confident that Montero can handle both sides of the ball, but they are sure he can hit. Having seen him play only a few times, I can tell you that he’s not nearly as bad defensively as the writers at BP seem to think. Yes, he is a below average catcher, but he blocks balls well, has a decent arm and is a big target for pitchers. According to reports, he’s putting in the work to improve defensively, and that has to count for something. If the Yankees did not think he could handle catching, they would not continue to allow him to work at that aspect of his game. I think he will break into the big leagues next season and spend some time behind the plate. He’ll probably spend the rest of the time as the designated hitter, but that could help keep Posada extra fresh.

    Defensive issues aside, Yankee fans have to be excited about Montero hitting behind the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

    Fox Sports Lists 10 Players Who’d Look Good As Yankees

    Posted by on February 15th, 2010 · Comments (16)

    Bob Klapisch of Fox Sports recently compiled a list of 10 players that would look good in pinstripes. He could have easily replaced “looked good” with “will probably never wear” but the list could lead to an interesting discussion:

    1. Johnny Damon
    2. Carlos Beltran
    3. Cliff Lee
    4. Carl Crawford
    5. John Lackey
    6. Dustin Pedroia
    7. Joe Mauer
    8. Albert Pujols
    9. Tim Lincecum
    10. Prince Fielder

    Johnny Damon, Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee actually make some sense. If Damon signs a one-year deal with a non-contender and the Yankees still need an outfield option in July, they could trade for him. I also think the club will pursue Crawford or Lee next winter. I don’t think we’ll ever see Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Prince Fielder or John Lackey in pinstripes.

    Is there a particular player that you think would be a great fit with the Yankees?

    Gardner Working On Bunting More

    Posted by on February 13th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Brett Gardner is arguably one of the fastest players in baseball today, so its sort of weird that he does not capitalize on his speed with more sacrifice hits. To put things in perspective, Gardner led the majors with a 9.2 Speed Score in 2009 and only recorded six successful sacrifice bunts. Meanwhile, Adam Everett posted a Speed Score of 3.9 and had more than twice as many sacrifice bunts as Gardner with 15. Gardner has apparently struggled with the thought and the technique of bunting, but that may change in 2010:

    Brett Gardner hits during the winter at the Charleston Baseball Acadamy, about 10 minutes from his South Carolina home, tweaking his swing and keeping sharp. This offseason, Gardner spent a lot of time working on his bunting skills, too, and he’d like to develop that into a weapon this year.

    “That’s the good thing about hitting off a (pitching) machine,” Gardner said yesterday, after his first precamp workout at the Yankees’ minor-league complex. “You can bunt 50 or 100 balls in 15 or 20 minutes. No time. I’ve been bunting a lot, working on that more and trying to bring that back into my game.

    “Now it’s just a matter of being comfortable enough with it not to be scared to do it in a game and have confidence that I’m going to put it where I want it. Not only can it be a tool to get on base, but it keeps defenses honest and can bring the corners in and maybe I can shoot some balls by them.” (source)

    I suppose this could be considered a non-story, but I happen to think Brett Gardner could be an important part of the offense next season. If he learns to implement the bunt with a higher success rate, he will have more opportunities to wreak havoc with his base running. He’ll also help advance batters like Robinson Cano (.352 OBP in 2009) and Nick Swisher (.371 OBP in 2009) or get on base ahead of Derek Jeter. I’m a little concerned that Gardner has struggled with something like this, but I’m glad he’s putting the work in to improve an aspect of his game that will make him an even better player.

    Looking Into the Crystal Ball At The 2015 Roster

    Posted by on February 11th, 2010 · Comments (17)

    Aside from the Marcus Thames signing, it has sort of been a slow week for Yankee-related news. With the roster pretty much set, I thought I’d take this time to look into the magical crystal ball that can only be used to predict future baseball rosters. Curious about the 2015 Yankees? Look no further. Here is the season preview for the 2015 club:

    Catcher: Austin Romine. When Jorge Posada retired in 2012, Romine quickly became a fan-favorite after winning a starting job in spring training. He hit .248 in his rookie season, but after working closely with special instructor Bernie Williams, Romine hit .286 the following year. Romine solidified his status as one of the better catchers in the league after hitting .290 with 17 home runs and winning his first Gold Glove award last season.

    First Base: Mark Teixeira. The 34 year-old Teixeira has enjoyed a very productive career with the Yankees, averaging 155 games and 39 home runs in the first five years of his contract. He struggled in the second half of the 2014 season, hitting a paltry .258 after the All-Star break. Still, he managed to win his fifth gold glove award and will enter the season as the club’s cleanup hitter.

    Second Base: Corban Josehph. Now 26 years-old and in his second major league season, Joseph was given a starting job after Brian Cashman traded Robinson Cano to the Cardinals for outfielder Colby Rasmus in July. The front office has always been a fan of Joseph’s work ethic and pure hitting, so making him the starting second baseman was an easy decision. Joseph hit .272 with three home runs before the trade, but went on to hit .284 in August and September.

    Shortstop: Eduardo Nunez. Yankee fans have wondered for years about who would play shortstop after Derek Jeter retired, and now they know. Eduardo Nunez, in his third season with the Yankees will make the jump from bench player to full-time starter this season. The 27 year-old has been one of the club’s best minor league hitters since 2011 with he hit .344 for Triple-A Syracuse. Fans are still murmuring about Jeter’s tearful goodbye speech after the team’s ALCS elimination in Boston, and few will forget the standing ovation given to the future Hall of Famer by the Fenway Fanatics. It will be hard for Nunez to break out of Jeter’s shadow, but thanks to his superb defensive ability, he has the potential to do it.

    Third Base: Alex Rodriguez. Now 39 years-old, A-Rod is the oldest member of the New York Yankees, but the grizzled veteran has taken both Corban Joseph and Colby Rasmus under his wing and taught them the fundamentals of Yankee life. Still one of the game’s premier hitters, Alex Rodriguez is only 29 homers away from breaking the career home run record set by Barry Bonds in 2007.  Rodriguez posted a .284 batting average and hit 37 home runs in 2014 while helping lead the Yankees to the American League Wild Card.

    Left Field: Carl Crawford. The speedy outfielder will enter his fifth season with the Yankees and there is no sign of him slowing down. After hitting .305 in 2012 and .314 in 2013, Crawford had a career year in 2014, posting a .341 AVG with 21 home runs and 78 stolen bases. He’s entering the final two years of his contract, but he will most likely be one of the more productive outfielders in 2015.

    Center Field: Colby Rasmus. The 28 year-old center fielder was acquired by the Yankees for infielder Robinson Cano at the trade deadline last season and hit a two-run home run in his very first at-bat with the Bombers. He proceeded to struggle down the stretch, hitting .216 in August and September, but his defense was definitely an upgrade over the 36 year-old Aaron Rowand. Rasmus dealt well with the fan backlash, especially after lectures from Alex Rodriguez. Rasmus has reportedly spent the off-season revamping his swing, so he may be primed for a big year.

    Right Field: Curtis Granderson. Entering his sixth season with the Yankees, Granderson has become one of the more popular players of the decade. Although his average dipped to .241 last season, Granderson smacked 34 home runs and stole 21 stolen bases for the Yankees. A favorite of the Bleacher Creatures, Granderson will need a big offensive season if he wants to get resigned by the Yankees.

    Designated Hitter: Jesus Montero. The league’s best young designated hitter will enter his third full season with the Yankees. Montero won Rookie of the Year honors in 2012 and has yet to record a batting average under .290 in the majors. He’ll enter the season as the club’s best hitter after hitting .340 with 44 home runs.

    The Bench: Brandon Inge will enter his second season as the Yankees backup catcher and third baseman. He will be joined by utility infielder Kevin Russo and pinch-runner extraordinaire Brett Gardner, now in his eighth season with the Yankees. Infielder Omar Infante and outfielder Ryan Langerhans will also compete for bench roles in spring training.

    The Rotation: The 34 year-old CC Sabathia will anchor the rotation again this season after winning 19 games for the third straight year. Joba Chamberlain will help form the best 1-2 punch in the game after winning 17 games and posting a 2.93 ERA last year. Cole Hamels, entering his second season with the Yankees, will look to improve upon his 12-10 record and 4.52 ERA. Andrew Brackman will enter his second season in the Yankee rotation. Brackman, 29, posted an 11-8 record and 3.90 ERA in 189 innings last season. Newcomer Brandon Webb will round out the bottom of the rotation. Webb, who spent 2014 with the Mariners, went 9-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 202 innings.

    The Bullpen: Dellin Betances supplanted Mark Melancon as the Yankee closer last season after recording 23 saves and posting a 2.41 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 46 innings. Melancon continued to struggle in the setup role, but pitched extremely well in the final two weeks of the season, allowing only three runs in his final 17 innings. Jeremy Bleich will resume his role as the situational lefty, while Ivan Nova, David Robertson and Ricky Nolasco will look to continue their success as middle inning relievers.The 38 year-old Tedd Lilly will try to make the club out of spring training as a long reliever.

    The Coaching Staff: John Russell will enter his second season as the Yankee manager and will hope to build off his 2014 success. Although getting eliminated in the ALCS was disappointing, Hal Steinbrenner told reporters that he has plenty of faith in Russell’s potential. John Flaherty will also enter his second season as the team’s bench coach. Pitching Coach Dave Eiland and Hitting Coach Kevin Long will both remain as the longest tenured members of the coaching staff.  Newcomers Tanyon Sturtze (Bullpen Coach), Cody Ransom (Third Base Coach) and Brian Giles (First Base Coach) will enter their first season as members of the Yankee coaching staff. Bernie Williams and Jason Giambi will likely serve as special instructors again in spring training.

    Did Boras Misplay Damon Negotiations?

    Posted by on February 5th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    He sure did. With only nine days until pitchers and catchers report, Johnny Damon is still without team, and aside from the Tigers, there does not appear to be any suitors. It also appears as though Boras is scrambling to increase the market for Damon, who would be lucky to get a two-year deal at this point in the offseason. Says Boras:

    “I still feel there is a quality market for Johnny Damon,” Boras said, “and I’m negotiating with a number of teams. There are three teams out there that if they don’t have Johnny Damon, they’re not winning the division. He’s the difference in these teams making the playoffs or not contending.”

    Aside from a few teams, most major league rosters are essentially ready for spring training. Also, the market for corner outfielders and designated hitters is extremely thin. With the Yankees out of the running, Boras’ only legitimate bargaining tool is gone and the market for Damon is shrinking every day.

    We’ve seen this happen a few times before. Back in 2007, Boras instructed Jeff Weaver to turn down a two-year deal from the Cardinals. Weaver, enjoying a revitalized career on the heels of a World Series win, was told to take a hike. He later signed a one-year deal with the Mariners, pitched poorly without the coaching of Dave Duncan and is now on a minor league contract with the Dodgers.

    Don’t forget the Alex Rodriguez “opt out” debacle. In a tremendously class move, Boras announced during the World Series that his client would leave the Yankees. A few weeks later, Rodriguez negotiated a new deal with the Yankees, sans Boras. Things worked out for Alex Rodriguez in this situation, but I’m sure that big name clients thought twice about using Boras. There have been other instances of Boras mishandling negotiations. Remember Rick Porcello? He should have been a first-round pick, if it was not for the insane contract demands. Way to get your hooks in early, Scott.

    So, file this one under “misplayed” and keep an eye out for how much money Damon gets. It sure won’t be as much as he was hoping to get back in December. If Damon would have accepted the reported two-year, $14 million deal with the Yankees, things probably would have worked out much better for him. At least one American League executive feels that way:

    “Sometimes, we ask for too much,” said the source, requesting anonymity. “Then, the smoke clears and you ask, ‘Where am I?’ And now, I can’t believe anybody is going to offer Damon more than the $14 million and $6 million the Yankees did.

    “If you turn them down for that, you deserve one year for $3 million or whatever he is going to get. In February, teams have got guys in place. My feeling is that now he is going to be lucky to get whatever he gets. It’s still supply and demand in this game. And Johnny’s arrow is in the middle or going down.”

    Hopefully other players learn from Damon’s mistake.