• Heartfelt Thanks And Happy Trails

    Posted by on June 9th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    I first came to know WasWatching late in the 2005 season: A-Rod was having an MVP campaign, the Yankees were in the midst of a furious September push to win their 10th consecutive AL East Division title and a playoff date with the Angels loomed on the horizon.

    Since that time – has it really been almost six years! – I’ve grown as a person and as a baseball fan.  I can unequivocally say that I know more about baseball today than I did when I first came to this site a half-decade ago and so it goes without saying that WasWatching has had a meaningful and positive impact on my life.

    More than any Yankee site on the internet, this place where I’ve spent innumerable hours (more than my employer would even care to know) fosters a community in the truest sense of the word.  It’s the only place that I can think of where the great majority of the commenters are both intelligent and friendly and the discussion rarely, if ever, devolves into a forum for inside jokes, snarky retorts and arrogant one-upmanship.  There may be bigger, more popular or more forward-thinking sites out there but no site is better at making a commenter feel at home.

    To wit: I’ve made a handful of “friends” on this site.  I use the term in quotes because, despite conversing with these individuals for several years, I’ve only met a scant few in person.  Despite that, I feel a genuine affection for these people and, thanks to things like Facebook and Twitter, I can actually interact with them in a non-baseball context as well.  I know about their jobs, their kids, their girlfriends and wives, the vacations they take, the food they like to eat and anything else one friend would share with another.  In short, it’s been wonderful having an outlet like WasWatching because it has expanded my appreciation and love for baseball and allowed me to share that passion with some truly fantastic people.

    Of course, none of this would be possible without the dedication of one person.  Thus, a special thank you goes to Steve for creating this site and, more importantly, for keeping it going through the various ups and downs in his personal and professional life.  He’s wanted to quit and close up shop more times than one can imagine but, deep down, it’s obvious that his passion for the Yankees and for this community is very real.  If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to type this message to you…

    Today is my last day as a member of the WasWatching community: I’ve decided to cease contributing and commenting.  The reasons for this decision aren’t terribly important to anyone else so there’s no reason for me to leave on a sour or down note.  I’d rather go out the way I came in: happy, optimistic, proud to be a Yankee fan.  The rest will just fade away over time.

    Thanks everyone, its been a blast.

    Joba Potentially Done For Season

    Posted by on June 9th, 2011 · Comments (20)

    According to @Ledger_Yankees (Newark Star-Ledger’s NYY-related Twitter feed), Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain has a torn ligament in his elbow and could be out for the remainder of the season.

    Update via Mark Feinsand

    Joba Chamberlain has a torn ligament in his right elbow and is likely headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery.

    Joe Girardi delivered the news shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday during his pregame press conference.

    Chamberlain was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a strained flexor tendon, but the Yankees sent him for a dye-contrast MRI exam on Thursday. The test revealed the ligament tear.

    Chamberlain has not reported any severe pain or problem, so the discovery of a tear was a surprise for the Yankees and the reliever. Surgery has not been set, as Girardi said he thought Chamberlain would visit orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.

    “I think he’s a little confused by it all,” Girardi said.

    Heathcott Brawls

    Posted by on May 14th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    (H/T Mike Ashmore)

    His time in AA might’ve been helpful but it certainly didn’t take away any of his rage.

    Yanks Talking Deal With Twins?

    Posted by on February 28th, 2011 · Comments (14)

    Who knows if this is true but it seems like the Yanks might be kicking the tires on Twins LHP Francisco Liriano.

    Liriano signed a one-year, $4.3M deal with the Twins earlier this month to avoid arbitration and has one more arbitration-eligible season left next year.  One would presume, then, that the Yankees would be trying to acquire Liriano with an eye towards signing him to a contract extension in advance of his free agency in 2013.

    Liriano’s injury history makes him a bit of a risky acquisition but this is the kind of move that could pay off for the Yankees.  If healthy, Liriano is one of the best pitchers in the game and would give the Yankees the rotation stability they missed out on when Cliff Lee opted to sign elsewhere.

    Without knowing the price Minnesota would demand it’s very hard to guage my own feelings here.  As long as it doesn’t cost the team Montero and Banuelos, I’m probably fine with any other combination of players being sent to Minnesota, even if Liriano’s injury history makes this a risky move.

    Yanks Brass Still Want Cashman

    Posted by on January 28th, 2011 · Comments (6)

    From a story on ESPN.com:

    Brian Cashman wants to stay, and the New York Yankees want him back.

    Steinbrenner offered his support.”I think Brian does a great job,” he said, according to the New York Post. “We need to sit and talk, but now is not the time for that.”

    Steinbrenner echoed comments team president Randy Levine made after the Rafael Soriano news conference two weeks ago.

    The team views Cashman as the best man for the job, but per club policy plans to wait until the end of the season before working on a new contract.  There also has been no clear evidence that Cashman is looking to leave.

    Steinbrenner told the Post that speculation about Cashman not being the GM after this season has been a “drummed-up drama.”

    Other than Cashman being overruled in the signing of new setup man Soriano, there has been no evidence that the Yankees’ hierarchy is unhappy with Cashman.  Even in the case of Soriano, Cashman and other executives admitted their disagreement, but didn’t indicate there were larger problems.

    We can choose to believe these words or simply write them off as spin and lip service.  The truth is, we just won’t know how this all plays out until the end of the season.  Nothing said today is written in stone, after all.  But it does somewhat dispel the notion that the Yankees and Cashman are currently in divorce mode.

    Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects

    Posted by on January 27th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    Hot off the presses this morning is Keith Law’s list of the top 100 prospects in baseball (subscription required).

    The highest ranking awarded to a member of the Yankee organization goes, predictably, to C Jesus Montero, who comes in at #4.  Also ranked among the top 100 were LHP Manny Banuelos (#12), C Gary Sanchez (#68), RHP Dellin Betances (#73) and RHP Andrew Brackman (#88).  Along with the rankings came the following comments (excerpted):

    On Montero: 

    We can all agree on one thing about Montero: He’s going to hit. And by that, I mean he’s going to hit for average, get on base and have huge power — the type of offensive profile that plays anywhere on the field and in the lineup. Montero is a physical beast, the rare front-foot hitter who can generate big-time power, reminiscent of Frank Thomas who was, himself, also a patient and disciplined hitter.

    With a bat this potentially strong, why risk injury or give up the 20-25 games a year when your catcher has to rest? Montero could solve the Yankees’ DH problem for the next 10 years if they commit to it, a move they are unlikely to ever regret.

    On Banuelos:

    Banuelos was on the prospect radar last year as a competitive, strike-throwing lefthander with a good changeup and a chance to add velocity. Now he’s a 19-year-old on the cusp of the majors with a three-pitch mix where all three pitches will at least flash above-average.

    He’ll start 2011 in Double-A, but even though he’s 19 he’s close to maxed out physically now, so he’s just a few refinements away from being able to help the big league club.

    On Sanchez:

    The Yankees are loaded with prospects who currently catch, and while they probably won’t all pan out at the position, it’s a good area in which to have a surplus. Sanchez is the furthest away, and has a chance to replace Jesus Montero at the top of the Yankees’ prospect rankings soon. The two are similar overall; Sanchez has a better chance to catch with a slightly lower ceiling at the plate. He’s going to be very physical, but has plenty of agility behind the plate with an above-average arm and quick release.

    There’s still a lot of projection involved in that evaluation, and he’s barely 18 years old at the moment, but his youth and distance from the majors are the only things keeping him out of the top echelon of this list.

    On Betances:

    Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, he’ll hit 96-97 and pitch in the low 90s, and has a solid-average changeup with both good arm speed and fade.He’s not a great athlete or fielder. He is also only 22 with just shy of 300 innings total in three-plus years in pro ball, so time is on his side for him to improve his feel or his body control or for the Yankees to continue refining his delivery. There’s No. 1 starter potential here, but the probability isn’t there yet.

    On Brackman:

    Brackman started out slow in 2010, but it was a steady build over the course of the year, with improvement each month, even with a midyear promotion to Double-A. His velocity and command steadily increased, and by the second half he was pretty close to where he was before originally hurting his elbow.

    He may be a bullpen guy, but at least now that’s his floor. A year ago the floor was more of a crawl space. And now the ceiling of an above-average starter is back in play.

    2010 was as good a year for the Yankee farm system as 2009 was rotten.  It will be interesting to see how these five players, along with the handful of others (Culver, Gumbs, Williams, Warren, Noesi, Romine, Heathcott, among others) fare in 2011.  Another year like 2010 and the Yankees could legitimately stake a claim to having one of the deepest systems in baseball.

    This Day In Yankee History

    Posted by on January 25th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    According to my little desktop baseball calendar, today marks the 66th anniversary of Larry MacPhail, Dan Topping and Del Webb’s purchase of the New York Yankees from the estate of Col. Jacob Ruppert for $2.5M.

    As Steve posited yesterday, the MacPhail/Topping/Webb ownership group presided over one of the best eras in Yankee history.

    It’s remarkable to think that the most valuable team in American sports was once sold for $2.5M (or, 28 years later, for $10M).

    Yankees Sign RHP Rafael Soriano To Provisional 3Y/$35M Contract

    Posted by on January 13th, 2011 · Comments (55)

    Well, so much for Brian Cashman saying that he wouldn’t give up the team’s first round draft pick, huh?  In a somewhat stunning — and in my opinion utterly idiotic  — decision, the Yankees have signed Rafael Soriano to a three year, $35 million dollar deal to set up Mariano Rivera.  The deal, apparently, has a provisional clause that gives Soriano the right to opt out in each of the first two years.  Presumably a good season by Soriano and he’ll seek to resume his closing duties on another team next year.  Perhaps this is the only saving grace here; the Yankees may well be rid of this absurdly wasteful contract in just one calendar year…

    Perhaps this move means that the Yankees have reconsidered Joba Chamberlain’s future with the club.  Either he’s about to be traded or he’s about to be re-inserted into the rotation.  Only the former would satisfy me.  The latter…ugh, I’d rather not even think about it.

    For those that deem me a blatant Cashman apologist, take heed and remember this post.  I hate this move and I simply don’t see the logic behind it.  This is the Nick Johnson decision multiplied seven-fold.  I just hope it doesn’t suck seven times as much too.

    Update 9:57 p.m.: According to this Tweet from Tyler Kepner, the value of the contract depends on if Soriano exercises his options.  If he should opt out after the first year, he earns $11.5M.  If he should opt out after the second year, he earns $21.5M.  Obviously he earns the full $35M if he stays the full three years.

    As I said above, the hope here is that Soriano is lights out in 2011 and can find a closer’s job on another team, saving the Yankees the unearned $23.5M portion of the contract.  Theoretically, the Yankees could offer Soriano arbitration and recoup the lost draft picks although precedent shows that Cashman likely won’t go that route.

    Jim Callis Likes Yankees Farm System

    Posted by on December 30th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    It was just a little Tweet last night from Baseball America’s Jim Callis but it still resonates with me.  In Callis’s opinion, the Yankees have the 6th best farm system in baseball.

    Not too shabby.

    Sabathia To Food: I’ll Pass

    Posted by on December 23rd, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Buried in this story about CC Sabathia’s charity work in his hometown is a little tidbit that should please all Yankee fans:

    Sabathia has lost 15 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame through a tough offseason training program of cardiovascular workouts and weight training. His knee recovered in just less than a month after the procedure, so he is well into his full exercise program and playing light catch.

    He hopes to lose an additional 15 pounds before the season starts.”I’m turning 30 this year, getting a little older,” he said, chuckling.

    “Hopefully it will take some pressure off my knee and extend my career.”

    As much as Sabathia’s hefty waistline hasn’t impacted his ability to be an absolutely dominating pitcher, it’s still not a bad thing to see him taking his fitness level a little more seriously.  And, certainly, the idea that as he ages, less weight on his body will tax his knees and back less is a sound one.  Considering the Yankees are committed to Sabathia for another five seasons (assuming he doesn’t opt out after this season), I’m happy to hear that Sabathia is doing whatever he can to make sure he’s in peak shape for the future.

    Now, if only someone could convince Sucky McWhale Joba Chamberlain of the same thing…

    John Sickels: Yankees Top 20 Prospects

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

    Prospect watcher John Sickels released a preliminary version of his top-20 Yanks list (the official version goes into his annual publication).  I more or less agree with the rankings and the grades Sickels gave, although I’d probably make a few minor adjustments of a more subjective nature.

    Prospects 1-5: Jesus Montero (C), Gary Sanchez (C), Dellin Betances (RHP), Manny Banuelos (LHP), Hector Noesi (RHP)
    Prospects 6-10: Andrew Brackman (RHP), Ivan Nova (RHP), Austin Romine (C), Slade Heathcott (OF), Adam Warren (RHP)
    Prospects 11-15: Graham Stoneburner (RHP), David Phelps (RHP), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), David Adams (2B)
    Prospects 16-20: J.R. Murphy (C), Corban Joseph (2B), Cito Culver (SS), Brett Marshall (RHP), Jose A. Ramirez (RHP)

    Honorable Mention: Angelo Gumbs (OF), Sean Black (RHP), Kelvin De Leon (OF), Gabe Encinas (RHP), Robert Fish (LHP), Ramon Flores (OF), Ben Gamel (OF), Shaeffer Hall (LHP), Tommy Kahnle (RHP), Melky Mesa (OF), Bryan Mitchell (RHP), D.J. Mitchell (RHP), Evan Rutckyj (LHP), Rob Segedin (3B), Dan Turpen (RHP), Chase Whitley (RHP), Mason Williams (OF)

    Sickels’s thoughts (abridged, and with my own emphasis)-

    This system has two excellent hitters at the top, but thins out quickly in position players with impact potential after that. The pitching is quite rich; I count eight guys with the ability to hold rotation spots at the major league level, including a couple of potential anchors, and there are more arms behind them… Overall…it is a system that has a lot going for it, and if some of the sleepers from the ’10 draft pan out it can look even better next year.

    My quibbles on prospect-ranking in general have always been about striking the proper balance between a player’s upside and the likelihood that a player reaches his full potential.  In other words, in a case of two prospects where the first is what he is and has very little room to grow (and is a solid but unspectacular player), how do you compare him to a second player who could far surpass the first if he hits his ceiling?  Who is more valuable?

    In my mind, I always lean towards the high-ceiling guys over the known commodities.  Not that there isn’t value to be derived from the devil you know (to use the expression), but, when it comes to prospects, hitting the homerun is not only more gratifying but imminently more valuable.

    Frankie Piliere: Yanks Should Consider Youth

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Former MLB scout and current AOL Fanhouse writer Frankie Piliere thinks the Yanks — should they be so inclined — could fill some holes from within their own organization.  Below are some of the highlights of the piece (with my own emphasis added in bold type):

    On New York’s minor league depth-

    If any organization other than the Yankees was looking at themselves in the mirror right about now, and they had the Yankees’ talent even minus Cliff Lee, they’d like what they saw…in terms of organizational health New York is just about as strong and as flush with talent in its minor league system as any team in the game.

    On Jesus Montero-

     Jesus Montero is clearly one of baseball’s elite prospects and arguably the best hitter in the minor leagues. Barring a disastrous spring training, he’s also proven himself ready to take his hacks in the major leagues. Despite recurring reports of his defensive problems, Montero is at a stage where he can handle himself as a big-league catcher…the idea of him being simply unable to catch at the next level is one that is still vastly overblown.  As I’ve stressed numerous times over the last year, like many elite big-league sluggers, if he reaches his ceiling as an offensive force he’ll never be known for his defense.

    I’ve had the pleasure of scouting Montero at each level of the minor-league ladder during his development, and the worries about his defense aren’t unwarranted. But, they were much more warranted two years ago, and even more so the year before…I still saw a lot of inconsistencies in Montero’s game behind the plate, but it was nothing that I don’t see from time to time from mediocre defensive catchers at the major league level…The bottom line is that there is a big difference between having defensive deficiencies and not being able to play the position at all. Montero is ready to play catcher in 2011, and the more I’ve seen from him, the more confident I’ve become of that fact.

    On New York’s young pitching-

    In the starting pitching department, the only safe bets you can make beyond 2011 are CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Surely New York could try to buy pitchers to fill those rotation spots, but the reality is they may not have to.  The trio of Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Joba Chamberlain in the rotation not so long ago didn’t work out, but the truth is that two of those three are now solid big-league starters.

    When the time comes can New York be patient enough to work guys like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or perhaps even Andrew Brackman into its rotation?  When that time comes will the Yankees take a similar approach as they did at catcher this year and go get a safety net like [Russell] Martin at another position that could keep a promising player in Triple-A?  Age is coming for the core of the Yankees’ roster, and there is no denying that. It has long been a part of the equation for them, but never like it is now in the heart of their team.  The starting rotation clearly needs replenishing too.  Again, though, given their minor-league depth, the prospect of having to retool the roster shouldn’t be all that scary.

    His recommendation-

    What the age in their core may require them to do is take a leap of faith.  They don’t appear ready to take the full plunge with Montero, but eventually they may not have a choice.  Now that they are without Cliff Lee, it only makes it more prudent to plan on making use of all this young talent…In other words, the future of the Yankees is safe, but only if it’s handled correctly and given a real chance to blossom.  How much of a chance Montero really gets at that starting catching job in 2011 will tell us just how willing the Yankees are to embrace their youth.

    I’d more or less agree with all of those thoughts.  Although I’ve long believed that Montero was always the team’s best trade chip and that his future utility to the Yankees was what he could bring in return (as opposed to what he could do here for the Yankees), I concede that there’s no sense trading Montero if the Yankees can’t extract an elite player in return.  So, as long as Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Justin Verlander or Jon Lester aren’t available, then Montero shouldn’t be either.

    Baseball America’s “Just-Missed Top 10 Prospect All-Stars”

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

    Baseball America has completed its review of the top-10 prospects for each of the 14 teams in the American League and has now released a list of the 10 best players that just missed the cut.  However, it isn’t just a list of the 11th player for each team (regardless of position) but an actual, around-the-diamond look at the best 11 players* left off their team’s respective top-10 lists.

    Of the 11 players on this list, eight came from the ultra-competitive AL East.  Here is the list, including the blurb for the lone Yankee selection, RHP Brett Marshall:

    Luke Bailey, C, Tampa Bay Rays
    Lars Anderson, 1B, Boston Red Sox
    Oscar Tejada, 2B, Boston Red Sox
    Chelsor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals
    Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
    Eric Thames, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
    Eddie Rosario, CF, Minnesota Twins
    Kolbrin Vitek, OF, Boston Red Sox
    Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
    Brett Marshall, RHP, New York Yankees
    Tim Collins, RP, Kansas City Royals

    Brett Marshall, rhp, Yankees: Marshall blew out his elbow in his first full pro season in 2009, but Tommy John surgery has restored his fastball. He has a very lively 89-94 mph two-seamer and a four-seamer that reaches 97. His slider and changeup are coming along nicely.

    I have a bit of an issue with this list, considering, for example, that Kolbrin Vitek played all 68 of his minor league games at 3B last year.  It’s hard for me to see how Vitek is considered one of the best OF prospects in an AL organizaton when he’s never even played there.

    *Subscription required.

    Yanks To Sweeten Pot For Jeter?

    Posted by on December 3rd, 2010 · Comments (10)

    I’ve seen this story (courtesy of Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times) reported across a handful of media outlets which says, basically, that the Yankees will increase their initial offer to Derek Jeter from 3Y/$45M to something in the neighborhood of 3Y/$51M with an option for a fourth year or a $6M buyout (thus turning it into a 3Y/$57M deal).

    I stand by my original feeling that 3Y/$45M was more than fair, especially given that the lower end of the market has been defined as roughly $7M/season for comparable players in age and 2010 performance.  The Yankees have no competition for Jeter at 3Y/$45M and thus they maintain the majority of the leverage in these negotiations.  Why, they, do they feel the need to bid against themselves for an additional $12M in total compensation?  While I applaud them for holding firm on three years (with a fourth year option which they can decline), I don’t see the value in giving Jeter more money.

    In any case, $12M more over three years is really nothing to get terribly upset about.  I hope the Yankees’ generosity ends at 3Y/$57M (inclusive of the fourth year buyout) and that Jeter comes to his senses about what his true market worth is.  The next move must be made by the player.

    Separately, the final paragraph from the above-referenced NY Times article struck me as peculiar:

    For now, the Jeter stalemate has proven to be a significant distraction for the Yankees just as they prepare to intensify their efforts to lure the free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee to the Bronx with a lavish multiyear deal.

    I’d like to know where Michael S. Schmidt is getting his information from.  What gives him the impression that the Jeter negotiations are proving to be a distraction to any potential deal with Cliff Lee?  Unless this is something he has observed personally or has been apprised of directly from a member of the Yankees front office, I’d say this is ridiculous.  Cliff Lee’s agent has made it publicly known that he doesn’t want to entertain contract offers until the start of the Winter Meetings next week.  Thus, I find Schmidt’s contention that the Jeter negotiations are distracting the Yankees from the Cliff Lee situation to be disingenuous.

    Why Do I Love Mo? Let Me Count The (Two) Ways…

    Posted by on December 3rd, 2010 · Comments (3)

    If this report is to be believed, both the Red Sox and Angels tried to “steal” Mo Rivera away by offering him a third year.

    Given the problems in Boston’s and Anaheim’s bullpen in 2010, I can’t say I blame them.  I’m just happy #42 is staying in New York and told those two teams where to stick their extra year.

    Comparison Shopping

    Posted by on December 1st, 2010 · Comments (9)

    During this, the prime holiday shopping season, consumers are constantly bombarded with special offers, markdowns and deals meant to induce the consumer to part with his or her money.  The Hot Stove League is no different.  For example:

    Player ASS
    156 G, 636 AB, 15 HR, 71 R, 71 RBI, 2 SB (0 CS), .269/.312/.381/.692 (90 OPS+), 1.8 WAR (1.2 oWAR/0.6 dWAR)

    Player BSS
    157 G, 663 AB, 10 HR, 111 R, 67 RBI, 18 SB (5 CS), .270/.340/.370/.710 (95 OPS+), 1.3 WAR (2.4 oWAR/-1.1 dWAR)

    Player CSS
    148 G, 521 AB, 24 HR, 64 R, 85 RBI, 1 SB (2 CS), .248/.310/.440/.749 (99 OPS+), 2.0 WAR (1.8 oWAR/0.2 dWAR)

    Player A is feeble offensively but is an average defensive player.  Player B, by contrast, offers much more on offense but his overall value is eroded somewhat by below-average defense.  Player C provided the most overall value to his team by being an average defensive player and providing value at the plate as well.

    Player A just signed a one-year, $6.5M contract and Player C just signed a three-year, $21M contract.  Player A and Player B are the same age and Player C is five years younger than the other two.

    We all know who these three players are (A=Miguel Tejada/B=Derek Jeter/C=Juan Uribe).  If $6.5M and $21M, respectively, get deals done for two comparable players, what makes Derek Jeter think he’s entitled to more than 3Y/$45M?  Legacy, history, captaincy and any other word ending in “y” aside, the market has been set.

    Jeter would be generously overpaid at $15M per season so he just needs to sign on the dotted line and move on with his life.  More years and more money shouldn’t happen.  Period.

    SS Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Close To Seven-Year Extension

    Posted by on November 30th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    According to ESPN.com, All-Star shorstop Troy Tulowitzki is close to signing a seven-year, $134M contract extension with the Colorado Rockies.  This contract extension would start in 2014 and be tacked onto his already-existing contract which expires at the end of the 2013 season.

    Why is this significant?  Because as a younger player (Tulo turned 26 in early October) in the prime of his career, this contract extension should create further downward leverage on Derek Jeter’s contract demands.  The average annual value of Tulowitzki’s contract extension in Colorado is worth $19.1M.  Even if you add the $23.75M remaining on Tulowitzki’s original contract with the $134M offer and divide the total outstanding financial commitment ($157.7M) by the number of years he will remain in Denver, the Rockies’ remaining average annual obligation is $15.7M.

    Given Jeter’s age and the mounting evidence of his decline, it’s hard to imagine why the Yankees should feel the need to pay him more than $15M per season if the best young player at the position won’t be earning even $1M more, on average, over the next ten seasons.  At most, the Yankees could offer Jeter $16M to keep him as the game’s highest-paid shortstop over the life of the contract even if the truth is that Tulowitzki won’t earn more than $10M in any one season before his monster extension kicks in after 2013.

    Legacy is nice and lifetime achievements are wonderful.  But the Rockies — no big spenders — just set the market for what elite shortstops should be making right now.  Jeter is no longer an elite shorstop and certainly doesn’t project to be in the future.  Now, more than ever, the 3Y/$45M contract offer to Jeter looks like an appropriate offer.  I could understand some flexibility on the dollars, perhaps up to $16M or $17M annually.  But Jeter should stop dreaming if he sees more than three years $20M annual salaries out there for him.

    Baseball America Scouts RHP Scottie Allen

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

    Following up on Steve’s post about the Juan Miranda trade, here is a brief scouting run-down on who the Yankees acquired from Arizona (courtesy of Baseball America):

    Scottie Allen, RHP
    Age: 19
    Born: July 3, 1991 in Lyman, Calif.
    Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Bats: R. Throws: R.
    School: Lyman HS, Longwood, Fla.
    Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in 11th round of 2009 draft; signed June 19, 2009 ($125,000 signing bonus).

    Allen throws four pitches, three of which grade as average at times, but lacks the one dominating offering to put batters away. He sinks his fastball at 87-91 mph and occasionally breaks out a swing-and-miss slider in the high 70s or a changeup in the same range. His curveball is less refined, but he’s around the zone with it and all his pitches. Wiry strong, Allen has a quick arm, but he tends to tire visibly by the fourth inning. Still, he’s worth taking a flier on because he’s a teenager who already shows a feel for pitching.

    Allen may be a long way from the big leagues, that’s for sure.  I guess we’ll find out over the next two or three years if the Yanks can squeeze a little juice out of this kid.

    ESPN New York: Jeter, Yanks “At Odds”

    Posted by on November 18th, 2010 · Comments (15)

    As the headline to this post states, apparently one source* claims that the Yankees and free agent shortstop Derek Jeter are at odds over the length of any future contract between the two sides.

    ORLANDO, Fla. — The New York Yankees would be happy to get Derek Jeter to agree to a three-year contract for $21 million a year, according to a source who has ties to both the team and the player.

    But Jeter, the source said, wants at least a four-year deal, preferably five or six. According to the source, there is at least one voice inside the Yankees’ hierarchy urging the front office to play hard ball with Jeter.

    “Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it,” the person taking the hard-line approach said. “Wait him out and he’ll wind up taking it. Where’s he gonna go, Cincinnati?”

    But according to the source, the Yankees are fearful of fan backlash and a public relations nightmare if they let Jeter go.

    If this report is to be believed — that the Yankees are offering Derek Jeter 3Y/$63M contract — no one could accuse the Yankees of not honoring Jeter’s legacy.  $21M per season would represent the same salary that Jeter played for in 2010 and the length of the contract would mean that he would be 39 years old at the deal’s expiration date in 2013.

    Although $63M is a lot of scratch to commit to a player that may be in steep decline, it is certainly a good faith offer.  If I’m the Yankees, I have a clear conscience.  Should Jeter want to try for more years in another market, that’ll be his prerogative.  The Yankees shouldn’t have any reason to fear fan backlash, provided that sensible people think objectively about what this contract offer truly represents.

    In any case, good luck to Jeter if he thinks he can get more than three years from a team outside of the 10451 zip code.

    *For the record, I hate any story that relies on “a source” but doesn’t provide more insight on the credibility of that source.  In an era where reporters seem to churn out fabricated stories in order to sell papers, the likelihood that this story is legit is somewhere in the “maybe” range in my book.

    Why November 18th Stinks

    Posted by on November 18th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    So I get to my desk and I flip the little baseball calendar to today’s date, Thursday, November 18th.  At the very bottom I notice today’s birthdays:

    David Ortiz
    Gary Sheffield
    Tom Gordon

    Yuck.  Three guys I just absolutely detest.  Today stinks.  I hope all three find maggots in their birthday cake.

    Cliff Lee To Yankees: The Deal That Wasn’t

    Posted by on October 26th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Courtesy of a link shared by Rob Neyer of ESPN.com on his SweetSpot blog, we have access to one journalist’s take on the behind-the-scenes dealings between Seattle and New York in the failed Cliff Lee negotiations.

    According to this writer’s blog, once the Mariners decided that a Jesus Montero/David Adams trade wouldn’t work because of Adams’s broken foot, they amended their request and asked Cashman to substitute the injured Adams for either Eduardo Nunez or Ivan Nova.

    Any time you read a story in a newspaper — especially one that is of a revelatory nature — you always have to consider the source and the motivation behind the revelations. I mention this because this particular journalist (Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times) got into a very public dispute with the Mariners over the summer surrounding the aftermath of the Cliff Lee trade.  Specifically, the dispute was over claims made by the Mariners front office about what they knew (and when they found out) about the legal issues of one of the Rangers’ pitchers’ acquired in the Lee deal*.

    For that reason, I urge a degree of caution before jumping to the conclusions that some may jump to in reading this story.  While on its face it might seem like Brian Cashman walked away from a potential deal for Cliff Lee because he balked at including either Nunez or Nova into the deal, the truth is we just don’t know for certain.  Considering Geoff Baker’s history with the M’s organization over the whole Cliff Lee deal, it’s hard to know for sure what is true and what isn’t, or, more importantly, what is written to embarrass the disputing parties and what is written to report hard evidence.

    That being said, assuming the report is to be taken at face value, I’m not pleased.  If given the choice between Jesus Montero —  a hitting stud without a true defensive position — for the next several years or Cliff Lee for the remainder of the 2010 season (and the inside track to resigning him) I know what I would’ve done.  That’s not to discount the impact that Jesus Montero may have in the big leagues.  It’s more a reflection of my opinion on Ivan Nova and the limited utility I see from him as a member of the Yankees.  I’d never let Ivan Nova (or Eduardo Nunez) stand in the way of acquiring Cliff Lee, even at the high cost of trading Montero out of the system.

    *An excellent synopsis of the whole Geoff Baker-Mariners dispute can be found on Dave Cameron’s U.S.S. Mariner blog.

    AzFL Notes: Brandon Laird

    Posted by on October 25th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    A nice little puff-piece about Yankees 3B/OF prospect Brandon Laird, courtesy of Baseball America.

    The more positions this kid learns, the better.  He’ll start 2011 in Triple-A and will either see time at the big league level on a replacement basis or he’ll be a trade chip for bench/bullpen help around the July trading deadline.  Realistically, Laird has next to no shot of ever logging time as a regular in New York.  His best value to the Yankees is for his bat to be coveted by another team that wants a young, cost-controlled hitter.

    General Joe: Chamberlain A “Bullpen Guy”

    Posted by on October 25th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    It’s a throw-away line at the bottom of this story and I wasn’t able to confirm it via video of today’s postmortem press conference held at Yankee Stadium but it appears as though the Yankees have decided that RHP Joba Chamberlain is better suited to the bullpen long term.

    I spent all of last winter arguing that the Yankees needed to send Chamberlain down to the minor leagues to do with him what the Red Sox did with Clay Buchholz in the first half of 2009.  Instead, the Yankees essentially rigged the competition for fifth starter by giving Phil Hughes the job and returning Chamberlain to the bullpen.  Much was made of Chamberlain’s spectacular failures in relief this year and, by all accounts, it appears that the organization has lost faith in #62, not only as a starter but as a high-leverage late inning reliever.

    I expect this is the first move that sets in motion a plan towards eventually trading Chamberlain to a team with an unaffordable asset that the Yankees covet.

    As an unabashed critic of Chamberlain’s, I can’t say I disagree with this decision.  If the team is not committed to returning him to the rotation and if Chamberlain himself is unwilling or unable to make the adjustments required of an MLB-level starting pitcher, the Yanks are left with few options.  If they can get something for him, the Yanks should trade Chamberlain.

    Dave Eiland Fired

    Posted by on October 25th, 2010 · Comments (17)

    Apparently the scapegoat for the 2010 ALCS defeat was Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland.  GM Brian Cashman sacked him today and, although I’m sure there was some rationale for the move, none was offered.

    I’m curious who will be tapped to replace Eiland.  Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred might be one replacement.

    Thanks For Playing

    Posted by on October 22nd, 2010 · Comments (0)

    The Rangers are now 12 outs from their first-ever American League pennant, thanks to a fat pitch from Phil Hughes to Vlad Guerrero and, then, (predictably), Girardi’s quick hook leading to Dave Robertson’s ineffectiveness once again.

    This game, and the series, isn’t over.  But it really is remarkable how Girardi seems to have the bizarro-Midas Touch working on all cylinders.  There is literally not a single move this guy can make right now that works out.  Some of it is the fault of his players not executing but some of it really just is him not knowing what to do.

    I suppose it wouldn’t all be so dire if the Yankee offense hadn’t gone on vacation sometime in late August…

    AzFL Notes

    Posted by on October 21st, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Courtesy of Keith Law over at the Worldwide Leader*:

    Yankees pitcher Craig Heyer has posted some otherworldly walk rates the last two years in the minors — walking eight batters unintentionally in 72 innings last year, then beating that by walking six in 92 innings this year — and he’s not just doing it with below-average stuff. Heyer throws a heavy fastball at 90-92 from a slot just below three-quarters, generating a lot of ground balls, and he works quickly to try to keep hitters off-balance. His slider was fringy at 83-84 with a tendency to get long and sweepy, which can be a problem for pitchers with lower arm slots, but if he can tighten that up, he’s a valuable relief prospect, but would need a third pitch to use against lefties if he’s going to end up a starter. (Interesting notes on Heyer’s walk rate: He didn’t walk a single batter in 28 relief innings, and his first walk of the year came in his third start of the year, on July 15. And half of his walks for the season came in one game.)

    For those that don’t know of Craig Heyer, he’s a righty that spent the 2010 season at High-A Tampa in the Florida State League.  He’s old (25) to be a college pitcher still pitching in A-level ball but, as K-Law reports, no matter how old he is, that kind of control and stuff can lead to effective innings as a ground ball-inducing relief pitcher.  Thus far in the Arizona Fall League, Heyer’s gone 4 3 1 1 0 1.  Hopefully he’s a fast mover next year and shows up on the major league radar for bullpen duty in early 2012.

    *Subscription required.

    October 20th vs. The Rangers

    Posted by on October 20th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    The Yankees stayed alive until at least Friday with their 7-2 win over the Rangers.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch the first five innings as work and the evening commute interfered with my enjoyment of the first half of the game.

    Based only on the boxscore, however, I see that the Yankees still failed to drive in runs with men on base, going 2-for-11 with RISP and extending their ALCS RISP futility to a woeful 8-for-50.  Beyond that, Sabathia labored through 112 pitches in six innings of work.  He pitched well enough to win (6 11 2 2 0 7) but still wasn’t his old dominant self.

    The series continues in Texas with a rematch of Game 2 starters Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis.  Hopefully Hughes is able to better contain the Rangers offense this time around.

    Baseball America Issues Draft Report Card

    Posted by on October 20th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Baseball America’s draft report card for the Yankees 2010 Rule IV draft can be found here.*  The rundown is as follows:

    Position Players:
    Best Pure Hitter:  Ben Gamel, OF (Bishop Kenny HS, Jacksonville, FL)
    Best Power Hitter:  Rob Segedin, 3B (Tulane University) and Kyle Roller, 1B (East Carolina University)
    Fastest Runner:  Mason Williams, OF (West Orange HS, Winter Garden, FL)
    Best Defensive Player:  Cito Culver, SS (Irondequoit HS, Rochester, NY)

    Best Fastball:  Tommy Kahnle, RHP (Lynn (FL) University) and Conor Mullee (St. Peter’s (NJ) College)
    Best Secondary Pitch:  Chase Whitley, RHP (Troy (AL) University)

    Odds & Ends:
    Best Pro Debut:  Chase Whitley, Cito Culver and Zach Varce, RHP (University of Portland (OR))
    Best Athlete:  Angelo Gumbs, SS/OF (Torrance HS, Torrance, CA)
    Most Intriguing Background: Ben Gamel
    Closest To The Majors:  Tommy Kahnle and Chase Whitley
    Best Late Round Pick:  Chase Whitley and Conor Mullee
    One That Got Away:  Josh Dezse, RHP (Olentangy Liberty HS, Powell, OH).  Dezse was the Yankees 28th round selection (865th overall) and could not be bought out of his commitment to Ohio State.  According to Baseball America, he was touching 95 on the radar gun this past summer.

    At this point, we all know the Yankees chose to spread their $6.7M in bonus money across 14 players and 30 rounds.  As such, they Yankees went after young, raw athletes and lesser-known talents.  The return on investment may not be apparent for several years (if at all) but, at the very least, the team should be applauded for taking chances on players who may be able to infuse the system with a jolt of athleticism that has been sorely lacking over the past few years.

    Also, for a look at last year’s draft report card, click here.

    *Subscription required.

    October 19th vs. The Rangers

    Posted by on October 20th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Did I say “Yankees in 6?”  I clearly meant “Yankees in 7.”  Because, after last night’s 10-3 drubbing, the Yankees can only advance to the World Series by winning Games 5, 6 and 7.

    The sentiment around Yankee-land is that, once again, AJ Burnett let Yankee fans down.  I disagree.  AJ Burnett (6 6 5 5 3 4) pitched a credible game and certainly better than anyone could’ve expected after a 16-day furlough on the bench.  Instead of laying this loss at Burnett’s feet, I blame the Yankee lineup which, once again, was inept.  With a 2-for-13 performance with runners in scoring position (6-for-39 thus far in the ALCS (.154 AVG)), the Yankees squandered their most favorable pitching matchup by not beating up on the hittable Tommy Hunter.

    What more can be said beyond that?  The offense didn’t show up last night, as they have not shown up all series.  Bullpen implosions the past two nights notwithstanding, the Yankees can’t win a pennant when Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are held to a collective 2-for-29 through four games.

    A special mention to Yankees skipper Joe Girardi.  He’s had a lousy two months on the job, first schizo-managing the Yankees down the stretch (“we’re playing to win…no, we’re not…yes we are!”) and then, last night, leaving Burnett in when going to a relief pitcher would’ve made more sense.  It was clear that Burnett was tiring yet, somehow, Girardi failed to understand that losing the lead in the sixth inning of the second most important game of the season would not be a good thing.  One pitch into Bengie Molina’s at bat, the worst happened.

    Finally, a speedy recovery wish to injured first baseman Mark Teixeira, who strained his hamstring while running out a grounder in the fifth inning.  Hopefully he recovers around mid-May, so as to avoid the usual early-season troubles that plague him.  His April and October disappearing acts have grown tedious so, frankly, an “out of sight, out of mind” status will help me cope with my growing disaffection for Mr. Ed.

    CC Sabathia vs. C.J. Wilson in a rematch of Game 1 this afternoon at 4pm.  Perhaps Sabathia extends the season. Perhaps not.  In the end, it’ll be the offense that decides this game.  Hopefully ours, not theirs.

    October 18th vs. The Rangers

    Posted by on October 19th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    The moment Josh Hamilton hit his two-run homer into the RF corner, I knew this game was over.  Yes, it was only the first inning.  Yes, I had confidence than Andy Pettitte would hold the Rangers down the rest of the way.  Those things never concerned me.  What concerned me was knowing that the Yankee offense — inconsistent as it’s been through 167 games thus far — was facing the best pitcher in the American League.

    Sure enough, Cliff Lee (8 2 0 0 1 13) was utterly dominant last night and the Rangers made the 2-0 first inning lead stand.  Six tack-on runs in the ninth inning made this game a laugher but, by then, the game had already been decided.  In a masterful performance — one that might be his last game at Yankee Stadium — Andy Pettitte (7 5 2 2 0 5) showed us once again why he’s been such a special pitcher for the Yankees ballclub.

    Listening to the fans chanting “An-dy Pett-itte” in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings brought back memories of the “Paul O’Neill” chants in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, when fans knew O’Neill would retire at season’s end.  It’s a sobering thought, knowing that such a dependable and vital part of the team may be wrapping up a very good career.  If it was truly the end for Andy at Yankee Stadium, I’m only sorry the team couldn’t send him out with his 19th playoff win.

    There’s not much more to say at this point.  Either AJ Burnett and the offense do their jobs tonight or they don’t.  The Yankees chances for winning this series are minimal at this point but miracles can happen from time to time.  Perhaps tonight is the night for the first of a few more miracles for the 2010 Yanks.

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