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11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:11PM #1
Posts: 66,015
I'll try to keep this thread as updated as I can thru the offseason until opening day 2012.  Please feel free to copy any articles for a discussion thread, or to post any comments or articles. 
"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:14PM #2
Posts: 66,015

Time to move forward

The weekend has come and gone, the ALCS has started, and it seems time for the Yankees to move on.

It’s rare that a team makes too much noise before the end of the  World Series, but the Yankees will at least begin the process of moving  forward when Joe Girardi holds his end-of-the-season press conference  tomorrow. Girardi has already received a vote of confidence from his  general manager.

“I thought he did a great job, I really did,” Brian Cashman said. “I  thought Joe did a great job. This team, I don’t think by anybody —  including myself — was picked to have the best record in the A.L. And we  didn’t really change that roster much at all, other than promotions. We  found a way to slot people in and make them believe in themselves. Like  (in Game 5), unfortunate circumstance with Nova, and every time we  opened that bullion door, guys found a way to hold it. There wasn’t  really much of an opportunity for him to do much other managing than  mixing and matching throughout the day.”

If the Yankees are going to make any real news this week, it’s likely  to include Cashman himself. His contract doesn’t expire until the end  of the month, but Buster Olney has already reported that Cashman and the Yankees are working toward a new deal that could be finalized before the end of the week.

“I promise the owners will continue to put that effort forth to find a  way to put us in a position to have success in October,” Cashman said.  “I don’t want to be talking about the failure side of it at all, but  that’s what we have to do.”

Associated Press photo


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:15PM #3
Posts: 66,015

Moving forward: The rotation

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Oct 10, 2011

Brian Cashman calls it the “key the kingdom,” and the game treats it  as such. Starting pitching is the highest commodity in baseball these  days, and the Yankees have made it a priority ever since the winter of  2008 when they signed CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, essentially setting  the stage for the 2009 World Series.

It was a priority again last season, and it will be a priority again this winter.

That priority starts with Sabathia. If he opts out, as he’s expected  to do, the Yankees will lose their ace. The top starter on the free  agent market is C.J. Wilson, who’s been awfully good these past two  years in Texas, but that’s the extent of his rotation experience.  Sabathia is a proven commodity, even with his so-so last two months of  the regular season.

Beyond Sabathia, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil  Hughes returning. They also have Hector Noesi and a series of young,  minor league starters who could compete for spots.

Otherwise, the Yankees have to choose their targets and decide who rounds out the group.

Freddy Garcia opened some eyes this season, and he could be worth a  return trip the Bronx. Bartolo Colon’s second half should raise some red  flags, but he certainly gave the Yankees more than they could have  expected. It’s probably safe to say Brian Gordon’s time has come and  gone.

Is Wilson just the guy to bring some left-handed balance, and a  reliable No. 2 behind Sabathia? Is someone like Edwin Jackson worth a  middle-rotation spot? Is someone like Rich Harden worth the health risk?  Is there a pitcher on the trade market who’s worth dangling Jesus  Montero?

Moving forward means answering those questions, but first things  first, it means resolving the Sabathia issue and giving the team a  legitimate No. 1.

Associated Press photo


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:17PM #4
Posts: 66,015

Moving forward: The bullpen

Rafael Soriano is already making closer money, his numbers are down,  and he’s coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him dumped from  the eighth inning to the seventh. Hard to imagine him opting out after a  year like that.

Mariano Rivera has one more year on his contract, Dave Robertson has  emerged as an all-star and Joba Chamberlain is ahead of schedule in his  recovery from Tommy John surgery.

The key pieces of the Yankees 2012 bullpen are already in place. What’s left is rounding out the edges.

Left-handed relief: Boone Logan is due for an  arbitration raise. Despite a down year overall, he went through a  terrific stretch in the middle, and the Yankees seem likely to bring him  back. I’m not sure his inconsistencies have been any worse than most  lefty specialists, and the Yankees have learned the hard way that  left-handed reliever is not the easiest spot to fill. Pedro Feliciano is  likely a complete bust, and the Yankees should easily turn down Damaso  Marte’s option. They could, once again, go looking for a second  left-hander.

Middle relief: Two low-profile additions gave the  Yankees a big boost in the middle innings this season. Cory Wade is  certainly worth bringing back for a second look, and the Yankees might  have sen enough of Luis Ayala to be curious about what he can do next  season. Middle relievers will surely come and go in the course of the  season, but Wade in particular is an intriguing option going forward.

Long relief: This was Bartolo Colon’s job out of  spring training, then he moved to the bullpen and the Yankees eventually  settled on Hector Noesi as their true long man. Noesi has value as a  potential starter, but he also seemed thrive in this spot and could  certainly return to it next season. George Kontos is also worth a look  here, and all of that Triple-A rotation depth means the Yankees have no  shortage of young pitchers capable of throwing multiple innings. The  system is more than ready to fill this role without the need for another  Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin signing.

Associated Press photo


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:18PM #5
Posts: 66,015

Sabathia: “I love NYC”

If  CC Sabathia’s planning to play hardball with the Yankees, he’s not  doing a very good job hiding his love of New York. Just a few minutes  ago, the Yankees ace posted a new Twitter message:

Missing the Bronx already,my daughter just asked me “can we go to Yankee game” I love NYC

The Tweet seems to have been a direct response to a typically terrific story from Ken Davidoff showing exactly how committed CC and his wife Amber have been since purchasing a house just outside of the city.

Sabathia might very well opt out, but given the Yankees focus on  pitching and Sabathia’s love for New York, it’s still hard to imagine  him ending up anywhere else.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:21PM #6
Posts: 66,015

The Beltran alternative in right

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Oct 09, 2011

Picking  up Robinson Cano’s option for 2012 is a no-brainer. Picking up Nick  Swisher’s could be nearly as cut-and-dry, but there is an alternative. As Joel Sherman mentioned this morning, the Yankees could go after Carlos Beltran.

Coming off a strong return-to-form season, Beltran is one of the best  bats on the market. He’s a switch hitter, he’s more than capable in the  field, and his postseason track record — although both distant and  relatively limited — is strong.

The downside…

It starts with the fact Beltran is 34 years old, and Sherman predicts  a three-year deal worth $42 million. Putting Beltran in right field  adds another name to the list of aging players with multi-year contracts  for the Yankees. That’s especially worrisome given the fact Beltran hit  just .255 in 2010 and has a series of health concerns. He didn’t play  more than 81 games in 2010 or 2009, and this season he was hurt soon  after being traded to the Giants.

To me, one of the biggest perks of re-signing Swisher is that he  comes with no long-term risk. One year at $10.25 million isn’t a bad  contract for a guy who gets on base and hits for power the way Swisher  does. Given the way the corner outfield market exploded last winter,  Swisher’s option isn’t a bad deal at all. From June 1 through the end of  the regular season, he hit .283/.393/.513.

Granted, he’s never done much in the postseason, but Beltran hasn’t  even been to the postseason since 2006, and there’s little guarantee  that he’d be healthy enough to play in October next year.

It may be that none of this matters anyway. Brian Cashman has already  made it clear that pitching is his priority this offseason, and he  hinted that the Yankees might not do much to tweak the lineup.

“Our offense, despite (Game 5), is an area of strength,” Cashman said. “Offensively we should be OK.”

Associated Press photo


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:24PM #7
Posts: 66,015

Don’t Trade Montero


It has started way too early. We have gone from looking forward to a  deep playoff run to looking at — though not necessarily forward to —  the off-season. Emotions are still running high from the ALDS loss,  making it difficult to address the Yankees’ challenges with a clear  head. In an attempt to step back and soberly examine the Yankees, I’m  going to address a few principles. Hopefully they can help answer a  number of more specific questions that will arise as the free agent and  trade markets develop.

As the title says, we’re starting with the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect, Jesus Montero.  After waiting all season for his arrival, Yankees fans got a glimpse of  the future starting on September 1. He played in only 18 games and  accumulated 69 PA, which doesn’t give us a representative sample. Still,  he did impress in that short time, hitting .328/.406/.590. Is anyone  not excited for the offense he can produce in the future?

In this way Montero represents the future. In another way, he  represents an opportunity. Despite his lack of a position, scouts have  said for years that Montero’s bat will play anywhere. That type of  talent can bring back something of value in a trade. As Brian Cashman  said just after the Yankees’ season ended, his team needs pitching. It’s  easy to make the connection. Might the Yankees flip Montero for that  No. 2 starter they need?

It sounds like a good idea in theory. Pitching has long been a  problem for the Yankees. They could conceivably acquire a relatively  young No. 2 pitcher by trading one of the best hitting prospects in the  game. At least, that’s what it seems like. In reality that might not be  the case.

Why they can’t

The Yankees will likely have difficulty finding a team that matches  up with them. This theoretical team would need to fit a few criteria.  They’d have to be a team with no designs on contending in 2012, since  few teams could continue contending after trading a high-caliber starter  and not receiving one in return. They’d also need pitching on the farm,  so that they could eventually replace the starter they traded. Their  offense would probably have to rank near the bottom of the league, which  would give them reason to trade for a big bat with no position. If it’s  a National League team, they need an opening at first base — and a  coaching staff that thinks it can turn Montero into a first baseman.

Where does that leave the pool of suitors? The Giants might be the  only team that could conceivably trade a high-end starter and not  cripple themselves. Matt Cain is the interesting name here. The Giants  might be willing to listen on him, since he hits free agency after the  2012 season. They also need offense, as they scored the fewest runs per  game in the NL. But with Brandon Belt at first base, there isn’t really a  spot for Montero. Even if the Giants thought he could catch, they have  Buster Posey at that position. The Yankees and the Giants simply do not  match up on a Montero trade.

The White Sox are another team that comes to mind, since they’re  apparently going with a youth movement in 2012. John Danks becomes a  free agent after next season, and so he might hit the trade block at  some point this winter. But the Yankees face the same matchup problems  here. The Sox are in the AL, which makes things a little easier, but  they also have the DH and 1B spots locked up for a few more years. They  might want to replace Adam Dunn, but his contract mostly prevents that.  If the Sox were to trade for Montero they’d have to believe he could  catch. It’s hard to find anyone who thinks that he can.

A look around the rest of the league returns few results. It’s hard  to find a team that would trade a top-flight starter in the first place.  When the return is a hitter without a position, the pool shrinks even  further. There might be an answer out there somewhere, but it’s  certainly not an obvious one. Something would have to change before a  trade in order for said trade to make any sense.

Why they shouldn’t

Just because the Yankees can, in theory, trade Montero for a starter  doesn’t mean that they should. They have a rare talent in Montero, and  can use him to help propel the offense for years to come. While pitching  might hold importance for the immediate future, offense could become an  issue down the road — and not so far down the road, really. Why would  the Yankees trade one of their few young power bats?

Take a look at the composition of the 2011 Yankees. Specifically, look at the age column. The only player under 30 to produce an OPS+ of league average or better was Robinson Cano.  He and Granderson were really the only elite hitters on the team this  season. The other guys on the roster have uses, for sure, and there’s a  chance that one or two of them returns to glory. But even a return to  glory would be short-lived, given their advanced ages. Combine that with  an uncertainty about Granderson’s future — his 2011 was clearly an  outlier in a career that started in 2005 — and it’s easy to see a need  for offense.

Again, this is more of a far outlook. Maybe Mark Teixeira refocuses this winter and retains the swing that made him the Yankees’ MVP in 2009. Maybe Alex Rodriguez remains healthy and productive next season. That’s all fine and good,  but it’s not as though the Yankees can expect them to do that for years  into the future. Rodriguez will turn 37 next July, and Teixeira will  turn 32 right around Opening Day. There’s hope that Teixeira can still  produce high quality numbers for a few more years, but the window is  closing on A-Rod. In just a few years the Yankees could find themselves lacking an elite bat beyond Cano.

(At which point Cano will cost $20 million or more per season.)

Montero represents the Yankees’ best opportunity to add a power bat  to the middle of their lineup. If they trade him, they’ll again scramble  for free agent hitters. While that has worked out in some instances, it  has failed in others. Rather than roll the dice in both a trade of  Montero and hoping for the right free agent to hit the market, it’s  probably a better idea to keep Montero and let him do work in the middle  of the lineup for years to come.

The right deal

No player should be untouchable. As an old friend of mine says  frequently, everything’s for sale for the right price. If the Yankees  can jump on a starter that they truly love and it costs them Montero and  little more, they should probably jump on it. But as I described above,  those convenient opportunities don’t appear to exist.

Furthermore, even if the Giants were willing to trade Cain for  Montero, or the White Sox were willing to part with Danks for him, I  still wouldn’t favor such a deal. Both of those players hit free agency  after 2012. Even if the Yankees retained them they’d pay market value.  That further drives up payroll, which in turn makes it more difficult to  acquire other players. It’s not our money, of course, but if the  Yankees are only going to invest a certain amount in payroll, it’d be  nice to see them allocate it in a way that allows them to add the most  production for the least amount of money. That becomes more important  when contracts like A-Rod’s, Teixeira’s, and hopefully Sabathia’s are on  the books.

Montero, on the other hand, represents one of the greatest values in  baseball. Through 2014 he’ll cost no more than a half million per  season. After that he has three years of arbitration before hitting free  agency. Those cost-controlled years can prove integral in keeping  payroll open for other acquisitions. It means they can overpay for  someone on the free agent market. But if they trade for Danks they’ll  have to either 1) worry about paying him market value in 2013 and  beyond, and 2) worry about finding, and paying, a big bat to help  replace the declining production of their current guys. And if the  Yankees were to let Danks go after a year, adding Banuelos and other  young arms to the rotation, they’ll have given up six years of Montero  for one of Danks. It just doesn’t make sense.

If the Yankees were to trade Montero, it would have to not only  involve a No. 1 or 2 pitcher in return, but that pitcher would have to  be under contract for many years. That would necessarily mean that the  Yankees would include more than just Montero to complete such a deal. If  Felix Hernandez is the target, then perhaps the conversation moves  somewhere. But after him, are there any starters that fit the criteria  of a No. 1 or 2 pitcher and are under contract for three or more years —  and could be had for a Montero-centered package?

Maybe the right deal is out there somewhere. Maybe there’s a GM who  is holding back and waiting for the right deal to come along. At this  point, it’s difficult to see. What’s easy to see is the potential impact  Montero could have on the Yankees lineup. He’s their best power bat  prospect, one of the few in their system that could conceivably slide  into the No. 4 or 5 spot in the coming years and help ease the declines  of their aging stars. That need could be just as important as a No. 2  starter.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:27PM #8
Posts: 66,015

What Went Wrong: 4-5-6 Hitters In The ALDS


That's all she wrote. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Yankees somewhat surprisingly won 97 games during the regular  season and finished with the best record in the American League, but  they lost three of five to the Tigers in the ALDS to end their season.  They outscored Detroit 28-17 during the five-game set, showing that when  faced with a small sample, it’s not about how many runs you score, but  when you score them. The Yankees posted the lowest ERA (3.27) among the  eight teams during the LDS round, but they lost the three games by a  total of four runs.

A number of things will typically go wrong whenever a team loses a  playoff series, but nothing went more wrong for the Yankees than their  supposed heart of the order. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher,  otherwise known as the 4-5-6 hitters, went a combined 9-for-55 with two  doubles, one homer, seven walks, and 16 strikeouts. That works out to a  .164/.266/.255 batting line and a .243 wOBA.  All the other Yankees in the series combined to hit .305/.386/.466,  roughly a .378 wOBA. It seemed like every time the Yankees had something  cooking on offense, these three would come to the plate and almost  immediately put out the fire for Detroit.

To get an idea of how awful A-Rod, Tex, and Swish were during the ALDS, just look at the players around them. Robinson Cano,  who hit third in front of them, reached base nine times in the five  games but scored just two runs, when he drove himself in on a pair of  homeruns. Jorge Posada,  who hit seventh behind them, had a monster ALDS (six hits and four  walks), but he drove in a total of zero runs because no one was on base  in front of him. The 4-5-6 hitters went a combined 1-for-13 with two  walks and five strikeouts with runners in scoring position, and the most  damning instance of their RISPFAIL came in the seventh inning of Game  Five. With the bases loaded and one out, A-Rod struck out, Teixeira  walks, and Swisher struck out to end the threat. It was the last time  the Yankees would make any kind of sustained rally on the season.

The Yankees didn’t lose to the Tigers in the ALDS solely because of  A-Rod, Teixeira, and Swisher, but they were certainly a significant  contributor to the series loss. When your third, fourth, and fifth best  hitters in the regular season (by wOBA) combine to hit like the corpse  of Chone Figgins in the postseason, it’s going to be really tough to  advance. Quality pitching, which the Yankees generally received in the  ALDS, can only take you so far.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:29PM #9
Posts: 66,015

Going to war with the A-Rod you have


When I walked by the newstand on Saturday morning, the cover of the Daily News caught my eye. On Friday, one day after the Yanks’ crushing loss to an  inferior Tigers’ team in Game 5 of the ALDS, the esteemed paper polled  its reactionary readers about the future of the Yankees. Who should  stay, who should go, who should bear the weight of the world — or at  least the ALDS loss — on his shoulder?

The answer, of course, was A-Rod.  It always is A-Rod. It always has been, and it always will be. As of  now, 69 percent of poll respondents say the Yanks should dump A-Rod.  That’s actually down from upwards of 75 percent earlier this weekend.  Time heals all wounds or something.

This need to lay the blame on someone for the ALDS loss is both  obviously New York and entirely frustrating. The Yankees lost the ALDS  due to a confluence of factors. Joe Torre in the Commissioner’s Office  couldn’t read a weather forecast on Friday before Game 1, the Yanks  couldn’t score off of Max Scherzer in Game 2, CC couldn’t control the  strike zone during Games 3 or 5, and the team failed to get that one big  hit that would have put them over the top on Thursday. Along the way,  their 4, 5 and 6 hitters did absolutely nothing with the bat, and  despite hot series, Robinson Cano scored no runs via anything other than his own home runs and Jorge Posada had no RBIs despite going 6 for 14.

Still, it’s A-Rod the Choker, A-Rod the guy who did this rather than the guy who blasted a Joe Nathan offering deep into the  night in October 2009. It was A-Rod who went just 2 for 18, offering up a  close replica of his 1 for 14 showing in 2006 against the Tigers. He  struck out with the bases loaded, and he struck out to end the Yanks’  season.

By no stretch do I think A-Rod had a good ALDS. He made a few nice  plays in the field but couldn’t get his groove back at the plate. For  Alex, in fact, that was a theme this August and September. After  starting the year at .295/.366/.485 through mid-July, A-Rod found  himself on a 27-home run pace when he had to undergo knee surgery. In  his first game back in late August, he jammed his thumb, and played just  19 games the rest of the way. In 84 plate appearances, he hit just  .191/.345/.353 with three long balls as he battled aches and pains.

Had Joe Girardi bumped him out of the four spot during the playoffs,  he would have a legitimate reason for doing so. The A-Rod the Yanks had  in October wasn’t the A-Rod the Yanks had in May or June. But Girardi  was far more willing to be flexible — almost too flexible — with the  bullpen and not flexible enough with the lineup. Brett Gardner and his hot bat were minimized in the nine spot, Jorge Posada knocked  the ball around hitting behind some cold bats and A-Rod hit fourth as  though it were inscribed on stone tablets as the 11th Commandment. Thou  shalt bat A-Rod fourth no matter his health.

What makes the Daily News poll somewhat less outrageous  though is the hidden nugget of truth in it. The Yanks probably can’t  dump A-Rod; after all he has no-trade protection in his contract. But if  the Yankees had their druthers, they wouldn’t have A-Rod under contract  for the next six years and owed $143 million to boot. A-Rod will be a  fine third baseman for the next three years or so, but after that,  things could get ugly as his decline continues. Already, New York sports  media folk write about Jesus Montero and the DH as though he’s hogging A-Rod’s eventual position and will  have to be traded for it. Talk about shooting off your nose to spite  your face.

Basically, then, we as Yankee fans are stuck with A-Rod. He’s our  problem when he struggles; he’s our superstar when he drops A-bombs into  the left field bleachers. Blemishes and all though, A-Rod ain’t going  anywhere before 2017, no matter how hard the Yankees try. We can learn  to like it or boo him for the next half a decade. We’re going to war  with the A-Rod we have and not the A-Rod we might want or wish to have  at a later time. No amount of ALDS struggles or reactionary polls will  change that.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2011 - 2:30PM #10
Posts: 66,015

Phelps debuts in the desert


Francisco Gil has been suspended for the first 50 games of next season, likely due to some banned  substance issue. The 22-year-old righty can charitably be described as a  fringe prospect, but he’s a useful organization arm capable of soaking  up whatever innings the prospects leave behind.

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (7-3 loss to Scottsdale) Friday’s game
Corban Joseph, 2B: 1 for 4
Rob Segedin, LF: 0 for 4, 3 K – ouch

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (5-4 loss to Scottsdale) Saturday’s game
David Phelps, RHP: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 29  of 48 pitches were strikes (60.4%) … I don’t know if there’s a pitch  count, but starters are limited to just five innings a start out here
Chase Whitley, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4-1 GB/FB – a dozen of his 19 pitches were strikes (63.2%)
Dan Burawa, RHP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1-1 GB/FB – eight of his 13 pitches were strikes (61.5%)
Preston Claiborne, RHP:1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB – ten of 15 pitches were strikes

It’s worth noting that Ronnie Mustelier has not played since leaving a  game in the fourth inning earlier this week. No idea what’s up. Also,  they don’t play on Sunday’s in the AzFL. Must be nice. Rosters for the  various Latin America winter leagues are not out yet either, and  probably won’t be for a few weeks.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
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