Monday, January 30, 2012

Hal's Salary Limit

With the recent indication from Brian Cashman that there isn't enough money in the budget for a DH, we at the RJG decided it was time to go over the GM to the man with the financial plan, Hal Steinbrenner. In this exclusive interview, Hal explains the reason for his salary limits, and why a DH will need to be sought through trades or within the organization.

RJG: Hal, thanks for taking the time to speak to us.

HS: Not a problem.

RJG: So as we're almost 2 weeks away from spring training, the Yankees largest need is a designated hitter. Why haven't the Yankees been more aggressive in trying to sign a player?

HS: The truth is, we've spent money for too long, we're trying to build smarter, not richer.

RJG: It sounds like you've decided to stick to a salary cap. How did you come to this decision?

HS: In order to explain how we came to this decision, I need to start from the very beginning.

RJG: The beginning being when you first took over the Yankees?

HS: No, I'm talking about High School.

RJG: Okay.

HS: You see, Back in my teenage years I felt alone, sad, exiled. I lived life in constant fear. At this point Skynet had just become self-aware and Terminators were quickly flooding the earth, enslaving humanity.

RJG: Skynet?

HS: Don't interupt. Everyone I knew had been killed by machines that were designed for massacring humans. I learned quickly to make explosives out of car mufflers, paperclips, duck tape, and copious amounts of dynamite. But what happened after that became rather disturbing. I found myself killing Terminators...and enjoying it, savoring every portion of their death, from the first electric spark to the final dimming and snuffing out of their red Terminator eyes. They used to beg me for mercy. Asking me to stop. But I couldn't stop. I developed serial killer tendencies, targeting certain traits in Terminators, mainly those with SKU numbers that began with 0485. The Terminators began sending out memo's asking other Terminators to walk in pairs at night, and lock their Terminator house doors when they powered down for the evening. There was one particular evening where I found myself repeatedly jabbing a magnet sharpened into a shank into a Terminator, when I realized, is this all there is to life? I went back to the human resistance to see if I could join them, but they rejected me. It was like high school all over again. They said all the same things my classmates used to “You're weird!”, “You're not welcome here!”, “Stop drinking the mercury in our thermometers!” Nothing had changed. In my desperation I turned to the only book I knew that would have all the answers: The Art of War by Sun Tzu. After power reading through it in its original language, I realized that I was getting no where. I needed something new. I still had the undesirable urge to murder Terminators with SKU numbers beginning with 0485, and the serial tendencies were evolving. I started dressing up the Terminators in blond wigs, and tangoing with them to show tunes, before killing them. I was really starting to lose it. Battling those urges, plus an addiction to mercury, I finally turned to the only other person who had answers: Oprah. I got a new minivan, and a subscription to O, but really no answers.

RJG: Hold on, what does any of this have to do with your budget?

HS: I'm getting there. Around that time, I remembered the saying so popular in post-apocalyptic human culture: “Its always darkest before the dawn.” Attempting to test this statement, I stayed up all night and measured darkness levels before dawn.

RJG: How do you measure darkness levels?

HS: You hold up a glass of Guinness to the sky, and compare them side-to-side. Anyways, while I was taking my scientific measurements, I realized that maybe Billy Beane was right. You can't buy championships. Nevermind that we've done it since the 1920's, maybe we can build a winning team with a payroll under $200 million. So you see, there is more to life than serial killing terminators.

RJG: (Silence)

HS: (Content Smile)

-Transcript Over-

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Time, I Fought A Monkey

It is being reported that Bud Selig is now to decide the compensation to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein's departure to the Cubs. First of all, I don't see how Bud Selig is qualified to make this determination, but I am, because, one time, I fought a monkey. Bud Selig is a well-known monkey-dodger, so I should make the final decision about the Red Sox's compensation.

Admittedly, it's complicated. The Sox lost their beloved GM, a man who brought two World Series to the franchise (even if neither of them counted since Big Papi and Manny were roid raging the whole time). How do you make up for the crushing loss of an executive who no longer wants to work for you? Normally, you hire someone else, preferably at a much lower salary, which the Red Sox did, but still they want more.

What should they get for saving money on executive payroll? Matt Garza? No. But I got the perfect solution: Alfonso Soriano. The Sox have the extra money, especially since they haven't done anything all off-season, so they should get Soriano. The guy can still hit for power, against minor, I mean National League pitching so he still brings something to the table. Plus, he allows the Sox to put their extra money to good use. I think this is the fairest solution possible.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Its Time to Give Him a Shot

So the Yankees are looking for a DH, but do not want to spend money on one. Instead, Cashman would prefer to trade some of his excess pitching for an extra bat. Now, we absolutely could do that, or we could finally give Jorge Vazquez a shot in the bigs. I know the Yankees don't believe he can do what he did in the minors at the big league level, but that being said, he hit very well at the minor league level. Vazquez hit .262 with 32 homeruns and 93 RBI's in 455 at bats in Scranton. That should at least merit a major league 30-day free trial in the month of April. The amazing thing about prospects is that you can send them back where they came from if they don't work out. This doesn't address the problem of excess pitching. Right now our rotation pieces include Sabathia, Burnett, Nova, Kuroda, Hughes, Pineda, Garcia with the killer B's waiting in the wings. Burnett and Hughes will probably be the first to be considered for the bullpen. Hughes more than Burnett since the Yankees consider $16.5 million for a reliever not named Rafael Soriano to be a bit much. But truth be told, excess pitching has a way of solving itself. Injuries happen, inconsistancy happens, and suddenly your 7 starters a trimmed down to 5.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Cashman Can Dazzle Us All

The Yankees now have 7 starters vying for 5 spots in the rotation, while they also have an opening at the DH position. We could just use the DH spot to rest the AARP members of our team, but the most ideal situation would be to have a serviceable hitter for 350 - 400 at bats as our DH, who won't be insulted by getting benched while we give some of our other players a day off from playing the field. The free agent market has a few interesting possibilities including former Yankees Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Matsui is more of a true DH in that he really can't play defense, but he would be cheaper than Damon who actually hit better and had more pop than Matsui last season. Damon was also good for 19 steals. Damon may be a great signing, but Cashman appears to have his hands tied financially. Apparently the Yankees were serious when they said they were looking to decrease payroll, and stick to a budget. It was news to me seeing as just one year ago they committed more than $30 million to a setup man, but that's beyond the point. So without being able to offer a $3-$4 million deal to Damon for one year what could the Yankees do? Well its time for Cashman to dazzle us again, and I suggest he do it with Burnett. If Cashman can turn Burnett into a permanent DH good for 20+ homeruns, I'd be more than impressed! In fact, if Cashman traded Burnett for some minor league prospects, ate half his salary, and used the other half he saved to sign a player like Damon, I would also be impressed! But mostly, I'd just be impressed if he could convince someone to take that contract. If that's not possible, what are people's feelings on trading Hughes?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is It Time For Another Ninja Move?

Prince Fielder still hasn't been signed. The Yankees need a DH. Is it time for another Teixeira style ninja move? Sure, we don't want to spend a ton of money on a guy who can only DH. But maybe, for the bat we'd be getting, we wouldn't be spending a ton of money at this point. That is, maybe we can get him for cheaper than one might have thought, and considering his age, and the role he'll play (DH), it will be worth it. That said, we don't know how he would do as a DH. He's always been a first baseman and we know from our Giambi experience that not everyone can take to DHing. But man, if we had Fielder as our DH, combined w/ A-Rod (even old A-Rod), Teixeira, Cano, Granderson. Oh man. That would be crazy. Probably not worth it for more than the first couple years, but crazy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

RJG Breaks Down the Carmona Situation

So Fausto Carmona is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia. This is like the end of 'The Usual Suspects' only Carmona got caught, because crime doesn't pay. Actually, Carmona's going to make $7 million next year. Crime pays quite well.

Some may be tempted to be upset by Carmona's actions, but he plays for Cleveland, so it was a victimless crime. Also, lying about your age is an American tradition. How many times did you try to buy alcohol before you turned 21? Exactly. So STF about it!

But let's also keep something else in mind. We live in a country so wealthy we make people spectacularly rich for being adept at throwing and/or catching a ball. The Dominican Republic? A little less wealthy. I didn't grow up in the Dominican Republic, or poor, but If someone said they would pay me at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw a ball, I'd lie my @$$ off. I would lie about my age, my name, my love for throwing a ball. I would even stoop so low as to say that I love the city of Cleveland (nothing against Cleveland, but love?). The only thing I would have even the slightest inclination to be honest about are my bank account and routing numbers. That's it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Should We Be Worried?

Fausto Carmona, of "the Yanks should trade for Carmona" fame, has been arrested for apparently falsifying his visa documents. It turns out that his real name may not be Fausto, something the authorities began to suspect when he said his name was Fausto. Further, Fausto may be 3 years older than MLB thinks he is.

This is relevant for the Yankees since they just executed a trade for another Dominican flame thrower, Michael Pineda. Part of the appeal of Pineda is that he's so young, but the recent Fausto revelations suggest Pineda is at least 34 years old. Having him under control for the next five years no longer seems like an advantage, and his inability to develop a change-up to this point becomes increasingly alarming. The Yankees would be wise to make him train with CC Sabathia, a more effective, and even larger, left-hander.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all this, though, is that now Cleveland has something to be ashamed of in addition to its record. And city. Mostly its city. That's hard. Life blows, Cleveland. Deal with it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RJG Speaks to the Cash Man and Things Get Weird

It's been a long time since we over at RJG fired up the old video satellite phone and rung up good friend and future best man at our weddings Brian Cashman. The man who prefers the nickname 'Bronny' spoke to us at length about the trades that recently shook up the baseball world as well as some other subjects. Below is a transcript of our conversation:

BC: Hello?

RJG: Yes, hi. I'm trying to get a hold of a Mr. Goodah.

BC: I think you may have the wrong nu . . .

RJG: A Mr. Goodah-dea to trade for Pineda! Hey Cash! Congrats on the big trade!

BC: Oh, it's you. Yeah. Thanks. Um . . .

RJG: Kuroda too. Way to throw money at an aging pitcher!

BC: Well, I wouldn't characterize it exactly like that, I mean . . .

RJG: Oh totally. He's totally worth it. 37. $10 million. Makes perfect sense.

BC: You know what doesn't make sense?!!

RJG: That was oddly aggressive. What?

BC: Instruction manuals.

RJG: Instruction manuals?

BC: Instruction manuals.

RJG: How much coke did you do in celebration of last Friday?

BC: Stay with me here. A lot. But I just cleaned out that drawer in the kitchen where everyone keeps all their instruction manuals, I can't believe all the $#!% in there! I threw out an instruction manual for a microwave.

RJG: Ok.

BC: A microwave! I mean, seriously, why does a microwave even come with an instruction manual? Who on earth is in possession of both literacy and an utter lack of familiarity with the functioning of a microwave?

RJG: I suppose they're pretty intuitive at this point, but . . .

BC: When you open the instruction manual to a microwave, printed in giant letters should be the words: Are You #$&%@* Serious?!

RJG: So I heard you reached arbitration agreements with some pla . . .

BC: My toaster came with instructions. My toaster. Toaster's haven't changed in design or function since 1953. Why is there a pamphlet explaining how this works? Honestly, the instruction manual to a toaster should instruct you to plug it in and then take it with you into the bath, because if you don't know how a toaster works, you need to go.

RJG: Yeah but there are important contact numbers in it I imagine.

BC: My toaster instruction manual was 20 pages long, and that's just the English language section. It was bigger than the phonebook that inexplicably gets left on my doorstep. Why? Everyone's phone is internet enabled now. Your phone IS a phonebook. It's the giant Google icon!

RJG: You're really worked up about this.

BC: It took me like seven minutes to clean out that drawer. I could've done something productive with my time!

RJG: What is wrong with you?

BC: Your face!

RJG: That's unca . . .


So there you have it folks. Bronny Cash is satisfied with the work the Yanks have done so far this off-season.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Other Yankees News

The Yankees, after pulling off a laws of physics altering trade, also signed RHP Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract worth $10 million last Friday. Kuroda, a bit of an unknown commodity in the AL, spent a long time playing in a far-off $#!%hole. He also played in Japan. Oh snap! Have fun with that cesspool, Joe Torre! But seriously, who is Kuroda? Kuroda is 37, and has a career 3.45 ERA. Most analysts agree that he is likely to pitch much better now that he's going to be playing in a place where he doesn't have to deal with the daily and debilitating anxiety of possibly being viciously assaulted in the parking lot. Kuroda's last play-off appearance saw him give up 6 runs in 1.1 innings, meaning we now have two A.J. Burnetts. How can we go wrong with that? We can't.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

AL East Gamesmanship

The panic set in late Thursday. The Boston Red Sox had just sent shock waves with the rumored news that they were close to an agreement on a one year deal with Ryan Sweeney. The Tampa Bay Rays, their $500 budget already stretched to the max, quietly conceded the season behind closed doors.

"It's just not fair," complained one anonymous Tampa Bay executive. "We just can't compete with that sort of fire power."

Baltimore Orioles team president quickly called a meeting of all essential and non-essential staff in order to discuss the team's options. The Blue Jays, all hope for the season lost, began quietly shopping Jose Bautista, prepared to take any prospect package whatsoever, realizing that their hopes to be competitive would have to wait until at least 2013. Unless the Red Sox managed to re-sign Sweeney. The thought made the room cold.

It was with this backdrop that the Yankees began their frenzied quest to find the sort of pitching that would allow them to at least contain Boston and their new nuclear weapon. The Yankees, long believed to have the worst pitching staff in baseball, had long ago abandoned hopes for the 2012 season.

"We weren't sure we'd even bother to field a team," explained one Yankee executive. "I mean, we had CC and then question marks. Question marks don't win baseball games, pitchers do! And frankly, we can make more money hosting weekly Jay-Z concerts at the stadium than fielding a loser."

Brian Cashman assembled his staff for a late night impromptu meeting. It was clear from the red in their eyes that many had been crying for hours.

"Where do we go from here?" Cashman asked. The silence in the room seemed to suffocate everything except the sense of despair.

But the Yankees had one last trick up their sleeve. One final glimmer of hope that made them think maybe they could pull off a miracle. The Yankees had Jesus Montero.

Jesus Montero was the only catcher ever to hit a home run in his rookie season. His batting average, power, and speed was matched only by his will to win. He was the Yankee of the future. The Yankees knew, however, that if they wanted to compete with Boston, they would have to try to trade him.

"It was hard to swallow," explained one Yankees executive. "Here we have the greatest hitting catcher of all time and we're talking about trading him. I mean, even if we found a team willing to take on the overwhelming responsibility of having a player like him on their roster, what could we possibly get for him? For me, it was like that 'Beauty and the Beast' movie where the clock and the candelabra are friends even though everybody knows they're natural enemies. It just didn't make any sense!"

The Yankees front office worked through the night. They inquired about the availability of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee from Philadelphia, but the Phillies were concerned about their inability to retain Montero once he became a free agent. The San Francisco Giants balked at a chance to have Montero in exchange for Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, fearing the environmental impact on McCovey Cove from the inevitable barrage of official Major League baseballs hurtling towards the delicate aquatic eco-system at mind-numbing speeds. The answer was a firm 'no'. The terror in the Yankees' hearts was beginning to feel like a permanent fixture.

Then, out of extreme desperation, Brian Cashman picked up the phone and called a GM so powerful, no one even knows how to spell his last name.

"Jack, it's Brian. I have a proposition for you."

With these words the Yankees and Mariners embarked on a path that would soon unsettle not only the baseball world, but 150 years of conventional sports wisdom. When the dust had finally settled, the sky again visible for the first time in what felt like years, the Yankees had traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda.

Pineda, a 7'4" knuckleballer, now made the Yankees the favorites not only to win the World Series, but this year's NBA Championship as well. Boston filed an official protest with the Commissioner's office, accusing the Yankees and Mariners of collusion. The complaint fell on deaf ears.

"This wasn't about collusion," explained Brian Cashman. "This was about restoring balance to the force. It had to be done."

Friday, January 13, 2012


The Yankees have completed a trade of Jesus Montero with Seattle for Michael Pineda. The Yankees have given up an unproven hitter for an unproven pitcher. Of course, considering the Yankees stash of proven hitters, they were far more in need of suspect pitching production than suspect hitting production. It isn't that Montero didn't show brilliance in his brief stint with the Yankees (New York, not Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), it's just that we have no idea whether he can sustain this brilliance over a full season, let alone a career. Pineda has already shown that he can't sustain his brilliance over a full season, but whether he can be brilliant over the course of a career, or the 2012 season, is yet to be seen. The Yankees took the chance that made more sense to them, and the Mariners took the chance that made more sense to no one. After all, what team doesn't attempt to build a winner around a single pitcher and some power hitters at positions not traditionally known for power? Okay, up until now the 2012 Yankees, but that isn't the point. The point is, we have a 23 year old pitcher projected to be the next Felix Hernandez through last May. You can't possibly go wrong with that!

The Yankees have also signed Hiroki Kuroda. This is important to know because it not only adds depth, it avoids that inevitable "who?" moment when you make your next trip to Yankee Stadium and find out who the starting pitcher is. Sorry Edwin Jackson, looks like you won't be overpaid by us next season. Don't worry, you'll still be overpaid. But let's be frank. You throw a ball to an associate/maybe friend 60'6" away. You will be overpaid for what you do next season no matter what amount you sign for.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Posada Retires

The Yankees news silence was broken last week with the announcement that Jorge Posada has chosen to retire. There had been talks that the Rays were interested in him, and honestly I wouldn't have been mad if he signed somewhere else had he felt like he had more left in the tank. He's certainly earned the right to leave the game on his own terms. And he did, forever a Yankee. There will be lots of talk about his Hall of Fame credentials and his accomplishments as one of the great Yankee catchers. It was hard seeing him relegated to such a limited role last season, and even to see how little respect the Yankees seemed to have for him last year. Regardless of what happened though, Posada joins Pettitte, as one of the homegrown greats from the dynasty era. For those interested, Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times wrote an article on Posada's career highlights worth reading.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, Same Team

Now that the Yankees have re-signed Andruw Jones, its looking like the 2012 Yankees are more or less set, and they look an awful lot like the 2011 Yankees, just one year older. Some might be concerned that this team isn't a world series team, but they base that mainly on the fact that this very team didn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs last year. But there are a few factors that could really change this:

1. A-Rod staying healthy. A healthy A-Rod is good for 30 homeruns easily and could crack 40 in an especially focused year. At this stage I would rate the chances of A-Rod staying healthy for the entire season very slim, but even a healthy A-Rod for 130 games and a healthy A-Rod in the playoffs would change the way this team looks quite a bit. Last year in the playoffs, A-Rod wasn't the power threat he typically is, and thats a big void in the middle of your lineup.

2. AJ Burnett gaining some consistancy. I think the hopes of AJ becoming a solid number 2 are pretty much out the window. At this point I'm not looking for a lights out Burnett, just a consistant Burnett. If he can avoid the implode inning, and string together some quality starts, I'd be happy with that. All things considered, a Burnett that can give us 6 innings and 3 runs is better than the 4 inning 7 run version we would see all too often last year.

3. Phil Hughes learning how to pitch. The truth is, Hughes isn't an overpowering pitcher. Last year, they acted like his fastball sitting at 89mph was the cause for all his performance woes. But even at full strength he sits at 92-93mph. Big league hitters can hit that. He needs to learn how to pitch. If I learned anything from Mike Mussina its that you can have a lot of success with decreased velocity if you know how to pitch. The problem with Hughes is that he's like AJ in that he really only has two-pitches: a fastball and curveball (they both throw an underdeveloped changeup). The only problem is that in his prime, AJ could hit 98mph with that fastball, and Hughes cannot. He needs to develop his secondary pitches.

4. Having one of the babies emerge as a leader. Betances, Banuelos, or even Noesi need to step up and lock down one of those starting spots. If they can do that we'll be in good position for a playoff push.

5. Everything else stay the same. Our 2012 success hinges on our ability to get more out of the players we didn't get much from last year, and the same from the players who were exceptional. Though the chances of this happening aren't great, you never know what surprises may come. Maybe Jeter has an MVP year, or Martin hits 30 homeruns, or Gardner steals 100 bases. Its a new year!