Friday, March 29, 2013

Randy Levine Baffles Everyone

Recently, Randy Levine issued the following quote:

"We've actually increased our payroll this year...As sometimes happens, certain people like to ignore the facts instead of the reality. These are the same people who one day criticize us for spending too much money, the next day criticize us for spending too little. The goal of the team every year is to do what's necessary to field a championship team. That goes for this year and, as Hal Steinbrenner has said, next year and every year going forward."

The Yankees had a number of players leave during the off season, and appeared uninterested in replacing them with an equivalent player.  Instead, the Yankees either signed players that could play the position but not replace the offense (Swisher for Ichiro), or left the position open to spring training competition (catcher).  The Yankees did re-sign a number of players from the 2012 team, but they also let a lot of good players walk, in what appeared to be a cost cutting move.  Soriano, Swisher, and Martin, all signed with other teams, and all had an impact on the 2012 team.  So if what Randy Levine is saying is true, then the Yankees are spending more this season, while losing Swisher's offense in right, have a minor league player replace Martin, and have no one replace Soriano.  Sure, needing to pay someone to play 3rd base because your $29 million 3rd baseman is out for half the season doesn't help, but still I'm quite baffled by this.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bench Coming Into Focus

It was just announced that Juan Rivera has been released, and there are plans to have Lyle Overbay play first and Ben Francisco play as the reserve outfielder.  It's a little surprising considering how well Rivera was hitting this spring, but it actually makes sense.  Not in the traditional way of things making sense, but sense nonetheless.  Juan Rivera was hitting well, but it's spring training, and we all know that spring training numbers are meaningless.  On the other hand, Lyle Overbay was hitting .220 this spring before being released by the Red Sox, but spring training numbers are meaningless.  So you see, if you're hitting well in spring, the numbers don't mean anything so DFA that guy!  If you're hitting poorly in spring, the numbers don't mean anything, so open up a roster spot for that guy!  Unless you're Ben Francisco in which case you earned the spot with your strong spring training numbers.  Make sense?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soldiering On

The recent acquisition of outfielder Vernon Wells has left many in the Yankee universe baffled.  It seems like an over reaction to losing Granderson, and leaves little wiggle room for the team.  Getting Vernon Wells means removing another prospect from the 40 man roster, it means spending $13 million, it means  giving Wells a starting spot over one of various cheaper options, not to mention some of our own minor leaguers on whom the 2014 budget reduction goal is wholly reliant upon.  It was reported that the Wells deal is getting structured in a way to actually give the Yankees a $2 million credit towards the 2014 payroll, which is smart, but you know what else gives the Yankees more payroll flexibility in 2014?  Giving our prospects a shot.  If the Yankees hope to have one of our minor leaguers step into a starting role in 2014, they have to give them some big league time now.  Especially if they're position players.  Equally baffling is that the Yankees DFA'd a legitimate infield prospect in David Adams to make space on the 40-man roster.  So the Yankees look intent on making bold moves that make no sense.  Girardi said "We think [Wells is] a much better player than he’s shown the last two years.”  I'm sure that's what the Angels thought when they traded for him, and I'm sure it's what the Blue Jays thought when they signed him to a 7 year $126 million extension.  My issue is that even if he performs well, he's still taking a position that we could be using to develop one of our prospects.  It's like the Yankees have a split personality at this point.  They want to focus on player development so they can get some prospects on the roster, but then they fill every vacancy with a major league veteran. ?????

Monday, March 25, 2013

Vernon Wells Coming to Yankees

The big news from this weekend is that Vernon Wells is coming over to the Yankees.  The Yankees will cover $13 million of the remaining $42 million on his contract, and the Yankees intend to pay most of that $13 million this year so it doesn't impact the 2014 payroll goal.  Vernon Wells could be productive if healthy, but inevitably health has been a problem for him.  As a temporary offensive replacement for Granderson, he should cover fine.  If we were relying on him to be an everyday outfielder for the next couple seasons, we would be in trouble.  The Yankees also added Chien Ming Wang to their triple A rotation.  We are a week away from opening day, and it'll be very interesting to see what the Yankees do with their combination of bench players.  I am still of the mindset that if the Yankees hope to get under the $189 million payroll in 2014, they will want to give some of their prospects major league experience now, in hopes that they can take a starting position next season.  For this reason, giving Ronnier Mustelier a chance to play is probably a good idea.  He's hit well this spring, and has earned the spot.  Choosing a major league veteran with no future with the team over a prospect doesn't make sense at this stage.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Could Puerto Rican Baseball Come Back? Could Wang Come Back?

According to the Lohud Yankees blog, former Yankees ace, Chien Ming Wang was over at the minor league complex earlier today, throwing for scouts.  Could we see Wang back in pinstripes in the near future?  Wang has pitched for the Nationals the last couple seasons, but not particularly well.  Wang was originally one of the better pitchers in the league back in 2006 and 2007, until a freak base running accident cut short his 2008 season.  He injured his foot and missed the rest of the 2008 season.  He tried to come back in 2009 but ended up injuring his shoulder (likely because he was over compensating due to the foot injury).  He missed the rest of that season, and the Yankees did not bring him back in 2010.  Instead, he was signed by the Nationals, rehabbed with them that year, and then made his Nationals debut in 2011.  His numbers in 2011 and 2012 have not been very impressive.  As a potential low risk, high reward guy, I don't see a problem with seeing if that sinkerball can work for us again.  I'd love to see him back.  But I suppose that'll be determined by the strength of his throwing session today.

In other news, Puerto Rico lost 3-0 last night to the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic finals.  The score was surprising on two levels: 1, that the Puerto Rican pitching only allowed 3 runs, and 2, that the Puerto Rican hitters couldn't score a single run.  I'm hoping that at the very least, this raises interest in player development in Puerto Rico and that young athletes on the island turn their interest to baseball over basketball or any other sport.  Baseball is still very popular on the island, and a definite source of pride.  Since moving Puerto Rico into the players draft, talent on the island has been on the decline.  In places like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, teams will have baseball academies that develop their own players, and then sign them when they feel they are ready.  This was the case for Puerto Rico until they were moved into the players draft, and that focus on player's development is where you saw some of the great talent coming from the island (Including Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams for the Yankees).  In the players draft, teams have little incentive to develop talent, because they'd be developing them just to see them signed by teams with a better draft position.  There has been some hope recently.  Former Rangers pitcher Edwin Correa runs a non-profit high school and baseball academy in Puerto Rico with the set purpose of developing baseball players on the island.  The first overall pick of the 2012 players draft by the Astros was shortstop Carlos Correa (no relation to Edwin Correa) from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.  There were 23 Puerto Rican players drafted this year, 4 from the baseball academy. 9 of the drafted players from the island were drafted in the top ten rounds of the draft, and 3 of them were chosen between the 1st round and the compensation round.  So it'll be interesting to see where Puerto Rican baseball will go.  Especially since all other countries may soon need to follow suit.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yankees Take Back Seat for a Moment

I know how riveting this Yankee team is, and just how exciting this spring training has been, but for today, the Yankees need to take a back seat.  My native Puerto Rico is taking on the Dominican Republic tonight for the World Baseball Classic championship.  It's an interesting match up in that the Dominican Republic looks like an All-Star team, with major league depth, while team Puerto Rico has a handful of regular MLB players followed by a slew of minor league, Japanese league, and even Korean league veterans.  However, these tournaments are rarely decided by the talent alone.  It's why the Netherlands were in the semi-finals while the USA was bounced out in the second round.  These teams will play with a lot of heart, and it's some of the most exciting baseball you'll get to watch.  So if you enjoy baseball, you'll want to watch tonight's game.

Back in Yankee world, the fierce competition for bench spots is still ongoing.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 15, 2013

RJG Injury Update

After today's game, Derek Jeter told everyone his ankle still feels fine. In Jeter-speak, that means it's still probably broken. Oh, and the other one too.

Sabathia got through his start alright, but his command was off. His elbow was fine, but his pride was hurt. He's been placed on the 15 day DL just to be safe.

Ronnier Mustelier, he of the rhyming name, bruised both of his legs when running into a wall. In fairness, we've all done it. Run into stationary objects. So let's not judge too harshly.

Team USA Loses to DR, Ronnier Mustelier Runs into Wall

In today's spring training game, potential minor league prospect Ronnier Mustelier ran into a wall while playing third, trying to imitate Jeter's dive into the stands no doubt, and was pulled out of the game.  When else do you see players try so hard in a spring training game than when they are trying to get a roster spot?  If nothing else, give this guy a shot!  He clearly wants it, and will fight to stay in the majors.  I think that's the kind of energy you want on a big league club.

Sad news for Team USA last night as they fell to the Dominican Republic in a 3-1 game that was dominated by great pitching and an odd strike zone.  At one point, Team USA pitcher Craig Kimbrel, a star closer for Atlanta, threw a backdoor breaking ball that fooled no one except the umpire who called it a strike despite it being far outside.  It would all be for not as a series of hits and stolen bags would break up the tied game.  Team USA had no answers about their loss last night, but luckily, the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea was kind enough to shed light on why Team USA couldn't compete.  According to the video from North Korea, our society looks a lot like, well, North Korea: run down, and under an oppressive government.  The video also sheds light on why there aren't any birds in America, which was a problem I wasn't even aware of until North Korea brought it to my attention.  Spoiler alert: it's because we eat them all.  So people, if we want to see more birds in this country, we have to stop eating them.  That, and we need to stop waiting around for our heroine handouts.  I'm afraid that if we keep relying on bird meat, and heroine, then this country will never be able to muster a team good enough to compete in national tournaments.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dare I Say There's News?

Sometimes it helps to wait a few days and compile a bunch of updates into one post.  This is especially helpful during spring training.  It was reported last week that Mariano Rivera would retire at the end of this season, which is certainly a shame for the 2014 Yankees.  It's a hard balance for athletes.  The desire to call it quits is often times countered by a love for the game and the life of a baseball player.  That's why players like Pettitte can't stay retired.  Mariano however seems like he has a life outside of baseball.  So I think he will be more like Mussina.  He'll go out with an amazing season, and never look back.  Sad for us, but I'm happy for him. 

Among other Yankee news, the Yankees have signed Ben Francisco to fight for the outfield job.  I have mixed feelings on the signing.  At some point we have to trust in our farm, and a guy like Zoilo Almonte is getting enough good reports to think that he should be given a shot to play while Granderson is out.  The same for Ronnier Mustelier, who could be tried at 3rd base, while switching Youkilis to 1st in the absence of Teixeira.  If the Yankees are serious about the 2014 payroll, why not give these guys some big league experience now, and see if they can perform well enough to be given a starting role next year? 

Cashman recently reached out to a bunch of retired players including Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, and Derrek Lee to see if they would be interested in coming out of retirement to take on the 3rd base role (See Ronnier Mustelier above).  I guess the Yankees don't feel like they're old enough yet.

Lastly, the competition for catcher was made a little thinner with Austin Romine getting sent to the minors.  He was always a long shot, but he's officially out of the picture, and will be playing in triple A this season. 

Other than that, the World Baseball Classic is in full swing.  Canada and Mexico have already had a brawl, proving that the US serves as a barrier between these two natural enemies.  Italy and the Netherlands have surprised everyone moving into the second round, with the Netherlands knocking out Cuba in the process. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Teixeira Out with Wrist Injury

Mark Teixeira has sustained a wrist injury and will be out for 8-10 weeks.  This recent injury, coupled with that of Granderson, will ensure diminished power in the first month of baseball.  The trouble with the Teixeira injury is that I'm not so sure rest alone will resolve the problem.  Jose Bautista from Toronto had a similar injury last year and it ended in season ending surgery.  My guess is that the rest will get him back on the field, we'll watch him struggle for a couple months, and then he'll be off to get the surgery he really needs.  I hope I'm wrong, but in the meantime, we'll get to watch any number of minor leaguers compete for that spot.  Could be exciting.  Or amazingly boring.  Only time will tell.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cashman Breaks Ankle, Not Bank

When Brian Cashman decided to tempt fate for a second time in one day, fate sent a shot across the bow. Cashman's ankle bore the brunt of his hubris. Was this a worthwhile cause? Well, it wasn't game 1 of the ALCS, but it was a cause. A cause for concern. Who jumps out of a plane twice for no reason? Has Cashman not had the go ahead to make any deals, or he has he been too busy locked in a dark room, rocking back and forth, and mumbling to himself about mega-trades that he would make if this was 1927? I can only assume the latter, as you should too.

Now that Cashman's lost it, we, as fans, can get down to the serious issues. Like why are area rugs so expensive? Who's pricing these things? I don't even really want an area rug, why should I pay that much for it? See? Silence. That's what I thought evil corporate area rug guy.

Also, who's our left fielder going to be? And another thing, why are three positions on a baseball team named after the Fielder family? I mean, Cecil was cool and all but that's a pretty lofty compliment don't you think? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Ichiro in Car Accident, Minor Leaguers in Competition

Ichiro emerged unscathed from a car accident recently, and it is welcome news for the Yankees.  Not just is Ichiro okay, but the fact that he didn't have a single injury speaks highly of his durability, and his potential to stay healthy this season.  This is important seeing as the loss of Granderson leaves us with one less major league hitter in our lineup, who will be replaced by a minor league bat.

The good news from this spring training is that minor leaguers, for the first time in a long time, are finally seeing a path to the majors.  The truth is, the Yankees built a dynasty by drafting, developing, and then trusting in, young players.  After they started winning, the expectation became that they would win every year, and so the patience and trust needed for young players to the develop was cast aside for proven veterans that came with a high price tag.  But at the end of the day, the players we remember are not the big free agents/block buster trades.  We don't look back and think of Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, etc. and think of them as Yankee greats.  We look at guys like Jeter, Mariano, Posada, and Pettitte, as the guys who made a difference.

It was recently reported that Hal may consider going against his payroll rule, but I think he should stay the course.  Beginning this season, and going into next season, we need to give some minor leaguers a legitimate chance to develop and work through the kinks.  Remember when Cano couldn't field at second?  And now we see him as indispensable.  Let's give the kids a chance, and see who rises to the surface.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yanks Make Significant Offer to Cano

The Yankees have made a significant contract offer to Cano, 'significant' being code for a smaller offer than the one they'd have to make when countering the Angels or Dodgers next winter. It does seem the Yankees want to keep Cano, but perhaps not at free agent dollars.

The Yankees want to avoid a full-on shoot out amongst the game's big spenders over Cano. The offer is rumored to be in the realm of way too much for way too long, with a no trade clause, and ninja insurance protection covered by the Yankees. There are no incentive clauses in the contract, not even for breaking the all-time home run record while in pinstripes.

Cano has refused to speak about the contract offer, mainly because he knows he's never going to accept it. Look at the contract Boras got for Soriano this winter. Would you sign the first offer from the Yankees a full season before you hit free agency? You would? How long have you been addicted to methamphetamines?

Derek Jeter Podcast Interview

This was forwarded to us, and I thought you all may be interested.  It is an interview with Derek Jeter by Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports Memorabilia.  Enjoy!