Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hot Stove Coming Real Soon

Tonight or tomorrow, the world series will come to a close, and then will come the best time in baseball: the hot stove season.  It's a time of dreams, where your team can become anything you imagine it to be.  Every free agent is a possibility, every trade a reasonable proposition, and every international signing the second coming of an iconic player.  It's a beautiful time indeed, and there will be non-stop rampant speculation about the Yankees.  There will be long periods of quiet, followed by intense periods of activity.  Things we have to look forward to:

-The Yankees figuring things out with Cano.
-A-Rod's arbitration case, followed by his law suit against major league baseball.
-Jeter picking up his option.
-Yankees figuring out whether they can bring in McCann, and Beltran.
-Yankees seeing if Kuroda's going to retire.
-Yankees bidding on Japanese pitcher Tanaka.
-Other free agent signings, scrap heap pick ups, bullpen acquisitions and minor league deals.
-Vernon Wells getting sent elsewhere.

So hold tight, the hot stove season is a-coming!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Game 1 of World Series Pretty Awful for St. Louis

I don't know how many Yankee fans out there are following the world series, but last night's game proved to be surprisingly uncompetitive.  I am not so surprised that Boston won.  Lester was starting in Fenway, so the advantage lay with them.  What I am surprised about is just how awful St. Louis played.  The one thing I placed in St. Louis' favor going into this series was that they were a team who has been to the world series before, has a core group of veterans, and they wouldn't be intimidated playing Boston.  My assessment appeared to be entirely wrong, as they looked like they were playing scared all game.  Stupid errors, bad pitching, and worse hitting led them to an 8-1 loss.  But that wasn't even the worse news of that game for St. Louis.  Losing Beltran, the only player who seems capable of driving in runs when needed, came out of the game after running into the wall while robbing a homerun.  Whether or not he plays will be a game time decision, but an achy rib cage could very well effect that swing of his.  The Cardinals better stop acting star struck if they hope to avert another 2004 style sweep at the hands of Boston.  Pull it together Cardinals!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Collision's At Home Plate

I don't know if you are following the post-season, but yesterday evening I was watching the Tigers vs. Red Sox game, and in the 2nd inning, there was a pretty hard collision at home plate.  Tigers catcher, Alex Avila, was leveled by David Ross (also a catcher), and he held onto the ball and made the out.  A couple innings later Alex came out of the game with a knee injury, a result of the collision.  The collision was definitely rough, and has led to plenty of discussion today about whether MLB needs to place rules about plays at home to protect the catchers.  There seems to be two schools of thought here: old school, and new school.  The old school thought is that this has always been apart of baseball, and the rules shouldn't change.  The new school thought is that baseball players weren't built like linebackers back in the day, and we need to do a better job of protecting catchers from these collisions.  So what do you think?  Should there be new rules protecting against these collisions, or should it be played the way it always has?

The only thing I would add to the discussion is that until the rules change, people can't be mad at the players for colliding at home.  Ross' hit was brutal, but it's how the game is played.  We can't be mad at him.  He's a catcher and understands fully what it is to get leveled. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yankees Unwilling to go 10 Years With Cano

Not that it comes as any sort of surprise, but Hal Steinbrenner said that the Yankees are not willing to go 10 years with Cano.  In that same interview he expressed the Yankees interest in retaining Cano, and that they are going to make a good offer.  The big difference is that Hal is now expressing a new philosophical approach the Yankees are going to try, which is called being responsible.  It's a drastic change in direction for the organization, but there are hopes that this new approach will limit A-Rod sized screw ups in the future.

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Objective View on Cano, House of Representatives Edition

Cano is the best hitting and best defensive second baseman in the Major Leagues. Fact. The Yankees should not only meet his contract demands, no matter how untethered to reality, but they should exceed them just in case the Dodgers or anyone else should try to lure him away.

Here is why such a contract makes sense for the Yankees. First, I think Cano is the best player on the team, so give him the money.

Second, if you don't give him the money, thus validating my position regardless of its merit, I'll shut down Yankee Stadium. I will get all my like-minded friends together and make sure that Yankee Stadium never opens again until we resign Cano for exactly the amount of money he is demanding, no matter what plurality of fans disagrees with me and my ilk.

Also, I have other demands. Cano should be more explicitly Christian. Baseball, like constitutional democracy, is a Christian game and with Mo and Pettitte gone we need more explicit levels of devotion. If that doesn't happen, I will shut down Yankee Stadium.

Does it make sense to threaten shutdowns against both Cano and the Yankees? Yes. Let me tell you why: because I win, that's why.

An Objective View On Cano

It has been widely reported that Cano's camp is seeking a 10 year $305 million contract for next season.  The deal amounts to what A-Rod would earn if he reached all the homerun incentives, and would easily be the largest contract in baseball.  I half believe that this is just a strategic move to up his total value, but if it's not, I'll be the first to say that Cano is insane if he thinks he will get that sort of contract from the Yankees or any other team for that matter.  The Yankees have recently been reported to have offered a 7-year $161 million deal for Cano, which would put him at 2nd base until he's 38.  But as this article states, this offer is still ridiculously high for Cano, and he would be crazy not to take it.  This contract is for 7 years and $23 million a season guaranteed.  As the article mentions, players in any position are at their peak performance at around age 28 (Cano will be 31 next season), and only 18 players from 1921 - 2004 have deviated from this trend by having peak performances later in their careers.  Out of these 18 players, we have all-time greats such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGuire.  So in other words, unless the Yankees want another A-Rod level PED scandal, we're going to be paying for the declining years of Cano.  Now with that being said, Cano's value to the Yankees is far greater than his on-field performance.  He's a homegrown player, well-liked by the fan base, and we're coming off a demoralizing year.  He's the best hitting second baseman in baseball, and a top level defensive player.  That being said, 7 years and $161 million is more than just reasonable, it's over paying for what we're going to get out of him going forward.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  This compensates him for how well he's played for us thus far, and as I mentioned, he means a lot to us beyond his on field performance over the next 7 years.  They could up the total deal by $10 million and still have it be worthwhile.  Should we pay much more than that?  Absolutely not.  In this scenario, the only players on the Yankees making more than Cano would be A-Rod and Sabathia: No reasonable person in Yankee land thinks the A-Rod deal was smart, and Sabathia is signed through 2017, and is already showing signs of wearing down (4.78 ERA, gave up the most earned runs in the league, allowed a career high in homeruns).  

Might Cano get more money from another team?  Maybe, but even the top spenders in MLB are leery of the big contracts they've taken on, and are probably gun shy about paying top dollar for players in their early 30's.  The Angels got burned with the Pujols and Hamilton contracts, the Dodgers already said they'd pass on Cano, the Red Sox have a second baseman they like, there are other teams that may make a surprise bid (Phillies, Cubs, Nationals etc.) but I have to think even they will be shy about topping a 7 year $161 million deal.

In short, if I were to offer any advice for the Yankees it would be this: if Cano is offered anything near the $305 million he is looking for, let him walk.  The Cardinals did it with Pujols, and have been extremely successful as a franchise. 

I love Cano, I want him on the Yankees, but the only consistent thing we've learned about these types of  contracts is that they come back to bite us in the rear in major ways.  They give us $20+ million players who miss entire seasons at a time.  Pay the 7 years, and $161 million, up it a few million or add some incentives if it gets the deal done, but if he's going to hold out for much more than that, let him walk. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Flush With Cash

Going into this season, the Yankees had the highest payroll they ever had, marked at about $228 million.  This didn't really translate onto the field, but none the less was the most they ever put into a roster.  The Yankees projected goal is to get the payroll under $189 million for next season, which is a difference of $39 million from last season.  Currently, the Yankees have a number of contracts coming off the books, including the money we were paying the Pirates for AJ Burnett:

AJ Burnett - $8.5 million
Jeter - $9 million (This is assuming he takes the Player Option on his contract valued at $8 million)
Cano - $15 million
Granderson - $15 million
Kuroda - $15 million
Pettitte - $12 million
Youkilis - $12 million
Rivera - $10 million
Hughes - $7.15 million
Logan - $3.15 million
Hafner - $2 million
Chamberlain - $1.875 million
Overbay - $1.25 million
Francisco - $1.1 million

Total - $113.03 million

Also, we have the pending decision of A-Rod's case, that could knock off up to $26 million from our payroll if he is suspended for the whole season.  We have 9 players due for pay raises through arbitration, but this won't impact the budget too much.  So with over $100 million coming off the books, the Yankees have to fill the following positions:

2 Starting Pitchers - (This assumes Nova and Sabathia are locks, and that the 5th starter role will go to the best of Michael Pineda, Phelps, Warren, Nuno, etc.)
1 Closer
1 Second Baseman
1 Third Baseman

Additionally, the Yankees would be wise to acquire a few additional pieces:

1 Outfielder
1 Lefty Reliever
1 Catcher

Replacing Granderson is not a necessity since we currently have Soriano, Gardner, and Ichiro with Vernon Wells as a backup, but with Gardner being injury prone, and Wells being a hitting void, it would be valuable to acquire another outfielder.  The experiment at catcher this year was lacking and the Yankees really need to consider bringing a catcher who can hit at a big league level.  We really only need a short term third base replacement, and a guy like Mark Reynolds may be a good and inexpensive option there.  Nonetheless, the Yankees have some major holes to fill, and will need to be smart as to how they allocate their money. 

So this is the current state of the Yankees: they are flush with cash, but still need to be smart about how they spread around this money.  There are a lot  of decisions to make this winter.