Monthly Archives: December 2011

Nakajima and Yankees still far apart on a contract

Nakajima and Yankees still far apart on a contract

by Matt S.

The Yankees and Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima are still far apart in contract negotiations, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Yankees have explored sign-and-trade options for Nakajima, but simply lack any real use for him on their Opening Day roster. The 29-year-old is reportedly considering a return to his native Japan. Heyman hears that the two sides have until Tuesday to reach a deal, so expect a resolution either way next week.

 

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Open Thread (Happy New Year)

3....2....1

Simply put Happy New Year to all. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2012. We are very thankful that you visit our site and we look forward to have 2012 (our first full year as a blog) be even better than 2011.

2011 Yankees Awards

2011 Yankees Awards

Welcome to the first ever Yankees Awards which recognizes the Yankees players for their talents, charity and class off and on the field. You have cast your votes and only your votes determine the winner. Now, since it is 2011 (almost 2012), we added 11 categories. Let’s get to announcing the winners!

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Sure the Yankees are a team that are full of superstars, but only one could rise to be Player of the Year. Your nominees for Player of the Year are:

1. Curtis Granderson

2. David Robertson

3. Robinson Cano

4. Ivan Nova

And the winner of the Player of the Year award is….

Curtis Granderson!

Here was how you voted for the Player of the Year Award:

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The Yankees are jammed packed with superstars in their rotation as well. They all have done well this season, but only one could be Starting Pitcher of the Year. Your nominees for Starting Pitcher of the Year are:

1. CC Sabathia

2. Ivan Nova

3. A.J Burnett

4. Freddy Garcia

5. Bartolo Colon

6. Phil Hughes

And the winner of the Starting Pitcher of the Year award is:

CC Sabathia!

Here was how you voted:

Read the rest of this entry

Morning Bits: Jones, Garza, Hal, HOF Voting

Good morning everybody. Here are a few links on the day….

— As you know, the Yankees are to re-sign Andruw Jones to reprise his role as fourth outfielder.

— Three teams in the AL East: the Yanks, Red Sox, and Jays all have interest in Cubs’ right-hander Matt Garza.

— Bob Klapisch takes a look at how Hal Steinbrenner has been very conservative about the spending of money.

There are two factors in play here. The first has to do with Hal Steinbrenner’s desire to save money, as opposed to his father, George, who funneled most of the Yankees’ profits back into the payroll. Peel away the layers of Yankees rhetoric, and what the younger Steinbrenner wants is to make money and win championships. In that order.

— Ken Rosenthal writes an excellent piece about the influence of the Steriod Era on Hall of Fame voting, and gives his ballot.

Have a great Saturday!

Andruw Jones is back for another season

Andruw Jones is back for another season

by Matt S.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Andruw Jones has re-signed with the Yankees on a one-year, $2 million deal.  The contract also contains a possible $1.4 million more that Jones can earn in incentives. Jones batted .247/.356/.495 with 13 homers, 33 RBI and an .851 OPS over 222 plate appearances this past season and was dangerous against southpaws, boasting a .926 OPS against them. He figures to again see a few starts per week in the outfield and at the DH spot.

Afternoon/Night Open Thread

At 3:20pm there will be football at the stadium. Rutgers vs Iowa St.  Here is a picture from one of our twitter followers @tomkirk5.   Enjoy the night everyone.

Happy New Years to all as well if I don’t have the chance to say it this weekend.

Should Paul Maholm be an option?

With many options now off the table, if the Yankees want to sign or trade for a starting pitcher, they won’t likely be able to find one of a “number-two” caliber. Therefore, it may be time to look at some of the lesser, cheaper alternatives that are out there. Let’s take a look at lefty free agent, Paul Maholm.

Drafted in the first round (8th overall), Maholm has spent his entire career with the Pirates, where he has always been a fairly average pitcher. In 2011, however, the 30 year old turned it around and had a very good season, despite the 6-14 record (the product of being on a poor offensive team). The Pirates decided to decline Maholm’s $9.75MM club option, and he is now one of the remaining free agents.

Maholm owns a 4.36 / 4.21 / 4.22 line for his career, though he boasted a much improved 3.66 / 3.78 / 4.03 in 2011. His increased success in 2011 could be that of a career year, but it could also be the work of an adjustment he made with manager Clint Hurdle during the 2010-2011 offseason. Unlike in previous years, Maholm started to pitch to hitters much more aggressively on the inside third of the plate. The benefit of pitching inside more can be seen clearly through looking at his Batting Average Against (BAA). In 2009 and 2010, Maholm’s BAA was .287 and .296 respectively, whereas in 2011, it dropped substantially to .254. Dominating the inside part of the plate generally translates into less solid contact, which makes it seem likely that Maholm’s improved 2011 campaign isn’t a fluke.

One thing that is great about Maholm’s game is that he is a pitcher of control and ground-balls (52.3 career GB%; BB/9 usually in the upper 2’s). Now don’t get me wrong, ground-balls are great to have at Yankee Stadium. However, Maholm doesn’t strike anyone out (5.55 career K/9). This means that if he is in a high leverage situation with multiple runners on base (say runners on 2nd and 3rd), he can’t rely on getting a strikeout. Instead, he would have to rely on getting a ground-ball, which would entail a higher probability of run(s) scoring. In summation, ground-balls are great, but they lose a lot of their appeal when the pitcher can’t get strikeouts – which is Paul Maholm’s case.

You also have to take into consideration the transition from the weak NL Central, to the tough pressure-cooker that is the AL East. It’s not like Maholm is able to overpower hitters even in the NL Central, as he held only a measly 13.1 Swing-and-Miss percentage in 2011. That doesn’t figure to get any better pitching against offenses such as the Red Sox on a fairly regular basis. He is the quintessential soft-tosser, with a 86-89 mph fastball, a low 80s slider and change-up, and a low 70s looping curve. As Freddy Garcia showed last year, a 86-89 mph fastball can certainly get the job done. Freddy really mixed his pitches up masterfully, throwing his fastball only 36% of the time. What concerns me is that Maholm uses his fastball over 50% of the time. He’ll struggle in the AL East throwing a 87 mph fastball 50-55% of the time.

Additionally, Maholm has a huge platoon split- vs. Righties: .297 / .357 / .449; vs. Lefties: .216 / .285 / .309. To me, that implies that Maholm’s secondary pitches are either just as weak as his fastball, or he doesn’t use them as effectively as he could. A four-pitch pitcher should not have such horrendous numbers against righties and have such success against lefties.

Overall, Paul Maholm is not really a great match for the Yankees’ needs. I just don’t think a soft-tosser who doesn’t strike anyone out translates well into the AL East, or even the American League in general, though there are always exceptions. One more thing to note: Maholm’s number of innings has steadily declined since 2008, in addition to a shoulder strain at the back end of 2011.

Tim Dierkes of MLBTR said he should be able to get a 2 year deal for around $12MM. If that’s the case, I’d happily take Hiroki Kuroda or Roy Oswalt over Maholm.

Morning Bits: Bichette Jr, Phelps, Banuelos, Pinstripe Bowl, Derek Jeter

Good morning all.  It’s Friday and it’s a 3 day weekend for most.  Enjoy New Years everyone be safe.

Now on to the links….

* Bichette Jr. among “special” NY Prospects.

* Phelps, Banuelos among Yankees best.

* Yankees call up some tougher sod for Pinstripe Bowl.

* Yankee hats are everywhere even North Korea.

* Is Derek Jeter’s career winding down?

* Yankees have many options.

Open Thread

Yankees #2?

Good evening everyone. Above is a picture of Garza. Would seeing him in Pinstripes fulfill your New Year’s wish? He could help solidify the rotation quite a bit for the Yankees. Any thoughts? Jon Heyman says the Cubs are prioritizing young pitching, something the Yankees have a plethora of.

Well, here’s an open thread- talk about whatever you wish. Two bowl games are on ESPN tonight one of which was the Heisman winner for Baylor University Robert Griffin III. Enjoy the night.

* We have a new setup with the Header atop of the blog.  We feel it makes the page look much cleaner.  We hope you enjoy it.

The Roster: Who Makes it?

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a solid 51 days, but I’m looking ahead to when baseball really matters: Opening Day. Spring Training to me is like a season of “Survivor”. There are about 70+ players that show up for Spring Training but only 25 can make the cut. We know some of the regulars are in already so they don’t count (like Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, etc.) but it is nice to see which young ones could make the roster for Opening Day. As Spring Training goes by, players find out that they will start in either Double-A or Triple-A. Some players even find out that they might get traded. But when Opening Day comes, only 25 of the best will compete in the Major Leagues vs. the other teams that are out there. Considering what the Yankees have done this off-season so far, I decided to make a roster on how I think it would look on Opening Day plus the lineups that the Yankees could work with.

Lineup 1:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jesus Montero DH
Russell Martin C

Lineup 2:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jesus Montero DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

As I mentioned before, the regulars were a shoe in to make the 25 man roster

With

(unless someone got traded). But this is the ideal way that the lineup could appear on Opening Day. The reason that Mark Teixeira would bat 5th & Robinson Cano would bat 3rd or 4th in the order is because Cano is easily the Yankees best hitter. He has proved it since coming up with the Yankees in 2005, and time and time again is becoming a better name for him. With Brett Gardner & Derek Jeter’s case, I think that Gardner could bat lead-off with Jeter batting 2nd and then have Jeter bat 1st & Gardner batting 9th in what Joe Girardi would call the “Double Lead-Off Effect” (which when Gardner and Jeter are both healthy, works very well).  Jesus Montero would make the 25 man roster easily due to his impressive work in the 2011 season in September. Also Jesus Montero was named the #1 Yankee Prospect for the third year in a row.

Starting Rotation:

CC Sabathia LHP
Ivan Nova RHP
Freddy Garcia RHP
A.J. Burnett RHP
Phil Hughes RHP

This is how I would predict that the Yankees would have the starting rotation. Of course we have been hearing that A.J Burnett could be shopped around during this off-season, but in reality I don’t see Burnett going anywhere. I know this isn’t the best rotation but Cashman hasn’t done much during the off-season so far. There are a lot of ifs in this rotation after Sabathia. We wonder if Ivan Nova can have a repeat performance of his 2011 campaign. We wonder if Freddy Garcia can be consistent like he was in 2011. We wonder if A.J Burnett can pitch well, plain and simple. And we also wonder if Phil Hughes can bounce back from his horrendous 2011 season that was plagued with injuries. This rotation could use some work but Cashman hasn’t made the moves that were necessary to make this one of the best rotations in baseball.

Bullpen

Mariano Rivera RHP
David Robertson RHP
Rafael Soriano RHP
Joba Chamberlain RHP
Boone Logan LHP
Cory Wade RHP
Hideki Okajima LHP

Last year the Yankees had one of the best bullpens in the league and they could easily have that in 2012. I don’t see the Yankees re-signing Luis Ayala but they do have Cory Wade coming back. The Yankees also just recently signed Hideki Okajima who could have a chance to make the bullpen and become the second lefty behind Boone Logan. (Logan wasn’t going to be the “Lone Lefty” forever). We don’t expect for Joba Chamberlain to be able to be on the Opening Day roster, but he is working hard to come back from Tommy John Surgery. After a stellar year, David Robertson should return and reprise the 8th inning role while veteran closer Mariano Rivera will continue his role in what might be the final season of his career. I would say that if all of the Yankees can keep up the pace like last year then they could be a dominate force in 2012.

Bench Players

Eduardo Nunez SS/3B/2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Eric Chavez 3B/1B
Andruw Jones OF

After last year, the Yankees could use Eduardo Nunez up to bat and on the field (but please keep the errors to a minimum Nunie). Cervelli has proven himself that he could be a reliable asset to the team. He’s a good backup catcher and can be pretty handy offensively. (Cervelli has a knack of hitting with RISP which is something the team should learn how to do). Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez have both revealed that they would like to resign with the Yankees, and I think that they could fit well with the team. The Yankees may also sign Hiroyuki Nakajima, who could fill the same role as Nunez, making either to be a trade chip.

The Yankees didn’t look like much in 2011, but surprised the baseball world when they ran away with the AL East Championship with the rotation they had. Although the Yankees have lost some key players (Jorge Posada), they can still be the team to beat in 2012 because as we all know, the team in pinstripes doesn’t go down so easily.

Morning Bits: A-Rod, Okajima, Steinbrenner sued, Nakajima

Good Morning all. Another day closer to the New Year.

Let’s get right to the links…

* By now you have heard that A-Rod had experimental knee treatment in Germany.

* Yanks, Okajima agree on a minor league deal.

* Yankees Co-Owner Hal Steinbrenner sued for $670,494 in taxes.

* Yankees nearing deadline for Nakajima negotiations.

Open Thread

Will he or won't he be a Yankee?

Hello all lot’s of talk today with the Yankees.  Nakajima decision will come next week.  Garza buzz is getting louder and lots of other news we reported today. Boston also just got themselves a new closer with former A’s Andrew Bailey.    Here is the Open thread to talk about whatever you want.  Enjoy!!

Resolution with Nakajima to come next week

Resolution with Nakajima to come next week

by Matt S.

According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the Yankees will have a resolution next week with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Yankees won exclusive negotiating rights with Nakajima earlier this month with a $2.5 million posting fee. They can’t guarantee him much in the way of playing time and he reportedly doesn’t want to play on the East Coast. Barring something creative like a sign-and-trade, he may opt to return to Japan. Hoch suspects that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is waiting to see what happens before attempting to re-sign Eric Chavez.

 

Garza Trade talks & Yankees still interested in Jones

Garza Trade talks & Yankees still interested in Jones

by Matt S.

According to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, trade talks for Matt Garza are “heating up.” Kaplan hears that the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays are all involved. While the Cubs have considered a contract extension for Garza, they are willing to listen on anybody. Given the recent package of prospects the A’s received from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal, this could be an ideal time to move him. Garza, 28, is under team control for the next two seasons.

 

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday that the club remains interested in re-signing Andruw Jones. However, it doesn’t appear as though an agreement is imminent. Jones is currently drawing interest from multiple teams and one report last week linked him to the Red Sox. The 34-year-old batted .247/.356/.495 with 13 homers, 33 RBI and an .851 OPS over 222 plate appearances last season, including a .926 OPS against southpaws.

A-Rod treatment on his knee & Okajima signed to a minor league contract

A-Rod treatment on his knee & Okajima signed to a minor league contract

by Matt S.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Alex Rodriguez recently traveled to Germany for an experimental treatment on his troublesome right knee.  Rodriguez went to Germany after getting a recommendation from Lakers’ star Kobe Byrant, who had the same treatment on his knee and ankle. The procedure, which is called Orthokine, involves taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge. That solution is then injected into the affected area once or twice a week. The Yankees and the commissioner’s office both approved of the experimental treatment. Rodriguez, 36, is expected to be ready for spring training, but his health is obviously a big question mark moving forward.

Yankees signed LHP Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract. The deal also includes an invite to spring training. Okajima, 36, only made seven appearances with the Red Sox this past season before spending the rest of the year in the minors, but he could still have some value as a left-handed specialist. The veteran southpaw owns a 3.11 ERA over 261 career relief appearances.

Expecting (Hoping For) a Hughes Bounceback

Now that it is looking less and less likely that the Yankees will be able to acquire a number-two starter for at least the first half of the 2012 season, it has become obvious that Phil Hughes must absolutely be back with a vengeance next year. We have seen from the first half of 2010 how dominant he can be – a true number-two starter. However, after a poor second half of 2010 and a miserable, injury-ridden campaign in 2011, it has become hard to picture Hughes at his highest potential. Because confidence in the team’s current pitching situation is quite low right now, what better time to show some optimism about Phil Hughes next year?

Simply put, Phil Hughes’ 2011 season may just have been an outlier. A pitcher who relies heavily on his ability to throw his fastball past hitters, usually does not fare well with decreased velocity. With his mystery dead-arm injury, that is exactly what Hughes had to go through this past year. Phil Hughes’ 2011 campaign exemplifies the belief that 1-2 mph can have a profound impact on a pitcher.

If you look at the fastball column, you can clearly see how effective the pitch was in 2010 (or at least the first-half). At 92.6 mph, he had a 14.6 wFB, which is quite good. All of a sudden, with a drop of 1.3 mph from 2010 to 2011, the value of his four-seamer plummeted. Virtually the same thing occurred with his cutter. With a loss of 1.4 mph in 2011, it became just as ineffective as it was effective in 2010.

Therefore, we can make the argument that if Hughes can recover the 1-2 mph lost on his fastball, he will be a very effective pitcher in 2012. Unless the problem is more serious than we were ever told, I really doubt Hughes will continue to suffer from the same arm issue. With a faster fastball: (1) Hughes’s secondary pitches will become much more deceptive and effective, and (2) he will get more swings and misses (and more strikeouts). Ultimately, Phil Hughes’s problems are much simpler than anyone really thinks. With a pitcher like him, increased velocity = increased success. That’s all it comes down to.

We all know it – Phil Hughes is vitally important to the Yankees’ success in 2012. There is certainly room for optimism. If he can fully recover from the shoulder problems of this past season, and regain the lost fastball velocity, I think he should be very effective moving forward.

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