Monthly Archives: January 2013

Yankees Offseason Notes: Alex Rodriguez will not retire; Yanks sign Travis Hafner

Once again, the main focus of the day belonged to none other than Alex Rodriguez in his ongoing saga about the PED report. For fans that were hoping that Alex Rodriguez would retire out of shame–it’s not happening. A source close to Rodriguez spoke to the press today, addressing the fact that Rodriguez will not retire, meaning that it would take a bigger effort to strip A-Rod of his contract, should the report be true.

“Alex has no plans to retire at all.” The source told ESPN New York early Thursday morning.

While the media continues to buzz about the story of A-Rod possibly using PED’s again, a spokesperson for A-Rod spoke on behalf of A-Rod’s, discussing his rehab and him possibly returning to the field–if he’s not caught cheating and suspended first.

“Alex says he’s working diligently on his rehabilitation and is looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible.”

If A-Rod is working to get back on the field and if all of the allegations are proven true, I believe that this could be the last we see Alex Rodriguez in Yankees pinstripes. It would be hard to strip them from him, but if true, a man that repeatedly cheats the game of baseball isn’t worthy of wearing the sacred pinstripes that stand for all that is good to the New York Yankees.

Yankees sign Travis Hafner to one-year deal

The Yankees have signed Travis Hafner to a one year deal, filling the role for the DH–at least against right handed pitching. The numbers of the contract haven’t been revealed as of yet, but he will don pinstripes for the Yankees, filling a vacant role that previously belonged to Raul Ibanez during the 2012 season. Hafner spent nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians, before the Indians declined his option for the 2013 season, sending him to the free agency market.

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Some Yankee Tweets

Morning Bits: Hafner, Prospects & More….

mug3Good Morning all we are 12 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa.   That is very exciting.  Baseball is almost back!!!   Let’s get the morning started right with some links….

Dan Martin of The New York Post has the low down on Travis Hafner.

John Harper of The Daily News takes a look at the Yankees five best prospects.

Adam Berry of MLB.com mentions that the Cards/Yanks open the spring slate of ESPN’s telecast.

Farm hands & MLB’s top 100

MiLB: JUL 08 Class A Advanced - Tampa Yankees at Dunedin Blue Jays

Last night MLB, led by draft and prospect expert Jonathon Mayo released their top 100 prospects list. Three Yankees made the cut: Gary Sanchez came in at #36, Mason williams at #41 and newcomer to the top 100 Tyler Austin came in at #75. If not for injury setbacks Manny Banuelos and Jose campos were both likely to make the list as well. Here’s MLB.com’s take on the guys from the NY farm system, all of whom will look to take their cuts in Trenton this coming season and propel themselves even further up the rankings:

“Gary Sanchez
Rank: 36
ETA: 2015
Position: C
Age: 20, DOB: 12/02/1992
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 220
Signed: July 2, 2009 – NYY
Twitter: @ElGarySanchez
Scouting Grades (present/future): Hit: 3/5 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 2/2 | Arm: 7/7 | Field: 3/5 | Overall: 4/6
Sanchez has been on radars since the Yankees gave him $3 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic. Hitting .353 in his United States debut didn’t hurt and he’s tantalized with his skills since. Sanchez appears to have put some of the attitude issues he had during his full-season debut in 2011 behind him and it should be noted he’ll still be just 20 years old for all of the 2013 season. Sanchez earned a promotion in 2012 and his bat should help him continue to move up the ladder. He has above-average raw power and his approach at the plate has improved, giving him the chance to be an outstanding all-around hitter. He’s always had a plus arm behind the plate, but there had been questions about his ability to handle the defensive rigors of the position in the past. He did seem to make some strides with the glove, though he needs to continue to work on his receiving skills, and the Yankees hope that can continue.

Mason Williams
Rank: 41
ETA: 2015
Position: OF
Age: 21, DOB: 08/21/1991
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 150
Drafted: 2010, 4th (145) – NYY
Twitter: @MjordanW9
Scouting Grades (present/future): Hit: 3/5 | Power: 3/4 | Run: 7/7 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
From a raw tools perspective, Williams is one of the more intriguing prospects in baseball. In 2012, he started to really use his skills more consistently on the field and earned a promotion up a level as a result. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury cut his season short. Williams has some definite ability with the bat, with a solid approach and a handsy swing that allows him to cover the plate well. It’s more of a slap/slash approach right now, but some feel there’s power to come as he matures. Williams can go get the ball in center field with good range and a solid arm. As he hones his skills on the basepaths, he should become a more consistent basestealing threat. All he needs is time and he’ll be ready for center field in the big leagues. If the bat develops, he has the chance to be an elite-level player.

Tyler Austin
Rank: 75
ETA: 2014
Position: OF
Age: 21, DOB: 09/06/1991
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 200
Drafted: 2010, 13th (415) – NYY
Twitter: @t_austin21
Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 5/6 | Power: 4/5 | Run: 5/5 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 5/5 | Overall: 5/6
Austin burst on the scene in 2011 when he hit .354 in two short-season stops. Despite missing time with a concussion that forced him out of the Futures Game in 2012, he showed that his previous season was no mirage. He reached Double-A, even homering in the playoffs, while topping the organization in batting average and slugging percentage while finishing second in on-base percentage and third in RBIs. A former infielder, Austin made a smooth transition to right field and should profile well there, though perhaps without the plus power some like to see from the position. Still, he has a very good approach at the plate and a quick swing that should allow him to continue to hit for average. He’s a good baserunner with average speed, and has the arm and range to be a good defensive outfielder. It’s not often 13th-round picks turn into big league regulars, but this one has a chance to do just that.”

Per Mayo, here is his breakdown of the grading system:

“For the first time, there are scouting reports with each player on Prospect Watch. Players are given present and future grades on a 2-8 scale — 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average, 7-8 is plus — for each individual tool, along with an overall grade. Obviously subjective, perhaps the most important grade is the future overall grade — this number signifies what each player will ultimately be in the big leagues.

A future “7″ is a player who could develop into a perennial All-Star. There are only 10 future 7s on the list. Five of them are right-handers: Bundy, Taijuan Walker, Jose Fernandez, Zack Wheeler and Gerrit Cole. There’s one lefty in Tyler Skaggs, three shortstops (Profar, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez) and one outfielder (Taveras).”

Morning Bits: A-Rod, Three Yankee Prospects on top 100 list, PED’s

mug3Who said it’s been a slow news winter for the bombers.   Unluckily for the Yankees A-Rod’s mess never goes away.  Let’s get right to the links….

Bryan Hoch of mlb.com reports that A-Rod denies being linked to the clinic in Miami.

Three Yankee Prospects (Williams, Sanchez, Austin) landed on MLB’s top 100 prospect list.  Click the link to see where they landed.

Ian O’Connor of ESPN NY asks if A-Rod is the greatest (Cheat & Liar) ever?

Jayson Stark of ESPN writes that the penalties have to get stronger for PED’s.

Wallace Matthews writes that the Yankees are looking into voiding A-Rods contract. (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!)

Paul White of USA Today writes that it won’t be so easy for the Yankees to void A-Rod’s contract.

Reactions from Alex Rodriguez PED report (Plus other Yankees notes)

While the baseball world is not at all shocked that Alex Rodriguez has been linked to PED’s (again), there are more statements and news surrounding the latest chapter that is the Alex Rodriguez-saga. Earlier today both Joel Sherman and the Yankees issued statements about the Alex Rodriguez Miami report. Here’s what the Yankees had to say:

“We fully support the Commissioner’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The matter is now in the hands of the Commissioner’s office. We will have no further comment until the investigation has concluded.”

Here’s the statement A-Rod’s camp gave to Joel Sherman.

” The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in this story –at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez– are not legitimate.”

As soon as the PED story broke from the Miami New Times, ESPN reported that Rodriguez hired a lawyer, Roy Black, who has represented several celebrities. Along with Alex Rodriguez being linked to the PED report, Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez were also linked. Gonzalez gave his own statement to the press.

“I’ve never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will. I’ve never met with Bosch or used any substance provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie.”

As we get more information on the A-Rod saga, we will post it here so stay tuned.

Pettitte won’t pitch in the WBC

Andy Pettitte had an extended invitation to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, especially after Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves pulled out but now, Pettitte won’t pitch for Team USA and will instead be with the Yankees at camp during Spring Training. With Pettitte now out of the mix, the Medlen roster spot could now go to Justin Verlander. As much as I love the World Baseball Classic, Andy Pettitte and the Yankees made the right decision. This could possibly be the last year for Pettitte (provided he doesn’t make another comeback in 2015 after taking a one year break in 2014) so to preserve him for the 2013 season was a good idea.

Chris Dickerson signs a deal with Baltimore

Chris Dickerson easily became a fan favorite for the Yankees, but it became apparent that he wasn’t going to have a spot on the roster and in return the Yankees granted Dickerson his release. As of today, Dickerson has a ball club. He signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles with an invitation to Spring Training. Although I’ll be sad that I can’t see Dickerson play for the Yankees anymore, I am glad that he will finally get a chance to show the talent that he has.

Freddy Garcia finds a job. Yes, really

After I was almost a thousand percent positive that Freddy Garcia was going to hang it up after a bad year with the Yankees, he eventually found a new job with the San Diego Padres organization. He has a minor league deal worth $1.3 Million and another $1.25 Million in incentives. Good luck to him.

Would the Yankees mind if A-Rod never came back?

 

UPDATE: per Daily News, ARod, Melky, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz and others linked to Anthony Bosch, who is target of HGH/drug investigation by DEA & MLB.  The below is straight from the Daily News:

As the Daily News first reported Saturday, federal investigators from the DEA and Florida, as well as MLB’s Department of Investigations, have been probing the link between Bosch and the Yankees’ third baseman, and as many as 20 other active players, for several months. According to sources, federal agents have already interviewed Bosch.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said one law enforcement source.

Rodriguez’s name appears many times in Bosch’s reports and in a notebook, according to the Miami New Times, under his own name as well as the aliases “Alex Rod” or “Cacique” — his nickname at the now-shuttered clinic — as having received testosterone cream and insulin-like growth factor and other types of growth hormone.  Rodriguez’s account with Bosch was “paid through April 30th” of 2012, according to the records cited by the newspaper. The account dates back to 2009, according to the report. Rodriguez still has five years, $114 million remaining on his Yankee contract.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: I was skimming through the New York Daily News website on Saturday to read the sports section wanting to know what some of the columnists had to say about the idle Yankees, and there was one article that caught my eye. Under the Yankees section of the Daily News, Bill Madden wrote about the on-going Alex Rodriguez saga. We all knew that Alex Rodriguez was going to have hip surgery. We all knew that he could have been out at least until mid-July. But the title of the article had me wanting to read more. “Yankees would not be at all unhappy if Alex Rodriguez misses next season or never comes back.

Would the Yankees miss A-Rod if he decided to never come back?

Would the Yankees miss A-Rod if he decided to never come back?

Brian Cashman made a call to WFAN to talk about Alex Rodriguez possibly missing the season and while he showed some uncertainty over the future of A-Rod, he didn’t seem all that sad about it. It could be because he’s a business man and is supposed to be professional about his players but from the way Cashman spoke on the phone, his tone implicated that he wasn’t at all concerned.

The Yankees went out to get a new third baseman in the former Red Sox turned Yankee, Kevin Youkilis, probably meaning that if Youkilis performed up to par then the Yankees wouldn’t miss A-Rod as much. Alex Rodriguez is easily one of the most controversial Yankees of this decade, practically being paid gigantic money for mediocre numbers, also adding to the fact that A-Rod had taken PED’s in his past.

I understand that the PED’s was a mistake (as most ballplayers that are caught using steroids say), but A-Rod’s on-going antics on the field is what get’s fans riled up, and not in a good way. Last season, A-Rod was constantly injured, had an abysmal postseason which we could easily say was the hip injury and flirted with female fans, while the Yankees were losing! The New York Post front cover after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs still hurts to this day.

The good news is that the Yankees would easily be able to eat up A-Rod’s contract, keeping the $28 Million promised to A-Rod due to having an “insurance policy” on the player. The insurance works if a player has missed more than four months of the season and it’s minimal unless the player misses the entire season. (To answer questions before they are asked, neither Mariano Rivera nor Brett Gardner had insurance policies in their contracts even though they missed almost the entire season last year).

From a business stand point, the Yankees would probably want A-Rod to never come back since it would eat up his remaining contract and save them more money in the long run. I personally will always be grateful for the 2009 A-Rod run to the World Series, but honestly, I think this time he might want to consider hanging up his cleats for good. His body is breaking down, and fans don’t want to pay money to watch A-Rod decline if he ever comes back.

To read the Daily News article, Click Here

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees sign Juan Rivera; The Captain is back on the field!

Yankees sign Juan Rivera

So while I was at the doctor’s office earlier today, I was skimming through my Yankees twitter feed when I saw that the Yankees had signed none other than Juan Rivera to a minor league deal which includes an invitation to Spring Training. Rivera (no relation to Mariano Rivera), will compete with Russ Canzler, Matt Diaz, Thomas Neal, Ronnie Mustelier and other options to be the fourth outfielders. Rivera if he can stay healthy, is a good signing since he has a career .285/.332/.488 against left handed pitching and could be the bat that the Yankees were looking for this offseason.

Who do you think will ultimately win the fourth outfielder position?

Derek Jeter is back on the field!

Derek Jeter is one inch closer to getting on the field for Opening Day after taking drills at the Yankees minor league complex today. The captain of the Yankees fielded 55 grounders in front of the dirt at shortstop today and also hit in the batting cage.

Jeter was also joined by teammates David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli and Michael Pineda at the complex. Robertson recently signed a deal with the Yankees, Cervelli is competing for the catcher spot (oy vey), and Pineda is working on making his comeback by June of this season.

Mark Teixeira to join Rock of Ages cast for one night only!

It’s no secret Mark Teixeira loves Broadway Musicals and tomorrow he is going to see the Rock of Ages cast for tomorrow’s show. Hmm, I figured that he would have been asked to join the cast of Les Miserables since that is his favorite musical.

Want to sing the National Anthem for the Staten Island Yankees?

The Staten Island Yankees are looking for singers to perform the National Anthem or God Bless America for the upcoming 2013 season. Fill out the form here if you are interested. Tryouts are on February 23 from 12-3pm.

A Chat with Jim Abbott

Abbott while pitching for the Calgary Cannons in 1998 (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Abbott while pitching for the Calgary Cannons in 1998 (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The word “perseverance” is thrown around a lot in the world of sports.  Any time an athlete plays through an injury or attains a height they have previously failed to achieve, we laud them for their ability to endure–and rightfully so; but few have had to overcome more than Jim Abbott.  In a sport that requires incredible dexterity and hand-eye-coordination, Abbott was able to succeed at the highest level despite being born without a right hand.

Abbott was born in Flint, Michigan and went on to attend Flint Central High School where he was a standout pitcher and quarterback for the Indians.  He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 36th round of the ’85 MLB Draft, but decided to forgo his entry into professional baseball in order to attend the University of Michigan.  During his three years with the maize and blue he was a 2-time All-American, won the 1987 Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur baseball player in the nation, and in 1988 was both the Big Ten Player of the Year in baseball and the Big Ten Athlete of the Year. His name is peppered through the Wolverine career record book: wins (5th), ERA (6th), complete games (8th), and strikeouts (13th).

In 1988 Abbott took the mound in the gold medal game of the Summer Olympics, helping the United States earn the victory over Japan.  He was selected 8th overall in the ’88 MLB Draft by the Angels and pitched for California over the next four seasons, finishing 3rd in the 1991 Cy Young vote.

Abbott came to the Yankees in 1993 where he quickly became a fan favorite.  On September 4, 1993 he turned in the most memorable performance of his career, no-hitting the Cleveland Indians in a 4-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.  In 1994 his 9 wins were tied for second-highest on the team as the Yanks built a 6.5 game AL East lead before the strike cut the season short in August.  Though he only wore the pinstripes for two seasons, he is still fondly remembered in New York for his courage and humility as well as his inspiring gem against Cleveland.

Since retiring from the game in 1999, Abbott has received a number of honors and has continued to use his story to inspire and encourage others.  In 2004 he was enshrined in the University of Michigan Hall of Honor and in 2007 he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.  In 2009 his #31 was retired by the University of Michigan.  In 2012 his autobiography Imperfect was published and he continues to travel the country as a motivational speaker.

Jim was kind enough to briefly answer a few of my questions amid his busy life as a father, husband, and speaker.

*     *     *     *     *

Carlos Baerga grounds out on September 4, 1993. What’s the first thing that goes through your head?

It’s hard to describe my feelings. There was just this huge rush of adrenaline along with a disbelief that this could actually be happening!  It felt like an electrical current was going through my body.

What was your favorite part about your time in New York?

Playing in Yankee Stadium in the pinstripes with a sold-out crowd.

What teammate were you closest with during your time in New York?

Scott Kamieniecki and Jimmy Key.  Although I loved many of the great characters on those teams.  [Don] Mattingly, [Paul] O’Neill, [Mike] Stanley, [Wade] Boggs, [Mike] Gallego.  It was a really fun group of guys.

What did it feel like to have the strike end the ’94 season when you had helped the Yanks claim 1st place in the AL East?

I was really bummed.  That team was very good.  I think we would have made the playoffs and maybe started the Yankee run one year earlier.

What have you been doing since retiring in ’99?

I have been doing motivational speaking and raising a family in California.  I released a memoir last year called Imperfect.  The structure of the book revolves around the 9 innings of the no hitter in ’93.

What does it mean to you to be able to share your story and inspire others?

I have come to appreciate the connection we all feel to the game.  The fact that I played a little differently helps me to tell the story a bit differently but in the end it is still a baseball story.  I cherish my connections with the game.

*     *     *     *     *
Follow Jim on Twitter @jabbottum31.
Follow Dan on Twitter @161st_and_River.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Third-to-First pick-off move banned

Do you remember watching those games where the pitcher would throw from third-to-first and you would either A.) throw your cap down in annoyance, B.) click your tongue at the annoyance of the play or C.) Spill your beer (and maybe food) and once again, would be annoyed? Well, that won’t happen any more! MLB has imposed a rule that a pitcher that fakes to third, then throws to first will be charged with a balk. It makes sense to change the rule since the pick-off move hardly ever worked since the existence of baseball.

Jeff Nelson (who now is a contributor for MLB.com) said, “The managers say it’s all about speeding up the game. I think now, the runner at first might get a little bit of an advantage. All it’s used for is to keep the runner at first close. I might have done it 100 times and gotten two guys on it.”

 “A large majority of the managers, I mean really a good amount, wanted to eliminate it, So we presented it.” Joe Torre, the executive vice president in the commissioner’s office (and former New York Yankees manager) weighed in on the situation. “To me, it’s been inconsistent because sometimes it’s called a balk and sometimes it isn’t. Obviously, it gets a little disjointed that way. Just my experience, added to what they want, I made a case for it. The feeling was, you’re deceiving the runner or the hitter.”

MLB proposed to ban the players association last season, but it was rejected. It was later overridden by the sport.

The rule is slated to take effect during the 2013 season.

In Other News:

– The New York Yankees and David Robertson agreed to a one-year, $3.1 Million contract, avoiding arbitration. Robertson’s pay now increases the Yankees projected payroll to approximately $206 Million. Prior to Robertson’s deal, the Yankees had 17 players on the roster whose contracts combined to a whopping $197.3 Million. In addition, the Yankees owe the Pittsburgh Pirates $8.5 Million from the A.J Burnett deal which took place last February.

– The DEA  (Drug Enforcement Administration) and MLB are investigation an adviser to who has been linked to performance enhancing drugs and Alex Rodriguez, according to the New York Daily News. Anthony Bosch worked with Rodriguez on training, nutrition and dietary supplements along with other Latin ballplayers in Southern Florida. Bosch’s name sounds familiar? His father Dr. Pedro Bosch was investigated in 2009 for his PED ties to Manny Ramirez while the ballplayer was playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rodriguez, who will most likely miss the entire 2013 season has been known for taking steroids, admitting his PED use in 2009.

On This Day In History | 1955

Dec. 1941 | DiMaggio and his signature bat (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

Dec. 1941 | DiMaggio and his signature bat (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

On this day 58 years ago the immortal Joe DiMaggio was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.  Incredibly, after a career in which he slugged 361 home runs, batted .325, won 3 MVPs, and recorded a 56-game hitting streak, the Yankee Clipper was enshrined in his third year of eligibility.  His deferment can be partially explained by the fact that during the early fifties there was such a bottleneck of greats that even transcendent players like DiMaggio had to wait their turn.  For example, the 1950 ballot famously included Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Harry Heilmann, Dizzy Dean, and Bill Dickey, yet that year Cooperstown opened its doors to no one.

In 1953, DiMaggio’s first eligible year, he received just 44.32% of the required 75% vote for admission.  In 1954 he received 69.44% of the vote, but Rabbit Maranville, Bill Dickey, and Bill Terry were the only ones elected.  Now, before we storm the ivy-covered walls of Cooperstown over DiMaggio’s snubs, the Hall enacted a special “DiMaggio Rule” in 1954, the same year they installed the 5-year waiting period before retired players could be eligible.  Out of respect for the Clipper, they allowed him to remain on the 1955 ballot while his contemporaries had to wait the requisite five years.  He was admitted on the 1955 ballot, becoming the only player from the 1950s to also be enshrined in the 1950s.  Here is the 1955 ballot:

  1. Joe DiMaggio | 88.84%
  2. Ted Lyons | 86.45%
  3. Dazzy Vance | 81.67%
  4. Gabby Hartnett | 77.69%
  5. Hank Greenberg | 62.55%
  6. Joe Cronin | 53.78%

DiMaggio found out about his greatest honor in an unceremonious way.  While entering the Bronx on a return trip from Boston, a truck driver beside DiMaggio yelled out, “Congratulations,” and added something about the Hall of Fame.  As DiMaggio remembered, “I didn’t know what to believe, so I turned on my car radio and sure enough, it was true.”

He was enshrined on July 25, 1955 in front of the biggest crowd since 1939.  In his induction speech Joltin’ Joe famously said, “Now I’ve had everything except for the thrill of watching Babe Ruth play.”  The humbled hero added, “I’m proud indeed to be put alongside Lou, Bill Dickey, my other old teammates, and those other great players of my time and before.”

The Milwaukee Journal recounted the day in an article on July 26, 1955:

Joe DiMaggio stole the spotlight here Monday when he and five other former baseball stars were inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The former New York Yankee outfielder received a long ovation when he was introduced by baseball commissioner Ford Frick.

“This is a happy day for me,” DiMaggio said after he was presented a replica of the plaque which will hang in the Hall of Fame.  DiMaggio, 40, told the crowd he had tried to pattern himself after the late Lou Gehrig.

“I watched every move Lou made on and off the field,” Joe said.  “Also I’d like to thank Joe McCarthy, my first manager, for the early training he gave me.”

Five Most Important Yankees For 2013

Spring Training is only a little bit over two weeks away and that usually brings about optimism for every baseball fan. There has not been a lot of reason for optimism for Yankees fans this winter. Ownership has not allowed Brian Cashman to spend freely, due to the mandate of getting the payroll under $189 million by 2014. This has led to very little activity from the Yankees this offseason. They have seen other teams in the American League get better like the Angels and Blue Jays. While the pessimism is certainly justified, it is not all doom and gloom for the Yankees. While the Angels and Tigers are a step above them right now, the Yankees should still have a solid team. Toronto is the favorite in the AL East right now, but it certainly is not impossible for the Yankees to win the division. Here are the five most important players for the Yankees to have a successful year this season:

1. Mark Teixeira- While Mark Teixeira has performed like a very good player over the last three years with the Yankees, he has not been the superstar that they were hoping for and that he was in 2009. The Yankees will be counting on Teixeira to bat cleanup and provide protection for Robinson Cano. That means an .OPS in the low .800’s and a batting average around .250 isn’t going to cut it. The Yankees need his OPS back around .900 and his average around .270 or .280. Teixeira is the Yankees’ only power threat from the right side and they need him to produce. Power won’t be the issue as Teixeira has hit close to 40 home runs even in his down seasons. If the Yankees can get anything close to the 2009 version of Teixiera him and Cano would be one of the best 3-4 duo’s in MLB.

2. Curtis Granderson- Curtis Granderson is in a similar situation as Teixeira. While he hasn’t had the career success that Teixeira has had, Granderson needs to get back to his 2011 season like Teixeira needs to get back to his 2009 form. There is a ton of pressure on Granderson this season because the Yankees did not go and add another bat for the 5th spot in the lineup. Justin Upton or Michael Morse would have been perfect, but obviously the Yankees did not acquire either of them. So, the Yankees will be counting on Granderson to return to his 2011 form. Granderson hit 43 home runs last season, but his line of .232/.319/.492/.811 was simply not good enough. Worst of all, he had an egregious 28.5 K% and looked completely lost at the end of the year. Kevin Long will need to work his magic on Granderson again for the 2013 season.

3. Mariano Rivera- The biggest strength the Yankees have right now is their bullpen. David Robertson, Joba Chamberlian, David Aardsma, Boone Logan and Clay Rapada make up a very solid middle relief core. There is one question about the bullpen Can Mariano Rivera be the Mariano Rivera that we know him to be at age 43 coming off a torn ACL and meniscus? Even for the immortal Rivera it is a legitimate question. If Rivera is injured or ineffective, the Yankees would still have a good bullpen, but probably not an elite one like they do if Rivera is his dominant self. However, I will never bet against Rivera, so I expect him to be just fine.

4. Brett Gardner- The Yankees sorely missed Brett Gardner last season, as a wrist injury in April caused him to miss most of the 2012 season. Gardner, the only Yankees regular starter under 30, will be a key piece for the Yankees this season. Last season, New York’s left fielders hit .253/.315/.444/.759. They largely depended on the power of Raul Ibanez. While Gardner won’t provide that, he will provide many other good qualities. Gardner will provide great patience at the plate, as his career walk percentage (11.0%) and pitches per plate appearance (4.29) are extremely good. Gardner will be huge on the base paths, as he has stolen 47 and 49 bases in his last two healthy seasons. His defense in left field is probably the best in MLB. While we know his defense and base running will be great, his hitting is still a question mark. His career line of .266/.355/.368/.723 is only OK for a non power hitter. Also, he has been poor against lefties for his career (.256/.362/.355/.731). For the Yankees to be an elite offense, they will need Gardner to have a close to .290 average at least. He has never done that in his career, but at age 29 Gardner should be peaking.

5. Phil Hughes- Like the bullpen, the rotation is a strength of the Yankees. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda form a very solid top of the rotation and Phil Hughes is a little bit of a wild card. Hughes overcame a rough April to have a solid season. He improved on his slider and changeup to help put more hitters away. This helped him to strikeout 7.8 per nine innings and only walk 2.2 per nine innings. Hughes is in a contract year, so he should be motivated to have a great season, as he can cash in big at the end of the year. From June through August, Hughes had a 3.19 ERA. If he can pitch even close to that for the whole 2013 season the Yankees will have a dominant rotation.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees sign Dan Johnson; And then there was one; Game times for season

The Signing of Dan Johnson

The Yankees are still being quiet in the Major League department, but the Yankees have another player that they signed for a minor league job. The Yankees signed 1B/3B/DH Dan Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Now, those of you may know Johnson as the player who hit the game tying HR for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 162 in 2011 against the Yankees (which allowed Tampa to make it to the playoffs and the Red Sox to go home). He played for the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate last season batting .267 with 28 HR’s and 85 RBI’s. He also got a spot in the Triple-A All Star Game and placed second in the Home Run Derby.

Now, I know that Dan Johnson could be a good signing for the minor leagues, but the Yankees main focus should be the Major Leagues. They are basically without a catcher and they don’t have depth on their bench. Spring Training is in less than three weeks and this is the team that the Steinbrenner’s and Cashman want to put on the field?

Johnson has a slight chance to make the 25-man roster as the Yankees DH if he does well in Spring Training, but he could start the season in Triple-A which will once again, leave the Yankees with a thin roster.

Only One Left in Arbitration

I know I didn’t update about this since I was on vacation, but now I can officially report that almost all of the Yankees that were arbitration eligible have signed through the 2013 season–except for one. While Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Boone Logan don pinstripes for the season, David Robertson will go to an arbitrator with the Yankees if they don’t reach a deal before then. Robertson is the lone Yankee in arbitration and it’s puzzling why the Yankees haven’t worked out a deal with him as of yet. Just give Robertson what he’s asking for since he actually deserves it.

Yankees announce Game Times for 2013 season 

MLB announced today the times for the upcoming season for the Yankees. Now, while the Yankees calendar hasn’t been fully updated, here are some dates and times that have been updated.

April 5-7 (vs. Tigers): 1:05pm, 4:05pm, 1:05pm
April 8-11 (vs. Indians): 4:05pm, 7:05pm, 7:05pm, 7:05pm
May 10-12 (vs. Royals): 7:10pm, 6:10pm, 1:10pm
May 25 (vs. Rays): 4:10pm
June 16 (vs. Angels): 3:35pm
August 2-4 (vs. Padres): 7:10pm, 5:40pm, 1:10pm (All Eastern Time)
Final Series of Year (vs. Astros): 7:10pm, 6:10pm, 1:10pm

Morning Bits: Jeter’s range, Tension between Joba & Youk…..

mug3Good morning all.  Let’s get right to the links…..

Wallace Matthews has his countdown to spring training with 6 reasons why Yankee fans will love Kevin Youkilis.

Wallace Matthews looks into Jeter’s range.

Anthony McCarron of The Daily News writes that Cashman doesn’t envision tension between Joba and Youkilis.

Trenton Projections

Last month John Norris from Minor Matters wrote up his projections of the 2013 Trenton Thunder roster. John, along with Mike Ashmore serve as beat writers for the Yanks’ AA affiliate and do an excellent job of relaying information to us fans. With the 2013 roster likely to be a pretty exciting one with all four of our top prospects having a shot at making an appearance in Jersey this year I thought an article was in order. It really doesn’t get any better than what these guys do as far as keeping us in tune with Trenton, so I’ll refer to their take on the upcoming season. Below is John’s projected roster:

1 – J.R. Murphy – C
2 – Jeff Farnham – C
3 – Kyle Roller – 1B
4 – Jose Pirela – 2B
5 – Jose Mojica – SS
6 – Kevin Mahoney – 3B
7 – Slade Heathcott – OF
8 – Ramon Flores – OF
9 – Tyler Austin – OF
10 – Rob Segedin – OF
11 – Jose Toussen – IF
12 – Adonis Garcia – OF
13 – Jose Ramirez – SP
14 – Nik Turley – SP
15 – Zach Nuding – SP
16 – Mikey O’Brien – SP
17 – Shane Greene SP
18 – Tommy Kahnle – RP
19 – Branden Pinder – RP
20 – Dan Burawa – RP
21 – Kramer Sneed – RP
22 – Graham Stoneburner – RP
23 – Cory Arbiso – RP
24 – Rigoberto Arrebato – RP
25 – Manny Barreda – RP

I can’t really disagree with much here at all. Aside from some minor issues that are dependant on where the rosters of other teams end up I think he’s pretty spot on. JR Murphy made his way to AA last year and got off to a slow start. This is nothing new for him, so some more time in Trenton could very well see him take a step forward from last years performance. Both Heathcott and Flores are all but sure bets to start the year in Trenton; they both put up very good numbers in 2012 and Heathcott, as everyone is probably aware by now tore it up in the AFL and got people talking about him again. Kyle Roller and Jose Pirela, who had a bit of a breakout last year are also shoo-ins for the right side of the infield. Relievers Kahnle, Pinder and Sneed are a safe bet, along with Barreda and Arrebato. Danny Burawa is coming off a season long injury but should be ready to go come spring, and could join recently converted Graham Stoneburner in the bullpen. The starting five all look to be locked in as well, and it looks pretty good for the Thunder. YFU favorite Nik Turley will take the hill in 2013 after a nice 2012 campaign. He’ll be joined by Jose Ramirez who had a rebound season and with a breaking ball that he’s finally comfortable with and two plus to plus plus pitches they look to be a very good 1-2 combo. Zach Nuding looks to get back on track after a bit of an up and down season, and he’ll be followed by Mikey O’Brien and Shane Greene, who both had their share of inconsistencies but have some upside.

There are a few question marks however; both Rob Segedin and Abe Almonte could end up getting the initial nod in left field pushing Tyler Austin back to Tampa. I’m not really opposed to this, as I don’t think he’d be there long. He held his own in Tampa but was missing a bit of power. He did look good in his limited AB’s at the AA level last season and in the playoffs but getting him going in Tampa and then turning him loose for the Thunder wouldn’t be the worst thing. So long as he’s not wasting away down there I have no problems with that. The shortstop position could also change by the time they hit the field. Walter Ibarra spent a bunch of time on the DL last year and is a MiL FA this year, but if he gets re-signed he’d slot right in at short.

The Thunder made a great run last year, helping manager Tony Franklin win the manager of the year award and making a playoff run. Much like the Charleston and Tampa rosters of 2012 Trenton looks to feature quite a few future major league candidates and take another stab at the post season.

As the 2013 season comes upon us, how will you secure your seat?

The New York Yankees are known as one of the most expensive teams in baseball. They have the money to put players on the field. They have money in order to create a brand new stadium experience for the fans. And last but not least, the Yankees have the money to have their own television Network (YES Network). The Yankees seemed to have it all…until the end of last season when the fans were scarce in Yankee Stadium. It could have been the Yankees poor play which earned them an early postseason exit, being swept by the Detroit Tigers int he ALCS. This year, the fans at Yankee Stadium could be scarce due to ticket prices.

1280px-StubHub_logo

During the offseason, StubHub renewed their ticket plan with Major League Baseball, allowing the fans to buy and sell authentic tickets for fans that can’t quite afford the full prices of games. However, the Yankees opted out of the contract, going to Ticketmaster instead, causing an uproar among fans. The Yankees had their own uproar last season when they discussed how the tickets for the games were being sold lower than the Yankees base price, in which in their eyes they were losing money. But when you think about this logically, if there are less fans in the stadium, then how will the Yankees make money inside the stadium? Who will buy their overpriced hot dogs and their overpriced merchandise from the Yankees Clubhouse Shop?

Ever since StubHub had their contract with Major League Baseball, it seemed to have been the favorite way to purchase tickets. And even though the Yankees opted out the StubHub contract, Ticketmaster won’t be the only way to get tickets according to fans. Last week, I asked around on Twitter if fans would continue to use StubHub (even though the tickets won’t be guaranteed authorized by the Yankees) and the response wasn’t shocking at all.

@mikeyoh21 Might be the only way to get in to see the game without winning the Lotton. Sad.

@ThatKidErick I got the best deals for quality seats from StubHub. I’m going to continue to use it as long as I find Yankee tickets on it. It’s really hard to get more fan friendly than StubHub when it comes to Yankees tickets.

@hawaiianjlo Yes I would. It has good deals on last minute games and/or concerts.

@rfig_25 I use StubHub to see the Yankees in Anaheim and probably will when they play in San Diego too. It’s the only way to get tickets because they sell out so fast.

I personally am a huge fan of using StubHub and used both StubHub and Ticketmaster last season to buy tickets for Yankees games. I found StubHub was more price friendly since Ticketmaster insists on charging a processing fee with your ticket purchase which takes more out of my wallet. To answer the question to my own article, how will I secure my seat this season? With the greediness of Ticketmaster and the uncertainty of StubHub tickets, I don’t know how I’ll secure my seat this season. How will you?

Image is owned by StubHub. 
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