Category Archives: Signing & Trade Speculation

Trades & Rumors

Offseason decisions coming back to haunt Yanks as deadline looms

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Well, it’s finally here. It’s July 31st, otherwise known as the non-waiver trading deadline, and in a matter of hours the Yankees will have either added another bat, or decided  to ride out the remainder of the season with the guys they have.

Coming off a stinging loss by way of a walk-off single by Dodgers’ second baseman Mark Ellis, the team now stands at 55-51. Slowly sinking closer to the mediocre .500 mark, the Yanks have now fully embodied the club we all expected them to be when the season opened – a power-less, atrocious offense coupled with good, but not great pitching.

Sitting 8.5 games out of first place in the A.L. East and somehow just 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race, the Yanks are by no means “done”. Brian Cashman Ownership brought back Alfonso Soriano, Jeter has returned, and Curtis Granderson is finishing up his rehab assignment, so the lineup will certainly be given a boost by having those guys back.

Meanwhile on the pitching front, (aside from CC and when Hughes starts at the Stadium) things have been improving. Pettitte is finding his groove again, Nova is pitching even better than in his breakout 2011 season, and Kuroda continues to be a dark horse in the A.L. Cy Young race. The bullpen continues to impress with the likes of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, D-Rob, and of course Mo, so there is nothing to really be concerned about there.

This is stating the obvious, but for the first time in years, the lineup is the overwhelming achilles heel to this season. Even with Sabathia’s treacherous season and Hughes’ long-ball woes, this current pitching staff coupled with any Yankees lineup from the past decade would easily win 90+ games.

But that’s the thing – this isn’t any Yankees lineup from the past decade. It’s 2013’s.

There’s no Sheffield, no Bernie, no Giambi, no Abreu, no Matsui, no Posada, no Swisher, no Teixeira, no A-Rod…must I keep going? Even with Sori, Jeet, and Grandy, they would need a Giancarlo Stanton-caliber bat added to the mix to really make them a threatening team. With the way Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Boston are all playing, even if there are signs of improvement from the players currently on the roster, I can’t imagine it being enough in the end.

As mentioned, the Yankees are either going to make a move, or they won’t. Stanton is not on the block, nor does the team have the caliber of prospects needed to make a deal even if he was. The best hitter that could be on the move is Hunter Pence, followed by Michael Young, Nate Schierholtz, and [depending on Schierholtz] David DeJesus. Pence is adamant about staying with San Francisco, Young prefers Boston than the Bronx, and the Yankees have too many outfielders to realistically take on a Schierholtz or DeJesus.

Like I said, even if any of those guys were to be fitted for pinstripes in the next few hours, it wouldn’t make much of a difference when comparing this “Bombers” lineup to that of the Orioles, Red Sox, or even the Rays. Power is not the tell-all, be-all factor of a team, but all three clubs have, and can out-slug the Yanks, even in their own bandbox known as the new Yankee Stadium.

It would be great to see the team rally around Mariano Rivera’s final season and go out and make a valiant playoff push, but I just don’t see it happening. At it’s worse the pitching has been steadily above-average, but at it’s best the lineup is nothing close to deserving of a spot in October.

Maybe I’m being harsh, and perhaps this club as constructed could have been better in another season with less competition. But the fact remains that the Yankees picked the worst year possible to let so many core guys (Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Raul Ibanez) leave via free agency, and just hope that the oldest team in baseball would have one last magical run in them.

Clearly they don’t, and no matter what happens by 4 o’clock PM today, the Yanks should begin making plans to go golfing come this fall. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t act like we didn’t see this coming.

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Yankees re-acquire Alfonso Soriano in trade w/Cubs

alfonso_soriano_by_cool_sports_players_1Next February, it will be an even ten years since the Yankees decided to trade for Rangers star shortstop Alex Rodriguez. At first, a deal with Boston was vetoed by the Commissioner’s Office, so Texas turned their attention to what New York had to offer.

Seeing the potential success A-Rod could bring to the team on and off the field, the Bombers parted with their fan favorite Dominican second baseman Alfonso Soriano, along with a player to be named later. That “PTBNL” ended up being infielder Joaquin Arias, selected from a pool of prospects that included international signee Robinson Cano.

To say the least, things haven’t quite worked out for the Yanks. However, they have now made a move to bring this controversial and monumental decade in franchise history full circle.

So, here it is. The Yankees have re-acquired Alfonso Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has agreed to pay 18 of the 25 million dollars still owed to Soriano, and in exchange pitching prospect Corey Black will be heading to the Windy City.

“Sori” is a different player than he was when he last wore the pinstripes. No longer a speed demon, leadoff hitter, nor infielder, Soriano has played left field since his one and only season with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He has managed to stay mostly healthy throughout his career, as now at 37 years old Sori has been a lock for at least 20 home runs, 70 RBI, and a slugging percentage in the .400s each year.

So far in 2013, the seven-time All-Star is batting .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI, which instantly makes him the Yankees’ best [active] right-handed hitter. Yet, sabermetrics suggest this won’t be that big of a boost to the lineup (0.7 WAR, 100 wRC+). Defensively he is also a liability, perhaps even worse than Raul Ibanez who faked his way as an everyday left fielder in 2012.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Soriano’s deal runs through 2014, so he now joins Ichiro and Vernon Wells as another old, washed-up outfielder that is practically irremovable considering all the money owed to him by now both Chicago and the Yankees.

This is not to say Soriano can’t be a somewhat productive player for this year and next, but it’s unlikely he will be as productive as a younger, perhaps cheaper alternative (Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Kubel to name a few).

However in the interim, as in the rest of this season, this definitely will help out the Yankees lineup. They are desperately searching for power from the right side of the plate and it appears Soriano can provide that. He will likely bat in the middle of the order, and probably will DH more often than not with Vernon Wells still being a capable defensive outfielder.

But, this probably can’t won’t be a season-changing addition, and certainly without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, [maybe A-Rod] and perhaps another bat via trade, this deal could go down as a useless one.

It will be nice to see an old face back in pinstripes, but it may be nothing more than that. Don’t expect an offensive turnaround with Soriano now in the fold; as mentioned it will take a lot more than him to get this team back into legitimate playoff contention.

Still, let’s all welcome back to the Yankees Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

(UPDATE) Yankees close to re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano

Thursday, 8:00pm: According to Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the deal is “99%” complete, as Soriano has been scratched from the lineup and is saying his goodbyes. Reports say Chicago will pick up $25 million of Sori’s remaining $36 million on his contract. In exchange, the Yankees are rumored to be sending prospects Joel De La Cruz and Chase Whitley to the Windy City.

Tuesday, 12:00pm: Word broke late last night via the New York Post’s George King that the Yankees were close to trading for their former rookie sensation and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. They would apparently surrender no more than a mid-level prospect, and Chicago would cover most of Soriano’s remaining contract (2 years, $36 million) that expires next season.

However, there are conflicting reports on the potential deal. Just read what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had to say on MLB Network Radio earlier today:

Even if a deal is reached, Soriano has 10/5 rights and can veto a trade to any team. But, it’s been reported several times in the past few years that if a return to New York was on the table, Soriano would gladly accept. The 37-year old is currently batting .256 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, and a .471 slugging percentage, a right-handed power bat which the Yankees have lacked all season.

Soriano was the Yankees’ starting second baseman from 2001-2003, but was dealt to the Texas Rangers in February of 2004 for – yep, you guessed it – Alex Rodriguez. As A-Rod faces another injury and a possible suspension, Alfonso Soriano coming back now would be irony at its finest.

We will update you as more news comes in.

Is handicapping the payroll again worth keeping Cano?

robinson-cano2Amazingly, the Yankees are nearing the halfway point in the season. Yes, the All-Star break is next month, but their 81st game of the campaign will be played at the beginning of next week.

The team is in an unusual situation to say the least. Though only trailing the Red Sox by one game in the loss column, the Yanks have struggled mightily over the past few weeks. Since the Subway Series when they were swept aside by the Mets, there hasn’t been any showing of the hope and promise that the year once had back in April.

Sure, no one could have foreseen Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, and Mark Teixeira all going back on the disabled list days after they came off of it, but the fact remains the offense is anemic, only recently beginning to score north of a couple runs a game.

Brett Gardner has been the one keeping the lineup from turning Astro-nomically bad, currently hitting .285 with 28 RBI and 42 runs scored. That may surprise you since the Yankees have an even better hitter playing everyday in second baseman Robinson Cano, but to say he has had a good season [considering his pure talent and expectations of having a big contract year] would be wrong.

Robbie got off to a torrid start in April, hitting .327. Since then, he has hit .257 in May and .229 so far in June, failing to come up with the big hits when needed. He’s been seen swinging out of his shoes on some occasions, striking out and swinging at pitches that no .300 career hitter would.

The argument certainly can be made that with the replacement-level players that surround Cano in the lineup, he is not getting any good pitches to hit. I mean, who in their right mind would pitch to him when you have Lyle Overbay or Thomas Neal on deck? But at some point, Cano has to make the adjustment to focus on making contact with the ball and getting on base, rather than smashing a game-winning home run. With the superstar status he’s gained over the past few seasons along with the pressure he must be under to perform every night, it’s understandable, but ultimately unacceptable.

That’s why it concerns me when the Yankees seem willing to hand out a lucrative long-term contract to this guy. Right now they are far apart on negotiations, but all signs point to Robbie eventually inking a deal worth at least $150 million over six, seven, eight or even more years. And to see the way he’s performed this year when for the first time he truly is the sole bright spot in the lineup, it’s concerning.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think Robinson Cano is a top-five MLB player when he is playing up to his potential. He’s certainly the best second baseman in the game and will be for a while. Unlike other pessimists, it’s not necessarily how he’ll age that worries me, it’s the rest of the Yankees that Cano will play with for the duration of his deal.

If you’re still living in the fantasy world that Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Granderson will come back strong later this year and lead the charge to a 28th world championship, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. I am an optimistic, but realistic fan, and right now the chances that those four come back and provide so much production so that teams will wind up giving Robbie pitches to hit are rather slim. Cano is the most feared hitter in any Yankee lineup that can be conjured up using the 40 man roster, and we saw how the short returns of Tex, Youk, and Grandy resulted in disrupting the chemistry and production that was once consistently evident in the offense.

Robinson+Cano+Detroit+Tigers+v+New+York+Yankees+783bvcpDTPKlWhich brings me to another point – what will the Yankees lineup look like for the next five years? As frustrating as it’s been to watch the team this season, it may become the norm to see guys who really should be part time minor leaguers, be in the lineup every night in the Show. It seems like Jeet and Alex’s careers are hanging on by a thread, Granderson is almost surely to be lost this offseason, and who knows if Tex can ever be the 30-home run, 100 RBI guy he was penciled in to be throughout the duration of his own albatross of a contract. That leaves way too many holes on the roster for the Yanks to really focus on paying just one solid ballplayer.

It reminds me of a question probably asked when the Texas Rangers were debating to trade Alex Rodriguez – “Are we a better team with [Cano] than without him?” It can be argued that the Yankees really won’t be if they re-sign him. Sure, they may win a few more games, and the new Yankee Stadium will look just a little more full every night, but is that really worth once again limiting your ability to address other areas of the team?

Now I know many of the young, budding MLB superstars have been or will be locked-up by their current teams before they ever hit free agency. But remember, the Yanks’ current top prospects such as Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams, and recent draft picks like Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo are years away from becoming everyday contributors in the Major Leagues. So, where does that leave the team in its search for new “Bronx Bombers”?

Personally, I see it as a dead end.

The Yankees can never be considered a “rebuilding” team. Their fanbase is too widespread and hungry for success for them ever to accept a year when they weren’t striving for a World Series title. And although letting Robinson Cano walk after this season would at first feel like an apocalyptic decision, it may ultimately result in a brighter future for a Yankee dynasty to re-surface.

The first few years may be very tough to swallow, but letting the fading stars play out their deals and starting fresh may just be a recipe for greater success down the road. If Cano is playing like a Hall-of-Famer and making $20 million a season, but has no support from his teammates to actually win anything, what’s the point? Higher TV ratings on YES? Higher attendance ratings?

Maybe, but that’s not what Yankee fans care about. It’s about championships at the end of the day, and once again giving another bloated contract to a player who will be done with his “prime years” very soon, would be arguably a move pushing the Yankees even farther away from a return to glory.

The time is now to trade Joba and Hughes

image-6It still seems like yesterday when, in 2007, two Yankee mainstay pitchers of the past seven seasons made their first appearances in pinstripes.

First, there was 20-year old Phil Hughes, a hard throwing right-hander who drew comparisons to Roger Clemens as he advanced through the farm system. Drafted 23rd overall in the 2004 amateur draft, the Yankees had high hopes that finally, after a dry spell of All-Star caliber players emerging from the minors, that Hughes would become their ace for the next decade. Due to injuries to the pitching staff, he came up and made his debut on April 26th, 2007, finishing the year with 72.2 innings under his belt and a respectable 4.46 ERA for such a young starting pitcher in such a ferocious AL East division.

Then there was Joba Chamberlain, who was drafted 41st overall in 2006. Not even a full calendar year after signing his first contract, the then 21-year old Joba burst upon the scene when he pumped 100 mph fastballs past a dazed Blue Jays team in Toronto on August 7th. His pure dominance of each batter he faced allowed Joe Torre to entrust him with the eighth inning job, setting up Mariano Rivera. Like Mo had done years prior, it was the hope of the organization that Joba would start out as the bridge to a dominant closer, and then become one. Allowing one earned run in 24 innings surely reassured any of the doubters.

Since such promising starts to their careers in ’07, both Hughes and Chamberlain have endured injuries, moves into and out of the bullpen, and flat out inconsistent performances. There have certainly been bright spots along the way for both hurlers, however.

Hughes pitched to a 3.03 ERA in 2009, starting out as a starter and then filling the role of set-up man admirably. And after permanently being put back into the rotation in 2010, he won 18 games. Also, Joba was putting together a terrific 2011 season [2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched] before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Yet, to claim their Yankee careers to date have been successful ones would probably be a misguided belief. They are now in what are considered their “prime” years, and yet 2013 has been one of the ugliest for Joba and Phil. Of course, with the offense the pitching staff has to deal with or lack thereof, both are certainly under a lot of stress and any small mistakes they make are magnified like never before. But, there is no escaping the fact that both of them have underperformed, no matter the circumstances.

Yes, Hughes has had his share of good starts this season, but they are normally sandwiched in-between horrible outings. It is still fresh in this fan’s mind that he allowed 7 runs in the first inning to the Mariners, who in all respect have a better offense than last season, but certainly not good enough to put up rallies like that against even an average starter. But as I said, then he goes out the other night in Seattle against the very same team and throws seven shutout innings. It’s frustrating, bizarre, and as much potential as he has to be great every night, the times that he isn’t have really cost the Yankees so far this year.

At this point it really doesn’t matter what Joba Chamberlain does, because he is in the doghouse for eternity with Yankee fans. No matter how he “shushed” Mariano Rivera, all I care about is what happens on the field, and even still Joba has been disappointing. Granted, he did miss practically the whole month of May with a strained right oblique, but collectively in 2013 he has given up three more hits than innings pitched, a red flag right off the bat. Even when he has an “effective” outing, he still often gets into trouble  by nibbling at the corners and forgetting that he boasts a 95 mph fastball that still has some bite left in it. He too has been such a streaky pitcher, and ultimately you’d have to hope it wouldn’t last long in New York. Right?

Well, that is why I strongly consider that the Yankees trade not just one of them, but both Joba and Phil. Like I started the article saying, these two guys have been here for a long time, and it certainly would be odd not seeing them in the dugout or on the mound every other day. But it’s been shown that when they are “on”, Chamberlain and Hughes can be two of the most dominating pitchers in the American League, and that potential alone attracts pitching-deprived teams.

With the way the Yankees lineup has fallen into its worst slump since likely before I was born, I am shocked there aren’t many rumors going around about the team trading some of its pitchers. The pitching has been tremendous, Hughes and Joba aside, so what is holding back Cashman from dumping them off for a bat? I’m not talking players. A literal bat.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but the fact remains that the Yankees are not a better team with Joba and Hughes on the roster than they are with them off it. Now I have no specific players I would target, which may be where my argument falls a bit flat, but there has to be a match somewhere. There always is, if the Yankees want one. It would be bittersweet to trade Joba, and especially Hughes, but giving up on these guys in a trade would be a signal to me that the Yanks are not by any means ready to surrender their AL East crown, which is still very much in reach with the right reinforcements.

Get to work Cash. You too Joba and Phil.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees interested in Javier Vazquez?!?!

When Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees weren’t done yet, I had to admit I was a bit suspicious as to who the Yankees were interested in. Well, the suspicion has led me to holding up warning flags: the Yankees are reportedly interested in Javier Vazquez, according to the Boston Globe. Yes, the same Javier Vazquez that played for them in 2004 & 2010! The same Javier Vazquez that was less dependable than A.J Burnett (sorry A.J, still love ya though).  It’s reported that the Yankees are observing his winter starts and possibly if they like what they see–I’m afraid to end that sentence. Anyway, let’s looked at the two failed Javier Vazquez experiments.

2004: 14-10, 4.91 ERA, 32 G, 198.0 IP, 195 H, 114 R, 108 ER, 33 HR, 60 BB

2010: 10-10, 5.32 ERA, 31 G, 157.1 IP, 155 H, 96 R, 93 ER, 32 HR, 65 BB

As you can see, the numbers above are simply dreadful. Why the Yankees would even consider Javier Vazquez is a mystery to me. He’s obviously a National League pitcher so even observing him is an utter waste of time. The only thing I can say to the Yankees is this–the experiment failed twice. Do you really want to try again for a third time?! Have you not learned your lesson? With expensive ticket prices and cutting the payroll, signing Javier Vazquez will most likely cause Yankees fans to revolt, knowing that the money the Yankees do have could be spent somewhere better. So if any of the other 29 teams are interested in signing Vazquez, please do before the Yankees get even more ideas! Please?!

Yankees Offseason Notes: Gardner returns to OF for 2013 season

The Yankees didn’t add anyone new today but they did lock up someone for the 2013 season–their prized outfielder. The New York Yankees and Brett Gardner both agreed to a one year contract, avoiding arbitration. According to sources, Gardner is expected to make $2.8 Million in 2013 since he was sidelined for most of the 2012 season with an elbow injury. Now that Gardner has been officially signed to the club for the ’13 season, the speculation can begin on whether or not the Yankees plan to move Gardner to CF and Granderson to LF (should Granderson be with the team for the ’13 season). I personally believe that the Yankees should move Gardner to CF since you would want your best defensive outfielder in center, but that’s up to the Yankees to decide.

In Other News:

– The Yankees have conducted a background check on FA Josh Hamilton, which speculates that the Yankees have interest in the outfielder. However, the Yankees have to understand that signing Hamilton could be risky with his injury history. Signing Hamilton could also be quite expensive unless the Yankees plan on trading Granderson to free up some cash. It’s honestly been a dream of mine to see Hamilton in pinstripes. Heck, it was a dream of mine to see Cliff Lee in pinstripes when Lee was a free agent. But that’s all what those scenarios are–dreams.

– The Yankees haven’t heard back from Kevin Youkilis as of yet since placing a one year, $12 Million contract offer on the table. Youkilis was at a charity event last night in Boston so Youkilis’s decision might not be for another couple of days. Even if Youkilis signed with the Yankees–there will always be a bit of Boston in his blood. He’s married to the sister of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Thought I’d share that piece of information.

Winter Meetings Day 2: Would you trade Curtis Granderson?

Earlier today, the Yankees made clear that Brian Cashman would become open to a trade for Curtis Granderson. Curtis Granderson has an interesting case. He’s a free agent next season, he strikes out about 200+ times a year and he’s not the best defensive CF in the whole entire world. But what makes Granderson so special, so unique that it would become hard to part with him? It’s simple, the man has hit 40 HR’s and has driven in 100+ RBI’s since the Kevin Long tutorial. Now, we all know the Yankees list has gotten longer and longer, but the fact of the matter is, trading Curtis Granderson wouldn’t be the way to get the players we need. I made a poll on Twitter today asking fans if they would be interested in trading Granderson and why. Here were some of the responses I received:

As you can see, the favorite answer is no. Although it would make sense to trade Granderson since he is a free agent next season, like @venomous1913 said, 40 HR’s and 100 RBI players don’t grow on trees. If the Yankees were to trade Granderson, it would have to be for the right price.

In Other News

– If Alex Rodriguez were to sit out for the 2013 season, the Yankees would get insurance on the contract–but it would count against their luxury tax in 2014.

– The Yankees made no deals but they did talk a lot: They spoke with Kevin Youkillis, asked about Marco Scutaro and of Jeff Keppinger.

– The Yankees have to look for a catcher, right fielder, DH and a third baseman. The Yankees are adding assistant hitting coach to the list to work alongside Kevin Long. Is this a panic move I sense?

– If you’re interested, the Red Sox signed Shane Victorino to a 3 year deal meaning that Nick Swisher is no longer considered for the Red Sox RF role. A source close to Swisher did say that if the Yankees or the Angels/Dodgers didn’t want him he would love to go to the San Francisco Giants.

*I had so many responses for my Curtis Granderson twitter poll that I couldn’t use all the answers but thank you everyone for sending in your input. I appreciate your enthusiasm and your answers.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees plan to offer Kuroda 1 year, but is that enough?

The Yankees are offering Kuroda a one-year deal, but could that be enough to keep him in pinstripes?

The Yankees continue to have a slow offseason while every other team around them is spending some type of  money on certain players. With the Winter Meetings occurring in 2 weeks, there are bound to be Yankees rumors, but until then–

– The Yankees reportedly want to offer Hiroki Kuroda a one year deal and Japan might be the reason that Kuroda could ultimately rejoin the Yankees in 2013. See, Kuroda wants to be able to pitch in Japan before he decides to hang up his cleats and ideally the best idea for him would be for him to join a team that is offering him a one year contract. the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Angels are offering Hiroki Kuroda a two year deal, which might be too much on Kuroda’s arm if he still wants to be effective to pitch in the States and in Japan in the near future.

The Yankees are in dire need of a top end starter in their rotation since the rotation after CC Sabathia is a bit hazy. Andy Pettitte is still debating whether he will return in 2013 (I believe he will), Ivan Nova was horrible and Phil Hughes is coming back from a bounce back year after a horrendous 2011 season. Kuroda who is 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 2012 for the Yankees, just might be worth more than the $13.3 Million the Yankees offered before he turned down. If Kuroda signs with the Yankees, it will solve their rotation woes to an extent. If not, then the Yankees could look forward to add more depth to their minor leagues should a different team sign him. If the Dodgers or the Angels sign Kuroda, they lose their first round pick while the Yankees would get another draft pick between the first and the second round.

Kuroda could possibly choose the Dodgers since he has two young daughters in Elementary School in California and has expressed desire that he would like to be near them. If Kuroda does sign elsewhere, then the Yankees might want to start thinking of a backup plan because right now, it seems like they don’t have one.

Joakim Soria should be a Yankees winter target

Could Joakim Soria be a missing piece in the Yankees bullpen?

Last week, ESPN reported that Joakim Soria was interested in signing with the Yankees–but not to be a closer. Instead he wanted to sign so he could set up for none other than Mariano Rivera who is returning for what many predict to be his final season in Yankee pinstripes. When it was announced Soria wanted to join the Yankees, there were some health concerns that everyone worried about, strictly the 2 Tommy John Surgeries he’s had in the last couple of years. Other than that, I believe that if the price is right the Yankees should go after Soria and make a deal.

Soria hasn’t played baseball since 2011 since he was out all year with TJ surgery in 2012, but if you look back at the five years he’s been in the Majors, his numbers aren’t bad. In 2007 at the ripe age of 23 years old he went 2-3 with a 2.48 ERA and had 17 saves in 62 saves. Keep in mind, the Royals don’t have a lot of save opportunities. Soria’s most impressive years were in 2008 and in 2010. In 2008, Soria had a 1.60 ERA with 42 saves under his belt. In 2010, he had a 1.78 ERA with 43 saves. He won an All-Star apperance, voted 10th in the Cy Young award and voted 19th in the MVP award.

Now, the reasons that the Yankees should be interested in Soria. One reason, he’s 28 years old. If the Yankees are going to sign someone, it has to be someone that is young and not in their mid to late thirties to early forties no offense any pitcher in the Yankees bullpen/rotation that’s 36 and over). Second of all, as a just in case measure if Mariano Rivera isn’t pitching like Mariano Rivera (which there is a small chance of happening), you’ll have Soria ready to pitch in the closer role, but don’t expect the Yankees to give up on Mo so easily.

There was one thing that I don’t agree with when it comes to what Soria is wanting–he wants to be in the 8th inning role, a role that is currently occupied by David Robertson. What could happen is that Soria could be used in the bullpen in the earlier innings and the 8th inning role could be Robertson’s to lose.  The Yankees have an option for the bullpen, especially since Rafael Soriano flew the coop so even though the Tommy John is a slight risk, I think that Soria could work out for the team. May I emphasize one more time Cashman, that Soria is young which is something that we are looking for.

Joakim Soria reportedly interested in Yankees

According to a report from ESPN, free agent pitcher Joakim Soria is interested in pitching for the Yankees–but not as the closer. He instead would like to be the set-up man to 42 year-old closer Mariano Rivera. Soria’s agent Oscar Suarez confirms Soria’s interest.

“If the Yankees call, we’ll be all ears.” Suarez said in an ESPN phone interview on Monday. “If there is a fit, Joakim would be elated to work with Mo. He would close everywhere except there.”

However, Soria won’t be able to pitch until May of the 2013 season while other reports say he won’t be ready until June. Rivera has always spoken highly of Soria and most likely would love to tutor the young pitcher.

“Joakim’s not a greedy individual.” Suarez added. “He wants to win so if it’s the right situation he’s probably not going to be a guy to wait until February.”

Soria at one point had the Yankees on his no-trade clause with his past contract in Kansas City but it wasn’t due to him not wanting to pitch in the Bronx. It was more strategic reasons. Soria seems optimistic about wanting to join the Yankees. Why don’t the Yankees return the favor and give him a call. You never can have too much pitching.

Seven Yankees head into arbitration

It’s that time again where not only the free agents prove valuable, but this is also the time to re-sign some players under arbitration. This year there are seven Yankees that could expect a raise, another contract or head to another team on a shifting payroll. MLB Trade Rumors placed the projected salaries of what they believe each player will get in 2013.

Phil Hughes (SP)
2012 Salary: $3.2 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $5.7 Million

I have to admit that a $2 million raise is a bit significant for a pitcher that isn’t consistent but to be honest unless the Yankees pull off a blockbuster trade this off-season, Hughes will be in Yankees pinstriped in 2013.

Casey McGehee (INF)
2012 Salary: $2.5 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.9 Million

Casey McGehee might end up being non-tendered since the main reason the Yankees acquired him was due to Alex Rodriguez being on the disabled list. The Yankees don’t really need McGehee, but I’m pretty sure another team does.

Brett Gardner (OF)
2012 Salary: $2.8 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.8 Million

Even though Gardner not playing proved to the Yankees that he’s valuable, it looks as if Gardner’s not getting a raise. What did you expect? The guy injured his shoulder in April and didn’t swing a bat again until October. Well, at least it helps the Yankees payroll.

Boone Logan (LHP)
2012 Salary: $1.9 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.8 Million

Yes, let’s just give the Yankees #1 lefty in the bullpen a raise. He certainly deserved it after last season. Also if you’re one of members of the “Get Boone Logan out of NY” fan club–it’s not happening.

David Robertson (RHP)
2012 Salary: $1.6 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.7 Million

One of the best set-up men in baseball getting a raise? Sounds about right, but I would have given Robertson more money. After all, he’s one of the constants in the bullpen that all Yankees fans can count on.

Joba Chamberlain (RHP)
2012 Salary: $1.67 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $1.8 Million

Chamberlain could get a small raise but he has been inconsistent since coming back from a freak ankle injury along with Tommy John Surgery. Maybe he has to work the kinks out this winter and we’ll see a consistent Chamberlain in 2013.

Jayson Nix
2012 Salary: Minimum
Expected 2013 Salary: $900,000

Give the kid the $900,000. Let him come back and be a reserve infielder. He did a great job in 2012 playing the field and even had some key hits in games that would end up determining the Yankees as AL East victors.

Rebuild, Reload or do nothing?

Should Adams be the 3B next year?

I know it’s not the ideal time to talk about the off-season while there are still games to play but with how dead this team has looked this series, I think making improvements is on everyone’s mind.  We will delve deeper into these issues and examine everything after the playoffs but use this thread to talk about the future of this team.

The last time the Yankees looked this feeble was probably 2008 and it led to a massive spending spree in the offseason.  Adding 3 high-end Free Agents and the last seasons of some productive veterans (Matsui, Damon, etc.). With the impending payroll restrictions that Hal & Levine are putting in place, I don’t see the Yankees spending $450 Million on Free Agents like they did.   Add in the injury comebacks of Jeter & Mariano and the ARod debacle that is brewing and this is going to be a very important off-season.

I don’t think the team has the young players to do a re-build.  they traded away what would be the core of their young lineup in Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero - potential leadoff and cleanup hitters for the next 6 years.  What they do have ready are 2 potential hitters in Corban Joseph and David Adams.  I think Adams should be given a legitimate shot at 3B next year.  Joseph is obviously blocked at 2B by Cano but his bat appears ready.  Do they find another position for Joseph?  Along with these 2, they have a couple of OFs in Zoilo Almonte & Melky Mesa who could be useful players, but I don’t think either player is ready to make an impact or be more than a platoon player in the near future.  The true future of the team is 2-3 years away.  Guys like Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams,Angelo Gumbs, Ramon Flores & Gary Sanchez.  Out of these 10 position players if 2 or 3 of them become players, it will give the team their new core to build around.

This current team looks old and stagnant.  Their defense is average at best and most of the hitters are constantly looking to pull the ball over the fence.  Hitters that use the whole field and take what the pitcher gives you is what is needed.  Without much money to spend on FAs and only a couple of young players ready in 2013, should the Yanks explore trading some of their 2014 Free Agents like Granderson, Cano, Hughes, Joba & Logan? Let’s hear your ideas.

Noticing fan reactions at the Stadium

Fans love Swish….ARod….not so much

Peter Botte with the Daily News wrote about ARod’s return to 3B yesterday  and how the fans gave him a rough time.  I was at yesterday’s game and it’s always interesting to  pick up the reaction of the fans and hear what people have to say.  For instance the crowd absolutely LOVES Nick Swisher. He runs out on the field pointing and motioning to all of the fans from the 1B line to the RF bleachers like Hulk Hogan entering the ring before a match.  And the fans absolutely eat it up.

ARod on the other hand got booed after his error in the 1st inning, booed after not handling a slow roller that would have been a hit anyway and there were grumblings after every out he made.  The only applause he received were mock cheers when he caught a pop-up later in the game.

Here’s 2 guys with almost IDENTICAL stats but treated totally different ways. One who is loved because he comes across as a regular guy with a great personality and the other who is not really liked because of his contract status and the mistakes he made in his early career.

Look at the numbers, is there anything here that would cause the fans to think one guy is great and the other is atrocious….

.267/.350/.438/.788  14 hrs – 41 rbi

.258/.343/.464/.808  13 hrs – 52 rbi

I think a lot has to do with expectations created by contracts.  As regular people we can’t fathom the amounts of money theses guys get.  And as such we tend to love a guy who earns his money and is a bargain and loathe the guy who is overpaid.  It isn’t that they think Swisher is clutch while ARod is not because no one has failed more in the post-season (maybe Tex) the last 3 years than Swisher.

Swish is an easy guy to like.  He’s always in a good mood, smiling and outgoing.  But his numbers have gone downhill a bit every year since 2010 and I don’t think he deserves a 3 or 4 yr deal worth $11-14M per year like most think he will get.  I try to evaluate players on how they can help the team win and Swisher’s smile doesn’t drive in runs or throw out runners from RF.  What does everyone think of the way these 2 players are treated and do you think that perhaps more players should follow Swisher’s lead?  Should Swisher’s personality be considered when deciding whether to bring him back in the offseason?

Should Cashman bring Melky back?

Melky is in excellent shape these days

Melky Cabrera has been having a tremendous season in San Francisco which was just puncuated with an MVP performance in the All-Star Game.  Cashman dealt Melky along with Arodys Vizcaino & Mike Dunn to the Braves for Javy Vazquez & Boone Logan after the World Series in 2009 – a trade which most fans didn’t like at the time because of the price the Yanks paid for a pitcher who already failed in NY.    Although Boone Logan has been a useful reliever that trade did not go Cashman’s way.  Will he take the opportunity this winter to try to correct the deal?

We have seen Cashman’s affinity for bringing back players who didn’t work out well the first time, could Melky be one of them?  Cabrera will be a Free Agent following this season in a market that is fairly thin in quality OFs.  Josh Hamilton is the headliner but after him its Melky, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, Carlos Quentin and veterans like Ichiro and Tori Hunter.  When looking at that list,  Cabrera looks pretty attractive.  Hamilton is an absolute stud but will be 32 and has durability issues having played 121, 133 & 89 games the previous 3 years.  Bourn is an exciting player but his value is his speed which isn’t always good for a player who will be 30 next yr.  Victorino is having a terrible season and Upton has been a big underachiever in his career, so it may come down to Swisher or Melky.

We all know Swisher’s game.  In his 3.5 seasons with the team he’s hit .266/.363/.485/.848 with a 122 OPS+ and is good for 23-29 HRs & 85 RBI while playing average defense in RF.  He’ll be 32 yrs old and likely looking at a 3 or 4 yr deal worth around $11-12M per.

Melky was a useful player with the Yanks from 2006-2009.  When he was first brought up, he supplied some much-needed good defense in the Outfield.  With veterans like Bernie & Johnny Damon out there, Melky’s defense was a breath of fresh air. In his 4 yrs as a starter, he hit .270/.332/.387/.718 as a 21-24 yr old.  After being traded to Atlanta, he gained weight and played so poorly, he was released.  That apparently was the wake-up call he needed.  He dedicated himself to getting into great shape for the first time in his career and it paid off.  Since the start of 2011, Melky has more hits than any player in MLB with 320 for a .322 average which is 5th in MLB.  He’s also been driving the ball more for an impressive .322/.357/.486/.843 line.  He’s been even more dominating this season with a .353/.391/.519/.910 line in SF which is a pitcher’s park.  He’s 10th in MLB with a 158 OPS+.  For comparison’s sake, Josh Hamilton’s OPS+ is 161 and Robinson Cano‘s is 151 – so it’s clear Melky is having an elite season.

So should the Yanks look to bring him back? He turns 28 next season so he’s 4 years younger than Swisher which means he’ll get a longer and more lucrative deal.  With the budget crunch and Cano & Granderson’s Free agency coming in 2014,  any commitments the team makes this off-season will have major impact on what they can or cannot afford the following yr.  If they go big on a FA OF like Cabrera this Winter, it would make it nearly impossible to bring Cano & Granderson back.  But if the Yanks sign Melky and he’s as good as he’s been the last 2 years they could afford to let Grandy go in 2014 and go with an OF of Brett Gardner in CF, Melky & a cheap 3rd  guy from within the system.  Someone from the  Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte group should be ready to contribute by then to pair with a veteran caddy/platoon partner (think an Andruw Jones-type player)  as the 3rd OF. Read the rest of this entry

Who is the #1 Priority in 2014 – Cano or Granderson?

Cano connects for Granny in ALDS (Getty Images)

Since the signing of the new Collective bargaining Agreement, Yankee fans have been inundated with articles and talk about the team’s desire to get under the Luxury Tax threshold in 2014.  Hal Steinbrenner & Brian Cashman have stated they have every intention to get under $189 Million in 2014 and that they can still field a Championship team.  However to do so, the team won’t have the ability to re-sign all of their players when they become Free Agents and tough decisions will have to be made.

Those decisions will start after this season as Russell Martin and Nick Swisher hit Free Agency and will really get tough after the 2013 season.  That is when Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain & Boone Logan will be looking for new contracts.  With so many players reaching FA and so many different variables to consider it’s impossible to know what decisions will have to be made.  However for the purpose of this article, let’s look at the 2 most important players – Cano & Granderson.

It’s certainly possible that both players can be retained if some of the young pitchers reach their potential and the Yanks refrain from any other high-priced signings.  However, it could conceivably come down to a decision after 2013 of which important lefty masher they need most. If that’s the dilemma, who would you retain to be the leader of your offense going forward?

Robinson Cano

Cano, will be entering his age 31 season in 2014 and should be looking at plenty of still productive seasons remaining. By almost any metric used, Cano has clearly emerged as one of the Top 5 hitters in the American League over the last 3 years.   Since 2009, he has hit .314/.361/.529  and averaged  27 HRs - 104 RBI – 103 Runs for a .378 woba.  Despite an unflattering UZR, he is an excellent defensive 2B. His range is solid and his arm strength and ability to turn the double play are as good as anyone in MLB.

He is one of the most durable players in baseball having played more games over the last 5 years than anyone in MLB.  The fact that he is finally moving into a premium slot in the order will boost his production since he’ll have more PAs, more opportunities to drive in runs and better protection with ARod & Tex hitting behind him as oppossed to Jorge Posada or Nick Swisher.  Not to disparage those hitters but pitchers were not giving into Cano with Posada on deck.

The only weakness in Cano’s game is his plate discipline.  He swings at too many pitches out of the strike zone and doesn’t like to take the base on balls.  I like the fact that Cano is aggressive and goes up to the plate looking to get a hit rather than walk.  The Yanks have enough patient hitters and need someone to go up their to drive the ball, however, Robbie needs to just lay off the pitch he can’t handle to raise his game up another notch. Read the rest of this entry

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