Day two of Spring Training has come to an end and there were interviews from three different Yankees: Francisco Cervelli, Andy Pettitte and of course Mariano Rivera. Let’s cover Francisco Cervelli first and then go from there.
As we all know, Cervelli’s names were handwritten on the Biogenesis report which meant that Cervelli at least visited the Miami clinic after his foot injury.
“When I got my foot injured in 2011, I checked with doctors and someone recommended me Biogenesis. I went there for maybe suggestions, and that’s it. I walked away without nothing in my hands. I just went there and talked, that’s it.” Cervelli said during the 11 minute press conference.
“Right now, I realize that it was a mistake to go there, but it already happened so what can I do?”
Cervelli wouldn’t say who recommended him to go to the Miami clinic but he did say that it wasn’t a player (and it wasn’t Alex Rodriguez). Cervelli went to Biogenesis once and he met with Anthony Bosch during that one visit.
“Sometimes when we’ve got injuries, we get a little desperate to come back quick and we always want a second opinion. I went there. Someone told me. I take my responsibility. Nobody put a gun to my head to go there. And that’s it.”
Now, let’s move on to a non-controversial topic: Andy Pettitte. Pettitte threw a bullpen session today and then met with the media about how he’s feeling along with if he plans to retire in 2014.
“I feel like I’m better than I am at age 30. Heck, I want to win 20 games. That’s it.” Pettitte said during his 11 minute press conference. Joe Girardi even spoke about Pettitte during another press conference this morning in Tampa.
On the topic of whether Pettitte will retire in 2014, Girardi said “I think Andy still loves to compete.” To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andy Pettitte return in 2014. That’s a true competitor right there.
And last but definitely not least, everyone’s favorite closer: Mariano Rivera. Mariano Rivera said that he made a decision on whether or not he will pitch next season–but he’s not telling anyone just yet. However, he did say that he was going to reveal whether he planned to retire or not before the season begins.
“You guys have been patient enough.” Rivera said during his press conference. When it came to rating how his knee was doing, he said it was a 9 out of 10 but by the time Opening Day rolls around, Rivera plans to feel 100%. He’s doing agility drills and threw a bullpen session his first day of camp, which is out of the norm for Rivera since he doesn’t throw bullpen sessions his first day.
Now, the main question that came from Rivera’s press conference: will he shag fly balls this season even though he tore his ACL doing what he loved last season? Yes. He will. He will just have to be careful about it when he’s in the outfield. It didn’t take much convincing for Joe GIrardi to let him shag again.
“I don’t want to take it away from him.” That’s the verdict from Girardi–but with one small, tiny exception. “Just not in Kansas City.”
Courtesy of Bryan Hoch from MLB.com, here are some pictures from today’s Spring Training’s events:
As the offseason winds down, aside from the Alex Rodriguez drama and the small signings of Matt Diaz, Kevin Youkilis and Juan Rivera, the Yankees seem to be almost the exact same team as in 2012 minus a few losses. Nick Swisher packed his bags and went to the Cleveland Indians, Russell Martin did the same and rejoined former Yankees teammate A.J Burnett with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Raul Ibanez decided to take his bat to Seattle where he could end his career on a good note and Andruw Jones went to Japan, one of the few loses the Yankees won’t mind at all. However, as the 2013 season comes upon us, the Yankees look as if they hadn’t done much on the market. The 2013 team has been predicted by multiple fans that they will finish from either 2nd place – 4th place in the AL East.
The Yankees may look like the same old Yankees as the 2012 season, but there’s one small detail that the Yankees completely missed: some of the players that are ready to play this season, weren’t available last season due to injury or health issues. Some of the big names on the team spent quite some time on the DL and the reason that the Yankees didn’t make a deal with other players, is because they believe there’s someone on the team that can do the job better than someone on the market.
Brett Gardner – OF
Last season looked very promising for Brett Gardner. Once April came around, he was hot right off the bat. He looked as if he was going to bounce back from his so-so 2011 season–until injury struck. Gardner was unsure what was going on with his elbow. At first he went on the DL believing that 15 days later, he would be back to help the team. Once he started to swing a bat again, he felt the pain again. The Yankees tried to rehab him for a third time and he still felt pain in his elbow. A concerned Gardner was then sent to a surgeon to see if there was something wrong with his elbow. Alas, the young outfielder once again needed surgery. Gardner is now back for the 2013 season and this time he’s healthy. In the 2010 season, he proved that he was a starter, but his most impressive stat was his stolen base numbers. Although his hitting was down in 2011, Gardner outdid his stolen base numbers from 2010, going from 47-49. A healthy Brett Gardner can steal bases, is the only Yankee that truly knows how to play small ball and can work the count with his impressive patience at the plate. No need for Michael Bourn. Brett Gardner is already an upgrade from what’s on the market.
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.
When the Yankees ended their 2012 season with an ALCS loss to the Tigers, the pieces that the Yankees have to pick up again seemed legitimately small. They knew they were going to have to sign Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera to contracts. They knew they had to wait for Andy Pettitte’s decision on whether or not he would return in 2013–which came quickly this year. They knew they were going to have to replace the right fielder since Nick Swisher most likely won’t come back next season. They also knew that they were going to have to re-sign Russell Martin to another contract to play behind the plate in the Bronx. Well, as of last night Brian Cashman’s list got a little bit longer.
Although he was able to re-sign closer Mariano Rivera to a 1 year, $10 Million contract, he let another player get away–Russell Martin. The offseason plan has always been to take care of starting pitching first before going off and extending contracts to other players. Apparently, Russell Martin couldn’t wait for that, signing a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2 years and $17 Million, rejoining ex-Yankee A.J Burnett in the process. This leaves Brian Cashman heading into the Winter Meetings on Monday with no catcher and no right fielder, two moves that he has to fill up before Spring Training.
With Martin gone from the Yankees, heading to Pittsburgh there are two legitimate catchers on the free agent market that are still available: A.J Pierzynski and Mike Napoli. Although the Yankees aren’t reportedly targeting either catchers, at this point they don’t have much of a choice.
Last season if Martin had ever gotten hurt, Francisco Cervelli would have been the starting catcher. Now that Martin is gone, that looks to be the case with Chris Stewart at backup and Austin Romine as an emergency choice. As much as I like Cervelli (he’s a big fan favorite), he’s not a power hitter. The same goes for Chris Stewart. Although Stewart is an amazing defensive catcher, he doesn’t have the pop in his bat.
Brian Cashman believes that the answer to the catcher situation could possibly already be on the team, but with players like Cervelli, Stewart, Romine and new Yankee (who is currently in the process of clearing waivers) Eli Whiteside, I don’t see a legitimate starting catcher in the Yankees organization. 2014 is a year away Cashman. Time to take out your wallet and make a deal for someone for this year, no matter what it takes.
The New York Yankees ended their day with a serious blow when catcher Russell Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 2 year, $17 Million contract joining ex-Yankee A.J Burnett as his teammate. According to a source, the Yankees never made an offer to Martin with good reason–the Yankees were busy taking care of their rotation first like they do every offseason. The Yankees attention could now turn to A.J Pierzynski who is the second best defensive catcher on the market behind Martin.
In Other News:
– The Yankees signed closer Mariano Rivera to a 1 year, $10 Million deal which includes incentives such as award bonuses.
The Yankees rotation looks less and less uncertain with the signing of Andy Pettitte. Over an hour ago, the Yankees signed Pettitte to a 1 year, $12 Million contract which also includes a $2.5 Million awards bonus meaning that Pettitte could earn up to that much should he win awards in the 2013 season. To make room for Pettitte, the Yankees designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment even though the Yankees signed him to a 1 year contract to avoid arbitration earlier this week. The Yankees next order of business? Signing the greatest closer in all of baseball, Mariano Rivera.
In Other News
– Yesterday, Russell Martin revealed that he wanted a 4 year deal for $9-$10 Million per year, and the team that could give Martin what he wants is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates (along with the Yankees) are one of the front runners for Martin and it could all come down to what happens in the Winter Meetings next week. Come on Pirates, we gave you A.J Burnett. That should be enough.
Looks like the Yankees are beginning to get the ball rolling in this offseason game, and this time Andy Pettitte has control. According to Buster Olney, Andy Pettitte had decided to pitch for the Yankees in the 2013 season. According to Joel Sherman, the contract is rumored to be between $10-$11 Million for one year. Pettitte had confirmed when the season ended that he was going to take about a month before he decided what he planned on doing and that it would happen definitely after Thanksgiving. Pettitte started working out a couple of days after Thanksgiving, leading the Yankees fanbase to believe that Pettitte wanted to return.
In Other News:
– Mariano Rivera revealed that he also wanted to pitch in 2013, but the Yankees haven’t officially signed him as of yet. The deal should happen sometime this week before Winter Meetings next week.
– Despite rumors last night, the Yankees have not re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to a contract. As a matter of fact, the Yankees and Ichiro haven’t even come close to an agreement! If the Yankees end up signing Ichiro then that will close the chapter on the Nick Swisher saga.
– Russell Martin is reportedly looking for a 4 year deal for $9-$10 Million PER year. I seriously doubt that the Yankees will succumb to Martin’s demands. Then again, is it Martin that wants the contract or his agent?
The closer position is one of the biggest and most interesting questions for the Yankees into the winter. Unsurprisingly, Rafael Soriano opted out of his three-year, $35 million contract with the Yankees on Wednesday. Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, is known to get the most money for his clients as possible.
“Scott Boras told me he was confident that he could get Rafael a $60-million contract for four years,” team president Randy Levine said. “We like Rafael Soriano. We want him back. If that’s what his agent can get him, I understand why he opted out.”
The Yankees will make Soriano a qualifying offer worth $13.3 million to assure themselves a draft pick if he leaves. The Yankees will have no interest in Soriano for a four-year contract, but they could be open to a two-year deal if Mariano Rivera does retire.
It will be interesting to see how much Soriano can get on the open market. Soraino had a stellar year for the Yankees filling in for the injured Rivera. He saved 42 games for the Yankees and pitched to a 2.26 ERA. However, teams have paid for over paying closers on the open market lately, which could limit Soriano’s value, especially since he is turning 33 next month.
The Yankees find themselves in a very tough situation in dealing with Soriano. Rivera, who initially vowed to comeback next season after tearing his ACL, has told Brian Cashman that he is undecided about his return. I see it as more of a negotiating ploy, as the Yankees may be hesitant to pay Rivera close to the money he has been making in the past, since he his 42 and coming off a serious injury. He has worked very hard in his rehab and is very prideful, so I see him returning.
However, if Rivera doesn’t return, the Yankees do not want to get stuck without an experienced closer. David Robertson has been a great setup man for the Yankees, but he has been unimpressive in his few opportunities to close. Closing out the game in the ninth is much different from getting outs in the eighth. There is a huge difference in it mentally that certain pitchers can’t get past and Robertson may be one of those guys. The Yankees have been spoiled with the greatest closer ever for so long and by Soriano last year, but it is not that easy to find a good closer.
If the situation arises where Soriano goes elsewhere and Rivera retires two pitchers the Yankees should consider are Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson. In fact, they should pursue them either way. The Royals declined their option on Soria, who missed all of 2012 after having Tommy John surgery. Madson is another player who missed 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. Both pitchers were elite closers before their injuries and pitchers have been fine coming off Tommy John surgery lately.
The Yankees are in quite a bind here. Letting Soriano walk would mean they would be taking a big gamble that Rivera is healthy and effective in 2013. On the flip side, they don’t want to overspend on Soriano and have Rivera come back strong in 2013. Then, there is the doomsday scenario that I mentioned before; Soriano could move on to another team and Rivera could then retire, leaving the Yankees potentially stuck with an inexperienced closer in 2013.
Rivera is obviously a Yankees legend, so it will be interesting to see how much money he gets if he decides to return to the Yankees. The Yankees proved with Derek Jeter that they are not afraid to tell a legend that they will only pay him what they think he is worth. It is just another question, among many others, that the Yankees will face this offseason.