New Year’s Open Thread

In honor of the New Year, here’s a video with all 252 homers (regular season + playoffs!) the Yankees hit in 2012. They aren’t going to hit nearly that many next season, so enjoy ’em while you can. I’m sure MLBAM is going to pull that sucker down pretty soon.

Here is your open thread for the night as 2012 turns into 2013. Have a very happy and safe New Year’s.

Holiday Mailbag: Rafael Soriano

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Several people asked: What’s the market for Rafael Soriano? Would the Yankees consider bringing him back? What happens to the draft pick if he doesn’t sign soon?

I received a few Soriano-related questions over the last week, so I figured I’d lump them all together here. The easiest question is the last one. The Yankees will get a pick for Soriano as long as he signs a guaranteed contract with another MLB team (so no Japan or Korea) prior to next June’s draft. If he takes a minor league deal or signs after the draft, the Yankees won’t get that supplemental first round pick. Also, it doesn’t matter which team signs him, New York gets the same exact draft pick regardless under the new system.

Now, as for his market, it’s basically non-existent right now. The Dodgers and Red Sox are not in the mix according to Jim Bowden and Rob Bradford, respectively, though those reports came prior to the Joel Hanrahan trade. That figures to change the market in some way. Scott Boras has been trying to sell the Tigers on Soriano for a while now according to Bill Shaikin, but Danny Knobler heard owner Mile Ilitch won’t be talked into signing him after dropping $100M+ on Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez. That’s it, no other reports on interested clubs this offseason.

Soriano’s market was similarly quiet two winters ago, when Yankees ownership swooped in and signed the right-hander in mid-January. There are more teams (many more teams, actually) with money to spend this time around, so I think it’s only a matter of time before Boras finds a taker. It could be the Dodgers, the Angels, the Rangers, the Nationals, who knows. I still think Soriano will wind up with the Tigers though, they’re clearly in win-now mode and have some serious bullpen question marks. Bruce Rondon is a great prospect, but he’s posted a 5.81 BB/9 (15.1 BB%) in 93 innings over the last two seasons. Hard to see a serious contender giving that guy the reigns to the ninth inning.

For the Yankees to get involved, Boras and Soriano would obviously have to be willing to take a one-year deal. I can’t imagine they’ll give him two guaranteed years given the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014. Soriano walked away from $12.5M with the opt-out (he received a $1.5M buyout) and another $13.3M by rejecting the qualifying offer, but he would have to take less to return to New York if no market develops. He wouldn’t have any leverage. The Yankees could bring him back as a setup man for like $10M and let him go after the season, though I’d have to think another qualifying offer would be out of the question. It would surprise me if Soriano’s market was so poor that he had to come crawling back to the Yankees, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question. Just very unlikely.

Fan Confidence Poll: December 31st, 2012

2012 Record: 95-67 (804 RS, 668 RA, 96-66 pythag. record), won AL East, swept in ALCS

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Sunday Night Open Thread

Happy Sunday everyone. There’s less than 30 hours left in 2012 as hard as that is to believe. Here is your open thread for the night. The Redskins and Cowboys are your late NFL game, and from what I understand it’s a winner goes to the playoffs, loser goes home type of thing. That’s always fun. Talk about that game or anything else here. Have at it.

Holiday Mailbag: Freddy Sanchez

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Two people asked: What about Freddy Sanchez?

Sanchez, 35, played zero big league games this past season due to shoulder surgery (labrum) and back surgery (herniated disc). He was rehabbing from the shoulder procedure when the back problem popped up in July, which led to the Giants acquiring Marco Scutaro prior to the trade deadline. That worked out pretty well for San Francisco.

Prior to the injuries, Sanchez was a classic low-power, contact-oriented middle infielder. He won the 2006 batting title with the Pirates and hit .291/.338/.397 (104 wRC+) in 740 plate appearances with the Giants from 2010-2011. Sanchez will put the ball in play from the right side of the plate (13.9 K% and 84.7% contact rate), but he won’t walk (6.1 BB%), won’t hit for power (.106 ISO and 5.2% HR/FB), and won’t steal any bases (13-for-22 career). He did most of his recent damage against lefties (122 wRC+ from 2010-2011) rather than righties (98 wRC+), though it wasn’t a massive split.

Defensively, Sanchez has been a second baseman exclusively since 2008. He has less than 1,350 innings of experience at third as a big leaguer and just 351 innings at shortstop, all of which came more than a half-decade ago. The various metrics have consistently rated him as an above-average defender at second through the years. The surgery was on his right shoulder, so it’s unclear if Sanchez still has the arm strength to make the throw from the left side of the infield. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but he has to prove he can before a team could seriously consider him a utility infielder.

Sanchez’s agent recently told Derrick Goold that his client is healthy and looking for an opportunity to prove himself this coming season. Several unknown teams have expressed interest, though none have made offers. The Yankees have Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez in-house, both of whom are able to play the left side of the infield (not necessarily well, but they can do it) and be something more than zeroes with the bat. Sanchez has to still prove he can do both of those things, which is why I think he’d look to join a team that offers more of an opportunity. If he wants to take a minor league deal and compete for a job, great. Otherwise the two sides don’t fit well with each other.

Saturday Night Open Thread

It’s the last Saturday of 2012, which blows my mind because I swear it feels like this year just started. Anyway, talk about whatever you like here in this open thread. The Nets are playing and there’s a bunch of college football and basketball on, so at least there’s something to watch if you’re not going out in the snow tonight.

Holiday Mailbag: Derek Lowe

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Several people asked: What about a Derek Lowe reunion?

I hadn’t thought too much about Lowe this offseason until writing this MLBTR post last week, which is when a few people emailed in. The 39-year-old sinkerballer has fielded calls from five teams this winter, but all five want him as a swingman. He’s looking for a job as a starter though, which is what he said after the ALCS.

The Yankees have Ivan Nova and David Phelps ready to compete for the fifth starter’s job in camp, and while I would like to see them add a veteran starter for that role, I was thinking someone better than Lowe (coughShaunMarcumcough). There are six bullpen spots already accounted for: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, David Aardsma, and Clay Rapada. The final spot figures to go to a long-man and the loser of the Nova/Phelps role makes sense for that role, but I don’t think we should rule out a return to Triple-A for that pitcher either. Especially if one of the two gets his brains beat in during Spring Training.

Right-hander Cody Eppley and left-hander Cesar Cabral are also candidates for that final spot, but Eppley has minor league options left and Cabral isn’t expected back until May-ish following his elbow fracture. They’re depth pieces more than Opening Day bullpen guys. I could totally see a trade (Joba? Logan? Robertson?) opening up another bullpen spot, but that’s just my speculation. There haven’t been any rumors of New York shopping or even discussing their bullpen arms. It would make sense though, especially with Logan one year away from free agency and coming off a career-high workload and league-leading appearance total.

The Yankees are expected to “bottom-feed” for pitching depth later this offseason and Lowe fits the bill. He had a nice little run in the bullpen last year (3.04 ERA and 3.77 FIP in 23.2 innings) but has been a pretty ineffective in the rotation for more than three years now (4.73 ERA and 3.99 FIP since 2009). Then again, we’re talking about a potential seventh starter here, maybe even an eighth starter if Adam Warren or Brett Marshall makes a statement in Triple-A early in the season. I’d be totally cool with the Yankees bringing Lowe back on a minor league contract for a swingman role, but I don’t like the idea of guaranteeing him a contract or a roster spot.