Archive for 2012


New Year’s Open Thread

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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.

Categories : Open Thread
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Holiday Mailbag: Rafael Soriano

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(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.

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

Top stories from last week:

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Categories : Polls
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Sunday Night Open Thread

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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.

Categories : Open Thread
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Holiday Mailbag: Freddy Sanchez

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(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.

Categories : Mailbag
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Saturday Night Open Thread

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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.

Categories : Open Thread
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Holiday Mailbag: Derek Lowe

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(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.

Categories : Mailbag
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Friday Night Open Thread

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Here is your open thread for the evening. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing, but talk about whatever you like here. Have at it.

Categories : Open Thread
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(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Tom asks: I’ve seen people suggest that Joba Chamberlain‘s career is a failure with the reasoning that when he was a prospect, he was promised to be something so special that even considering the attrition rate for prospects, he should have turned out better. Are you happy with Joba’s apparent role now as a good relief pitcher?

Oh no, he’s absolutely not a failure. Joba was selected with the 41st overall pick in the draft and here’s the full list of players taken with that pick who have been above replacement level in their career.

Year Tm Pos WAR
1973 Red Sox Fred Lynn (minors) OF 46.7
1980 Cardinals Dan Plesac (minors) LHP 15.9
2006 Yankees *Joba Chamberlain (minors) RHP 6.5
1982 Phillies Lance McCullers (minors) RHP 4.7
1991 Tigers *Trever Miller (minors) LHP 4.2
1965 Athletics Bob Stinson (minors) OF 3.5
1983 Reds via Yankees *Joe Oliver (minors) C 2.2
1970 Giants Butch Metzger (minors) RHP 1.0
2007 Athletics *Sean Doolittle (minors) 1B 0.8
1990 Red Sox via Braves *Frankie Rodriguez (minors) RHP 0.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2012.

That’s it, ten guys and Joba is currently the third best with a chance to climb into second before things are all said and done. The Yankees have gotten plenty of return on their draft pick and $1.1M signing bonus, so there’s no way he can be considered a failure.

Now, being a disappointment is another matter entirely. Joba will billed as an ace-in-waiting — “Chamberlain fits the No. 1 starter profile in nearly every way,” wrote Baseball America (subs. req’d) when they ranked him as the third best prospect in baseball prior to 2008 — as a prospect and he has not delivered on that promise, so in that sense he’s a disappointment. There’s wasted talent here in that he’s been used primarily as a reliever when he had the stuff to start, but the team played a big role in that obviously.

The Yankees gave Joba only 33 full/unrestricted starts (3.88 ERA, ~4.00 FIP) and ten pitch-count limited starts to prove his worth in the rotation in 2008 and 2009. As a 23-year-old in 2009, he pitched to a 4.34 ERA (4.43 FIP) in 24 starts and 130.2 innings before being limited during the final month of the season, when he got hit pretty hard. He didn’t light the world on fire from April through August, but that performance in the AL East at that age doesn’t strike me as something that warrants being banished to the bullpen for good. That’s what happened though. It is what it is.

Joba set the bar crazy high with his out of this world 2007 debut and that led to unrealistic expectations that were impossible to meet. He also didn’t do himself any favors through the years by showing up to camp out of shape and getting arrested for DUI, so I don’t want to make it seem like I’m absolving him of blame for the failure to reach his ceiling. I wanted Joba to get more time to show what he could do as a starter but that didn’t happen, so I’m disappointed. In no way is having one decent year as a starter and 3+ years as a good to great reliever a failure though. Not at all.

Categories : Mailbag
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(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Not long before the Rangers signed A.J. Pierzynski, Jon Heyman said the Yankees were still unable to get excited about the long-time White Sox backstop. Despite their need for catching help, the 35-year-old who hit 27 homers last season just wasn’t doing it for them. Instead, Heyman says the Yankees are “looking to go” with Austin Romine behind the plate next year, the youngest of their four (don’t forget Bobby Wilson!) internal catching solutions.

Romine, 24, has had some of the blush come off his prospect rose these last two seasons due to back injuries. He’s appeared in just 111 games since 2011 with only 97 starts behind the plate. That’s a lot of development time lost at a crucial age, yet the Yankees are apparently open to using him as their primary big league backstop in 2013 because of his defense. Defense from the catcher position is something the team has become obsessed with in recent years, basically since they were able move Jorge Posada to DH full-time two years ago.

“He’s a plus, plus defender … He can really play the position,” said VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman to Chad Jennings last week. You have to take quotes like that with a huge grain of salt because of course an organization is going to speak highly of its prospects. There’s nothing to be gained by doing otherwise. Romine could be a terrible defender (he’s not according to various scouting reports) and the Yankees could be well aware of it, but they’d never admit it. Remember how they insisted Jesus Montero could catch in the show and then did everything in their power to avoid using him behind the plate in September 2011? Kinda like that. Actions speak louder than words.

The Yankees are unlikely to make a meaningful catching addition before Spring Training just because the market is barren at the moment, both free agency and trades. That could change in an instant if some team decides to unload some salary, but I wouldn’t count on it. Sending Romine to Triple-A for everyday reps while Chris Stewart and Frankie Cervelli handle big league duties would be the easiest solution for the club and possibly the best both in the short- and long-term. However, if they do take Romine north out of camp and use him as the primary backstop at the outset of the season, it would speak volumes about their true feelings of his defense. It would be a massive vote of confidence.

Categories : Defense
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