Thoughts following the Winter Meetings


(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Obviously the Alex Rodriguez injury was the major story in Yankeeland this week, but their seemingly half-hearted pursuits of various free agents (Jeff Keppinger, Eric Chavez, Nate Schierholtz specifically) makes you wonder what exactly is going on in the front office. Were they unprepared for the market inflation? Is ownership scaling back spending that much already? Is something else going on? I have no idea. Anyway, some quick thoughts…

1. The Yankees made a very strong bid for Kevin Youkilis yesterday and it seems like he’s deciding between that and a reunion with Terry Francona in Cleveland (on a two-year contract). He’s a flawed but fine stopgap option at the hot corner, though I do believe he carries an awful lot of risk given his declining performance and injury problems. The Yankees will need a backup backup third baseman in Triple-A to help cover during the inevitable DL stint. I suppose Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez fill that role. If the deal does get done, I think it’ll be much weirder seeing Youkilis in pinstripes than it was Johnny Damon in 2006. Youk is a Red Sox lifer.

2. The current catcher situation really scares me. Brian Cashman continues to insist they’re likely to go with internal options following Russell Martin‘s defection to the Pirates, but that could easily be GM speak. It’s not often you see a team with a well-below-average hitting catcher make it to the World Series, nevermind win the whole thing. Strength up the middle on the position player side is very important and I hate to see them punt such an important position. At the same time … what are the alternatives? There’s A.J. Pierzynski (who the Yankees may not be able to afford) and that’s it.

3. This report about Cashman having to get together with ownership before making any offers is just weird. Supposedly he had more authority in the past — I’m sure he still had to check with ownership for major contracts, but one-year nothings like Chavez and Schierholtz were probably at his discretion. I don’t know that for certain, obviously. Just a guess — but it was stripped for at least a week. The most important week of the offseason, for all intents and purposes. I don’t know what else to say about the whole thing other than it’s just weird. I can’t imagine Cashman is happy about having his authority scaled back after being on the job so long.

Categories : Musings


  1. Brian S. says:

    Youkilis at 1-12 and Hamilton at 3-60=championship.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      For someone who hates Swisher so much because of October, I’m surprised you want Hamilton. He can’t hit against the Yankees if he’s on the Yankees, and he’s pretty much sucked against everyone else in the postseason (205/240/321).

  2. Elton Cod says:

    “There’s A.J. Pierzynski (who the Yankees may not be able to afford) and that’s it.”

    Someone “who the Yankees may not be able to afford” –
    hahahahahahahahahaha (x100)

    But yes, it is safe to say – if the Steinbrenners are too cheap to keep Martin, they are too cheap to pay for someone good. Welcome to mediocrity.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Unless you think AJ is going to repeat his career year performance, I’m not sure he qualifies as “someone good”.

      • LK says:

        I don’t really want AJ, and agree he might not qualify as “someone good,” but he does qualify as “someone way, way better than the current options.”

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          Yep. Better anyways. Maybe way better. Not sure about way, way better. It is a very low bar to clear.

        • JLC 776 says:

          Reports on his personality alone are enough for me to not ever want him on the team.

          • gageagainstthemachine says:

            When everyone in the league blurts out your name immediately (more than anyone else) when asked who they dislike the most in MLB…that’s a guy I don’t want on the team. ARod was kind of the same, only because he still had years to mature and grow as a person, and dare I say become humbled. But AJ is old and at the end. I don’t see him changing his colors before he calls it a career.

  3. Captfrank says:

    Get aj go get hamilton trade grandy and stop crying poverty

  4. CountryClub says:

    Maybe their half-hearted pursuits of Chavez, Keppinger, etc… were because that’s all those players are worth.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:


    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      That may be true but considering the market is completely barren of 3rd baseman except for Youkalis and the fact that the Yankees have absolutely no internal options who can even fake 3rd base right now, they’re gonna have to sign someone and it’s not like the bank was broken for either of those players.

      • Elton Cod says:

        Shhh, the front office is great, everything they do is right, gotta get under the cap

        • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

          You would’ve had an absolute ball cheering the success of all the mediocre players we haven’t signed this off season.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Since they’ve offered Youklis $12 mill for one season, it would seem that they find him to be a preferable option to the other two.

        That A-Rod guy seems to fake 3rd decent enough… seeing as he’s out 3-6 months from the beginning of December, that would put him back sometime between early March and early June. Adams, Nix, and even Nunez can fake 3B, as well.

  5. Terry says:

    Reminds me of what Mike Tannebaum is doing with the Jets. He’s a pure numbers guy, not a talent evaluator. Seems like that philosophy has destroyed the talent level on the Jets. Not saying Cashman is comparable to Tannebaum, but with Hal nit picking the budget and taking back scrap heap players, it will set this team back a few years.

    • Rich in NJ says:

      If there is a similarity, it’s that both are having trouble developing young talent into their respective lineups. If that’s done well, it can compensate for a lot of mistakes in other areas.

  6. paul a says:

    I still truly believe if the bottom falls out of the Josh Hamilton market the Yankees are going to pounce on him. They did the same thing when they signed Damon and Texeria, and two years ago when everybody was complaining that they didn’t make any moves the front office ,Levine and Hal went behind Cash’s back and signed Soriano. The negativity they’re getting now might turn into another knee jerk reaction

  7. The Real Greg says:

    MLB Sports Report is tweeting that the Yanks and Youk have agreed to a two year deal. Take that for what you will

  8. Frank says:

    Yanks are in a world of hurt if in fact management intends to stand by their budget restraint. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      I’ll evaluate it after 3 – 5 years and see how it turns out. I understand it may be a bumpy ride, but if they’re a top team in a few years, well, maybe the trip will have been worth it.

      • LK says:

        If you take a team with best record in the AL, make it worse than that for a couple years, and then end up back where you started, I fail to see how that’s cause for celebration, assuming they don’t end up with some type of juggernaut.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Perhaps they will. With the core of the team aging considerably at this point, a decline is inevitable. It’s a question of when, for how long, and how they come out of it. I’m not a whiny Yankee fan. I lived through the lean years as a fan and have enjoyed the roll they’ve been on. We’re not and never will be the Royals or the Cubs or anyone like that. I’ll give them time. We need to understand the dynamics of team ownership around the league are changing. In fact, even without selling, ownership of the Yankees has changed. I hope it’s for the best long term. If so, I can live with a few down years. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs every year, I just enjoy that they’ve had a good chance at it for nearly 20 years.

          • LK says:

            I agree with that sentiment. However, I’m of the belief that you don’t take a step back by choice, because you can’t take steps forward anytime you want to. I’m not a fan of the 189 plan, but I figured they’d at least go all out for this year; that doesn’t appear to be what’s happening so far, and it disappoints me, probably because it’s hard for me to imagine how this belt-tightening now is going to make them a better team in 2015.

            • Cris Pengiucci says:

              Perhaps not in 2015, but maybe the lessons learned allow them to be better in 2016 – 2022 and beyond, as they figure out how to win without handing out contracts like A-Rod’s and Teixiera’s. As I see it, that’s about the best I can hope for. The rest is out of my control and just me bitching (if I choose to).

              • LK says:

                Once again, I mostly agree. That said, I don’t really see why they can’t learn those lessons while still putting the best possible team on the field without signing those terrible contracts – something I don’t believe they’re doing, with the failure to match the Martin contract despite no real alternatives being a prime example.

                • Cris Pengiucci says:

                  I had a long response written up that didn’t post due to a network issue where I’m at. Short version, yes, some interesting and disheartening non-moves (Also include Chavez and Schierhotltz). Hopefully they’ve got a bigger plan because I don’t believe they’re actively trying to hurt the franchise, even in the short term.

  9. RossA says:

    Get to the World Series?

    I don’t think they are getting to the playoffs. While one can never count out Derek Jeter, even in view of last year’s incredible season, even _before_ the ankle injury, you had to think you weren’t likely to get much more than a league average season from him this year, if that.

    ARod is an average player….and he’s out. Swisher is gone with no replacement….Teix has been declining for years….Granderson is a big question mark.

    So what do we have, exactly? Cano, maybe some hope for a bounceback year for Gardner. Solid starting pitching, but all aging pitchers on the decline side, a big question mark at closer.

    90 wins would be a miracle. I see 84-78.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      It’s not as if won’t fill in the vacant positions. I’d wait to see who else they sign before thinking about what their record might be in ’13. Would you still see 84-78 if they sign Hamilton and perhaps pull of a trade further enhancing the roster?

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      Hank and Hal might just be figuring that they’ve spent well over $1 Billion dollars in payroll over the last 5 years and they have exactly 1 less world series championship to show for it than the SF Giants who have spent less than 1/2 that amount.

      • LK says:

        Then someone should probably remind Hank and Hal that they have 1 more title over the past 4 years than 27 teams in baseball.

      • Now Batting says:

        That’s not really fair. The Giants got lucky just like Gene Michaels got lucky with the dynasty core.

        • Andy Pettitte's Fibula says:

          I’m not saying I agree with that thinking, just that the Steinbrenner boys may figure $189 is enough to win and they’re not getting any more return on their investment by spending any more.

  10. Billion$Bullpen says:

    Why is nobody seeing that they may in fact try to get under that $189 this year? If they are close I could see them trading Grandy just to move under it. Alex is not going to get his homer bonus, Swish and Martin are gone. Sori opted out. Mo is back for less. Andy and Kuroda cost more but they had to know that was going to cost them more this year.

    If they are creative and Youk does not take that one year 12 milli deal, I could see them just falling back this year, get under the number and kill it next year if they wanted to and resign Robbie.

    I am not saying I would do this, I am just saying its a possibility.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Getting under $189 this season does nothing for them going forward. I don’t believe that would be the plan in any way, shape or form. Ir they get there, I highly doubt it’s by design.

    • Chris says:

      I believe the number is actually ~$178 this year, and considering they’re already about ~$168 with 10 spots to fill, I don’t see that number being hit this year.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        And that provides a one-time savings on the luxury tax. The $189MM figure in 2014 resets the clock for them, providing benefits for a few years after that as well.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          Getting under this year would reset their luxury tax rate as well.
          They would likely get smaller benefits in terms of market disqualification revenue sharing rebates, though, since that program is being phased in.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      The point of getting under $189M next year is to get under the luxury tax threshold.
      The threshold for 2013 is only $178M. The current roster, factoring in estimated arbitration raises, and no more additions, would end up roughly $195M-$200M in terms of luxury tax payroll.
      They could potentially get under $178M, but it would likely mean trading Granderson AND Cano.

    • Steve says:

      I could be wrong but the luxury tax hasn’t gone up to 189 yet, has it? I thought that they picked next year specifically because it would be 189 for the first time then.

    • chrisF says:

      Question: If/when A-Rod gets to certain home run bonuses, does the money he gets in incentives get added onto the payroll and affect the luxury tax?

      I’m not sure, but I know that his first home run bonus is 660 (not sure for how much), and he’s at 647 now so he’s 13 away. If he comes back in June and doesn’t get hurt again for some other reason then getting to 660 in 2013 is probably likely. But it really is in the Yankees best interest for him to reach that mark next season. Because say he misses the whole first half and then hits 11 or 12 in the second half. Then he’ll go into 2014 one or two home runs away from a bonus, and if it gets added to the payroll it could complicate their plans.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        It does get added in the season earned, so it’s definitely in the Yankees best interests for ARod to hit at least 13 HR’s this year.

  11. Thunder Road Runner says:

    mighty big if there…

  12. Stevis says:

    without a REAL catcher we are F#@^&ed!
    Steinbrenner Jr. is definetely not Big George.
    GS must be turning in his grave

  13. Chris says:

    I find the potential for Randy Levine making more baseball decisions absolutely terrifying.

  14. ton lon ton says:

    Youk is a yank hurray

  15. ton lon ton says:

    will ichiro ichiro be back i think so yup

  16. JobaWockeeZ says:

    I don’t know what’s weird about Cash needing permission. He has a much lower budget now. He can’t just sign anyone for x amount of dollars anymore.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      They could just give him the overall budget, and then allow him to spend it how he chooses, only needing permission to exceed the budget.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        Or exceed certain limitations (more than one year or more than a certain dollar value on a contract) and leave the smaller stuff to him.

    • Preston says:

      It also could have just been something he said. These were agents who are telling reporters this. The negotiations might have gone past where he wanted to go, so he said, “I can’t go any higher without an okay from upstairs”, instead of saying I’m unwilling to go higher because you aren’t that good.

  17. Simon says:

    What about Viciedo or De Aza from the White Sox?

  18. nsalem says:

    The two most successful regular seasons in the history of baseball were both won with weak hitting defensive catchers, 54 Indians and 01 Mariners. The Mariiners were 4 games better than the 96 Yankees with 4 players whose OPS plus was under 93 and the 54 Indians had 3 starters with OPS plus under 80 this was in a time when pitchers hit so you can probably add a 4th for that team also. The Giants did okay this year with 3 players under 91 plus their pitcher. Yankee fans are used to having circular lineups with nearly every starter of all star or near all star caliber and that probably won’t be the case this year. However both are starting and relief pitching has the potential to be awesome and that may very well cover up our supposed offensive deficiencies. I’m not worried about our “failure” to sign any of the players we lost out on this week. I think they were mostly as a group overrated and easily replaceable.

  19. Dale Mohorcic says:

    “There’s A.J. Pierzynski (who the Yankees may not be able to afford) and that’s it.”

    Who the Yankees may not be able to afford–I know its beating a dead horse and I’m no advocate of signing Pierzynski, but I still can’t get over this as such a strange concept given 2 decades of market dominance, a decade old network that pulls in about $2.80 per month (per SNL Kagan) per each of their 14M cable subscribers, money from the new MLB tv and existing internet deals, the cashflow of Yankees licensed products and merch, the recent influx of major cash from Fox to purchase a piece of YES and (I forget who called it this, but its pretty funny) the money coming thru the new ATM with foul poles in the Bronx, which despite concerns about attendance, draws in excess of 3.5M people to the Bronx at an average ticket price (per Forbes) of $63 as of the beginning of the 2011 season. I get there’s savings from the luxury tax, but given that this money machine is built on success, seems there’s the potential for this to be a penny wise and pound foolish direction to take. Might it make more sense to adjust to the change in the luxury tax structure over time, try to sign current free agents to shorter contracts, wait for the deals of Tex, A-Rod and Sabthia to come off of the books and gradually bring the payroll down by, say 2017 and then get the cap readjusted rather than this herky jerky drop the payroll $40-$50M over 2 years mess that we are watching, where it somehow makes sense to offer Youk 4 times more than Chavez and where we can’t outbid the cubs and pirates for role players? Yes there’s some additional costs in payroll tax, but it seems like it could be paid for pretty easy given all the revenue streams.

  20. dkidd says:

    glass half full:

    the whole “handcuffed cashman” thing is a brilliant negotiating ploy, aimed at getting hamilton for 3/65

    glass half empty:

    hal is a bean counter looking to sell, 2013-2014 suck serious balls

  21. Adam says:

    This team is so screwed. We have no catcher, third baseman, right fielder, back up infielder, back up outfielder or DH. I’m truly disgusted by the way this team is being run and I just wish Hal and Hank would sell the team. This luxury tax bullshit is officially causing them to knowingly put a lesser team out there on the field, which is unacceptable. I can only imagine how negotiations with Robbie are gonna go next year. If they want to get under the luxury tax so badly then they shouldn’t have signed A-Rod to the dumbest contract in sports history.

    And if Cashman really goes into the season with Stewart and Cervelli as our catchers then he deserves to be fired, plain and simple. Maybe he doesn’t have the authority to hand out big contracts but he’s still the GM and has to be held accountable. Letting Russ walk was totally asinine.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      We have no catcher, third baseman, right fielder, back up infielder, back up outfielder or DH.

      Good thing there’s no game tomorrow!

      If they want to get under the luxury tax so badly then they shouldn’t have signed A-Rod to the dumbest contract in sports history.

      Not defending the A-Rod contract at all, but you do realize it was signed BEFORE the new CBA went into effect. Right?

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      “Maybe he doesn’t have the authority to hand out big contracts but he’s still the GM and has to be held accountable.”

      Makes no sense.

  22. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Well I’ve found the Yankees offseason moves of the past few seasons pretty pathetic.

    Granderson: C-. IPK is a useful pitcher and Austin Jackson is a fucking beast defensively and actually gets on base, which Curtis does not do. However, Granderson was the best player on the team in 2011 and he hits for tremendous power. Plus at the time I was pretty jacked about it, so that counts for something even though through the past two years and looking forward it looks pretty poorly for the Yankees.

    Javier Vazquez: G+. F- doesn’t do it justice.

    Soriano: C+. Cost the team a draft pick that looking at things now could have been pretty fucking useful now that the upper levels of the farm leave pretty much no room for acquiring a good player. He was a good reliever for most of his time here and stepped in during an emergency. That being said, they overpaid him gave him a bajillion outs, and burned a high round draft pick.

    Hiroki Kuroda: A- . The only gem of the group, but they really crushed it there.

    The Montero Trade: Fireable offense. Terrible move, they wasted a trading chip that could be used to acquire a good player and instead got a pitcher that probably won’t pitch until 2014.

    They had some luck with the scrap heap, but they also got burned for going to that well too many times on some occasions. Their evaluation of pitching has been beyond god awful. Time for Nardi Contreas to meet Mr. Mayhem.

    Lets look at a list of their huge pitching prospects over the past ten years: Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Andrew Brackman, David Robertson. Overall they’re hitting .125 on that, so in other words what you an expect A-Rod to do in October. On top of that they’ve made some questionable pitching acquisitions and other bizarre decisions on pitching. Yeah someone needs to get fired over this. The team, and its fanbase, is farting with the walkman on if they think they’re doing a good job in this department.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Pineda was a good player when they got him.

      • Rocky Road Redemption says:

        Yeah, it’s unfair to say that trading for a pitcher who won’t pitch until 2014 is a fireable offense when they got him when he was a young up-and-coming all star. Maybe in principle it was a good move, maybe not, but at the time it certainly wasn’t inexcusable by any means.

        Also, how can you penalize them for repeatedly picking up and using scrap heap gold?

        Phil is a decent starting pitcher and D-Rob is a great reliever. Kennedy went to the D-Backs and was Cy Young caliber. The jury is out at least on Banuelos.

        People undervalue Hughes. Prospects don’t normally pan out. The fact that Phil is contributing a lot on a major league level is a HUGE success. That he didn’t do as well as we’d hoped is just a matter of ridiculously high expectations.

        • Rocky Road Redemption says:

          Also, that Curtis was a disappointment for the last two years is really just a testament to how awesome he did his first season here. He’s an annual 40-HR hitter, and even with the low average and strikeouts that is EXTREMELY valuable. Finding that type of power isn’t easy.

        • Kiko Jones says:

          “Prospects don’t normally pan out…That he didn’t do as well as we’d hoped is just a matter of ridiculously high expectations.”

          Yeah, but if I recall corectly, Hughes was the no.2 prospect that year and the no.1 pitcher on the list. Folks just expected a whole lot more.

          Then again, no.1, 3 and 4 were Alex Gordon, Clay Buchholtz and Evan Longoria, respectively. And Longo is the only one that truly panned out, so…

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      And on the pitching prospects, it looks like you think only one of the 9 panned out (DRob?). But Joba is still a good reliever, Kennedy is good too (just not for the Yankees, same for Clippard), Brackman was a bust no denying that and Betances’ future doesn’t look bright, but Hughes has shown the ability to be an above average starter in the AL East and the book is hardly closed on Banuelos yet so I’m not sure he should even be in this list. There’s also Phelps and Nova. In terms of development, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the Yankees are hitting AT LEAST .500 and probably higher here.

  23. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:

    I’m slightly worried (may be irrational) about the Youk and Joba dynamic. Clubhouse drama is just about the worst thing that can happen to this team that’ll have to try a lot harder than normal to win.

  24. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Also, not to mention that this season they’re left standing with their dick in their hand at catcher, right field, third base, and to some degree the bottom half of the rotation. They basically have one a-list hitter, whereas most serious contenders have at least two. The two highest paid players on the team are disappointments and their two best hitters are going to leave soon.

    And Boston fans thought Theo left them in rough shape…

    • Rocky Road Redemption says:

      You’re comparing them to the Red Sox? The same Red Sox who finished well below 500 last year and had to trade half of their team to the Dodgers just to salvage something from their pathetic excuse for a season?

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Bottom half of the rotation? Hughes and Nova/Phelps is a better than a hell of a lot of other team’s 4 and 5 starters.

  25. Let’s not try to lynch Cashman please. It’s December 7. Just because we don’t make a splash in Nashville doesn’t mean something won’t happen till then.

  26. I am not the droids you're looking for... says:



  27. fat jeter says:

    Did I miss something? Wasn’t Russell Martin a well below average hitting catcher last year? If he’s the bar, I like the odds of 1 of 3 catchers clearing that bar next year.

  28. smurfy says:

    Sign Josh on a pillow contact, a one-year excursion to the flibberty WS. Play Nunie and Nix to sub on the right side, keep Curtis. Do it for Mo, and Andy. The fanbase will rest on the laurel while we build a younger, learning team.

  29. ton lon ton says:

    bring up austin tyler and mason williams do not sign hamiltonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

  30. NYCSPORTZFAN says:

    I’d just like to wake up and see we signed AJ and Youkilis, and made a trade for Vicideo, and resigned Ichiro, and i’ll be

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