Sep
26

An agenda for the final four games of 2013

By
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

Well, this is awkward. The Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention last night but there are still four days and four games left in the regular season. They’ve broken up with the postseason, but they’re stuck living with each other until the lease runs out, or something. That was a bad analogy.

Anyway, these next four days are meaningless — unless you’re overly concerned about moving up or down one draft slot — but they do have some value to the Yankees. They have a chance to attend to some serious and not-so-serious business. Here are the three most important items on the agenda:

Start serious contract talks with Robinson Cano
Cano’s impending free agency is, by far, the biggest issue facing the Yankees these next few weeks. The five-day exclusive negotiating period expires five days after the end of the World Series, so the team has about a month to hammer out a deal and keep him off the open market. Obviously doing that would be preferable. The last thing the Yankees want is a bidding war.

“If we don’t make it to the playoffs, I want to take my time, go on vacation and relax. Then I want to sit down with my family and decide what we gonna do,” said Cano to Wally Matthews yesterday. “I haven’t decided anything yet, but don’t get me wrong. I love this team, you know? … I understand it’s a business. They have to decide what is the best for them, and I have to decide what is best for me and my family. I’m just waiting for the day.”

The Yankees made Cano a “significant offer” during Spring Training — before he changed agents — and just this morning we heard the team offered seven years and $161M. (Let’s ignore Robbie’s demand of $305M for the moment, that’s just AgentSpeak.) Now that they’ve been eliminated, the team needs to sit down with Cano’s camp and get serious about a new contract. The idea of talks being a “distraction” during the season is a non-issue now — no one would care if he went 0-for-20 in the final four games. It changes nothing other than his stat line*. This is the single most important piece of offseason business. Get it done as soon as possible.

* Just for the record, an 0-for-20 would drop Cano from .315/.384/.519 to .305/.374/.503 on the year. No one would notice the difference.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Shut down David Robertson, David Phelps, and Shawn Kelley (and Boone Logan)
A bunch of the team’s relievers have been banged up of late, and since these last four games are meaningless, the Yankees should just shut them all down and look toward next season. Robertson (shoulder), Phelps (forearm), and Kelley (triceps) have all missed time with arm problems in recent weeks — and not coincidentally, they’ve kinda stunk — so just shut them down and focus on getting them healthy for their offseason workouts and whatnot. All three figure to be not just part of the pitching staff next season and beyond, but rather important pieces of the pitching staff. No need to push it.

As for Logan, he needs offseason surgery to clean a bone spur out of his elbow after missing a few weeks with soreness. He’s available to pitch now but there’s no reason to run him out there. Logan will be a free agent this winter and there’s no real indication the Yankees will try to re-sign him, so this is more of a “thanks for the last four years, we’re not going to risk further injury by running you out there on the verge of free agency” thing rather than a “get healthy, we need you next year” thing. Just do the guy a solid.

Let Mariano Rivera play center field
This has gotta happen. Tonight too, not in Houston. Rivera has been shagging fly balls before batting practice for over two decades now for this very situation. I say regardless of the actual score, let him pitch the eighth inning and then play the ninth in center field in tonight’s series finale against the Rays. The other way around would be ideal since the ninth inning is Mo’s inning, but I’m not sure he could play the field in the eighth and warm up for the ninth. I don’t think warming up in the bullpen before the eighth and “sitting” for an inning would work either.

Following last night’s loss, Joe Girardi said he will continue to play his regulars out of respect for the game, which makes me think he won’t play Rivera in center field tonight since Tampa is still fighting for a playoff spot (and seeding). This weekend against the Astros will be a different matter. There’s literally nothing on the line other than the Yankees’ draft slot — the Astros have already clinched the first overall pick for the third straight years — which means Mo might have to wait for the weekend. That would be really unfortunate. If he does play an inning in center, it should be in front of the hometown crowd. Let’s hope for a huge lead (or a huge deficit, who really cares at this point) in the late innings so Rivera could play some outfield in his final game in the Bronx. It would make this whole mess of a season totally worth it.

Categories : Players
  • dkidd

    if we were playing a team out of contention i could see joe putting mariano in cf, but no way will he do that against the rays

    • I’m One

      Has there been any real indication that Mo actually wants to play CF this season? I know he has (somewhat jokingly) stated that he coould do it in past seasons, but I haven’t seen anything this season indicating he actually wanted to do it. Have I missed something?

      • EricVA

        I don’t have any source, but I’m pretty sure he’s said that he wants to play in an actual game before he retires.

    • Chris Z

      Hate to be that guy…but DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THE TRAIN WILL BE RUNNING TO THE STADIUM FROM THE NEW HAVEN LINE!?!?!?!?!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Oh fuck.

        Aren’t they running diesel trains right now? I’m so glad I haven’t moved up there yet.

  • Ed

    If Joe is respecting the fact that the Rays are still playing for something, why has he trotted out the white flag lineup for the past two nights?

    • Darren

      The white flag lineup is the same as the every day lineup.

      • Ed

        Doesn’t have quite the impact if you have to explain the joke.

    • SDB

      Because that was his best lineup.

  • slowleftarm

    I’m going to the game tonight. I bought tickets back in July because I wanted to see Mo’s last game at home. I DO NOT want to see some silliness where he goes and plays center field. I want to watch him pitch at home for the last time. It’s also disrespectful to the teams battling the Rays. If he wants to do that in Houston, where the games are truly meaningless for both teams, then ok, but I will be very disappointed if that happens tonight.

  • EricVA

    Important item #4:

    Tell Cano to stop swinging the bat totally. He walks 17 times in the next four games and then Ben has to eat his hat.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      THIS.

      Axisa failed.

    • SDB

      THIS. Very much THIS.

      If Kabak eats the hat, at least there’s something positive to take from the season.

  • Ned

    Is there any real chance of the Yankee’s actually letting Mariano play in center? That would be incredible, that didn’t even cross my mind.

  • lee

    i’ll be in Houston — perfect weekend will be Andy getting his last W on Friday with Mo getting the save, then Mo playing CF Saturday, and finally Mo managing on Sunday!

  • Darren

    I have one wish for the next four games. No more injuries.

    (And a perfect game by Andy.)

    • NeilT

      Sadly, the latter is more likely than the former.

  • forensic

    I just don’t understand the obsession of people with seeing Mo play CF.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’d be a nice moment, and there’s nothing to lose by letting him do it for an inning.

      No one will die if it doesn’t happen, but it’d be great to see.

      It also beats letting Phil Hughes do it.

      • forensic

        Eh, I get nothing out of it. He’s a pitcher, I want to see him pitch, not potentially embarrass or even hurt himself again in CF.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          They should absolutely have Hughes out in rightfield for an inning. He can experience what the rest of the team feels when they turn and look at the stands.

          Poor Phil Phucking Hughes. Now a forever RAB punchline.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            YES. THAT!!!

            As an added bonus, CGrand gets to toss BP-style to Longoria, and then point straight up when Evan hits it 500 feet…

            • Robinson Tilapia

              If only we had a game against Toronto….under interleague rules. C’mere, JJ Happ….

  • bobby two-knives

    Here’s a plan: since NYY will most likely be out of it by the 6th inning, have MO pinch it for the DH (making it like an NL lineup) whenever it comes in the order – take 3 strikes, then play CF for one inning, using the OF warmup time to get ready, and then trot to the mound for 7 warm-up pitches and pitch the 8th and/or 9th (if they happen to be ahead).

    Crazy? Sure, but no crazier than the lineups and matches run out there all season. Plus – it’s for the fans – that’s what MO said these last few games are all about. I assume he’s valuing NY fans more than Houston’s.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      You really think if Mo comes up to bat he won’t try to plant one???

  • http://twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    Rivera came out and said he will not play CF tonight.

    https://twitter.com/RealMichaelKay/status/383292725510275072

    • I’m One

      Tonight specifically? (Can’t access Twitter from work computer)

      • http://twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

        yes, tonight only. he didn’t say anything about the weekend.

        • Gonzo

          Yeah, I heard that they didn’t want to do it with the Rays still competing. I read that as, he’s definitely playing CF in Houston.

  • bobby two-knives

    well, there goes “the plan”

  • TCMiller30

    “no one would care if he went 0-for-20 in the final four games. It changes nothing other than his stat line*”

    But what if he went 20-20 with a bunch of home runs?!?

    • Gonzo

      20-20 with 20 HRs!

  • Gonzo

    I’m curious. Do you let Kuroda pitch this weekend?

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      I think so. He isn’t injured.

    • forensic

      Why wouldn’t you? He’s not hurt. He’s not signed or under control for the long-term.

      • Gonzo

        I dunno, to give Marshall some game time action, give Kuroda a break just in case he’s in the 2014 plans, or as a sign of respect. BTW, I’m not 100% he’s not injured.

        • forensic

          Well, there’s still an opening on Saturday (unless I missed the replacement) so someone else could still start there. I all for giving the younger guys some gametime, but one start at this point isn’t going to make much of a difference either way. If they were going to do that they could’ve pulled the plug on the Hughes/Huff crap a month ago and at least given someone consistent time and a chance to build up their pitch count.

          Personally, I don’t see an injury there. I just see an old guy who can’t seem to last through full seasons anymore. It was nearly the same thing last year and no news of an injury came out, even after the season (unless I’m forgetting something, which is possible).

          • Darren

            I wonder if they would have let Kuroda skip a start to catch his breath at some point in late August/early Sepetmber if (a)we had even one halfway decent option to replace him, like a Nuno, or (b) we weren’t hanging on by our fingernails.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I think that would probably be in the cards next year if he’s back.

          • Gonzo

            A month ago they weren’t eliminated. It might not make a difference to you, but it might make a difference to some of the younger guys.

            Just because you don’t see an injury doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    • Chris Z

      Why wouldn’t you?

      • Gonzo

        What if they plan on offering a QO? Would you risk it in a meaningless game?

  • JGYank

    Agree. Rest up for next year and get the Cano deal out of the way ASAP. Unfortunately, Cano will probably hit the market to raise his price and start a bidding war even if he decides he is going to stay. He has no reason not to. This is going to be a very important offseason.

  • OldYanksFan

    I know FA players always ‘ask’ for way more than they’re worth, but I find Robbie even mentioning $300m to be VERY disturbing.

    7/$161m is certainly reasonable.
    8/$190m means the Yanks take a bit of a beating.

    I have to wonder what/who else we might get for $190m?
    While he is a top WAR guy, he is still ‘only’ a .900 OPS guy.
    Might that money be better spent elsewhere?
    Plus, if we let Robbie test the market, we can offer a QO and therefore get a pick out of this.

    I hate losing Robbie, but as I said….
    I find Robbie even mentioning $300m to be VERY disturbing

  • David N

    I was hoping Mariano would come in to start the 9th, get two guys out, then Girardi would put him in center and bring in Robertson for the final out, a sort of changing of the guard.

    If he said it won’t happen then I guess it won’t happen, but would have been cool to see (and I am going tonight).

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Basically everything Mike said here.

  • steves

    FWIW. The “reverse” precedent for letting Mo play centerfield came on the last day of the 1933 season when a 38 year-old Babe Ruth pitched a complete game win (6-5, no K’s, 3 walks, 12 hits) over the Red Sox. Babe also hit a homer (34th) and the game took 1:38 to play. Joe McCarthy was the manager.

    • forensic

      Those are different situations though. Ruth was a full-time pitcher for quite a few years and going back could mean something at that point.

      Mo has never been a CFer before, unless he did it in the Panamanian Little League (which BR.com hasn’t updated the stats for yet…).

      • Chris Z

        Come on you don’t know those stats? They are basically universal knowledge!

        57AB 22H .385/.502/.782 with 11 HR and 31 RBI. No K’s and one HR was going way foul down the right field line until it “cut” just enough to clear the wall and miss the foul pole.

      • steves

        The parallels are there as well (an immortal player basically at the end of his run getting to play out of position and call the shots at the end of a season meaningless game). I will say this; the Yanks drew a crowd of 25,000 for the game in the middle of the depression so ownership may have suggested it to Babe as a way of filling the coffers. I’m sure the newspapers of the day would be interesting to read as to whether this was the Babe’s idea or managements.

  • FMB2345

    I can’t say as I agree with number one. Cano wants way too much, let him hit the opening market I think he’ll find that the money he wants isn’t out there for a second baseman on the wrong side of thirty and we’ll get him back at a price closer to what we want. If by some chance somebody does fork out the dough so be it let him go, nobodies worth that kind of money.

  • mt

    Unless Yanks are willing to give up a lot more money than their last (supposed) offer, unfortunately hammering this out quickly will not happen. Cano has waited years for Free agency and did not meaningfully try to hammer something out during the last year – doubtful he settles in any type of exclusive negotiating period. If he settles quickly with Yanks, how does he know Lerner (believe that is his name that owns Nats) will not overwhelm him with an offer since he wants to see Nats win now, especially after missing playoffs this year?

    It just strikes as strange for Cano to settle at 7 yrs at 161 mm or even 8 years for 190 mm or anything like that without seeing what market may give him. Players wait so long to gain leverage. Now if Yanks overwhelm him with $230 – $250 million or something like that, maybe only then he avoids talking to other teams.

    He may also want to go visit other teams – since everybody seems to think it is OK to ask for $305 million or $310 million initially since everybody can ask for the moon in a negotaition (I think it is on the edge of being unreasonable but I understand the point), certainly Cano having a dog and pony show with Nats, Phillies, Cubs, Tigers and (to really have people go crazy) the Mets is certainly reasonable if he wants to extract maximum leverage. Yanks will get a lot of heat as he meets with these other teams especially if Arod decision has not come down so Yanks can’t pursue other Free agents – team will look totally directionless as they wait for Arod decision and Cano visits other teams. This scrutiny and the sight of him meeting with other clubs at the end of the day is all mindless noise as it occurs but remember how noise about Yanks not doing anything led to Rafael Soriano deal with Levine (not to mention Mo’s saying he was meeting with Red Sox led to Yanks quickly caving in to his demand for the last 2 year deal he received from Yanks?). I wouldn’t discount that “mindless noise” factor.

  • Steve In Alabama

    Seems to me the Yanks need to say Hasta La Vista and Via Con Dios to Cano. His desire for an AROD contract far exceeds his capabilities and is truly a joke. It’s been real and it’s been nice Robbie but your asking price isn’t real nice. Good luck in the NL.

    • AllyinCt

      +1

  • The Lime

    The real agenda should consist of a handshake, colluding agreement with their opponents that they’ll walk Cano in every single remaining at bat in exchange for a)80mph fastballs down the middle in the following inning and/or b) guarantees that every batter following Cano will swing no matter where the pitch is.

    Nothing personal, but the hat isn’t going to eat itself.

  • 189,189,189,…dont you hate thatnumber

    nice freedom of speech gone from this site