Murti: Yankees have discussed signing Jason Grilli

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

As they mull over potential bullpen options, the Yankees have discussed signing free agent right-hander Jason Grilli, reports Sweeny Murti. Murti makes it sound like the team was talking about Grilli as a potential replacement for David Robertson should their incumbent closer sign elsewhere this winter. Then again, it’s the bullpen. There are several spots to fill. Grilli’s agent is Gary Sheffield, by the way. (Yes, really.)

Grilli, 38, has a 4.00 ERA (3.37 FIP) in 54 innings split between the Pirates and Angels this past season. He had a 2.82 ERA (2.42 FIP) with Pittsburgh from 2012-13 and was their closer in 2013 before losing the job earlier this year. Grilli seemed to figure some things out while in Triple-A with the Phillies in 2011, and was able to carry his success over into MLB. Here’s a quick breakdown of his last three seasons:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9 RHB wOBA LHP wOBA
2012 58.2 2.91 2.80 36.9% 9.0% 30.7% 1.07 0.328 0.217
2013 50.0 2.70 1.97 36.6% 6.4% 33.0% 0.72 0.220 0.316
2014 54.0 4.00 3.37 24.3% 8.9% 32.0% 0.67 0.313 0.310

Grilli’s fastball has consistently sat in the 92-94 range these last three years and he throws a frickin’ ton of sliders — 33.3% in 2014 and 29.5% from 2012-13. Only 16 of the 88 relievers who’ve thrown at least 150 innings over the last three seasons have thrown a higher percentage of sliders than Grilli. I guess that explains why he missed most of the second half of 2013 with a flexor strain in his elbow. Grilli also missed the entire 2010 season following right quad surgery and about a month this summer with an oblique strain.

If the Yankees were to lose Robertson to free agency, I like the idea of signing someone like Grilli to take over as the traditional one-inning closer. It doesn’t specifically have to be him — others like Sergio Romo, Casey Janssen, and even Rafael Soriano could work in that role — but the point is keeping Dellin Betances in that multi-inning setup role he was so damn good at in 2014. Let the inferior reliever start the ninth inning fresh with the bases empty while Betances handles the most high-leverage spots.

Grilli isn’t the sexiest bullpen option there, but he’s likely to take a one-year contract given his age and is just as likely to adequately close out ball games as any other low-cost option out there. If the Yankees won’t spend big to re-sign Robertson, then they probably won’t spend big for Andrew Miller either. Someone like Grilli is the best of the rest.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday everyone. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) continued looking at the top ten players at each position today with shortstop. Andrelton Simmons, not Troy Tulowitzki, claimed the top spot. That’s weird. A hundred games of Tulo is still more valuable than 162 games of any other shortstop these days. Current Yankees starting shortstop Brendan Ryan did not make the list. Here are some other links for the weekend:

  • If you’re only going to click only one link this week, make it this one: Ben Lindbergh researched the transaction tree for every 40-man roster player in baseball and figured out which one dates back the longest for each team. So, as an example, the Yankees got Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, got Betemit for Scott Proctor, got Proctor for Robin Ventura, got Ventura for David Justice, got Justice for Jake Westbrook, got Westbrook for Hideki Irabu, and got Irabu for Ruben Rivera. Make sure you check it out.
  • Brian MacPherson spoke to several executives about the importance of makeup, particularly for young players who may initially struggle in MLB. “How they handle it, truly, is how they handle adversity. If you’re good, it’s hard. If, mentally, you can’t handle the failure, that speaks volumes about you needing more time. If you struggle mentally, it’s going to carry over to some part of your game and you’re not going to produce,” said Marlins GM Dan Jennings. “You hope you can see that failure down below, and see how they handle it at Double-A or Triple-A. But at the big-league level, it’s a production league, and you’re always gauging and trying to read that, your time to allow that to allow that to go is really predicated on, No. 1, are you willing to commit for ‘X’ number of at-bats or ‘X’ number of games, and No. 2, is it affecting you in the standings?”
  • In a related piece, Kiley McDaniel mused about the importance of failure in the minor leagues for top prospects. Learning how to cope with failure for the first time at the MLB level ain’t easy. It’s a positive thing in a player’s development for them to hit the skids at some point in the minors so they can learn how to adjust — physically and mentally — and get back on track.
  • Russell Carlton wrote about three people who explain where baseball is right now. One is Hank Conger, who represents the emphasis teams are placing on pitch-framing. Another is Michael Cuddyer, who represents the wonkiness of the qualifying offer system. And the last is Gabe Kapler, who represents what may be market inefficiencies in the front office.
  • And finally, Kevin Ruprecht attempted to use PitchFX data to measure the quality of a hitter’s contact. There’s some scary math in there, but it’s interesting stuff. There’s a significant increase in production when a fly ball is hit more than 310 feet — balls hit 310 feet went for a .151 AVG and a .398 SLG from 2012-14 while balls hit 311 feet went for a .197 AVG and a .505 SLG.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Islanders, Nets, and Devils are all playing — the Rangers were postponed because of the snow in Buffalo — plus there’s college basketball happening somewhere. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

2014 Season Review: Foul Territory

Teixeira Foul Territory

We spend a lot of time here at RAB — like, a ridiculous amount of time — talking about the Yankees and being super serious about stuff. Moves have to be discussed and performances need to be analyzed. This is serious business.

If you’re looking for more of that this afternoon, this isn’t the post for you. We have something like 20,000 posts of serious stuff dating back to 2007 you can dig through if you want. This post is for everyone who wants to forget about the serious stuff for a few minutes and focus on the parts of the 2014 Yankees that made us laugh. Stuff like this:

That didn’t happen at a Yankees game, but I watched it happen live while the Yankees were on a commercial break in Spring Training. I’m pretty sure former Yankee Curtis Granderson hit that ground rule double too. See? Fun. Baseball can actually be fun sometimes. No need to be serious all the time. It’s baseball, man. A kid’s game.

Anyway, I think one of my favorite moments of the 2014 season came way back in Spring Training, when a Yankees-Red Sox game was randomly halted because there was a swarm of bees on the field. It took them like ten minutes to get things sorted out before the game could resume. I remember that moment because it produced this GIF (via The Big Lead):

Wait, wait. You need to hear why Mark Teixeira was holding two bottles of honey. From Mark Feinsand:

“I’m a big peanut butter-and-honey guy, so I always know where the honey is,” Teixeira said. “What I thought was if you could just do a line of honey out to the parking lot the bees would maybe follow it and leave us alone.”

“Do a line of honey out to the parking lot the bees would maybe follow it.”

That … isn’t the worst idea in the world? It would definitely backfire though. Kinda like when the coyote painted a tunnel on the giant rock and the roadrunner ran through it anyway.

Unbeknownst to us, while Teixeira was working on his beekeeping skills in Tampa, he was also recording a fake talk show called Foul Territory for the YES Network. And it was actually funny! At least at first. Teixeira told Dan Barbarisi he came up with the idea for Foul Territory in Spring Training as a way “for the new guys to get broken in, in kind of a funny way—not necessarily hazing, because I’m hazing myself more than anything.”

Teixeira interviewed just about every new player who joined the team last offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury (video) and Brian McCann (video). My personal favorite was either Masahiro Tanaka‘s appearance …

… or Jack Curry’s appearance …

… or the overlooked (probably because everyone lost interest by the end of the season) Brendan Ryan appearance …

… but that’s just me. The entire Foul Territory archive is right here, by the way.

It still amazes me a Yankee was able to record a multi-part fake talk show in Spring Training and have it be almost universally well-received. I get the feeling that would have not gone over all that well a few years and decades ago. Is Foul Territory an indication the Yankees are loosening up the rules a bit? Nah, of course not. They’re still the Yankees and will always have that business-like vibe. I guess that’s what made Foul Territory so much fun — it was a break from the norm.

This past season I made a point of making sure I enjoyed baseball more and didn’t take it so seriously. Especially since it was kinda clear the Yankees would stink. If I’m going to commit to watching a mediocre team everyday, then I’m going to laugh at everything I can. And with that, I’ll leave you with this GIF (via Buzzfeed):

RAB Live Chat

Cashman Speaks: Priorities, Free Agency, Kuroda, Hitting Coach

For the fifth straight year, Brian Cashman slept in the West 41st Street courtyard of Covenant House last night as part of an nationwide event to raise money to benefit the homeless. “I don’t know how any human beings can deal with this on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. There’s no comfort on that ground. Even one night is terrible. With all the elements, with nature. It’s not right. No one should have to live like that,” he told Wally Matthews. Here are some notes from the GM, courtesy of Matthews, Mark Feinsand, Brendan Kuty, and Bryan Hoch.

  • On the team’s priorities: “I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority. I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on. Bullpen, clearly with the (David) Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That’s a handful, right off the bat.”
  • On signing a big name free agent: “I can’t really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I’m just going to say we’re doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field.”
  • On adding two starters and free agency in general: “I would be open to (adding two starters) … (There have been) lots of calls, lots of texts, but nothing to show for it yet. It’s certainly taking its time, but it’s been busy. Certainly a lot of conversations. Hopefully they’ll lead somewhere positive … We’re looking at ways to improve our club. But we’re looking at smart ways to improve our club. I guess I can say that much.”
  • On re-signing Hiroki Kuroda, who still hasn’t indicated whether he will retire: “Every dollar counts to something. Everything we do has to be accounted for, so it will have an impact on something else. It depends on the entire context of the roster. But I do need starting pitching so he’s clearly an area that would solve some issues. We’ll see … If he wants to keep playing, he’ll have a market.”
  • On the hitting coach: Cashman confirmed the Yankees have an interview with a new candidate lined up for next week, though he didn’t say who it is. He also said no one has been brought back for a second interview yet. Apparently no one asked about the first base coach situation because no one really cares about first base coaches.