Via Buster Olney: The Yankees have started the process of putting together a new contract for GM Brian Cashman. His current deal expires at the end of the October but this is something they have to take of sooner rather than later so they can begin mapping out the offseason. A few weeks ago we heard the Steinbrenners wanted to bring Cashman back despite their second straight postseason-less year.
“My stuff’s not really resolved, so there have been no discussions just yet,” said Cashman to Chad Jennings when asked about offseason plans over the weekend. “That will all wait for another day. I don’t want to talk about game-planning or focus, what should or shouldn’t be looked at. I’ll wait until we all sit down with ownership, they can map out their strategy and who’s going to be a part of that, and we can go from there.”
Cashman has been the GM since 1998 and that’s an eternity in GM years. There are plenty of strong arguments for both keeping him and finding a new GM, but, either way, the Yankees need to make some changes to their team-building approach because the whole “throw money at free agents” strategy doesn’t work like it once did. The game has changed and the Yankees have yet to keep pace. · (331) ·
Baseball America continued their look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league today with the short season NY-Penn League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Mets RHP Marcos Molina, Nationals RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and Mets SS Amed Rosario claim the top three spots. C Luis Torrens is the only Yankees farmhand on the list and he ranks fourth after playing 48 games with the Staten Island Yankees.
Torrens, 18, hit .270/.327/.405 (115 wRC+) with two homers in 48 games with SI. “He continued to stand out for his show-stopping arm,” said the scouting report, which lauds his other defense skills as well. “Offensively, Torrens has intriguing life in his bat and flashes some pull power … He recognizes spin out of the pitcher’s hand and does a good job staying back on breaking balls. He drives balls from gap to gap and handles velocity well … He is confident and poised beyond his years.”
The SI Yanks had the least amount of high-end talent among Yankees’ affiliates this year — RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list — and Torrens was far and away the best prospect on the team. The next relevant list is the Low-A South Atlantic League, which is a few days away. OF Aaron Judge and RHP Luis Severino are locks for that list. Other possibilities include 3B Miguel Andujar, SS Abi Avelino, SS Tyler Wade, LHP Ian Clarkin, and RHP Brady Lail.
Other League Top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League. · (21) ·
The regular season is over and that means we’ll spend the next few weeks looking back at the year that was and ahead to an important offseason. We’ll start our annual season review next week once I take a few days to catch my breath. Blog life is a grind, man. We’ve been using the “what went right/wrong” season review format basically since the start of RAB, but I feel it’s run its course and it’s time for something new. I’m just not quite sure what yet. Anyway, here are some scattered thoughts on the heels of the team’s second straight postseason-less season.
1. Now that Derek Jeter is gone and the Core Four — sorry Core Five doesn’t rhyme, Bernie — is officially gone, the Yankees have to find or develop a new identity. This was Jeter’s team for the last two decades and now they have to find the next “face of the franchise,” so to speak. I don’t think that player is on the roster right now and that’s okay. It was a few years before Tim Lincecum replaced Barry Bonds as the Giants icon, for example. Masahiro Tanaka could eventually take over as the face of the Yankees but I don’t think he is that right now. Maybe if he had stayed healthy this season it would have been a different story. This is the first time in a very, very long time the Yankees have not had an undisputed star at the forefront of the organization. Remember, Jeter took over that role from Don Mattingly almost immediately. This is definitely a new era of Yankees baseball going forward, an era unlike many of us have seen.
2. I’m a big believer in the importance of being strong at the up-the-middle positions (catcher, second, short, center). Those are traditionally hard to fill spots and teams getting top notch production there have a big advantage over their competitors. It’s not a coincidence the most recent Yankees dynasty was built around Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams. Here is a real quick and dirty look at the top up-the-middle teams in 2014 using fWAR (sorry, our tables suck and you can’t sort the columns):
|Team||Catcher||Second Base||Shortstop||Center Field||Total|
Six of the top ten and eight of the top 13 teams are in the postseason. The Tigers and Athletics are the two notable exceptions. It’s no surprise the Yankees are near the bottom. Jacoby Ellsbury was their only above-average up-the-middle player this year. Brian McCann was terrible until his homer-filled September and second base was a disaster all year. Jeter’s farewell was awesome but his overall year was not. In fact, Yankees shortstop was the fifth least productive position in baseball this year, better than only Astros first base (-2.7 fWAR), Indians right field (-2.2), Rangers first base (-2.0), and Reds right field (-2.0). Yikes.
3. Now, about those up-the-middle positions. The Yankees are locked into Ellsbury and McCann — I expect McCann to be better next year, though that might be nothing more than blind faith — but they have clean slates at second base and shortstop. Moreso at shortstop. Martin Prado is a candidate to play second and Rob Refsnyder is knocking on the door at Triple-A. There’s no one like that at short though, not unless you count Brendan Ryan, and I sure don’t. These clean slates are both good and bad. They’re good because they’re an opportunity to plug holes with no strings attached or other considerations. They’re bad because these are really tough spots to fill. My perfect world scenario for second is starting Prado there, then moving him wherever else when the inevitable injury strikes and calling up Refsnyder. The Yankees will have their pick from several free agent shortstops. There’s a lot of room for improvement on the middle infield and the club could turn their up-the-middle foursome into a real strength if McCann rebounds and they hit on their inevitable shortstop addition this winter.
4. I think these last two years have made it clear that having a strong and deep bullpen is very important. I mean, it’s always been important, but nowadays there are fewer runs being scored and it seems like every single game is close. We just watched it game after game for six months. This year the Yankees played 52 one-run games and 128 games decided by four or fewer runs. Five years ago they played 39 one-run games and 110 games decided for no more than four runs. Blowouts are rare and teams with deep bullpens have a big advantage in all those close games. I don’t only think the Yankees should re-sign David Robertson, I think they should also look to add another high-end reliever to him and Dellin Betances. Someone like impending free agent Andrew Miller, for example. Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley are fine seventh inning guys who can be more for stretches of time (and less in others), plus I like prospects like Jacob Lindgren and Nick Rumbelow as much as anyone, but I’m all for adding high-end bullpen depth. It’s both tricky and risky — relievers do still tend to suck for no reason and without warning — but without a big infusion of offense this winter, the Yankees are going to need to do whatever they can to help themselves in close games. Upgrading the bullpen is one way to do that.
5. The Yankees are reportedly considering using a six-man rotation next season — it’s just a thought right now, they’re kicking it around — and I keep going back and forth on this. On one hand, they have a lot of pitchers coming off injury in Tanaka (elbow), Michael Pineda (shoulder), CC Sabathia (knee), and eventually Ivan Nova (elbow), so it would be good to give them the extra rest. On the other hand, finding five quality starters is hard enough, nevermind six. And do we even know how much it will improve their chances of staying healthy? Good enough to make up for the extra starts they’ll lose? There’s also the roster construction aspect of it. Six-man rotation means three-man bench — I can’t imagine they’ll go to a six-man bullpen, nothing the Yankees have done the last few years suggests they’ll skimp on pitching — which means they’ll need more versatile players, including a backup catcher who can play elsewhere in a pinch. I don’t know, I can’t decide if I like the idea or if I don’t. If it keeps the pitchers healthy, then yeah, they should do it. The problem is there is no way of knowing how much it will help ahead of time. A six-man rotation could blow up in their face and lead to a lot of criticism, which makes me think they won’t do it. The Yankees aren’t the most progressive club when it comes to doing stuff outside the box to gain a competitive advantage. (Example: They didn’t start using infield shifts until years after their division rivals.)
6. I’m curious to see what Jose Pirela‘s role will be next year, which I guess ties into the whole “need more versatile bench players if you’re going to use a six-man rotation” thing. He looked good (149 wRC+) in his late-season cameo but it was 25 at-bats in late-September, that doesn’t tell us anything useful. His hits came against Wei-Yin Chen (single, triple), T.J. McFarland (two singles), Evan Meek (single), Clay Buchholz (single), Craig Breslow (single), and Joe Kelly (triple). That’s like, two and half MLB caliber pitchers. Pirela did have a big year in Triple-A (117 wRC+) while playing all over the field, and there’s a spot for someone like that on the bench. The Yankees like him enough to add him to the 40-man roster a few weeks before it was necessary — Pirela would have become a minor league free agent after the World Series again (he became a free agent last winter and re-signed with the team) — and he started the last four and five of the last six games of the season. The easy answer is that he’ll be an up-and-down utility man next season. But maybe Pirela will squeeze his way onto the bench in place of Ryan if they’re comfortable with their other shortstop options (namely whoever starts with Prado filling in). We’ll see.
The Yankees outrighted left-hander Josh Outman to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He was designated for assignment last week to clear a 40-man roster spot for Eury Perez. I believe Outman will become a minor league free agent after the World Series but the Yankees were probably going to non-tender him in November anyway. He had a decent year with the Rockies last season (3.25 FIP) and earned a nice salary as an arbitration-eligible player this year ($1.2M). Outman, 30, did not allow a run in 3.2 innings across nine appearances for the Yankees in September. · (18) ·
Brett Gardner has been named the Yankees’ finalist for the AL Hank Aaron Award, the team announced. The award is given annually to the top offensive player in each league, so Gardner doesn’t really have much of a chance of winning, but every team needs a nominee. There is a fan voting component, so cast your vote right here. The last Yankee to win the AL Hank Aaron Award was Derek Jeter in 2009. · (21) ·
So here it is, the first official open thread of the offseason. We’ve got another six months of these to go before the Yankees play another meaningful baseball game, though at least the postseason and hot stove will keep us plenty busy for most of the winter. The first night of the offseason is always the worst though. No Yankees baseball and the next game is just so far away. For shame.
Here is your open thread for the evening. There is no baseball tonight. The postseason starts with the AL Wildcard Game tomorrow (Athletics at Royals). The Patriots and Chiefs are playing on Monday Night Football though. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s press conference, or whatever else is on your mind right here.
Now that the 2014 regular season is over, the 2015 amateur draft order has been finalized. The Diamondbacks had baseball’s worst record at 64-98 and will pick first overall for the second time in team history. They selected Justin Upton with the top pick back in 2005. J.J. Cooper looked a possible first overall pick candidates earlier this month. There is no Upton/Stephen Strasburg/Bryce Harper-esque slam dunk prospect for next year’s draft, at least right now. Lots will change the next few months.
The Yankees finished the season with the 12th best record in baseball at 84-78 and will pick 19th overall next June. Here’s the full draft order. The Astros have a compensation pick (second overall) for failing to sign top pick LHP Brady Aiken this year, pushing everyone else back a slot. That’s why the Yankees are set to pick 19th instead of 18th. The last time the Yankees picked as high as 19th was 2005, when they took Oklahoma HS SS C.J. Henry with the 17th pick. The 19th pick came with a ~$2.1M draft pool value this year and the slots are expected to go up next year. It goes without saying the Yankees may forfeit this pick as free agent compensation. · (142) ·
The Yankees wasted no time jumping into the offseason this year. Joe Girardi held his annual end-of-season press conference on Monday afternoon, the day after the team closed out its regular season. Usually they wait two or three days. Not this year though.
There was no major news announced during Monday’s televised press conference — no coaching staff changes or surprise injuries, etc. — though Girardi did talk at length about all sorts of stuff. Especially Alex Rodriguez. People love talking about A-Rod. Here’s a recap of Girardi’s state of the team address.
- “We’ve gotta see where he’s at. That’s the thing we have to do,” said the skipper when asked what he expects from Alex next year. “We have to see where he’s physically at. If he can play the field, how many days will he DH, play the field … I don’t think any of us know about him until we get him in games in Spring Training.”
- “I thought our guys handled it pretty well (when A-Rod returned in 2013),” added Girardi while acknowledging the first few days of Spring Training will be hectic. “Will there be a number of new guys in there? I’m sure … We’ll do everything we can to make sure it’s not a distraction, but until we get into it we don’t really know. My personal opinion is it won’t be.”
- “I have a good relationship with Alex. Our team enjoys Alex (in the clubhouse),” said Girardi. “I don’t think that will be an issue. Will he have to deal with some angry fans? Yeah, but we’ll help him get through that.” (Girardi also joked that fans have been hating on A-Rod for years and he’s used to it by now.)
- Girardi said the Yankees “absolutely” expect Rodriguez to be on the team next year. “He hasn’t played in a year. That’s not easy to do, to sit out a year … Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely.”
- Girardi also confirmed they have not discussed having A-Rod work out at first base. “We expect him to be our third baseman,” he said. They’ve stayed in touch via text message over the summer.
Following yesterday’s season finale, Ichiro Suzuki told Dan Barbarisi he feels great and strongly indicated he will continue playing. “Obviously there’s a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can’t see, that goes on inside (the club), but what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future,” he said cryptically to Brendan Kuty when asked if he’d be open to returning to the Yankees.
Ichiro, who will turn 41 next month, hit .284/.324/.340 (86 wRC+) with 15 steals in 385 plate appearances this year. He seemed to be at his best in a limited fourth outfielder role. His production slipped once he was pressed into everyday duty. The Yankees will need a fourth outfielder next season like every other team, and the recently claimed Eury Perez offers a similar speed and defense skillset. It’s unclear if they’re open to bringing Ichiro back or if he even wants to be back at this point. He’s 156 hits shy of 3,000 and will probably need to play two more years to get there. · (215) ·
2014 Record: 84-78 (633 RS, 664 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for postseason
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees started the week with four games at home against the Orioles. Michael Pineda and some relievers threw a one-hitter in the first game and a comeback fell short in the second game. Wednesday’s loss officially eliminated New York from postseason contention and Joe Girardi reportedly ripped the club in a team meeting afterwards. The Yankees won the home finale thanks to Derek Jeter‘s memorable walk off single. Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium was the most watched game in YES Network history.
- The Yankees traveled to Boston to play the Red Sox in the final series of the season. They won a call-up filled series opener before Masahiro Tanaka got roughed up in Saturday’s loss. The Yankees closed out the season with a win yesterday. Jeter singled in his final career at-bat and was given a huge ovation when he was lifted for a pinch-runner.
- Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) and Ivan Nova (elbow) are both on throwing programs as they rehab from surgery. Alex Rodriguez has been declared healthy by an insurance company and is preparing to play next season. Eric Jagielo took a fastball to the face in Instructional League but appears to have escaped without major injury.
- Brandon McCarthy said it would be “hard to find a better fit” than the Yankees when he hits free agency. Cuban free agent Yasmany Tomas has a $75M offer in hand, but not from the Bombers.
- The Yankees claimed Eury Perez off waivers from the Nationals and designated Josh Outman for assignment. Perez might be something more than a warm body in September.
- Shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo was ranked as the fourth best prospect in the rookie Gulf Coast League.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?