2013 Season: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs
Top stories from last week:
- In a surprising announcement, Derek Jeter said he intends to retire following the 2014 season. “Last year was a tough one for me,” he said in a statement. “As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would become time to move forward.”
- Spring Training officially opened as pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa on Friday. Joe Girardi discussed a number of topics in his opening press conference, and so far Masahiro Tanaka has acclimated himself well. CC Sabathia is down to 275 lbs. and Mark Teixeira is slowly working his way back from wrist surgery.
- The Yankees remain uninterested in Stephen Drew but they reportedly inquired about Ervin Santana recently. Bench option Emilio Bonifacio signed a minor league deal with the Cubs.
- The Yankees signed both Dean Anna ($500k) and Vidal Nuno ($504k) to one-year contracts for the 2014 season.
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?
The first weekend of Spring Training is complete, though position players have not yet officially reported and the first full squad workout is still a few days away. Here’s a recap of the day in Tampa.
- Chad Jennings has the day’s bullpen and batting practice groups. Manny Banuelos plus a bunch of relievers were on the mound, including David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Matt Thornton. The pitchers will starting throwing live batting practice tomorrow.
- Mark Teixeira said his Spring Training plan is mapped out and he’s expecting to get 50+ at-bats, which is a normal amount. He is taking roughly 50 swings from each side of the plate right now and he feels a bit better from the right side. Tex also said he grew an inch this winter (!?) and hopes to play another five years. [Bryan Hoch, Sweeny Murti, Jorge Castillo, Dan Barbarisi]
- Apparently Peter O’Brien was the star of batting practice yesterday, hitting balls over the batter’s eye and off the scoreboard in left. “What puts his swing at a different level is the ease of it,’’ said hitting coach Kevin Long. [George King]
- Hoch has the list of guest instructors, which includes both Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. Ronald Blum says Andy Pettitte will be in camp as an instructor as well.
Here is your open thread for the night. The NBA All-Star Game is on, ditto the Olympics. Talk about those games, Spring Training, or anything else right here. Enjoy.
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have signed infielder Dean Anna and left-hander Vidal Nuno to one-year contracts for 2014. While in MLB, Anna will earn the $500,000 league minimum while Nuno will earn $504,500. Both guys still have all six years of team control remaining and can not become free agents until after the 2019 season at the earliest. I’m sure we’ll see both Anna and Nuno with the big league team at some point this summer, maybe even on the Opening Day roster. · (22) ·
Ten years ago today, the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez and $67M from the Rangers for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. New York landed the best player in baseball at age 28 on what amounts to a seven-year, $112M contract. Things with A-Rod are terrible now, but he was a monster from 2004-07 before using his opt-out clause. It was one of the best trades in history.
Joel Sherman has a look inside how the trade went down, including the failed deal with the Red Sox. It’s similar to ESPN’s 30 for 30 video but it includes some more big picture and long-term information. For example, Rangers owner Tom Hicks hoped signing A-Rod would lead to developers gobbling up the 270 acres he owned around The Ballpark in Arlington. Texas also came close to flipping Soriano for Jose Reyes after the trade, and the opt-out was designed to help Rodriguez finish his career with the Mets, his favorite team growing up. Check it out, there’s some pretty interesting stuff in the article. · (24) ·
With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding pitchers and catchers reporting now in the rear-view mirror, the Yankees held their first official workout today. Here is a recap of the day’s news from Tampa:
- Chad Jennings has the day’s bullpen and and batting practice groups. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Ivan Nova were among those to throw off a mound with various coaches and front office staff watching. Tanaka and Kuroda are catch partners and appear to have struck up a friendship already. Neato. [Meredith Marakovits, Dan Barbarisi]
- Joe Girardi and the rest of the staff are very pleased with how Tanaka how adjusted so far and were impressed with his bullpen session. Tanaka said he was surprised by how much running they do, however. “The four laps we did at the end were pretty hard,” he joked. [Bob Nightengale, Marakovits, Bryan Hoch]
- Manny Banuelos‘ elbow feels great and he expects to make his MLB debut at some point this year. He was touching 94 mph during simulated games late last year. ”It’s been a long time and I’m happy to be back,” he said. Banuelos will throw live batting practice on Wednesday. [Hoch, Marakovits, Jennings]
- Nova said he views Sabathia, Kuroda, and Tanaka as the only rotation locks and will treat this spring as if he’s competing for a job. “I’m still in a competition. Nothing is sure … I’m one of the young guys. I’ve got to be doing the best out there in the competition,” he said. [Hoch, Jennings]
- Mark Teixeira went through some infield drills with first base coach Mick Kelleher and then did some work in the batting cage with hitting coach Kevin Long. He’s working his way back from season-ending wrist surgery. [Wally Matthews]
- J.R. Murphy is going by John Ryan Murphy now. Apparently he had always gone by John Ryan, but people started calling him J.R. after he was drafted and he never bothered to correct anyone. [Sweeny Murti]
- Right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama is not yet in camp because of a visa issue. He is a long shot to make the bullpen anyway. [Jennings]
- And finally, there have been a number of upgrades made at George M. Steinbrenner Field. A new high-definition video board has been installed in left field and there’s a new scoreboard as well. [Hoch]
Here is tonight’s open thread. The NBA All-Star Skills Competition is on, as are the Olympics. You folks know how this stuff works by now, so have at it.
According to multiple reports, utility man Emilio Bonifacio has signed a minor league contract with the Cubs. Jon Heyman says he turned down big league contract offers from other teams because he felt Chicago gave him the best opportunity. There were never any reports indicating the Yankees had interest in Bonifacio, but he did make some sense for that final option bench spot. Oh well. · (14) ·
Via Andrew Marchand: The Yankees continue to have no interest in Stephen Drew even though they now know Derek Jeter will retire following the season. For what it’s worth, Buster Olney (subs. req’d) says several teams are concerned about the infielder’s medicals, specifically regarding his right ankle. He suffered a severe break and torn ligaments when he caught spike sliding into home plate back in 2011.
I’ve said I believe Drew is a good fit for the Yankees more times than I care to count by now, though I think the team may be waiting to see what happens with Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz before pursuing Drew. Diaz, as I explained in yesterday’s mailbag, is eligible to sign next Wednesday and the Yankees have been scouting him since last summer. If they spend big bucks on an infielder, they might prefer to spend it on the 23-year-old Diaz rather than the 30-year-old Drew. I dunno, we’ll see. · (69) ·
Happy pitchers and catchers day, everyone. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day as well. But who cares about that. The Yankees officially opened Spring Training this morning and it sounds as though everyone other than Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman reported on time. Their flights from New York were delayed by the weather and they got in later this afternoon. We had a recap of Girardi’s press conference earlier, now here is the first day’s worth of camp notes.
- The first official workout is tomorrow, but Brian McCann, Frankie Cervelli, and Austin Romine spent time with Kevin Long in the batting cage today while Michael Pineda threw a bullpen session. Adam Warren and David Phelps have been in town for weeks and are already facing hitters. [Chad Jennings]
- CC Sabathia told reporters he is at 275 lbs., down from 315 lbs. a few years ago and his lowest weight since he was with the Indians. He believes he lost too much weight too quickly last year, costing him power and stamina, so that was his focus this winter. Sabathia also blamed himself for missing the postseason a year ago. He was bad, but that’s a bit much. [Richard Justice & Bob Nightengale]
- Masahiro Tanaka met with the media and said he’s willing to make whatever adjustments are needed as he transitions to MLB. He has spoken to Hiroki Kuroda about the differences in leagues as well. David Robertson, meanwhile, said he is focused on being more efficient in 2014. [Dan Barbarisi]
- McCann said the team wasted no time helping him get acclimated with the pitching staff and opposing hitters. “I got an iPad in the mail two days later with everybody’s two good games, two bad games, all the hitters in the AL East,” he said. “As soon as we signed Tanaka, I got all his starts, so I’ve seen it. Now I want to get to know everybody and what their mindset is.” [Bryan Hoch]
- The Yankees are “quietly encouraged and excited” by what they’ve seen from Pineda so far. He is in better shape than he had been in the past and his velocity has shown signs of increasing. [Buster Olney & Andrew Marchand]
- If you care about such things, Mariano Rivera‘s old locker went to Tanaka. “I was like, ‘I’m not really sure if I should be here,’” he said when he found out. Alex Rodriguez‘s old locker remains vacant though Carlos Beltran took over the adjacent locker. Jacoby Ellsbury got Kevin Youkilis‘ old spot. [AP]
- Here is the full list of number assignments [Hoch]. Some notables: Brian Roberts will wear 14, Scott Sizemore 24, Kelly Johnson 33, and Matt Thornton 48. They gave out Robinson Cano‘s number right away, huh? Cold.
- Position players are scheduled to report next Wednesday and Derek Jeter will hold a press conference to discuss his impending retirement at 11:30am ET that day. He said “everything’s good” with his surgically repaired ankle. [Dan Martin]
Here is your open thread for the night. The NBA (All-Star) and NHL (Olympics) are both on breaks, so the only sports tonight are college basketball and the Olympics. Talk about whatever here. Have at it.
Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today, and a few hours later Joe Girardi showed up to camp. His flight from New York was delayed because of all the snow. My goodness there is so much snow. Anyway, here is a not at all complete recap of Girardi’s annual start-of-Spring Training press conference, culled together from the Twitter accounts of reporters in attendance.
On Derek Jeter
- Girardi had “no inkling” Jeter was planning to retire after the season until the announcement was made. “We are going to miss him,” he said. “You want a guy like that to play forever.”
- Jeter’s playing time both in the field and at DH against left-handers is going to be based on how he feels on a daily basis. They won’t put a firm plan in place at this point.
- As for batting Jeter second, Girardi said “we’ll have to see,” but indicated he would like to split up the left-handed hitters. I wonder if that means Brett Gardner will bat leadoff and Jacoby Ellsbury will bat third. Or maybe Ellsbury at leadoff with Brian McCann batting third. We’ll see.
On the new players
- “It is the biggest transition I’ve been through … I think its important I get to know these guys,” said the skipper.
- Girardi believes Masahiro Tanaka loves the spotlight and will handle the move to MLB well.
- Kelly Johnson is the backup first baseman for the time being. They have not discussed playing McCann at first.
On the fifth starter competition
- Girardi plans to tell David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and everyone else to make sure they take it easy early in camp and gradually build themselves up. They don’t want anyone getting hurt by doing too much too soon.
- “Anything is possible,” said Girardi when asked if they would be willing to use Pineda out of the bullpen. “When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation,” he added. “We envision him as a starter.”
The 2011-12 seasons were not particularly kind to Austin Romine, who was limited to only 108 games due to concussion and back problems. Sure, he made his big league debut in September 2011, but it wasn’t until last April that he returned to the show, and that was only because a foul pitch broke Frankie Cervelli‘s hand. Romine spent last season as Chris Stewart‘s backup and, aside from a few weeks in July, he wasn’t very impressive.
Stewart was traded away this winter but the Yankees replaced him in a big way, committing $85M to free agent Brian McCann. Cervelli’s hand (and elbow) is healed and his 50-game Biogenesis suspension is over, plus J.R. Murphy jumped up the organizational depth chart with a breakout season. Romine was arguably the best catcher in the organization for much of last year, but now, just an offseason later, he is widely considered no better than the fourth best backstop on the team.
“First of all, it’s a business. Second of all, I thought it was awesome,” said Romine to Adam Berry earlier this week when asked about the McCann signing. “I get a chance to study and be under a guy that’s been an All-Star forever. You’d be stupid not to pick his brain and learn something. I see it as a great opportunity to learn more about this game from a guy that’s been around for a long time. I’m actually really excited.”
There’s no doubt Romine can learn a lot from a veteran guy like McCann, but he might not get that opportunity. At least not after Spring Training. Cervelli, who is out of options and can’t go to the minors without passing through waivers, is expected to backup McCann with Romine and Murphy opening the year in Triple-A. Considering that the 25-year-old Romine has hit .258/.321/.355 with 12 homers combined over the last three years, the 22-year-old Murphy figures to get playing time priority with the RailRiders.
Now, there is no such thing as too much catching depth, but right now Romine is in a weird spot. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was the best catching prospect in the organization yet now he’s an afterthought behind McCann, Murphy, and Cervelli. All it takes is one injury to move him up the pecking order and catchers sure do get hurt a lot, but there is no obvious place for him at the moment. Romine will essentially be the Triple-A backup this coming year because he hasn’t forced the Yankees to consider him anything more.
“Anyone that told you that they didn’t want to be a starting catcher is lying to you,” he added. “That’s my goal. That’s been my goal since I was a little kid. Everybody wants to be a starting catcher. Right now, the backup job’s open, so that’s what you focus on. You get to be behind a guy that’s done it all and learn some stuff, and maybe they’ll give you a chance … I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in a while. I’m just looking for some time to show them I can still do it. It’s going to be a fight.”
I’m inclined to think this situation will work itself out. Someone will get hurt somewhere along the line and Romine will assume a more important role, even if that role is nothing more than the starter with Triple-A Scranton. Trading him is always an option but his stock isn’t all that high and I don’t think the return would be great. Having the extra young catcher around would be more beneficial than whatever he could fetch in a trade. Romine’s long-term role with the Yankees may not be clear now, but that doesnt’t mean he isn’t worth keeping around.