McCarron: Eric Chavez plans to play next season

Via Anthony McCarron: Despite his annual flirtation with retirement, Eric Chavez is planning to play next season according to agent Scott Leventhal. “Chavy has no intention of retiring,” said Leventhal. “We have spoken to and met with multiple clubs regarding his future in baseball.”

Chavez, who turns 35 later this week, was a monster off the bench for the Yankees this season, hitting .281/.348/.496 (126 wRC+) with 16 homers in 313 plate appearances. They were very lucky he stayed relatively healthy all season, and although Chavez is a fine bench player, I’m not sure the Yankees should gamble on his body holding up again. McCarron says Leventhal declined comment when asked about which clubs they’ve met with.

Open Thread: Winter Meetings Eve

I have officially arrived in Nashville for the 2012 Winter Meetings, and I can confirm the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is enormous. It’s basically four hotels and a convention center rolled into one. Easily the biggest location of the four Winter Meetings I’ve attended. I would have snapped some photos of the fancy foliage and signage and all that had I remembered to charge my phone beforehand. I can try to do that tomorrow, when the offseason will really kick into high gear. My gut feel: the Yankees will make a move this week, something more than a little waiver claim but less than a true blockbuster. Maybe sign Nate Schierholtz, that would be neat.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Eagles and Cowboys are the late NFL game, but talk about anything you like here. Go nuts.

Passan: MLB & NPB discussing significant changes to posting system

Via Jeff Passan: MLB and Nippon Pro Baseball are discussing significant changes to the posting system used to import players from Japan. Specifically, MLB is pushing NPB for an open auction rather than the blind bids submitted now. That would keep the posting fees down slightly, meaning the various NPB teams would receive less money for their players. You can understand why they’re resisting.

The Yankees have been a little gun shy about bidding for Japanese players since the Kei Igawa fiasco, though the only notable miss was Yu Darvish. An open auction would help big market teams more than small market teams, at least in theory, but at the end of the day it still comes down to talent. No Japanese players are expected to be posted this offseason — the new system could be implemented as soon as next winter — and as far as I know, there is no Darvish-esque talent coming anytime soon. That could change rather quickly.

Olney: Yankees have interest in Nate Schierholtz

Via Buster Olney: The Yankees are one of nine teams with interest in the recently non-tendered Nate Schierholtz. I’ve written quite a bit about the 29-year-old outfielder lately, so I’ll just refer you back to that. Schierholtz makes a ton of sense for the Yankees as the left-handed half of a right field platoon, especially since they would control him as an arbitration-eligible player in 2014. With so many teams interested, I suppose he could sign relatively quickly.

Poll: The Starting Catcher

(Mike Ashmore)

Whether they want to admit it, the Yankees were dealt a significant blow when Russell Martin spurned their non-offer for a two-year pact with the Pirates. By no means is Martin a star behind the plate, but he’s a league average hitter who can play above-average defense at the catcher position. He’ll be close to impossible to replace in this market if you’re willing to look beyond the meager batting average.

“We do have placeholders there,” said Brian Cashman the other day when asked about his catching situation going forward, which sounds like something straight out of the “Bubba Crosby will be our center fielder” playbook. “We have people that can handle and run the game. The offense is an area that, currently with what our roster provides, will be a downgrade from what we’re used to. But the most important aspect of those games is (defense).”

The Yankees have more than two months left in the offseason to scour the free agent and trade markets for a replacement catcher, but right now their internal solutions consist of some has-beens and never-wases. Each has some kind of strength and many negatives, so let’s quickly review.

Frankie Cervelli
Cervelli, 26, is easily the most accomplished big league hitter of the team’s internal options. He’s produced a .271/.339/.353 batting line in 562 plate appearances while providing mostly below-average defense. Cervelli always seemed to have a knack for the poorly-times passed ball. The Yankees obviously don’t think much of him, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent him to the traveling circus known as Triple-A Scranton for all of last summer.

Austin Romine
Of the four players in this post, the 24-year-old Romine is the only one with a real chance to be a long-term piece for the Yankees. He missed the start of last season with a back problem and only has 106 unimpressive plate appearances above Double-A to his credit. In 870 plate appearances at the Double-A level, he’s a .276/.336/.392 hitter. Romine is a generally considered a solid defender.

Chris Stewart
Last year’s backup, Stewart is a .217/.281/.302 hitter in 394 big league plate appearances. He’s considered a very good defender by the Yankees but I was a little underwhelmed last year. Poor hitting has a tendency to inflate a catcher’s defensive reputation, and that’s sorta what happened with the 30-year-old Stewart. That doesn’t mean he’s bad, but he’s not elite.

Eli Whiteside
The new-comer to the group, Whiteside is a .215/.273/.335 career hitter in 537 plate appearances. The 33-year-old is another defense-first type, but I have no idea how true that is because I haven’t seem him play much. The Yankees have already removed him from the 40-man roster, so I guess he’s at the bottom of their internal catching totem pole.

* * *

Let’s face it, there is no good solution here, especially if you’re looking for any kind of offense. The Yankees will take a very big hit in backstop production if any of these four gets regular playing time next year. Is one better than the rest? Maybe.

If the season started today, who should be the starting catcher?
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King: Ichiro tired of waiting, now talking to multiple clubs

A little more than a week ago we heard Ichiro Suzuki loved being a Yankee so much that he was willing to wait for them to handle other offseason business before seeing if the club had interest in re-signing him. Apparently he’s grown tired of waiting. “At the beginning we talked a lot but since that time, zero,” said agent Tony Attanasio to George King when asked about talks with New York. “As far as we are concerned we don’t care what the Yankees do. We have had conversations with multiple clubs. If we see something we like he will go through with it.”

This sounds an awful lot like a negotiating ploy — sign me before I sign somewhere else! — than actual frustration and a change of heart to me. King says the Yankees aren’t opposed to re-signing Ichiro to play right field, but he makes it sound like they don’t love the idea. “[We’ll] move from the defense to the offense and engage all the players we have interest in and have interest in us,” said Brian Cashman to Anthony McCarron in response to Attanasio’s comment, essentially acknowledging that right field and catcher have become the priority since the pitching has been addressed.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Curtis Granderson is a well-traveled man, having gone to places like the Netherlands, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, China, and Taiwan as part of MLB’s ambassador program, and this year he’ll add South Korea and Japan to the list according to Adam Berry. Granderson will spend three days in South Korea and eight days in Japan in the coming weeks, where he’ll run clinics for kids, hand out donated equipment, speak on panels, all sorts of neat stuff.

In other news, Granderson was recently re-elected as one of the union’s two Association Player Representatives, the highest elected position in the MLBPA. Jeremy Guthrie is the other. The Grandyman’s got a ton of stuff going on off the field, though traveling around the world to promote the game is really awesome.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Nets are playing tonight, plus there’s college football and basketball on. Talk about whatever, anything goes.