Open Thread: Baseball In Space

We tend to take baseball seriously around these parts, probably too seriously. That’s why I thought the video above was so great, it’s a nice little reminder that at the end of the day, baseball is just a game. I think we forget that far too often. Once you’re done watching, use this as your open thread. There’s a ton of college football on, plus all three hockey locals are in action. Talk about anything you like.

(h/t TedQuarters)

Rosenthal: Darvish likely to be posted after winter meetings

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Nippon Ham Fighters are likely to post Yu Darvish after the winter meetings next week. The move isn’t 100% official, but it’s likely. We’ve discussed the 25-year-old right-hander ad nauseam here, so I suspect you know all about him by now. Just a reminder: the posting fee will not be counted towards the luxury, nor will he require any kind of draft pick compensation. Those are favorable terms for the Yankees.

Cashman doesn’t have high hopes for completing a deal next week

Via Chad Jennings, Brian Cashman isn’t very optimistic about being able to finish off some deals at the winter meetings next week. “I just think there’s a lot of players out there that I would be interested in acquiring, but I prefer trying to do that under the radar if you can,” said the GM. “The realistic aspect of actually being able to conclude something (next week), I don’t have high hopes.”

“At the end of the day, we’re ready to move on something if it makes sense,” added Cashman. “I’ll make a recommendation to ownership and they can bless it or they can tell me no, but right now we’re going to go to Dallas, we’re going to continue to engage — I’ve stayed engaged via email, text, phone, in person, it doesn’t matter – but we’re set in a lot of places, we really are. Could it be better? It’s my job to try to find ways to make it better.”

I suspect some of this is posturing, but the offseason as a whole (for all teams) has been moving slowly. The Yankees will probably make a minor move or two next week, perhaps getting rid of one of their out-of-options outfielders, but I’m not expecting anything significant. I’m welcome to being surprised though.

Sabathia on same conditioning program as last offseason

Via Jack Curry, CC Sabathia is using the same conditioning and nutrition program this offseason that he used last offseason. Insert Cap’n Crunch joke here. Sabathia lost 30 lbs. last winter but gained most, if not all of it back during the season. As far as we know, there are no weight clauses in his new contract extension, but that’s not terribly surprising. Hopefully Sabathia does a better job of keeping the weight of next year, but I remain unconvinced that it had much impact on his pitching anyway.

Open Thread: Al Aceves

The Mexican Gangster rides again.

The Yankees have always been big players on the international market, and their current big league roster shows the fruits of their labor in the Dominican Republic (Robinson Cano, Ivan Nova), Venezuela (Jesus Montero, Frankie Cervelli), and Panama (Mariano Rivera). They’ve also started to emphasize Mexico in recent years, with scout Lee Sigman heading up the operation down there. They were reportedly prepared to select a little know Mexican League right-hander named Joakim Soria in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft at Sigman’s behest, but the Royals beat them to it.

A few years ago, Sigman and the Yankees worked out a package deal to acquire four players from one Mexican League club for a total of $450k. One of those players was top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, and another was the veteran Al Aceves. Less than ten months after signing, Aceves was in the big leagues, starting games down the stretch in 2008. He established himself as a bullpen extraordinaire in 2009, proving capable of throwing four pitches or four innings in an outing at a moment’s notice. The Mexican Gangster was invaluable in bridging the gap between the starting pitcher and the Phil Hughes-Mariano Rivera tandem at the end of the game as the Yankees stormed to the World Series.

Aceves never came close to achieving that kind of success in New York again. Following a lengthy rain delay at Fenway Park on May 8th of last season, Joe Girardi called on the righty in the fifth inning. He worked out of a jam then came back for the sixth, but he slipped a bit while delivering a pitch and his back locked up on him. We never saw Aceves in pinstripes again. The back problems — which were nothing new — and numerous setbacks kept him on the shelf for the rest of the season, and during the offseason he made things worse by falling off his bike and breaking his collarbone.

The injury was expected to keep Aceves out of action for three months, meaning he was going to miss the majority of Spring Training. The Yankees non-tendered Aceves one year ago today, just one day after the injury was reported. “Because of the back issue, we could not give him [a major league contract],” said Brian Cashman, who later tried to re-sign him to a minor league deal. The move to cut Aceves loose looks mind-numbingly stupid in hindsight, as he showed up to camp not only healthy and ready to go on the first day, but he did so for the Red Sox. The Gangster threw 122 total innings for Boston this past season (majors and minors), so either he healed better than expected or the Yankees’ doctors completely mis-evaluated him. Either way, there’s nothing they can do now other than learn from their mistakes.

* * *

Here’s your open thread for the night. Both the Devils and Islanders are in action, but you can talk about anything you want here. Go nuts.

And so it begins: Yankees interested in Mike Gonzalez

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have interest in free agent lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez. If you frequent our weekly chats, then you know I’ve been predicting Gonzalez will be the lefty specialist the Yankees waste $4M on next season for about three months now. He’ll step right into Damaso Marte‘s vacant “bad lefty reliever” spot on the roster.

In all seriousness, the 33-year-old southpaw is coming off knee surgery and has held left-handed batters to a .241/.293/.350 batting line with 36 strikeouts, eight unintentional walks, and a ~46% ground ball rate in 148 plate appearances over the last two seasons. He missed most of last season with two small tears in his rotator cuff and fraying in his labrum, and was regularly booed off the mound for the Orioles. For what it’s worth, Gonzalez is also a very close friend of Rafael Soriano‘s from their time with the Braves. He’s no better bet than any other lefty reliever on the market, though.

Nova shows up in Law’s Top 50 under 25

This week on ESPN.com, Keith Law wrote up his list of the top 50 players 25 and under (subscription required). It covers only players who are no longer eligible for Rookie of the Year, so Jesus Montero does not find his way onto the list. Yet there is a Yankee towards the end. Ivan Nova ranks No. 46. After making a banal comment about wins, Law talks about Nova’s command, ground ball rate, and slider as positives going forward. “There’s enough here that you can see a mid-rotation starter as he matures,” writes Law. Eduardo Nunez was pretty much the only other Yankees eligible for the list, and it’s no surprise that he didn’t make it.