2013 Season: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs
Top stories from last week:
- As expected, Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and Curtis Granderson all declined the qualifying offer prior to Monday’s deadline. The Yankees will receive a supplemental first round draft pick if those guys sign elsewhere. They will not get a pick if Kuroda retires or returns to Japan.
- Although the Japanese players’ association agreed to change the posting system, MLB clubs plan to adjust their proposal after NPB dragged its feet. It’s possible right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will not be posted this winter.
- The Yankees are close to re-signing Brendan Ryan. He had minor surgery after the season so he can’t take a physical to make things official just yet. Hal Steinbrenner has spoken to Derek Jeter to explain the team is looking for a starting shortstop.
- Among the players the Yankees were connected to last week were Joe Nathan, Javier Lopez, Kendrys, Morales, David Freese, and Kelly Johnson. First base is not a priority but late-inning bullpen help is. Brian Wilson is unwilling to shave his beard to come to New York.
- The Yankees, who will only make procedural changes to their player development system, are planning to add righties Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. New York signed infielder Zelous Wheeler, righty Jim Miller, and outfielder Antoan Richardson to minor league contracts.
- Bullpen coach Mike Harkey and Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred are in the running for the Diamondbacks’ pitching coach job.
- Robinson Cano finished fifth in the AL MVP voting while Joe Girardi placed fourth in the AL Manager of the Year voting.
- The owners have unanimously approved expanded replay for 2014. The players’ and umpires’ unions must still agree.
- Frankie Cervelli will be tendered a contract prior to the December 2nd deadline.
- The appeal of Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension will resume today.
- The Yankees will play a pair of exhibition games in Panama City in March.
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?
If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, then you might remember my Friday Randomness posts from the pre-RAB days. That was a long, long time ago. Geez. It was literally just a collection of links I had sitting around, interesting stuff I read throughout the week. Almost all of it was baseball related, but once a while some non-baseball stuff would sneak in. I’ve decided to bring that back here and this is the first entry. The nightly open thread is a pretty good spot to do that. This week’s stuff is pretty old, but that’s okay. Away we go:
- My buddy Robert Sanchez profiled Cy Young winner Max Scherzer earlier this year for ESPN (Insider req’d). Scherzer’s brother Alex committed suicide last June and Max really opened up about their relationship and how his brother’s death affected him both on and off the field. Robert is one of the best writers I know and Scherzer is an impossibly great guy (met him at the ALCS). You can’t read the piece and not come away rooting for him.
- Former big leaguer infielder Adrian Cardenas — who I once wrote up as a potential target for the Yankees — wrote an article in the New Yorker about why he quit baseball at age 25. He now studies creative writing and philosophy at NYU because he simply enjoys school more than baseball. Hard to believe someone can work so hard to get to the show then give it up to go back to school, but I guess the game isn’t for everyone, even if you’re good at it.
- In another ESPN piece (Insider req’d), Sam Miller wrote about the science of team chemistry. Front offices are trying to measure and quantify “clubhouse atmosphere,” and a study by professors from Rutgers and Santa Clara University found that clubs with a lot of diversity outperform other clubs by about three wins a year. Young players hang out with other young players, Dominican players hang out with other Dominican players, star players hang out with other star players, stuff like that, so the more overlap you have between groups, the better the clubhouse chemistry. Pretty fascinating stuff.
- Last one and this one’s kinda old: friend of RAB Jonah Keri spoke to Coco Crisp about the art of stealing bases, specifically getting jumps and reading a pitcher’s move. It’s a long but really interesting read. These small, easy to overlook “game within the game” aspects of baseball always fascinate me.
I’ll try to keep the links more current going forward, but I had some bookmarks to clean out and these were all in them. Figured I might as well post them here rather than just dump them. Hope you find one or two worthwhile.
Friday: Anyway, now that that’s all out of the way, here is open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are both playing tonight, plus there’s college basketball on somewhere. I’m sure of it. Talk about whatever. Go nuts.
Saturday: Once again, use this as your open thread for the night. The five hockey and basketball locals are all playing, plus there’s college football and basketball on somewhere. Anything goes here. Have at it.
Sunday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. The late NFL game is the Chiefs and Broncos (that should be fun) plus the Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else.
First, the notes:
- The Yankees have hired Jody Reed as a roving instructor, reports Joel Sherman. The long time big league infielder worked in the organization from 2007-2010. He spent last year managing in Double-A for the Dodgers. This is one of the few personnel changes the team made to their development staff.
- Matt Eddy has the list of all 550 minor league free agents, only ten of which are Yankees: RHP Cory Arbiso, RHP Sam Demel, RHP Yoshinori Tateyama, C Bobby Wilson, 1B Andrew Clark, 1B Randy Ruiz, IF Reegie Corona, IF Walt Ibarra, OF Fernando Martinez, and OF Corey Patterson. Ibarra is the only one of those guys who is even close to being considered a prospect and he’s already signed with the Cubs.
- The Yankees have signed 3B Zelous Wheeler to a minor league contract, according to Eddy. No idea if he got an invite to Spring Training. The 26-year-old hit .275/.354/.414 (~117 wRC+) with eleven homers in 461 plate appearances splits between Double-A and Triple-A with the Orioles this past summer. Just a depth signing, the Bombers need all they can get on the left side of the infield.
- Starting in 2015, the NCAA will switch to a flat-seamed baseball similar to what they use in the minors, reports Aaron Fitt. A study showed the flat-seam ball travels an average of 20-feet farther than the raised-seam ball they’ve been using forever. Breaking balls will also break a bit less. The NCAA is doing it boost offense, but the new ball will also make it a bit easier to evaluate pitching prospects at the collegiate level.
Second, the updates:
Arizona Fall League (season ended this week, so these stats are final)
- OF Tyler Austin: 4 G, 4-12, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (.333/.438/.500) — his season ended early after the bone bruise in his right wrist flared up
- UTIL Addison Maruszak: 10 G, 9-32, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 10 BB, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.281/.452/.344) — replaced Austin on the roster
- 3B/C Peter O’Brien: 16 G, 12-63, 5 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 26 K (.190/.212/.413) — 26 strikeouts in 66 plate appearances (39.4%)
- OF Mason Williams: 22 G, 23-86, 11 R, 6 2B, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 4 SB, 2 CS (.267/.330/.337) — was hoping for more considering how hitter-friendly the AzFL is
- RHP Brett Gerritse: 9 G, 11.2 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 12 K, 2 HR,1 WP, 1 HB (9.26 ERA, 1.96 WHIP)
- LHP Fred Lewis: 11 G, 11 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 10 K, 1 WP (0.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
- LHP Vidal Nuno: 5 G, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 20 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 18 K, 1 HR (3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) — a roster spot is his for the taking in Spring Training at this point
- LHP James Pazos: 10 G, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 9 K, 2 WP (1.74 ERA, 1.94 WHIP) — saw him during one of the televised games and he was pumping 97 from the left side, so that alone making him interesting
Via Dan Martin: Brian Cashman confirmed that first base is not a priority this winter even though Mark Teixeira is coming off season-ending wrist surgery. “I’m looking for a lot of things, but a first baseman isn’t one of them,” said the GM, contrary to recent rumors about Kendrys Morales. “I saw Mark recently and he said he was doing well and seems to be recovering nicely, so there’s no reason to think he can’t be a regular first baseman next season.”
Teixeira, 33, hit .151/.270/.340 (58 wRC+) with three homers in only 63 plate appearances around wrist injuries this past season. I agree that first base shouldn’t be a high priority this winter, but the Yankees don’t have another first baseman on the 40-man roster or in the upper levels of the minors. They’ll need to bring in someone for Triple-A Scranton regardless. I’d like to see the Yankees add someone like Eric Chavez or (preferably) Mark Reynolds as a part-time third baseman/first baseman/DH this winter, which would give them a versatile and productive bat that also serves as a backup for the increasingly injury prone Teixeira. · (28) ·
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are planning to add minor league right-handers Bryan Mitchell and Shane Greene to the 40-man roster. Both players are eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft, along with a whole bunch of other guys. The deadline to set the 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft is this coming Wednesday.
Mitchell, 22, was the team’s 16th round pick out of a North Carolina high school in the 2009 draft. They bought him away from UNC with an $800k signing bonus. Mitchell pitched to a 5.12 ERA (3.47 FIP) in 126.2 innings for High-A Tampa this past season before a late promotion to Double-A Trenton. He’s all about stuff — Mitchell sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and only David Robertson boasts a better curveball in the organization. I ranked him as the team’s 16th best prospect before the season and at least a year and probably two away from the show.
Greene, 24, was drafted one round before Mitchell out of Daytona Beach Community College. He had a 3.38 ERA (3.06 FIP) in 154.1 innings split almost equally between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this past year. Greene took a huge step forward with his control this summer, going from 4.37 BB/9 (10.8 BB%) from 2009-2012 to 1.75 BB/9 (4.5 BB%) in 2013. He’s a low-to-mid-90s fastball guy with a good slider who will probably wind up as a reliever long-term. There’s a chance we’ll see Greene in the big leagues in 2014. Both he and Mitchell are slated to open next year back with a Thunder. · (44) ·
Got a pair of non-baseball business notes involving two prominent Yankees to pass along, so let’s dive in:
Derek Jeter: Book Publisher
According to Julie Bosman, Derek Jeter announced this week that he will start Jeter Publishing, a publishing imprint that is partnered with Simon & Schuster and Wicked Cow Entertainment. He admitted to thinking about life after baseball while hurt for much of this past season. “I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think. The whole last year has been sort of a blur. Being away from it for so long gave me the opportunity to think about what the future may hold after baseball” said the Cap’n. “I think this sort of sets the blueprint for post-career. This is a great way to start.”
Jeter’s first books will be released sometime next year. They’re expected to include nonfiction books for adults, children’s picture books, elementary grade fiction, and books for children who are learning to read. The project could lead to film and television publications. “You never know where this may go. You look at all the opportunities that come with content in general — I mean, there might be a compelling story that someone has that turns into a film or a TV show,” he added. “If I put my name on something, I’m going to be involved. I’m not just going to put my name on it and not pay attention.”
You could have given me roughly a million guesses, and I would have never guessed Jeter would get into book publishing after his playing days are over. That’s pretty cool though, congrats to him for getting this off the ground and figuring out what he wants to do once he hangs up his cleats. Still, book publishing? Never would have guessed it.
Joe Girardi: Mobile App Engineer
Dan Barbarisi reports Joe Girardi has developed a new mobile app with Appetizer Mobile that is scheduled to launch early next year. This isn’t some branded app that got the okay to use Girardi’s name and likeness at the last minute, he’s been working on it for the last year. “I see my children on apps — and ordering apps, on many occasions — and I just thought it would be kind of fun to create an app that I felt was appropriate for them,” he said. “I think that’s what you worry about all the time, for me, as a parent with kids.”
Girardi declined to reveal the specifics of the app, but it’s a “sports-related multiplayer-capable game utilizing ‘augmented reality technology,’ which supplements real-world environments with computerized input,” according to Barbarisi. That’s a mouthful. Appetizer Mobile CEO Jordan Edelson said it will be “kid-friendly but targeted to baseball fans and adults as well.” The app will be free to download but there will be in-game purchases. Girardi’s cut is going to charity.
“It’s a different side of me, because I think people are always used to seeing me at the ballpark, and not having this type of creativity. It’s not something that I do a lot of, but when I do put my heart and soul into something, it’s important to me,” added the skipper. This isn’t an unexpected as Jeter getting into book publishing, but I can’t say Girardi struck me as the type of guy who was big on technology or anything. Good for him. Sounds like he was very involved in the process and put a lot of work in.
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are looking to add a late-inning reliever to either replace David Robertson in the eighth inning or take over as closer if Robertson doesn’t run away with the job. “I definitely need to improve the bullpen and provide as many arms out there for [Joe Girardi] to choose from,” said Brian Cashman to Andy McCullough earlier this week. “I’m definitely interested in exploring all available options that would improve the pen, from the left and right side.”
At the moment, the only locks for next year’s bullpen are Robertson and Shawn Kelley. Adam Warren and David Phelps could also be in the mix depending on how the rotation shakes out. Both Dellin Betances and David Huff are out of minor league options and will get chances to win jobs in camp. Other guys like Preston Claiborne and Cesar Cabral will be in the mix, but they can be sent to Triple-A if need be. Relievers are the riskiest investments in baseball, but I think the need for another veteran late-inning guy is pretty obvious. The Yankees have already been connected to Grant Balfour and could also target free agents like Jesse Crain and Jose Veras. Sherman speculates the rehabbing Joel Hanrahan could be a possibility. · (32) ·
Via Andy McCullough: The Yankees and free agent left-hander Javier Lopez have “expressed mutual interest” during preliminary talks. Agent Barry Meister expects to have more serious negotiations later in the offseason, after New York addresses some more pressing needs. “That’s our goal, is to make sure that Javy plays with a winner, and plays with a team that’s a contender … That’s the most important thing to him: He wants the innings to be meaningful,” said Meister.
Lopez, 36, has been one of the most dominant lefty relievers in baseball over the last few seasons. He held same-side batters to a .156/.208/.222 (.197 wOBA) batting line in 2013 and a .212 wOBA with a 25.4% strikeout rate and a 63.5% ground ball over the last three years, all with the Giants. Lopez is a true specialist with a low arm slot, mid-80s fastball, and mid-70s slider, so he’s completely unusable against righties. They crush him. He helped San Francisco to two World Series titles, so he’s pitched in big games and pennant races and all that.
With payroll coming down, I figured lefty reliever would be a good spot for the Yankees to save some cash and go cheap. Grab some Clay Rapada types off waivers and as minor league free agents to compete with Cesar Cabral and David Huff (and Vidal Nuno?) in Spring Training and go from there. It’s good they touched base with Lopez and his agent understands they could circle back if there’s some extra money lying around after the heavy offseason lifting is done though. · (22) ·
CC Sabathia was in the best shape of his life. Following a season in which he was twice placed on the disabled list, and after which he underwent offseason elbow surgery, Sabathia decided the time had come to shed some of his excess weight. It wasn’t the first time; he had come to camp a bit slimmer in 2011 as well, but gained back much of that weight during the season. This time, the weight loss was here to stay.
The result: the worst year of his 13-year career, by no small measure.
We can start with the obvious, that Sabathia’s 4.78 ERA (85 ERA+) ranked 35th out of 37 qualified AL pitchers. All of his peripherals declined from his 2011 to 2012 levels. Watching his starts you could see the points at which he’d start to unravel. In 28 of his starts he made it to the sixth inning, and during those sixth frames opponents hit .339/.419/.550 against him. The list goes on.
Did Sabathia’s troubles stem from the weight loss? After all, he did turn in a very good 2012 season despite the injuries. While causation is always difficult to prove, there are some indicators that Sabathia did not adjust to his new body type. If that is the reason for Sabathia’s poor 2013, there is certainly hope for 2014 and beyond; mechanics are correctable.
Sabathia has started his off-season a bit early, going on the DL with a Grade 2 hamstring strain just a few days after turning in one of his best performances of the season (albeit against the hapless Giants). He should be fine for Spring Training, and thanks to the necessary rehab from the injury he might come into camp a bit stronger. Perhaps with some more repetitions, he’ll iron out his mechanics. But this represents the optimistic scenario for last year. We’re still here to discuss what went wrong in 2013.
While his weight loss might have played a role in his poor 2013, it’s hard to ignore another possible factor: past workload. Sabathia pitched a full season, 33 starts, at age 20, and has made at least 28 starts in each following season. Before he signed his first contract with the Yankees he had thrown 1659.1 innings. Heading into the 2013 season he had thrown 2564.1. He has now thrown the 139th most innings in MLB history, at age 33. That can be a good thing as well as a bad thing, of course. Tim Hudson has lasted through more innings than Sabathia, and is about five years older. There are cases where players can throw lots of innings and hold up.
In reading the last three paragraphs, you might have noticed the same thing I did while writing it: that each paragraph ends on an optimistic note. It is difficult to write about such an obviously disappointing season from a guy expected to anchor the rotation, hence the “things could be better” follow-up to every negative point. Instead of continuing in this fashion, perhaps it’s best to list the final few factors in his poor 2013 and let that be that.
- Sabathia’s tERA, which accounts for batted ball types, stood at 4.87, the worst of his career and a full run worse than 2012.*
- His average velocity was down a mile per hour from 2012, and nearly 3mph from 2009 — though his velocity did rise as the season progressed.
- Then again, there was a drop-off after a steady rise sometime in August. Perhaps that was a turning point?
- He used his changeup more often than any year since 2010, but according to weighted values it was worth negative runs. Chances are that has to do both with the drop in fastball velocity and with his command issues; hanging changeups go a long way.
*Not that I buy totally into the value of tERA, but it is one tool with which we have to measure pitchers. Just like all other stats mentioned.
Honestly, after 2013 there’s nothing to do but hope that Sabathia gets stronger while rehabbing his hamstring, gets in as many reps as he needs in Spring Training, and starts 2014 fresh. Otherwise the last three to four year of his contract are going to hurt.
- When the hearing resumes, it will continue for ten consecutive days if necessary. They won’t take weekends off and will work right up until Thanksgiving in order to get this thing wrapped up. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to take three or four weeks to hand down a ruling once the hearing is over.
- A-Rod will miss a scheduled interview with MLB on Friday because he’s sick and stuck in California, unable to travel according to doctor’s orders. It’s nothing serious and it will not delay the proceedings next week. The interview is required before he can take the stand, however (convenient timing, no?).
- Rodriguez, commissioner Bud Selig, and Yankees team president Randy Levine could all be called to stand to testify at some point soon. MLB is likely to try to prevent Selig and Levine from talking, however. I guess that’s something they’re allowed to do.
- The Florida Department of Health says MLB impeded their investigation of Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch by purchasing stolen clinic documents earlier this year. The documents were originally intended for DOH, so the state was forced to limit the scope of their investigation and Bosch’s eventual punishment ($5,000 fine that was reduced to $3,000). Long story short: MLB said too bad, their investigation was more important.
- Even if A-Rod is suspended for all or part of next season, he could still be around the team in Spring Training. The Joint Drug Agreement says a suspended player has all the rights of a regular player except he can’t play in regular season or postseason games. One of those rights is Spring Training, apparently. If the Yankees try to stop him from showing up to camp, A-Rod could file a grievance and create even more headaches. What a world.