Random YouTube Videos of Current and Ex-Yankees

I don’t know what y’all do on spare times but for me, sometimes (or more than I’d like to admit), I like to look for random baseball videos on YouTube. Once in awhile, I run into a gem that I end up bookmarking … and watch again in an hour or two or so. It’s not that I don’t get bored too easily — I’m graduating from college this May so can’t really afford to goof too much (applying to jobs and whatnot) — it’s that YouTube … basically dominates a lot of facets of my internet life. It’s inescapable … but it’s not like I ever tried to give up YouTube for lent or anything

Anyways, because I’ve remembered several interesting videos involving current and former Yankees, I thought I’d write this post. Baseball is fun, watching video is fun, watching older YouTube videos of Yankee players can be really fun so … yeah.

1. David Cone is desperate for his own dance move

I assume this is quite well-known but it’s so fabulous that I want to write about it

I didn’t become a constant Yankees watcher until 2005. If I were at the time of the late-90’s golden age, I would’ve been the biggest El Duque fan — the story of his escape, the charm of his career as the ace of Team Cuba, the craftiness on the mound and, most importantly, the leg kick.

This 1999 Adidas commercial features the clubbers enjoying the trendy dance move, the “El Duque” — basically doing Hernandez’s leg kick and a throwing motion. I don’t think it ever became a real life thing but maybe it could’ve if El Duque ever became a Clayton Kershaw-caliber pitcher. just a fun thought.

The real gem of this video is on David Cone though. The pitcher who was known for his love for nightlife seems just befuddled with everything in this commercial. And towards the end, the reaction he makes after being caught making a (presumably conehead-related) dance move is just priceless.

2. Masahiro Tanaka, in a big Japanese spotlight … as a hitter

Some of you may know that high school baseball is a big deal in Japan. Every year, schools in Japan fight for the much-coveted national Koshien tournament title. To give you an idea on how romanticized it ix, think NCAA March Madness.

In 2006 Koshien, two high schoolers in the finals grabbed national attention — RHP Yuki Saito of Waseda Jitsugyo High and RHP Masahiro Tanaka of Komadai Tomakomai High. The final of the tourney was the one for ages — Saito and Tanaka had a 15-inning duel that ended in a 1-1 draw, prompting a re-match. By the way, Saito threw 178 pitches in the game and Tanaka threw 165 — which is just insane.

Yet, in the next game, which took place the next day, both pitchers dueled again. Saito’s Waseda Jitsugyo held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of 9th inning. With two outs, and the righty an out away from sealing the biggest honor for any high school athlete in Japan, none other than Tanaka stepped up to the plate. You can’t write any sports drama narratives like this.

As you can see from the video, after an intense seven-pitch battle, Saito struck out Tanaka on a 90-mph fastball. The victorious right-hander became a national sensation and was dubbed as the “Handkerchief Prince” for his habit of wiping his face with a blue hanky during the game.

Saito went on to play for the Waseda University and turned pro in 2011. So far, the righty saw his potential squashed by series of injuries, mostly on his shoulder. Also, even though he enjoyed a legendary amateur career, his skillset did not translate over to pros — he had enough stuff to overpower high schoolers and college players, but not much so in NPB. Tanaka, in the other hand, turned pro right after high school and we all know what happened from there.

3. Freddy Garcia shows off his soccer skill

Venezuela is not exactly known for their soccer prowess — I am a fan of their burgundy jersey (probably because I live in the Redskins country and only thing I like about them is their uniform color scheme) but they have never managed to qualify out of the CONMEBOL group to get to the World Cup finals.

But check out this Venezuelan juggling a ball. This video shown in the Taiwanese broadcast shows Freddy Garcia (who signed with the EDA Rhinos of the Taiwanese league in 2014) show off some good balance. Well, the guy hasn’t had a walk rate higher than 3.0 since 2003 so I guess balance (at least in pitching delivery) isn’t a huge concern for the good ol’ Sweaty Freddy.

For those curious, Garcia went 11-9 in 25 starts with 3.19 ERA in 161.0 IP in Taiwan in 2014. During the winter leagues, he was looking to sign to play in Japan but nothing new has surfaced yet for Freddy.

4. Bobby Abreu trips getting out of the batter’s box

This happened during a Venezuelan Winter League action. First off, we see the former-MLer Carlos Zambrano pitching. If you spotted Abreu tripping out of the batter’s box from the get-go, great, but you gotta wait till the replay — that’s the REAL gem of the video. Go to 0:35 if you aren’t patient enough. Or, er, look below.

Sometimes I forget that Bobby Abreu with the Yanks for two and half seasons. In 372 games in New York, the man had a 120 OPS+ with a healthy .295/.378/.465 line. Boy, would we love to have a production like that in the lineup for this season.

5. Gi-am-bi, Gi-am-bi, Gi-am-bi!!!

Back in 2004, when I was psyched to finally get an XBOX system, I went to the nearby Hollywood Video (R.I.P.) and got a copy of ESPN MLB Baseball 2K4, for two reasons: 1) it got good reviews across the board 2) Jason Giambi, the coverboy. Before buying the game, I would go to game websites like IGN and Gamespot to watch the available gameplay and trailers to ready myself and this one is my favorite, by far.

I didn’t notice this bit until I recently revisited the commercial. Check out this screengrab.

That’s Giambi whiffing on a 71 mph fastball because he’s late, and it was thrown by a Marlins lefty (assumed based on the side of the mound he ends up on) … who threw it on an max effort. I don’t recall any 2004 Marlins junkballer that averaged around mid-to-high-60’s with the fastball. Interesting! (I’m definitely overthinking this one, ignore me!)

After having Giambi as their baseball game series coverboy for 3 years (World Series Baseball, World Series Baseball 2K3 and ESPN MLB 2K4), 2K Sports moved onto a different Yankee for their following edition, ESPN MLB 2K5, and again, they filmed another offbeat commercial for it.

Now that it’s 2015 and I don’t really care who’s on the cover, I wish I had gotten MVP Baseball 2004. I got to play it at friend’s place few years later and it was much better.

6. An 8 minute, 11-pitch showdown between Hiroki Kuroda and Hideki Matsui

I have no clue what year this took place — it’s gotta be sometime between 1997 and 2002. Kuroda did not debut into ichi-gun of NPB until 1997 (Matsui had played for the Giants since 1993) and Matsui left Japan for the Yankees after the 2002 season.

What we can see from the video is that it’s the bottom of the 8th, at the Giants home, and there’s a runner on first. Matsui was an established slugger for the Japan’s most popular team so I’d imagine it would take a lot of nerves for anyone to pitch to him in a high-pressure situation like that. Nevertheless, #Hirok gave #Hidek a hell in this at bat, and vice versa.

I’m not going to give a full spoiler to how this at-bat ends, but let me say that it’s quite nasty, in a visually-pleasing way. Just watch.

7. El Duque, back when he was in Cuba with the Havana Industriales. Date unclear

This is a short one but it speaks to me like an interesting vignette. It’s hard to tell when this video is from but the uploader may or may not be the former big leaguer and a fellow Cuban defector Rene Arocha.

8. “Dellin being Dellin”

I actually remember watching this video back around 2007. I once searched for videos of Betances pitching (because 18-year old 6’9’’ pitching prospects that hit 98 mph are very rare and attractive commodities) and while I managed to find one or two, I also ran into the above one — in which it seems like the tall righty as goofing off with friends from back home. Flash forward to February 2015, while writing this post, I remembered of this video’s existence and searched for it, and thankfully, it is still online! Hallelujah!

Some notable highlights: At around 0:20, Betances starts doing some dance moves on the chair. At 0:54, you can see him do the cha-cha slide (if that doesn’t remind you of the 2000’s, I don’t know what will) while holding a baseball bat like a guitar. At 2:28, Betances takes down a high school mascot and eventually dances with it. And at 2:57, well, this happens:

What can I say? After watching so many strikeout highlights from 2014, watching something like this, being a kid and having no care in the world, is so fun and endearing to see. He may be a strikeout machine on the mound. But this video, to me, is as human as it gets out of any athlete that I’ve revered and rooted for.

When New York drafted Betances in 2006, he was a very raw product. If I recall correctly, he was projected as a first-rounder due to his sky-high upside, but didn’t get picked until the 8th round due to commitment to Vanderbilt (imagine if he pitched in the same rotation as David Price, who went no. 1 overall in 2007). Yanks ended up giving the lanky righty $1 million to turn pro and I remember following his journey through the minors — there were a lot of ups and downs. He had a TJ surgery, then had a beastly 2010 campaign that brought him Josh Beckett comparisons, then he couldn’t find a strike zone in 2012 and almost reached to a failed prospect status. In 2013, he went to bullpen full-time and never looked back. I’m very happy to see him as one of the best relievers in the game, perhaps sharing a closer spot in the team with another 2006 MLB Draft alumnus, Andrew Miller.

2006 was the season that I first cared about the MLB draft and the international free agent signings and boy, Yankees had some haul that year from both: Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Jesus Montero, Zach McAllister, George Kontos, Mark Melancon, David Robertson, etc.

Oh, and lastly, if you want to see how much things changed, here’s the video of him pitching from 2006. Gotta say he looks much better nowadays with a more filled-out frame in pinstripes with a less herky-jerky delivery.

Thoughts after the Yankees lose out on Yoan Moncada

At least I don't have to look for photos anymore. (El Nuevo Herald)
At least I don’t have to look for photos anymore. (El Nuevo Herald)

After three private workouts and several weeks of waiting, 19-year-old Cuban wunderkind Yoan Moncada finally signed yesterday … with the Red Sox. Needless to say, the reaction was not a pleasant one in Yankeeland. Not after all the buildup and anticipation. Anyway, I have some thoughts on the whole Moncada situation. Read ‘em and weep.

1. At this point it’s clear passing on Moncada was a financial decision, not a scouting decision. All reports indicate the Yankees loved him as a player but were unwilling to up their offer from $27M. Here’s what Brian Cashman told reporters about losing out on Moncada yesterday, via Chad Jennings:

“We made our final and best (offer) yesterday,” Cashman said. “I don’t think anybody disagrees with the ability. I would doubt there’s any disagreement on the scouting assessment of the player. It just comes down to how much money you were willing to commit. We put our best foot forward yesterday, it was a significant offer, but it fell short of where he’s rumored to have signed.”

“If we were going to go all out, there would have been more,” Cashman said. “We went to where we were comfortable going, and it was an uncomfortable number to put forth. But it still fell short. We’re proud of the players that we did sign and the work we’ve done on the international side, but we’re continuing to look at what’s available out there, and we were involved in the Moncada efforts until the very end. Yesterday they said they were going to make a decision and wanted your best offer. We presented that. It just didn’t work.”

Alright, so if the baseball people liked the player but the offer fell a few million short, then it was stupid Hal Steinbrenner’s fault, right? Except later in the day Wally Matthews and Jon Heyman reported Hal had “strong interest” in Moncada and it was “others” in the organization who weren’t comfortable going the extra mile and dropping $60M+ on a teenager. Who the hell overrules the owner? This seems like damage control. It looks like someone is trying to save face.

I mean really, who could those “others” possibly be? There’s not many non-Steinbrenners between Cashman and Hal in the organizational hierarchy. Did president Randy Levine say no? Was it Anthony Bruno, the team’s CFO? Did the four other Steinbrenners overrule Hal? Or was a trusted advisor like Gene Michael not sold? We’re probably never going to know the answer to that, obviously. This was pretty clearly a decision made over the baseball operations department’s head and that’s always a tough pill to swallow. Those are the decisions that always seem to turn out the worst.

2. The Yankees are not cheap. Let’s stop that nonsense right now. They just committed $175M to an unknown (like Moncada) in Masahiro Tanaka last winter. Their offer to Moncada was roughly 325% greater than the previous record for an international player under the current system. The problem is that they’ve spent a lot of money in recent years and gotten nowhere near the return they expected. Some of that was surprising, like Mark Teixeira turning into a dud by year four of an eight-year contract, and some of it we could see coming from a mile away. (Shockingly, 36-year-old Carlos Beltran was not immune to aging.)

All that dead money — Teixeira, Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia will make $83.125M in 2015 and I’ll set the over/under at a combined 3.0 WAR right now — seems to have made the Yankees gun shy with huge contracts. And here’s the thing: I’ve been hoping the Yankees would scale back their spending the last year or two. At the least the spending that involves committing top dollar for decline years in bulk, like most major free agent contracts. Passing on Robinson Cano at that price was 100% the right move for the organization in my opinion. Same with passing on Max Scherzer at that price. It’s only a matter of time until those contracts go horribly wrong, and enough contracts have already gone horribly wrong around these parts.

But Moncada is a different story. We’re talking about a 19-year-old with his entire career ahead of him who most people consider a future star. That doesn’t seem like the type of player the Yankees should show restraint with, not after spending all offseason talking about how important it was to get younger. They let David Robertson walk because they valued the dinky little supplemental first round draft pick, remember. If the Yankees want to scale back their spending because they’re tired of being burned by huge contracts, fine. But it shouldn’t be a blanket policy. Not all free agents are created equal. Moncada is a franchise cornerstone type of player and if they’re not going to step outside your comfort zone to sign someone like that, when should we ever expect it to happen?

3. Losing out on Moncada is pretty bad, and to make matters worse, this might be the last time the Yankees ever have access to a player like that for nothing but money. Like, ever. Because they exceeded their spending pool last year, they can’t sign an international amateur for more than $300,000 during both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. Unless another Moncada shows up and is cleared to sign before June 25th (almost certainly not happening), the Yankees are out of the mix until the 2017-18 signing period. And by then an international draft may be implemented. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after 2016 and MLB has been pushing for an international draft for years. The Moncada bonus coupled with New York’s spending spree last year is probably going to rekindle those efforts.

Now, just to be clear, this doesn’t mean the Yankees are out on all top Cuban players, just the ones subject to the international spending pools like Moncada and Andy Ibanez. Guys are over the age of 23 — like Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, and Yasmany Tomas last year — are not subject to the spending pools and New York can still sign them as if they were any other free agent. Those guys are good! But the Yankees are now completely out of the mix for anyone younger than that. This isn’t an “oh well we didn’t get Moncada, we can get the next guy instead” situation. There’s a hard cap on the club’s international spending the next two signing periods and they simply won’t be able to compete for the top talent.

(Jesse Sanchez)
(Jesse Sanchez)

4. Moncada is not the first Cuban player the Yankees have failed to sign in recent years. I don’t remember them being seriously involved for Abreu or Yasiel Puig, but they were very much in the mix for Castillo, Tomas, Adeiny Hechavarria, Aledmys Diaz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Aroldis Chapman. (If I’m remembering correctly, the Yankees invited Chapman to Yankee Stadium for a game during the 2009 World Series in an effort to woo him to New York.) Obviously they ended up with none of them. The team hasn’t signed a top Cuban player — sorry, Ronnie Mustelier, Adonis Garcia, and Omar Luis — since Jose Contreras a baseball lifetime ago.

This is a problem. It’s a talent source the Yankees have not necessarily ignored, but one they haven’t tapped into. They’re continually coming up short. Almost every other big market team has signed a top Cuban talent at this point — the only exceptions I can think of are the Mets, who haven’t acted like a big market team in years, the Giants and Tigers — and even the smaller market teams have gotten in on the act. Remember where Cespedes, Chapman, and Tomas ended up. Maybe this is a case of the Yankees being timid after getting burned by Contreras — it did seem like they were scared of Japanese players for a while after Kei Igawa, right? — but it can’t last. If Dermis Garcia busts, are they going to ignore players from the Dominican Republic? Of course not. That’d be silly. At some point they’re going to have to take the plunge and dive back into the Cuban talent pool. These players have generally shown a very high rate of return so far. The league is too competitive to do nothing but dip your toe.

5. For the record, I totally expected the Yankees to sign Moncada. Once we found out last week that they had brought him back for second and third private workouts, I was convinced he was theirs. I never bought the Dodgers as a real threat — they reportedly already have deals in place with 2015-16 international prospects and can’t renege on those unless they want to destroy their relationships with Latin American agents — and I figured that if it came down to an old fashioned bidding war, the Yankees would win. Like Tanaka last year. They wanted him and they got him. I thought the same would happen with Moncada. Joke’s on me, I guess.

Open Thread: 2/23 Camp Notes

Another A-Rod photo because that's all anyone took today. (Presswire)
Another A-Rod photo because that’s all anyone took today. (Presswire)

Two days before position players are scheduled to officially report to Spring Training, Alex Rodriguez showed up to the complex today and got a workout in. It was his first day around the team since the end of the 2013 season. Here’s a recap of his workout and the ensuing media scrum, and here’s a recap of everything else that went on in Tampa:

  • It was a relatively light day for the big league pitchers. Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey threw bullpen sessions. That’s about it. Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren, and Jose Ramirez were among the minor leaguers to throw live batting practice. Carlos Beltran and all the catchers took regular ol’ batting practice. [Chad Jennings]
  • Bryan Mitchell said he is working on throwing his curveball in the zone for strikes. “I want to be able to pitch backward. Dump it in early,” he said. Ivan Nova is scheduled to throw off a mound tomorrow for what I believe is the first time since Tommy John surgery. [Brendan Kuty, Jennings]
  • Joe Girardi joked that having A-Rod work out on a minor league field is “already making my life easier” because none of the media is around. Girardi also said it’s important for him to maintain a good relationship with Alex, because duh. [Erik Boland, Kuty]
  • And finally, ex-Yankees righty reliever Matt Daley has retired as a player and now works for the team as a pro scout. Daley will always be the guy who replaced Mariano Rivera in Mo’s final game. [Dan Barbarisi]

This is your open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are both playing and there’s some college hoops as well. Talk about A-Rod, Yoan Moncada signing with the Sawx, Spring Training, or anything else right here.

A-Rod reports to camp early, circus ensues, nothing really happens

hi h8rs (Presswire)
hi h8rs (Presswire)

Position players are not scheduled to report to Spring Training until Wednesday, but Alex Rodriguez reported to camp today, making it his first day around the Yankees since the end of the 2013 season. A-Rod arrived at the complex this morning, took his physical, and worked out on a minor league field. Players can’t work out on the main field until reporting day.

As part of his workout, A-Rod ran sprints, threw a medicine ball around, fielded ground balls at third base and shortstop, and took batting practice. Pretty much a typical early spring workout. Multiple reporters say he took 71 swings during batting practice and hit six balls over the fence, which means less than nothing but will surely be made into something.

After the workout, Alex signed autographs for a horde of fans and spoke to the media for a few minutes. It was his first time taking questions since being suspended last year. Alex didn’t say a whole lot, but here’s a summary of the main points, courtesy of Jon Heyman, Dan Barbarisi, Jeff Passan, Bob Nightengale, Brendan Kuty, and Adam Berry:

  • On the suspension: “No mistake that I’ve made has any good answer, no justification. It’s unexplainable, and that’s on me. I’ve paid a price personally and professionally … I’m moving on and focused on 2015.”
  • Does Alex feel welcome? “Surprisingly so.” Are other Yankees comfortable around him? “I don’t know. You’ve got to ask them. But I’ve created a big headache for a lot of people,” he added.
  • A-Rod said he will work out at first base or any other position this spring if the team asks. “I’m willing to try anything (Joe Girardi) wants me to try,” he said.
  • Is he secretly plotting to kill or maim new starting third baseman Chase Headley? “Chase is an excellent addition to our team.”
  • And finally, Rodriguez gave a flat “no” when asked if he was on any performance-enhancing drugs at the moment.

All things considered, A-Rod’s first day of camp was not as hectic as I expected. I thought he would say something controversial, for example. The media was watching him like a hawk — following all of this in real time on Twitter was a hoot, we were getting play-by-play of his medicine ball throws — but that was to be expected.

No word on whether A-Rod will return to the complex tomorrow but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took the day off. It’ll be his last day off for a while with position players set to report on Wednesday. Either way, Alex is back with the Yankees. He took his physical, got his first workout in, and that was that. Day One is complete.

Poll: The Biggest Loss of the Offseason

Prado and some Gatorade. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Prado and some Gatorade. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Earlier today we discussed the Yankees’ most important pickup of the offseason. Now it’s time to look at the other end of the spectrum and discuss their biggest loss of the winter. “Loss” is kind of a weird term here because sometimes teams willingly let a player get away, either by trading them or by simply declining to pursue them as a free agent. Other times it’s a true loss. They wanted him to keep him but couldn’t.

As with offseason additions, some offseason losses are bigger than others. Shawn Kelley (traded to the Padres) and Ichiro Suzuki (left as a free agent) saw a lot of playing time with New York the last two years but they aren’t major offseason losses, right? Both have already been replaced by younger if not better players (David Carpenter and Chris Young). Not counting Kelley and Suzuki, the Yankees lost six players this winter who they could end up missing quite a bit, not just in 2015, but beyond as well. Let’s run ‘em down.

C Frankie Cervelli

Cervelli’s time in pinstripes was quite a ride. He developed a lot of die-hard defenders who believe he could be a starting catcher for like half the teams in the league, but, in reality, we never saw anything more than flashes of his ability between injuries. Cervelli, who turns 29 next week, has two years of team control remaining and was traded to the Pirates straight up for southpaw Justin Wilson this winter. John Ryan Murphy figures to step in to replace Cervelli as Brian McCann‘s backup catcher this year.

RHP Shane Greene

Greene, 26, was a very nice surprise for the Yankees last year. He came up from the farm system as a drafted and developed player, and gave the team 78.2 innings of 3.78 ERA (3.73 FIP) ball. Greene’s stuff is very lively and it appears he overcame his career-long control problems with some mechanical tweaks in 2013. Without those tweaks, he’s probably not a big league starter. At least not one who impresses everyone as much as he did last year. Greene came up for good last July and has all six years of team control remaining. He was traded for Didi Gregorius over the winter.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda's back with the Carp. (Getty)
Kuroda’s back with the Carp. (Getty)

I’m guessing that if the 40-year-old Kuroda was willing to pitch for the Yankees another year, the team would have brought him back with open arms. Hiroki’s game slipped a bit last year (3.70 ERA and 3.60 FIP) but he’s an innings eater and the kind of reliable arm the Yankees lack right now. Of course, he opted to return to the Hiroshima Carp for the final season of his career — and took a massive pay cut to make it happen — so the Yankees didn’t even have a chance to bring him back. The rotation sure would look much more sturdier with Kuroda, wouldn’t it?

RHP David Phelps

The Yankees and Marlins reversed roles this winter. Usually the Marlins are the team trading away a player just as he starts to get expensive through arbitration. Instead, the Yankees traded Phelps to the Marlins just as he hits his arbitration years. Phelps, 28, spent three years as a nice swingman with New York (4.21 ERA and 4.20 FIP) and, frankly, the team could still use him for rotation depth. Instead, they used him to get Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones. Phelps is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2017.

UTIL Martin Prado

Prado was the other piece — the main piece, really — that went to Miami in the Eovaldi trade. Before the trade, the 31-year-old Prado was slated to serve as the team’s starting second baseman and was basically their best right-handed hitter. He had a 146 wRC+ in 37 games with the Yankees last year thanks to real nice four-week stretch before going down with an emergency appendectomy, though over the last two years he had a 103 wRC+. That’s the real Prado, not the guy we briefly saw in pinstripes last year. Either way, the Yankees could use his right-handed bat and versatility, as could just about every team. Prado has two years and $22M left on his contract.

RHP David Robertson

At some point early in the offseason the Yankees decided to let Robertson walk as a free agent and replace him with the cheaper and comparable Andrew Miller while also gaining a supplemental first round draft pick in the process. It’s a sound baseball move, albeit one that seems to be unpopular because the team let a homegrown Yankee walk and replaced him with an ex-Red Sox crony. Robertson, 29, has been an elite reliever for four years running even though his FIP has gradually climbed from 1.84 in 2011 to 2.49 in 2012 to 2.61 in 2013 to 2.68 in 2014. Robertson took a four-year, $46M deal from the White Sox, and really, is it hard to envision a scenario in which the Yankees wish they could trade Miller and that draft pick for Robertson at some point in the next four years?

* * *

As a reminder, this poll is trying to balance the loss of each player in the short and long-term. Kuroda would only be a one-year addition but he would be a really important one-year piece. Other veterans like Robertson and Prado are more likely to decline going forward rather than improve or even just maintain their current level of performance. Greene and Phelps are still young enough that their best years may be ahead of them, however. Time to poll.

Who was NYY's biggest loss of the offseason?

Poll: The Most Important Addition of the Offseason

Miller appears to be 95% arms and legs. (Presswire)
Miller appears to be 95% arms and legs. (Presswire)

Spring Training has begun and the offseason is over. The Yankees made a lot of transactions this winter — I count eleven trades and free agent signings involving actual MLB players — and accomplished their goals of getting younger and more flexible. It was a different winter in the sense that there were no massive free agent contracts handed out.

Some offseason pickups are more important to the Yankees than others, obviously. More important not just for the success of the 2015 Yankees, but for the 2016 and beyond Yankees as well. Which offseason addition was most important both short and long-term? That’s what we’re here to decide. With all due respect to one-year guys like Stephen Drew and Garrett Jones, and fringe roster guys like Chasen Shreve and Chris Martin, here are the team’s six biggest offseason pickups.

RHP David Carpenter

Acquired from the Braves in the Manny Banuelos trade, the 29-year-old Carpenter is going to step right into some sort of setup role this year. Shawn Kelley’s old role, basically, which is fitting because they are similar fastball-slider pitchers. It’s hard to consider any non-elite reliever like Carpenter a long-term piece — he’s been traded four times and claimed off waivers once already in his career — but he is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2017. If he performs well, he’ll stick around in the bullpen for a few years.

RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi, who just turned 25 ten days ago, was New York’s big rotation addition this winter. He had a shaky year with the Marlins in 2014 (4.37 ERA in 199.2 innings) but there are signs of growth, specifically his continually improving walk rate (2011-14: 13.7 BB%, 8.9 BB%, 8.9 BB%, 5.0 BB%) and FIP (2011-14: 4.35, 4.13, 3.59, 3.37). The Yankees acquired Eovaldi because of what they believe he will become, not what he has been, and his raw tools — specifically one of the hardest fastballs in the game — suggest major upside. Upside, of course, means he’s not there quite yet. Like Carpenter, Eovaldi is under control through the 2017 season as an arbitration-eligible player and the team envisions him fronting the rotation by time he qualifies for free agency.

SS Didi Gregorius

(Ralph Freso/Getty)
(Ralph Freso/Getty)

Needless to say, a starting shortstop is a pretty big deal. The Yankees had to find a new starting shortstop this winter for the first time in two decades and Gregorius, who turned 25 last Wednesday, gets the first crack at being Derek Jeter‘s long-term replacement. He’s basically the polar opposite of Jeter as an above-average defender and below-average hitter. It’ll be a shock to the system for many Yankees fans initially. Gregorius came over in the Shane Greene three-team trade and he’s under team control for five more years, including the last four as a Super Two arbitration-eligible player. He’s never going to be a guy who hits in the middle (or even at the top) of the order, but shortstop is a damn important position.

3B Chase Headley

The Yankees acquired the 30-year-old Headley at the trade deadline last year and saw firsthand how well he fit both in the clubhouse and on the field. A switch-hitter with patience and some pop to go with excellent defense at the hot corner is the kind of player every team could use. The Yankees re-signed Headley this offseason to a four-year contract worth $52M to take over as their starting third baseman, A-Rod or no A-Rod. He probably won’t be asked to hit in the middle of the order at the outset of 2015, but honestly, I could see him hitting second or third before long if the guys expected to hit in the middle of the order repeat their 2014 efforts.

LHP Andrew Miller

Although he’s a lefty, Miller replaced David Robertson on the roster. They’re both top notch late-inning relievers. Handedness doesn’t matter. The Yankees gave Miller a four-year, $36M deal over the winter and it remains to be seen if he’ll be the team’s closer or setup man this season. Either way, the team expects him to be a force in eighth and/or ninth inning. This isn’t your garden variety lefty reliever. Miller, 29, will be counted on to be a late-inning force during the life of his new contract.

LHP Justin Wilson

Like Miller, Wilson is no typical lefty reliever. He has power stuff — averaged 96.3 mph with his fastball last year — and is able to face both lefties and righties. Walks have been an issue for the 27-year-old Wilson in his two years and one month as a big leaguer (career 10.6 BB%) but he has missed plenty of bats (career 22.0 K%) and gets plenty of ground balls (50.9 GB%). He’s basically a left-handed complement to Carpenter. Wilson has four years of team control remaining. He can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season.

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As a reminder, this poll is trying to balance short and long-term importance. That isn’t necessarily easy. Veteran players like Headley and Miller figure to have their best years in 2015 and gradually decline during their four year contracts. And, if all goes according to plan, younger guys like Gregorius and Eovaldi will get better each year, so 2015 will hopefully be the worst years of their time in pinstripes. Make sense? Anyway, let’s get to the poll.

Who was NYY's most important pickup of the winter?

Fan Confidence Poll: February 23rd, 2015

2014 Record: 84-78 (633 RS, 664 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), did not qualify for postseason

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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?