Happy Saturday everyone, here is your open thread for the evening. The Rays and Red Sox are playing Game Two of their ALDS right now on TBS (David Price vs. John Lackey) while the Tigers and Athletics will play their Game Two at 9pm ET on the same channel (Justin Verlander vs. Sonny Gray). The Islanders are playing and I’m sure there’s some college football on somewhere. Feel free to talk about those games or anything else right here.
The Arizona Fall League season begins on Tuesday — the Yankees are sending seven players (roster), most notably OF Mason Williams, OF Tyler Austin, and LHP Vidal Nuno — while the various Caribbean winter leagues are still about a week away. Those rosters have not yet been released. Here’s a smattering of minor league notes for the time being:
- In a subscriber-only piece, Matt Eddy looked at the best defensive players in the minors at the four up-the-middle positions. OF Mason Williams ranked 12th (out of 20) among center fielders by Eddy’s method while OF Slade Heathcott was an honorable mention. C Gary Sanchez was eighth among catchers thanks in part to his 45.9% success rate at throwing out attempted base-stealers. He “receives 80 throwing grades [on the 20-80 scale] from some scouts.”
- LHP Mike Zagurski was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, reports Andy McCullough. He refused the assignment and elected free agency. The Yankees have one open 40-man spot now. Zagurski, 30, spent most of the year in Triple-A but was actually with the team in September. He appeared in one game and allowed two runs.
- RHP Jim Miller, IF Alberto Gonzalez, and UTIL Brent Lillibridge all elected free agency, according to Eddy. None of the three were on the 40-man roster but they all played for the big league team at one point or another this summer. Gonzalez appeared in 13 games, the most of the bunch.
- The Yankees have re-signed C Jose Gil, RHP Diego Moreno, and LHP Francisco Rondon, among others, to minor league contracts, reports Eddy. They became minor league free agents after the season. Moreno came over in the A.J. Burnett trade and Rondon, while still fringy, is the best prospect of the bunch.
Via Andy McCullough: Boone Logan had surgery on Thursday to remove a bone spur from his left elbow. We first heard he needed the procedure about three weeks ago. Logan is expected to begin a throwing program in December and should be ready for the start of Spring Training. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery in Florida.
Logan, 29, had a 3.23 ERA and 3.82 FIP in 39 innings this year. He told McCullough his elbow started aching in Spring Training — he was delayed at the start of camp due to a then-unspecified reason — and it continued all season, forcing him to throw fewer sliders. The PitchFX data backs that up*. Logan will be a free agent this winter and since his elbow ligament is fine, I think he’ll still be able to find a deal in Sean Burnett (two years, $8M) to Scott Downs (three years, $15M) range. No idea if the Yankees will look to bring him back, but he has some interest in returning.
* “Fewer sliders” is a relative term. He still threw 40.4% sliders this year, which was the 16th highest rate among all pitchers (min. 30 IP). Last year he threw 51.4% sliders (!), the seventh highest rate in baseball. No wonder his elbow started barking. · (5) ·
Via NY Post: The Yankees are among several clubs scouting Cuban slugger Jose Abreu during his workouts in the Dominican Republic. He held two showcase events at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic late last month, according to Ben Badler. Abreu was recently declared a free agent is now able to negotiate and sign with any team.
Badler recently described the 26-year-old Abreu as “an intelligent hitter without a lot of effort in in his swing and the power to hit 30-plus homers in a season … (though) some scouts consider his bat speed only fair.” He has an unorthodox double toe-tap and, like many Cuban hitters, is prone to breaking balls off the plate. Abreu is a big dude — listed at 6-foot-2 and 258 lbs. — with crazy numbers in Cuba, including a .382/.525/.735 line this year and .394/.542/.837 last year. The report says Abreu is expected to sign a deal in the Yoenis Cespedes ($36M) to Yasiel Puig ($42M) range. · (85) ·
So … Gerrit Cole dominated the best offensive team in the league in their own ballpark with his team down one game-to-none in a best-of-five playoff series this afternoon. Oh, and he drove in a run with a single back up the middle. He’s already a better pitcher and hitter than anyone on the Yankees roster. Sigh. The video isn’t embeddable, but here’s the link.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the wonderful Friday evening. The Dodgers and Braves (Greinke vs. Minor) are playing right now on TBS, and later tonight the Tigers and Athletics (Scherzer vs. Colon) will play at 9:37pm ET, also on TBS. The Devils and Islanders are also playing (each other), so there’s plenty to talk about. As you know, anything goes here. Enjoy.
Via Ken Davidoff: Alex Rodriguez and his legal team have filed a malpractice suit against Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center over the diagnosis of his left hip injury last fall. There were rumors of an impending malpractice suit a few weeks ago, when A-Rod’s camp accused the team of hiding his MRI results. Rodriguez and his lawyers sued MLB for their “witch hunt” earlier today. I’m rooting for pure chaos. · (36) ·
Friday: Joel Sherman says Girardi will have another offer from the Yankees no later than today. He suspects it will be in the three-year, $13-16M range. Sherman hears that if push comes to shove, the team is prepared to walk away if Girardi’s camp seeks $7M annually, or what Joe Torre was making at the end of his tenure in pinstripes.
Wednesday: Via Jon Heyman: During their scheduled meeting this afternoon, the Yankees made Joe Girardi a contract offer to return to the team. He responded with parameters for a deal and the two sides agreed to meet again on Thursday. No word on the size of the offer or what Girardi’s camp proposed, and chances are we’ll never know. That they’re meeting again tomorrow is a good sign. Hopefully they get this taken care of quickly. · (52) ·
Got six questions this week, so I tried to keep the answers short and go rapid fire. If you want to send us questions or links or complaints or whatever, the Submit A Tip box in a sidebar is the best way to go.
Joe asks: If Joe Girardi leaves who would be on your short list of replacements?
I don’t even know where to start. There are no great candidates out there. You’d need someone familiar with being in a big market just because it’s completely chaotic, or it can be if the manager lets it. Bench coach Tony Pena seems like an obvious candidate and I guess the just-fired Dusty Baker is as well. Triple-A Scranton manager Dave Miley and Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin seem like long shots. I want no part of Mike Scioscia (if he’s fired) or Don Wakamatsu, who has big league managerial experience (with the Mariners) and works in the Yankees front office. I don’t see a ton of obvious candidates out there. Pena is clearly the best at this point.
Joey asks: B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla are both well-paid and under-performing for Atlanta. If the Braves cover most of the salary, do you think the Yankees would be interested in either player and would think its a good idea?
I don’t think the Braves would eat a ton of money to move Upton after just one year. Not with his brother still on the team and a roster that still managed to win 96 games despite his terribleness. As for Uggla … I don’t think I’d touch him. He hit .179/.309/.362 (91 wRC+) with 22 homers in 537 plate appearances this season, and he’s also 33 years old (34 in March). That’s right around the age second baseman tend to fall off the cliff. This sums up where his career is heading:
Go look at Uggla’s graph page on FanGraphs and notice how pretty much everything has been trending in the wrong direction for three years now. The Braves left him off their NLDS roster and they own him $13M in each of the next two years. Yeah, the Yankees could use him as a backup corner infielder/DH, but even if Atlanta eats so much money that he’s a $4M a year player, I wouldn’t touch him. The Bombers already have one Vernon Wells, no need to add the infield version as well.
Anthony asks: Say #HIROK decided to retire, could the Yankees still offer him a qualifying offer and get a pick?
The only way the Yankees would get a draft pick for Hiroki Kuroda (or any other player who turns downs a qualifying offer) is if they sign a Major League contract with one of the other 29 times before next summer’s draft. That’s it. They don’t get a pick if the player retires, goes to Japan, or signs a minor league contract.
Mr. Fish Fingers asks: Any interest in/chance of acquiring Jason Castro this off-season or (more likely) at some point in the season? Got to cost an arm and a leg, but he had a nice season in Houston and is under team control.
Theoretically, the Astros would want to build around Castro going forward, right? He just turned 26 and hit .276/.350/.485 (130 wRC+) with 18 homers this season, plus he’s a standout defender behind the plate. That’s a cornerstone player. If you’re a rebuilding team, you keep him. That said, the Astros seem to have completely given up on being competitive and are instead focused on having a strong farm system, so who knows. I’d take Castro in a heartbeat — he is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year and can’t become a free agent until after 2016 — and would open up the farm system to give Houston whatever they want. Gary Sanchez and Rafael DePaula? Sure thing. You hope that in six years, Sanchez will be what Castro is right now. Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy? Tyler Austin and Mason Williams? Done deal. No-brainer for me. I think Castro is the one guy the Astros will keep, however.
Jon asks: MLBTR got me thinking about Asdrubal Cabrera as a possible 2014 shortstop target. If I remember, Brian Cashman was hot on him previously, only one year left on contract and coming off a down year. Possible buy low, would the Yankees want the Indians to kick some money in to offset $10M ’14 Salary? What would it take in prospects?
Cabrera would make sense as a shortstop target if he was actually a shortstop. The 27-year-old is an awful defensive player — pick any defense stat and it’ll say he’s been terrible for several years running now — and to make matters worse, he isn’t hitting all that much either. Cabrera put up a .242/.299/.402 (95 wRC+) line with 14 homers this year, which is way better than what the Yankees got from the position this year but way below what his reputation would lead you to believe. He’s better than Eduardo Nunez, but we’re not exactly setting a high bar there. Is he so much better that it justifies the massive salary and a trading away a prospect or two? Asdrubal is someone worth looking at more in-depth if he actually ends up on the block at some point. My short answer is: meh.
Elliot asks: If Derek Jeter declines his option (crazy talk) do you see a situation where he wants a longer contract guaranteed, but will spread out the cost over more years and help the team get under $189 million?
I don’t know if Jeter will want that, but there is a scenario in which opting out and signing a multi-year deal would help the Yankees get under the luxury tax threshold. Right now his option is worth $9.5M and can be worth as much as $16.5M with awards-based incentives. The team would have to treat him as a $16.5M player in 2014 — you can’t plan on him costing only $9.5M and then have him blow the whole thing up by finishing fifth in the MVP voting or something. They could, I suppose, guarantee the extra $7M (instead of basing it on incentives) and spread it out over multiple years. Instead of a one-year deal worth $9.5M and potentially $16.5M, it could be a three-year deal worth $16.5 guaranteed. That would lower the average annual salary (and his “tax hit”) from at least $9.5M and possibly $16.5M in 2014 to $5.5M flat. It’s worth considering, but remember, it takes two to tango.
This is going to be good. Alex Rodriguez and his legal team filed a lawsuit against MLB on Thursday night for a “witch hunt” and conspiring to keep him out of the game. They also allege the league paid $5M for former Biogenesis head Anthony Bosch’s cooperation. The lawsuit, complete with a section called “The Disastrous Tenure of Bud Selig,” can be seen here.
If you don’t want to sift through the suit for the gory details, Steve Eder has a breakdown. Selig is listed as a defendant but the Yankees and team officials are not. I suspect a separate lawsuit for the team is on the way. The appeal of A-Rod’s record 211-game suspension started this week and I don’t think the timing of the lawsuit is a coincidence. Resident RAB legal expert Ben Kabak will have more later today. · (87) ·
Via David Kaplan: The Nationals have requested permission from the Yankees to interview Joe Girardi. They’re looking for a manager following Davey Johnson’s planned retirement. Girardi is under contract until October 31st, so no other teams are allowed to talk to him for another few weeks.
Unsurprisingly, it has been reported the Yankees are unlikely to give any club permission to talk to Girardi before his contract expires. Not only are they trying to re-sign him — the two sides recently exchanged contract parameters and are expected to talk again today — but letting him talk to another team right now only boosts his leverage. The Cubs are reportedly planning a big offer and I supposed the Reds could get involved as well now that Dusty Baker has been fired. · (22) ·