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.

* * *

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

Top stories from last week:

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?

Sanchez: Red Sox agree to deal with Yoan Moncada

(Jesse Sanchez)
(Jesse Sanchez)

10:43am: Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi the team made their “final and best offer” yesterday but were told by David Hastings, Moncada’s representative, it wasn’t good enough.

10:15am: The Yankees offered Moncada $25M and were willing to go to $27M, according to Sherman. So they were outbid by $4.5M, which is really $9M with the penalty. Though that assumes Boston wouldn’t have raised their offer. Either way, they bid just enough to not get him.

9:53am: Joel Sherman says Moncada is getting $31.5M. Add in the penalty and it’s $63M total.

9:12am: Once again, the Yankees did not sign a top Cuban free agent. Jesse Sanchez reports the Red Sox have agreed to sign 19-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada for a bonus in the $30M range. Including the tax for exceeding their bonus pool, the total investment is $60M up front.

The Yankees worked Moncada out privately three times, including twice last week. By all accounts the team loved his talent, so it seems they fell short financially, which is dumb. Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the brass have been talking about building from within and yet they stopped short of signing a projected star.

The Yankees have not signed a top Cuban free agent since Jose Contreras more than a decade ago, and he blew up in their face. At some point they’re going to have to get back in the game though. They can’t ignore a talent source like that, especially since several top Cuban players have actually exceeded expectations (Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, specifically.)

Because they exceeded their spending pool last summer, the Yankees will not be able to sign an international player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. Moncada was basically their last chance to land a top international talent for nothing but money for another two years.

Open Thread: 2/22 Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The second official day of Spring Training workouts is in the books. Here is a recap of the day from Tampa:

Here is your open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Rangers and Islanders are both playing tonight, and there’s a little bit of college basketball going on somewhere. Talk about those games or anything else right here.