Later today, Brian Cashman will hold his annual end-of-season press conference, during which he’ll probably reveal … not much in particular. These things never really bring major news, but you never know. Three years ago we found out pitching coach Dave Eiland was being let go, for example. Both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman say the Yankees are “decompressing” at the moment and will take a few days before getting down to business, most notably hammering out a new contract with Joe Girardi. Until then, here are some random thoughts.
1. My gut feel is heads on the player development side are going to roll this winter. The Yankees replaced both Billy Connors and Nardi Contreras — two long-time player development linchpins — last offseason, the first sign the braintrust wasn’t happy with the development staff. Yesterday we heard amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman were most likely to get the axe, and it stands to reason director of player development Pat Roessler will be in that mix as well. The Yankees tend to promote from within and there’s definitely something to be said for loyalty and continuity, but it’s time for some new voices. If they make changes (they absolutely should at this point), they should bring in people from outside the organization. That’s easier said than done obviously — “throw money at whoever runs the Rays/Cardinals farm system” is not a realistic solution because those guys have contracts that usually aren’t broken for lateral moves — but what they’ve been doing isn’t working. It’s time for philosophical change, not rearranging the furniture.
2. Among players who are under contract/team control next season, how many would you say unquestionably belong on the Opening Day roster? Here’s the contracts info from Cot’s for reference. I count six: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, and Mark Teixeira. When Derek Jeter exercises his player option, it’ll be seven. I’m assuming Alex Rodriguez gets suspended. A few other guys deserve long looks in Spring Training — David Phelps, Adam Warren, Austin Romine, Preston Claiborne, for example — but I’m not a big fan of handing young players who have been up-and-down (at best) jobs out of camp. Nova’s the exception. That’s just my preference, remember. Anyway, the point of this exercise was just to show just how many holes the Yankees have on their roster. Only seven guys who are slam dunks for the Opening Day roster? Yikes.
3. Eduardo Nunez played just well enough down the stretch to keep the Yankees from replacing him. That’s not a good thing. He hit .260/.307/.372 (83 wRC+) in 336 plate appearances overall this season and .284/.321/.426 (101 wRC+) in 211 second half plate appearances. The Yankees obviously love Nunez and saw just enough late in the year to not move on this winter. He was well on his way to playing himself out of the team’s plans with a rough first half, getting exposed by playing everyday as Jeter’s replacement. Now he’ll get another chance and be back next season. That would be fine if he wasn’t a disaster on defense or if I had any confidence in him being even a league average hitter in the near future.
4. Given the current state of the organization, my biggest concern right now is re-signing Robinson Cano to massive contract and being unable to surround him with quality support players because payroll is coming down. They can’t give Cano huge money and fill out the rest of the roster with washed up reclamation project types like Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki. That’s a recipe for mediocrity and will waste however many elite seasons Robbie has left. This is where the unproductive farm system and having … well … washed up reclamation project types like Wells and Ichiro under contract next season really hurts. The Yankees are stuck relying on free agency which is a) not cheap, and b) completely inefficient. Getting bang for the buck is a thing now, the team has to consider that as long as they try to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold.
Via Andrew Marchand: Joe Girardi acknowledged having conversations with Robinson Cano about his lack of hustle, particularly running to first base. “I’ve talked to him about it,” said the skipper. “He has played every day. He has been kind of nicked up. I’ve talked to him about it.”
Cano, 30, hit .314/.383/.516 (142 wRC+) with 27 homers in 160 games this year. He doesn’t always run hard down the line though … okay fine, he pretty much never runs hard down the line and many fans hate that. It looks terrible and isn’t exactly something you want to see out of your best player, especially when he’s asking for $300M. It’s annoying but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Glad Girardi got in Robbie’s ear though. · (88) ·
The first day of the offseason is always the worst. This afternoon I went to check the night’s pitching matchups and then my fantasy team (btw, booya!) out of habit, but there was nothing to check. This first day always sucks the most. Brian Cashman will hold his annual end-of-season press conference at noon tomorrow and I’m guessing Joe Girardi will speak then as well. This is typical, they do it every year, but obviously this offseason is expected to be anything but typical. It would surprise me if there was major news tomorrow; there rarely is at these things. I enjoy the “surprise, these guys were playing with these injuries” announcements more than anything. We’ll see how it goes.
Here is your open thread for this lovely evening. The Rays and Rangers are playing their tiebreaker game at 8pm ET on TBS (David Price vs. Martin Perez), with the winner moving on to play the Indians in the wild-card game on Wednesday. Dolphins-Saints is the Monday Night Football game. Talk about either game or anything else you want right here. Go nuts.
Sporcle Quiz!: The 2013 Yankees quiz is now available. All you have to do is name the franchise record 56 (!) players who played for the team this season. I managed 52 of 56 and am pretty damn proud of that. Got all the pitchers and the obvious guys, but missed four spare part position players who were only with the team for a few weeks each. One was even on the Opening Day roster too.
Via Mark Feinsand: Left-hander Boone Logan will have surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow this Thursday. He is due to become a free agent this offseason and is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training. We first heard he needed the procedure about two weeks ago.
Logan, 29, pitched to 3.23 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 39 innings across 61 appearances this year while holding left-handers to a .215/.274/.377 (.281 wOBA) line with a 40.0% strikeout rate. It’s unclear if the surgery will affect how teams value him this winter — tests confirmed the ligament is fine — but the going rate for top lefty relievers is in the three-year, $12M range. We haven’t heard anything about whether the Yankees will try to retain Logan, who has been their best lefty reliever since Mike Stanton. · (11) ·
By going 85-77 this year, the Yankees hold the 18th overall pick in next summer’s draft. They finished with the same record as the Orioles, but because Baltimore had the worse record last season, they get the 17th pick while New York gets the 18th. The full draft order is right here, and note that tonight’s tiebreaker game between the Rays and Rangers is technically a regular season game, so the 22nd and 23rd picks could flip.
Slot money for the 18th overall pick was $2,109,900 this year, and the slots are expected to increase in 2014. The Yankees haven’t picked this high since taking C.J. Henry with the 17th pick in 2005. That was compensation from the Phillies for Jon Lieber (!), not their natural pick. The Bombers could end up forfeiting their first rounder to sign a qualified free agent (Brian McCann?
Matt Garza?Ervin Santana?), of course, and they could also add picks by losing their own qualified free agents (Hiroki Kuroda? Robinson Cano?). It’s still too early to know exactly how deep the draft class is, but there are always quality players available at 18. · (39) ·
The Arizona Fall League season begins next Tuesday while the various Caribbean winter leagues start a few weeks later. Until then, here are some minor league notes:
- Chad Jennings reports RHP Dellin Betances has asked the Yankees for permission to pitch in winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He wants to stay sharp and continue throwing following a very successful transition to the bullpen. Betances will be out of minor league options next season and is a super-early favorite for the Opening Day bullpen, so his workload is worth monitoring. You don’t want the kid pitching ten months out of the year.
- RHP Ty Hensley is done with physical therapy, according to his Twitter feed. He started a throwing program last month but probably hasn’t progressed to the point of throwing off a mound yet. I imagine the Yankees are taking it slow with last summer’s first rounder. Hensley missed the entire season after having surgery to correct an impingement in his right hip.
- According to Sanspo (translate article), 2B Gosuke Katoh recently tore a finger ligament during Instructional League in Tampa. He saw a specialist in New York and the recovery time is four weeks, but he can continue taking batting practice with his finger taped. The article says Katoh may head to Instructional League at the Dominican Republic complex later this month if the finger is healed.
- RHP Mark Montgomery has recently started throwing off a mound, according to his Twitter feed. His season ended in mid-August due to continued shoulder problems. The team’s top relief prospect coming into the season had a 3.38 ERA (4.00 FIP) with a lot of strikeouts (11.03 K/9 and 28.0 K%) and a lot of walks (5.63 BB/9 and 14.3 BB%) in 40 innings for Triple-A Scranton this summer. I wonder if Montgomery will play winter ball.
- Ben Badler (subs. req’d) named Cuban LHP Omar Luis one of ten sleepers from the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. “Luis didn’t pick up a baseball for eight months in Haiti [because of visa problems], which led to considerable rust … He showed swing-and-miss stuff with his 89-95 mph fastball, slider and changeup,” wrote Badler of the $4M southpaw. Luis had a 5.68 ERA (~3.08 FIP) with a good strikeout rate (12.22 K/9 and 26.2 K%) and an awful lot of walks (8.24 BB/9 and 17.7 BB%) in 31.2 innings.
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees will have to give Joe Girardi a “significant raise” if they want to retain their manager this offseason. He was making $3M annually on his last contract, which expires November 1st. “It comes down to family,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings. “It doesn’t even necessarily have to be in baseball, in a sense,” Girardi said. “It’s just, as I said, it’s not so much the (managerial) circumstances, but what’s best for my crew.”
Girardi, 48, also downplayed his ties to Chicago while talking to the media yesterday, though I suspect that was done (at least in part) to create more leverage against the Cubs. The Cubbies fired manager Dale Sveum this morning. It’s obvious the Yankees are going to have to give their manager a raise if they want to keep him (especially after all the crap they put him through this season), but I guess the question is how “significant” of a raise. I think Girardi is an average-ish in-game manager but based on what we saw this season, he excels in clubhouse and keeping things from becoming chaotic. That’s an essential trait in New York. · (88) ·
Via Bob Klapisch: Brian Cashman acknowledged the Yankees will look to address their unproductive farm system and player development issues in the coming weeks. “I understand why people are bringing that up, and it’s something we’re going to be looking at,” said the GM. “I have no problem dealing with reality … We’re not going to the playoffs, we’re not good enough to be there. We don’t belong there. The key is to find a way to get back. That’s not foreign to us. Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but you have to keep getting back up.”
Hal Steinbrenner called a staff meeting to discuss the team’s farm system issues a few weeks ago, and, not surprisingly, Joel Sherman hears “there has been frustration and anger [at the highest levels of the organization] about the lack of young talent available this season as injuries mounted.” Sherman says it is believed amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman are most likely to be replaced if changes are made, and changes should be made. Outside of some relievers and bench players, the Yankees have gotten nothing from their player development system in recent years. It’s gone on too long to ignore. · (129) ·
Record Last Week: 3-3 (13 RS, 23 RA)
Season Record: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs
Top stories from last week:
- Following Monday’s off-day, the Yankees welcomed the Rays to the Bronx for a three-game series. Tampa took the opener amid a bobblehead fiasco. The Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention with Wednesday’s loss, then Mariano Rivera made his emotional final appearance in the series finale.
- The Yankees closed the season with three games in Houston. They held on for a win in the opener against the Astros, then Andy Pettitte tossed a complete-game in his final career start for a win on Saturday. The Bombers finished off the sweep yesterday.
- Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (hamstring) suffered a Grade II strain and was shut down for the season. Rivera (arm) revealed he was pitching with “tremendous soreness” down the stretch. Alex Rodriguez (hamstring, calf) did not play the last few games. Travis Hafner (shoulder) was activated off the DL.
- Robinson Cano is reportedly seeking a ten-year, $305M contract this winter. The Yankees offered seven years and $161M. The Dodgers are not expected to pursue Cano this winter. Hiroki Kuroda is still undecided about 2014 and may simply retire.
- The Yankees landed six players on Baseball America’s list of the top 20 prospects in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League.
- Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees would like to re-sign pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
- Cuban slugger Jose Abreu has been declared a free agent and is eligible to sign.
- The Yankees are considering playing an exhibition game in Panama.
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?
The Yankees aren’t going to the postseason, but this game almost dragged on long enough to have they playing in October. The 2013 season ended with a 5-1 win over the Astros (in 14 innings!) and a sweep in Houston. Let’s recap the last victory of the year:
- Shutdown Bullpen: Considering how terrible the bullpen was at times down the stretch, it’s kinda funny they turned in one of their best efforts of the season on Sunday. Six relievers combined to retire of 27 of 30 batters faced in nine scoreless innings. They struck out a dozen. Dellin Betances was particularly impressive (four strikeouts in 2.1 perfect innings), as what Matt Daley (two strikeouts in two perfect innings). David Robertson closed out the season with a perfect frame.
- Late Rally(ies): Let’s just say the Yankees didn’t show much urgency at the plate in this game. There were a lot of quick outs in the first seven innings and understandably so. Everyone wanted to go home. Eduardo Nunez (double) and Curtis Granderson (single) didn’t get the memo, apparently, and combined to create the trying run in the eighth. The two teams remained tied at one until the 14th, when Mark Reynolds hit a mammoth homer to left center to
put everyone out of their miserygive the Yankees a one-run lead. Nunez doubled in two runs later in the inning and J.R. Murphy singled in another to give the club some more breathing room. Five of eight batters reached base in the 14th after five of the previous 22 batters reached.
- Almost Historic: One more strikeout. That’s all the Yankees needed to set a new franchise single-game strikeout record. Instead, they tied the club record by whiffing 19 Astros in the 14 innings. They also struck out 19 Blue Jays in 2001 (17 innings) and 19 White Sox in 1987 (15 innings). The franchise record for a nine inning game is 18 strikeouts, done twice before — Ron Guidry’s game in 1978 and a combined effort just two years ago.
- Leftovers: For the 17th time this year, the Yankees did not draw a single walk. That ties the franchise record set in 1919 and 1971 … Nunez led the way with three hits but Granderson, Brendan Ryan, and Zoilo Almonte had two apiece … David Huff struck out a career-high-tying seven while allowing one run in five innings … the Yankees struck out 16 times themselves (David Adams five times all by himself), one shy of the franchise’s all-time record. They’ve struck out 17 times on three occasions, most recently in 2010.
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, check out FanGraphs. For the final standings, go to ESPN. With the season over, it’s time for hot stove talk and rumors and trades and whatever else the next four and a half brings. I do think the Yankees will be busy this winter and I do think there are some front office-level changes coming, particularly on the player development side. We’ll see. Thanks for sticking around this season. It was a blast.