Christmas Open Thread

By in Open Thread. · Comments (131) ·

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone. Barring some kind of breaking news — rumor has it the Rakuten Golden Eagles may announce whether they will post Masahiro Tanaka at some point in the next 48 hours — I don’t anticipate posting anything either today or tomorrow. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, enjoy the downtime and family and friends and all that. Feel free to talk about whatever right here over the next two days.

(Here is last night’s open thread. I bumped it back a day just so the top two posts were open threads.)

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The Yankees have re-signed right-hander Matt Daley to a minor league contract, reports Matt Eddy. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training as well. Daley was non-tendered earlier this month, but soon thereafter we heard the team had interest in retaining him as a non-40-man roster player.

Daley, 31, allowed two hits and zero walks while striking out eight in six scoreless September innings this past season. The Queens native was awesome in the minors, pitching to a 2.02 ERA (1.88 FIP) in 53.1 innings at three levels after returning from shoulder surgery. Daley has a 4.38 ERA (3.65 FIP) in 86.1 career big league innings, all with the Yankees and Rockies. The Bombers originally signed Daley soon after the surgery two offseasons ago and rehabbed him.

As of right now, the only players guaranteed to be in the bullpen next year are David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and the recently signed Matt Thornton. The Yankees obviously like Daley, otherwise they wouldn’t have signed him after the surgery and helped him rehab for two years. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out, he could compete against kids like Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez for a bullpen spot in camp.

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The Yankees came into the winter needing some middle infield depth, and that need became even greater when Robinson Cano bolted for the Mariners. They’ve already signed Brendan Ryan, Kelly Johnson, and Brian Roberts, but with Derek Jeter a question mark and Alex Rodriguez a complete unknown, adding more is not in any way a bad idea.

Over the weekend we heard free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is “awaiting some further Yankee clarity” before signing a new contract, which (to me) means he wants to see if New York will make a big offer should A-Rod be suspended (they’ve already shown interest this winter). Makes sense even if he only wants to create leverage against the Red Sox, who have interest in re-signing him. The Mets are also said to be kicking the tires. Does Drew fit what the Yankees need with Ryan, Johnson, and Roberts already on board? Let’s look.

The Pros

  • Drew, 30, rebounded from a terrible 2012 season to hit .253/.333/.443 (109 wRC+) with 13 homeruns this past summer. That includes a .284/.377/.498 (137 wRC+) line against righties.
  • As a pull-happy left-handed hitter who hits a lot of balls in the air (spray chart), Drew stands to benefit quite a bit from Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. He’s averaged 16 homers per 162 games in his career anyway.
  • Drew is a patient hitter who saw 4.09 pitches per plate appearance in 2013 (4.10 from 2011-2013) with a 10.8% walk rate (10.3% from 2011-2013). Lefty power and patience is the Yankees’ blueprint.
  • Although he won’t be confused for Jose Reyes, Drew is useful on the bases. He went a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts in 2013 (40-for-55 career), and he’s taken the extra-base about 36% of time the last three years, which is roughly league average.

The Cons

  • Drew will strike out quite a bit (24.8% in 2013 and 23.2% from 2011-2013) and he can’t hit lefties. He had a .196/.246/.340 (53 wRC+) against southpaws this past season and a 59 wRC+ against lefties over the last three years.
  • The various defensive stats say Drew has been below-average to average in the field these last three years: +3 UZR, -6 DRS, -9 FRAA, and -9 Total Zone. He has never played a position other than shortstop in his career, Majors or minors.
  • Injuries have been a problem in recent years. Most notably, Drew destroyed his right ankle (broken bones and torn ligaments) when he caught a spike sliding into home plate in 2011. He has also missed time with hamstring (2009 and 2013) and concussion (2013) issues.
  • Drew rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, so whichever team signs him will have to forfeit a high draft pick.

The numbers say what the numbers say, but I don’t think the defensive stats match up with Drew’s glovework at short. The ankle injury, which sapped his speed and mobility for a while, could be the cause of that. I thought Drew was very good in the field this past season and particularly in the postseason. He’s not Brendan Ryan but he certainly stood out as above-average in my opinion.

It’s important to remember that Drew turned down more money from the Yankees to sign with the Red Sox last winter because of the uncertain playing time. He didn’t like the idea of bouncing between infield spots depending on who was healthy and who needed a day off. Those same questions exist now, maybe even moreso given the team’s other additions this winter. There is a clear path to being the team’s everyday shortstop relatively soon, however. Within a year I think.

The Yankees are reportedly seeking a right-handed hitting infielder and that makes sense. With Jeter a question mark following his self-proclaimed nightmare season, the team’s only reliable righty hitter is Alfonso Soriano. (Switch-hitter Mark Teixeira is still a question following wrist surgery and fellow switch-hitter Carlos Beltran has been just okay against lefties in recent years.) Drew is a really good player who would improve the team in both the short and long-term even though he’d make them even more left-handed in 2014. That can be a problem with guys like David Price, Matt Moore, Jon Lester, and Felix Doubront in the division.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Kernan: Yankees have renewed interest in Grant Balfour

    Via Kevin Kernan: The Yankees have shown some interest in right-hander Grant Balfour after his two-year contract with the Orioles fell apart. They had interest in him earlier this offseason as well. Baltimore didn’t like something they found in Balfour’s shoulder during the pre-signing physical and walked away.

    I wrote about potentially swooping in to sign Balfour at a discounted rate over the weekend. The Yankees need bullpen help, specifically late-inning bullpen help, and he’d be a really nice addition as long as he’s healthy. That’s not a given but two doctors have checked him out since the fiasco with the O’s and insist he’s healthy. Besides, whoever signs Balfour at this point will perform a super-thorough physical of their own anyway.
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2013 Season: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs

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?

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Weekend Open Thread

By in Links, Open Thread. · Comments (99) ·

It took entirely too long, but there’s finally a Dan Girardi/Joe Girardi commercial. Way overdue. It’s not like either guy is new to New York at this point (Dan’s been with the Rangers since 2007.) The Rangers are playing two outdoor games at Yankee Stadium next month (one against the Devils, one against the Islanders) and I’ve already paid through the nose for tickets. Can’t wait.

I only have four links to share this week because of general holiday-related craziness. Between the Winter Meetings and the upcoming holidays, I haven’t had much time to sit down and relax read anything these last few weeks. Here, enjoy:

  • Jack Moore put together an awesome post looking at how Lou Gehrig and other great hitters from the 1920s used sabermetrics. Obviously they weren’t using spreadsheets or stuff like that, but they were thinking about the game in a more empirical way. The quotes from Gehrig (and others) are pretty fascinating.
  • I haven’t even read it yet, but here is Steve Fishman’s massive NY Mag feature on Alex Rodriguez. You are forewarned: It focuses on the Biogenesis scandal. I’m sure many of you are sick of it by now.
  • Bill Deane, who has been predicting Hall of Fame results for more than three decades, expects only Greg Maddux to get in this year. That would be a shame. The ballot is stacked and I count more than ten guys who belong in Cooperstown (in my opinion).
  • And finally, Grant Brisbee tries to figure out the next time the Yankees will be truly awful. Not 85-77 awful like this past season. Like 2013 Giants everything goes wrong awful. His guess: 2015.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except for the Knicks, so talk about those games or anything else right here. Have at it.

: This is your open thread for the night again. I’m stuck in holiday shopping hell and I have no idea who is playing what tonight. I’m sure you can figure it out. Talk about whatever here. Go nuts.

Sunday: Use this as your nightly open thread one last time. The Bears and Eagles are the late NFL game plus the Rangers are playing. You folks know what to do by now, so do it.

Categories : Links, Open Thread
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(Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

(Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Drew waiting on A-Rod?

It’s pretty clear that the Yankees won’t add another position player until they know the fate of Alex Rodriguez. That could certainly cost them; players want certainty, and that means not waiting around for the Yankees if another attractive offer comes around. Yet one player could be waiting to see how this plays out.

In his typically cryptic manner, Peter Gammons says that Drew is “awaiting some further Yankee clarity” in making his decision. What this suggests is up to a wide range of interpretation, but it does indicate that the Yankees could have room for Drew in their infield plans if A-Rod is suspended for 100 or more games. Even if it’s just a 50-game suspension, they could easily find 650 PA for Drew if he’s willing to spend time at second, third, and short. On any given day he’d be the best option at one or more of those positions.

My one fear is that if Tanaka is not posted (or the Yankees don’t sign him) and A-Rod is suspended for the entire season, the Yankees will go with some patchwork in the infield and on the pitching staff, sneaking in under $189 million. As Joel Sherman heard from someone in the organization, “We either have to be under $189MM or up over $200MM or more. Think how dumb it would look if we worked for a few years to get under $189 million and we didn’t and we were at like $189 million and just missed. Either we go under or way over.”

Here’s rooting for way over.

No un-retirement for Pettitte

The Yankees still need another reliable starting pitcher, but after Masahiro Tanaka their options appear almost nonexistent. If anyone was thinking that they could convince Andy Pettitte to pitch one more year, that’s out the window. “He has shut it down for good,” said Brian Cashman. “That door is closed.”

No one should have expected it to be open, either. Pettitte went out on top, pitching a complete game in front of family, friends, and Yankees fans in Houston. Not many pitchers get to finish the way Pettitte and fellow Yankee Mike Mussina did.

Youkilis headed to Japan

We know that Cashman talked to Kevin Youkilis about coming back, and we later heard that four AL East teams contacted him about playing in 2014. Apparently none of them offered much, because Youk signed a contract in Japan with the Rakuten Eagles. He earns $4 million guaranteed with chance at another million in incentives. Safe to say that no MLB team was willing to do that. Not after his 2013 season and general injury history.

Pitching head gear

MLB has taken another step towards player safety. A few weeks ago they banned home plate collisions. That wasn’t easy, given that it’s an ingrained part of the game, but it does make catchers safer. Their latest: headgear for pitchers. These special hats won’t be mandatory, but will be available to interested pitchers. In the last few years we’ve seen guys like Brandon McCarthy and Alex Cobb take liners off the noggin. There has been many gruesome a scene involving a liner to the head (remember Matt Clement?).

Like the new batting helmets, many pitchers could opt against using the pitching headgear because of how it looks. That’s a shame, though. As McCarthy said, “It should be strong and capable enough that literally if I got hit by the exact same ball, I would have been able to keep pitching in that game.” Instead he suffered an epidural hemorrhage, a brain contusion, and a skull fracture.

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Five years ago today, the Yankees agreed to an eight-year contract with Mark Teixeira. The signing came amid reports that Teixeira was close to a deal with the Red Sox, so close that an agreement was deemed imminent. The Yankees swooped right in and grabbed him. I remember thinking the initial report of the signing must have been a mistake — everything happened so fast that someone probably just made a typo and meant Red Sox instead of Yankees, right? — but nope. Just an unexpected Christmas gift. That day was a lot of fun.

Here is your open thread for the night. Falcons-49ers is the Monday Night Football Game plus all five hockey and basketball locals are in action. Lots to watch while you wrap presents. Talk about Teixeira, any or those games, or anything else right here. Have at it.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (96)
  • Heyman: Rangers agree to seven-year deal with Shin-Soo Choo

    Via Jon Heyman: The Rangers and Shin-Soo Choo have agreed to a seven-year contract worth $130M. The Yankees reportedly offered the outfielder seven years and $140M before signing Carlos Beltran, but Choo might still come out ahead financially because there’s no income tax in Texas. I dunno, whatever.

    I preferred Choo to Jacoby Ellsbury this winter — apparently that puts me in the minority — simply because I thought he fit New York’s roster better. Forget about the contracts, a super-high OBP guy with 20+ homer power addressed two of the Yankees’ biggest needs (OBP and power!) way better than another singles-hitting speedster. Don’t get me wrong, Ellsbury is really good, but Choo made more sense in my opinion. Oh well. Joel Sherman says Texas was Choo’s first choice anyway.
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