Open Thread: February 19th Camp Notes

Today was the first full squad workout of Spring Training. Position players reported yesterday and everyone was out on the field working today. Hooray for that. The Yankees will play their first Grapefruit League game in just a few days. Here’s what went on down in Tampa:

  • If you’re interested in such things, Brendan Kuty posted the day’s batting practice groups, fielding groups, and pitcher assignments. Masahiro Tanaka and Chad Green were among those to throwing live batting practice. Adam Warren, who has already thrown multiple live BP sessions, threw a bullpen. He seems to be ahead of the other pitchers and that could mean he’ll start the Grapefruit League opener Friday. We’ll see.
  • The Yankees have added outfielder Billy McKinney to their non-roster invitees, the team announced. There are 66 players in big league camp now, though Richard Bleier is currently in limbo after being designated for assignment. The Yankees will be without Tyler Austin (foot) and Mason Williams (patella tendon) for a little while, so McKinney gives them another outfielder. He was part of last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade.
  • Brett Gardner, the longest tenured player in the organization and longest tenured member of the big league roster, said he tried not to pay attention to trade rumors over the winter. “On one hand, obviously I don’t want to get traded. But, on the other hand, the fact that maybe some other teams have interest in me, I see that as a compliment. But I don’t want to play anywhere else. I want to be here,” he said. [Mike Mazzeo]
  • Joe Girardi said he is still debating whether to split up Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup. If he does, he wouldn’t bat them first and ninth, because that means lefties hitting back-to-back. I guess it’s okay if the lefties hit back-to-back when they hit first and second, but not ninth and first. /shrugs [Bryan Hoch, Jack Curry]
  • Dellin Betances said he’s putting the arbitration situation behind him and doesn’t feel the need to talk to team president Randy Levine. “I don’t regret anything I said yesterday. I had to get it off my chest,” he said. [Erik Boland, Curry]
  • Clint Frazier is pushing the limits of the hair policy (photo), though Girardi said it is fine at that length. No big deal. [Andrew Marchand]

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. The NBA All-Star Game is on tonight (8pm ET on TNT) plus the Devils and Islanders are playing each other. There’s a handful of college hoops games on too. Talk about that stuff, the day in camp, or anything else here, just not religion or politics.

Think About the Future

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

One of the few movies from my childhood that still holds up is Tim Burton’s “Batman” from the late eighties. For whatever reason, a line that stuck out to me was one from Jack Nicholson’s Jack Napier (not yet the Joker) near the end of the film’s first act. Just before becoming the Joker, he yells to a corrupt cop, “Hey, Eckhardt, think about the future!” before shooting him. The Yankees have done a pretty good job thinking about the future. They’ve shown restraint with long-term contracts (the Aroldis Chapman deal notwithstanding) and, last season, committed to the future by trading away Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran to help revitalize the farm. They also gave significant playing time to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, and look poised to do the same this year with those guys, and some pitchers (Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, etc.). Then this happened and I’m tempted to yell to Randy Levine, “Hey, Randy! Think about the future!” (Please note that I do not want to shoot–nor do I want you to shoot–Randy Levine)

That the Yankees beat Dellin Betances at an arbitration hearing is nothing too special. Though the Yankees have rarely gone to arbitration, this thing is standard operating procedure for the rest of baseball. It’s frustrating that a team as rich as the Yankees was petty with one of their best and most popular players over two million dollars, especially considering just how rarely the Yankees hand out pre-arb/pre-FA contracts, but that’s the business. That the team president, though, essentially took a victory lap to dunk on Betances and his agent is appalling. The arbitration process itself is awkwardly acrimonious and contentious enough without an executive and agent airing the hearing’s dirty laundry for the fans to see and for the player to relive.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Maybe the Yankees aren’t used to this sort of thing. After all, it’d been a long time since they’d been to an arbitration hearing and they haven’t had a lot of young players worth fighting over. They were smart enough to lock up Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano to contracts as to avoid this ugly process, but what Levine said gives me great concern going forward.

For the first time in a while, the Yankees are going to have a glut of young players and they’ll all be reaching arbitration around the same time. I don’t want to read minds, but it’s hard to imagine that guys like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, and Aaron Judge have comfortable feelings about the arbitration process and their bosses after Levine’s outburst yesterday. And, frankly, that’s the best case scenario. The worst case–from the player’s point of view–is that it’ll scare them into not going to arbitration and just take whatever the Yankees offer. After all, who’d want to be wrongly blamed for slagging ticket sales and missing the playoffs? Maybe, Randy, just maybe, ticket sales are down because the prices are too high and the team is in transition. Maybe, Randy, just maybe, the team hasn’t made the playoffs much recently because of design.

The organization has more or less gotten it right with their plan to rebuild and look forward. However, comments like the ones Levine made yesterday are harmful. While they may not do much in terms of dissuading free agents to come play for the Yankees, there’s still an insidiousness to them. They affect the players who have the least leverage in the game–not counting minor leaguers–whom the Yankees can “exploit” for cheap before not signing them to big contracts. In a year plus that has seen Lonn Trost bash non-rich fans (exactly a year ago yesterday!), Brian Cashman exploit domestic violence for a cheap trade, and Hal Steinbrenner downplay fan concerns about said domestic violence, this is just the cherry on top of a very unappetizing sundae. The past is the past, and that’s where these comments should stay, but, please, Yankee front office, think about the future.

Open Thread: February 18th Camp Notes

In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees beat Dellin Betances in arbitration, which means he’ll earn $3M this season rather than the $5M he was seeking. Team president Randy Levine then made the impossibly stupid decision to hold a conference call ripping Betances and his agent. Winning the hearing wasn’t enough, apparently. Great look, Yankees. Remind me again how classy the organization is. Anyway, here are the day’s notes from Tampa:

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. The NBA All-Star Weekend skills competition thingee is on tonight (8pm ET on TNT), plus the Devils and Islanders are playing (each other) as well. There’s also a ton of college basketball on too. Talk about anything other than religion and politics.

Randy Levine rips Betances after arbitration hearing, says he “doesn’t have the stats” to ask for $5M

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Earlier today it was announced the Yankees have beaten Dellin Betances in their arbitration case. The three-person panel sided with the team following yesterday’s hearing, which means Betances will earn $3M next year, not the $5M he was seeking. That $3M is a record salary for a first year arbitration-eligible setup man.

Because beating Betances in arbitration apparently wasn’t enough, team president Randy Levine jumped on a conference call Saturday and ripped Betances and his agent Jim Murray for what he considered an unrealistic salary request. A few of the highlights:





Murray told Joel Sherman that Levine didn’t even pronounce Betances’ name correctly during the arbitration hearing, calling him Dylan instead of Dellin. “The Yankees hid behind the system. It is really unfortunate,” said Murray to Sherman.

First things first: the Yankees were not wrong to take Betances to an arbitration hearing. They felt he was worth one number, he felt he was worth another, and arbitration is a collective bargained part of the process. It’s not the team’s fault the arbitration system is archaic and overvalues saves.

Arbitration is an unfortunate part of the game, but it is part of the game. There’s a reason the two sides usually try like hell to avoid it. What is not part of the game, however, is holding a conference call to trash one of your best and most beloved players. That’s total garbage. Betances never once has complained about his role and his heavy workload, and he does a ton of stuff with the team in the community. The guy has been a model employee.

Beating Betances in arbitration should have been enough. Once that happened, the Yankees should have moved forward and worked to repair their relation with Dellin. Instead, Levine went out of his way to kick dirt on Betances and minimize his accomplishments. I’m sure all the young players the team is trying to develop noticed that. The Yankees couldn’t just win and be happy with it.

Then again, I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything different from an organization in which the COO says poor people shouldn’t sit in expensive seats and the owner says we should all just forget about Aroldis Chapman’s history. What a joke.

Heyman: Yankees beat Dellin Betances in arbitration

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the arbitration panel has sided with the Yankees in their case against Dellin Betances. Betances will earn $3M this coming season rather than the $5M he was seeking. He’ll be in Spring Training today after spending the last few days away from camp, with the team’s blessing. It’s not uncommon for players to wait until their arbitration case is resolved before reporting to camp.

Betances was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, and the $5M request means he was looking to be paid like a top closer. Last year some pretty good closers like Cody Allen, Jeurys Familia, and Hector Rondon all signed for roughly $4M in their first trip through arbitration. Saves matter in arbitration and Betances doesn’t have many, yet he was seeking more than those guys.

Now, that said, the $3M award is still a record for a setup man going through arbitration for the first time. By a lot too. I can’t find another non-closer who signed for even $2M in his first year of arbitration. Betances blew the previous record away. Billy Witz has some details on yesterday’s arbitration hearing:

On Friday, Betances arrived at the Vinoy Renaissance shortly before 9 a.m., with a half dozen or so advisers, including his agent, Jim Murray. Several members of Betances’ team carried armfuls of thick white binders, and at one point, someone warned the 6-foot-8 pitcher not to bump his head on a low-hanging ceiling beam.

A few minutes later, the Yankees’ contingent — about 10 strong, headed by the team president, Randy Levine, and including General Manager Brian Cashman and the assistant general managers, Jean Afterman and Michael Fishman — entered.

But as (Betances) waited afterward in the lobby of the hotel where the hearing was held, several of his advisers could be heard nearby grousing about a Yankees tactic during the hearing — namely, focusing on Betances’ slow delivery to home plate, which allowed base runners to steal 21 bases against him last season in 21 attempts.

The $2M difference in salary figures doesn’t seem like much, especially for a big payroll team like the Yankees, but arbitration uses the player’s previous year salary as a base, so it carries over. That $2M this year will equal at least $6M in savings in Betances’ three arbitration years, but likely more given how raises are determined. The savings are pretty considerable. These are real dollars.

Reports indicate the Yankees and Betances discussed a multi-year contract before filing their salary arbitration figures. Cashman said the two sides were simply too far apart to settle somewhere in the middle, which is why they went to a hearing. This was New York’s first arbitration hearing since 2008, when they beat Chien-Ming Wang. Their last hearing before that was with Mariano Rivera in 2000. They won that one too.

I had a feeling the Yankees would win because a) they were already offering a record salary for a setup man in his first year of arbitration, and b) Betances was seeking an enormous raise usually reserved for top tier closers, only he didn’t have the saves. Betances and his camp had more convincing to do, basically. I’m not too surprised the three-person panel sided with the Yankees here.

Hopefully there are no hard feelings — arbitration can be pretty ugly because the team is up there detailing the player’s shortcomings — and the Yankees and Betances can move on with business as usual. The business side of the game can be unpleasant at times.

Open Thread: February 17th Camp Notes

In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees have suffered their first injury of Spring Training. Tyler Austin will miss at least six weeks with a fracture in his left foot. He fouled a pitch into the foot during batting practice. Blah. At least it happened early in camp. Austin could be ready to go sometime in April. Here are the rest of today’s notes from Tampa:

This is the open thread for the evening. There is basically nothing going on tonight. None of the local hockey teams are in action, the NBA is starting their All-Star break, and there are no college basketball games on the schedule. Good night to get out of the house. Talk about whatever here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

2017 Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Feb. 24th: MLB Network has released their Spring Training broadcast schedule. The table below has been updated.

Feb. 17th: In just one week, Yankees baseball will be back. Sure, it’s only Spring Training, but baseball is baseball. Spring games are fun in their own way, especially for prospect watchers. The Yankees are playing a total of 35 exhibition games this year. That includes 33 Grapefruit League games, a World Baseball Classic exhibition game against Canada, and a game at brand new SunTrust Park against the Braves.

Twenty-four of those 35 exhibition games will be broadcast either on television or online. That’s a bit fewer than previous years — all regional networks have scaled back their Spring Training coverage, I guess because those afternoon games in the middle of the workweek don’t draw many eyes — but still more than most teams. YES is broadcasting 12 games. Plenty of others will be on MLB.tv.

YES, MLB.tv, and ESPN all released their Spring Training broadcast schedules recently. We’re still waiting for MLB Network to release their spring schedule, and while MLB Network doesn’t figure to add any more games to the broadcast slate, it will give viewers another way to watch. They usually just pick up games that are already on MLB.tv.

My gift to you is the table below, which has all the Yankees’ Spring Training broadcast information in one convenient place. You’ll be able to find this post linked in the Opening Day Countdown widget in the sidebar. All times are ET.

Date Start Time Opponent Broadcast Info
Fri., Feb. 24th 1:05pm vs. Phillies YES, MLB.tv, MLBN
Sat., Feb. 25th 1:05pm @ Phillies MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Sun., Feb 26th 1:05pm vs. Blue Jays YES, MLB.tv
Mon., Feb 27th 1:05pm @ Orioles MLB.tv, MLBN
Tues., Feb 28th 1:05pm vs. Tigers (ss)
Tues., Feb 28th 1:05pm @ Red Sox (ss)
Weds., March 1st 6:35pm vs. Braves YES, MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Thurs., March 2nd 6:35pm vs. Orioles YES, MLB.tv, MLBN
Fri., March 3rd 1:07pm @ Blue Jays MLB.tv, MLBN
Sat., March 4th 1:05pm @ Tigers
Sun., March 5th 1:05pm vs. Pirates YES, MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Mon., March 6th 1:05pm @ Pirates MLB.tv, MLBN
Tues., March 7th 1:05pm vs. Rays YES, MLB.tv
Weds., March 8th 1:05pm vs. Canada
Thurs., March 9th 1:05pm @ Braves
Fri., March 10th 1:05pm @ Phillies MLB.tv, MLBN
Sat., March 11th 1:05pm vs. Tigers YES, MLB.tv
Sun., March 12th 1:05pm vs. Braves
Mon., March 13th OFF
Tues., March 14th 1:05pm @ Braves
Weds., March 15th 6:35pm vs. Phillies YES, MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Thurs., March 16th 1:07pm @ Blue Jays
Fri., March 17th 1:05pm @ Tigers MLB.tv, MLBN
Sat., March 18th 1:05pm vs. Orioles YES, MLB.tv
Sun., March 19th 1:05pm @ Astros MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Mon., March 20th 1:05pm @ Nationals MLB.tv, MLBN
Tues., March 21st 6:35pm vs. Red Sox MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Weds., March 22nd 1:05pm @ Phillies MLB.tv, MLBN
Thurs., March 23rd 1:05pm @ Rays ESPN, MLB.tv
Fri., March 24th 1:05pm vs. Phillies YES, MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Sat., March 25th 1:05pm vs. Blue Jays YES, MLB.tv
Sun., March 26th 1:05pm vs. Rays
Mon., March 27th OFF
Tues., March 28th 6:35pm vs. Tigers
Weds., March 29th 1:07pm @ Tigers
Thurs., March 30th 1:05pm @ Phillies MLB.tv (MLBN tape delay)
Fri., March 31st 7:35pm @ Braves YES, MLB.tv, MLBN