Don’t Discount The Defensive Upgrade In The Infield

2013 Projected Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis
2013 Actual Opening Day Infield: Kevin Youkilis, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix

2014 Projected & Actual Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson

2015 Project Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Martin Prado, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley

I didn’t crunch any numbers to show it, but nobody needs to see them to know that the Yankee infield has been a disaster area for the last 2 seasons.  The names above tell the whole story.  A combination of aging core players, major injuries, lack of organizational depth, flawed budget plans, and head-scratching free agent strategies took what had been the greatest strength of the roster for a while and turned it into a glaring, gaping, broken beyond repair weakness.

After slogging through another season of below-average offensive and defensive output from the starting infield 2014, the Yankees had to do something to upgrade the unit this offseason and they appear to have done that, from a defensive standpoint if nothing else.  …

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Offseason Roster Update: 12/18/14 (And Where To Go From Here)

Another week has gone by since we last looked at where the projected Opening Day roster stood, and another few pieces have been put into place.  While we’ll never be able to definitively say the Yankees aren’t pursuing Scherzer or Shields until they sign with another team, it’s looking more and more like the plan this offseason is to add small pieces, hope for bounce backs from a few players, and ride out some of these contracts without adding more big ones.  Here’s how the updated roster looks with the 2 new additions:

C- Brian McCann
1B- Mark Teixeira
2B- Martin Prado
SS- Didi Gregorius
3B- Chase Headley
LF- Brett Gardner
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury
RF- Carlos Beltran
DH- Alex Rodriguez

SP- Masahiro Tanaka
SP- Michael Pineda
SP- CC Sabathia
SP- David Phelps
SP- Chris Capuano

Bullpen- Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Adam WarrenShawn Kelley, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Preston Claiborne

Bench-  Brendan Ryan, Jose PirelaChris Young, John Ryan Murphy

The trickle-down effect of new players being plugged into key spots is starting to happen.  …

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Career Value v. Peak Value for Hall of Fame: The Mike Mussina Case

mussina

Mike Mussina’s main Hall of Fame argument is his career value: he’s one of the top 20-30 starters of all time, whether by old-school numbers like wins (his 270 is 33rd, but 25th if you exclude folks from the 1800s), or newer stats like WAR (83.0, 23rd among SP). The argument against Mussina is his weaker peak value. He had two excellent, Cy-caliber seasons, 1992 (18-5, 2.54, 8.2 WAR) and 2001 (17-11, 3.15, 7.1 WAR). But those were far apart, and he never had a several-year span of dominance. He amassed career value mainly with (a) ten very-good-not-stellar seasons (4.4-6.6 WAR) plus (b) several average-to-pretty-good seasons (2-3ish WAR) that made him about what we remember: a #1-2 starter at his best; a #2-3 starter many years; almost never one of the league’s top few; and never a guy capable of 9-10 WAR seasons-for-the-ages like his contemporaries Pedro, Roger, Randy, and arguably Curt, who was similar but with a higher peak.

I respect peak value over career value because I don’t see compilers as all-time greats.…

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Yankees Complete Lineup With Headley

After signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract, the Yankees have all of their position players set for the 2015 season. Brian Cashman announced that Alex Rodriguez will be the full-time designated hitter. Martin Prado will be able to give new shortstop Didi Gregorius an experienced double play partner to play next to. Jose Pirela should be able to fill the utility role and Rob Refsynder should be able to go back to Triple-A for more seasoning.

The best thing about this Yankees lineup is its depth. You could argue that their is no throw away spot in the order unless Gregorius or Brendan Ryan is in against a lefty. That certainly has not been the case in recent seasons with guys like Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Vernon Wells in the lineup on a pretty consistent basis. Unfortunately, I could go on and on with that list.

What the Yankees really lack is a true middle of the order hitter, a real power threat who is one of the best hitters in MLB.…

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Considering A-Rod As The Regular DH

A-Rod-HR-Celebration-vs-BOS

Still the best home run celebration ever.

Yesterday was proof that Alex Rodriguez still matters in MLB, even if he is a broken down, disgraced former great who might not even be physically capable of playing anymore.  I actually found it humorous that Cash’s comments about A-Rod’s role next year were such a big deal.  I mean, in Yankee media circles it makes sense.  He still plays for the Yankees.  But to see it mentioned on the ESPN scroll like it was actual news was ridiculous.  Like anybody else was holding out hope that he would be the starter at third even after they signed Chase Headley.

So love him or hate him, people still want to know what’s up with A-Rod and now we know how the Yankees are planning to utilize him next season.  With all the mileage on his body and multiple years remaining on his contract, the best way to get max on-field value out of him is from his bat.  …

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Quick hit: Cashman on A-Rod

Yankees GM Brian Cashman conducted a telephone interview with the Associated Press earlier today and of course, the subject of Alex Rodriguez came up.

Cashman told the AP that he believes Rodriguez’s days as a third baseman are over and he is banking on A-Rod the DH saying, “We look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us.” Well, yes, we all know that 39 year-old Rodriguez won’t be needed in the field as much, unless new third baseman Chase Headley hurts himself, but the idea that Rodriguez will be the full-time DH with all of the other “old” guys on the roster who will probably need half days from time to time is slightly amusing to me. Does Cashman really believe that Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran won’t need a breather? Or even Headley?

Cashman also said, “I can’t expect Alex to be anything.” and added, “Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side.”

Rodriguez, who served a year-long suspension, is hoping to make a comeback.…

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Yankees Re-Sign Chris Capuano To A 1-Year Deal

You wanted some veteran rotation insurance, you got some veteran rotation insurance.  As first reported by Jack Curry, the Yankees have re-signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a 1-year/$5 million deal.

Acquired for cash in late July of this year, Capuano made 12 starts for the Yanks down the stretch and pitched to a more-than-solid 4.25/3.85/3.78 slash line in 65.2 IP.  Last I heard, he was contemplating going over to Japan to pitch next season.  I have to think coming back to New York is a much better option.

Capuano gets penciled in as the #5 starter right now behind Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Phelps.  I’m sure the Yankees would like to have him as their #6 starter/swingman out of the ‘pen, but they’ve been slow to act on any other remaining free agent targets.  Between injuries, current lack of depth, and the eventual return of Ivan Nova, I think the #5 rotation spot is going to be a revolving door next season.  …

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MiL Notes: Campos Re-Signed And Another Util Infield Option

Under the wave of coverage of the Chase Headley re-signing yesterday, the Yankees made a couple more small MiL moves.  Here they are, courtesy of Matt Eddy:

Jose Campos, non-tendered off the 40-man roster 2 weeks ago, was re-signed to a new MiL deal.  He missed all of the 2014 season following TJS and has pitched 111.2 total innings in 3 years since being acquired, but he may have a small sliver of prospect hope left at age 22.

– The catching depth has been thinned out a bit this offseason.  The Yanks have addressed that by signing 25-year-old catcher Juan Graterol.  He’s spent his entire career up to this point in the KC organization and is a .270/.322/.335 hitter in 9 MiL seasons.  Expect him to slot in somewhere at the top of the organization to provide backup insurance.

– Another infielder was signed to boost Triple-A depth as well, this time in the form of 27-year-old Cole Figueroa.  …

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Quick Hit: Cash On Sabathia’s Health And Rotation Status

Sorry to keep going back to Cash’s comments from the other night, but there was another thing he said that I thought was worthwhile and it’s the quote above regarding CC Sabathia.  Cash touches on every key buzzword that relates to the big guy these days: hope, question mark, rehab, velocity, innings.  The last one is the one that stood out to me, particularly this part:

“… I do think that you’re going to see a guy that can pitch in the middle of our rotation… “

Middle of the rotation, eh?  That’d be a new role for Sabathia.  Not in terms of performance or expectations, as everybody knows or should know by now that CC isn’t the pitcher he was from 2009-2011 and never will be again.  But in terms of public statements by the team, this is the first time Sabathia is being talked about as a mid-rotation guy and not the #1 starter on the pitching staff.…

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