Nightly Links: Robertson, Banuelos, Almonte

  • On Saturday, David Fung at Beyond The Boxscore released the Yankee version of their Window to Win series. He concludes that with any help from Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, along with resigning Cano and Granderson, the team can look to compete far beyond 2015.
  • Yesterday, Chad Jennings summarized the impression and hype Zoilo Almonte has created in camp. Something tells me that we would have seen him on a lot more organizational prospect lists if they were released right now.
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2014: A Payroll Odyssey; A Closer Look at the Yankees’ Cost Cutting Ambitions

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog; follow the author on Twitter at @williamnyy23).

Hal Steinbrenner recently confirmed his intention to lower the Yankees’ payroll below the luxury tax threshold in 2014, setting off a flurry of reaction from the mainstream media and blogs alike. Aside from the simple irony of the Yankees adhering to a budget, the response has mostly centered on either the sacrifices the team must make to achieve its objective or the tricks that might be used to circumvent the spirit of the rule. And, in just about every analysis, the same premise has been applied: the Yankees’ new cost conscious approach is the result of the recently ratified CBA.

Since Steinbrenner’s comments, which were really nothing more than confirmation of what the team had been privately telling reporters, several members of the organization have made remarks implying that the Yankees’ budget tightening is a direct result of the new CBA. But, are these changes enough to justify the Yankees’ pending frugality, and just how much can the team really hope to save?… Click here to read the rest

$189 Million Contract Shenanigans

By now, we have heard far too many times about how the Yankees need to get under the $189 million threshold (a figure which includes not only MLB salary, but also benefits such as health insurance, for the entire 40-man roster) by 2014. Given the huge legacy contracts that the roster has to deal with, this isn’t an easy task to accomplish while still trying to be the best team on earth. Unless of course, you try some contract shenanigans. On that note, Joel Sherman:

The Yankees’ goal is to slice payroll while still filling the roster with stars that keep the win total and fan interest high. As counter-intuitive as it seems, the answer could, of all things, be to extend Alex Rodriguez’s contract after the 2013 season, and extend Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson now.

Keep in mind when it comes to multi-year contracts, the average annual value is used for luxury tax purposes. So we already know the 2014 value of Rodriguez ($27.5 million), CC Sabathia ($24.4 million) and Mark Teixeira ($22.5 million) equals $74.4 million.

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A (Completely Unconnected) List Of Things I’ve Learned This Spring Training

Which brings me to number one on my semi-random list of things I’ve learned this Spring Training:

  1. The MLB At Bat iPad app might be the best thing I’ve ever bought. Ever. And that includes the actual iPad on which I use the app (I have the thing two months before they come out with a new one—and I already stretched my tiny budget to get this now out of date one). I’m not a paid spokesman for MLB—or whoever sells it—but I would totally be awesome at that job. This thing has better resolution than my Spanish TV, which I use to watch one of the four channels of psychics that are on all day. I can watch every televised Yankee Spring Training game, and I get to hear Michael Kay’s sweet baritone, and I get up to the minute (meaningless) stats. And now for something totally unconnected:
  2. Being in the Best Shape Of His Life doesn’t actually mean that the player looks like he’s in good shape.
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They’ll just never learn

Raise your hand if you think this whole Cabrera to third thing will work. Put your hand down!

For years now I’ve been forecasting the day when baseball GM’s (sports GM’s really, but baseball is the worst offender) rub their eyes, focus their vision, look around at the mess they’ve wrought and realize they’re a bunch of idiots wasting insane amounts money. Then Prince Fielder gets signed for $214 million to play at first base, you know, the position that Miguel Cabrera was manning for the Tigers.

Some day teams will do a better job of paying players what they’re actually worth, when they’re worth it, but that day has not yet come. Instead, if anything, baseball has doubled down on the days of the mega-contract. From John Lackey to Jayson Werth to Albert Pujols, teams are lining up to pay players enormous fortunes for … well, something, but not what you should expect from a 37 year old athlete with a million miles on his body.… Click here to read the rest

Banuelos And The Fifth Rotation Spot

I’m clearly on the Phil Hughes bandwagon when it comes to the possible starters in 2012. Much of the blogosphere, us included, has dubbed this year’s pitching “competition” rigged. When Joe Girardi says only CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are guaranteed a spot, it’s hard to take the manager seriously. While Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda will undoubtedly make the rotation as well, Phil Hughes appears to have the lead over Freddy Garcia for that final spot. While the competition might not be real, a lot can happen between now and opening day.

When will we see this in the Bronx?

Manny Banuelos has done nothing but impress so far. The Yankee’s top prospect, who turns 21 tomorrow, faced a mediocre season last year fueled by poor command. In his two innings of work last Friday, the southpaw gave up two hits and struck out three, while looking like a top of the rotation pitcher. His fastball sat 93-95 mph and topped out at 96 mph, impressive velocity for the beginning of March, but most importantly, the command on his fastball and curveball was spot on.… Click here to read the rest

Keeping Curtis

Using the information available at Cot’s, the Yankees have ~$88.5 million worth of average annual value committed to A-Rod, Tex, Jeter, and Sabathia already for 2014, assuming that Jeter exercises his 2014 player option and that Sabathia’s 2016 club option vests. Add in the $10 million or so in taxable benefits the club will have to pay, and we’re right around $100 million in taxed payroll, with only four players accounted for (and not counting A-Rod’s many home run milestone bonuses, which will be added to the luxury tax bill once they’re reached as well). Could new contracts for Cano and Granderson be worked into this formula, with enough money left over to round out a quality roster? It certainly looks like it could be done, but if both players insist on top dollar for their next contracts, it would leave the team with essentially no room for error in terms of cranking out young replacements, and the team will need, at least, a new catcher, outfielder, and one or two starting pitchers making the minimum salary in 2014 to make this feasible.… Click here to read the rest

Nick Swisher’s cost?

Its been a good three years, but this will probably be Swisher's last as a Yankee

Recently a lot has been made about how the Yankees will get their 2014 payroll below $189 million. The logic of avoiding onerous luxury taxes in the future is sound and no Yankee fan in his right mind should complain about a team that will be competing with only a $189 million budget. But those arguments won’t make the process of shedding excess fat any easier. If free-agents to-be Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson must remain in pinstripes (provided they perform) then certain key Yankees of the past few seasons may fall through the cracks. One such player is Nick Swisher.

Swisher may not be the biggest name or the flashiest player on the Yankees, but in his three years in pinstripes he’s been reliably strong. Swisher has hit 29, 29 and 23 home runs in each of his seasons in Pinstripes. He’s posted wOBA’s of .375, .377 and .358.… Click here to read the rest