So I picked a pretty bad week to be stuck offline, huh? The beginning of the offseason can typically be a lot of hype and very little action, but a) some actually important things do happen in the first week when everyone has to make decisions on options and such, and b) hype is still fun when there’s no actual baseball to watch. So to catch up, here are some brief thoughts on some of the Yankees related stories I missed in real time:
Mo’s coming back: Mariano Rivera gave everyone a bit of a scare when it was reported that he was having second thoughts about playing in 2013, but that was short lived, and the GOAT did indeed confirm his intention to play next season. Obviously that’s good news for the Yankees’ bullpen, but for the most part I don’t think there was ever really much reason to doubt that Mo would at least attempt to play another season. He’d already voiced his desire to do so, after all, and has begun the process of rehabbing the injured knee, all of which probably say more than the feelings one has in the immediate aftermath of a disappointing end to a season. I would imagine just about every player has something akin to an adrenaline crash following a playoff exit that makes them want to step away from the game at least for a bit. In any case: crisis averted Yankeedom.
Kuroda gets a qualifying offer: Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano were easy calls to receive free agent qualifying offers from the Yankees, but Hiroki Kuroda was a slightly harder case. Kuroda was an integral part of the Yankees’ rotation in 2012, but the $13.3 million qualifying offer actually represents a raise for the Japanese star, and at 38 years old it’s not nearly as certain that Kuroda will turn down the offer as in the other two cases. That said, having Kuroda accept a one year deal at that salary would hardly be a bad thing after the way he pitched this past season, and there seems to be a pretty good chance he’ll do just that. Most of all, that the Yankees made this offer strongly suggests that they want to keep Kuroda, and are willing to give him a raise for at least one season to do so.
Swisher gone!: Not that this is new or surprising, but I’m getting increasingly annoyed as it becomes clearer and clearer that the Yankees probably won’t even make an attempt at keeping Nick Swisher in pinstripes. Sure, he could be frustrating to watch at times, but at the end of the day he was an on base machine who became an increasingly central part of the Yankees’ offense over the last two seasons, finishing first and second on the team in OBP in 2011 and 2012, respectively. With Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in a seemingly consistent state of offensive decline and plenty of questions surrounding Curtis Granderson and Derk Jeter headed into 2013, losing Swisher’s production could be a huge blow to the offense. I don’t really think he’s going to find a 5+ year deal on the market, in which case I don’t at all see the argument for letting Swisher walk, aside from the 2014 budget plans.
Nardi Contreras canned: Also joining the parade of expected news, the Yankees “reassigned” minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras. Evaluating things like development programs is basically impossible from an objective standpoint, because we see and hearso little of what’s going on on a day to day basis, but it’s fair to say that the Yankees have had an extremely small amount of success when it comes to developing their young pitchers over the last decade or so, and the disastrous 2012 campaig pretty much had to be the last straw here. With Billy Connors having already been reassigned as well, it would appear that the Yankees are cleaning house here, and rightfully so. This is one of those times and places where the circumstances basically mandate some sort of change just for the sake of change.