Pirates making serious push for Martin

Since Hiroki Kuroda signed up for another tour in the Bronx last week, the hot stove season has heated up quite rapidly for the Yankees. Yesterday we learned that the Yankees expect to have deals in place with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera sooner rather than later, and today Jon Heyman reports that a decision from Russell Martin may be coming this week as well, and that Martin is likely to choose between the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the whole, four teams are interested in Martin at the moment: the Yankees, Pirates, Mariners, and Rangers, and Heyman characterizes Pittsburgh as making a “spirited effort” to land the Yankees’ starting catcher. Heyman speculates that Pittsburgh may make the high offer for Martin somewhere in the three year, $25 million range, which is both at the low end of the speculated range for Martin’s contract that’s been batted around recently, and easily less than what Martin is reportedly seeking. Heyman also reports that the Yankees haven’t approached that figure in their offers yet.…

Wil Myers Could Be Heading To The AL East

We’ve already witnessed the Blue Jays go from an average team to a playoff contender in the matter of one day, and now we’re hearing that the Royals want to drop their top prospect in the AL East. They’ve traded for Ervin Santana and signed Jeremy Guthrie already, but they’re still looking to obtain an ace on the trade market. For the Yankees, what happens to the Royals and how they actually perform in 2013 means very little, but what we’ve heard in trade rumors could send more competition to their division.

Courtesy of the Kansas City Royals

The Royals are currently eyeing Tampa Bay’s James Shields and Boston’s Jon Lester. While both pitchers have ace potential, they each only have two years of team control left starting at $9 million and  $12 million respectively. For that reason, it comes as a surprise that the low-budget Royals have been using top positional prospect Wil Myers as trade bait.

Back in June, I suggested that the Yankees target the outfielder Myers for themselves.…

One more year for the boys

We have already heard that Mariano Rivera is coming back for another go at it. Andy Pettitte seems on his way back as well. Derek Jeter is mending in Tampa and is said to be on target for the start of the season or soon after. For Yankee fans and baseball fans, the inevitable has been pushed back one more time. It looks like the old guys are going to work together at least one more time.

For any fan that has been born since 1990, a Yankees team without Rivera and Jeter has never been known. For those of us born any time before 1990, memories of Yankee teams without these players seem like the remote past. The internal fan inside us hold on to the championships already on the books with these players. And when the team hasn’t finished on top of the heap, there has never been a season when the team did not compete near the top or almost get there.…

Phillies catcher Ruiz suspended for a positive drug test

I realize it’s not Yankees news but here’s the statement from Major League Baseball Carlos Ruiz’s suspension:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has received a 25-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension of Ruiz is effective at the start of the 2013 regular season. He will be eligible to participate in Spring Training, including in Spring Training games.

Some people were surprised to find out that the suspensions vary according to the drug found in your system. Since Ruiz tested positive for Amphetamines and not steroids, his suspension is only 25 games. Still, it’s not a good situation for him or the Phillies.

33-year-old Ruiz batted .325/.394/.540/.935 in 114 games for the Phillies in 2012. …

To Sign Ichiro or To Not Sign Ichiro?

*My apologies to Bill Shakespeare for the title.

There were conflicting reports this morning about the status of Ichiro Suzuki and the Yankees. One report from Japan claimed he signed a one-year deal worth $5M plus incentives while writers here in the States said the Yankees and Ichiro haven’t even discussed a deal yet.

Frankly, it was amusing to see the varying reactions to both news items.

Some people were admittedly excited when the news surfaced of a deal between Ichiro and the Yankees. After batting .261/.288/.353/.642 in 95 games for the Mariners, he was revitalized after the trade to New York and played like the All-Star he once was batting .322/.340/.454/.794 in 67 games. His wRC+ was 90 and his wOBA .300 for the whole year (both teams combined).

Those people who are gung-ho about an Ichiro signing obviously feel that he can sustain the level of play he managed to eek out in those final 67 games of the season with the Yankees.…

Report: Martin is seeking a four-year deal

According to a tweet from Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Russell Martin is seeking a four-year contract at $9-10M per year. Marchand doesn’t think the Yankees would be inclined to sign Martin under those terms and frankly, I’m not sure they would either. Does that mean I think the Yankees won’t re-sign him? Not necessarily. If David Ross can get a two-year/$6.2 M deal as a backup, Martin should probably get more as a starter. Plus, the catcher FA market is thin with only Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski as the other high ticket items and few guys who weren’t starting catchers for their teams in 2012 as the other choices.

Martin as highly coveted as he is – reports have said that he has met with multiple teams – had a rough year at the dish in 2012. Even though he belted a career-high in home runs (21), Martin batted an abysmal .211 while spending the majority of the season under .200.…

Russell’s contract

A little less than a year ago, I crowd sourced a possible contract extension for catcher Russell Martin. Obviously, no such extension was offered or signed. Now, though, Martin is a free agent, probably the best free agent catcher on the market. The Yankees have seemed to like Martin in his two years in the Bronx and I’d bet a reunion is a pretty solid possibility.

Now that we’ve had a year of Martin, and up and down one at best and a bad one at worst, what do you think Martin can and will fetch? Use the comments to discuss. As for me, I think Martin will get a three year contract worth somewhere in the 8-10 million dollar range. And that’s just fine with me. Martin isn’t the strongest hitter in the world, but he hits just fine for a catcher and draws plenty of walks and has a good deal of pop. He also plays fine defense and seems to have a good rapport with all the pitchers.…

Marvin Miller dies

The world is a slightly worse place today than it was yesterday, as former union head and trailblazing sports pioneer Marvin Miller has passed away, according to multiple reports. Miller, 95, is best known for being the man who unionized the baseball players and won their first collective bargaining agreement with the owners. He presided over the MLBPA while the reserve clause was overturned and the players won the right to salary arbitration, among numerous other changes to the economic landscape of the game that made it the sport we know today. He has yet to be officially elected to the Hall of Fame, though that says far more about the Hall’s various institutional failings and the pettiness of the owners who sit on the Veteran’s Committee than it does about the contributions Miller made to the game.

Our condolences go out to Miller’s friends and family, the MLBPA, and sports fans everywhere. We lost a great one today. …

Yankees Interested In Shane Victorino


The chance that Nick Swisher returns to the Yankees is extremely slim and there remains an obvious need in the outfield for the Yankees this offseason. With Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner already penciled into the other two outfield positions, the Yankees have a lot of flexibility with whomever they target. At the moment, they’re looking at the switch-hitting centerfielder Shane Victorino.

Though the outfielder is coming off his worst offensive season ever, at 32 years old next year, he remains a high reward buy. Even with his 93 wRC+ and .255/.321/.383 triple slash, Victorino was able to put up a 3.3 fWAR between Philadelphia and Los Angeles in 2012. A lot of his value is caught up within his fielding and speed, and last year he successfully stole 39 bases out of 45 attempts. In left field, Victorino also put up a 19.3 UZR/150, although the 411 inning sample size is far from ideal.

Victorino also appeared to be unlucky at the plate.…