Author Archives: Domenic Lanza

In for a Penny, in for a Pound

Project 189 is no more. It has ceased to be. And with that, the Yankees, no longer constrained by any potential financial windfall, have little to no reason to not continue their off-season spending spree. The team as-is appears to be an 87 to 91 win squad, with fairly large error bars around both numbers, considering the age and depth (or lack thereof) therein. As we discussed on Wednesday’s podcast, there is little in the way of upper-level talent that the Yankees can count on to fill-in the current cracks in the armor, let alone those that may crop up over the course of a 162-game season. That potential issue, taken hand-in-hand with the Yankees reinvigorated financial muscle, has one very possible solution – the free agent market.

Even the most optimistic fan believes that the Yankees need a bit more help at either second or third base, and the bullpen. A few pessimists may even suggest that some additional help is needed in the rotation, due to the concerns over last year’s version of CC Sabathia, the age of Hiroki Kuroda, and the unproven nature of Masahiro Tanaka.…

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Scattered Thoughts on Alex Rodriguez

It is difficult to elucidate upon my reaction to the suspension of Alex Rodriguez. It was not unexpected, and it never seemed as if anyone was terribly confident that Rodriguez would end up donning the pinstripes this season. And yet I still cannot comprehend the situation as a whole, as I still have so many questions about the suspension. What was the evidence laid before Fredric Horowitz? What was said behind closed doors? What was the relationship between Anthony Bosch and Major League Baseball? What does this mean for future breaches of the JDA? At this point, we do not know the answers to any of those questions – and I am loath to expect that 60 Minutes will provide much clarity.

None of this, however, stopped Tamar Chalker and myself from discussing the matter via e-mail. So with a tip of the hat to Bill Simmons, here is a peek behind the curtain, and into the e-mail chain that serves as the staging ground for much of what you see on these pages.…

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Visualizing the Yankees Much Improved Offense

Early last summer, I looked into the Yankees woeful offense, and compared it to its 2012 incarnation. As most every Yankee fan knows, things never really improved last season, despite the better-than-advertised return of Alex Rodriguez, and the addition of the surprisingly effective Alfonso Soriano. The Yankees wrapped up 2013 on an underwhelming note, placing 16th in runs scored and 28th in wRC+ (between the Astros and White Sox). A silver lining did exist, though – the knowledge that the Yankees had a veritable treasure chest to offer free agents, regardless of the stated goal of a $189 MM payroll. And, for the cautious optimist, it seems unlikely that things could get much worse, as the team lost over 400 games to injury in the infield alone.

The additions of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and, yes, even Kelly Johnson bode well for a vastly improved offense – particularly when taken hand in hand with a reasonable expectation for some modicum of health.…

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Getting Over Igawa

When the Rakuten Golden Eagles announced that Masahiro Tanaka would be posted, Yankees fans everywhere (and fans of most every team, I suspect) rejoiced. This off-season has been tainted by the specter of the $189 MM payroll, and yet Tanaka offers hope that the Yankees may well renege upon their new found frugality (insofar as guaranteeing some $300 MM to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran can be considered ‘frugal’). Throughout the off-season, there have been rumblings that the Yankees would be willing to break the bank for Tanaka, and Joel Sherman recently revealed that the front office would be willing go “way over” the $189 MM target, rather than brush up against it. Taken hand in hand, that sounds like a recipe for a Tanaka signing.

For all of this, it does seem like the Yankees have gotten over the disaster that was Kei Igawa. After all, Tanaka has been a part of the blueprint for the team’s off-season from the get-go.…

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Dumpster Diving to Fill the Keystone and/or Hot Corner

By the time this weekend came to a close, the Yankees hopes of signing a starting second baseman died, with Omar Infante heading to the Royals and Mark Ellis joining the Cardinals. While neither looks to be much better than a solid-average regular for this coming season, both appear to be much better options than the dregs remaining on the open market. That leaves the Yankees with three options at the keystone, none of which are particularly exciting – Kelly Johnson (which would likely lead to the team signing a third baseman), a trade (Darwin Barney?), or an attempt to catch lighting in a bottle (or, more likely, static electricity in an ugly Christmas sweater). As Brad has already tackled the ineptitude of Mr. Barney, it makes sense to focus on the second and third basemen remaining on the open market.

Jamey Carroll – 2B/3B
And we’re off with a bang. Carroll has long been known for his defensive versatility (he’s a passable defender at second, third, and short), his excellent approach at the plate, and his status as one of the last remaining Expos in the game.…

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Quick Hit: Yankees Say No to Brandon Phillips

Earlier tonight, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees turned down a Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips swap. At first blush, this seems like a great non-move. Phillips is owed $50 MM over the next four years, and his production dipped in back-to-back seasons, dropping from well above-average (122 wRC+), to average (101 wRC+), to below-average (91 wRC+). It is possible, of course, that last season was a one-year blip, perhaps clouded by his pressing for RBI with so many tasty opportunities as he batted behind Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto. However, it is also possible that the 32-year-old Phillips has entered his decline phase. I would be hesitant to take that chance, particularly when $50 MM may not be enough for Phillips to back his bags for New York.

If the Yankees were to pounce on Phillips, his luxury tax hit would be $12.5 MM for this coming season. Based on the numbers being floated around, the Yankees may be able to retain Gardner and sign Omar Infante at that price.…

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Two for the Price of One

Heading into this offseason, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Robinson Cano would remain in pinstripes for the foreseeable future, and that sense of optimism has only grown (perhaps to the point of pragmatism). The Red Sox extended Dustin Pedroia. The Tigers traded for Ian Kinsler. The Rangers ostensibly dealt Kinsler to give the starting gig to Jurickson Profar. The Dodgers and Mets have said “no thanks,” and the former invested $28 MM in what they hope is Yasiel Puig 2.0. And the Angels have over $60 MM per season invested in four players with the most question marks West of the Bronx.

And now we’re here, where the Yankees realized that bidding against themselves is a fool’s errand, leaving Cano in the fortunate position of deciding between having enough money to purchase a personal jet, or holding out for a small island. The prevailing assumption remains that Cano will cave, and accept the richest contract ever given to a second baseman – somewhere between the 7-year, $161 MM offer purportedly floated by the Yankees, and the 9-year, $234 MM deal suggested by MLBTR.…

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Project 189: Hot Hot Heat

In crafting my ideal Yankees team within the constraints of the $189 MM budget, I found myself bouncing back and forth between large improvements at a few spots on the roster (e.g., signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Matt Garza), and incremental upgrades around the edges. Or, phrased differently, “stars and scrubs” versus “a team without flaws.” In looking at the teams that made the playoffs this season, and remembering how awful it felt to watch Jayson Nix bat at the top of the lineup, I ended up favoring the latter approach. That being said, I do think that there are merits with both methods of team-building … and I recognize that I am all but ignoring a large swath of gray area.

Now, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

25-Man Roster

01 – C: Brian McCann (5/$85MM) $17.000MM
02 – 1B: Mark Teixeira (8/$180MM) $22.500MM
03 – 2B: Robinson Cano (8/$180MM) $22.500MM
04 – 3B: Omar Infante (3/$25MM) $8.333MM
05 – SS: Brendan Ryan (1/$2MM) $2.000MM
06 – LF: Alfonso Soriano (8/$136MM) $17.000MM
07 – CF: Brett Gardner (Arb 3) $4.000MM
08 – RF: Curtis Granderson (3/$45MM) $15.000MM
09 – DH: Derek Jeter (1/$12.81MM) $12.810MM + $7.000MM Bonuses
10 – BN: Ichiro Suzuki (2/$13MM) $6.500MM
11 – BN: Eduardo Nunez (Min) $0.511MM
12 – BN: Vernon Wells (7/$126MM) $18.000MM
13 – BN: Francisco Cervelli (Arb 1) $1.000MM
14 – SP1: CC Sabathia (5/$122MM) $24.400MM
15 – SP2: Ivan Nova (Arb 1) $2.800MM
16 – SP3: Masahiro Tanaka (6/$56MM) $9.333MM
17 – SP4: Paul Maholm (1/$7MM) $7.000MM
18 – SP5: David Phelps (Min) $0.511MM
19 – CL: David Robertson (Arb 3) $5.500MM
20 – RHRP: Shawn Kelley (Arb 2) $1.500MM
21 – RHRP: Preston Claiborne (Min) $0.511MM
22 – RHRP: Dellin Betances (Min) $0.511MM
23 – RHRP: Adam Warren (Min) $0.511MM
24 – LHRP: Vidal Nuno (Min) $0.511MM
25 – LHRP: Cesar Cabral (Min) $0.511MM

Total – $200.753MM

40-Man Roster

26 – LHP: Manny Banuelos (Min) $0.040MM
27 – LHP: Nik Turley (Min) $0.040MM
28 – LHP: David Huff (Min) $0.040MM
29 – RHP: Brett Marshall (Min) $0.040MM
30 – RHP: Jose Ramirez (Min) $0.040MM
31 – RHP: Chase Whitley (Min) $0.040MM
32 – RHP: Tommy Kahnle (Min) $0.040MM
33 – RHP: Danny Burawa (Min) $0.040MM
34 – C: Gary Sanchez (Min) $0.040MM
35 – C: Austin Romine (Min) $0.080MM
36 – C: J.R.

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American League Wild-Card Preview: Rays at Indians

Tampa Bay Rays  Cleveland Indians
David DeJesus, LF Michael Bourn, CF
Wil Myers, RF Nick Swisher, 1B
James Loney, 1B Jason Kipnis, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B Carlos Santana, DH
Ben Zobrist, 2B Michael Brantley, LF
Desmond Jennings, CF Ryan Raburn, RF
Delmon Young, DH Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Yunel Escobar, SS Yan Gomes, C
Jose Molina, C Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Alex Cobb, SP Danny Salazar, SP

On September 1, the Cleveland Indians sat 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race, and 7.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central crown. When the dust settles on their regular season on September 29, the Indians had won the Wild Card, with only one game separating them from the Tigers. What happened in between? Danny Salazar, and a 21-6 record in the month of September.

Called up for good on August 7, pop-up prospect Danny Salazar struggled with command and the long ball in his first four starts.…

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