Domenic is a staff writer for It's About the Money, and the host of the It's About the Money Stupid podcast. By day, he is a mild-mannered real estate attorney on Long Island, and an aspiring intellectual degenerate.

Author Archives: Domenic Lanza

Blood from a Stone, or Just What Can We Expect from Mr. Rodriguez?

The last time we saw Alex Rodriguez playing Major League Baseball, he was performing quite well, batting .244/.348/.423 with 7 HR and a 113 wRC+ across 181 PA. That is, of course, well below the lofty standards set by his career as a whole, and a rather unattractive slash line in the context of the era – but I would also suggest that it was fairly encouraging. At 38-years-old, with two surgically repaired hips and a surgically repaired right knee, Rodriguez managed to be an above-average hitter over what amounts to a quarter of a season. If you cocked your head and squinted a bit, things were looking up for Rodriguez, as he prepared for the upcoming season. But that was 2013, and ‘the upcoming season’ ended up being ‘TBA.’ And … well, you know the rest.

As of this writing, it has been 488 days since Rodriguez played professional baseball. By the time the Yankees suit-up for their first Spring Training game in March, it will have been one year, five months, one week, and three days since the last time Rodriguez donned pinstripes – and that’s assuming he plays some role in that game.…

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Jake Cave: Your Center Fielder of the Future

Jake Cave 2014

Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com

Contemplating the future of center field in Yankee Stadium seems strange, doesn’t it? Jacoby Ellsbury is under contract through at least 2020 (plus a team option in 2021), and Brett Gardner, who would play center field on at least twenty other teams, is locked up through at least 2018 (team option for 2019). And, while the rest of the team has seemingly been in upheaval over the last several years, the team’s center field situation has been stable for the better part of two decades. Over that time, they’ve received average or better production relative to the position fifteen times, including the last five years running. One could argue that it is the least worrisome position on the team by a significant margin, and I’m not sure that anyone could disagree. In that case, why worry? Because it’s what we do, and prospect week is upon us.

Enter Jake Cave.

Drafted in the sixth round in 2011, Cave entered the organization as a fairly highly-touted prospect.…

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Shopping the Non-Tender Market, or “How I was given an excuse to write about Juan Francisco”

In the wee hours between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the free agent pool was deepened by the walking non-tendered. These are players who, in short, were arbitration-eligible, yet unwanted by their current (now former) teams – unless, of course, you’re the Toronto Blue Jays merely saving a few shekels. The Yankees are no strangers to finding value among the non-tendered, having plucked Russell Martin from the crop a few winters ago to replace and/or depose Jorge Posada (who became the full-time DH that year). It is rare for a team to find such great value among these players, as precious few quality starters are released from team control early, yet that should not stop the Yankees – or any team, for that matter – from trying. And it will not stop me from speculating as to who could be the next big find for Cashman & Co.

At this point in the off-season, the Yankees clearly need a second baseman and/or third baseman, a shortstop, and depth at the corners on offense, and, to be blunt, anything they can get anywhere on the pitching staff (though the bullpen may receive an upgrade shortly, with Andrew Miller expected to sign shortly).…

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Quick Hit: Brandon McCarthy, Twitter Savant

Earlier today, grit extraordinaire Ryan Theriot had some not-so-smart words for Dodgers fans that were excited about the hiring of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi:

Aaron Gleeman pointed out the foolishness of this statement less than an hour later, as countless successful GMs have “never played the game.” This includes the Yankees own Brian Cashman, for example – a man that has been kind of successful. Several people have come forward with several additional responses, as is the norm for Twitter. And, of course, it didn’t take too long for most to realize that Theriot was speaking out of his backside.

The best reaction to this silliness, however, came from Brandon McCarthy:

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Sizing Up the Market: Right Field & DH

Over the last several years, the Yankees have garnered a reputation for not using a true designated hitter. Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and others have stated on more than one occasion that they view the position as a means to give a player a half-day, so as to rest his legs without removing his bat from the lineup. And, as is the nature of the beast, the team has taken flack for not going out and signing a traditional thumper to be the full-time (or a full-time-ish) DH. However … that is not necessarily true. Or, it is not true over the last couple of seasons.

Prior to the 2013 season, the Yankees signed Travis Hafner and Ben Francisco to platoon at designated hitter, and supplemented that platoon by acquiring Vernon Wells. It was ineffectiveness and injury that doomed the platoon, as the trifecta of Hafner, Francisco, and Wells started 89 of the team’s first 95 games at DH – and 67 of those were started by Hafner.…

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Quick Hit: Giving Props to Larry Rothschild

The Yankees pitching staff this season felt as if it was cobbled together from rubbish and assorted cadavers, and held together by Scotch tape and some good ol’ fashioned Elmer’s glue. A total of thirty-three players threw a pitch for the team this year (and I say ‘players’ and not ‘pitchers’ because of Dean Anna), and thirteen pitchers started at least one game. The Yankees Opening Day rotation – CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda – combined to make only seventy-seven starts. Twenty-seven games were started by pitchers in their first taste of the Majors (Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell), and another twenty-seven went to folk that were on another team when the season kicked off (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, and the immortal Esmil Rogers). And, finally, the team used twenty-six different players out of the bullpen. To call it a staff in flux may be the understatement of the year.…

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Sizing Up the Market: Shortstop

This off-season will represent the first time since 1995 that the Yankees will be looking for a full-time solution at shortstop. That may even be selling the transition for Derek Jeter to whomever a bit short, too, as Tony Fernandez was signed to be the team’s everyday shortstop in December of 1994, and he was pretty freaking good – at that time, he was still a strong defender with a league-average bat, which most teams would kill for at shortstop nowadays. Of course, that goes to show just how long it has been since the Yankees were faced with this sort of dilemma. To add a bit more context, in 1995 (the last of pre-Jeterian days):

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Sizing Up the Market: Third Base

Alex Rodriguez?

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez?!

Alex. Rodriguez.

With that out of the way, it does seem as if the Yankees are already planning on going in another direction at third. And, to be perfectly blunt, it would be patently idiotic to count on a 39-year-old coming off of two hip surgeries and a calendar year-plus away from organized baseball to do much of anything, let alone man the hot corner for a would be contender. As much as it would be fun, and perhaps even deserved if we sat down and assumed that the Yankees would be so inept as to head into the season with that sort of player penciled into the Opening Day lineup, I simply cannot see that happening as of this moment – at least not at third base, or barring some sort of calamitous Spring Training injury.

The Yankees head into the off-season with a compelling free agent third baseman of their own in Chase Headley.…

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Sizing Up the Market: Second Base

In 2013, Yankees second basemen – which may be more accurately referred to as “Robinson Cano & Friends” – batted .318/.385/.521, with 43 2B, 27 HR, and a 154 sOPS+ (meaning that the team’s production at the position was roughly 54% better than the average). For comparison’s sake, the average second baseman hit .263/.323/.387 in 2013 and, yes, that includes Cano’s robust production.

This past season, the much less catchy “Brian Roberts & the Infinite Sadness” combined for a slash line of .246/.303/.390, with 34 2B, 13 HR, and a 101 sOPS+. All things considered, that isn’t too shabby when compared to the MLB-average of .256/.313/.373. Of course, that line is probably a bit skewed by Martin Prado slashing .403/.413/.661 in 63 PA as the second baseman – but, on the whole, the disappointing production at the position may well have been a result of Cano’s offensive dominance of the position for the previous half decade or so. The defense of Messrs Roberts and Kelly Johnson is a story for another day.…

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