What’s Ichiro Going To Do This Year?

Ichiro K vs BAL

I don’t mean in terms of production. That I can already anticipate. Every projection system out there has Ichiro Suzuki pegged as a below-average hitter again this year, hardly a shock when you consider his .281 wOBA last year and the age at which he’ll play this season (40). The title of the post is more in reference to how Joe plans on using Ichiro this season and how much he plans on using him.

The Yankees’ efforts to trade Ichiro have cooled down considerably from a few months back. Unless a team suffers multiple injury casualties to their outfield in spring camp, chances are they won’t be able to move him before the start of the season. He’s most likely ticketed for the Opening Day bench and a role as the 4th outfielder, but with Alfonso Soriano around and a much better offensive option on days where Jeter or Teix is DHing, Ichiro almost becomes the 5th outfielder. Joe simply can’t afford to play him as a regular 4th outfielder when he’s downgrading offensively at shortstop or first base.…

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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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Reconsidering The Yankee Rotation With Tanaka

Tanaka Yankees

Before the news of the Masahiro Tanaka signing came out yesterday morning, the Yankee rotation was in big trouble.  At least that’s the spin that was being put on the majority of the conversations, reports, and blog posts around the Yankosphere.  CC Sabathia was coming off a terrible year and was going to be another year older with no indication that he could ever rebound to become a good pitcher again.  Hiroki Kuroda was also going to be another year older and potentially ready to break down and regress after a poor second half in 2013.  Ivan Nova was a big, inconsistent question mark, Michael Pineda was an even bigger question mark in bold font who might never be a starter again, and the rest of the 5th starter competition contingent was nothing special.  There was no way the Yankees were going to compete for anything with that crew.

After the Tanaka signing, the whole story changed.  Now Sabathia could be looking at a bounce back year after having a normal offseason throwing program to work on his mechanics and getting into even better shape.  …

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Tanaka’s New Avi?

This morning, Masahiro Tanaka trolled his American audience by sending out this tweet. Google translate had most of us thinking that he couldn’t decide on which team to sign with, but actually he couldn’t decide what avi to use for his twitter page. Considering that this was his old one, I thought us Yankee fans could help him out.

tanakaavatar

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Thursday Morning Musings: 1/16/14

Saw “Lone Survivor” last night.  Great movie, really gripping, powerful stuff.  I read the book when I went to Germany a few years ago and I fully recommend both it and the movie to everybody.  There’s only 1 day of NFL playoffs this weekend, so free up a few hours on Saturday and go check it out.

Tanaka Watch 2014 is down to its final 8 days, the Yankees keep popping up more and more in comments by experts, sources, and unnamed team officials as the favorites to sign him, and I’m going to be stuck doing team building stuff with my co-workers all night after work, so I have to save every ounce of creative energy I have in me to make it through that.  Let’s muse.

- How about that Clayton Kershaw contract, huh?  $30+ mil a year is a decent chunk of change, I guess.  I could probably live pretty comfortably on that.  And strangely enough, I actually like the deal for both sides.  …

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On Don Mattingly’s HOF Worthiness

Don Mattingly

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

One of the most interesting things I read over the weekend was Bryan Hoch’s post on Yankees.com about Don Mattingly and his thoughts on his Hall Of Fame chances.  After 13 years of coming in way low on the voting percentages, Mattingly enters his 14th and second-to-last year of eligibility confident that he won’t get enough votes to make it this year.  Coming off last year’s vote, when he appeared on just 13.2% of the ballots, I’d say he has every reason to feel that way.

What really stood out to me in the post was how cool, calm and accepting Mattingly was of the fact that he almost certainly will never make the HOF.  Mattingly himself said, “”My first year of eligibility, I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to make it or anything.  I don’t pay that much attention to it, to be honest with you. It’s to the point now where it comes up and you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s over,’ and you go on.”  Mattingly understands that his injury problems and decision to retire at 34 cost him a chance at accumulating the stats he would have needed to get in and he’s cool with that.…

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Concern Over Tanaka’s Workload?

Tanaka WBC

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

There’s not much that can slow down the Masahiro Tanaka train now that the 30-day negotiation window has been opened.  He’s young, he’s strong, he’s very good, and he’s generally regarded as the hands down best starting pitcher available on the FA market this offseason.  If anything could, however, it could be a growing sense of concern over the workload already accumulated on Tanaka’s arm.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports posted a story on this very topic on Monday, quoting multiple unnamed MLB front office personnel who expressed varying levels of concern about Tanaka’s arm and the stress that’s already been put on it.

I’m not one to get all worked up over pitch counts and innings counts and how much or little a guy is pitching when he’s younger.  If recent MLB history has taught us anything, it’s that managing young pitchers’ workloads is basically a crapshoot.  For every Matt Harvey who gets managed “correctly” and safely by today’s standards, there’s a Tim Lincecum or Felix Hernandez who come up and throw 200+ innings a year at a very young age with no problems and no repercussions.  …

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Thursday Morning Snow Day Musings

Happy New Year, everybody!  I hope your NYE celebrations were as fun as mine was, and I also hope you were smart enough to take today and tomorrow off from work because I wasn’t and the weather isn’t exactly cooperating with any of us.  There were 3-4 inches already on the ground when I drove to the office this morning out in Wisco and it looks like the Northeast is fixing to get pounded something fierce today and tomorrow.  I’m expecting another slow day at work and things are still moving pretty slowly in Yankeeland as we wrap up the holiday season, so I figured it was as good a time as any to touch on some random topics.

- If some of the theories that have been floating around are correct, we could find out the arbitrator’s decision in the A-Rod suspension appeal hearing as early as tomorrow.  While I don’t think there’s much of a chance that the entire suspension is voided, I do think it will get cut down some from the original 211 games.  …

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Where Does Zoilo Fit In Now?

Zoilo Almonte 2013

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

It was an up and down 2013 for Zoilo Almonte.  He hit .297/.369/.421 (.361 wOBA) in 293 Triple-A plate appearances in his first experience at the level, showing improved plate discipline and on-base skills that had yet to be part of his offensive repertoire.  When the barrage of injuries struck the Major League club, he got called up to the show in the summer and the results weren’t nearly as good, .236/.274/.302 (.257 wOBA) in 113 PA.

A hamstring injury ended his season early, but he picked it up back in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.  If you haven’t been following the comings and goings of that league closely, and I don’t blame you if you haven’t, Zoilo hit .316/.343/.454 out there and has seen time at all 3 outfield positions.  What does that mean as far as his Major League standing for 2014 goes?  Probably not much.  Almonte has hit in this league before, and with the new acquisitions made by the Yankees to upgrade their outfield it’s not a stretch to say he’s the 7th outfielder on the 40-man right now behind Ellsbury, Beltran, Gardner, Soriano, Ichiro, and Wells.…

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