Trying to Decipher the Yankees’ Plan

The New York Yankees have behaved very differently in the past few offseasons than they have at any point in recent memory. Their transactions have been aimed at acquiring young players who have many years under team control and should theoretically have their best seasons ahead of them. They have not been in the conversation for any big money players despite there being some very good ones available this winter. They’re not even in on small money guys either.

Clearly, the Yankees aren’t a championship caliber team at the moment, with questions everywhere, and they’re not aggressively trying to fill those holes. The only conclusion that leads us to is that the Yankees are trying to rebuild and winning is not a priority right now. The Justin Wilson for Luis Cessa and Chad Green trade perfectly exemplifies exactly what the Yankees are doing right now. When Brian Cashman tells you the team is trading a quality reliever because he is going to make some money soon, that tells you all you need to know.… Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Don’t Expect A Lot Of Noise From The Yankees This Week

The 2015 Winter Meetings get started today, and the early action on the free agent market last week has got the hot stove boiling and the rumor mill turning quickly heading into the week’s festivities.  This could be a very busy few days on both the free agent and trade fronts, with multiple teams looking to make big moves.

The Yankees are not one of those teams, at least not according to what they’ve been saying publicly.  Brian Cashman declared that the Yankees’ money “has been directed and committed already” on Friday, and he followed that up by saying “”we’re not in a position right now to take a shot at anything that comes along… ” when he arrived in Nashville yesterday.  The messages in these statements are pretty simple: the Yankees aren’t willing to spend top dollar on the free agent market and they aren’t willing to part with top prospects on the trade market.

If that’s the case, and we have little reason to think otherwise based on previous statements by Cashman and other front office members, then it’s going to be a pretty quiet and boring week for Yankee fans.  … Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Yankees Get Their 2015 Luxury Tax Bill

Short but important story that I didn’t get to yesterday.  The final team salary information for the 2015 season was released recently, which means it’s time to figure out the big spenders’ luxury tax bills.  Yay, competitive balance!!

Via Bob Nightengale, the Yankees’ bill will be $26 million.  While that represents the highest total the team has paid since 2009, it still doesn’t touch the team record of $34.1 million set back in 2005 and it wasn’t the highest total for this year.  That honor goes to the Dodgers, who will have to pay a new MLB record $43.7 million on a final team payroll of just under $300 million.  The Red Sox and Giants will also pay small taxes.

It’s funny that ’05 remains the team record for luxury tax payment, as that represents a point in time when the Yankees were at their big spending best.  Those times have changed to the inconsistent, penny pinching ways of today, and more than ever it seems like the Steinbrenners are operating with getting under the LT threshold in mind.  … Click here to read the rest

The Future Is (Finally) Now For The Yankees

At this time last year, Greg Bird was a few weeks into his promotion from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton.  Yesterday he was batting 5th and starting at first base in the Yankees’ Major League lineup, and hitting 2 2-run home runs to propel the Bombers to a series sweep of the Twins.

At this time last year, Luis Severino was also with the Trenton Thunder and was in the process of returning from the DL and making a few short starts before the end of the Minor League season.  This year he’s already a key part of the Major League rotation after getting called up 2 weeks ago, and in his last start on Sunday he mostly held the best offense in baseball down for 6 innings using only his fastball.

For years Yankee fans have called for the team to re-commit to player development and build the franchise from within.  The game has changed since the late 90s-early 2000s heyday of using big free agent signings and blockbuster trade deadline deals to build a winning team, and the Yankees were among the last teams to recognize that and get with the times.  … Click here to read the rest

The Myth About “Bad” Big Contracts

Courtesy: NY Newsday

The prevailing wisdom around the Yankees is that big contracts like the ones Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have are what is killing the team. In reality, those contracts have been fine and fans in general worry way too much about them.

I never get fans who would rather see the money go into the pockets of the owner than into the players’. The difference in the Yankees over the last two plus seasons is that they’ve been spending less and the performance on the field has suffered. Sure, Hal Steinbrenner fooled most people with his shopping spree in the 2013-14 offseason. People didn’t realize how much money came off the books and that the payroll was only about $120 million to begin that offseason, so the Yankees didn’t really go above and beyond at all.

The business model the Yankees used from 2001 through 2012 absolutely worked. The lack of championships are lamented, but the reality is that the Yankees put themselves in the best position to bring home rings every season winning 95 plus games.… Click here to read the rest

Adam Warren v. Dave LaPoint (and Starter v. Reliever Velocity)

Warren vs BAL II

Courtesy of Getty Images

Ever have a job you were performing decently, but that still left you wondering every day if a demotion is coming? Adam Warren does. While he’s not killing it, or pitching deep into games, his average of just under 5.5 IP/start isn’t awful, and not many teams have both 4th and 5th starters beating Warren’s 4.50 ERA / 4.15 FIP. But Chris Capuano‘s return was sure to cost the rotation spot of one guy a decade younger – either Warren or, it turned out, TJ patient Chase Whitley.

Old Man Capuano versus The Kids reminds me of my favorite obscure baseball quote: rookie Sterling Hitchcock‘s too-bold yet dead-on blasting of the Yankees’ impatience with trusting young starters over crappy vets. Hitchcock is a Yankee immortal to me, but for this quote, not his forgettable pitching:

You hear a lot about our young guys, but then there’s no slot for us … It’s, “Go back to [AAA] and have a great year, and thanks for coming.” It’s frustrating because you look at other teams … and you see you pitched against them in the minors.

Click here to read the rest

On Using These Off-Days To Plan For The Near Future And Improve The Roster

The Yankees had their first scheduled off-day since April 30th yesterday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  At the end of a stretch that saw them play 30 games in 31 days, they were playing baseball like a tired team that needed a rest.  The bats had gone cold, the bullpen had been worked hard, and there wasn’t much energy to their losses during their 1-5 week last week.  Despite that long stretch and rough finish, they still wake up today in first place in the division, with a respectably positive run differential (+15), and with another scheduled off-day on the horizon before they head home for the weekend.

The Yankees are still in a good spot, and they’re going to hopefully get some more pitching help back in the weeks to come.  I’m confident that 2 days off this week will help bring some life back to those old legs and cold bats.  But to make the most out of this now friendly off-day schedule, I think the Yankees need to do more than rest.  … Click here to read the rest

Transition and Tradition

Judge ST

How long until Judge-ment day? Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

I have to admit that I am a bit lost. I don’t know how to love these Yankees. Oh boy…that doesn’t sound very journalistic. Well, heck. I’m not a journalist. I have always written from the point of view of a fan. My name on Twitter should give you a clue. On my site, I stay neutral and write as a fan of baseball as a whole. When I write for IIATMS, I am a Yankee fan. That’s what I am. And as such, I don’t know how to feel about this 2015 team.

Oh, there are plenty of writers that will tell me how I should feel. The team is old. Our writers have already blown up that notion. The starting pitching is a time bomb. Excuse me, but every rotation in baseball is a time bomb. Any rotation can blow up in the blink of an elbow. I should be dissatisfied because there were no big deals this off season.… Click here to read the rest

Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan, Chris Young, And Learning A Lesson From Last Year

A few weeks ago, it seemed like there was a real chance for some change in the planned Opening Day roster construction for the Yankees.  Brendan Ryan was injured, Stephen Drew wasn’t playing all that well (obligatory SSS disclaimer), and both Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder were doing enough in the early going to make legitimate cases for consideration.

A few weeks later, that chance has evaporated completely.  Ryan has returned to game action, Drew has swung the bat a little better and basically been guaranteed the starting second base job by Joe, and Pirela will be out for an extended period of time after colliding with the outfield wall in yesterday’s game and being diagnosed with a concussion.  Barring any more unforeseen injuries, the Opening Day bench now looks as if it will be the rather bland group of Ryan, Chris Young, Garrett Jones, and John Ryan Murphy, with Drew at second.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and that’s coming from the guy who’s been openly campaigning for Ryan’s immediate dismissal from the team and for Drew to be penciled into his backup infielder spot to open up a job for Pirela or Refsnyder for a while.  … Click here to read the rest