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.…

Read more

Handicapping The Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

Steinbrenner Field

Steinbrenner Field. The site of the only Yankee game action a lot of these players will see in 2014

The Yankees announced their list of non-roster invites to spring camp yesterday, 26 in all.  As expected, all the recent MiL signings received an invite and an opportunity to compete for one of the last spots on the Opening Day roster.  There’s also a decent-sized contingent of non 40-man prospects who got the nod, although one glaring omission was utility man Ronnier Mustelier.  Mustelier seemed like a lock to get invited again considering the need the Yankees have for right-handed power and a third base platoon partner for Kelly Johnson, but for whatever reason they decided to proceed without him.

While all of these 26 players technically have a non-zero chance of making the Opening Day roster, the reality is that only a few of them have an actual chance and the rest are just there to fill out workout groups and early spring split squad games.  …

Read more

Can Russ Canzler Be Of Any Use?

Russ Canzler 2013

As the Yankees wind down their offseason spending spree, the position players are coming back into focus as the group most in need of a boost.  Third base, second base, a true backup at first base, and a bench bat that’s actually league average are all still big areas of need and areas unlikely to get any more help than they already have.  In digging through the collection of third base platoon candidates and trying to make sense of the DH rotation, there was one name I skipped over that could be another option in camp if nobody stands out.  That name is Russ Canzler, 27-year-old righty bat who’s back for his second go-round with the Yanks.

If you don’t remember Canzler, it’s because his first tenure as a Yankee lasted a little over a month.  They claimed him off waivers from Cleveland last January, then lost him to the Orioles via waivers when they had to make more roster moves in February.  …

Read more

Filling Out The Back End Of The Bullpen

There’s no denying that the Yankees have done a helluva lot of work to reload their team this offseason.  They’ve spent over half a billion dollars in contracts, both in large amounts and small, to upgrade their rotation, lineup, and to a very small degree their bench.  One roster area that hasn’t harvested the fruits of that half-billion dollar labor is the bullpen.  To date, the Yankees’ only addition of significance to the 2014 ‘pen has been Matt Thornton, a 37-year-old lefty specialist who, while still effective against same-side hitters, is at the point in his career where his best days are behind him.

This singular signing in response to the loss of Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and some guy named Mariano Rivera has put the Yankee ‘pen in a state of uncertainty, one that the free agent market is no longer as well equipped to resolve as it was a few weeks ago.  As we move below the 3-week threshold until pitchers and catchers report to spring camp, it’s time to look at what the Yankees could do to fill out and fortify their bullpen.…

Read more

Thinking About The Potential DH Carousel

Carousel

Not pictured: the Yankee DHs

We’re less than 4 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, so baseball is officially out there on the horizon.  When that Friday comes, baseball will officially be back and a few days later when the rest of the team arrives at the Tampa complex Spring Training 2014 will be fully underway.  As usual, there will be a handful of roster battles that will dominate the ST headlines, highlighted by the annual 5th starter competition.  A bench job or 2 will be up for grabs, as will some bullpen roles, possibly the closer role if the Yanks do end up signing another veteran late-inning reliever, and the third base platoon jobs.

One spot that won’t be up for competition this year is designated hitter.  The older and injury risky Yankees have more candidates for the DH spot than ever this season and will most likely be rotating a large cast of veteran characters through it in an attempt to keep everybody as well-rested and healthy as possible.  …

Read more

Sorting Through The Collection Of Platoon Candidates At Third Base

Conventional wisdom had the Yankees using the announcement of the A-Rod suspension decision as the springboard towards finding another established third baseman to replace him.  A decent chunk of that conventional wisdom had Mark Reynolds‘ name as the one most likely to be signed next as part of a L/R platoon.  Turns out none of that wisdom was correct, at least not according to what we’ve heard over the last 2 days.  Ken Rosenthal reported on Sunday that the Yanks were not going to add any more third base candidates on Major League deals this offseason, and assistant GM Billy Eppler and Joe Girardi both echoed that report in so many words yesterday in separate interviews.

The plan, according to Eppler and Joe, is to head to camp with what they’ve got and sort out who they think the best guys for the job are there.  Eppler didn’t completely close the door on the idea of bringing in another warm body, saying ““Our eyes are always going to stay open.  …

Read more

Minor move that might be major

The Yankees signed Robert Coello to a minor league contract. Coello might be one of those nice surprises the Yankees have come up with in the bullpen the last couple of years like Kelley and brief brilliance by Eppley, Repada and Wade in 2011 and 2012. What made me sit up and take...

Read more

Quick Hit: Vernon Wells DFA’d

It was only a matter of time before this move came and it appears that time has come.  Vernon Wells has been designated for assignment by the Yankees to open up a roster spot.  He hit .233/.292/.349 (.279 wOBA) in 458 PA this past season, taking on a much bigger role than the team anticipated after the C-Grand injury.  After looking like an All Star in April and early May, Wells hit the wall and was pretty much useless for the rest of the season.  The Ellsbury and Beltran signings made him expendable and an easy target for a roster crunch casualty.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t celebrating this move.  I was against the decision to bring Wells in last year and would much rather see whatever playing time he would have gotten this season go to Zoilo Almonte.  …

Read more

Thinking about the swing men

Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs.com recently had a very interesting article about the five starter rotation myth. The most effective writing is that which makes you think and Sullivan certainly brings a perspective on a topic we don’t think about very often. While he admitted his methodology was a bit sloppy, the basic...

Read more