Report: Yankees Among Several Teams “Looking At” Jeff Samardzija And Clay Buchholz

Interesting tidbit of trade rumoring from Nick Cafardo today.  Buried in a larger article of mostly Red Sox-ian topics, Cafardo included the Yankees in a group of teams who are reportedly “looking at” right-handed starters Jeff Samardzija and Clay Buchholz as we inch closer to next month’s trade deadline.

These are new names as far as the Yankees and their potential deadline targets are concerned.  We’ve been hearing a lot more about Cueto, Leake, and Cole Hamels lately.  But both Samardzija and Buchholz would be upgrades over the guys currently occupying the back end of the Yankee rotation.  Samardzija has seemingly taken a step back this year (4.56 ERA, 123 hits, 19.0% K rate in 108.1 IP), but he’s still a workhorse and his velocity hasn’t dropped so presumably he’s healthy.  Buchholz has actually been one of the best starters in the AL and the only full-time starter in the Boston rotation who’s been any good.

Samardzija is a true 2-month rental while Buchholz has a few team options years attached to him, so the asking prices could vary a little.  Regardless, I don’t see the Yankees being willing to pay the prospect price it’s going to take to acquire either.  There’s no incentive for either color of Sox to take a lesser prospect package, and even less for Boston to trade their best pitcher to their biggest rival. Continue reading Report: Yankees Among Several Teams “Looking At” Jeff Samardzija And Clay Buchholz

ARod’s ‘marketable milestones’ take away his rights

The Yankees brass has made its intentions known without having to show it off on their high-def scoreboard.

When Alex Rodriguez hits home run No. 660 to tie Willie Mays for fourth all-time, their celebration will be tame. No red carpet. No champagne bottles. No commercials or special t-shirts. No, he will not get the “DJ3K” treatment.

Several outlets have reported how the Yankees are going to fight back against Arod’s special contract where he is supposed to receive what can be an extra $30 million for his milestone home runs – $6 million for each. Just don’t call them milestones. Seems the Yankees aren’t interested in that.

However, the New York Post story left me a bit baffled. According to their very special sources with knowledge of the situation, ARod would sign over his image rights and associated branding for $6 million a home run.

Really? Why? Continue reading ARod’s ‘marketable milestones’ take away his rights

Monday Morning Rapid-Fire Reactions To What I Missed Over The Last Week

[caption id="attachment_72289" align="aligncenter" width="525"]hank-steinbrenner-smoking There was a Hank sighting and I missed it?? Damn[/caption]

Good morning, dear IIATMS readers.  How’s everybody feeling this morning?  It feels good to be back after a week off, and it feels even better to have had nothing go majorly wrong in Yankeeland while I was away.  It was a bummer to miss pitchers and catchers report day last Friday, but that disappointment is overwhelmed by the excitement that comes with the start of Spring Training and the return of baseball to our lives.

Last week was not an inactive one, and naturally I have my own opinions on the comings and goings of that last week.  Before proceeding with what’s going on in the present and getting back to business as usual around here, I wanted to circle back and give my quick takes on the major stories I missed last week.  I promise this won’t take long.

A-Rod’s Apology Letter

Loved it.  Loved everything about it.  He was obviously in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when it came to the public apology, and I think he made the right decision to handle it the way he did.  He kept himself out of the spotlight as much as possible, I thought he came across as genuine in the letter, and by writing it he at least gave the reasonable group of baseball fans out there a chance to feel some sympathy a/o empathy for him.

I also loved the NY media lining up to bash him for the long ESPN article that came out last week.  The fact that so many of them went out of their way to criticize and even poke fun at him for trying to better himself is the latest in a long line of examples of how awful that crew generally is.  Hey guys, maybe if you put your claws away for 5 minutes and came down out of your anti-A-Rod ivory towers once in a while, you would have gotten that story.  Morons. Continue reading Monday Morning Rapid-Fire Reactions To What I Missed Over The Last Week

Report: A-Rod And Yankees Agree To Meet

Well well well.  I guess some of those earlier reports about the Yankees turning down A-Rod’s request to meet and clear the air were nothing more than shoddy reporting/typical anti-A-Rod rumor mongering.  According to this report by Nick Cafardo earlier this morning, the Yankees and Alex have agreed to meet and talk before the start of the upcoming season.  Cash went further to say that those previous reports were untrue, and that this was the first time A-Rod asked to have a sit down with the team.

Between Cash shooting down that earlier report, him saying the Yanks are “more than happy to meet with him [A-Rod]” and Alex seemingly trying to do everything the right way, it appears as though all the A-Rod haters might not get the drama and shame they were looking for this season.  I shudder to think at what’s going to become of the Daily News I-Team when that happens.  Without a bunch of made up negative A-Rod stories to write, how are those people going to fill their time?  Do they even remember how to do actual reporting and fact-based news writing?  Guess we’ll find out.

Continue reading Report: A-Rod And Yankees Agree To Meet

Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes.  According to this report by Ben Badler, the holdup in getting him unblocked and eligible to sign does not reside with the US Dept. of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as many believed, but rather with MLB itself.

“Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s ‘general license,’ which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC…

“MLB issued the following statement to Baseball America on Sunday: ‘MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.’

Except, by the OFAC guidelines, Moncada has met the criteria of the general license to be considered unblocked, and he is not alone. Cuban second basemen Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez have both obtained residency in a third country. Yet none of them has signed yet because they are still awaiting response from the government on their application for the specific license that MLB requires.”

Did you get all that?  Basically MLB has arbitrarily decided to change the finer details of the process they’ve had in place for years to make it more difficult and more time-consuming for Moncada and other blocked players to get cleared to sign with a team.

Why would they do that?  My answer is admittedly jaded by my Yankee allegiance, but I think it’s a clear and deliberate attempt by MLB to prevent the Yankees from signing Moncada.  And not just the Yankees, but every big money teams who has already exceed their 2014-2015 international spending limit and would still be eligible and willing to sign Moncada during this signing period.

MLB put those spending restrictions in place to try to level the playing field and give the smaller market teams a better chance to compete on the international FA market.  The Yankees and other teams said “eff that,” overspent anyway as a way to keep leveraging their monetary advantage, and now MLB is going to slowplay the Moncada unblocking as a way to punish them.  He won’t be cleared to sign until after June 15th of this year, which will begin the next signing period, put the Yanks, Red Sox, and others out of contention for him thanks to their overspending penalties, and all the other teams will have a better chance at landing him.

It’s sad that MLB keeps going to these lengths to try to create an “everybody wins” environment when it’s already been proven that spending more doesn’t equate with winning more.  Teams have figured out how to contend on a smaller budget if they really want to, and the business side of the game has progressed to the point where everybody can and more often does re-sign their good younger players to team-friendlier, long-term deals earlier in their careers.  There’s no reason to continue to handcuff big budget teams that have the money to spend and want to spend it, especially when it’s at the expense of the players who want to come over to play in MLB.

I know this is probably coming off as the ramblings of a spoiled Yankee fan, but I really don’t care.  Moncada has done what he has to do to be cleared as a free agent by the United States of America.  There’s no legitimate reason for MLB to hold up the proceedings anymore and the statement they made about it isn’t worth the handful of seconds it probably took for some intern to type it out.  If this drags on past the June 15th deadline and the Yankees don’t even get a chance to sign Moncada, that will be a travesty. Continue reading Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Report: Yankees “Intrigued” By Johan Santana, Following His Winter League Starts

[caption id="attachment_71776" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Johan vs ATL Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

This would certainly qualify as finding rotation depth on the cheap.  Per a report by Dan Martin, the Yankees were in attendance at Johan Santana‘s first Venezuelan Winter League start last night as he attempts to come back from a torn Achilles tendon.  Santana pitched 2 scoreless innings and looked pretty good by most accounts.  According to Martin, the Yankees are “intrigued” by the idea of signing Santana, and an unnamed source that they “will keep an eye on him.”

Everybody knows Santana’s story by now.  He used to be the best pitcher alive not too many years ago, but a litany of major injuries put an end to that and have all but derailed his entire career.  It’s not just the comeback from the Achilles tear that factors into any decision on Santana, it’s the torn shoulder capsule in 2011, the second torn shoulder capsule in 2013, and the back problems.  Santana has been limited to 21 Major League starts since 2010, and at age 36 it’s hard to imagine his body and its storied injury history holding up to any kind of consistent, regular workload.

There was a time where adding Johan Santana would have made sense, but today it really doesn’t make any.  He would only add to the injury risks and depth problems in the Yankee rotation, not help resolve them.  If he holds up over the rest of the Winter League and the Yanks want to give him a ST invite and a MiL deal, fine.  Anything more than that would be very unwise. Continue reading Report: Yankees “Intrigued” By Johan Santana, Following His Winter League Starts

Report: Yankees 1 Of 2 “Heavy Favorites” To Sign Yoan Moncada

There hasn’t been a lot of news to report on the Yoan Moncada situation over the last month or so.  He held his open workout back in November and was expected to begin private workouts this week, but so far there haven’t been any reports confirming that a workout took place.

The one constant in the Moncada story since his name surfaced last year has been the pack-leading presence of the Yankees.  They were out in full force for his November workout, they’ve been named as one of the teams most likely to sign him since the beginning, and per this report by Kiley McDaniel, they’re now one of the “heavy favorites” to sign him.  The Yanks have been hesitant to seriously engage with many of the recent star Cuban free agents.  That doesn’t appear to be the case with Moncada.

Remember that Moncada is subject to the new international free agent signing rules because of his age (19).  The Yankees are already well over their 2014-2015 spending limit, but because of how the rules work they would be able to sign Moncada and count his bonus (and the associated penalty) towards 2014-2015 as long as they sign him before June 15th.  If they don’t, he would count towards the 2015-2016 limit and the Yankees would be unable to offer him more than $300,000 as a result of the penalties for exceeding this year’s total.

That deadline is surely influencing how the Yanks are approaching Moncada, so hopefully the rest of the process to get him cleared to play doesn’t drag on too long.  5-tool shortstop prospects don’t come along every day, and the Yankees have the clear monetary advantage in adding this one.

Continue reading Report: Yankees 1 Of 2 “Heavy Favorites” To Sign Yoan Moncada

Max’s Headroom, $180m? Stars Deserve $40+m/yr, So $180m is Fine for Scherzer (& Was for Sabathia) – Despite the Ugly End of Such “Deferred Comp” Deals

The Yankees have been adamant that they have no interest in adding another nine-figure salary to the books, resisting the outside cries … [for] Max Scherzer.” Yet the “Is Max Scherzer worth it” debate won’t stop. Dueling opinions are all over our comment threads and the whole internet, with folks declaring, “signing or not signing Scherzer will decide whether the Yankees are playing in October,” or proudly “rail[ing] against long-term contracts” of $20m+/yr because they are “gamble[s] that can cripple an organization…. [M]ost of the Yankees’ $20M busts are in the last years of long-term contracts, and you should no longer be surprised that they passed on Scott Boras’ $200M, longer-term contract demands” for Scherzer. Despite the strongly varied views on Scherzer, there’s little debate on three key points.

(1) He will require a costly seven-year deal. Fangraphs estimates $168m-$175m/7yr, i.e., $24-$25m/yr. Boras may want $200m, but that demand has left Max unemployed a month after the almost-as-good Jon Lester signed for $155m/6yr. Let’s say $180m/7yr.

(2) Short-run: he’d improve the Yankees about 5 wins a year. Since coming into his own three years ago, his WARs have been 4.2, 6.7, 6.0. Adding Scherzer’s 4-6 WAR replaces the 0ish WAR of Chris Capuano (5 yrs of 650 IP: 2.9 WAR).

(3) Long run: eventually he’ll be worth nowhere near $25m. A 7-year deal extends through 2020-21; by age 35-36, few (non-juicing) hard-throwing starters retain much value. Realistically, you’d hope for Mark Teixeira‘s mid-30s: no star, but a passable regular. Pessimistically, you’d suffer Sabathia’s ugly mix of inability to pitch and (worse) sub-replacement pitching. Optimistically, you’d hope for Mike Mussina‘s mid-late 30s, but (a) Mike (unlike Max) had superior control, allowing longevity as the pitches weaken, and (b) even Mike declined, averaging 3.5 WAR in his mid-late 30s after 5-5.5 in his prime. Continue reading Max’s Headroom, $180m? Stars Deserve $40+m/yr, So $180m is Fine for Scherzer (& Was for Sabathia) – Despite the Ugly End of Such “Deferred Comp” Deals

Is It Really is 2B Rookie Time? Will No Humdrum Vet Displace Refsnyder’s Shot?

I’m oddly excited to read, “the Yankees are not bidding on free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera” (Bryan Hoch tweeting, then Chad Jennings re-reporting), leaving 2B likely a competition between Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, and some journeymen minor-leaguers who won’t really have a shot unless both Ref and Pirela badly tank and/or get hurt.

The lack of an Asdrubal Cabrera era for the Yankees is is good news, as is the lack of news, since the Gregorious acquisition, that Stephen Drew might still be signed for 2B. The kids are not only investments in the future, but better bets for 2015:

  • Refsnyder’s Steamer (Fangraphs) projection is .262/.328/.390 (102 wRC+)
  • Pirela’s is .259/.307/.381 (91 wRC+)
  • Cabrera’s is .251/.316/.397 (100 wRC+)
  • Drew’s is .218/.294/.352 (81 wRC+)
  • That’s offense; on defense, Steamer projects Cabrera as a clearly minus defender, but Ref as a slight plus defender. Reports are mixed on Ref’s defense, probably because 2B is new enough to him that he’s been an inconsistent work in progress in the field. But “solid hands, low-range” may be the the low-end scenario. In 2014, he played about 60 games each at AA and AAA (call that 40% of a full season at each level): he had 9 errors in AA (high for 40% of a season), then only 3 at AAA (quite low). That might show learning, but on the other hand, his per-game range factor dropped from 4.72 to 3.78, which might show just that he made fewer plays. So the signs are mixed, but for a newbie to 2B, I thnk it’s more likely, going from AA to AAA after only 1 year of 2B, that his hands got better than that he forgot how to get to more balls. After all, we don’t really know how range factor varies between minor leagues in some way not specific to Ref; for example, Scranton’s pitchers racked up a few more Ks, and gave up noticably more HR, than Trenton’s – both of which would decrease the number of plays their infielders make, at least partly explaining a drop in Ref’s range stats from AA to AAA.

    So Ref seems clearly a better bet than Cabrera (same hitting, worse fielding) or Drew (better fielding but atrocious hitting), and playing Ref (or Pirela) also invests in figuring out which might be a solid-to-good cost-controlled 2B for the next six years – which, on this team of old and expensive position players, would be a real asset.

    The only argument left for Cabrera or Drew is, “but rookies are uncertain.” Yes, but so are aging mediocrities who already started a striking decline, and whose only hope is recovering their seemingly lost mid-late 20s talent. Drew was so horrible in 2014 it’s unclear if he can hack replacement value any longer; the delta between earlier Drew (ok ofense, good defense) and 2014 Drew is at least as high as the variance in any promising rookie projection. Cabrera was similarly good in 2011 & 2012 (RC+ of 121 & 114, with plus defense both years), but then fell off a cliff, to a level not as awful as 2014 Drew; but with two years of nearly identical bad performance (RC+ of 96 & 96, with -0.9 and -1.1 dWAR), we can basically rule out “fluke” as as explanation for Cabrera’s decline.

    In short, Ref has earned the shot because of his strong AA and AAA performance, his hints of defensive improvement, and the solid projections arising from his two-level 2014 minor-league accomplishments. On a team with such high turnover, I’m really looking forward to seeing what might be Year One of the next long-term Yankee, rather than someone like Cabrera as the 2015 mediocrity-rental equivalent of 2014 Brian Roberts, 2013 Kevin Youkilis, etc. Continue reading Is It Really is 2B Rookie Time? Will No Humdrum Vet Displace Refsnyder’s Shot?