Quick Hit: Have The Yanks Called Tampa About Ben Zobrist Yet?

Zobrist vs CHW

Courtesy of Getty Images

Because if they haven’t they’re missing a golden opportunity.  Zobrist was made expendable earlier today when the Rays agreed to a 1-year deal with Asdrubal Cabrera, and Tampa is reportedly willing to move him.  At age 33, Zobrist is a switch-hitting, multiple position-playing super everyday utility man.  He’s what Martin Prado would be if Martin Prado was better at baseball in every way and he’s available on a steal of a 1-year/$7.5 million deal for 2015.

Simply put, Zobrist does everything well.  He’s a .264/.354/.429 career hitter, although he’s posted averages of .270 or better in each of the last 3 seasons, with few strikeouts (15.7% career K rate) and a ton of walks (12.7% career BB rate).  He’s an above-average defensive player at second base and in the outfield corners, and he can fake it at third, shortstop, and in center in a pinch.  He doesn’t steal a ton of bases, but he’s had 10 or more for 6 years in a row and he rates as an above-average baserunner.…

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The Already Youngering Yankees Continue To Get Younger

For years there has been a growing cry from Yankee blogs and fans alike for the team to get younger and start getting more from their farm system.  The term “rebuild” is seldom used in Yankeeland.  The front office openly declares every year that they plan on contending for titles, whether that goal is a realistic one or not, and they have stubbornly refused to be sellers at previous trade deadlines when doing so could have helped stimulate roster turnover and make the team younger.

This offseason has been a major sign that the Yankees are truly committed to following through on the goal of getting younger and better prepared for the future and creating opportunities for some of their prospects.  No huge deals have been given out in terms of money or years, they have steered clear of the top tier starting pitching targets, and there has been a noticeable focus on sacrificing a bit for the present to build for the future.  …

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What’s The Next Move After The Kelley Trade?


The locker room should be a little less fun without him. Courtesy of MLB.com

In a move yesterday that some predicted, some welcomed, and some never saw coming, the Yankees traded Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres for 22-year-old right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato.  Barbato has some upside thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a legit swing-and-miss curveball, but his command has been spotty and last season was his first above A-ball.  Kelley would have contributed something positive to the Yankee bullpen in 2015.  It’s not nearly as likely that Barbato will do the same.

The most intriguing part of the deal is what it may suggest about additional deals in the works.  Kelley said Cash told him that “he hated to see me go” but that the decision to move Kelley was “part of a new plan.”  What is that plan?  What else is involved in it?  And how does getting Kelley’s fractional amount off the 2015 payroll play into that plan?  …

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Yanks trade Shawn Kelley to the Padres (UPDATED)

According to Robert Murray and Chris Cotillo, the Yankees have acquired Johnny Barbato from the Padres for reliever Shawn Kelley.

Barbato is a 22 year old right hander who last pitched for Double-A San Antonio in the Padres’ system. He was 2-2 with 2.87 ERA and earned 16 saves.

** UPDATE 6:26 PM** – Interesting comment by Kelley on the trade, via Dan Barbarisi:

“[Cash] said he hated to see me go, but they have some things they’re doing, things they’re working on, and it was part of new plan.”

A new plan, eh?  What’s involved in this new plan?  What else are the Yankees working on?  Gotta think it’s another rotation piece, no?

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Quick Hit: The Current Rotation Depth

With the Winter Meetings well in the rearview, the new year dead ahead, and pitcher-catcher report dates closer than you might realize, it appears as though the Yankees have made all the major moves they’re going to make this offseason.  Hiroki Kuroda would have made a lot of sense, but his announcement that he will return to Japan to pitch in 2015 ended the possibility of him being brought back as additional rotation depth.  Scott astutely pointed out how that might not be the worst thing in the world earlier this morning, but even without a declining Hirok the need for more starting pitching depth is obvious.  If the organizational rotation depth was ranked 1-10, here’s how it might look right now:

1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Michael Pineda
3) CC Sabathia
4) Nathan Eovaldi
5) Chris Capuano

6) Bryan Mitchell (made final start of 2014)
7) Ivan Nova (slated to be back from TJS in May; might not be useful until August if at all)
8) Jose De Paula (made 24 starts between Double-A and Triple-A since 2013)
9) Chase Whitley (pitched to a 4.76/3.81 split in 12 Major League starts in 2014)
10) Manny Banuelos (pitched 76.2 innings over 25 starts in Minors in 2014 coming back from TJS)

That’s not very deep at all.  …

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We’ll Miss Hiroki, But Let’s Be Glad We Won’t Suffer His Imminent Decline

Kuroda vs BAL II

Courtesy of the AP

I’ll definitely miss Hiroki Kuroda. Pitchers are notoriously inconsistent, but not Kuroda: in seven MLB years, all his annual ERAs were 3.3-3.7ish, except one 3.07 that seemed lucky (his FIP was a more Kurodalike 3.78). He rang up 12 WAR over his three Yankee years, so his $41m was a real bargain, about half the $6-7m/WAR free agent going rate. And he was fun to watch; I’m a sucker for graceful mechanics like Kuroda’s, and also for the badassness of swings and misses at sinkers barely above the dirt.

But I’m only a little, not a lot, sad he’s leaving. He turns 40 in February; almost no non-juicing/non-superstar pitcher remains any good at 40-41; and Kuroda has already started suffering decline.

Kuroda impressively defied the odds by throwing in the 90s while pushing 40, but his hard sinker has definitely slowed, modestly but steadily: from 92.3-92.4 at ages 33-34, to 91.7-92.0 at 35-37, then to 91.5 at 38, and then, last year, to 91.0 at 39.…

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Sunday Morning News And Notes: 12/28/14

Hidy ho there, boys and girls.  I hope everybody had an enjoyable holiday week.  If you spent any time near a computer, you had some of the best Yankee coverage and analysis in the biz available to you right here again.  But since things have been quiet for the past few days (mainly because I couldn’t/didn’t drag my bloated carcass to my parents’ computer), I figured today would be a good day to catch up on what’s been going on and prepare for a return to blog business as usual.

– The top Yankee-centric story of the past few days was the announcement that Hiroki Kuroda will return to Japan in 2015 to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp.  I was a huge proponent of re-signing Kuroda before and after the Capuano and Eovaldi additions and I still think he would have made a lot of sense for the Yanks.  With the team never making any proactive moves to engage him, however, it’s pretty clear the plan all along was to move on without Kuroda next year.  …

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The Christmas Open Thread

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate! And if you don’t, happy Thursday!

This is your open thread. Feel free to talk about everything under the sun. Brag about presents, discuss the Yankees’ offseason, tell us your plans for the day, etc.

Enjoy and have a safe holiday!

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Rickey Henderson.

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Fangraphs Projection: Yankees 3rd Best Defense in MLB for 2015

Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan posted their 2015 UZR projections by team. The Yankees, who were an average defensive team last year, project as the 3rd best team in the majors in 2015 at +29 runs, in large part thanks to the additions of Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley.

Of course, that +29 number is highly regressed. The 3rd best team in 2014 ended up at +49 runs, or just over +6 wins above average. If the Yankees are that good defensively, they could make a lot of contact pitchers look pretty good next year. It might even make the team good enough to be a stealth contender for a wild card spot.

The full rankings:

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