Report: Yankees No Longer Pursuing Rusney Castillo

If you’ve been following the Yankees’ involvement in the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes, this news will come as a bit of a surprise.  According to Pete Caldera, the Yanks have “ended any pursuit” of the 27-year-old Cuban free agent, to whom they’ve been strongly linked since he became available and hosted for a private workout a week or 2 ago.

Last I knew, the Yankees were planning to make a big offer to Castillo.  They reportedly liked what they saw from him in his workouts and fancied him a good option as a second baseman.  While Caldera’s report gives no explanation for the change in stance, there are a few factors to consider.  Castillo is having visa problems, which could prevent him from being available to play this season, and there are a couple other big-money teams in the running for his services.  If the Yanks have information on the type of salary he could be in line for, they could have decided that his talent level wasn’t worth the price and resulting luxury tax hit.…

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What if: The 1994 World Series

There is little that I could write in this space that has not already been written about the lost 1994 season. The Expos fielded the greatest team in the tumultuous history of the organization, yet never had the opportunity to test its mettle in the playoffs. The Yankees were a dominant force in the American League, fielding what may have been the most balanced team in Don Mattingly‘s career. And Matt Williams‘ chase for 61 and Tony Gwynn‘s quest for .400 were cut a few dozen games short.

While the tragedy of the Expos receives significantly more publicity than the Yankees abbreviated season (and deservedly so, I might argue), it is nevertheless intriguing that two teams seemed to stand above the rest on the mountaintop – one at the beginning of a dynasty, and one within a fingertip’s grasp of greatness that was forever out of reach. How would a match-up of these titans of 1994 have played out?…

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: Jeter’s Playing Time

Jeter vs TB II

Courtesy of Getty Images

Back in November of last year, when the disappointment of the season that was had fully worn off, I started looking ahead to this season and wrote this post discussing the possible playing time split at shortstop.  Derek Jeter was going to be 40, we had no way of knowing what kind of shape his ankle and legs in general would be in after a season in which they were a constant problem, and the Yankees had already re-signed Brendan Ryan as his defensive insurance policy.

In that post, I predicted Jeter would play in 120 games total in 2014 and about 80-100 of those games at shortstop while DH’ing in the others.  Why do I bring this up now?  Because we’re 122 games into this season and Jeter is well on his way to blowing my predictions, and the predictions of most others, out of the water.  He’s already exceeded the number of games at short that I called.  …

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Yankees deadline moves paying off in the field

Chase Headley's defense has made a difference for the Yankees. (Photo: mlb.com)

Chase Headley’s defense has made a difference for the Yankees. (Photo: mlb.com)

Despite Brian Cashman’s best efforts to improve the Yankees offense at the trade deadline, it appears that this team will have to rely on its strong pitching staff to carry them down the stretch.

The Yankees’ main offensive acquisitions – Stephen Drew, Martin Prado and Chase Headley – have provided little help at the plate since arriving in the Bronx.

But that fact ignores the huge contributions that the trio has made with their gloves, sparking a dramatic improvement in the Yankees infield defense over the past month.

Let’s take a deeper look at how each has impacted the Yankees in the field since putting on the pinstripes.

Third Base
Cashman downplayed Headley’s defensive ability when the trade with the Padres was announced on July 22, classifying his defense as “average”.

Headley has been anything but average at the hot corner with the Yankees.

Not only does his defense pass the eye test with numerous highlight-worthy plays and web gems over the past month, but the stats also back up his superior defensive skills and show how he has bolstered the team’s defense on the left side of the infield.…

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On Brian Cashman’s Job Status

Brian Cashman is a huge source of controversy and disagreement among Yankees fans. There is the group of people who want him fired, and a group who still think he’s a very competent general manager.

This became a big topic again last week when Hal Steinbrenner was noncommittal about signing Cashman to a new contract this winter.

“We’re so busy right now, trying to figure out who’s going to be playing in any given game, much less that,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ll be talking about that soon enough. But you know me. We’ve got enough things to worry about during the season. That’s where our focus needs to be.”

On the surface it seems silly to suggest firing a man who has a career record of 1,612-1,099 for his 16 years on the job.

The biggest argument I can see for letting Cashman go is that 16 years is a long time for anybody to be in a position. Cashman is only 47 years old, so you forget that he has been here so long.…

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Focused Musings: On Pace of Play

I mentioned it in my commissioner piece from last Friday, but I’ll say it again: I feel like I’m the only one with no real qualms about the game of baseball’s pace of play. There is no clock in baseball and that’s something that appeals to me for whatever reason. Perhaps it stems from most other things in my life being dependent upon a clock.

Professionally, I’m a teacher and an SAT/ACT tutor. So, if I’m teaching something exam prep-related, I’m stressing the importance time management to my student: You have this much time to do these many questions, etc. And if I’m teaching in my classroom, I’m stressing the importance of time management to myself: How long to spend on this line of discussion? How long to wait for a response? How many…etc. When it comes to baseball, then, the idea of an activity devoid of a clock and devoid of time, even just for three hours, feels good.

While driving to work on Friday, I heard a radio host respond to a caller by saying the average time of a baseball game has increased by 40 minutes over the last 30 years.…

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Yankeemetrics: August 15-17 (Rays)

Derek Jeter had the game-winning hit on Saturday. (Photo: Steve Nesius/AP Photo)

Derek Jeter had the game-winning hit on Saturday. (Photo: Steve Nesius/AP Photo)

Yankees got Cobb-ered
There are not many things you can predict about baseball except this one: You can’t win if you don’t score any runs. The Yankees proved that statement to be true in a 5-0 loss to the Rays on Friday night.

It was their fifth straight loss in the season series against Tampa Bay, their longest single-season losing streak vs the Rays in franchise history.

It was also their fifth straight loss overall, with a total of just seven runs scored in the five losses. The last time they had a five-game stretch with five losses and no more than seven total runs was in May 1995.

Derek Jeter had two hits for his 1,007th career multi-hit game, breaking a tie with the Braves’ Hank Aaron for the third-most multi-hit games with one team. The only players with more are the Cardinals’ Stan Musial (1,059) and the Tigers’ Ty Cobb (1,211), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.…

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Game 122 – Another pop at the Trop

One more day looking at the muted tones of that ballpark in St. Pete means another game between the Rays and Yankees. I would call it the rubber game of the series, but I hate cliches. Today features a match-up between Hiroki Kuroda and Jeremy Hellickson.

Kuroda has not been reliable the past month and in his last four starts he is sporting a 4.81 ERA and a 1.397 WHIP. Hellickson, in his first five starts since coming off of the disabled list has a pretty 2.05 ERA, but in typical Hellickson fashion, sports a much higher FIP at 3.88.

There is good news for the Yankees as Brian McCann is back from his seven-day concussion DL stint. Well…I think that is good news. The Yankees activated McCann and sent Austin Romine (we hardly knew ya) back down to the minors.

Carlos Beltran is back in right field, Prado is at second. Stephen Drew is at short and Derek Jeter is again at the designated hitter position.…

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Oh Captain, My Captain: Yankees 3, Rays 2

This game looked like it was going to be one of those heartbreaking, walk-off contests that end up making Yankee fans wish they hadn’t tuned in at all but it actually turned out to be a much needed win for the boys from the Bronx.

Sure, poor Shane Greene‘s really strong start was wasted when Shawn Kelley gave up the tying run in the seventh but Dellin Betances came in to pitch the eighth and did Dellin Betances stuff, the Yankees scored their third run in the top of the ninth and David Robertson closed out a game for the first time since Jesus was a boy. Yankees win, the Yankees win!

It was a typical 2014 Yankees game in the sense that they scored two runs early, couldn’t do more than that and then allowed the opposing team to tie the game in annoying fashion late in the game but it was an atypical result because old man Derek Jeter stepped up and knocked in what ended up being the winning run.…

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