Quick Hit: Eppler Effect Nabs Two From Yankee Front Office

Slow day yesterday, but I did see something creep over the wire that was newsworthy in Yankeeland.  Via Sweeny Murti (who still has me blocked on Twitter), Billy Eppler has poached a pair of guys from the Yankee front office/scouting staff and brought them to join him in Anaheim.  Steve Martone, who was the Yankees’ manager of pro scouting, will be Eppler’s new assistant GM, and Eric Chavez has been named special assistant to the GM.  No word yet on whether Martone will have a special assistant to the assistant GM or if that position will be filled by a former Yankee, but stay tuned.

These aren’t devastating losses for the Yankees.  They’ll replace from within on the pro scouting job and they can always bring in more ex-players to be scouts and special assistants, but there’s some significance to the loss of Chavez.  He was reportedly instrumental in convincing the team to pursue the Didi Gregorius trade last offseason after playing with Didi in Arizona.

Oh well.  That’s the name of the game when one of your own takes a big front office job somewhere else.  So far the Eppler Effect hasn’t claimed any former Yankee players, but if this front office flurry is any indication, that can’t be far behind. Continue reading Quick Hit: Eppler Effect Nabs Two From Yankee Front Office

Thoughts On The Early Offseason Happenings

[caption id="attachment_79373" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Cash Stache Still loving the Cash Stache as much this week as I did last week. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

You might have noticed a decrease in content on the site recently.  While that’s a natural occurrence once the season ends and there are no more games and updated stats to analyze, in my case it’s also a matter of real life taking a much bigger slice of the time pie.  My 9-5 cube monkey job has gotten very time consuming over the past month or so, to the point that I barely have the time or the mental energy to write anymore.

That can be frustrating when there’s news breaking and trades being made, as it’s never as much fun being the last blogger in with your take on something when all the relevant points have already been made, for the writer or the readers.  That said, I do want to take a little time now to go back and talk about what’s been going on in the early offseason for the Yankees because I do have opinions on this stuff and I want to try to get them out while I have the time.  Sorry for the recapiness, but here we go.

– This “open to anything” idea that Cash has publicly stated is pretty fun, no?  I would prefer that the Yankees not deal Andrew Miller away or sign Wei-Yin Chen for 5 years, but I much prefer those rumors coming out than a slow, plodding offseason of nothing.  I think Cash sees that he has a little bit of a window to remain competitive while ownership waits out the end of some long contracts, and it does seem as though he’s been empowered to seek, pursue, and make trades as he sees fit to build around that expensive core.  That’s not something that’s always been the case the last few offseasons, so if it is this year and last week was any indication, we should be in for some sizable hot stove excitement.

– I think Adam Warren is a goner this offseason.  I don’t have an idea where he’d be going or what the Yankees would try to get back, but it still feels like he’s the odd man out of the internal rotation group.  And I’m not even counting CC.  Tanaka isn’t going anywhere, Pineda and Eovaldi are still young and have room to grow on the cheap, the team is expected to bring back Ivan Nova in his final arbitration year, and Severino is the future.  There’s some young pitching on the way up through the system and Warren’s trade value has never been higher.  He fits the same mold as JRM and JRM is gone.

– As for that deal, I like it for both sides.  I was firmly in the camp that believed John Ryan Murphy could be a good starting catcher by season’s end, and I wanted the Yankees to replace/upgrade from Chris Young rather than overpay to bring him back.  I think that trade made both of those things to happen.  Murphy never had much of a future in New York, not with Gary Sanchez taking the next step this season, and the same could be said for Aaron Hicks in Minnesota.  Hicks will step into that lefty masher platoon role and he brings even more defensive flexibility and skill than Young.  Murphy gets to take over the everyday job in Minny. Continue reading Thoughts On The Early Offseason Happenings

Quick Hit: Yankees Announce Mike Harkey’s Return And Rest Of 2016 Coaching Staff

Mike Harkey’s name was thrown out as a potential Gary Tuck replacement almost immediately, and the team made his return official a few hours ago with this tweet.  In addition to this move and the responsibilities of catching coach being reassigned to Tony Pena, the Yankees made official the returns of Larry Rothschild, Rob Thomson, and Joe Espada, and the hitting coach promotions for Alan Cockrell and Marcus Thames.  The full 2016 big league coaching staff is set.

Last offseason the Yankees waited a long time to replace the departed Kevin Long.  Not this offseason.  They were quick to make decisions on who they were letting go and quick to announce the new guys to replace them.  Good.  One more check in the box on the offseason to-do list and one less thing to worry about heading into the heart of hot stove season.

Continue reading Quick Hit: Yankees Announce Mike Harkey’s Return And Rest Of 2016 Coaching Staff

Report: Yankees Unlikely To Pursue Zobrist

Looks like I didn’t miss too much over the weekend.  The one new rumor with some juice that came out last night comes to us courtesy of The Post and concerns both the Yankees and the Mets and their respective plans to pursue Ben Zobrist this offseason.

Via Dan Martin and Ken Davidoff, the Yankees are unlikely to go hard after Zobrist because of his expected price tag.  The exact quote from the report says “the Yankees aren’t willing to spend as much as Zobrist likely will receive”, and that the Mets will make “a strong push” for Zobrist to address their multiple roster needs.  That information comes from the always reliable unnamed “industry sources”.  They’re better than just regular unnamed sources because they’re definitely in the industry, you see.

All jokes aside, this report makes sense to me.  The MLBTR projection for Zobrist was 3 years/$51 million, this report mentions 4/$60 mil as a possibility, and I’ve already said I don’t see the Yankees going all in on Zobrist for those types of commitments.  They have players in-house who they are seemingly comfortable with handling second base, they’ve got a crowded outfield, and they have greater needs elsewhere.  Giving a 4-year deal to a 35-year-old also doesn’t fit the current roster building plan, even if that 35-year-old is very versatile.

In a vacuum, I’d love to have Zobrist on the team next year.  He would provide flexibility and depth all over the roster and make it easier to move Brett Gardner, who is probably the team’s best chance to get more young, cost-controlled MLB players back in a trade.  It’s strange to accept money as the reason for the Yankees passing on a player who fits their needs, but that’s the new model with ownership.  If they’re waiting for more money to come off the books before spending big again, it makes sense that they’d bypass Zobrist and focus their attention elsewhere. Continue reading Report: Yankees Unlikely To Pursue Zobrist

The 2016 Yankees’ Spring Training schedule has been released

The 2016 Spring Training schedule has been released.

Here are some key dates:

The Yankees will play their first spring game on March 2 at 1:05 p.m. vs. the Tigers in Tampa.


Home opponents include each of the Yankees’ four American League East rivals – Boston (March 5 at 1:05 p.m.), Toronto (March 10 at 1:05 p.m. and March 16 at 6:35 p.m.), Baltimore (March 11 at 1:05 p.m. and March 18 at 6:35 p.m.) and Tampa Bay (March 24 at 6:35 p.m.). The Yankees are scheduled to play five night games at Steinbrenner Field, with each set to begin at 6:35 p.m. – March 16 vs. Toronto, March 18 vs. Baltimore, March 22 vs. the Mets, March 24 vs. Tampa Bay and March 29 vs. Pittsburgh.


The spring slate will conclude with two games against the Marlins at Marlins Park in Miami, the first at 7:05 p.m. on April 1 and the second at 1:05 p.m. on April 2.

Other important dates for the Yankees:

  • Pitchers and catchers report February 18.
  • Their first workout is February 19.
  • Position players report February 24.
  • The first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 25.

Spring training season tickets are already on sale at www.steinbrennerfield.com or www.yankees.com/spring. Individual tickets will go on sale on January 15, 2016 at 10 a.m. Continue reading The 2016 Yankees’ Spring Training schedule has been released

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 11/13/15

It’s a 4-day Palooza this week.  Not including anything good that gets posted today because I’ll be kicking it in Chicago by the time this posts.  Still a very good batch of links this week.

– On Monday, Ben Diamond of BP Bronx reviewed Nathan Eovaldi’s pre- and post-splitter performance in 2015 and touched on what he needs to do to make the pitch even better in 2016.

– El duque of It Is High… concocted a few extreme ideas if Cash really is “open to anything” this offseason.  Always good to think outside the box.

– On Wednesday, William Juliano of The Captain’s Blog laid out his plan for the offseason if ownership is willing to add payroll.  It’s got no step 3, but I think it’s still a pretty good plan.

– Chad Jennings of LoHud looked back at Cash’s recent history of acquiring young MLB-level players with upside and team control.  Been a pretty good strategy so far.

– Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs broke down the keys to understanding Aaron Hicks’ performance to date and potential going forward.  Definitely check this out if you aren’t up to speed on Hicks.

– Mike Axisa of RAB profiled Jeff Samardzija as a free agent target.

– On Thursday, Wally Matthews of ESPN NY did the same thing with Scott Kazmir.

– Chris Carelli of Yankees Unscripted mused on the possible next moves after the Murphy-Hicks trade. Continue reading Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 11/13/15

IIATMS Podcast Episode 42: New York Yankees Hot Stove Heats Up

With the Yankees wheelin’ and dealin’, E.J. and I decided it was time to revive the podcast. We discussed the Jose Pirela/Ronald Herrera and John Ryan Murphy/Aaron Hicks deals, the Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller rumors, and the possible trickle down effects that all of this could have. We also stepped outside of #YankeesOnly land a bit, and talked about the Andrelton Simmons pseudo-blockbuster, and New York State’s newfound stance on FanDuel and DraftKings.


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GM Meetings Day 4 Recap: A Quiet Finish

There were no last-day fireworks for the Yankees yesterday on the final day of the 2015 GM Meetings.  Cash did his damage on Wednesday and in all likelihood laid some groundwork for bigger talks next month.  Most of the big news yesterday came from the rest of the league.

– The biggest news is recent former Yankee front officer and new Anaheim GM Billy Eppler making a splash and acquiring all-world defensive shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the Braves for Erick Aybar, prospects, and cash.  I like the move if the Angels think they can perk up Simmons’ bat, which Atlanta apparently did not think was possible anymore.  Anaheim is already in “win now” mode with the guys they’ve got, no reason for Eppler to not be aggressive if he thinks it improves the team.

– The Mariners kept dealing as well, picking up righty reliever Joaquin Benoit from the Padres.  The AL West should be fun next year.

– Via Ken Rosenthal, it sounds like Colby Rasmus will be the first player to accept his qualifying offer.  That would mean he’ll get $15.8 million next year and have another shot at free agency.  Not bad for a dude who played on a 1-year/$8 mil deal in 2015.  Guys like Rasmus can make a nice chunk of change for themselves by accepting qualifying offers.  Maybe we’ll start to see more players do it now.

– One small bit of Yankee news.  The Silver Slugger Award winners were announced last night and Brian McCann took home the award for AL catcher.  He hit .232/.320/.437 with 26 HR and 94 RBI, so congrats to him.

– And in the kinda sorta Yankee news category, former World Series MVP Scott Brosius has been hired as the Mariners’ new Triple-A hitting coach. Continue reading GM Meetings Day 4 Recap: A Quiet Finish

Current State of the Yankees’ Rotation

[caption id="attachment_79339" align="alignnone" width="594"](NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)    in action against the at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 4-1. The Yankees clinched a wildcard playoff position and won their 10,000th regular season game. .[/caption]

The awfulness of the New York Yankees offense down the stretch got most of the attention and blame for the downfall of the second half, but the starting pitching played a role as well and the Yankees are in an interesting spot this offseason when it comes to their rotation.

The Yankees finished 18th in starters ERA at 4.25, but eighth with a 3.75 xFIP. The biggest issue was a lack of innings, as the Yankees finished 21st in MLB in starters innings and it felt worse than that. CC Sabathia of all pitchers led the team with 167.1 innings. This really manifested itself down the stretch when the bullpen performance fell off due to too many innings.

The things with the Yankees starting rotation is that it’s tantalizing with potential, almost like a tease. We’ve seen Masahiro Tanaka perform like an ace at times. We’ve seen flashes from Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi that suggest they can be good second and third starters. The problem is that between injuries and their own inconsistencies it hasn’t been shown enough.

Tanaka’s peripherals were better than his overall numbers last year and he fell victim to some bad home run luck. Tanaka held opposing batters to a .217 average in 2015 grounders were slightly up, his hard contact given up fell by four percent and his soft contact given up lowered by two percent. The velocity was a non-issue, as he threw harder in 2015 than in 2014, but the effectiveness of his fastball remains a big issue. It’s hard to be a top of the line starter without having an effective fastball. He allowed nine homers and a .318 average against his four-seam fastball last season.

Pineda is definitely the most baffling player on the Yankees. His 2.95 xFIP far outweighs his 4.37 ERA. His 8.74 K/9 ratio compared to his 1.18 BB/9 ratio is terrific, as is his 48.2 percent ground ball rate. Was it just horrible luck for Pineda with his .332 BABIP? It seemed like when things went bad for Pineda they snowballed. That seemed to happen when he didn’t have his good slider. Obviously, developing the changeup more would be big to help that. Maybe it’s a case of Pineda being around the plate too often since he doesn’t walk anybody. Larry Rothschild usually has pitchers overachieving for the Yankees and not underachieving. Pineda underachieved, so it needs to be figured out what exactly happened after his awesome start to the season.

Eovaldi definitely improved greatly over the second half of the season with his splitter, but you want to see it for longer to be completely convinced. Luis Severino made a great impact down the stretch, but outperformed his peripherals a little bit and should the Yankees rely on what will be a 22-year old at the top of the rotation?

The depth is pretty good if both Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchel are considered starting pitchers. If Sabathia is the fifth starter by default again than Warren, Mitchell and Ivan Nova are some talented arms and  form a pretty good 6-7-8 to put in when the inevitable injuries hit.

This all screams for an ace pitcher who you could depend on for over 200 innings. It would make such a huge difference to slide everybody back a spot. You could conceivably have Eovaldi as your fifth starter. How awesome would that be? There are certainly guys like that available from David Price to Zack Greinke to Johnny Cueto. Of course the Hal Steinbrenner Yankees are much more likely to trade or sign a mid rotation innings eater pitcher and try to convince Yankees fans that Tanaka, Pineda and Severino will lead the rotation at the top based off flashes. That’s a risk that didn’t really work out last year, but since it’s the cheaper option it probably won’t stop the Yankees from doing it again. Continue reading Current State of the Yankees’ Rotation