Quick hit: A-Rod walks out of arbitration hearing (Updated)

In today’s installment of “As the Arbitration Hearing Turns,” Alex Rodriguez walked out of the hearing after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order commissioner Bud Selig in to testify.

Here is A-Rod’s statement in full:

“I am disgusted with this abusive process designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”

Most people will call Alex a prima donna and say it’s just an act or that he’s stupid and ruining his case but he does have a point. Bud Selig is the one hellbent on making an example of Rodriguez by slapping him with an unprecedented 211-game suspension, so why doesn’t the commissioner have to testify? That seems awfully fishy to me.

But, as we all know, I’m not a lawyer, I didn’t go to law school and it took me two tries to pass a practice bat exam as a senior in high school so I am not familiar with the ins and outs of this sort of thing. Continue reading Quick hit: A-Rod walks out of arbitration hearing (Updated)

Musing On The Playing Time Breakdown At Shortstop

Jeter ST

It’s way too early to call anything for sure, but it sure looks like the Yankees are done addressing the shortstop position for 2014.  They gave Derek Jeter a new contract, in all likelihood his final one, so he can try to go out on his terms as the starter and they hedged their bets by re-signing Brendan Ryan to a reported 1-year/$2 million deal as the backup.  With as many other roster holes as they have to fill and the front office sticking to its “we’re planning to have A-Rod around next year” story, it seems highly unlikely that they will go out and drop another $10-15 million on a Stephen Drew or a Jhonny Peralta as a third option.  Realistically we can assume the Yankees will roll with The Captain and B-Ry (still working on Ryan’s nickname) at short and will split the bulk, if not all, of the playing time there between the 2.

Now the question becomes just how that playing time is going to be split up.  Nobody needs to be reminded of Jeter’s pride and competitive streak.  The number one reason he’s coming back next year is to prove to everybody that he can defy the odds and be a good starting shortstop at age 40.  It’s a worthy goal and kudos to him for having it, but it’s not one the Yankees appear to be fully on board with.  If they were, they wouldn’t have re-signed Ryan so quickly and wouldn’t still be in on Drew and Peralta.  They’re planning for the worst more than hoping for the best, and so why not look ahead and try to project what that plan might entail. Continue reading Musing On The Playing Time Breakdown At Shortstop

Yanks Aren’t Buying Into The Amazin’ Robinson Cano

[caption id="attachment_60895" align="aligncenter" width="720"]NY Mets Spring Training NY Post photo composite[/caption]

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and owner Jeff Wilpon met with Robinson Cano‘s representatives, Brodie Van Wagenen and Juan Perez, for dinner last night in what the NY Post called a “secret meeting” about the second baseman. Of course, it’s not so secret anymore.

The Mets do have money to spend this winter, but they have many more needs than even the Yankees. The intention of joining Van Wagenen and Perez for dinner last night was to get more acquainted with Jay Z’s representation, and perhaps open up the door for future free agents. Of course, the free food didn’t hurt either.

But the Mets have little chance of signing the biggest agent this offseason. Cano is reportedly still asking for a 10 year $300 million deal, and the Mets are still reluctant to give out anything over $100 million. Quite obviously, this “secret meeting” was supposed to be leaked to the media to get the Yankees a little worried about losing out on their top free agent target.

The Yankees aren’t taking the bait. Today, Randy Levine told the media that the organization has nothing to talk about to Cano’s side until they lower their ridiculous asking price. If anything, this move to use the Mets, of all teams, comes off as somewhat desperate. At the moment the only reasonable threat for Cano this winter is the Tigers, and Detroit has already shown signs that they want to cut their own budget by trading Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello.
Continue reading Yanks Aren’t Buying Into The Amazin’ Robinson Cano

Yankees Have Interest In Bringing Back Raul Ibanez

According to George King and Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have interest in bringing back Raul Ibanez as the left-handed DH. Perhaps unhappy with the idea of Ichiro Suzuki DHing against right-handed pitchers, it looks like the team wants to target another power hitting DH platoon for 2014.

With the health of Jeter in question, I figured the Yankees would want to keep the DH as open as possible. Signing Ibanez would mean they either plan on cutting his playing time or that they think Jeter can fully recover and play a decent short stop at the age of 40.

Ibanez should also cost some real money. Despite slowing down in the later-half of the last two seasons, the slugger continues to average around 20+ home runs a year. If the price reaches a few million dollars, it’ll be a lot easier to remember how streaky he was in 2012. Continue reading Yankees Have Interest In Bringing Back Raul Ibanez

Don’t Forget About Teix

Teix Thug Life

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

While the bulk of the early offseason talk has been about the Yankees upgrading offensively in the outfield and behind the plate, it’s worth revisiting the huge hit in production the team took at first base last year because of the wrist injury to Mark Teixeira.  Teix played in 15 games this year, 2 fewer than Derek Jeter, and with his .151/.270/.340 slash line and 3 HR/12 RBI included, the Yankees managed only a .229/.292/.397 tripleslash with 22 HR and 83 RBI from the first base position in 2013.  Their 58 total R scored from first were tied for last in MLB.

The bulk of that paltry production came from Lyle Overbay, Teix’s temporary replacement who was in over his head once he became the full-time guy.  Overbay isn’t expected back in 2014 with the return of Teix on the horizon, but somewhat surprisingly Cash shot down any rumors that the Yankees were looking for insurance at first for next season.  Via Dan Martin of The Post, Cash had this to say when asked about the current first base situation:

“I’m looking for a lot of things, but a first baseman isn’t one of them.  I saw Mark recently and he said he was doing well and seems to be recovering nicely. So there’s no reason to think he can’t be a regular first baseman next season.” Continue reading Don’t Forget About Teix

Free Agent: Jacoby Ellsbury

As we continue discussing the Yankees’ free agent interests this offseason, we reach the Yankees third and final outfield target this winter, Jacoby Ellsbury. Though the team vocally prefers Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo to the 30 year old Ellsbury, it’s possible that the Red Sox center fielder receives the most attention overall, and subsequently the largest contract.

The left-handed hitter owns a career .297/.350/.439 slash and a 109 wRC+ in his career. 2011 was undoubtedly his best season, where he hit 32 home runs with a .321/.376/.552 slash in 732 plate appearances. Ellsbury came in second place in the AL MVP voting that season, behind Justin Verlander, but he has since been a victim of a handful of bizarre injuries and mediocre offensives performances. After a major shoulder injury in the beginning of 2012, Ellsbury has missed time with left and right wrist soreness, a groin strain, and a fracture in his foot from a foul ball. He saw 959 regular season plate appearances of the last two years, and hit .289/.341/.407 during that time with just 13 home runs. His 104 OPS+ has him just slightly above average offensively, and there’s a serious concern that his power will never return.

A lot of Ellsbury’s value is in his legs. He’s one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, and in 2013 UZR/150 had him at 12.9, DRS at 13 runs saved above average, and RZR at .929. In each of these defensive metrics, over both 2013 and his entire career, Ellsbury excelled at saving runs with his range. Though his arm strength is poor, he also creates runs on the bases with his speed. In 2013, he led baseball with 52 bases stolen, 28 more than Brett Gardner.

As I continue to mention, the Yankees are looking at left-handed outfielders to replace Curtis Granderson this season. Perhaps the right field porch will help Ellsbury regain some of that power he lost over the last couple of years, but it’s hard to see him improve that drastically. With that said, Ellsbury has shown some splits that can be easily improved by the New York environment. His .246/.323/.318 slash against left-handed pitchers is a deterrent for most teams, but hitting coach Kevin Long has a history of fixing left-handed swings against southpaws. In New York, Ellsbury would fit best in left field, with Brett Gardner in center field, but then there’s some worry about how his arm strength will translate in the corner.

His agent stated that he’s looking for a deal larger than $100 million, and MLB Trade Rumors predicts that he’ll receive 7 years $150 million. From my point of view, that’s far too high for an injury-prone 30 year old that now relies on his legs. Perhaps it’s the fact that Ellsbury played in one of the biggest media markets in baseball, or that his agent is the notorious Scott Boras, but Ellsbury’s value is undoubtedly over-hyped. Carl Crawford is a great example of the risks involved with outfielders that rely on speed. Injuries and quickly declining BABIP’s catch up to these players fast as age and collisions slow down their legs. If Ellsbury ever returned to his 2011 offensive prowess, any contract would be well worth it, but gambling with $100+ million is unwise for a team looking to cut down on their budget. Continue reading Free Agent: Jacoby Ellsbury

Monday morning news and notes: Nathan, Ryan and A-Rod, oh my!

Good morning, everyone!

In case you missed it, per Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger, there were rumblings yesterday about the Yankees contacting free agent closer Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour and reliever Javier Lopez. Brian Cashman spoke with reporters last week at the GM meetings and did not want to appoint David Robertson as Mariano Rivera‘s heir apparent so the Yankees reaching out to free agents like Balfour and Nathan isn’t surprising even though it’s somewhat annoying. Personally, I think Robertson would be a perfectly serviceable closer if he needs to be in that role. Lopez could possibly replace either Joba Chamberlain, who more than likely won’t be re-signed by the Yankees or Boone Logan who is drawing some interest from teams like the Nationals. It should be an interesting winter around these parts. The Yankee bullpen could look very different come Spring.

It was just revealed this morning that the Yankees have signed Brendan Ryan. According to Jon Heyman of CBS, Yankee sources have confirmed that Ryan, who batted .197 for the Yankees in 2013 but provided stellar defense was signed as an insurance policy for the returning Derek Jeter.

Alex Rodriguez was back in NY this morning for the resumption of his hearing. It was reported by ESPN this weekend that local Florida investigators were accusing Major League Baseball of illegally obtaining Biogenesis files and impeding their investigation Anthony Boesch.

Part of me, and if you regularly read this blog, you know why, wants this whole thing to blow up in Bud Selig’s face. One, the outrage would be hilarious to watch and two, look at reason number one.

Happy Monday! Continue reading Monday morning news and notes: Nathan, Ryan and A-Rod, oh my!

If Not D-Rob For Closer Next Year, Then Who?

Grant Balfour

With the GM meetings now in the rearview, there’s an even busier Yankee offseason to-do list in place.  They need multiple starting pitchers, they still need to re-sign Robinson Cano, they’re looking to upgrade at right field, catcher, shortstop, third base, and possibly DH, and they may be in the market for a new closer.  Despite being the apparent in-house favorite after Mo’s retirement, Cash stated pretty definitively last week that the Yankees had not designated David Robertson as next year’s closer and that they were looking for a more “proven” option on the free agent market.

Putting aside the comments questioning D-Rob’s capability of closing and the motivation for making them, there is some sound logic to this plan.  The Yankees are missing 60+ elite-level relief innings from their bullpen with Mo out of the picture and those innings aren’t easily absorbed by just signing a rehabbing David Aardsma-type off the FA scrap heap or calling up Mark Montgomery and calling it a day.  The Yankees do need another arm at the back end of their bullpen, and if nothing else, going after a proven closer covers them for the 8th and 9th innings again.  So if it’s not going to be D-Rob trotting out to start the bottom of the 9th next season, who else could it be? Continue reading If Not D-Rob For Closer Next Year, Then Who?