The All Free Agent Team

There are three days until pitchers and catchers meet, yet the free agent market still sits idle with players starting to scramble for teams. Ervin Santana could be the next signing, as he’s made it clear that he’s ready for Spring Training. Free agents are free to sign at any point in February and March, and could even wait until mid-season, but it’s abnormal to have so many quality players still available in mid-February. So let’s have some fun with it and make an All Free Agent Team.

C Yenier Bello
1B Kendrys Morales
2B Aledmys Diaz
SS Stephen Drew
3B Brett Wallace
LF Andres Torres
CF Rusney Castillo
RF Nelson Cruz

I cheated on a few of these players. Bello, Diaz, and Castillo are all Cuban players that are or will be available fairly soon. Bello is already cleared to sign, and though the 28 year old is far from a prospect, he has a much more projectable bat than our only other option, Kelly Shoppach.…

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Report: Pineda says he’s 100 percent

Michael Pineda has shown up to training camp early and has proclaimed to be “100 percent.” This should be happy news for the Yankees and their fans because poor Pineda hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since September 2011.

Pineda proudly said, “I’m going to compete for the rotation. I’m the same Michael Pineda. I’m 100 percent now and my body is in good shape.”

Pineda, who is now 25, tore his labrum in 2012, had surgery soon after and has been trying to make his way back to the Yankees. “It’s been hard for me because I was traded and I was excited to pitch in New York,” Pineda added, “Then with the surgery and not pitching for two years, it’s hard.”

He wants to contribute to the team for the first time since being traded from Seattle in early 2012. “In 2012, when the Yankees made the playoffs, I wanted to be there and last year, too, I was sad because I want to pitch,” Pineda said.…

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Don’t Sleep On The Importance Of Ivan Nova

Nova vs BAL

Before January 22nd, Ivan Nova was a, perhaps THE, critical part of the starting rotation for 2014.  The Yankees’ top 2 starters were older and both coming off varying degrees of tough seasons.  CC Sabathia was downright bad for most of 2013 and Hiroki Kuroda stumbled to the finish line after another heavy workload.  With a bunch of unproven back end guys behind him, Nova was going to be expected to carry a much bigger portion of the rotation load if one of the top 2 faltered again or got hurt, and he was going to have to pitch really well if the Yankees were going to have any chance of making it back to the postseason.

After January 22nd, and the addition of Masahiro Tanaka to the rotation, it’s almost as if Nova has become an afterthought.  Tanaka has cast a much brighter glow over the entire rotation, turning Sabathia into a fit, trim former ace ready to bounce back and reclaim his title, Kuroda back into the reliable #2 he’s really always been, and making the 5th starter competition much less important than it was on January 21st.  …

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Monday Night Open Thread/Tanaka Game Thread 2/10/14

In case you didn’t know, the YES Network is showing a Masahiro Tanaka start from last June tonight at 7 P.M.

I thought it would be fun to have an open thread/game thread tonight so you could discuss the game (if you’re watching it) or anything else you’d like to discuss.

AP/Kyodo News

AP/Kyodo News

Enjoy!

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Projecting 2014: Masahiro Tanaka

AP/Kyodo News

AP/Kyodo News

Without throwing a single MLB pitch, Masahiro Tanaka received the fifth biggest contract for a pitcher in baseball history. Needless to say, the expectations for the right-handed are high. The $155 million contract plus the $20 million posting fee make it look like Tanaka could be the next great ace, but in reality, the pitcher simply found himself in the perfect storm of a market to overpay him.

The new CBA has severely limited the amount of money that teams can spend internationally, and very few markets now remain so open. The Japanese market is unrestricted, but the old posting system forced teams to blindly bid against each other to eventually offer a Japanese player a contract with no competitive offers. The new system allows any team to negotiate with any Japanese player, but the price to sign that player is determined by the Japanese team, who could ask for as much as $20 million. At 25 years old, with ace-like upside, Tanaka found himself as one of the youngest and talented free agents in MLB history during this offseason.…

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Signing Stephen Drew Makes Even More Sense Now

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

The Yanks appear to be all done with the Major League free agent market now that we’ve entered the final week of the offseason before pitchers and catchers report.  Per Adam Rubin’slatest report, they might want to rethink that strategy and make a move for Stephen Drew.

According to Rubin, Scott Boras is looking for a multi-year deal with an opt-out clause after the 1st year for Drew.  That’s enough to scare off the Mets, and the rest of MLB already hasn’t been quick to jump at Drew thanks mainly to the draft pick forfeiture that comes with him.  Drew makes a ton of sense for the Yankees for baseball reasons, not so much on business reasons.  This opt-out clause could actually work to their advantage in reducing some of that business risk on the deal.

The Yanks only have to give up a 2nd round pick to sign Drew right now because they’ve already sacrificed their other ones for their previous signings.  …

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Tempering Expectations For Tanaka

AP Photo/Kyodo News

AP Photo/Kyodo News

Brian Cashman made some carefully worded and much publicized statements about Masahiro Tanaka earlier this week. Among other things, he characterized Tanaka’s upside as a “#3 starter.” One can reasonably conclude that Cashman’s declarations were designed to temper expectations, relieve pressure, and perhaps even implicitly acknowledge the potential competitive advantage of pitching in the middle of the rotation.

Cashman also pointed to several oft-overlooked factors which make the transition from the Nippon League to MLB challenging. As has been widely observed due to the publicity surrounding Tanaka’s exceptionally long postseason outings in 2013, Japanese starters throw more pitches per outing, but they also pitch less often. The strike zone is called substantially larger in Nippon, so more contact is encouraged, lineups have fewer power hitters, and a greater premium is placed on defensive ability. Even the ball is different, slightly smaller.

It seems logical that Cashman and Yankees fans expect some growing pains during Tanaka’s rookie season (as you would with any rookie).…

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Ralph Kiner and the 1955 pennant race

Most New York baseball fans think of Ralph Kiner in association with his 53 amazing years of broadcasting for the New York Mets. But eight years before he first sat behind the microphone for the Mets, he almost had an impact on another New York team. Ralph Kiner was a member of the 1955 Cleveland Indians that fought down to the wire with the Yankees in that year’s pennant race.

1955 was Kiner’s tenth and last season in Major League Baseball and it was his first legitimate opportunity to play with a team that could go all the way. Just the season before, the Indians had won 111 of its 154 games to win the pennant by eight games over a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Indians were swept in the 1954 World Series by the New York Giants in one of the biggest upsets of the century.

Despite Kiner’s prodigious career to that point, the Indians picked him up as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Toothpick Sam Jones to the Cubs from Cleveland the previous September.…

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