Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Shopping Season Continues

            Needing to rebound after getting slam dunked by Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees quickly fired back with the nifty free agent signing of Carlos Beltran; a player who can immediately slot into the vacated Number 3 hole in the lineup.

            The former Met centerfielder will be 37 years old in 2014, but coming off a season in which he batted .294 and slugged 24 homeruns, the switch-hitter with power Beltran will serve as the ideal No. 3 hitter as other switch-hitters that roamed centerfield at Yankee Stadium have.

            With his age, and especially with the signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, Beltran will be relegated to play rightfield, which should be no problem for the former Gold Glove winner. The Yankees originally passed on Beltran and his demand for a third year on a new deal, but after the Cano fiasco, the Front Office had to scramble fast to get some power back into the lineup and caved to Beltran. For the next two seasons he should be able to hold is own out in right, then for that final year he could be a 'Raul Ibanez' type DH. He'll bring homeruns and RBIs to the rightfield position which was dreadful last season due to Ichiro's poor production. As for the vacant second base position, in addition to Kelly Johnson who was signed a few weeks ago as a utility backup, Brian Cashman took a flyer on former Oriole Brian Roberts on a one-year deal. Roberts, another switch-hitter with a little pop in his bat, has had a string of bad injuries over the past few seasons, but managed to play in 70 games in 2013, so Cashman hopes he can get lucky with Roberts the way he's done in the past with fragile players such as Eric Chavez and Bartolo Colon.

           The Roberts signing came after a rumored trade fell through that would've send Brett Gardner to the Reds for their second baseman Brandon Phillips, who is one of the top players at second in the game. Cashman didn't want to have to pick up the remaining years on Phillips' deal, so they decided to keep Gardy with his Southern Comfort theme music and go with Roberts. Of course, the rumored deal was a complete reverse from Cashman's original statement that they weren't shopping Gardner around at the annual GM Winter Meetings

            Unless there's any drastic injuries or criminal charges for A-Rod, the 2014 Opening Day Lineup for the New York Yankees should be something as follows:

               1. Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
               2. Derek Jeter - SS
               3. Carlos Beltran - RF
               4. Alex Rodriguez - DH
               5. Mark Teixeira - 1B
               6. Brian McCann - C
               7. Eduardo Nunez - 3B
               8. Brian Roberts - 2B
               9. Brett Gardner - LF

            Even if A-Rod does get hammered, Girardi could also move Beltran into the DH position and have Ichiro in the lineup and playing rightfield for a while. There's been talks of bringing back Mark Reynolds for third base, who was a good pickup last season for Cashman, but so far they've only been rumors. Infielder guru Brendan Ryan is still on the roster. Clearly, the Yankees are unhappy with Eduardo Nunez's inability to field a ground ball without having the entire stadium hold its breath.

           As expected, both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes officially became ex-Yankees with Joba moving to Detroit and Phil Hughes getting a three-year deal from Minnesota to pitch in their spacious ballpark. Boone Logan also left the Bombers for the Colorado Rockies, a place where pitcher ERAs skyrocket to Venus. To get a lefty option out of the pen back, the Yankees rolled the dice on hard-throwing Matt Thornton who saw limited time with Boston last season before getting injured. Other than that, GM Brian Cashman seems content with the guys who were contributing last season out of the Yankee pen; Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, David Huff, Cesar Cabral, David Phelps, and naturally David Robertson.

               There's been no new news on Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka, but he would be the ultimate present under the tree.

             That's if Cashman hasn't already maxed out his credit cards at the mall.....

Friday, December 6, 2013

Too Two Bad Negotiations

            They didn't let Bernie Williams walk, they didn't let Jeter walk, they outbid themselves to not let Alex Rodriguez walk, but for some reason the New York Yankees allowed Robinson Cano to walk off to the Siberia of baseball, that is Seattle.

            Meanwhile, he is only 31 years old, in the prime of his career, and probably had more upside to go at this point of his playing career than any of the previously mentioned names at their points of getting new contracts. This coming a few days after the Yankees felt it was worthwhile to completely overpay Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million dollars on a seven-year contract when he's barely half the overall talent that Cano is. Ellsbury also has a history of missing large chunks of seasons due to various injuries when Cano makes about every start at second base, even commonly playing both games of double-headers. For being in the lineup everyday, for being the best offensive and defensive second baseman in the game, for never being on the DL; the Yankee front office only valued that for $180 million across the seven years (only a mere $30 million bump above the always-injured Ellsbury they pissed money away on).

            Initially talks between Cano's people and Seattle were said to be halted as Jay-Z wanted the Mariners to up their $225 million offer to $252 million, but a day or two later both parties agreed on a $240 million match point over ten years. This all going on while the Yankees were introducing their new $85 million dollar catcher Brian McCann from Atlanta and making plans to introduce their new centerfielder they snagged from Boston, Jacoby Ellsbury. One would think the Yankees would also overpay for one of their homegrown talents who seemed destined for Monument Park, but he must have been behind A-Rod and Jeter in pink jersey sales and deemed not worth keeping.

             Granted Cano's laid back demeanor and since he doesn't bust out of the box alot on groundballs has many believe Cano is lazy and not a "gamer", but also he never shows up on the DL for tweaked hamstrings or groins. Also, to get a middle infielder that puts up outfielder-type power numbers is unheard of and the Yankees have lost a very unique talent. It would have been insane for the Yankees to match Seattle's over-the-top offer, so they might think they come off looking like the good guys, but they backed themselves in the corner by going too far for Ellsbury. How can Cano stay in New York for $180 million in which the Yanks weren't geared to overpay after the Yankees did a complete 180 in overpaying $153 million for Ellsbury? So in the end both sides come off looking guilty and there's no clean cut winner here. Even Seattle and their monstrous ballpark, if they think Cano is going to hit as many homers there as he did in Yankee Stadium, they're in for quite a surprise. And if Cano didn't run out grounders in front of all the millions watching at Yankee Stadium, what do you think he will do in front of the three Japanese tourist in Seattle?

           The only way for the Yankees to have come off clean in this process was to NOT do the Ellsbury deal until AFTER the Cano thing was settled. If Cano was resigned and the opportunity was there, then that would've been the time to get Ellsbury. Had Cano gone to Seattle, then fine, the Yanks could've sold it as the extra money was now available to get Ellsbury and Yankee fans would've completely understood. Instead, the Yanks gave seven years to Ellsbury, when probably nobody else was giving even five, yet stand their ground in only getting Cano at they numbers they want. Despite getting McCann, which overall is a very good addition, the Yankee offseason might be viewed as a failure by Yankee fans for A) Overpaying for Ellsbury (former Red Sox) B) Letting Cano (homegrown) escape to Seattle. Unless Brian Cashman has a few rabbits to pull out of his hat or somehow they land Tanaka from Japan, 2014 isn't looking as great as Yankee fans were projecting with Cano being surely resigned.

Tale of the Tape: Cano vs. Ellsbury (recently) 

1. Ellsbury - Age 30 - Centerfield

2013 - 134 Games .298 BA  9 HR  53 RBI  92 Runs  52 SB
2012 - 74 Games   .271 BA  4 HR  26 RBI  43 Runs  14 SB
2011 - 158 Games .321 BA  32 HR  105 RBI  119 Runs  39 SB
2010 - 18 Games   .192 BA  0 HR  5 RBI  10 Runs  7 SB
2009 - 153 Games .301 BA  8 HR  60 RBI  94 Runs  70 SB

2. Cano - Age 31 - Second base

2013 - 160 Games .314 BA  27 HR  107 RBI  81 Runs 7 SB
2012 - 161 Games .313 BA  33 HR  94 RBI  105 Runs 2 SB
2011 - 159 Games .302 BA  28 HR  118 RBI 104 Runs 8 SB
2010 - 160 Games .319 BA  29 HR  109 RBI  103 Runs 3 SB
2009 - 161 Games .320 BA  25 HR  85 RBI  103 Runs  5 SB

            The numbers clearly show Cano is overwhelmingly the better player and the only advantage Ellsbury can brag about is his base stealing ability. As players age, they don't tend to get faster, and in no way is Ellsbury in the class of Rickey Henderson in that department. Ellsbury can't put multiple healthy seasons together while Cano makes about every game on the schedule, but the Yankees were okay with giving Ellsbury a seven-year commitment.

             For the near term having Ellsbury playing CF for the Yankees and leading off isn't a terrible proposition at all. Alot of it is pending on the successful returns of Teixeira and Jeter, plus the unknown whereabouts of A-Rod. By also adding McCann and having Soriano and Gardner floating around, the Yankees will still be able to produce runs. With the money saved by not spending on Cano, and maybe the Yanks save more if A-Rod is suspended, they can perhaps bid higher to get Tanaka, work on the bullpen, and get someone like Omar Infante for second base, who is a pretty solid player in his own right. The available money would also allow them to have more cash to throw around for future free agents to come. Adding Ellsbury in CF gives the Yankees a chance to put Brett Gardner's name on the market to see what returns he can bring in, as well as it weakens their rival the Boston Red Sox by taking their best free agent player out of their lineup. Ellsbury's swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium's right field porch, and like McCann, can transform themselves into being 25 homer hitters in pinstripes. The annoying part of the Ellsbury deal is going to be those final 3-4 years of the contract as well as the fact it likely came at the expense of losing Cano.

            This story will be talked about for a long time because rarely, if ever, have the Yankees allowed a player of this capacity walk off to another team. Reggie Jackson was a completely different scenario since he was much older than Cano and had an injury-filled 1981 when he bolted for the California Angels in 1982. With those conditions, it was still a non-move that George Steinbrenner later regretted. This offseason looked like the old George Steinbrenner was around the way the money flowed for McCann, Ellsbury, and everyone thought Cano too. Then the Hal-Cashman combo drew a line in the sand and wouldn't budge.

            Even with Cano's great numbers, there must have been something else that the Yankee front office didn't see valuable enough to up their offer to Cano. There was never a dramatic homer he hit in the postseason. When Jeter and A-Rod began to fizzle a little, Cano never took the reigns of the team and became "The Man" as he should have. Cano couldn't draw in the marketing potential that the likes of Jeter, A-Rod, Bernie, Donnie, Cone, Tino, Posada, O'Neill, or Rivera brought to the table. The fashion in which Derek Jeter loves and embraces being a New York Yankee; that same level of passion never seemed to be on display with Robinson Cano. It's not his fault to be someone that remains quiet and talks with his bat, but when large amounts of money are being discussed, these extra circular activities were probably taken into consideration with ticket sales and the YES Network channel in mind. Even going back to 2008 when Joe Girardi pulled Cano from a game after appearing uninteresting in chasing a ground ball in the field, there's always been something in the air with Cano because it would be unimaginable for Jeter, or even Jason Giambi, to get pulled from a game like that.

            To help soften the blow for Yankee fans, the deal for Hiroki Kuroda was officially confirmed in terms of one-year for $16 million. Former Yankee Curtis Grandson will move across to the neighboring borough of Queens to hit balls to the warning track of CitiField for four-years at $60 million.

             Yankee fans have always complained that Cano was lazy, didn't hustle, did nothing in the playoffs, and the team would be better off without him, now we'll see..........