What happened: This part of camp is usually dominated by the pitchers and catchers, but today’s highlight came from a position player. Mark Teixeira is on this side early since he’s a rehabbing player, and he was pleased by his on-field batting practice session.
Teixeira took 22 swings from the left side of the plate and 21 from the right side. He also hit off a tee, spraying quite a few line drives around the outfield. There were no home runs, but one ball hit the left-field fence on the fly.
“I actually felt better left-handed today. My swing path felt a lot better left-handed,” Teixeira said. “I was coming around it too much right-handed, but it’s just something that the first couple of weeks of Spring Training, I’ll make sure that bat path is good and your bat speed is good. Good first day, though.”
It was interesting to watch Teixeira and hitting coach Kevin Long analyze each swing, particularly while Teixeira was hitting off a tee. They were really going over mechanics and trying to get everything right at the earliest stage. This was Teixeira’s first time hitting on the field; all of his offseason hitting took place indoors.
“Nice to see the sunshine,” he said. “You can kind of trick yourself with how good you’re doing, because off the bat you can hit line drives and it looks good or it feels good. But if the ball is dying and it’s not traveling at all, then you know that you don’t have that power. Getting on the tee and getting outside and seeing the ball travel, seeing some nice line drives, seeing some nice fly balls – it was good to see that.”
What else happened: There were two bullpen groups, and it’s noteworthy – though not necessarily indicative of anything – that Matt Daley was included with Shawn Kelley, David Robertson and Matt Thornton. Daley is a non-roster invitee, but he was up with the Yankees last year and had good numbers at Triple-A. He figures to get a look for a bullpen spot. The other bullpens were thrown by Manny Banuelos, Cesar Cabral, Brian Gordon, Chris Leroux and Mark Montgomery.
What we learned: Masahiro Tanaka laced up his Asics running shoes this morning and said that yesterday’s four lap-event was more of a miscommunication than anything else. Tanaka hadn’t expected to run a mile after throwing a bullpen, but now he’ll know that’s a possibility next time. As for today’s running?
“Today was short distance. No problem at all,” Tanaka said, with a smile.
What we learned II: After missing all of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the smart money is that Banuelos will begin the year at Triple-A, but Girardi doesn’t sound ready to completely rule out the idea of Banuelos breaking camp with the team.
“This is a guy who hasn’t pitched a lot in the last couple years, and he’ll probably have some limitations on how many games you can throw him, and that will have to be evaluated,” Girardi said. “But we’re going to look at every arm in camp, and try to put the 12 best together, and we’ll try to go from there. That doesn’t just limit him to being a starter. Who knows? He could be in the bullpen.”
What else: When Girardi writes out the lineups in his head, they always include Derek Jeter and Teixeira.
“They’re back, in my mind,” Girardi said. “But I think you have to get them in games to see exactly where they’re at, to be fair to them, and probably to alleviate any doubt that you might have. But in my mind, going into this year, with the surgeries they’ve had and the winters they’ve had, I’m expecting them to be players for us.”
Just one more thing: Catcher Pete O’Brien puts on a show in batting practice. Standing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he’s got a big right-handed bat and hit 22 homers last year for Class-A Charleston and Tampa.
What they said: “I hope to play five more really productive years. I feel healthy, I’m in good shape. If the wrist is healthy, there’s no reason why I can’t be there for a long time. As long as someone will put me in the middle of a lineup, and at first base every day, I’ll keep playing.” – Teixeira
What’s next: Same time, same place tomorrow. Expect to see the guys on the field shortly after 10:15 a.m. ET. Position players report on Wednesday, with the first full-squad workout set for Thursday.
If you think about it, today marked the first of the hundreds of press conferences and interviews that Joe Girardi will give during the season — usually two a day during the 40-plus days of Spring Training, two a day for each of the 162 regular season games, and we’re not even counting his appearances on the YES Network and other news outlets.
So it’s safe to say we’ll all be hearing Girardi’s voice quite a bit for the rest of the year, but there’s only one official report day for pitchers and catchers. Girardi’s flight from New York to Florida was delayed by weather, so he went directly from the airport to the podium at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Here are the highlights of his 20-minute session:
What was your reaction to Derek Jeter’s announcement, and did you know it was coming?
“I had not heard before that, so I think we were probably all a little bit taken aback by it. You’re never sure how someone’s going to do it, but I had no inkling that that’s what he was thinking, so I was a little taken aback by it. I listened to some of his comments on the article that he had written about how more difficult to get ready and he said when it becomes more of a job than playing then it’s something you have to think about. I can remember a long time ago, Kevin Tapani telling me that it wasn’t the day he pitched. It was the work the four days prior to pitching that became so much more difficult for him. He’s played a lot of games and played a long time, and obviously he’s been so important to this organization. We’re going to miss him.”
Did you get a sense last year about how difficult it was for him?
“That was really clear. We all know how much he loves to be out there. Even when he was trying to fight through it, he would tell me he felt great. His words that he always uses to me: ‘I feel great.’ But you could see how frustrated he was that it just wasn’t healed completely. I’m looking forward to this year.”
You saw what it was like last year with Mariano Rivera… what will this be like?
“I’m not sure how he’ll do it. I thought Mariano, the way he went through it, was special. Mo was in a different situation because Mo doesn’t start to get ready until the fifth or sixth. As a position player, you can’t necessarily do that. I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different. I think watching Mo, he really enjoyed his final season, and I hope Derek is able to do that as well.”
You’ve had to transition established stars into the later phase of their careers. You don’t have to do that with him now. Is that easier on you?
“I don’t know if it makes it easier. It’s clearer. The picture is clearer. This is a guy that’s going to be hard to replace in your clubhouse and on your club. It’s the nature of the business where people age and they move on and they go and do different things in their life, and in our life it’s a little bit quicker than some of the other working people of this world. It’s not something that we’ll think about all year. ‘Is this going to be it? Is this going to be it?’ Because he said it’s going to be it. From that standpoint, that will be easier.”
Any sense how much he can play this year?
“I’ve said all along that he’ll basically determine that on how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. Obviously as a manager, you would love to be able to run out Derek Jeter out there every day, but we know that’s not the case and you don’t do that with many players today anyway. There will just be constant communication like it has been the last few years.”
‘Taken aback’ means you were surprised. Were you saddened or disappointed?
“Yeah. I was there in 1996 when he broke in as Rookie of the Year. And to be able to play alongside such a great player and be able to coach a great player and manage a great player has been a thrill for me — and what he’s meant to this organization. Yeah, I think about the guys that I played with that have retired while I’ve been the manager, these guys were really important to their club and it saddens you. I remember coming to spring training when Jorge wasn’t in that first group hitting. It was like shocking not to see him there. It’ll be strange next year without Derek. So it does sadden you, and you hate to see players get older, but unfortunately it happens.”
Will you resist the pressure to play Jeter more because it’s his last year?
“I’ve got to do what’s best for our team and best for him, is the bottom line. As I’ve said, he’s going to play as much as he’s capable of playing. That’s the bottom line for me. We want him out there, we want him out there every day. I know it won’t be every day, but I want to run him out there most of the time. I’ve just got to do what is best. I kind of had to deal with it with Mo a little bit, I had to deal with it with Andy a little bit. I’ll just do what’s best for our club.”
Do you know how much you can play Jeter?
“I think you’ll have a pretty good idea. At no point in Spring Training will I run him out five or six days in a row, but I think that you’ll be able to tell running him out there two and three days in a row how he’s responding and how he’s bouncing back. It’ll give you a pretty good inkling.”
What has it been like to manage the final days of the Core Four?
“It’s been a thrill. I think about playing alongside these guys and watching these guys go out on their own terms, it’s been pretty exciting. I feel like I’m really blessed to have that opportunity to manage these guys and watch them end their careers the way they want. You wish you could bring them back, and I joked with Mo when I saw him a couple of times at some events this winter, but I feel like I’ve been able to experience so many great things at the stadium because of these guys and I love it.”
Will Jeter hit second?
“That would be the ideal thing, if you could break up your left-handers, but we’ll just have to see. We’ll play with lineups during spring training.”
Did CC Sabathia’s weight affect his velocity last year?
“I think that could be part of it. I think not having a normal offseason because he was rehabbing his elbow is part of it as well. I can’t tell you exactly where his velocity is going to be, but the bottom line for his success is not his velocity. Obviously it helps a little bit, but it’s his location. I think he got behind the eight-ball a little bit because of the injury last year, but I think he’s had a normal winter. I think his location will be much better and I do think his velocity will be better, I do.”
Without Robinson Cano, do you have a ‘best hitter’ to build your lineup around?
“I think we have a collection of very good hitters this year. I think our lineup is much deeper than it was last year from top to bottom. There’s more balance with some of the switch-hitters; Tex coming back and Beltran. Having Soriano the whole year, bringing Jeet back, I think there’s much more balance in our lineup. But as far as having that one guy that maybe you center the lineup around, I would say no.”
Will Michael Pineda be the fifth starter?
“When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation. He’s had some injury-plagued seasons the last couple years. Obviously you want someone to rise to the top to become the fifth starter. It’s an interesting year as a manager. I’ll say it tomorrow when I speak with the pitchers; don’t try to make the team in the next few days because there are some open spots. There is some really good competition here where you have the competition for the fifth starter, and the guys that aren’t necessarily the fifth starter could be in your bullpen. I want to make sure these guys aren’t pushing too hard, too early where they have a setback. If you have a setback, that could cost you a spot on this club. It’s really important to me that I stress to all these guys – Michael Pineda, Phelps, Warren, Nuno and all these young kids that have a chance to earn a spot in our bullpen – you can’t do too much in the next couple weeks. Get your arm in shape, get strong and then we’ll go from there.”
With changes all over, how is your job different?
“It’s trying to learn your pieces from a mental and a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint, what gets them going, can you read when they need a day off, are they honest about when they need a day off? Physically, how many days in my mind should I play a guy? What makes me think that they need a day off? Bringing the guys close together as a team. A lot of times, people say, ‘What comes first? The chemistry or the winning?’ Winning can help chemistry a lot. We’ll do some of those things and I’ll pay attention to signs from players, try to listen really carefully and use some of my coaches and other people to find out sometimes what a player is really saying. I think that’s important.”
What are your thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka?
“I did spend some time watching video of him this offseason and watching his ability to turn it up a notch when he needed to. Being able to add velocity; to having a couple of different fastballs; a couple of different sliders, a curveball, a split, a changeup. I even saw him get a hit. I don’t know if that will come into play if he gets to in a National League ballpark. What I like is his competitiveness. I’ve been a guy that is careful about labeling people. Is he your No. 1 starter? Is he your No. 4 starter? Is he No. 5? Two? Three? I believe that every day, the guy that pitches is your No. 1 starter. That’s how I think of it, because that’s your guy. That’s your guy that day, and one of the other guys can’t really sub in for him unless you happen to have some days off. I like his ability. I like his competitiveness. Now it’s just making some adjustments to American baseball. We’ve seen where it’s taken American players a little time to adjust to New York. He seems to really enjoy the stage and the spotlight and being a big part of a club. Let’s give him a little time to adjust.”
Could Pineda begin the year in the bullpen?
“We envision him as a starter, but I think that when we take a look at this, we’ve got to see how he’s doing as a starter. Then, once we pick our starters, we’ve got to pick what we believe is our best bullpen. So the answer to that is, I think anything is possible, but we envision him as a starter.”
Who is your backup first baseman, and what reports have you received on Mark Teixeira?
“I would say right now our backup first baseman would be Kelly Johnson if Tex needed a day off, and he’s going to need some days off. Everything has been positive signs for Tex. At times I talked about, it’s one thing to go through minor league rehab games and your workouts and your BP, because it can be a little bit guarded. But it’s another thing when you get into a big league game and it’s not so guarded. So I think you just have to pay attention to what he’s saying and the signs that he’s giving off. But I feel pretty good about his wrist, and I’m really looking forward to having him back.”
Would you play Brian McCann at first base?
“It’s not something that we’ve talked about. I guess it could be, though.”
Why do you think David Robertson will be ready for the ninth inning?
“I think he has all the ability in the world. You think about closers, and you want pitchers that are strikeout guys, and that’s exactly what he has. I think for Robby, I remember coming in at a much smaller stage and you’re compared to someone (Mike Stanley). And then Tino was compared to Don Mattingly. And it’s important for Robby that he’s just himself, and that if something does go wrong one day, you’re going to be compared to Mo. You know what, I think Mo blew six or seven saves last year. Mo was human too, and you can’t get too caught up in just one game. I would love to say he’s going to go 45-for-45, but even the greatest closers of all time don’t do that. So for us, it’s just if it does become a media buzz or something, we just have to help him control it.”
The Yankees have released the following statements regarding Derek Jeter’s announcement to retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season:
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner: “Derek called me this morning to tell me that he planned to retire following the season. In our conversation, I told him that I respected his decision because I know he put a lot of thought into it. I also let him know that I thought it was great that he was letting fans know now so they will have a chance to say goodbye to him.
“He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and our family. I’m glad we have this year to celebrate everything he has meant to us and all the great things he still stands to accomplish.”
Manager Joe Girardi: “Derek Jeter has been a great representative of what the Yankees have stood for over the years. He has been a team player who has only cared about winning. He has also been a fine example both on and off the field over his long tenure as a Yankee. It has been a real pleasure to manage him and play alongside him.”
General manager Brian Cashman: “It has been an incredible honor having a front row seat for one of the great players of all time. Derek has been a winner every step of the way. I am already looking forward to an exciting final chapter of his storied career.”
Former big league pitcher and current YES Network analyst David Cone was one of the honorees at last night’s Thurman Munson awards dinner in Manhattan, and he mentioned that he has been busy studying video of new Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Cone, who knows a thing or two about splitters, raved that Tanaka’s strikeout pitch will immediately make an impact.
“I don’t know if it’s the best split-fingered fastball in the world, but it’s certainly among the top five right now,” Cone said. “He has that kind of talent, in terms of velocity and movement. When you look at a split-fingered fastball, having thrown it for most of my career, I look at how late it breaks. The late movement and the velocity it retains. He has both of those. He has high velocity and late movement on that splitter, which puts it among the best in the world.”
Cone said that the Yankees will probably want to be creative with how they slot Tanaka on off-days, considering that he will be learning to pitch in a five-man rotation as opposed to once a week in Japan. Cone said that he believes Tanaka is ready to make those adjustments.
“All indications are that he’s a true professional and that he works extremely hard, and he comes prepared to pitch,” Cone said. “He’s really polished for a 25-year-old. When I was 25, I was still learning to throw a split-fingered fastball. He’s 25 and he’s got one of the best in the world. He’s ready for this challenge, in my mind. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch him.”
The YES Network will give fans the opportunity to see for themselves on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. ET, when they re-air Tanaka’s June 9, 2013 start for the Rakuten Golden Eagles against the Yomiuri Giants. Tanaka threw seven shutout innings in that game, logging the eighth win of his perfect 24-0 season.
YES analysts Ken Singleton, John Flaherty and Al Leiter recently viewed that performance and offered these takes:
“His fastball looks like it has a little more movement than I heard it did. It sinks in a bit on right-handed hitters; not enough to call it a sinker, but enough that the hitter will pay attention. He threw a lot of sliders-cutters in this game. It looks like he has a lot of confidence in it and he threw it for strikes when he was behind in the count. That tells me that this is his off-speed pitch that a catcher can call anytime and have confidence that it will be a strike. Kind of a get-me-back-in-the-count pitch.”
“His curve ball might not be a strikeout pitch, but it could be used for a get-me-over strike on the first pitch of an at-bat. The split looks like the best swing-and-a-miss pitch for him. I thought he would throw it more but he picked his spots in this game. You can see how a catcher will go to that pitch when the game is on the line.”
“His delivery is simple and he loads up on his back leg well. He is quick to the plate out of the stretch, so Brian McCann is going to love that. It also looks like he is a good athlete and fields his position well.”
“I was impressed with his control. He is constantly working the corners with all of his pitches. Tanaka has enough fastball, a good curve, a slider and a top-shelf splitter. He was not afraid to use his curve and slider when behind in the count. All his pitches were quality.”
“I think Masahiro Tanaka’s repertoire and stuff plays very well. His fastball velocity will sit at the 91-93 mph mark and occasional touch 95. He has a very good split that has great late action with good velocity. His split finger is his main secondary pitch and his slider is better than his curveball.”
“I really like his mound presence and disposition. He pitches with a fire in his belly and is emotionally involved.”
“I think Tanaka can be a front-end starter once he gets acclimated to the routine of American baseball.”
The Yankees are saying that they have reached their spending limit for the offseason and consider themselves out on free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week that the Masahiro Tanaka signing represented the team’s final big splash of the winter, and thus far the organization has been proceeding as though that is the case. Their stance toward Drew has been chilly at best, as the club does not want to commit to a multi-year deal with the 30-year-old infielder, who also has Draft compensation attached because the Red Sox gave him a qualifying offer.
Drew’s name has popped up in connection to the Yankees because of their uncertainty at multiple infield positions. Shortstop Derek Jeter played in just 17 games last year, second baseman Brian Roberts has missed 445 games over the last four seasons and the Yankees are tentatively planning on a third base platoon that will involve Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez.
The New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America is holding its annual awards banquet tonight in Manhattan, and in addition to all of the major award winners from the 2013 season (MVPs, Cy Youngs, Rookies of the Year, etc.), there will be some Yankees flavor to the event.
Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are being honored with the Toast of the Town award, while David Robertson will be on hand to pick up the Good Guy Award, as voted upon by the chapter’s members. It promises to be a star-studded event, and you can take a peek at the full lineup here.
Here’s Robertson talking with MLB Network about the event and more…
Now, because we’re long overdue for one, here’s a brief run-down on what’s happening in Yankee-land — just in case you’ve tuned out for what turned out to be a very, very busy week:
- Hey, Masahiro Tanaka is a Yankee! It’s hard to imagine you missed that story, but just in case, the price tag was seven years and $155 million, plus the $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka can opt out after the fourth year of the deal, and said in Japan that his goal is to win a World Series. The Yankees had the top bid, and thus secured the player.
He’ll slide behind CC Sabathia and could be the Yankees’ No. 2 or No. 3 starter to open the season. A brief scouting report, based upon things we’ve heard in our travels: great command, a fastball in the low-to-mid 90′s that can ramp up a few miles per hour more when he gets in tight spots, and a devastating splitter that looks like a fastball before it falls off the table. It’s a true strikeout pitch. You’ll also see a slider, changeup and curveball from him.
He’s been throwing his bullpens with Major League balls to help the adjustment process, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been busy watching video of Tanaka’s starts for Rakuten. Tanaka will wear uniform No. 19, so that Chris Stewart jersey you bought last year can be recycled at last. Derek Jeter sounds pumped about the signing, essentially saying that pitching is the key to the kingdom.
- Joe Torre is going into the Hall of Fame with a Yankees cap. Since he’s being enshrined for his managerial career, it’s not like there was much of a debate here. Still, it’ll be good to see the skip get his day in Cooperstown. His speech should be a memorable one.
- Brian Cashman said that much of the heavy lifting is complete, but don’t be surprised if the Yankees make a few extra moves before getting down to Tampa. The bullpen and third base are two of their main areas of concern; they’re comfortable going with what they have, but will pull the trigger on something that makes sense. Third base right now is going to be some mix of Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, Scott Sizemore, Dean Anna and whoever else they can take a look at this spring. The bullpen could use another arm to get the ball to Robertson in the ninth.
Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams cracked the list of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects. They had three in the Top 100 last year, as Tyler Austin dropped off the list. … Left-hander David Huff was sold to the Giants. He came off the 40-man roster to make room for Tanaka. … Hockey is happening at Yankee Stadium. Good weather for it. … Rupert Murdoch is preparing to take majority control of the YES Network, with the Steinbrenners retaining a 20 percent stake. … And I’ve got to bust out a suit tonight. That’s twice in a week, which is a lot for me.
The Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes are officially underway. CBS Sports reported that Tanaka has touched down in the Los Angeles area and is preparing to meet with as many as a dozen teams by Friday, a group that is expected to include the Yankees.
The Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox and Diamondbacks are among the other teams reported to be in the mix for Tanaka, who will likely command a contract in excess of $100 million. Any club signing the 25-year-old right-hander would also be responsible for paying a posting fee, capped at $20 million, to the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Tanaka has been identified as the Yankees’ top priority at this time, continuing an offseason of heavy spending in which they have secured free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Teams may negotiate with Tanaka until Jan. 24.
The Yankees are seeking to upgrade a starting rotation that is currently comprised of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova in the first three spots. A group of candidates including Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren would then compete to fill out the final two slots.
I need to pack up the ornaments and stow the Christmas tree away for another year; space is, as always, at a premium when you live in New York City. This is a long way of saying that I know we’ve got some catching up to do, closing the book on the holidays and trying my best to stop writing 2013 on all of my checks.
Here’s what’s cooking:
We’ll have new Hall of Famers to celebrate this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, but I wouldn’t expect any of them to be wearing Yankees caps in Cooperstown. Mike Mussina has a strong case and I think that he’ll eventually get in, as voters consider the fact that he won 270 games while pitching in the American League East in a performance-enhanced era of slugging. All that time, his strongest supplements seemed to be either Mountain Dew or something covered in chewy nougat.
There’s plenty of analysis of his pitching career in the link I posted, so let me just share an anecdote here. Remember when Joe Girardi tried to ban sweets from the clubhouse in 2008? No one howled louder, or more often, than the Moose. I remember him sneaking in a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts and devouring them at his Yankee Stadium locker with satisfaction, something that still makes me laugh to this day. I believe the voters will eventually come around on Mussina, but not on the first ballot.
Who’s on third? I don’t know.
No, really. I don’t know. If we time-warped to April right now, I suppose the Yankees would have to go with Kelly Johnson at third base, but that’s a depth chart that still looks very much incomplete. They’d like to find someone to platoon with Johnson, and Mark Reynolds would make a lot of sense for that (Michael Young, I suppose, but less so). That market seems to have been slow-moving. I don’t expect Alex Rodriguez’s suspension to be completely thrown out by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, not with the fireworks of last month, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it be knocked down from 211 games to a lower number. That announcement could come any day now.
Gardner scores a Thurman
Brett Gardner is among those who will be receiving Thurman Munson Awards on Feb. 4 in New York; former Yankees David Cone and Jim Kaat are also on the list. In this awards and dinner season, you’ll also want to consider attending the New York BBWAA dinner on Jan. 25.
In case you missed it, former Yankees pitcher Darrell Rasner spoke to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti this week about his experiences pitching with Masahiro Tanaka. The Q&A is definitely worth your time. You can expect the Tanaka sweepstakes to heat up very soon, though I suspect the bidding might go all the way down to the Jan. 24 deadline.
I never knew I needed to have an 1989 Topps Jake Taylor card, but I do.
And a friendly reminder, as I stare out the window and consider if it’s worth upgrading to a North Face jacket: Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 14.
The Yankees have had a busy two days here at the Winter Meetings, but thus far they have not been able to cross the finish line on any deals. General manager Brian Cashman is hopeful that they will leave Walt Disney World with at least one player in the fold, but he also understands that it is just as likely they’ll be able to continue conversations once the team contingent returns to New York.
Here’s a rundown of quick hits from yesterday’s coverage:
- Plenty of teams are calling about Brett Gardner. The Yankees are listening, but not shopping him. Cashman said he has also received calls on Ivan Nova, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy. The Yankees like having two players who could patrol center field in Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The Yankees are moving on from Robinson Cano. Joe Girardi acknowledged that Cano wasn’t happy batting second last year. Cashman said that for $240 million, he would have done the same thing.
- Joe Torre is about to have his number retired. New Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson took a good-natured swipe at his former team.
- The Yankees have checked in with free agent third baseman Mark Reynolds. Cashman said he could see a right-handed batter platooning with Kelly Johnson at third base, but the Yankees also could play Johnson at second base or in the outfield.
- A starting pitcher is more likely to be signed via free agency than acquired by trade. The top free agent starters are currently judged to be Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Like the rest of the league, the Yankees are waiting for clarity on the Masahiro Tanaka situation. Girardi named David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno as rotation candidates.
- The Yankees asked the Reds about Homer Bailey, and were told no.
- Cashman refused to speak to the Carlos Beltran situation, as Beltran’s contract is still not official. Speaking in general terms, Cashman said that the Yankees like the flexibility of a power switch-hitting combination like they’ve been accustomed to with Bernie Williams/Jorge Posada or Nick Swisher/Mark Teixeira.
- Having a healthy Teixeira back at first base upgrades the Yankees, Cashman said. He still sees question marks at second base, third base and shortstop, though Joe Girardi said that Derek Jeter is “having a normal offseason” and “feels great.”
- Girardi said that he is “not sure” how Ichiro Suzuki will be used. The Yankees would move Ichiro, who is due $6.5 million in 2014. The Giants aren’t a fit.
- The Yankees are looking for bullpen help, both righties and lefties. They’re in touch with Boone Logan. Girardi sees David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne in the pen right now.
- Michael Pineda is coming in healthy and will compete for a rotation spot. Gil Patterson saw him a month ago in the Dominican and reported that Pineda is “in great shape,” Cashman said.
- Manny Banuelos, if healthy, is expected to be at Triple-A.
The Yankees have crossed the finish line on another one of their big signings this evening, officially announcing that Jacoby Ellsbury will be wearing pinstripes. It’s a seven-year, $153 million deal through the 2020 season with a club option for the 2021 season (and yes, it’s a bit funny seeing those years in print).
There will be a press conference on Dec. 13 at Yankee Stadium. I wondered if they might parade Ellsbury in front of the national media contingent at the Winter Meetings, but we’ll be reassembling in the Bronx instead.
Here’s the official word from the Yanks:
The New York Yankees today announced they have signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract extending through the 2020 season with a club option for 2021.
Ellsbury, 30, owns a .297 (865-for-2,912) career batting average with 476 runs, 155 doubles, 65 home runs, 314RBI and 241 stolen bases in 715 games over seven Major League seasons, all with the Boston Red Sox (2007-13). Since 2008, he ranks third in the Majors with 232 stolen bases, trailing only Michael Bourn (280) and Rajai Davis (245). His .995 career fielding percentage (1,734 total chances, eight errors) is the best such mark among Major League outfielders since 2007.
In 2013, he batted .298 (172-for-577) with 92 runs, 31 doubles, nine home runs and 53RBI in 134 games. He was caught stealing just four times and led the Majors in stolen bases for the second time in his career (also 2009, 70SB) and the American League for the third time (2008, 50SB). In 16 playoff games, he hit .344 (22-for-64), leading all postseason players in hits and runs (14) en route to winning his second career World Series Championship with Boston (also 2007).
The left-handed batter hit .321 (212-for-660) in 2011, setting career highs in games played (158), runs scored (119), doubles (46), home runs (32) and RBI (105) en route to winning the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award and being ranked second in AL Most Valuable Player Voting. He also won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards and was selected to the AL All-Star team.
Ellsbury is a .301 (40-for-133) batter with 26 runs, 11 doubles and 17RBI in 38 career postseason games.
A native of Madras, Ore., and believed to be the first-ever Native American of Navajo decent to appear in a Major League game, Ellsbury was originally selected by Boston in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with his first game played for the Yankees in 2014, Ellsbury will become the 218th player to appear in a game for both the Yankees (since 1903) and Red Sox (since 1901).