Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

Winter reset: Projecting the Yankees’ Opening Day roster

The countdown to the Feb. 20 official report date for pitchers and catchers is on, and this is as good as time as any to hit the reset button and look ahead. Over the last several weeks, the Yankees have been busy assembling a roster that promises to be younger and more versatile than last year’s 84-win club.

Beginning with the relatively minor Nov. 12 deal with the Pirates, which swapped left-hander Justin Wilson for catcher Francisco Cervelli, general manager Brian Cashman has triggered six trades and pulled two major free agents off the board in Andrew Miller (four years, $36 million) and Chase Headley (four years, $52 million). It seems like just yesterday that Cashman was standing on the curb of a San Diego hotel, explaining why the Yanks were leaving the Winter Meetings empty-handed.

This week, they’ve also moved close to an agreement with infielder Stephen Drew; that deal is done, pending a physical, and will be worth $5 million plus incentives for the 2015 season.

Drew slots as the Yanks’ starting second baseman, forming a combination up the middle with Didi Gregorius. So much for that spring battle between youngsters Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela, though it would serve them both well to come into Spring Training and play well. Depth could be important at both infield positions.

A lot can happen between now and April 6, something the Yankees know all too well, particularly in the starting rotation. Barring something wild like a push to bring in Max Scherzer, here is an early guess at how the Yankees’ 25-man roster could look on Opening Day:

Masahiro TanakaRotation (5): Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano

No real surprises here, assuming they can all get through the spring without health issues. They’ll have to hold their breath on every Tanaka splitter for a while. Adam Warren is set to come into Spring Training as a starter and could also be considered here. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild floated the idea of a six-man rotation last year and it will be interesting to see if the Yanks kick that around, but for now, these are five solid choices they can go forward with. It’s important to note that Ivan Nova is expected to return from Tommy John surgery in May or June.

Bullpen (7): Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Chasen Shreve.

The Yanks believe their closer is already on this roster, so Joe Girardi can have some fun in the spring deciding between Betances and Miller. They could even go with co-closers based upon situations if they wanted, but my best guess right now is that Betances will close and Miller sticks in the setup role. Carpenter slides into Shawn Kelley’s old role and would handle the 6th or 7th innings. Rogers is a solid swingman option, while Wilson and Shreve would give the Yanks extra lefties in the pen.

Spring Training is a great time to evaluate bullpen arms, and the Yanks will have plenty of other names to look at. Shreve’s spot is probably the least secure of anyone on that list, and so a brief list of options who could fit here if they don’t begin the year in the Minors include (in no particular order) — Chase Whitley, Dan Burawa, Branden Pinder, Bryan Mitchell, Jose Ramirez, Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow and Gonzalez Germen. Andrew Bailey was also re-signed to a Minor League deal and is trying to regain his old form. 

Catchers (2): Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy.

Murphy will have to hold off Austin Romine for the backup role; Romine is out of Minor League options and the Yanks would lose him if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, but Murphy has seemed to leapfrog Romine in the organization’s view over the last year or so. Top prospect Gary Sanchez is slated to begin the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and could make his big league debut this year.

Mark Teixeira, Tony RandazzoInfielders (7): Mark Teixeira, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, Alex Rodriguez.

The starting infield seems set, with Teixeira, Drew, Gregorius and Headley going around the horn. In particular, the Yanks expect that Teixeira will be stronger and more productive as he is further removed from surgery. Drew should fit at second base but gives the Yanks an option at shortstop if Gregorius flounders.

Ryan would be the 25th man on the roster. He provides a backup pretty much everywhere, assuming the Yanks keep him and intend to have Refsnyder and Pirela start the year in Triple-A (their 40-man roster is full and Drew hasn’t yet been added). 

Jones would be Teixeira’s backup at first base, has played some right field and could serve as the DH against right-handed pitching. They love the idea of showcasing his big left-handed power in Yankee Stadium. It’s anyone’s guess what the Yankees will have in A-Rod; they’re going in thinking that any production would be a bonus. At the absolute minimum, you’d hope that Rodriguez can be an effective DH against left-handed pitching (the Yanks think his ’13 struggles vs. lefties were a small-sample size aberration), but it’s not impossible to envision Rodriguez being moderately productive as a full-time DH and even playing a little third base.

Jacoby EllsburyOutfielders (4): Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young.

The outfield is pretty locked in from left to right, assuming that Beltran’s elbow is healed and he can be more like the player he was in 2013 with the Cardinals. If he’s unable to play right field regularly, it will create major headaches with the DH spot. Young is capable of playing all three outfield spots and, as Ichiro Suzuki discovered over the last two seasons, there can be plenty of at-bats to be found in a role like that — even if it doesn’t appear that way early in the spring.

Empty-handed at Winter Meetings, Yankees ready to deal

Brian CashmanWith a backpack slung over his shoulder, Brian Cashman stood on the sidewalk in front of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and didn’t mince words in recapping his uneventful stay by the surf in San Diego.

“I didn’t do anything,” Cashman said. “We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.”

The Yanks tried to join the frenzy at a wild Winter Meetings, but their experience will be remembered more for who they lost. It was a week in which the Yankees watched David Robertson take a four-year, $46 million deal from the White Sox, then learned that Brandon McCarthy had scored a four-year, $48 million pact from the Dodgers.

In both cases, the Yankees declined to extend a proposal, other than the qualifying offer that Robertson turned down last month. In Robertson’s case, they decided that they’d rather have the package of Andrew Miller on a four-year, $36 million deal and a compensatory Draft pick, giving them a few extra dollars to spend. As for McCarthy, Cashman said that he “figured the market would take him at a level that we couldn’t play on.”

Thus, the Yankees’ needs are exactly what they were five days ago. Here’s a handy recap of how we covered the team’s business at the Winter Meetings:

Andrew MillerDay 1: Miller joined the beat reporters on a conference call and said that he feels capable of handling the closer’s role, though that opportunity did not come up in his talks with the Yankees and he plans to accept any role that manager Joe Girardi hands to him. Now tracking the Yanks’ Hot Stove moves as an interested observer, Miller said he feels that New York’s bullpen already looks formidable on paper.

“I think I can get three outs at any point in the game, wherever that may be,” Miller said. “Whatever it is, it’s fine with me. I want to win. I want to shake hands and high-five at the end of the game more than anything. If I have to get two outs in the sixth, there’s value in that.”

Cashman and the Yankees contingent arrived just before noon and sequestered in their suite for conversations with teams and agents. Sometime during the day, Cashman met with agent Scott Leventhal and told him that the Yankees would not bid on Robertson. Word of Robertson’s agreement with the White Sox then moved through the hotel lobby around midnight.

Joe GirardiDay 2: Girardi checked in at the Winter Meetings and said that even with the loss of Robertson, he believes that his club won’t have trouble holding late leads next season.

“We feel that our bullpen is going to be very strong again,” Girardi said. “We feel like we have a number of great arms. I’m not really worried about that because of the arms we have down there, and I feel like we’ll have a very good bullpen.”

With Miller and Dellin Betances potentially in line to jump into the closer’s role, Girardi also mentioned Justin Thomas, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley as options to help out in a closer-by-committee situation. The Yanks would prefer to have a set closer by Opening Day. Cashman revealed that he publicly kept the Yankees in Robertson’s mix following the Miller signing to help him maximize his free agent value.

During the week, Cashman confirmed that he spoke to several teams about trades that hit dead ends. Among them — the A’s for Jeff Samardzija, the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, the Tigers for Rick Porcello and the D-backs for Wade Miley. In Porcello’s case, Cashman says that he obviously didn’t have a player like Yoenis Cespedes to offer; in Gordon’s case, the Dodgers were already moving forward in talks with the Marlins.

“I just said, if you see any fits, let me know,” Cashman said.

Prior to last week’s Didi Gregorius trade, the Yanks had also talked to the Phillies about Jimmy Rollins. One minor note from this day – earlier reports that the Yankees hired Marcus Thames as an assistant hitting coach are said to be false, according to Cashman. In fact, Thames was never interviewed. The search to replace Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher is taking a back seat to pursuing trades and free agents.

Scott BorasDay 3: Following the news of Jon Lester choosing the Cubs over the Red Sox, Scott Boras took his annual place as the center of attention at the Winter Meetings (hey, I’m in this photo!) and attempted to dangle Max Scherzer in front of the Yankees’ eyes.

“I can’t predict what the Yankees are going to do,” Boras said, “but I can tell you that a guy like Max fits into their starting rotation to develop a World Series-caliber set that is similar to what they’ve had in the past when they won.”

Cashman replied: “Good, that means he likes the four we’ve got!” Yankees people still state that they do not plan on issuing another nine-figure pitching contract; industry people are saying they aren’t so sure about that.

By this point, the Yanks had checked in with free agent closers Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli. There was also an Alex Rodriguez update – A-Rod was seen in Miami by strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause, who issued a positive report. Rodriguez is heavier than his listed playing weight of 225 pounds, but Cashman said there has been progress.

On the third base front, the Yankees continued to talk to Chase Headley. The switch-hitter is reported to have a four-year, $65 million offer in hand from an undisclosed team, and if that is true, the Yankees are unlikely to match it. Cashman said the Yanks are ready to roll with Martin Prado at third base if it comes to that, giving Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela a crack at the second base job. They could also go after the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie. Boras mentioned that Stephen Drew is willing to sign as a second baseman.

Cashman also reaches out to Hiroki Kuroda’s agent, Steve Hilliard, who tells the Yankees that Kuroda has not reached any decisions about 2015. Kuroda is said to be once again entertaining thoughts of retirement, though Cashman has said that he expects Kuroda to pitch next season.

News of McCarthy’s deal with the Dodgers breaks late in the evening. Cashman soon confirms that the Yankees didn’t make him an offer. I file a fun story about Eric Chavez’s new front office/coaching gig.

The Yanks’ only pickup of the meetings? The reported Minor League signing of infielder Nick Noonan, a move that has not been announced by the club.

Day 4: The quiet Winter Meetings conclude with the Yankees idle in the Rule 5 Draft, opting to keep their three vacant 40-man roster spots clear for future trades and free agent signings. They also do not lose any players. Rumors briefly connect the Yanks to free agent Ervin Santana, who signed a four-year deal with the Twins.

The Yanks’ adjoining suites on the 29th floor are vacated; the room service bill is likely substantial. In wrapping up the meetings, assistant GM Billy Eppler said that the Yankees’ attitude has been one of patience rather than frustration.

“You always want to walk out of here with something to show for it, but when you make headway in certain arenas, it makes you feel like you’ve been able to drill down on some things that hopefully will present themselves in the coming days,” Eppler said.

Will the Yankees get into the mix for Max Scherzer?

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles - Game OneThe Yankees did not get seriously involved in the negotiations for free agent left-hander Jon Lester, who agreed to terms on a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs late on Tuesday evening.

That moves the Hot Stove spotlight prominently onto Max Scherzer, a pitcher whom Yankees executives are said to prefer over Lester and fellow free agent James Shields.

The price tag will be steep for Scherzer, who turned down a seven-year, $160 million proposal from the Tigers last year, according to agent Scott Boras. Speaking on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Boras said that he believes Scherzer would make a lot of sense in the Bronx.

“I think the Yankees have always been — again, that model of having 50 wins and 600 innings [in the rotation] to win has worked very well for them,” Boras said. “You can go back and find when [Roger] Clemens was the No. 1 or [Mike] Mussina was the No. 1, or [Andy] Pettitte. They won a lot of world championships with that formula.

“The idea of them having No. 1 pitchers certainly would add protection to where their current pitchers are, take innings off of them, give them a little bit of an umbrella where you have someone to lead and be the No. 1. I can’t predict what the Yankees are going to do, but I can tell you that a guy like Max fits into their starting rotation to develop a World Series-caliber set that is similar to what they’ve had in the past when they’ve won.”

That’s a case Boras surely will make directly to the Yankees, assuming it has not already been delivered.

Asked specifically this week if he planned to get involved in a chase for a pitcher of Scherzer’s caliber, general manager Brian Cashman kept his words to a minimum, replying, “It’s not in my best interests to say.” Cashman is scheduled to speak with reporters later tonight.

  • Boras also noted that Stephen Drew has received interest from clubs about playing second base, and that he is open to that idea. The Yankees have spoken about having prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela compete to serve as the Opening Day second baseman in the event that Martin Prado is manning third base.

    Asked for his opinion of last week’s Didi Gregorius trade, Boras said:

    “It’s not a traditional Yankee placement where they would maybe go out and get a veteran player to replace Derek Jeter. But certainly going out and doing what they’re doing in the bullpen, and other pursuits that could go on this offseason would lead you to be believe that of course they’re trying to compete.”

Yankees GM Brian Cashman signs three-year contract extension

The offseason is officially underway for the Yankees, who checked off an important piece of business on Friday, finalizing a three-year contract extension with Brian Cashman to serve as the club’s senior vice president and general manager.

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner recently stated that the organization was in discussions about an extension with Cashman, 47, who has served as the Yankees’ GM since February 1998.

Cashman’s return is the first domino to fall in what promises to be a busy winter for the Yankees, who missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2014, winning 84 games to finish in second place in the American League East.

Steinbrenner has said that the Yankees will pursue a shortstop to replace retired captain Derek Jeter and are in need of a starting pitcher, with right-hander Ivan Nova recovering from Tommy John surgery and not expected to be ready to start the season. The Yankees also need to address the situation of closer David Robertson, who is set to file for free agency.

In evaluating Cashman’s construction of the 2014 roster, Steinbrenner stood by the signings of free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka, stating that he approved those deals and believes they will work out in the future.

Steinbrenner also has noted that Cashman was able to rebuild the Yankees on the fly in midseason after several injuries, triggering deals to import Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado and Chase Headley, among others.

Cashman joined the Yankees organization in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the club’s Minor League and scouting department. As general manager, his clubs have made the postseason in 14 of 17 seasons, claiming 12 division titles, six American League championships and four World Series titles.

He is the third-longest tenured general manager in the game, behind the Giants’ Brian Sabean and the A’s Billy Beane, and Cashman is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Hall of Famer Ed Barrow led the team from October 28, 1920, to February 20, 1945.

Pregame briefing: Yankees vs. Rays (Game 143)

The Yankees and the Rays will continue their three-game series tonight here at Yankee Stadium, with left-hander Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.46) getting the start for New York opposite right-hander Jake Odorizzi (10-11, 3.84). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET; Yankees TV is on YES and Yankees radio is on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.

New York has lost four of seven games on this homestand. Carlos Beltran was scratched from tonight’s lineup around 5:30 p.m. ET with soreness in his right elbow.

Here are the highlights from manager Joe Girardi’s pregame session with the media:

How do you keep your optimism against the bleak playoff odds?

“It’s happened before. It’s very difficult, but it’s happened before. You can only control the things you can control, so go control them. And then worry about where you fall later.”

Pitching for Baltimore series…

Brandon McCarthy in Friday’s first game, TBA in second game (could be a bullpen game with Chase Whitley, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell, etc.). Shane Greene on Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday night.

Brett Gardner update…

“He has the abdominal strain. He’ll be out a few more days at least because that can become something that’s fairly serious. We’re giving him a few more days and we’ll go from there.”

“There’s always concern because of how hard these guys play and the way they play, and speed’s a huge part of their game. Sometimes when you have that type of speed, you’re subject to some injuries. Obviously if you’re a base stealer, you’re going to be subject to more hand injuries and those sort of things. Yeah, it’s a concern, but he has not missed a whole lot of games this year, and he really has played a whole season. He has not been on the DL. I don’t think, if this was (in the middle of) the regular season, I don’t think this would probably be a DL. Not at this point.”

David Phelps update…

“Our hope is to bring him back maybe when we go to Baltimore. He’ll throw a bullpen today. He threw a simulated game, and our hope is to bring him back in Baltimore. He would be in the bullpen, a guy that I could use an inning, inning-plus, then I’d have to give him some days off after that.”

Martin Prado update…

“I don’t want him to do too much running, as I told him. I said, ‘Go through BP, take some BP, see how you feel and we’ll go from there. As I said yesterday, there’s a concern there. I don’t think he’s ready to go, but we’re going to let him take some BP.”

“Our feeling is we’ll get him back, it’s just not today. It’s going to take a few days.”

Masahiro Tanaka update…

“He will throw a bullpen again Friday. He felt pretty good today. He’ll throw in a game Monday in Tampa at the minor-league facility.”

More on last night’s play with Stephen Drew/Rule 7.13…

“I think, to me, the confusion comes for the base runner. I don’t think catchers have changed a whole lot. The confusion comes for the base runner where they’re encouraged to slide. And I understand that, and I’ve said all along I think the intent of the rule is a really good idea, but you worry. You worry about them getting hurt now. And I think that’s the hard part. That’s why I’ve said, let’s go back to the way it was, and if a guy goes out of his way to run over a catcher, you’re suspended.”

Have you told your runners to knock the catcher over?

“If that’s your only choice to score the run. That was allowed last week, two weeks ago. Guys knew that. If that’s your only choice, and you feel that you can knock the ball loose, we’re playing for something. That’s the confusion of the rule. You’re encouraging them to slide, but you also want your guys to play all out and get to a playoff spot. So what do you do?”

How is that different?

“It’s not different. It’s not different. And I’ve told our players, it’s not different. If the guy’s blocking the plate, you’re allowed to run him over. The only thing that was different, in a sense, was if he’s not blocking the plate, don’t run him over, because you are subject to being suspended. The rule, in a sense, for the base runners has not changed. But then again, they’ve been encouraged, we want you all to slide. That’s what the rule was originally going to be, you almost had to slide. But then that became confusing. It will be interesting to see what happens this winter. I’m curious.”

More notes —

Derek Jeter has played in 2,730 games with the Yankees, tied for eighth place on the all-time list of players who have played all of their games with one team…with tonight’s game, he will surpass the Giants’ Mel Ott for sole possession of eighth place all time. 

Over their last six games (since 9/3), Yankees relievers have tossed 20.2 scoreless innings (7H, 3BB, 25K)…marks the longest scoreless stretch by Yankees relievers since a span of 28.0IP from 5/5-15/13 (credit: Elias Sports Bureau). … In their last 17G (since 8/22), have produced a 1.20 ERA (52.2IP, 7ER) and held opponents to a .166 batting average (30-for-181, 12BB, 65K).

Since 8/1, Ichiro Suzuki is batting .342 (25-for-73), the third-highest mark in the AL in that span (min. 70AB).

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