Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 AB4AR "Best And Worst Of The Year": The Postseason

- Calling Out the Weak Yankee Stadium Crowd.  It still disappoints me to think about how quiet those postseason crowds were, and I worry that's going to continue to be the case now that the Yanks are out of their deal with StubHub.

- Questioning Joe's ALCS Bullpen Decisions.  Less than a week after praising the job Joe did, I was right back to bashing him.  I still say this was very deserved criticism, though.

- Get Off A-Rod's Nuts.  I wasn't sure how that title was going to go over on TYA, but it was a pretty good rant and I still think it's a joke that C-Grand and Cano didn't get bashed more for choking in the playoffs.

- Commenting on The "1-Year Only" Approach.  Seeing how quickly guys like Martin and Chavez left, I think that strategy did backfire on the Yankees a bit.

- Not Sold On Youkilis.  Whoops.  Guess I should have written that more than 1 hour before the Yanks offered him a contract.

- Getting Excited About Brett Gardner's Return.  Still love me some BG, probably more than I should.

- Hideki Matsui Retires.  It's just a few days old, but Hideki was a favorite of mine.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 AB4AR "Best And Worst Of The Year": The Regular Season

(Best Photoshop of the year)

- Chris Stewart Is The New Hotness.  He's not really, but it was fun to incorporate a "Men In Black 2" reference and play up Stewart's non-existent awesomeness all season.

- Don't Worry About Teix's Slow Start.  I don't know why I had so much faith in his SSS results in the first couple weeks, especially considering his history and previous years of decline.  Note to self for next season: be very concerned when Teix has another shitty April.

- My Painful Break Up With Phil Hughes.  If only I could have been this eloquent with my college girlfriend.  I've never had to fictionally break up with another man before, and I have to say, I think I handled it pretty well.  And yeah, I definitely sought advice from people at my office on appropriate break-up songs.  Don't judge me (even though I know they did).

- Reacting To Mo Announcing He Was Coming Back.  I feel like Mo brings out the best in the emotional side of my writing, and it still makes me feel good to know I have a chance to watch him pitch one more time.

- The Russell Martin/Laz Diaz Confrontation.  This season was the tipping point for me with bad umpiring in baseball, and the fact that something this egregious happened to a member of the Yankees was not going to stand.

- Commenting on CC's Fastball Problems.  Looking back on it, he probably was hurt here.

- The BG-1000.  Brett Gardner, the only guy who had a more troublesome elbow than CC this season.

- Jinxing Robbie Cano in the HR Derby.  AB4AR giveth and AB4AR taketh away.  That one's on me, guys.

- FJMing Ian O'Conner's Joba Obituary.  A friendly reminder that ESPN and its team of Yankee writers are absolute ass and should be avoided at all costs.

- C-Grand's Negative Trends.  Fair warning, I'm going to be really hard on Curtis if he has another season like this in 2013.

- Waving The White Flag to Bahhston.  Because their 2012 season was the highest of unintentional comedy and there was nothing I could do to make it any funnier.

- A-Rod's Return Gets Me All Hot and Bothered.  Probably the last real positive post I'll ever get to write about The Horse.  And with where his production went after this post, this wasn't a feather in my cap.

- Debating Derek Jeter's MVP Ranking.  I honestly thought he would finish top 5 because of the MSM's tendency to slurp him.  He ended up 7th.  Not too shabby.

- Game 162.  Definitely the most excited I've been for a Yankee game in almost 2 years, and even though the ultimate ending to their postseason was a disappointing one, it was still fun to have this much drama tied to the final game of the regular season.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 AB4AR "Best And Worst Of The Year": The Preseason

There's not much going on right now as we get ready to leave 2012 in the rearview and forget to write "2013" on our checks for the first few weeks of January, so why not take a look back at the year that was?  I posted way more than ever in 2012, something that may be a good or bad thing for you depending on what you think of my writing and analysis.  I'm more willing to poke fun at myself and admit when I was completely off on something, so this 2012 recap won't be a complete greatest hits collection.  More like a collection of posts that are personal favorites for one reason or another, that reason usually being that I enjoyed writing them.  To break things up a bit, I'll separate the review into preseason, regular season, and postseason, the first and last sections comprising parts of the last 2 offseasons.  We'll start with the 2012 preseason, from January 1st to Opening Day.

- The Complete 2011/2012 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects List.  Because the 2nd edition is only weeks away and it's good to brush up.  Especially on the guys I whiffed on (cough, Rob Segedin, cough!)

- Looking Back at Jorge Posada's Career.  Tough to do since I was never as big a Jorge fan as most, but absolutely needed to be done for what Jorge did in his career as a Yankee lifer.

- Reacting to Kim Jones' Departure.  I still miss you, Kim!

- The Possibility of Another "Core Four."  I tried to keep it grounded, but it's tough to not get excited about a group of prospects all playing well and all moving through the MiL system together.

- Setting The Blueprint for Derek Jeter's Offensive Success in 2012.  Better contact rates?  Better performance against RHP?  Better approach at the plate?  Nailed it.

/pats self on back

- ManBan & Betances' Strong Spring Trainings.  How little did that end up meaning this year?  Sheesh.

- Not Being Fully On Board With the Andy Pettitte Signing.  Trying to argue that Pettitte shouldn't have been given a free pass over guys like Pineda, Nova, Phelps, Warren, and D.J. Mitchell??  Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either.

- The Season of Mo.  This ended up not panning out because of his injury, but this was one of my favorite posts of the year.  I actually spent time over the course of almost a full day writing and re-writing this because I wanted to make sure I said everything I wanted to say exactly the way I wanted to say it.

Offseason Space-Filler Post: Top 5 At-Bat Songs

At-bat music has always been a fun part of baseball, at least for me.  Some guys have really kickass at-bat songs, like Josh Reddick of the A's coming up to the WWE Daniel Bryan version of "Ride of The Valkyries," and some guys get punked by teammates and end up strolling up for a big at-bat to "Party In The USA."  If you're like me and pay attention to this kind of thing (which may or may not make you an overgrown child), at some point you've stopped and considered what you'd like your at-bat music to be if you were a Major League Baseball player.  My youth baseball career consisted of about 5 hits in 4 years of play, so obviously I'd be the type of player whose at-bat music would undoubtedly be the best part of my at-bat.  But in my head I still like to think of myself being the coolest guy in the stadium with my music blaring for that 10-15 seconds while I take my practice swings and adjust my elbow guard.  After the jump, check out my personal top 5 songs I'd use for at-bat music.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 12/28

I'd like to use this final Linkapalooza of 2012 to make a declaration, to take a stand for what is good and right in this world, and to state definitively that the word "epic" needs to be retired from all forms of communication in 2013.  If you're one of the people who still uses it in your everyday conversation, I'm sorry, but epic's time has come and gone and you need to stop.  It was cute for about 3 weeks when the whole "epic fail" craze caught on, but when it's being used in reference to the Pizza Hut 10 Buck Box, arguably the worst collection of food a human being can willingly purchase and consume for 10 dollars, and by Morgan Freeman in voiceover ads for the Visa card, that goes way beyond jumping the shark and straight into full-on lunacy.

Epic is a word that should only be used to describe things that are historically memorable and incredible, not shitty mass-produced pizza and fucking credit card rewards.  It also shouldn't be used to describe whatever you just ate for lunch that you felt the need to take a picture of and post on Instagram.  So for all the regular AB4AR readers out there, I beg of you, take these words to heart and do your part in 2013 to end the rampant and incorrect use of the word "epic."  Together, maybe we can help bring a small bit of respectability back to the English language.  Now onto the links!

- On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog discussed Nick Swisher's departure in the context of other recent hitters the Yankees let leave via free agency and how it could come back to haunt them.

- On Tuesday, Benjamin Orr of Yanks Go Yard asked if Hiroki Kuroda should be the #1 starter next year over CC.  It's worth checking out Ben's thoughts on the matter, but the answer is obviously, "No."

- On Wednesday, George S of Gutty Gritty Yankees expressed his displeasure with Cash's comments on the Yankee offseason.  While I don't agree with George that this offseason has been "dreadful," I can definitely get on board with the sentiment that the front office comments have been less than honest.

- Josh Norris of Minor Matters, the resident Trenton Thunder expert, put together his first 25-man roster guess for the 2013 season.  That'd be a pretty damn good outfield, that's for sure.

- Vince Mercogliano of LoHud pondered the idea of the Yankee offense improving in 2013 despite their age and lack of offseason moves.

- El duque of It Is High... commented on the "beggars can't be choosers" mentality that Cash has taken with the payroll constraints set by ownership.

- On Thursday, Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily looked ahead to the 2014 free agent class to see what good fits were out there for Hank and Hal's limited budget.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS wondered if sign-and-trade deals could become more common in baseball.  It's an interesting idea given the way the new free agent qualifying offer rules played out this offseason.

- Matt Imbrogno of TYA had a measured take on the Yankees' supposed "punt" strategy on the 2013 season, pointing out that the team they have intact is still a pretty damn good one.

- Mike Axisa of RAB suggested the idea of the Yankees making a Joel Hanrahan-esque trade as a way to help manage their chock-full 40-man roster.

- On Friday, Tanya Bondurant of Pinstriped Bible looked back at the 10 longest Yankee home runs of the 2012 season.  I always love list posts like this, and this one is no exception.

- Steve Lombardi of Was Watching looked ahead to possibly the most important stretch of games in the upcoming season.

SJK of the newly-renovated NoMaas put together the best career retrospective on Hideki Matsui that I've seen besides my own.

For this week's Friday Jam, I'm gonna hit you with something to get the toes tapping and hips moving at your NYE parties.  Say what you want about his ability to rap, pretend to be a "rock" guy, or design clothes, but when he was on his game there wasn't a rap producer out there who could touch Pharrell.  He actually managed to top the beat to the original "Drop It Like It's Hot" with this beat for the remix, which is no easy task.  Hov's verse is pretty sick too.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.  And more importantly, enjoy your New Year's celebrations next week.  Get drunk, kiss somebody you probably shouldn't, and stay safe.  The Linkapalooza will see ya on the other side of the calendar.

Looking Back At Hideki Matsui, Underrated Yankee Great

(One of the great moments in recent Yankee history.  Courtesy of the AP)

Hideki Matsui announced his retirement from baseball yesterday, ending the most successful Japanese-American baseball career this side of Ichiro Suzuki.  After 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese Central League and another 10 in MLB, 7 of them with the Yankees, Matsui decided to hang 'em up at age 38 after various leg injuries and just the natural wear and tear of 20 years of baseball sapped him of much of his power and physical skills.  Matsui doesn't have the career MLB accolades and awards of a Derek Jeter or an Alex Rodriguez, but he is undoubtedly one of the most memorable and popular Yankees of the 21st century.  If he does end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame, something William Juliano made a very strong case for yesterday, it's very likely he would go in with a Yankee cap on his head, a fitting ending to a great baseball career.

An Alfonso Soriano Reunion Wouldn't Suck

(Remember this guy?)

The Yankees officially kicked off their scrap heap picking for right-handed hitting on Wednesday with the signing of Matt Diaz to a MiL deal.  Almost as soon as everybody was done commenting on that deal, they let it be known that their search for a right-handed bat wasn't over, which isn't surprising in the least considering Diaz's recent track record.  The trade market continues to be an attractive and potentially deeper pool of talent to choose from, and another name that has popped up lately as a possibility is a familiar one.  It's been almost 10 years since Alfonso Soriano last wore the Yankee pinstripes, and he's a bit longer in the tooth than he was when he left.  But with Theo Epstein looking to rebuild the Cubs and Soriano still having plenty of right-handed pop, there's clearly a match to be made between he and the Yankees.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yankees' Commitment To Catching Defense Nothing New

(Hey look!  Good defense!  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Some time has passed since the shocker of Russell Martin signing with the Pirates, almost 1 month to be exact.  And in that time, the surprise factor of the move has barely worn off and the calls for the Yankees to make a trade or sign another catcher have continued to pour in from fans and writers alike.  The general consensus is that the underwhelming offensive trio of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine isn't going to cut the mustard, and there's been little that the Yankee brass has said to change that perception.  Yesterday, Mike Eder of TYA wrote a piece on Romine's defensive skills and the high evaluation he's gotten from Mark Newman on those defensive skills that could signal good things for Romine's future in the organization.

While Newman's comments on Romine might not be surprising coming from someone on the Yankee payroll, they are consistent in terms of the emphasis the organization has put on defense behind the plate in recent years.  And as Mike pointed out, that commitment to defense could have been the deciding factor in letting guys like Martin and A.J. Pierzynski go and sticking with what the Yankees have.  It's frustrating given the team's apparent willingness to take an offensive hit at the position, but if this is the path the Yanks are going to take in 2013, they at least have to be commended for staying consistent in their decision making.

Matt Diaz Is Better Than Nothing (Slightly)

He may not have played in 100 games in 3 of the last 5 seasons; he may not have posted a wRC+ above 100 in each of the last 3 seasons; he may not even be completely healthy.  But in signing Matt Diaz to a Minor League deal yesterday, the Yankees at least gave themselves another option to find a right-handed platoon outfield bat, and the more options the better right now.

As first reported by Mark Feinsand, the Yanks signed the 34-year-old Diaz to a non-guaranteed MiL deal with an invite to Spring Training that gives him the chance to earn up to $2 million if he makes the team out of camp.  Diaz is far removed from his best year in 2009 (.383 wOBA in 125 games), and has had major problems with his thumb, but reports are that he's feeling better and swinging a bat.  He posted just a .268 wOBA and 64 wRC+ in 118 PA with the Braves in 2012, but managed a .269/.329/.410 line against left-handed pitching (.320 wOBA) and still has a .324/.364/.498 career slash against southpaws.

He's absolutely not a full-time player anymore, and he could very well be washed up after all the thumb problems the last 3+ years.  But Diaz is the type of low risk/high reward veteran bat the Yankees have had success with in recent years.  It worked with Marcus Thames in 2010, it worked with Raul Ibanez in 2012, so why not take a chance on Diaz for 2013?  If he gives the team anything it's a good move.  If he doesn't, the Yankees cut bait and lose nothing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Case For Trading Boone Logan

(Courtesy of Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger)

The trade market continues to look like the best option for the Yankees to address their biggest areas of need this offseason.  With the bulk of this year's free agent class picked clean and the team already stretching its budget to add Kevin Youkilis and guarantee 2 years to Ichiro Suzuki, it's highly unlikely the Yankees will plunk down more guaranteed money to what are essentially scraps.  There have been multiple reports of the Yankees quietly shopping guys like Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova already this offseason, reports that as of yet have returned very little in the way of meaningful rumors.  But there are more trade options than just those names.  One name that has come up consistently around the Yankosphere is Boone Logan.  The oft-maligned lefty reliever had another solid season in 2012, and could generate interest on the trade market as something better than just your everyday LOOGY.  Teams are always looking for more bullpen help, and Logan would be an attractive option to clubs that need to bolster their left-handed relief pitching.

John Sickels Releases His Top 20 Prospect Rankings

(Sickels likes him some Sanchez.  Courtesy of Four Seam Images)

Now that Christmas is over we've moved on to the next happiest time of year, that time, of course, being prospect season.  The season was unofficially kicked off at the end of last weekend with John Sickels of Minor League Ball unveiling his Top 20 Yankee Prospects list for 2013.  Sickels has a relatively simple grading system, and is always good for a few "off the beaten path" rankings, making his list a great jumping off point for starting prospect season and formulating your own personal rankings.

Sickels scores extra points with me this year for putting Gary Sanchez at the top of his rankings, something that a lot of other people haven't done because of Mason Williams' and Tyler Austin's breakout seasons despite the fact that Sanchez had another great season in his own right.  You can check out the full list and Sickels' write-up on each player right here, but after the jump check out his top 10 and my personal take on his rankings.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays From AB4AR

As you've probably figured out by now, there's not going to be a whole lot of blog activity over the Christmas holiday from AB4AR.  There isn't a whole lot going on in Yankeeland right now that necessitates posts going up, and I could really use the short break to recharge the batteries, finish my Christmas shopping, and spend some time with family and friends, as I'm sure everyone else could too.

So allow me to use this post to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Kwanzaa, happy Boxing Day, and a joyous Festivus if that's what you celebrate.  It's my sincerest wish that each and every AB4AR reader out there has a great holiday, gets everything that was on his or her wish list, and enjoys as much good food and drink as your bodies will allow.  There won't be anymore posts today or tomorrow, unless something absolutely earth-shattering happens, but AB4AR will pick back up first thing on Wednesday, December 26th to start picking through the rest of the offseason task list and starting preparing for AB4AR Prospect Week and the unveiling of the AB4AR Top 30 after the new year.

So happy holidays, everybody.  Hope you all have a great one and I'll see ya Wednesday.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Don't Move Tyler Austin To Third Base

(Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio)

Give the Yankees credit for leaving no stone unturned in their search to find a long-term replacement for Alex Rodriguez at third base.  Earlier this week, Chad Jennings of LoHud had some Minor League news bits, and one of them mentioned Yankee brass giving thought to moving top prospect Tyler Austin back to third.  By the sounds of Chad's report, we aren't going to be seeing Austin back at the hot corner next season, but it also didn't sound like the idea of was ruled out completely.

“He’s a better defender in right,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “But (putting him back at third) is something we’ve thought about. It’s a possibility.”

Austin was originally drafted as a catcher, quickly moved to third base last season, and then moved to right field almost as quickly.  Far be it for me to tell the Yankees where he's best suited in the field, but I think if it was already decided that he might not be able to handle third base, then he and the Yankees are better off not moving him to third base and keeping him right where he is in right.

Let's face it, Austin isn't going to win any Gold Gloves at the Major League level.  His bat is what's carrying him through the Minors right now and it's what's going to carry him to the show if he keeps hitting like this.  While the Yankees do need a more permanent solution at third base than Kevin Youkilis, they could also use one in right field.  Ichiro is only signed for 2 years, and could probably use a right-handed platoon partner in right as it is.  If Austin has picked up the defensive nuances of right field well enough to play it full time, keep him right there, let his bat continue to do its thing, and maybe he ends up being that right-handed platoon bat in 2014 as a way to break into the Majors. The Yankees don't have great success trying to move their young players to new positions, and I'd rather not see Austin's development hit a speed bump because of more defensive musical chairs.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 12/21

A customer sent me an email the other day asking me to update something "as quick as humanly possible."  I don't know why it's never bothered me before, but as soon as I read that I was immediately pissed.  Humanly possible?  Humanly??  As if there was any other type of creature whose speed I could or was planning on mimicking to complete the task he asked me to do?  Like an ostrich.  Or an iguana.  I could get it done as fast as iguanaly possible.  Does this guy think that I'm not a human but rather a really intelligent farm animal?  Or maybe he thinks I'm a robot or a cyborg or something.

The cyborg thing would be pretty cool, but I still found the comment insulting.  The phrase "humanly possible" is so far beyond unnecessary to use when 2 human beings are communicating with each other.  It's already implied that the absolute fastest we can do things is as fast as a human could possibly do them.  There's no need to throw the "humanly" in there as an added measure of importance.  A lot of people get fired up about "ASAP," but that doesn't bother me in the least.  "Humanly possible," however, rubbed me the wrong way; chapped my ass something fierce.

Naturally I let that request sit and rot in my email inbox, where it resided up until sometime mid-morning on Thursday.  Guess I'm just not that fast of a human.  Happy holidays, jerk.  Now onto the links!

- On Monday, EJ Fagan of TYA discussed a cool new statistic from FanGraphs and how it is used to support Derek Jeter's career consistency.  It could also throw some shade on the "Jeter is overrated" people.

- SJK of NoMaas got the inside scope on the Yankees' execution of their offseason plan straight from the executive boardroom.

- On Tuesday, Matt Keegan of Pinstriped Bible wrote a real interesting post that created a connection between A.J. Pierzynski and the Yankees that I didn't realize was there and also discussed the importance of personality and likability when deciding to pursue or avoid a free agent.

- On Wednesday, Mike Axisa of RAB profiled 2012 draft pick Taylor Dugas, who had one of the better starts to his professional career from this year's draft class.

- Chad Jennings of LoHud looked at what was left on the Top 50 free agents list and whether there were some good fits for the Yankees.

- Delia E. of Yankees Fans Unite put latest Yankee rumored connection Michael Bourn up against possible 2013 starting CF Brett Gardner to see if Bourn was worth the money.

- On Thursday, Steve Lombardi of Was Watching looked back through Yankee catcher history to find guys who played full time at age 24 or younger and didn't find much.  Not a good omen for Austin Romine.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS pointed out that the team's new look in 2013 as a result of their offseason strategy should result in the end of the "too many homers" meme.  So at least we've got that.

- Robert Casey of Bleeding Yankee Blue made another plea for Chris Dickerson to get a chance to earn a roster spot next season.  Everybody knows I love C-Dick, but even I think his days are numbered now that the roster is full of lefty outfielders.

For this week's Friday Jam it's only appropriate to play something seasonal, what with Christmas right around the corner next week.  And that's why I'm going with the old AB4AR Christmas standby, "Merry F*cking Christmas" by Mr. Garrison.  I laugh at this song every year, and if you have a sense of humor you will too.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Current 40-Man Roster Reflects A Team In A State Of Flux

The Yankees continue to pluck petals off their 40-man roster flower to make room for the free agents they're slowly adding.  Last Friday it was Josh Spence for Kevin Youkilis, this week it was Jim Miller for Ichiro Suzuki.  Neither Spence nor Miller are a great loss from the 40-man, and both cleared waivers and accepted assignments to Triple-A to help boost the all-important organizational depth at that level.  But the removal of players like them for the Youkilises and Suzukis of the world paired with the addition of a half-dozen guys for Rule 5 Draft protection has resulted in a bit of a strange 40-man roster breakdown right now, at least to me.  The Yankees' lack of high-ceiling upper MiL talent has never been more on display than it is presently, and their current 40-man roster is a perfect example of a team (and an organization) in transition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding A Right-Handed Outfield Handcuff

(I wouldn't get your hopes up for this guy.  Courtesy of the AP)

The natural progression from the Ichiro Suzuki signing being made official is to nail down the now much-needed righty 4th outfielder.  For the first time in years, the Yankee outfield is a trio of left-handed hitters, all of whom are less than world beaters against their fellow southpaw slingers.  Brett Gardner has a .256/.362/.335 slash line against lefties in just a hair under 400 career PA, Curtis Granderson took a step backward in 2012 with a .218/.304/.458 line and a ghastly 32.0% K rate, and Ichiro, despite his shiny numbers in pinstripes, was still just a .284/.291/.358 hitter vs. lefties this past season.

Andruw Jones is moving on to Japan to become a real-life Mr. Baseball, and the budget doesn't provide Cash the means to go out and sign a bigger name like Cody Ross or say, Nick Swisher, so once again the Yankees will be down in the rough digging for another diamond.  The need is clearly there, but with the major portion of the offseason already passed, the supply of viable righty OF bat options is dangerously thin.

Yankees Make Ichiro Signing Official

(You'd be smiling too if you got a guaranteed 2nd year from the Yankees.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

I didn't bother posting this last night, even though that's when the story "broke," because this deal has pretty much been in the bag since the first round of reports came out last week.  But the I's have been dotted, the T's have been crossed, Jim Miller has been DFA'd to clear a spot on the 40-man, and Ichiro Suzuki will be the starting right fielder for the New York Yankees in 2013.

As previously reported, it's a 2-year deal worth $13 million, $6.5 mil per for luxury tax purposes.  I still can't help but think the guaranteed second year is Hal's way of trying to cash in on another 3,000 hits chase, and if it is then that is a horrible reason to sign a 40-year-old player, but at least now the major holes in the lineup have been plugged.  I've written plenty about Ichiro already, so scroll back through this month and last month's archives if you want my take on him.  The bottom line is the Yankees added contact skills and speed to their lineup, with the chance for a slight uptick in power hitting in The Stadium for half a season, and upgraded defensively.

Ichiro signing now gives the Yankees an all left-handed starting outfield, something that is problematic given that all 3 guys have at least a slight platoon split in their production even on their best days.  A right-handed hitting 4th outfielder is almost a must right now, but with what's left available on the FA market, pickings are pretty slim.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Yankees' Standing In The AL East Right Now

(The champagne bath could be harder to come by in 2013.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

It's no secret by now that this offseason has been a strange one for the Yankees in many ways.  They can be best described as being "actively inactive," focusing all their time and energy on re-signing their own internal free agents while staying far on the periphery of all other free agent and trade rumors.  As I mentioned this morning, they've spent amounts of money right up there with the best of them, so it's not like they're completely sitting on their hands, but were it not for Alex Rodriguez's newest hip injury not a dollar of it would have gone towards a single player from outside the organization.  This offseason marked the first big step towards the 2014 payroll goal, and to their credit the Yankees have stayed on the path of the cheap and short-term.

This strategy has not gone unnoticed by their AL East competition.  Almost every other team in the division, with the exception of Baltimore, has been very active on the free agent and trade markets this offseason, picking up the slack and the players left for the taking by the Yankees electing to stand pat.  It's been interesting to say the least, as recent attempts by other clubs to try to step up and grab the "biggest big spender" torch away from the Yanks have yet to return big dividends (see: both teams in Los Angeles).  It's also a bit worrisome, as the Yankees' approach this offseason has opened a window of opportunity that every other team seems eager to jump through.

Pennants and championships aren't won in December, that much we know.  But the collection of moves that have been made (and not made) so far begs the question, are the Yankees still considered the king of the hill and the top of the heap in the AL East?  Should they be?

Has It Really Come To This?

This past weekend the Yankees found out their 2012 luxury tax fate, and they were reportedly in for $18.9 million or as I like to call it, more money than I'll ever come close to seeing in my life.  It was a bump up from their 2011 luxury tax and established a pretty good benchmark for how much work the Yankees still have to do to get under that luxury tax threshold in 2014 as well as how much they've already done over the last 10 years to rack up almost a quarter billion in luxury tax penalties.

Yesterday the AP released a story that damn near everybody in blogosphere hopped on immediately. Apparently somebody forgot to carry a 3 somewhere, because it turns out the Yankees actually owed $19.3 million in luxury tax, OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!!  That's right, Yankee fans.  The old Evil Empire got dinged for another $393,648 and everybody's talking about it like it's actual news.  Ummm, what planet am I on??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ra's al Ul Might Not End Up In Pinstripes After All

"But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely."

"Which is?"

"A legend, Mr. Ibanez."

And apparently that's exactly what Raul Ibanez did this past season.  A year after the Yankees had to fight off nobody to sign him before Spring Training, Ibanez now finds himself being courted by the Texas Rangers in addition to the Yankees for his services as a lefty power platoon bat with the biggest grapefruits this side of Vince McMahon.

Props to Brien Jackson and the crew at IIATMS for being the only site in the blogosphere that I saw that covered this today, and yeah, I totally copycatted my idea to write about this from them.  Deal with it.  But as far as Ibanez and the Yanks go, there hasn't been a whole lot of talk since the initial "interest" phase earlier in the offseason.  The Yankees could use another right-handed bat more than a left one, but it would be fun to have Ibanez back on the bench in 2013.  If it turns out that last October was the final time we got to see Ra's al Ul in a Yankee uniform, we'll always have the memories...

Moving A-Rod To DH Full Time And How To Make It Happen

(Thinking about the good old days, perhaps.  Courtesy of US Presswire)

When going through my L/R batting order exercise for next season yesterday, you may have noticed that I had both Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis listed as "3B/DH."  I'm sure most people weren't surprised by that, as both players have struggled mightily with injuries as they've moved into their mid-30s, and more and more the DH spot is becoming a safe haven for them to lessen the wear and tear on their bodies and keep themselves healthy and on the field as much as possible.  Youkilis is going to get the lion's share of ABs at the hot corner to start the season with A-Rod on the DL, but when Rodriguez comes back Joe is going to have to work out a system to give each of them a day or days at DH and possibly a full day off per week to keep them healthy and allow them to produce as much as their remaining skill sets will allow them to.

As far as Youkilis is concerned, whatever the Yankees do with him will only be for this next year.  He's on a 1-year contract and with the type of money he'll command in free agency after next season there's no chance the Yankees bring him back again with the payroll goal being the first priority.  A-Rod is a different story, however, as he'll still have 4 more years left on his contract, 4 years that could be very long and painful for everyone to watch if he continues down the path he's already on.  While they have time to plan out a strategy, it would behoove the Yankees to investigate a way to move A-Rod to DH full time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thinking About The 2013 Batting Order

I know a lot of people are going to say it's way to early to start talking batting orders for next season, what with there still being a solid 2 months left in the offseason and the Yankees possibly being without a couple key members of their everyday lineup when the regular season starts on April 1st.  But I don't see it that way.  Injured or not, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are going to be part of the everyday lineup when they do return, and with the signing of Kevin Youkilis and the pending signing of Ichiro Suzuki, the starting 9 for 2013 is all but intact.

The lineup next year is going to be flush with platoon bats, which likely means a lot more of the lineup juggling that we started to see late last season.  The presence of Youkilis and return of Brett Gardner should bring back some of the classic Yankee "grind it out" at-bat tactics, but the middle of the order has lost some of its luster with the injuries and natural decline of A-Rod and Teix.  Even without a good everyday catcher, there is still the potential for the Yankees lineup to be relatively deep and dangerous next season, but a lot of things are going to have to turn around.  After the jump, check out my preliminary ideas for next season's batting orders.

Is There Any Way I Can Talk Myself Into Vernon Wells?

(I wouldn't be smiling if I had that bad a year in 2012.  Courtesy of the AP)

One of the bigger pieces of weekend news that I touched on yesterday was Ken Rosenthal's report that the Yankees and Angels discussed a possible trade for outfielder Vernon Wells at the Winter Meetings.  The move makes sense for Anaheim, who now has a logjam in their outfield with the recent signing of Josh Hamilton, and in the loosest terms it makes sense for the Yankees, who are still heavy on left-handed hitters, many of them with significant platoon splits, and could use another right-handed power bat to take DH at-bats or spell Ichiro Suzuki in right field.

The problem is that Wells completely sucks now.  Ever since he signed his big contract in Toronto his career has been completely flushed down the toilet, evidence by a .285 wOBA/79 wRC+ season in 131 games in 2011 and a .296/88 campaign in 77 games this past season.  He doesn't walk much, his power has dipped big time in the last 3 years, and defensive metrics paint him as an inconsistent defensive outfielder at best.  Oh, and he's still owed $42 million over the next 2 seasons.  There's seemingly nothing about Wells that looks useful for the 2013 Yankees, but damnit I'm going to try to find something.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekend News & Notes

It was a pretty quiet weekend here at AB4AR, mainly because yesterday was my company holiday party and also because I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with the flu.  But there were a few things happening in Yankeeland worth mentioning, so if you've been indisposed like I've been here's what you missed:

- The Kevin Youkilis signing became official on Friday afternoon with the Yankees putting out a press release.  Good to see that there weren't any problems at all with Youkilis' physical and the Yanks now have their Opening Day third baseman.

- The number came in for the Yankees' 2012 luxury tax bill and it was for a hair over $18.9 million, up from last year's total of $13.9 million.  New York has paid over $224 million in luxury tax penalties since 2003, so use that as a reminder for why they're striving to get below the tax threshold for 2014.

- Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees have signed veteran IF Gil Velazquez to a MiL deal.  He'll probably get an invite to spring camp but he's certainly not going to be in the running to fill in for Jeter if he can't go.  More like replacement MiL depth.

- Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees and Angels talked about a trade for Vernon Wells at the Winter Meetings, a sign that Anaheim knew they were going to go after Josh Hamilton.  They have too many outfielders and not enough spaces for all of them now, but even if they ate all the money I wouldn't want Wells.  He's absolutely shot.

- Nick Cafardo connected the Yankees to free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, saying that some people believed they were "quietly interested" in him.  They already have Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, so it's not like they need another speedy slap hitter, and Bourn isn't going to take a 1-year deal, so I wouldn't put a whole lot of weight in that rumor.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sabathia On Schedule After Surgery

(Elbow sounds like it's feeling good)

Mariano Rivera isn't the only pitcher on track to return from his 2012 injury on time.  According to a report in The Star-Ledger by Jeff Bradley, CC Sabathia is not feeling any ill effects from his late October surgery to clean up his left elbow, and is planning to start his offseason throwing program on his usual schedule right after Christmas.

This is a bit of good news after Sabathia was plagued by injuries this past season, and combined with Mo's declaration that he'll be ready for Opening Day and Andy Pettitte presumably on track with his offseason program after re-signing should give the Yankees no worries heading into next year as it relates to pitching staff health.  The Yanks proved they can win without Mo and Pettitte last season, but losing Sabathia for an extended period of time would be bad.  Hopefully this surgery eliminates any chances of those elbow issues creeping up on him again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 12/14

The lead-in to this week's Linkapalooza was supposed to be me talking about my company's upcoming holiday party tomorrow and all the shenanigans I was planning on getting into before, during, and after said party, but that hardly seems appropriate given the events that have taken place in Newtown, CT this morning.  As a Connecticut boy, this tragedy really hits home even if I don't know anybody directly affected, which is something I can't even say with 100% certainty right now.  It just sickens me that human beings as a species have devolved from building this planet up to what it is today, with all the technology and all the advancements we've created, to the point where a person can willingly decide to stroll into an elementary school and mass murder a bunch of harmless, defenseless children.

This next statement is a knee-jerk reaction, I'll admit that, but part of me thinks that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if the world actually did end next Friday.  At least then we wouldn't have to continue to have things like this happen.  And with that, onto the links.

- On Monday, Jimmy Kraft of Yanks Go Yard wondered if a contact-oriented outfield would really be that bad for the Yankees.  A pertinent question to ask given their connection to Ichiro.

- On Tuesday, Steve Lombardi of Was Watching weighed in with his thoughts on the secondary ticket market issue after the Yankees ended their relationship with StubHub.

- SJK of NoMaas was right on top of his Photoshop game, as usual, when it came to the Kevin Youkilis signing and "traitor" cries coming from Fraud Sawx Nation.

- On Wednesday, Mike Axisa of RAB, on the heels of the Kevin Youkilis signing being announced, looked at how Youkilis' offensive game might translate to Yankee Stadium.

- Jesse Schindler of Bleeding Yankee Blue asked if it was to the Yankees' benefit to re-up with Phil Hughes now.  Personally, I'd like to see how he starts 2013 before entertaining that idea, but I also wouldn't hate it if they did.

- Jane Heller of Confessions of a She-Fan had a great idea for a new buddy comedy now that Youkilis is on his way to becoming a Yankee.  I'd pay to see that flick.

- Chad Jennings of LoHud broke down the currently full 40-man roster to determine who's going to be kicked off to make room for Youkilis and Ichiro.

- Jimmytoucan of Yankees Fans Unite mused on the need to stay grounded when evaluating and talking about prospects.  Very simile to the "Dangers of Prospect Hugging" post I wrote this time last year, and a lesson that's always good to bring back up.

- William Juliano of The Captain's Blog investigated the possible decrease in power, the biggest staple of the Yankee lineup, in 2013 based on this offseason's moves.

- On Thursday, el duque of It Is High... predicted bad things for this time next offseason based on the way this offseason has gone and how this team is presently constructed.

- Mike Eder of TYA looked back at Ichiro's recent performance in an attempt to project him moving forward.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS responded to the growing complaint that the Yankees aren't getting better this offseason by asking if they're actually getting worse.

- On Friday, Marc Normandin of Pinstriped Bible looked at the comparison of Kevin Youkilis to Yankee fan favorite Paul O'Neill.

I don't feel right picking a song to play based on what happened today, so no Friday Jam.  I just hope everybody back home is safe and sound and has gotten their children to safety if they have kids, and my deepest condolences go out to all the victims of this despicable crime and their families.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Lack Of Logic In The Ichiro Situation

(Hank and Hal just looking to cash in... Courtesy of Getty Images)

While most of the baseball world was buzzing about the Josh Hamilton signing yesterday afternoon, there was a significant development in the Ichiro Suzuki case, one that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Yankees in terms of how they've approached and executed their offseason plan to date.  After multiple reports of Ichiro receiving 2-year offers from other teams came out, Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees were "resigned" to the fact that they now HAD to make a guaranteed 2-year offer as well in order to bring Ichiro back.  I know this isn't going to sit well with my man James on the AB4AR Page, but that line of thinking and decision making by the Yankee brass is questionable at best, and borderline ludicrous at worst.

** UPDATE 10:36 AM- Jon Heyman reporting this morning that the deal is done, 2 years/"likely" $13 million. **

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hamilton Signing Ends Any Chance Of A Big Yankee Splash

Unless you either live under a rock or are more dedicated to your day job than I am and didn't spend time surfing the interwebs today, you already know that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim swooped in and signed big free agent fish Josh Hamilton to a 5-year/$125 million deal earlier today.  The move was a bit surprising, as the Angels hadn't been connected to Hamilton nearly as much as other clubs and there hadn't been much talk of Hamilton getting an offer for more than 3-4 years.  But kudos to the Angels for adding the  best FA hitter available on the market to an already dangerous lineup and for effectively ending any chance of there being fireworks for the Yankees this offseason.

Those chances were already slim to none.  The Yankees have executed what they said their offseason plan of attack was going to be to a tee, securing their own internal free agent pitchers to re-bolster the staff and focusing on 1-year deals and cheap platoon players to keep payroll flexibility intact heading into 2014.  I had my dream scenario, as we all did (probably including Cash), but with Zack Greinke and Hamilton coming off the market, Arizona making a trade that likely ended any chance of them moving Justin Upton, and San Diego holding firm to their commitment to not trading Chase Headley, the big move well has pretty much dried up for New York.

They've got their replacement third baseman, and they are reportedly getting closer and closer to finalizing a deal with one half of a possible right field platoon.  After that, I think we can all shut off the lights on the major portion of the Yankee 2012-2013 offseason.

Mo Says He'll Be Ready For Opening Day

It's pretty much a top 5 sports cliche for an injured athlete to say he's going to make it back in time for insert important sport milestone here.  And most of the time I'm inclined to call bullshit.  Derek Jeter has been saying it since his surgery, and I can't get on board with it because the expected recovery time and the calendar don't 100% support his claims.  I had aboslutely ZERO faith in Adrian Peterson's ability to come back in time for the start of the NFL season, which is why I passed on the chance to take him with the 10th pick in my fantasy draft and now my team full of crummy running backs is 5-8 and all but finished for the year.

But when Mariano Rivera says he's coming back, wait, scratch that.  When Mariano Rivera says anything, I take it as the word of God and accept it as fact.  That's why it was awesome to see this quote from him in the Daily News yesterday when asked about his chances of being ready for Opening Day 2013:

“Oh, yeah, I don’t see why not.  We have at least three months, four months until that point. I’ll be ready.”

He still hasn't started throwing a ball this offseason, so it will be worth watching how his velocity and cutter command look when he does start pitching in game situations again, but based on that comment I'm taking it to the bank that Mo will be jogging out to "Enter Sandman" if there's a save situation on Opening Day.  Now somebody hit the music!

A Quick Word On The StubHub Thing

It didn't seem like nearly as juicy a story as the Kevin Youkilis signing, but it's something that will actually have a lot bigger impact on us as fans than any free agent signing this offseason.  I'm sure many of you heard or read the news earlier in the week about the Yankees opting out of MLB's new deal with StubHub and deciding to go with Ticketmaster as their official re-sell outlet for tickets.  If you haven't, well you just did.

The Yankees called this move one that was more "fan friendly" to folks looking to pick up cheap or cheaper tickets, which, as Brien Jackson of IIATMS pointed out, is complete BS.  This was a move designed to put more money into the Steinbrenner's pockets, much like the YES deal with News Corp., and that's the bottom line.  And truth be told, I'm fine with that.  At the end of the day, they are still running a business and they've made it very clear that their goal in running the Yankees is to make more money for themselves.  At least they're being consistent, right?

As someone who lives too far away to attend Yankee games regularly, this isn't going to have much of an impact on how much I get to see the Yankees.  As it is I can only catch them when they're on TV, and I go out of my way to make sure I can watch them when I know they're going to be on.  As a diehard fan who promised himself he was going to make it to The Stadium for a series next season A) because I still haven't been there, and B) because I want/need to see Mariano Rivera pitch one more time, this is going to be an inconvenience and hurt me some in the wallet.  I've used StubHub before, I know what kind of good deals you can get on there, and I can totally see why a lot of fans would be upset about this.  Going to a Yankee game at The Stadium these days is hardly cheap, and now one of the options available to help people save a little money has been taken away from them.

I've called out the Yankee Stadium crowd for being weak before, and it was painfully obvious that The Stadium was not full and not loud in the postseason this year.  But I'll say this, if the Steinbrenners think that this switch to Ticketmaster is going to help bring people back to fill the seats next year, I think they're going to be sorely disappointed.

(For more reading on the StubHub situation, check out William Juliano's take over at Pinstriped Bible and Brien Jackson's follow-up post from yesterday.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thoughts On The Kevin Youkilis Signing

(Ahh the good old days.  Let 'em go, people)

I made it pretty clear last week which side of the fence I was on when reports of the Yankees offering Kevin Youkilis the 1-year/$12 mil deal first came out.  I had my reasons and I don't think any of them were misguided, even if my way of expressing them (which was meant to be humorous, by the way) did get me an attempted morality lesson and possible challenge to a fight in the TYA comments section.  But barring something major coming up in his physical that would negate the agreement, Kevin Youkilis is going to be a Yankee next season and he's going to be the Opening Day third baseman.

That's the reality, snd there's nothing that I or anybody else who was anti-Youkilis can do about it.  So rather than bitch and moan about how much better of an option Mark Reynolds would have been, or complain about how I can't/won't root for him because of who his former team is, I'd like to break this move down logically and calmly now that I've had a night and a day to digest it.

2012 Statistical Trends: Joba's Comeback

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

2012 was a rough year for Joba Chamberlain.  After being shut down in 2011 and undergoing Tommy John Surgery, he was in the process of working himself back to full strength to make a summer 2012 return when he suffered his now infamous trampoline accident that resulted in a dislocated ankle.  When reports first came out on that injury, it sounded potentially career-threatening, but follow-up examinations and surgery made it much less so and Joba was able to return to a Major League mound in August.  Joba pitched to a 4.35/4.01/3.55 slash line in 20.2 innings pitched this past season, a small sample size to be sure.  But within that small sample size there are some interesting splits and trends that could point to a very strong 2013 campaign for Joba.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Yankees Agree To Sign Kevin Youkilis

Not a lot of details yet, but according to Ken Rosenthal, Kevin Youkilis has agreed to sign with the Yankees for the 1 year and $12 million they offered him.

Youkilis will have to pass a physical, and details are still coming in, but if this is true it gives the Yankees their temporary solution at third base while Alex Rodriguez recovers from his hip surgery, and gives Joe options on how he wants to rotate both of them through third and DH when A-Rod gets back to keep them both healthy.  The Yankees have needed to make a move to address the lineup holes, and now they have.  More details to come...

** UPDATE 5:25PM- Joel Sherman has confirmed Rosenthal's report, and also started talking about the Yankees moving to get a deal done with Ichiro by week's end. **

The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

(Opening Day catcher?  Don't rule it out.  Courtesy of the AP)

There's still the possibility of a blockbuster trade, something I think almost all of us are secretly hoping for after the excitement-less Winter Meetings.  But with the Yankees holding firm on their free agent signing plans for this offseason, and with that plan assuredly continuing into the next offseason when the payroll goal will loom largest, the likelihood of the Yankees having to use their top-level Minor Leaguers as more than just emergency filler or roster expansion fodder is very high.

We all know the Yankees don't have much high-impact, high-level talent in their system, but that's not to say they don't have players capable of contributing as useful bench or bullpen pieces or even winning a starting job if it comes to that.  The only "top" prospect with a shot at making the show in 2013 is Tyler Austin, and even that is a longshot, but here are some other guys who could see some significant PT at the Major League level next season.

The Truth Finally Comes Out

Say it ain't so, Alex!

Because nobody in the MSM can think of anything worthwhile to ask or write about now that the Winter Meetings are over, Alex Rodriguez was stuck answering questions about his rumored centaur paintings of himself in house.  After years of speculation, and quite frankly hope on my part that it was true, A-Rod finally shed some light on the subject.

“No, I do not have a painting of my upper body on a Minotaur.  I don’t know where they get that stuff.”

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  I can't believe that it's not true!  What a crushing blow to my ego, my hopes and dreams of what the world could be, and the very foundation that this blog was built upon.  I mean come on, Al!  I've been down with the A-Taur since the word go.  Do you think I would have gone through all the trouble of making multiple Photoshops, rattling off hundreds of A-Horse jokes, and always trying to remember to refer to your feet as hooves if I thought you didn't actually have these paintings??  What kind of an idiot do you think I am???  Wait, don't answer that.

Needless to say, this day is already off to a horrible start. I could slip a joke in here about how the hip injury and required surgery is even more severe when you're dealing with a 4-legged centaur, but it just wouldn't be the same now knowing what I know.  I don't normally drink at the office, but I might have to find something to put in my coffee to get me through the morning.

(Never forget)

P.S.- Yes, I wrote this post assuming that A-Rod is actually too dumb to know the difference between a centaur and a minotaur.  There's no way he's that slick.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Some Positives To Signing Ichiro

(I'll admit it.  He looks pretty good right there.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

By now I don't really need to remind everybody that I'm firmly against re-signing Ichiro Suzuki for next season (even though I just kinda did right there).  But with the available free agent cupboard left pretty bare after last week's Winter Meetings, and the Yankees appearing unlikely to get seriously involved in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes unless his price goes WAAAAAAAYYYY down, talks about the Yankees and Ichiro started heating up again over the weekend.  Yesterday Ken Rosenthal reported that there was "strong interest" on both sides in bringing Ichiro back for 2013, and this morning Jon Heyman reported that the Yanks and Ichiro were hoping to have a deal done "within the next few days."

I'm not going to be happy if/when this deal becomes official, and everybody knows my reasons.  But there's been a lot of support for Ichiro in both the comments section of this blog and on the AB4AR Facebook Page anytime I bring him up in a negative context.  So in an attempt to shelf the negativity until the deal gets done, and to appease the AB4AR masses who are so pro-Ichiro, here are some positive things I can say about him and what he'll be able to offer the Yankees should they re-sign him this week.

A-Rod's Relieved After His Latest Injury. Me? Not So Much

(Not a sign of relief.  Courtesy of the AP)

After his latest hip injury and required surgery was announced a week ago today, Alex Rodriguez made his first public comments on the situation this past weekend.  Speaking to reporters at a charity function he attended, A-Rod had this to say about the new injury to his left hip:

“I’m not concerned. I’m actually, in many ways, relieved that there’s something tangible that we can go fix.”

He went on to drop lines about being committed to coming back, confident that he can return to form, and ready to take on the challenge of rehab and recovery, all the usual talking points for a great athlete coming back from a serious injury.  The problem with all of it is that it rings incredibly hollow at this stage in A-Rod's career.  I know he can't come out and say, "yeah, you know, the last one sapped a lot of my power, and now that I've got to have surgery on the other hip I don't expect to be a great everyday player anymore," but I'd also like to think that he he's self-aware enough to know that this is probably it for him and that he knows we all know this is it for him too.  Because if there's anything about his career path since the first hip surgery that Alex finds relief in, he needs to look up the definition of the word.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Opening Day Lineup Still Needs Some Work

(Let's see Joe whip up a winning lineup with these ingredients.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

So it's almost 2 weeks before Christmas.  The GM Meetings are over, the Winter Meetings are over, and it's getting close to hibernation time for most teams during the down period of the MLB offseason.  The Yankees have made a few moves, all of them re-signing the key missing parts of their pitching staff, but the position player portion of the roster is still in shambles.  I know this is a theme I've been slowly beating to death since the offseason really kicked into gear, and things have gotten better since the first time I did something like this, but with the events that took place this week it's a theme that is still very prevalent and a situation that's actually gotten worse.

The Yankees will be without Alex Rodriguez until at least mid-summer, they've officially lost Russell Martin as their starting catcher, they still don't have a starting right fielder, and the bench is really nothing more than a collection of backup catchers.  If the regular season started tomorrow, and the Yankees had to field a lineup with what they've got right now, it would be an ugly scene.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nix Gives Yanks Bare Minimum Insurance

The Yankees took a risk re-signing Jayson Nix the way they did and then DFA'ing him to clear a roster spot for Mo.  That risk became even bigger when Alex Rodriguez's injury was announced on Monday, and bigger still when the Yankees failed to lock down a replacement this week at the Winter Meetings.  But the risk paid off yesterday when Nix cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A.  At least now the Yankees have one viable, albeit nowhere near ideal, in-house option to play the hot corner if need be.

Nix was the definition of replacement level in 2012, but he did prove useful to the Yankees with his ability to play multiple positions.  They were lucky to have him on the roster when A-Rod went out with the broken hand, and Nix did get the majority of his work in at third this past season.  He's certainly not enough as an everyday option to make Cash call off the search for a full-time replacement, but Nix can handle a bat, has just enough pop to be taken seriously, and can handle his business in the field.

I don't expect that Nix will be the Opening Day third baseman, and the Yanks could certainly do a lot better than him.  But they could also do worse, and were doing worse with what they had readily available before he cleared waivers yesterday.  Nix is at least something, and something is better than nothing.