Monday, March 11, 2013

Yanks Sign Ben Francisco To MiL Deal

It's not a head-turner, not unlike every other Yankee signing this offseason, but they did add another piece to their outfield competition puzzle today by signing free agent outfielder Ben Francisco to a MiL deal after he was released earlier in the day by the Indians.

I profiled Francisco back on December 1st as part of the list of non-tender guys I thought the Yanks might target, and the profile hasn't changed since then.  Francisco is still a field-first player whose offensive output has dwindled significantly in the last few years.  His career numbers still look good as a part-time option, but recently he's offered very little by way of power or on-base skills.  For what it's worth, Francisco was 8-20 with Cleveland so far this spring before being released with more walks than strikeouts.

2013 Storylines: Contending On A Budget

(Or not.)

The Yankees made some waves a week or so ago for going to court to protect their claim to the "Evil Empire" moniker that was bestowed on them by Larry Lucchino in 2002.  They've lived up to that nickname for the better part of the last 11 years, but in a strange bit of irony their battle to trademark the name was the biggest attempt made by the Yankees to live up to the motto this offseason.  After years of free spending, ballooning payrolls, record-setting contracts, and drawing the ire of fans, teams, and writers alike, the Yankees enter the 2013 season with a plan to ditch their traditional business model, for a few years at least, in an attempt to reset their luxury tax penalties and save some coin.  The key year is 2014 and the key payroll number is $189 million, but a lot of groundwork to get to those key points was done this past offseason and will continue to be done through the 2013 regular season.

Rotation Starting To Take Shape This Week

(Courtesy of the AP)

The bulk of the early ST focus has been on the lineup and its shrinking number of healthy, productive players, but the rotation hasn't exactly been running at full song so far either.  Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda have each made a pair of starts, David Phelps has made four, and that's it as far as projected Major League starters are concerned.  In the last few days, however, the picture has cleared up considerably with the rest of the rotation.

Phil Hughes graduated to a mound over the weekend, and per Chad Jennings threw a 26-pitch bullpen session this morning with no reported back issues.  He's graduating to facing live hitters later this week and could end up on track to start the season.  The other big news to come out of the weekend was the upcoming rotation schedule, which has Andy Pettitte penciled in to make his spring debut on Wednesday and CC Sabathia on Friday.  Sabathia threw a 50-pitch sim game yesterday morning rather than face the Blue Jays, and this has been about as quiet a spring for Pettitte as I can remember.

The level of concern about those three was low, so it's not like this is huge unexpected news.  But it's always good to see your starting rotation all pitching.  The rotation is going to have to carry this team early, and they should take the first big step towards doing that this week.

The 2013 Season Preview Starts Today

I said yesterday that the transition from preseason to regular season was starting to take place, and that transition becomes official today at AB4AR with the announcement that the three-week season preview for the 2013 season starts this week.  I call it, "Season Preview Season."

As it was last year, the AB4AR season preview will be split up into three individual series of posts, starting with the high-level storylines that will define the 2013 season and drilling down to the previews of individual positions and players.  The "2013 Storylines" series kicks off this afternoon and runs through the week.

Opening Day is in three weeks, people.  It's time to start looking ahead.