Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Brian Cashman's Christmas Wishes

With Christmas just five days away, I thought it would be fun at what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would like to see under his Christmas tree for the 2012 season. Fortunately for Yankee fans, the team is pretty much assembled for 2012, but, Cashman is always looking for ways to make improvements. 

Wish No. 1: A (reliable) starting pitcher 
When the offseason began, I like many others, believed that Cashman was going to overspend for a pricey free agent starting pitcher named C.J. Wilson.  Wilson had previously expressed that he would not mind pitching in New York.  As the baseball capital, New York is often one of the most intimidating places to play for free agents due to increase scrutiny from the press as well as from the fans.  What was a big turn off for Cashman and other executives though was how forward Wilson's agent was in demanding a contract from the Bombers. The Yankees didn't budge and Wilson eventually signed with the Los Angeles Angels who no doubt could have bailed out the government with how much money they invested in Albert Pujols and Wilson.  
The free agent pitchers that are now available are at best, mediocre.  Roy Oswalt, was once a top of the line starter when he pitched for the Houston Astros.  However, once he got out of the offensively challenged NL Central and moved to the elite NL East, he struggled.  I'm questioning what his stuff would be like in the best division in baseball, the AL East.  He recently came out and said that he would only like a one year contract, but at what price?  Oswalt was hurt most of the season last year with the Phillie and had one of his worst seasons (9-10 3.69 ERA).  But Cashman proved last year that he is willing to take a risk on a proven veteran (see Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon).  The Garcia gamble proved to be a huge signing for the 2011 Yankees.  
Other possibilities: Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard (I would highly advise against this), Jason Marquis

Wish No. 2: Somebody please take AJ Burnett from the Yankees
Where to begin with Mr. Burnett? After the 2008 season when the Yankees signed then free agents, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Burnett, I was fine with all but one signing.  It's no surprise that I was apprehensive about the Burnett signing.  Through his first three years as a Yankee, Burnett is 34-35 with a 4.70 ERA, the highest of all three Major League teams he's been on.  Last season, Burnett was 11-11 with a 5.11 ERA.  He also received 11 no decisions. He did not win a game in the entire month of July and it took an in game adjustment of his mechanical motion by pitching coach Larry Rothschild for Burnett to start winning games once again.  
However, One thing that I do admire about Burnett is his accountability.  He will be the first one to take responsibility for his poor performances day in and day out.  But, at some point, enough is enough.  Unfortunately, I believe the Yankees are stuck with Burnett.  He's signed through the end of the 2013 season and is still owed $16.5 million over each of the next two seasons.  Who is going to want to be responsible for a 34 year old that is capable of self imploding on the mound at any point? 

Wish No. 3: Find the fountain of youth 
This is more of a silly request than anything.  Let's face it, the Yankees are an old team.  Derek Jeter will be 38 in June, Alex Rodriguez will be 37 in July. Believe it or not, Robinson Cano will be 30 in October and Teixeira will be 32 in April.  The youngest starter in the rotation will be Phil Hughes, who turns 26 in June, Sabathia is the next youngest at 32.  What we learned last year is these players can no longer bounce back from injuries like they used to when they were younger, (see Alex Rodriguez knee injury, and Derek Jeter quad injury).  The average age of the outfielders is 29.6. The youngest position by age will be at catcher.  Russell Martin is 28 and if Jesus Montero can make the team, he'll be the youngest player on the team at the age of 21. 

Wish No. 4: Bring home Championship No. 28 to the Bronx
This is the goal every season, no matter how unrealistic it may be.  As we learned the past few seasons, Cashman will do basically anything except trade high end prospects for a short term rental, to guarantee winning the World Series.  I expect to see more or less of the same this season.  I hope for Granderson's sake that the team does indeed win.  After the Yankees acquired Granderson two years ago, he changed his number because manager Joe Girardi chose to wear No. 28 symbolizing the team's goal for the season.  While Granderson had a spectacular 2011 season, I'm sure he'd like to be reacquainted with his familiar 28.  No player is currently assigned to 29. 

That's it for now. Check in soon for another preview! Happy Holidays!  

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 Days until Opening Day!

The 2011 MLB season officially gets underway exactly 10 days from now.  With the season approaching so quickly, I thought this would be the perfect time to give a preview of the projected Yankees roster as well as discuss the remaining question marks for the team that is once again expected to contend once again for the world series. 

Projected Roster:
C: Russel Martin - For the first time in about a decade Martin will be the first starting catcher not named Jorge Posada.  It will be interesting to see if Martin regained his offensive swing from three years ago when he was an all star for the Dodgers.
1b: Mark Teixeira - Teixeria will look to get off to a quick offensive start after a horrible start last season.  Teixeira is hoping to remain injury free after having several nagging injuries throughout last season.
2b: Robinson Cano - Cano will look to carry over his 2010 season to this season.  If he does, he should contend for the MVP.  Hitting coach Kevin Long believes Cano has the ability to hit 40 home runs. 
3b: Alex Rodriguez- This spring, Rodriguez has returned to the form he had prior to his hip surgery in 2009.  Rodriguez is leading the team in home runs this spring and hopes to continue that this fall.
SS: Derek Jeter - To put it plain and simple, Jeter is looking to avoid his disastrous 2010 season.  After resigning with the only team he's ever played for, Jeter revamped with his swing with Long and is now hitting a solid .330 this spring.  Hopefully, these results will carry over to the season.
DH: Jorge Posada - Posada will have to adjust to his first season as the team's full time DH.  A break from catching everyday should benefit Posada's aging body, who like many Yankees is also seeking a bounce back season offensively.
RF: Brett Gardner - Gardner too, revamped his swing with Long this spring.  He's trying to become a better bunter after raising his average significantly last season.  Gardner may bat lead off this fall which could be beneficial to Jeter.
CF: Curtis Granderson -After reviving his swing last summer, Granderson looked like an entirely different player offensively.  In his second year in New York, Granderson is just trying to stay consistent offensively while remaining a solid force in the field.
LF: Nick Swisher- Over the last two years, Swisher has been very solid during the regular season but his bat has gone stone cold in the postseason.  Swisher hopes to get off to a hot start and keep it going throughout the season.  Last season, he hit a career high in home runs. 
Starting Pitchers:
SP: CC Sabathia -Sabathia will look to repeat the two seasons he's already had in New York.  This season in particular could be especially important for Sabathia as he has stated he might opt out of his contract following the 2011 campaign.
SP: AJ Burnett - How do I say this bluntly? I can't. Burnett was TERRIBLE last year.  But, with the help of new pitching coach Larry Rothschild Burnett has made his delivery more simple and has looked tremendous this season.  He's improved so much, he earned the second spot in the rotation ahead of Phil Hughes.
SP: Phil Hughes - Hughes is looking to improve his 2010 all star campaign, except he wants to be better.  Hughes hit a wall after the all star break but still managed to finish the season with 18 wins.  His goal though is to lower his ERA which was 4.19
SP: Ivan Nova - Nova was a dark horse candidate to even make the pitching staff.  But, this spring he has already gone 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four games this spring.  Nova forced his way into the rotation and it will be interesting to see if his success will continue once the regular season begins.
SP: Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon - Both Garcia and Colon are veteran starters who once had great success.  Unfortunately, due to injuries to both, their careers are now in jeopardy of being over.  Both signed minor league contracts in the off-season with a chance to make the team.  Garcia already stated he will not go to Triple A if he doesn't make the major league team.  As of right now, I have to believe that Colon has the upper hand over Garcia.
P: Mariano Rivera - After an interesting off-season, one in which Rivera admitted to entertaining offers from the hated Red Sox, he finally resigned.  I expect nothing but the usual greatness from Rivera, although it will be interesting to see if he continues to age gracefully.
P: Joba Chamberlain- Oh Joba... what can I say about you? Chamerlain showed up much heavier then he was over the past two seasons.  Chamberlain was also injured last week, with an oblique strain.  Ironically, maybe it has something to do with his weight? Chamberlain will probably share the 7th inning duties with David Robertson.
P: Boone Logan - Logan came over to the Yankees in the trade that brought Javy Vazquez to the team for a second time.  Fortunately for Logan, he turned to be the most important part of the trade and was one of the most important parts of the bullpen.  He'll probably serve as the lefty specialist again.
P: David Robertson- Robertson proved his value to the Yankees last season as he was one of the team's most consistent relievers.  Joe Girardi trusted Robertson so much last season that he became the 8th inning guy over Joba Chamberlain.  This season however, he'll probably serve as the primary 7th inning guy as the team signed Rafeal Soriano.
P: Rafeal Soriano- Soriano had a career season last year with the Rays when he served as the team's closer.  This season he will serve as the 8th inning man as he is a crucial part of the bridge to Rivera.  If all goes well, when Soriano's contract is up and Rivera is retired, he may be the Yankees new closer.
P: TBD (most likely Pedro Felicano)
C: Francicso Cervelli (will start season on DL due to broken bone in foot) - Cervelli's spring training's have been plagued with bad luck for him.  This season, was no different.  Cervelli broke a bone in his foot and is in a walking boot.  Because he is a catcher he can't do anything.  Cervelli will begin the season on the DL with either Austin Romine or Jesus Montero.
INF: Ramiro Pena or Jorge Vazquez, Eric Chavez - Pena and Vazquez who are good friends, are competing against each other for a spot on the Yankees bench.  While Vazquez has out hit Pena this season, he is not guaranteed a spot.  Pena proved his value defensively last season so it will be interesting to see what the team decides to go with.  Chavez is looking to regain his all-star form from when he was with the Athletics.  Chavez has looked great this spring and if he remains injury free, it will be hard for Girardi to keep  him on the bench. 
OF: Andruw Jones, Colin Curtis or Greg Golson - Jones has played sparingly in the past two seasons with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox.  Jones will most likely start at DH against left handed batters.  He's become a defensive reliability, which is sad considering he was a 10 time gold glove winner with the Atlanta Braves.  As of right now, Golson has the job over Curtis.  Curtis, dislocated his shoulder earlier in Spring Training so Golson will most likely start the season with the Yankees.  

Now, it's time to address what questions will follow the team around throughout the season. 

1. Which AJ Burnett will show up?
  • The Burnett who was the leader of the Marlins staff in 2008?  The mediocre but effective Burnett in 2009 or the horrific Burnett of 2010?  Hopefully it will be somewhere between 2008 and 2009. 
2. Will the Yankees be able to get by with Nova and Colon/Garcia as their fourth and fifth starter or will GM Brian Cashman make a trade?
  • Again, it's just something that's going to have to play out
3. Will Derek Jeter bounce back?
  • All signs are indicating Jeter is now comfortable with his new swing but we will not know until he sees consistently decent pitching throughout the season.
4. Will CC Sabathia opt out of his contract at the end of the season?
  • Hopefully not, but he might because of the money that Cliff Lee got this past offseason. 
5. Do the Yankees have enough talent to make the playoffs?
  • Offensively, Yes I believe they do.  Pitching wise?  Check back with me in a month.

That's all for now.  I'll be updating again soon!