Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Evaluating the New York Yankees on the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Bernie Williams - No. 51 (1991-2006)

Five All-Star game appearances, four Gold Gloves, and the 1998 American League Batting Title are all on the resume of former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams. The 43 year old is making his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot this off-season after playing 16 seasons in pinstripes and was at the heart of four World Series Championships. Williams became a fan favorite in the Bronx as heposted statistics that led to MVP contention in the 90's. Awards can feel sweet for any player after a season, but the greatest reward is to be enshrined in Cooperstown with the other legends.

The former center-fielder holds a .297 career batting average, and managed to get 2,336 hits to make him No. 5 on the All-Time Yankees list. 500 home runs is usually the mark to be locked in for a spot in Cooperstown. Bernie Williams was only able to knock 287 home-runs in his career, but that was still enough to make him 6th on the list of Yankee greats. The same goes for his runs batted in with 1,257. Williams was most likely not the most feared hitter in his era, but he was respected as one of the most well-rounded.

Williams came through in the clutch for the Yankees, when it mattered most in the post-season. He has cemented himself as one of the legends of the Fall with 22 home-runs and 80 RBI's. Will it be enough to have him enter Baseball Heaven's pearly gates on his first try? Probably not. Williams will most likely be on the ballot for a few years to come.

Don Mattingly - No. 23 (1982-1995)

Don Mattingly is entering his second season as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager and his 12 season
on the Hall of Fame ballot. The former Yankee captain received a 13.6% of the vote last
year and would have to jump all the way to 75% in order to finally make it. The chances are not looking very likely for him. His statistics make a very attractive case, but the fact that injuries prevented him from being consistent hurt his career numbers in the latter half. The argument is always that since Kirby Puckett made it, so should Don Mattingly. The numbers are strikingly similar 2,153 hits, 22 home-runs, 1,099 RBI's are only a few of or even over Puckett's final totals.

Mattingly is remembered as one of the greatest Yankees to ever don the pinstripes with his number retired and a plaque in Memorial Park. He may be managing in Los Angeles, but Donnie Baseball will always have a home on 161st Street and River Avenue.

Projection: Neither Don Mattingly nor Bernie Williams will make the 2012 Hall of Fame Class. Both will be on the ballot next year.

Note: Ruben Sierra, a Yankee for five seasons, will most likely not have a Yankee hat on his plaque if he were to make the Hall of Fame. He played ten years with the Texas Rangers and has similar career numbers to those of Bernie Williams, but with nine respective Major League clubs.

Bill Mueller is a name that resonates in the minds of Yankee fans as one of the "Idiots" from the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that surmounted a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to move onto the World Series and bring Boston their first championship since 1918. This will also be his first year on the ballot and quite possibly his last according to Bill James' Hall of Fame monitor.

Matt's Top 20 Prospects

Nick came out with his top 20 prospects so I figured now was a good time to post mine. We'll have something up on the site soon comparing our lists and finding a median. Just one note before you delve into it: Nick and I have different ways of evaluating prospects. He values upside a lot more than I do, while I value distance a little more. Anyway, here you go:

(Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
 1.  Jesus Montero, C- Obviously the position is in question, but the bat will play anywhere and as long as he continues to hit, he’ll have value.
 2.  Manny Banuelos, P- Best pitching prospect in the organization with good feel for change up. Walks went up this past year, but still only 20.
 3.  Dellin Betances, P- Most upside of any pitcher in the system although control is still big problem. Probably going to wind up in the pen long term.
 4.  Austin Romine, C- Very good defensive catcher that can hit decently. Could be actual catcher of the future or trade bait.
 5.  Gary Sanchez, C- Most upside of any catcher and despite disappointing first half, attitude problems, and poor reports on defense, still hit well. Still very far away.
 6.  Mason Williams, OF- Great athlete that can hit and play a very good center field. Power could develop, but still far.
 7.  JR Murphy, C- Injury ended season early, but proved he could hit and improved defense is definitely nice to see.
 8.  Adam Warren, P- Ceiling as a back end guy and provides good depth for ML rotation. Needs to keep the ball down like he did before 2011.
 9.  Brett Marshall, P- Very good season coming off of TJ surgery. Lots of grounder and K/BB ratio was fantastic in second half.
10. David Phelps, P- Another back end ceiling guy who provides depth. Throws a ton of strikes, but needs to miss more bats.
11. Slade Heathcott, OF- Another shoulder surgery to end the season is a huge red flag. Still has talent, but status is up in the air.
12. Corban Joseph, 2B- Proved this year that he could hit, but bat isn’t good enough for third so could be used as trade bait.
13. Ramon Flores, 1B/OF- Great plate discipline and has shown signs of good power. Still very young and has a lot of developing to do.
14. Graham Stoneburner, P- The neck strain really hurt him as he loses a year of development. We’ll see how he does with a fresh slate in Trenton.
15. Cito Culver, SS- Decent year in SI, but apparent holes in LH swing. Good on defense though, still raw.
16. Tyler Austin, 3B- Perhaps has the most raw power in the system. Had a huge year with both GCL and SI. We’ll see how it looks in Charleston.
17. Dante Bichette Jr., 3B- Not much we can say about him. Definitely has a lot of power and defense reports are better than expected. Also very good plate discipline.
18. David Adams, 2B- Lost the last year and half to a bad ankle injury, but he can hit. As a middle infielder with bat, has good value.
19. Melky Mesa, OF- Raw tools still there and showed signs of greatness in second half. Consistency is the issue.
20. Rob Segedin, 3B- Has good power and hit well with Charleston and Tampa. Made up for injury with more at-bats in the AzFL.

Notable snubs: DJ Mitchell, Angelo Gumbs, Zoilo Almonte, Ravel Santana, Jordan Cote, Bryan Mitchell, Greg Bird.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nick's Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 2012

Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
1. Jesus Montero, C – Outside of Bryce Harper he has the best bat of any prospect.  Has produced at every level and posted a monstrous .328/.406/.590 line in 18 games with the Yankees in 2011. His bat is definitely ready. Grade A.

2. Gary Sanchez, C – Good defense and great power already from an 18 year old catcher. Not much more you could want. His average wasn’t spectacular last year, but that's not overly concerning right now. Grade B+.

3. Manny Banuelos, LHP – Banuelos is one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, but something has me holding him back from being No. 2 on this list. He has great stuff, but my gut tells me to even knock him down below Betances. Still, the age and numbers can’t be ignored. Grade: B+.

4. Dellin Betances, RHP – Has the kind of size, power, and stuff that dreams are made of.  If he can get his control to even an okay level he will be a top-of-the-rotation arm. But that's a big if. Grade B+.

5. Mason Williams, OF – I LOVE him. It was a joy to watch almost all of his games last year in Staten Island.  Managed to find a way to make an impact in just about every game, whether it was with his speed, power, or glove. Still has A LOT of room to fill out. True ball player. Grade: B+.

6. Austin Romine, C – The best defensive catcher in the Yankees system gets no love because he is “only” an average hitter to go along with his glove skills. Grade: B.

7. Dante Bichette, Jr., 3B – Bichette had a monster half season after getting drafted, showing both polish and tools.  Maybe a little bit of an aggressive ranking, but I expect big things from the kid with great bloodlines. Grade: B.

8. David Phelps, RHP – Not overpowering, but he’s no chump either and matches it with great command. Is big league ready. Grade: B-.

9. Adam Warren, RHP – Big righty with multiple pitches that he can throw for strikes.  The groundballs disappeared last year and he is going to need to go back to being a groundball machine to succeed in the MLB. Grade: B-.

10. J.R. Murphy, C – Love his swing and the results were pretty good in a pair of pitcher’s leagues.  A lot of the rank is on the reported improvements in his defense. Drops down the list if he has to move to 3B. Grade: B-.

11. Brett Marshall, RHP – I feel like I am undervaluing Marshall this low on the list. I like him that much.  He is one of my favorite pitching prospects on the team, but for various reasons comes in behind pitchers am not as high on over the long term.  Could “breakout” this year. Grade: B-.

12. Jairo Heredia, RHP – The Yankees have taken it slow with him, but he has had great results. Will need to learn how to last deeper in games if he wants to remain a starter. This season will be a pretty crucial year for his development. Grade: C+.

13. Slade Heathcott, OF – I am going to be straightforward and say I am most likely Heathcott’s least favorite fan.  I don’t expect him to ever live up to the 1st round hype that surrounds him, but with his defense and an improved season with the bat deserves some watching. Grade: C+.

14. Angelo Gumbs, 2B - Still very raw and very young. Has good speed, but still needs to work on his base running skills.  Made more consistent, hard contact than Culver last season. Grade: C+.

15. Cito Culver, SS – There is obviously value in the defense, but his bat did not impress me at all.  Had trouble squaring up any type of pitch he saw. His K:BB was pretty solid though. Grade: C+.

16. Ravel Santana, OF – Good chance I’d have him higher if not for the injury.  He should recover fine and on time at his age, but you just never know.  Was having a monster season in the GCL. Grade: C+.

17. Greg Bird, C – Because the Yankees needed another big time catching prospect so they spent $1.1 million dollars on this 5th round pick out of Colorado. With that being said he will most likely move to 1st base eventually, but his power potential is too legit not to get a mention on this list. Grade: C.

18. Jordan Cote, RHP – The big 2011 3rd draft pick has drawn some big time comparisons so it will be nice to finally get to see him perform in 2012. Grade: C.

19. David Adams, 2B – Has hit when healthy. He just needs to stay healthy. Time is running out on his prospect clock. Grade: C.

20. D.J. Mitchell, RHP – Pro-ready.  Never expecting him amount to anything spectacular, but I think he could settle in the back end of the Yankees rotation right now if asked. Grade: C.

Yankees Could Check In on Matt Garza Soon

Pitching, pitching, pitching. If it has not been made clear yet, that's the main objective for the New York Yankees year in and year out. Names like Yu Darvish and CJ Wilson headline the free-agent front, but on the trading block Brian Cashman could soon check in on Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs during the Winter meetings in Dallas.

Negotiations for a possible trade between the Cubs and Yankees would mark the first time that Cashman and Theo Epstein deal with one another while not working on rival teams, since Epstein moved from the Red Sox to the Cubs following the 2011 World Series. The Yankees have kept an eye on Garza in the past, but since he was with the Tampa Bay Rays it would have been illogical for a transaction to be made.

As for the asking price, Theo Epstein has not set a price tag on the starter yet. Last Winter, the Cubs surrendered a lot of players when the trade was made with Tampa Bay. Take into consideration the fact that Garza is under team control for two more years and a conclusion can be made that the Cubs could want a lot. Theo Epstein has a reputation of cultivating an organization's farm system and he is expected to do the same with the Cubs and it could start with this deal.

The Yankees would like to get involved in talks for the right-handed pitcher, but if it means packaging Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, or Manny Banuelos they will be cautious. Both sides will be looking for an even deal, but Epstein is playing it smart to see who will willing to pay a high price in a weak pitching market.

John Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted that the Yankees have no meetings planned with CJ Wilson and questions if he over-priced himself for New York to get involved. If the Yankees are out on Wilson, they could be more inclined to get involved with trades. Yu Darvish has yet to be posted, but money is the only factor in that equation and the Yankees have the means of acquiring him if they pleased. A deal for Garza could give this off-season, the kick start that it needs.

 On the pitching front: If a deal is made, that means that a team that was looking for pitching picked up a player from the trading block. Hence, Yu Darvish's camp lost a suitor. A trend could always follow with starters like John Danks.

On the position player front: The Cubs could slash some money off their payroll to make a pitch for Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and the negotiations could start getting heated among bidding teams.
Unless the price is right, the Yankees will most likely not budge. But there could be a team out there that will. As always, Epstein is playing his cards right with perfect timing to make an impact on the market.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Kei Igawa effect: Will the Yankees consider signing Yu Darvish, another Japanese Prospect?

Exactly five offseasons ago, Kei Igawa was the Yankees next great Japanese hope. The team already had Hideki Matsui, but Igawa added another dimension to a good, but not great starting rotation. Leading up to the 2007 campaign, the Yankees roster featured Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Chein Ming Wang, Kei Igawa, and Andy Pettite. We all know how Kei Igawa experiment went - in a word, awful. He was sent down in May 2007 to work on his mechanics and called back up for a brief stint in September.

This offseason, though no rumors have solidified, the Yankees may look to chase another Japanese prospect - Yu Darvish. Darvish has become arguably Japan's best pitcher over the past few seasons and is looking to sign with a major league club. Though Darvish throws a bit faster than Igawa (fastball in the mid 90's), the Yankees failure with Igawa may dictate Brian Cashman's decision to bid for (or not bid for) Yu.

Some fans may point to Hideki Matsui as a success that immediately helped the Yankees contend after he signed with the Yankees in 2003. Yet, many forget that even he took time to develop into a solid MLB player - though he drove in 106 runs during the 2003 campaign, the numbers were largely inflated by his team's ability to get on base, as evidenced by his lowly .435 slugging percentage.

While Darvish's upside is immense (25 year old entering the prime of his career), going to the big leagues is a challenge unlike any other - especially in the hitting-friendly AL East. The most comparable Japanese pitchers to Darvish are former Oriole Koji Uehara and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox because both have pitched for a majority of years in the AL East. During their first seasons in the MLB, Uehara had an ERA of 4.05 in just over 66 innings pitched while Daisuke posted a 4.40 ERA but gave up 25 homeruns. Both had better sophomore seasons (Matsuzaka went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA the next season, while Uehara primarily became a reliever for the Orioles), but it begs the question: Is Darvish a quick fix for a Yankees team built to win now? If history repeats, the answer is most likely "no".

Draft Spending Regulations Higher Than Expected

Per Jim Callis, the pool of money used for the first ten rounds of the draft going forward is closer to $180 million than once thought. It was reported initially that the cap would be somewhere around $200 million, but now it looks to be even less. Obviously, this new hard-slotting system hurts big spenders in the draft, which includes the Yankees, who according to Callis have spent the eleventh most in the draft since 2007. This hurts the Bombers more in the later rounds where they used to be able to above slot to get a risky guy out of his college commitment.

Yanks Unlikely To Sign Wilson

Per Andrew Marchand, there is "almost no way" that the Yankees are going to land free agent starting pitcher CJ Wilson. We saw earlier in the off-season that Wilson was looking for a contract somewhere in the six years worth $120 million ballpark. Like many of the other pitchers on the market, Wilson will only be signed if it is at the Yankees price. Marchand did, however, bring up the point that Cashman has flown under the radar to sign big names before, most notably Mark Teixeira.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What To Expect From Ivan Nova

The Yankees 2011 campaign was full of surprises ranging from Derek Jeter's great second half to David Robertson becoming one of the best set up men in the game. But perhaps the most shocking to come from this season was the starting rotation. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were both signed to Minor League contracts and each had fantastic seasons and CC Sabathia was a steady anchor for the third straight year. The best part of this staff for many Yankee fans was Ivan Nova. Nova, 25 in January, had a break out season which gives many optimism that he could maybe be a front line starter in the future. So what should we actually expect from Nova going forward?
Ivan the Great did post a 16-4 record across 165.1 innings for the big league team this year, but as we know by now, wins can be very deceiving. The Bombers had a great bullpen and a great lineup, both did a great job of saving him from a few sticky situations early in the season. His ability to get ground balls (52.7%) coupled with not allowing many homers (0.71 HR/9) allowed him to become the Yanks number two starter for the last couple of months of the season.

Keeping the ball down can only take you so far, however. He only struck out 5.33 per nine innings while walking more than three per nine. These numbers show that his record and 3.70 ERA may not be sustainable over a long period of time unless Nova improves his secondary pitches. We saw him have a nasty slider at times and we saw him use a good curveball at times, but it didn't seem to all come together.

One ray of shine is that after his being re-called after a demotion in July, Ivan looked like a different pitcher than he did in the first half of the season. In August, his strikeout rate rose to well above six, while his walk rate fell to around two. He also seemed to be mixing in all four of his pitches well instead of just using his fastball and one breaking pitch. This is when he really asserted himself as the second best starter on the team, despite still not having great strikeout numbers.

Many fans are going to expect the world from Nova in 2012 after what he did this past season, especially if the brass doesn't sign a front-line starter (Wilson, Darvish, etc.). Nova's still a very solid option and a good guy to have in the rotation, but he's not a number two as of right now. We need to expect a regression from him based on his peripherals.

Off-Topic: City of White Plains Multimediater

Why the Yankees need to go after starting pitching

With the recent resigning of Freddy Garcia many have wondered if this means the Yankees will not pursue signing a high profile free agent starting pitcher this offseason. Although the free agent pool may not be as strong as previous years Brian Cashman and the Yankees still need to go out and secure at least one other starting pitcher.

As of now (and yes I know its only November) the Yankees projected starting lineup for 2012 probably looks like: 
C.C. Sabathia   237.1 IP, 3.00 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
Ivan Nova        165.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
A.J. Burnett     190.1 IP, 5.15 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9
Phil Hughes       74.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9
Freddy Garcia  146.2 IP, 3.62 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9
2011 stats

I would not be comfortable going to into the season with this starting pitching staff. The Yankees must add a starting pitcher if they want to contend for the World Series and here are a few reasons why.

First off no one can be certain that Ivan Nova will be able to put up numbers comparable to those of last season; and count me as a skeptic who thinks that Nova will suffer the dreaded sophomore slump.  After seeing countless Yankee pitchers such as Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Hughes, have promising starts to their careers, only to later suffer setbacks, I will not be surprised if this happens again in 2012 with Nova. Although I do feel Nova will be a starting pitcher for a long time, I would not be at all surpised if he struggles next season and is sent down to the minors. If this happens the Yankees will need to have depth at starting pitching to make up for the possible loss of Nova.

Secondly having another starting pitcher going into the season will allow Phil Hughes to start the season off in the bullpen where he belongs. In the bullpen Hughes will be able to  gain confidence, help the Yankees win, and eventually he will be ready to enter the rotation when needed. Whether that reason is due to an injury or the possibility that A.J. Burnett or Ivan Nova will not be able to hold his spot as a starting pitcher; it will be reassuring to know that Phil Hughes will be sitting in the bullpen fresh and ready to go a starter instead of having to bring up a pitcher from the minors who may not be ready yet to contribute at the major league level.

In addition the Yankees need to add another starting pitcher to put ease on the bullpen. With the return of Joba Chamberlain next season, the Yankees bullpen should continue to be a major strength. To make sure it stays a strength throughout the season the Yankees need to have starters who can give them numerous innings. As of now C.C. Sabathia is the only pitcher who is all but guaranteed to give the Yankees at least six innings pitched every time he takes the mound.  In this free agent pool C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are the two pitchers that come to mind when I think stability . Coming in at 223.1 and 205.1 innings pitched last season there is no reason to doubt that they won't put up similar innings next season. So when that inevitable 2 and 2/3 innings pitched outing by Burnett or Hughes unfortunately occurs, it would be nice to have another 200+ inning pitcher besides Sabathia in the rotation who is capable of giving the bullpen a rest.

Finally the Yankees need to add starting pitching simply because they are the "New York Yankees." Fans last year were furious when Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies and even though there is no pitcher on the same level as Lee this, year the Yankees cannot afford to go another year without signing a big name pitcher. If the Yankees are going to force fans to pay $35 for parking, $10 for a beer, and $5 for a hotdog then the fans have the right to demand results. The Yankees have the money to go out and make this happen and it needs to be done if not only to save face with the fans.

To sum it up when Cashman was asked whether or not he would be comfortable going into the season without adding starting pitching he responded with a simple answer, "NO."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Major League Ready Prospects: David Phelps, RHP

This is a little segment where I plan to highlight all of the Yankees prospects that have a chance to make an impact on the big league club at some point for the 2012 season.

A week ago the Yankees added five prospects to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule V Draft. For me, the biggest name on this list was 25-year-old right-hander, David Phelps. Phelps is a little old in the prospect world, but he has moved through the minors at a steady pace and had some outstanding results.

Through four minor league seasons Phelps has amassed a 38-15 record with a 2.61 ERA and an unworldly 3.66 SO/BB. He has succeeded at every level of the minors, with his "worst" season being last year when he posted a 3.19 ERA in 107.1 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, along with 90 strikeouts to just 20 walks.

Over the offseason Phelps participated in the Arizona Fall League and went 2-2 in 8 starts with a 4.41 ERA. After giving up 9 runs in his first 9.1 innings, however, he settled down and gave up just 7 over the next 23.1 innings. Long story short, as far as the stats go Phelps is a great pitcher with a definite ability to succeed at the Major League level. The question is how does the stuff hold up?

Phelps has always had pretty good velocity, touching 92 mph coming out of high school and has seen recent reports of him sitting 93-95 mphbut I have a pretty good reason to believe that he is actually sitting more in the 91 mph range and touching higher. Nonetheless, that velocity combined with his outstanding command and his ability to put natural sink on the ball is a great combo. Phelps compliments his sinker with an excellent slider that was voted the best in the Yankees system last year by Baseball America. He also throws a changeup that has shown some potential because of its command of it, but that is more of a change of pace pitch.  There are varying opinions on Phelps's curveball. Some see it as a true potential out pitch at the major league level, while others view it as a nice fourth pitch in a repertoire.

If the Yankees don't sign any other pitchers this off-season there is every chance Phelps is brought into Spring Training to create some competition for the last couple spots in the rotation. Then again the chances of the Yankees not adding any other starters is pretty slim. If Phelps does not earn a spot in the rotation or the bullpen out of spring he will be one of the first guys called up because of an injury. After all, Brian Cashman did have Phelps scratched last season in case he needed to make a spot start for Bartolo Colon and had Phelps not gotten injured himself, he probably would have shown up on the big club at some point last year.

Phelps has been the rare underrated Yankees prospect who could surprise many because of his ability to throw strikes and be a workhorse in the rotation. His sinker-slider combo should allow him to transition into a successful middle reliever at the very least. If Phelps isn't able to secure a spot on the team this year, however, I would expect him to be dealt at the trading deadline.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Freddy Garcia - $5MM/1 Year : Breaking Down The Deal

Late Wednesday night, The Stirring Straw reported the buzz surrounding Freddy Garcia and the Yankees nearing a contract agreement for next year. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated confirmed the deal this morning and the Yankees are now up to five starting pitchers for next year. So does this mean that Brian Cashman is done shopping for starting pitching for this winter?

He shouldn't be. The Yankees added depth to their rotation by re-signing Freddy Garcia for another year. There is no such thing as entering Spring Training with too much pitching on your hands. The Yankees have not pulled themselves out of the CJ Wilson or Yu Darvish sweepstakes, but it is still unknown how much serious interest they have in them.

After the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, CJ Wilson's agent asked to sit down with the Yankees front office to discuss the possibility of pitching in New York next year. Unless the price drops, the Yankees are looking like the ones being pursued instead of the other way around for Wilson. The negotiations for Darvish are different since teams have to bid on negotiating with him. The interest level is unknown, but has the potential to be high.

Garcia was a looked as a possible spot starter when he signed with the team last winter, but ended up playing a key role as the season went on. He had a solid year in comparison to what was expected of him. He posted a 12-8 record with a 3.62 ERA. That was his lowest ERA since he pitched 3.20 in 2004. A regression should be expected and this will only be the second consecutive year in which he pitches as a stable starter for one team since 2005 & 2006 with the Chicago White Sox. His earned run average bolted up in the second year, which definitely is not a sign of encouragement for the Yankees.

Acquiring a pitcher like Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson off the free agent market should still be on tab for Cashman. Trading for John Danks is still an option, if the price is right. Anybody that can bolster the rotation is wanted.

If someone else is added, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia could see themselves competing for a rotation spot. Cashman would like to see Hughes rebound after a down year in 2011, but moving Garcia to the bullpen does not translate that well with his types of pitches.

Another solution to adding another starter would be to get rid of AJ Burnett to make room for them. Cashman spoke out saying that he would be open to listening to offers. The Yankees would have to eat up a lot of what remains on his contract, so not that many teams are interested unless that happens. The chances of Burnett not being with the Yankees for Spring Training are below 50%, but if a trade happens during the off-season not that many fans should be surprised.

One more starter will probably be added to the team. Whether his last name is Wilson, Darvish, Buehrle, Jackson, or someone surprising, there will most likely be a battle for a spot in Tampa.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yankees Re-sign Freddy Garcia and Welcome Jayson Nix

Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman, may have wanted to avoid the Black Friday crowds when it comes to free agents as he decided to start his off-season shopping early. Right-handed starter, Freddy Garcia, has decided to re-sign with the Yankees after a season where he went 12-8 and posted a 3.62 ERA for them. The reports of his signing come after a series of tweets from Venezuelan television station, Meridiano. A monetary amount to the deal has yet to be announced.

Jayson Nix is a player that has been around the Major Leagues as a utility man for quite a few seasons now. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, The Yankees have signed him to a minor league contract and extended an invite to him for Spring Training. Nix was last seen in the Major Leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays for 46 games in 2011. He batted .169 with four home-runs and 16 RBI's to his credit.

Welcome To The Stirring Straw!

Welcome to the newest Yankees blog: The Stirring Straw. Our goal is to create a one stop shop for Bombers news and analysis, or how we cleverly put it, "to sip up all things Yankees." This blog will cover both the MLB team and each of the team's minor league affiliates. My six co-writers and I will do our best to keep you as updated and as informed as possible.

Meet The Writers

We have seven writers on our staff, each bringing his own strengths to the table. Without further ado, here they are:

My name is Matt Filippi and I'm one of the editor-in-chiefs of the site. I've been a Yankee fan my entire life and I'm a freshman at Syracuse University. I got into the blogging community in December of 2009 when I started (the now defunct) Yankees Talk Blog. I've also written for a site called NY's Homegrown which was about the Yanks and Mets farm systems and I currently contribute to The Hardball Times. (Follow me on Twitter)

Chris Chavez is the other editor-in-cheif. He's a journalism student at Marquette University’s College of Communications and served as the Yankees beat writer for MTR Media from 2009 until 2011. When baseball season has ended in the past, he has worked with covering high school basketball in New York City. He will be interning with CBS Sports in the Spring of 2012. He's also a regular sports analyst on Marquette’s weekly television show, Sportstime and contributes to the Marquette Tribune. (Follow him on Twitter)

Nick Pugliese is currently an undeclared freshman at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has previously written for his own New York Mets blog (Mini Mets Pipeline) centered primarily around the minor leagues as well as covering the Mets farm system for Mets Merized Online. He also wrote for NY's Homegrown with me and he has put together the layout for this blog. While he's not a Yankee fan by trade, he is a New Yorker by heart and looks forward to covering the Yankees. (Follow him on Twitter)

Andrew Muckell is a television, radio and film major at Syracuse University and is looking to double major in business management. He blogs for Extra Point Magazine and also writes for the Daily Orange, and is an editor for the CitrusTV shows On the Bench and After Hours. Baseball has always been his favorite sport to watch and play. His second favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals. (Follow him on Twitter)

Jacob Klinger has been a Yankees fan his entire life. Even though he's never lived in or around the city, his passion for the Yankees runs in his blood. In addition to his Yankee obsession he is a life-long sports fan, most notably of soccer. He contributes to soccer publications such as and where he keeps a feature column, 'Ready, Set, America.' Jacob also writes for Syracuse University publications such as the Daily Orange and (Follow him on Twitter)

Matt Guilder was raised in Montville New Jersey, attended Montville Township High School, and is currently a student at Syracuse University. He has always been a die hard sports fan, especially for the Jets and Yankees. He's a very passionate fan and is never afraid to voice my opinion. (Follow him on Twitter)

David Fine is a freshman Broadcast Journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He has been a life long New York Yankees fan but also passionately roots for the New Jersey Devils, New York Jets, and New Jersey Nets. This is David's second blog - he also currently blogs for (Follow him on Twitter)

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In this day and age, everyone is using social media. Well, so are we. There are a few way that you can find out about our new content without coming directly to the site. You can subscribe to our RSS feed here or by clicking the button in the right sidebar. If you aren't into those, we are also on Twitter. Follow us here or by clicking the button on the right sidebar. You can also follow each of our writers on Twitter by following the link in their respective bios. And if you're not on Twitter, make sure you 'Like' our Facebook page here, or, once again, by clicking the button in the sidebar. If you want to email the blog about anything, you can do so by emailing


We encourage all of our readers to comment on our posts. In fact, one of the reasons for starting this blog in the first place was to create a place where all Yankee fans can get together and share ideas. We just ask that you be respectful of each other and of the writers. If you disagree with something that is written, that is fine and we encourage you to tell us what you think, just put it nicely.

That's really all I have to say. If you have any questions you can email us. Regular content will start being posted tomorrow, so make sure you're ready. We're looking forward to the rest of the off-season and eventually covering our first season. We hope you come along for the ride.


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