Saturday, December 31, 2011

Remembering 2011: Yankee Highlights & Our Favorite Moments


There have not been too many moves made this off-season for the New York Yankees, so the same team that notched the American League best 97 wins will be back to avenge their first round playoff exit. The regular season treated the Yankees a lot better as most of the time a player was on a milestone watch and the team continued to win. At this time, The Stirring Straw's writing staff would like to wish you a Happy New Year and share our favorite moments from the 2011 campaign.

Chris Chavez: Of all ways to get his 3,000th hit, going 5 for 5 in a game against a divisional rival couldn't seem more fitting for Derek Jeter. He did so on July 9th and became the very first player to do it in the New York Yankee pinstripes. Sure, Jeter would slump a little afterwards in 2011, but that shouldn't undermine the legacy that this player has made in the Bronx. The best part is that his story isn't over yet.

Matt Filippi: It was the game right before the All-Star Break and a bright, sunny day at Yankee Stadium. James Shields would take the mound for the Rays against CC Sabathia in one of the better pitching duels I saw all year. CC would allow dour hits and a walk while fanning nine in a complete game shut out. Shields pitched very well also, tossing a complete game and allowing one run. The run came when he threw the ball away on a pick off attempt, otherwise, he was spotless. I love a good pitcher's duel and I was actually able to watch this entire game which is why this game stuck out to me.

David Fine: Mariano Rivera notching his 602nd save of the season was my highlight, because he would stand alone atop baseball greatness with the saves record. He was also alone on the mound afterwards when the celebration began. Rivera thanked fans and basked in his moment.

Anthony Pucik: My favorite moment of the Yankees 2011 season occurred on August 25th. The Yankees were trailing the Oakland A's 7-1 at Yankee Stadium, but 3 grand slams by Robinson Cano, Russell Martin, and Curtis Granderson capped off a 21 run comeback and the Yankees were able to pick up the victory. This marked the first time a Major League team hit 3 grand slams in one game and the first time the Yankees reached the 22 run mark since the year 2000. This showed how offensively tough the Yankees were and how they could overcome any obstacle in their way.

The Stirring Straw wants to hear from you. What were your favorite memories from the 2011 Yankees season? Feel free to leave them behind in the comments section.

Top 20 In Depth: No. 18 - Jordan Cote, RHP

Because I already wrote a "Major League Ready Prospect" on No. 19 prospect David Adams it seems most fitting to skip ahead to the new toy, Jordan Cote.

Cote is a supremely projectible right-handed pitcher out of Sanbornton, New Hampshire—not necessarily a hotbed for baseball prospects. Cold weather prospects like Cote tend to get extremely overlooked, however, (see Trout, Mike) and it is part of the reason he went "only" in the 3rd round and signed with the Yankees for "just" $725,000.

Despite pitching in sub-freezing whether Cote was able to run his fastball up to 92 mph and sit more in the high 80's. He throws both a curveball and slide, with his curve being a bit ahead of his slider. Like most high school pitchers he didn't not really use his changeup with his fastball and breaking ball being more the sufficient. He is known for having a quick, clean arm action that adds onto his projection, but scouts feel his overall mechanics need some cleaning up. That little clip of him falling pretty far to the first base side tends to agree with that.

Whether Cote is 6'5" or 6'6", 205 lbs. or 215 lbs it makes no difference. The point is pretty obvious that he has a ton of projection. Some scouts see him getting all the way up to 240 lbs., and combining that with his quick arm speed getting his fastball well into the mid-90's. One scout even went as far to say that Cote "
has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Northeast".

Cote has serious boom or bust potential, but with the early success the Yankees had taking Mason Williams last year and Dante Bichette Jr. with their first pick this year and the current reports of Cote's upside it was a must for me to have him in the top 20.

For a video of Jordan Cote click here.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Little Self-Promotion

If you''ve read the 'About Me' for this blog, you probably read that I also contribute to another site called The Hardball Times. Well, I wrote an article for them yesterday about the Yankees pitching situation and which starters they may pursue on the trade block. The three names that I bring up are Matt Garza, Jon Niese, and Jair Jurrjens. If you have some free time be sure to give it read here.

Yanks Bring Back Andruw Jones

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have re-signed outfielder Andruw Jones to a one year deal for $2 million, with about $1.4 million to be had in incentives. Jones served as the fourth outfielder/lefty masher in 2011 and did a great job posting a .400 wOBA while being serviceable in the outfield corners. You gotta like this move and at least it gives Yankee fans a little something to talk about.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yanks to Sign Hideki Okajima

According to David Waldstein (through Hochi Shinbun) the Yankees have agreed to a minor league deal with former Red Sox Hideki Okajima with an invite to spring training.

The 36-year-old Okajima spent most of 2011 in Triple-A, appearing in just 7 games with the Red Sox. He posted a 4.32 ERA (4.14 xFIP) over those 7 games. For his career Okajima has appeared in 261 games with a 3.11 ERA (4.15 xFIP).

While Okajima's stats have been decreasing steadily since he burst onto the seen his rookie season, he has been considerably better against left handed batters than right handed batters. In 2011 at Triple-A he held lefties to a .190 batting average against and for his career has held them to a .216 average compared to a .246 by righties. His xFIP is also .50 points lower against lefties.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Analyzing Jorge Posada's Career With The Yankees

In all likelihood, Jorge Posada will not play for the New York Yankees next season. Regardless if he decides to sign with another club or retire, it is a good time to analyze his Yankee career.

Looking at Jorge's career statistics gives us a good indication of his place among catchers in MLB history. Posada ranks in the top 10 in home runs by a catcher with 275. Because Jorge was only played an average of about 130 games over the past 14 years, that means he was hitting hitting a home run every fifth game - not too shabby. Jorge also boasts over 1000 RBIs for his career - placing him with only 11 other catchers.

Jorge's consistency is best shown by the 5 all-star games he participated in - catchers tend to have trouble putting up high numbers for many years because of the heavy toll the position takes on one's legs. Advanced metrics (WAR - wins above replacement) also give us a good indication of Posada's ability. Looking only at Offensive WAR, Posada ranks 2nd among active catchers (measuring the accumulation of "games won" over his career - only Ivan Rodriguez, who was caught taking banned substances, is higher) and has the 2nd highest career OPS for a catcher (Joe Mauer is higher) during his playing career.

In many ways, Posada has always been an "under the radar" member of the New York Yankees. He became a full time catcher in the midst of the Yankee dynasty (1998) and was never the big name guy that would bat 3rd or 4th in the lineup. This was because the Yankees tended to fill that role with big name run producers - guys like A-Rod, Teixeira, Paul O' Neill, Bernie Williams, Jason Giambi, and Tino Martinez. This should not take away from Posada's career - he was playing on teams that often boasted the best lineup in the majors. The fact is, over the past 14 seasons, Jorge Posada was one of the few constants in the Yankee lineup that won 4 championships with him as a starter.

No Country For Old Men - Making Sense of the Beltran Rejection


Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Carlos Beltran offered to sign with the New York Yankees for the same contract before he put his John Hancock on a deal with the Cardinals. Seven years ago, the Yankees passed on him and in some cases lost out on a solid outfielder. In 2011, he just is not the same player that he once was.

The Mets' center-fielder turned right-fielder was hindered with injuries throughout his tenure in Flushing. The Yankees definitely had concerns over his knee, which had him on the disabled list in 2011. If Beltran (by some miracle) is able to play the 2012 season without any time on the disabled and returned to his early Mets year form, he would be an upgrade over current right-fielder Nick Swisher. But guarantees of a healthy season are never likely with anyone.

The Beltran contract is only $3MM more than what the Yankees are currently paying for Nick Swisher's services. The timing for Beltran to show up to the Yankees door offering his talent was just off. Earlier in the off-season, Swisher's option was picked up to ensure that the Yankees do not lose him and don't get anything in return. The Yankees' priority right now is finding a No. 2 starter to take the ball after CC Sabathia in the rotation. The trade value for Carlos Beltran isn't any higher than Nick Swisher's and neither will reel in a trade offer that brings them that starting pitcher.

At this point in his career, Carlos Beltran is best suited for a designated hitter role with a appearances in the outfield when needed. He can not be depended on as an everyday outfielder. The Cardinals have a ton of money to spend after losing Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They should be preparing to make an offer to Prince Fielder to fill the void. Beltran is best suited for the American League at this point in his career. The dots simply do not connect for the Cardinals and their decision to sign this veteran.

Side note: Beltran could be welcomed as a hero in St. Louis as he was the final out in the 2006 National League Championship Series and sent the Cardinals to the World Series. St. Louis would defeat Detroit 4 games to 1.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gavin Floyd Option

(Roto Professor)
It's no secret. The Yankees are in the market for some top tier starting pitching, which there is certainly a shortage of in free agency. This is why we've been hearing the Yanks connected to many pitchers vis trade. We've heard Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, Matt Garza and plenty of others get mentioned, but those seem doubtful. Gio was traded to Washington, Danks just signed a five year extension, and the return for Garza is going to be quite large. So who else is out there that is actually an upgrade?

Well, Danks' teammate, Gavin Floyd has been talked about quite a bit in regard to trade talk. This isn't too much of a stretch because we did hear General Manager of the White Sox Kenny Williams say that is was time for his club to rebuild. Maybe he just wanted to rebuild the rotation around Danks with Mark Buehrle leaving for the Marlins via free agency and Floyd only one year away from hitting the open market.

The one thing that I have noticed about Floyd while watching him pitch against the Bombers is that he always dominates them. Of course this is no reason to go out and acquire a pitcher (cough, cough AJ Burnett), but it's just something that I noticed. Something that did surprise me when I took a look at the numbers was that Floyd actually has a consistent track record to his name. He's made at least 30 starts and has logged at least 187 innings in each of the last four seasons. Even though they would only be acquiring one year of him, it's important that he's durable because two-fifths of the Yankees current rotation is 35 year old Freddy Garcia and dead armed Phil Hughes.

Floyd has not only been able to stay healthy, but he's also been very good. In the last three years, he struck out more than seven per nine innings while walking less than three per nine, which is good for a FIP in the mid-threes. It should also be noted that he will be 29 in January, which means he is right in the middle of what should be the prime of his career.

What's also very good about possibly acquiring Floyd is that he will come relatively cheap. He only has one year left on his contract and his stock may be down a little big because he pitched to a 12-13 record and a 4.37 ERA. It really shouldn't take much; maybe David Phelps/Adam Warren and a lower level player or two. I know I certainly wouldn't give up Austin Romine or anyone else in my top 5.

Like almost every pitcher on the market, Floyd is not a guy they should go all out for, but rather should only be had at their own price. I think he's a good option, but I still feel that if they can get Hiroki Kuroda on a one year deal, he's their best bet. While it feels more and more likely each day, I don't think they will go into the 2012 season with the current pitching staff.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Collective Bargaining Agreement Hurts Yanks Free Agent Signings

The New York Yankees notorious offseason spending sprees may be at a standstill for the next few seasons, at least under the new CBA. According to Wallace Matthews, the new agreement places greater penalties on teams that have payrolls higher than the luxury tax. This year the Yankees are charged 13.4 million dollars, their lowest luxury tax penalty since 2003, and the Yankees are looking to keep their payroll "at or below the $189 million threshold that kicks in for the 2014 season" in order to reduce penalties.

What does this mean for the Yankees going forward? In my opinion, not much. The Yankees have always been a franchise that puts the best possible product on the field in hopes of winning a world championship. Because they are not restricted by a hard-salary cap (like the N.F.L. and the N.H.L.), they are free to spend as they wish. In 2009, after the Yankees won the World Series, they payed a hefty $25.7 million (after signing C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira to mega-deals in addition to other high payrolls on the roster).

In all likelihood, the source that Matthews refers to several times throughout the article is not Brian Cashman, nor a member of the Steinbrenner family. In fact, he only characterizes the person as a "baseball source". In other words, a person not directly affiliated with the Yankee decisions is making an educated guess as to the nature of their business dealings over the next several seasons. Regardless of whether or not this source's predictions come true, there are many different circumstances (injuries/retirements/what division rivals do) which will ultimately determine the players the Yankees field on their roster.

Merry Christmas

Wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year.

P.S. How excited is everyone about the NBA season starting today? Make sure to watch the Knicks' game today to watch another Boston team get its ass handed to them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News and Notes From Around the League - December 13th

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed former Yankee pitcher, Jonathan Albaladejo. He pitched in Japan for the 2011 season and posted a 4.15 ERA. The New York Mets lost out on bidding for the pitcher at the last second. (Via Joel Sherman of the NY Post)
  • Former No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Brackman, has inked a deal with the Cincinatti Reds for the Major League minimum. The deal could be worth more after incentives. (Via Jon Heyman of CBS)
  • The Royals have signed Greg Golson who was recently released by the Yanks about a week ago to make room for the two Rule 5 selections. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top 20 In Depth: #20 - D.J. Mitchell, RHP

Mitchell is athletically gifted as he was originally recruited by the Clemson Tigers to play center field and was known for his great glove.

He had mediocre results with the bat his freshman year and than began to split time between pitching and hitting his sophomore season. The results were good, although he was mostly used as a reliever. He went to the Cape Cod League, brokeout big time, and then wound up as Clemson's Friday night starter his junior year. He went on to lead his team in a number of categories including ERA (3.47), wins (6), innings pitched (98.2), strikeouts (108), and had the lowest batting average against of all starters (.258).  The only drawback was a higher number of walks and wild pitches.

Nonetheless the tremendous results in just his second full year pitching, prompted the Yankees to draft the wiry righty in the 10th round and sign him for a $400,000 bouns—very high for a new pitcher in the 10th round. He showed a good fastball that sat 89-91 mph with late sink and had advanced secondaries for a new pitcher. The high bonus was a product of the fact scouts still saw projection in his frame despite being a college pitcher.


Mitchell signed too late to play in 2008 and wound up starting 2009 in LoA.  He breezed through the Sally posted a sub-2 ERA striking out over a batter in an inning, and picking up nearly 2.5 groundouts for every fly out. He was quickly promoted to HiA where the results were almost as good. The strikeouts came down a little, but the groundball numbers were insane and it was clearly he had one of the better sinkers in the minor leagues.


Come 2010 the Yankees challenged him by sending him to Double-A and the results were pretty good.  The ERA was a shade above 4 and the strikeouts came down a bit, but the groundballs were still coming at a great clip and he was keeping the hits low.  The Yankees felt comfortable enough to give him a taste of Triple-A where he won 2 of his 3 starts.

Mitchell spent all of last year in Triple-A and it turned out to be a big year for him.  The numbers themselves were pretty good with 13 wins and just a 3.18, but what was key to his development was the improvements against lefties.  He wasn't outstanding against lefties, but he did a good job limited the damage against them to bode well at his chances of sticking as a starter.


The Yankees recently added him to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule V draft.


While scouts felt he had some projection in his frame, Mitchell still sits where he was in college with a high-80's/low 90's sinking-fastball and can rear back for a little extra on his four-seamer. The movement as you can see on the video below is pretty ridiculous. What was a slider in college has developed into a pretty good curveball and the changeup is a respectable pitch.  Mitchell could probably benefit a little by not being so stiff-legged on the mound, but with his athleticism it shouldn't be a problem as he should still be plenty durable and serve as a good back-end innings eater in the majors.

Stats:


Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/BB
2009 22 2 Teams 12 7 .632 2.63 25 140.1 124 57 41 2 44 125 1.197 2.84
2009 22 Charleston 4 1 .800 1.95 6 37.0 31 16 8 1 6 42 1.000 7.00
2009 22 Tampa 8 6 .571 2.87 19 103.1 93 41 33 1 38 83 1.268 2.18
2010 23 2 Teams 13 4 .765 4.00 26 150.2 147 76 67 11 64 112 1.400 1.75
2010 23 Trenton 11 4 .733 4.06 23 133.0 128 69 60 11 57 96 1.391 1.68
2010 23 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 0 1.000 3.57 3 17.2 19 7 7 0 7 16 1.472 2.29
2011 24 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 13 9 .591 3.18 28 161.1 155 60 57 10 63 112 1.351 1.78
3 Seasons 38 20 .655 3.28 79 452.1 426 193 165 23 171 349 1.320 2.04


Video:


Quiet Day for the Yankees

Not much has happened for the Yankees since Brian Cashman left Dallas' Winter Meetings. Just a few minor things to note:
  • The Yankees designated Colin Curtis for assignment, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. The move is mainly happening, because the Yankees finalized their deal with starting pitcher Freddy Garcia and needed to make room for him on the roster.
  • The bidding for Yu Darvish has started and will end on Wednesday evening. There has started to be buzz that the Yankees are not that interested, but that all could be strategic downplay for their offer.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Meetings Day 4: Live Feed from Dallas

Yu Darvish at a press conference in Japan. No the question is what MLB team will be in the backdrop of his next presser.
  • The clock has struck past midnight in New York City and news is coming out of Japan that Yu Darvish will be posted in the next 24 hours. Don Nomura, his agent made the announcement via his Twitter account. There were early reports that he would be posted before or during the Winter Meetings and his father put the chances at “50/50” that he would come to the United States at all. Mark Buehrle has signed with the Marlins and CJ Wilson may leave the market very soon, so teams looking for pitching could get involved. The Yankees will most likely be among them. Arn Tellem will represent him. The Yankees have experience with him from their days with Hideki Matsui. Once Darvish is posted, teams will have four days to bid.
  • 10:03 AM - Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown reported that Albert Pujols will no longer be a St. Louis Cardinal as he signs with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The deal is worth ten years and in the range of $250-260 million. He could be the second or third biggest deal in Major League Baseball history if he tops one of Alex Rodriguez's previous deal.
  • 10:11 AM - Yankees select Nationals right handed pitcher, Brad Meyers in the Rule 5 draft.
  • 10:20 AM - Kansas City Royals select left handed pitcher Cesar Cabral from the Boston Red Sox and trade him to the Yankees for cash. (Via Bob Dutton's Twitter)
  • 10:49 AM - Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees are close to signing former Indians prospect, Adam Miller, to a minor league deal. He notes that injuries hurt his career.

Rule V Draft: Yankees Select Meyers, Acquire Cabral

In this morning's Rule V draft 18 teams passed up their selection, allowing the Yankees to select Brad Meyers from the Washington Nationals.

As recently as last year John Sickels had Meyers ranked as the Nationals 15th best prospect, ahead of Brad Peacock before that huge breakout, and ranked him as a C+ prospect.

After missing most of 2010 with a foot injury, Meyers, 26, spent the majority of 2011 in Triple-A and posted a combined 9-7 record with a 3.18 ERA over three levels. In his 138.2 innings he walked just 15(!) batters while striking out 116. That is a 1.0 BB/9 and for his career Meyers has walked just 2.1 per nine while striking out 7.5 per nine.

The scouting report on Meyers is pretty much what you would expect from a strike-thrower.  His fastball sits mostly 88-90 MPH, although there have been reports of him being a bit higher at times, and he is able to use his 6'6" frame to generate some sink on the ball.  His next best bitch is a curveball, while also throwing a slider and changeup.  No pitch is really a true "out pitch", but his ability to command all his pitches and throw for strikes makes him very effective.

I for one am a big fan of the Meyers pick.  On any other team I would say Meyers is almost a lock to remain at least as a long man in the bullpen because of his command, but with the Yankees I am not so sure.  He might be given a chance to compete for the 5th starter job, although I wouldn't bank on  it.  If I was the Yankees I would try to work out a deal where they can essentially just buy Meyers from the Nationals and store him in Triple-A in case of injury.
Star-divide

The Yankees then went on to purchase LHP Cesar Cabral from the Kansas City Royals who had drafted him away from the Red Sox.

Here is his scouting report from SoxProspects.com:
Lefty with a solid frame and a smooth delivery. Pitches exclusively from the stretch. Fastball sits between 88-92 mph and tops out at 95 mph. Secondary pitches include an excellent 81-83 mph circle changeup, a mid-70s slurvey curveball, and a sharp 79-82 mph slider. Gets a lot of swings and misses with his changeup, which has nice downward movement. Excellent command and control, attacks hitters. Cabral was selected in the Major League phase of the 2010 Rule 5 Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but was returned to the Red Sox at the end of spring training.
Cabral posted a 3.52 ERA over 38.1 innings in Double-A last year with a 16:46 BB:K ratio.  Cabral will likely be given a chance to make the bullpen with the Yankees always in the hunt for good lefty relievers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Meetings Day 3: Live Feed from Dallas

The Yankees have made their first move of the Winter Meetings by winning the negociating rights to Hiroykui Nakajima

Someone get the reporters in Dallas some coffee and Redbull. Outside of the Yankees organization, moves are being made left and right and there is constant buzz over major deals for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Let's get into today's crux of the matter.

Yesterday, the day started and the Marlins were the favorites to land Albert Pujols. Early today, the tide has turned and the Cardinals have jumped out in front. His foundation, home, and legacy are all in St. Louis.
  • 12:07 pm - The Yankees have won a bidding war for Japanese shortstop, Hiroyuki Nakajima. He is a contact hitter and holds a career .300 batting average. At around 12:30, multiple sources confirmed the reports of the $2 million winning bid. He could be a Yankees bench player, if signed.
  • 12:08 pm - Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes about how the Yankees are willing to cut the price tag on AJ Burnett in order to listen to offers.
  • 12:43pm - Mark Buehrle is down to three teams and a decision could be coming soon. Yankees most likely out.
  • 12:57 pm- Jon Heyman reports that there are still in consideration for Hideki Kuroda's services. The Yankees are not among the teams that he named.
  • 2:30 pm - The New York Post's Joel Sherman says that Gio Gonzalez will not be moved at the Winter Meetings. The Dan Haren deal from a few years back should serve as an outline for what they want in return now.
  • 2:33 pm - Jon Heyman says that the Yankees will not start Nakajima. He doesn't have the skill. Bench role fits better.
  • 3:12 pm - Tom Verducci of MLB Network reports that the Marlins have a six year offer on the table for CJ Wilson and could emerge as a favorite.
  • 3:18 pm - David Ortiz remains a Red Sox as he accepts arbitration.
  • 4:23 pm - Bryan Hoch reports that all the members of the Yankees coaching staff will return for the 2012 season.
  • 4:50 pm - Mark Buehrle signs with the Marlins for four years in a deal worth $54 million. First reported by Ken Rosenthal.
  • 5:07 pm - Jon Heyman is told that the Marlins are not out of the CJ Wilson and Prince Fielder sweepstakes.
  • 5:23 pm - YES Network's Jack Curry quotes Brian Cashman saying Jesus Montero could catch more than 40 games this season. His player development was compared to that of a young Jorge Posada.
  • 5:43 pm - Bryan Hoch quotes Brian Cashman saying that Montero could see some time at first base, but not right field. He simply does not have the range for it.
  • 6:03 pm - Yankees could be in play at the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow. (Via Bryan Hoch)
  • 6:15 pm - We have video from MLB.com of Manager Joe Girardi talking about Jesus Montero's role with the team next year and his importance heading into Spring Training.
  • 10: 38 pm - Jon Heyman tweets that Jorge Posada still has intentions of playing the Major Leagues if he can find the right scenario.
  • 12:28 pm - UPDATE IN PUJOLS TALKS: The Angels have an offer on the table making three teams in contention. Among them is not the Marlins. (Via Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal)
  • According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees could be closing in on a deal with free agent Dwyane Wise. If memory serves you right, you would remember he was the outfielder that saved the perfect game for Mark Buerhle.

On Gio Gonzalez

The Yankees are looking for pitching and since there is nothing of any substance to report or analyze, this is the time when we start over-speculating. The Yanks have been connected to a number of pitchers (CJ Wilson, Hiroki Kuroda, Mark Buehrle, John Danks) and that won't end until Brian Cashman finally inks or trades for someone. So I present to you yet another option, one that has been talked about quite a bit recently, Gio Gonzalez.

(Covers.com)

Gonzalez is certainly an attractive option. He's a young (26) power lefty with very good stuff. He has a fastball that sits at 92-93 which is complimented by a high-seventies hook. His strikeout numbers are very impressive averaging over eight per nine innings over his career and has also been able to stay healthy logging over 400 innings over the last two seasons. He has also shown the ability to get grounders (47.5% in 2011) and to contain the long ball (0.76 in 2011). As far as his contract goes, the Bombers would be paying him a pretty small amount, with this being the first winter he is arbitration eligible. Baseball Reference has him under team control through 2016. Pretty friendly if you ask me.

So what's the hold up? Why isn't he in pinstripes yet? Well, let's take a look at his walk totals. He has walked over four per nine innings each of the last two seasons. He had the highest walk rate of any American League qualified starter and the second highest of any MLB pitcher last year. He is also showing no signs of changing his ways as he has walked more than 90 each of the last two years. This has been a career-long thing too as shown by his numbers in the Minors. Putting men on base isn't exactly something you can get away with in the AL East.

Now, I still think Gio has some value and could help the Yanks, but A's General Manager Billy Beane is asking for quite a bit. He wants Jesus Montero, top outfield prospect Mason Williams, and either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances. All four of these guys rank in the top six of Nick's prospect list as well as mine. That is a hefty price tag to put on someone with those types of control issues. That is not to say a team won't overpay, but the Bombers certainly shouldn't.

John Harper of the NY Daily News wrote an article about how the Yankees brass should be willing to part with Montero in order bring in Gonzalez. I couldn't disagree with him more. Aside from Bryce Harper, Jesus may be the best young bat around and shouldn't be traded for someone who there are major command doubts about. Beane will have to lower his price quite dramatically to be taken seriously. I would maybe part with Betances or Williams, but certainly not the other two.

So yep, it's another day and another pitcher that the Yanks are linked to. Cashman is doing a good job of standing pat and waiting for prices to come down because they will eventually. If the tags never become reasonable on Gio or Danks or any other pitcher out there, they are going to have to rely heavily on their depth and on next off-season's pitching market.

Winter Meetings Day 3: Live Feed from Dallas

  • 10:45 - Not the most reliable source in the world, but he has had some pretty good calls and Incarcerated Bob, from Boomer & Carton, is reporting the Yankees are "dangling Swisher & Nunez + Romine". He thinks they may make a move soon.
  • 10:50 - According to Dan Knobbler, "one rival team predicted Yankees for Gio Gonzalez".
  • 10:57 - George King of the New York Post is reporting that the Yankees have placed A.J. Burnett on the trade block at the Winter Meetings.  He goes on to say the Yankees are willing to eat about 25% of Burnett's salary in any deal. It will be interesting to see if anyone bites on the enigmatic starter at the reduced cost.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Meetings Day 2: Live Feed from Dallas


Loria has been doing his best George Steinbrenner impression by showing free agents the money at the Winter Meetings.

  • It appears as if the biggest move on Tuesday could be close to happening as talks between Albert Pujols and the Miami Marlins intensify. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reports that there is a ten year deal on the table, which matches Alex Rodriguez's deal in length. The Marlins met with Pujols' agent twice on Monday and are ready to sit down with him again today, if necessary.
  • 12:30 - According to the New York Post's Joel Sherman, the Yankees are still showing interest in Athletics pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The feeling is mutual, but in order for a deal to be made the Yankees need to adda third team into negotiations. The asking price for the pitcher is a high end outfield prospect and the Yankees are lacking from Double-A and higher.
  • 1:00 - The Nationals have asked the Yankees about Brett Gardner, but the Yankees didn't bite. Makes sense because there isn't much of a fit for the Yanks with any of Washington's prospects. (Link)
  • 1:30 Robinson Cano recently endorsed a David Ortiz signing, but one executive tells Jon Heyman that he sees him returning to Boston and if he doesn't it would be a shocker. He could take arbitration worth $14 million. A two year deal is on the table.
  • 3:08 - The Yankees are not among the five teams that Mark Buehrle narrowed his list to. The list comprised of the Marlins, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and Minnesota Twins. Jon Heyman says that the Mets are now in on Buehrle, because money for them to work with opened up.
  • 3:41 - Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees still see Kuroda coming to the East, but may or may not mesh well with what they are looking for. (Read Matt Filippi's take on Kuroda from earlier today on Stirring Straw.)
  • 4:42 - Buster Olney of ESPN quotes an executive as saying that the Chicago White Sox are asking for a "Ubaldo Jimenez package" for John Danks. The Yankees received an estimate of a package yesterday and decided that they were asking for too much.
  • 5:56 - The Yankees were in on the CJ Wilson talks at the beginning of the winter, but it seems like that the hot stove has simmered down since. The Nationals have a six year deal on the table for him. Add the Rangers to his suitors as they reportedly have a $60 million offer for four years. (Via Jon Heyman)
And as the day starts to wind down, it looks like the Yankees will be as quiet today as yesterday. Here's a video of Brian Cashman speaking to MLB.com about the Yankee plans for 2012.

A Quick Look At Hiroki Kuroda

The free agent market is starting to take shape. Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell have set the tone in the closer market, while Jose Reyes landed this weekend and Albert Pujols is expected to pick a home by the end of the day. Finally some developments after a slow month or so, but of course no concrete rumors have surrounded the Yankees yet. With all of the big position players on the market and Yu Darvish still waiting to be posted, one name has flown under the radar: Hiroki Kuroda.

(ESPN)

To be fair, it was assumed when the off-season first started that Kuroda, 37 in February, was either going back to the Dodgers or back to Japan. However, the Dodger have given Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano each two year deals (for some reason) which basically put them out of the running and now the pitcher is not sure if he wants to leave the MLB yet, forcing him to look east.

Over the last two years, he has posted a strikeout rate north of seven, a walk rate close to two and an ERA, FIP, and xFIP in the threes. Sure he has done it in the National League West, but that doesn't mean it's not impressive. He was able to miss a lot of bats (10.7% in 2011) is a good indicator that his stuff would probably transfer over to the American league. Speaking of stuff, he sports a fastball that sits at 92, and good slider that lives mostly in the low to mid 80's and then a high 80's splitter. Not to mention the fact that he has hurled 398.1 innings over the last two seasons.

Obviously because of his age and strong free agent pitching market for next Winter, Kuroda would be given a one year deal, just what he's looking for. He's clearly a good fit, but there will be some competition. The Rockies have been mentioned (although they just traded for Kevin Slowey) along with the Red Sox (due to Valentine's Japan connections). It will be interesting to see how this pans out and chances are we won't get an answer until after Yu Darvish is posted and CJ Wilson signs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Meetings Day 1: Live Feed from Dallas


News for the New York Yankees pretty much wrapped up from there. Brian Cashman hinted on the fact that there probably would not be much action for the team at the meetings, but he will not just sit around and do nothing. A move could always be made, but very unlikely.

Coverage of Day 2 of the Winter Meetings will resume here on Stirring Straw. Please feel free to give us a follow on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/StirringStraw

White Sox Shooting for the Moon

It is no wonder no trades have gone down with a market like this.

Now I love me some John Danks, but come on.  Lefties who can throw 200 effective innings every year don't grow on trees and have a lot of value. The White Sox have to realize, however, that he is no ace. Danks is more of a No. 2/very good No. 3 starter who only has one year left before he is a free agent.

Under those circumstances I think it would be a stretch for the White Sox to be asking for EITHER of those two top prospects let alone both.

Jesus Montero has been all but slotted in as the teams starting DH for 2012 and Manny Banuelos is right on the cusp of breaking into the league as a starter, with a higher potential than Danks. So not only does this not benefit the Yankees in the long term, there is a very small amount of benefiting in the short term.

The White Sox have to call back when they get off of cloud nine. Danks would look nice in pinstripes though.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hot Stove Notes

The Yankees have been very quiet thus far far, but the Winter Meetings are less than a week away which means things should start to pick up quickly. Here are some recent notes:

  • Speaking of the Winter Meetings, Brian Cashman has said that he doesn't expect to get a trade done by the end of next week. He doesn't want to make a move for the sake of just making move which makes a lot of sense since the pitching market isn't great. (Link)
  • Yu Darvish is at the top of a few team's wish lists, but a report says that he will not be posted until after the Winter Meetings. I suspect that once he gets posted some of the bigger pitching chips (Wilson, Jackson, Buehrle, etc.) will start to fall. (Link)
  • Yoenis Cespedes has a lot of hype surrounding him as well and he could become a free agent in the next few weeks. The Yankees are in the top three teams that have shown the most interest in the Cuban defect. Chances are that he wouldn't be MLB ready when the season rolled around. (Link)

Cano Endorses Big Papi, Good Idea?

Yesterday Robinson Cano told Christian Red of the NY Daily News he thinks the Yankees would be smart to sign free agent and Yankee nemesis, David Ortiz.
 “It would be a good idea, having another lefty on the team,” Cano told the Daily News while in attendance at Ortiz’s fourth annual charity golf tournament. “We all know he's a great hitter. Last year, a lot of people were saying, ‘He’s done.’ He proved a lot of people wrong. I like people, when they’re down, they prove people wrong. He came back, did a great job.”
In 2011 Ortiz had a terrific year hitting .309 with 29 homeruns and 96 RBIs.

Love him or hate him, there is no doubt Ortiz is a great player. He can carry a team offensively during the regular season and is a proven performer come playoff time with a career .283/.388/.520 line.
With that being said I don't necessarily see the need for another huge left-handed bat like Cano said, with five lefties already in the everyday lineup (Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and Cano). There is a need for another left-handed bat off the bench, but there is no way Papi would do that.  

Another issue I have with bringing in Papi is the defensive issue of him being limited to the DH role and blocking Jesus Montero. The strength of the lineup would take a hit when Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez need days off because, unlike Montero who could go behind the plate if need, Papi would have to sit on the bench. Montero has nothing left to prove at Triple-A after two full seasons there and would not benefit at all sitting on the bench. Unless the Yankees plan on trading Montero for a big time starter they have no need for Papi.

Speaking about pitching, the extra money that would have to be used to have Big Papi at DH over Montero would be better used on some starting pitching considering the state of the roster.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Major League Ready Prospects: David Adams, 2B

Background

All the way back in 2005 Adams was ranked the No. 67 overall prospect in the draft coming out of high school in Boca Raton, but he fell all the way to the 21st round (630th overall) because of a strong commitment to the University of Virginia. He did not sign with the Detroit Tigers and went on to college where he was supposed to play 3rd base, but wound up playing every game at 2nd base as a freshman and hit .318/.403/.448. He improved his sophomore year hitting .372/.454/.522 and really caught scouts' attention in the Cape Cod League that summer where he hit extremely well with a wood bat posting a .302 average while leading the league in doubles. Adams had garnered 1st round buzz after that, but faltered in his junior year hitting .286/.384/.411 and  wound up being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft and signed for a bonus of $333,000.

In the Yankees Organization

After signing Adams was sent to the New York-Penn League where he played 67 games and had okay results hitting .257/.350/.393 while showing decent speed and plate discipline. He had a far better year in 2009 split between LoA and HiA in his first full season, hitting a combined .286/.373/.443 with 7 homers and 75 RBIs. All 7 homeruns came during the second half of the year during his time in HiA. His SB% decreased, but he once again demonstrated good plate discipline. He carried that late season magic over to Double-A in 2010 and went off with .309/.393/.507 line over his first 39 games. When he went down with a sprained right ankle in May of 2010 the injury was supposed to be "not severe" and keep him out "just two weeks—maybe more".  Adams remained sideline for two months before they realized he actually had a broken foot/ankle. The injury was so severe he wound up only playing in 29 games in 2011 split between Rookie Ball and the FSL. He did hit in that limited action going .370/.421/.509 with 12 doubles and 15 RBIs.
Summary: The dude can hit, the ankle injury has just been a killer in his development.

Stats:


Skills/Tool Set

Gifted with a great eye at the plate, Adams was voted the best plate discipline in the Yankee system by Baseball America last year. He has limited bat movement and pre-swing hand load to go along with a short compact swing that allows him to turn on the inside pitch. He will never hit a lot of homeruns, but should produce a good amount of doubles. Would not classify him as great defensively, but he makes plays and his 4.72 range factor and .983% fielding percentage would make him a league average 2nd baseman. Also not a burner, but he is smart enough to steal 5-8 bases annually.

2012 and Future With the Yankees

With Robinson Cano holding down 2nd base their obviously is not any space for Adams right now. And unless the Yankees move Eduardo Nunez they probably won't have much need for a backup middle infielder in 2012. Assuming Adams stays healthy he should be up by September at the very least and if anyone gets hurt or moved he could be up before that. He has enough skill to hold down a bench spot on a roster and could probably be a borderline starter on a bad team, which could make him a possible trade chip (He was wanted for Cliff Lee at one point).

Yankees Notes: Mariano Rivera Surgery & Jorge Posada Future


  • Mariano Rivera turned 42 years old yesterday. Tomorrow, he will be headed to the hospital tomorrow in order to undergo surgery on his vocal chords. He recently announced that he was checked out by doctors after it started to hurt as he talked. The surgery will most likely not hinder Rivera's baseball performance. The recovery time is two weeks, where he will not be able to speak for seven days.
  • There still has not been much action on the Jorge Posada free agency front. The Yankee catcher still has yet to make up his mind on whether to retire or return for another season. He has acknowledged that one more season with the Yankees will probably not happen. Reports surfaced that he contacted the New York Mets about possibly negotiating with them, but those reports were shut down. With names like Fielder and Pujols still on the market, it may be a while until a verdict is made on Jorge Posada's future.

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