Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Notes: Soriano Opts Out; Yankees Provide Sandy Relief

(Photo by Newsday)
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Rafael Soriano was very likely to opt out of his contract and test free-agency on Tuesday night. The right-handed reliever had until Wednesday at 5 PM to make his decision and he chose to opt out before 2 PM.

Could his last appearance as a Yankee been in the ALCS against the Tigers in Game 4? Possibly. The Yankees will make a qualifying offer to him by Friday's deadline, but Soriano could have plans to be a full-time closer elsewhere on a multi-year deal. Heyman goes as far as to call a four year deal.

The Yankees could offer a two-year deal if they decide to go that far into negotiations.

Mariano Rivera has not decided whether he will return in 2013, but he will be a free-agent as well. Rivera served as a mentor for Soriano in 2012, before going down with a season-ending knee injury. That was not the way he wanted to go out and could have one final year in him, before the Yankees choose to hand over the ninth inning throne.

If Soriano could take one year as a set-up man, he could get his job back as Yankees closer in the 2014 season.
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Casey McGhee has also opted to be a free-agent. Pitcher Brad Meyer was sent back to the Washington Nationals after spending the entire season on the disabled list as a Rule 5 Draft pick.
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The Yankees made a donation of $500,000 to the Hurricane relief efforts all throughout the Tri-State area. The check was made out to the Red Cross assisting all throughout New York.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gold Glove Awards: Teixeira & Cano Takes Home the Hardware

Award season has started for Major League baseball as the Gold Gloves were handed out on Monday night. Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano were two of three Yankees nominated for awards, but were the only two that brought home the hardware.

Russell Martin was the other Yankee nominated for a Gold Glove, but lost at catcher to Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles. The last Yankee to win behind the plate was Thurman Munson in 1975.

Mark Teixeira won his fifth Gold Glove of his career and his third as a Yankee. He was up against Adrian Gonzalez and Eric Hosmer were also nominated for the award.

Robinson Cano won his second Gold Glove as a second baseman. In the last few years, he has made himself known as the best overall second baseman in all of baseball with his bat and his glove. Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox was the winner last year.

Tweet of the Night - "Didn't they just pull Andre Dawson out of the ivy a few months ago? He sure does know a lot about these Gold Glove Winners #welldone" - Phil Hughes (@PhilHughes65)

Post-Sandy Notes and Announcement

New York Yankees president Randy Levine made the announcement on Tuesday that Yankee Stadium is still standing after Hurricane Sandy. There was just minimal damage to some windows. There is power and no flooding. The second home for Yankee fans is safe.

Here at the Stirring Straw, some of our writers were not as lucky and lost power. We have found means of getting in contact with them. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to work and adhere to our scheduled posts. Along with my fellow editor-in-chief Matt Filippi, we have made the executive decision to suspend our "Season Assessment and Off-Season Outlook" series until next Monday.

I will try to keep up with hot stove news as it starts to come to together, so there may be some breaking news or link posts. Stay tuned on our Twitter page: @StirringStraw for all the information we have.

We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to bring you more news and analysis as the things get better for everyone in New York.

Thank you,
Chris Chavez
Stirring Straw Editor-In-Chief

Monday, October 29, 2012

Season Assessment and Off-Season Outlook: Left Side of the Infield (Teixeira & Cano)

Cano will be back in 2013 (See what I did there...)
The New York Yankees' left side of the infield is nominated for Gold Glove awards for the American League. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira hold it down for the Yankees when it comes to making defensive plays. The offense that these two Yankees provided was just one of many pieces that helped the team put together the best record in baseball over he entire regular season's 162 games.
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Cano will most likely finish among the top five in the American League for Most Valuable Player voting. He was the team's best offensive player in the lineup going into the postseason...after the regular season ended that was not the case. This is the third straight year in which Cano has made the case for him to be called the best second baseman in Major League Baseball.

He set a single season best in homeruns, doubles, runs, and even walks. There was patience shown at the plate in some cases and that is something that was not seen by Cano early in his career, which shows maturity and strides forward. If you want to get into all the sabermetric statistical categories, well he set bests in them too.

The team picked up his option on Monday morning, so he will be in pinstripes in 2013. A long term deal will be discussed at a later time, but he has made himself the pillar of the Yankees' future. If you took him out of the lineup in 2012, New York would have not made the postseason. He was the core of a team that was rattled by injuries.
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Teixeira's main focus going forward will be to get back at 100% health after a calf strain sidelined him for most of September and he hobbled his way back into the lineup for the postseason. He looked solid in the American League Divisional Series, but as went with everyone else he disappeared against the Tigers in the Divisional Series.

When he signed in 2009, he was still known as a power hitting first baseman. Fast forward to where we are now and much like Alex Rodriguez, people are still holding him to that standard. (Mind you, these are the same people that complain about having too many homeruns.)

At 32 years old, he is adjusting his swing and his approach and seeing the effects. He only played in 123 games in 2012, which is not normal for a guy that played every day for in his Ranger days. He's a hard worker. This offseason, he will focus on getting all the pieces of his swing right for 2013.

He had the terrible cough and struggled, while people called for him to be banished from New York. Then two months later, the wrist became an issue. Finally, the calf crashed in August. 2012 was just a year of hurt for the first baseman, but he still did what he could defensively for praise.

If all goes well, 2013 should be a positive year after one bad year for Teixeira and an injury stricken year.

Off-Season Begins: Yankees Exercise Cano, Granderson, & Aardsma; 12 Others Declare

Less than 24 hours since the final out of the World Series was made and the San Francisco Giants were crowned champions, the New York Yankees have started their offseason by exercising options on the contracts of Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and David Aardsma for the 2013 season.

The team offices in the Bronx were closed due to Hurricane Sandy, but Brian Cashman made the announcement this afternoon. He noted that the team was waiting on a decision by Rafael Soriano since he has a player option on his contract.

Among the players that decided to declare for free-agency today were the following Yankees: Eric Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Russell Martin, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki, and Nick Swisher.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Season Assessment & Offseason Outlook: Brett Gardner & Ichiro Suzuki


The 2012 Yankees’ lineup first took a hit when Brett Gardner’s elbow sidelined him in mid-April. Setbacks and a surgery in July kept the outfielder off the active roster until late September.

General manager Brian Cashman shocked a lot of people by acquiring Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 3 in exchange for minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. In the final year of his contract, Ichiro – then 38 – was hitting just .260 with an OBP of .287 but Cashman took the low-risk, high-reward opportunity the 10-time All-Star requested for.

Season Assessment: In nine games before his injury, Gardner was playing pretty well- a .321 average (nine-for-28) with two doubles, three RBI, two stolen bases and five runs scored. He started the postseason on the bench as a pinch runner and stole two bases in Yankees’ 6-4 loss to Detroit in Game 1 of the ALCS. Gardner started in Games 3 and 4 but went hitless in seven at-bats.

Ichiro was acquired to take over Gardner’s role, to use his speed to make things happen on the bases and create opportunities offensively, while playing solid defense in the outfield.

Primarily a leadoff hitter for the first 11 years of his career, Ichiro was dropped in the Yankees’ order – just as the team told him before the trade was finalized. Batting mostly eighth in the lineup, Ichiro’s season was rejuvenated following the trade. He hit .322 overall in 67 games with the Yankees, with five home runs, 27 RBI, 14 SB and a .340 OBP. The team warned him that he would sit some games against left-handed starters, but Ichiro hit .397 (27-for-68) against southpaws, as opposed to .289 against righties. He took advantage of the confines of Yankee Stadium and hit .359 in pinstripes. Defensively, he recorded a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

In his first postseason since 2001, Ichiro hit just .275 but was one of the few productive hitters in the Yankees’ lineup. He hit two doubles and drove in three runs in the ALDS against Baltimore. His two-run home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 in the ALCS set the stage for Raul Ibanez’s final heroics.

Offseason Outlook: With Nick Swisher’s likely departure, that opens up a corner outfield position for the Yankees. Curtis Granderson’s $15-million team option will most likely be exercised but his future is somewhat unclear. Regardless of what the Yankees do with Granderson, many expect Gardner to have a starting job in 2013, whether it’s in left field or center field. According to Joel Sherman, Ichiro, 39, “strongly” wants to be a Yankee in 2013 and a one-year, $5-$8-million deal could possibly get it done. 


However, Sherman also wrote that New York intends to build a lineup with left-handed power to take advantage of the short porch in right field. An outfield of Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro would not hit with sufficient power to fulfill that plan, but would steer away from the power-based offense that went flat this postseason. The Yankees may be looking for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder (Torii Hunter, perhaps) to replace Swisher in front of the Bleacher Creatures. Should Ichiro return – and some aren’t too optimistic about those chances – it’s very possible that he or Gardner will not be an everyday starter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Season Assessment and Off-season Outlook: Curtis Granderson

Curtis might be getting a new pair of glasses this winter.
Either way, with his walks down and strikeouts up, he needs to work on those eyes 
(NY Daily News)


It almost sounded like a joke, something too good to be true.  The Daily News reported last Saturday that Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson visited an eye specialist after a season of racking up a total of 211 strikeouts (combined regular season and playoffs). 

That's fake, right?  I mean, "getting your eyes checked" is just an old baseball cliche, isn't it?

I don't want to make a huge issue of this, because it won't have an impact on Granderson's tenure in the Bronx.  But a good way to start Granderson's season assessment is to focus on those eyes.

Season Assessment:

In 2012, Granderson accomplished two feats.  First, he proved naysayers wrong by maintaining and surpassing his prolific power numbers from 2011.  He set a new career high in homers with 43 and eclipsed 100 runs and 100 RBI for the second straight season.  His career high before finding home in the short porch in right field was a modest 30 in his last season in Detroit.

Second, he continued his transition into the last thing you might expect from a Yankees' center fielder: an all-or-nothing hitter.  He blew away the single-season franchise record in strikeouts (his own record, in fact: 169 in 2011) with 195.  His average dropped 30 points from 2011 to a career-low .232.  In the second half, he hit only .216 but his homerun production (23 in 327 AB before the All-Star game, 20 in 269 after) was the same.

Oddly enough, the perfect Granderson comparison is the 2006 version of one Adam Dunn.  Yes, Adam Dunn.  Compare Curtis' line of .232/.319/.492 and 43 homers to Dunn's .234/.365/.490 and 40 long balls.  Dunn had one less strikeout than Granderson that year. 

He has always been a solid defender in center field, though by no means is he a Gold Glove candidate.  Sabermetrically, he is a below-average defender (granted, this year his dWAR was measured against career years from Mike Trout and Michael Bourn among others).

Everyone knows his playoff struggles: 30 AB's, 3 hits, 16 K's.  "Ugly" is the best description of his numbers.  "Baffled" the best for his approach at the plate.  He ended up getting benched for Game 4 of the ALCS before striking out as a pinch-hitter.  

Off-season Outlook:

As said earlier on this blog, Jon Heyman reported the Yankees plan to pick up Curtis Granderson's $15 million team option for the 2013 season instead of opting for a $2 million buy-out.  The choice was a no-brainer for the front office, as Granderson is the team's best power threat (assuming Robinson Cano will collect around 30 and Alex Rodriguez will never be the hitter he was in 2007). 

About those eyes, now.  Granderson can't deny any longer that he's not a power hitter, and if that's how he can be most productive that is fine with me.  The .319 OBP is ominous, however.  That's a 50 point drop from the season before and also the worst of his career.  If Granderson is the all-or-nothing hitter, he has to get on base.  That said, you know that power will not last forever.  I doubt the Yankees will consider Granderson a long-term asset.  In other words, 2013 is probably his final season in the Bronx.

Unless this was his last year.  Granderson is one of the few Yankees without a no-trade clause.  But trading him, getting equal return value in the long-term, and succeeding in the short-term is such a long shot.  At the moment, Granderson is the power bat in the lineup, and replacing that production would be tremendously difficult based on the free agent market and assets already in New York's hands.  While Torii Hunter's name has floated about (as a corner outfield spot, with Brett Gardner moving to center), at his age and as a right-handed batter he would not come near 40 homers in New York if he were pursued. 

Equal value for Granderson's production would be near-impossible.  The fact is, Granderson is so much mroe valuable for the Yankees because of that short porch in right.  At home, he has 26 homeruns and 6 doubles; on the road, 17 and 12.  Teams are aware of that home/road split and realize a deal would only profit them if they give up no more than the away-version of Granderson.

In the end, the Yankees should do two things with Curtis: set him up with frequent appointments with Kevin Long to bring back the 2011 Granderson, and ask him to consider a move to left field so Gardner can really make use of his range.  I expect him back in the Bronx this spring, I expect another high total of four-baggers, and I really hope for less strikeouts and more walks. 

And new contact lenses. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Season Assessment & Off-Season Outlook: The Closers (Rafael Soriano & Mariano Rivera)

The New York Yankees took a hit when Mariano Rivera went down on the warning track in Kansas City early in the season. The batting practice injury proved to be severe enough to have the all-time saves leader miss the remainder of the season. The closing job was in the air between David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.

The last of Soriano in pinstripes?
After Robertson ended up on the disabled list briefly, it was up to the former Rays closer to get the job done for the rest of the year. Coming into the season, Soriano was looked as one of the most overpaid set-up men in baseball and not as reliable as his price tag may make him out to be.

Soriano channelled his inner Rivera and brought out the closer in him that got Cy Young votes in 2011.  The fire and intensity as he took the mound in the ninth inning with his own customized spanish walk-out song took some getting used to, but it worked.

Before you knew it, #Untuck caught on and started a Twitter wildfire post-Yankee victories...42 times. That was the number of saves that he put together post-Rivera trauma and he joined a list of just three other Yankees to surpass that 40 save mark.

Since he took over the job as the Yankees' closer, Soriano gave fans more than expected with his 2.26 ERA. Meanwhile, David Robertson finished the season with a 2.67 ERA and three blown saves, one was very shortly after Rivera went down.

Girardi clearly made the right decision to stick with Soriano in the long run.

Off-Season Outlook
The New York Post reported that Soriano will most likely opt out of his contract and test free agent waters. The team will officially be notified within three days of the World Series concluding. This should come as no surprise to anyone after the closer's 2012 campaign in which he showed that he can be the closer on another team.

The Yankees will make a qualifying offer to him, but chances are that his appearance in the 6-4 loss to the Tigers could have been his last outing in a Yankees uniform.
Back in 2013.

On the bright side, Mariano Rivera announced that he will be returning to the Yankees in 2013 after there was a period of sadness in the Yankee community as to whether they had seen the end of the greatest closer of all-time.

Brian Cashman has yet to have a conversation to the closer about his plans for 2013, but the two sides should easy come to an agreement. Rivera will be 43 next season, which means that a contract may not be for long and the team will cautiously look at the effects of the injury as his recovery process is completed and he is tested in his first few games back.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Season Assessment And Offseason Outlook: Nick Swisher

(Ray Stubblebine/Reuters)
Nick Swisher is a star in New York, but only because of his personality. That's probably why he won't be coming back next year. The Yankees will give him a qualifying offer when he signs with another team this offseason, but that's only to make sure they get something in return.

There's not much he can do. Since coming to New York he's done everything he could have. He's had at least 20 home runs, 80 RBI's, and an on-base of .350 in every one of his four years with the Bombers.

He is the perfect fit for the Yankees - likable, loud, and loves to smile

Yankees management wants to go in a different direction, and there's nothing he can do about that.

In the quest to reach a $189 million payroll, some people are going to get left behind.

Swisher is the first one that will suffer, because he would probably be back (on an overpaying contract) if the young Steinbrenners were as free-spending as their father. He's only 31, and he's going to get paid.

Chris Kwik at CBSSports.com agrees. He says Swisher could sign a deal worth a little bit less than $20 million a year. Most Yankees fans would agree that's too much, and I am one of them.

Season Assessment: The Good

In a contract year, Nick Swisher proved his worth. He hit .272 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI's. Those are great numbers for a guy that switch hits. 

In fact, his numbers batting right and lefty weren't too different in 2012. He hit just over .270 with more than 10 home runs from each side of the plate. His slugging percentage and OPS were also very similar.

It's great to have switch hitters, but even better when they're good from both sides of the plate. In terms of strategy, opposing managers cannot "defend" against switch hitters when they are as dangerous batting righty as they are lefty. 

Season Assessment: The Bad

Swisher still struck out too much (141 times), second on the team behind Granderson. That was close to his per season average with the Yanks (just under 133).

Like most New York hitters, Swisher couldn't do anything in the postseason. Swisher hit just .167, and stuck out in a third of his 30 postseason at bats. He was so bad Joe Girardi benched him for game 3 of the ALCS.

His most memorable mistake this postseason wasn't at the plate - he misplayed a ball in extra innings of game 1 of the ALCS that allowed the Tigers to take the lead in extra innings.

I'm not blaming Swisher for the team's postseason failures, because no one could hit against Detroit. He just could have done better. 

A sad ending to a short, but memorable career in Pinstripes.

My favorite Swisher memory: July 16, 2010

George Steinbrenner had just passed away, and in the first home game since the Boss's death, it was clear the Yankees fans and organization needed something to cheer them up. 

In the ninth inning, with two outs, runners on base, and the game tied 4-4, Nick Swisher sent the Bronx faithful home with a walkoff single. Swisher said he was happy to win this one and dedicated the win to George on his "day".

I remember watching this game and coming close to tears after they won, because it meant a lot to me to honor The Boss that way.

Watch it here:


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Season Assessment and Off-season Outlook: Derek Jeter

The next few weeks The Stirring Straw will be releasing season assessments and offseason outlooks on each respective player on the team. The assessments will be much like report cards about their 2012 season, while the outlooks will take a look at 2013 and the players' futures in pinstripes.

This year was going to be an interesting one for The Captain. After a year and a half of disappointing performance he had a fantastic second half of 2011 hitting above .340 and finding some of the little power that he lost. That gave fans everywhere to be optimistic about 2012 for the old shortstop and he didn't disappoint.


Season Assessment: Shortstop isn't usually a position that you're hoping to get much offense out of so when you get a slash line of .316/.362/.429 with a 117 wRC+ and .347 wOBA, you have to be happy. That's exactly what Jeter did at the age of 38. His homer total also jumped from 6 to 15. He may have terrible range, but he still does enough to warrant still being there. It was a year that surpassed all expectations and put the idea of 4000 hits in everyone's heads.


Off-Season Outlook: Jeet still has another year left on his contract plus a player option for 2014 that he will undoubtedly pick up so with the 2012 that he had, he won't be going anywhere anytime soon. However, he is having surgery to repair an ankle fracture that he suffered in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Tigers that could put the start of 2013 in question. That shouldn't be much of an issue though with Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix hanging around. You have to wonder whether the ankle will sap the little range that Derek has left and how he'll rebound. Even if he hadn't hurt himself, it's hard to expect the same type performance he had this year going forward.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cashman: Michael Pineda Out Until June 2013

(
(A.P.)
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM that Michael Pineda may not return until "June" or the "second half of next year".

That's bad news for a guy who was supposed to be New York's number two starter in 2012.

Here's a quick timeline for everything wrong that's gone with Pineda (before today's news) since he was traded to the Bombers
March 30th, 2012: Pineda put on disabled list.
April 26th, 2012: Yankees announce Pineda is out for year. He never made a regular season start for N.Y.
August 2012: Pineda arrested for D.U.I


It's still too early to say who "won" the Pineda trade. Right now, Jesus Montero (the top prospect New York gave up in the deal) is still young, as is the 23 year old Pineda.

Anything can happen with Montero, and Pineda could still recover and be ready by June. Cashman doesn't want to put an exact date on it, because it would look bad for him to do so and then be wrong if Pineda isn't ready until the second half of the season.

At the same time, New York needs to make some tough choices with its rotation right now. Here are a few questions:

Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are both free agents, do both of them come back?

Ivan Nova finished the season in the bullpen. Does he return to the rotation next year?

What about David Phelps, who pitched pretty well in limited action this regular season. Does he deserve a starting spot?

I realistically have no idea what Cashman is going to do.

I do know that a lot of the fan base is looking for a major change, which is the norm when New York does not win a World Series.

Most fans are expecting changes on offense, but Michael Pineda certainly isn't helping Cashman solidify his starting rotation.





Season Assessment and Off-Season Outlook: Alex Rodriguez

Will Rodriguez be seen in a Yankee hat in 2013?
The next few weeks The Stirring Straw will be releasing season assessments and offseason outlooks on each respective player on the team. The assessments will be much like report cards about their 2012 season, while the outlooks will take a look at 2013 and the players' futures in pinstripes.

We have decided to start off the series with the man making the most headlines: Alex Rodriguez.

General manager Brian Cashman has repeatedly said that Rodriguez is no longer a superstar, but the team has no intentions of letting him go elsewhere. Offers will be entertained, but even Rodriguez has no plans of leaving.

He told MLB.com, "I will be back, and I have a lot to prove, and I will come back on a mission." The third baseman reiterated that he has never thought of going elsewhere. It sounds like he will not waive his no-trade clause.

Season Assessment: Rodriguez struggled against right-handed pitchers in 2012, but the woes at the plater were made clearer after his time on the disabled list with a broken hand. Before the injury, he was even against both sides with a .277 (LHP) and .275 (RHP) batting average. After the injury, he hit well against left-handers, while striking out 34 percent of the time against right-handed pitchers.

He was solid with his OPS before the injury and could be poised for a comeback season in 2013, if he is back in pinstripes.

Before and after the injury, Rodriguez was hitting in the third or fourth slot of the lineup and it was not until the postseason, when Girardi dropped him further down. He will continue to be one of the hitters in the middle of the order, but the power from his early Yankee days will not be there. The reality is that he is a player in his decline now. Fans have to come to acceptance with the fact that he will not be jacking 30 to 40 homeruns a year and bringing home 110 runs. Those days are gone and Rodriguez will use this winter to make the transition into being a much smarter baseball player than he already is.

On the field, he will still man the duties at third base. He deked JJ Hardy in the ALDS into thinking a tag was coming to third and prevented a run from scoring. His baseball IQ is among the best in baseball due to his experience. Rodriguez is a well rounded baserunner and reads pitches very well. More of that should be seen next season.

Off-Season Outlook: The postseason struggles were made out to be entirely Rodriguez's fault, which is by no means true. The Yankees were still the best team through 162 games and that was with injuries to key players like Rodriguez. If they can get him back to being productive for the lineup and keeping him healthy, the Yankees should be among the top contenders next year with offense.

Rodriguez will most likely be with New York in 2013. Now, if a scenario wants to be thrown out there for a replacement. The Yankees could ask Eric Chavez to return for a similar deal to the one he had in 2012. He will be 35 years old next season and was productive in 2012 with 16 homeruns in almost 300 plate appearances. Injuries will always be a concern with him, but when he's healthy he's reliable.

Chase Headley is a name that was around the Yankees around the trade deadline. If the Yankees could muster together the players for San Diego, he would be a fit for the Yankees as a designated hitter and third baseman much like Rodriguez is now.

With five years left on his contract, the reality is that Rodriguez will be in pinstripes in 2013. The doubters have always been there after early playoff exits. Rodriguez has not received the credit he deserves as one of the better all around players that remain in baseball.

The Offseason Plan

This upcoming offseason is probably going to be the most active since the 2008-2009 winter in which they signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira and traded for Nick Swisher. With a large number of impending free agents and 'Plan 189' looming a little more than a year away, some changes are coming, maybe nothing too major, but changes nonetheless. Here's an outline of what I think the team should do.

Starting Pitching
The first priority for me would be retaining both of Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, and if not, one of them. Kuroda was Brian Cashman's best move in the last year or so as the veteran right-hander pitched to a 3.86 FIP across 33 starts and 219.1 innings, both career highs. The thought with him is that he'll either stay with New York or go back to Japan. Either way they'll make him a qualifying offer so they at least get a draft pick. Pettitte came back mid-season and pitched well above expectations (3.48 FIP in 12 starts) and is still mulling over 2013. Bringing these two back would help solidify the top and middle of the rotation and could make trading Phil Hughes for a valuable bat more possible.

The Right Field Situation
According to all reports, the Yanks are not really interested in retaining Nick Swisher on a multi-year deal because he'll cost too much money. This thins out their options, but doesn't mean they don't have any. On the free agent market, they could re-sign Ichiro Suzuki for a relatively cheap price or they could hopefully sign Torii Hunter to a one or two year deal, though there are a couple of red flags there (another topic for another day).

However, I think the most effective option would be making a trade. We already saw the Diamondbacks trade Chris Young to Oakland, giving the A's a surplus. This could possibly make Yoenis Cespedes available since he is making the most money in that outfield. I'm not exactly sure what it would take to acquire Cespedes or another one of those outfielders, but it's definitely worth at least a look.

The Bullpen
Rafael Soriano is probably going to opt out of his contract, the Bombers will make him a qualifying offer, and he will probably decline to sign a multi-year offer somewhere else. It stinks, but the team will be able to overcome it. Mariano Rivera should re-sign and take back the closer job, while Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson each set him up. Then you file in Boone Logan and Clay Rapada as LOOGY's. That's a solid first five and then you can probably put David Phelps and Cody Eppley back there as well and you have the makings of another really good pen. A signing like Ryan Madson would also make a ton of sense. You can also factor in that you could have help mid-season from Chase Whitley and Mark Montgomery.

* * *

Obviously, this isn't too specific, but outlines some of the major issues looming as we move to November. Just to add on, I do also think that Russell Martin will be back in 2013 because he's quite simply the best option. As the offseason moves forward we'll have specific posts outlining the pros and cons for the guys like Ichiro, Hunter, Madson, and any possible trades.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Year Is Over, But Not The Hysteria

Chill out, no one will be playing baseball here for a few months!
(NESN)
The great thing about being a Yankees fan is it's a 365-day-a-year "job". That's because New York has the money to improve its team at all times.

Other teams don't have that luxury. They can't spend at will.

Other clubs have a budget, which supposedly the Yankees are going to have soon. Quite honestly, if the team isn't winning, the Steinbrenners are going to spend what's needed to win a title.

Yankees fans do not share the luxury of unwinding. Even after New York lost to Detroit in game four, it was almost as if fans' expectations did a complete 180. Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be traded to the Marlins (not true, most likely), Josh Hamilton was going to sign this offseason (extremely unlikely after Granderson's option was picked up), and every free agent New York had should not be brought back.

Talk about an overreaction.

The offseason is a chance to get away from the game.

"Winning" the offseason does not guarantee regular season success. It can indicate it - it never hurts to sign C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira - but winning is more than a one year process.

At least try to enjoy the rest of the playoffs. I'm sure we'll be back next year.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Putting the Coals On The Yankees Hot Stove: Heyman Gets Answers

The Stirring Straw staff decided to let all Yankee fans take some time off as a period of mourning after the New York Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs on Wednesday night. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was able to collect a lot of news that addresses some of the major question marks.

Curtis Granderson: The Yankees have decided to exercise Curtis Granderson's option for the 2013 season. This means that he will be in pinstripes and will be paid $15MM after his fourth place finish in the Most Valuable Player voting in 2011. Talks of a long term deal appear to be put on hold due to the outfielder's strikeout tendency in 2012. It is a move out of precaution to ensure that it does not become a trend for him as he gets older.

Nick Swisher: Heyman also wrote that signs are pointing towards the Yankees giving Swisher a qualifying offer to ensure that they would get draft picks if he decides to sign elsewhere. At most, the deal is estimated around $13.5 million. He does not think that the Yankees have any interest in signing Swisher to a long term deal after his abysmal postseason.

Girardi on the Hot Seat? If you thought that was the case, you thought wrong. Cashman said that none of the coaches were in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Yes, that also means hitting coach Kevin Long after the struggling bats in the postseason. Tony Pena interviewed with the Boston Red Sox, but it seems that they could be leaning towards John Farrell. That opens up the door in Toronto which could have interest in Robbie Thomson.

CC Sabathia: Former Yankees beat writer for the Star Ledger Marc Carig reported that CC Sabathia's left elbow will be checked out by a team doctor as a precaution. He was hurt in the middle of the season with elbow soreness and they just want to make sure that he wasn't too overworked since then.

Andy Pettitte in 2013? The veteran will make a decision very soon as to whether or not he will pitch next season. He believes that he will have a decision "in the next few weeks."In his last start, he went 6.2 innings giving up only two runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out five. Pettitte was in line to start the fifth game of the series, before the Yankees got swept. If he were to return, it would be his 17th year in the Major Leagues.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thanks for Following During the Regular Season

Dear readers and Yankee fans,

On behalf of the staff at Stirring Straw, we would like to extend our thanks for following us on Twitter and reading our posts on the website throughout the regular season and the postseason. We launched this site less than a year ago and we are very happy with the way things have taken off. The coverage will not stop. Starting on Monday our writers will be putting out more content focused on the Yankees' offseason. It's not looking like a quiet offseason, so lots will be said.

It may have been a tough way to end the season for fans, but we dedicated ourselves to keeping everyone updated at all times. We will continue to interact with our readers on Twitter and record podcasts every few weeks. So here's to another great year of Yankees baseball coverage starting with the hot stove...Cheers!


Thank you, 
Chris Chavez
Editor-In-Chief of The Stirring Straw

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The A-Rod Trade Rumors Are A Bunch Of Bologna


Turn on SportsCenter right now. I dare you.

I've read about it, listened to sports talk radio about it, and now I'm watching it.  We've supposedly seen the last of Alex Rodriguez in a Yankees uniform. The season is barely over.

First off, if you're reading this article now, you may turn on SportsCenter only to find a commercial. No worries, flip to another sports station, because they are bound to talk about the A-Rod trade rumors within the next little while.

A story of this magnitude always is, but it shouldn't be.

Think of how this rumor started. Keith Olbermann started it, but here is ESPN's original story.

Allow me to analyze what the A-Rod trade rumors really mean. I will go line by line in the ESPN.com story:
"What began as a casual, joking conversation"
Stop there. Did I just read the word "joke". As in, something that isn't true. Let me get this straight, I'm reading about a "joke"? I'm expecting Levine to say "knock, knock". He doesn't, and I continue to read.
"...between New York Yankees president Randy Levine and Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about the possibility of Alex Rodriguez playing for the Marlins"
I stop again.  This is clearly a joke one guy is playing on another about trading a top-ten hitter of all time to another team that is clearly weaker.

I equate this to rich guys sitting around, smoking cigars, saying "I'll trade you all my oil shares in Saudi Arabia for every Boeing 747 in the United States" in a really snarky, condescending voice.

What's there to analyze? The two people aren't even the General Managers of each squad. Levine and Loria may have some say in trades, but they don't negotiate them. At face value, they are joking.

I continue to read...
"may develop into serious trade talks this offseason, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation"
An intern could be a source knowledgable of the situation. A source could be some guy who works for the organization and wants to start a media firestorm.

If I only hear one person saying it, "a source", there is nothing for me to believe. A source that doesn't have a name attached to it is barely a real person.

Any journalist can go find a person that is angry at someone, or something, and wants to accentuate details and make false claims by going under anonymity. Giving someone anonymity lets that source say whatever he/she wants with no repercussions.

If three sources said it, I would be more inclined to believe a report.

There's not even a guarantee there have been negotiations. All it says is something "may" happen.

I continue reading... this time I skip a bit.
"Brian Cashman said he has had no trade talks regarding Rodriguez with anyone."
Boom! End of story. You have to believe that Cashman really hasn't done anything because he says he hasn't.

These rumors must be from a certain city
north of Rome. Get it? Balogna.
Only one person, who might as well be fake, is disputing Cashman's claim. Find out who started the rumor, and I will be more inclined to believe the Yankees GM is lying.

I continue to read, but the rest of it doesn't really say much. There's some anecdotal information about things Yankees analysts are saying, as well as a quote from Jeff Loria about how A-Rod is "Mr. Miami". I'm sure every guy that's ever been to South Beach claims they are "Mr. Miami". It's the ultimate party destination.

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I don't believe these rumors one bit. Going into the playoffs, A-Rod was supposed to be a leader on the team. The same reporters that are dogging him now were on his side less than two weeks ago.

That's the world we live in, so I can't really criticize them. Alex is payed the big bucks for a reason, and he hasn't helped himself by playing as poorly as anyone on the team and trying to get girls' numbers during the game (supposedly).

The report also says the team could trade for Heath Bell, or Mark Buehrle, or Jose Reyes.

When I start hearing names involved, it makes me believe it's a little more real. It does for all of us because it tricks us into imagining how it could play out.

(Cory Sipkin/NY Daily News)
I did the same thing this summer (as a Nets fan) rooting for Dwight Howard to come to Brooklyn. Obviously, those rumors were much more concrete, but I tricked myself into imagining him with a Nets uniform on just because I saw headlines like "Nets offer four in exchange for Howard". In reality, a "rumor" isn't necessarily true. If it was, it would be called a "fact".

Again, I go back to the article, so I don't trick myself.
"The Marlins may want the Yankees to take reliever Heath Bell, who is owed $18 million over the next two years, plus has a team option for $9 million for 2015."
Any reporter can say the Marlins should trade this player, or release this player, if that person thinks it makes sense. In this case, it made sense because Bell is owed a lot of money and hasn't necessarily lived up to his deal.

Who's another player that's done that? Alex Rodriguez. All of the sudden, editors think there is a "story" and decide to publish it.
------------
What have we really learned? Not much.

Here's how I would have written the article:

"Earlier this year, Yankees President Randy Levine and Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria joked Alex Rodriguez could be traded to the Marlins, according to one source. 

Now that A-Rod is struggling, it makes sense for us to report this. Alex was hitting just fine at the time that they had this conversation, clearly making it a joke, but now that he's struggling and the Yankees are going to be eliminated by the Tigers, we decided to report this. 

Guess who else struggled for the Marlins? Heath Bell. He's owed $100 million less than Rodriguez, but we figure teams always want to get rid of players that had bad seasons, so maybe he could be traded for A-Rod even though it was a joke.  

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he hasn't talked with any team about trading A-Rod."


------------

My version is more appropriate for "news" that "isn't really news".

A-Rod will, and should, return next year. There's too much money involved, and, statistically, he was  a top-15 third baseman in 2012.

George Carlin once said, "I never give credit for incomplete work". I'm sure he would consider this A-Rod rumor the same thing.






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