Monday, January 28, 2013

Yankees Monday Round-Up: MVP Baseball 2003 Style!

If one were to dust off their Playstation 2 and find their copy of MVP Baseball 2003 (with Former Yankee Randy Johnson, as a Diamondback, on the cover) and then decide to play as the Yankees, Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera are both on the team. Today both made headlines as the Yankees signed Rivera to a one-year minor league deal and Johnson announced his retirement.

Johnson will go down as one of the most injury prone players to ever wear pinstripes. In 2003, he made his first trip to the disabled list with a stress fracture in the right hand. He was traded after the season in a deal with...Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez.

Johnson would also make a comeback to New York in 2010 and then a wrist injury hit him in May. In August, he suffered a setback and would miss the remainder of the season. That's all she wrote for Johnson's Yankee career...

Rivera would go on to play for the Angels and Dodgers on a more daily basis after starting his career in New York. The Yankees signed him with an invite to spring training. In 2012 with the Dodgers, he hit .244/.286/.375 with nine homers in 339 plate appearances. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dan Johnson Joins Yankees As Infield/DH Option

As the Braves and Diamondbacks wrap up the final pieces of their seven player trade, which includes Justin Upton to Atlanta, the New York Yankees finalized a one-year minor league deal with veteran infielder Dan Johnson. The deal was first reported by Sweeny Murti of WFAN.

Johnson is the same player that tied game 162 between the Yankees and Rays in 2011with a two-run homerun that pushed the game into extra innings. The Rays would go on to clinch he American League wild card with the win, as well as eliminate the Boston Red Sox.

In 2012, Johnson was a member of the White Sox Triple-A affiliate before being called-up to the Majors for 14 games in September. He went 8-for-22 at the plate.

As our own Matt Filippi pointed out on Twitter, his career slash line is .237/.338/.412 (102 wRC+.) Another one of Johnson's strengths is the ability to garner walks (9 in 14 games last year.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pedro Feliciano Back to the Mets

Two years ago, the New York Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano for two seasons on deal worth $8M. He ended up throwing zero pitches in pinstripes after making 96 appearances for the Mets in 2010. In seven Puerto Rican League appearances, he pitched to a 1.23 ERA. This signing is no more than a risk being taken by the Mets. The Yankees' signing went under the radar over the last few years, but it definitely should go down as one of the biggest wastes of $8M.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Soriano Signs with Washington

Shirts will remain tucked in New York after the ninth inning of a Yankees victory as Rafael Soriano has agreed to a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals. The new contract also includes a vesting option for a third year, which kicks in if Soriano finished 120 games in 2013 and 2014. The deal was first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

Soriano saved 42 games for the Yankees in 2012, a season in which he entered as Mariano Rivera's set-up man and assumed closing duties after the All-Time saves leader was forced to miss the remainder of the season. The Yankees were looking to free up payroll space and opted to not resign him after he declared for free agency.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

On Not Trading Granderson

(NY Post)
This off-season has brought about a lot of change for the Yankees, probably the most since 2008 when Brian Cashman went on a spending binge and brought in CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. Fans have waved good bye to Nick Swisher and Russell Martin while Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki were brought in as replacements. The 2013 team figures to be much weaker than any team in the previous three or four years due to the lack of power. And for some reason a lot of people want to see Curtis Granderson shipped out for anything. I don't get it.

The Grandy Man hit .232/.319/.492 with 43 homers in 160 games as the Bombers center fielder in 2012 and has hit .247/.337/.506 in his three seasons in pinstripes. So it's clear that he's been very productive, in fact, he's been one of the most productive hitter on the team during this span. The 31 year old has one year left on his contract worth $15 million so many fans have given this and his increasing strikeout rate as reasons to get rid of him.

Now, he did strikeout a career high 28.5% of the time in 2012, which is definitely a ton, but when it comes with the type of power that he produces at a premium position, it makes it worth it. Add in the fact that the offense is losing 40+ homers between Martin and Swisher and the Yankees need all of the power they can get. You can say that losing the power is a good thing because the team 'hits too many homers,' but that's just silly. That doesn't exist.

The point here is that the Yanks are still trying to field a winning team and I don't know how they would replace Granderson if he was shipped out. Also, they would probably be getting zero power from all three outfield positions, which does not bode well for a team that hopes to compete. So even though the strikeouts do get frustrating, the power that comes with it is very valuable and is something that's going to help this team a lot in the coming year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trade Target: Jason Kubel

Before the holiday, we saw the Yankees finally start to address some of the holes in their team. They signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base while Alex Rodriguez is hurt and they re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to a two year deal to play right field. However, they are still far from done. They still need to find a right-handed outfielder (Scott Hairston cough cough) and a designated hitter. Though it seems like they need replacement for Russell Martin behind the plate, Brian Cashman seems content with going into the year with Frankie Cervelli and Chris Stewart (another topic for another day).

(The Star Tribune)
I would love to see the Yanks ink Hairston as the righty bat, but the designated hitter question is a little more foggy. It's clear that the team likes to use this spot in the lineup to rotate older players so it's unclear what direction they want to go in exactly. I'd like to see them make a run at the Arizona Diamondbacks Jason Kubel. Let's break him down:

Pros
  • Since Arizona signed Cody Ross to a three year deal, they have an excess of outfielders and reports have indicated that the D-Backs would be open to dealing Jason Kubel (though I wouldn't mind Justin Upton myself). So he is very much available.
  • Kubel, 30, is also signed relatively cheap. He's making $7.5 million each of the next two seasons and has a team option for the same amount for 2015 (includes a $1 million buy out). The brass shouldn't have too much trouble fitting him into Plan 189.
  • Kubel really mashes right-handed pitching. He has a career .359 wOBA and 120 wRC+ against them. He also walks a ton (9% career BB%) so he'll fit right into the 'get on base' culture the offense seems to create every year. It's also worth noting that he's been very durable and hasn't had any major injuries over the course of his career.
  • Lastly, he plays some outfield so he won't be a total bat only guy. He has experience in both outfield corners so you can keep the bat in the lineup if you want to give an older player a half day off.
Cons
  • Kubel is basically a platoon guy since he can't really hit lefties sporting a career .306 wOBA and 86 wRC+ against south paws. His K% also shoots up 6% from when he faces righties. It's also worth noting that his strikeout rate has been climbing steadily over the last few years.
  • He also is pretty terrible defender. He definitely doesn't pass the eye test and if you look at the the advanced metrics (which I don't really trust, but could be useful with a big enough sample) have him at -46 for his career. Maybe if you put him in right field the smaller dimensions of Yankee Stadium will help him, but you'd probably still have to look away every time a ball was hit in his direction.
  • The Bombers are an older team without much speed and Kubel won't be adding much to that dimension. He's stolen just 11 bases since he was first called up back in 2004.
I'm not the biggest Kubel fan, but with the way the market has played out and with what the Yankees need, Kubel makes a lot of sense. He could help replace some of the power lost from Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, and even Raul Ibanez. I don't think he'll be too expensive either given some of his limitations.

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