Thursday, November 29, 2012

BREAKING: Pirates sign Russell Martin

Russell Martin has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The terms of the deal are not yet known but this is a huge blow to the Yankees. The once "catching rich" Yankees now find themselves without a starting catcher. Austin Romine has just come off an injury plagued season with back problems and Gary Sanchez is still too far away from catching in the Major Leagues. The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli who has been their backup for several years and have Chris Stewart who served as Martin's backup in 2012. Martin will re-unite with his old pal AJ Burnett in Pittsburgh. I don't know what Martin thinks the Pirates can do in 2013, but I guess the Pirates offer was significantly better than what the Yankees were offering Martin.

The Yankees now must scramble to either sign a free agent catcher, (i.e. Mike Napoli, AJ Pierzynski) or make a trade to get a catcher. They can not enter the season with Francisco Cervelli as their every day catcher. Mike Napoli is not seen as an everyday catcher. Scouts view him more as a first baseman than anything else. Pierzynski is coming off a fantastic year for the White Sox but his personality may not fit for the Yankees.

Russell Martin hit .211 for the Yankees in 2012 with a career high 21 home runs.

UPDATE*** Russell Martin's contract is reportedly at 2 years, $17 million with the Pirates. The Yankees offer to Martin was rumored to be at 2 years, $12-14 million.

Money was the ultimate factor in this deal considering the Pirates gave Martin exactly what the Yankees offered in terms of years. It must cost a lot to fly back and forth from Canada.

Yankees Sign Mariano Rivera

The Yankees have come to an agreement on a one year contract with Mariano Rivera. They agree to a contract worth $10 million on Marinao Rivera's 43rd birthday. This ensures that the Yankees will have the greatest closer in history for at least one more season. Rivera tore his ACL in May while shagging fly balls in Kansas City that put him on the DL for the rest of the year.

The Yankees have a very formidable bullpen however, they still need to sign one more reliever. They can use a Freddy Garcia-type to mop up and be the long man out of the bullpen. Other than that, they seem to be set in the later innings with Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. Also, David Aardsma is coming off Tommy John surgery and could provide a huge boost for the Yankees. Aardsma had a 38 save season for the Mariners in 2009 and 31 saves in 2010.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Andy Pettitte Signing Official, Russell Martin update

Earlier today, the Yankees confirmed the signing of Andy Pettitte to a one year contract for the 2013 season that will pay him $12 million. Pettitte can also make up to an additional $2.5 million in award bonuses. This signing gives the Yankees a starting rotation before December 1st, which is something they did not have over the last two seasons this early in the off-season. They now have a rotation consisting of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova/David Phelps. The full rotation gives the Yankees options to trade starters this winter. Phil Hughes could possibly get traded because he is a free agent next season and I don't think the Yankees believe he will be worth the money he will ask next year.

As for Russell Martin, sources have confirmed that he has narrowed his selection between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. However, the Pirates seem to be going after Martin a lot harder than the Yankees are. Martin wants $9-10 million per year on a three year contract. Word on the street is that the Yankees only want to give him two years. It should be interesting to see where he lands. In the event that Martin winds up elsewhere, the Yankees need to search hard for an everyday catcher. Could Mike Napoli be on their radar? I'd say that would be unlikely considering they don't even want to pay Russell Martin what he wants. They could stick Austin Romine into the starting catcher position in the 2013 season similar to what they did with Jorge Posada in 1996. So, in a way it's intriguing to see how the Yankees' catching situation unfolds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pettitte, Mariano to be Signed this Week

According to ESPN writer Buster Olney, Andy Pettitte is just a day or two away from formally announcing his return to the New York Yankees. When he announces his return, the Yankees will also have a new contract to announce which will be in the $10-12 million range. With the Pettitte deal just about done, this gives the Yankees a great starting rotation for the 2013 season. CC Sabathia will lead the pact, followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. The Yankees now have many options for their fourth and fifth starters. Phil Hughes will surely fill out the fourth starter role in the last year of his contract with the Yankees before hitting free agency. Look for him to have a great year as he searches for a long term contract. Ivan Nova and David Phelps will battle it out for the fifth starter spot. Phelps has shown that he has what it takes to be a starter in the Major Leagues. Ivan Nova took a step backwards after a stellar rookie year in 2011. Of course, one of the three pitchers mentioned could be traded before the start of the season. Phil Hughes will be a good chip to trade if the Yankees don't intend to sign him after 2013. Also, Michael Pineda should be ready to enter the rotation in June but you can't make any guarantees after him undergoing major shoulder surgery last year.

Mariano Rivera is also close to getting signed on a one year contract in the $12-15 million range. Rivera was injured in May, tearing his ACL. He did not pitch for the Yankees down the stretch, which could raise some question marks about his effectiveness in 2013. The Yankees have insurance policies in the ninth inning with David Robertson and David Aardsma. Joba Chamberlain can also serve as a competent internal closer option after being one year removed from his Tommy John surgery.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ichiro wants to stay a Yankee, Pettitte news

According to sources, Ichiro Suzuki has been contacted by many teams who are interested in his services for the 2013 season. However, the right fielder wants to stay with the Yankees. He liked the professionalism and maturity of the Yankees clubhouse, something he was not accustomed to in Seattle. Ichiro would certainly be welcome back in the Bronx as their every day right fielder if he plays like he did down the stretch. However, if he returns to his pre-second half form and hits for a low average with little power it could mean trouble for the Yankees. If he does sign with the Yankees, the Yankees would probably have an outfield consisting of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki.

There have been minor rumblings about a Granderson trade this off-season. The center fielder had career highs in home runs last year while having an awful year at the plate in terms of consistency. He struck out over 200 times between the regular season and postseason which is a major red flag about what kind of hitter he has become. With one year left on his contract and the Yankees unlikely to resign him for 2014 and beyond, I would be open to a trade to acquire a right handed outfield bat with power. Justin Upton's name has been in trade talks this off season, but after an off-year in 2012, his bat may be a concern for the Yankees. Also, if the Yankees do sign Ichiro for 2013, they will have an outfield consisting of three lefty bats. The Yankees need a powerful right handed bat in that lineup to replace Nick Swisher. Also, Alex Rodriguez has not been a major home run threat lately so they have been very vulnerable against lefty pitchers recently.

Also, the Yankees are awaiting a decision on Andy Pettitte about his plans to pitch in 2013. The veteran lefty should be making a decision in the coming days regarding his future in pinstripes but all indications are that Pettitte will want to return after starting a handful of games in his injury shortened 2012 season. He has already begun his off-season workouts to see how his body responds. If Pettitte returns to the rotation, the Yankees will have a formidable top three.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BREAKING: Yankees Re-Sign Kuroda

The Yankees have come to terms with right handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on a one year deal worth $15 million with less than $1 million in performance incentives. This is a raise for Kuroda over last year's contract when he first came to the Yankees on a $10 million deal. Late last week, sources said that Kuroda preferred to pitch on the west coast to be closer to his two daughters who attend elementary school in southern California.

This is a huge step for the Yankees. They suddenly have a formidable front two in their starting rotation. Their next step is to figure out whether Andy Pettitte will return to pitch in 2013, which everyone feels optimistic about.

Last season, Kuroda posted a 16-11 record with the Yankees last season. He was undoubtedly their most consistent pitcher of 2012 with an ERA of 3.32 and a career best 219.2 innings pitched.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Posey, Cabrera win MLB's most Coveted Award

The final and perhaps most prestigious award in Major League Baseball was handed out tonight, the Most Valuable Player award. Victorious in the category were Buster Posey of the World Champion San Francisco Giants and of the American League Champions, Miguel Cabrera.

Once again, both winners of the award were those that I predicted would win after the regular season wrapped up. I did not get caught in the Mike Trout hype but decided to go with the player who made a larger impact to his team. This year, Miguel Cabrera did everything that one would have hoped for and more. Cabrera won MLB''s first triple crown since 1967 when Carl Yaztremski of the Boston Red Sox completed the feat. Even though Cabrera was not as electric as Mike Trout, his track record and other abilities factored into this MVP award. He sounds like a team player. He switched positions and went to third base to accomodate newly signed Prince Fielder before the 2012 season.

Buster Posey had a terrific season for a catcher. Although Yadier Molina had a career year and led his team to the NLCS, Buster Posey did more offensively and meant more to his team. Posey was the offense for the Giants. And to add that he did it all from the catcher position means even more.

Congratulations to Miguel Cabrera and to Buster Posey on your Most Valuable Player awards. The off-season can now officially commence as 2012 has wrapped up and is put into the books.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Price, Dickey: Cy Young Winners

David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Robert Allen Dickey of the New York Mets have just claimed the most prestigious award handed out among Major League pitchers. Both men were my picks to win in their respective leagues and I could not be happier. This is the happiest I've been with the results of the Cy Young vote in a few years.

I have to begin with RA Dickey. He was the on the scrap heap in 2009 and when he finally got the call in 2010 by the New York Mets, he was transformed into a brilliant knuckle-ball pitcher. Dickey is the first ever knuckle-ball pitcher to win a Cy Young and the third pitcher in Mets history to win after Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden. Clayton Kershaw came in at a distant second place. Nothing would have compared with the year and story of RA Dickey. Something about the man's grace, humbleness and quiet confidence makes me elated over his victory in the Cy Young voting. Congratulations RA Dickey, soak it in. You have climbed the tallest mountain.

David Price was also my pick to win the Cy Young award in the American League. Although his Rays just barely missed the postseason, Price had an outstanding year by posting twenty victories on a team with no offense. He has improved his game on all facets and put it together this season to come out on top in the American League. Congratulations on your award, David Price.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marlins Headed North: Big Trade

The same Miami Marlins that loaded up on high salary players before 2012 are on the verge of completing a historic salary dump.

Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonafacio, Jose Reyes and John Buck are all heading north of the border to play for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 and beyond. This deal not only says how the Blue Jays are committed to winning next season, but also how bad the Marlins management is. After all of this is said and done, I would be surprised if any free agent would be willing to sign with Miami. Jose Reyes should play well in the dome and Mark Buehrle is heading back into the American League, where he has played so well for so many years.

In return, the Marlins are getting shortstops Yunel Escobar, Hecchavari and a pitcher.

The Marlins tanked with all of these players on their team last season, but maybe a change of scenery will help all of those big names- not to mention playing with Jose Bautista.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trout, Harper win Rookie of the Year

The young phenom, Mike Trout has unanimously won the American League Rookie of the Year award, easily beating out Wei-Yen Chen and Yoenis Cespedes. Trout had a historic rookie season for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The New Jersey native hit .326 with thirty home runs, 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases.

In the National League, it was Bryce Harper who took home the most coveted prize for rookies. He just barely beat out Wade Miley and Todd Frazier for the top spot. In my opinion, Todd Frazier deserved the award. He meant a lot to the team because his ability to play multiple positions and his hot streak while Joey Votto was on the disabled list. He carried the Reds for a good month of the season. While Wade Miley was great this season, his team did not make the playoffs so that does not do it for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday Notes: Silver Slugger,Tino, Kuroda, Martin

After rumors that Tino Martinez was going to the Red Sox as their new hitting coach, the rumor was quickly debunked and Martinez is now heading to the Miami Marlins to serve as hitting coach. Tino Martinez was a great player and should be an even better hitting coach.

Hiroki Kuroda, who is still deciding about whether to pitch in the Major Leagues next season, may not accept the Yankees qualifying offer after all. Kuroda is a coveted free agent pitcher who only wants a one-year deal, but the Red Sox and his former LA Dodgers team is trying to steal him from the Yankees. Kuroda has made it known that he enjoyed his time with the Yankees and it should only be a matter of time before the Yankees resign the right handed pitcher who won sixteen games for the Yankees in 2012.

Also, check out this terrific article written in the New York Times by David Waldstein about Russell Martin. In the piece, Waldstein brings us inside the life and mind of Martin. The article discusses the catcher's love of Canada and the Expos, his injuries at the end of the season and his need of a vacation. Truly a great read.

Also, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano came away with Silver Slugger awards tonight for their work in the 2012 season. Cano takes home the trophy for his third straight season while Jeter wins the fifth Silver Slugger of his career.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mariano to Pitch in 2013, plus other notes

My apologies for the lack of updates. As you all know, Hurricane Sandy rolled through the area on Monday and as a result, I lost power on Monday night at approximately 8:00 PM. I did not gain power back until tonight (Saturday) at about 7:00 PM. That was five full days without power, heat, lights, and Internet. However, other people received much worse from the storm so I should be thankful that I am here writing this blog and not looking for my furniture on the streets.

This was a quiet week in Yankee land, but at the same time there was a lot of noise. Rafael Soriano began the news by opting out of his contract in search of a long-term deal. The opt out was imminent and the Yankees knew he was not going to return after the season he had for the Yankees in 2012. Being a Scott Boras client, I expect he will get at least another three year contract at about the same rate he received with the Yankees.

Following Rafael Soriano's opt out, the Yankees extended qualifying offers to three of their free agents: Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano. The Yankees extended the offers to Soriano and Swisher almost knowing they would reject the offers, which is what the Yankees want. By offering contracts, they are guaranteed a draft pick in compensation for any lost free agents. Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano should give the Yankees what they want, while Kuroda is a different story. The right-hander has expressed interest in signing another one year contract and has made it known that he enjoyed playing for the Yankees. After making $10 million in 2012, a qualifying offer of $13.3 million could and should get the job done for both sides, and the Yankees would sign up for that in a heartbeat. The Yankees did not extend an offer to Russell Martin however, in part because he is not a $13 million dollar player. That doesn't mean the Yankees do not want him back. Look for the Yankees to offer Martin a multi-year contract. Martin has played exceptionally well as a Yankee despite a poor batting average. His work behind the plate is what gives him an edge over other catchers, making him a prized commodity this off-season.

Lastly, the New York Post reported today that Mariano Rivera made it known that he intends to pitch in 2013. After weighing his options concerning retirement, Mariano has clearly chosen to extend his Hall of Fame career for one more season (at least for now). No numbers have been discussed between Rivera and Cashman but with Soriano out of the picture, look for the Yankees to get this deal done quick to have Mariano Rivera close games for one more season.