Winter reset: Projecting the Yankees’ Opening Day roster

Advertisements

Will The High-socks Keep Leading?

Now that the World Series is over its time for baseball to turn their attention to the hot stove months, the time when teams start to make moves in order to better their team.
The Yankees already made some moves when it comes to upper management, but now they turn their attention to more pressing matters with the players on the field.
Right now the big zinger seems to be what will happen with David Robertson?

Photo from the NYPost
Photo from the NYPost

The Alabama native is most likely set to hit the free-agent market according to reports, while the Yankees are seemingly leaning towards extending him a $15.3 million qualifying offer.

The Yankees had an opportunity to resign Robertson before the beginning of the 2014 season, similar to what they did with Brett Gardner. However, seeing as Robertson still needed to prove whether or not he could handle becoming the Yankees closer, it made sense for the Yankees to wait and see.
But now that Robertson has proven that he can indeed be the closer for the Yankees- he finished the season with a 3.08 ERA, 3rd in saves in the American League with 39 saves, a 1.05 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 64.1 innings- it’s time for the Yankees to make a choice.
Now from what I’ve seen in reports from various outlets such as CBS Sports, it seems that the Yankees want to keep Robertson, and it would seem Robertson would prefer to stay.
With seemingly mutual interest to remain part of the pinstriped family, the Yankees should offer Robertson a multi-year deal. There are already six teams interested, the Yankees should not let him get away, as long as it’s within reason of course.
There are many statistical reasons on why Robertson is worth the money he will likely command in free agency, but let’s take a lot at some off the field reasons for why he remain in pinstripes.
Robertson is a home-grown player, he was brought up in 2008 along with Brett Gardner. The next two years he quietly did his job in the middle innings, trying to find his spot in the bullpen.
2011 was the year he broke out, his best season so far in his career, where he finished with a sparkling ERA of 1.08. The 2011 season was also when the nickname “Houdini” was coined, since Robertson got himself in a lot of jams with RISP, with a career high 35 walks.
There is also the fact that for the last six years Robertson has been under Rivera’s wing so to speak. Robertson’s 2011 season really showed the Yankees just how good Robertson is as a reliever, sparking talks about him possibly becoming the heir to the closer throne.
Robertson and Rivera became close, with Robertson taking in all that he could from the legend, watching as Rivera went into the 9th night after night.
Robertson brings an invaluable asset when it comes to the closer role that no one else has, and that is that he learned from the master himself.
He saw how Rivera handled himself both on the mound and off it. He observed his quiet but fierce demeanor, the way that one cutter would always seem to devastate everyone who tried to hit it.
Rivera believed that Robertson would be the one to take over, so he made sure to teach him what he could, and help him harness his talents.
Of course, I’m not saying Robertson will be Rivera, because he’s not, no one is. But you can’t help but notice the impression that he made on Robertson.
While the Yankees might have a great future closer in Dellin Betances, the kid does not have the experience nor the wisdom that Robertson has.
Betances has only had one full season in the majors, and while it’s clear he has really come into his own in the bullpen after years of struggles as a starter in the minors, I don’t think it’s wise to have Betances take on this job.
Betances might very well be the type of player you take a risk on, believing that the risk doesn’t overshadow the reward, but why not keep Robertson if you can?
The combination of Betances and Robertson in the 8th and 9th was one of the best in the game. Without Robertson you take a critical piece of the bullpen away, one that can’t be so easily replaced.
Sure you would have Betances fill in the 9th, but then who takes over in the 8th? The 7th? While Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley have been reliable assets, no Robertson would just weaken the bullpen and add more questions to a team that already has so many other questions to answer.
Another thing to consider is that Robertson is the leader of the bullpen; as the closer it’s his job to set an example for the others and he has done that.
In a player profile posted by MLB.com, it notes that Robertson has “quiet leadership and calm demeanor on the mound” and that it’s reflected in the rest of the bullpen.
Betances called Robertson a “role model” and the leader of the bullpen. This has been seen throughout the whole season. Everyone that comes out of that bullpen does their job quietly, not showing as much emotion.
That’s the way Robertson handles it and its reflected in everyone else that comes before him.
“In all the years I worked with Mariano the biggest thing I tried to learn from him was consistency,” Robertson said in the MLB player profile video. “I tried to do what I did in years past in the 8th inning but in the ninth inning. I want to be the guy that can be counted on in the back end of the bullpen.”
Aside from the five blown saves that Robertson had this past season, he was that guy that everyone counted on; in fact, because of him and the rest of the guys in that pen, the Yankees were able to stay in the playoff hunt for as long as they did.

Robertson has quietly become one of the leaders on the Yankees team as he has progressed in his career. (photo from yankeesgoyard.com)
Robertson has quietly become one of the leaders on the Yankees team as he has progressed in his career. (photo from yankeesgoyard.com)

Knowing all of this, I say the Yankees should offer Robertson a three-year deal, perhaps in the $30 million area, or about $10-$12 million a year.
He has proved year after year that the he is one of the best relievers in the big leagues, and while the Yankees have Betances, and other potential relievers in the minor leagues, it would be a shame to lose the role model and leader that is David Robertson.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Robertson should stay or are you comfortable handing off the job to Betances?

Granderson or Swisher? Who would you choose?

It is no secret the Yankees want to get their payroll under $189 million by 2014 in order to avoid the heavy luxury tax that baseball would put on them if their payroll is higher than $189 million. But in order to get to their payroll goals the Yankees are going to have to make some tough decisions as early as this upcoming off season. Nick Swisher is on the final year of his contract; so if Russell Martin. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have one more year left before they become free agents.

The Yankees are serious about bringing the payroll down, and realistically speaking they cannot afford to keep all four players. It is pretty obvious they will keep Cano, and they probably should try to extend his contract this off season. Russell Martin has had a horrible year offensively, although he has been hitting very well in the month of September. Still Martin is a very good defense catcher, he works well with the pitchers and calls a good game. The Yankees have some good young catchers in the minor leagues but they are not necessarily ready to take over yet. Austin Romine could be someone the Yankees take a look at to see if he could be the the everyday catcher, but he did get hurt this year and missed a significant amount of time with a back injury. Russell could come back on perhaps a cheap two-year deal, while the Yankees wait for Gary Sanchez who many think is the long-term catcher for the Yankees.

So that leaves Swisher and Granderson. You have to believe that long-term the Yankees can’t keep both. Maybe they resign Swisher… maybe they let him walk. They could keep Granderson until 2013 and then let him walk, or they could trade him, or even extend his contract. But thinking long-term which one is the better option?

Grandy
A year ago Granderson was having a very good year, he came in fourth in the AL MVP voting. He hit a career high 41 HRs, he had 119 RBI, stole 25 bases, had 153 hits, scored 136 runs, his OPS was .916, his OBP .364, a SLG of .552, and a avg of .262.

This year though, Granderson’s numbers have gone down. Yes he has 40 home runs but look at everything else. His strikeouts are up, he had 169 last year and so far this year he has about 189, he could probably reach 200 strikeouts this year! He is batting an abysmal .227, he only has 9 stolen bases!! The stolen bases part really annoys me because he has speed and he doesn’t utilize it. I know he is striking out a lot but still, especially with the Yankees missing that speed element most of the year with Gardner out, I felt like Granderson was the one who need to help the Yankees out in that department and he didn’t. There is six games left in the regular season and Granderson doesn’t even have 100 RBI’s yet, he only has 97. No one on the Yankees has 100 RBI’s yet but still. His hits are down to 130 so far, he has scored fewer runs with 96. His walks are down as well; last year he had 85 walks, this year he has 72.

It seems like ever since Kevin Long did that mechanical adjustment with Granderson back in late 2010, Granderson has just changed as a player. Yes he always struck out a lot, but he is striking out too much. He is barely stealing any bases, his average is not good. And defensively Granderson certainly isn’t the best out there, you could actually possibly say he is slightly below average.

While Granderson does hit 30-40 home runs now with the Yankees, and he will give you 90-100 RBIs there are a lot of things to consider. Is this really a guy the Yankees want to give a 5 or 6 year deal too??
nick

Then there is Swisher. Swisher’s numbers have been pretty consistent with the Yankees. You can usually expect 20-30 home runs, probably around 90 RBIs, average maybe around .260. Swisher hasn’t really hit in the postseason while with the Yankees so that is a concern, but hopefully he will change that this post season, if the Yankees get there and I think they will.

But the point is you know what you are getting from Swisher. Apart from that Swisher is a good defender, he has power, he can hit in different spots in the lineup making him very versatile. He can hit 2nd, he can hit 5th or 6th or 7th. Besides playing RF he can also play first base which has proven to be quite valuable for the Yankees these past few weeks with Teixeira out. Plus Swisher is a switch-hitter which is always nice to have in your lineup. Swisher also brings another element that I think is very important for the Yankees, his personality! In a clubhouse where a lot of the players are just so business-like, Swisher brings fun and energy to the clubhouse. He makes things interesting and pumps up the team. His love for the game shows every time he takes the field.

Now both players have become fan favorites, but with the new payroll situation, they can’t both stay. The Yankees have options. As said earlier they could keep Swisher and trade Granderson, or keep Granderson and let him walk in 2014. The OF free agent class this off season will probably be headlined by Josh Hamilton but I am sure the Yankees won’t be going after him. After Hamilton well there is not much exciting players. There have been reports that the Yankees could be interested in Cody Ross, and he wouldn’t be a bad signing on a short cheap deal. The Yankees also have Chris Dickerson who I think given the chance to play everyday can be a very good player for them. He has speed, he is a pretty good defender, he has a bit of power and a good bat. If need be the Yankees can move Gardner to CF and have Dickerson play LF and let Swisher play RF. Or they could keep Gardner at LF and Granderson at CF and Dickerson at RF, or get someone else, or keep Swisher.

The Yankees have some good OF prospects in the minor leagues, most notably Tyler Austin, but they are all still a couple of years away from coming up. In the meantime the Yankees need to make a decision, and it won’t be an easy one.

So here is the question. If you were the Yankees what would you do? Who would you keep?? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Phelps critical piece for present and future.

After having a very good Spring Training for the Yankees, he won the 2012 James P. Dawson Award which is given to 1 outstanding rookie each year at Spring Training, Phelps made the team as the long-man. So far this year in the majors Phelps has put up some very good numbers, both in relief and in the starting role. Phelps has a 1-3 record, with a pretty good 2.89 ERA. In 43.2 innings pitched, Phelps has given up 37 hits, 15 runs, 14 earned runs, he was walked 17 and struck out 46, with a WHIP of 1.24. Those are pretty good numbers.

Phelos

Phelps has provided the Yankees not only with pitching depth but also with versatility. A starter in the minors, Phelps has pitched quite a few innings in relief for the Yankees this season. He is a guy that can give you some innings out of the bullpen if needed, but he is also a guy that can give you some starts. Earlier in the year Phelps got an opportunity to start as Freddy Garcia struggled as the number 5 starter. Before Andy Pettitte made his 2012 debut with the Yankees, Phelps made 2 starts and although he got the loss in one of them and a no decision in the other he still pitched well. First major league start against the Royals he gave up a couple of runs in 4 innings but his second start he went 5 innings and didn’t allow a run. Since Phelps had been working out of the bullpen before these starts he was not stretched out so he wasn’t able to go deeper into the games. But he did show the Yankees that he can indeed be Major league starter.

Now back with the team after getting sent down (Yankees wanted him to get some work in as a starter since he wasn’t really pitching out of the bullpen), Phelps is back with the team and hopefully he is here to stay. Yankees plan on using him out of the bullpen to give them some innings and “do the job Corey Wade used to do.” But don’t be surprised if Phelps is asked to start a few games until Pettitte returns from his injury, especially if Garcia continues to struggle.

Phelps

Presently, Phelps gives the Yankees options. But he is also an important part for the Yankees going forward. The Yankees want to get their payroll down to $189 million by 2014, and in order to achieve that goal they need their youngsters in the Minors to produce in the Majors. So far Phelps has shown that he can be successful in the Majors. By next year, the Yankees should give him an opportunity in Spring Training to fight for a spot in the rotation. Just 25 years old, Phelps cost is relatively low and he is under team control for quite some time, and the Yankees need that in order to achieve their payroll goals. Along with Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda (once he is healthy), Phelps would be another young, relatively cheap pitcher in the rotation. With the veteran Ace CC Sabathia leading the way, the Yankees could have a pretty good rotation. Knowing the Yankees they would probably want another veteran in there, but Phelps only adds to the pitching depth the Yankees could have and he is someone that can really help out his team.

David Phelps is someone the Yankees need to keep on their team because he is showing that he is a very valuable player for this team.

Yankees Starting Pitching key to success

The New York Yankees finally seem to have everything working for them as they beat the Nationals today 5-3 after 14 long innings to extend their win streak to eight. The bullpen has been very, very good, despite losing Mariano Rivera for the year,and David Robertson for a little bit over a month, although Robertson returned last night as he pitched the 9th inning in the Yankees 7-2 win. But now with “Houdini” back, the Yankees bullpen will only be stronger, as Soriano continues to dominate as the closer, and Robertson will continue his dominance in the eighth. Boone Logan and Corey Wade (despite giving up the game-tying Home run to Ian Desmond today in the 8th inning) have also been very good, along with Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada. The Yankee offense, despite having troubles with RISP, keep cranking out those homeruns, and Teixeira did get a double in the 14 th inning today, allowing Jeter and Nix to score to give the Yankees the lead. Granderson also had a big double yesterday to give the Yankees a bit of a cushion, so perhaps that is changing. But perhaps the biggest key to the Yankees success so far has been their starting pitching.

The Yankee starters have been excellent. According to fangraph.com, the last two weeks the Yankee starters have gone 10-1 with an excellent 1.83 ERA. Surprisingly the pitcher who has done the worst of the bunch has been CC Sabathia, who hasn’t been as sharp as he usually is this year but is still able to go out there and win ballgames for the Yankees. Ivan Nova has continued his winning ways and has pitched pretty well as of late. After a lot of up and down outings, Kuroda seems to have found a good groove. After coming back from retirement, Andy Pettitte has been very good for the Yankees, as he has provided great pitching for the Yankees and also great advice for the younger guys in the rotation, such as Phil Hughes who has seem to have found himself as of late. Hughes has won his last three decisions, starting with that exceptional performance against the Tigers where he threw 9 innings, while giving up only 1 run and 4 hits. After getting off to a slow start, Hughes seems much more confident out on the mound, as he has taken an “aggressive” approach, and also seems to have had make a bit of a mechanical adjustment, hiding his pitches a bit better to be more deceptive.

At the beginning of the year, the only sure thing in this rotation was Sabathia. Everyone else was just a bunch of question marks with huge potential, particularly Hughes. But now in June, with a third of the season over with, and the Yankees currently in first place, the rotation seems to have reached its potential. As always there is still rumors running around that the Yankees might be interested in possibly pitching trades for Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster or anyone else who might be available. But quite frankly the Yankee rotation is proving that it can be good and as long as everyone stays healthy they should be fine. They do have Freddy Garcia if they need him, though that is not that reassuring. But they also have David Phelps back in the minors, where he will be getting stretched out and continue getting his work done as a starter. Yankees also have Adam Warren who has been pitching very well if they need some help. Don’t forget the Killer B’s, although they have been struggling a bit, and they also have DJ Mitchell. Basically the Yankees should be good in the pitching department.

Ivan Nova takes the mound tomorrow as the Yankees try to extend their winning streak to nine in a row.

Yankees 6 Rays 7 – The Good, the Bad, and Mo

After months of waiting, Opening Day for the Yankees finally arrived. With a pitching match up of C.C. Sabathia vs James Shields, you knew it was going to be a great game. And it was, despite the fact that the Yankees lost in extra innings. It was actually the first time that the Yankees lost a Opening Day game in extra innings since 1980. So here is a look at some of the good things and the bad things.

THE GOOD:

1. Raul Ibanez

After a very slow Spring Training, Raul Ibanez showed some signs of life as he hit a 3 run HR off of Shields, to give the Yankees a 6 – 4 lead at the time.

2. Alex Rodriguez

After having another good Spring Training, Alex continued to hit the ball as he ended the day with a walk, a single and a double, while also scoring a couple of runs.

3. David Robertson

David Robertson came in to pitch the 8th inning, and made his Yankees 2012 debut with his famous “Houdini act”. After walking Sean Rodriguez and allowing a single to Carlos Pena, with no outs and 2 men on 1st and 3rd, Robertson struck out the next 3 batters to get out of the inning with the lead. Molina and Joe Maddon did help out David a bit as Molina attempted a suicide squeeze with 2 strikes but ended up fouling off the ball.

THE BAD:

There was probably more bad then good in this game, and it is only the 1st game of the season but some of these things are something the Yankees need to watch out for.

1. C.C. Sabathia

Now C.C. did not pitch well today, and neither did James Shields so there is some consolation in that. But its not all bad because as C.C always does, he kept the Yankees in the game and gave them a chance to win. Yes aces should win games, not keep their team “in the game” but C.C. did not really have his fastball command today, he got hit hard. But he still found a way to give us 6 innings and maintain the Rays at 5 runs.

2. Curtis Granderson

Although the Rays had some sort of shift for a lot of the Yankee players, they had one for Curtis Granderson tonight, and it seemed to hurt him because Granderson went 0-5. Hopefully this shift won’t be something that all the teams start using, but if it is, Granderson needs to start working on beating it.

3. The offense with RISP

Once again, the Yankees had quite a few opportunities to get a bigger lead and actually win the game, but they didn’t. They had the bases loaded twice and really didn’t do anything. They ended up 2-11 with RISP and stranded 10 runners. They did this a lot last year, and already this year they are not getting off to a good start.

After months of waiting, Opening Day for the Yankees finally arrived. With a pitching match up of C.C. Sabathia vs James Shields, you knew it was going to be a great game. And it was, despite the fact that the Yankees lost in extra innings. It was actually the first time that the Yankees lost a Opening Day game in extra innings since 1980. So here is a look at some of the good things and the bad things.

THE GOOD:

1. Raul Ibanez

After a very slow Spring Training, Raul Ibanez showed some signs of life as he hit a 3 run HR off of Shields, to give the Yankees a 6 – 4 lead at the time.

2. Alex Rodriguez

After having another good Spring Training, Alex continued to hit the ball as he ended the day with a walk, a single and a double, while also scoring a couple of runs.

3. David Robertson

David Robertson came in to pitch the 8th inning, and made his Yankees 2012 debut with his famous “Houdini act”. After walking Sean Rodriguez and allowing a single to Carlos Pena, with no outs and 2 men on 1st and 3rd, Robertson struck out the next 3 batters to get out of the inning with the lead. Molina and Joe Maddon did help out David a bit as Molina attempted a suicide squeeze with 2 strikes but ended up fouling off the ball.

THE BAD:

There was probably more bad then good in this game, and it is only the 1st game of the season but some of these things are something the Yankees need to watch out for.

1. C.C. Sabathia

Now C.C. did not pitch well today, and neither did James Shields so there is some consolation in that. But its not all bad because as C.C always does, he kept the Yankees in the game and gave them a chance to win. Yes aces should win games, not keep their team “in the game” but C.C. did not really have his fastball command today, he got hit hard. But he still found a way to give us 6 innings and maintain the Rays at 5 runs.

2. Curtis Granderson

Although the Rays had some sort of shift for a lot of the Yankee players, they had one for Curtis Granderson tonight, and it seemed to hurt him because Granderson went 0-5. Hopefully this shift won’t be something that all the teams start using, but if it is, Granderson needs to start working on beating it.

3. The offense with RISP

Once again, the Yankees had quite a few opportunities to get a bigger lead and actually win the game, but they didn’t. They had the bases loaded twice and really didn’t do anything. They ended up 2-11 with RISP and stranded 10 runners. They did this a lot last year, and already this year they are not getting off to a good start. Again, it is only the 1st game of the season, but this is the same problem the Yankees had last year, and they won’t win the WS if they keep leaving RISP.

4. Joe Girardi

Yeah Joe Girardi is in the bad today. Joe usually is a very good manager, but sometimes he over manages. Sometimes he relies too much on his little binder instead of going with his gut. In the 1st inning C.C. got into some trouble. After walking Desmond Jennings, allowing a single to Evan Longoria, with two outs and two on, Joe decides to tell C.C. to intentionally walk Sean Rodriguez to get to Carlos Pena. Why? Because Sean Rodriguez has a higher career avg against C.C. then Carlos. But Carlos is clearly the more dangerous hitter. But instead, Joe went with the numbers and he payed for it, because Carlos ended up hitting a Grand Slam which temporarily gave the Rays a 4-0 lead.

Then there was the 9th inning. Mariano came up and you would expect the Yankees to win the game. But with a 1 run lead anything can happen. And it did. Mariano did not have good command and so he struggled. After a single by Desmond Jennings and then a triple by Ben Zobrist which ended up tying the game, Joe decided to make things more complicated. With no outs, he tells Mo to intentionally walk Evan Longoria AND Luke Scott. So now the bases are loaded and there are no outs. It basically felt like Joe wanted to lose the game. He then decided to take Swisher out of the game and bring in Eduardo Nunez. So now with 5 infielders and 2 outfielders, Mo does manage to strike out Sean Rodriguez, but once again here comes Carlos, and you could just tell the game was over for the Yankees. How could it not be? And of course, Carlos Pena gets the game winning hit, and the Rays win.

5. Mariano Rivera

Yes MO is also in the bad because he blew the save. But it happens.

So there we have it, the good and the bad. The best thing about this game though was that it was a nail bitter from beginning to end. It almost felt like a playoff game, and its only the 1st game of the season. No matter whats happens, baseball is back and we need to enjoy each and every game:)