Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 New Year's resolutions for Yankees players, coaches and management

Last season, I wrote that the New York Yankees’ 2015 New Year’s resolution should be to stay the course with their future roster planning and by most measures they did just that. For the organization, I would recommend much of the same for 2016. The transition is in full effect, but will continue to envelop the next couple of seasons to be seen through to fruition.

With that in mind – that’s not much of a blog post – I’ll take a stab at what individuals within the organization should resolve to accomplish in 2016.

The 40-man roster:

Dustin Ackley – drill at least two pinch-hit game-winning homers.

Carlos Beltran – hit, hit and hit because he cannot field, field or field.

Dellin Betances – put out fires and rescue teammates, but now one inning earlier.

Greg Bird – make the most of his 400+ plate appearances whenever/however they come.

Starlin Castro – wash away the memories of two years the Yankees lost at second base.

Aroldis Chapman – wear out a bunch of catcher’s mitts.

Jacoby Ellsbury – EARN a paycheck.

Nathan Eovaldi – boost average number of pitches per start to 105; some strikeouts would be nice too.

Brett Gardner – remember how to steal bases and be consistent for full season.

Didi Gregorius – continue to build on progression; how about an All-Star appearance?

Chase Headley – YIPS be gone!

Aaron Hicks – be ready to fill in all over the outfield.

Brian McCann – 25 homers, 90 RBIs, top-10 pitch framer and top-10 throwing runners out…no problem right?

Andrew Miller – replicate the 2015 season, albeit with less saves.

Bryan Mitchell – be the new Adam Warren.

Ivan Nova – be elsewhere.

Michael Pineda – eclipse 200 innings for first time in career.

Rob Refsnyder – provide value to Yankees as trade piece.

Alex Rodriguez – continue to age gracefully.

CC Sabathia – eek some value out of his massive…$alary

Luis Severino – electrify the fans every fifth day; we’ve been waiting.

Masahiro Tanaka – avoid surgery…again.

Mark Teixeira – one last hurrah and one last paycheck.

Austin Romine – maintain the lead role in Scranton and nothing against him, hope we don’t see him until September.

Gary Sanchez – take the next step which is to learn from McCann.

Chasen Shreve – show up this spring as the Shreve we saw through August of 2015 and stay that way.

Nick Goody, Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, Branden Pinder and Nick Rumbelow – take turns filling the gas tank for the SWB/NY shuttle.

Ben Gamel, Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams – keep growing boys; if anything is needed from you, there is likely trouble in New York.


Brian Cashman – maintain stealth mode and continue the organization down the chosen path. It will work.

Alan Cockrell – hope his job lasts more than one year.

Joe Girardi – try not to wear out a path from the dugout to the mound by May 1 and trust the youth.

Larry Rothschild – help Eovaldi and Severino take the next step to stardom, and generate the most out of the rest of the rotation.

Hal Steinbrenner – be ready to reinvest when the right opportunity presents itself; it’s part of the process.

If you have any quips of your own leave them in the comments below. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2016.

Logo courtesy of

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Cauldron: Who offers better value: Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton?

Contrary to the widely held belief that Major League Baseball teams can spend without abandon, when it comes to $100 million-plus contracts, there are plenty of risk-reward conversations to be had. When two players seeking similar deals possess comparable skill sets, the investigation goes beyond mere models of performance evaluation.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shed no tears for Justin Wilson…or any setup man for that matter

The New York Yankees are certainly not losing sleep after trading left-handed reliever Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for two minor league starters, Luis Cessa and Chad Green, and nor should you.

Justin Wilson
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavila III
A bullpen is important, no doubt, especially in this day when teams value dominance at the back end of games. Wilson, 28, is not dominant. He’s pretty good, but he’s also a nightmare waiting to happen.

Wilson owns a career 8.7 K/9 (it’s been over 9.1 per nine the last two seasons) and it is good that he does because his walk rate (3.7 per nine) necessitates it. In my view, this is a player who can have a great season, but can also look pretty bad. His career suggests as much as well.

After a good 2013 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2.08 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9), Wilson was mediocre for them in 2014 (4.20 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9). The Bucs traded Wilson to the Yankees for Francisco Cervelli.

Wilson did a fine job with the Yankees last season (3.10 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9), but it was sometimes like walking a tightrope. One glaring concern was Wilson’s groundball rate dropping from 53 percent in 2013, to 51.3 percent in 2014 and finally to 43.8 percent last season. Declining groundball rates are not a good thing for a pitcher in Yankee Stadium.

The Yanks used a position of strength – having three lefty setup relievers on the roster to fall back on in Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and James Pazos. Not all three will break into the bullpen at the same time, but at least two could (likely Shreve and Lindgren), and all three have as much ability as Wilson, and Lindgren might have more upside.

Setup men are a dime a dozen. Why rely on an arm that is so inconsistent, when the club could extract value of deepening its upper-level minor league starters? The Yankees shouldn’t, and didn’t. In my view, there was little risk here.

Now, we shouldn’t expect Cessa or Green to amount to top-flight starters either. Cessa moved into the Yankees top-30 minor leaguers (No. 19) according to Pipeline. Besides Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell, the closest to big-league-ready rotation arms that the Yankees had were Brady Lail (37 IP at Triple-A) and Rookie Davis (33.1 IP at Double-A). Cessa and Green fill a void at the least and do not leave the Yankees hanging in the bullpen.

The club can figure out the bullpen from the wealth of arms already on the roster (Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody among those already mentioned), or they can continue to build via trades or low-level free agent signing.

Justin Wilson was a nice piece in 2015, but I cannot imagine his departure truly affecting the Yankees in 2016 or beyond.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yankees unsurprisingly quiet at start of Winter Meetings

As the New York Yankees headed to Nashville, Tennessee, they proclaimed to be invested in speaking with other teams about trades, but lay on the periphery of the free agent market. The club has been vocal about their roster – and budget – being filled, making the first day of quiet around the club unsurprising.

Rumors of Brett Gardner and/or Andrew Miller being on the move have begun to subside. It seems that Gardner’s value is not as high as it has been in the past, while Miller’s value might be better on the club versus off it. The Yankees will continue to listen on all players, but expecting them to make a big trade seems less likely if one of those two players is not involved. The club has often professed they do not have an interest in trading their top prospects, especially those close to helping on the major league level.

An uninspiring free agent rumor

The Yankees, while not expected to be big spenders, are still going to be part of rumors. It’s more fun if the Yankees’ money is involved in the free agent market, so the club will be linked to several players. Monday, brought a rumor from FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi about Asdrubal Cabrera as a potential fit at second base.

Cabrera, a 30-year-old switch hitter prefers to play shortstop, but would be willing to play second base. My issue with Cabrera is about wasting two to three years with an aging player, who does not present a significant upgrade over the possible platoon option of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder. This is an boring and unnecessary add in my opinion. The Yanks can obtain depth at a much better price.

From the “trade that will never happen” rumor mill

The Yankees reportedly called the Miami Marlins about starting pitcher Jose Fernandez. It would take well more than a proposed Miller-led deal seen here, but later in the day the Marlins publically stated that Fernandez was not on the trading block. At least for now.

Will Yankees finally ink Cliff Lee?

This one is speculative at best, and there is nothing out there suggesting this will go anywhere. The Yankees have forever been interested in Lee, having turned down a trade for him years ago when he was a top of the line starter. Lee, who has not pitched since 2014 due to a flexor tendon tear of which he rehabbed, is looking for a one-year MLB contract. No fewer than 15 teams have deemed to have interest in him. Could the Yankees be among them?

The short answer is maybe. Lee does want to sign with a winner. At 37 years old, winning is important to Lee and guaranteed cash doesn’t hurt, both things the Yankees can provide. I believe the Yankees would have been much more interested if Lee could be obtained on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Adding Lee creates a log jam in the rotation, and by all accounts the Yanks are looking to do that only if they can find a young, controllable starter with some upside. Lee is not that, and has injury baggage, so I wouldn’t expect this happening.

We’ll see what Tuesday brings, but don’t expect much excitement from the Yankees. Of course, as I write that watch the Yanks surprise everyone with a big deal.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Yankees' strategy for Winter Meetings differs from their fans' desires

The chasm is closing, but some fans still want it all, and want it now.

Hal Steinbrenner
Photo credit: Jeffrey Putman via Flickr
When the New York Yankees vowed to try and drop below the luxury tax threshold in 2012, many fans couldn’t understand how such a valuable franchise could think about penny-pinching where it concerned building their roster.

Gone are the days of the old patriarch of spending, George Steinbrenner III. His son Hal believed then, and trusts now, that the Yankees do not need to maintain a $200 million payroll to win. Yet, that’s exactly where they still stand because of the free agent splurge two offseasons ago that brought Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka aboard combined with the massive contracts of Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira that were already on the books.

The Yankees now operate from the vision of spending big on the free agent market when there is significant money coming off the books in the same season, as they did before the 2014 season. That’s not happening this offseason with only $12 million departing, but $38.125 million is gone after this season (Beltran and Teixeira) and another $46 million after 2017 (Sabathia and A-Rod).

As they did last offseason, the Yankees seek to get younger and more athletic via the trade market this winter. In their minds, any free agent pickup will be on a smaller scale, and more likely of the minor league, non-roster spring-training-invite variety of player for depth purposes.

While the Yankees have been extremely vocal about their new methodology, there are plenty of fans who remain just as outspoken about the club’s unwillingness to go after every big-time free agent that fits a need. The Yankees are trying to be a bit more financially responsible, but some fans only see high ticket prices and reports the franchise is among the most valuable in all of sports.

As Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and his team ready for the Winter Meetings, he’s sticking to the assertion that the roster is complete, but any moves that would upgrade the roster will be fully investigated. Cashman spoke with reporters Friday morning as he prepped for his annual rappel down the side of a Stamford, CT building for a charity event to be held Sunday evening.

“I feel that we have a good, strong process,” Cashman said via LoHud’s Chad Jennings. “We’ve evolved. We’ve grown. The way I do business today is radically different than the way I did business back in the day, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of how we’ve moved forward, despite (the fact that) as you’re going through the turbulence of remaking your 25-man roster with all the variables that go into that, I know patience is important. I trust our process. I believe in it. 
“Do we currently have the ability to play on every available talent that pops up in the sightlines? The answer is, no. We’re not in a position right now to take a shot at anything that comes along, but I’m pleased with the shots we have taken and I’m proud of those results. We’re hoping to continue to pile up a collection of those type of acquisitions that will benefit this place as we move forward.”

While the Yankees are chatting with other clubs next week, the subjects discussed from their side will be Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller and of course the prospects the club would rather not part. Gardner and Miller are the easiest contracts for other teams to take on which provide some upside in Gardner’s case, and plenty of it in Miller’s.

The hitch is that the Yankees want young, controllable starting pitching and Gardner or Miller alone will not be sufficient. I’ve written recently that Gardner makes the most sense to trade, but there is a chance that both could be dealt. If Gardner goes with prospects for the starter the Yankees want, then Miller could be the tool to recoup assets. Cashman simply stated that it is more likely that Gardner and Miller are staying in New York, but that things could change.

Look, the point is this. The Yankees are not going to react to the Boston Red Sox trading for Craig Kimbrel and signing David Price for $217 million. Boston has made a splash for the second year in a row and the Yankees did not respond in kind last offseason. I would not expect them to this winter.

The Yankees have question marks; there is no doubt about that. They have a suspect rotation both from a performance and health perspective. Plus, they have multiple players who have to come through with big 2016 seasons that we cannot realistically expect from them. Does anyone anticipate Teixeira, Rodriguez AND Beltran to perform like they did last season at the plate? Can the Yankees hang their hats on a turnaround from Ellsbury and Chase Headley? How about a better second half from Gardner? Will Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder be the answer(s) at second base?

Despite all the open ends, the Yankees are locked into a payroll that will once again go beyond $200 million, costing the team another $20+ million in luxury tax costs. The team has decided that there is a limit and they’ve reached it. Once money comes off the books at the end of this season, if the right free agent is out there, they’ll try to sign him. If not, they’ll continue to try to develop talent of their own or trade for it, and look again after 2016 when more cash leaves the payroll.

The Yankees are trying to refrain from the same long-term mistakes (Sabathia and Ellsbury, and to a lesser extent, A-Rod and Teixeira). So, be happy or be upset, that’s your choice as a fan. I for one, agree with the methodology and I'm willing to wait for the changes to show results.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.

The Cauldron: Is paying Ben Zobrist $60 million a good idea?

Hot off a spectacular second-half and inspiring postseason performance, resulting in a World Series title, Ben Zobrist was expected to receive multiple three-year offers with an average annual salary in the $14–15 million range. Earlier this week, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweeted that Zobrist’s market has climbed into, and may go beyond, the four-year, $60 million territory.

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