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By Matthew B.
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As we all know by now, Bobby Valentine just can’t seem to keep his thoughts to himself once he puts on the Boston Red Sox hat. News broke out last week that Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was retiring, but while talking about Jason Varitek (as if he had managed him before) he took jabs at Alex Rodriguez & Derek Jeter. Here is an excerpt from the article from ESPN New York:
So Valentine dug in today, and, in praising the retiring Jason Varitek, he lauded him for beating up Alex, as in Al B. Al, Alex Rodriguez:
“From afar, he was everything you want a guy who wears a ‘C’ to be,” Valentine said of Varitek, according to our teammate, Gordon Edes. “He was a man’s man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. (Pause). He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”
Now I may not be an expert at baseball, but I do know for a fact that beating up Alex Rodriguez is unsportsmanlike conduct, something that doesn’t exactly makes a player a “man’s man.” Valentine also took a cheap shot at Derek Jeter about the tremendous play he made in the 2001 ALDS (An American League Division series that the Red Sox were not apart of.) Here’s another excerpt from the article:
Earlier today, Valentine took a shot at Derek Jeter’s legendary cutoff in the 2001 ALDS against the A’s:
“We’ll never practice that,”’ Valentine said, again according to Gordon. “I think [Jeter] was out of position and the ball gets [Giambi] out if [Jeter] doesn’t touch it, personally.”
For one thing, none of the Red Sox players can even make the same play that Derek Jeter made, so I don’t understand the reason Bobby Valentine felt it was necessary to comment on Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter is baseball. Derek Jeter’s a legend. Don’t criticize a move that you could never make yourself.
Here’s some advice Bobby V: manage your team. You’re the manager of the Boston Red Sox, not the New York Yankees so why take shots at a team you don’t even manage? Yankees fans are already sick of the pre-season taunting which sounds as if it has all bark and no bite action. Also another thing Bobby; chicks dig the rings. Call us when you get 27 rings (or if you actually win a World Series) and then we’ll take your comments seriously.
To read the ESPN article Click Here
It’s been written recently that Brian Cashman has been attempting to get Russell Martin signed to a 2-year extension on top of the $7.5M owed him this year. The total deal would run though the 2014 season and was said to be for 3 years and $20 Million. That contract looks very reasonable after seeing the monster 5 yr – $70-75M deal Yadier Molina is looking at.
However, with Francisco Cervelli & Austin Romine on the team, I think the Yanks can afford to “wait and see” how Martin produces this year and worse case scenario offer him the roughly$12.5M arbitration offer required for 1st round compensation under the new CBA.
The guy they need to be talking extension with NOW is Robinson Cano. Cano is without a doubt the team’s best player. In this period of decreasing offense around MLB, he is a valuable commodity – a perennial .300+ hitter with 25+ HR & 40+ Doubles power who plays Gold Glove caliber defense at a premium up-the-middle position. He’ll finally assume the #3-spot in the lineup he should have been at 2 years ago and I expect his production will only increase hitting 3rd all yr between Granderson & ARod.
Cano is 29 years old and due to some foresight by Cashman is still signed for this yr and next under the extension he signed in February 2008. Without that extension Cano would have been a Free Agent after 2011 but is instead locked up under team options at the affordable prices of $14M this yr and $15M next.
You may be saying, why look to extend Cano now when he has 2 affordable yrs left? The answer is length of contract. With 2 more years of premium production, Robinson will be entering Free Agency in 2014 heading into his 31-yr old season. Based on similar deals given out in recent years, a hitter like Cano who has the advantage of being extremely durable and playing 2B will be looking at a minimum of $20M per year over 7-8 years.
As indispensable as Cano is, do the Yanks really want to lock up another player to a huge contract into his late 30’s? The way team’s are spending money these days, and with Boras as his agent, the Yanks won’t be getting any hometown discounts so we’ll be looking at paying another player $20m+ when he’s 37 & 38 yrs old. As we have seen with Giambi & Posada and now with Jeter & ARod, these albatross contracts can be very inhibiting. So to avoid paying Cano $20M+ til he’s 38, Cashman should strike now. Rip up his remaining deal and offer the same 7-8 year deal now for around $20M and you essentially shave the last 2 years off the deal and have Cano only up to his 35 or 36-yr old season.
With Cano’s durability (5 straight years of 159+ games) and consistency, the risk of signing him now as opposed to 2 yrs from now is small. The only added cost would be paying him $20M this yr and next, so a net cost of $11M more. That is a small price to pay to lock Cano up now through his age 35 season and not have to pay him to 37 or 38. By waiting til 2014, they would also risk having to pay him much more than $20M per season if he raises his production the next 2 year like I think he will hitting in the 3-hole for the first time.
Cano is clearly the class of the Yankees now and with Montero being traded, he is the team’s only pure hitter in his prime capable of hitting .300 with power over the next few years. Cashman made a great move in 2008 by signing Cano to an extension that has saved the team millions. He needs to do the same now or risk being held hostage by Boras in 2014 and repeating the cycle of paying $20M+ to players into their late 30s. What does everyone think?
Conversation about the Yankees this spring has been dominated by pitching. Bolstered by the acquisitions of pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, the 2012 rotation appears to be the strongest that the Yankees have possessed since the championship season of 2009. In addition to the strengthened rotation the Yankees possess one of the best, if not the best, bullpens in baseball. There is plenty to be optimistic about in regards to the arms the Yankees will rely upon this season.
With all of the pitching talk there has been less discussion of the Yankee lineup. Part of the reason for that is that there isn’t much new to discuss about this veteran lineup where the youngest player will be twenty-eight year old Brett Gardner. The only other Yankee in the starting lineup under the age of thirty will be Robinson Cano. Jorge Posada’s retirement in January lead to last week’s signing of Raul Ibanez, who will be part of a platoon at DH. Ibanez is expected to be in the lineup at DH vs left-handed starters. Andruw Jones is expected to be in the lineup vs. right-handed starters along with some appearances in the DH slot by Alex Rodriguez when he gets rest from playing the field. Other than the change at DH, the Yankee lineup will be same as it was in 2011.
2011 was a good offensive season for Yankees. They finished second in the AL in runs scored with 867, fifth in the AL in batting average at .263, second in the AL in OBP at .343, and third in the AL in slugging percentage and OPS at .444 and .788 respectively. A similar performance by the Yankee offense this year would figure to make them tough to beat with their improved rotation. So why does it feel like something is missing in the Yankee lineup?
Although Jesus Montero only appeared in 18 games last season, his absence from the Yankee lineup feels bigger than that of the loss of a player who only appeared in September. Montero displayed opposite field power and vast potential while hitting .328/.406 last September. His power/BA/OBP blend was expected to give the 2012 Yankee lineup a big boost and an injection of youth this season. With Montero now a member of the Seattle Mariners after being the centerpiece of the Pineda deal, the Yankees will have to look for stability and improvement in the lineup from the same group as last year. This has some folks nervous, as this lineup has failed to get the job done in the postseason the last two years and is now a year older.
Do the Yankees have enough firepower in the lineup to win it all this year or will GM Brian Cashman look to make a deadline deal for a bat?
Another look at all the Yankee Blogs and linking an article from each. Enjoy give them all read.
* An A-blog for A-Rod asks how does nobody claim Chris Dickerson.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue is worried by the innings load of Pineda and Nova.
* It’s about the Money Stupid has ranked the top 30 Yankee prospects check it out.
* New York Baseball Digest wonders if it was wise to table the negotiations for Martin till the end of the season.
* Pinstripe Alley mentions that Jeter will turn 38 in June and is that a cause for concern?
* River Ave Blues has the 2012 Yankees preview. Mike Axisa does a great job with this it’s worth a read.
* The Captain’s Blog asks if it’s time for the Yankees to extended Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson?
* The Yankee Analysts got together to rank the top 20 prospects.
After watching Brett Gardner play since 2008, there is one thing that Yankee fans have noticed: Brett Gardner plays nitty gritty baseball. Gardner tends to somehow end up on the ground in every game, whether he is on the base paths or if he is in the outfield. Also if there was something that Yankee fans noticed during the 2010 & 2011 season was that Gardner saw more playing time as the starting LF. But the more that I have observed Gardner, I noticed that during the end of the year, Gardner tends to slow down and show fatigue. Obviously every player experiences fatigue but I get the feeling that the number of games + the way Gardner plays baseball might be the reason that his fatigue might be more obvious than other players.
In 2011, Gardner was able to erase the horrid start he had…from May to July at least. Here are Gardner’s numbers from May-July:
May: .301 AVG, .379 OBP, .373 SLG
June: .317 AVG, .404 OBP, .463 SLG
July: .289 AVG, .361 OBP, .371 SLG
Now let’s take a look at Gardner’s #’s from August & September (be warned, they aren’t pretty):
If you had told me back in October that Raul Ibanez would be the Yankees’ DH, I’d call you crazy. Jesus Montero was finally ready for a full season in New York, and with Jorge Posada either retiring or certainly not returning, the DH was probably the least of the Yanks’ concerns.
Sure enough, a blockbuster trade on January 13th that sent Montero to Seattle left Yankee fans scratching their heads and asking, “who’s the DH now?”.
Well, over a month later, we have our answer – 40 year old Raul Ibanez.
The former star of the Seattle Mariners, Ibanez is coming off his final season in Philadelphia where he batted .256 against righties with 16 home runs and a .440 slugging percentage. I’m not that big on analytics, so that’s as far I’ll go with the stats, but it’s clear to me Ibanez is not the same player he once was and is not the best fit for the Yankees’ DH, in my opinion.
Granted, $1 million for 400 at-bats is a steal, and Johnny Damon, though seemingly out of all other options, still was reportedly demanding somewhere around $5 million. And his quest for 3,000 is probably the last thing the Yankees want to go through again, as Christian Lopez is still in the process of receiving 50% of Modell’s ownership. (I kid)
But Damon is 38, a couple years younger than Ibanez, and though many people don’t like this “factor” – he’s played in New York before, and won a championship too. He knows exactly what to expect in playing for the Yanks, and if the big excuse by Cashman for not signing Damon is for his defense, it makes him look stupid. Why is Cashman looking at situational fielding when picking a DH? And since when is Ibanez, at age 40, so much a better fielder than Damon, who is a lot faster and more athletic?
Anyway, you probably can tell by now I wanted Damon back. I feel that he still has more left in the tank than Ibanez, and could play a couple more seasons at DH if the Yanks can’t find a new one for 2013 and so on. But I guess I have to accept that Ibanez is the guy, so let’s try to look on the bright side, which there is for the 40-year old.
While Ibanez’s once electric bat speed is no more, whenever a left-handed pull hitter comes to Yankee Stadium, production is almost guaranteed. The short porch in right would have added more power to any of the veteran DH options that were on the Yankees radar. And with Ibanez, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his home run and double totals increase as well. Citizens Bank Park is by no means a pitcher’s park, but a move to 161st and River Ave. should benefit Ibanez as far as becoming a better overall hitter.
So what’s my final thought on the Raul Ibanez signing? Honestly, though I still think Damon is the better overall player, Ibanez will produce nicely for the Yankees and should fit in batting somewhere 6th or 7th, depending on the production of Nick Swisher. 15-20 home runs and 60-80 RBI are not out of the question, and maybe even likely because of him playing in Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees get that out of Ibanez, it’ll be a great one-year relationship in New York.
Oh, and by the way, I’m Brian D. One of the new writers on the blog. Hope to be talking with you all soon! Go Yankees!