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Yankees Offseason Notes: February 12 = Spring Training!

So for all of you Yankees fans that can’t wait until the Yankees get back in action, here’s some good news for you–this year, your wait for baseball will be shorter. Yes, Pitchers and catchers will report on February 12th, 2013 and games will start on February 23rd. Why so early for Spring Training games? The answer is simple: the World Baseball Classic is in March, meaning that teams that aren’t from the USA will play against–the USA. Also a special treat, the Yankees will host the Dominican Republic baseball team and Robinson Cano will play for the DR team (it’s just one game vs. the Yankees so I’m sure that it will be fine). Here’s some more information (along with the schedule for this Spring Training season):

Pitchers and Catchers report: February 12, 2013
First Workout: February 13, 2013
Position Players report: February 17, 2013
Team Workout: February 18, 2013

Spring Training Schedule

February 23:  New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista @ 1:05pm)
February 24: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
February 25: New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota @ 1:05pm)
February 26: New York Yankees @ Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater @ 1:05pm)
February 27: Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
February 28: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm) (ss)
February 28: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros (Kissimmee @ 1:05pm)  (ss)
March 1: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 2: Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 3: New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox  (Ft. Myers @ 1:05pm)
March 4: OFF DAY 
March 5: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 6: Dominican Republic vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 7: New York Yankees @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter @ 1:05pm)
March 8: New York Yankees @ Miami Marlins (Jupiter @ 1:05pm)
March 9: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 10: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin @ 1:05pm)
March 11: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 12: New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte @ 1:05pm)
March 13: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 14: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin @ 1:05pm)
March 15: Miami Marlins vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 16: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm) (ss)
March 16: New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista @ 5:05pm) (ss)
March 17: New York Yankees @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton @ 1:05pm)
March 18: OFF DAY
March 19: New York Yankees @ Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater @ 1:o5pm)
March 20: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:o5pm)
March 21: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 22: New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins (Ft. Meyers @ 1:05pm)
March 23: New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers (Lakeland @ 1:o5pm)
March 24: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 25: OFF DAY
March 26: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 27: New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota @ 7:05pm)
March 28: New York Yankees vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)

In Other News:

— The Yankees are still waiting on an answer from Kevin Youkilis. We can expect an answer in the coming days.

— The Yankees are closer in a one year deal for Ichiro, which could fill the RF hole if Ichiro can play a full year. The signing could also give the Yankees some leverage if they ever wanted to trade Curtis Granderson and sign Josh Hamilton.

— Also, the Yankees opted out of their contract with StubHub (I am personally outraged), and I ask myself–was stopping the contract between the Yanks and StubHub really necessary? Shouldn’t they be busy putting a team on the field instead of trying to find more ways to get money out of everyone’s pockets?

Yankees Offseason Notes: Gardner returns to OF for 2013 season

The Yankees didn’t add anyone new today but they did lock up someone for the 2013 season–their prized outfielder. The New York Yankees and Brett Gardner both agreed to a one year contract, avoiding arbitration. According to sources, Gardner is expected to make $2.8 Million in 2013 since he was sidelined for most of the 2012 season with an elbow injury. Now that Gardner has been officially signed to the club for the ’13 season, the speculation can begin on whether or not the Yankees plan to move Gardner to CF and Granderson to LF (should Granderson be with the team for the ’13 season). I personally believe that the Yankees should move Gardner to CF since you would want your best defensive outfielder in center, but that’s up to the Yankees to decide.

In Other News:

— The Yankees have conducted a background check on FA Josh Hamilton, which speculates that the Yankees have interest in the outfielder. However, the Yankees have to understand that signing Hamilton could be risky with his injury history. Signing Hamilton could also be quite expensive unless the Yankees plan on trading Granderson to free up some cash. It’s honestly been a dream of mine to see Hamilton in pinstripes. Heck, it was a dream of mine to see Cliff Lee in pinstripes when Lee was a free agent. But that’s all what those scenarios are–dreams.

— The Yankees haven’t heard back from Kevin Youkilis as of yet since placing a one year, $12 Million contract offer on the table. Youkilis was at a charity event last night in Boston so Youkilis’s decision might not be for another couple of days. Even if Youkilis signed with the Yankees–there will always be a bit of Boston in his blood. He’s married to the sister of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Thought I’d share that piece of information.

Right Field Options for 2013

On November 13, 2008 Brian Cashman made one of his finer trades as the Yankees GM. He traded Wilson Betemit and minor league pitchers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez to the White Sox in exchange for Nick Swisher. Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago batting .219, with 24 HR’s 69 RBI, and a .743 OPS. Swisher clashed with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen who played Swisher out of position by playing him in center field. He also had him out of position in the lineup by having him lead off in 29 games. Swisher has revitalized his career with the Yankees, but some are questioning whether his postseason struggles will leave him looking for a new team in 2013.

Swisher has been a really solid player for the Yankees for the last 3 years. He has provided the team with great energy, has hit for good power, and has gotten on base a lot. He is a fan favorite among many and I think upper management has a real affinity for him as well.  I have sat in right field for some games and he is quite entertaining out there. It is hard not to love him. However, the big issue with him has pretty much been an automatic out in the postseason. He has hit .169 in his career in the postseason with 4 HR’s, 6 RBI, and .617 OPS.  Whether to give up on a guy who produces in the regular season but not in the post season is always a hot button issue with fans and is a really tough issue.  Read the rest of this entry

AL is Loaded

Despite the National League winning the last two championships, the American League has always been considered the dominant league. That gap has widened even further this offseason. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, two of the NL’s biggest slugger’s, have gone over to the AL and will make the competition ever fiercer. Also, the Yankees got what most people would consider a number two starter in Michael Pineda to further bolster the team that led the AL in wins last year.  There are likely six teams that will fight for four playoff spots, without considering a surprise team cropping up.  With the addition of the second wild card team winning the division will be of utmost importance for the Yankees.

The battle for the Yankees to get into the playoff will probably come down to five teams for three spots as I see the Tigers as a virtual lock to win the AL Central. They won it by 15 games last year and that was without Prince Fielder. In fact if you asked me right now I would say they are the team to beat in the entire AL. I know they will have issues on defense, but when Fielder and Miguel Cabrera hit over .310, with about 35 HR’s, and about 115 RBI each it will not matter as much. They also have a very nice top of the rotation in Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer and a very good back end of the bullpen.

The Yankees will in all likelihood be battling the Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, and Angels for the other 3 playoff spots. Right now I would consider the Yankees the favorite in the AL East.  They won it last year with 97 wins and improved more than the Red Sox or the Rays did with the addition of Michael Pineda. I would consider the Rays a close 2nd and the Red Sox 3rd. The Sox have issues all over the diamond right now. Their outfield is a mess right now as Carl Crawford might not be ready to start the year and they still have a hole in RF, even though they signed Cody Ross.  I do not understand them replacing Marco Scutaro with Mike Aviles at SS. They still have issues at the backend of the rotation as nobody knows how Daniel Bard will transform to the rotation.  Their backend of the bullpen is also completely new and will have to prove themselves. Meanwhile, the Rays might have the best rotation in MLB and I like the acquisition of Carlos Pena to provide more power to their offense.  But, the Yankees definitely have the edge over the Rays in offense and bullpen and they are not that far off in the rotation, which I think puts them over the top.                                

If the Yankees were to not win the AL East they will face a stiff competition for the wild card spots and not just from the AL East. Whoever doesn’t win the AL West between the Angels and Rangers will be battling for the wild card spots. The Angels greatly improved themselves with the additions of C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. They also have one of the best rotations in the MLB led by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana.  The Rangers have one of the best offenses in MLB led by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, and Elvis Andrus. Yu Darvish will try to replace Wilson in the rotation and Neftali Feliz will make an interesting jump to the rotation. Both of these teams are legitimate threats to the Yankees.

As you can see the AL will be an absolute dogfight this year with all of these talented teams. All of this is subject to change of course with injuries and trades. You also know their will be a surprise team that will compete who I did not talk about. The Yankees have their work cut out for them in the AL this year, but if they play to their potential they should not have much of a problem.

Some Thoughts on Nick Swisher

Via Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York:

In the winter of 2008, the Yankees’ stats guru, Michael Fishman, entered GM Brian Cashman’s office.

“Fish walks into my office and says, ‘I think we have a great buy-low candidate,’” Cashman recalled. “’He just had an unlucky year.’ I look at this guy and I say, ‘Unlucky year?’”………………………..“Listen,” Cashman recalled Fishman saying. “There are eight defenders on the field, sometimes you just hit them where they are. I’m telling you, as long as he is healthy, he is going to bounce back.”

Cashman, with a huge assist from Fishman, has been proved correct. Getting Swisher for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez has been a steal.

Was Swish a steal? Absolutely! He has provided solid offensive production and respectable defense for the Yankees while being a great clubhouse leader and  fan favorite. Michael Fishman who used stats and spreadsheets to see where his hits went, noticed that when he was hitting the ball it was just right at the position players. Swisher did turn it around in his first year with the Yankees. He raised his average from .219 to .249 and had 14 more doubles and 13 more RBI’s. Besides his disappearing act in the postseason, Swish has been a good Yankee – undoubtedly a steal.

The next quote from the article had me fall out of my chair

Swisher will likely see himself in Werth’s class. Werth is in the midst of his unfathomable seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals. There is basically no chance the Yankees will come near that.

I can’t believe he is comparing Swisher to Werth in the first place – but then suggesting that Swisher will get that kind of contract is absurd. Let’s compare Werth’s stats that year (2010) with Swisher’s stats this past season and you might agree that there is no way Swisher can get that kind of contract.

Besides how Werth dominates in all those statistics, another thing that Swisher has going against him is that he will be just one of many free-agent outfielders. That list includes the likes of Andre Ether, Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young, Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, and Shane Victorino. Because there will be so many other options out there, Swish will have much less leverage and I doubt he could come close to Werth’s contract. So, what are your thoughts? What kind of contract do you think Swisher will get next offseason?