"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Hot Stove

Why Is This Man Smiling?

*Feb 21 - 00:05*

Because he’s going to sign a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners.

Love watching Cano play but I’m glad the Yanks didn’t sign him to that deal.

Hope Is the Thing With Ducats


Here’s a Friday baseball open thread fuh ya. While there is word that things aren’t going so smoothly for team Cano in Seattle Jon Heyman reports that the Yanks are close to signing our man Hiroki to a 1-year deal.

Boston to New York


Here’s our pal Leigh Montville on Ellsbury as a Yankee:

Ellsbury’s departure fits somewhere in the middle between Boggs and Damon. Like Damon, he is a more than competent centerfielder, romanced directly off a character-driven, long-haired world championship team. Unlike Damon, he was not the favored face. That belonged to David Ortiz, no argument. Ellsbury was in the second line of stars, high on a long list. Little kids loved him because of his size. Purists loved him because of his speed, his ability to steal a base and track down fly balls. Girls loved him because of his good looks. He was good, good, good, but not break-the-bank good.

There was a curious, season-long disconnect to close out his time in Boston. Despite all the good things he did during the championship run, there always was the sense he was going to leave. He was in the last year of his contract. His agent was Scott Boras, the same no-prisoners negotiator Johnny Damon used. The centerfielder would want the big years and the big money and the Red Sox would not outbid the other bidders. He was good, but not break-the-bank good. Everybody understood.

Unlike Boggs, Ellsbury’s departure would not be without sadness. He would have looked good in a Red Sox uniform for his entire career. Unlike Damon, though, his departure would not be a surprise. He never had promised anything. Everyone knew he was going for the top dollar.

The surprise — ah — would be the destination.

Bright Lights Big City


It’s less than 24 hours since the news broke–Jacoby Ellsbury is going to be a Yankee. So: Is this a good thing or not? He’s a fine player but he’s been hurt more than somewhat. Does this mean Cano is a goner or does it mean the Yanks know that Alex is in for a long suspension and hell with it, they’re going to sign Robbie as well?

We didn’t see this one coming, that’s for sure. But back to my pernt–it’s been less than a full day since we heard about this, which is more than enough time for people to weigh in on it.

Here’s the word from:

Ben Lindbergh

Dave Cameron

Albert Chen

Tyler Kepner

Jonathan Bernhardt

Mike Axisa

Michael Eder

I’ll update this as the reviews are filed today.

[Picture by Bags]




 Rockies Red Sox Baseball


What’s Cookin’?

 Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

According to Jeff Passan at Yahoo! the Yanks have no plans to give Robbie Cano a $200 million deal:

It’s not like Cano is the sort of marketing machine his team has portrayed him as in meetings with the Yankees and Mets. Beyond setting his price tag at more than $300 million in during-the-season negotiations, the biggest mistake thus far has been emphasizing the off-field exploits of Cano when reality says otherwise.

He didn’t stem hemorrhaging ticket sales or TV ratings during the Yankees’ down year. His jersey wasn’t exactly jumping off shelves; it ranked 19th in sales this season – and fifth in New York, behind Mariano Rivera, Matt Harvey, Derek Jeter and David Wright.

“We’re not the Brooklyn Nets,” one Yankees official said. “We don’t need Jay Z’s marketing expertise.”

The Yankees like to say that Dustin Pedroia re-signed with Boston for $110 million and Wright with the Mets for $138 million, but there is a difference: Cano is a free agent, and a premium exists with those free agents, even if New York is where he wants to be. And it is. Cano told friends in the Dominican Republic this season that he would re-sign with the Yankees, though perhaps he was expecting the dollar figure to be closer to the $200 million-plus that at one point the Yankees were believed to be willing to offer.


[Photo Credit: Marcus Haydock]

Yanks Ship Stewart to Pittsburgh

Chris Stewart

The Yanks have traded Chris Stewart to the Pirates for a player to be named later. Mike Axisa has the skinny.

Back-up catchers come and go and they tend to blur together in memory but Stewart was taut and hard–a prototype. Couldn’t hit but then again if he could he’d be a starting catcher. I enjoyed watching him work behind the plate. He has the GRRRRR that you want from a veteran catcher. Wish him well in Pittsburgh.

[Photo Credit: AP]

The Reviews Are In

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For the Brain McCann signing. Here’s the word from:



The New York Post. 

It’s About The Money, Stupid. 

River Ave. Blues. 


Risky Business?


The Yanks agreed to a 5-year deal with free agent catcher Brian McCann today. A physical is pending.

McCann has pop and is an upgrade if an expensive one. And, as Jon Taylor writes at SI.com, he was worked hard behind the plate in Atlanta.

At least we know he’s got a good game face.

Hey, if he’s on the team, wearing the pinstripes, I’m happy to root for him. Just remind me what was wrong with Russell Martin again?

[Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]

Dare, Dare

 New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Do the Yanks dare to let Robbie Cano go? No, they don’t. They’ll sign him. But Tyler Kepner thinks it is a decent idea:

Losing a superstar is not always as devastating as people fear at the time. Two winters ago, the St. Louis Cardinals watched Albert Pujols leave for a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. They responded by signing Carlos Beltran for two years, giving contract extensions to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and using their compensatory draft pick on Michael Wacha. Discipline sometimes works.

The Yankees are willing to give Cano $23 million or so for each of the next seven years, a $161 million package that is already too generous. That kind of deal has put the Yankees in their present state — decaying and injury-prone — and the team needs to break the cycle.

An influx of fresh talent from the farm system is the best way to start. The Yankees do not have those players, but that should not make them desperate. Desperate teams make the costliest mistakes.

[Image Via: Rob Tringali]

Comfortably Well Off

Ali Baba Bunny (10)

That’s what Robbie Cano will be once he signs a contract this winter. His asking price?

Okay, I know you needed a laugh.

Meanwhile, the Yanks signed Brendan Ryan and according to this report may want a reunion with Raul Ibanez.

Have Glove, Will Travel

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles

I know he can’t hit a lick but I really enjoyed watching Brendan Ryan in the field late last season and hoped that he might return in 2014. According to Joel Sherman the Yanks are close to signing him. I can’t tell you if it is a good move or a dumb move but I can tell you that I will enjoy watching him play short again next year.

[Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images]

Why Is This Man Smiling?

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Too Late

Division Series - St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates - Game Three

After the Red Sox won the Serious in 2004 our man Cliff almost wore his fingers to the bone typing about how the Yanks needed to sign Carlos Beltran. Instead, they went out and got Tony Womack, Jared Wright and Carl Pavano and insisted that there wasn’t enough leftover to pay for Beltran, who reportedly offered to sign for less than he eventually accepted from the Mets.

The Yanks blew it, Cliff wrote all winter and we agreed.

Now, the Yanks have interest in Beltran who is still a useful player.

Let me say on Cliff’s behalf, though not in his words: Too late fuck-o’s.

So Long?


Yeah, I don’t expect Hiroki to return either. His time with the Yanks will be short whether he comes back or not but he’s been a pleasure to root for.

[Photo Credit: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters]

Buyer Beware

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves

McCann: yea or nay?

International Men of Austerity

After the owners and players agreed on the most recent CBA, the Yankees, and everybody who followed the Yankees, saw there was a giant, flaming loophole begging to be jumped through in 2014. It’s entirely possible the loophole was forged and set aflame specifically to incentivize the Yankees to lower their payroll – temporarily or otherwise.

The Yankees, as gleeful, recidivist violators of the salary threshold, stand to be punished at ever-increasing rates according to the new CBA. However, if they get under the salary limit in 2014 ($189 million), they can reset their clock. The next time they go over, which we all hope and pray will be 2015, they will be punished as first time offenders and save a ton of dough.

Thus a goal was born in the winter of 2011 - to trim annual salary from the customary $210 million down to $189 million within two years. This is made more difficult because the Yankees owe a lot of money to CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in 2014, and Alex and Teix no longer play up to their paychecks. To field a World Series contender in 2014 would take creativity, starting right then and there.

Spending big on free agents isn’t as easy under these new constraints, but there are other ways to acquire talent. International free agents have no track record and less bargaining power, so their first contracts are often very reasonable. Posting fees don’t count towards the salary cap and the contracts that follow them are also very reasonable.

Of course without the Major League track record comes a huge risk of getting a crappy, Kei-Igawa-level talent. That’s why the Yankees usually have an advantage when it comes time to sign them; they can absorb that hit better than anyone else. The Yankees employed Hideki Irabu, Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Hideki Matsui and Kei Igawa via these routes and, on the whole, they received excellent return on their investments.

Two major players came down the pike just after the Yankees signed the CBA. The Oakland A’s Yoenis Cespedes was one of the best outfielders in the American League last year. He makes nine million dollars a year.

Rather than find out just how much ground Brett Gardner can cover, the Yankees just gave Ichiro Suzuki a two year commitment for $13 million. And now they’ve pumped more 2014 cash into Vernon Wells, where’s there’s plenty of room where his baseball talent used to be. There no question that Cespedes was a risk, but I have a hard time thinking he was a bigger risk of failure than the players who have already proven they have straight sucked eggs for the last two years.

Yu Darvish was hot topic around here last year and he divided the room. Japanese pitchers have faired poorly in the USA, though not universally, domo arigato Kuroda-san, and Darvish came attached to a big posting fee. He won 16 and struck out 221 in 191 innings for the Rangers. He walked too many and wasn’t a Cy Young candidate or anything, but he sure looks good at $9.3 million a year for the next five years. After one-year deals to Kuroda and Pettitte expire and Phil Hughes files for free agency, the 2014 rotation looks like CC Sabathia and a wishing well.

The Yankees did not seriously pursue either of these players, nor did they get close to Aroldis Chapman, though his courtship took place before the current CBA and its loopholes. Whether that makes the Yankees lack of effort to acquire his raw yet undeniable talent more or less forgivable is up to you.

Either the Yankees don’t know how to evaluate international talent or they are cheaper than we thought. When Chapman came and went without any news of an offer from the Yankees, I was surprised. When they lost with a whimper on Darvish and Cespedes (not to mention Jorge Soler)?

The acquisition of Wells and Suzuki suggest a combination of penny-pinching and incompetence and incompetent penny-pinching that is downright scary.

DD: Disappointed Dunski

Some Yankee notes from: It’s About the Money,  Hardball Talk, and Lo-Hud (A and B), and Sports Illustrated.

Also over at SI.com, our pal Jay grades the Yankees’ off-season:

Preliminary grade: D+. At a weighted average age of 32.7 years, the Yankee lineup was the oldest in the AL by nearly three full years, and yet they seem to have taken steps to get even older this winter while leaving significant holes in their lineup. Without a few more fixes — fixes that should be easy given this team’s resources, but which are suddenly agonizingly hard to come by — this may well be the year where age catches up to them and leaves them on the outside looking in.

[Photo Credit: Duanexharris via It's a Long Season]

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver