Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Layout of the how the Yankees should spend their money

In a perfect world there would be no 189 million dollar "cap" and Alex Rodriguez would have wasted away into yesterdays news, but we all know that's not going to happen. With that all being said, this a HUGE offseason for the yanks. They have a lot of holes and only so much money to fill them. A-Rod of course as he always seems to be will be right in the middle of this. His 25 million dollars could help or hurt the Yankees depending on if he gets suspended for any period of time. If so, they will have a lot more money to spend on free agents, i.e. Brian McCann, Mashahiro Tanaka, etc. Here's how I think they should spend their money under the impression that A-Rod's money will at least be cut in half.

Robinson Cano- We all know Cano wants 300 mil, but we also know he's not going to get it. The Yankees are really the only suitor for Cano that can afford him. The dodgers signed the Cuban defector Alex Guerrero to a four year deal, so they are out. The A's are in need of a second baseman but with their stadium issues and lack of funds I don't see them in on him. Maybe the Cubs but that's really it. The Yankees have to smart about this, they have to know that unless some mystery team comes out of the woodwork like Philly did for Cliff Lee, they are most likely going to be bidding against themselves. The important thing to think about here is not to go overboard. nothing over seven, eight years.
My Prediction: 7 years 180.

Brian McCann- This one is a little easier to figure out. There is mutual interest here, and according to a rival GM there is no one else that will get him. He is a perfect fit for the Yankees. He's a lefty bat with power, and he is a great clubhouse guy. He's also a "tough guy" which the Yankees seem to be lacking. Also they just flat out need a catcher. Chris Stewart just is not cutting it anymore, and with the kids i.e. Gary Sanchez still a few years away it makes perfect sense.
My Prediction 5 years 90.

Mashahiro Tanaka- This is the big fish to me.Yes, Cano is the best player available on the open market but Tanaka could be the most coveted free agent because of the scarcity of free agent pitchers with his ability. The posting system between the MLB and NPB (Japanese pro league) is about reach a new agreement and with it, Tanaka will be posted. I think along with many others that the Yankees will bid very on Tanaka mostly because it doesn't towards the 189 "cap." I think the posting bid will be upwards of 70-75 million. And his contract could be 6 years for 60 or so, which would fit nicely into their plans to stay under 189.
My Prediction: 6 years 60.

Carlos Beltran- Oh Carlos Beltran, I like to think of him as the one that got away. In 2004 he would have taken less money to go to the Yankees but he ended up signing with the Mets because the Yankees wanted to stick with Bernie Williams. But now he's a free agent again and again there is mutual interest. This time at a much smaller contract probably somewhere in 3 years 39 million dollar range. I know everyone reading this is thinking why he's 37!?!?! Well, are there any better, cheaper options out there? No. Choo and Ellsbury are going to cost over 100 million and neither are worth such a contract in my eyes. So let Beltran play until he cannot anymore, even at his age he can still produce, plus he will get some time at DH now. The kids i.e. Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott are still a few years away as well. He's a better option than Ichiro or Wells in RF to me.
My Prediction: 3 years 39.

Follow me on Twitter- @TheDonnyFinkle

Monday, September 30, 2013

Complete Postseason MLB Predictions

Well, what can you say about the 2013 Major League Baseball season other than WOW? Not only do we have the two wild card play in games. We have a play-in game for the play-in game in the American League. I will give you my complete predictions for the entire postseason in this article, complete with how each series will end and some analysis behind my decisions.

AL Play-in Game- Monday 9/30 on TBS Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers
David Price vs. Martin Perez

GAME 163. Last time we had a game 163 it was in 2009. The Twins beat the Tigers in 12 innings on Alexei Casilla's walk off single. That was for the AL Central crown. Four years later, we have another game 163, this time it's for a chance to play in the AL Wild Card Play-in game. David Price's numbers are not good in Arlington, he has gone 1-2 and 10.26 ERA, but he is a big game pitcher, he is the reigning Cy Young Award winner, and he is a better pitcher than who Texas is throwing out, (Martin Perez.) Although the game is in Texas, I Believe that Tampa will in 2-1 in another instant classic getting themselves a date with the Red-Hot Cleveland Indians.

AL Wild Card Play-in Game- Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians Wednesday 10/2 on TBS TB-TBA CLE- Danny Salazar

With Tampa beating Texas in game 163, they will get a chance to play at "The Jake" just kidding Progressive Field for a chance to play the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. I do not think they will be able to defeat Cleveland. Cleveland is hot coming in winning 10 in a row. Yes, they have a rookie starting in Danny Salazar, but Danny Salazar has GREAT stuff. A power fastball ranging anywhere between 95-98. If they get five or six out of him, then they will be in good shape. Justin Masterson (who was the ace coming into the season) is going to close for them throughout the postseason. I just see this club as one of those teams who shouldn't be here but they are. They have great chemistry much thanks to Nick Swisher who is never without a smile. No one picked Cleveland to make the playoffs this season. They all kind of scratched their heads at the moves made i.e. Swisher, Bourn. But somethings have fell into place that no one could have predicted. Ubaldo Jimenez has found his form, and so has Scott Kazmir, yes, SCOTT KAZMIR. Cleveland takes this one in front of the home fans, (should be a good crowd.) 5-2.

NL Wild Card Play-in Game- Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates 10/01 on TBS CIN- Johnny Cueto PIT- Francisco Liriano

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER! The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the playoffs for the first time in my lifetime. Wow, I'm 19, and its been 21 years. If you couldn't tell where I'm leaning on this one, I'm going with the Buccos. For a few reasons, 1. The home field advantage. These fans have been itching for a playoff game in Pittsburgh for 21 years and now they've got one. Also Francisco Liriano is 8-1 with under a two ERA at home. Pittsburgh gets enough offense and "Shark Tank" finishes it out with Jason Grilli "Cheese" closing it out. 6-3 Pittsburgh.

ALDS Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox- Tito vs. the Sox.

Is there a better first round match up to be had? Terry Francona gets the boot from Boston and his replacement was gone after a year? Now Tito's back in the playoffs with Indians with a chance to show the Sox what they are missing. Well, it took them one more managerial change for them to see what their missing. John Farrell to the Red Sox is one of the best trades no one talks about. Yeah, he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Red Sox. From worst to first. GM Ben Cherington brought in some good "clubhouse" guys. Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes, Mike Napoli. If you've payed attention to anything in this article you know I'm all about good chemistry in clubhouses, I think that a good clubhouse can breed a good winning environment. This is why this might be one of the harder series for me to pick. Both teams have great chemistry. But, as much as it pains me to do this, I'm going with the bearded men in Boston in hard fought five game series. BOS 3-2

ALDS Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics Friday 10/04 TBS or MLBN- Revenge for the Swingin' A's.

A rematch for the ages to start in Oakland on Friday. In a series where no one thought the lowly A's would be able to compete with the Tigers, the A's took them to five games. This year I think the A's will get them. I know how can I pick against the Tigers? The best pitching staff in the postseason and one of the best offensives as well. The A's to me are interesting because I think they like to be the underdog and they relish the fact that people think the same as they did last year. There are two differences from last years team though. 1. Bartolo Colon. They didn't have Colon last year due to a PED suspension. Now this year he has continued his dominance. And 2. The young guys have a little more experience now. Jarrod Parker, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, A.J. Griffin and others have now had a postseason under their belt. Plus this year they have another young stud, hard throwing Sonny Gray. Whether they use this kid in the rotation or the pen, he flat out throws gas. Oakland wins this one 3-1.

NLDS Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals. 10/03 on TBS- The Jolly Roger is Raised Again.

Yeah, I'll admit it, I'm on the Pirates bandwagon. You know this because I just picked against one of the best postseason teams over the past few years. St. Louis has the all the inner workings of a championship caliber team, but I just think Pittsburgh wants it more than everyone else in the postseason. If they were playing a different team, I might have picked a the opposing team. But because they are playing the Cardinals, a division foe who they have played 18 times this year it's a good match up for the Bucs. The pitching is where I have to give the edge to Pittsburgh, only because St. Louis' closer role is up in the air right now. Edward Mujica who has been great all year is all of a sudden in a funk. I know Trevor Rosenthal is most likely going to be the new closer, but his age will catch up with him in this series. (he's only 23.)
Pitt wins this in five- 3-2.

NLDS Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers. 10/03 TBS- Puigmania Prevails.

Probably on paper the Best matchup in the postseason. Two teams that have been called the best team in their league for the most of the year. The Braves held the best record for most of the year, but scuffled at the end and now will open the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. The last arriving and early leaving dodger crowd won't be able to leave their seats during this series, because it's going to be all Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the, if not the most talented team left. They have best starting two-some with Kershaw and Greinke. Oh, and don't forget about Ryu, and Nolasco. Plus there's those guys, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, and Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of that lethal lineup. All Dodgers in this one even without Matt Kemp. LA sweeps the Bravo's 3-0.

ALCS Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox- Saturday 10/12 FOX- Beards vs. Beards

I couldn't tell you who would win in a beard growing contest, but I can tell you who will the ALCS and punches their ticket to the World Series. Pitching is even, offense has to go to Boston, and bullpen is a push as well. Grant Balfour is one of the better closers in the game, but Koji Uehara has been tremendous. I think the X-Factor in this whole postseason is Clay Buchholz who when healthy is one of the best pitchers in the game. Couple him with Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and a rejuvenated, healthy John Lackey. I give the edge here to Boston. They will advance to their third World Series in the last nine years. Boston wins this one in six 4-2.

NLCS Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers- Friday 10/11 TBS- The Dodgers Keep on Rolling.

This one was particularly hard to pick. As I've said before the I've jumped on the Pirates bandwagon. But the Dodgers just have too much for the Pirates to handle. LA's pitching is too great for a slightly above average Pittsburgh offense. The city of Pittsburgh will have gotten a great run from their boys, and they have shown that they are here for the long run. The Dodgers will finally get Donnie Baseball to his first World Series. They win this one in five 4-1.

109th World Series Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox- Wednesday 10/23 FOX- The Match up Everyone Wanted.

Yes, sadly I picked the same match up as most will. I usually don't like to pick the favorites to get there but, this year I have. The only reason is because I truly believe these two teams will have the best shot to make it here. They have all the pieces, they have the pitching, the offensive, the bullpen, and most importantly, the chemistry. This is the best match up for baseball as a whole. They have two of the biggest markets in the game in the World Series. This will attract the casual baseball fan as well as the diehards. Now for my pick on who will win the 109th World Series. It will be... the Los Angeles Dodgers! I give them the edge because of their pitching. They literally have two of the best pitchers in the game on their team. Also one of the guys they got from the Red Sox in that mega deal, Adrian Gonzalez. As well as Hanley, Puig. This will go seven games and will be an Epic World Series and one for the ages. Thank you for reading this, and I hope you enjoyed it! Enjoy the postseason!

Follow me on Twitter- @TheDonnyFinkle

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thoughts and Musings about the New York Giants 0-2 Start

The title is pretty self-explanatory. Thankfully for the Giants, the rest of the NFC East is pretty mediocre. It is a very safe bet to say the NFC East Division champ is the only team that is going to make the playoffs. The Eagles lost, putting them at 1-2, and if the Giants win and Cowboys lose, the Giants are tied for first at 1-2. But, here's some thoughts, musings and suggestions on the team, including how to improve the linebackers.

  1. Eli Manning is both great and awful. Great: he is near the top of the league in deep pass completions. Eli's arm has never been talked about as one of the elite in the league - his deep passes aren't pretty and are quite wobbly, but he rarely under-throws them. But, Eli, those interceptions are killer. I've said Eli has been very unlucky with a majority of his INT's (I mean, the INT off the defender's foot? Did he walk by a black cat? Jeez..) but some of his decision making has been poorer than in years past, like throwing to Cruz in the end zone with 3-4 defenders around him. Gotta cut those down.
  2. Run the ball more. Please feed the ball to David Wilson. Look, 2 fumbles in the first game is unacceptable, but if the Giants are going to pass 40 times a game, there has to be a valid running game. We can see in Denver, the passing game sets up the run game; the Giants can do that too. Wilson is an electric talent, we saw that in the last 5 weeks of 2012. He needs the ball: a game changer. The backlash he got was deserved out of frustration, but it's Coach Coughlin's job to address it, not the media or the fans. I also give Wilson credit for adjusting his carrying style, but he needs to get 20 carries a game.
  3. Why the hell did the Giants bring Brandon Jacobs back over Willis McGahee? McGahee is gonna start in Cleveland soon and had a 1,200 yard season 2 years ago. He averaged 4.4 yards a carry last year. Out of his 10 year career, he's only started full time 5 years. He's a much better back than Jacobs. Everything I hated about Jacobs as a Giant: could not convert short yardage, being an absolute jerk when he doesn't need to, all still there. Don't let the fans make the decisions. 
  4. The Giants are lucky they have three legit WR's. I love the 3-WR sets. But Kevin Gilbride, for the love of god, what the hell are you doing? His play calling is just mind boggling at times. Call the deep ball more and stop using these awful screen passes to the running backs and horrible sweep run plays.
  5. The interior offensive line play is been atrocious. Wow. Will Beatty is by far their best offensive lineman and has played a solid LT. Justin Pugh has had his rookie moments at RT, but he looks to be worlds better than David Diehl's awfulness. But, Chris Snee is getting old. He's gonna start until he retires because he's Coughlin's son-in-law, and quite frankly, I would avoid awkward dinner conversations at Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. I didn't like the David Baas signing when it happened and I don't like it now. Kevin Boothe has been mediocre too. Time for a change.
  6. I don't think Jason Pierre-Paul is anywhere near healthy. The 2011 Pierre-Paul was all over the field. I think the Giants should have put him on PUP list and let him rest and rehab. An explosive Pierre-Paul for 10 games, especially helpful in December or a mediocre, not totally healthy Pierre-Paul for 16? I'd rather he was explosive for the last 10 games.
  7. Spencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers, Jacquan Williams and Mark Herzlich are absolutely atrocious. The worst group of linebackers in the league. Phil Simms during Sunday's game said Paysinger and Williams are two of the better/faster coverage LB's in the league but they cannot tackle. I mean literally, they cannot tackle without assistance. They're linebackers, they should be menacing and run-stifling. I'd rather they drop 20 pounds of muscle and make them DB's. The Giants brought in Leroy Hill for a tryout: he should be signed and starting at MLB Sunday. The rest should be special teamers only and Herzlich cut - he's the worst.
  8. My creative way how to improve the LB's: stay in nickel formation most of the time with Terrell Thomas on the field and for the two LB's? Damontre Moore and Cooper Taylor. I get it: they're rookies and technically a DE and a SS. Here me out: Moore is undersized at DE, a pass rusher purely. In a 3-4, he's an OLB at 250 pounds. He's got speed and more upper body strength to tackle. Taylor is listed at SS/OLB (at least in Wikipedia) and he's a big, big dude at 6'4". He hits hard (check his U-Richmond tape). I want hard hitters: give them a shot.
  9. How awesome has Terrell Thomas been? 2 years of torn ACL's in a row after a fantastic 2010 season of over 100 tackles and 5 INT's. He's covered well and he goes after the ball carrier. I'm so glad he's back and playing well.
  10. Nit-picking but Steve Weatherford hit some very poor punts on Sunday. I understand directional punting is needed, but send it deep.
I'm done. I will still root for the Giants and the rest of the season is still open for taking, as is the NFC East, but changes are needed. Go Giants!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brendan Ryan? A Keeper?

The defensive wizard Brendan Ryan might have found a home in the Bronx. As my colleague Justin, has pointed out Ryan is a very viable option for the Yankees at Shortstop for the 2014 season. His offensive numbers are less than sub-par. A career .238 batting average and a .300 on base percentage, Ryan's numbers don't translate into what Yankees fans are used to see out of the shortstop position. Justin believes that Ryan can be helped by Kevin Long. I on the other hand do not think so. The highest he's ever hit was .292 in 2009 with the cardinals, that was in 129 games. I think Ryan could help out this team but as a backup shortstop/super utility man. I also think that there are other more proven viable options in the free agent market i.e. Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew.

Drew finally stayed healthy this year hitting .245 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI's. Peralta on the other hand has been suspended by MLB as a part of the Biogenesis scandal, which makes him an interesting fit. He had 11 home runs and was hitting .305 before being suspended in 104 games. Peralta can also play third as opposed to Drew who is primarily a Shortstop. Plus, last year the Yankees offered Drew a contract and he declined because he wanted a guaranteed starting spot. The same will be true this year and the Yankees cannot give him a guarantee, they don't know how Derek Jeter will come back. He could be the Derek Jeter of 2012 again, or maybe a something even remotely close to that. Peralta, since he is coming off a suspension will be looking for a one year deal to prove that he can play well when he is, "clean." Drew will probably look for a multi year deal and might get one.

I think that both of them are more viable options than Ryan is at this point. Only because of the question marks surrounding the Yankees next year. Is Texieria going to be Texieria? Or is he going to continue to regress as he ages. Is A-Rod even going to be playing next year? And who the hell is going to be the starting Catcher? As all of you know, no one wants it to be Chris Stewart again. I can't be wasting my time with a project like Ryan, when there are more viable and consistent options out there. If Ryan could hit .265 I could entertain the idea of him playing Shortstop and batting 9th but thats too many question marks for my book.

Follow Me on Twitter- @TheDonnyFinkle

And give some sort of debate here!

Should the Yankees keep Brendan Ryan at SS for 2014?

As Yankee followers have noticed, former Mariners and Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan has taken over the everyday duties for the Yankees after his acquisition a few weeks back. Ryan is known as a defensive wizard, with an elite glove and exceptional range. Yet, Ryan has not hit since his first full season with the Cardinals in 2009, when he hit .292. He has then posted batting averages of anywhere between .196 and .248.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, the Yankees SS since 1996, has been criticized for his shortcomings defensively, but that argument is another blog post at another time. Anyway, with Jeter entering his 40th year as a human being in 2014 and his impending potential free agency and/or retirement, the Yankees need to consider a full-time replacement and making Jeter the designated hitter. After all, Jeter showed in 2012 he can still be an offensive force, but his ankle injury and loss of nearly all of 2013 shows he should not be in the field any longer. The question is: should the Yankees keep Brendan Ryan, an impending free agent or go after other free agent SS such as Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew? Let's examine:

If the Yankees retain Brendan Ryan, they have to do another round of moves to compensate. To keep a hitter of Ryan's ineptitude in the lineup to make up for his defensive capabilities, the rest of the lineup has to be well above average. This means a healthy Gardner and Teixeira, a non-suspended A-Rod, a re-signed Robinson Cano, a productive Alfonso Soriano and a new RF, C and DH. Only then can you be happy with Brendan Ryan hitting 9th. If the Yankees are gonna skimp by just keeping Zoilo Almonte, Ichiro, Vern, Murphy/Romine/StewVelli and not get legitimate upgrades, then they need to over after an offensively capable SS in Stephen Drew, who has finally stayed healthy and put up numbers resembling his Arizona D-Back days or Jhonny Peralta, coming off a suspension, but with the better track record of health and offensive production and the capability to play 3B too if A-Rod is suspended.

But, if you have watched the Yankees telecasts over the last week, you have certainly heard Michael Kay note in a conversation he or somebody had with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, that K-Long said (paraphrasing here) that he can 'fix' Ryan's swing. Ryan's swing has been adjusted too much, thus not improving his swing at all. If Long can fix his swing this offseason to make him a better contact hitter (he's a no-power type, so if Ryan can hit .260 out of the nine hole, that's amazing for him and great for the defense), then Ryan might be the best option. Just something to ponder.

Follow me and debate me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Could the Astros have a legitimate lineup in 2014?

Yes. But please, continue on. The 2013 Houston Astros have endured another tough season. After finishing 55-107 last year, they are on pace to finish with the same record again this year. Additionally, fans have not rushed to Minute Maid Park, averaging around 19,500 fans per game. Neither have they rushed to the television screen. Get this: reports surfaced this weekend that only 1,000 people watched the Astros game versus the Mariners on Saturday. Ouch. The pitching staff has been nothing short of awful: last in ERA at 4.81, last in WHIP, and sitting in the high twenties in BAA and Quality Starts. Not pretty.

But, hope is on the horizon. The offense did show some signs of productivity. A number of note: 19th in runs. Considering they are universally thought of as being the worst team in the league, that's not too bad. I believe that the Astros could have a legitimate lineup that finishes in the top half of the league in runs scored. There is drastic improvement to be made: they hardly take walks which reduces the amount of base runners per game which equals less runs. Nevertheless, lets examine what can be hope for this team's future.

The Cornerstones
Jose Altuve - You already are familiar with All-Star Jose Altuve: the diminutive second baseman leads the team in average (.287), hits (165) and stolen bases (35). Altuve has put together a very solid .287/5 HR/52 RBI line. He is the face of the franchise and is well worth his 4 year/$12.5 million contract (a bargain!).
Jason Castro - A first round pick in 2008, has finally lived up to his potential and made the All-Star team as a reserve. Castro leads the team in doubles (35), runs (63), on base percentage (.350) and for you sabermetric followers, WAR (3.9). Castro is flawed (only .242 versus lefties) but a drastic uptick in walks post-AS break is a positive sign.

The Building Blocks
Robbie Grossman - Grossman will probably move over to left field with uberprospect George Springer coming up to play center, but there's a lot to like about Grossman. He's a solid outfielder and in the second half of the season, has hit .322. He's a likely .270 hitter or so moving forward, but retains value as a solid switch hitter who can be an MLB regular.
Matt Dominguez - Dominguez is second on the team in home runs with 20 and RBI with 75. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the batting average department at .242. But, with some improvement, a .260 hitter with 25 home run, 90 RBI potential at a premium position is a solid player, which is what Dominguez can amount to.

The Intrigues
L.J. Hoes - Hoes came over from Baltimore for Bud Norris. He's a contact, limited power type. He prides himself on excellent plate discipline: rarely k's and walks semi-frequently. Ideally, he fits in the 2 or 7 hole and could cement himself as a building block.
Jonathan Villar - He's come on fast in August and September. Over the entire year, his stolen base production would equate to about 52 stolen bases. He only has one home run this year, but has shown 15 home run power in the minors. He's an intriguing piece moving forward and a solid sleeper for middle infield in fantasy.

Thou Shalt Turn It Around
JD Martinez & Chris Carter - I am not a Carter fan. But, he has power. Lots of it. He would be a solid platoon partner, but I imagine he starts off as the first baseman at least in the first half of the season. Martinez has a lot of untapped potential. The tools are there to succeed, but he needs to put it together. I think hitting lower in the lineup will help him.

The Rookies
George Springer - He had an unbelievable year in AA and AAA. His combined stats? .303/37 HR/108 RBI and 45 stolen bases. He's an extraordinary talent (and from CT! Ha-ha! We have talent!). His high K rate worries me going forward but the 2014 favorite for AL ROY for sure.
Jonathan Singleton - The team's other big offensive prospect had a rough year in AAA: hitting only in the .220s. He's a future talent, but I imagine they will not rush him with Carter around to start off.

April's Starting Lineup:
SS Jonathan Villar
2B Jose Altuve
C  Jason Castro
1B Chris Carter
3B Matt Dominguez
CF George Springer
LF Robbie Grossman
DH LJ Hoes
RF JD Martinez

I think there is potential here. I also believe Springer moves up as the year goes on, but they won't force him up top immediately. There is potential for 80 stolen bases between Villar and Altuve and close to 100 home runs between the 3-6 hitters. Feel free to debate me on Twitter: @JMFlorio

(Stats courtesy of ESPN and Baseball Reference)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time to Rotate the Yankees Rotation: Huff for Hughes

Phil Hughes turned in another pitiful performance last night, pitching 4 2/3 innings, giving up 5 runs, 3 earned, jumping his ERA near 5, at 4.91, and making his W-L record 4-13. 4-13!!

How can the Yankees continue to throw him out every 5 days and compete for a playoff spot? He's been nothing short of awful since the All-Star break. What's worse is the fact that the Yankees beat writers, specifically Mark Feinsand and Sweeney Murti, of NY Daily News and WFAN, defend this guy like he's Felix Hernandez!

I'm going make the basic case to replace Phil Hughes with David Huff, who has pitched 8 straight shutout innings of relief in his last 2 appearances. Huff's track record as an MLB starter is not particularly great, but he's pitching better now. Here's the goop:

(Stats via ESPN and Baseball Reference)
He's being hit hard by batters on both sides of the plate: .278 BA by righties and .293 by lefties. Further splits do not help his cause.

Hughes Pre/Post AS Break: 4.57 ERA (roughly a quality start of 6 innings/3 earned runs)/5.94 ERA after the break. A nearly 6.00 ERA since Mid-July. Awful. If that's not enough, he's getting worse as it goes. He has a 6.46 ERA in August. What's next, a 7.26 ERA in September?

September is exclusively against AL East rivals. With that in mind, the Yankees need to be conscious about playing their counterparts. Hughes' ERA against the AL East teams?
Baltimore: 7.00
Boston: 10.38
Tampa Bay: 5.73
Toronto: 3.78

Outside Toronto, not inspiring. What is inspiring? Replacing him with David Huff

Huff's last two appearances out of the bullpen:
5 innings/1 hit/0 runs/2 K's
3 1/3 innings/0 hits/0 runs/5 K's

His career stats do not scream anything special, either. As a starter, his career ERA is 5.41. Whereas out of the pen, he's got a 2.89 ERA. Reportedly, though, Huff had altered his throwing motion in the minors, which may have led to being more effective since his recall a few weeks back. Plus, he's left-handed. Anything you can take is a leg up on the competition. Using a lefty helps nearly automatically. Look at some top AL East hitters:
Chris Davis against lefties: .247 vs. .334 against righties.
David Ortiz against lefties: .265 vs. .350 against righties.
Edwin Encarnacion against lefties: .264 vs. .276 against righties.
Ben Zobrist against lefties: .239 vs. .287 against righties.

I'm not going to claim he's going to be Clayton Kershaw. But, I'll take Andy Pettitte at this point. A quality start = 4.50 ERA, which is an improvement. If Huff can even manage that, or somewhere around 3.80 or 4.00 ERA, he's got himself a rotation spot.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Contacts & Conundrums, Part 1 - 2014 Yankees Featuring A-Rod

This is Part 1, in a 3 Part series on forming a 2014 Yankees Roster while staying under the $189 Million threshold. The Yankees have a number of players under contract, as well as a large amount of players going to arbitration. Also on the shopping list are a number of impending free agent decisions, including some top FA's on the Yankees too. This post covers Alex Rodriguez as a part of the roster, meaning that he would beat his suspension by MLB and resume his role as the Yankees 3B/DH for 2014. For the sake of argument, the Yankees will keep everyone under contract too; Meaning for example, Vernon Wells is on the roster, though his contract is affordable enough to be an easy cut. So, let's dive in:

(Contract numbers courtesy of Sportrac, ESPN & Baseball Reference)

Under Contract - 2014 Contracts
Alex Rodriguez, 3B - $26,000,000
Mark Teixeira, 1B - $23,125,000
CC Sabathia, SP - $23,000,000
Derek Jeter, SS - $8,000,000 Option
Ichiro Suzuki, OF - $ 6,500,000
Alfonso Soriano, OF/DH - $5,000,000
Vernon Wells, OF - $2,400,000
Eduardo Nunez, IF - $533,300
Michael Pineda, SP - $528,475
David Phelps, SP - $512,425
Adam Warren, P - $490,525
Preston Claiborne, RP - $490,000
Austin Romine, C - $490,000
Zoilo Almonte, OF - $490,000
Cesar Cabral, RP - $490,000

Cap Hit: $97,521,250; Amount leftover - $91,478,750

That covers the players under contract. Most of these players you are familiar with: 3/4 of the infield starters, 3/5 of the starting rotation and a number of outfielders. Let me so some clarifying: Cesar Cabral replaces Boone Logan as the lefty out of the bullpen. I imagine Logan will be paid handsomely this offseason as the premier left-handed reliever on the market. Bullpen pitchers are volatile and should be a cheap part of the team. I also expect the Yankees to delay Pineda's service time, and thus, his arbitration for a year.

Arbitration Eligible - 2013 Salaries and 2014 Hypothetical Salaries
David Robertson, RP - $3,100,000 (5,000,000)
Brett Gardner, OF - $2,850,000 (5,000,000)
Shawn Kelley, RP - $935,000 (1,000,000)
Jayson Nix, IF - $900,000 (1,000,000)
Ivan Nova, SP - $575,600 (900,000)
Francisco Cervelli, C - $515,350 (600,000)
Chris Stewart, C - $515,100 (600,000)

Cap Hit: $14,100,000; Amount leftover - $77,378,750

I imagine that Robertson and Gardner will see their salaries increase to about $5,000,000 a year, with Gardner in his final arbitration year and Robertson asking for closer's money. Kelley and Nix should up to over a million and Nova to about $900,000. The Yankees will have to make a decision on who catchers are, but we'll adjust as it goes.

Impending Free Agents - 2013 Salaries and 2014 Hypothetical Salaraies
Hiroki Kuroda, SP - $15,000,000 (18,000,000)
Robinson Cano, 2B - $15,000,000 (20,000,000)
Curtis Granderson, OF - $15,000,000 (TBD)

I hope Kuroda decides to return. He'll ask for a raise considering his fantastic 2013 season, bumping it up to around $18,000,000. Cano will be paid handsomely by either the Yankees or another big market team with big bucks and a need at second base (...cough....Dodgers...cough...). Let's say the Yankees and Cano agree to a 7 year, $140,000,000 deal - making him worth $20 million a year. I believe Granderson goes, along with every other FA, Hughes, Joba, Overbay, Hafner. I also presume Andy Pettitte hangs them up as well.

Cap Hit: $38,000,000; Amount leftover - $39,378,750

Roster before Free Agent/Trades/Call-ups
SP CC Sabathia
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Ivan Nova
SP David Phelps
SP Michael Pineda

LR Adam Warren
LHS Cesar Cabral
RP Preston Claiborne
RP Shawn Kelley
CL David Robertson

1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
OF Brett Gardner
OF Ichiro Suzuki
OF Zoilo Almonte
DH Alfonso Soriano

OF Vernon Wells
IF Jayson Nix
IF Eduardo Nunez
C Austin Romine

Remaining Moves
I think the Yankees can do some damage in free agency to legitimately help the team. Here is who can fill out the roster affordably.

Middle Relief: RHP Chase Whitley. He's down in AAA. He is major league ready with 3 solid pitches. He'll only cost the MLB minimum at $490K. Former Phillie David Herndon is also a possibility, as is Mark Montgomery, top relief prospect.

Experienced Reliever: RHP Jesse Crain. I think Crain makes a lot of sense to add another experience reliever who could probably close if Robertson falters. Crain is making $4.5 million this year - let's give him that contract for 2014 as well.

Starting Catcher: C Brian McCann. He is ideal for this team. They need a starting catcher who is MLB quality. He is making $12 million with the Braves this year; let's give him a realistic 5 year/$75 million contract, at $15,000,000 a year.

Adding these contracts and removing C Chris Stewart and C Francisco Cervelli:

Cap Hit: $19,990,000 - 1,200,000 = $18,790,000; Amount leftover - $20,588,450.

The Yankees can still afford to get themselves a quality OF, push Almonte to the bench and cutting Wells. They can improve their bench by getting a better utility player than Nix. They can also afford to bring in a solid veteran SP who won't break the bank, such as Colby Lewis, Chris Capuano, Jason Hammel are some targets. Even with A-Rod, I think the Yankees can make this $189,000,000 cap work, while getting younger, healthier, and possibly better.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2014: If A-Rod's Suspended, Who Plays Third?

I've been away for a month: my apologies. I hope all of you are enjoying your summer, which is going better than the 2013 New York Yankees season is. Playoffs are pretty much out of the mix, unless the team goes on a Braves or Tigers-esque tear by winning like 80% of their games over the rest of the month. But, that won't matter in 2014. What does matter is that third baseman Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire season if his suspension is upheld, or even possibly reduced to missing a large chunk of the season. How will the Yankees prepare for this? The front office must go into the season prepared, and not try and patch it with Jayson Nix or another old, injury-prone veteran (This means you, Kevin Youkilis and your $12 million salary). Let's take a look at the options:

Free Agent Third Basemen (all names via
Eric Chavez
Placido Polanco
Mark Reynolds
Michael Young
Kevin Youkilis

If that's not an awful list, I do not know what is. Let's eliminate Youkilis: he's a goner, and likely is his MLB career. Chavez played well in a bench role in NY from '11-12, but I would not be surprised if he stays out west, having another career resurgence with Arizona. Reynolds has been DFA'd by the Indians, and really should be a DH - he is an awful fielder. That cuts to Polanco and Young. Polanco is not suited to be an everyday player, but really a UTIL IF. Michael Young is a player the Yankees would sign; that's such a Yankees move. You have to put up with the poor glove, but he's still a decent RHB.

Most Likely Signing: Young

Free Agent Middle Infielders
Omar Infante
Ben Zobrist (Option)
Stephen Drew
Jhonny Peralta
Yunel Escobar

I will almost guarantee Zobrist gets his option picked up. I will almost guarantee Escobar remains at SS and get a decent contract somewhere. That leaves Infante, Drew and Peralta. All three are comparable ages at 31, 31, 32. Infante has played 107 games at 3B, according to Baseball Reference. Drew has started hitting again, like he did in Arizona, which could earn him some more $. Drew reportedly turned down more money from the Yankees this offseason to play everyday in Boston. Peralta is a great fit to move to 3B: he's a good hitter with a decent glove but little range. Plus, Peralta will be coming off his 50 game Biogenesis suspension. I'd prefer Drew or Infante, as they are the more premium players, but they'll require a likely 3 year contract, at least. Peralta is a good fit.

Most Likely Signing: Peralta

Internal Options
David Adams
Eduardo Nunez
Ronnie Mustelier
Jayson Nix

Nunez will be considered the SS in case Jeter goes down again. Nix should be no more than the utility man. So, it's Adams or Mustelier. Yankees should play Adams nearly daily down the stretch: see what he's got. His bat looked like it was turning around just has he got sent down the first time. He can play the position, and finally stayed healthy this year. His bat, and plate approach should translate to the majors - might as well see what he has. Mustelier has just had awful luck: getting hurt just as Spring Training ended, costing him a roster spot, getting hurt as he got hot in the minors and just being awful in AAA since. I want to see both of these players get a shot, but Adams getting the gig.

Internal Candidate: David Adams

So, what'll happen? The good thing is that the Yankees, if A-Rod's suspension and loss of contract $$ is included, will have approx. $140 million coming off the books. If they can invest that in an SP, Cano, and a legit catcher (McCann?), they can bring in a Peralta type. For now, we have to think David Adams could be the Yankees 3B next season.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Five Reasonable Trade Possibilities for the Yankees

Yes, I'm not giving up hope just yet. I'm not going to board the selling train yet. I have five reasonable trades for the Yankees to make, given the depleted farm system.

Michael Young 1B/3B- Phillies- Michael Young is probably the closest thing to a perfect fit for the Yankees. He can play third base and first base maybe some second base as well. He is currently hitting .288 with six home runs and a .759 OPS. He is a seasoned vet who can handle a pennant race. The only thing that is that the Phillies don't believe they are not out of the race. They are 6.5 games out of the NL East. But they are at .500. If they lose a few more games they might be swayed to trade him.

Kendrys Morales 1B/DH- Mariners- Morales is someone who I personally like, but again the Mariners think they are not willing to sell. Even though they are 13 games out of the West. Our old buddy Jack Z likes to toy with us Yankees fans, but even so Morales would be a good fit. He is hitting .280, with 14 home runs and 54 RBI's. He's hitting way above 300 with runners in scoring position which is always a good thing as well. But for right now he is unavailable.

Jonathan Lucroy C- Brewers- Lucroy is Justin's man crush and I have to agree with him, if available he would be a great fit with the Yankees. He has the same amount of home runs as Buster Posey and is second among catchers in RBI's to Posey. He would cost a hefty fee, probably Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, and Williams or Angelo Gumbs. Might be too much for the Yank's blood, or just not an attractive package for the Brewers.

Chris Carter 1B/LF- Astros- Carter is a younger version of Mark Reynolds, but is still very productive. He has 18 home runs and 47 RBI's on a very bad Astros team. Yes, he's hitting .229 and 123 strikeouts but he wouldn't cost much to get. He is a legit masher and this goes against everything I stand for, but the Yankees need a guy like him right now. They need straight up power. No way around it.

Hunter Pence RF- Giants- Hunter Pence is interesting, the defending World Series champs are 6.5 games out and eight games under .500. He is probably not going to be traded, but he is a free agent at the end of the year so it is a possibility that they can trade for him or even sign him as a free agent. Again, not likely for the Giants to sell but you never know.

Monday, July 15, 2013


It's one of my favorite nights of the year! Home Run Derby! Live updates during the Derby will be posted, but here are your rosters:

Robinson Cano, Yankees (C) (Round 1 - 4 HR)
Chris Davis, Orioles (Round 1 - 8 HR)
Prince Fielder, Tigers (Round 1 - 5 HR)
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics (Round 1 - 17 LONG HR)

David Wright, Mets (C) (Round 1 - 5 HR)
Bryce Harper, Nationals (Round 1 - 8 HR)
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (Round 1 - 6 HR)
Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (Round 1 - 7 HR)

Of course we will follow the standard process of the last few years: 10 outs (any swings not resulting in a home run) per player in first round. Top 4 move to round 2. Repeat. Top 2 in the final, 5 out round. On the 9th out, the Golden derby balls are in play: raising money for charity. 

Prediction: I kinda want to see Michael Cuddyer win this! As Tupac once said, "Let's shock the people!")

Round Two

Michael Cuddyer - 8 HR/15 Total
Chris Davis - 4 HR/12 Total
Bryce Harper - 8 HR/16 Total
Yoenis Cespedes (just for fun) 6 HR/23 Total

Final Round

Yoenis Cespedes Your Champ - 9 HR
Bryce Harper - 8 HR

Congrats to Cespedes. He put on a show.

World Peace for All

Needed a break from a very long paper about the tax consequences of yada yada yada... so why not comment about the newly signed New York Knick: Metta World Peace!

The second he was amnestied by the LA Lakers (which was a move I didn't agree with), I tweeted that the Knicks should sign him. One might say: WHY! He's a soon to be 34-year old player, with a potentially disruptive personality, and his motivation questionable.

I agree with that... but look at the off-season for Eastern Conference teams thus far:
  • Bulls are getting their MVP point guard back
  • Nets and Celtics combined their teams together to form a super-team
  • Pacers beat the Knicks in the playoffs last year
  • Cavs are getting better with Kyrie emerging and Bynum signing
  • The Bobcats have significant..... okay nevermind on this one
The point is, New York is restricted by Amare's contract (and his bad knees) and has no room to make any type of additions to their team! They re-signed JR Smith, which I'm fine with since I can still play this song every time JR throws up a halfcourt 3-pointer or breaks someone's ankles in MSG ( They brought back Pope Prigioni to back-up Felton, but they couldn't even afford to bring back Chris Copeland because the only contracts they could offer are minimal deals. CHRIS COPELAND! The Knicks couldn't afford HIM!

So in a year where the Eastern Conference is getting dramatically better, the Knicks can't make any significant moves. Oh yeah, and Melo can potentially become a free agent after the season. Do you think Melo wants to be on a team with Amare and Tyson Chandler for many more years without ANY other additions? Although I don't think he will leave, it's certainly something he'll think about.

So a veteran who can add toughness, in his hometown, with something to prove, who is already being paid by the Lakers fell RIGHT into the Knicks lap! The Knicks couldn't even beat the Pacers last year as currently constructed and now other teams like the Bulls and Nets have jumped over the Knicks in the Eastern Conference.

Worst case scenario: Metta blows up and the team cuts him.. then they are right where they were last year, which is where they would've been without signing Metta. Everyone talks about team chemistry blah blah blah. Listen, Metta is a likeable guy and how much team chemistry did the Knicks even have last season anyway? Tyson complains after every call and made questionable comments about Melo, Amare is getting paid so much money and can't stay on the floor, Felton constantly complains, JR Smith (enough said)... so why not take a risk to make the team better by adding World Peace.

I say it's a no-brainer for the Knicks. I like the signing of Metta.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Top Five Storylines of the MLB Season So Far

Although the actual half way point of the MLB season was a few days ago, I figured it would still be appropriate to share my top season storylines.

1- Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are everyone's darlings of the first half. A full two games up on St. Louis in the central and the best record in baseball at 51-31. The question as always with the Buccos is can they keep this going all season. Last year they had a record of 59-44 at the halfway point. They ended the season 79-83. They have a lot going for them this season, their bullpen is one of the best if not the best with Jason Grilli shutting the door, a perfect 27-27 in save opportunities. The offense has come alive as well behind Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez. Even their starting pitching has been good behind #1 overall pick in 2011, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke and Fransisco Liriano. It might take one more starter for the Pirates to be stable in the pennant race. They have a long road ahead with the Cardinals and Reds hot on their tail two and four games back respectively. 

2- Puigmania

Is there a better individual story in baseball right now than Yasiel Puig? Probably not. He is right now the most exciting player in the game. Off to a historic start, only Joe Dimaggio had more hits in the first of month of his pro career than Puig. Dimaggio had 48, Puig, 44. He is hitting .443 with eight home runs and 17 RBI's. His OPS is 1.218, which is unreal even this early into a career. The Dodgers are making a push for him to make the NL All-Star squad, Jonathan Papelbon has been quoted as saying it would be a joke for Puig to make it over someone else. Remember this is the same guy who said he should close the 2008 All-Star Game over Mariano Rivera. What it most likely will come down to is the MLB will probably put him on the last man in vote, which he should run away with, that way the fans and the MLB get what they want. And aside from the All-Star craze, since joining the dodgers they are 16-11 and only 2.5 games out of first place in the west.

3- Crush Davis

Chris Davis is leading the world in home runs right now. He has 31 and the next closest is Miguel Cabrera with 26. He is on pace to hit 62 home runs. Doubtful he will make it there but if he can keep this hot streak going anything is possible. It's not just the power numbers either he's hitting .329 which is way above his career high of .270 last year. He is just one part of an unreal Orioles offense. He and Manny Machado could become the first pair of teammates to lead the league outright in home runs and doubles since Ruth and Gehrig, Heard of them? This home run race could go right down to the wire between him and Cabrera, Davis has to slow down at some point right?

4- The Woeful Yankees

Oh the poor Yankees, they aren't in first place, everyone feels bad for them right? Didn't think so. But seriously the Bombers have been decimated with injuries, losing Jeter, A-Rod, Granderson, Teixeria, Youkilis, should I go on? They have legitimate AAA players on the left side of the infield, i.e. David Adams, Alberto Gonzalez. Reinforcements are coming, A-Rod started his return in Charleston last night, Jeter is coming back as well as Granderson. Teixeria and Youkilis are done for the year. This means it's time for Brian Cashman to go shopping. Justin Morneau, and Alex Rios make sense as well as Michael Young. Michael Pineda is on his way giving them depth in the starting rotation as well. They have won their last two against Minnesota and will be playing Kansas City next all games that should be "winnable" then three against the Orioles in the Bronx. If they can stay afloat until reinforcements come in either trade or their own, they have a shot at winning the division and or the one of the wild cards.

5- #HarveyDay

Matt Harvey has been one of the bright spots of the 2013 season for the New York Mets, and in most peoples opinions deserved of starting the All-Star Game in Citi Field. He is 7-1, with a 2.00 ERA .07 away from Clayton Kershaw's league lead. He leads the NL with 132 strikeouts and leads the MLB with an 0.85 WHIP. Bruce Bochy the manager of the NL club says their is a good shot that Harvey will start the All-Star Game. Now Harvey may not be eligible for the Rookie of the Year, he is obviously eligible for the CY Young award. This could be a back to back CY Young's for the Mets. Although the record may not show it, Harvey has helped change the culture of the Mets. He wants to win every time he goes out, he is one of the most competitive athletes around. He doesn't care that he plays for the Mets, he wants to win every single time he goes out there. Although they may not be contending this year Matt Harvey looks like he will be a very special player for the Mets for years to come. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hot Stove gets Fired Up - MLB Playoff Run Trades Begin via the Cubs

Theo Epstein's phone is going to be ringing off the hook these next few weeks. Two moves today:

  • Closer (kinda-sorta the closer) Carlos Marmol sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RP Matt Guerrier
  • SP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger sent to the Baltimore Orioles for SP Jake Arrieta and RP Pedro Strop.
Let's examine them further:

Both pitchers were designated for assignment last week. This was a matter for both teams to try and resuscitate some value. According to Dodgers beat writer Dylan Hernandez, "LAD identified mechanical flaws in Marmol's delivery ... confident they can fix him the way they did League last yr." Brandon League is pretty awful (I really dislike him a lot), but if they can figure it out, more power to the Dodgers. I would bet the Cubs will use Guerrier as much as possible to build his trade value. He's an impending free agent and the Cubs need the long-term pieces.

Feldman and Clevenger/Arrieta and Strop

Baltimore: These are nice playoff run pieces, and if they work, long-term potential solutions for Baltimore. Feldman has been quite good this season, and rather surprisingly too, 7-6 on an awful team with a 3.46 ERA. Take away his two awful starts against the Reds, and that ERA is a tidy 2.81. BUT, Feldman's poor starts have been against high powered line-ups: Reds, Braves, Cardinals all have a combined 8.02 ERA. It doesn't get easier with a rebounding Blue Jays (and hopefully NYY) lineup and a tough Boston line-up. He's a vast improvement over what they have, though. Clevenger has shown in the minors he can hit, and give Matt Wieters a day off.

Chicago: I like these as long-term solutions. Strop has been well, awful this year with a 7.25 ERA. But, he's had success as a middle-reliever before and adds to what expects to become a depleted Cubs bullpen via trades. Or, he like Guerrier, can be trade fodder if he improves. (Also a sleeper at closer). Arrieta's got the stuff: he throws gas, topping out at 97 MPH but he has not translated to the bigs well. He's got plenty of opportunity with the Cubs and could be like Jeff Samardzija and figure it out to be a solid MLB starter.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Make the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby Watchable Again

Major League Baseball has tried to put luster back into the All-Star Game by adding that whichever league wins will have home-field advantage in the World Series. I have another way to try to make it just a little bit more watchable. Get rid of every team needing at least one all-star player, there are certain teams who just don't have players that should be on the all-star team, make it so every star in the game plays. If someone has star potential they should be there. For Example, Yasiel Puig, Puig has as much buzz around him as anyone in the game right now. Now I don't believe that he should be an all-star just yet, I do believe that he should be on the last vote in. Which he should win very easily. Also he should be in the Home Run Derby as of right now. My Home Run Derby Teams would be this:

American League- Robinson Cano, Mike Trout, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera
National League- David Wright, Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gonzalez, and Bryce Harper

All of those guys I have listed here bring buzz with them. MLB did a great job picking both New York stars as captains of the derby. Now you have one of the most exciting young players in the game Mike Trout, Chris Davis who is on an absolute tear (31 home runs) and Miguel Cabrera the reigning triple crown winner in the AL. Now that's something people would want to see. In the NL you have the captain of the Mets and the captain of the NL, Yasiel Puig who like I said has as much buzz around him as anyone right now. Carlos Gonzalez who leads the NL with 22 home runs, and Bryce Harper who if he can get a few more home runs before the derby, (he returns tonight) should be in because he is the National League Mike Trout. The two of them should be two of the best players in the game for years to come.

Basically, the way I would get every star there, (no duh) and get rid of the every team needs one player. The Home Run Derby needs stars like I have mentioned. Guys who will draw, is what its all about. People in New York are going to want to see Puig, Chris Davis, Mike Trout. Guys who they don't get to see live much. I harken back to the 90s when guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa all participated in the derby. Nowadays we have had guys like, Ricky Weeks, and Brandon Inge. Not that those guys don't have power and can't hit home runs. They don't jump off the page like Puig, Trout, Harper, Chris Davis off the year he is having.

Follow me on twitter @thedonnyfinkle

Alex Rios: A Name to Remember

With the way the Yankees have been playing, most recently being swept by the Orioles this weekend, all options should and will be pursued. One that has not gotten as much play is Alex Rios, yes, I know he's an outfielder and once Granderson comes back, the outfield won't be the problem. Think of it this way though, he's another righty bat with power. He hit .304, 25 home runs and 91 RBI's last season, and is at that same pace this season, hitting .270, 11 home runs and 36 RBI's on a bad team. The other point I want to bring up is he still can run, he has 14 stolen bases and the league leader has 20. Brett Gardner only has 11. He brings an element the Yankees don't usually have even with Gardner. Now as for what you would have to give up is the question. I'm not exactly sure, he is on the books for two years after this season so if the Yankees take his contract and don't make the White Sox take any of it, they could give up less for him. Plus the White Sox are shopping everyone outside of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko, which could me a trade for Rios and SS Alexei Ramirez. No one knows how well Jeter, if he can even come back, will play at SS. So Ramirez is always an option as well. Stay Tuned for updates and other rumors I can think up.

Follow me on Twitter @thedonnyfinkle 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Trade Possibilities

As the Yankees continue to play terrible baseball, the trade deadline seems to be further and further away after each passing loss. Although as we speak, its about one month away exactly. I've done some digging and found some intriguing trades with only about seven teams really out of it so far.

Paul Konerko- 1B White Sox- Konerko is 37, and is hitting .253 and only has seven home runs this year. Although, I believe he could be a good fit with the Yanks. He is right handed and still has power (he hit 26 home runs last year.) He is a high character guy as well. The only problem is the no-trade clause, that doesn't mean he wouldn't waive it to play with the Yankees, but it is an obstacle. Also he plays great defense so you wouldn't miss much at first.
What it would take: Corban Joseph 3B, J.R. Murphy C and Cash

Justin Morneau- 1B Twins- Now I know all the Francesa haters won't like this trade because Mike has been calling for Morneau since spring training. He's another guy who hasn't produced as much as he usually does (only three home runs.) which might make it easier to bring him in. He has only one year left on his deal which we know the Yankees like, and I think a change of scenery will do him some good, especially putting him in Yankee Stadium. Also his health, which has always been a question, seems to be okay for now. He's played in 72 games, which is encouraging.
What it would take: Brett Marshall P, Addison Maruszak SS

Brian McCann- C Braves- This one confuse you? I figured, why would a 1st place team trade their starting catcher? Well Evan Gattis, that's why. Even though he's on the DL right now he should be off it soon and the Yankees had been linked to McCann for a little while now. Another lefty hitter yes, but would you rather have him or Chris Stewart as your starting catcher? Exactly. He also has one year left on his deal, makes perfect sense for the bombers.
What it would take: Nik Turley P. Brett Marshall P

Also Michael Young, he is top on my list and he would be the guy I want, can play third and first and he just hits. If you know me, you know I like guys who hit for average over power, and Young is the prototypical guy for that type of player. Also liked Justin's idea of Johnathan Lucroy as well, wouldn't give up Slade Heathcott for him, but that's just me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to Improve the Yankees Offense

If being down 4-0 in the first inning with David Phelps at 30 pitches doesn't give you incentive to write about how to improve the Yankees pitiful offense, I do not know what does. Seriously, what does? Any suggestions? There's a lot of fixing needed here. Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano have done a damn fine job considering how pathetic this offense has been. So, let's give this a shot, shall we?

UPDATE: Down 9-0 in 3. You can't win if your SP does that.

Catcher - Acquire Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers for C Gary Sanchez, OF Slade Heathcott, P Brett Marshall

If you know me, I am not a Chris Stewart fan. He's had 4, count them, 4 extra base hits this year. Francisco Cervelli had 6 in 17 games. He should not be starting daily. Enter a legitimate Top 10 MLB catcher who hits and leading an MLB team in RBI: Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy. Tops on the Brew Crew with 42 RBI, hardly strikes out and has pop. He won't be easy to get, but with the Brewers desperate for pitching and/or young prospects in a bare farm system, he could be had, in my opinion for the right price. Doug Melvin will ask and the Yankees should oblige: they have catchers in the system, and OF's. Giving up the top prospect and a top 5 in Sanchez and Heathcott is a lot, but 27 year old catchers who hit and with team friendly contracts don't come around often.

Shortstop - Acquire Danny Espinosa from the Nationals for Phil Hughes

Espinosa strikes out....a lot. And he demoted to AAA for a rookie (albeit a really good in Anthony Rendon). But, he's a legit SS who can be a 20/20 player. He's also a switch hitter. He's got much more offensive talent  than Jayson Nix, and could replace him as the UTIL IF once Derek Jeter is back. Hughes is in the Yankees' doghouse as much as Espinosa's in the Nats', who need some SP depth. This makes sense for both teams.

Corner Infield - Acquire Michael Young from the Phillies for Ichiro Suzuki and Austin Romine

I'm being a little creative, here. I think you can substitute OF Ramon Flores for Ichiro to make it more legitimate. But, if the Phillies are going to sell, C Carlos Ruiz can very well be a on a new team, and I think they'll want a young C in return. The Yankees clearly don't believe in Romine and with Lucroy on board and JR Murphy in AAA, they don't need him. I also believe the Phils want to upgrade an OF spot to go with Dom Brown and Ben Revere. Young can play, though not too well, 1B/3B.

Post Trade (and Injury returns, so figure late July, August 1st Lineup) : 

CF Brett Gardner
DH Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
LF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
C   Jonathan Lucroy
1B Michael Young
RF Zoilo Almonte
SS Danny Espinosa

Much better. Never going to happen, but GM Justin is here to help. Let's chat this up on Twitter, shall we? Hit me @JMFlorio

Monday, June 24, 2013

What can we reasonably expect from Zoilo Almonte?

Happy Monday, everyone! I've been away lately at work, car shopping and I had my graduation party this weekend, but glad to be back! I'm gonna make sure I post more often. Over the last week, we've had a new, popular player in the Bronx: Zoilo Almonte. He's gotten off to a terrific start in New York and the question is: what can he do the rest of the way? Can he be a solid OF, and considering the awful options, the AL Rookie of the Year? Let's take a look:

Almonte So Far

His stat line as it shows so far: .538/.643/1.000. That's not sustainable, clearly. But, let's look a little deeper. Of the seven hits Almonte has had so far, 3 of them have gone for multiple bases: 2 doubles and a home run. He's been driving the ball, not some cheap hits. He's brought in 4 runs, as well, and scored two of his own. His BB-K ratio is even at 2 a piece. Just based on his demeanor at the plate, Almonte looks very comfortable in his own skin: he's not trying too hard. That's a big problem with rookies, as we've seen with David Adams: trying too hard to keep up with the first 2 weeks of his call-up.

Almonte's Minor League Stats

Batting average-wise, we can see Almonte translates out roughly to a mid-.270's hitter. The last 2 years were .276 in 2011, .277 in 2012. His plate discipline has been a little up and down. Almonte has been susceptible to strikeouts in the past, with his last 3 years at 130, 105, and 103. But, there has been improvement in his K rate: 27.9% in 2010, 24.1% in 2011, 24.5% in 2012 and down to 18.1% this year. He's cut it down by almost 10% over 3 seasons: that's a remarkable improvement by any hitter. He was also drawing walks at the highest rate of his career with 30 in only 68 games in AAA. Over 162 games, that would be 71 walks, a nice rate. Consider this: Adam Jones is on pace for only 17 this year and he's one of the AL's best OF. He'll steal bases, around 15 a year. He also did not have a massive platoon split, as a switch hitter, that's good (.281 against lefties, .303 against righties).

Almonte's Competition

We know Brett Gardner will play everyday. He's improved his hitting, especially against lefties and has been the Yankees MVP so far, by far. As will Curtis Granderson upon his return in about a month. That's two. Almonte's gonna play if he hits, and Ichiro and the Vern-Dog will platoon. Unfortunately, and oddly enough, Ichiro and Wells have tattooed lefties. If Tex were healthy, I would have did an Overbay against RHP and Wells/Ichiro against lefties platoon. Someone on this team has to hit righties. Almonte tattoos them. Joe Girardi can't play Wells (at sub .200!!!!) and Ichiro (at under .230!) against righties. Please, just hit, Zoilo.

Almonte's projections

Let's give him 350 at-bats the rest of the way, a .297 average (his AAA batting average) and at 42% of hits going for extra bases, at 104 hits, 44 would be for extra bases. Realistically, he's probably a .270 hitter with mid-level power. If the rates he had in AAA (Higher BB's, lower K's) are legitimate, he can be closer to that .297 hitter. I would project .270/10 HR/40 RBI the rest of the way. If he improves the average, he's the Yankees starting LF next year, a hope most Yankees fans (youth, productivity) and the front office (CHEAP $$$$) have.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Friday, June 14, 2013

Yankees call up Thomas Neal

Change is a-brewin'; according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, the Yankees optioned David Adams back to AAA and called up OF Thomas Neal. Adams started to be bunched behind Nix and Overbay when he came up but with Tex and Youk back, Adams was rarely going to see playing time. He needs the everyday development at AAA. But, let's welcome Neal to the team! If you're not familiar with him, I gave a scouting report of him back in April, which you can see here. Let's recap:

Neal will probably play as at least a RH DH, or OF against lefties, and with CJ Wilson on the hill tonight, could presumably start. But Neal's not just a platoon bat: he's hit both sides equally well (he's a righty, in case you could not deduce).

Overall line: .339/.426/.446/.872/2 HR/24 RBI/2 SB playing out of the leadoff spot since his DL stint.

Against Lefties: .333/.435/.436/.871 with a solid 7 BB to 6 K's
Against Righties: .341/.423/.450/.872 in roughly triple the amount of plate appearances against lefties

He hits righties better but works lefties better (13 BB to 30 K's against righties). Is he playing over his head a little? Probably, but Neal's consistently made contact in the minors. Could he be better than Wells and Ichiro? The bar's low, so hell yeah. As I do with all call-ups, I wish him luck.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Monday, June 3, 2013

Where do the Impending Yankee Free Agents go?

Happy Monday, gang. Hope you had a solid weekend. It's never too early to think about the trade deadline and impending free agency. General Managers have to set their teams for not only one year plans but 3,4,5 years down the road. So, let's take a look at the impending free agents of the New York Yankees and see where they end up, via my best estimation.

2B Robinson Cano
He's not going anywhere. The Yankees need him, and if he wants the money, he needs them. Expect him to retire in Pinstripes.
2014 Destination: Right back in the Bronx. Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

SS Derek Jeter
He's technically a free agent, but his option will be picked up and I think he'll play his last year as the 40 year old Yankees SS.
2014 Destination: Back at Short in the House that Ruth Built. Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

INF Jayson Nix
Nix is easily replaceable, though I can see Girardi pushing Cashman to bring him back at least as a MiLB FA (Minor League Free Agent). I give it 50/50 chance of returning, with the Yankees being outbid by a team who could use him a little more.
2014 Destination: Miami Marlins. Wild Card: Houston Astros

1B (and now OF) Lyle Overbay
Some team will give Overbay a nice rotational bench/DH spot. He hits righties well, and in the right platoon, can be a solid contributor. I can see him replacing Carlos Pena's role in Houston.
2014 Destination: Houston Astros. Wild Card: Cleveland Indians

OF Brennan Boesch
I can see the Yankee giving Boesch a bigger role next year, particularly as a part of the DH rotation, OF rotation and possibly a starter if they dump Ichiro like I want them to.
2014 Destination: New York Yankees. Wild Card: Kansas City Royals

SP Hiroki Kuroda
It's either Japan or the Bronx for the Yankees #2 starter. They might be able to squeeze another year out of him, but I also place this at 50/50 return, with a slight lean to Japan.
2014 Destination: Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Wild Card: New York Yankees

1B/3B Kevin Youkilis
I think Youk stays in the American League because he needs the DH time. A team desperate for offense will come a calling; i.e. the Twins.
2014 Destination: Minnesota Twins. Wild Card: Chicago Cubs

RP Joba Chamberlain
He's as good as gone from the Bronx. Some team desperate for relief help will give him a ring to close. Its up to him to take probably more money from a contender to set-up or less to close and possibly play that into a multi-year deal.
2014 Destination: Houston Astros. Wild Card: Milwaukee Brewers

RP Boone Logan
I can see the Yankees bringing Logan back, but considering his 4 above average years in the Bronx, a team, much like ones for Joba, will call for help.
2014 Destination: New York Mets. Wild Card: Chicago White Sox

DH Travis Hafner
He'll DH somewhere, but probably not in the Bronx. They need the bench spot for younger players and the DH spot for A-Rod.
2014 Destination: Seattle Mariners. Wild Card: Baltimore Orioles

RP Mariano Rivera
He is technically a free agent.
2014 Destination: Panama's lovely beaches. Wild Card: Yankees Spring Training Instructor

OF Curtis Granderson
He can come back to the Bronx; I can see it happening, but at a low percentage, maybe 20-25%. At 32, it's his last big payday of his career.
2014 Destination: Chicago White Sox. Wild Card: Chicago Cubs

SP Andy Pettitte
I think Andy hangs it up. If he wants to come back, he'll be back with open arms, but his son Josh will be a top draft pick in this week's draft and it's time to be Dad and just sit back and cheer the next great Pettitte (hopefully).
2014 Destination: Yankees Spring Training Instructor. Wild Card: Guest appearance on Swamp People. (He is from Louisiana, you know).

SP Phil Hughes
Yankees fans will run this guy out of town. He needs to go to a big park and San Francisco is a perfect fit with Lincecum's impending free agency.
2014 Destination: San Francisco Giants. Wild Card: San Diego Padres

Whaddya think? Hit me up on Twitter @JMFlorio

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dilemma Deciphering: Solving Top MLB Position Problems

Happy June! We're about a third of the way through the MLB season, with some outbreaks (Pittsburgh) and some really bad teams which ended up being worse than we thought (Miami) and many teams right around where we thought they would be - Yankees, Tigers, Cardinals. As with the game, injuries are a part of them. But, some replacements are doing very well. So, how do we solve these dilemmas? Let's take a look at a few:

Marlins Outfield

They are really bad, I know. Yet, the outfield really has not been too awful. Marcell Ozuna has done well since his call-up, hitting .330. Chris Coghlan might have figured it out again. Justin Ruggiano leads the team in HRs, Giancarlo Stanton is on his way back and they have veteran Juan Pierre. Clearly, Stanton will play RF everyday, so that's one. The best solution would be some kind of platoon with Pierre and Coghlan versus righties and Ruggiano and Ozuna versus lefties. I think it would be best for Miami to play the younger, more talented Coghlan and Ozuna, but that won't happen until after the trade deadline, presumably Pierre and Ruggiano actually having some trade value.

The Evan Gattis Problem

The Braves have an elite catcher in Brian McCann. They have a talented OF in the brothers Upton and Jason Heyward. They also have a talented 1B in Freddie Freeman. They also play with no DH. Yet, they have Evan Gattis, a human power stroke. Consider this: if Gattis had 550 at-bats, he would be on pace for 47 home runs this year. If I'm Fredi Gonzalez, I get Gattis in the line-up somehow everyday. I've been saying for years how much BJ Upton is incredibly overrated and now overpaid. You sit the guy who isn't hitting. Sure, it is incredibly tough to sit an OF making $15 million this year, but they need him to be right for the next 4 years of his deal. If they fix him now, he and Gattis (presumably at C if McCann leaves via free agency) can hit dozens of home runs for the Braves for years.

Should the Tigers platoon Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia?

Short answer, Yes. Dirks has historically struggled against lefties and against LH starters, he does not have a hit. Garcia's only hitting .200 against RH starters, but he's a better long-term option for an OF spot over, say Matt Tuiasosopo, who is playing way over his head at hitting .315 this year. Send the best lineups out there when you can.

Yankees log jam at everywhere that they don't actually need help at

You know what and who I mean here - Kevin Youkilis, David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, Brennan Boesch, Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner. Oh, and Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez in 2 months, give or take. Where do they need the help at? SS and C. Where don't they have help at? SS and C. Leaving Granderson and A-Rod off the the table temporarily, the most standard lineup here on out is going to feature Youk, Nix (at SS probably), Tex, Wells, Ichiro and Pronk in it most nights. As much as I like Adams, I'd rather he play everyday in AAA versus bench-warming. Overbay is going to have to be cut eventually, and I would love to send he and Ichiro off in a package somewhere (Mets?!) to get Boesch more playing time and ease the jam. It's a good problem to have, but it would be nice if the other weak spots had this depth, too.

How do you solve these problems? Tweet me @JMFlorio

Thursday, May 23, 2013

11 Yankees Trades We Wish We Could Take Back

Brian Cashman has been a pretty good General Manager for the Yankees, being the architect of 4 World Series winners, a ton of AL East titles and this year in 2013, receiving a lot of props for Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner. While Cashman continually gets doubted sometimes by a large faction of Yankees fans, he often gets the job done well. This article covers 11 trades of the last 11 years (including this year as well) Yankees fans would probably wish he would take back. Here we go:

(In Chronological Order)

  1. 2003/2004: Nick Johnson, Randy Choate and Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez. Vazquez was good everywhere but New York. Had a 4.91 ERA in 2004. Johnson's injuries killed his career but he had a few good years in DC and Choate has been a revelation in his mid-30's, though in NYC, he was mediocre. Rivera was a solid producer out in LA for the Angels. 
  2. 2004: Jose Contreras for Esteban Loaiza. Contreras was an World Series winner and All-Star in Chicago and became a quality reliever the last few years. Loaiza had a 8.50 ERA in New York. Enough said.
  3. 2004/2005: Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey and Dioner Navarro for Randy Johnson. Vazquez went back to being a solid pitcher. Halsey was a "what could have been" guy and Navarro is catching in Chicago for the Cubs. Johnson had a 4.37 ERA in 2 years in NYC.
  4. 2006/2007: Gary Sheffield for Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett. All 3 pitchers pitched a COMBINED 6 1/3 innings for New York. Sheffield hit .275 with 25 HR and 75 RBI and 22 SB in 2007 for the Tigers.
  5. 2007/2008: Tyler Clippard for Jonathan Albaladejo. Clippard is one of the most dominant set-up men in baseball, thriving in DC with a 2.83 career ERA there. Albaladejo pitched to a 4.70 ERA in a season plus in NYC.
  6. 2008: Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Karstens, McCutchen and Tabata have been solid contributors for Pittsburgh, both in starting/bench/relief roles. Ohlendorf kinda stunk, but Nady and Marte were not the big contributors the Yankees expected. Nady's injury opened up 4 solid years from Nick Swisher, though. Marte stunk too.
  7. 2009/2010: Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson. This one divides fans a lot. On the one hand, Granderson has supplied a lot of power....also a lot of strikeouts, whereas Jackson has gotten better with each year and they could really use Kennedy in the rotation. Your thoughts?
  8. 2009/2010: Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. I was happy to see Melky go and Logan's been good in New York. Vazquez stunk again, Dunn's been a solid lefty reliever and Vizcaino could be in the Cubs rotation soon, and is only 22.
  9. 2010: Zach McAllister for Austin Kearns. 2 months of Austin Kearns hitting .235 for a pitcher who arguably has been Cleveland's best the last 2 years. These are the ones that irk...a lot.
  10. 2010: Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes for Lance Berkman. Berkman hit .255 with 1 HR with NYC. Paredes is most well-known for 2 collisions with the Astros 2B's the last few weeks (don't miss him) but Melancon, outside of last year's disaster with Boston, has been damn good in the bullpen.
  11. 2012: George Kontos for Chris Stewart. Chris Stewart sucks. Kontos helped the Giants win a World Series last year in the bullpen. Enough Said.
Which one bothers you the most? I hate #9 and #11 because they're so useless, moreso than the big ones. Tweet me which ones you hate @JMFlorio

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pick-ups

Is your fantasy team hurting like mine? It's time to scour the waiver wire. The best teams are able to make adjustments throughout the season and catapult towards a solid fantasy season. Here's some help: these players are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues.


  1. 1B Brandon Belt - You know he's playing just about everyday, and with solid offensive producers Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval around him, he's got RBI opportunities. He's hitting .300/6 HR/17 RBI over the last 30 games. Grab him now. (In 76.9% of leagues)
  2. 2B/3B David Adams - I admittedly have a massive man-crush on the new Yankees 3B. The only thing that has kept him from MLB action is a brutal 2010 ankle injury, but he destroys lefties and has good numbers against righties, too. Puts together solid at-bats. (In 99.8% of leagues)

  1. OF David DeJesus -  A rare bright spot in the Cubs line-up. Someone's gotta get on for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, right? I've always found DeJesus to be terribly underrated, and outside of that horrible year with Oakland, he's hit just about every year. (In 86% of leagues)
  2. OF Matt Joyce - He's got power, and in Tampa's line-up, that's a rarity for non-Longorias. He had a rough start but over the last 30 games, it's return to normal: .284/6 HR/17 RBI and more BB's than K's. (In 84.2% of leagues)
Starting Pitching

  1. SP Julio Teheran - He's not getting the K's that I believe people expected, but his last 4 starts have been pretty solid overall. A trendy sleeper pick, he's starting to get going, carrying a great 2.41 ERA over the last 33.2 innings. (In 80.8% of leagues)
  2. SP Jeff Locke - He'll get bumped from the rotation first, but he's hot. Carrying a 1.70 ERA over the last 37 innings, he'll get looks until he starts to get hit a little more. Ride him until he returned to normal. (In 76.6% of leagues)
Hopefully this helps. If you're looking for other positions, tweet me @JMFlorio.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How the Yankees will look in 2014

It's 1/4 of the way through the 2013 MLB season, and the New York Yankees are atop the AL East with one of the best records in baseball. All they do is keep winning. With that being said, it's never too early to examine what the team can look like in the future. Most of this is purely hypothetical, but what the hell?

C Francisco Cervelli
C Austin Romine

I would not be surprised if Chris Stewart is as good as gone when Cervelli comes back this year, but next year? They should go with Cervelli/Romine, ala Girardi/Posada circa 1999: playing time right down the middle.

1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B David Adams

IF Eduardo Nunez
IF Corban Joseph

Not a surprise here. Tex will be back. Cano will not leave via free agency: the Yankees cannot let him. I think Jeter returns for his last season next year. Kevin Youkilis will not be back either; I think David Adams runs with the 3B job with a solid rookie year. Back-ups will include Nunez at SS/2B and I think Corban Joseph replaces Jayson Nix; he can play corner IF and 2B.

LF Vernon Wells
CF Brett Gardner
RF Brennan Boesch

OF Zoilo Almonte

Wells and Gardner have 2 spots locked in. I think the Yankees let Granderson go because he's a candidate to be overpaid with declining skills. I also believe that the Yankees might let Ichiro go because they do not want to pay him to sit on the bench: they wanted him to hit his 3000th hit and he won't, so why not let Boesch and minor leaguer Zoilo Almonte compete for RF? Boesch wins and Almonte is a back-up.

Designated Hitter
DH Alex Rodriguez

Can't forget him, right?

Starting Rotation
SP CC Sabathia
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Michael Pineda
SP David Phelps
SP Vidal Nuno

CC and Pineda are locks. I think they convince Kuroda to come back for another year. I also believe Phelps can lock down another if he pitches well the rest of the way. I believe the 5 spot is wide open. If Andy Pettitte wants to come back, he's got it. They could go with Vidal Nuno or Brett Marshall competing. Or a cheap veteran, along the Cubs signing Scott Feldman last off-season, but Nuno is a safe pick. I think (and secretly hope) Phil Hughes gets overpaid somewhere.

LR Adam Warren
LHS Cesar Cabral
RP Shawn Kelley
RP Preston Claiborne
RP Mark Montgomery
SU Grant Balfour

CL David Robertson

I'm going with a young, talented, cheap bullpen. Mo retires, D-Rob closes and Balfour is the veteran back-up. I think the young guns take over with Joba, Boone Logan leaving via free agency. They are loaded with bullpen guys in AAA, might as well recycle them and see who sticks, right?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

At a Glance: Yankees top Minor Leaguers so far - Offense

It's finals week for this graduating senior, and needless to say with papers, exams, presentations, graduation prep and searching for a job, it's been quite the busy last few weeks. But, I have a little bit of time today to hit on the Yankees minor league system so far through its first month. Some players have gotten off to great starts and earned promotions to the big leagues (Austin Romine, Preston Claiborne, Vidal Nuno) and bumped up a level (Rob Refsnyder). So, we will look at some not only my favorite prospects in the Yankees pipeline but also some top performers offensively. Pitchers will come in a second post. Here we go:

C JR Murphy/AA Trenton  - .318/.412/.553/.965; .318/4 HR/18 RBI/14 BB/11 K

Murphy has been killing it so far down in Trenton, and I'm sure that AAA Scranton isn't too far off. He's kind of the forgotten catching prospect in this system, and keeping him behind the plate will help his defensive development.

1B Kyle Roller/AA Trenton - .298/.362/.482/.845; .298/4 HR/21 RBI/9 BB/31 K
2B David Adams/AAA Scranton - .325/.402/.506/.908; .325/2 HR/8 RBI/9 BB/14 K
SS Rob Refsnyder/A Charleston/Tampa - .378/.486/.504/.990; .378/1 HR/17 RBI/13 SB/20 BB/21 K
3B Ronnier Mustelier/AAA Scranton - .188/.316/.438/.753; .188/1 HR/1 RBI/3 BB/4 K

Kyle Roller is a big ol' boy - in the body shape of St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Adams. He's got some pop which can develop but that plate discipline worries me long-term. Adams would have gotten the call to the bigs a few weeks back, but due to weird roster regulations regarding his release & re-signing, he can't get the call until May 15. Chris Nelson needs to start hitting to keep Adams away - it's always been about health with Adams, never his ability to hit. I cheated with Refsnyder - he doesn't have a position but he can hit. He went to a big BB school in Arizona, so he could be in AA Trenton shortly and possibly in the majors as soon as 2014. Mustelier just finished his rehab and could replace Ben Francisco shortly.

LF Thomas Neal/AAA Scranton - .339/.382/.435/.818; .339/0 HR/14 RBI/3 BB/12 K
CF Zoilo Almonte/AAA Scranton - .294/.397/.451/.848; .294/3 HR/17 RBI/18 BB/21 K
RF Jake Cave/A Charleston - .283/.339/.377/.716; .283/0 HR/3 RBI/4 BB/11 K

I was going to give RF to Tyler Austin but he's kind of struggling, but I'm confident he'll turn it around soon. Neal was doing really well before a leg injury, and hopefully he is not too far away from returning. I admittedly like Almonte a lot - that BB rate has slowed to only 1 in May so far, but also a much lower K rate with only 3 in 19 May at-bats so far. Almonte is also a better hitter with runners on: .339 with runners on and .290 with RISP. Fingers crossed for Future RBI Machine. Cave has looked solid since being added to the Riverdogs roster.

I'll leave it up to you. Trenton's Neil Medchill or Scranton's Corban Joseph? Tweet me your answer @JMFlorio.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reviewing the New York Giants Draft

With the NFL Draft completed, we no longer have to listen to the whole ESPN "Todd McShay vs Mel Kiper" 'feud' in which they are frenemies. Or Mike Mayock being Mike Mayock, though I'd take him and Rich Eisen's hilarity over Boomer, Jon Gruden, Kiper and McShay being annoying as all hell. At least enjoy Mike Mayock's dancing. Let's recap how the Giants did. Reportedly, co-owner John Mara wanted the Giants to address the offensive and defensive lines, and GM Jerry Reese listened. Reese adhered to his "best value pick" philosophy, notably in the 3rd and 4th round picks. Here is Florio Facts' recap and analysis:

Round One: OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Jokingly, the Giants said he won his draft selection with his response to the question, "Who is the most prominent Syracuse alum that you know?" by answering with Coach Tom Coughlin. Surely Coughlin has had discussions with former Syracuse and current Bills HC Doug Marrone about Pugh and another Giants draft pick in the 4th round. I did not care for the pick at first because it was not a glaring need, but upon second thought, it made sense. Pugh played all 5 OL positions at 'Cuse, according to Mayock, which will help the Giants this year until he likely secures LG with Kevin Boothe's impending free agency. His ceiling? A better, younger, Dave Diehl, who he could replace at RT.

Round Two: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Ohio State picks always seem to be boom or bust (Boom: James Laurinatis, Nick Mangold/Bust: Anthony Gonzalez, Troy Smith). Let's hope it is a boom. I also questioned this pick, with 6 DT's on the Giants roster already but here's what won me: he's a run-stuffer. The Giants, finishing 31st in run defense last year, and with sub-par linebackers, need help here. If he stays in shape (a problem at OSU), he should be a fine yang to pass-rushing Cullen Jenkins' ying.

Round Three: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Here's one of the biggest steals of the draft. On some boards as a late first rounder, and 33 overall on Mayock's, the Giants took him at 81. He has first round talent, and is younger than me at 20 years old. Moore has the potential to start as soon as next year with Justin Tuck's impending free agency and looking much slower in 2012. Moore fell as a result of poor combine times and questions surround his work ethic. Coughlin should be able to keep his head on straight and be the most valuable contributor for the Giants 2013 draft class this season.

Round Four: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
This pick threw nearly every commentator. Particularly so because Reese traded up for Nassib. He was projected to go as early as #8 overall to Marrone's Bills but fell all the way to round 4. Nassib is a smart thrower with solid awareness, a good arm and will stand in the pocket and take a hit. If the Giants can correct his flawed mechanics (particularly his footwork), he's a developmental project which they can spin for draft picks later or down the line replace Eli Manning. Nassib safeguards themselves against a long-term Manning injury (Kirk Cousins looked good for Washington last year, right?).

Round Five: S Cooper Taylor, Richmond
Mayock compared a lot of safeties to Seattle's SS Kam Chancellor, a steal in the 5th round 3 years ago, Taylor is another. Taylor is a big dude, towering at 6'4". Marc Ross, Giants' college scouting director said of Taylor, "We think we got a hidden gem there.This guy is big, fast, smart, plays the game the right way. He does a lot of things for Richmond. They line him up at multiple positions. You’ll see him in the box; you’ll see him back deep. He covers the slot. Productive there...The kid is really smart. Loves football, so we think he has a ton of upside." I would love him to move to OLB because the Giants can't cover to save their lives.

Round Seven: RB Michael Cox, Massachusetts
Nearly Mr. Irrelevant, Reese believes that there is some upside to him. "“You don’t see a lot of production but if you look closely at this guy, we are excited about him. He is big, powerful, elusive guy with speed. He has got a lot of things that we like about him.” It can't hurt to have more running backs, though, I wish the Giants pulled the trigger on a LB here.

So, how did the Giants do? If you believe in the old adage of "You win games in the trenches" you'll probably like this draft. Reese had an eye on 2014 with this draft and free agencies coming. I'll give it a B+ with the potential to hit an A.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Roster Changes the Yankees Should Consider

My delays in blog posts are getting shorter, but my schedule is picking up. Nonetheless, the Yankees have slipped a little in the last few games, going down to 11-8 overall, but since they had a brutal start, they are still in better shape than they were 2 weeks ago. The Yankees have struggled against lefties and the bullpen has been a little taxed at points. Fortunately, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are not too far away and Granderson should be back within the next three weeks if all goes well. In the mean time, the Yankees should consider some reinforcements with Kevin Youkilis' back acting up and more right handed bench/platoon prowess. (Also check out Joe Pawlikowski's post over at River Ave Blues).

Dump Ben Francisco

He has played a handful of innings in the outfield, so why keep a guy who is hitting .091 with his 2 hits being singles? You don't. DFA him and hopefully some team will want to trade some organizational pitching depth (Hell, the Yankees got Shawn Kelley for Abe Almonte, they can manage this). I propose calling up OF Thomas Neal, who is raking in AAA.

Bring up Ronnie Mustelier when healthy

He would be perfect for the Yankees roster right now. He does not have a clear position because he's not all that great, but, he's a solid right handed bat who has mashed at every level of the minors. At 28, he's not a prospect but he offers some versatility as a bench bat who can hit his way into the lineup.

Bring up Vidal Nuno and Send down David Phelps, Adam Warren or Ivan Nova

The Yankees have 3 #5/long-man types. They only need 2. Warren hasn't pitched much and the Yankees need another lefty. Vidal Nuno's stuff as a starter does not translate to the majors, but his K rate and his minuscule walk rate (only 2 in 23+ innings!) could make him a dominant lefty out of the pen.

Play Boesch everyday

Ichiro is not hitting. He's grounding everything to the left side of the infield. I want to see Boesch in everyday at-bats until Wells eventually gets them with Grandy coming back. He can hold his own against lefties, too.

Acquire a UTIL/SS

Pretty self-explanatory, right?

Let's see what happens. Debate me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Thursday, April 18, 2013

All Aboard the Zoilo Almonte Train: A look at the Yankees AAA Outfield

Outside of Brett Gardner, the Yankees haven't had a homegrown, regular starting OF since Melky Cabrera, a long-term one since Bernie Williams (unless you wanna count Hideki Matsui, but I'm not going to).  Needless to say, the Yankees could have a potential OF of all homegrown players down the line. Three of the top 5 NYY prospects are OF's Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin. They are a little further down the road, though, with Williams in A ball and Heathcott and Austin at AA Trenton.

With that being said, the Yankees have an outfield of possible MLB contributors at AAA Scranton: Melky Mesa, Thomas Neal and Zoilo Almonte. These three players have their fair share of supporters and detractors. Needless to say, on one of them, I am a detractor. One of them I believe can be a solid MLB contributor and one could be in the Yankees OF starting sooner than later. The article's title does give it away slightly, but we'll deal with that as it comes. Let's explore these three players.

Melky Mesa
Mesa has slowly worked his way through the system, and at 25, needs a breakthrough soon. Mesa's also got some intriguing qualities which have enticed their fair share of fans. He's developed some decent power, averaging 18 home runs a year since 2009 and 22 stolen bases a year as well. Mesa also has good range in the OF and a very good arm. So: power, speed, defense, arm - why is he my least favorite of the three? There are a few trends heading in the wrong direction. His batting average sits lower than his ability because of a high strikeout rate (33.4/28.9/33.4/25.7 2009-2012) and a declining walk rate which is already low (51 walks in 2009 - 44 - 39 - 36 in 2012).

If the Yankees wanted Drew Stubbs (literally the best MLB comparison), they could have traded for him themselves. Mesa is organizational depth and a great candidate in a package to clear 40-man roster depth.

Thomas Neal
Not familiar with Neal? Don't blame yourself. Neal was picked up after the Indians released him, rather surprisingly. If I had to place Neal as a hitter for an MLB comparison, it would be Martin Prado. Neal does not a standout in any one area, but does a little bit of everything well, which is why I'm surprised he did not get favored as the back-up OF over Ezequiel Carrera last year. And they could use him now, with Bourn out. A Prado comparison is not a negative connotation: he's hit for solid averages in all levels, he's got a little pop in his bat, but will be closer to a 12-15 HR a year guy, good plate discipline, no platoon split and can steal a few bags. His defensive prowess leaves a little to be desired, but his arm is solid.

I think Neal could be a solid starter if he gets the chance, but he deserves a shot as the #4/RH bench bat. At least his career is not dead in the water like Ben Francisco's.

Zoilo Almonte
I'm a little higher on Zoilo than others, so place me on the Zoilo bandwagon. He's been a spring training star the last few seasons, which is one reason why the Yankees front office might really dig him. At least Joe Girardi and staff have gotten a good look at him the last few years. GM Brian Cashman projects him as an everyday RF, and Zoilo had put a really nice 2012 to promote him to AAA this year: .277/21 HR/70 RBI/15 SB. What appeals to me about Zoilo is not only his awesome name (at least you can't confuse him with that other Zoilo), but he is a switch hitter. He's better from the left side, ironically, against righties and unlike other switch-hitters, but it keeps him in the lineup everyday.

Defensively, Zoilo's arm is his best quality. He can play all 3 positions, but I think he's best in RF at Yankee Stadium. Almonte's biggest downside is his plate discipline is weak: his walk rate and K's were heading in the right direction but dipped in 2012, i.e. more K's, less BB's. far in 2013, he has a whopping 13 BB's (he had 25 ALL LAST YEAR) and if he keeps his K rate steady, over 450 at bats, its a solid 85 K's. Not too bad. I was trying to think of an MLB comparison, and I think Nick Swisher is probably the best: but with a little more speed and a little less power. If he develops that plate discipline, he'll have a fine career, hopefully in pinstripes.

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