Thursday, November 29, 2012

YCN: PED Era Stars Led By Clemens, Bonds on Hall Ballot

This may be one of my last articles for Yahoo, since they have revamped much of the way they operate their contributor network. It especially hurts those of us who write sports articles, which have been moved to the Yahoo Voices.

It has resulted in little to no exposure, which translates to next to no views. Time to look for a new gig.

In the meantime though, here's my take on Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and others of the PED era that are now on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Jack Morris, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, and Jeff Bagwell (don't judge a book by its bulk) would be on my ballot if I had a vote.

One Mo Year For Rivera

The Yankees brought back Andy Pettitte yesterday, so you knew it was only a matter of time before Mariano Rivera was back in the fold.

The Yankees and Rivera have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $10MM deal that includes incentives that could earn baseball's greatest closer another $5MM.

Mo missed most of the 2012 season when he ripped up his right ACL while shagging fly balls in Kansas City. I wouldn't expect him to discontinue his pre-game ritual, though maybe he should skip it in KC.

Yankees' Martin Goes West...a little

Russell Martin knew he wasn't going to get one of those fancy $13.3MM qualifying offers to stay with the Yankees. He probably didn't mind either; several reports have Martin ready to sign a three-year, $24MM deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Martin took a beating from many Yankees fans who only looked at his overall offensive numbers and ignored his defensive skills and his ability to call a game.

The Yankees now have to decide whether to pursue Mike Napoli, who will certainly want more money than Martin,  trade for a front line catcher, or work with what they've got (Eli Whiteside, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine).

Au-revoir Monsieur Martin.

UPDATE 11/30: Martin's contract with Pittsburgh is 2 years for $17MM ($2MM of which is a signing bonus).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pettitte Makes It Official; Mo to Follow

I had no sooner seen my latest Yahoo article published - Pettitte, Rivera Prepare to Re-Sign as Yankees Move Forward: A Fan's Take - when I heard that Andy Pettitte had officially re-signed with the Yankees for 2013.

The Yankees second winningest left-hander will receive $12MM guaranteed plus incentives. I'm surprised the Yankees were willing to give him that much up front considering Pettitte's 2012 salary was $2.5MM and he missed much of the season with a broken leg. Then again he proved he could still pitch and the Yankees clearly wanted him back.

Mariano Rivera should not be far behind with a contract similar to that of Pettitte's. Pettitte's deal sews up the Yankees rotation for the coming season, though the number five spot could be a competition between Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and others.

Click here and you can read more on the Yankees interest in Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Ichiro Suzuki.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yankees, Kuroda Moving Closer

Hiroki Kuroda turned down the Yankees $13.3MM qualifying offer earlier this month, but it appears a return to the Bronx could be imminent. ESPN's Jayson Stark used Twitter to tell the masses that the Yankees are "very confident" they will be able to re-sign the 37-yr old right-hander.

The rumor mill had Kuroda wanting to return to southern California, where he pitched as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2008-2011. The Angels were also said to be in the mix for Kuroda's services, should he decide he does not want to return to his native Japan.

Kuroda was the Yankees' best pitcher in the second half of 2012 and finished with 16 wins and 3.32 ERA.

UPDATE 9 pm ET - It's official, Hiroki Kuroda returns to the Bronx for one more year with a raise to $15MM.

David Cone and El Duque' Canine Link is Gone

It was 1998 and the Yankees fans were all waiting to see when Cuban defector Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez would make his Major League debut. Who knew he would get a helping hand or, more precisely, a finger in his call up. David Cone tweeted earlier today that his Mom's beloved dog Veronica passed away at age 16. It was a 2-year old Veronica that nipped Coney's finger back in '98 and hastened the call up of El Duque. The rest is history...

Rest in peace sweet Veronica and thank you for introducing El Duque to all of us.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yankees and Rupert Murdoch Not Perfect Together

If you know me, you know I hate Fox News and much of the way Fox Sports televises games. Fox Broadcasting is part of News Corporation, the mass media entity run by the 81-year old spawn of the devil, Rupert Murdoch. So you should be able to understand why I threw up in my mouth a little after I read that Murdoch is on the verge of purchasing a 49% share of the YES Network.

The team is not for sale according to an unnamed official, but at one time George Steinbrenner considered selling the team to another media dirt bag named Jim Dolan. Thankfully, Steinbrenner had a change of heart. Will Hal and Hank Steinbrenner stick to their guns at a time when the economy is hurting and the Yankees priced themselves out of packed houses with a new stadium that was aimed at those who eat pate and drink champagne?

While the NY media has been focused on the Mets money troubles and their involvement with Bernie Madoff, perhaps the Yankees are hurting as well. (Which means making less money; to you and me that's not a loss, but it is those who are a part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.)

Selling a chunk of the network and/or the team itself is one thing, but to sell it to a scum bag like Murdoch is another. By now you know of the phone hacking scandal that News Corp was involved in, which led to Murdoch closing the doors on the 168-yr old "News of the World" and caused him to drop out of a deal to take over a satellite company that would have been worth billions of dollars. Numerous criminal charges were filed against the executives of News Corp., including Murdoch.

The Tasmanian Devil was even called unfit to run a newspaper empire by a British Parliamentary panel. Apparently the Steinbrenner family doesn't care who they deal with as long as their money is green.

This past Sunday, Murdoch caused controversy by tweeting about the "Jewish owned press" being anti-Israel. He later apologized, but pretty much said he didn't know why he was. He still felt he was right, which is no surprise. Fox News has built an empire by blatantly lying to their viewers and never having any accountability for it. As a matter of fact, Murdoch takes no responsibility for anything his companies or employees do.

Hal, Hank, Randy Levine, just say NO to the YES sale. I don't want Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia to one day get their checks from News Corp.

YCN: Yankees Low Key in Free Agent Market: A Fan's Cold Stove View

Josh Hamilton won't be donning the Pinstripes

Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse. Don't bother wasting your time wondering if the Yankees will go after any of these free agents. The answer is a resounding no. The Steinbrenner family is looking to get the payroll down under $189MM for 2014 when new tax thresholds take effect.

With a ton of money locked up in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia, it could be a very cold hot stove this off-season.

For more, read my latest article for the Yahoo Contributor Network by clicking here and as always, thank you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yankee Go 0-3 in Qualifying Offers

The Yankees were sincerely hoping that Hiroki Kuroda would accept the Yankees' $13.3MM qualifying offer and avoid free agency. They weren't so lucky. Kuroda, along with Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano rejected the Yankees one year offering, meaning the Yankees will get compensation if any of the three signs with another team.

Everyone knew that Swisher and Soriano would turn down the offer, but the Yankees hoped the raise from last year's $10MM salary would be enough to get Kuroda to return. Instead, Kuroda will hit the open market and there is still the possibility he could return to Japan as well.

The Red Sox are, of course, one of the teams that have an interest in Kuroda, who is also being sought by his old LA Dodgers squad.

The Yankees will have a tougher time trying to get Soriano to return since he will be looking for a large, multi-year deal based on his 2012 season as closer.  Swisher doesn't fit into the Yankees plans any more - meaning they know how productive he is during the regular season and how flat out horrible he is in the post-season.

YCN: Mason Williams Rockets to the Top of the 2013 Yankees Prospect List

For some reason Yahoo has decided to move the Yahoo Sports contributor articles into Yahoo Voices, which doesn't get the exposure that the sports section does. That being said, I have written a new article, published in Voices, that details the Yankees top 10 prospects (determined by Baseball America) for 2013.

Mason Williams has been steadily moving up the ranks is number 1 this year. Gary Sanchez and Slade Heathcott are in the top 10 as well, while Dellin Betances and Dante Bichette dropped off from last year's list.

To see the full article, click here, and thank you.

Here's the list of the BA's top 10 Yankees prospects for the last decade.

YearPlayer, Pos2012 Org
2003Jose Contreras, rhpPhillies
2004Dioner Navarro, cReds
2005Eric Duncan, 3bRoyals
2006Phil Hughes, rhpYankees
2007Phil Hughes, rhpYankees
2008Joba Chamberlain, rhpYankees
2009Austin Jackson, ofTigers
2010Jesus Montero, cMariners
2011Jesus Montero, cMariners
2012Jesus Montero, cMariners

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tino Comes Through Again in the Clutch

This post was originally going to be called "Say it ain't so, Tino", but thankfully Tino Martinez is now a member of the Florida Marlins coaching staff and NOT a member of the Boston Red Sox' staff.

The BamTino was in the running for the hitting coach job under new manager John Farrell up in Boston. While it's nowhere near the same level of horror as Don Mattingly wearing Dodgers Blue, Tino in the Old Town team's uniform would be vomitous nonetheless.

Constantino Martinez, as Michael Kay likes to refer to him, is the new hitting coach under the Marlins' new head man, Mike Redmond. He replaces Eduardo Perez, who became the Houston Astros' bench coach.

Tino first tried his hand at broadcasting as a member of ESPN's Baseball Tonight, but was a monumental failure. His delivery, unfortunately, was cringe worthy and unbearable to watch.  He then worked as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman also spent time as unpaid coach for his brother in-law Joe Urso at the U. of Tampa.(He also returned to UT last year to complete his bachelor's degree in liberal studies with a concentration in business and marketing.)

Good luck Tino, NY still loves ya.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coney Joins Foley Fundraiser

Saw David Cone tweet on Twitter today and asked him what he's doing now that the season is over. He was nice enough to answer and his immediate plans are good ones.

Foley's in the Big Apple will be holding a fundraiser on November 15 for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Among those in attendance will be Coney himself.

If you can make it, please do so.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yankees Get Themselves Another Crappy Catcher

The great tradition continues...

Kevin Cash
Alberto Castillo
Bobby Estelella
Sal Fasano
John Flaherty
Todd Greene
Chad Moeller
Gustavo Molina
Jose Molina *
Wil Nieves
Joe Oliver
Chris Stewart
Kelly Stinnett
Chris Turner
Chris Widger

and now Eli Whiteside, acquired off waivers today from the San Francisco Giants. What do they all have in common? They are all catchers that couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag (*Jose Molina doesn't really belong on this list since he defense with the Yankees more than made up for his lack of hitting. He did hit .316 in a brief stint after being acquired from the Angels in 2007.) Some weren't very good defensively either.

Whiteside was a 6th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2001 and made it to the Major Leagues with them in 2005. He spent the next three seasons in the minors before making it back to the bigs with the San Francisco Giants in 2009.

His career splits for 537 career plate appearances is .215/.273/.335. That's a .608 OPS. Now, obviously the move is likely to just add some veteran depth to the Yankees Triple-A squad, but all of the aforementioned catchers played with the Yankees since 2000. Nothing personal against Eli Whiteside, but hopefully he's not added to that list.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Yankees To Still Go to Mo

Mariano Rivera vowed he would be back to pitch for the Yankees in 2013 shortly after he underwent surgery to repair the knee he tore up shagging fly balls back on May 3.  Recent rumors, however, were that Mo was having second thoughts about a comeback.  Fret no more.

The greatest closer in baseball history has informed GM Brian Cashman that he intends on pitching in 2013. When Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract, it left the Yankees 40-man roster without a proven closer, with the exception of David Aardsma, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Now the Yankees can (hopefully) count on Rivera to stay healthy and close out games in 2013 while they make plans to transition the role to Aardsma, David Robertson, or someone else in 2014.

The man with the famous cutter had surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee in July and is said to be in good condition. Cashman will work with agent Fern Cuza on a new contract, and will likely ask Rivera to take a cut from the $16mm he earned last season.

Suspects Arrested in Perez Murder

Three men have been arrested in the Dominican Republic in connection to the slaying of former big leaguer Pascual Perez

One of the suspects told D.R. police he and four others conspired to rob Perez. Another suspect was identified by police as a low level drug dealer.  Taken in the murder was Perez's $2,400 monthly pension check and a cellphone which was sold by one of the suspects for $6.50.

Though no autopsy results have been released as of yet, Perez was found (by his ex-wife) with severe head wounds inflicted with a hammer.1

 1 - Yahoo News

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yankees Offer Up a Trio of Qualifying Offers

"Should I stay or should I go now?"
$13.3MM is the magic number this year in determining if Major League Baseball teams will receive compensation if they lose players to free agency.

As part of the new collective bargaining agreement agreed upon in 2011, type 'A' and 'B' free agency was eliminated. In it's stead, the onus is now on teams to make guaranteed one-year contract offers equal to the average salary of the league's top 125 players to any of their free agents in attempt to gain compensation for lost assets. The number for 2013 is the aforementioned $13.3MM.

The onus then switches over to the player to either accept or reject the offer. If an offer is rejected, the player's 2012 team will get compensation if the player signs with a new team for 2013. If the player accepts, the team has the player for one year, whether they really wanted that player or not.

The Yankees made three of the offers today and hope that just two of them are accepted. In reality, at most one will be accepted, which means the Yankees could receive two compensatory picks.

The offers were made to Nick Swisher (I'll guesstimate 10% chance at acceptance), Rafael Soriano (0%), and Hiroki Kuroda (75% - 100% chance if he wishes to play another year in the US). The Yankees do not want Swisher to accept and he will in all likelihood oblige since he is looking for a multi-year free agent deal.

The Yankees would be doing cartwheels down River Ave. if Soriano accepted the offer, but since he just opted out of his current contract with the Yankees, that's not happening either. Soriano's agent, Scott Boras, is said to be looking for a four-year deal based on the 42 saves Soriano compiled in 2012.

And then there's Kuroda, who made $10MM with the Yankees this past season and would probably jump at the increase if he doesn't retire. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had already reported that Kuroda would be "fine" with a one year deal.

No offers were made to free agents Andy Pettitte, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki

Players have until 5 p.m. EST on November 9, which coincides with the last day of the general managers' meetings, to make their decision. Exclusive negotiating rights with a team's own free agents ends tonight, five days after the end of the World Series.

YCN: A-Rod Not the Only Question Mark for 2013: A Fan's Look

The Yankees have plenty of work to do for the 2013 season. While much talk has been about Alex Rodriguez and his future role, there are plenty of other moves the Yankees need to make.

Some will be based on health (Derek Jeter), some on age (Eric Chavez), and some on having nothing left in the tank (Andruw Jones).

Who closes? Mariano Rivera, can they re-sign Rafael Soriano?

To read my thoughts on the subject, please check out my latest work for Yahoo, by clicking here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mr. November is Born

Last night as the clock struck midnight and I lamented it was November already, Derek Jeter's swing popped into my head (figuratively, not literally). For it was 11 years ago on the first of November, shortly after the clock struck midnight that Mr. November was born.

I'm talking, of course, about the 2001 World Series between the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees were about to go down three games to one when Tino Martinez stepped to the plate (in October) and hammered Byung-Hyun Kim's pitch over the center field wall to tie the game at three apiece.

It was pandemonium in the Bronx (yeah, yeah, when there was "real" noise in the Yankee Stadium) as John Sterling roared and the fans went crazy. One inning later, the game still tied, Jeter stepped in against Kim. It's all been lost in what happened afterwards, but Kim had actually struck out the side when he entered the game in the eighth inning.

Kim had gotten two outs before Martinez's home run and retired the first two batters in the 10th when Jeter settled into the batter's box. The count went full when Jeter sent Kim's pitch into the right field seats for a 4-3 Yankees win.

One, perhaps prescient, fan even had a "Mr. November" sign ready for the big moment. The Yankees lived to play another day.

Pascual Perez Murdered in His Home

Former Yankees pitcher Pascual Perez was found murdered in his home according to a spokesperson in the town of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. Speculation is that Perez received his pension check yesterday and police suspect it served as motivation for the home invasion and robbery that took place.

The animated right-hander was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent in 1976 and made to the Majors with them in 1980. Two years later he was dealt to the Atlanta for Larry McWilliams and had two of his best seasons in the Major Leagues, when he compiled a 29-16 mark in 1983 and 1984 combined.

After a 1-14 campaign in 1985, the Braves released Perez and he signed with the Montreal Expos where he rejuvenated his career. His 7-0, 2.30 record in 10 starts in 1987 was followed by a 12-8, 2.44 mark a year later.

A free agent after the '89 season, Perez signed with the Yankees for a personal high of $1.4MM, but missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. He earned over $2MM in 1991 with the Yankees, but threw just 73.2 innings and finished 2-4, 3.18, in what turned out to be his final season in the big leagues.

Perez was also a successful winter ball pitcher in his native country, and helped to win three championships combined with the Cibao Eagles and the Tigres del Licey.1

Perez was 55-years old and among those he is survived by are his brothers Carlos and Melido, both of whom pitched in the Major Leagues as well.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.

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