Monday, December 30, 2013

Schiano and Schwarz Next to Go

"Maybe I am overrated."

I thought that maybe Greg Schiano would survive in Tampa Bay after the team played harder and actually won some games after an 0-8 start. Bucs owner Malcolm Glaze didn't agree though - a 4-4 finish over the final eight games was not enough to save Schiano's job.

The second year NFL coach and his staff were fired on Monday along with GM Mark Dominik. Schiano's squad started the 2012 season 6-4, but lost five of their final six games to miss the playoffs. With this year's bad beginning, the Bucs lost 13 of 14 games overall. That was the main factor along with problems with former QB Josh Freeman and reported unrest in the locker room.

Schiano parlayed 11 seasons as the head coach of Rutgers into an NFL job with the Bucs, but wins at Rutgers had begun to dissipate after Schiano turned the program around.  There are already rumors that Schiano is the leading candidate to replace Bill O'Brien at Penn State, where Schiano served as an assistant from 1990-1995.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith is the favorite to replace Schiano.

Detroit's fiery head coach Jim Schwartz wasn't able to build off  of 2011's playoff appearance. The Lions won four games in 2012, but were in the driver's seat in the NFC North division with a 7-5 record. In control of their own fate, the Lions lost three straight contests and were eliminated from playoff contention with a week to go in the regular season.

Prior to taking over the Lions head coaching job in 2009, Schwartz was the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator for eight seasons and spent 10 seasons in total as a Tennessee assistant coach.

Shanahan Gets Canahanned

No surprise here - Mike Jones of the Washington Post reported that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and his entire staff have been fired by owner Daniel Snyder.

One winning season in four years will do that to a coach, who also has to take repsonsibility for exposing an already injured Robert Griffin III to further damage to his banged up knee last season. A 3-13 record in 2013 didn't help either.

Ryan and Garrett Back in 2014

"I'm back baby!"

Jets head man Rex Ryan was informed prior to Sunday's finale with the Dolphins that he would return for the 2014 season. Owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik gave Ryan the good news and there was even a talk of a contract extension.

Ryan, arguably, did his best coaching job in taking a team that was written off before the season started and guided them to an 8-8 season.

Despite another season ending loss in December, owner Jerry Jones said Monday that Jason Garrett will be back as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys next year. With Tony Romo sidelined by back surgery, Kyle Orton and the Cowboys fought the Eagles down to the wire in week 17 for the NFC East division before the Eagles prevailed 24-22.

You have to wonder if Romo's injury actually might have saved Garrett's job.

Down Goes Frazier

Minnesota Vikings became the first coach on Black Monday to find out he was out of a job and the second coach overall to lose his job.

Cleveland Brown's coach Rob Chudzinski was fired Sunday night.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

NFL Sunday Could Determine Black Monday

NFL head coaches better check their backs

NFL ownership doesn't wait very long to determine the fate of their head coaches. It's the reason the Monday following week 17 has become known as Black Monday.

Some head coaches have already met their fate - Houston fired Gary Kubiak in the midst of a disastrous season that saw the Texans enter Sunday with two wins.

Here's the coaches likely to go, those who will survive, and those whose status is still up in the air.

Headed to the Guillotine:

Is there any way that Mike Shanahan keeps his job in Washington? I can't see it. Owner Dan Snyder gave Shanahan everything he asked for when he hired him prior to the 2010 season, but the results have not been there. The Redskins have been well under .500 in three of four years under Shanahan with the exception being last year's 10-win season led by rookie sensation Robert Griffin III.

But it was Shanahan's decision to keep playing Griffin on a bum knee that helped lead to the Redskins' 2013 debacle. Griffin wasn't the same QB he was in 2012 and reportedly didn't see eye to eye with his head coach. Shanahan has one-year and $7MM left on his contract, but if you truly believe  he's not the guy, why would you keep him around? I don't think Snyder will.

The Houston Texans had such high hopes after back to back playoff appearances and a 12-win regular season in 2012. Gary Kubiak paid the price for two straight early playoff losses and a bad start this season. Things didn't get appreciably better under interim coach Wade Phillips - they entered Sunday's play with 2 wins - and the job is Penn St.'s Bill O'Brien's to lose.

Detroit Lions fiery head coach Jim Schwarz is as good as gone. You're only as good as your players, but Schwarz had the players this year to make the playoffs and didn't. The Lions went from 2 to 6 to 10 wins and the playoffs in Schwarz's first three seasons at the helm and the future looked bright. Then came a 4-12 mess in 2012, followed by this season's collapse when the Lions controlled their destiny.

Three straight losses - to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Giants - eliminated the Lions from playoff contention before the season's final week and will eliminate Schwarz's job as well.

He hasn't had a steady lineup in his two seasons in Oakland, but Dennis Allen will be the eighth coach to come and go since 2000. The Raiders won just four games in 2012  and entered Sunday against the Denver Broncos with four wins again. This one seems pretty much cut and dried.

Teetering like Humpty Dumpy:

It appeared that there was no way Jason Garrett would survive the chopping block if the Dallas Cowboys didn't make the playoffs this season. Though not all his fault, the Cowboys have been a December train wreck since Tony Romo took over as the Cowboys starting QB.  He can't take all the blame if Dallas misses the playoffs this year since he led a touchdown winning drive in week 16 to keep the Cowboys season alive and will miss the season finale after undergoing back surgery.

Will that have an affect on owner Jerry Jones' decision making? I don't think anything short of a Super Bowl appearance saves Garrett's job. The odds of backup Kyle Orton leading the Cowboys to a victory over Philly and their red-hot offense is less likely than winning Powerball.

Rex Ryan is a big talker; most of the time too much of a talker. For the most part he's been relatively quiet this year and perhaps it's no coincidence that he might be doing his best job as head coach since he took the New York Jets head coaching job in 2009.

The Jets were supposed to be awful this year and the forecast got even grimmer when much maligned QB Mark Sanchez got knocked out for the year in the pre-season. Despite the ups and downs of rookie QB Geno Smith, the team never quit on Ryan. Not only that, but they finished at .500 after they defeated long time rival  Miami in the 16th game of the season Sunday.

First year GM John Idzik would like to have a coach that is his hire, but it would be difficult to let Ryan go after the team showed so much heart. Prediction - Ryan stays, but assistants go.

Tom Coughlin's Giants have won two Super Bowls in the last seven seasons, but you wouldn't know it based on this year's team. Compounded by a plethora of injuries, underachievement, particularly on offense, and a good dose of malaise, the Giants lost their first six games. A four game winning streak against mediocre teams and/or QBs produced false hope.

Eli Manning had the worst season of his career and led the NFL in interceptions. The offensive line did a horrible job of protecting Manning and didn't open any holes for the running backs either. The Giants counted heavily on second year back David Wilson to lead the running attack, but he got fumbleitis and then suffered a career threatening injury.

Overall the defense played well, but was on the field too much due to the offensive's ineptitude. The feeling here is that like their stadium counterparts, the head coach remains, but there's a shakeup among the assistants.  The biggest bulls-eye is on offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who could/should lose his job despite endorsements from Coughlin and Manning.

Miami Dolphins head man Joe Philbin is one of those coaches that may be let go not just for the team's performance, but because of the public's perception. The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying fiasco happened under Philbin's watch and team owners do not like when their personnel make the organization look bad. (Though the NFL seems to care less about it based on the number of player arrested every year and the rampant use of PEDs.)

To make matters worse, the team had a chance to make the playoffs after winning three straight, including a huge home win over the Patriots. Then came back to back losses the last two weeks of the season against Buffalo and the Jets. Philbin is a goner.

Rumors are that Cleveland Browns head man Rob Chudzinski is on the verge of joining the one and done club after a four-win season. Which isn't really fair since the team decided to blow things up early - dealing Trent Richardson - don't have anything more than a mediocre QB on their roster, have veteran Willis McGahee as their leading rusher, and when it comes right down to it, don't have much of anything. PERIOD.

Ozzie Newsome and the front office have done a bad job. Chudzkinski should get a chance to work a second year with a new cast of characters, but it's unlikely he'll get that chance based on the way the front office has handled things this year.

Minnesota's Leslie Frazier could also join the list despite not having a lot of talent at QB and having his star running back, Adrian Peterson, banged up. The defense couldn't stop a Fiat, but the Vikings kept a lot of games within reach. They finished the last six contests 3-2-1 after a 2-8 start. I think Frazier gets a reprieve.

Safe For Now:

After a 7-9 NFL coaching debut, Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano looked to be as good as gone after the Bucs started 2013 with eight straight losses and Schiano and QB Josh Freeman butted heads. Four wins in five weeks should save his job even though the wins were not against stellar teams.  On the other side of the coin you also have to look at the fact that the Bucs lost three of those first eight games by three points or less.

It appeared that Schiano lost control of his squad, but despite losing second year stand out running back Doug Martin after six games, the team came back together under rookie QB Mike Glennon. The product of North Carolina St. University entered Sunday with 17 TD passes and eight interceptions in 12 games.

Somewhere Between Safe For Now and Nothing to Worry About:

Mike Munchak, Gus Bradley,  Marvin Lewis (A third straight first round exit in the playoffs could drastically change things.), Mike Smith

Nothing to Worry About:

Everyone else - Bill Belichik, Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Marc Trestman, Doug Marrone, Chip Kelly, John Fox, Pete Carroll, Mike McCarthy, Ron Rivera, Sean Payton, Andy Reid, Bruce Arians, Jeff Fisher, Chuck Pagano, Mike McCoy

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Paul Blair, 69

Sad news out of the baseball world tonight; former Baltimore Oriole and New York Yankee Paul Blair has passed away at the age of 69. Orioles beat writer Roch Kubatko reported the news a short time ago.

Blair had suffered a heart attack at age 66, which led to the discovery that his main artery was 98% blocked. He had a stent installed and went through months of physical therapy. He apparently collapsed at a bowling alley prior to his passing.

Until Ken Griffey Jr. came along, I never saw anyone play center field with the defensive prowess that Paul Blair displayed. He would turn his back to the infield, race back towards the center field wall, turn around and be at the exact spot the ball came down and landed softly in his glove.

He was a seven time Gold Glove winner with the Orioles, a two-time World Series champion, and a member of four AL pennant winning teams. Blair was dealt to the Yankees in January of 1977 for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt and earned two more World Series rings.

The California native could hit too, but after being beaned in the head he was never the same player at the plate. He spent the 1979 season with the Cincinnati Reds before a return to the Yankees in 1980 for his 17th and final season in the Major Leagues. The two time All-Star's career came to an end when the Yankees released him in July, 1980.

After his professional playing career concluded, Blair held head coaching positions at Fordham University and Coppin St. College, worked as an outfielder instructor and a minor league coach in the Orioles organization

My condolences go out to his family and friends.

Paul Blair with the game winning hit in Game 1 of the 1977 World Series

10 Christmas and Hanukkah Gifts for 2014 Yankees and Their Fans

It's December 26, a day to return that ugly sweater your Aunt Betty gave you, get greeting cards at half off, drink 12 pots of coffee to stay awake, drink eight bottles of water to try to push out the 3 tons of sugar you ingested in the last 72 hours, decide how many days it will be until you finally take down your Christmas lights and get rid of your tree, and start to prepare for the new year.

With that in mind here are 10 items the Yankees need and will hopefully receive in 2014:

1. A healthy Derek Jeter. It was strange enough knowing that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte were retiring after the 2013 season, but to see the Yankees captain play two more games (17) than he did in 1995 was mind boggling.  A healthy Jeter and his leadership will be a big asset to the 2014 squad.

2. Masahiro Tanaka says "Hai (yes)" when asked if he wants to sign a Yankees contract. After much deliberation the Rakuten Golden Eagles decided to allow Tanaka to post out to play in the Major Leagues. A team, hopefully the one in the Bronx, will pay a $20MM fee to Rakuten and many more millions to Tanaka to take the mound every fifth day. Ironically, Tanaka's fellow countryman, Hiroki Kuroda, is currently wearing Tanaka's #18 on the Yankees. The six-year MLB veteran has always worn 18 on both the Dodgers and Yankees. Tanaka would look good sporting #19, previously worn by pitchers Bob Turley and Dave Righetti.

3. Alex Rodriguez loses his suspension appeal.  Yes, yes, I know many of you support A-Rod and don't think he deserves more than a 50 game suspension. But if the royal pain misses one season, the Yankees can adjust their roster better for the future. You also know that many of the fans that support him now will be the same ones booing him if he returns and doesn't do well.

4. Jacoby Ellsbury has a huge year to make everyone forget there are still another six years on his contract. A gross overpayment, though not as gross as the contract Shin-Soo Choo signed with Texas.

5. CC Sabathia re-learns how to pitch with stuff that's not as fast or sharp as it used to be. An elbow cleaning and a ton of innings and pitches thrown seemed to catch up with the big man last year. The good thing is that CC always knew how to be a pitcher and not just a thrower. The Yankees need him back to, at the very least, 90% of his former self.

6. Mark Teixeira stops trying to pull everything from the left side and becomes a more complete hitter again. Tex has been banged up the last few years, including his disastrous 2013 campaign that ended with wrist surgery. His numbers have dwindled since he came to New York prior to the 2009 season, primarily because he's become pull happy when he's batting left-handed. Here's to him laying off breaking balls in the dirt. He'll still hit plenty of "Tex Messages"

7. The Yankees somewhere down the line in 2014, find a real solution at second base rather than the good power/mediocre hitting Kelly Johnson, and the walking disabled list, Brian Roberts.

8. David Robertson or whoever is at least 75% of the closer that Mariano Rivera was. No one can be Mariano, and everyone knows that, but the fans need to give the bullpen a chance to sort things out and to remember that saves are not an (almost) automatic any more.

9. John Sterling comes up with more corny, ridiculous, and ill-conceived home run calls for the new players the Yankees have brought in. I can't substantiate these, but Sterling could be using:
"Ellsbury Fields forever."
"McCann got all of his shoes into that one."
"Report to the home run deck Mr. Roberts." Accompanied by an  homage to the Henry Fonda 1955 movie. "It was a classic Suzyn!"
"Carlos Belt and Ran."
10. A reason to make Joe Girardi switch to #29 in 2015. You can figure that one out.

Tanaka Chooses Jeter's Agent As Clock Runs

It may not mean a thing, but with the clock now ticking for teams to try to sign Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka, the star pitcher has chosen Casey Close as his agent. Close's best known client is Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

January 24, 2014 at 5 p.m. EST is hard line in the sand for signing Tanaka to a Major League deal. The 25-year old will head back to Japan and no MLB team will be out $20MM if no terms are agreed upon.

The Yankees, obviously, are going to be major players in trying to add Tanaka to their starting staff at a cost that will reportedly exceed $100MM. And that is not counting the $20MM posting fee. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been very quiet, but are rumored to be ready to whip out their checkbooks as well. It's one of the reasons that they are trying to deal Matt Kemp and as much of the $128MM he's guaranteed over the next six seasons.

The Texas Rangers have been mentioned, but I wouldn't be so sure about that after the $130MM they handed Shin-Soo Choo.  The Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, and Boston Red Sox have also been rumored to be highly interested as well and I wouldn't count out Seattle or San Francisco either.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tanaka Gets the Green Light

After weeks of the Japanese media reporting that Masahiro Tanaka would or wouldn't be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, the right-hander got the go ahead to play baseball in the U.S. Now the crazy begins.

The Yankees are expected to back up the Brinks' truck to land Tanaka and make him a long term fixture in their rotation. They'll have plenty of competition from the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, and whoever else wants to throw their hat in the ring, but the Yankees are expected to blow away the competition with the numbers preceding six zeroes.

The Steinbrenners and GM Brian Cashman have been counting on the 25-year old Tanaka playing in the Major Leagues to shove the team back in the right direction after a disastrous 2013 campaign and get younger in the process as well.

If the Yankees win out, Tanaka would join CC Sabathia (33), Hiroki Kuroda (39), and Ivan Nova (27 next month) in the rotation. The fifth and final spot would likely come down to a competition between Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno and anyone else who wants to throw their fastball into the ring.

Tanaka's contract is expected to leave Yu Darvish's six-year, $56MM deal with Texas in the dust. The Yankees could work some side deals as well to for Tanaka's wife, Mai Satoda, who is a Japanese pop singer. "Hey, would you like to play Madison Garden or the Barclays Center?" They should also use Kuroda and Hideki Matsui to recruit the native of  Itami, Hyōgo Prefecture.

Tanaka played for Rakuten in the Nippon Professional Baseball league for seven seasons, compiling a 99-35 mark in 175 career games.  (All but three of which were starts.) Tanaka's performance this past season was phenomenal - he went 24-0 in 27 starts plus a relief appearance. Known as "Makun" or "Ma" by his teammates, the 6'2" righty allowed 30 earned runs (1.27 ERA), 168 hits, walked 30 and struck out 183 in 212 innings pitched. And it wasn't only the second best season of his career.

Two years ago he posted the same ERA in 226.1 innings with 241 strikeouts, 27 walks and 171 hits. His 0.875 WHIP topped the 0.943 from this past season. It sounds like Tanaka has the right mental toughness for the Big Apple. He threw 160 pitches in a complete game loss in the sixth game of the Japanese Championship Series, then came back to save Game 7 the next day with a 15-pitch performance. Tanaka normally throws a fastball that tops out at 96 mph. He was still throwing 92-94 mph in the series finale.

Understandably, after watching a pitcher like Daisuke Matsuzaka wear down in the Major Leagues you have to be concerned about those 160 pitch games. One Major League scout said as much to the NY Times' David Waldstein back in November. Coming to the US in his mid-20's, Tanaka may actually have a much longer career than had he stayed in Japan, since warning bells and whistles (figuratively) go off when a pitcher throws his 100th delivery in a Major League game.

A team like the Yankees should also take special care after watching CC Sabathia's deterioration after many years of high pitch counts and 200+ innings pitched. But that's all for another day. While some slept last night with visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads, Cashman and other GMs dreamt of a Japanese pitcher dancing on the mound in the seventh game of the World Series.

Merry Christmas to all and to all good luck. Masahiro Tanaka certainly doesn't need it right now!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Choo Gets the Latest Bad Contract

No matter how much baseball owners moan and groan, their brethren continue to give out bad contracts. Robinson Cano's 10-year, $240MM deal, Jacoby Ellsbury's seven-year, $153MM contract and reportedly Shin-Soo Choo's seven-year, $130MM agreement with the Texas Rangers.  The native of South Korea will join his fourth organization after stints in Seattle, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

Choo reportedly turned down a seven-year, $140MM offer from the Yankees, but still cashed in for plenty of greenbacks Saturday according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Agent Scott Boras had characterized Choo as an "On-base machine" as he pushed for his client to get a big money deal.

The contract would pay Choo an annual average salary in excess of $18MM and therein lies the problem. Choo is a very good player, but he's not an upper echelon player, just as Ellsbury (on a consistent basis) is not. Playing his home games in 2013 at Cincy's hitter friendly Great American Ballpark, Choo had an .885 OPS with 21 home runs, 34 doubles,  20 stolen bases, 112 walks and 107 runs scored as the primary lead off hitter in the Reds lineup.

The base on balls were a career high and the first time he surpassed the century mark in a single season. He also led the National League with 26 hit by pitches. Choo was a regular center fielder for the time in his career last season, but he'll likely man a corner spot in 2014 with Texas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Youk Could Be Tanaka's Teammate

"Rak-what? Are they in the NL?"

There's probably more than a few people who looked at the above headline and went, "huh?". While Masahiro Tanaka may not be coming to the US, Kevin Youkilis is going to Japan to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, confirmed the information with Youkilis signed a one-year, $12MM with the Yankees last season, but played in just 28 games due to a bad back that led to season ending surgery.

The corner infielder has not played more than 122 games in a season since 2009 when he was in his sixth season in Boston. Injuries have taken their toll the the last three seasons as evidenced by Youkilis' plummeting slugging percentage and batting average.

Youkilis was unduly criticized by new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in 2012 and was sent to the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline in July for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart.

The 34-year old was on fire to start the 2013 season, posting a .931 OPS through the Yankees' first 13 games, but sat out a week after his back contributed to a 1-12 skid. He returned too quickly on April 27 and landed on the disabled list after one game.

Youkilis missed 30 games and then was 6-41 (.146) before his season came to a premature end. This season he'll take the place of another former, short-term Yankee (22 games in 2012), Casey McGehee, who left Japan to sign a contract with the Miami Marlins.

Beltran Gets His Stripes

Carlos Beltran was re-introduced to the New York media Friday morning, wearing the 36 he wore his first two years in baseball with Kansas City. It was the final pre-season task as part of the three-year, $45MM contract the Yankees and the veteran outfielder agreed to.

The questions and answers were, for the most part, run of the mill, but there were some exceptions. Beltran chuckled when asked how he thought his reception would be wearing the Yankees unifrom in Queens, where he played for six-plus sesasons with the Mets. Beltran hoped the fans remembered how hard he played for them, but he figures there will be a mix of cheers and boos.

He was also asked how he felt life might have been different had the Yankees signed him to a free agent deal before he decided on becoming a Met. His answer made me chuckle - "They (the Yankees) were having some issues with the salary cap and I needed to do what was best for my family/" - Yeah, it was that last part that got me. Because as you know seven years and $119MM is barely enough money to take care of your family.

Back to being genuine - Beltran when queried about age, talked about how hard he works, how much he cares about the game, and the results he's produced the last two seasons. It's good to hear, because the Yankees are really going to need him to be the best Carlos Beltran he can be.

YES' Michael Kay and Bob Lorenz talk to Carlos Beltran after the press conference. When Beltran was in Kansas City he mentioned that Bernie Williams was his favorite player growing up. He reiterated those feelings on Friday.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beltran to Be Introduced Friday Thanks to a No Thank Choo

Jessica Beltran tweeted this picture on Wednesday of herself, husband Carlos, and children Ivana (standing) and Kiara back in the Big Apple.

Carlos Beltran will be introduced to the media at 11 a.m. Friday morning after he and the Yankees officially put their signatures on the dotted line of a three-year deal worth $45MM.

The press conference comes on the heels of news that prior to agreeing to terms with Beltran two weeks ago, the Yankees had offered Shin-Soo Choo a seven-year, $140MM deal. Thankfully, Choo said no. It would have been a much worse deal than the seven-year overpayment that the Yankees gave to Jacoby Ellsbury.

Someone really needs to show the Yankees how to negotiate.  The style of "hmm, they offered five years and $75MM..tell you what -your name here - we'll give you seven years for $140MM", does not really work out in the long run.

Scott Boras has been peddling Choo as an on-base machine to try and substantiate a $20MM per year contract. Choo reached base at a career high 42.3% last year in addition to hitting 21 home runs and drew 112 walks. (His previous high in base on balls was 83). Not that it's a true marker of ability or performance, while Ellsbury has made just one All-Star team, Choo has never been voted or selected to the July classic. Choo is a very good player, but he's not a great player.

So rebuked by Choo, the Yankees powered full steam ahead to wrap up Beltran, who had spent 6 1/2 seasons in New York as a member of the Mets. Beltran took to Twitter back on December 10 to announce that he would wear #36 as a Yankee. It's the number he started his career with in 1998-1999 with the Kansas City Royals. Beltran wore 15 for much of his career and donned the #3 with St. Louis the last two seasons. With both numbers retired in the Bronx, he decided to go back to his numerical roots.

Despite playing on creeky knees last year, Beltran still hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 HR, 84 RBI, and 79 runs scored. The days of stolen bases are over for the player who averaged 37 swipes a year from 2001-2004, but he'll cut down on the Yankees strikeouts per game quite considerably. He fanned just 90 times last year in 600 plate appearances.

NY Times: On The 6th Day Before Christmas Rakuten Said No To Ma

The Grinch that kept Tanaka

New York Times reporter Ken Belson, citing several Japanese news sources on Thursday morning, reported that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have decided to not allow star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to post to Major League Baseball.

Reports last night had Rakuten offering Tanaka 80MM yen ($8MM US) to remain in Japan for one more year. That figure could go as high as $12MM, three times the amount Tanaka earned in 2013.

The move would squlech the plans of the Yankees and other teams that were hoping to add a pitcher of Tanaka's magnitude to their starting rotation.

The Yankees should look for a short term fix - a deal for a quality pitcher that will not receive guaranteed money past the 2015 season. This is likely Hiroki Kuroda's last season, though it's been said before, so he could be replaced in 2015 by a pitcher acquired for this coming season. The Yankees should stay away from pitchers like Bronson Arroyo, who are looking for 3-4 year deals.

I'll repeat what I said earlier this week - Yovani Gallardo, MIL or Justin Masterson, CLE. I prefer Masterson.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not So Fast Tanaka

Despite reports from, first reported by the LA Times' Dylan Hernandez  and backed up by the Tohuku new service, Masahiro Tanaka has NOT been given the blessing to go stateside by Rakuten Golden Eagles CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. Hernandez reported the latter as well.

In fact, the team has offered Tanaka 80MM yen, the equivalent of $8MM US, to stay in Rakuten for one more year. I'm sure they will play on Tanaka's loyalties and do what ever they can to pressure the 25-year old into staying.

They'll have to do what they can, because $8MM is a pittance compared to what Tanaka stands to make  in the US. The latest from prognosticators has Tanaka getting a deal in excess of $100MM. Yu Darvish,by comparison received a $56MM contract with incentives that could amount to another $4MM.

The beat goes on.

Yankees Parking Lot Bond Holders May See Some Dollars

For those investors holding defaulted tax-exempt bonds used to build parking garages for the new Yankee Stadium, your ship may partially be coming in.

According to Business Week, The New York Soccer Club is in talks to buy a plot of land to build a new soccer stadium in the Bronx. The holders of the bonds have agreed to extend discussions an additional two years with the bond issuers if an agreement with the soccer club can be reached by January 3.

The team, a Major League soccer expansion squad, would buy part of the parking structures, which in turn would repay some of the debt to the bondholders with the rest of the money owed to be restructured.

The bonds, issued by the Bronx Parking Development Company, were trading this month at a low of 31 cents on the dollar. The bonds are set to come due in October, 2017, which may or may not be Alex Rodriguez's last time parking at Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Yankees Add Their Thorn(ton) to Their Flowers

Don't mix up your Thorntons!

At Jacoby Ellsbury's intro press conference last week, manager Joe Girardi said that Ellsbury would "no longer be a thorn in our sides, but a flower in our clubhouse." It was funny and extremely weird.

Tuesday afternoon the Yankees got some thorn back in the the person of left-handed reliever Matt Thorton. The 37-year old lefty agreed to a two-year, $7MM deal to replace Boone Logan in the bullpen.

Originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners, Thornton was acquired by the White Sox in a steal of a deal in March of '06 for outfielder Joe Borchard.

Borchard had once been a highly ranked prospect, but his Major League at-bats never matched his minor league output or his scouting reports. Thornton, meanwhile, became a steady reliever in the White Sox bullpen. He was especially outstanding for three seasons from 2008-2010 as a set up man who would get an occasional save opportunity when the team's closer was unavailable.

Thornton has appeared in 60 or more games in eight straight seasons, including this past year when the White Sox dealt him to Boston in mid-July for minor leaguer Brandon Jacobs. (Coincidentally, Jacobs was part of the three team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona. Jacobs joined him as the player to be named later in the deal.)

Command is key for Thornton to be successful. During the aforementioned three year period, Thornton struck out 10.3, 10.8, and 12 batters per 9 innings pitched. During that time period he walked less than three batters per nine innings. Since then, Thornton's K's have dropped while his base on balls have risen as have his hits per inning. His 6.2 strikeouts/9 IP last year was the lowest of his career.

With left-handed relievers hard to come by, the Yankees made a decent move to replace Logan. He did very well against left-handed hitters last season, but don't expect an All-Star performance.

Yankees to Sign the Nick Johnson of Second Basemen

A scene that has been repeated far too many times for Brian Roberts

UPDATE - Fox Sports' Jon Morosi is reporting that Roberts and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal.

Brian Roberts was once a great player. Once being the key word in that sentence. He was also once a healthy player. Once upon a time in Baltimore, Roberts was an All-Star and a Yankee killer.

Sadly, Roberts has become a perennial member of the 15- and 60-day disabled lists. Perennial is the key word in that sentence. Desperate to find a full-time second baseman or someone to split time with Kelly Johnson at the position, the Yankees appear ready to sign Roberts to a one-year, low money incentive laden deal.(Per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal)

Unfortunately this is not 2009, the last year in which the Yankees won the World Series and the last year that Roberts played a full season. He appeared in 152 games spread out from 2009-2013 due to a myriad of injuries, the most dangerous of which have been concussions and concussion syndrome.(It's also put Roberts at greater risk for future concussions.)

Roberts is a former first round pick (50th overall out of U. of South Carolina in 1999), a two-time All-Star who combined some pop with speed - he stole 50 bases in 2007 and 40 a year later. The now 35-year old Roberts was at his best in the period from 2005 through 2009 when his average slash line was .294/.369/.451 (.820 OPS). His year usually produced 13 home runs, 64 RBI, 36 steals (in 44 attempts), 45 doubles, and 99 runs scored. He was the catalyst of the Orioles lineup.

An abdominal strain in 2010 was the first major injury Roberts suffered in the last four seasons. It kept him out from April to July and limited him to 59 games. He also suffered from a herniated disc in his back during Spring Training that season. (Many Orioles and Yankees fans recall a September, 2005 collision at first base with Bubba Crosby that dislocated Roberts' left elbow, but he recovered nicely from it during the off-season.)

In May of 2011, Roberts hit the back of his head sliding into first base and suffered a concussion. He was out the remainder of the season and didn't return until June of 2012.

Roberts hurt his groin in early July and was placed back on the DL. At the end of the month he opted for season ending hip surgery. During the off-season he also had surgery to repair a sports hernia. He played in 17 games, the lowest number of his career.

In April, 2013 Roberts made another trip to the DL after he ruptured a tendon in a portion of hamstring behind his right knee and underwent surgery. It kept him out of Major League action until the last day of June. He managed to play 77 games, the most of the four year stretch of injuries and surgeries, but his production was far below the norm. (.249/.312/.392)

The spin on this move will be that it is low cost, low risk/high reward, but the chances of Roberts staying healthy are less than 50/50. Why not go out and make a bolder move for a bigger, healthier fish (e.g. Rickie Weeks) then continue to flounder at the position.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tanaka Gets the Go Ahead

According to the Daily Tohoku online news service - the Rakuten team is located in the Tohoku region - Rakuten Golden Eagles CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has decided to allowed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to post to the Major Leagues.

There were no additional details to the report, but it confirms what reported earlier on Monday. The Yankees are among the teams expected to bid the $20MM maximum posting fee to get a 30 day window to negotiate a Major League contract with Tanaka.

The last Japanese star to post out to a large paycheck was Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish. The right-hander received a six-year, $60MM contract, which was in addition to the $51.7MM posting fee laid out by Texas.

With "just" $20MM headed to Japan if a team works out a deal with Tanaka, the man fans and the media call Mā-kun will likely get a deal that tops Darvish's contract. Perhaps five years, $65MM?

No matter the price, the Yankees will be going all-in on this one.

Rakuten Could Spoil Yankees Hopes

It's Tanaka or Bust

The Rakuten Golden Eagles are reportedly doing their best to talk star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka into staying one more year in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. Rakuten would then use the year to try to sway Tanaka to stay a lot longer than that by making him a big money offer of their own. Even if he leaves after another year, the team will make some additional money off of him in the meantime.

The Yankees are among the teams that are counting on Tanaka getting posted to bolster their starting pitching staff. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and others are all expected to bid the max $20MM posting fee to the opportunity to negotiate with Tanaka in the 30 day window of opportunity. (The Golden Eagles CEO Hiroshi Mikitani was said to be furious at the league's owners for approving the new, much lower $20MM fee.)

Tanaka would then get in the middle of a bidding war that could crazier than when the Yankees and Red Sox went after Jose Contreras back in the 2002-2003 off-season.

Rakuten would have been much more willing to post Tanaka had the fee agreement not changed from a free for all to a low (by their standards) ceiling. The Red Sox bid over $51MM for Daisuke Matsuzaka prior to the 2007 season and the Texas Rangers bid slightly more than that to get the rights to the last young star pitcher from Japan, Yu Darvish, before the 2012 season.

Should Tanaka stay in Japan, the Yankees rotation will have a huge hole to fill behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. While the front office may be fine, for now, with Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren, etc., battling for the fifth and final spot in the rotation, they realize that the rest of their rotation is not guaranteed to be successul.

Sabathia struggled mightily in 2013, Nova was back to his 2011 form, but the Yankees need him to maintain that consistency, and Kuroda will be 39-years old when the season starts.

The free agent market on pitching is slim pickings. The Yankees reportedly spoke with Bronson Arroyo, but he made over $16MM last season and the soon-to-be 37-year old (February) will be looking for one more big score.

Matt Garza has never impressed me over a full season and was paid in excess of $10MM last year. He'll be looking for 3-4 years in excess of $45MM. No thanks. The Diamondbacks and Angels are said to be the front-runners for his services. (The only benefit of the Yankees getting Garza would be to make him shave that ugly excuse of a goat beard - yes, goat not goatee.)

Ubaldo Jimenez was fantastic in the second half of the 2013 season for Cleveland, but it was the best he'd pitched by far since 2010. He's 29, but he's looking for way too many years and too many dollars. Let some other team take that gamble  based on a half season.

Paul Maholm is a decent back end of the rotation starter and he comes relatively cheaply, but he's not good enough for what the Yankees need.

Ervin Santana is another pitcher looking for a huge windfall, but is exremely inconsistent. If you've noticed, teams aren't exactly banging down his door.

Barry Zito? If that were to happen the men from Bellevue should take Cashman away in a straight jacket.

If Tanaka stays, the Yankees will have to swing a deal. They could revisit Homer Bailey, though he's more likely to be dealt at the trade deadline (if he's dealt at all) with free agency waiting in the wings after the season. He would also come at a heavy price in prospects...yes, the Yankees do have good ones despite what you have heard.

I still like the idea of Justin Masterson. who will also be a free agent after the season.  He made a little under $6MM in 2013. He's still arbitration eligible and should get a big raise after he made his first All-Star team this past season.

James Shields is the ace of the Royals staff and is set to make $13.5MM this season, his final before he is a free agent. If the Royals were to deal Shields it would be at the trade deadline as well.

Yovani Gallardo would be an interesting acquisition. There were a number of rumors during the last trade deadline, but Milwaukee hung on to the right-hander. Gallardo has 10 team no-trade clause that includes the Yankees, but since the Brewers have only made the playoffs twice in the last 30 years, maybe he would be willing to waive it.

Gallardo is in the fourth year of a possible five year deal that could net him $42.5MM when all is said and done. He'll earn $11.25MM in 2014 and there is a team option of $13MM in 2015, but it's accompanied by a mere $600,000 buyout.

Gallardo had the opportunity to void the option had he finished in the top three in NL Cy Young voting on more than one occassion. (Six points based accumulated based on five pts for winning the Cy Young, three pts for a second place finish, and one point for a third place finish) Gallardo received votes on just one occasion when he finished seventh in the 2011 voting, so that's not a concern.

What is a concern is Gallardo demanding the option be picked up in order to waive his no-trade clause. A twist would be to waive the no-trade clause if the option year was bought out ahead of time. Gallardo would likely rather hit the free agent market again than get tied up for one more year in a place he may not want to play.

So there you have it. It's pretty much Tanaka or bust for the least until the July trade deadline.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Help Wanted: Second Baseman, Must Field and Hit

Rickie Weeks could be the answer.

With Robinson Cano now in the Emerald city, Brandon Phillips making too much money for too long, and Omar Infante moving to the "Show Me State", the Yankees are still in need of a productive second baseman.

No, Kelly Johnson is not the answer, though he will be a good back up at both second and third base. There's no quality players left among the position eligible free agents, (the NY Post's Joel Sherman said the Yankees have "little interest", thankfully, in free agent Brian Roberts) so the Yankees need to pursue a trade to strengthen the position.

There was a rumor about a week ago that the Yankees had inquired about Seattle's Dustin Ackley, a former high draft choice that has been a bust as a Major Leaguer. The 2nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, had a .766 OPS in his rookie season in 2011, but was barely above .600 the last two years. His future looks to be as a utility player after the Mariners moved him to the outfield last season.

There's also been talk that the Yankees contacted Washington about Danny Espinosa, but were rebuffed. Espinosa had a miserable 2013 season, battling a torn rotator cuff and a broken wrist that he suffered when he was hit by a pitch. He spent time in the minors and had a .465 OPS in 44 big league games.  A year earlier he belted 17 home runs, but had a modest .717 OPS and struck out an NL leading 189 times. Espinosa is not a significant upgrade from Johnson so why bother.

One interesting possibility would be the Milwaukee Brewers' Rickie Weeks, whose brother and fellow second baseman Jemile Weeks was traded earlier in the off-season.  The elder Weeks was limited to 104 games last season after undergoing season ending surgery in August on a torn hamstring muscle. He finished with a career low .663 OPS.

Weeks' offense had dipped in 2012 as well (.728 OPS) after he was limited to 118 games in 2011 due to a badly sprained ankle. He still managed to hit 21 HR, drive in 63 runs, score 85, and drew 74 walks. He also stole 16 bases in 19 attempts.

Weeks is in the final guaranteed year of his contract and is set to earn $11.5MM this coming season. He has a team option for another $11.5MM in 2015, but if he doesn't get 600 plate appearances in 2014 or a combined 1,200 plate appearances between 2013 and 2014 the option goes bye bye. The combined PAs are out of the question since he only came to the plate 399 times last year. He's also not likely to get 600 PAs this coming year, so the option would likely not be a factor.

Rookie second baseman Scooter Gennett impressed the Breweres in Weeks' absence, putting together a .324/.356/.479 slash line in 230 plate appearances. Weeks could be expendable to give Gennett a shot as the full-time second baseman.

Weeks may not be what he once was, but he's an upgrade over Johnson.

Tbe Yankees could also take a different route, one that could work for 2014 and the future. It's also one that is less likely to occur than dealing for Weeks. The Cleveland Indians are said to be open to dealing shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

The 28-year old played 162 games at second base between 2007 and 2009 and became the full-time shortstop thereafter. He'll make $10MM next season and is set to be a free agent after the 2014 campaign. Cabrera would have to be amenable to it, of course, but the move would be to have him play second base for a year with the possibility of a free agent deal to become the team's shortstop in 2015.

Cabrera would probably not be on board since it is his walk year and he wouldn't want to hurt his chances for a big contract by going back to a position he hadn't played in five years. Perhaps some additional money - maybe $3MM to $5MM - might convince him to make the switch, but it's an outside shot at best though.

Others don't fit the bill for a number of reasons:

Chase Utley: Once a top five MLB second baseman, Utley has been banged up the last few years though he had 18 HR and 69 RBI in 131 games last season. The problem? His contract. Utley will earn $15MM in 2014, $10MM the year after. Then there are three vesting optioins through 2018 that will kick in an annual salary of $15MM if Utley gets 500 plate appearances the prior season.

Neil Walker: Nice power hitting second baseman for the Pirates. He earned $3.3MM in 2013 and Pittsburgh has him under control through 2016. No reason to move him.

Darwin Barney's name has been bandied about the last week by members of the mainstream media and some blogs. My question is why? Barney has a .628 OPS in 1,499 lifetime plate appearances and had an abysmal .569 OPS last year. The Cubbies can keep him. The Yankees already have Brendan Ryan to cover the defense and not hit.

Another nice fit would be former Toronto Blue Jay and current Arizona Diamondback Aaron Hill. The second baseman went from Canada to the southwest as part of a deal that sent Johnson to Toronto. Hill swings a good bat and has vastly improved his defense from his time north of the border. This past February the Diamondbacks signed him to a three year contract extension with $35MM, so he is likely not going anywhere.

In summation, the Yankees front office should spend a few days talking about Weeks. And if is acquired by the Yankees I will try to stop calling him Richie instead of Rickie.

Yankees to Blow Away 189 Limit if Tanaka Comes Stateside

Hal Steinbrenner told the media Thursday that the $189MM target for the 2014 total payroll and extras was always a "goal, not a mandate." While the Yankees' employees may have gotten that impression, I don't know of too many (or any) fans who thought that was the case. Especially with the bargain basement moves Brian Cashman made last season.

With the possibility of the Rakuten Golden Eagles (Nippon Professional Baseball) posting star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka in the not so distant future, the Yankees will certainly do everything they can to land him. Which means they will blow the doors off the  $189MM limit.

Former MLB pitcher C.J. Nitkowski reported Friday on that Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani was furious at the NPB's 11 other owners for accepting MLB's proposal of a $20MM maximum posting fee. (There are rumors that the league may supplement the fee to make it more acceptable for a player of Tanaka's magnitude, but it is just a rumor for now). Mikitani and club president Yozo Tachabani (prefers Tanaka to stay in Japan) doesn't have much time to finalize their decision either way since spring training in Japan begins February 1.

The old posting system was accomplished via secret bids with the winner given an opportunity to negotiate a Major League contract with the player in question.  The new $20MM cap will allow more than one team to negotiate if multiple teams bid the same amount. That will certainly be the case with Tanaka, who was 24-0 this past season.

Teams that bid the the top amount will have 30 days to work out a Major League contract with the player. Besides the Yankees, the Red Sox and Cubs are also reportedly set to aggressively go after  the 25-year old right-hander.

Part of MLB's internal negotiations were about whether the new lesser fee would count towards the luxury tax. (The old posting system fee did not.) The new fee will reportedly not count towards the luxury tax either, but I have not read or heard a definitive outcome of  that part of the discussion.

Either way, the Yankees can forget the magic 189...whether it be a goal or a mandate. We know who's on first, but what's on second?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Omar the Prince Signs With Royals

Infante translates from Spanish to English as the title and rank for the son of the Kings of the Iberian Kingdom. So it was no surprise that Omar Infante agreed to terms Friday with the Kansas City Royals.

What is surprising is that KC was willing to give Infante a four-year deal, something the Yankees (reportedly offered 3-years, $24MM) and other teams refused to do. The cash is expected to be in the neighborhood of $30MM, though the exact amount is not yet known.

Infante won't give you a lot of offense - he has a .721 lifetime OPS - but he gives you the versatility of playing his primary position of second base and can fill in at shortstop and third base. He's also played in more than 100 games in the outfield. The Yankees were intrigued by that versatility, but smartly did not go beyond three years in their offer to the soon-to-be 32-year old.

The Royals will be Infante's fourth organization after he started and ended his pre-KC career in Detroit, with stops in Atlanta and Miami in between. He made his lone (controversial) All-Star appearance in 2010, a year in which he finished with a .321 batting average and a .775 OPS.

Kansas City hopes that Infante's signing can end the merry-go-round of second baseman the Royals have used over the last decade. Oddly, the front office seems to prefer second baseman whose names begin with the letter 'G'.

2013 - Chris Getz, Emilio Bonifacio, Elliot Johnson
2012 - Getz, Johnny Giavotella, Yuniesky Betancourt
2011 - Getz, Giavotella, Mike Aviles
2010 - Getz, Aviles, Alberto Callaspo
2009 - Callaspo
2008 - Callaspo, Mark Grudzielanek, Esteban German
2007 - Grudzielanek, German
2006 - Grudzielanek, German, Graffanino
2005-  Graffanino, Ruben Gotay, Joe McEwing, Denny Hocking
2004 - Graffanino, Gotay, Desi Relaford

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mariners Get Cano Some Hart

In attempt to build a lineup around Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners agreed to terms with Corey Hart on a one-year, $5MM deal. The contract could also pay out an additional $8MM if incentives are reached.

Hart missed all of the 2013 season due to knee problems, but hit 30 home runs and had an .841 OPS in 2012 and has slugged at a rate of .495 over his nine year career.

The 31-yr old spent his entire professional baselball life in the Milwaukee Brewers organization after they selected him in the 11th round of the 2000 draft. The Mariners are hoping he can make up for the loss of 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, who is expected to sign a free agent contract elsewhere. Hart is likely to split time between the outfield and DH.

In addition to Hart, the Mariners also landed outfielder Logan Morrison from the Florida Marlins on Wednesday for pitcher Carter Capps. Morrison was once a top 20 prospect and produced 23 home runs, 72 RBI and a .797 OPS in his first full season (2011) in the Major Leagues. But injuries limited Morrison to 178 games over the the last two seasons and when he did play he didn't produce.

And I did it..made it all the way through this entry without a Corey Hart, "I wear my sunglasses at night" reference.

Ellsbury Sports Number 22

Jacoby Ellsbury wore #2 for the Boston Red Sox, but when he switched rivalries he knew he would not be asking Derek Jeter to switch numbers.

Ellsbury was introduced to the New York media Friday morning and was given jersey #22 by manager Joe Girardi. Vernon Wells wore 22 last year and is still under contract, but it's not likely he'll remain on the roster.

Girardi made some brief statements prior to calling Ellsbury up to the dais, including this gem: "You'll no longer be a thorn in our side; now you will be a flower in our clubhouse." What????

After putting on his jersey and cap, Ellsbury thanked Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman, as well as Girardi for his "kind words". He then gave the usual answers about switching to the oter side of the rivalry, the excitement of playing in NY, seeing all the championship banners, etc.

Ellsbury was accompanied by his wife Kelsey, who was presented with roses by Cashman, and his agent/uber villain Scott Boras.

More later.

Logan Heads West

Boone Logan, who spent the last four seasons coming out of the Yankees bullpen, is headed to the Colorado Rockies via free agency. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that Logan agreed to a three-year, $16.5MM deal.

The Yankees had negotiated with Logan's representatives, but it's not known if an actual offer was made. What is not said, but certainly known, is there is no way the Yankees would make a three year offer.

Despite a plus fastball and 202 strikeouts in 176 innings pitched as a Yankee, his inconsistency could drive you insane. This past season he also had difficulty with his left elbow during spring training and the problem persisted throughout the season. He had bone spur removed from the elbow in October.

I personally believe that too many appearances contributed to Logan's issues with consistency and his balky elbow. Under Joe Girardi, Logan's games pitched increased from 51 to 64 to 80 in his first three seasons in New York. That doesn't included the number of times he warmed up and didn't enter a game.

He entered just 61 games in 2013 and had a four year low of 39 innings pitched. Logan could come up in with the bases loaded, no one out, and strike out the side, but there were too many times he was called on to face a lefty and walked the most important batter of the apperance. (In 2010 and 2012 he averaged at least 4.5 walks per 9 innings pitched.)

Solid lefty specialists are hard to come by,  but the Yankees made the right move in not meeting Logan's contract demands.

Cano Gets His Intro and Clears the Air

For now, Cano has gone back to his old #22

Robinson Cano officially became a Seattle Mariner Thursday afternoon with his introduction to the Seattle media. Sporting a David Ortiz-esque beard, Cano set some things straight about his time in New York and the negotiations that took place this off-season in a sit down interview with ESPN's Pedro Gomez prior to the news conference.

Cano felt disrespected by the Yankees during the free agent process, though he declined to provide details. He said he took less money to come to the Mariners...which is laughable. The Yankees final offer was seven years and $175MM or $25MM per season, while the Mariners deal is for $24MM a year. In Cano's mind the annual salary, which was only a difference of $1MM, was taking less money than the $240MM compared to $175MM. Yeah, okay.

The All-Star second baseman added that it wasn't about the money, he wanted this to be his last contract. He realized that when a player turns 36- or 37-years of age it's more difficult to get a new deal.

Cano admitted that he hated batting second in 2013, that he would have liked to have been consulted about it - (paraphrasing) "it's a difficult spot in the order to're expected to give yourself up, move runners over, etc. I'm not that kind of hitter. I could understand batting there if all the big guys were healthy, but they weren't."

Despite his spot in the order, the 31-year old said he had no problem with manager Joe Girardi or general manager Brian Cashman. He complimented Girardi on helping him to become an All-Star and having led them to a World Series championship. He had similar words about Cashman.

When asked about his legacy after having watched the send off Mariano Rivera received, Cano said Mariano is a special person and it was wonderful to see what took place and be a part of it, but he has 10 years in Seattle and maybe he will build a legacy there.

Gomez queried him about the much talked about lack of "busting it" to first base every time. Cano's response was "I've heard that criticism before. Would you rather have me for 160 games a year or would you rather I played 120-130 games a year and got hurt?" Apparently Cano didn't pay attention to Derek Jeter all this time.

Cano said he had a great time in New York and he thanked everyone and said he was treated very wellby the fans. Cano reitered that the contract wasn't about being greedy, it was the length of the deal that was important to him. He'll find out that many Yankees fans - who have never seen one of their star players in their prime walk away - don't look it that way.

My Opinion - Those fans that will boo have the right to do so, but Cano should not be treated that way. He did plenty for the team and should be shown respect. The Yankees have constantly pilfered other teams' free agents. It's part of the game, get over it.