Go Big Now

While Andy gives the World Series the attention it deserves, I am going to talk about the Yankees and Robinson Cano. We haven’t heard much on the subject, but with the World Series possibly ending tomorrow, or Thursday at the latest, Cano can sign with another club as a week from today.  And, since Cano becomes a free agent immediately after the World Series ends, the Yankees have perhaps no more than 36 hours or so to negotiate exclusively with him.

The Yankees don’t want to bid against themselves, but they also don’t want to give Cano an offer he can shop around. That’s why I would make a really big offer now, but put an expiration date on it.

How big an offer? I’m not interested in paying Cano for eight years, but I also recognize that probably will be the price of signing him. Cano should be a very productive hitter for at least the next four years, and he should still be worth over 2 WAR in seven years. ZIPS puts a fair value of 8 years and $181 million on his next deal. The Yankees could round that up a bit to 8 years/192 million or 24-million per.

That’s a fair offer and one that the Yankees should make. There are things you can knock Cano for, but the fact remains that he is a middle of the order bat who plays a premium position. This is a guy who has proven he can thrive in New York. The Yankees made a mistake not negotiating an extension a couple of years ago, now they are going to have to pay a premium to keep their best player.

A Timing Problem

The A-Rod hearing have been suspended until the week of November 18th. According to sources, the case will resume then with A-Rod’s legal team presenting its side of the case. Since it took MLB 8 days to present their side, it isn’t unreasonable to expect A-Rod’s team to take the same amount of time. Throw in Thanksgiving and the 25 days the arbitrator has to rule on the issue, and we are probably looking at Christmas for a resolution date.

That’s going to be problematic for the Yankees, at least when it comes to the $189-million payroll. Free agents will be able to start signing deals five days after the World Series ends. That’s November 5th right now and I would expect most of the better ones to be off the board by December 25th.

So the Yankees will have to take a calculated risk. They can bid on free agents with the expectation that part or all of A-Rod’s salary gets erased from their 2014 payroll, but they won’t know for sure. And, unless Alex gets suspended for the entire 2014 season he is likely to trigger a home run bonus which will add $6-million to the payroll.

A-Rod, the gift that keeps on giving

Best Boston Sports Day Ever?

Sunday may well have been the best Boston sports day ever.  Of course neither the Patriots game nor the Red Sox game decided anything but for sheer excitement and thrilling outcomes, it has to, at worst, rank highly.

First I must admit I was admonished by my wife for having a crappy attitude watching the Patriots game.  My son was watching with us and when the Pats turned it over with 2+ minutes left, I proclaimed, “It’s over.”  To be fair, I legitimately thought mathematically the game was over and said as much.  Admittedly I said it with a strong tone of poor sportsmanship.  My wife told me it was the wrong message to send to my son and it turns out, boy was she right.

I think my son learned the lesson as well as the Patriots sure put me in my place and he’ll never believe another thing I say.

As for the Red Sox, I was at game 1 and it was probably one of the longest, most frustrating nights of my life.  The Red Sox were embarrassed, struck out 17 times and only mustered 1 hit and the game took nearly 4 hours to play.  To make matters worse, my drive home from Fenway was interrupted by downed power lines which forced me and many others to park our cars on Route 1A for an hour until things were fixed.  Bedtime came at 2:50 am, a late night.

Sunday night’s Red Sox game was a near carbon copy for 5 innings with Max Scherzer mowing down Red Sox at will and the Red Sox not getting even a sniff of a hit.

Things changed in the 6th with the Red Sox scoring their first run of the series and David Ortiz worked his magic in the 8th.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia capped the night with a walk-off hit.

Game 1 provided much room for debate, like why is Mike Napoli so bad?  Why can’t the Red Sox hit?  How many checked swings can one team have in one night, oh really, that many?  As for strategy debate, I can’t really argue with John Farrell as if your team isn’t hitting across the board, I’m not sure what you can do besides try a few pinch hitters, which he did.  Basically you have to tip your hat to Detroit.

Game 2 was David Ortiz’s game and he got the job done.  His grand slam was punctuated with an amazing effort by Torii Hunter flipping over the wall into the bullpen, and one of Boston’s finest raising his arms in triumph as the ball landed in the glove of a bullpen catcher (how the hell did the catcher even see that ball coming at him by the way?  He was in a crouch, his head below the top of the wall.  When did he first make eye contact with the ball?  Remarkable).  One of the most dramatic sports moments I’ve seen.

Good timing too as heading to Detroit down 0-2 and facing Justin Verlander isn’t ideal.

Mark Oct 13th, 2013 as a special day in Boston sports.

The Price of Qualifying

The Post is reporting that the qualifying offer that must be made to free agents is $14.1 million for 2014. The only way to get a draft pick if a free agent leaves is to offer them a one-year deal for $14.1 million.

I wrote about this in August in regards to Phil Hughes. At the start of the year, offering Hughes a qualifying deal seemed a lock. Now there is no way the Yankees can do it because  he would almost certainly accept. But, the Yankees have three players that they should make the offer to- Cano, Kuroda and Granderson.

Cano is obvious, he will turn it down in an instant. Kuroda is a bit more of a risk, but even with his September swoon he posted a 3.31 ERA. And, $14.1 million is less than he earned in 2013 ($15 million) so I am not sure he would accept the offer either.

Granderson is a real risk, but I still think the Yankees should do it.  He missed 100 games, hit .229 and saw his slugging percentage drop almost 100 points, but I bet he will get a multi-year deal from some team. And, if he did accept the offer, the Yankees would  only be on the hook for his salary in 2014. Granderson is only 32 and he hit 43 home runs in 2012. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to approach that total again in 2014 and since the Yankees don’t have any younger alternatives, they should gamble and make him a qualifying offer.

Joe’s Back

Multiple outlets are reporting that Joe Girardi has signed a new deal to remain manager of the Yankees. It is a four-year pact worth $4-million per year with playoff bonuses added on.

This is a great first step for a team that did not need any other obstacles this offseason. Girardi provides them with stability at the top and he has shown a knack for developing relievers, something that the team will definitely need next year. The Yankees were smart to open the checkbook for Girardi and they are still getting a pretty good deal. It’s worth remembering that Joe Torre made $7.5 million in his last year with the team and turned down a deal for $5-million with playoff bonuses in 2007.

Now comes the hard part. Plenty of decisions to be made regarding free agents, arbitration and the future. I will be sharing my thoughts starting next week.

Hal Speaks

Hal Steinbrenner went on WFAN today and discussed the Yankees. Here are some of the points he made.

He wants Joe Girardi back, an offer has been made and he wants the situation closed “sooner rather than later”.

If it comes down to the $189-million payroll or putting a championship caliber team on the field he will put a championship caliber team on the field.

He described A-Rod as one of the best third basemen in baseball and said there was no animosity on the part of the team. He wouldn’t comment on the lawsuits A-Rod has filed, but said the Yankees have a lot of confidence in Dr. Ahmad.

He is disappointed with the talent in the minor leagues and said that the team is working on a plan to make it better. He said they expected some of the younger players to be much better than they were.

He would like to see Robinson Cano come back at a contract “within reason”.

The Yankees are looking at their strength and conditioning regimen throughout the system to see if they need to make changes.

Chutzpah

I can’t think of a better word for describing Alex Rodriguez’s behavior. The lawsuits he filed yesterday are fascinating examples of chutzpah, hubris, ego, insert your own word.

In one of them he actually accuses Bud Selig of not doing enough to stop PED’s in the game earlier in his tenure. I mean Alex, really?

But, it isn’t hard to see what Alex is going for here. The arbitrators involved in his case will hear about these lawsuits and they just might be influenced by them.

One thing is certain, Alex is not going to go quietly. Now it’s a matter of how many others he can drag down with him. What a sad legacy.

Not A Mistake

AJ Burnett just gave up 7 earned runs in 2+ innings in the NLDS.

 

Mistakes?

So based on two games, the Yankees looked like dunces letting Russell Martin go, but geniuses for letting Swisher leave?

The Martin critique is fair in some respects, but not because of what he did in the wild card game. It’s fair because Chris Stewart is not a starting catcher. Now, you could argue that if Cervelli had stayed healthy, the Martin move would not have been a mistake and that’s fine. But, we can’t turn Cervelli into a superstar based on 61 plate appearances. What the Yankees could have done is sign someone like A.J. Pierzynski after they lost Martin. They didn’t and it turned the Martin loss into a huge mistake.

Swisher had a rough night and a rough 2013, so letting him go looks like a great move, until you consider his replacement. If Swisher is in the Bronx, we never see Vernon Wells. Wells was terrible, his batting line of .233/.282/.349 was bad enough, but the defensive metrics showed that he wasn’t very good in the outfield either. Sum it all up and WAR says Wells COST the Yankees 0.8 of a win. Swisher gave Cleveland 2.4 wins, so you have a swing of 3.2 wins.

Now, the problem with both of these comparisons is that they just look at this year. Martin and Swisher would have been better than their replacements this year, but not enough that the Yankees would have made the playoffs. Furthermore, they are both signed for next year (and two more years after that for Swisher). If the Yankees do a halfway decent job of roster construction in 2014, they will cover for Martin and Swisher.

Perspective

If you wade through all the A-Rod junk in the papers today (no comment) you will find all sorts of doom and gloom stories about the Yankees and their current plight. For example, The Daily News has a series “cleverly” titled “Slide of the Yankees”. Interestingly, the Mets are nowhere to be found in most papers.

I bring up the Mets because they provide an interesting comparison and they supposedly “share” this city. Over the last five years, they have not finished with more than 79 wins. By contrast, the Yankees have won three AL East titles, been in three ALCS’s and won a World Series. That’s a really good stretch of baseball and even if we won’t see anything like it for awhile, we shouldn’t take it for granted.