George The Second?

Randy Levine has never been very smart about keeping his mouth shut. His most recent performance was out of the old book of Steinbrenner.

Not content with just winning the arbitration case against Delia Betances, Levine blasted his agents, and Betances in a pointless attack that will only poison relations with him down the road.

I understand why the Yankees chose to go to arbitration with a Betances. While the gap between them was only $2-million this year, if Betances had made $5-million, like he asked for, he would have been eligible to significantly increase that in arbitration next year. And, after 2018, the Yankees may have found themselves on the hook for a second closer salary-wise.

That doesn’t excuse the stupidity of Levine or the absurdity of the system. Betances may be the most valuable reliever in the game over the past three years. Throw out saves and he is right there with them all. But arbitrators rely on saves and Betances didn’t have enough of them to earn his bigger payday. Levine should ha e pocketed the win and moved on. This was an unforced error.

Spring Is Here!

The bags are unpacked and the gear is ready to go. Pitchers and catchers reported today in Tampa and in a few weeks we will have box scores once again. How great is that?

Camp for the Yankees should be interesting, even though you can almost predict the final roster right now. On offense, it seems almost certain that the 13 guys headed north will be Sanchez, Romine, Bird, Carter, Castro, Didi, Headley, Torreyes, Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, Hicks, and Holliday. The pitching is murkier because 2 spots in the rotation are open, but I would expect to see the following 11 guys make the team: Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Severino, Green, Warren, Chapman, Betances, Clippard, Mitchell, and Cessa, with the final spot going to a left-handed reliever.

So, why is camp interesting with almost all of the final roster set? Because it is all about the future. We will get a look at almost every top-10 prospect in the system and should start to get an idea of when these guys are realistically going to make the Bronx. The two closest right now would be Frazier and Kaprielian. The Yankees hope Frazier is their left fielder of the future and Kapreilian is a part of the 2018 rotation. Both could force their way to the Bronx early in 2017 if they play well. While Torres will also certainly get plenty of attention, keep your eye on Miguel Andujar. The Yankees need to see if he can continue to hit and handle third as they eye him as a possible replacement for Headley. I’m also excited to see Chance Adams and Dietrich Enns. Adams went 13-1 between A ball and AA with over a strikeout an inning. Enns went 14-4 between AA and AAA with 124 K’s in 140 innings. When you consider that Tanaka has an opt-out after this year while Sabathia and Pineda are free agents, the Yankees will need some of their younger arms to step forward.

Trade Coming?

The other day I posted this: Think about the Yankees. Matt Holiday was a pretty solid signing at $13-million for one year, but what would you say if they had signed Chris Carter for much less than that?

Well I guess I need to say something now because the Yankees just signed him for the bargain basement price of $3-million.

The price is great, but I don’t think this is a good fit with the way the team is presently constructed. Holliday and Carter are too similar. They are both righties and they are both best suited for a DH role.

But, if you had to, you could put Carter at first. The problem is that is where Greg Bird should be. So maybe you put Holliday in left, but then where does Brett Gardner go? The Yankees could simply be adding Carter as righty power on the bench. But if you carry 13 pitchers, you only have four bench spots. A guy who can really only play first doesn’t make a lot of sense in that scenario.

Perhaps the Yankees are just taking a flier for spring and will see if they can flip Carter for something towards the end of camp? Or they have another trade in the works? Because absent that, I don’t get this. Yes, the price is great, but the fit is poor.

Can Free Agents Be Free?

According to this story by Buster Olney (subscription required) on Wednesday 65 free agents remained out of an original pool of 139. Considering that we are ten days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, I find that amazing. And there are some big names out there. Chris Carter, who hit 41 homers last year. Mike Napoli, who hit 34. Matt Wieters and Jason Hammel are available. At what point do these guys take an incentive-laden one-year deal and try to reestablish their value for next season?

And this will have big implications for next offseason as Olney points out. Not only will there be a bevy of players coming off of one-year deals, teams will be patient based on this year. Think about the Yankees. Matt Holiday was a pretty solid signing at $13-million for one year, but what would you say if they had signed Chris Carter for much less than that?

It seems like we have entered a new world in baseball and the players are not catching onto it. Old and expensive is out, young and cheap is in. If you are a superstar, you will get superstar dollars. But if you are not, you had better be very careful how you negotiate because you might be fighting for scraps at the start of spring training. We may start to see rosters comprised of a handful of guys earning $20-million or more and then the rest earning less than $5-million. In short, we are might be witnessing the destruction of the “middle class” in baseball. (I know, I don’t feel sorry for any of them either.)

And all of this drives up the value of prospects. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees, a team loaded with prospects right now, manoeuvres in this new environment.