VOTE: Budget cuts — Does Hal just want to make it rain?

March 2, 2012 | 42 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK


For the first time, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner disclosed publicly that he intends to cut his team’s payroll over the next two years, signaling a fundamental shift in philosophy from the free-spending ideology once championed by his father.

“Budgets matter,” said Steinbrenner, the managing general partner of baseball’s richest franchise. “Balance sheets matter.”

Steinbrenner’s motivation is clear. Built into the new collective bargaining agreement is a provision that would refund some of money that the Yankees shell out now through baseball’s revenue-sharing program. But eligibility for the refund is tied directly to a team’s ability to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

And then he drops the iron fist with this quote:

“Well, I’m looking at it as a goal,” Steinbrenner said. “But my goals normally are considered a requirement.”

We’re all for the Yankees being run smarter and more efficiently. Keep in mind that part of the reason the Yankees payroll is so inflated is because they’ve given out really bad deals to certain players. If this means an end to obviously overvalued contracts like Arod, Jeter, and Soriano, then great. (Side note: this would also require getting a certain team president out of the player acquisition business).

But is that really the motivation behind Hal’s budget cuts? Do you think he’s doing this for the benefit of baseball product? Will we see money allocated to other areas like scouting, statistical analysis, etc? Will we see ticket costs stabilize? Or is this a straight money grab, pure and simple?

If fighting with your mask on is cool, consider him Miles Davis

February 28, 2012 | 48 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Our hearts can’t handle much more of this. First, Boy Wonder. Then, Anus Mouth. Now C is for Cookie.

Farewell, Captain Intangibles:

After weeks of weighing his options, Jason Varitek has decided to retire, multiple sources confirmed last night.

The longtime catcher is expected make it official Thursday at JetBlue Park, and although the team has discussed a role for him in the organization, a source said nothing will be agreed upon until after his retirement is finalized.

The Red Sox offered Varitek a minor league contract and invited him to spring training, but his odds of winning a job were slim, especially after the team signed veteran backup catcher Kelly Shoppach.

The likely scene for Jason Varitek’s retirement presser

Over/Under on how many “best shape in years” articles we’ll read?

February 27, 2012 | 21 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK


“It’s the strongest I’ve ever been, the best looking I’ve ever been — you can write that, too,” Swisher said, laughing. “This is going to be a fun year for me. Last year was super stressful for me, and I’m just not going to do that this year, man.”

Thanks to his offseason, Swisher said that he feels as though he’s living in a new body, though the scale doesn’t tell much of a difference. Swisher said he weighed in at 199 this year, compared to 203 or 204 a year ago.

“I started doing things right away from the gym, eating healthy and all that, then I really noticed my body changing,” Swisher said. “I’m really, really excited about it.”

Ending each sentence with “man” is a great way to stay in shape.

Dorks everywhere continue to unite around Russell Martin

February 26, 2012 | 30 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Vizzini

Baseball Prospectus has published another article quantifying the effects catchers have on their pitching staffs, and once again, Russell Martin ranks among the top in the game.

The money shot: Martin has added 1.7 wins in catcher defense per year. Overall, this means he’s been between an all-star and an elite level player pretty much every year of his career.

Reportedly, the Yankees offered Martin a 3 year / $20 million extension in the offseason, which would actually be a paycut from the annual salary he will earn in 2012 ($7.5 million). It was definitely a lowball offer and RussMart wisely turned it down.

Already above-average offensively for his position and with the increasing buzz about his defense, Martin is going to get PAID. Three years for $30 million would have been much fairer offer, but because they lowballed him, they now put themselves at a significant risk of losing him in free agency. The Yankees do have a great stable of young catching prospects, but it’s still a big gamble — one they may lose.

It also makes you wonder how the Yankees go about offering contracts. They lowball Martin and yet give contracts to certain players that are so far above their actual production value that you wonder if they’re drunk when they negotiate.

In case you missed it: Our latest batch of interviews

February 26, 2012 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

If you haven’t read them yet, check out our latest round of interviews — all part of our ongoing Stealth Bomber Series. There’s some great original tidbits about how the Yankees train their prospects, and most of all, you get to know three really good kids.

2/25: Interview with 2B Angel Gumbs (2010 2nd round draft pick)

2/3: Interview with 3B Dante Bichette Jr (2011 1st round draft pick)

1/31: Interview with 1B/3B/COF Tyler Austin (2010 13th round draft pick)

The Stealth Bomber Series: Interview with 2B Angelo Gumbs

February 25, 2012 | 24 comments | in Featured | by SJK

In the our Stealth Bomber series, we talk to players in the farm system who aren’t yet on the New York radar, but hope one day to be so.

Angelo Gumbs was drafted by the Yankees in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft (82nd overall), and the organization was not bashful in paying over MLB’s slot recommendation for the super-athletic Torrance, CA high schooler. In 2011, the California product hit .264/.332/.406 with 11 SBs at league champion Staten Island (A-) in his first full season of professional ball. NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese caught up with the 19-year old and talked about his switch to 2B, his approach to hitting, Roberto Clemente, and much more.

Sensei John Kreese: How’s spring training?

AG: I’m actually in California right now. I go back to Tampa on March 3rd.

SJK: Really? You’re on a break?

AG: Yeah, after the 5-week minicamp, they [the Yankees] let you go home for 2 weeks.

SJK: They do that for everyone who went to the minicamp?

AG: I think they keep some of the pitchers, but the positions players can go home.

SJK: So was the minicamp mandatory or optional?

AG: Mandatory. If they called you and told you to come, it was mandatory. There were some guys who it was optional for and they showed up to get in a workout, but they called me.

SJK: So tell me how your first season went.

AG: Overall, my first season was pretty good. I could have done better and I plan on showing that this season.

SJK: Is there anything about the minor league experience that has surprised you?

AG: The only thing that really surprised me is that in high school, coaches drill us with practices for hours and hours. The Yankees set a few objectives that they have us work on, but not for hours and hours at a time. That’s what surprised me. I thought it would be strenuous work, and me getting tired out.

SJK: What objectives did they set for you?

AG: Keeping my base strong, a quiet stride, and hitting all the way through the ball.

SJK: Have Yankee coaches made any adjustments to your swing?

AG: I’ve been told nothing is wrong with my swing. The Yankees take what everybody has and try to make something from it. Instead of trying to teach everybody the same swing, they take what each person has that’s good and work with it — so they can perfect it. They don’t really change swings around or stances. Sometimes they’ll tell you to do this or that. But for the most part, you come in with something and they just try to fine tune you.

SJK: The big thing that everyone talks about is your athleticism. But in your own words, what do you think are your strengths as a player, and what do you think your weaknesses are?

AG: I feel like I’ve gotten so much better at a lot of things, like staying back on pitches. My strengths are probably my hitting and now my defense. My bunt coverage is probably my biggest weakness at this point. But, I just have to stay on a steady track of getting better.

SJK: In high school, you primarily played shortstop, right?

AG: Yeah, but prior to high school, I played mostly center field.

SJK: So last year at Staten Island, you played 2B. How has the change been to his new position?

AG: When the Yankees moved me to 2B, I felt like I was on the other side of the world. It was a little weird at first. But after a couple of weeks, it began to become second nature. But, I still have to work on my bunt coverage. When someone tries a push bunt on me, I have to be ready to hop up.

SJK: Do your coaches ever mention you potentially trying other positions besides 2B?

AG: I always joke with the coaches about playing the outfield, but they tell me that outfield is out of the question. They tell me “you’re a second baseman.”

SJK: This question might not even be on your mind right now, but when they tell you that you’re a second baseman, and you see Robinson Cano in New York, do you think about your future with the Yankees organization?

AG: Anything could happen. I don’t know what the plan is, but the Yankees are a smart organization. In every situation, they know what they’re trying to do, and I trust the plan they have in store for me. They’ve been true to me, so whatever they have planned for me, I’m sure it’s a good plan.

SJK: You were drafted in 2010, but only played 7 games in the GCL. Why was that? Did you sign late?

AG: Yes, I signed late. August 13th, I think.

SJK: Last year, you stole 11 bases, but were caught 7 times. Do you see yourself as a basestealer?

AG: Yeah, I see myself as a basestealer. I consider the 11 bags a low number. I had a mix-up during the season with the green light and the red light, so most of the time I just shut it down. I’m looking forward to stealing more bags this season.

SJK: I’ve read that your favorite player is Roberto Clemente. Obviously, he passed away before you were even born, so how did he become your favorite player?

AG: My father always talked to me about him, and my mother is Puerto Rican. I started looking up Puerto Rican players and I found him. For my 8th birthday, my mom bought me a Roberto Clemente book and ever since I read that book, I’ve loved him.

SJK: Have you met any of the Yankee big leaguers?

AG: I’ve met Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Justin Maxwell, Andruw Jones…I’ve met a good amount of guys.

SJK: Have you had any good conversations with any of them?

AG: I get a chance to talk to them here and there — about the game and what their biggest focus is. They all say the same thing. It’s about consistency — what they think about in every at-bat, every pitch in the cage, every ball hit off the tee.

SJK: The other guys you played with last year…were there any that really impressed you?

AG: Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Cito Culver. Cito made some plays at short that you have to be a real athlete to make. Mason was just good all-around, both on offense and defense. Ben Gamel played some good outfield and he started to heat up towards the end of last season, and hit shots all over the yard.

SJK: What are your goals for this upcoming season?

AG: I hope to start off the season in Charleston. I want more hits than strikeouts and to keep my on-base percentage high. The number I focus on is OPS. I want to be smarter, and take my experience from last year and put it into this year. I’m ready to get this season going.

SJK: They probably won’t tell you where you’re going until the end of spring training, right?

AG: Yeah, at the very end of spring training. You’re pretty much clueless until then.

SJK: Well, that’s all I got. You’re certainly one of the prospects that fans get excited about. Best of luck and we’ll definitely be following you this year.

AG: Thank you.

Much appreciation to Angelo for speaking with NoMaas. The Yankees really have some great kids in their system, not just with baseball talent, but as overall people. We’ve heard in recent years that the Yankees are stressing “make-up” when making their draft picks. Our latest series of interviews is evidence of that. We’ve been so impressed talking to these young players, and Angelo is no exception. Just a really likable, well-spoken, and personable guy. And if you get a chance, check out this video:

VOTE: Can Curtis repeat 2011?

February 24, 2012 | 40 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Curtis Granderson’s 2011 campaign was MVP-caliber. The biggest reason for C-Grand’s fantastic production was his shocking explosion against LHP: .272/.347/.597. Prior to last season, the best line Curtis mustered against lefties was .259/.310/.429 (2008). After several years of misery against same-sided pitchers, Granderson busted out big-time. Is it reasonable to assume that Granderson’s newfound success against LHP is for real, or was 2011 a mirage?

Vote: Has his time come?

February 22, 2012 | 65 comments | in Featured | by Louis Winthorpe III

NY Daily News:

“I’ve made my decision already,” Rivera said. “Even if I save 90 games; even if they want to pay as much money as they want to, any team.”

He will rise.

Alex Rodriguez makes final preparations for Spring Training

February 20, 2012 | 40 comments | in Featured | by SJK

And while we’re on the topic of Arod, what do you expect of him in 2012? Over the last 3 years, we’ve seen his ISO drop from .245 to .236 to .185. His 2010 and 2011 seasons were the worst offensive campaigns of his career, in terms of rate stats.

During the offseason, he hooked up with more she-males and had a Kobe Bryant-inspired medical procedure. Hopefully, the plasma treatment, or whatever it was, will help him regain some of his trademark power. Or is modern medicine no match for Father Time?

Raul Ibanez…eh

February 20, 2012 | 45 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Marshall Seymour


The New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year deal with Raul Ibanez worth $1.1 million plus incentives, baseball sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney on Monday morning.

Ibanez can make up to $4 million total with the incentives, the sources said.

The Yankees plan to use Ibanez as a left-handed designated hitter, a source told’s Andrew Marchand last week.

Ibanez last 3 years vs. RHP:

Here’s what we don’t get:

1. The Yankees traded AJ Burnett at his absolute low point to clear money under the Steinbrenner-imposed budget cap ($5 million “saved” for 2011)

2. They use $1.1 mil of that $5 mil to sign Raul Ibanez, with the deal possibly being worth $4 mil in total. As noted by his numbers above, Ibanez has been in decline over the past 3 years, even against RHP.

3. Ibanez shouldn’t be allowed near a glove.

4. The Yankees signed Russell Branyan to a minor league deal (a very astute move, in our view) and he can play a decent 1B. While he was awful in 2011, he’s been just as productive as Ibanez against RHP over the course of their careers, and he’s only 1 year removed from a .254/.352/.522 (.375 wOBA) season against righties. He’s also 2 1/2 years younger than Ibanez.

So in a nutshell, we don’t understand why the Yankees traded AJ Burnett in order to sign Raul Ibanez, when his signing seems duplicative to Branyan — and Branyan can actually play the field. If the Steinbrenner Cap is indeed real, we would have rather seen the Yankees keep the “savings” from the AJ Burnett deal and use it for a mid-season deal.

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