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Friday, January 24, 2014

Yanks should have filled holes, not grabbed best available.

The NFL draft generally has two conflicting dynamics which influence teams: do they draft:
- by need to fill holes or
- best available athlete?

Usually, it's not a simple thing to determine.  Sometimes it is.  If you have a quarterback but Peyton Manning is available and you have the number one pick, you draft Peyton Manning.

This off season the New York Yankees, owned by the Steinbrenner Kids, had many holes to fill but primarily:
- starting pitchers
- infielders.

Starting pitchersAndy Pettitte retired and Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda were free agents.  Hughes was no longer wanted and signed with Minnesota.  The Yankees correctly signed Kuroda to another one year contract.  But that left them two starters short of what they had in 2013.

Infielders:  Yanks had failed to sign second baseman Robinson Cano and he was a free agent demanding big bucks for ten years.  The Yanks correctly let him go.  But the fate oAlex Rodriguez was in jeopardy; he is currently suspended for the entire 2014 season.  Shortstop Derek Jeter played only 17 games in 2013 and is 39 years old; he'll turn 40 in June.

 Jhonny Peralta 2011
By Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Jhonny Peralta was a free agent who will be 32 in 2014.  Peralta was suspended 50 games in 2013 for use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) but he is a good hitting shortstop who has also played third.  Peralta could probably also transition to second.  He was a perfect fit for the multiple Yankee infield needs but the Yankees showed no interest.  Peralta signed for $53 million for four years with St. Louis.

The Yanks could also use a corner outfielder.  They had Brett Gardner in center and Alfonso Soriano in left.  Unfortunately, the Yanks seemed determined to relegate Soriano to designated hitter (DH) even though at age 38 in 2014 Soriano still seems capable of playing the field.  The smart move would have been to re-sign Curtis Granderson who will be 33 in 2014.

The Yankee owners acted like the kids they are.  They grabbed the first shinny object dangled in front of them.  They signed the best available free agents even though those were not compelling players.  They were not Peyton Manning.

The Yankees signed Boston center fieldeJacoby Ellsbury to replace their incumbent center fielder Brett Gardner.  Then they signed Atlanta catcher Brian McCann to fill the one position where they supposedly had depth in their minor league system.  The Yankees have 27 year old veteran Francisco Cervelli and 24 year old Austin Romine and 22 year old J.R. Murphy and 21 year old minor league prospect Gary Sanchez.

Next the Yankees signed 36 year old former center fielder Carlos Beltran: $15 million for each of the next three years.  Re-signing 33 year old Granderson for the same annual pay even for one more year made more sense, especially considering Beltran missed most of 2009-2010 with injuries.

The money the Yankees will spend on Ellsbury ($23 million) and McCann ($17 million) could have been put to much better use, such as signing infielder Peralta or another starting pitcher.  As it now stands the Yankees have not adequately filled the holes that they had at three infield positions when the off season signing period began.

They have much improved hitting in center and at catcher but much less hitting at second and third and a giant question mark at short.

Had the Yankees not signed Ellsbury and McCann, they might have remained under the $189 million team soft cap AND still been able to throw money at minor league Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.  Instead the Yankees continued to engage in gross mismanagement, which has the team in an uncontrollable downward spiral, perpetually chasing baubles, at higher costs with lower returns.

Getting under the team salary cap for the first time would have greatly enhanced the chances that the Yankees could rebuild starting in just one more year.  Instead the Yankees enter the 2014 season without a single every day player under the age of 30 and only Jeter a player who started as a Yankee.  This management approach is not sustainable.

Monday, November 11, 2013  Yankees spend too foolishly, not too little.

It's currently conventional wisdom that the Yankees are being cheap by trying to get under the soft salary cap in 2014. That cap is $189 million. If the Yankees get down to $180 million, they would be at 95% of the cap and most likely have the highest payroll in the American Conference. Only the Dodgers would likely exceed the Yankees. Boston spent $177 million in 2013, the Yankees $246 million.
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Monday, September 23, 2013  Mark Cuban, buy the Yankees from the Steinbrenner Kids.

Friday, September 20, 2013  Yankees need to clean house.

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