On Tuesday, the Yankees re-signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract. He is a 36-year-old journeyman who has previously pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.
Capuano was an All-Star in 2006 with the Brewers when he finished the season with 11 wins, a 4.03 ERA, 174 strikeouts and only 47 walks, but he has mostly been a mediocre pitcher throughout his career. He has been a somewhat reliable back-end of the rotation starter, and has served as a reliever in the 2013, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Capuano has a 76-87 record, a 4.28 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, 1.134 strikeouts, 426 walks and has allowed 183 homers in 10 seasons.
While pitching for the Mets in 2011, Capuano had a very high 4.55 ERA while making 33 appearances and 31 starts. In 2013, which was the last season that he made most of his appearances as a starter, he had a 4.26 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 24 walks for the Dodgers. Further adding to his mediocrity, this past season, he had a 4.55 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox, and after he was designated for assignment, he had a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts (65.2 innings) with the Yankees.
In a surprising decision, General Manager Brian Cashman all but declared that Capuano would have a spot in the rotation to begin the season. “He’s coming in as one of our starters,” Cashman said. This means that as of now their rotation will be Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Capuano. Ivan Nova should be back from Tommy John surgery by June and until then the internal options for the final spot include Adam Warren, David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Jose De Paula. If in the rotation, Capuano makes the most sense as the number 5 starter.
Cashman is still saying that they don’t have plans to enter the bidding for Max Scherzer because of the money and years attached to him. However, this could still change come the end of January as that was when they signed Tanaka last year.
Many of the number 3 starters or better have already been traded for or signed by teams, so it is looking like Cashman will either come out of left field with an offer for Scherzer that he can’t refuse, or be content to go into spring training with the starters currently on the roster. It will not be a successful offseason if Cashman doesn’t add another starter.
Capuano is a pitcher who can be relied upon to be a workhorse that offers depth and versatility. His main attribute is that he eats up innings as he has thrown more than 186 innings four times in his career. He pitched six innings or more in eight of his 12 starts with the Yankees. However, proving his inconsistency is that he allowed four earned runs during two out of his three starts where he had more than five strikeouts.
They are not making much of an investment in him as it is only a one-year contract, but it did come as a surprise that Cashman already said that he is one of the starters in the rotation. However, this could change in spring training if a pitcher like Manny Banuelos or Mitchell really emerges.
Capuano, who was drafted in the 8th round of the 1999 draft, is a finesse pitcher who relies on his unorthodox delivery. He throws his fastball in the mid to upper 80s. The crafty lefty features a changeup and a slider, and his excellent pickoff move helped him lead the major leagues in that category with 12 in 2005.
Chase Headley, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season, was re-signed by the Yankees to a four-year, $52 million contract. He is a 30-year-old third baseman who hit .243/.328/.372 last season in 135 games with the San Diego Padres and Yankees, but in 58 games with the Yankees after being traded, he hit a much better .262/.371/.398 with six homers, 17 RBIs and eight doubles.
He played in 77 games with the Padres and 55 with the Yankees and had almost the same amount of homers (7 and 6) and doubles (12 and 8) in 22 fewer games. His average while playing for the Yankees was also much better than when he played in the National League with the Padres. The Yankees had to resign Headley because he proved that he was able to improve his stats while playing under the bright lights and he makes and his return entails that the defense in the infield will be elite at first base, shortstop, third and catcher.
He was productive with the Yankees and liked being in New York City. He makes their defense much better than it would have been without him. Headley also admitted that he took a discount to stay with the Yankees, which proves that he appreciates that the Yankees traded for him last July and desperately wants to play in the playoffs. Stats that prove how important bringing back Headley is for the Yankees are that as a Yankee, he was 7th in OPS, 11 in slugging, 7th in times on base and 5th in OBP among all third baseman. He is an elite defender and is an abover average hitter for a third baseman.
His signing also ensures that Alex Rodriguez will have little value to the Yankees in 2015. If A-Rod is healthy and somewhat productive, he should get at-bats at DH and will possibly be a back-up first baseman. Headley, who hit 31 homers and drove in 115 runs in 2012 when he finished fifth in MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award, has not come close to having a season like that since, but his chances at repeating his success from 2012 are improved this upcoming season based on how he played after the All-Star break and the increased protection that he has in the Yankees lineup.
The Yankees will be dramatically improved defensively as well as to a lesser extent on offense at the second base, shortstop and third base positions in 2015. Martin Prado is now slated to be the everyday second baseman, and he should be much better than Brian Roberts, who was the primary second baseman last season. Didi Gregorius isn’t better than Derek Jeter in his prime, but he has much more range than Jeter had the past few seasons and even had a better OPS than Jeter did last season. Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson played third before Headley’s arrival, and they don’t combine to be nearly the player that Headley is. The infield defense will prevent more runs from scoring than last season, which will be important based on the pitching staff that the team will have.
Another benefit to Headley and the Yankees agreeing on a deal is that Rob Refsnyder will be able to get some more seasoning at AAA-Scranton to improve his defense at second base and then can get called up in June. Refsnyder is an elite second base prospect who hit .297 with 24 homers and 142 RBIs in three minor league seasons, but he really started to make everyone pay attention to him last season when he .318 with 14 homers, 63 RBIs and nine steals while playing 60 games at AA Trenton and 77 games a AAA Scranton. Refsnyder has to improve his defense, and he did last season as he nine errors for Trenton but only three while playing for Scranton.
He played outfield in college, and that versatility will make him valuable at either second or outfield since it is likely that Carlos Beltran will miss some time next season because of injury. The Yankees envision Refsnyder as their second baseman of the future, and with Headley’s return and Prado’s move to second, he will not feel the pressure in spring training of starting the season at second.
Headley can definitely be productive until his contract ends when he is 34. His ability to make the routine and Gold Glove caliber play at third shouldn’t decline and his overall stats could even improve if he doesn’t get injured again. “I enjoyed my time last year in pinstripes probably more than I have ever enjoyed playing the game,” Headley said on Yankees Hot Stove. “I am going to be a great teammate to all of my teammates. Obviously when you lose Derek Jeter there is no replacing him. I think we have a chance to be a really good defensive club and that is getting more and more important in today’s game.”
Headley thinks that coming to New York and having dangerous hitters around him made him a better hitter. He said that a major reason that he signed with the Yankees is that he wants to win and the Yankees offer him a better chance to do so than the Padres ever did. He proved to have a flair for the dramatic as he hit a walk-off hit in extra innings in his very first game as a Yankee. He will try to give fans many more moments like that during the years to come.
The next move that the Yankees need to make is adding a dominant starter. They reportedly don’t want to give Max Scherzer the contract that he wants, but that could change.
The current rotation for the Yankees, after the recent departures of Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy, would be Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Adam Warren and David Phelps. Ivan Nova will slot into the rotation likely in June when he is recovered from the Tommy John surgery he had on his right elbow last April.
This is a rotation with health question marks and unproven pitchers at the four and five spots, which means that the Yankees need to overpay Max Scherzer in order to have a better season than they did in 2014. Scherzer will not turn 31 until the end of July and is coming off of two consecutive All-Star seasons.
He has only thrown more than 200 innings twice in his career (2013 & 2014), which proves that he probably will not breakdown as early as a pitcher like Jon Lester, who has done so six times. Scherzer and Lester are both 30, but Lester has made 252 starts while Scherzer has made only 198. Lester has already signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs, and James Shields, who is the other marquee free agent, is not worth signing because he is 32 and has made 285 starts.
Scherzer reportedly wants a six-to-seven year contract that could reach $200 million, which would be the second highest total contract ever given to a starting pitcher after the one Clayton Kershaw signed, but the Yankees need to listen to his agent, Scott Boras, because he will be able to be counted on to be an ace for the next three-four years. Scherzer won the Cy Young in 2013 and has had ERAs of 2.90 and 3.15 in each of the last two seasons. Also, he has averaged 32 starts, 197 innings and 209 strikeouts in the last six seasons.
He needs to be given this contract because he is a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t allow many homers or walks as he hasn’t allowed more than 18 homers, walked more than 63 batters or struck out fewer than 240 batters in the previous two seasons.
Scherzer has also done very well in some of the new sabermetric stats. He WHIP, which is walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, has been an outstanding 1.175 and 0.970 during the last two seasons. Scherzer’s FIP, which measures a pitchers effectiveness at preventing walks, homers and hit by pitches and causing strikeouts, was seventh in league in 2013 and 11th last season. He had the third highest strikeouts per nine innings in MLB with 10.29 and had the seventh best Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among starters.
Scherzer, who will be starting his eighth season and seventh complete season after making his debut in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has not had any significant injuries during his career with the Diamondbacks and Tigers. Tanaka and Pineda, who pitched very well when healthy last season, both had their seasons interrupted by injuries.
Tanaka should be relied on next year and was an All-Star in his rookie season after posting stats of 140 strikeouts, a 2.77 ERA, 14 wins, 1.056 WHIP and only 21 walks in 136 innings. However, he missed about 11 starts after his start against the Cleveland Indians on July 8 because of elbow inflammation. An MRI revealed that he had a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He will be a bit of an unknown until he can stay healthy the whole season, but according to Brendan Kuty, Joe Girardi said he is expecting Tanaka to “make his 32 starts” in 2014.
Pineda, who is an imposing pitcher with a 6’7″, 265 pound frame, had an outstanding 1.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts in only 13 starts. His strikeout to walk ratio was remarkable since he only walked seven batters, and his 0.8 walks per nine innings proves how effective he was. His curveball, slider and fastball combo make him very difficult to hit.
However, after being an All-Star with the Mariners in 2011 and being traded to the Yankees in January of 2012, Pineda has had tendinitis in his right shoulder and then an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder that caused him to miss the 2012 season. He began the 2013 season on the 60-day DL as he was still recovering from the shoulder surgery he had as a result of the labral tear in his right shoulder. He was activated in July and pitched six games in the minors.
He pitched his first game for the Yankees on April 5, 2014 and had his first of many dominating performances. However, while pitching in a simulated game while serving his 10-game suspension for pine tar usage, he suffered a Grade 1 strain of his Teres Major muscle below his right shoulder. This injury forced him to the miss the months of May, June and July.
Tanaka and Pineda proved to be very effective when not injured last season, but their health question marks combined with Sabathia’s decline and the fact that Warren is best suited for the bullpen proves that Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman need to give Scherzer the contract that he is looking for. If Pineda and Tanaka can stay healthy and only miss about five or six starts combined they would form an imposing top three in the rotation with Scherzer. The Yankees are already counting on Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran having better seasons than they did in 2014, which makes improving the rotation even more important towards making and advancing in the playoffs in 2015.
On Friday morning, the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius, a 24-year-old shortstop from the Netherlands, in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The relief pitcher prospect Robbie Ray went from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks, and the Yankees sent starter Shane Greene to the Tigers.
The Yankees only had to give up Greene, who is already 26 and started 14 games last season only because the Yankees had many injuries in their rotation, to get their shortstop who will take over for Derek Jeter. The Yankees have depth in their rotation, which means that this is a deal that they had to make.
Gregorius is coming off of a season where played in 80 games with the Dbacks and hit only .226 with six homers and 27 RBIs. However, he played more games in 2013 (103) and his offensive production was better as he had 16 doubles versus nine in 2014, a .252 average, seven homers and 28 RBIs. He had a .310 average in 57 games in 2014 while playing for the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate in Reno, which proves that he has the ability to hit for a higher average.
(Stats in the Pacific Coast League are usually inflated based on the ballparks since it is known as a hitter friendly league, but it was only his average that was higher and not his power numbers.)
Gregorius, who is known for his defense, might not have the ability to hit 15 homers in a season like Derek Jeter did nine times in his career, but he is a plus defender with the ability to go to his left and right. Jeter wasn’t able to have much range during his last few seasons, which means Gregorius will be an upgrade in that regard. In 67 games at shortstop in 2014, Gregorius had five errors, had a .983 fielding percentage, turned 39 double plays and had 189 assists.
In the minors, he had six errors in 19 games during the 2014 season at shortstop. He is athletic and has shown promise while playing for Arizona, which means that he has the ability to improve. Gregorious came out of left field because the Yankees would usually have acquired a higher profiled shortstop, but since they only had to give up Greene to get this young shortstop with promise the deal makes sense.
Former Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers had very complementary words to say about Gregorius in 2012. “When I first saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter,” Towers said. The test will come in April when he will have to show if he can handle the media scrutiny in New York City after previously playing in Cincinnati and Phoenix.
The Yankees offense needs a bounce back this season, but in order for it to do so Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will have to perform better than they did las season. It will be a successful first season offensively if Gregorius can hit .255 with eight homers and about 55 RBIs.
On Friday afternoon, the Yankees continued their busy day with the signing of relief pitcher Andrew Miller. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were a finalist to land him along with the Astros, and he ended up being correct. The Yankees signed the dominating lefty reliever to a four-year, $36 million contract.
The 29-year-old is coming off of a season where he pitched in 50 games for the Boston Red Sox and 23 for the Baltimore Orioles while recording an ERA of 2.02, 62.1 innings, 103 strikeouts, five wins and only 17 walks. David Robertson might not return because he also wants a four-year contract, but the Yankees should have a hard-throwing shutdown bullpen with Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Jacob Lindgren and Esmil Rogers.
Lindgren was a second-round pick in June out of Mississippi State who is projected to make an impact. He had a 2.16 ERA across four levels of the minors this season.
Miller and Betances both have the ability to close, and they could be the closer by committee this season so they can both pitch in high leverage situations. Miller faced 64 batters in save situations last season and held them to a .070 average with 36 strikeouts. Miller (42.6%) and Betances (39.6%) ranked second and fourth among all relievers last season in strikeout rate. That’s a dominating and imposing lefty-righty combo at the back of the bullpen.
Miller has a career ERA of 4.91, but that is inflated because he struggled early in his career. From 2006 until 2011 his season ERA was never under 4.84, but he never pitched in more than 29 games in any of those seasons. He has proved to be much more successful the past three seasons with an increased work load in the prime of his career. He had a 3.35 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 2012, and in 2013, Miller had a 2.64 ERA with 48 strikeouts.
If Miller has a season similar to the one he had last season, and if Lindgren, Wilson or Warren can emerge as a reliable seventh-inning option, the Yankees bullpen could turn out to be similar to the one that helped the Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series in 2014. However, this bullpen dominance and comparison to that of the Royals last season would be even more comparable and if David Robertson returns.
On Wednesday, 11/12, the Yankees traded back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson, who is a left-handed reliever.
After acquiring Chris Stewart and Russell Martin, Cervelli is now the third catcher that the Pirates have received who previously played for the Yankees since November of 2012. This trade makes a lot of sense for the Yankees because they receive a lefty who can have the role out of the bullpen that Boone Logan had from 2010-2012, Wilson is a lefty who throws in the mid 90s and struck out 61 batters in 60 innings last season for the Pirates.
Wilson, who is 27 and in the prime of his career, had a 4.20 ERA in 70 appearances. He has actually held right-handed hitters to an average of only .206 in his career. Wilson is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 136 appearances during his three seasons. He played college baseball at Fresno State University and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team in his junior season.
It makes sense that the Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli because they had an excess of back-up catchers with him on the roster. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy both have experience being the back-up catcher with the Yankees for periods of time, and Cervelli was able to get back more in a trade than Romine or Murphy would have been able to. The Yankees were able to deal from a deep position and get back a potentially reliable lefty reliever, which they lacked since Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Briann McCann’s contract with the Yankees lasts for the next four seasons, so there was no point in having a more expensive back-up catcher in Cervelli. He is second-year arbitration eligible and has a career average of .278 after hitting .301 with two homers last season. Cervelli is already 28, so it makes much more sense to have a cheaper and younger back-up catcher.
Murphy has proven to be more talented than Romine, who is more known for his defense. It is not known which way the Yankees will go, and it is still possible one of them could be included in a trade for a shortstop, but Murphy would make sense to start the year behind McCann. Murphy, who is 23 years old, was drafted in 2009, and made his debut with the Yankees as a September call up in 2013. He hit .154 in 26 at-bats in 2013, but played performed a lot better this past season.
In 2014, many of the 32 games that he appeared in were a result of Cervelli’s hamstring injury, and he played well offensively and defensively. In 81 plate appearances, which does not include his four walks, he hit .284, with four doubles, had one homer and drove in nine runs. Defensively, he caught 201 innings behind the plate, had 10 assists and only one error. He needs to work on throwing out base runners since he only retired two out of 12 runners, but that could improve since he threw out half of them in 2013.
Murphy’s claim to fame in his career so far has been being the catcher during Mariano Rivera’s final appearance with the Yankees. He was on the mound when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to take Rivera out of the game for the last time. This past season on April 26, the catcher formerly known as J.R., hit his first career home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. He also had his first multi-RBI game as he combined to drive in three runs.
He has a caught stealing percentage of 26 percent in the minors, and the league average in the majors for this past season was 27 percent. This is a good sign for Murphy, and he should be able to improve on his caught stealing percentage from this past season. The Yankees still have to get the David Robertson situation resolved and acquire a shortstop, among other needs, but this trade got rid of a player who wasn’t needed and added one who could have an impact next season.
On Sunday, the Yankees signed the 31-year-old outfielder Chris Young to a one-year contract that is worth $2.5 million. He will be able to make $3,825,000 more in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He will earn $200,000 for 275 at-bats, $300,000 for 300 at-bats, $350,000 for 350 at-bats, 375,000 each for 375 and 400 and $475,000 for 450 plate appearances.
Young hit a combined .222 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs last season with the Mets and Yankees. However, in 23 games after being signed by the Yankees to a minor league contract on August 27, Young hit .282, with three homers, eight doubles and 10 RBIs. The eight doubles were only four fewer than he hit in 88 games with the Mets. His month with the Yankees included hitting a homer in three straight games and stealing home.
He is a career .234 hitter with 155 homers, 486 RBIs and 130 steals. In 2010, when he was an NL All-Star while playing in his fourth of seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he hit .257 with 27 homers, 91 RBIs, 28 steals and 33 doubles. The Houston native will be the team’s fourth outfielder and was worth bringing back because if he can play the way he did in September he will give the Yankees a player off of the bench that the didn’t have in 2014.
In 2014, Ichiro Suzuki was the number four outfielder (and sometimes starter) and wasn’t able to supply the power numbers that Young will be able to. Ichiro’s .340 slugging percentage last season was the lowest among any Yankee outfielder with at least 300 plate appearances since Bill Robinson had a .281 slugging percentage in 1967. Ichiro had a solid .284 average last season, but only had one homer, 13 doubles and 22 RBIs. Young had eight doubles in only 23 games.
General Manager Brian Cashman had help from his analytical department in signing Chris Young and the signing was able to finalize the outfield for the 2015 season. He will be the fourth outfielder behind Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
“(Analysts) Steve Martone and Mike Fishman pushed for me to sign Chris,” Cashman said. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract. We wanted a right-handed bat with power, which doesn’t exist much in the game anymore, it seems like. He fit that category.”
Young can play all three outfield positions, has a career .990 fielding percentage and when he is on he has a solid combo of speed and power. He adjusted well to his move from Queens to the Bronx and should be able to fill in if an injury happens. The Yankees just need him to play like he did in September and not like he did the previous five months.
He also allows the Yankees to get younger because he is 31 and has played eight MLB seasons while Ichiro is 41 and has played 14 MLB seasons after coming over from Japan.
Rob Refsnyder, the 23-year-old (he will be 24 in March) second baseman and right fielder who played in Double-A and Triple-A last season, should be the starting second baseman for the Yankees during the 2015 season.
He offers versatility since he played right field at the University of Arizona, but the Yankees drafted him to be a second baseman, and that is where he has played the majority of his games in the minors. In three seasons playing at Charleston, Tampa, Trenton and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Refsnyder played 230 games at second, so he has enough experience at the position. After making 25 errors in his first season, he greatly improved defensively in 2014.
In 137 games combined between two levels in 2014, Refsnyder had a .318 average, 14 homers, 63 RBIs, nine steals and 82 runs scored. At AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he played in 77 games and had an impressive .300 average, eight homers, 33 RBIs, 41 walks and 19 doubles. In 64 games playing second base with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he only had three errors, which helped lead to a .988 fielding percentage.
He can obviously handle pitching at AAA and deserves a chance to prove what he can do in the Bronx. Last season, the Yankees went primarily with veterans Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew at second base. That strategy didn’t work since they had one of the worse offensive years from the second base position out of any team last season.
If Refsnyder plays second, the primary position that the Yankees would have to upgrade would be shortstop. As a result of Derek Jeter’s retirement, the Yankees need to sign a relatively young player who can make the routing and web gem worthy play in the field and hit for some power. Hanley Ramirez is the best available option since he will turn 31 on December 23, and hit .283, drove in 71 runs and stole 14 bases last season.
The Yankees can’t bring back Drew next season based on how he performed last season. Drew had a 10.1M salary in 2013, and hit only .162 with 7 HRs and 26 RBIs.
Refsnyder, who was born in South Korea and was adopted by a couple in Southern California when he was three months old, should be able to handle playing second next season because he is not young for a prospect as he will turn 24 on March 26. He has experience playing in big games since he was named the College World Series Most Valuable Player after his University of Arizona team won the College World Series in 2012.
Martin Prado, who was acquired last season before the trade deadline for catching prospect Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later, played well last season in two months with the Yankees. In 37 games, Prado hit .316 with seven homers and 16 RBIs. He played in 17 games at second base and 12 games combined in the outfield. He only made one error in those 29 games. Prado would make sense as the back-up second baseman and starting right fielder with Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Brett Gardner in right.
Another reason that it would make sense for Refsnyder to be the second baseman is that the Yankees need to have more youth in the lineup because they mainly have players 30 or older. Refsnyder will not likely be injury prone, which is a plus, because Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez are all injury related question marks in the infield. A-Rod is officially back on the active roster after his 162-game suspension, and Headley is a player that Brian Cashman should resign.
The Red Sox have recently hired Chili Davis as their next hitting coach. He previously did well as the hitting coach with the Oakland Athletics, since they scored the fourth most runs in baseball, played with the Yankees during the last two years of his career from 1998-1999 and would have been an ideal next hitting coach for the Yankees.
As of now, the hitting coaches that the Yankees should target should be Marcus Thames or James Rowson. They both have good reputations and have a few years experience as hitting coaches.
Rowson is currently the Yankees’ minor-league hitting coordinator. He has already interviewed for the position that has been vacant since Kevin Long was fired after the season. Rowson served as a hitting coach in the Yankees organization before leaving for the Cubs in 2012 when he took over as their hitting coach midway through that season. He left after the 2013 season to return to the Yankees.
Rowson knows New York well since he grew up in Mount Vernon, which is just outside of the Bronx, and went to high school at Mount St. Michael in the Bronx. He was drafted in the 9th round of the 1994 draft by the Seattle Mariners. He is 38 years old so he will be able to relate well to the veterans and younger players on the team. He played five seasons in the minors with the Mariners and Yankees before retiring in 1997 at the age of 20. He played in an independent league when he was 21.
The candidate that would likely be a better choice is the 34-year-old Thames. He has more success in Major League Baseball and was the Double-A hitting coach at Trenton this season. This means that he has experience with many of the up and coming hitters and already likely has some experience with the established players on the Yankees.
Thames is from Louisville and was drafted by the Yankees out of Texas State University in the 30th round in 1996. He also went to East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi. He would play seven games for the Yankees in 2002 and then played for the Texas Rangers in 2003, the Detroit Tigers from 2004 to 2009, the Yankees again in 2010 and then his last season was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. In 2010, he hit 12 homers and had a career-high .288 average with the Yankees.
He had 115 homers, 301 RBIs and 83 doubles in his career mostly as a fourth outfielder. Thames averaged a home run every 15.4 at-bats and reached 100 homers in 1,549 at-bats which is few than any other player who has 100 homers. He also holds the Tigers franchise record for average at-bats per homer, at 14.8. He was in the Yankees minor league system from 1996 to 2001, so he knows what it takes to develop young hitters.
Thames helped Rob Refsnyder, who could be the second baseman (or the back-up second baseman) next season, retool his swing at Double-A. In 2013, the was the Yankees Single-A hitting coach in Tampa. A benefit with Thames is that he knows the young prospects well and will be able to make sure the continue to improve once they are called up.
He is also a young coach who has made a difference in his first few years, which is a pleasant change from Long because he was older and didn’t make much of a difference last season. A hitting coach doesn’t always make a huge difference, a new voice with new ideas could be the difference between making the playoffs and advancing to the next round.
The Yankees were 13th out of the 15 teams in the American League in runs scored in 2014, and Marcus Thames could make a difference with the players who underperformed such as Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. It will also be important for those three to stay healthy the whole season.
Derek Jeter was on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night. Since retiring on Sunday, Jeter has also done a sit down interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show.
During the interview with Jimmy Fallon, Jeter talked about his new website, the Players’ Tribune, retiring his #2 jersey, how much playing for the Yankees meant to him, how his last game was like a funeral as well as other interesting topics. Jeter has been opening up a lot more recently. Fallon was at Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium, and Jeter showed his sense of humor by how he was joking with Fallon about Fallon’s reaction to Jeter’s last at-bat. Jeter claimed that it was like he was at his own funeral during his final few games.
Below is the memorable interview with Jimmy Fallon:
Here are two of his new ventures: One is Derek Jeter Unfiltered with never before seen pictures and stories that give readers insight into his life that had not been known before, and the second is his new book called The Contract, geared for middle school students, that is based on the contract he had to sign for his parents in order to play sports.
The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 9-5 in Boston in Derek Jeter‘s final game in a Yankees uniform. He hit an infield RBI single in the third inning before he took himself out of the game and was replaced at first base by Brian McCann. He said that he wanted to go out after getting a hit and that’s exactly what he did.
It was fitting that his last hit of his career was a single because he had hit 2,594 singles before that in his career. He hit a ball that bounced high off of the plate and had to hustle to get to first. He drove in Ichiro Suzuki for the team’s third run of the game. He hustled to get to first so many times in his career, which makes it make sense that the last time he got on base was as a result of him giving all out effort.
“I told Ichiro to hit a triple, so he hit a triple,” Jeter said. In Jeter’s first at-bat, he hit a hard line drive that Jemile Weeks had to leap to catch and then he was able to drive in his 1,311th run in the third inning. Jeter finished his career with the sixth most RBIs in the storied history of the New York Yankees. Jeter was also able to accumulate 11 seasons with 190 or more hits.
Jeter realizes that some think less of him because of new sabermetric stats, which has led to criticism, but Jeter is happy to be remembered for the team he played for, his hustle, championships and consistency.
“You want to be known as someone who had respect for the game, respect for your teammates, respect for the fans, respect for the media,” Jeter said in his final press conference. “I played the game hard. But for me, I’m happy being known as a Yankee. That is the only think I ever wanted to be – was a shortstop of the New York Yankees. Being remembered as a Yankee is good enough for me.”
The Yankees were also fittingly able to win Jeter final game. It was his 1,629 win as a Yankee. They won since the offense was able to score four runs off of Clay Bucholz and five runs off of reliever Craig Breslow.
Ichiro, in what might have been his last RBIs as a Yankee, tripled to deep center in the third to drive in Jose Pirela and Francisco Cervelli. For the fourth run of the inning, Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in McCann.
In the seventh inning, Breslow allowed five earned runs without recording an out. After Cervelli and Chris Young both singled, Pirela doubled to center to send them both home. Eury Perez singled to left and then John Ryan Murphy singled to center to score Pirela for the seventh run.
Drake Britton came into before Austin Romine hit, but of the runs that he allowed were charged to Breslow. Romine doubled to deep left center to drive in Perez and advance Murphy to third, and then Chase Headley singled to right to score Murphy for the ninth run. In the later innings Joe Girardi had Murphy, Perez, Romine, Antoan Richardson and Brendan Ryan all come into the game.
Michael Pineda gave the Yankees one final dominating start before likely being the number two starter behind Masahiro Tanaka next season. Pineda pitched 6.1 very effective innings, only allowed three hits and one run. He recorded 10 strikeouts, and he retired the side in order in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. Pineda lowered his ERA to an outstanding 1.89, and he was able to allow two runs or less for his 12th time out of 13 starts.
Pineda’s single to Allen Craig in the seventh would be his only earned run because he would score with Esmil Rogers pitching. Rogers allowed four runs on one hit after the game had basically already been decided.
The Yankees will be losing their captain and that leadership will likely have to come from CC Sabathia, McCann, Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Yankees unfortunately did not make the playoffs in Jeter’s final season, but he did win five championships and made the playoffs in all but two of his full seasons, and he was able to finish the season with one or more hits in nine of his last 10 games. He finishes his career as the best shortstop of the live-ball era.