I have to start this week's edition of Hot Stove with a Tweet I received from a reader and fan.
@suzieprof Just wondering.,., Who gave the Padres permission to be relevant?I read this and just laughed off the whole James Shields move to sunny San Diego. It is bitter sweet because the last big free agent pitcher is finally off the auction block. It has certainly left me scratching my head with the thought, "what next?" I know it's been just about 130 days since Derek Jeter tipped his cap for the last time at Fenway and a lot has happened since then, but I just don't feel like the Yankees are ready to the take the field. We just don't seem to have enough stuff.
— Tom Snyder (@snydesn2) February 10, 2015
As far as pitching, here is a bit of positive news as reported by the Associated Press's Mark Didtler. "Tanaka has “felt good” while going through a normal winter progression, says (Larry) Rothschild. The pair’s (Sabathia and Tanaka) progress this spring will be critical for the Yankees. If Tanaka’s partially torn UCL or Sabathia’s balky knee are problematic, the club would seem a prime candidate to add pitching." In my eyes, this is something they really needed to do earlier on, but as Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus states, "Signing players to big extensions is obviously risky, and rarely works out in the way that many expect when a deal is struck. But that does not mean that they fail to deliver good value, or that teams are irrational in reaching them." We passed on pitchers who were simply asking for too much for too long and in the long run, it's just not worth taking the risk. And so we sit, perhaps without the consistency we need to make a run at the pennant.
The MLB Network aired "The Story of Billy Bean" and according to Alyson Footer of MLB.com, "Twenty years have passed since Billy Bean walked away from Major League Baseball, but not even two full decades can erase the regret the former outfielder has for giving up on this sport he loved before it was time." I worry that we may have some guys who leave the game before their time this year because of injury. That's the kind of "put together at the seams" team we seem to have this year.
The Yankees have the 16th pick in the first round of the draft this year. Building the team with youth and having the right balance of veterans to counsel and mentor young players is critical for success and longevity of our team. That's how you stay relevant and perhaps, the Padres have the formula and the Yankees could learn a little something from the way they played this or perhaps the Royals are the ones who got it right. According to the Kansas City Star, "Shields signed with San Diego for $20 million more than the Royals have ever given in a single contract. They were never going to be a serious bidder for Shields, mostly because of the money — long-term, big-money free-agent contracts for starting pitchers rarely work out for teams — but also because they will now get a compensatory first-round draft pick."
That's it for BYB Hot Stove...Yankees' pitchers and catchers report in nine days. Let's stay focused on making it work!
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
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