DREK PRACTICES FIELDING DRILLS

Yanks captain Jeter practices on-field running drills

CBSSports.com wire reports

Feb. 23, 2013 1:31 PM ET

Jeter didn't play in the Yankees' camp opener, but should be ready for opening day. (USATSI)
Jeter didn’t play in the Yankees’ camp opener, but should be ready for opening day. (USATSI)

TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees captain Derek Jeter practiced on-field running and agility drills for the first time since breaking his ankle last fall.

Jeter worked out at Steinbrenner Field on Saturday with players who didn’t travel for the Yankees’ spring training opener against Atlanta.

“It’s a natural progression, but everything went good,” Jeter said. “It went fine.”

Jeter has been hitting and fielding grounders since the Yankees started full squad workouts last Monday. He had been running and stretching indoors.

“It’s really nothing much different than what I was doing,” Jeter said. “I was just at a different pace than everyone else. So while they’re doing one thing, I don’t want to be doing something else.”

The 38-year-old broke his left ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL Championship Series opener against Detroit on Oct. 1 and had surgery a week later. He expects to be ready for opening day against Boston on April 1.

Jeter had a resurgent season in 2012, leading the American League with 216 hits and batting .316 with 15 homers and 58 RBI. He first injured his ankle in mid-September and fouled balls off his foot several times after that.

Jeter and his teammates who stayed in Tampa didn’t drink the water at the ballpark. Residents have been told to boil water after a power problem Friday at a local water facility.

Signs were posted in the clubhouse and throughout the ballpark saying “Do Not Drink The Water” along with procedures on boiling water.

Bottled water in a cooler replaced the normal water bucket in the dugout. Players and staff were alerted to the situation by text message Friday afternoon.

Notes

RHP Phil Hughes (bulging disk) said he will start working out in a pool Sunday. He could resume throwing in the next few days. … Closer Mariano Rivera (knee surgery) said he could throw batting practice for the second time on Monday. … Yankees minor league RHP Nick Goody sprained his ankle Friday in a multi-vehicle car accident and is using crutches.

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A-ROD REHABING IN SOUTH BEACH

Yankees

Alex Rodriguez rehabbing hip in Miami after being spotted at condo in South Beach area

According to condo employees, A-Rod often uses the workout facilities, although he is not believed to own a unit at the massive 40-story complex

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, February 22, 2013, 11:42 PM
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	Alex Rodriguez moves from New York to Miami to rehab his surgically repaired hip. <br />

Storms Media Group

Alex Rodriguez moves from New York to Miami to rehab his surgically repaired hip.

Alex Rodriguez is taking his rehab to South Beach.

Two days after being photographed at an upper West Side restaurant, A-Rod was spotted by an eyewitness Friday at a swanky condo in the South Beach area of Miami.

Dressed neatly in a short-sleeve black shirt, black pants and white sneakers, Rodriguez was walking by himself through the pool area at The Continuum at about 4:30 p.m., on his way to the outdoor restaurant, where he was later seen in the lounge area with an unidentified man and a blond woman believed to be A-Rod’s gal pal, Torrie Wilson.

RELATED: MO THROWS FIRST LIVE BATTING PRACTICE OF SPRING

A vacationer tried to snap a photo of A-Rod as he walked by, but the Yankee politely asked him to refrain from doing so. Rodriguez asked the man if he had taken a photo and requested that he delete it from his cell phone, saying he was “just trying to relax.”

According to condo employees, A-Rod often uses the workout facilities, although he is not believed to own a unit at the massive 40-story complex. Other athletes, including Peyton Manning — who was seen unwinding there with his family Friday — are residents at the 11-year-old property.

A-Rod has not been heard from personally since he was connected to Biogenesis, a Miami-based anti-aging clinic being investigated by Major League Baseball for its involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.

PHOTOS: MEET THE YANKEES: 2013 SPRING TRAINING PORTRAITS

A PR firm hired by the star third baseman has issued a pair of statements, including one on Thursday in which A-Rod said he was focused squarely

on rehabbing his surgically repaired left hip.

“Right now I’m dedicating 100% of my energy and focus on my rehabilitation. I am conducting two rehab sessions each and every day in an effort to get back on the field and rejoin my Yankees teammates,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “I think we have a great team and I want to be a part of it.”

YANKEES NEWS & NOTES 2/23/13

New York Yankees News & Notes: 2/23/13

By on Feb 23, 10:00a 2

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rehab for A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez has issued a statement concerning his ongoing rehab:

Jump to Conclusions: NoMaas makes fun of Wallace Matthews for jumping to conclusions about the Yankee budget mandate being revoked. Hal Steinbrenner clearly wants to retain Robinson Cano, but that doesn’t mean that the team will suddenly start spending money at this point.

Interview with Ty Hensley: The Greedy Pinstripes have an interview with the Yankees 2012 #1 pick. They discuss his decision to pick baseball over football, his favorite movies, tv shows and video games, his favorite songs, and his love for Chipotle. Seriously. He actually did talk about his Be Edmund Project, a counseling programmed aimed at giving help to kids without them having to be embarrassed to ask.

The Value of Gardner: With the Yankees budgetary restrictions now in place, Brett Gardner has become even more valuable. Moving Gardner to center might decrease the team’s runs allowed, which is important, since they’re projected to score less runs. Though there is nothing determined about the batting order as of yet, his placement could also upgrade the offense. How is Gardner most valuable to the team?

Facial Hair: After claiming he would never play for the Yankees because they don’t allow you to grow out your facial har, David Price upset a whole lot of people. Or something. Price has now issued a statement apologizing for his comments and admitting his love for the organization.

Yogi Believes in Nunez: Yogi Berra believes that Eduardo Nunez needs more playing time so he can prove what he can do. Nunez reminds Berra of himself, having no definitive position, yet owning a potentially live bat. An anonymous scout that followed the team last year was impressed by Nunez’s energetic style of play and his poise in the playoffs. He believes they need to stick him at one position and work with him extensively so he can work out any growing pains. Do you believe in Nunez?

Tex vs. Fastballs: NoMaas looks into Mark Teixeira’s poor offensive season where he put up the lowest batting runs above average since his rookie season. It seems that Tex added very little value against four-seam fastballs and was far below his career average. He’s likely to see a lot of those pitches during the year so if he wants to have a successful season he’s going to beed to figure out how to be better against them.

If Baseball Doesn’t Work Out: Apparently Mason Williams and Dante Bichette Jr are not just Yankee prospects, they’re also the R&B/rap duo known as Navy 58. Here is their song “Whole Team.” This is a thing.

Yankee Stadium Concert: Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake will be performing at the Stadium on July 19th, during the All-Star Break.

EDB

JORGE ENJOYING RETIREMENT

‘Stress-free’ Posada enjoying life as retiree

By Adam Berry / MLB.com | 2/22/2013 3:25 P.M. ET

Jorge never looked so bald!

Cashman, Posada talk Yankees00:02:09
Brian Cashman, Jorge Posada, Rich “Goose” Gossage and others weigh in on the 2013 Yankees before Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation Gala

TAMPA, Fla. — Jorge Posada walked around George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday morning wearing a Yankees uniform and catcher’s mitt. He was on the field among a few of his former teammates for Mariano Rivera’s batting practice session — behind the mound, not the plate — and batting practice itself.

Seeing Posada here is reminiscent of last Spring Training, when Andy Pettitte showed up for a few days of camp, an appearance that turned into a full-scale comeback. Manager Joe Girardi made the same connection, and said, “I don’t rule anything out anymore.”

But as strange as Posada felt heading into the coaches’ locker room, he has neither the desire nor the intention to make a comeback of his own.

“I don’t think I could. I don’t think I can,” Posada said. “It’s the everyday thing. It’s the grind of a long season, and I don’t think I could do that. … I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m not second-guessing myself. I know I can’t play the game. In my mind I think I made the right decision.

“I’m stress-free. It’s fun. I’m having fun.”

Posada, who came to camp as a guest instructor after an invitation from Hal Steinbrenner, will be with the Yankees for a few more days, and he’ll be back again at some point this spring. He likes the idea of being a part-time instructor and enjoys the process of teaching young catchers, but he doesn’t have any interest in getting back into baseball in any full-time capacity right now.

“You retire to be home, and you don’t want to be here for a month and a half,” he said. “We’re talking still [about a role with the Yankees], trying to figure out what we’re going to do. So we’ve got time to do it now that I’m here, so we’re going to sit down and talk.”

Shortstop Derek Jeter, a close friend of Posada’s, said it didn’t feel too odd to see Posada as a guest instructor. The two have kept in contact and seen each other since Posada retired before the 2012 season, and Jeter has already dealt with the “awkward” situation of seeing several former teammates — Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and so on — appear in camp as guest instructors.

But Jeter and Rivera said it was good see their former teammate back among the Yankees, whether he’s playing or not.

“Any time that we have a guy that does what Jorge’s doing, people are going to speculate,” Girardi said. “And I think it’s fair to do. Jorge’s a guy that loved to play the game.”

JORGE SET TO HELP

Posada Is Set to Help, as Berra Helped Him

Joe Skipper/Reuters

Yogi Berra and Jorge Posada at camp in 2002. Posada will be a first-time guest instructor for a few days this spring.

By
Published: February 20, 2013

TAMPA, Fla.

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If ever the Yankees could use their Greatest Living Player and catcher extraordinaire around spring training camp, it would be now. But Yogi Berra, holder of those conferred venerations, isn’t up to coming south from his home in New Jersey anymore to advise the — shall we say — unexceptional gentlemen currently competing for the starting catching position.

Re-enter, Jorge Posada.

There is a tender symmetry to Posada’s anticipated arrival here Friday as a first-time guest instructor. General Manager Brian Cashman said Posada, who retired following the 2011 season after 17 years as a Yankee, had asked the co-owner Hal Steinbrenner if there might be room for him on the list of former players who return each spring to fit a little less flatteringly into their pinstripes.

“Jorge came in and met with Hal when he was here for the fantasy camp,” Cashman said.

“He said he’d love to have some way to get back in, slowly, not looking for anything big, not for all of spring training. He said he’d like to give us about seven days. So he’ll start with a few now and then come back at the end of March.”

Time marches on, often unmercifully, which is why Berra, 87, is not here to light up the clubhouse with his smile and lighten it with his famous witticisms. It was in 2000, or the year after George Steinbrenner trekked from Tampa to North Jersey to beg Berra’s forgiveness for firing him as manager through an intermediary in 1985, that Berra reappeared in uniform at the behest of Steinbrenner and Joe Torre.

Torre had been a pretty fair catcher in his time, but as manager he had a whole camp to supervise. He asked Berra to work with Posada, already the starter behind the plate but about to increase his workload to 151 games from 112 with Joe Girardi having defected to Chicago. The organization’s consensus was that Posada, an accomplished hitter, needed work defensively.

During his last season as an active player, Posada recalled that 2000 spring, saying: “Yogi was always with the catchers, going through the drills, blocking balls, watching us, laughing with us. It was amazing — you could tell how much he was enjoying it. I mean, we’re thinking: ‘This is Yogi Berra. We should be honored to be in his presence.’ But the way he acted, it was almost like it was the other way around.”

Berra, already 75, still spry enough to be on the field daily, was indeed thrilled to be back in uniform after his self-imposed 14-year exile. Just from watching on television, he had come to the opinion that the young and sensitive Posada worried too much about base runners and consequently called for too many fastballs. Posada actually reminded Berra of himself when he was breaking in in the mid-to-late 1940s — confident with a bat, less certain with the mitt.

Berra had a Hall of Fame-level mentor in Bill Dickey, who in 1949 came out of retirement to — as Berra put it then — “learn me his experience.” Fifty-one years later, it was Berra’s turn in the generational continuum.

In 2011, Posada said of Berra: “Maybe the most important thing he helped me with was with his view of the game, knowing how hard it is but that you really needed to keep a positive attitude every day — that was big for me.”

The contenders for this season’s catching job — vacated by Russell Martin, who left the suddenly budget-conscious Yankees for, of all teams, Pittsburgh — are the organization holdovers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart and the once highly regarded prospect Austin Romine.

None fit the Berra-Posada mold. All, in fact, are considered solid glove men but unlikely to replace Martin’s 2012 power production, much less rise to the level of a Berra or Posada.

Romine, coming off back surgery that limited his progression to AAA ball last season, said: “I’m here to show them I can do it. I can handle it back there.” But Cashman said he was the decisive underdog.

“First of all I got two guys, Cervelli and Stewart, who are out of options,” Cashman said.

He added: “Romine’s had maybe a month of experience at Triple A. Barring an injury, I don’t see how the two guys with more experience don’t take it at the front end.”

No matter which catcher prevails, Cashman conceded, “offensively, it’s going to be something different than we’re used to running out there.”

He even issued this overall warning to Yankee fans: “The lineup is different — less power, less discipline — and that’s going to equate to less runs scored.”

Posada’s presence here for six days or six weeks would not alter the perception that at catcher, offensively, the Yankees are maybe a 2 on a scale of 10. But things being what they are, with Berra reduced to pestering his close friend and pitching instructor Ron Guidry by telephone — demanding that the frog legs Guidry has cooked for him every spring be shipped north — it seemed pitch perfect to hear that Posada would be back for a spell.

As was true for Berra with Torre, the manager is a former catcher, Girardi. And as was the case for Berra’s return under Steinbrenner, Posada’s reappearance punctuates a cloud of acrimony that marked his departure. In 2011, Posada was unhappy about being phased out and incurred management’s wrath by removing himself from the lineup of a nationally televised game against the Red Sox, rather than hit ninth.

The past, Cashman said, is only prelude when it comes to the matter of linking those with championship credentials across the decades.

“There is no hangover,” he said. “It was something we had to deal with. We dealt with it and turned the page.”

TRVIS HAS TWO JOBS…NOT ONE

The Yankees’ One-Tool Player

Steve Nesius/Reuters

Travis Hafner’s only job this spring is batting practice.

By SCOTT CACCIOLA
Published: February 22, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. — Travis Hafner, the Yankees’ new designated hitter, owns two baseball gloves. One is an outfielder’s glove, and the other is a first baseman’s mitt, which even has his nickname — Pronk — stamped on it in bright gold letters. The gloves collect dust in his locker.

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Travis has 2 Jobs:  1. Swing the Bat  2. Stay out of the 3CA07TNY2CAPOM0FGCAJ43OH8CACNA4W0CA3C4AGYCAHWNDQ5CAZ42WXSCA27XVHGCA0SFZ49CAY48QR8CAR9RBSTCA9V5RA8CA7OA7ENCAL5IDDYCAW1SOP1CA0XW5PPCACS8E3ACA1K7EK3CAZJSQXF

 

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Steve Nesius/Reuters

Travis Hafner watching batting practice in Tampa on Monday.

Hafner, 35, will be paid at least $2 million this season for a job that is not unlike the tenured professor who never steps inside a classroom, or the celebrity chef who never stands over a stove. He is a specialist in a profession where most of his colleagues have multiple responsibilities. Baseball players run, throw, catch and swing. Even pitchers are tasked with fielding their position.

Not Hafner, whose spring routine is a baseball oddity: he has been granted the right to participate in only one aspect of the game and ignore the rest.

“I love to hit,” said Hafner, a .278 career hitter with 201 home runs in 11 major league seasons, most of them with the Cleveland Indians.

Even David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, the quintessential designated hitter of his generation, can be seen taking ground balls this spring. He played first base in seven games last season.

Joe Girardi, the Yankees’ manager, said he had a hard time foreseeing any circumstance in which Hafner would be asked to play the field this season.

“Emergency, emergency, emergency,” Girardi said. “When we do fielding drills, he goes to the cage.”

Perhaps that is for Hafner’s own protection. He last played defense on June 24, 2007, as a member of the Cleveland Indians. Stationed at first base, Hafner had 12 putouts and played an error-free game in a 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. But he sustained a shoulder injury the next season that limited his ability to the throw the ball, and he was perfectly content to stick with hitting by then, anyway.

“That’s what he does,” the Yankees’ ace, C. C. Sabathia, said, “and that’s what he’s good at.”

The designated hitter has been a touchy topic in baseball circles ever since the role was adopted by the American League in 1973. It was a measure designed to produce more offense, and while purists argue that the designated hitter undermines the game’s inherent emphasis on strategy, Hafner is a good example of the position’s value.

Yet even among his colleagues, Hafner is an extreme case. Most designated hitters will make cameos at, say, first base or in the outfield to give the regular position players a rest. Virtually all of them will participate in defensive drills at spring training, just so they stay sharp. And then there is Hafner, who has appeared in 511 regular-season games since he last snared a pop-up or lunged for a ground ball — the longest active streak, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“Just the fact that you can solely focus on hitting and really not play the field — you learn to love the D.H. spot,” Hafner said.

On Wednesday, when the Yankees spent the morning having their photos taken for various in-house publications and news media outlets, Hafner did not bother posing with either of his gloves — just a bat. In his own way, he was staying true to himself.

The utility infielder Jayson Nix, who was Hafner’s teammate on the Indians in 2010, could not recall Hafner doing anything besides dig into the batter’s box that season. So last week, when Nix spotted Hafner playing toss with another teammate at the Yankees’ minor league complex here before the official start of camp, it struck him as the baseball equivalent of a lunar eclipse. Nix said he thought it was some sort of mirage.

“I didn’t even know what I was looking at,” said Nix, who added that the experience was fleeting. “He made, like, three throws, and then stopped.”

Hafner said he would occasionally shag fly balls during batting practice, though there has been exactly zero visual evidence of that happening at spring training. Whenever his teammates participate in fielding drills, Hafner sequesters himself with the hitting coach Kevin Long in a batting cage under the stadium bleachers, where he takes swing after swing, each cut more violent than the next. At 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, he has ham-hock forearms and a linebacker’s build. He does not so much make contact with the baseball as detonate it.

EVEN JUDGES TERM YANKEES EVIL EMPIRE

Even judges say New York Yankees are ‘Evil Empire’

Trademark judges ruled an entrepreneur cannot register the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire,” a term that has been used to describe the Bronx Bombers since 2002.

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Saturday, February 23, 2013, 2:16 AM
Larry Lucchino, a partner in the new ownership group of the Boston Red Sox, addresses a news conference Friday, Dec. 21, 2001 in Boston, to talk about the purchase and the partners plans for the team, and the future of Fenway Stadium. Lucchino is expected to be named CEO and president of the Red Sox. (AP Photo/Mike Mergen)   Original Filename: RED_SOX_SALE_BX107.jpg

MIKE MERGEN/AP

Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino coined the term, “Baseball’s Evil Empire” in 2002 when he heard the Yankees had acquired sought-after pitcher Jose Contreras, who hailed from Cuba.

It may have started out as an insult, but now the Yankees have staked their claim to being branded the “Evil Empire.”

Trademark judges ruled an entrepreneur cannot register the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire,” a term that has been used to describe the Bronx Bombers since 2002.

“The record shows that there is only one EVIL EMPIRE in baseball and it is the New York Yankees,” the judges wrote in their decision earlier this month.

A company registered as Evil Enterprises Inc. sought exclusive rights to sell clothing like T-shirts, jackets, pants and hats branded with the “Baseballs Evil Empire” slogan.

The business aimed to target customers looking for Yankees merchandise by claiming: “If you are passionate about the New York Yankees then you have come to the right place.”

Major League Baseball objected to the trademark application on behalf of the Yankees, saying the team had claims to the phrase.

To support their argument, lawyers attached hundreds of news stories that all used the phrase “evil empire” to talk about the prowess of the New York team.

The term was coined by Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino in 2002 when he heard the Yankees had acquired sought-after pitcher Jose Contreras, who hailed from Cuba.

The Yanks’ archrivals had hoped to acquire the player themselves, and Luccino said at the time: “The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America.”

The name stuck.

Fans, critics and media widely use the term when describing the Yankees’ dominance of the sport.

The team itself often plays ominous music from the “Star Wars” soundtrack at baseball games.

Evil Enterprises Inc. first applied to use “Baseballs Evil Empire” as a trademark in 2008.

Judges said allowing the company to use the phrase would also cause confusion for customers who mistakenly think the merchandise was endorsed by the Yankees.

A Yankees spokesman declined to comment on the case.

HOW MUCH WILL JUNIOR GRANDERSON SWITCH HELP?

How Much Would Swapping Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson Impact Yankees?

By

(MLB Lead Writer) on February 22, 2013

Hi-res-124984273_crop_exact Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If you turn on a New York Yankees spring game and find yourself staring at Brett Gardner in center field and Curtis Granderson in left field, do not adjust your television set. The situation will be under control.

According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has it in mind to carry out an experiment in which Gardner plays center field and Granderson plays left field this spring, just to see how it goes.

“We’re gonna toy with it and see if we like it,” Girardi said of the experiment. “If we do, we’ll stay with it. If we don’t, we won’t.”

Girardi has the right idea. The Yankees lost a fair amount of offensive production over the winter with Nick Swisher and Russell Martin leaving as free agents, so they won’t be able to be as much about run generation in 2013 as they have been in the past. The trade-off must be a higher emphasis on run prevention, and that will require them to tighten up their defense as much as they can.

As far as the numbers are concerned, swapping Granderson and Gardner is one of the best ways they can do that. The Yankees would be putting their best foot forward by having Gardner in center field and pushing a liability to the side with Granderson in left field.

Yes, Granderson is an experienced center fielder. And no, he didn’t commit a single error in 2012. Among center fielders, only he and Jon Jay can say they were able to do that.

Hi-res-150927698_crop_exact Granderson’s minus-10 DRS in 2012 tied a personal low.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

But the advanced defensive metrics were not impressed by the season Granderson had in center field last year. He rated as the worst defensive center fielder in the majors in the eyes of Ultimate Zone Rating, and the Defensive Runs Saved metric disagreed only slightly (see FanGraphs).

Granderson rated as a better fielder in 2011, but he still qualified as being below-average. He finished the year with a minus-5.1 UZR and a minus-six Defensive Runs Saved (FanGraphs).

There’s nothing wrong with Granderson’s athleticism. He’s faster than most, and it’s not like it’s unheard of for him to run several miles across the outfield grass to make tough catches. If you’re thinking he can’t be as bad as the metrics say, it’s probably because you’re thinking of those plays.

Granderson’s issues on defense have more to do with his reads. Here’s what a scout told Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Information about Granderson’s defense in 2011:

He does not react well off the bat, almost as if he has a depth perception problem, which really shows up on hard line drives at him, which is a difficult play for most, and hard to practice.

So while Granderson definitely has the athleticism to play center field, he doesn’t have the same kind of keen instincts featured by the greats (Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., et al). It sounds like this isn’t something he can learn either.

Gardner, meanwhile, doesn’t have much to learn as far as fielding goes, especially not in left field. Between 2010 and 2011, he blew all other left fielders out of the water in both UZR and DRS (FanGraphs). He led all major leaguers in UZR in 2011, which helped him win his second straight Fielding Bible Award.

 

Hi-res-114201236_crop_exact Gardner can go get it with the best of ’em.
Al Bello/Getty Images

An elbow injury suffered early in the season limited Gardner to only 16 games in 2012, and his absence had an impact both on Granderson and the Yankees’ outfield in general. Granderson had to cover more ground, and his defensive numbers suffered as a result. Collectively, the club’s outfield saw its DRS fall to minus-18 (FanGraphs). It had been at plus-11 in 2011.

On balls hit to the outfield in 2011, Baseball-Reference.com shows that the Yankees surrendered a .550 average and a .506 BABIP. With Gardner gone in 2012, the Yankees surrendered a .569 average and a .519 BABIP on balls hit to the outfield. They ultimately gave up 11 more runs than they did in 2011, some or all of which could have been kept off the board if they’d had Gardner.

Gardner hasn’t just proven himself to be an strong fielder in left field. He’s seen relatively limited action in center field, but he got to play over 600 innings in center in 2009 and performed very well there, compiling a 9.3 UZR and a plus-seven DRS (FanGraphs).

If Gardner were to play center field every day, he’d ideally turn into a clone of Michael Bourn. Bourn led all center fielders in UZR and DRS in 2012 (FanGraphs), and he helped the Braves limit opponents to a .536 average and a .495 BABIP on balls hit to the outfield. They allowed 600 runs, or 68 fewer than the Yankees.

Hi-res-149683930_crop_exact Ichiro can still flash some leather.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Granted, Bourn was flanked by a very good right fielder in Jason Heyward and a very good left fielder in Martin Prado, giving the Braves a defensive outfield that few teams in baseball were able to match.

But the Yankees could come close to matching it with Gardner as their full-time center fielder. He has the potential to be elite, and he’d be flanked by a right fielder in Ichiro Suzuki who can still get it done on defense. Suzuki finished 2012 with a 12.7 UZR and plus-11 DRS as a right fielder (FanGraphs).

Granderson, meanwhile, is not totally without experience in left field. He played over 50 innings in left field for the Detroit Tigers in 2005, and he compiled a 1.4 UZR and a plus-two DRS (FanGraphs). If he could repeat that performance as an everyday left fielder in 2013, the Granderson-Gardner-Ichiro trio would be very solid.

Another potential benefit is that the switch could end up keeping Granderson’s legs fresher for the long haul, which would be an open invitation for him to use his speed more on the basepaths.

That’s something he didn’t do as much in 2012, as he stole only 10 bases and attempted only 13 in 197 opportunities. He thus only attempted to steal about seven percent of the time, whereas he attempted to steal over 15 percent of the time in 2011, when he committed 25 thefts and led the league with 136 runs scored.

If the transition to left field were to help Granderson recapture some of his lost stolen base prowess, neither he nor the Yankees would be complaining. The Yankees would be glad to have the extra speed that they didn’t have in 2012, and more stolen bases in his walk year could only help Granderson’s free-agent prospects.

The experiment that Girardi is cooking up could thus have more than a few happy outcomes. He should stick with it, and he shouldn’t be afraid to stretch it into the season if he likes what he sees.

WILL YANKEES SIGN CANO BEFORE HE REACHES FREE AGENCY

New York Yankees: What Are the Odds Bombers Re-Sign Robinson Cano Before FA?

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 23, 2013

Hi-res-154604924_crop_exact Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We all know the situation by now.

The Yankees really want to keep Robinson Cano around for a long time.

The second basemen is one year away from hitting free agency and is likely in line for a major payday.

The Yankees are also historically known as a team that doesn’t negotiate with players before or during a season.

However, for Cano, it looks like the Bombers are willing to make a major exception for their star slugger.

Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported that the Yankees and Cano’s agent, Scott Boras, have had discussions about a possible extension.

“We expressed to Scott how much we liked Robbie and what a great Yankee he’s been, and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come,” (Hal) Steinbrenner said. “We just indicated to him, on a very preliminary basis, that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract, and left it at that. There’s nothing really to report since then.”

In 2013, Cano is playing out the final year of his contract worth $15 million, but there has been a lot of talk that the Yankees second baseman could get a deal similar to Albert Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million deal or Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225 million deal.

Matthews also mentioned Cano could get a similar deal to the one Felix Hernandez got with the Mariners, which was for seven years and $175 million.

The one obstacle that could hamper the negotiations between the Yankees and Cano is the self-mandated $189 million payroll mark that the Bombers are trying to get to before 2014.

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It’s seen as a goal, but Steinbrenner is looking at it as more of a requirement for the team.

You also have to factor in that the Yankees have $86.5 million tied to just five players alone in 2014: $23 million will go to CC Sabathia, $22.5 million will go to Mark Teixeira and $25 million will go to Alex Rodriguez.

With those three alone, that’s $70 million. Ichiro Suzuki will make $6.5 million as well in the new two-year deal he signed with the team this winter.

Plus, Derek Jeter has an $8 million option that could go up to as much as $17 million based on how well he plays, and the team has to figure out if they have to give Curtis Granderson an extension or not after 2013.

After 2013, the Yankees will have Mariano Rivera’s, Andy Pettitte’s, Hiroki Kuroda’s, Kevin Youkilis’ and Granderson’s contracts all off the books, which is a combined $64 million that could be used to get Cano back.

The Yankees would like it if they didn’t have another major contract hampering their payroll, but with Cano, the team may have no other choice but to pay him.

The question becomes, can the Yankees get the deal done before Cano hits free agency?

Before Cano signed Boras to be his agent, I think the Yankees would have gotten the deal done by now and this issue wouldn’t even be talked about at this point.

But there’s a reason why players like Cano hire a super agent like Boras for one simple reason: to get paid.

And Boras will use the deals given to Pujols, Votto and King Felix as a starting point in negotiations with the Yankees.

If the Yankees don’t lock up Cano before free agency, there are teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals with large checkbooks and GMs who are willing to spend on talent to improve their clubs.

 

Hi-res-153657703_crop_exact Rob Carr/Getty Images

Cano would certainly fit all of their needs.

But he fits the Yankees’ need the most because he is in fact their best everyday player.

Just how high are the Yankees willing to go to keep Cano? Would they be willing to go over the seven- or eight-year mark in a contract?

Right now, I think the Yankees will do whatever it takes to get Cano back, so I’ll say it’s a 50-50 shot of getting Cano back before free agency.

The team has yet to negotiate with Granderson regarding a new deal, and I think they will wait until the end of the season to determine if he comes back or not.

But with Cano and Boras, I think this will be ongoing through 2013 with the Yankees.

In the end, it all depends on if Cano gets an offer he is satisfied with taking and if the Yankees can live with the fact that they might have to overpay him in order for him to stay in the Bronx.

FIVE MOVES YANKS WILL REGRET NOT MAKING

New York Yankees: 5 Moves That They Will Regret Not Making This Offseason

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 21, 2013

Hi-res-122070916_crop_650x440 Francisco Cervelli is projected to be the Yankees’ opening day starter at catcher.
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The New York Yankees‘ offseason is normally one filled with a flurry of moves, deals and decisions, often rendering portions of their roster unrecognizable from season to season. However, this offseason, the Yankees remained relatively quiet and made little change to their roster at all.

The Yankees could regret staying so quiet this offseason, as age, free agency and ineffectiveness have left gaping holes at certain positions such as catcher and outfield.

Ahead are the top five moves the Yankees will regret making (or not making) this offseason.

5. Paying $12 Million for Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis is not the all-star he once was.
Kevin Youkilis is not the all-star he once was.
Elsa/Getty Images

After the news of Alex Rodriguez‘s potentially season ending injury, the Yankees replaced him by signing Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million contract. Haunted by nightmares of the 2007 Red Sox, Brian Cashman and the Yankees must have been thrilled to bring Youkilis to the other side of the rivalry.

While Youkilis will provide a solid right-handed bat in a very lefty-heavy lineup (five of nine projected starters are left handed), he is not the middle of the order force that he once was.

Youkilis has failed to hit above .258 since 2010 (and hit .235 last season), has failed to top 20 home runs since 2009 and posted a career low in OBP last season at .336 (his previous career low was .367 in his rookie season).

The addition of a veteran right-handed bat will prove valuable, but for $12 million, Brian Cashman better hope that at least a shadow of the Youkilis who terrorized the Yankees late in the 2000s is still in there.

4. Not Exploring a Trade for Justin Upton

The Braves pried Upton from Arizona without giving up too much.
The Braves pried Upton from Arizona without giving up too much.
J. Meric/Getty Images

The loss of Nick Swisher to the Indians this offseason through free agency left a big power gap in right field as the Yankees will lose 24 home runs and 93 RBIs. His everyday at bats have effectively been handed to Brett Gardner, who is one of the weakest power threats in all of baseball.

When he found out that Arizona was shopping five-tool talent Justin Upton, Brian Cashman should have jumped at the opportunity to acquire the 25 year old star. Instead, Cashman never took the idea seriously and chose to hold on to his top prospects.

In the meantime, Frank Wren swung a deal for Upton without giving up any of his top eight prospects according to Baseball America.

The package was centered around rookie pitcher Randall Delgado, who proved to be ineffective in just 92 innings last season, posting a 4.37 ERA.

Cashman could have explored a package centered around top prospect Gary Sanchez that would have looked more attractive than the Braves package that included mid-level prospects and Delgado. However, we will never know because Cashman failed to explore the deal.

3. Failing to Find a Reliable Power Bat as a Fourth Outfielder or DH

Can Juan Rivera replace Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez?
Can Juan Rivera replace Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez?
Harry How/Getty Images

One of the Yankees strengths last season was the hitting available off of their bench. They could run Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez or Andruw Jones out to DH on any given day or play Chavez at a corner infield spot and Jones and Ibanez at corner outfield spots.

Chavez was stellar in limited time, hitting .281 with 16 home runs and posting an .845 OPS in 278 at bats. While splitting time, Jones and Ibanez combined for 617 at bats, 33 home runs and 96 RBIs. All three players are gone this season and their replacements are unproven to say the least.

In the outfield, the Yankees signed Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz to minor league contracts, while hoping that Eduardo Nunez can field well enough to warrant a major league roster spot for his bat. None of those players have proven capable in recent years of putting up run production numbers like the Yankee bench last season.

The sole hope is Travis Hafner, signed to a one year contract with incentives. If healthy, Hafner has one of the best left handed power swings in baseball and could thrive at Yankee Stadium. From 2004-2007, Hafner averaged 32 home runs, 102 RBIs and a .296 batting average while posting a ,976 OPS.

However, injuries have plagued Hafner for five years and he has failed to log 400 at bats since 2007. The Yankees will surely regret failing to sign any sure-thing replacements to adequately fill in for their lost bench production from last season.

2. Failing to Find a Proven Starting Catcher

The Yankees will rely on Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli for their everyday catching duties.
The Yankees will rely on Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli for their everyday catching duties.
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli have combined for nine home runs in their entire careers. That amounts to a total of 841 at bats. Russell Martin, who has departed to the Pittsburgh Pirates, hit 21 last season alone.

Neither Stewart nor Cervelli has proven capable of handling everyday starting catching duties, mostly due to their ineptitude with the bat. Stewart is a career .217 hitter and Cervelli at best is a singles hitter at the major league level, compiling 28 total extra base hits in his 490 at bat major league career.

Especially coupled with the lack of offense in the outfield with Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones no longer on the roster, the expected decrease in offense at catcher will be a major blow to the Yankees. Brian Cashman will surely regret not finding a better replacement for Martin.

1. Failing to Sign Robinson Cano to a Long-Term Deal

Cano is the Yankees only true star in his prime.
Cano is the Yankees only true star in his prime.
Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankee core is aging. The Yankees have only one bat in the middle of their lineup under the age of 34, Robinson Cano. Cano has evolved from an enigma with talent to a perennial MVP candidate with 30 home run power and the ability to win a batting title, all while playing gold glove defense at second base.

Cano will be a free agent after this season and the end of his contract could not come at a worse time, as owner Hal Steinbrenner has put a payroll limit on the Yankees. In free agency, Cano will command superstar money and his agent, Scott Boras, has always been known to milk teams for every dollar they have.

The Yankee second baseman will probably demand a contract of seven or more years with an annual salary upwards of $20 million. The Yankees generally don’t talk contract extensions on existing contracts, but need to lock up Cano before free agency to avoid the market driving his price up even more.

The Yankees have reportedly begun to talk to Boras about an extension, but the talks are still preliminary. They will still have Cano this season, but if they fail to lock him up, losing him next offseason could be crippling to the foundation of their lineup.