By The Big Ragu
Staff Writer NFL PRO ZACH
So far this off season the only team with anything cooking on the stove are the Toronto Blue Jays. In a twelve player deal with the Miami Marlins the Jays have acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck, infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and cash considerations. In the mega deal the Marlins get infielders Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, pitcher Henderson Alvarez and catcher Jeff Mathis. If you ask me the Jays are doing more than just trying to compete in the AL East. I think their telling everyone we are making a run for the division title in 2013.
So what are the Yankees planning on doing to combat the Blue Jays blockbuster move ? They haven't made any big loud moves like Toronto yet but they have added six players to the 40 man roster to protect them from next months Rule 5 Draft.
The biggest name added to the 40 man roster is top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. The 21 year old Banuelos is returning from Tommy John surgery. Last season Banuelos missed pretty much the whole year with a sore left elbow. He was 0-2 with an ERA of 4.50 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before have surgery on October 4th. Currently he is rehabbing.
The Yankees have also claimed right-hander Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros. Storey was a 31st round draft pick for the A's and made his ML debut last year. In 26 relief appearances he had an ERA of 3.86.
They also added outfielder Ramon Flores. The 20 year old Flores hit .302 with six home runs, 39 RBIs in 131 games for Class-A Tampa.
Also added to the 40 man roster were right-handers Brett Marshall and Jose Ramirez. Marshall, 22, went 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA with Double-A Trenton. In 27 starts he lead the team in strikeouts with 127.
The 22 year old Ramirez was in Tampa last season where he was 7-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 18 starts.
Nik Turley, 23, was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.89 with Tampa in 21 starts before being moved up to Trenton late last season.
Right-hander Dave Herndon elected for free agency rather than accept going to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It's highly unlikely that any of these players will have an impact during the 2013 season.
One name we might start hearing more of is Francisco Rondon. The 24 year old lefty elevated quickly through the system last season. He started in Tampa then climbed the ladder to Trenton and finished up at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 44 relief appearances he went a combined 5-0 with a 3.93 ERA and had one save. Could he be ready for the big leagues this coming season ? We'll see how he does during spring training. Maybe there's a chance he breaks north with the big club.
The only thing they have done so far is resign right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one year deal worth $ 15 million plus incentives. Last season when they signed Kuroda I didn't like the deal but he did pitch well. Last season he was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA so if he has the same kind of season he had last year the Yankees at the very least have added stability to the starting rotation.
The hot stove rumors are beginning to heat up. Some names out there are pitcher Zack Greinke, catcher Mike Napoli, outfielders BJ Upton and Josh Hamilton. Here's what I've heard. The Angels will most likely resign Greinke but the Texas Rangers have some interest. Upton will probably resign with Tampa.
I heard the Yankees could be looking to sign Napoli if catcher Russell Martin signs elsewhere. Last season with Texas Napoli hit .227 with 24 home runs, 56 RBIs in 108 games. He had an OBP of .343 and OPS of .812 and in 417 at-bats he struck out 125 times. Defensively he's nowhere near the catcher Martin is. I hate to say it but here we go again. His power numbers are okay but it's all or nothing. I said it all last year and said it again in the playoffs. The Yankees can't depend on the long ball. We need more contact type hitters !
Home runs are the reason why the Josh Hamilton in pinstripes rumor is out there. The rumor in Texas was that Hamilton turned down a three year offer from the Rangers because he wanted a deal with more years on it. The Rangers are saying there was no such offer. I feel the Yankees should stay away from Hamilton and not sign him. Don't get me wrong he's a great player. Hamilton is 31 years old. If the Yankees were to give him a long term deal they might be asking for trouble. He has spent some time on the disabled list the last couple of years and in five years the Yankees could end up stuck in another big money contract with an older player who is having trouble staying healthy. If I was the Yankees GM another thing I would do is put baseball aside and consider the well being of another person. Given the history of Hamilton's past substance abuse issues and the extra added temptations in New York the Yankees should first do what's best for the person not the team. Great player but I say don't sign him.
I've been screaming the Yankees need to get younger. Well maybe they are we just haven't seen it on the field yet. The Yankees have signed Omar Luis Rodriguez a 19 year old left-handed pitcher from Cuba to a $ 4 million dollar minor league contract. According to Baseball America's Ben Balder Rodriguez is a very competitive pitcher with five pitches. His fastball averages between 86 and 93 mph and he has an average curveball. The 5' 11" 205 lb Cuban will also mix in a cutter and slider but scouts say his best pitch is his change-up. Rodriguez was one of Cuba's latest top Junior and Youth National pitchers. In 2010 pitched at the 18U World Junior Championships in Ontario where he threw a complete game shutout against Team Canada striking out 10 batters. Later on in the tournament he beat Team USA tossing another complete game giving up ten hits, two walks, two runs while striking out five. I'll keep an eye out for him during spring training but it's likely he'll start the 2013 season at Class-A Charleston.
On November 9th Major League Baseball's all time saves leader Mariano Rivera released a video on MLB.com making 25 pitches for " First Throw " to promote the New York Yankees fragrance and launch the Signature Limited Edition for the holidays. Rivera said he's " feeling good about his overall progress." " Rehab has been great. It's been tough but at the same time, I'm seeing good results." Go slow Mo.
Other results I'd like to see are some off season moves to better this ball club. The pitching is fine. It's been fine for the last few years. It's the offense that's has struggled come playoff time. Less home runs more contact I say. Put the ball in the play !!
Well that's it for now. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any more hot stove rumors and keep you posted. Stay tuned !!