Since Cano left the Yankees appear to be trying to “save face.” Unfortunately, they have continued to react and not set out the plan of attack that they wanted.
Beltran has been good the last few years (and his career). He played the OF the last two years and played a lot of games (over 600 plate appearances each year with a combined OPS of .837). Beltran will be 37 in April so the Yanks have gone old again, but he can play some DH to keep him fresh. I would not have been in favor of spending this money on Beltran, but once Cano was gone it is not a bad move; I just think we are spending the money that could have gone to Cano (remember, my issue is not that I would have wanted to pay Cano what Seattle did…in fact I heard Cano would have taken 5 mil or so less to stay here and I would not have done that either – my issue was that we should have locked Cano up before he became a free agent and I am 100% sure we could have gotten him for MUCH less. Remember that there were some slumps a year or so ago when I said they should speak to him now and sign him when he was struggling). Beltran is the type of hitter who can hit good pitching (not a phrase I use often) and I only bring that up because mistake hitters feed off poor pitching and come playoff time they usually see less poor pitches to hit. Please keep in mind this is not saying he is clutch (I have discussed this numerous times), I am just saying he is a hitter that is not overpowered by fastballs or has to cheat too much for plate coverage. Of course, as he ages his skills are eroding. But 45 mil for 3 years is more than Pedroia is getting (I won’t keep harping on this) and we are getting him at 37, 38 and 39 years of age. He will help us but at 15 mil a year for 3 years, I would want more help. It also highlights what I said last year; the wasted money on Ichiro (6.5 mil) and Wells (2.4 mil). Ichiro is an OK backup OF’r, but at 6.5 mil I would want more…or at least a specialist at something. His defense is still above average, but clearly not great.
So my message has been about spending the money wisely. So again, let me give some comparisons. The O’s signed Grant Balfour to a 2 year 15 mil dollar deal. Because of the bad deals we made last year we have 8.9 mil a year for Wells and Ichiro…would you rather have wells and Ichiro or a solid closer who has had around a 2.45 ERA the last 4 years and the last 2 years as a closer has saved 92% of his games? I am not such a huge fan of Balfour (I believe we actually hit him), but my point is who would you rather have? The answer is pretty clear.
The Yanks just signed Matt Thornton (2 years at 3.5 per year) and Brian Roberts (1 year at 2 mil). These are pretty low level signings (which can add up), but these will help us. Thornton used to be very good, but he still is effective and is kind of like Logan, although not as good overall (Boone had his best year last year), but a little better against lefties. Boone is 5 or so year’s younger but for 2 years the signing is fine. Boone got a 3 year deal that averages 5.5 a year as a comp. All the money is a bit crazy so the comps keep it in perspective (for at least me). Roberts is a good one year deal because he can hit lefties pretty well (.800 OPS) and he may platoon with lefty Dean Anna (27) who is a guy the Yanks picked up as part of a trade with SD who couldn’t keep him on their 40 man roster. This is a deal that could be an excellent one. He had very good stats in the minors last year (.929 OPS against righties but in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League), but has been a career minor leaguer. I have no idea about his defense, but this deal is one that appears to be a good one.
While on 2nd base, I was not in favor of the Gardner for Brandon Phillips trade straight up. Phillips is a stellar defender which I like, but his offense is suspect (OPS of .706 last year but a career .749). He is 32 and is signed for a reasonable 12.5 mil a year for the next 4). It would not have been a bad deal considering what has already been done (I think the Yankee would have been better off not signing Ellsbury to such a long deal and try to lock up Gardner before he is a free agent), but I was fine holding Gardner as insurance for Ellsbury getting injured. Basically, we decided to get Beltran and not get Phillips because we didn’t have to give up a player to get Beltran.
The Yanks are going for the Japanese pitcher Tanaka…it makes sense if he is as good as people say he is. Hopefully Pineda is back (critical for us), but Tanaka would help a lot as CC performed like a 5th starter last year. Hopefully it was an aberration year, but the loss of velocity is a huge concern. If his velocity were the same and he just got hammered for a bad year I would feel much better. But, honestly, last year, he simply had mediocre stuff.
One final note as an ex catcher I must speak to…and that is the new rules they want to implement regarding collisions. I have written a few times over the years wondering why catchers are allowed to get run over. I am glad they are looking at it (it takes a star to get hurt before they wake up), but I think the rules should just be the same for all bases. That is, no defender can block the path of a runner going into any base. They must be allowed to slide into a base safely, you can only block the path with the ball either in the hand or in the glove. This solves the issue. Catchers must leave the back part of the plate for a runner as an example. The next logical discussion will be runners breaking up DP’s and how they can’t interfere with fielders unless a slide into the base and slightly over base. With instant replay becoming a larger part of baseball, the “area” play where the SS or 2nd baseman leave the base a little early should be enforced.