SORIANO OPTS OUT…AS EXPECTED…

Soriano opts out of last year of deal with Yankees

Reliever Rafael Soriano opted out of the final year of a three-year, $35 million contract with the New York Yankees on Wednesday and will likely seek a long-term deal in free agency.

By HOWIE RUMBERG; AP Sports Writer
Published: Oct. 31, 2012 at 1:31 p.m. PDT

NEW YORK — Reliever Rafael Soriano opted out of the final year of a three-year, $35 million contract with the New York Yankees on Wednesday and will likely seek a long-term deal in free agency.

The move was expected after the right-hander had 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA while filling in for closer Mariano Rivera this season after baseball’s saves leader tore a knee ligament in early May.

“I’m not surprised because (agent) Scott Boras told me he was confident he could get him 15 times four (years), $60 million. If that’s the case, it would be a good deal for Soriano,” Yankees president Randy Levine told The Associated Press. “I hope that’s what’s real in the marketplace.”

Soriano was set to make $14 million next season. Instead, New York will pay him a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees can make him a qualifying offer of $13.3 million before Friday’s deadline, and if Soriano signs with another team, they will get draft compensation.

Soriano, who will be 33 in December, signed his hefty contract with New York before the 2011 season after notching a career-high 45 saves with Tampa Bay. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled general manager Brian Cashman in making the deal. Cashman was opposed to giving closer money to a setup man.

The one-time All-Star had an injury-plagued first season with New York and he ended up getting the bulk of his work in the seventh inning, falling behind youngster David Robertson in the bullpen.

But when Rivera went down, and Robertson struggled as the replacement stopper before going on the disabled list, Soriano slipped comfortably into the role.

Soriano’s possible departure further complicates the Yankees’ bullpen for 2013. Rivera, who will turn 43 in November, vowed right after his injury to return next year, but recently said he isn’t sure whether he will play again.

In other Yankees news, infielder Casey McGehee opted for free agency rather than accepting a minor league assignment. McGehee hit .151 (8 for 53) in 22 games with the Yankees after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31.

Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers, a right-handed pitcher, was returned to the Washington Nationals. Meyers missed the entire season because of a labrum strain.

 

JETS: WHY THE JAGUARS NEED TIEBOW AND WHT TIEBOW NEEDS THEM…

Tim Tebow needs the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Jacksonville Jaguars need Tim Tebow

By  

Imagine for a second that you’re a fervent Tim Tebow supporter. In addition to sporting some fancy jorts, you probably love Tebow’s drive, his intensity, his will to win, his passion, his ability to inspire. In other words, you love his intangibles.

(Getty Images)

Tebow remains a fascinating story precisely because of all those intangibles. And while New York City loves the idea of intangibles — Derek Jeter will never go without a date because of his — you’ve got to back up those intangibles with, you know, tangibles. Tebow hasn’t, and it doesn’t look like he will in the current Jets offense anytime soon.

So, unlikely as the idea may be, why not ship him off to somewhere that his intangibles would be not just a facet of his character, but the essential element? Why not send him to the one place on earth where fans will embrace his flaws rather than make excuses for them?

Tim Tebow to Jacksonville. It’ll never make more sense than it does right now.

From a narrative perspective, it makes a perfect close to the loop. Tebow played football at Ponte Vedra High School just outside Jacksonville, kicking off his legend with a state championship, two Mr. Florida Football honors, and a game in which he played the entire second half with a broken fibula. From there, he shot down the road to Gainesville, where he won a Heisman and two national championships. Tebow isn’t God, but don’t ask the Florida faithful which one they prefer.

It might have been better for everyone involved if Tebow had stopped right there, if he’d gone off to be a missionary or something, vanishing into the wilderness, an eternal what-could-have-been mystery. Instead, Tebow turned pro and did just enough to make people think that he could do more.

[Related: NFL peers rate Tim Tebow as league’s most overrated player]

Which is why he, the Jets and their fans find themselves in this no-win web. The Jets don’t deploy him nearly as often as they could, and when they do, the results are at best unimpressive and at worst catastrophic. (Witness his missed block on a punt last week against Miami that led to a block and a Dolphin touchdown.)

Tebow’s passing numbers — two completions on three attempts for 32 yards — are too insignificant to show up in any statistical categories. His rushing totals — 23 carries for 78 yards — rank him dead last among the 33 NFL quarterbacks in Football Outsiders DYAR (Defensive Yards Above Replacement) rating. In rough terms, Tebow is about 30 percent less valuable at his job than an average quarterback.

And in Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville already has almost the precise statistical definition of an average quarterback. Still, he’s just in his second year, so why would Jacksonville give up on him so quickly in order to get Tebow?

The easy answer is they don’t have to. Tebow could be used in an unconventional offensive styling, the way the Jets ought to be using him. Jacksonville could break out any kind of insane Madden-style video game offensive scheme its coaches could imagine and turn Tebow loose.

Because here’s the thing with Jacksonville: The team is 1-6 right now. They’ve lost four straight. Their offense is one of those jokes you can’t even laugh at because you’d feel bad about yourself; the Jags rank last in such useful categories as points scored, yards per game and passing offense.

[NFL Skinny: Week 9 preview]

Tebow isn’t going to turn that around by himself. Shoot, a Tom Brady-Arian Foster-Larry Fitzgerald combo probably couldn’t turn that mess around. But Tebow will give that franchise a storyline, and while that’s not as good as a win, it’s enough to get a few Florida butts in seats. And in Florida, the glow coming off Tebow is like Jeter in New York or Michael Jordan in Chicago — ever-present, unwavering and unquestionable, no matter what.

Look, chances are Tebow-to-Jacksonville won’t happen. There are plenty of obstacles, first and foremost reports from several major New York media outlets that indicate the Jets and Jaguars are not talking. This, despite a fervent report from a Jacksonville TV station citing “sources” that Jacksonville and New York were talking.

The Jets have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to deal Tebow or keep him for the rest of the year. While it’s likely Tebow will remain in New York, you’ve got to believe that there’s a small — or, heck, huge — part of the Jets brass that would be happy never to hear the T-question again.

So why not send the guy back home? Tim Tebow already has one statue erected in his honor, standing just outside the gates of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. It’s just 63 miles to the only other stadium that could conceivably build him another one. It’s a deal that works for all the right intangible reasons.

But the Jets are too stupid! to correct the wrong of bringing him in.  and would rather keep him and continue to be the .  EDB

I SO HOPE THE STORY BELOW IS WRONG

Why All Signs Point to Alex Rodriguez Staying with the Yankees Through 2013

By

(MLB Lead Writer) on October 30, 2012

Hi-res-6701802_crop_exact Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the New York Yankees want Alex Rodriguez gone. They don’t care where he goes so long as he goes somewhere other than The Bronx.

They will not get their wish.

I don’t doubt that many—maybe even most—Yankees fans already realize this, but it’s only becoming more and more obvious as time goes by that A-Rod is going to remain a Yankee in 2013 and beyond. Whether people like it or not, it looks like the Yankees are stuck with their once-great and now horribly overpriced third baseman.

How do we know for sure, you ask?

Well, if you want to get technical, we don’t know for sure whether or not A-Rod is going to be sticking around in New York in 2013. Him staying just happens to be the most logical conclusion to draw after reading all the signs.

And the signs are…

 

He Doesn’t Want to Go Elsewhere

Trading Alex Rodriguez would not be a simple matter of Brian Cashman having a chat with another general manager and then pushing a button. Some sort of an agreement would have to be made on who would be responsible for what in regard to the $114 million still owed to A-Rod, and figuring out compensation for the Yankees would be like pulling teeth from a very ticked-off shark.

It could take hours, days, even weeks to put an A-Rod trade together. Make no mistake about it.

Hi-res-154350790_crop_exact “Sure, I’ll waive my no-trade clause…PSYCHE!”
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

And then A-Rod could kill the agreed-upon deal in a matter of seconds. Such is life when you have full no-trade protection.

On the day the Detroit Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs in the ALCS, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that he had it on good authority that A-Rod would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the Yankees found a big-market taker for him. If somebody like, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted him, A-Rod and the Yankees could have parted ways.

But then the man himself spoke after the Yankees were eliminated, and he sang a totally different tune.  ANOTHER YEAR OF WATCHING THIS GUY MAKING FUNNY FACES AND BEING A STIFF

DR GIRARDI PLACES CALL TO THE STIFF-ROD

Joe Girardi Has ‘Great’ Talk with Alex Rodriguez

By

(Featured Columnist) on October 30, 2012

Hi-res-105239890_crop_exact Nick Laham/Getty Images

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a “great” phone conversation with slugger Alex Rodriguez last week, according to an anonymous source who spoke with ESPNNewYork.com.

According to the source, the call happened Friday. That was the same day CBSSports.com reported that Girardi placed a call to the public address announcer during a postseason game at Yankee Stadium. The call, according to the report, was to request Rodriguez not be named when Raul Ibanez was going to pinch-hit for A-Rod.

Instead, Ibanez went to the plate and was announced, but there was no mention of the player he was hitting for.

It’s nice for Girardi to be considerate of Rodriguez’s feelings, but it doesn’t do the embattled slugger any favors.

Fans of the Yankees and every other team in Major League Baseball have more than a half-billion reasons—the combined dollar amounts of A-Rod’s last two contracts—to hold him to a much different standard than they do any other player in baseball.

Ever since Rodriguez left the Seattle Mariners as a free agent after the 2000 season, he’s never been perceived the same way. Signing for a then-record $252 million will do that to a player. ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews wrote last week about the standard Rodriguez is held to by fans. According to Matthews, A-Rod’s image began to change when former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips talked about the demands being made by Rodriguez during the Mets’ courting of Rodriguez in the offseason of 2000-01.

Among those were private jets, big billboards and an office. When he eventually signed with the Texas Rangers, he got all of those perks.

What do you think about Joe Girardi’s call to the PA booth?

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But Girardi didn’t do A-Rod any favors by making that call to the public address booth during the postseason. What, fans weren’t smart enough to realize on their own that Rodriguez wasn’t hitting?

Instead, it heaps more abuse on Rodriguez even though he had nothing to do with this incident.

For a dozen years, A-Rod has dealt with a perception—fair or not—that any club he plays for has a “24-plus-one” hierarchy. There is the way Rodriguez is treated and then there is the way the other 24 guys on the roster are managed.

It’s a positive development if, as the anonymous source said, Girardi and Rodriguez were able to have a productive conversation moving ahead to the 2013 season.

It’s unfortunate it had to come on the heels of another episode becoming public knowledge where Rodriguez was treated differently than anyone else in the Yankee dugout.

Thanks a lot Doctor Girardi, Psychiatrist.  EDB

STERNSEY GETS IT WRONG

NBA Commissioner David Stern misspeaks, calls Hurricane Sandy ‘Hurricane Katrina’ before Miami Heat ring ceremony (VIDEO)

Are theses guys fraternal twins?

NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the fans at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night before giving the Miami Heat their 2011-12 NBA championship rings in a pregame ceremony preceding the team’s 2012-13 season-opening contest against the Boston Celtics. In the process, he thought it appropriate to acknowledge all those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the monstrous storm that has caused millions of dollars in damage, claimed at least 48 lives and wreaked massive havoc on locations all along the Atlantic coast.

Unfortunately, in so doing, the commissioner misspoke.  Nice going Daniel.  Nice flub!  Way to be in the game!  EDB

UPDATING 7 IMPACT INFIELD BATS

Yankees Trade Rumors: Updating Top 7 Impact Infield Bats on N.Y.’s Radar

By

(Featured Columnist) on July 30, 2012

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Eric Chavez is a disabled list-stint waiting to happen, there’s a reason the Yankees are Jayson Nix’s sixth team in five years and Eduardo Nunez, well…we’ve been down that road before.

The fact of the matter is that while Alex Rodriguez is sidelined with a broken hand, the Yankees need to find someone that they can plug into the position on a daily basis and not have to think about pinch-hitting for or replacing defensively late in games.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Brian Cashman and company have compiled a lengthy list of potential acquisitions, from All-Stars to has-beens and everything in between.

So who are we talking about and what are the odds that the Yanks can pull of a deal in the next 24 hours?

Let’s take a look.

Willie Bloomquist, IF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Bloomquist can play on a daily basis unlike the Yankees' current options.
Bloomquist can play on a daily basis unlike the Yankees’ current options.
Norm Hall/Getty Images

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks are trying to decide who is going to be their starting shortstop moving forward—Stephen Drew or Willie Bloomquist.

Since Drew returned from the disabled list, Bloomquist has primarily played third base—but with Arizona picking up Chris Johnson from the Astros, he’s sure to see a diminished role if Drew remains the starter at short.

As with many of the names that we are going to take a look at, Bloomquist doesn’t provide much in the way of power. That’s not to say that he’s an automatic out at the plate—he’s posted a .299/.323/.395 batting line in 77 games for Arizona this season—but he’s not a run producer either.

That being the case, Bloomquist isn’t expensive salary-wise (he’s in the first year of a two-year, $3.8 million contract) and Arizona likely isn’t expecting much in return for his services. If Arizona decides to move Drew instead, the price in prospects is sure to be far too expensive for the Yankees to give serious consideration to acquiring him.

The Yanks could do far worse than putting Willie Bloomquist at third until A-Rod is ready to return.

Yunel Escobar, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

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Brad White/Getty Images

Only 29 years old, Yunel Escobar is signed through the 2013 season at a reasonable $5 million, and two team options at the same salary exist for the 2014 and 2015 seasons as well.

Multiple teams, most notably the Oakland A’s, have been linked to Escobar for almost a week, though according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Toronto’s asking price has been the biggest hurdle for interested parties to overcome.

Considering that Escobar is a shortstop who has not played third base since 2007, coupled with the fact that the Blue Jays and Yankees are division rivals, you’d have to imagine that the price for the Yankees to acquire him—if they wanted to—would be higher than other teams outside of the division may be asked to pay.

There’s no way that Toronto is going to do the Yankees any favors, and that makes a deal between the two clubs highly unlikely.

Chone Figgins, IF/OF, Seattle Mariners

No thanks.
No thanks.
Denis Poroy/Getty Images

I think most Yankees fans would prefer to see Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez try playing third base before they want to see Chone Figgins wearing a Yankees uniform.

I’ll put the odds at one percent, simply because the Yankees and Mariners have done business together twice in the past seven months, but nobody in their right mind—including Brian Cashman—would take Figgins or his contract at this point.

Not unless the Mariners want to throw King Felix into the deal as well, of course.

This guy cannot hit a lick!  EDB

Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres

Headley would be a perfect fit in the Bronx.
Headley would be a perfect fit in the Bronx.
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

If ever there was a player for the Yankees to give serious thought to moving their prospects to acquire, Chase Headley is it.

Under team control through the 2014 season, the 28-year-old switch-hitter plays gold-glove caliber defense at third base and his a much better hitter than his stats lead you to believe.

Consider this.

At Petco Park, the biggest pitcher’s park in the league, Headley has posted a .235/.324/.341 batting line. On the road? .299/.367/.448. That’s a huge difference.

Granted, he’s not a traditional power hitter, but the Yankees certainly don’t lack for big boppers in their lineup.

Headley would allow the Yankees to plug A-Rod in as the full-time designated hitter upo Winter.

Let’s see these two clowns actually try to do something.  the past few off seasons they have done little.  I don’t want to hear about the $189 Million cap.  The Yankees make a fortune.  EDB

Jose Lopez, IF, Cleveland Indians

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Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Yankees, along with the rest of baseball, had a chance to grab Lopez back in May when the Indians designated him for assignment to make room for Johnny Damon on their 40-man roster.

Since re-joining the Indians after a minor league stint, the 28-year-old former All-Star second baseman has primarily filled in at third base, providing average defense and not much else. In 59 games, Lopez has a .249/.271/.378 batting line with four home runs and 28 RBI.

You’d have to imagine that the Indians aren’t looking for much in exchange for him, so based on that alone I’d put odds of Lopez winding up in the Bronx better than others.

Brendan Ryan, SS, Seattle Mariners

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

UPDATE 7:45 PM ET:

Apparently the Yankees did make a play for Ryan. They were denied.

#mariners turned down #yankees bid for brendan ryan. ichiro they can have, not brendan ryan.

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 30, 2012

EDB

Ty Wigginton, IF/OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Could Wiggy return to New York?
Could Wiggy return to New York?
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After Chase Headley, Ty Wigginton is the guy who the Yankees should be going after the hardest.

A 12-year veteran, the 34-year-old Wigginton has experience playing in New York and can fill at corner spots in both the infield and outfield with relative ease.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that the Phillies won’t have much of a problem finding a home for the man known as “Wiggy,” so what the asking price is remains to be seen. But with competition to obtain his services, it could be more than what the Yankees ideally would like to spend.

With a reasonable $4 million team option for the 2013 season, Wigginton not only helps the Yankees in 2012, but next season as well. A nice bat off the bench.  EDB

Final Thoughts

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Here’s how I’d rank the potential replacements, weighting the cost to acquire them and impact (both short- and long-term) on the team until A-Rod returns:

 

1. Chase Headley

2. Ty Wigginton

3. Willie Bloomquist

4. Jose Lopez

5. Yunel Escobar

6. Brendan Ryan

7. Chone Figgins   EDB

YANKEES OFFSEASON MOVES PART 3

Hiroki Kuroda

Hi-res-154122951_crop_650 Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Not much has been said about Kuroda thus far, but it’s obvious the Yanks would like to bring back their best pitcher from 2012. Any concerns about his adjustment from the NL West to the AL East can be put to bed.

Kuroda fits into the Yanks’ plans perfectly. At age 37, Kuroda won’t garner a long-term deal, and despite the fact that he will command a raise Kuroda could be off the Yanks’ roster by 2014, maybe 2015 if an option is present in his deal.

I fully expect Kuroda to return in 2013 because it just makes sense, but only time will tell.

If the Yankees believe that Karoda can give another season like the last one and he only wants one year, sign him up.  There is a delicate balance between incoporating the young starters and bringing in older pitchers.  EDB

Rafael Soriano

Hi-res-153286331_crop_650 Elsa/Getty Images

Soriano did a stellar job replacing the injured Rivera in 2012, but with the closer likely to opt-out (per D.J. Short of NBC Sports) of his current deal, Sori could be playing for another team in 2013.

Normally the Yanks would be happy to let Soriano and his big contract walk, but 2013 presents a different scenario should Rivera retire. It isn’t totally clear whether the Yanks would feel safe with David Robertson closing games, but if not, Soriano could be back with the Yanks next season.

If Rivera does return, Soriano is as good as gone. The Yankees’ 2012 closer isn’t happy being in a seventh inning role, and that’s exactly where he’d be if the greatest closer of all time comes back and D-Rob remains as the team’s setup man.  Find out what Mo wants to do.  I do not think Soriano would pitch as well as a setup man.  The Yankees will have to deal with Soriano as a free agent in either respect.  He will opt out.  EDB

And Finally:

Nick Swisher

Hi-res-154480231_crop_650 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Yanks have no interest in bringing back playoff no-show Nick Swisher. Their only interest in Swisher is the potential draft pick the Yanks could get in return for him.

The Yankees are still planning to make a qualifying offer of about $13.5 million to free agent Nick Swisher, but only to protect the draft choice, not with any hope or expectation he’d accept the offer and return to the Bronx.

When news broke that Swish might be seeking a Jayson Werth-type deal, that pretty much sealed it that Swish wasn’t coming back. Add in a terrible playoff showing and his complaints about the fans, and it’s clear that Swisher’s ticket out of town is already punched.

The Yankees won’t bring Swisher back.  How could they?  They need to replace Nick’s regular season stats.  By the way, if Swisher excepted a one year reasonable contract, would you want him?  He never hits in the post season.  That is if the Yankees make it next year.  EDB

HOT STOVE: BRIAN McCANN…AN OPTION FOR YANKEES?

MLB Hot Stove: Brian McCann Is a Realistic Option for the New York Yankees

By

(Featured Columnist) on October 28, 2012

Hi-res-151761462_crop_exact Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Russell Martin’s impending free agency and the New York Yankees‘ need for an offensive upgrade could lead them in the direction of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann this offseason.

McCann has a $12 million option for the 2013 season, but the Braves may not be inclined to exercise it after his down season and recent shoulder surgery.

Even if it is not exercised, the Braves could look to work out a more team-friendly deal in the offseason.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Insider required) that the Braves could also just pick up the option and look to trade him to a team like the Texas Rangers or the Yankees.

While Martin did improve in the final months of the regular season, his offensive production simply was not good enough to be in an American League lineup.

McCann may have experienced a down season, but his track record suggests that it likely won’t happen again.

Over the course of his eight-year career, McCann owns a line of .279/.351/.475 with 156 home runs. He is a five-time Silver Slugger award winner, as well as a six-time All Star.

His finest season arguably came in 2008, where he hit 23 home runs, drove in 87 runs and compiled a line of .301/.373/.523.

If McCann hits free agency, general manager Brian Cashman should try his best to outbid the Braves. Frank Wren knows McCann’s value to the team and its pitching staff, so he’ll be working furiously to bring him back.

Should McCann’s option be exercised, Cashman should still make a call to Wren to check on his availability. Dealing a few top prospects for a perennial All Star at the catcher position would most certainly be worth the loss.

McCann would help Cashman’s goal of becoming “younger and better,” so it’s a move that must be made if the opportunity presents itself.  EDB