As the playoffs continued, this past week remained busy in the world of baseball. Despite the impending end of the season, major stories keep emerging and demonstrating that the upcoming off-season will be both busy and interesting.
***The New York Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers in shocking fashion. Not only was New York’s .188 team batting average this postseason the lowest in MLB playoff history, but stars Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson looked overmatched to an extreme degree. A fascinating storylines to follow this winter is seeing how the Yankees proceed. They are all but certain to pick up 2013 options on Cano and Granderson, and will probably allow Swisher to leave via free agency. The wildcard will be A-Rod, who because of the $114 million (plus possible incentives) he is owed over the next five years and his ability to veto any trade, makes him tough to move. But considering his flagging production (5 consecutive years with a declining OPS) and his questionable behavior on the field, the Yankees may decide to eat a major portion of his contract and try to find a trade partner- with the Marlins appearing to be a top potential fit.
***The Yankees are also reeling with bad news about injuries to two of their key players. Derek Jeter fractured his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS. While he is expected to make a full medical recovery in about 4-5 months, there is no guarantee that the soon-to-be 39 year old shortstop will regain his effectiveness on the field. How he plays upon his return will set the tone if the Yankees have reached a crossroads with their franchise.
***Joining Jeter on the Yankees’ M*A*S*H report is ace C.C. Sabathia, who is reportedly set to visit famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews to have his balky elbow checked out. Pending the diagnosis the Yankees are sure to sweat out the possible outcomes, which could range from medical clearance to surgery, including the possibility of a Tommy John procedure. In the worst case scenario, which is Sabathia being out for a significant length of time, the Yankees will have to move hard and fast after starting pitching, including making free agent Zach Greinke a top priority.
***The Arizona Diamondbacks wasted little time in getting active in the off-season trade market. On Saturday they finalized two deals; sending outfielder Chris Young to the Oakland A’s for shortstop Cliff Pennington and minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera; and then flipping Cabrera to the Miami Marlins for much maligned closer Heath Bell and cash. The moves seem to indicate that the A’s are likely to pick up the $10 million 2013 option on shortstop Stephen Drew’s contract and also explore trading an outfielder, as they now have a surplus with Young, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and Yoenis Cespedes on the roster.
***It will be interesting to see Arizona’s plans for Bell, as they just exercised their 2013 option on incumbent closer J.J. Putz’s contract. Reports indicate the Marlins will cover $8 million of the $21 million on the remaining two years of Bell’s contract, but that is still a lot of money for an aging reliever in decline with an undefined role. This indicates a near certainty that Bell will be on the move again before next season’s opening; perhaps in a swap for another team’s bad contract.
***The Boston Red Sox have finally hired themselves a manager. Late last night it was announced they had agreed to acquire John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Mike Aviles. Toronto will be sending back cash or another player (rumored to be Adam Lind) to the Red Sox in order to complete the deal. It’s still unclear to this writer what Boston’s obsession is with Farrell, but at least the team can now move forward with the significant work they must do this off-season. Farrell being the choice of so many fans the move may have also bought them additional time to right the ship.
*** The Giants and the Cardinal are on tap this evening for Game 6 of the NLCS. I expect the Giants to continue their improbable comeback behind a strong performance from tonight’s starter, Ryan Vogelsong.
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