Thursday, September 26, 2013
Yankees, Cano appear far apart on dollars
By Buster Olney
When Mariano Rivera was asked on the day he announced his retirement about what the perfect ending to his career would be, he talked about being on the mound for the World Series -- and even at the time he said it, that seemed unreachable, given all of the personnel issues that swirled around the Yankees.
But now it's official that the Yankees' season, and Rivera's career, will end Sunday, before October begins, and next week, the front office begins its dive into what will be as close to a complete makeover of the roster since the days when Gene Michael and Buck Showalter ran the franchise in the early 1990s.
The changes could start with the team's best player. The Yankees have never had a time in their franchise history when their centerpiece walked away of his own volition. Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio were pushed out, Lou Gehrig was taken down by disease and Mickey Mantle lost his race against age in 1969. But Robinson Cano may leave the Yankees this winter, in search of greater compensation elsewhere.
According to sources, the split between what the Yankees have offered in a contract is enormous, with Cano seeking a 10-year deal for approximately $305 million -- a figure that represents the total value of Alex Rodriguez's record-setting deal if he achieves all of the built-in incentives. Some friends of Cano have a sense that Cano will take the biggest offer that he receives this winter, regardless of whether it comes from the Yankees or some other team.
The Yankees believe they made an aggressive offer in spring training and will be open to more contract talks with the second baseman. At the same time, they will prepare for the possibility that he will play elsewhere next season.
Manager Joe Girardi also could be a free agent. General Manager Brian Cashman has lauded Girardi and indicated the Yankees want to keep him, but it won't be until after the season that the team will know how much Girardi wants to stay -- or if he would like to see opportunity elsewhere, such as with the Cubs.
The Yankees' ability to compete in 2014 will be rooted in their rotation, and staffers have been encouraged by what they've seen from Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova in the second half of this season. The Yankees figure to make a qualifying offer to Hiroki Kuroda and hope to retain the right-hander for next season, and CC Sabathia has three more years remaining on his contract.
With Rivera leaving, the Yankees will have to undergo a bullpen makeover, and identify a closer, whether that's David Robertson or somebody else. They don't know if Derek Jeter will recover enough to be an every-day or even a part-time shortstop, and Alex Rodriguez presents a whole layer of issues moving forward.
The Yankees are expected to present a one-year qualifying offer to Curtis Granderson, which would ensure them a draft pick if he signs elsewhere (such as with the Cubs, for example, who wouldn't have to surrender a first-round pick to sign him). Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells will all be candidates in the outfield, and it's expected that Mark Teixeira will be back for next season.
The Yankees' goal continues to be to get under the $189 million payroll threshold for 2014, for the sake of luxury tax savings, and it's too early to say whether that will change, because of the uncertain forecast. A Rodriguez suspension could save them money; on the other hand, a late aggressive push to re-sign Cano could cost them more than anticipated (as Rodriguez's deal did after the Yankees surrendered in their negotiations with him in the fall of 2007).
It's way too soon to know how the Steinbrenners will react in the face of the growing restlessness and extreme scrutiny that is developing within the frustration of the fan base.
There is only one sure thing: No matter what form it takes, there will be massive change by the time the Yankees open spring training next February.
Cano says he's unsure if he'll return to the Yankees, writes Dan Martin.
The Yankees' dim playoff hopes flickered out for good, as David Waldstein writes.
• Mariano Rivera may or may not play the outfield in Houston this weekend.
Now that the Yankees are eliminated, it would be wholly appropriate for Alex Rodriguez to bypass the final road trip to Houston. He's got his own reasons for doing so, with his hearing coming up Monday, but beyond that, it would be good for him to do so, so that Saturday and Sunday are left to Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and not to questions about Biogenesis.
This was a really cool moment: Todd Helton clubbed a home run in his final home game, and then took a lap. Helton's old friend Peyton Manning was there. Here's a link to the Denver Post's coverage of the night.
Watch this pitch again from Jake Peavy.
I'll say this: Peavy understands and appreciates history, and I'd bet that he deferred to Helton in that moment with the benign 87 mph fastball. I covered the final game that Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell played together, and I can remember Mike Mussina making up his mind to throw the most hittable pitches, out of respect for those two legends.
The Red Sox won, and have a stranglehold on the race for the top record in the AL.
Jacoby Ellsbury was back, and had a really good day.
• The Braves and Brewers had a bench-clearing incident following an ugly back-and-forth of words between Carlos Gomez and some Atlanta players, but as David O'Brien writes, the lasting issue of the night was the offensive struggles of the Braves. Freddie Freeman was ejected and isn't sure why.
Here's video of the incident.
Gomez apologized afterward, as Adam McCalvy writes.
AL wild card
The equation is simple now: Three teams for two spots. And all three teams won Wednesday, and handily. The Rays blew out the Yankees, with a big day from Evan Longoria, Cleveland wrecked the White Sox to finish 17-2 against Chicago during the year, and Texas took its final gimme against the Astros, who are now 51-108.
Martin Perez stepped up for the Rangers. Michael Brantley has been killing the ball, and he and Danny Salazar and Justin Masterson led the Indians.
The potential for palace intrigue is stronger in Texas than anywhere else, given the shift in roles during the last offseason with Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels. You'll get a taste of this in this Randy Galloway column. The fault lines that were there before the start of spring training remain in place, and the question that has stood unanswered for months is: Why?
Ron Washington is not happy with the criticism directed at the Rangers.
The Royals were officially eliminated.
NL Central race
• The Cardinals could clinch the NL Central Friday, and for the Pirates and Reds, the question is shifting to this: Who will host the one-game playoff next week?
The Cardinals' young pitchers have helped them into the postseason, as Bernie Miklasz writes. St. Louis may now juggle its rotation, as Derrick Goold writes.
Meanwhile, Ryan Ludwick called out the Cincinnati fans, on a day when the Reds set a home attendance record.
The Pirates need an MVP weekend from Andrew McCutchen, writes Ron Cook. Pittsburgh's situational hitting was not good, again. And Francisco Liriano did not pitch well, either: He has an 8.00 ERA in his past four road starts and a 4.33 ERA away from home all season. His ERA at PNC Park is 1.47.
Wrote here Wednesday about the pack of teams bunched together at a time when the order is being determined in a crucial part of the 2014 draft, and in light of that, the Phillies got a really productive loss, and the Mets got a win that will not help them during the winter.
The draft order, as of this morning:
9. Blue Jays
11. Blue Jays (compensation pick from 2013 draft)
• The Angels continue to have a strong finish to their season, and they will be a tough test for the Rangers.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Dayton Moore intends to keep Ned Yost.
2. Dale Sveum says he was never promised anything. He wonders about his future, as Gordon Wittenmyer writes.
3. The Jays are looking to upgrade their rotation, and the production from their catchers, says the GM.
4. Ricky Nolasco struggled again, putting his postseason status in doubt, as Dylan Hernandez writes.
5. Eric Wedge could be the Mariners' fall guy, writes Larry Stone. From Larry's story:
Call off the search. It appears the Mariner scapegoat has been located.
No, it's not the general manager whose litany of questionable personnel decisions is mounting — not yet to the extent of his reviled predecessor, but not exactly a Billy Beanesque resume, either.
Jack Zduriencik's role in this melodrama, that of lame-duck architect, was clarified a day earlier. Or at least he is believed to be a lame-duck — no one in the organization would speak to the length of his contract, other than to finally confirm Zduriencik would be back next year.
It doesn't appear to be the brain trust at the top. Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong by all indications are bulletproof no matter how precipitous is the decline of the product or the dissatisfaction of the fan base.
Nor does it look like an ownership change is imminent in the wake of the death of Hiroshi Yamauchi, given Lincoln's recent comment to the Puget Sound Business Journal that Nintendo of America has no plans to sell its stake in the Mariners.
As usual, the buck is stopping at the bottom of the power spectrum. Eric Wedge, who astonishingly couldn't win with the poorly conceived roster he was handed -- equal parts miscast veterans and wet-behind-the-ears youngsters -- sounded Wednesday every bit like a manager who knows the end is near.
Indeed, like one intent on pushing matters to the breaking point.
Wedge spoke out bluntly about being left to dangle in the breeze, with an expiring contract and no clarification on his status. He also said he believes the team is knocking on the door of success -- a topic of much debate these days -- and he wants to be part of the breakthrough.
Dings and dents
1. Alex Rodriguez exited.
2. Manny Machado is confident he'll recover.
3. Andre Ethier returned to L.A. for some testing.
4. Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty started their throwing programs.
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched well.
2. Kyle Lohse shut down the Braves on just 89 pitches. It was the fewest pitches in a nine-inning shutout this year.
3. The Padres crushed a bunch of homers.
• From the Elias Sports Bureau: Evan Longoria hit two home runs for the Rays in their 8–3 win at Yankee Stadium. Longoria hit nine home runs and five doubles in the 18 games he played against the Yankees this year. He's only the third player to hit nine or more home runs versus the Yankees in one season in the expansion era (1961 to date). The others were Cleveland's Fred Whitfield in 1965 (10) and Toronto's Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001 (9).
• The 2014 competition for the second-base job in Baltimore has already begun.
• The Tigers won their third straight division title.
Jim Leyland was fighting back tears. Torii Hunter carried him into the celebration.
Max Scherzer threw a gem, as Tom Gage writes.
• This White Sox season was embarrassing, says pitching coach Don Cooper.
• Kevin Correia has been a great pickup, writes Mike Berardino.
• Hisashi Iwakuma finished his brilliant season with domination.
• With the loss Wednesday, the Astros have dropped 12 in a row and have set a franchise record for most losses in a season.
• Oakland was shut down by the Angels again.
• Jordan Zimmermann was unable to win No. 20. It's possible for the Nationals to give him a start Sunday on short rest.
• Cole Hamels' season came to an end, as Matt Gelb writes.
• Barry Zito got a standing ovation at what is likely the end of his time with the Giants.
• Brad Ziegler is flexible in his thinking about his future role.
Arizona's record will hurt Paul Goldschmidt in the MVP discussion, writes Nick Piecoro.
• Davey Johnson has strong feelings about the Strasburg shutdown.
• Wrigley Field is getting some expanded clubhouses.
• The Yankees have a bobblehead issue.
And today will be better than yesterday.