Sep 22, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Yankee trainer Steve Donohue checks on New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (24) after he was tagged out at home plate in the eighth inning of MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

AL East Round-Up

That’s not Cano, but it should be. He’s off to the left… or west of Rivera, if you will. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When Josh Menezes wrote that Robinson Cano leaving New York would be a bad thing for Toronto, I initially thought “Eeh… maybe.”  He may be onto something.  Cano’s 10 year $240M was never on the table for him in NY.  It was too much money and the Yankees, incredibly, realized they had other pressing needs.  When you look at their rotation, you can find it somewhat laughable with an aged C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda leading the way.  But is it anymore laughable than a 39 year old knuckleballer and a 35 year old hard throwing lefty that tops out at 85 MPH?  Behind Sabathia and Kuroda will determine the season for New York.  Ivan Nova‘s stats are all over the place, making him awfully tough to predict what you’re going to get.  Even more unpredictable will be the health and effectiveness of Michael Pineda.  Losing Cano means the Yankees can address needs, like Menezes pointed out. As you can see, these needs are almost EXACTLY the same as Toronto’s. Anyway, LET’S DO THIS!

BALTIMORE ORIOLES: The Orioles seem quiet, at least on the transaction wire, but GM Dan Duquette has been making subtle moves to improve the team. Not underestimate Dan. He knows how to find talent. Duquette claimed 2B Cord Phelps off waivers from the Cleveland Indians to compete for the vacated position. While he’s seemed overwhelmed at the big league level, he’s produced quite well in AAA, hitting to the tune of .286 with 45 HRs in 363 GP, with the bummer being his BA has gotten progressively worse in Columbus over 4 seasons.

The other quiet addition is of another player that put up solid numbers in AAA. C Johnny Monell was traded from the San Francisco Giants for cash. With Taylor Teagarden out of the picture, somebody needs to back up Matt Wieters. At 27 years old, Monell had a breakout season for AAA Fresno (.275/.364/.494 20 HR 64 RBI) but he did not do well controlling the running game (16% CS). The addition may quietly be a solid one.

Perhaps the biggest move that readers might be waiting for was that of their All Star closer, Jim Johnson. Johnson was traded to the Oakland Athletics for 2B Jemile Weeks and a player to be named. Weeks is also expected to compete with Orioles #5 top prospect (according to Jonathan Schoop and Phelps for starting 2B. Early and somewhat stunning reports have been that Bud Norris replaces Johnson as the Orioles closer.

BOSTON RED SOX: The Red Sox Nation laughably said goodbye to 30 year old speedster, CF Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury signed a 7 year $153M contract with hated rival New York in a move that, honestly, not one non-pink hat Red Sox fan seems to care about. With Sox coach John Farrell stating he would like to see Shane Victorino stay in RF, the initial plan seems to be giving Red Sox #2 prospect Jackie Bradley first cracks as Ellsbury’s replacement.

In other news, exiled catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed with the Miami Marlins and Boston signed A.J. Pierzynski to be his replacement. While the move for letting Saltalamacchia (it’s good to practice typing out his full name) isn’t much of a surprise, the signing of Pierzynski (another fun name) by the chemistry cautious clubhouse was somewhat surprising. Here’s a great article by Tim Keown describing how other players describe Pierzynski.

Also returning to Boston is 1B Mike Napoli. Napoli signed a 2 year $32M deal to continue running drunk and shirtless in Boston. This may or may not close the door on the Red Sox bringing back Stephen Drew, as Boston may settle on Will Middlebrooks at 3B and Xander Bogaerts at SS.

TAMPA BAY RAYS: The Rays made waves this week when they re-signed C Jose Molina. I’m just kidding. Nobody really cares about that. The Rays made waves by eating the $5M contract of Arizona Diamondback’s closer Heath Bell and more importantly, ending their seemingly endless search for a decent everyday backstop by acquiring C Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds for Low A RP Justin Choate and a player to be named later.

In other news, the Rays signed another player with two first names. The Marlins closing pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez, Juan Carlos Oviedo, signed on with the Rays. Unfortunately, Roberto Hernandez, aka Fausto Carmona, departed Tampa Bay by electing free agency. Too bad! That would have made for some great clubhouse stories!

The David Price saga continues… That is all.

NEW YORK YANKEES: As it is well known by now, Robinson Cano has left for Seattle. Quietly, Curtis Granderson has left to play OF for the New York Mets. Ellsbury signed to roam the green pastures of his wallet… I mean Yankees Stadium. The Yankees angered Atlanta Braves fans everywhere, by buying C Brian McCann away from them. That may be the only move that hasn’t been a headscratcher so far this offseason for NYY. McCann filled an obvious need a catcher. Ellsbury was not exactly on the list of required shopping this offseason, but what the hell, right? They’re “sticking” it to the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, NY let the best offensive 2B in baseball go to lovely grey sky confines of gargantuan Safeco Field, and signed the introverted Ellsbury, who was never really embraced by a baseball city like Boston. Oh yea, he’s also going to be 31 and relies on speed. Then there’s that aforementioned matter of fixing their pitching situation. Anyway, Cano, leaving was just bad for baseball. With Seattle overpaying for Cano, New York suddenly became a better version of Toronto with similar needs and a slightly weaker farm system, but a metric crap ton more money to spare.

Seriously… with all these moves this offseason, I want whatever drinks these GMs are having. It sure looks like a drunken good time!

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Tags: AL East Toronto Blue Jays

  • david s

    Pat Tabler and Dennis Martinez made comment at the end of last season that pitching was going to be a priority for not only the Jays but many other teams, hence the higher asking prices for people like Feldman. Aces like Price seem scarcer. Tanaka seems to be an elusive dream. Still, this week’s winter meetings may break the log jam. I think it is safe to say that AA will give us a surprise. That surprise may be that he could not make a deal for a top pitcher.

    Personally, I am happy with what we have, but it sure would be nice to get a solid number two rotation starter. Things being what they are, I am adjusting my expectations for someone lower on the totem pole. If AA can pleasantly surprise us then his moniker of a Ninja would be well-deserved indeed. I think Pat and Dennis would agree.

    • Justin Jay

      I agree that the number of arms available are low at this point, with the best 2 left being Tanaka and Jimenez. It’s tough to imagine AA making a trade for high caliber pitching without either giving up a good everyday player or some kind of stud prospect, of which the Jays don’t have many. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if nothing major happens and the team stays mostly as is. But we’ll see.
      For my own personal satisfaction, I need AA to give me a reason at this point to justify him still being a GM. I know many people disagree with my viewpoint, but that’s just how I feel. With the exception of Cashman, I think Duquette, Cherington, and Friedman are all better. I’ll be justifying my reasons Friday. Thanks for reading!