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New York Yankees News Roundup: Garcia, Montero, closers and more

Freddy Garcia came to terms on a minor league deal with the Yankees last night. He'll earn $1.5 million if he makes the ML club with an additional $3.6M possible via incentives (30 starts, which won't happen). What could it hurt though? He's been an above average starter for his career, and if he can stay healthy, he could give the Bombers decent enough quality from the back of the rotation.

Montero is a physical beast, the rare front-foot hitter who can generate big-time power, reminiscent of Frank Thomas who was, himself, also a patient and disciplined hitter.

Andrew Marchand paraphrases:

Law goes on to say that Montero's defense is a question mark and reasons that if the Yankees made Montero their DH for the next decade they would not regret it.

This very question was pondered by Moshe Mandel of The Yankee U. You may scream "No!" initially, but when factoring in his (potentially) awful defense, and that he'll play more games each season, stay healthier and enjoy a longer career, the gap is fine indeed.

  • The aforementioned Andrew Marchand, for what it's worth, predicted Andy Pettitte would play this year, and gave some good reasons. There were also notes/scouting reports about the Killer B's and Gary Sanchez.
  • The Red Sox included a clause in Carl Crawford's contract that stipulates that if he is traded during his current seven-year deal, the receiving team cannot trade him to the Yankees.
  • In the never-ending war of "We're the underdogs!", "No, we are the underdogs!", Boston owner Larry Lucchino refuted Brian Cashman's recent comments about the strength of the Sox rotation and called the Yankees the division favorites.
  • Some positive words on bullpen acquisition Rafael Soriano, from BPro -

If he can avoid the elbow troubles that have resulted in two surgeries, he projects as an outstanding set-up man in a strong bullpen and a worthy successor in the closer role should Rivera choose to hang up his spikes in the next three years.

They also say the Yankees will feature the only bullpen where the set-up man and closer rely on cutters (not to mention 7th-inning guy David Robertson).

  • However, another BPro article studies the usage of closers and comes to an unsurprising conclusion -

... the modern innovation of the closer has allowed teams to preserve one additional one-run lead in the ninth inning every two seasons or so...

The games we’re asking closers to save just aren’t there anymore. Now, plenty has changed in baseball over the past 60 years--I’m not sure this is attributable at all or in part to the change in reliever utilization--but the fewer close games teams take into the ninth inning, the less valuable your typical closer can be.

It makes so little sense the way modern managers use "closers." Instead of bringing them into the game at the decisive moment (which could be as early as the sixth inning), they use a lesser pitcher so that "the closer" can get the last three magical outs. This topic was also covered by Joe Posnanski a few months back -

Teams held 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 2010. Teams held 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 1952...

If you put someone good - your second- or third-best reliever - into the closer role, then you will have your best pitcher to use in key situations. You will have him to secure the eighth inning, of course, but you could also use him at other crucial times. I think the game is shifting that way now.

Hopefully Soriano becomes that versatile "fireman" that can come into the game before the eighth inning (gasp!) to stop an opposing rally. But I'm not holding my breath.