Ranking the blame for the Yankees’ loss

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Here’s a fun fact: the only one of the Yankees’ five highest-paid players to actually have a successful ALDS against the Tigers was A.J. Burnett.

But who is the most to blame for the series loss?  Let’s go in reverse order.

5. Joe Girardi – I don’t think he’s the main culprit here, though he could have employed a quicker hook with a struggling CC Sabathia in Game 3. One can also argue that he should have been more aggressive in using his best relievers — Mariano Rivera and David Robertson combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings in five games — but as well as the other relievers did, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. Pinch-hitting Eric Chavez for Brett Gardner in Game 2 was his one bizarre move, and that one definitely didn’t work.

4. Derek Jeter – The Captain hit .250 with just one extra-base hit and an 8/1 K/BB ratio in the series. In the seventh inning or later, he was 2-for-9 with no RBI and five strikeouts. He also made an error that helped lead to two runs in the 5-3 loss in Game 2.

3. Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod managed just two singles in 18 at-bats in the series, though he did drive in three runs and walk four times. Thursday’s performance was his worst: he fanned in three of his five plate appearances, including in the game-ending at-bat against Jose Valverde.

2. Mark Teixeira – Girardi should have moved A-Rod out of the cleanup spot earlier in the series, but the likely replacement, Teixeira, may not have been any better. Teixeira finished the series 3-for-18. He did double and drive in a run with a bases-loaded walk tonight, but he failed to collect an RBI in the first four games.

1. CC Sabathia – Six runs in 8 2/3 innings for the Yankees’ ace. Things may turned out a whole lot differently if not for the Game 1 suspension (he came back on two days’ rest to start Monday and then two days’ rest in his Game 5 relief appearance), but Sabathia’s struggles are the biggest reason the Yankees didn’t advance. If he could have allowed two or three runs over six innings Monday, the Bombers probably would have won that game (the Tigers prevailed 5-4), and making the first relief appearance of his career, he gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings in the 3-2 loss tonight.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.