Ichiro signing might be more evidence of Yankees front office rift, and lots of notes

ichiro-suzuki

It was a little curious this offseason when after the Yankees refused to offer anybody a multi-year contract and even turned down a reasonable one-year offer from Russell Martin only to see them sign a 39-year-old Ichiro Suzuki to a two-year deal.

Sure, Ichiro finished very strong while he was with the Yankees, but in his final year and a half with the Mariners he looked very much like an old man with rapidly declining baseball skills. With Nick Swisher about to leave town it made a little sense to re-sign Ichiro, but on a one-year deal, there seemed little reason to risk a multi-year deal especially when they weren’t giving anybody multi-year deals.

It turns out that his deal might not have come from Brian Cashman after all and instead came from Randy Levine.

In his column yesterday, Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that there was a split on re-signing Ichiro within the “top of the Yankees hierarchy” as to whether or not they should keep him. It’s hard to know exactly what Sherman meant, but it’s easy to speculate that Cashman, in charge of baseball operations, didn’t want to bring the 39-year-old back while Levine, in charge of off-the-field interests, did.

It’s no coincidence, after all, that Ichiro entered this season 394 hits away from 3,000. And while it’s hard to justify giving a 39-year-old a multi-year deal coming off a year and a half of poor play it’s not hard, from a merchandising standpoint, to see them wanting to keep a future Hall of Famer on the precipice of a big milestone.

If this is true it’s troublesome. They are already having trouble fielding a championship caliber team while they try to cut payroll to $189 million by 2014. When off-the-field issues take precedence over on-the-field ones it makes it even harder to compete.

It’s also troublesome because it could be evidence of a further rift in the Yankees front office. Cashman has been bothered in the past when the Yankees have stepped on his toes. First when they re-signed Alex Rodriguez after he opted-out despite Cashman’s vow that he wouldn’t negotiate with him if he did. Then there was also the time they signed Rafael Soriano against his wishes that made him so upset that he aired out his grievances during the press conference to announce the signing.

There were also rumors this offseason that Cash was frustrated with Hal Steinbrenner’s budget and that Cashman even lacked authority to make offers to free agents during the Winter Meetings.

None of this, if true, can possibly be good for the organization and would explain why their plan to cut payroll seems so schizophrenic. It’s hard to tell right now and we probably won’t know for sure until it comes time for Cashman and the Yankees to negotiate his next deal after the 2014 season.

Or perhaps, if the Yankees are equally as frustrated with Cashman as he probably is of them, then they could fire him when he’s a lame duck GM a year from now. That seems unlikely though. Either way though, trouble could be brewing in the Yankees front office.

• The Yankees and Indians were obviously rained out last night and instead of playing a doubleheader today, they will play a makeup game on May 13.

• The Yankees will skip Ivan Nova‘s turn in the rotation. His spot isn’t in jeopardy after one bad start, yet, but Joe Girardi would rather go with Phil Hughes even though he’s sick. In fact, Girardi seemed to indicate that even if Hughes is too sick to pitch today he might even go with David Phelps before Nova.

• A big step for Michael Pineda yesterday as he threw live batting practice, the first time he’s faced hitters in any capacity since shoulder surgery. With no setbacks, he seems like he’ll be ready in June although the Yankees could option him to the minors to slow down his arbitration clock.

• Clay Rapada, who signed a minor league deal on Tuesday, will be assigned to Triple-A until he is allowed to be called up on May 3.

• Derek Jeter felt well enough after doing light sprints Tuesday that he did more running yesterday and also took grounders and batting practice. He’s expected to take today off though.

• It turns out that Curtis Granderson will not take BP in the pool after doctors shot that idea down.

• The Yankees 2010 first round draft pick, 20-year-old shortstop Cito Culver, not only abandoned his left handed swing, but he’s also made changes to his right handed swing too. In a very small sample size, it has paid off so far.

• Yankee Stadium is the “preferred venue” for the NHL’s Winter Classic in 2014. They’ve wanted to play that game in the Bronx for a while now, but it’s been difficult with the other events held at the stadium during the offseason. It would be exciting if it finally happened.

(Photo by Flickr user Kowarski).

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14 Responses to Ichiro signing might be more evidence of Yankees front office rift, and lots of notes

  1. jay_robertson says:

    So – based upon Girardi's behaviour, would it be safe to say that he'd almost put Joba on the mound to start, instead of handing Nova the ball?

    If that is "still having confidence" in the man, I'd hate to be in Joe's doghouse.

    • Whoa, whoa, whoa. Joba starting is way too much to ask for. lol. But yeah, Girardi says he still has confidence in him after one bad start, but might start Phelps tonight anyway. Something doesn't add up there.

  2. Paul says:

    Adam Warren deserves Nova's spot as soon as Joe has officially given up on him, which should be after his next start. I would hope that Joe would line up Warren to be ready to follow Nova that day if he fails anytime prior to the end of the 6th. It is more likely to happen prior to the end of the 3rd though. Nova seems to have lost the quality that made him special when he won big games.

    • Right now both Phelps and Warren are in the pen. So Phelps would be put in the rotation first. Later on, if there is an injury, who goes into the rotation would probably depend on how they are using each player as a reliever and who is stretched out the most.

  3. Tanned Tom says:

    Somebody should send Randy Levine a goat's head. You'd think after his role in the A-Fraud contract a well run organization would have banned him from overstepping his authority again.

  4. Matt_DC says:

    Don't the Yankees get revenue from Japan for airing games? That would make Ichiro's two year deal make sense, if only from an off the field perspective.

  5. guest says:

    I believe that if Randy Levine is making the decisions on personnel, then the Yankees are in deep do do. I have had my suspicions since not only the Arod deal but more recently the Soriano deal. I believe Randy has Hal's ear.

  6. walter says:

    Soriano deal one of the best Yanks have made– saved last season. Also yields extra draft pick this year. Amazing how people love to hate on Randy even when he makes good moves.

    • Soriano also cost them a draft pick when they signed him. Which could have been Jackie Bradley Jr. The Soriano deal worked out for them in that it helped them when Mariano Rivera went down, but it's not like they won a World Series because of Soriano or couldn't have gotten somebody else to replace Mo last year. I wonder what Cashman could have done with that money instead…

      • jay_robertson says:

        Exactly. Soriano was a 30+ million dollar insurance policy. If Mo hadn't gotten injured, keeping RSo at setup man for his second season, there's a good chance he wouldn't have opted out, we wouldn't have a draft pic, and instead, the Yankees would have an 11 million dollar setup man. On a team that couldn't afford to bring back half a dozen players as it was.

        • No to mention that if Soriano got hurt the team would be in worse shape than it is now. No draft pick, Soriano would still be around, and they would have another $13 million on the DL. The Yankees got lucky and that doesn't make it a great signing.

  7. Mike Sommer says:

    I absolutely DESPISE Randy Levine.

  8. Michael R. says:

    I wish I knew who to like and who to dislike in the front office. It does resemble a cluster, however the Ichiro signing was a good move. He's still a productive player, and will be for next year as well. Let's hope they don't entertain ideas beyond next year though.

  9. Counting the 8 games this year, Ichiro has hit .275/.307/.360 since 2011. That's not good. Let's wait a little longer before we say that he will produce this year and next.