Redskins

Yankees headed into offseason of change

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Yankees headed into offseason of change

NEW YORK (AP) Alex Rodriguez and his potentially bruised ego might be the least of the New York Yankees' problems this offseason.

Ace CC Sabathia is going to have his left elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are aging stars dealing with major injuries. Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Nick Swisher are headed for free agency. The list is a long one for the ballclub that was handed one of its most embarrassing exits from the postseason: a thorough four-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers in the AL championship series.

``Sometimes quiet's a bad thing, right?'' manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. ``There's been other years here that have been extremely - a lot of stuff going on in the offseason. Some injuries and other things we've had to deal with, and we've done just fine.''

While the Yankees will have plenty of decisions to make this offseason, the one that will garner the most headlines and create the biggest stir is what - or what not - to do with A-Rod. He returned from a broken hand in September and struggled down the stretch and right into postseason. The 37-year-old third-baseman's regular-season numbers were the lowest they've been in his career for a full season, finishing with 18 homers and 57 RBIs.

Still, Girardi is planning for A-Rod to be in his lineup next year.

``I expect Alex to be our everyday third baseman. I do,'' Girardi said. ``What does he have to show me? That he's healthy and ready to go.''

Even if the Yankees would like to trade the three-time MVP, it will be extremely difficult: they owe him at least $114 million over the next five seasons.

Taking some time off after the team's early exit, Girardi hasn't spoken to Rodriguez since he benched the fading slugger three times in nine games this postseason and pinch hit for him on three other occasions. But he's prepared to deal with any of the fallout from decisions he insisted were well thought out.

``I'm always worried about whatever move I make, how it affects the club, how it affects a player, anything. I think it's something that, sure, I possibly might have to deal with more than I expected, but I possibly might may not have to deal with it at all,'' Girardi said. ``As we move forward, I'll get a temperature on it, keep track of it and see how it's going.''

Girardi had less to offer on a myriad of possible issues that could affect the team next season.

- He felt confident that Sabathia will be ready for spring training even though the left-hander is going to have his elbow examined by the doctor who is renowned for performing elbow-reconstruction surgery known as Tommy John surgery. Sabathia went on the disabled list this August because of swelling in the elbow - his second trip of the year to the DL after a groin strain.

``He pitched very well down the stretch, which made me feel very good about what's going on,'' Girardi said, ``but at times people have to be evaluated to make sure everything is OK.''

- Girardi also expects Jeter back on opening day. The captain had surgery Saturday after breaking his ankle on Oct. 13 during the ALCS. ``Whenever a guy goes through something there are concerns because sometimes a player could rush it and tweak something else because he's rushing it and he's anxious to get out there ... so I think there's always a concern,'' Giradi said, ``but, I mean, really in our hearts we believe that he's going to be ready for us.''

- Giradi could not give a definitive answer on whether closer Mariano Rivera, out since tearing a ligament in his knee shagging flyballs in early May, will return next season. The closer, who will be 43 on Nov. 29, has been going through a rigorous rehab and has said he wants to return. But Girardi said he's never asked directly if he would come back. ``I don't think you go through a rehab like he went with the intensity if you don't have some inkling that you want to come back,'' Girardi said.

Rivera's status will certainly affect Rafael Soriano. He saved 42 games in place of No. 42 and now has the option to walk away from a $14 million salary for next year, terminate his contract and become a free agent.

- On Andy Pettitte: Girardi is not sure the 40-year-old lefty will be back. Pettitte went 5-4, 2.87 ERA in his return from a one-year retirement, a season interrupted when he broke a bone in his lower leg. ``There's a lot of hunger and fire there,'' he said. ``Every year as you get a year older you have to ask yourself and your family am I ready to give up eight months of my life.''

- Girardi is entering the final year of a three-year contract but doesn't expect to discuss it until after next season. ``I understand how it works here and I'm OK with that,'' Girardi said.

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Need to Know: Looking ahead — The Redskins’ salary cap status

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Need to Know: Looking ahead — The Redskins’ salary cap status

Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, September 26, 12 days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking Points

It’s an early bye week so it’s kind of early to be doing a look at the Redskins’ 2019 salary cap.

But the bye is where it is so let’s take a look at what’s going on in the land of prorated bonuses and dead money for next year. 

All cap info is via Over The Cap

The cap for next year is expected to be around $190 million, an increase of slightly over seven percent. This is consistent with cap growth over the last several years. 

Using that number, the Redskins currently have $25.1 million in salary cap space for next year. That number may decline between now and the end of the year. It counts $10.4 million of rollover from this season. The amount they have to roll over could decline if the Redskins have to dip further into their 2018 cap money to sign more players to replace the ones on injured reserve. That can create a dent in the rollover amount. 

If that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, it isn’t. There are 22 other teams who will have more cap space than Washington. 

If the Redskins decide they need more cap room, there are a few routes they could take. One move that they are unlikely to make is to restructure contracts, pushing some cap money back into 2020 and beyond to create for immediate spending money. The organization has a history of avoiding doing this unless it becomes absolutely necessary. 

The more conventional way of saving cap room is to release high-priced veterans. Before the season started there was a lot of talk about the possibility that Josh Norman could be a cap casualty after this season. The last of the guaranteed money on his contract was paid out this year and the Redskins could save $8.5 million in cap space if they let him go. 

That talk was before the season started and now he is a key player in a defense that is playing well. There is a long way to go but the Redskins may want to hang on to Norman despite his $14.5 million cap number next year. 

There are other veterans who could be released to save anywhere from under one million dollars to around $6 million. There will be plenty of time to talk about those players when the season ends, and we can better estimate the value of their performances was compared to their cap costs. 

One other way they can create more cap space if by extending the contract of Brandon Scherff. He is due $12.5 million on his fifth-year option next year. All of that will hit the 2019 cap. If he and the Redskins agree to an extension that would keep him from becoming a free agent in 2020 they could structure it in such a way that it would create more cap space this year. 

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The Agenda

Today: Bye week

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 12 days; Panthers @ Redskins 18; Cowboys @ Redskins 25

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Max Scherzer reaches 300 season strikeout mark in Nationals win over Marlins

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USA Today

Max Scherzer reaches 300 season strikeout mark in Nationals win over Marlins

With a bottle of bubbly at his feet and a baseball with the inscription "300 Ks" in a case in his locker, Max Scherzer allowed himself a moment to consider what he'd just accomplished.

"It was something I dreamed of, reaching this mark," Scherzer said, "because I know how hard it is to consistently go out there and strike guys out."

Scherzer became the 17th pitcher since 1900 to strike out 300 batters in a season, reaching that milestone by fanning 10 in seven innings Tuesday night during the Washington Nationals' otherwise meaningless 9-4 victory over the Miami Marlins.

"A big number," Nationals catcher Matt Wieters said, "when you're talking about strikeouts."

Scherzer (18-7) lowered his ERA to 2.53 by allowing one run in seven innings as he bids for a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award; he also won the 2013 honor in the AL for Detroit. He threw 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes, gave up five hits and didn't walk a batter.

The righty reached 300 by getting Austin Dean to whiff on an 85-mph slider at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat for the second out of the seventh. Scherzer pumped his fist while much of the announced crowd of 26,483 -- including his wife, Erica May-Scherzer -- joined players in the home dugout and home bullpen by saluting the ace with a standing ovation.

"I definitely wanted to do it here at home," said the 34-year-old Scherzer, who is currently slated to make one more start, in Sunday's season finale at Colorado. "The fans -- unbelievable support."

They would chant, "Let's go, Max!" They would rise and cheer when he had two strikes on a hitter. They would emit a collective "Awwwwwww" when a pitch near the plate was ruled a ball -- or even when a pitch resulted in any sort of out that wouldn't add to his strikeout total.

Sweating profusely on a muggy, 78-degree evening, Scherzer had all of his repertoire working, from the 97-mph fastballs he threw past Lewis Brinson for strikeouts in the fourth and seventh innings, to the 84-mph changeup that JT Riddle missed for a K leading off the game.

As is Scherzer's wont, he stalked around the grass after strikeouts.

Asked whether he considered pulling his famously intense pitcher before No. 300, Nationals manager Dave Martinez laughed.

"I value my life," Martinez joked. "He was going to get 10 today, somehow."

Scherzer now has 10 strikeouts or more in a majors-high 18 of his 33 starts in 2018, and 82 such games for his career.

He got Dean by throwing fastball after fastball with a full count, then getting him to chase a slider.

"That's probably where you can see Max has become a more complete pitcher than he was earlier in his career," Wieters said, "where he was able to go with the slider and execute it and realize that with where that fastball was starting, (Dean is) going to be way out in front of it."

Dean's take?

"He's the best pitcher in baseball," the Marlins rookie said.

The case certainly can be made. This is, after all, a guy with two no-hitters and a 20-strikeout game on his resume, along with the Cy Youngs.

Scherzer entered Tuesday ranked No. 1 in the NL in eight significant statistical categories, including strikeouts, strikeouts-to-walks ratio (5.69), opponents' batting average (.188) and innings pitched (213 2/3). He was also tied for No. 1 in two others: wins and quality starts (27).

The expectation is that Scherzer and New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom are the main Cy Young contenders in the NL. DeGrom is 9-9 with a 1.77 ERA and single-season records of 23 consecutive quality starts and 28 starts in a row allowing three or fewer earned runs.

"There's more to pitching than just striking guys out," Scherzer said, "but also, it is a big reason why you can have success."

RENDON AND HARPER

Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon hit a three-run shot in the first inning off Jeff Brigham (0-4), increasing his season totals to 24 homers and 90 RBIs and extending his streak of reaching base to 33 straight games. Rendon added an RBI double in the seventh, when Washington batted around and tacked on six runs. ... Bryce Harper scored twice to surpass 100 runs for the season; he already had a career-best 100 RBIs and more than 100 walks. Harper can become a free agent in the offseason, so Wednesday's series finale could be the 2015 NL MVP's last home game at Nationals Park.

UP NEXT

The Nationals will give 26-year-old RHP Kyle McGowin his first start in the majors Wednesday. Miami will start LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-11, 4.66 ERA).

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