Monday, February 28, 2011

Four Yankees in BP's Top-101

The complete list can be found here. The Yankees that made the cut are:

03. Jesus Montero
27. Manny Banuelos
29. Gary Sanchez
32. Dellin Betances

BP didn't reinvent the wheel here, but it's nice to see another strong showing from the non-Montero players. Irrational expectations rising...

Banuelos Impressive in Spring Training Debut

I'm not sure that Banuelos could have performed much better in his one-inning debut. It took Banuelos all of seven pitches, all strikes, to retire the side in the fourth inning. He struck out two (both looking) and retired the other on a weak grounder. While these games don't count for much of anything (beyond rhetoric), I cannot imagine that anyone expected Banuelos to perform so masterfully against Major League hitters - particularly on the heels of Betances' fine outing. Here are a couple of snippets from Buster Olney on Banuelos' performance:

As much as I anticipated the arrivals of Chamberlain, Kennedy, and Hughes a few years back, I have never been quite this excited for a crop of Yankees prospects - and it's not terribly close.

Nice Job, AJ

In case you missed it, AJ Burnett did this yesterday:
Fright invaded Yankees camp yesterday when A.J. Burnett hit Greg Golson in the head during a morning batting-practice session on a back field at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

Golson went down and stayed on the ground. Eventually he was taken off the field on a cart. The outfielder was taken for tests, which were negative.

Because Burnett led the majors with 19 hit-by-pitches last year, it was easy to blame the beaning on erratic control. However, the angle of the intense morning sun in a cloudless sky made picking up the ball difficult for the batter.

Montero and Betances Talk About Yesterday's Debuts

Montero went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Betances struck out the side and walked one in his inning of work. He also hit 97MPH on the gun.

Here is a (low quality) recording of Betances' outing:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (2/27-3/5)

This Week in Yankees History 

February 27th - March 5th

February 27th

1896 - Former Yankees reserve catcher (1931) and MLB Coach (1932) Cy Perkins was born. Cy Perkins was a veteran catcher picked up by the New York Yankees from the Philadelphia A’s. He batted .255 for the 1931 Yankees. He would become a Yankees MLB Coach on the 1932 World Championship team.

1907 - The New York Yankees acquired C Branch Rickey from the St. Louis Browns in exchange for INF Joe Yeager. As noted by baseball writer Lyle Spatz, Branch Rickey will not play on Sundays, while new C Fritz Buelow will. Rickey will go on to have a more successful MLB career as a baseball executive than as a MLB player. He was the man responsible for creating MLB farm system concept with the St. Louis Cardinals and breaking the MLB player color barrier with Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He will be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame as a baseball executive in 1967.

1912 - The New York Yankees announced that, they would begin to wear pinstriped uniforms for the 1912 American League season.

1935 - Former New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth signs a $20,000 MLB player contract with the Boston Braves. Ruth's new contract with the Braves also gives him a share of the team's profits. Released by the New York Yankees only one day earlier, Babe Ruth will serve the Braves as a player, coach, and team vice-president. In 1935, he will play just only 28 games for the Braves, before announcing his retirement on June 2nd at the age of 40. Ruth will hit the final 3 HRs of his MLB career on May 25,1935 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field, giving him a final MLB HR career total of 714. His last homerun will clear the right field grandstand at Forbes Field and will travel an estimated 600 feet.

Yanks ST Game 2 Lineup

Brett ardner LF
Nick Swisher RF
Curtis Granderson CF
Jorge Posada DH
Eric Chavez 1B
Jesus Montero C
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Brandon Laird 3B
Ramiro Pena SS

SP Ivan Nova... Dellin Betances and Adam Warren will also pitch today.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yanks Keepng a Close Eye on Liriano!/BNightengale/status/41593539200692224

Yanks ST Game 1 Lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF

Second Unit:
Austin Romine C
Jorge Vazquez 1B
Kevin Russo 2B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Brandon Laird 3B
Colin Curtis LF
Greg Golson CF
Justin Maxwell RF
Andruw Jones DH

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nunez & Phelps Named Yankees Minor League Player & Pitcher of the Year

Here's the press release from the Yanks:
The New York Yankees today announced that infielder Eduardo Nunez and right-handed pitcher David Phelps were named winners of the Yankees' 2010 Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees' minor league "Player of the Year" and "Pitcher of the Year," respectively. The two players will receive their awards prior to the Yankees-Blue Jays game on March 19 at George M. Steinbrenner Field, scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.

The annual awards are dedicated to Kevin O'Brien Lawn – the son of longtime Yankees Vice President and Chief of Operations Jack Lawn – who passed away in 1999.

Nunez, 23, batted .289 (134-for-464) with 55 runs, 25 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010, earning a spot on the midseason and postseason International League All-Star rosters. He led all Scranton/WB batters in hits and stolen bases, ranked second in doubles and recorded the third-highest average among all Yankees farmhands. Nunez was promoted to the Major League level on August 19, where he hit .280 (14-for-50) with 12 runs, one home run and seven RBI in 30 games. Following the season, he was named by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect, the "Best Defensive Infielder" and possessing the "Best Infield Arm" in the Yankees organization.

Phelps, 24, combined to go 10-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 26 games (25 starts) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010. He began the season with Trenton and went 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 14 starts before being promoted to Scranton/WB on July 2. At the time of his promotion, he led the Eastern League in strikeouts and ranked second in ERA, earning EL midseason All-Star honors. With Scranton/WB, Phelps went 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). Following the season, the Missouri native was tabbed by Baseball America as having the "Best Slider" in the Yankees organization.
Here are the last five winners of each award:

YearPlayer of the YearPitcher of the Year
2010SS Eduardo Nunez RHP David Phelps
2009C Austin Romine RHP Zach McAllister
2008OF Brett Gardner LHP Phil Coke
2007OF Austin Jackson RHP Ian Kennedy
20061B Cody Ehlers RHP Phil Hughes

Brackman Sidelined with Groin Injury

As per Marc Carig:
Andrew Brackman, the Yankees pitching prospect whose improvement has created a buzz at camp, has been shut down until early next week with tightness and discomfort in his groin.

As a result, Brackman will not pitch in any of the team's first few Grapefruit League games, even though he has worked his way into the mix for one of two open spots in the Yankees rotation.

The 6-foot-10 righty won't throw again until Tuesday in a side bullpen session.

"It's not going to hurt me," said Brackman, who said the Yankees are simply taking the proper precautions. "But it couldn't be a worse time."

Brackman, who bounced back last season after a pro career marred by injuries, has been throwing since arriving for early workouts at the team's minor league complex before spring training.

He began feeling discomfort in his groin during those workouts but kept it to himself until yesterday. Still, the groin stiffness didn't stop Brackman, 25, from impressing coaches and executives with his improved command and smoother delivery.
This appears to be nothing more than a bump in the road, but it's newsworthy nonetheless. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Banuelos Making Grown Men Swoon in Spring Training

As per John Harper of the Daily News:
A year ago Manny Banuelos barely registered on the Yankees' radar, but now, not even 20 yet, he has this camp buzzing like spring training of 2007 when veterans were wowed enough by a young Phil Hughes to promptly label him the next Roger Clemens.

Hughes hasn't quite lived up to that hype, although he is surely beginning to deliver on his promise, which is more than you can say for a lot of spring training phenoms.

Who knows how it will go for Banuelos, but to see him up close Wednesday, you had to be impressed. The lefthander is only 5-foot-10, yet the ball explodes out of his hand, the mid-90s velocity further enhanced by a smooth, polished delivery that looks effortless.

Beyond that, GM Brian Cashman noted a poise that he likened to that of Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez.

"Banuelos has a presence, a confidence on the mound that's a lot like when El Duque showed up," Cashman said Wednesday. "Guys hadn't even seen El Duque throw yet, and I remember (Joe) Torre and (Mel) Stottlemyre seeing him and saying, 'There's something about this guy.'"

That's high praise, obviously, considering how important El Duque became to the Yankees' championship run in the '90s.

Or perhaps all you really need to know is that Yankee scouting and development people have fallen harder for the teenage lefty than they did for Hughes at a similar stage - when he was ranked as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.

"You can't believe how excited our minor-league people are about Banuelos," one Yankee person said Wednesday. "I never even heard them talk about Hughes the way they talk about this kid."

That's all the more remarkable considering that, while Hughes was a first-round draft choice, Banuelos was part of a group signing out of the Mexican League in 2008, when the Yankees picked up four players, including former Bomber reliever Alfredo Aceves, for a total of $450,000.

At the time Banuelos was 17, weighed maybe 150 pounds, and topped out at 90-91 mph.

"When we signed him we thought he could be an interesting lefty out of the bullpen," Cashman said Wednesday. "But last year his velocity jumped from the low 90s to 95-96, and it's clear now he has a chance to be a starter toward the front end of our rotation."

Banuelos missed the first two months of last season due to an appendectomy, so his blossoming caught everyone by surprise. Besides the jump in velocity, scouts say his changeup has developed into a major league-ready weapon as well.

After dominating in Class A Tampa, Banuelos made only three late-season starts in Double-A, so Cashman has made it clear that the lefty has no chance of beginning the season with the Yankees, despite their need for starters.

After Banuelos threw Wednesday, however, Cashman jokingly said he might have to send him down to minor-league camp earlier than planned just because the kid has the major-league staff salivating.

"My minor league guys are saying, 'You better get him out of here right now or you'll never be able to,'" Cashman said with a laugh. "But no, there's no way he can start the season. He's only 19. We've got to keep the diapers on for a while."

Cashman didn't rule out seeing Banuelos in pinstripes by the second half of the season, however. The lefty turns 20 next month and is one of a handful of young Yankee pitchers who are being touted as legitimate prospects.

When asked about Banuelos Wednesday, in fact, superscout Gene Michael laughed and said, "He's a keeper, but there's a whole group of 'em here who are really good."
The wealth of pitching and catching in the Yankees system right now is enviable, and I feel that Banuelos may have the most value of any prospect in the organization - including Jesus Montero. That is not a knock on Montero ... rather, it is a testament to the diminutive lefty, as well as the Yankees tremendous work in the international scouting arena. Banuelos' ceiling is that of an ace, and he combines that with a fairly high floor, as well. Lefthanded pitchers with Banuelos' stuff, poise, mechanics, and command are very rare, and his progress is simply astonishing.

While this report may be a bit of fluff, it is nothing but good news - especially when taken in conjunction with the praise Banuelos received following his stint in the Arizona Fall League. I'm excited to see how he performs with Trenton, and I expect to see him in Scranton by the summer ... and I wouldn't be shocked to see him toeing the rubber in Yankee Stadium in 2011, either.

Heyman: Garcia in Lead to be Yanks No. 4 Starter!/SI_JonHeyman/status/40817056270135296
Things can obviously change a lot between now and the start of the regular season, but, regardless of what Heyman says, I have to believe that Nova is the current leader for the 5th spot.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Search for Pitching Continues - Hudson and Kuroda Edition

As per Frank Russo of Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest:
In speaking to my Tampa sources, Brian Cashman continues to “burn up the phone lines” looking for pitching help. Yes, he did offer Kevin Millwood a minor league deal, but he was thinking bigger as he reached out to Atlanta and inquired about Tim Hudson.

The Braves don’t have interest in dealing Hudson who went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA last season. As I mentioned before, they are willing to deal Derek Lowe, who is owed $30 million over the next two seasons. He will cost the Yankees a prospect haul that appears to be too expensive at this time.

The Yankees also discussed Hiroki Kuroda with the Dodgers, but nothing came out of those talks as well.

I have continued to be told that if the Yankees don’t acquire a starting pitcher this spring it won’t be because of a lack of effort. Brian Cashman is focused on getting something done. It appears that task won’t be easy.
While I am not quite surprised that Cashman remains determined to improve the Yankees rotation prior to Opening Day, I am very happy to see that he hasn't focused solely on scraping the bottom of the barrel. A pitcher of Hudson or Kuroda's caliber would improve the rotation by leaps and bounds, yet neither strikes me as the sort of trade piece that would require the Yankees to part with Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, or Dellin Betances - a deal of this ilk would be ideal. Here's hoping that such a perfect storm of benefits comes to fruition.

The rotation remains a weakness, however, regardless of Cashman's persistence.

Jeter: Hank's the boss, he can say what he wants

From Mark Feinsand:
Steinbrenner questioned his team's hunger last season during a chat with reporters on Monday afternoon, indirectly pointing at Jeter with his comment about players being "too busy building mansions and doing other things, not concentrating on winning."

Jeter addressed the issue at his locker Tuesday morning, doing so with a grin on his face for the entire 11-minute interview.

"My name wasn't brought up," Jeter said. "He didn't say my name. I know there's an assumption, but I look at the positive side of it. My name didn't come out of his mouth."


"I really don't know what there is to be fixed," Jeter said. "I'm not upset. It doesn't bother me.

"Owners can say whatever they want to say. They're owners; they're entitled to their opinion. You don't always have to necessarily agree with their opinions, but they can say what they want to say. I have no problem with it."


"When you don't win, people always say that the team wasn't hungry," Jeter said. "We got beat by a team that was better than us in that series. That's the bottom line. I wouldn't say there was a lack of hunger; I just think we just didn't play as well. That's why we lost."

Hank also had this to say about his comments:
"It was a bad choice of euphemism, but a euphemism," Steinbrenner said. "Derek has five rings. You don't get five rings by being complacent."


"He knows I wasn't talking about him," Steinbrenner said.
I'm glad this isn't an issue for Jeter and that this story can be pushed aside. But the fact that Hank seems set on convincing everyone he wasn't talking about Jeter is a joke. Everyone knows he was talking about Jeter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Colon To Start Spring Opener

Bryan Hoch is reporting that Bartolo Colon will get the start when the Yankees open up Grapefruit League play on 2/26 vs. the Phillies. He also posted the following five games which looks like this:

Feb. 27 @ Phillies - Ivan Nova
Feb. 28 @ Tigers - CC Sabathia
Mar. 1 @ Pirates - A.J. Burnett
Mar. 2 vs. Astros - Phil Hughes
Mar. 3 @ Rays - Freddy Garcia

Jeter & CC Like the Melo Deal

I know this isn't really Yankees news, but right now there is no bigger story than Melo-to the-Knicks.

Via ESPN New York:
"The Knicks made a good trade," said Jeter. "Carmelo is going to help them out. Everyone in New York is excited about it."

Jeter did it to try and break the ice. He then essentially laughed off Hank's comments.

Meanwhile, CC Sabathia, said he likes the trade, too. CC, who sits courtside often at Knicks' games, said he didn't want to give up Landry Fields. He was fine trading the rest of the crew.
I'm a Knicks fan, so I'm happy about the deal. They gave up too much and it's Dolan's fault, but they got their second star.

Any Knicks and/or NBA fans out there? Let me know how you feel about the trade.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hank Takes Shots at Revenue Sharing System & Jeter

From Nick Cafardo:
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner shares Red Sox owner John Henry's view that something needs to be done about revenue sharing in baseball.


"We've got to do a little something about that and I know Bud (Selig) wants to," Steinbrenner said. "There's a way. Obviously we're very much allied with the Red Sox, and Mets and Dodgers and Cubs, in that area. At some point if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets or don't leave teams in minor markets. Socialism, communism is never the answer."

When asked about Boston's spiraling payroll and spending spree this offseason, Steinbrenner said., Steinbrenner said, "John (Henry) is committed to winning as we are. He'll do what he has to do."

He added, "The Red Sox are always gonna be there with the Yankees along with five or six other teams who can win the World Series. This year it's the Phillies. The AL East is an SOB."
OK, nothing wrong with anything here, but then there was this quote that's sure to offend a certain Yankees shortstop:
Concerning his own team, Steinbrenner said that he sees a hunger returning to the team, the same hunger he saw in 2009.

"In 09 I saw it," he said. "... Sometimes they celebrated a little too much last year. Some of the players too busy building mansions and concentrating on other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problems saying that. They've come into this spring with a new hunger and that's what it takes to win."

The one player who built a "mansion" was Derek Jeter.

"I'm not singling anybody out," Steinbrenner said. "This year, from what I've seen by our coaches they've come in with a real new drive and determination, the kind they had in '09. I think they felt embarrassed last year. It bothers them."
Hank can say he's not singling anyone out all he wants, but it's clear he's talking about Jeter. And I honestly can't find any reason why Hank would think it was a good idea to let the words escape from his head.

Seriously, Hank, it's time to stop talking in public.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (2/20-2/26)

This Week in Yankees History 

February 20th - February 26th

February 20th

1887 - Former Yankees P Carroll “Boardwalk” Brown (1914-1915) was born. After being acquired from the Philadelphia A’s, Boardwalk Brown went 3-6 for the Yankees before being released by the team.

1888 - Former Yankees INF Edward “Stubby” Magner (1911) was born. Stubby Magner would appear in only 13 games with the 1911 Yankees, hitting just .212.

1896 - Former Yankees reserve C Muddy Ruel (1917-1920) was born. Muddy Ruel was obtained from the St. Louis Browns in 1917. Muddy appeared in 170 games for the Yankees while hitting .251. On December 15,1920, he was traded by the New York Yankees along with Del Pratt, Hank Thormahlen and Sammy Vick to the Boston Red Sox for Harry Harper, Waite Hoyt, Mike McNally and Wally Schang. After his playing days, he was general manager of the Detroit Tigers, then assistant to the commissioner of baseball, and later manager of the 1947 St. Louis Browns. A scholar with a legal degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Ruel was legal counsel for Commissioner Chandler in 1946. He was admitted to argue cases in front of the Supreme Court.

1913 - Former Yankees OF/1B and MLB Coach Tommy “Old Reliable” Henrich (1937-1942, 1946-1950) was born (1913-2009). On April 19, 1937, Tommy Henrich was signed as a MLB amateur free agent with the New York Yankees. He played 11 seasons with Yankees finishing with a lifetime BA of .282. He appeared in four World Series, hitting .262 for the Yankees. He was named to the American League All Star teams in 1942, 1947-1950. After retiring as an active player, he became a Yankees MLB Coach. In 2009, Tommy Henrich passed away.

1947 - Former Yankees P Tom Buskey (1973-1974) was born (1947-1998). In 1969, the New York Yankees signed Tom Buskey as an MLB amateur free agent. Tom went 0-2 in 12 games for the Yankees before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in the Chris Chambliss trade in April of 1974. Tom died in auto accident in 1998.

1959 - Former Yankees P Bill Gullickson (1987) was born. On August 26, 1987, Bill Gullickson was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Yankees for P Dennis Rasmussen. He went 4-2 in 8 games for the Yankees before leaving for MLB free agency and signing to pitch in Japan.

1963 - Former Yankees reserve C Phil Lombardi (1986-1987) was born. The New York Yankees in the 3rd round of the 1981 MLB amateur player draft drafted Phil Lombardi. Phil hit .201 in 25 games for the Yankees. On December 11, 1987, he was traded by the New York Yankees along with P Steve Frey and OF Darren Reed to the New York Mets for Shortstop Rafael Santana and minor league player Victor Garcia.

1972 - Former Yankees OF/DH Shane Spencer (1998-2002) was born. OF Shane Spencer was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 28th round of the 1990 MLB amateur player draft. Spencer had a call-up in September of 1998 to remember, when he hit .373 with 10 HRs with 27 RBIs. In 2000, Shane was hitting .282 as the Yankees regular LF, when he injured his leg at Shea Stadium. He never regained his playing form after that season ending injury. He left the Yankees for MLB free agency. He had played professional baseball in Japan for several years after leaving the MLB in 2004. He is now a minor league coach.

Gary Sanchez Doing Well After Heart Surgery

Heart surgery?!

As per George King:
After undergoing heart surgery this week at a New York hospital, Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez has been cleared to resume workouts Monday.

During a recent EKG, the 18-year-old catcher was found to have an extra nerve in his heart from birth. Surgery was performed to cauterize the nerve.

General manager Brian Cashman said Thursday that Sanchez was OK.

"Trust me, there are no worries now about Gary Sanchez," Cashman said.
This seems to be something of a ho-hum treatment of a fairly serious procedure, as there are always quite a few risks with heart surgery - but if Sanchez has been cleared to play, I suppose there's nothing to worry about. Here's hoping this is the last time that Sanchez and his family have to worry about any heart issues.

Cano Says He Won't Ask Yanks For An Extension

From Marc Carig:
Cano, who enters the season as arguably the best second baseman in baseball, said he will not ask the Yankees for a contract extension before his current deal expires.

"I would never do that," Cano said.

Over the winter, Cano switched agents and hired Scott Boras. But he is under club control through the 2013 season. The Yankees owe Cano $10 million this season and have club options for 2012 ($14 million) and 2013 ($15 million), with a $2 million buyout on each.
He says that now, which is exactly what you want him to say, but be wary of Boras, you know he's going to try to change his mind.

Good News, Guys. Millwood Rejects Yanks Minor-League Offer

From Joel Sherman:
Kevin Millwood recently rejected the Yankees' offer of a minor-league contract that was structured similarly to the one the team gave Freddy Garcia, The Post has learned.

The sides continue to talk, but Yankees officials are adamant they will not give Millwood a major-league deal to compete for a back-of-the-rotation job. Instead, the Yankees want Millwood to have to earn his way onto the major-league roster -- and to guaranteed money -- as they have asked of Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Those two, like Millwood, are thirty-somethings who have had nice major-league careers, but are far from their primes in ability.

Garcia's deal would give him $1.5 million in base salary with a chance to make $3.6 million more in performance bonuses. Garcia was 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA with the White Sox last year. Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA for the Orioles.

Millwood, 36, also reportedly was drawing interest from at least the Indians.
We have enough aging veteran pitchers that are way past their prime. Enjoy Cleveland.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Teixeira: "I'm not going anywhere"

From Andrew Marchand:
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira says he will not waive his full no-trade clause under any circumstances, trying to put to rest any further speculation that he could be dealt for the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols.

"I'm not going anywhere," Teixeira said as Yankees position players reported on Saturday. "I got that no-trade for a reason. I'm going to be buried in these pinstripes. You know what, I would be disappointed if the fans of New York weren't looking to make our team better, but they've just got to know I'm not leaving.", citing a baseball official, reported earlier this week the Yankees would not explore a trade for Pujols.
I always thought any Pujols to the Yanks talk was pointless, this just verifies that.

Tex also had this to say about the upcoming season:
"We're the underdogs this year," Teixeira said. "I love it. No one is picking us right now. Everyone in here should be looking forward to winning a championship. When you put on the pinstripes that is exactly what your goal should be every year. I think everyone understands that just because the public may not be picking us it doesn't mean we don't believe it in here."


"We didn't win last year," Teixeira said. "We played terrible in the playoffs. We didn't win the division. Our goal is to win the division and we have to re-prove ourselves this year, which is going to be fun for all of us.

"No one is going to feel sorry for us. No one is going to say, 'Poor Yankees. They didn't get this guy. They didn't get that guy. They didn't win a World Series. They always have a bull's-eye on their back.' We should. We should expect to win every single year ... We are the gold standard in baseball and we have to live up to that."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kevin Goldstein's Top Yankees Prospects List

Here is the info via Baseball Prospectus. First his top 11 and the system in 20 words or less:
System In 20 Words Or Less: With a quartet of five-star prospects and a wealth of pitching overall, no system in baseball took a bigger step forward last year.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Jesus Montero, C
2. Manny Banuelos, LHP
3. Gary Sanchez, C
4. Dellin Betances, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
5. Eduardo Nunez, SS
6. Austin Romine, C
7. Andrew Brackman, RHP
8. Ivan Nova, RHP
9. Hector Noesi, RHP
10. Brett Marshall, RHP
11. Adam Warren, RHP
And nine more:
12. Graham Stoneburner, RHP: His plus sinker/slider combination has impressed to far, but he'll need a third pitch to remain a starter.
13. Brandon Laird, 3B/OF: A good offensive prospect, but his free-swinging ways caught up to him at Triple-A, and most of the value revolves around the bat.
14. Slade Heathcott, OF: He showed plenty of tools in his pro debut, but power has yet to show up in games, and scouts are worried about his swing.
15. Cito Culver, SS: A surprise first-round pick, speed and arm strength are his best tools, but will he hit?
16. David Phelps, RHP: Armed with average stuff and plus command and control, he could get a big-league look if the back end of the rotation falters.
17. Melky Mesa, OF: An impressive outfielder with plus power and speed, but his pure hit tool gives scouts pause.
18. D.J. Mitchell, RHP: This ground-ball machine is small but athletic; ultimately, he probably fits better in the bullpen.
19. Colin Curtis, OF: He will never be an everyday outfielder, but could be a good fourth right now.
20. Angelo Gumbs, SS: An impressive quick-twitch athlete with plenty of upside, but you'll find carpaccio that is less raw.
 Great stuff from Goldstein, and just more verification of how much the Yankees have improved their system. For a detailed breakdown on the top 11, click here (membership required).

Yankees Unlikely to Bring Back Christian Garcia

As per Chad Jennings:
Once a highly touted pitching prospect in the Yankees system, right-hander Christian Garcia was released last season after a series of injuries derailed his promising career. The Yankees are aware that Garcia, 25, has been working out and plans to throw for scouts, but I was told today that the Yankees have no plans of bringing Garcia back to the organization.
The story of Christian Garcia serves as a cautionary tale for all pitching prospects. Garcia profiled as a potential number two starter, with a plus curveball, an above average fastball, and an average change-up, and good command with all three pitches. He performed well at every level, in between injuries and rehab, and it always seemed like he would turn the corner when healthy. Sadly, it appears that Garcia's health is more of an 'if' then a 'when,' on the heels of two Tommy John surgeries and two additional arthroscopic procedures in a four-year period.

I would like to see Garcia receive another shot, if only as organizational filler - I'm a sucker for high-end prospects ... even post-hype prospects. Regardless, it seems likely that this is a sad end to an intriguing story - albeit far from unexpected.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gary Sheffield Officially Retires, Talks Cooperstown

As per George A. King III:
A phone call from Gary Sheffield to the Players Association yesterday officially ushered him into retirement.

Now, the argument whether the feared slugger deserves to be a Hall of Famer can begin.

Sheffield, whose last season was 2009 with the Mets, will be on the ballot following the 2014 season.

As usual, Sheffield has a strong opinion on him entering Cooperstown.

"I am sure it will be mentioned and debated but from my standpoint I know who is in the Hall of Fame," Sheffield told The Post. "A lot of them don't belong in the Hall of Fame. If someone wants to debate me, check the stats."

Sheffield completed a 22-year career with a .292 average, 509 homers (24th all-time) and 1,676 RBIs (25th all-time).

Of the 25 men with 500 or more homers, 15 are in the Hall of Fame, four are active, four not yet eligible (including Sheffield) and two are on the ballot but haven't been elected.

Based on the way being linked to steroid use has hurt Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro with voters recently, Sheffield's inclusion in the Mitchell Report will come into play.

"The thing about the Mitchell Report is that I cringe about it because the guy who wrote the report didn't talk to me," Sheffield said. "If he talked to me I would respect that no matter what. But I cringe on that because he didn't."

Sheffield, whose company Sheffield Management, has entered player representation, took the advice of his family and waited a full year before officially retiring.

"I wanted to retire after I played for the Mets," Sheffield said of the 2009 season. "My family said wait one year, that there was no need to rush it. I gave it a year and now it's time to say goodbye."

Sheffield played for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers and Mets.
While Sheffield is far removed from the pinstripes, I couldn't help but be intrigued for two reason - I had forgotten how well he played with the Yankees, and I believe that he has an incredibly compelling case for the Hall of Fame.

In his two full seasons with the Yankees, Sheffield batted .290/.386/.523 with a 139 wRC+, averaging 28 2B, 35 HR, and 122 RBI. He also performed well in the postseason, hitting .290/.380/.435 in 16 games. His tenure with the Yankees tends to be looked upon negatively, though, and I believe that stems from his injury-riddled final season - and, perhaps, the fact that the Yankees signed him over Vladimir Guerrero. Even so, his final line with the team was .291/.383/.515 with a well-above average 135 wRC+ and 76 HR in slightly more than two full seasons.

As for the Hall of Fame, Sheffield's argument has two fair caveats - he's been linked to PEDs with some fairly compelling evidence, and he's been widely criticized for a poor clubhouse demeanor. Looking strictly at the numbers, he does look like a fine candidate for Cooperstown. His 162-game average over the course of twenty-five hundred plus games is .292/.393/.514 with 103 runs, 29 2B, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 16 SB, and a 141 wRC+. He ranks 24th all-time in home runs, 19th in walks, 25th in RBI, and 37th in runs score. Sheffield also placed in the top-ten in offensive WAR seven times, and ranks 29th all-time - given the inaccuracies of defensive metrics, I feel that that is more meaningful than his actual WAR (though he still ranks 89th all-time, which is quite good).

In short, it would be difficult to argue against Sheffield's on-the-field resume - but the exigent nature of PEDs may be enough to bar him from a strong showing on the ballot. What do you think about Sheffield's case for Cooperstown?

Two of the Killer B's to Start Season in Trenton

From Mark Feinsand:
The Yankees are looking all over camp for arms to fill the final two spots in the rotation, but two of those arms are already out of the mix.

Brian Cashman told me today that neither Dellin Betances nor Manny Banuelos have a shot to make the Yankees’ rotation, as both are ticketed for Double-A Trenton when the season opens.

"Betances and Banuelos aren't earning spots in the rotation out of spring training," Cashman said. "They’re going to get their first taste of big-league camp, then they’re going to get slotted into Trenton. They have no chance to make this team."


"The other guys are all competing for anything," Cashman said. "They’re more advanced, they have more experience and they’re in a better position. Betances and Banuelos may help us down the line, but they’re not coming to camp here to help us now or solve any problems. They’re not advanced enough to be in a position to do that."
While some fans may be upset at the fact that these guys don't even have a chance to make the team, this is the smart move by the Yanks.

Despite their need of a starter (or two) they shouldn't rush these guys along. Let these guys develop properly and hope some of the garbage signed over the offseason can fill the void. If the Yankees are still searching for a starter in June or July and someone in the minors is having a monster year, then we can restart this discussion.

One Cut, One Signed

The Yankees made a couple minor moves yesterday. They cut left-hander reliever Neal Cotts, who, according to Marc Carig, "wasn't over his injury issues" after having Tommy John surgery last year.

The Yankees also signed right-hander reliever Fernando Hernandez to a minor-league deal. The 26-year-old went 5-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 45 games (4 starts) for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate (Sacramento) last season. In 77 IP he allowed 41 ER on 82 hits, walked 26 and struck out 65.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cashman on Joba: He's Heavier

From the AP:
The New York Yankees reliever reported for spring training visibly larger than last year. Cashman wouldn't give a direct answer when asked whether Chamberlain is in shape.

"He's heavier, I'll leave it at that," the general manager said Wednesday. "He works hard. He's a good kid. He's heavy."


Cashman declined to say whether Chamberlain arrived at camp above the team-suggested weight.

"What I'm concerned about is his performance," Girardi said. "Obviously, you want guys to be in the best shape they can be, but we'll make those calls as we move along. The bottom line is, he is going to be judged on how he pitches. Some guys can carry more weight and be successful."


"I thought he had a better year than his numbers indicated," Cashman said. "I know he's throwing good bullpens. I think we'll have a tremendous bullpen. He's one of the reasons for it."
Here's some visual evidence via Michael G. Baron:

And some more:


He claims it's just muscle from a jacked-up workout routine and that he feels great, but to me it just looks like he's fat.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

O'Connor: You Can Bank on CC Opting Out

From Ian O'Connor:

Sabathia is more likely to throw a pitch right-handed this year than he is to let his opt-out clause expire like a carton of milk.
Assuming he keeps up his New York Yankees average of 20 victories a pop, Sabathia either will vacate his $161 million deal and become a free agent, or will use his clause like a hammer to, you know, hammer out a contract extension that will take him through the construction of the next new ballpark in the Bronx.


Why? Sabathia is a businessman, that's why. Just like the rest of us, he tries to get the best employment deal he possibly can get for himself and his family, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Asked in Tampa, Fla., whether he would become a free agent at season's end, Sabathia told reporters, "I have no idea. It is still in my contract. Anything is possible."

Anything is possible? Last year, Sabathia did not include an opt-out within the realm of possibility.
I have to agree with O'Connor. When there's an opt-out clause, and the player is still performing at the top of his game, he and his agent will always go for more money while they can. It's just the nature of the beast.

But in the end this won't lead to CC wearing any other uniform in the future. The Yankees will hand over whatever they have to to make sure that doesn't happen, and with the pitching staff full of question marks they'd be fools to let the big fella walk away.

Burnett Talks About Putting Last Year's Struggles Behind Him

From Anthony McCarron:
"I look back on it and I'm not saying A.J. Burnett is the reason we didn't win the World Series, nothing like that," Burnett said Monday. "But without being cocky and arrogant, I think if I would have pitched up to my par it would've been a lot smoother going into the postseason and we'd have had a lot better chance. I really felt, damn, they really could've used A.J. For the first time in my career, I really realized how much I meant to the team."
(Please stop referring to yourself in the third person, it makes you sound cocky and arrogant.)
"I think in '09, people saw me. But last year, it wasn't me they saw. Just be yourself. I'm the one out there doing it. I've done it before. Pay a little more attention and focus a little more and realize you mean a lot to this team. You're not just a big contract, good stuff guy. You're a part of this."
While some have theorized that Burnett's crash was caused in part by the 25-day absence of ex-pitching coach Dave Eiland, who was away from the team for personal reasons around that time, Burnett doesn't buy it.

"I know a lot of things were made of when Dave left and I crapped the bed," Burnett said. "I had a pretty good '08 without Dave. It ain't nobody's fault but A.J.'s. Dave being there or not, that's irrelevant, I think. No knock on Dave - he was great with me, we worked well together - but him going away wasn't the reason."

Burnett said he "let a lot of things escalate" and listened and tried to implement the multiple suggestions he was getting when he was struggling. "After a while, you have to do it yourself," Burnett said. "You can't listen to a million people and then try to change things. I've been pitching for 10 years and I have three bad starts and then try to change everything.

"But then again, you've got people around you who know the game so well - Tony (Pena), Skip (Joe Girardi), (Mike) Harkey, Dave, they're all helping me and you want the input. By the end of the day you're like, 'Dang, that's a lot. Is it really that complicated?' It can be."
He also spoke about some of the work he's done with Larry Rothschild. Apparently, he's given Burnett a few techniques to help the right-hander keep his lift leg settled, which, according to Burnett, is when things get rough for him on the mound.

Anybody out there confident in a comeback year for AJ?

Monday, February 14, 2011

If 'no news is good news,' what is this?

As per George King III of the New York Post:
“Anybody who has [minor league] options is not a lock for anything,” Cashman said when asked by The Post if the 25-year-old was a roster-spot lock. “Any player with options has to re-earn everything. You earn more or you earn less — New York or Scranton [Triple-A]. I fully expect Joba to be in our bullpen. If not, he would have worked his way out of it.”
I'm hesitant to label this as anything other than Cashman wordsmithing his way around a touchy subject. Whether this is a sign of disenchantment, a motivational ploy, a precursor to stretching Chamberlain back into a starting role, or nothing at all, it does seem to fit well within the chronicles of Chamberlain's fall from grace - particularly when taken hand-in-hand with reports that he headed into Spring Training overweight.

Here's hoping that some semblance of the Joba Chamberlain we all fell in love with is around come April, as I don't think this current incarnation has much value.

Girardi Says Jeter's Still the Leadoff Man

From Wallace Matthews:
So says manager Joe Girardi in his first interview session of the spring, as predicted here and manyother places throughout the winter. Jeter, who suffered through a sub-par 2010 season in which he hit an inordinate number of groundballs and into an alarming number of double plays, will begin 2011 at the top of the Yankee lineup again.

"We signed him to be our shortstop and we signed him to be our leadoff hitter,'' Girardi said. "He had a couple of rough months last year (but by ) September he was back to being Derek, I thought. So I’m not really too concerned about him as our leadoff hitter.''
I didn't think he should have led off most of last season, so I think it's pretty clear where I stand on this 12 months later. But whatever, this is nothing new. It's just another example of a team putting (one of) its stars ahead of winning games.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (2/13-2/19)

This Week in Yankee History 

February 13th - February 19th

February 13th

1883 - Former Yankees 1B and Player-Manager Hal “Prince Hal” Chase (1903-1913) was born. On October 4, 1904, Hal Chase was drafted by the New York Highlanders from the Los Angeles (Pacific Coast League) in the 1904 MLB Rule 5 player draft. Hal had a lifetime BA of .284 as a Yankees player. He led the Yankees in hitting in 1906-1907. During the 1910-1911 American League seasons, he was a player–manager for the Yankees. His character was often questioned because of not playing honestly. On June 1,1913, Hal Chase was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago White Sox for OF Rollie Zeider and 1B Babe Borton. Hal Chase was later banned from organized baseball in 1920 for gambling and fixing games.

1887 - Former Yankees OF Guy Zinn (1911-1912) was born. Guy Zinn appeared in 115 games for the New York Yankees, hitting .255. In December of 1912, the Boston Braves purchased outfielder Guy Zinn from the New York Yankees.

1888 - Former Yankees reserve INF Edward “Kid” Foster (1910) was born. Before 1910 American League Season, the New York Highlanders purchased Eddie “Kid” Foster from the Detroit Tigers. He appeared in 30 games for the 1910 Yankees, hitting just .133.

1890 - Former Yankees P Daniel “Big Dan” Tipple (1915) was born. “Big Dan” appeared in three games with the 1915 Yankees, going 1-1 with .095 ERA with two complete games.

1927 - Former Yankees reserve INF Jim Brideweser (1951-1953) was born (1927-1989). Before the 1950 American League Season, the New York Yankees signed INF Jim Brideweser, as an MLB amateur free agent. He had attended college at USC. Jim hit .363 (16 for 44) in 51 games as reserve INF for the Yankees before being claimed on waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on May 11,1954. Jim was a good utility INF, but there was no room for him on the Yankees 25 man MLB roster. Jim would play for the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers before finishing up his MLB career in 1959.

1939 - Former Yankees MLB Pitching Coach, Minor League Manager and MLB pitcher Jerry Walker was born. Jerry Walker managed in the New York Yankees minor league system from 1968-1972. He was a Yankees MLB pitching coach in 1981-1982. As a MLB player he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City A’s and the Cleveland Indians from 1958-1965. Currently, Jerry Walker works for the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

1941 - Former Yankees P Jim Brenneman (1965) was born (1941-1994). In 1961, the New York Yankees signed Jim Brenneman as an MLB amateur free agent. He would appear in three games with no record for the 1965 Yankees.

1949 - Former Yankees reserve INF Lenny Randle (1979) was born. On August 3, 1979, Lenny Randle was purchased by the New York Yankees from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lenny appeared in only 20 games for the 1979 Yankees, hitting just .179. On November 1, 1979, Lenny was granted MLB free agency by the Yankees.

1960 - Former Yankees minor league P Brian Ryder was born. Pitcher Brian Ryder was drafted in the 1st round of the 1978 MLB amateur player draft by the New York Yankees. In December of 1981, he was traded along with P Freddie Toliver to the Cincinnati Reds for veteran NL All Star OF Ken Griffey Sr. Brian Ryder never made it to the MLB level with the Cincinnati Reds.

1971 - Former Yankees P Todd Williams (2001) was born. Todd Williams won an Olympic gold medal for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In the 1999 Pan American Games, Williams led Team USA with four appearances. He saved one game and had a 1.69 ERA as the US won Silver and advanced to the 2000 Olympics. The Dodgers originally signed Todd. In 2001, the New York Yankees signed Todd Williams as a MLB free agent. He went 1-0 in 15 games for the 2001 Yankees.

1980 - Former Yankees INF Drew Henson (2002-2003) was born. The New York Yankees in the 3rd round of the 1998 drafted Drew Henson MLB amateur player draft. The former Michigan State University sport star chose playing MLB baseball over a chance to play football in the NFL. On July 12, 2000, Drew Henson was traded by the New York Yankees with along with OF Jackson Melian, Brian Reith, and P Ed Yarnall to the Cincinnati Reds for OF Mike Frank and veteran MLB starter Denny Neagle. On March 21,2001, Drew was traded back to the New York Yankees by the Cincinnati Reds along with OF Michael Coleman for minor league outfielder Wily Mo Pena. Drew hit .111 in 13 games with the Yankees. With the arrival of A-Rod to play 3B, the Yankees bought out his MLB player contract. Drew Henson left the MLB to play NFL football. He was a member of 2004 NFL Dallas Cowboys.
1986 - The New York Yankees re-acquired veteran C/1B/DH Ron Hassey from the Chicago White Sox. Hassey, who had been traded to Chicago only two months earlier, returns to Yankees in a seven-player trade. On December 12,1985, Ron was traded by the Yankees along with P Joe Cowley to the White Sox for minor league players Glen Braxton and P Mike Soper and MLB P Britt Burns. Ron was traded by the White Sox along with minor league players Chris Alvarez and Eric Schmidt and OF Matt Winters to the Yankees for P Neil Allen, C Scott Bradley, minor leaguer Glen Braxton and cash. Ron will hit .296 hitting 13 HRs with 42 RBIs in 92 games for the 1985 Yankees. In 1986, he will hit .298 in 64 games, before being traded on July 30, 1986, back to the Chicago White Sox along with minor league INF/OF Carlos Martinez to the White Sox for OF/DH Ron Kittle, C Joel Skinner, and INF Wayne Tollenson. On December 24, 1986, the Yankees will send minor league C Bill Lindsey to the White Sox to complete the trade.

Heyman: Yanks & Millwood Still Talking

According to Jon Heyman via Twitter, the Yankees are still in discussions with free agent right-hander Kevin Millwood (2010: 4-16, 5.10 ERA). Heyman also said that there's "still a ways to go" in the talks before anything goes down.

Is another trash heap signing in the works? Really?!?

List of Spring Training Invitees

Pitchers: Manuel Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Eric Wordekemper, Luis Ayala, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Brian Anderson, Buddy Carlyle, Neal Cotts, Mark Prior, Andrew Sisco and Warner Madrigal.

Catchers: Jose Gil, Kyle Higashioka, Jesus Montero, Austin Romine.

Infielders: Bradley Suttle, Jorge Vazquez, Ronnie Belliard and Eric Chavez

Outfielders: Daniel Brewer, Austin Krum, Jordan Parraz.

Brian Anderson, Buddy Carlyle, Neal Cotts, Mark Prior, Andrew Sisco,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Daily News: Cervelli Worked with Cano this Offseason in Hopes of Winning Job

As per Anthony McCarron, and with a a tip of the hat to the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:
In an offseason jammed with news about Yankee catchers - Jorge Posada shifting to designated hitter, the addition of Russell Martin, the outsized potential of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine - Francisco Cervelli was the forgotten backstop.

But Cervelli, last year's backup who is renowned for his effervescent spirit, is OK with that. He says his goal is to eventually be a starter, and the best way for him to have a job in the majors this season is to "concentrate on myself.

"I can't control what the general manager's decision is or the manager's decision," Cervelli said Wednesday after his first workout at the Yanks' minor-league complex. "I've just got to do my job on the field and they decide what to do on the field. I came here fresh and I just want to play baseball like I play, have fun and give everything to my team.

"If they have plans with them, that's fine. They know what I can do."

He added, "I don't like to be comfortable, I always want to learn, learn, learn. I want to be one day a starting catcher or (win) a Gold Glove, something like a Molina brother. That's my dream."

For Cervelli, who turns 25 next month, the big news of his offseason is that he spent most of it training with pal Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic. Cervelli arrived in the Dominican on Dec. 1 and lived in a hotel near Cano's house so the two could meet for daily workouts.

It was a plan Cano hatched during the season last year, Cervelli said. "He's trying to help me," Cervelli said. "He's got a good disposition to teach...good friend, good teacher."

Asked what he learned, Cervelli, a .271 hitter last year, laughed and said, "I tried to learn a little bit how you can hit the ball." Seriously, though, Cervelli said Cano helped him learn how to better use his hips while swinging. And Cano's fitness routine helped him shed fat.

"He knows I like to work," Cervelli said. "I had fun there, too. Everything was unbelievable, good people, his family, his staff.


Cervelli also appreciated watching Cano work. "He's one of the guys who never stops," Cervelli said. "He taught me how to work better."

And, Cervelli said, "He's always smiling, man."

So is Cervelli, and he'll keep the grin if he can keep his job.
While this is certainly a standard piece of offseason filler, it is a bit more valuable than your average "best shape of my life" byte. It's good to see that Cervelli's on the field exuberance is matched by his motivations off the field, and it's even better to see that Cano is willing to take on such a role - particularly considering the past rumors of his laziness and lack of enthusiasm.

As it stands, Cervelli is a fine back-up catcher - and RAB demonstrated that he may be an excellent back-up, as well as an average starter for many teams. If working with Cano adds a bit more 'oomph' to Cervelli's bat, then the Yankees wealth of catching talent will me all the more enviable.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Yanks Void Vizcaino's Contract

From Jim Street:
The latest in a string of injuries for right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino apparently will cost him more than just another season on the sidelines.

The 36-year-old pitcher, who signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees in December, had the deal voided by the organization on Wednesday, according to the New York Post.

Vizcaino tore his Achilles tendon during the Winter League season and is not expected to pitch in 2011. He also missed all of the '10 season and almost all of the '09 campaign because of arm trouble.

The deal Vizcaino signed with the Yankees would have paid him $750,000 if he had made the big league roster this season.
Oh well, it wasn't like anyone was expect much (or anything) from Vizcaino anyway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Could Francisco Liriano be on the Move?

Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune believes that that is the case.
With six pitchers vying for five spots in the Twins starting rotation, one possible solution is trading Francisco Liriano. Speaking to team officials recently, I've been surprised how open they are to this possibility, but the logic makes sense.

Liriano, 27, can become a free agent after the 2012 season. Coming off a resurgent year, he might never have a higher trade value.

One thing is clear: The Twins don't plan to sign him long term. Last weekend, they avoided arbitration with a one-year, $4.3 million deal. From what I've heard, their long-term talks went nowhere, with Liriano's camp hinting it wanted a three-year, $39 million contract.


For one thing, Liriano is still an injury risk. He had arm injuries coming through the minors, he had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2006 and he still has a violent delivery.

For all the talk about how Liriano is learning to trust his fastball and changeup, the lefthander relied heavily on his slider again last season. According to, 38 percent of the pitches he threw as a rookie in 2006 were sliders. That number dipped to 27 percent during his abysmal 2009 season and returned to 34 percent last year.
This seems quite sensible to me, and the Twins do boast excellent pitching depth at the Major League level and throughout there system - the loss of Liriano would hurt in the short term, but it could strengthen the team quite a bit as early as 2012. With the respective hauls brought back for Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Matt Garza and the amount of teams involved in the negotiations, this seems like the perfect time for the Twins to make such a move, as well. I suspect that Cashman and the Yankees are preparing a strong offer, considering the fact that they contacted the Twins about Liriano's availability sometime in late November or early December. This begs the question of what exactly a reasonable, competitive offer for Liriano may be.

Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron points out that Liriano's history of injuries and inconsistency makes a comparison to Shaun Marcum quite apt in surmising a potential deal. The Blue Jays acquired Brett Lawrie, a top-forty or so prospect, from the Brewers in exchange for Marcum in a one-for-one swap. If we assume that this is a reasonable baseline, it seems that the Twins could not possibly expect Jesus Montero in return, and it may rule out Manny Banuelos as well (though his rankings have been somewhat inconsistent). With that in mind, I tossed together the following: Dellin Betances, David Adams/Corban Joseph, and a C-level prospect.

Betances is not without risk himself, but he has a very high ceiling and has performed quite well in most rankings (including ranks of 44 and 73 on top-hundred lists, and 16 on a top-fifty pitching prospect list). He may not be on-par with Lawrie, and that's where Adams or Joseph come in, as the Twins are weak organizationally in the middle infield - neither is a fantastic prospect, but both project as capable everyday second basemen. From there, I would toss-in another arm (D.J. Mitchell, perhaps). I would also be willing to attempt to sell the Twins on Betances and Laird, as Laird could contribute this season and may be a more desirable asset as such.

Despite the inherent risks, I'm a big fan of Liriano. He has great strikeout and groundball rates, a solid walk rate, and he's virtually unhittable against left-handed hitters - all of which bode very well for success in the AL East and New Yankee Stadium. What do you think? What would you be willing to give up for Liriano?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Five Yankees in Frankie Piliere's Top-Hundred

You can find the list in its entirety here. For those of you too lazy or otherwise unable to take the jump, here are the Yankees that made the cut and their respective rank:

04. Jesus Montero
13. Manny Banuelos
34. Gary Sanchez
44. Dellin Betances
60. Andrew Brackman

I remain pleasantly surprised that Banuelos has done so well in these rankings, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing his production over the course of a full season in 2011.

Montero Wants to Catch - Now

Courtesy of CBS New York:
With Russell Martin projected to be New York’s primary catcher, top prospect Jesus Montero is ready to show the Yankees what he’s made of.

“I want to be behind the plate,” Montero said on Tuesday. “I want to show everybody that I can catch with the Yankees.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants to prepare Montero for the majors in a “proper way rather than in a rushed way.”

“I think being in the majors would be better,” Montero said about starting the season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. “Everybody wants to be there. I’m going to try to do the best to be with the team, learn real quick and help them.”

Montero, 21, has been working out at the Yankees’ minor-league complex since late January, and is noticeably slimmer than last year.

“I’m working really hard. I’ve spent more time here in the cage and doing catching things,” he said. “I want to be with the team this year. I want to help them to win, too. I’m working really hard here.”

The prospect had a good 2010 season at the plate, slugging 21 homers while maintaining a .289 batting average for Scranton.

“I did a good job last year, thank God,” said Montero. “I’ve got to work harder this year to show them that I can catch.”

Montero, often a chip in trade rumors involving the Yankees, wants to stick with the big club.

“I want to be with the Yankees,” he said.

“I want to stay with the Yankees my whole career.”
This is nothing but encouraging. Montero is displaying a tremendous work ethic and confidence, as well as saying the right thing - taken in conjunction with his considerable talent, I'm not sure that I could ask for much more. If it comes down to riding the pine in New York or catching everyday in Scranton, I'd much rather see Montero in the minors as there simply isn't much to gain sitting on the bench ... though I suppose working with Pena and Girardi couldn't hurt. Regular repetitions, in my mind, would be much more valuable to Montero than any sort of sage advice.

Regardless, this article has done nothing but increase my anticipation for Montero's Major League debut.

Slender Bats, or How a Rule Change May Have Contributed to the Year of the Pitcher

For those of you who spent this past season slumbering in a cave, countless analysts and talking heads hailed 2010 as 'The Year of the Pitcher.' This stems primarily from the fact that there were six no-hitters last season, two of which were perfect games, as well as a near-perfect game (in which an umpire unfortunately blew a call on what would have been the final out of the game) - that is not to say, however, that that label is without merit. Runs scored dropped by about five percent, home runs by around eight percent, and earned run averages dropped by nearly six percent. While offensive numbers do ebb and flow from year to year, it is intriguing to combine these factors, particularly on the heels of the so-called 'Steroid Era' as testing has become more rigorous and pervasive. Could there be another reason or factor for this fluctuation? Nick Scott of Royals Authority may have discovered a contributing factor here.
I was recently looking at the Official Rules of Major League Baseball and on page number four they have a section titled “Changes for the 2010 Major League Season”. I hadn’t recalled reading anywhere about notable changes to the rule book in 2010, so I reviewed the items to see if any major changes had been made. The first few changes were about how to draw the lines of the field and the coach’s box, again nothing of real importance. However, the fourth bullet point read:

“Reduced maximum bat diameter to 2.61 inches. (Rule 1.10(a))”

So I then went to rule 1.10(a) and read the following:

“The bat shall be a smooth, round stick not more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood. Note: No laminated or experimental bats shall be used in a professional game (either championship season or exhibition games) until the manufacturer has secured approval from the Rules Committee of his design and methods of manufacture.”

In the 2009 rules, the bat was allowed to be a maximum of 2.75” in diameter. The last time the maximum diameter of the bat had changed was 1895 when the size changed from 2.5” to 2.75”. Therefore, the allowable bat diameter shrunk by 5.1% in the off-season immediately prior to the “year of the pitcher” and it was the first time such a change had been made in 114 years.
Considering the amount of time and money put into baseball analysis, I am shocked that it took this long for someone to point out this rule change, however minor it may appear. While Scott's findings are far from conclusive I cannot believe that this did not have some impact, however minor, on offensive output in 2010. I recommend that you check out the article in its entirety, as Scott links to a wealth of other sources, some of which expand on his findings, to boot.

Yanks Sign Luis Ayala

From John Paul Morosi:
The New York Yankees have reached agreement in principle on a minor-league contract with right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, sources told this morning.

Ayala, 33, has received an invitation to the team’s major-league spring training, which begins next week, sources said.

The Yankees hope Ayala can continue the success he enjoyed while pitching in his native Mexico during the winter season. Including the Caribbean Series, which Mexico won, Ayala had a 1.99 ERA and 14 saves in 37 appearances.

He struck out 25 batters, against seven walks, in 40 2/3 innings this winter.

Ayala is coming off a regular season in which he had a 6.42 ERA in 36 outings at Class AAA affiliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Nothing too major here, just another "let's hope we get lucky" kind of move. Oh well, it can't hurt.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wake Forest Coach Donates Kidney to Kevin Jordan

A bit of background - Kevin Jordan was drafted by the Yankees in the 19th round of this past year's amateur draft, and I was sad to hear that he chose to attend Wake Forest instead of signing with the team (though I respected the decision). The son of former Major Leaguer Brian Jordan, Kevin is a five-tool prospect with a ton of upside, and many scouts surmised that he would have been drafted in the first couple of rounds had his college commitment been less solid - perhaps even more so had there not been questions about his health.

Last January, Jordan was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as ANCA vasculitis. He was forced to take upwards of thirty-five prescription pills a day and underwent a daily dialysis regime, and his life hung in the balance this winter. Yesterday, Wake Forest baseball coach Tom Walter donated a kidney to help save Jordan's life.

I recommend that you read the article in its entirety here, as there is simply no way that I could do it justice through paraphrasing. It's a wonderful story, to say the least, and I commend both Walter (for his willingness to help a young man that he hardly knows) and Jordan (for his motivation and determination). Here's hoping for a speedy recovery and good health for both, as well.

New York Post: Martin Still Not 100-Percent

As per Brian Costello:
New Yankees catcher Russell Martin said Tuesday he is not quite 100 percent yet after right knee surgery, but he'll be ready for Opening Day.

"I think I'll be ready for the season, for sure," Martin said at the Yankees' minor-league complex. "I can't predict the future, but I feel pretty good right now."

The Yankees signed Martin to a one-year, $4 million deal in December to replace Jorge Posada as the starting catcher. During his physical with the team, they found a slight tear in his right meniscus. He had surgery just before Christmas, and said he still does not have a full range of motion.

He plans on catching for the first time since the surgery Wednesday to test the knee. The knee problem came after a hip injury ended his 2010 season in August. Martin said he has not been able to test the hip, but it already felt better before he had the knee surgery.

"My goal from now is until the season is to strengthen that right side of my leg," Martin said.

Martin, who turns 28 next week, is coming off two disappointing seasons with the Dodgers. Martin changed his offseason training routine this year, doing an MMA-style workout. He feels like the work has paid off and said he is 15 pounds lighter than he was last year.

"I feel in shape," Martin said. "Last year, I was trying to gain a little bit of weight and have more power. This year, I feel like I lost weight and I have more power. I'm really not even thinking about hitting home runs. I just want to make solid contact and simplify my approach. I'm just having fun out there. I think this year I'm going to have a little bit more fun than I did the last couple of years."

The Yankees immediately named Martin the starting catcher when he signed, but he still feels like he has to earn the job.

"They said I was going to come in and be the starter or whatever, but whether they say that, you have to prove yourself out there," Martin said. "I have to prove myself to the pitchers. The guys are going to have to like throwing to me. If they don't like throwing to me, I'm not going to catch. That's the way I see it. My goal is to just study them, study the hitters we're going to be facing. That's the big thing for me is coming in this year and having to catch a bunch of guys I haven't caught before."
This may does not strike me as terribly newsworthy, simply due to the fact that it was sort of expected. The season is still nearly two months away and it seems as if Martin is working very hard to get in-shape, and that's what really matters - a healthy and motivated Martin will make the offense and defense significantly better.

CC Coming to Camp 30 Pounds Lighter

ESPN New York is reporting that a source has told Buster Olney that CC Sabathia lost 30 pounds this offseason.
The ace left-hander is trying to keep pressure off his right knee, which required offseason surgery. Sabathia underwent arthroscopic surgery in late October to correct a small meniscus tear.
Good job CC.

Aceves Signs Minor-League Deal With Red Sox!/PeteAbe/status/35088823608147968!/Buster_ESPN/status/35092946495733761
I know the Yankees pen is pretty solid, at least on paper, but why couldn't they have thrown a deal like this at Aceves? Maybe they know something about his injuries that the Sox don't, but I think it would have been smart to keep Ace.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jeter Says He's Past Contract Controversy

From Brian Costello:
Derek Jeter's anger with the Yankees was visible at the December press conference to announce his new contract. But Monday morning at the Yankees’ minor-league complex, Jeter said he's over the hurt feelings he had from his negotiations.

"It's over with, done with," Jeter told three reporters. "You can't change the past."


"I've been here long enough to not really pay attention to everything," Jeter said.

Asked about the possibility that the issue of him changing positions could linger for the remainder of his career, Jeter said he's not concerned about it.

"I don't even think about it," he said. "I have a job to do. My job isn't to try to tell the future. I wish I could, but I can't. I'm not a fortune teller. I don't have a crystal ball at my house. My job is to do what my job is and that's to play shortstop."


"I've always been pretty good in my career in terms of forgetting about previous seasons whether it's a good season or a bad season," Jeter said. "I mean that from a team standpoint. Whether you win or you lose you don't go into spring training walking around just because you won thinking it's going to be easy. You have to forget about, you have to move on. It goes that way when you're talking about personal as well. You have to be able to put previous seasons behind you and focus on the one that's coming up."
Looks like Jeter is back to saying all the right things, which is good, but part of me believes he's still pretty ticked off over how everything went down this winter. No superstar likes to be dealt with that way publicly, whether it was his agents fault or not. But will it effect anything in the future? I don't think so.

NoMaas Interview with BA's John Manuel

The interview, which can be found in its entirety here, is chock full of interesting information. Manuel discusses the state of the system as a whole, Montero, Romine, Culver, the pitching depth, and a great deal more - I highly recommend checking it out. Here's an excerpt on Montero's ability to remain behind the plate:
SJK: The Yankees vehemently insist Montero can catch. In fact, Cashman said he's a better defensive catcher than some guys in the bigs right now. What's the opinion of the general scouting community, and has he improved defensively?

JM: Not sure what else Cashman is supposed to say; is he supposed to degrade the value of his top prospect by saying, "Well, he's not really a catcher." The consensus is (and frankly has been for the last two years) that Montero has improved, but will never be an average defender.

He's got plus raw arm strength, but a slow, inconsistent release. He's become more flexible and agile behind the plate, but is who he is -- a behemoth for a catcher. He's just big, in a better way now, but still big. I believe he can catch in the majors, but it would always be "adequate," and he would be an asset for his offense, not his defense.

Comparing him to Mike Piazza, he has a better arm but is a lesser receiver. He's never been held up as a guy who is great at handling pitchers, either. It's hard to get that type of info, and that's a story I'm trying to work on --how different is it for minor league catchers to handle minor league pitchers vs. major league pitchers. But, I've talked to a couple of Yanks' pitchers over the years on teams that have had Montero, and no one ever has stuck his neck out to say he's a joy to work with, or that he handles pitchers well or catches them well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Week in Yankees History (2/6-2/12)

This Week in Yankees History

February 6th - February 12th

February 6th

1895 - New York Yankees Hall Of Fame OF/P Babe Ruth is born in Baltimore, Maryland (1895- 1948). Babe Ruth will amass 714 HRs with 2,217 RBIs with a lifetime batting average of .342 on his way to Hall of Fame election in 1936. Babe Ruth originally signed with the Boston Red Sox, as a pitcher and then was converted to an outfielder by his Red Sox Manager Edward Barrow. His trade by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in January of 1920 will start the rise of the Yankees as one of the most dominant teams in MLB history. He will play for the Yankees from 1920 to 1934. Babe Ruth will be released by the Yankees in 1935, he will finish out his long MLB career with the Boston Braves.

1926 - The St. Louis Browns acquired veteran C Wally Schang from the New York Yankees for P George Mogridge and cash. Although Wally Schang is 36 years old, he will hold the job as starting catcher for the St. Louis Browns for the next four seasons.

1926 - Former Yankees 1B Dale Long (1960, 1962-1963) was born (1926-1991). On December 5, 1949, Dale Long was drafted by the New York Yankees from the Detroit Tigers organization in the 1949 MLB minor league player draft. Don will not appear with the Yankees at the MLB level. On November 16, 1950, Dale was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the New York Yankees organization in the 1950 MLB Rule 5 player draft. In 1956, Dale was a NL All Star 1B with the Chicago Cubs, during that 1956 season, Dale set a MLB record of hitting 7 HRs in seven straight games. During the 1958 NL season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he caught 2 games as a left-handed catcher. The New York Yankees obtained Dale Long from the San Francisco Giants in August of 1960. Dale hit .366 in 26 games for the 1960 Yankees. In December of 1960, Dale was lost in the 1960 AL Expansion draft to the new Washington Senators. On July 11, 1962, Dale was re-obtained from the Senators by the Yankees for minor league OF Don Lock (Richmond AAA). He hit .298 for the Yankees in 41 games. The Yankees released Dale during the 1963 AL season. He was only hitting .200, while appearing in only 14 games. He appeared in two World Series with the Yankees in 1960 and 1962 hitting .250.

1950 - Former long-time Yankees MLB Coach (1929-1945) and MLB player Art Fletcher (1909-1922) passed away. Art Fletcher was an MLB infielder for the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies. He finished his MLB playing career in 1922 with a .277 BA, 32 HRs and 675 RBIs. He was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1923 to 1926. Art briefly managed the New York Yankees for 11 games, posting a 6-5 record after Yankees Manager Miller Higgins had died in September of 1929 during the 1929 American League season. Yankees MLB pitching coach Bob Shawkey would take over the team from him.

1969 - Former Yankees P Bob Wickman (1992-1996) was born. Bob Wickman was obtained from the Chicago White Sox in the Steve Sax trade. He went 31-14 in 223 games with 11 saves, for the Yankees. On August 23, 1996, Bob traded by the Yankees along with OF Gerald Williams to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later, INF Pat Listach, and P Graeme Lloyd. The Brewers would send P Ricky Bones on August 29,1996 to the Yankees to complete the trade. On October 2,1996, INF Pat Listach was returned to Brewers because injury issues.

Scout: I Don't Think Andy is Done

From Nick Cafardo:
Said a scout, “I get the feeling his career isn’t over. For one, he can still pitch at a high level. Secondly, he didn’t retire with any conviction. The stuff about going back and forth on whether or not to pitch leads me to believe he’ll decide to pitch again.’’
I understand and agree with what the scout is saying about Andy's talent and his potential ability to pitch into his 40's. That said, Andy has been considering retirement for years now, and it seems that he's finally committed to retirement and being with his family. I also don't think he's the type of person to go through the press conference and all of that only to change his mind a few months later. He's not Brett Favre or Roger Clemens.

Don't get me wrong, if he does decide to come back at some point that would be great, and the sooner the better, but I highly doubt that's going to happen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Good Laugh from the Chicago Tribune

A brief tip of the hat to the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, and a wag of the finger to the Chicago Tribune:
For Danks, Carlos Quentin (or Juan Pierre, if the Yankees preferred a veteran table-setter) and Mark Teahen, the Sox could seek a couple of top-tier prospects such as catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Dellin Betances, either Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner (more available than you would think after he hit .185 last October), Chamberlain, Mitre and one or two lesser prospects.
Perhaps it would be prudent to look at this objectively ... before pointing and laughing derisively.

John Danks is a solid pitcher. He posts league-average strikeout, walk, and groundball rates, tosses about 200 IP per season, and maintains slightly above average run prevention numbers (both in terms of traditional and fielding-independent metrics). He's under team control for 2011 and 2012.

Carlos Quentin had a very good 2008, but has struggled with injuries throughout his career - he may not have been completely healthy in either 2009 or 2010, but he was mediocre nonetheless. He's under team control for 2011 and 2012.

Juan Pierre is ... Juan Pierre. He won't walk or strikeout much, he'll steal a ton of bases at a decent rate when he manages his way on base, and he won't hurt the team in leftfield. He's a free agent after 2011.

Mark Teahen is a staggeringly mediocre four-corners player. He won't hit much, he won't field terribly well, and he'll earn $10.25 MM over the next two seasons.

Overall, it's not a terribly appealing deal. Danks is a fine pitcher, a capable number two starter and a tremendous third starter, but that's about it. Quentin is incredibly brittle and Pierre and Teahen just aren't very good. Let's break down the sort of return the author expects for this package.

In his top-hundred prospects list, Keith Law ranked Jesus Montero 4th and Dellin Betances 73rd. That in and of itself is at least on-par with the return for Shaun Marcum - and Montero alone is far more valuable than any piece brought back in the Zack Greinke deal. The White Sox would have both Montero and Betances under team control for six seasons.

Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner are fine everyday centerfielders. All things considered, I would prefer either over Quentin and Pierre, though I suppose a healthy Quentin may be the best of all (as a leprechaun riding unicorn would be a wondrous discovery). Granderson is signed through 2013 and Gardner is under team control through 2014.

Joba Chamberlain is under team control through 2013 and serves as a fine high-risk, high-reward type. It's tough to compare him to Teahen ... but it would be even tougher to find a less worthwhile player making over $10 MM over the next two seasons. I suppose at the most basic level, we're comparing three years of a middle reliever and two years of a bench player.

Do I really need to point out the hilarity in the author expecting more? Sergio Mitre is essentially a replacement level player, but he's a decent long relief type. On top of that, another 'lesser prospect' or two? Seriously?

Okay - it's time to point and laugh derisively.