Blog Archives

Morning Bits: Pettitte, Betances, Mariano

Good morning all.  Tough loss to watch last night.  Hopefully a win tonight will erase that.

Let’s get right to the links….

Sean Brennan from the Daily News writes that the return of Andy Pettitte raises questions for temporary starter David Phelps.

Betances dominate is Empire State Yankees win.

Bryan Hoch of mlb.com has the report of Mariano being treated for a blood clot.

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Morning Bits: Joba, Rodriguez, Betances

Good morning all.  Back to the grind with another work week.  Look for pitchers to go deeper this week and to see more of the regulars in the lineup.

Let’s get right to the links…..

* Joba has been released from the hospital and Girardi sees a comeback in the future.

* Alex Rodriguez was hit with a 95mph pitch yesterday.

* ESPN has a nice article of the unsung heroes of spring training.

* The Star Ledger has a Q & A with Yankee prospect Dellin Betances.

Warren shuts down Red Sox but Sox climb back to tie Yankees game at 4

David Phelps was scheduled to make the start for the Yankees tonight, but Mother Nature had other plans. Phelp’s wife was giving birth which prompted Phelps to back out of his start. Adam Warren was squeezed in to make the emergency start and Warren did not disappoint whatsoever as he was able to shut down the Red Sox in his 4 innings of work.

The last time the Yankees and Red Sox met up with one another, the Red Sox defeated the Yankees 1-0. This time, the ending was completely different. The Yankees & Red Sox ended up in a tie after Joe Girardi called it off after 9 innings. For comedic relief, Bobby Valentine wanted to keep going and tire out the Yankees. Oh Bobby…it’s Spring Training. Let it go.

Warren only allowed 2 hits and no runs in his 4 innings of work while looking effectively sharp against the Red Sox everyday hitters. Dellin Betances pitched 3 innings without giving up any runs, but his Achilles heel tonight was walk. Betances gave up 4 walks in 3 innings. Cory Wade struggled in the 8th inning. ending the shutout by allowing 3 runs to the Red Sox. Juan Cedeno came in after Wade was only able to go 0.2 of an inning, getting the final batter in the 8th. George Kontos came in during the 9th but allowed the tying run for the Red Sox to score which resulted in the Yankees tie.

THE GOOD: Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner & Andruw Jones all had a hit in tonight’s game (Granderson a RBI triple, Gardner a hard clean single & Jones had a single). CC Sabathia started today vs. Double-A in an attempt to hide his pitches from the Red Sox. Sabathia allowed 1 run on 5 hits, gave up a walk and had 4 strikeouts. Girardi didn’t see Sabathia’s outing and joined Gardner & Granderson in Ft. Meyers but he jokingly said that this Sabathia kid has a shot of making the rotation. You know what Joe? I’ll go a step further. I say this Sabathia kid will be an ace.

THE BAD: Raul Ibanez went hit-less again, his average in the Spring being a dismal .054. Is it too late to try to persuade Jorge Posada to come out of retirement? Cory Wade also did not look sharp, allowing 3 runs in the Red Sox 8th inning and not being able to finish the inning. There were also some base blunders today as both Eric Chavez & Andruw Jones were picked off by Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. Guys, leave the stolen base attempts to Gardner & Granderson, okay?

WHAT’S NEXT: Tomorrow is a Split Squad game which means 2 games at once. Here is also some exciting news. Mason Williams will play in Tampa vs. the Twins while Yankees first round 2011 prospect Dante Bichette Jr. will head to Clearwater and join the other half of the Yankees for the game vs. the Phillies. The game vs. the Twins will broadcast on YES & MLB.TV while the game @ the Phillies will be only on MLB.TV.

Cano homers as Yankees beat Astros 6-3

Before the game, the Yankees had some great news. Eduardo Nunez returned after missing 2 weeks with a bruised hand, Nick Swisher‘s MRI returned negative meaning that he’s okay to play and Russell Martin is slated to travel tomorrow with the team to Sarasota. So you would imagine that all of the good news that the Yankees had today would translate into today’s game. If you thought so … you were correct.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched 4 innings of 1 run ball, showing everyone why he is the Yankees #2 starter. Mariano followed with a scoreless inning, Cory Wade had 2 scoreless innings, Boone Logan gave up 2 runs in his inning of work and Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t easy.

Offense appeared today as the first 3 batters in the lineup (Gardner, Granderson & Cano) all scored the 5 runs on the board. Gardner had 2 walks, a stolen base, a strikeout, a ground out and 2 phenomenal catches in the outfield. Yep, not a bad day for the speedy left fielder. Granderson doubled Gardner home in the first followed by an Andruw Jones RBI single shortly after which put the Yankees up 2-0, but the Robinson Cano 3 run blast was really a 3 run blast. The ball left the ballpark and gave the Yankees a 5 run lead for the time being.

WHAT’S NEXT: With Derek Jeter out of the fold, Brett Gardner will get his second start in a row as he, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira & Russell Martin head to Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles night game. The game is at 7:05pm on MLB Network. Ivan Nova will get the start.

Kuroda has good outing but Yanks fall 4-3 to Astros

Hiroki Kuroda wanted to capitalize from his last outing in which he did, pitching 3 scoreless innings in a Yankees 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros. Kuroda did have command issues in the first and third innings of the ball game; in the first the Astros hit the ball hard against him, but luckily was able to get the double play. In the 3rd, Kuroda allowed the bases to be loaded but got out of it on a strike out. But in the end, Kuroda pitched 3 innings without giving up any runs.

Rafael Soriano had a shaky outing, giving up 1 run and not being able to finish the inning, Juan Cedeno gave up a hit but didn’t give up any runs, Cesar Cabral gave up a run on 3 hits, Dellin Betances had a good two innings, giving up no runs on 1 hit and Michael O’Connor gave up 2 runs and was charged with the loss.

Out of the Yankees regulars only Robinson Cano & Nick Swisher had hits in the game. Cano hit a single and Nick Swisher hit an RBI triple. The Yankees are now 5-6 during the Spring.

WHAT’S NEXT: Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira & Alex Rodriguez are slated to be in the lineup tomorrow vs. Bobby Valentine & the Red Sox.

Spring Training Notes: 3/3/12

Ivan Nova pitching today for the Yankees

The Yankees are fresh off their 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Clearwater today, but there was a lot that happened today. So let’s get to the notes of today!

– When Raul Ibanez was greeted at the plate, it sounded as if it was a lot of boos going around. As a matter of fact, it was just the Phillies fans saying “Rauuuul!” his old chant when he was a Philadelphia Philly. “I’d like to think those are Rauuul’s.” Ibanez joked. “I think that those were good ones.”

– During today’s game David Phelps was extremely sharp while Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances looked a bit shaky during their starts today. Banuelos left a bases loaded jam while Betances issued 2 walks in the inning and only used fastballs. Although Banuelos had struggles, Girardi says that he looks better this season than last season.

– Joe Girardi met the father of Steven Smith, a minor league broadcaster who was tragically killed in December of 2010 today in Clearwater. He was on the field with Girardi before the game and even had the whole Yankees team sign the sign that Matthew Smith was holding before the game. It was Matthew Smith’s first game since his son died. “I just didn’t want Steven to be forgotten.”

Just a reminder that tomorrow’s game is a televised game. The game will be televised on the YES Network. Freddy Garcia is slated to get the start.

Use the comment section below to talk about whatever you like. Have a good night everyone!

Yanks defeat Phillies 8-5 in Spring Training Opener

Fresh from their predictable win against the University of South Florida, the starting outfield, Raul Ibanez & Russell Martin made the trip to Clearwater where they were going to get a taste of Major League action from Cole Hamels & the Philadelphia Phillies.

After Raul Ibanez’s bloop double that scored Curtis Granderson in the top of the 1st, Hunter Pence of the Phillies quickly made the score 2-1 with a towering HR to right field (thanks to the wind).

Raul Ibanez looks up at his bloop RBI single as Yanks win 8-5 vs. Phillies

Granderson answered back in the third inning with an opposite field HR to left off of Dave Bush which gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. After scoring 1 run in the 6th, 3 in the 7th (a 2 run shot by Cole Garner) & 2 in the 9th, the Yankees looked set and stone to secure the win, but the Phillies attempted to bounce back in the ninth all starting with a Juan Pierre single. Although he gave up 3 runs in the inning, Michael O’Connor was able to regroup and got Cesar Hernandez swinging for the final out of the ball game.

One thing that made the Yankees look a little sloppy on the field today was errors. Eduardo Nunez had an E-6, Ivan Nova had an E-1 & Jayson Nix had an E-3, all in the first inning.

Ivan Nova pitched 2 innings giving up 1 earned run, David Phelps pitched 2 innings giving up no runs, Manny Banuelos (1-0, 0.00 ERA) pitched 2 innings, gave up no runs and secured the win, Dellin Betances pitched 1 inning with 2 walks, Cesar Cabral pitched 1 inning giving up no runs and Michael O’Connor pitched 1 innings giving up 3 runs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The starting infield and Andruw Jones will take on the Phillies tomorrow as the Phillies make the trip to George M. Steinbrenner Field. Freddy Garcia is slated to start tomorrow.

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)

S2S 2012 Team Prospect Lists: New York Yankees

This article is being syndicated from our friends over at Seedlings to Stars.  I will provide some of the article and at the bottom just click the link to read the rest.  Enjoy!!

With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!

Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.

New York Yankees

The Yankees system is undoubtedly somewhat down from where it was in years past. Their vaunted “Killer B” trio–Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman–all ran into trouble in 2011, and Brackman ended up released while Betances looks like he may be headed for the bullpen. Jesus Montero was traded away to Seattle, further damaging the top talent, although New York did receive the Northwest League’s top prospect, Jose Campos, in that trade.

There’s still plenty to like here, though. This system has an abundance of two things: upper-minors arms and low-minors bats. Banuelos, Campos, and Gary Sanchez could be excellent contributors even by the lofty standards of Yankee fans.

Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: B-
Pitching Upside: B+
Pitching Depth: B+
System Grade: B

Catcher: Gary Sanchez. You don’t come across a whole lot of 18-year-old catchers with ISOs of .229 in full-season ball. Sanchez also boasts a strong arm and a good eye at the plate, and has superstar potential. He has some major problems with blocking pitches, but at his age, that’s not cause for alarm just yet, and neither is his elevated strikeout rate. At some point, those are going to need to come around, but he’s got plenty of time, and his overall potential is enormous. Grade: A-

Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Spring Training Storylines

It is creeping up on us very quickly. In a little over two weeks Yankees pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa, Florida. The Giants deep run in the playoffs has probably made the time go by quicker for everybody (not me of course as I am a Packers fan). The offseason storylines have picked up of late and they should lead to an intriguing spring training.  I will breakdown my top five storylines going into camp. Feel free to add more that you guys think are important in the comments.

1)  The 5th starter competition

This spot would seem to be the only one up for competition this spring, other then the usual few bullpen spots, unless an injury crops up.  It will probably come down to how Freddy Garcia. A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes pitch in the spring. The Yankees have a lot more invested in Hughes and Burnett, which is why I do not give Garcia much of a shot, despite his solid year last year.  I do think Garcia would be a successful long man and can fill in the rotation at a moments notice, like Bartolo Colon did last year. I do not see Burnett or Hughes being traded. Nobody want’s Burnett’s contract, even if the Yankees would pick-up a large portion of it. As with Hughes, I don’t think the Yankees should trade him until they get his value back up. Why trade somebody when their value is way down, like it is now? So I do see it coming down to how Hughes and Burnett perform in their spring starts. Hughes needs to come into camp in much better shape than last year. There was no excuse for him coming in the shape that he did and it probably was not a coincidence that he got hurt. We all know Burnett’s issues, but maybe having to pitch for his job will light a fire under him.

2) Who will DH?

I am not in favor of rotating the DH spot. Obviously you have to give Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter DH AB’s, but when they are in the field the Yankees should sign or trade for somebody to DH. Andruw Jones will get most of the DH AB’s against lefties, but the Yankees need to find somebody to face righties. Also, if Brett Gardner hits lefties like he did last year it would not be a bad idea for Jones to play left and have a DH. Gardner only hit .233, with 0 homers, 6 RBI, a .272 slugging percentage, and a .616 OPS against lefties last year. Those are not acceptable numbers. Obviously Gardner is not a power guy, but if you are only going to have a .272 slugging percentage against lefties your average must be higher than .233.

I thought Carlos Pena was an ideal option to DH vs. righties, but he is no longer available. Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Hideki Matsui are all options. I do not see Jorge Vazquez as a legit option because of his high Triple-A strikeout numbers. If they do not sign anybody I would let Jones or even Nunez DH against righties before the 29 year old journeyman.

3) Mark Teixeira Bunting

This is a new story that has crept up and I find it very interesting. Wally Matthews wrote about it on ESPN New York.com. Texeira has said he will work on bunting in spring training and may try to get bunt hits against the shift. I will believe that when I see it. I am not opposed to him dropping a few bunts down against the shift in certain spots, but the Yankees do not pay Teixeira to lay down bunts.  The Yankees pay him to hit home runs, knock runners in, play gold glove defense, and perform in the playoffs. He did 3 out of 4 of those things last year. The Yankee Analysts wrote a great article on Teixeira that everybody should take time to read. I was surprised to learn that Teixeira batted .337 and slugged .837 when pulling the ball against righties. When going the other way against righties Teixeira batted .086 and slugged .103. Those numbers suggest that if Texeira can’t fix his swing going the other way against righties that he should just continue to pull everything. He did do well going the other way hitting right handed so hopefully it can translate to the left side.

4) The Health of Alex Rodriguez

Everybody will be watching Alex Rodriguez this spring to see what his health is. Of course, just because he is healthy in the spring does not mean he will stay healthy the whole year. Last spring A-Rod was hitting the cover off the ball and a lot of people thought he could compete for the MVP again. Unfortunately, that was not the case and he had an injury plagued season. I am optimistic about the results of the knee therapy that A-Rod had in Germany, that Kobe Bryant suggested to him. It is called platelet-rich plasma therapy and is becoming more popular among athletes. Anybody that has watched Kobe in the NBA this year knows he got a lot of explosion back and looks a lot more spry after this surgery. The Yankees need A-Rod back healthy and producing.

5) Which Young Guy Will Shine?

Every spring training a young player will make a splash. That splash usually does not put them on the major league roster, but they do catch the eyes of the Yankees brass and the fans.  Last year Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos had great springs and gave Yankee fans a glimpse of the future. It will be interesting to see them again, but it also will be interesting who else steps up.

Morning Bits: Banuelos, Betances, Girardi

Good Morning all.  Back to the work week.  We are now less than 3 weeks for pitchers and catchers to report.

Also to note Matthew B will be hosting a live chat tonight at 7pm.  Stop on by and bring your questions.

Here are the links. Enjoy.

* ESPN’s Andrew Marchand asks When will the Killer B’s arrive?

* Lohud reports that Girardi draws fans to Harrison library fundraiser.

An interview with Seedlings 2 Stars

Our friends over at Seedlings 2 Stars were kind enough to answer a couple questions about the 2012 Prospect list they put out.  The questions were sent out before the trade but I think the answers are still interesting to hear.

For a bio on both the writers who answered these questions click the below links.

Q1: Tell us what you feel about the projections of Jesus Montero. You ranked him pretty low, in my opinion, on your 2012 Prospect list at #42.  I feel that will be the lowest ranking we will see of him all year from any source.

Nathaniel: Montero is likely to be a very good major league DH. The reason he’s ranked 42nd on the list is because he’s not going to provide any value aside from his bat, so he’s going to have to be one of the top dozen or so hitters in the game if he’s going to attain true stardom. He’s not going to grow much more, and his statistics got worse as he advanced through the minors, so it would seem to be awfully difficult to be confident that he’s going to be a top-15/20 hitter. That said, he’s still just 22 and has a very good track record. He should be a very good hitter. The thing is, there’s a significant chance his offensive production is closer to Billy Butler‘s than Miguel Cabrera‘s.

Q2: A prospect that won’t make many lists is Jorge Vazquez. While he can mash the ball, he tends to strike out quite a bit and doesn’t seem to take many walks. I feel he could be a MLB player (like a Shelly Duncan) but he is blocked by Mark Teixeira at 1B and DH by Montero. Could you see a team wanting him in a trade? Or is he a career minor leaguer?

Wally: Jorge Vazquez is 29-years old and has a dreadful career SO-to-BB of 710-to-173. In 2011 with Triple-A he drew just 30 BB to 166 SO in 118 games. If you’re a fan of percentages his K% was a whopping 33.2 and that’s just not major league material, especially coupled with a 6.0 BB%. The other thing that limits his value on the market is that there are no shortage of younger 1B/DH type guys with better plate discipline and a better track record scattered around the minor leagues. Off the top of my head we have; Clint Robinson (26) – Royals, Bryan LaHair (29) – Cubs, Kila Ka’aihue (27) – Athletics, Brandon Allen (25) – Athletics, Chris Davis (25) – Baltimore. Then you have guys that may be a little older but have a better profile like Luis Terrero (31) – Mexican League. Vazquez may get a look as a bench bat at some point but he’s awfully long in the tooth and with his issues on the plate discipline front, the presence of Teixeira really doesn’t impact his chances of getting major league at bats. The Yankees could be starting Travis Ishikawa at 1B and Vazquez would still be blocked. Bottom line, he has little trade value and is most likely a career minor leaguer who may get a cup of coffee at some point.

Q3: You have Gary Sanchez #17 ranked ahead of Manny Banuelos #26. The majority of Yankees projections will have Banuelos ahead of Sanchez. Can you explain to our readers why you have your rankings this way and how you see Sanchez and Banuelos as MLB players?

Nathaniel: Sanchez has more upside than Banuelos does, and, being a position player, he also has less of a chance of suffering a career-altering injury. His track record, at least on offense, has also been excellent thus far, whereas Banuelos hit some serious speed bumps in the upper minors with his command. I absolutely love Banuelos–he was top-10 on my list last year–but he’s not physically projectable, so his stuff probably “is what it is,” so to speak. Therefore, it could be a couple of years before he refines things enough to get his walk rate back down, and he’s almost certainly not an ace in the end–more of a #2/#3 starter. Sanchez, on the other hand, could be the best catcher in the American League if he can figure out the defensive side of the game. Of course, the same could be said for Montero, but while there’s skepticism surrounding Sanchez’s defensive capabilities, I don’t think it’s quite at the level of the disregard for Montero’s catching.

Q4: What are your thoughts of Dante Bichette Jr.? Some Yankee fans were scratching their heads when he was selected so high in the draft. That being said, in his first season in rookie ball he hit .342 with 3 HRs and 47 RBIs. Do you see him cracking your prospect list in the future?

Wally: I believe in the value of having major league bloodlines and selecting a player of his profile 51st overall was far from head scratching to me. In fact I was surprised he didn’t go earlier. That said, I was surprised by how quickly he transitioned his game to affiliated ball. He was one of a select few players to hit better than 0.300/.400/.500 in 2011 and he did so at 18 years old. I don’t think there is any question that if he puts forth another strong season in 2012 he will land in the 51-100 range of the vast majority of Top-100 lists. He’s got the bat, the projectable power, a strong throwing arm, decent speed and a strong work ethic. In short he’s an outstanding prospect that just needs to show what he did in rookie ball will translate to A-ball and beyond.

Q5: You have Betances ranked at #88 for your 2012 Prospect Rankings.  Some see him as just a back of rotation guy – where do you see him fitting in with the Yankees?

Nathaniel: Tough to say. Betances has very good stuff, so there’s always the chance that he figures out his mechanics, gets the ball down and in the zone more, and takes off. At this point, though, he looks more like an eternal frustration a la A.J. Burnett. He could be a Burnett-type starter with his fastball/curve mix, but probably fits better as a power reliever. If he doesn’t get things together in 2012, he won’t be on the list again.

Q6:  Can you give us a top prospect who could make an impact next year for each team in the AL East that Yankee fans should be aware of?

Wally: For Baltimore there just aren’t a lot of options close to the majors that are likely to have an impact. In fact there’s really just one and that is 2B-turned-outfielder L.J. Hoes. He doesn’t have any standout tool but he is coming off of hitting 0.305/.379/.413 for Bowie (AA) in 2011 with his typically strong SO-to-BB rates. While he lacks the pop you’d like to see in a corner OF, his bat is legit and he should hit for average in the majors. He will likely get on-base at an above average rate and bring good speed to the table.

Like the Orioles much of Boston’s top tier talent is further down in the system but there is one player in particular that will most likely make an impact for the Sox in 2012. C Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut in 2011 after hitting 32 HR between AA and AAA. Once in the majors he didn’t shrink from the spotlight and handled himself well hitting 0.231/.302/.436. He should push for playing time in Spring Training and have a chance to become a “Napoli-esque player” (to borrow a phrase from Nathaniel’s lexicon).

Tampa Bay has the top-pitching prospect in all of baseball and there is no player I am looking forward to watching more in 2012 than LHP Matt Moore. Everyone knows about him by now but he’s going to make a loaded Rays rotation even better. I may be over the top but I consider Moore a serious threat to win the AL Cy Young Award this year.

Toronto has the best farm system in the division and Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia have already made their presence felt in the majors. There is more impact talent on the way. C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Anthony Gose will likely both start in Triple-A and be just a step away from making an impact on the major league roster. Gose will likely take a little more time to round out his game but d’Arnaud could advance quickly and make Arencibia a tradeable commodity in short order.

Q7: Based on the recent trades of Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, could the Yankees have come up with a prospect package to match what Washington & Cinncinati gave up WITHOUT including Montero and Banuelos?

Wally: Well to recap. For Washington it took RHP A.J. Cole, C Derek Norris, LHP Tom Milone and RHP Brad Peacock to get Gio and Robert Gilliam from the Athletics. Cincinnati needed to give up C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Brad Boxberger and RHP Edinson Volquez to pry Mat Latos away from the Padres. Those are 2 serious prospect hauls that the Nationals and Reds surrendered respectively and it’s hard to imagine that the Yankees could have gotten a deal done without including one, if not both, of Montero and Banuelos. If they had packaged Banuelos with Gary Sanchez and probably two other guys a bit further away I think they could have pulled it off for either starting pitcher. Likewise a package fronted by Jesus and Betances and some other guys further away may have worked but Montero’s value to the Padres was significantly less due to the uncertainty surrounding his ability to play catcher.

To put it more bluntly, no. I don’t think they could not have pulled off either deal without giving up either Montero or Banuelos.

Q8: Would a package of Betances, one of Romine or Sanchez, one of Warren or Phelps and another C-level prospect be enough for the Cubs to trade Matt Garza?

Wally: Ah, see now were getting to a more realistic target as Matt Garza isn’t on the same level as Mat Latos or Gio Gonzalez. He’s several years older and closer to free agency which makes him a less valuable trade commodity. If the Yankees were to step up with a Betances, Sanchez package and maybe another C+ prospect I have to believe the Cubs would jump at the chance. If they opted to try and move Romine instead of Sanchez than I think Phelps, Betances and another piece would have to be involved.

Q9: I love Tyler Austin as a sleeper prospect. I think he possesses the same skill set of Dante Bichette but doesn’t get near the publicity. Have you seen him play? What do you think of him? And is there a sleeper or two you like in the Yankee organization that might not get a lot of press?

Nathaniel: I’ve seen a bit of video of Austin. I agree that he’s definitely worthy of being talked about along with Bichette and Williams–they form a formidable trio of short-season guys you don’t find in many organizations. I think Nik Turley and David Phelps are two good sleepers. I see both as capable fourth starters in the big leagues.

Q10: With most of their top pitching prospects in the upper levels (AA and above), what young pitchers in the Yankee system do you like to step forward in the coming years to replace Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Nova, Phelps, Warren, etc…

Wally: Of the guys pitching below AA the two I think have the best chance to step forward are RHP Brett Marshall (21) and LHP Nik Turley (22). Both have now reached High-A and both could develop into mid-rotation guys. Outside of those two there’s not a whole lot else to dream on right now in the lower levels.

Q11: I expect to see Mason Williams crack a lot of Top 100 lists this yr. BA rated him the top prospect in the NY Penn Lg and he’s got all kind of tools in his shed. Was he considered for your top 100 and what is your overall opinion on him?

Nathaniel: Yes, Williams was considered for the top 100. He was around the 110s on my list, and that’s no insult. I was very hesitant with a lot of short-season guys on the list this year, sort of as a reaction to going too crazy with them on the list the year before. I do think he was the top prospect in that league, he has a very good skillset, and he’s certainly a prospect to watch. He, Austin, and Bichette will all rise up my rankings next year if they continue to hit in A-ball.

Brian Cashman Strikes Gold

Brian Cashman recently proved why he is not just one of the best GM’s in baseball because of his checkbook. He made the shrewdest move of the offseason and fixed the Yankees rotation problems in one night. On Friday night, Cashman traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle for Michael Pineda and prospect Jorge Campos. Cashman also signed Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 yr deal for 10 million dollars. This was a trade you don’t see very often. Money was not involved; it was just a deal where studs were traded for each other to help each team’s needs.  There was some risk involved of course, but this was the right move for Cashman to make.

Cashman, amazingly enough, was able to accomplish two huge things in this trade. He greatly improved the team in 2012 and for the future without raising the payroll. You do not often see 23 year old studs like Pineda available on the market often, especially when they are under contract until 2017. Funny thing is- nobody even knew he was. Cashman swooped and stole him, leaving  the rest of MLB in shock. I say stole him because when you look at the trades made for aces Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos this offseason, that is exactly what it was. The Reds and Nationals gave up more talent in their farm systems for lesser pitchers then Pineda in my opinion. The Yankees also did not have to kill their farm system to get him. I am not saying Jesus Montero will not be an elite hitter for years to come because in all likely hood he will be. However, you always take the elite pitcher over the position player, especially when the position might end up being DH. Also, do not underestimate getting Jose Campos in this deal. He is a guy scouts are loving and is probably already a top 10 Yankees prospect. His upside is better than Hecor Noesi, whom the Yankees traded to Seattle.

Pineda had a great rookie year going 9-10, with a 3.74 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and 9.1 K/9 (2nd in the AL).  At 6-7 260 lb., Pineda is an intimidating force with a great arsenal of stuff.  Pineda has a terrific fastball that averaged 94.7 mph, which was the fourth fastest fastball in MLB. Pineda can get it up to almost triple digits when need be. Pineda also has a devastating slider that righties cannot touch. Righties only batted .184 off of Pineda, which leads the AL, and whiffed at a ridiculous 41% of his sliders. Pineda does need to develop a better changeup in order to deal with lefty hitters. I would say that is his biggest weakness right now. Developing that 3rd pitch is a big key for him. Pineda showed the capability to eventually be a number one starter, but right now he will be just fine as their number 2.

The two knocks on Pineda last season are that he pitched in a pitchers park and that he fell off in the 2nd half last season. A 9.1 K/9 translates to any ballpark. His 2.89 BB/9 is not elite per say, but very good for a rookie who struck out all the guys that he did.  Pineda will have to improve his fly ball% (44.8%) because more of those fly balls will turn into home runs at Yankee Stadium.

Many people are using the argument that Pineda had a very poor second half of 2011. However, his ERA of 5.12 during that time does not tell the whole story. His peripherals were much better than that ERA suggests.

Split

BB%

K%

GB%

HR/FB

BABIP

LOB%

FIP

xFIP

Mar/Apr

9.5%

23.8%

30.9%

0.0%

0.262

76.5%

2.26

3.90

May

5.6%

28.6%

36.6%

10.8%

0.231

82.0%

3.15

2.98

Jun

8.3%

21.2%

26.5%

7.5%

0.243

76.1%

3.90

4.28

Jul

9.3%

28.8%

40.6%

14.3%

0.294

46.1%

3.74

3.14

Aug

7.4%

24.2%

46.8%

19.0%

0.262

65.4%

4.20

3.09

Sept/Oct

6.7%

22.7%

45.3%

9.5%

0.275

71.4%

3.41

3.44

Graph by Dave Cameron- Fan Graphs

Looking at this chart suggests that the reason for Pineda’s high second half ERA was because he had a higher BABIP. However, his FIP and xFIP  in the second half were not really bad at all. In July, Pineda’s ERA was 6.75, while his xFIP was an excellent 3.14. Besides, it is common for a young pitcher to wear down a little bit as his innings go up to where they have never gone before.

Pineda makes the Yankees a better team in 2012 and in the future.  A rotation of CC Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and a TBA 5th starter is much better then they had last year. Barring a trade, A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes will battle it out for the 5th spot, and give the Yankees great rotation depth. This also gives Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances another year to develop in the minors.  Even without Montero the Yankees will still boast one of the games best offenses around Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. As for replacing Montero at DH, my choices in order would be Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui. The Yankees have reportedly been in contact with all of them.

Brian Cashman has once again set up the Yankees to be a championship caliber team.

Would EJax take 2 years?

EJax is eerily similar to Matt Garza

Despite the clear need for a starting pitcher, most Yankee fans want no part of Edwin Jackson.  Despite the fact that he’s been a solid pitcher with great stuff and a chance to improve at the age of 28, he isn’t attractive to the Yankees because of his perceived cost. 

Scott Boras is looking for a 5 yr deal for around $15M per season which based on the contracts given to Burnett, Lackey, D.Lowe, Buehrle & CJ Wilson, is pretty much what the price has been on the Free Agent market.  That being said,  all of those contracts were colossal busts with the exception of Buehrle & Wilson where the stories have yet to be written.  So no one is knocking down the door for Jackson at that price.

If I had to guess I’d say he’ll have to come down to 4 yrs @ $11-12M to find interest.  However, even that is more than the Yanks want to spend because of the payroll flexibility they’d like to maintain heading into 2014.  That being the case, perhaps there’s room for compromise that helps all 3 parties – Yankees, Boras & EJackson.

What if the Yankees offered $15M per season for 2 years?  Boras gets the $15M he asked for, Jackson pockets $30M and re-enters Free Agency at still young age of 30 and the Yanks get a #3 starter with #2 potential while still not touching their 2014 Payroll.

I’m not excited by the prospect of Jackson and $15M is more than I’d be comfortable paying him, but for only 2 years it’s not a bad idea. Let’s do a quick comparison of Jackson and Yankee trade target Matt Garza over the last 3 years:

  W L IP ERA XFIP K/9 BB/9 GB% HR/9 SIERA WAR
Jackson 35 30 623 3.96 3.93 7.08 3.03 44% 0.92 4.06 11.2
Garza 33 32 605 3.73 3.89 7.96 3.05 40% 1 3.85 9.7

 Comparing stuff, Jackson averages 94.5 MPH on his Fastball and throws a nasty 87 MPH Slider, which is his best pitch.  He throws a 2-seamer and mixes in a Change & Curveball about 11% of the time.

Garza is a little more well-rounded but averages 93.7 MPH on his Fastball and throws an 86 MPH Slider as his out pitch.  He also throws a 2-seamer and mixes in the Change & Curve slightly more at 23%, although neither are effective pitches.

So their numbers are nearly identical, they were born 2 months apart and their stuff is very similar too.  What would be the difference in cost?

Garza will likely earn a combined $21M over the next 2 years in arbitration before becoming a Free Agent.  From what we hear, he would also cost 1 or both of Banuelos & Betances plus more in a trade.

If you could get Jackson at a cost of $30M over the next 2 years and KEEP Banuelos & Betances, wouldn’t that be a much better scenario?  You could also even out the costs by picking up$24M of AJ Burnet’s contract to dump him on someone. That would save the $9M difference and make the net cost of Jackson the same $21M that Garza would make.

I like Garza as a pitcher and think he’s tougher and a better all-around pitcher. But Jackson’s stuff and nearly identical numbers as Garza over the last 3 years is hard to ignore.  I know the chances of Jackson accepting a 2 yr $30M deal are slim but if it comes down to accept a 4 yr-$40M deal with Baltimore or a 2yr-$30M deal with New York, which would you choose?  Boras has done the unconventional before and last yr steered Rafael Soriano to the Yanks as a set-up man on a closer’s deal.  It’s not entirely impossible.

I’m not sure this is a good idea but it’s food for thought.  Would you be interested in EJax for 2 years?

Yankees Top 40 Prospects for 2012

Could Mason Williams be #1 on this list next year?

Based on their recent actions and remarks, it seems the Yankees are serious about sticking to a smaller payroll now and at least through the 2014 season in an attempt to get under the $189 Million Luxury Tax threshold.  In order to do so, the club will need to look  to fill important positions from within and develop both impact and role players.

The Yankees system became known in recent years as being deep in Pitchers and Catchers but lacking in strong position prospects.  This was definitely a weakness identified by Mark Newman & Damon Oppenheimer and they addressed it by adding several solid up the middle athletes and corner players who can rake in the last 2 years.  Now, the system is more well-rounded although there is definitely a lack of upper-echelon hitters in the higher levels of the organization.

The system is still strong in upper level pitching. Even with Nova & Noesi graduating to NY, they still have 5 potential MLB starters in AAA (Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Phelps, DJ Mitchell).  The next level of pitching is led by Brett Marshall and several guys that need to take a step forward in 2012.  Oppenheimer has a history of drafting good college relievers and there are many strong-armed righties in the pipeline who could advance quickly.

Today, I will list the Top 40 with a quick blurb, then will follow-up with more in-depth on the Top 20 or so players in the coming weeks.  Each player has their position, Opening Day 2012 Age & expected level to start season.

1) Jesus Montero - C/DH, 22 – MLB

Has an elite bat that will make him a middle of the order MLB hitter for the next decade+. Rare blend of natural power to all fields with ability to make adjustments and take what pitcher gives him.   Only question is whether he will be anything more than a DH but a .300 hitter with 30 HR power will always find a spot even if he’s eventually a full-time DH.

2) Manny Banuelos- LHSP, 21 – AAA

Manny Banuelos

Had control issues in AA/AAA but most believe it’s just a matter of trying to be too fine as he has solid mechanics and repeats his delivery well.  Threw a career-high 130 innings so will be in line for 150-160 this year and could be ready to pitch for NY in 2nd half.

3) Gary Sanchez - C, 19 – HiA

Has big-time raw power and still growing into his 6’2″ frame.  His defense has been poor but I think he has the athleticism to convert to corner OF or 1B down the line and his bat is definitely strong enough to support such a switch.

4) Dellin Betances - RHSP, 24 - AAA

This is a big year for Betances. At 24, he needs to have a good year in AAA to prove he can pitch in a MLB rotation. Has plus, swing-and-miss stuff but most improve his control to cut down his pitch counts.

5) Mason Williams – CF, 20 – LoA

Dynamic player with plus-plus MLB speed and defense already. He put on a show in rookie ball and if he shows his offensive skills are for real this year in full-season ball, he may vault to #1 on this list next year.

6)  Dante Bichette, Jr. - 3B, 19 – LoA

Drafted for his plus power, he’s shown better defense than was thought. He’s really impressed the organization with his intangibles & makeup - namely his work ethic, advanced approach, knowledge of the game & leadership. Baseball America named him top prospect in Gulf Coast League and VP of baseball operations Mark Newman calls him “a special player and person.”

7) Austin Romine- C, 23 – AAA

His defense behind the plate is MLB-ready now.  His bat isn’t special but will be good enough for him to have a long career as a starting catcher in the bigs.

Phelps is a winner.

8) David Phelps - RHSP, 25 – AAA

Phelps is a winner who knows how to pitch. He’s 38-15 with a 2.61 ERA in his 4 years in the organization. He’s maintained the same solid numbers at every level including a 7.4 K/9 & 2.0 BB/9. Reminds me a little of Ian Kennedy. Missed time with shoulder issue but came back strong in August and was solid in AFL also.

9) Ravel Santana – OF, 19 – LoA

Tremendous physical skill set with power & speed. BA rated the wiry 6’2″ 160 pounder  right behind Bichette as best in the Gulf Coast League after he put up a .425 wOBA. Will have to overcome the broken ankle & torn ligaments he suffered last season so will likely start in extended ST this year.

10) Tyler Austin- 3B, 20 – LoA

Tyler Austin can hit for average and power.

I seem to be in the minority but I  really like this guy. He made his debut in the Gulf Coast and smashed to a .517 wOBA in 20 games, then followed up with .448 wOBA  in Staten Island. Has power to all fields and an advanced approach that helps him drive off-speed pitches. How many 20-year olds can you say that about? BA ranked him 8th best prospect in NY Penn League. Only question mark is his defense at 3B but he’s athletic enough to play the OF if need be. He even stole 18 of 18 bases in just 47 games which tells me he has good instincts and a feel for the game.

11) J.R. Murphy - C/3B, 20 – HiA

Improved his game offensively & defensively before ending season early with leg injury. Rips line drives to all fields and scouts now believe he has the ability to remain as a catcher while also showing the athleticism to play 3B and OF. Could become a very versatile asset in the Majors.

12) Slade Heathcott - CF, 21 – HiA

He’s Gardner-like in the OF right now and has more offensive potential. However, I’m a little concerned with his constant injuries and questionable makeup. To have his speed and get thrown out stealing 17 times in 38 attempts is baffling. But, if he matures and stays healthy, he could be special.

13) Brett Marshall- RHSP, 22 – AA

Brett Marshall

Now fully recovered from his 2009 Tommy John Surgery, he threw career high 140 IP with 3.24 FIP. Has good low 90s sinker and makings of a plus slider. Has flashed mid 90s velocity at times and will be interesting how he does in AA this year.

14) Adam Warren- RHSP,  24 – AAA

Warren is next in a succession of Yankee right handers, behind Nova and Noesi, ready to advance to the majors. He threw 152 IP in AAA with a 3.60 ERA and on a lesser team without depth, he’d have a great chance to make the rotation.

15) Corban Joseph - 2B, 23 – AAA

Has patient approach and nice lefty stroke that generates hard line drives but there are concerns about his defense at 2B and 3B. He had .346 wOBA in Trenton with 38 doubles and 8 triples but doesn’t get the lift and backspin to hit HRs.

16) Zoilo Almonte – OF, 22 – AA

Solid all-around skills. Good defense, speed and power that has improved the last 2 years. Yanks added the switch-hitter to their 40-man to protect him from Rule 5 draft and he could be a candidate to make the team in 2013.

17) Graham Stoneburner - RHSP, 24 – AA

Season was marred by a neck injury that kept him out 2 months and he was never quite effective as excellent debut in 2010. But he still has a great sinking fastball that gets tons of grounders.

18) David Adams - 2B, 24 – AA

The ankle injury he suffered in 2010 lingered all season and the Yankees were very careful with Adams. He played sparingly in only 29 games.  If he’s finally healthy this season he could progress quickly as he has an excellent bat that rips line drives to all fields.

19) Angelo Gumbs- 2B, 19 – LoA

Great up the middle athlete shows lightning quick bat speed and raw power to go with strong arm and nice speed. BA rated him 14th best prospect in NY Penn League where he had .341 wOBA, 4 triples & 11 SB in 220 PAs.

Nik Turley has that Andy Pettitte look down pat.

20) Nik Turley - LHSP. 22 – HiA

6’7″ lefty reminds me a litle of Andy Pettitte.  Took a step forward with 2.51 ERA and 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 82 IP in Charleston til a broken hand ended his season after being promoted to Tampa.

21) DJ Mitchell - RHSP, 24 – AAA

Similar to David Phelps, Mitchell is someone who just keeps pitching well and winning. Sinker/slider pitcher with solid change-up could be another back end starter/long-relief candidate.

22) Mark Montgomery - RHRP, 21 – HiA

Overwhelmed hitters with low-mid 90s Fastball and an unhittable slider leading to a 16.4 K/9 and 1.91 ERA as closer in Charleston.  His slider is just unfair to young hitters and he needs to be tested against more advanced hitters to see how quick he can advance.

23) Brandon Laird - 3B, 24 – AAA

Strong defensive 3B with good power but he doesn’t take many walks or hit for much average.  Has also played some 1B & LF so could be a backup candidate in NY.

24) Cito Culver- SS, 19 – LoA

Showed strong arm with smoothness in the field and compact swing from both sides of the plate. BA rated him 6th best prospect in NYPenn League where he hit .250/.323/.337.  He’s a project that will take time to develop his offensive game.

25) Ramon Flores - OF, 20 – HiA

Sweet lefty stroke and patient approach at plate, had .350 wOBA in Charleston. Good OF with strong arm and solid all-around tools. Only 5’10″ 160 so should get stronger and develop some pop.

26) George Kontos - RHRP, 26 – MLB

Standard FB/Slider reliever, held RH hitters to a .182 BAA in AAA.  Averages about a strikeout per inning but is a fly-ball pitcher who is prone to HRs.

27) Claudio Custodio - 2B, 21 – LoA

Talented 2B/SS with very good speed.  Hit ball well in GCL and  showed willingness to take a walk.  Hit .325 with .433 OBP and 26 SB in 28 attempts.

28) Tommy Kahnle - RHRP, 22 – HiA

Power reliever had 2.45 FIP in 81 IP with 12.4 K/9 but also 5.4 BB/9. Sits around 93-95 and can dial it up to 96-97 with a developing slider.  Needs to improve his command and secondary pitches.

29) Isias Tejada – C, 20 – LoA

Next in line of promising Yankee catcher prospects, Tejada showed his ability to make good, hard contact with a .971 OPS in the GCL with only a 12% strike out rate.

30) Brandon Pinder - RHRP, 23 – LoA

Dominated mostly younger hitters as closer in Staten Island with 11.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 1.16 ERA.  Has great command of 94-95 mph Fastball but has no quality secondary pitch yet.

31) Bryan MitchellRHSP, 20 – LoA

Plus stuff but still very raw. Put things together by end of year and shows strikeout (8.6 K/9) and ground-ball stuff (2.19 GO/AO rate)

32) Jose Rosario- SS/2B, 20 – LoA

Hit just as well as teammate Bichette with .331 average and .529 SLG%.  He’s a hacker with a 3.2% Walk rate but he’s caught the attention of the organization and earned a late season promotion to Charleston. Mark Newman stated, “He can run (11 SB in 43 games) and throw. He hit 6 HRs, so he has some ability to impact the ball.  By diligence, he’s turning himself into a quality prospect.”

33) Taylor Morton - RHSP, 20 – LoA

Made impressive debut in GCL. The 6’3″ righty should get stronger and he already possesses a plus change, low 90′s FB and good command.

34) Rob Segedin - 3B, 23 – HiA

Big 3B/OF with strong hitting skills. Earned promotion with .395wOBA at Charleston but struggled some in Tampa. Yanks put him in AFL this Fall where he went .250/.367/.407.

35) Daniel Lopez – CF, 20 – LoA

Another emerging all-around athlete with good speed. Showed power potential this year hitting .327/.413/.490 with 27 SB in 61 games across 3 levels.

36) Jose Ramirez - RHSP, 22 – HiA

Promising arm took a step back this year but still notched strong K rates so stuff is still there.

37) Evan Rutckyj- LHSP, 20 – LoA

Big strong 6’5″ lefty got stronger as the season progressed and generates a lot of ground-balls.

38) Cesar Cabral - LHRP, 23 – MLB

Rule 5 pick from Red Sox system, he’ll have chance to make team in ST as second lefty in pen. Gets a lot of Ks with good Fastball and plus Changeup.

39) Pat Venditte SWRP, 26 – AAA

Doesn’t have dominating stuff but continues to post good overall numbers and solid K rates at every level.  Biggest drawback is he’s a heavy flyball pitcher.

40) Abe Almonte – OF, 22 – AA

Plus defender and baserunner but wildly inconsistent at the plate. Switch-hitter had huge 2nd half, riding a 30-game hitting streak and showing off good extra base hit power.  Needs to prove 2nd half surge was real at AA this year.

Other NotablesWalter Ibarra, Kyle Roller, Zach Nuding, Dan Burawa, Chase Whitley, Ronnie Mustlier, Yeicock Calderon, Robert Lyerly, Melky Mesa, Dan Brewer, Brad Suttle, Jorge Vazquez, Ben Gamel, Gabe  Encinas, Matt Tracy, Zach Wilson, Evan DeLuca, Mikey O’Brien

New Additions to Watch in 2012: Greg Bird, Jake Cave, Matt Duran, Jordan Cote, Justin James, Dan Camarena, Hayden Sharp, Rookie Davis, Miquel Andujar

What I’d Do If I Were Cashman

We know that it is not possible for a team to win the World Series during the offseason due to all the acquisition & trades to make their team better on paper, but the Yankees have done close to nothing. The Yankees have gotten some small players here and there, but if George Steinbrenner was alive today, he would probably be shocked that the Yankees haven’t gotten anyone big. During the Winter Meetings the Yankees picked up 2 Rule 5 Drafts while the Marlins and Angels picked up Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Albert Pujols & C.J Wilson, four big names that were on the FA list when the season ended. I understand that Brian Cashman wasn’t interested in players since they would cost so high or because they get injured but just sitting around not doing anything will not get you Championships.

There were rumors last week that Cashman said that his rotation was as good as it is. Well what I say is that is complete nonsense. The Yankees were good enough to win the AL East Division, and if the bats were alive they may have been well enough to get through the playoffs, but the World Series? I wouldn’t think so. The World Series is the big stage and if you look at the names that aren’t CC Sabathia & Ivan Nova. You have inconsistent A.J Burnett, and okay pitchers like Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. Garcia & Hughes are good, but if the Yankees were to win the WS, they need the 1-2 punch in their rotation. I would not put Nova as a #2 starter as that would be too much pressure, but having Burnett as your #2 starter? No way. I hate to do Brian Cashman’s job for him, but here are some things I would do if I was Cashman this offseason (you might want to take notes):

1. Sign Roy Oswalt to a 1 year deal: It would have been Mark Buerhle,

Roy Oswalt could be the answer to the Yankees problems, if he could stay healthy.

but Buerhle packed his bags and went to Miami because Cashman didn’t want to sign him. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that Roy Oswalt is injury prone, but his manager Bob Garber insists that Oswalt is fine and that there are no back problems. When Roy Oswalt is healthy he is quite impressive. While Oswalt had a 9-10 record, he had a 3.63 ERA which isn’t bad at all. He doesn’t walk a lot of batters (33 batters in 2011 to be exact; 2.14 BB/9) and struck out 93 (6.02 K/9). He only gave up 10 HR’s in 2011 (0.65 HR/9, which is fantastic). Does Roy Oswalt get injured a lot? Yes. But when he’s healthy does he show that he’s very effective? Yes. Also another hint to Cashman if you are thinking of signing Roy Oswalt. Don’t give him a lot of money. You don’t want that on your shoulder if Oswalt should get injured at any time during the season.

2. Trade for Gio Gonzalez: No, I am not going to propose the trade that was rumored around that would have sent Brett Gardner to the A’s. I was thinking someone more like Eduardo Nunez to the A’s. I wouldn’t send Nunez alone of course. Nunez would go with some nice prospects to sweeten the deal such as Adam Warren or Dellin Betances. If the A’s don’t like it (which is 100% inevitable) then a 3 way trade might do the trick. The A’s see players that they like from the Royals and we see players that we like from the A’s, so a 3 way trade with Oakland, Kansas City and the Yankees could do nicely. I know the A’s might be interested in young outfielders, but I think that Nunez could learn the OF. It should be almost impossible to commit 20+ errors out there like it is at shortstop (Nunez, just don’t slide).

3. Ask the Nationals for a trade: I wouldn’t expect the Nationals to help us out, seeing that we won’t give them Brett Gardner but what if we were able to entice the deal with Nick Swisher & Nunez (if the Gio Gonzalez trade doesn’t work). I don’t dislike Nick Swisher, but let’s face it- he sucks in the postseason. And would the Nationals rather have Nick Swisher in the RF vicinity than Jayson Werth, who they unfortunately nicknamed “Jayson Werth-less” due to his contract? Unfortunately, despite the Nationals’ interest in some Yankees players, they don’t have a whole lot to offer as far as the Yankees’ needs go. Stephen Strasburg or Jordan Zimmerman would certainly be nice to acquire, but there’s no way Washington is making them available.

A trade for Felix Hernandez is as unlikely as ever, but if he becomes even slightly available, Cashman will inevitably pounce.

4. Trade for King Felix: The Seattle Mariners may have said that Felix Hernandez is off the market, but if the Yankee were serious about getting starting pitching, then they could try and trade for Felix Hernandez. During the “Yankees Talk” live chat, someone asked me if the Yankees would consider trading Brett Gardner for Felix Hernandez. A point was brought up to me by Matthew B. (Writer for Yankee Fans Unite) that if the Yankees offered just Gardner for Hernandez, the Mariners would laugh in our faces. I would hate to trade Brett Gardner to any team (and I am trying to keep a neutral opinion) but if it is to get Felix Hernandez, I would do it. The Mariners want someone who can entice people into the stadium and Gardner does just that for the Yankees. If you haven’t noticed, there are a bunch of girls who sit in the LF part of the stadium. Do you really think that they are there just for baseball or more to see Brett Gardner make fantastic plays in the OF? That is the type of energy that the Mariners could be looking for in a player. The only issue with giving up Gardner is that there is no given in who will be the next LF who is as versatile as he is. I would only go to this step if all else fails and if the Yankees are getting desperate.

Not sure if Brian Cashman would want to do ANY of these things but it is getting late(r) into the off season and he has so much to do. So Cashman- now is the time to act! What are you going to do this offseason?

Yankees Winter Meetings Recap

The 2011 MLB Winter Meeting have come and gone without much noise from the New York Yankees.  Instead, the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made all the noise in this years very active Winter Meetings.  What would George Steinbrenner think about all of this if he were alive? The Yankees have so far refused to overpay for anybody, or give up any top prospects.  The only thing they did was win the rights to sign Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. There were some interesting rumors out there for starting pitchers that maybe will develop down the road this offseason.

First let’s start off with the only concrete thing that happened with the Yankees winning the Nakajima bid. It sounds like the Yankees really did not expect to win the bid and that Nakajima probably will not sign with the Yankees. He probably does not want to come to the Yankees in a backup role when he can be an MLB free agent next offseason. If Nakajima did sign with the Yankees he has good power and would be able to help the Yankees give their middle infielders and A-Rod a breather.  There was the idea that they could sign Nakajima and then dangle Eduardo Nunez in a trade, but I do not see that to be the case.

The major trade rumors involving the Yankees were about Oakland A’s pitcher Gio Gonzalez. One trade that was rumored by Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest was the Yankees getting Gonzalez, the Royals getting David Phelps and Michael Taylor, and the A’s getting Brett Gardner and Clint Robinson. Also, Silva said the Yankees were the front runners for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespesdes. I believe this would be an absolute steal and a no brainier for the Yankees. They would only have to give up Gardner and Phelps in this scenario. Gardner is a nice player and great on defense. However, he is replaceable especially by Cespesdes, who offers a similar kind of speed and defense. Doing that trade would be the much better alternative to what Bob Klapisch reported the A’s wanted, which was Jesus Montero, one of Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances, and new stud prospect outfielder Mason Williams. That is obviously an asinine offer but I would be inclined to do a trade package around Montero for Gonzalez. The Yankees have a huge need for a number two pitcher and there is no way around it. Gonzalez I think would fit that bill well. Gonzalez is only 26 and is not a free agent until after the 2014 season year. He had an outstanding year last season going 16-12, with a 3.12 ERA, 197 strikeouts, and a 1.31 WHIP. His one negative is that he issued 91 walks last year. Scouts told New York Daily News writer John Harper, that they believe he was pitching too carefully due to lack of run support in  Oakland, and that it would change in New York. I tend to agree with that theory.  I think Gonzalez is the most talented pitcher on the trade market and has a very nice contract. The Yankees should be trying hard to land him.

The other relevant Yankees information that came out of the Winter Meetings is that Yu Darvish will be posted. As I said with Gonzalez, if the Yankees feel Darvish is a number two caliber starter the Yankees need to win the bid on him. It is currently all question marks behind CC Sabathia in the rotation. Will Ivan Nova have a sophomore slump? Can Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett be trusted? Can Freddy Garcia repeat his 2011 year? Can Hector Noesi come in and live up to the potential the Yankees think he has? Do not relate Darvish to other Japanese pitchers like Dice- K or Kei Igawa, as he has much better stuff. Cashman has been lukewarm in the media regarding whether or not they will bid highly on him, although Yankee scouts are said to love Darvish.

Cashman has done a nice job of protecting his assets so far and not doing anything regrettable. However, one has to wonder with the Angels gaining a ton of talent in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, if he will get more aggressive.  The strategy paid off for Cashman last year, but he may be hedging his bet if he goes with the same starting rotation as he did last year. It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out.


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