Blog Archives

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Posada, Hamels, HOF, Hughes

Lot’s of topics among the many Yankee blogs, so let’s get right into it…..

* An A-Blog for A-Rod has their take on Jorge Posada’s retirement.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue has their thoughts on why waiting for Hamels is the right move.

* New York Baseball Digest says it’s time to hold writers more accountable for their HOF vote.

* Pinstripe Alley talks about Manny Ramirez in pinstripes.

* River Ave Blues scouts Phil Hughes.

* Road to Yankee Stadium has Mason Williams as their #5 Top Prospect.

* The Yankee Analysts have their expectations for Montero in 2012.

* Yanks Go Yard predicts Sabathia’s 2012 season.

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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

Cashman remains inactive as another big starter is traded

Mat Latos is the latest top of the rotation starter to be moved

Well, another potential #2-type starter- Mat Latos -  has been traded while Brian Cashman does nothing. Cash has not made a significant move to bring in a new pitcher since the failed Javy Vazquez trade in 2009.  Since the 2010 season when both Vazquez and A.J. Burnett proved they were enormous busts, the Yankees have had a glaring need for another top of the rotation starter.  The need increased after Andy Pettitte’s retirement.

Despite the obvious need and Cashman’s own admission that “pitching, pitching, pitching” has been his #1 target, he has not made any significant additions, electing to rely on what is in the system and going for low-risk veterans like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon & Kevin Millwood.  While Cashman continues to complain about the price, we have seen more than a dozen potential top of the rotation arms change teams. Cliff Lee (twice), Dan Haren, Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, Matt Garza, CJ Wilson, Trevor Cahill, Mark Buehrle, Doug Fister, Ubaldo Jimenez, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Yu Darvish (likely) & Mat Latos have all been moved since the Yanks have been in the market so what is Cashman waiting for?

Each one of the above pitchers have had their own set of circumstances but to see that many starters being moved, it is really mind-boggling that Cashman has been unable to make any moves.  The Yanks seem to have the 2 most necessary things needed to acquire a SP – plenty of cash and a stocked Farm System.  But if we look in-depth at what has prevented the Yankees from completing a deal, these seem to be the biggest obstacles:

  1. Cashman has been very reluctant to part with his top prospects.  All trade partners have asked for 1 or more of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances & Eduardo Nunez.  Cashman was willing to trade Montero for Lee but things stalled when Seattle also insisted on Nunez.  Lately Cashman has rebuffed any and all offers for Montero & Banuelos and I think he is right in doing so. Unless a truly elite arm  with multiple years of team control becomes available, those 2 should stay.
  2. Teams have not accepted or Cash  has been unwilling to trade his next level of prospects.  It seems to me that the Yanks have plenty of guys besides the big 4 mentioned above that teams would be interested in.  Romine & Gary Sanchez are both highly regarded Catchers that project to be MLB starters. They also have 4 ready or nearly-MLB ready pitchers in Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps & DJ Williams. In addition there are many strong hitting prospects in Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Dante Bichette, Ravel Santana, Tyler Austin, etc but they are all in the lower levels of the system.
  3. The team is working under a stricter budget.  While Cashman always had a budget to work with, he knew he could always go over it if he felt a move really helped the team.  But money has been a reason why the Yanks haven’t made offers to most Free Agent pitchers lately.  While the budget doesn’t preclude Cash from signing a big Free Agent, it makes it much more important that he is right when he gives out the next big deal.  If they want to get under the $189M Luxury tax threshold in 2014 and stay competetive, they will not be able to eat another $80M mistake like AJ Burnett or ~$40M blunders like Igawa, Pavano, Wright or Soriano.
  4. Could Cashman be gun-shy? As mentioned above, the Yankees have often been wrong on their big money pitching acquisitions. I don’t believe Brian is afraid of making a mistake, however I do think he’s starting to become too rigid.  I understand not wanting to trade Montero & Banuelos, but I would trade anyone else in the system to upgrade the pitching.  I’d rather overpay a bit for a proven #2 and challenge for the World Series, than to do nothing and get knocked out early again in 2012. He must remember that most prospects don’t pan out and there are only so many openings in the Bronx for them anyway. Use your farm system while its strong!

    Well Joe, I didn't get you any new pitchers again but you still have A.J.

Based on what is left on the market, I think FAs Kuroda & Oswalt should be targets. Signing Kuroda and dumping AJ Burnett for any salary relief would be a big improvemet.  If Oswalt would consider a 1 or 2 yr deal, he’d also be an option.  On the trade front, I agree with not trading Montero & Banuelos for Gio Gonzalez or John Danks, but I think some combo of Betances, Nunez, Romine, Sanchez, Noesi, etc should be enough to get one of those pitchers.

The Reds got a great young, team-controlled pitcher in Mat Latos but also gave up a lot of talent.  If the Yanks were to match the Reds package, it likely would have been something like Montero, Sanchez or Romine, Noesi or Warren & Hughes or Joba.  That’s a heavy price to pay.  If the Padres offered you Latos for that package would you have done it? And what do you think of what Cashman has done the past 2 years?  Is he correct to do nothing?

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.


Morning Bits: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Bobby V., Trading Burnett, Montero

Day 3 of the winter Meetings is now over.  The Yankees won the rights to sign a SS from Japan but from all reports he doesn’t seemed thrilled on being a backup.    Do the Yankees have something cooking today?  Check back often as we will post the latest.

Now on to the links……

* The Yankees win the right to negotiate with Japanese shortstop.

* This didn’t take long.  Bobby V. stated that he hates the Yankees.

* To Trade Burnett, Yankees willing to eat part of his salary.

* Yanks talk about their plans for Jesus Montero.

* Yankees might make a move in the Rule 5 Draft.

Cashman says “No” to Montero, Betances, Banuelos trade to A’s.

Cashman says  “No” to Montero, Betances/Banuelos trade to A’s

By Delia E.

According to reports, the Oakland Athletics asked for either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos plus Jesus Montero for Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez. Brian Cashman quickly said no to the offer. Cashman also said that he would never send any of them to Oakland for Gio Gonzalez, kind of like a repeat of the John Danks trade offer from the White Sox. Is anyone good enough for Brian Cashman? Maybe or Maybe not. Stay tuned for more Winter Meeting trade rumors.

Yankees Tell White Sox, No John Danks

Yankees Tell White Sox, No John Danks

By Delia E.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post & Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, Brian Cashman said no to a trade with the White Sox that consisted of John Danks for Jesus Montero & Manny Banuelos. Heyman tweeted that the Yankees would not give up either Montero or Banuelos for Danks.

Dan Haren Speculation

 

Brian Cashman has done a great job recently of avoiding the temptation to trade his best prospects for pitchers who were not worth the price. However, in hindsight, one error he did make was not completing a deal for Dan Haren when Arizona traded him. He reportedly would not give up Dellin Betances, Joba Chamberlain, and Hector Noesi for Haren at the July trading deadline last year. Haren is the number two starter the Yankees are looking for, and getting him without having to give up Jesus Montero or Manny Banuelos is a no brainer in my mind. It is obviously easy to say after Joba’s injury but he was not being used as a starter in 2010, and a bullpen arm is not valuable enough to stop you from acquiring a pitcher like Haren. Maybe Cashman will get another chance to redeem himself, but it would cost him a lot more than it reportedly would have before.

The Angels and Yankees do match up pretty nicely as trade partners. The Yankees can help fill the Angels major needs at third base and catcher, where they do not have MLB quality players currently on their roster, and nobody ready in the minors. The top of the Angels rotation is great, but if they lose Haren their rotation would be a little thin. Here are two packages I find to be fair: Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Brandon Laird, and a lower level prospect for Haren, or Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Hector Noesi, and David Phelps for Haren. The Angels could want a stronger pitcher back in Betances, or a stronger third basemen back in Nunez. I find the first package to be stronger, but maybe the Angels would think differently. Haren would be exactly the kind of pitcher the Yankees want to put behind CC Sabathia.  He had an excellent year last year going 16-10, with a 3.17 ERA, 192 strikeouts, and a 1.02 WHIP. Haren also only walked an astonishing 1.25 batters per 9 innings last year.  His arsenal of pitches is outstanding with a four seam fastball, a two seam fastball, splitter, cutter and a spiked curve.  Haren does not throw especially hard but still has racked up at least 190 strikeouts in the last 5 years. The downfall is that he is already 31 with a lot of innings under his belt.  The Yankees may fear giving him a long term deal.  He does have team options in his contract for the next two years. A rotation of Sabathia, Haren, Nova, Hughes, and Burnett certainly looks appealing though.

I personally doubt the Angels would trade Haren unless they acquired C.J. Wilson, who they are rumored to be interested in. Haren is still under team control for the next two years, and the Angels are not a small market team, so they can afford him. However, if they got Wilson, they would feel comfortable with a Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana top three, and may want to improve their offense. Montero would be an instant middle of the lineup hitter for them, which they definitely need.  I would love for Cashman to be able to make up for an error in judgment and go get Haren. However, the Angels will ask for more than the Diamondbacks did and Cashman wasn’t willing to pay that price, so one would wonder if he would in fact pay more. I think he would be willing to because he can undo his previous mishap with Haren. Also it helps that Haren is a proven, elite pitcher. If the Angels will listen, the Yankees should consider Haren for sure because I think he would be an excellent fit for them.

Several Interesting Rumors: Cain, Garcia, Wilson, Haren

Yesterday, Mike Silva’s New York Baseball Digest dished out some pretty interesting rumors regarding the Yankees. I’ll recap them in this post. Now, I’m really not sure about the overall reliability of these rumors. However if they are true, then they are very interesting. I did look through the comments at River Ave. Blues, and Steve S. of The Yankee Analysts was adamant that the author, Frank Russo, has always had a rock solid source, “very tied in to baseball matters with the Yanks.” Keeping that in mind, here we go…

— Russo wrote that the Yankees made an offer of four players for Matt Cain of the Giants, that included at least 1 position player and several minor-league pitchers. The deal was quickly turned down. Some of the names that were reportedly tossed around were: Jesus Montero, Nick Swisher, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Hector Noesi.

— He says that in Tampa, the word on the street is that Freddy Garcia will not be the only starting pitching acquisition, and that it wasn’t really a “value signing”. Russo says that Garcia could be utilized both as a starter or a long reliever. “They also love his clubhouse presence as he was a mentor to Ivan Nova.”

— Russo states that although there have been no numbers tossed around, the Yankees “could” offer CJ Wilson one of two types: (1) a 5 year contract with an opt-out option, (2) a 4 year contract with several vesting option years. They reportedly feel their main competition for Wilson is the Angels’ aggressive GM, Jerry DiPoto.

— He mentions that rumors are starting up that the Angels may make Dan Haren available. Russo says the Yankees would really like to acquire him, but “the belief down in Tampa is that DiPoto will only trade Haren to the Yankees for several ‘top tier’ prospects, (think Montero/Romine and Betances/Warren).”

Yankees Mailbag: Part 1

Thank you to all who asked questions for this mailbag – let’s get started!

(If you don’t see your question, it will be answered in tomorrow’s Part 2.)

Billy Beane is willing to listen on anyone at the moment.

@AJ_Rotger asked:
What would you give up for Gio G. from Oakland?

I would give up anybody except Jesus Montero or Manny Baneulos. However, considering Gio Gonzalez is under team control for quite awhile, Billy Beane has no reason to ask for anything less than one of those two. Gio is young, talented and has plenty of low-dollars years ahead of him. However, I wouldn’t give up Montero or Banuelos for him. Although he generates a lot of striekouts (8.6 career K/9), I am not keen on his fastball command issues (4.4 career BB/9). If the Yankees are to give up Montero or Banuelos, it has to be for a sure thing elite starting pitcher. Gio Gonzalez, in my opinion, is not a sure thing. Would I like to have him pitching in pinstripes? No doubt about it…but not at the price Oakland is asking for.

@PrimoBledBlue asked:
Which prospective pitcher would you consider to be in the NYY rotation: Yu Darvish, CJ Wilson or Roy Oswalt?

Out of all those three, my favorite for the Yankees to acquire would be Yu Darvish. Although there is always the “Japanese-import” risk, its money the Yankees can afford to gamble on. Cashman may say he’s on a budget, but you can never put too much weight into comments like that. I think he has the highest “upside” of the three you mentioned. Also, if they were to make a trade for a John Danks etc., in addition, there would be less of an absolute necessity for Darvish to be as elite as he was in Japan.

C.J. Wilson would be a great pitcher to have…on a three-year deal. However, he is reportedly looking for a six year, $120MM deal, which is absolutely absurd. If I’m Brian Cashman, I walk away after the four year mark. His upside simply doesn’t match up with the enormous risk of a 5-6 year contract. Delia took a look at whether the Yankees should pursue Wilson, earlier in the month, before we found out what kind of lucrative contract he was looking for. I would take a pass on Wilson.

 

Oswalt would be a nice addition, since it would be on a relatively short contract, such as a two-year deal. He’s been very consistent throughout his career, never having a FIP over 4.00 in 11 MLB seasons. Matt examined the idea of Roy Oswalt on the Yankees earlier in the month. Oswalt has consistently manufactured plenty of ground-balls, and successfully limited the walk. However, his back is definitely something to think about, as back problems are a tricky thing to come back from, although there are always exceptions. I would not want Oswalt to be the one pitcher the Yanks acquire for the rotation next year, as if his back problems flare up again, well…

 

@GITGUYfoREVer asked:
What are your thoughts about Albert on the Yankees?

Although it’s impossible as a Yankee fan to not want to see Albert Pujols in pinstripes, there’s really no spot currently open for him. Ricky, a few weeks ago, shared his thoughts on Pujols. Some have said they could trade Tex, but that’s just typical Yankee-fan greediness. His ability to drive a pitch anywhere in the ballpark at a far distance is something we would all drool over to have on the team. But as long as A-Rod, Tex, and Montero are on the team, there’s no reason to sign Pujols. If, however, Jesus Montero was traded for an elite starting pitcher, then there is a scenario where I would absolutely, positively go after Albert. You could sign Pujols to play third base, move A-Rod to DH, and keep Tex at first. That is, if Montero is traded, which I don’t exactly advocate.

That’s it for the Yankees Mailbag: Part 1. Anybody that asked any questions that weren’t on today’s mailbag, will be answered tomorrow by Ricky. A reminder that if you have a question you’d like to ask, either email me at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com or contact us on Twitter at @yankeefansunite. Have a great rest of the day.

Hot Stove Targeting: Andruw Jones

Positives

Andruw Jones filled the role the Yankees asked him to fill very nicely last year.  Jones was the power righty bat of the bench the Yankees needed, and he mashed left handed pitching all year. Jones’s splits against lefties were .286/.384/.540/.923. That .923 OPS is absolutely outstanding. Also, Jones finished the year with a solid 13 HRs of the bench for the Yankees. He did an adequate job in the outfield, nothing like his gold glove years in Atlanta, but he did not kill the Yankees out there. Marcus Thames was used in the same role Jones was two years ago and he was unplayable in the outfield. Jones did a good job of spelling Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, while also getting some DH AB’s.

Negatives:

Jones was egregious against right handed pitching, as he was pretty much unusable against them. Jones’s splits against righties were .172/.303/.406./.709. However, for what it’s worth, he did have 5 of his 13 homeruns against righties. At the age of 34 health could be an issue for Jones. He did play last year with a knee injury, but it did not seem to affect him very much. He was slow on the base paths, but he was obviously slow to begin with.

Fit for the Yankees?

I would advocate that the Yankees resign Andruw Jones to fill the same role next year. Part of the reason is Brett Gardner did not show enough against lefties last year. Like Jones against righties, Gardner against lefties was also egregious. Gardner’s splits against lefties were .233/.344/.272/.616. He also had a grand total of 0 HR’s and 6 RBI’s against lefties. I know Gardner is no power guy, but 6 RBI’s on the year against lefties is brutal. A lineup consisting of Jones and Jesus Montero against lefties is scary for opposing pitchers. A lineup of Jeter, Granderson, Tex, A-Rod, Cano, Montero, Swisher, Jones, and Martin against lefties is awfully imposing. Until Gardner proves he can hit lefties better a player like Jones is a necessity. Gardner is a nice player for the Yankees and had a great postseason, but if his and Jones’ stats against lefties do not change he should not see a lot of action against them.

Morning Bits: Montero, Cashman, GM Meetings

Here are some links for the morning:

The Yankees vetoed winter-ball for Jesus Montero, who had expressed interest.

— Brian Cashman has arrived at the GM Meetings, but doesn’t expect any quick trades. “They are administrative meetings, mostly,” Cashman said.

— So far the offseason has been generally quiet heading into the GM Meetings.

— Cashman plans on talking around at the meetings, but will not be aggressive just yet.

Have a great day.

Morning Bits: Ramos, Hughes, Cards

Here are your morning links:

The kidnapping of Wilson Ramos in Venezuela will not keep Jesus Montero from his homeland.

— The Yankees are demanding Phil Hughes to slim it down for Spring Training.

— The Cardinals have hired ex-catcher Mike Matheny to follow after Tony LaRussa’s championship season.

Have a great day.

Morning Bits: Ramos, Montero, A-Rod, Posada

Good morning all. Here are your links:

— Nationals’ catcher, Wilson Ramos has been rescued and returned safely.

— Jesus Montero, who lives about 10 minutes away from Ramos, talks about the impact the traumatic event had on him.

— Alex Rodriguez is determined to rebound next year for the Yankees. He called last year “close to embarassing” and “the worst year of my (his) career”.

— Former Yankees’ catcher, Jorge Posada will set his focus on his charitable foundation this winter.

Joe Girardi press conference: Sabathia, Posada, Montero and pitching

Joe Girardi press conference: Sabathia, Posada, Montero and pitching

By Delia E.

Joe Girardi hasn’t spoken in a press conference since the end of the 2011 season, but he finally spoke to them this morning at Yankee Stadium. He didn’t give any news, but he gave his thoughts on certain players such as CC Sabathia, Jorge Posada, Jesus Montero & finding starting pitching. Here is what Girardi had to say on each subject.

On finding starting pitching: “I think we will try to add some (pitching) depth like we did last year. This is an organization that feels like you never have enough pitching, and that’s the way we approached it last year. The way I look at it, it takes two people. It takes our organization, and it also takes a player wanting to come here and this being the right fit for him. I’m sure were going to be active, but it also takes two. I know we have great things to offer here, I do know that, and I think the players that have come here have been very happy.”

On re-signing CC Sabathia: “Obviously he had the right to opt out in his contract. I felt that, what he has done here in the first three years, and his love for this team, I always thought he would be a Yankee, that something would be worked out. I’m glad I was right. I didn’t want to imagine life without CC.”

On Jorge Posada: “It’s hard to imagine him in another uniform, but it’s the desires of the heart if he wants to continue to play and there’s not a spot here, I would encourage him to do it because as a player, I think you have to make sure that all of that is out there for you before you decide to retire.”

On replacing Jorge Posada: “Our DH is something that might be a rotating DH a little bit next year. I’m not sure. You’ve kind of  got to see how things shake out as we get into December and January.”

On using Jesus Montero next season: “We believe that this kid has a lot of talent. He’s a work in progress. He’s got great bat speed, and we think he’s going to be able to provide some offense for us. You’ve got to see how a young player does and how he approaches spring training, comes into spring training and does his job. We see him as a guy that can do some different things for us. You think about how old he is, we’ve heard about Montero for so long, I think we all think he’s about 24 or 25 years old. He’s a baby, and there’s going to be some growing pains as you go through with him, but I think the kid is extremely hungry, I think he’s talented, and I think he can help us.”

On Jorge Posada’s Hall of Fame chances: “I think he has a very good chance, I do. When you look at the catchers over the last 15 years, Jorge has been one of the most dominant catchers.”

On A.J Burnett: “You look at the game that he pitched in the playoffs for us and you try to feed off of that. To me it’s just trying to shorten (the amount of time) when he does go in a little rut.”

Joe Girardi also says he could see Hector Noesi as a rotation option next year and metioned David Phelps, Adam Warren, D.J Mitchell, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances as pitchers that could compete for a rotation spot if neccesary. “If we need one spot, the they are all going to compete for a spot.” Girardi said.

Also, Joe Girardi said that the Yankees have not finished signing on the coaching staff. When asked if everyone will be back next year, he replied “I think our guys did a great job last year.”

Girardi has seen the Yoenis Cespedes viral scouting video. When asked to comment on that, Girardi said, “Obviously he’s a very impressive athlete.”

Girardi admits that he did not see every inning of the 2011 World Series since he was spending time with his family, but he did remember watching Game 6 where the Cardinals mounted a comeback and forced a Game 7. “I’m happy for Tony LaRussa, for what he means to this game.” Girardi mentioned. “I had a chance to play under him for one year-unfortunately I was hurt a lot of the year-but I was impressed with what he did and loved to pick his brain. I’m really happy for him.”

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