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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.

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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?

Baseball America’s 2012 Top Yankee Prospects

Baseball America came out with their Top Prospects and of course they did one for the Yankees as well. The three lists include the top ten prospects, Best Tools (my favorite one to look at) and what the projected lineup will be in 2015 (pretty cool as well).  Below is all the information.  Enjoy and discuss what you agree and disagree with in the comments section.

TOP TEN PROSPECTS

1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Manny Banuelos, lhp
3. Dellin Betances, rhp
4. Gary Sanchez, c
5. Mason Williams, of
6. Dante Bichette, 3b
7. Ravel Santana, of
8. Austin Romine, c
9. J.R. Murphy, c/3b
10. Slade Heathcott, of

BEST TOOLS

Best Hitter for Average Jesus Montero
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike Zone Discipline Ramon Flores
Fastest Baserunner Mason Williams
Best Athlete Mason Williams
Best Fastball Dellin Betances
Best Curveball Dellin Betances
Best Slider Mark Montgomery
Best Changup Manny Banuelos
Best Control Nik Turley
Best Defensive Catcher Austin Romine
Best Defensive Infielder Cito Culver
Best Infield Arm Cito Culver
Best Defensive OF Mason Williams
Best Outfield Arm Ravel Santana

PROJECTED 2015 LINEUP

Catcher Austin Romine
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Robinson Cano
Third Base Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez
Left Field Brett Gardner
Center Field Mason Williams
Right Field Curtis Granderson
Designated Hitter Jesus Montero
No. 1 Starter CC Sabathia
No. 2 Starter Manny Banuelos
No. 3 Starter Ivan Nova
No. 4 Starter Dellin Betances
No. 5 Starter Phil Hughes
Closer David Robertson

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

Morning Bits: Bichette Jr, Phelps, Banuelos, Pinstripe Bowl, Derek Jeter

Good morning all.  It’s Friday and it’s a 3 day weekend for most.  Enjoy New Years everyone be safe.

Now on to the links….

* Bichette Jr. among “special” NY Prospects.

* Phelps, Banuelos among Yankees best.

* Yankees call up some tougher sod for Pinstripe Bowl.

* Yankee hats are everywhere even North Korea.

* Is Derek Jeter’s career winding down?

* Yankees have many options.

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?

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 #26 Banuelos

Our friends over at Seedlings to Stars are having their feature of the top 100 and when they mention a player we kindly post the article over here to show what they have said. Please read and than click the link to finish reading the article on their site.  Thanks.

*  *  *

Name: Manny Banuelos
DOB: 3/13/91
Organization: Yankees
Position: Pitcher
Notable 2011 Stats: 3.59 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 7 HRA, 52 BB, 94 K, and 50% GB% in 95 1/3 IP with Trenton (AA);
4.19 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 2 HRA, 19 BB, 31 K, and 50% GB% in 34 1/3 IP with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA);
3.75 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 9 HRA, 71 BB, 125 K, and 50% GB% in 129 2/3 IP total

Why He’s This High: Banuelos held his own in Double-A as a 20-year-old, and got no worse when he was promoted to Triple-A, which says something about his impressive polish. He’s always performed solidly or better despite being extraordinarily young for his levels.

Banuelos isn’t all about polish, though. He has three pitches that at least flash plus, with a low-90′s sinker, low-80′s sinking changeup, and 75-79 mph curveball. He throws all three offerings with the same arm action, and he utilizes a simple, low-maintenance delivery that he repeats well. He’s always been lauded for his mound presence and cool demeanor, so he’s overall far more advanced than the typical 20-year-old pitcher.

If he continues to make refinements in the coming years, there’s no reason why his three-pitch mix won’t be good enough for him to become one of the better lefthanded starters in the game.

Why He’s This Low: Banuelos has fallen a bit in my rankings since last year, and the main reason for that is that he walked too many batters in the upper minors. He was just under 5 BB/9 in both Trenton and Scranton, and that’s going to have to drop significantly if he’s going to be even a mid-rotation starter. Obviously, he has plenty of time to work on that, but given his pristine command in the lower minors, there’s some evidence he hit a bit of a wall with the jump to Double-A, which is notoriously the toughest transition in the minors.

To finish reading the article CLICK HERE.

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.


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.

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 Targetting: Matt Cain

The San Francisco Giants were able to win the 2010 World Series largely because of their tremendous starting pitching. They had a young group of electric starters, including Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. With their 2010 victory, the Giants looked well poised to make another run at it this year. However, the team declined greatly in the second half of 2011, and San Francisco didn’t even make the playoffs. One of their problems, is that they are offensively deprived. Because of this, GM Brian Sabean may be open to trading some of their plentiful starting pitching for offensive production. The name that pops out, besides Lincecum (who is untouchable), is Matt Cain.

Positives

Since 2007, Matt Cain has been one of the top pitchers in the National League. Cain has averaged roughly 211 innings pitched, each year, since his first full year of 2006. When looking at his stats, one thing that immediately jumps out is consistency. Since 2007, Cain has either maintained or improved his BB/9, K/9, HR/9, and H/9 every single year, with only a few minor exceptions.

BB/9 K/9 HR/9 H/9
2007 3.56 7.34 0.63 7.8
2008 3.76 7.69 0.79 8.5
2009 3.02 7.07 0.91 7.6
2010 2.46 7.13 0.89 7.3
2011 2.56 7.27 0.37 7.2

Throughout Cain’s career he has kept his platoon splits very much the same. Right-handed batters have hit Cain for .228 AVG / .295 OBP / .365 SLG, while left-handed hitters are similarly hitting .227 AVG / .301 OBP / .359 SLG. One thing we’re looking for is the ability to get lefties out just as easily as right-handed batters. We all know what a short porch right field is at Yankee Stadium, so a right-hander who struggles against lefties is of little desire. Matt Cain is not that way, as evidenced by his platoon splits. And, although he has been pitching in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, his numbers on the road are still pretty darn good: .236 AVG / .307 OBP / .376 SLG. Another great quality of Cain’s is his consistency throughout the season.

ERA WHIP K/BB
March/April 3.38 1.23 1.83
May 3.71 1.26 2.00
June 3.44 1.23 2.39
July 3.05 1.2 2.10
August 3.01 1.16 2.92
September/October 3.53 1.12 2.5

Unlike certain pitchers the Yankees have, cough-cough-A.J.-cough, Cain seems to pitch well in every single month of the season. There are no Burnett-Augusts, etc. Consistency goes a long-way in stabilizing a rotation.

As far as Cain’s repertoire goes, he has three above-average pitches: a low-nineties fastball (90-94mph), a mid-eighties slider, and an excellent change-up of about the same speed. He also features a curveball, but it is an overall lesser pitch.

FB SL CH CV
Usage 63.9 12.7 11.9 11.3
Mph 92.4 85.8 85.5 77.9
+/- 14.6 2.5 4.2 -1.

A huge factor of the Yankees’ search for starting pitching, postseason pitching. Although the sample size isn’t too big, Matt Cain has started 3 games in the postseason, all in 2010, and pitched tremendously well. He did not pitch less than 6 innings in one start, and didn’t even allow an earned run. Cain certainly came in the clutch for San Francisco in the playoffs, and that is exactly what the Yanks are looking for.

Negatives

If you were to only read the positives from above, Cain would be the perfect pitcher for the Yankees to acquire. However, unfortunately, Matt Cain is not a perfect fit for the Yanks. Earlier, I mentioned how he has been pitching in an extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark. Cain is a pitcher that would be classified as a moderate strike-out, fly-ball pitcher. Although by a slim margin, he gave up more ground-balls than fly-balls this past season, in other years, Cain has been a decisively fly-ball pitcher.

GB/FB GB% FB%
2007 0.89 39.4 44.5
2008 0.76 33.2 44
2009 0.92 38.9 42.4
2010 0.78 36.2 46.6
2011 1.07 41.7 38.9

Because Yankee Stadium is an undoubtedly hitters-ballpark, fly-ball pitchers typically don’t fare too well. However, there is such thing as pitching-to-the-score, or in this case, pitching-to-the-field. One of the reasons Cain has such a high fly-ball rate, is that he knows he can get away with giving up fly-balls. If he were traded to the Yankees, Cain would absolutely have to make adjustments.
One last disadvantage of trading for Matt Cain, is that he will be a free agent after this coming 2012 season. That means, if a trade was made, you would be giving up prospects for 1 year of Cain. You could, however, give the “Cliff Lee Argument”, that by letting him get a year’s taste of New York, you increase your chances of re-signing him in the 2012-2013 off-season.

A Fit for the Yanks?

In my honest opinion, despite the negatives I brought up above, Matt Cain would be an excellent fit for the Yankees needs. Although he may give up more home-runs, the really good pitchers adjust their game, and I believe Cain could do that. He would bring stability and consistency to the Yankees’ #2 spot. These are qualities you simply aren’t assured by other potential free agent / trade targets out there.

From the Giants’ Perspective

Matt Cain is in line to make $15MM this next year. There have been indications that the Giants will not be in the running for big-time offensive free agents like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. However, that could change, as the Giants will need improved offense if they want a shot at winning next year. They might possible trade Cain and his $15MM contract to someone, to clear up room to spend on Pujols or Fielder, to improve over Aubrey Huff. It makes even more sense for the Giants to trade Cain, considering his contract his up after next season.

Cost for Yanks?

The Yankees would likely have to give up a considerable amount of talent for Cain. Think somewhere in line with Cleveland’s deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. I really do not want to trade Montero unless it is for someone who is a clear #1, like King Felix, or Cliff Lee, for that matter. One possible route would be to pick up Nick Swisher’s option and include him in a trade for Cain. Carlos Beltran is a free agent, and the Giants will have to replace him. They have a very good prospect in Brandon Belt who played a good amount of left-field for them last year, so Swisher could complete their outfield along with center-fielder Andres Torres. San Francisco did lose their top pitching prospect, Zach Wheeler, trading for Beltran, so throw in Dellin Betances and you’re certainly getting somewhere. The only players I would hesitate to put in a deal for Cain would be Montero and Banuelos.

Overall, I would love for the Yankees to trade for Matt Cain, for the right price. If San Francisco asks for Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, or a combination of both, then I’d hang up right there. Remember, you’d only be getting a guaranteed one year of Cain. Although there are distinct disadvantages to Cain (i.e. his GB/FB rate), in my opinion he is just the reliable #2 the Yankees need.

Game 156 | Yankees vs. Rays

Starting tonight, the rest of the regular season games don't really matter too much. However, the Yanks would like Colon to get on the right track, after his poor last start. It looks like Colon will factor to be the Yankees' postseason #3 or #4 starter, so they need him to be pitching like he did in the first half.

Lineup:

Derek Jeter SS
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Mark Teixeira DH
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones LF
Jesus Montero C
Jorge Posada 1B
Brandon Laird 3B
Greg Golson CF

Pitchers:

Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.81) vs. Matt Moore (0-0, 6.23)

Pregame Notes:

Russell Martin: “I hate the Red Sox.” Enough said.

— Joe Girardi on Jorge Posada and a spot on the postseason roster: “I expect him to be there.”

— Girardi also has said that Sabathia is unlikely to start again in the regular season.

— Jack Curry says that Manny Banuelos, David Phelps, and Adam Warren will join the team tomorrow, but they will not be activated.

Enjoy the game.

UPDATE, 6:40pm: If you any comments/questions about the upcoming Yankees-Boston series, please leave them in the comments section. Ricky will address them in a special series preview podcast, and he needs them by later tonight!

Mailbag: Killer B’s, Logan, Hughes, Free Agency, etc…

This week’s mailbag will be broken into 2 parts with Part II being answered by Delia tomorrow. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com. Here we go:

@yankeesky asks: How many of the Killer Bees make the big club in 2012 ?

Which of the 3 will make the team in 2012?

Well if you are talking about Opening Day 2012, I would say zero – though all 3 should be up at various points during the season.  I would say the one with the best chance to make the team out of Spring Training is Andrew Brackman.  Not that he is the best of the 3 (quite the opposite IMO), but he’ll be 26 in December so he’s getting to the point where he needs to show some results.  And his move to the bullpen this year seems permanent which will increase his chances of making the Yankees.

Brackman’s season as a starter was a disaster as he totally lost the plate, walking 54 in 59.1 ip and allowing a .253 batting average against.  He walked 9 in his last 3 inning start on July 29th and was banished back to relieving. But something clicked in the pen as he walked only 6 in his last 20.1 ip with 17 k , a.155 batting avg against & 1.34 ERA.  So if he pitches that way in ST, he has a legitimate chance to make the team.

I expect the Yankees to go with 1 rookie starter in 2012 but the likely candidates to start the season are DJ Mitchell, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi or David Phelps.  All of these pitchers have more AAA experience than Betances & Banuelos and are further along in their development.  Betances & Banuelos both need to improve their command and overall consistency.  I expect 1 or both of them to pitch well in AAA and get called up to the Bronx some time around June or later depending on needs of the big club.

Personally, I love Banuelos.  His stuff is good enough to pitch in the AL East right now but his 4.95 BB/9 rate is far too high.  It puts unneccessary runners on base and prevents him from going deep into games.  It’s important to remember he is only 20 years old in AAA, so he is far ahead of schedule.

@djpostl asked: Is Joe Girardi functionally illiterate or does he ignore the statistics showing Boone Logan is better vs righties than lefties?

Many of Girardi’s moves leave me scratching my head and he is a hard manager to think along with at times.  In the case of Logan, I think it’s because Girardi and most teams tend to use multi-seasonal or career stats as well as in-season stats.  In-season stats can often be skewed due to small sample size and it often takes a larger view to judge trends.

This season Logan has been better vs righties but last year and for his career he is significantly better vs lefties.  His SO and Walk rates are still much better vs lefties but he has given up all 4 of his HRs this year against lefties which tilt the SLG/OPS in favor vs RHH.

Girardi has used Logan, Wade & Ayala to get the team through the middle innings til he goes to Soriano, Robertson & Mon in the 7th-9th.  Since Wade & Ayala are almost exactly neutral in their splits and Logan is a bit of an enigma, Joe would be best served just going with the hot hand rather than trying to match up lefty/righty.

Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 2011                  
vs RHB 60 7.4 3.4 0 2.2 .236 .300 .291 .591
vs LHB 102 11.8 2.3 4 5.2 .261 .317 .478 .795
Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 Career                  
vs RHB 447 5.4 4.6 13 1.2 .313 .388 .485 .873
vs LHB 482 10.2 3.3 11 3.1 .251 .321 .382 .702

@YourFaceIsThere asked: What do you think should happen with Phil Hughes in the long run?

I think the Yankees should look to trade Hughes this Winter.  I don’t see him ever being a top of the rotation starter and it seems he would be best served pitching in the bullpen.  If that’s the case he may bring more in a trade than he is worth to the team as a reliever who will make about $3M next yr in arbitration. Phil had a dominating season in 2009 out of the pen but when he starts he doesn’t bring the same velocity.

In his last few starts, he has come out very strong but loses his good fastball after the 1st or 2nd inning.  That is a big concern because when he doesn’t have his good fastball, he struggles to get by because he lacks a true swing and miss secondary pitch.   As a starter he sits 90-92, maxing 93-94, with an average curve, cutter and seldom used change.  He often gets 2 strikes but can’t finish hitters and his throwing motion prevents him from getting good downward action on his pitches so he is a flyball pitcher.

As a 1-2 inning reliever, he can sit 93-94, maxing 95-96 with a harder, sharper cutter and the average curve.  The extra 2-3 mphs on his FB & Cutter make the difference in getting strikeouts. So if he stays next yr, I’d rather see him in the pen.

@ehom87 asked: what free-agents will the Yankees go after? How would their rotation look next year?

The entire starting 8 position players will be back next year.  Posada is the only semi-regular who won’t be back but the DH spot should go to Jesus Montero with ARod & Jeter getting some time there to keep them fresh. So I don’t see the Yanks going for the big FA hitters like Pujols, Fielder or Jose Reyes.  What they do need is starting pitching.

FA LHP Mark Buehrle is a workhorse lefty in the Pettitte-mold

The starters that should interest the Yanks are CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda and possibly Japanese League pitcher Yu Darvish.  They also need to re-up with CC and possibly retain Freddy Garcia or Colon.  No matter what, they need to come up with a strong starter to eat innings and complement CC.  Wilson and possibly Darvish are quality pitchers who could fill that role while Buehrle and Kuroda are veteran pitchers who could serve as stop-gaps until next yr when a lot of quality arms could be Free Agents. Matt Cain, Jon Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shawn Marcum, etc. could hit the market.  Buehrle is a tough, durable lefty in the Pettitte-mold but would require a sizable commitment. This year will be his 11th in a row with 200+ IP and 10+ wins.

If they get CJ, the rotation would be CC, CJ Wilson , Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett and either Hughes, Garcia, Colon or a young starter like Hector Noesi, DJ Mitchell, David Phelps or Adam Warren.

If I was in charge I would do what needed to be done to get rid of AJ.  Let’s face it, no one wants a pitcher with a 19-26 record and back to back 5.27 ERAs the last 2 seasons and $33M owed to him.  The only way to move him would be to eat a huge portion of the money or to deal him for another terrible contract. Carlos Zambrano, Jason Bay, Vernon Wells, Chone Figgins type contracts.

If they could clear AJ’s rotation spot, you could keep Hughes  as your #4 or preferably get creative and look to deal for a young pitcher that could develop into a future #1/#2.  I’d love to get Gio Gonzalez but he’d be hard to get.  I’d shop a package of Hughes along with 1 of the Noesi/Mitchell/Phelps/Warren group and other prospects to see the best pitcher I could get…preferably under 30 with strikeout stuff and low HR rates.  Maybe someone like that guy from Arizona, Ian Kennedy. Doh!

Morning Bits 8/4/11

Horrible pitching by Burnett yet again but the Yankees bats were alive and well last night.  How about Jeter getting 5 hits!!!

Another game tonight against the White Sox’s at 8pm with Nova on the mound.

and here are your morning links….

* A-Rod is linked to poker again.  How dumb could he possibly be if he was already told to stop it and just does it anyway.

* After Hughes has a great start he retains his spot in the rotation.

* The new kid on the block (Banuelos) is worth watching if you can get to a SWB game.

 

AL EAST STANDINGS

AST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
Boston 68 41 .624 - 35-20 33-21 599 457 +142 Won 2 6-4
NY Yankees 67 42 .615 1 37-22 30-20 587 419 +168 Won 6 8-2
Tampa Bay 57 52 .523 11 25-26 32-26 464 428 +36 Won 1 5-5
Toronto 56 54 .509 12.5 28-26 28-28 514 503 +11 Lost 1 6-4
Baltimore 43 64 .402 24 26-28 17-36 440 568 -128 Lost 1 3-7

Montero coming soon; other minor-leaguers moving

MONTERO COMING SOON; OTHER MINOR-LEAGUERS MOVING

by Mike D.

 

John Nalbone of NJ.com says that Jesus Montero is expected to join the Yankees major league squad “in the very near future.” Now that Manny Banuelos has been promoted to Scranton-Wilkes Barres, other top prospects, Austin Romine, and Dellin Betances are expected to join the Triple-A team soon. This is according to sources close to the organization.

Montero will be a welcome addition to the ballclub, when he does get promoted, as he has hit .307 AVG / .361 OBP / .557 SLG against left-handed pitchers. I can see Montero getting a good amount of time in the majors as the designated hitter against lefties.

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