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Spring Training Notes: 2018
2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 7:06PM #91
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Farm System #6 According to MLB.com, Top 30 Prospects Announced (Part 1)




The cumulation of the MLB.com prospect rankings is finally over for Yankees fans, with today's announcement of the Top #4-6 ranked farm systems in the MLB this season. The Yankees- after being ranked as the 2nd best farm system in baseball last year, behind the Braves- were due to fall in the rankings after graduating and trading a boatload of talent last season, and still came up as the 6th best Farm System in all of baseball.


With that announcement also came the MLB.com Top 30 prospects list, found here. We will dive into them later, but for now, let's see what has changed:










Introduction: What’s Going On Around Here?


Of their Top-30 prospects going into 2017, six graduated to the big leagues and accumulated enough service time and/or 130 at-bats/45 innings pitched: Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Clint Frazier, Chad Green, Tyler Wade, and Jonathan Holder.


Of these players, Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge were both Top-100 prospects (#24 and #45 respectively), and the Yankees #2 and #4 prospects. The others were all comfortably around the #15-20 range, which considering the farm was very good.


Nine others were traded: Mateo, Fowler and Kaprielian (to the Athletics), Rutherford and Clarkin (to the White Sox), Littel (Twins), Guzman (Marlins), Solak (Rays), and Widener (Diamondbacks).


Of these players, 3 of which were Top-100 prospects (Rutherford #37, Mateo #47, Kaprielian #58), and another came out of the Yankees Top-10 (Fowler). The rest of the five were scattered among the rankings, with Guzman and Solak in the mid-teens, and Widener, Clarkin, and Littel sitting towards the back ten or so.


When looking at it, the Yankees removed half of their prospect crops from the 2017 preseason in one way or another, and only look a dive from the 2nd farm system spot to 6th overall. That doesn’t just happen, that’s incredible.


However, after that quick look to the past, let’s check out the current Top-9 Yankees Prospects:


(We have previously discussed three of the Top-Four prospects with the announcements of the positional Top-10 rankings, and you can find those articles next to each player listed.)












Part One: The Powerful Four







Players: #1 - Gleyber Torres (INF/SS)


#2 - Estevan Florial (OF)


#3 - Justus Sheffield (LHP)


#4 - Miguel Andujar (3B)


I think it goes without saying that these were going to be the Top-4 Yankees prospects going into this season, according to MLB.com. Torres, Sheffield, and Andujar were able to be Top-3 at their respective positions and we looked into each of them previously during the announcements of those rankings (Torres/ShortstopSheffield/Left-Handed PitchersAndujar/Third Base). As we previously touched on them, let's dive into the final member of this group: Estevan Florial.


However, this isn't to say that Florial isn't deserving of being the 2nd ranked Yankees prospect, and in fact, the opposite is true. As Florial is also on the MLB.com Top-100 prospects lists (#44), we can count exactly where they would rank him in relation to the other outfielders on the list, ending up at with the 13th spot. This is also with the likes of Shohei Ohtani (LAA) and Ronald Acuna (ATL)- soon to be graduating from the list, among others- taking up the top Outfield rankings. From that, there is no doubt in my mind that Florial is going to be a Top 10 Outfield prospect by the All-Star break.



















Part Two: The Long Line of RHP’s


Players: #5 - Albert Abreu


#6 - Chance Adams


#7 - Luis Medina


#8 - Freicer Perez


#9 - Domingo Acevedo


This is where publications start to vary (wildly) among who is better than who when it comes to the Yankees crop of right-handed hurlers.


Albert Abreu came over with now-Marlin Jorge Guzman in the Brian McCann-Astros deal from the 2016 offseason. He features the insane ability to hit triple-digit numbers while keeping a consistent mid-to-high 90’s fastball as he contributes as a starting pitcher. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury slowed him down and he only managed 53 1/3 innings last season but was still able to go from the GCL up to A+ with the Tampa Yankees (now Tarpons). He pitched phenomenally in the AzFL and looks to be a very solid rotation piece if his progressions continue as hoped.


Chance Adams is one of the most interesting cases when it comes to these pitchers- as his ceiling is quite low in comparison to those ranked lower than him- but, when it comes to the numbers his don’t lie. A converted college reliever, the Yankees added him some velocity, a changeup, and has pushed through the minors quite easily, leading the International League (AAA) with the lowest BAA, after leading the entirety of the minor leagues in 2016. His major problem is fixing up his change and the ever-looming short porches of Yankee Stadium- as his flyball numbers don’t bode too well for what could be to come.


Luis Medina’s stats (5.35 ERA last season) do not paint what this prospect is about: speed. If you think Abreu can pitch fast, Medina is able to pump triple-digits much more regularly and has topped out at 102 mph. There is a serious reason he has the highest-ranking fastball in the system. He is still only 18 years old (side-note, it scares me that I’m already older than these top prospects), and already has three above-average pitches: fastball, curve, and changeup. If everything works out as planned, he could very well be the best of the bunch, but his control is what is holding him back- for now.


Frecier Perez was the unexpected hit in a year when the Yankees blew up the international market in 2014-15 and is currently the top pitching prospect from that spending spree (and only behind Florial when it comes to all prospects). With the Yankees has created a repertoire of four very solid offerings- fastball, curve, slider, and changeup. The tallest pitcher in this list at 6’8”, he fits the Yankee mold of “giant, hard-throwing, beasts” when it comes to their pitchers, and seems to be a solid workhorse, going through 123.2 innings last season in 24 games. He has no serious questions moving forward, but still has some roughing the edges and adding that refinement to his game before he makes the next big step forward.


Domingo Acevedo was finally able to show his worth this past season, in his first year without injury as a part of the Yankees organization. Pitching through 133 innings this past season over 23 starts and three levels (A+ to AAA), Acevedo is showing just how good he may be going forward. Another powerful, big-man pitcher at 6’7”, he has hit the highest clocked pitch from this group at 103 mph, with an average fastball in the mid-to-high 90s. His big problem is his troubling injury history, and questions about if he will be able to stake it out long-term as a starter.




2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 7:08PM #92
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Yankees' Brandon Drury: I'm not competing with Miguel Andujar

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New York Yankees third baseman Brandon Drury (29) throws the ball to first base for an out during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports(Kim Klement | USA Today Sports)


CLEARWATER, Fla. -- One of the most closely watched things at Yankees camp has been and will be the battle between Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar for the starting third base job.

Except Drury doesn't see it that way.

"I'm here competing against myself," he told reporters after he crushed a home run and Andujar crushed two in Thursday's 6-4 win over the Phillies at Spectrum Field.

"I'm doing everything I can do to, like I said, be ready for Opening Day to help this team win ballgames. Just going to get my work in the same, no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I'm here to get better and that's what I'm using the spring for, to get myself prepared for the season."


Still, Drury had high praise for Andujar, the highly regarded 22-year-old prospect who seemed like the front runner for the position before the Yankees acquired Drury from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade more than a week ago.

"Kid's a stud," Drury said. "He's a really good player. Playing really good right now."

Drury went 1-for-3 on Thursday and is hitting .375. His blast came in the fifth inning when he hammered an inside curveball off righty Zach Eflin. It was his first homer of the spring.


Andujar went 2-for-4. he's hitting .429 with four homers this spring. His bombs both came off first-pitch fastballs.

"I always feel like I'm battling for a job," said Drury, who was forced to second base in Arizona because of the presence of All-Star slugger Jake Lamb after coming up as a third baseman.

"I've never had anything given to me. So I've always had to work and everything. I"m not thinking of it like that."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, just after the trade, said Drury likely had a "leg up" on Andujar in the competition.

Drury has played two full big-league seasons, hitting .271 with 31 homers and 124 RBI in 289 games. He also has postseason experience and is considered a much better fielder than Andujar, who scouts consider raw at the position. Andujar played in just five big-league games last year, his only season in the majors.

"I'm just going about my business each day, doing everything I can do to be the best player I can be and help the team win ballgames," Drury said.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 7:09PM #93
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

CC Sabathia remembers the good times — and is having a better one

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Yankees starter CC Sabathia delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the Phillies on Thursday. Corey Sipkin

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Aaron Boone remembers the Phenomenon. He remembers what CC Sabathia was like back in July 2001, a week or so shy of his 21st birthday, when he could do things with a baseball that would make you question the fairness of the game if your job was to try to hit it.

“He struck me out three times,” Boone said, remembering July 13, 2001, as if it had taken place last week and not almost 17 years ago. Part of that, he admits, was the fact that on one of those flailing strike threes, Boone wound up falling down in the batter’s box. You don’t forget things like that.

Unless you’re eight days shy of 21, bulletproof and throwing gasoline.

“No,” Sabathia said a few hours later, grinning, asked if he remembered KO’ing his future teammate and manager. “That game was in Cincinnati? I do remember I pitched a good game there.”

That much he recalled easily: 6 2/3 innings, four hits, one run, 11 strikeouts and an uncountable number of pitches that left a veteran Reds batting order mumbling to itself.

“I didn’t have to think in those days,” Sabathia said, maybe an hour after polishing off a perfect two-inning stint against the Phillies in his spring training debut.

He’d been asked if he missed the days when he could reach 99 on the radar gun, when hitters didn’t so much face him as cower from him, knowing how foolish he could make them look, knowing just how physically dominant he was.

He isn’t that pitcher any longer, of course, and hasn’t been for years. He is still larger than life, still an imposing figure from 60 feet, 6 inches away, but of the 27 pitches Sabathia threw Thursday, only one hit 90 on the Spectrum Field radar gun. Most were 87, 88. And still, the Phillies looked flummoxed.

“I don’t miss it, actually,” he said, insisting it’s actually more enjoyable for him to work as he does now, shaving corners, hitting spots, cat-and-mousing his way through innings. “Now I think and manage my way through games.”

In so many ways, Sabathia is precisely the kind of player you want on any team but especially on one as infused with youth as the Yankees are. There has always been a melancholy truth to the game: The moment you really start to understand it is generally that moment when you can no longer play it as you once did.

But Sabathia proves it doesn’t have to be that way. He admitted that he struggled with his loss of velocity, but not when everyone else started to, when the numbers on the scoreboard kept getting smaller and smaller. He detected it earlier than that.

“I could see it coming,” he said. “And I knew I had to start getting guys out with whatever I’ve got.”

The results weren’t always pretty. From 2013 to 2016, he was 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA, with a 7-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There was a time when the second mega-deal Sabathia had signed with the Yankees after the 2011 season was mentioned in the same breath as Alex Rodriguez’s in the pantheon of bad Yankees contracts that became downright ghastly with each passing year.

And then last year, it all seemed to click. Just as the Yankees prepared themselves for life without their erstwhile ace, Sabathia became something that would have been unimaginable back in 2001, when he was turning hitters like Boone into helpless corkscrews:

A crafty left-hander.

“I’ve been all kinds of left-handers in my career,” he said, laughing, though clearly enjoying the irony of possibly being the first man at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, to be tagged with the adjective that more aptly describes the likes of John (6-0, 185) Tudor or Jamie (6-0, 170) Moyer.

The Crafty Mr. Sabathia enjoyed a renaissance season, 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA — his lowest in five years — and was terrific across four postseason starts, and what seemed like an impossibility at season’s start — bringing him back — became an inevitability. One year and $10 million got it done.

And here he is, and here he was, dismissing the Phillies with his soft stuff and his sliders, an artist and his canvas, a sculptor and his clay. A crafty craftsman, having a hell of a good time.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 7:11PM #94
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Open Thread: March 1st Camp Notes


Five solo homers helped the Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Phillies this afternoon. The Yankees have won six of their seven spring games so far. Miguel Andujar had two of those five solo homers, which you can see above. That’s four homers in the last three games for him. Brandon Drury, Tyler Austin, and Billy McKinney also went deep. Estevan Florial had another triple, his third of the spring. Kyle Holder supplied two singles off the bench.




Seven up, six down for CC Sabathia, whose only baserunner allowed came when Jace Peterson bobbled a ground ball. Domingo German allowed a solo homer and otherwise looked sharp in his three innings of work. Gio Gallegos retired zero of the four batters he faced to make a mess of things in the eighth. Ben Heller picked him up and retired all six batters he faced for the all important Grapefruit League save. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s news from camp:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury is going to spend some time in left field this spring. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are working out there, and Aaron Boone said the plan is to give all the outfielders some left field time. Ellsbury has 86 big league games worth of experience in left, most coming very early in his career. [Erik Boland]
  • Russell Wilson might actually play tomorrow, his final day in camp. “We’ll see. I wouldn’t expect it. It’s at least possible,” said Boone today. The Yankees are still discussing it and apparently Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is okay with it. [Randy MillerBrady Henderson]
  • Masahiro Tanaka will make his first spring start tomorrow, and the game will be televised. Luis Severino is expected to throw a simulated game Saturday while Chance Adams starts on the road against the Red Sox. The current pitching schedule seems to indicate Tanaka and Severino will start the first two games of the regular season in that order.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 10:38AM #95
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Mailbag: Trade Chips, Honeywell, Vlad Jr., Bird, Mound Visits


Matthew asks: Looking at the Drury trade and the prospects Cashman sent to acquire him, Solak and Widener respectively, it got me thinking the following: What other prospects in the system are most likely to be trade bait? Specifically in the manner of using the mid-level prospect depth to acquire talent to help the big league club win now.


I think you have to start with the arms. The Yankees have lots of pitching right now, much of it in the low minors, and it makes sense to cash some of those guys in as trade chips before injuries and general attrition do their thing. Among 40-man roster players, Domingo Acevedo strikes me as a potential trade chip because his breaking ball is still a work in progress and his command isn’t very good, and it’s not clear where he fits long-term.


Generally speaking, the Yankees tend to keep the guys with a chance to be above-average big leaguers, and trade everyone else. The Sonny Gray trade is the notable exception, though two of the three prospects in that trade were rehabbing from major injuries. The Yankees supposedly made Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Justus Sheffield, and Estevan Florial off-limits in trade talks over the winter. Chance Adams and Tyler Wade were available. I imagine others like Billy McKinney, Thairo Estrada, and Domingo German are available because they lack ceiling. Potentially useful players, but probably not difference-makers.


Clint Frazier is a bit of a special case because he has the ability to be an above-average big leaguer, but is simply blocked by all the outfielders ahead of him. Frazier is a corner outfielder — bless the kid for saying he can play center field, but no — and when you have Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge locked into the corners for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to make the kid available. The Yankees don’t have to trade Frazier, but in no way should he be off-limits.


Schuyler asks: Just wondering what our weakest position is organizationally, and also level-by-level. Is it something worth addressing? Is it better to be weak at say OF because it’s easier to acquire them via trades and free agency? Thanks!


Catcher is by far the weakest position organizationally, which I guess is okay when you have Gary Sanchez at the MLB level. Austin Romine is an unspectacular backup catcher, Kyle Higashioka is third on the depth chart and he’s had lots of trouble staying healthy in his career, and Erik Kratz is a generic veteran depth catcher stashed in Triple-A. I didn’t have a catcher in my Top 30 Prospects List. Saul Torres and Donny Sands are the two best catching prospects in the system and they’re both in the low minors. Catcher is a weak spot right now.


Because quality catchers are so hard to find, that is a position where you’d like some minor league depth. I wouldn’t suggest targeting a catcher early in the draft to address the organizational weakness — drafted for need is a bad idea — but it is an area that can be improved. Teams always want to be deep in pitchers because they have such a high attrition rate, and acquiring quality pitchers from outside the organization can be expensive. Aside from first base, I’d say outfield is the one spot where you can get away with not being deep in prospects because there are so many outfielders available each year. Infielders, catchers, and pitchers are typically harder to find.


Aharon asks: With the glut of outfielders we now have, do you think the Yankees should regret not trading Gardner a couple of years ago at his peak? He is now 34 and would most likely fetch little on the trade market. He is still an important piece to the Yankees, but it seems as if it could have been worth their while to trade him off his all star appearance.


You kinda answered your own question there. If Brett Gardner is “an important piece to the Yankees,” why would they regret not moving him? This isn’t like the time the Yankees passed on trading Kei Igawa to the Padres because they wanted to see if they could get him right. Gardner is still productive and his contract isn’t onerous. The Yankees can walk away after this season if his play collapses. Chances are Didi Gregorius’ trade value is only going down from here because he’s getting closer to free agency. That doesn’t mean the Yankees should trade him now. The Yankees want to win and they need good players to do that. Gardner is a really good player, and it seems to me he’s worth more to the Yankees on the roster than anything he could’ve realistically fetched in a trade 2-3 years ago. No regrets.


Ben asks: With recent news about Honeywell, would Tampa have interest in a Honeywell for Frazier trade?


Brent Honeywell, who Baseball America ranks as the 14th best prospect in baseball, blew out his elbow early in Spring Training and needed Tommy John surgery. Beyond the whole intra-division thing, I don’t think the Rays are going to turn right around and sell low on Honeywell, which is what they’d be doing even while getting a really good outfield prospect in Frazier. You can make the case they should do that because Honeywell may never be the same, but I don’t think they would. And if you’re the Yankees, why trade Frazier for a broken pitching prospect? Trading him for an actual big league pitcher is the way to go. Honeywell is not helping you for 14-16 months at a minimum.


Joe asks: Can this Spring Training help or hurt Jacoby Ellsbury role on the Yankees for this season?


I think it can help him more than it can hurt. If Ellsbury struggles this spring, who cares, he’s a veteran dude and he’ll get the benefit of the doubt. If he tears the cover off the ball during Grapefruit League play, it might convince the Yankees to give him more at-bats early in the season to see whether it is something sustainable. When Ellsbury gets hot, he can get insanely hot. Carry a team hot. And if he starts the season on that kind of streak, you want to take advantage of it. At this point it seems expectations are fairly low for Ellsbury. He’s already the fifth outfielder and it’s not like the Yankees will release him if he hits .100/.140/.190 during Grapefruit League play. I think Ellsbury can help himself this spring, but not hurt himself.





Vlad. Jr. (Presswire)





Michael asks (short version): So, I know a trade for Vlad Guerrero Jr ain’t gonna happen. However, tell me if this thought is crazy. In a Montero-Pineda type trade, we give them Torres, Andujar, and someone else (McKinney, Tate, Adams, Estrada, Acevedo, etc) for VGJR? They get a load of talent either way, and we get back an absolute stud in return to play 3rd. Crazy???


Michael, you’re crazy. Vlad Jr. and Torres are comparable prospects in terms of projected overall value — they will arrive at that value in different ways — and you want to add Andujar and a third piece to the package? No way. And Guerrero’s hardly a lock to stay at third anyway. He’s probably going to end up at first base, which is fine, because he’s going to mash enough for any position. One +6 WAR player is more valuable than two +3 WAR players, but in this case, I think you’re trading a +6 WAR player and a +3 WAR player (and a third piece) for a +6 WAR player. Vlad Jr. is really, really good. But so are Gleyber and Andujar. Seems like you’re trading multiple quality players and sacrificing organizational depth for the flashy name.


Alex asks: How much do the veterans who sign minor league deals (i.e. Espinosa) get paid if they are in AAA? The reported amounts seem to only apply for the majors, but I have to imagine they make more than a typical minor leaguer.


They definitely make more than typical minor leaguers. The Triple-A minimum was $2,150 per month as of 2015, though guys with big league service time could’ve made as much as $25,000 per month. I assume those numbers have gone up a bit since then. The Yankees tend to pay minor league contract guys well — that’s one place they can flex their financial muscle without any of it counting toward the luxury tax payroll — so chances are Danny Espinosa and Wade LeBlanc are at the high-end of the Triple-A pay scale. One thing to keep in mind: Guys like Espinosa and LeBlanc aren’t looking to spend the entire season in Triple-A. If they have to go down there for a few weeks, they will, but the goal is to get back to MLB as soon as possible, even if it’s with another team. A guy with big league service time can make a decent living in Triple-A — they only get paid six months out of the year though — but that is almost always Plan B.


James asks: I was wondering how Greg Bird’s first base defense stacks up? I noticed it wasn’t discussed at all in his season preview. I have heard it described as anywhere from above average (on the yes broadcast) to below average and haven’t seen enough of his play there to gauge it for myself.


The scouting reports have never been all that enthusiastic about Bird’s glove. In 2015, his last year of prospect eligibility, Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he is “average around the bag at first base.” Keith Law (subs. req’d) said “he still needs work on fielding ground balls” and MLB.com said he has “adequate range and arm strength at first base, though he gets credit for working hard on his defense.” Not awful, but not exactly glowing reports either.


We haven’t seen Bird on the field enough to say anything definitive about his defense, I don’t think. He did make some real nice stretching plays late last year, so that’s cool. What is his range like going to his right? How is his decision-making when it comes to holding a runner at third and throwing home for a play at the plate? I have no idea. Bird’s value is always going to come from his bat, primarily. If he can receive throws well, make some scoops, and knock down some ground ball ticketed for the outfield, I’ll be happy.


David asks: With all of the quality infield candidates, what are the chances Torreyes doesn’t make the 25 man roster? Does his popularity as a teammate have any impact? What happens to him if he doesn’t make it?


Ronald Torreyes does have minor league options remaining, so the Yankees could easily send him Triple-A. And there is definitely a scenario in which Torreyes doesn’t make the team. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but it could happen. Andujar at third, Brandon Drury at second, Wade on the bench. Or Drury at third, Torres at second, and Espinosa on the bench. Not far-fetched to think Torreyes could be on the outside looking in.


That said, I think the Yankees highly value Torreyes for what he is, and that is a high-contact, high-energy reserve who can play all over the infield and not kill you defensively. Also, Torreyes has shown he can produce while playing sparingly, and also produce when pushed into everyday duty. That’s a nice little trait for a bench guy. Torreyes is very popular with his teammates and that’s not nothing. I don’t think the Yankees would keep him on the roster no matter what though. If they feel strongly that, say, Wade or Torres is a superior option, they’ll take them.


George asks: This may be nitpicky, but I’m sure it’ll come up at some point in the season. Where does the mound technically start and end? Could Didi sort of wander in close and the pitcher wander over to the side to say something and have it not be a visit? How long do you give it until there’s confusion over if something’s a “visit?”


For sure this is going to come up during the season, and I’m guessing we’ll see more than a few managers arguing over whether something should be considered a mound visit. Here’s how MLB defines a mound visit in the press release announcing the new pace-of-play rules:



(2) Definition of Mound Visit. A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit, except that the following shall not constitute mound visits:


a. Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate;
b. Visits by position players to the mound to clean spikes in rainy conditions;
c. Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; and
d. Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.



So there is no boundary for a mound visit. If the pitcher and catcher — or pitcher and an infielder — meet on the infield grass somewhere for a quick chat, it counts as a mound visit. Seems kinda silly. The pace-of-play rules are designed to speed the game up, not reduce communication, right? Who cares if the infielder takes a few steps in and quickly says something to the pitcher?


Matthew asks: If Luis Cessa continues to get hit hard this spring do you think the team might move him to the bullpen full time before the minor league season starts? Ever since he hit 100 mph against the Mets last year I’ve been dreaming on how his stuff would play up in short stints.


The Yankees aren’t going to base that decision on Spring Training. Too much noise to trust the numbers. This might be the year to move Cessa to the bullpen full-time — it is his final minor league option year, he has a pretty good sliderand his career splits the first time through the order are pretty darn good — though Spring Training performance shouldn’t decide that. If the Yankees are confident in Domingo German and whoever else as depth starters, that’ll clear the way for Cessa to move to the bullpen full-time. I get the sense such a move will wait until the regular season, once the Yankees get all their starters up to speed and feel good about their depth. You don’t want to move Cessa to the bullpen now only to have two starters go down in April, you know?


Alessandro asks: Is Jeremy Hellickson worth it on a 1 year deal at this point?


Noooo. No. No no no. No.


Hellickson doesn’t miss bats (13.8 K% in 2017), doesn’t get ground balls (34.9 GB%), doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.92 HR/9), and he sits 88-90 mph most days. No chance would I give him a guaranteed Major League contract. Minor league deal as Triple-A depth? Fine. I’m not bumping any one of the starting five out of the rotation for Hellickson, who had a 5.43 ERA (5.77 FIP) last season, including a 6.97 ERA (6.33 FIP) after joining the Orioles. Few pitchers in baseball are a worse fit for Yankee Stadium and the AL East.


Frank asks: Of the 6 division winners from 2017, it seems obvious that the Red Sox will have the hardest time defending their title. Which team would you say has the 2nd toughest route to a repeat and why?


To me, the Astros, Nationals, and Dodgers are clearly the best teams in their divisions. That leaves the two Central divisions. I think the Cubs are pretty stacked now that they’ve addressed their pitching staff, maybe even best team in the NL stacked, so I think they’re safer than the Indians. I don’t think the Cardinals (or Brewers) will be total pushovers though. Cleveland’s pitching staff has racked up a lot of innings the last two years, they lost Bryan Shaw and Carlos Santana, and the Twins are improved. So I guess that means the Indians have the second toughest route to repeat as division winner? I think they’ll win the AL Central — Minnesota’s pitching staff is pretty thin — but I’m more confident in the Astros, Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs winning their divisions than I am the Indians.


Mike asks: Lots of MLBPA talk recently had me wondering. Do you know who the Yankee union rep is? What does he do?


George King says Chasen Shreve is currently the team union representative. He inherited the gig from Adam Warren when Warren was traded to the Cubs. Curtis Granderson was the team’s union rep for a few years as well, though I’m not sure if anyone had the job between Granderson and Warren. Here is the union rep’s job description from the MLBPA’s site:



The Members on each Major League club elect, by secret ballot, a Club Player Representative and an Alternate Player Representative. Each Club Representative serves on the Executive Board and he is responsible for meeting regularly with the players on his Club and represents them in the resolution of problems at the Club level.



So it’s Shreve’s job to keep his teammates informed about union stuff and also handle any issues with the Yankees. There’s is also an MLBPA Executive Board that handles league-wide matters. Granderson, Andrew Miller, and Matt Harvey are part of that. I know Paul Goldschmidt is also involved with the union in some capacity above team rep.



2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 10:44AM #96
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Jacoby Ellsbury Can Help Yankees In 2018


One of the most underrated aspects of the great Yankees’ teams of the mid 1990’s was the veteran bench.


The core of the Yankees’ team was young, but the bench had useful players, who, while past their primes, were productive in limited roles. Tim Raines and Darryl Strawberry were vital pieces of the 1996 and 1998 championship teams. Neither player eclipsed 400 plate appearances in either championship season, but both provided high on-base skills, a skill set that those teams needed (power), and veteran leadership.


Championship teams have depth.


From the moment the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal back in the winter of 2013, it was a given that the contract wouldn’t end well. Ellsbury was entering his age 30 season. He came with a bit of injury history. Much of his game was predicated on his legs. Forget the end; Ellsbury hasn’t really lived up to his contract in any season during his Yankee tenure as he has a four year average of .264/.330/.386. Every General Manager, even ones with stellar records, has a few of “those” deals; Ellsbury certainly looks the part for Brian Cashman.


It looks even worse for the 2018 season. The Yankees outfield is loaded with options. Judge, Gardner, Stanton, and Hicks are all ahead of Ellsbury on the depth chart. $21.1 million is an awful lot for a player who is, technically, fifth on the outfield chart.


Except, none of that matters. It may sound unfair–perhaps it is–and it may sound like Yankees’ bravado, but the Yankees are one of the few organizations in the sport that can carry a $21 million role player without it impacting other moves. Because of Cashman’s roster construction, the Yankees still made moves to improve the 2018 club and are not subject to the luxury tax. Fans get hung up on the money, but if it doesn’t impact team spending, why should it matter? An overpaid, underperforming player is only a problem if his salary gets in the way of the team making improvements.


Jacoby Ellsbury is overpaid, but that isn’t the argument. There is, of course, the belief that Jacoby Ellsbury won’t contribute in 2018. There is the thought that Ellsbury is done at the age of 34. While he hasn’t lived up to the big contract and he will not, no matter what he produces, Ellsbury still has skills that would make him a viable starting outfielder or a very useful extra outfielder. And, perhaps, a semi-regular role will allow not only the veteran to flourish but Hicks and Gardner to produce at an optimal level. Ellsbury is the type of depth that championship teams have.


It is easy to forget that Ellsbury got off to an above average start last season. In April, he hit .277/.333/.410 with 2 doubles, 3 home runs, and 6 stolen bases. He followed that up with a .288/.373/.442 with 5 doubles, 1 home run, and 2 stolen bases May. Through those two months, Ellsbury walked 15 times and struck out just 24 times. But, his season was derailed after suffering a concussion when he crashed into the wall on May 24th, making a play on the game’s first pitch. Concussion symptoms would limit him to just 4 games in July and he would play just 19 games in July with Aaron Hicks playing well as the entrenched starter.


Ellsbury would get a chance to play regularly in September with Hicks going down with an injury; he would have his best month, batting .337/.436/.477 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 6 stolen bases. While aided by a bloated .403 BABIP, Ellsbury did walk 14 times and struck out just 14 times in 103 September plate appearances.


Again, Ellsbury isn’t performing like a $21 million player, but he still has a skill set that is useful to the Yankees. His contact type hasn’t changed in four seasons. His 2017 90 percent contact rate with pitches thrown for strikes is about five percent above league average. His on base percentage was about 20 points higher than the league average while his strikeout rate was five percent lower and his walk rate was about two percent higher. And, his baserunning was efficient as he stole 22 bases in 25 attempts. Those 22 stolen bases marked fifth consecutive season that he stole 20 or more bases. Again, it’s not $21 million performance, but it is still useful performance.


Defensively, he would post his worst defensive runs saved total (-3) since joining the Yankees, but he is just a year removed from a +8 DRS. There is no real indication that Ellsbury can’t be, at the minimum, an average defensive center fielder in 2018. Although he hasn’t played a corner outfield position since 2010, he projects to be an above-average defender at either spot. Offensively, a .260/.330/.390 season seems like a solid, floor projection. That’s not exactly useless, especially as a bench player.


While many may want to anoint Aaron Hicks as a surefire bet to be the everyday center fielder, the fact is that he has played more than 100 games just once in his five Major League seasons. Last year was a breakout year for Hicks, but he played in just 88 games. They were, obviously, a productive 88 games as he hit .266/.372/.475 with 18 doubles and 15 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. An oblique injury cost him most of September. There is so much to like about Aaron Hicks, especially as he enters his age 28 season. But, he has to prove he can do it on an everyday basis. Until that happens, an insurance policy is needed. Ellsbury is that insurance policy.


With Brett Gardner entering his age 34 season and both Judge and Stanton incapable of playing center field, Jacoby Ellsbury has a role on the 2018 team. It’s enough of a role that Cashman will not just simply pay some other team to take Ellsbury off the roster. The Yankees are a power-laden team, but that power doesn’t mean as much if other players don’t get on base. Last season, Ellsbury had the third highest on-base percentage on the team. He was the most efficient base runner and finished just one stolen base shy of the team lead. Those skills are needed, especially from a role player.


He may not be an early season starter–he may not be a starter at all–but having a veteran on the bench who can run, get on base, and has extensive playoff experience is valuable. He’s not the most cost-efficient role player, but his skill set will be important to the 2018 Yankees, just like the two veterans from 20 years ago.  

2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 10:45AM #97
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

MLB trade rumors: Yankees still 'weighing' rotation help?

Image
Free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, 30, is 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA over six big-league seasons. (Jeff Curry | USA TODAY 

By Joe Giglio jgiglio@njadvancemedia.com,
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

In a normal offseason, baseball's shopping season would be long over.

But the winter of 2017-18 has been anything but normal, and that could lead to a surprise Yankees move before opening day.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Yankees are still thinking about adding rotation help.

The Yankees are still weighing some rotation help. "(Yankees GM Brian) Cashman is a bargain hunter," one person with Yankees ties said. That person predicted the Yankees would add someone.

While the report didn't cite whether that meant a trade or free-agent acquisition, it's impossible not to peer out at the remaining available arms on the open market. From Jake Arrieta to Lance Lynn to Alex Cobb, three legitimate starting pitchers remain unsigned with less than four weeks to go until the start of the season.

Arrieta likely is out of New York's price range (and there hasn't been any rumors connecting the player and team this offseason), but Cobb and Lynn could find--despite Yankees manager Aaron Boone downplaying the notion of it last week.

Thanks to GM Brian Cashman, the New York Yankees have the best 1-2 combo in the majors with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Throw in catcher Gary Sanchez and manager Aaron Boone could put together the most prolific lineup in MLB history. But will it be enough to get past the Houston Astros and return to the World Series?

Lynn, 30, pitched to a 3.43 ERA across 186.1 innings in 2017. That came in a league-leading 33 starts. While Lynn wasn't as dominant as we've seen him in past years, the season was a big step considering a lost 2016 season due to Tommy John Surgery.

Cobb, 30, has spent his entire career in the AL East with the rival Rays. Since debuting in 2011, Cobb owns a 3.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP and 111 ERA+. That work has come across 700 career innings and 115 starts. The veteran missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 10:47AM #98
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

New York Daily News | Mike MazzeoClint Frazier’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week is coming to a close with some potential good news. After suffering a concussion last weekend and still feeling like bunt earlier in the week, Frazier seems to be doing a lot better. He’s planning on seeing a doctor on Sunday, and if he’s cleared, he’ll have a couple days of batting practice before getting back in game action next week.


MLB.com | Bryan HochCC Sabathia made his spring debut yesterday and it was about as good as can be expected. Sabathia pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three. Sabathia also talked about how he’s excited about the hiring of Aaron Boone. Plus, Brett Gardner’s not the only outfielder that’ll be playing left field this year. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (have I mentioned that he’s a Yankee?!) took fly balls in left yesterday, while Aaron Hicks started there. Jacoby Ellsbury will also see time in in left this spring.


New York Post | George A. King IIIMiguel Andujar has no desire to see Scranton this year. He’s doing everything in his power to give the Yankees something to think about regarding third base. After hitting his third and fourth home runs of the spring, Andujar said he can’t focus on this being a competition. He just has to worry about himself. Brandon Drury, Andujar’s main competition for third base, echoed those sentiments saying he’s not competing with Andujar, but rather he’s competing with himself.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 11:13AM #99
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868



Roster Move: The Yankees have signed 1B/OF Adam Lind to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League spring training.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2018 - 7:14PM #100
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

March 2nd Camp Notes


The Fighting Spirit showed up today. The Yankees rallied from down 4-0 to beat the Braves 5-4 this afternoon. Tyler Austin hit a walk-off two-run homer. I guess he’s not happy about the Adam Lind signing? Giancarlo Stanton had two doubles and Didi Gregorius had three hits. The red hot Miguel Andujar doubled in two runs. The double was smoked over the left fielder’s head.


Masahiro Tanaka started and was not sharp at all. Everything was up in the zone. The result: Four runs on four hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Ouch. Chasen Shreve, who seems to be a lock for the Opening Day roster, tossed 1.2 scoreless innings in his spring debut. Tommy Kahnle struck out two in a scoreless inning in his spring debut. Jordan Montgomery struck out five in three scoreless innings. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here’s the rest of the day’s news from Tampa:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from today’s lineup with tightness in his right side and tests revealed a “mild oblique strain,” according to Aaron Boone. Even mild oblique strains can linger. They’re tricky. There’s no timetable for Ellsbury’s return. [Coley HarveyBryan Hoch]
  • Clint Frazier is still experiencing concussion symptoms and went for an MRI today. “Yesterday when we upped his workload, it didn’t go as well as we had hoped. With the concussion thing, we’re just going to be very careful, very cautious with it,” said Boone. [Pete CalderaErik Boland]
  • Russell Wilson pinch-hit today and struck out. He’s leaving camp tomorrow. Wilson went out to dinner with several Yankees last night and spoke about needing “consistency and obsession” with having a good daily routine. “Winning is a habit. You have to train that way,” he said. [Caldera]
  • Chance Adams will be on the mound tomorrow afternoon. The game will be televised. Andujar, Bird, Gregorius, Brandon Drury, Estevan Florial,  Aaron Hicks, Austin Romine, Justus Sheffield, and Gleyber Torres will all make the road trip as well. [CalderaPete AbrahamMike Mazzeo]
  • MLBPA chief Tony Clark visits all 30 teams in Spring Training, and today he was with the Yankees. He said Yankees players have “significant” concern about the free agent market. “They all understand how what happens with one (player) effects another,” he said. [Boland]

This is tonight’s open thread. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES (7pm ET) and MLB Network (6am ET). MLB Network will replay a different game tonight.


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