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Spring Training Notes: 2018
4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:08PM #1
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THE GOAL......


IN 2018

4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:10PM #2
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February 19th Camp Notes

The Yankees held their first full squad workout today and that means Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge took batting practice together as teammates for the first time. Pretty cool. ESPN News showed it live, if you can believe that. Televised spring batting practice! How ridiculous. Anyway, Stanton held a quick press conference afterward. You can watch that above. Here’s the rest of the day’s notes:

  • Now that everyone is in camp, Aaron Boone addressed the team today. “The expectations are huge, and we will embrace that,” he said. [Erik Boland]
  • Not sure about the rest of the day’s mound assignments, but Luis Severino and Cale Coshow threw live batting practice today. Pete Caldera has some video of Severino.
  • Clint Frazier reworked his swing a bit over the winter to eliminate some of the hitch. “There aren’t as many moving parts … The leg kick is not high. I’ve tried to create some natural separation (between my hands and body) so it starts with keeping my hands on my shoulder,” he said. Here’s some video. [Brendan Kuty]
  • The Yankees told Luis Cessa to lose weight over the winter and he dropped from 222 pounds to 208 pounds. “No tortillas, quesadillas, or tacos except for maybe on the weekend once … I feel much better. I feel more relaxed. I feel stronger,” he said. Apparently Cessa’s conditioning was an issue in the past. [Randy Miller]
  • And finally, Rays manager Kevin Cash announced they will use a four-man rotation as long as possible to start the season, with bullpen games filling the gaps. That’s notable because the Rays start the season with five games in five days, with the fifth game being the Yankee Stadium home opener. Sounds like the Yankees will face a bunch of Rays relievers in their first home game this year. Huh.
4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:11PM #3
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4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:13PM #4
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4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:13PM #5
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4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:15PM #6
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Brian Cashman makes Yankees’ 2018 goal clear: ‘I need another ring’

TAMPA — After nearly getting to the World Series in 2017, Brian Cashman is hoping the Yankees get over the hump in 2018.

"The need-another-ring is the goal," Cashman told reporters on Monday. "I need another ring. I've got rings but there's other guys in there who don't have rings. Some have rings somewhere else. They want a Yankee ring. I think having a ring with an ‘NY’ on it means more than any of the other ones out there in my opinion. So, ultimately I think collectively we're going to try to find a way to get that done."

Cashman has fortified the roster by adding NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in a blockbuster offseason trade with the Marlins.

The GM has also been trying to upgrade his team's starting pitching and move Jacoby Ellsbury, though has been unable to do so.

4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:20PM #7
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New York Yankees: Severino deserves to head rotation in 2018

Luis Severino was clearly the best starting pitcher on the New York Yankees last season. Thus, he deserves to be the Opening Day starter and the ace at the top of the rotation.

Some New York Yankees fans were surprised when Luis Severino held a spot in the rotation at the beginning of last year. After a dismal year in 2016 in which he posted a 5.83 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, the young starter had a lot to prove.

But Severino rebounded with one of the more dominant seasons in the club’s recent history. At just 23 years old, he led the team in most pitching categories, and he finished third in the American League Cy Young race.

Thus, the Dominican deserves to get the nod on Opening Day, even if he doesn’t think so.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone remained silent over what pitcher will open the season on the bump. When asked, Severino pointed to veteran Masahiro Tanaka, who endured his worst MLB season in 2017.

Tanaka kicked the season off for the Yankees in each of the previous three years. Last season, he made history by allowing eight runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Though fans didn’t know it at the time, that’s how the Japanese pitcher fared for much of the year.

The buzz around the honor subsides rather quickly, hence who starts doesn’t necessarily matter.

However, it typically acts as a reward to those who earn it. And for New York, it could represent Tanaka passing the torch to Severino.

Expectations are relatively high for Severino, but his projections anticipate a small dip. Of course, prediction databases presume the same occurrences for most pitchers.

Severino’s improvements whittle down to a few significant points. First, opposing hitters struggled against his fastball as they did in 2015. Second, he held hitters on both sides to minuscule numbers. Lastly, his luck wasn’t as dreadful as it was in 2016.

This could just be the beginning of a successful career for the right-hander. He made significant adjustments last season, and it paid off. Now he just needs to continue developing and perfecting the minor issues.

Boone might limit Severino’s innings toward the end of the season if the Yankees sit in prime playoff position. But the team expects the youngster to pitch deep into games while remaining efficient.

4 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2018 - 8:23PM #8
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Sending Gleyber Torres to Triple-A may come down to his lack of second base experience, not service time


When the Yankees play their first Grapefruit League game Friday, the competition for the second and third base jobs will begin in earnest. It seems like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar will spend most of the season at those positions, but who knows? Strange things happen. Maybe Tyler Wade blows everyone away in camp or Danny Espinosa forces the issue. We’ll see.

Andujar got his feet wet with the Yankees last season and Torres likely would have as well had he not torn his non-throwing elbow ligament on an awkward slide into home plate. Gleyber had Tommy John surgery in June, rehabbed the injury, and is now a full go in Spring Training. Last week new manager Aaron Boone said there are “zero restrictions” on Torres this spring. That’s good.

In a perfect world, Torres would kick butt in Spring Training again — he hit .448/.469/.931 with six doubles and two homers in 32 Grapefruit League plate appearances last year — and win the second base job outright. Things are never that simple though. Gleyber could have another great spring and still wind up back in Triple-A, for two reasons.

He’s coming back from a major injury and hasn’t played since June.
To manipulate his service time and delay his free agency one year.

The first point is fairly obvious. Torres may be great in camp, but it’ll only be 30-something plate appearances, and not many of them will come against MLB caliber pitching. The Yankees may want to play it safe, let Gleyber get back up to speed in the minors, then bring him up when they’re more comfortable with where he’s at. Not unreasonable, I don’t think.

As for the service time issue, the Yankees usually don’t play that game, but it would be hard to blame them if they did. Sixteen days in the minors this year equals control of Gleyber’s age 27 season in 2024. Sixteen days! That’s nothing. The Yankees kept Luis Severino in Triple-A two years ago just long enough to push back his free agency, and I’m guessing they’re glad they did. Why not do the same with Torres?

“It’s not part of my evaluation process,” said Brian Cashman to David Lennon when asked about Gleyber’s service time. “We’re trying to win. If we feel that somebody could benefit from more time in the minors, we’ll make that decision at the end of camp. But I’ll take all the information from what I see and factor that into the evaluation. Every win for us is valuable.”

Cashman says service time won’t be a consideration when determining Torres’ Opening Day roster status because what’s he supposed to say? The next GM to admit they’re gaming a prospect’s service time to delay free agency will be the first. And if the Yankees do play the service time game with Torres, they’d have plenty of cover because in no way is it unreasonable to send a 21-year-old kid with 23 career Triple-A games under his belt back to the minors after a major injury.

Rust and service time are two potential factors that could land Torres back in Triple-A to begin the season. There’s another factor I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere: Torres has barely played second base, the position he is expected to play for the Yankees long-term. He has 165.1 career innings at the position. Total. That’s Spring Training, regular season, and the Arizona Fall League. Barely more than 18 games worth. Throwing the kid to the wolves at second base in the big leagues might not work so well.

Remember two years ago, when the Yankees acquired Starlin Castro and he was asked about the transition from shortstop to second base? He said everything felt “backwards” on the other side of second base. It took him some time to adjust to the new position, and he worked at it every day with big league coaches. Torres has only played second base sporadically in the minors. There is a definite lack of experience at play here, a lack of experience Gleyber downplayed.

“I feel comfortable at both (short and second),” said Torres to Brendan Kuty. “I’m prepared. Last year I played both positions. I feel comfortable. This year, too, I have more comfortable and a little more experience. For me, the most important thing is to help the team at any position where the team needs me. Of course, I’ll play whatever position and play hard.”

Keep in mind the lack of experience doesn’t necessarily show up in fielding ground balls or diminished range or anything like that. Torres still has soft hands, good range, and a strong arm. He knows how to play a routine grounder when a hitter rolls over on a pitch. The inexperience tends to show up on cutoff plays, or during the blind second base pivot, or on stolen base attempts, or during the shift. The non-routine plays. There’s a learning curve.

A few years ago the Yankees traded for Stephen Drew, a career shortstop, at midseason and stuck him at second base sight unseen. They could so something similar with Torres and make him their starter at second despite not much experience at the position, but Gleyber’s situation and Drew’s situation are very different. Torres is a prized prospect and part of the long-term future. Drew was a band-aid on a short-term deal. No one cared about potentially screwing up his development.

All offseason and even now there seems to be the assumption Torres can step in at second base and play the position like he’s been playing it his entire life — I know I’m guilty of it — but that’s not really the case. Eighteen games worth of experience at second base. That’s all. Going from Triple-A to the big leagues is hard enough. Going from Triple-A to the big leagues when you’re coming off an injury and playing a new position is even more difficult.

The injury gives the Yankees enough of a reason to send Torres down when the season begins, and delaying his free agency would be a secondary benefit. The lack of second base time is another reason to send him down. It’s easy to forget just how little time Torres has spent at second. He’ll play there in Spring Training — he’ll play there a lot in Spring Training — but enough to be comfortable enough to play the position full-time during his MLB debut? Well, that’s what the Yankees are going to find out.

“He’s a special kid. You can put him at short, put him at second, put him at third,” said new infield coordinator Carlos Mendoza to Kuty. “We’re preparing him for pretty much every role. You asked about second base. He would be comfortable catching the baseball, turning double plays. He looks good. He’s been getting work all around the diamond. We just want to prepare him.”

4 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:18PM #9
Posts: 32,868

February 20th Camp Notes

Only two more workout days until the Grapefruit League season begins. Can’t wait. The excitement of pitchers and catchers (and position players) reporting has worn off already. Give me some games. Anyway, here’s the latest from Tampa:

  • No word on today’s bullpen sessions, though Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to throw live batting practice Sunday. That means he won’t get into a Grapefruit League game until sometime next week. [Marly Rivera]
  • Neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton will play first base this spring. “I don’t think we want to mess too much with two elite level players and start moving them around too much,” said Aaron Boone. Tyler Austin, meanwhile, has a “real opportunity” to be Greg Bird’s backup at first base. [Bryan HochJack Curry]
  • Miguel Andujar said he feels ready to be the starting third baseman, but added he knows he has to work on his defense. “Footwork and repetition,” he said. Here’s some video of Andujar taking ground balls today. “I was working on my consistency and my rhythm right now,” he added. [Brendan KutyCurry]
  • Remember when Tyler Wade said he made some swing adjustments? He made them while working out with Albert Pujols over the winter. They use the same gym in California. Wade said Pujols helped him adjust his stance to avoid being jammed inside and the difference is “night and day.” [Meredith MarakovitsHoch]
  • And finally, righty Clarke Schmidt threw off a mound today for the first time since having Tommy John surgery last year. Here’s some video. The Yankees made Schmidt their first round pick last season and I ranked him as their 14th best prospect a few weeks ago.
4 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:19PM #10
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 The Yankees will keep an eye on Luis Severino’s workload, but they don’t have a hard innings limit


Last year, one of the biggest reasons the Yankees overachieved and made it to Game Seven of the ALCS was Luis Severino’s emergence as an ace. He finished third in the AL Cy Young voting and by pretty much every measure, was a top five starter in baseball. Severino was that good. It was great to see him rebound after a tough 2016 season.

The dominance and the deep postseason run mean Severino threw more innings and more pitches last season than ever before. He threw 209.1 total innings last year. His previous career high was 161.2 innings in 2015. Last year’s workload represents an increase of 47.2 innings from his previous career high, and those are 47.2 intense innings in a postseason race.

Severino turns 24 tomorrow, so he’s still a very young man, a young man the Yankees want to protect long-term. Because of that, they’re going to monitor him physically this year after last year’s workload, though as new manager Aaron Boone confirmed late last week, there’s no hard innings limit in place, or at least not one the Yankees are willing disclose.

“We will be careful. There is nothing we have talked about an innings limit or anything like that,” said Boone to George King. “He is a guy who is physical and a guy who wants to be known not just as a great pitcher but a horse in the rotation.”

We’ve seen other clubs develop hard and fast rules for their young pitchers, with the infamous Stephen Strasburg shutdown the most notable example. And we’ve seen some teams bend the rules, like when the Mets let Matt Harvey throw 216 innings a year after Tommy John surgery. They did it for a good reason though. They went to the World Series! That’s when you have to be willing to bend the rules.

The Yankees in recent years have been flexible with their young pitchers. They don’t come up with an arbitrary innings limit — or at least they don’t share that limit with us, understandably — rather they monitor the pitcher and adjust as necessary. Jordan Montgomery seemed to hit a wall last year, so they scaled back in the second half. They’ll do something similar with Severino this year, presumably.

Since the turn of the century, 56 pitchers age 23 or younger have thrown at least 190 innings in a season, including Severino. That list includes bonafide workhorses like CC Sabathia, Madison Bumgarner, and Felix Hernandez. It also includes dudes who broke down like Scott Kazmir, Jeremy Bonderman, and Tommy Hanson. Thirty-seven of those 56 pitchers threw 190 innings in their age 23 season. Some averages for that group:

  • Age 23 season: 209.7 innings and +4.0 WAR
  • Age 24 season: 173.6 innings and +2.6 WAR
  • Age 25 season: 176.0 innings and +3.4 WAR

On average, there was a step back for those 37 pitchers in their age 24 and 25 seasons. Not a huge step back, but a collective step back nonetheless. That’s the average though. Anything can happen with an individual pitcher. Severino could follow the Chris Sale path and continue to dominate. He could get hurt and throw zero innings as a 24-year-old like Patrick Corbin. Or he could so something in the middle, like Ervin Santana, who pitched but was just okay.

The Yankees don’t want Severino to become Corbin or even Santana. They want him to continue being the guy he was last season, both this year and going forward, and to do that they’ll make sure they don’t overwork him physically. The Yankees made a deep postseason run and therefore had a shorter offseason, so Severino didn’t have as much time as usual to recovery. That’s something that has to be considered too. Such is life.

This, of course, is one of the reasons the Yankees have been looking to add a starter all offseason. Yes, having depth in case Severino breaks down is part of it. Pitchers get hurt. That’s baseball. But the Yankees also want the depth in case they need to skip some Severino starts, or give him a little two-week breather on the phantom disabled list. They’re going to do all they can to protect Severino, and part of that involves having backup plans.

With any luck, Severino will absorb last year’s workload like a champ and show no ill-effects this season. That group of 37 pitchers who threw 190+ innings in their age 23 season includes guys like Sale and Felix and Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. Guys who didn’t miss a beat as the innings piled. The Yankees will be cautious just in case Severino isn’t as durable as those guys though. They’re not setting a hard innings limit for him this year, but they will keep an eye on him all season.

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