Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Potential Draft Prospects/College Notes - Week 2

Travis Jankowski, CF - Stony Brook (Projected: 1st round)

Stat line: 6-for-15, 5 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B, 3B, 3 SB

I really like him. He could sneak up the boards the way Cory Spangenberg did last year. Will probably one up being one of the more valuable players in this class long term. If he is around for the Yankees pick they better jump on him like I projected in my first mock.
Mark Appel, RHP- Standford (Projected No. 1 overall)

Stat line: W, 7 IP, R, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 SO, WP, HBP

Appel pitched tremendously to pick up his second win of the year over the 7th ranked Texas team. Observers noted that Appel looked much better than last weekend and topped out at 96 mph and his slider was missing bats.
Victor Roache, RF - Georgia Southern (Projected: Top 15 pick)

Stat line: 3-for-4, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB

Roache was having a terrific double header until he made the news of the week by breaking his wrist diving for a fly ball in the second game. It is expected he will be out for the whole year. A major blow to his stock. He will definitely fall like Jackie Bradley Jr. did last year and the Yankees could be a possible destination. Would be a steal if it happens.
Kenny Diekroeger, 2B/SS - Stanford (Projected late 1st round - 1st supp.)

Stat line: 6-for-12, 3 2B, SB, 2 R, 2 RBI BB, 3 K, 2 E

Great performance offensively, but the errors on routine groundballs don't sit well when he already has defensive questions.
Steve Piscotty, 3B/OF - Stanford (Projected mid-to-late 1st round)

Stat line: 3-for-14, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI,BB, K, E

Not quiet the follow up weekend you'd like to see after his booming start, but he was still productive. Thought he could be around for the Yankees pick... I am already doubting that.
Brett Mooneyham, LHP - Stanford (Projected 1st round supplement to 2nd round)

Stat line: W, 8 IP, R, 3 H, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2 HBP, 8:9 GO:FO

He is really pitching his way into the 1st round conversation early in the season. The stuff is in his arm and he is harnessing it much better thus far.
Hoby Milner, LHP - Texas (Projected 2nd-3rd round)

Stat line: L, 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, BB, 2 SO, HBP, 2:7 GO:FO

He has average stuff at the moment, although he is still projectable. Just not a good effort against the potent Stanford lineup though.

New York Yankees Spring Training Camp Notes 2/29

At the Stirring Straw, we have discovered a nice visual way of bringing what happens in Tampa to all our readers across the nation. Introducing our Storify page! Storify is a website that lets you put together articles, pictures, video, and tweets to weave a story.

We're bringing you all of the day's tweets and photos from the Yankees' Spring Training camp all in one place. No more bland posts with just texts and a link. If you check out our Storify page, you'll be able to follow what happened and when.

We hope you like it and please feel free to give us feedback.


Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter: similar stars in two very different markets

I love Derek Jeter as much as the next guy. In fact, from my earliest recollection, Derek Jeter has been the only shortstop I have known. The man is the New York Yankees.

Jeter continues to get older; inevitably, there will be a day when another will be announced as "playing shortstop for the New York Yankees".

Imagine for one second that Jeter was never played for the Yankees. Let's say, for argument's sake, he was traded for Chipper Jones before either reached the majors. It's tough to do.

Derek Jeter may the most recognizable figure in all of sport. Chipper Jones may be the best baseball player in the last 15 years that is appreciated the least. Why? Atlanta has "The Weather Channel", New York has "Yankee Stadium". New York has the glitz and the glamor. Atlanta has southern manners.

Back to my trade - would Derek Jeter be viewed any differently had he played in a small market? In my mind, yes. Would Chipper be viewed any differently had he played in New York? Yes, again.

These two players are remarkably similar. Jeter debuted 1995 and started playing full time in 1996. Chipper debuted in 1993 but did not start playing full time until 1995.

Chipper has a career batting average of .304. Jeter, .313. Chipper hits for more power - 454 home runs to Jeter's 240. Chipper has an all time career OBP of .402. Jeter, .383.

Defensively, Chipper is much better than Jeter; vver their careers, Jeter has a -14 WAR and Chipper only has a -2.

Am I arguing that Chipper is better than Jeter? No. Nobody will ever know how each would have reacted had they been moved to different markets. Yet, when fans say that no one player has been better than Jeter since the mid-1990's, I find myself arguing that for some, there is much more than what the sports media tells us.



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2/28 Camp Notes

(Reuters)
Here are today's notes from Yankees camp:

  • Robinson Cano will bat third in the Yankees lineup, but after that Joe Girardi isn't sure. He said that other than that, he isn't "married" to anyone batting anywhere in the lineup. (Link)
  • David Aardsma reported to camp today is throwing off flat ground at 90 feet. He's hoping to be back some time around the All-Star break. With him and Joba coming back mid-season, that pen is going to be stacked down the stretch. (Link)
  • Bobby Valentine apparently delivered some shots at the Yankees today. I didn't really look at them because I didn't care, but here you go. I'll have something on Bobby V up in the next day or two. (Link)
  • And as always, the Lohud blog has your pitchers that threw bullpens and your hitters that took batting practice, along with some other notes. (Link)

Replacing Mo

With the 2012 baseball season approaching, it’s hard for a Yankee fan not to think about the 2013 season.  Mariano Rivera has hinted at a possible retirement after his 2-year $30 million dollar contract expires at the end of this season.  Although there is still a possibility that the all-times saves leader returns to the mound next year, people are wondering who takes the reigns if he does call it quits.

(Chris Pedota)
The easiest place to start is with setup man David Robertson.  Robertson posted a stellar 4-0 record with a minuscule 1.08 ERA over 66.2 innings.  His 100 strikeouts as a reliever ranked second in all of baseball and his 35 holds ranked third.  While those numbers seem to make him an automatic choice for the heir to the throne, his 35 walks raise a red flag.  Robertson has never been known as a control pitcher and a closer giving up free passes is a little unsettling.

The next candidate is Rafael Soriano.  The 2010 American League saves leader is already an experienced closer.  He is also getting paid like a closer.  Soriano is set to receive $14 million during the 2013 season.  That is only if he picks up his player option, which he certainly will.  Rafael is coming off a season where he performed well below expectation.  His line of 2-3 with a 4.12 ERA is far from the 3-2 1.73 ERA he had in 2010.  He also had a problem finding the strikezone.  Soriano (in a season where he pitched 23 fewer innings) had four more walks in 2011 than he did in 2010.  This is also happening while his homerun and hit rate were at some of the highest in his career. The stats here can all be rendered meaningless if he has a similar season to 2010.

Joba Chamberlain. Yes Joba Chamberlain.  Joba was deemed the closer of the future way back in 2007.  Fast-forward four more seasons and the once super prospect is coming off Tommy John surgery.  Joba has struggled to live up to the expectations since he burst on the scene.  He is set to return to the Yankee bullpen by June, but nothing is guaranteed when rehabbing from an elbow injury.  His fastball faded the past couple of years where he was transferred from the rotation to the pen.  In the 28 innings he did pitch in 2011, his fastball seemed to be coming back.  History has shown us that pitchers coming off of Tommy John have generally thrown harder than they previously did.  A solid 2012 can give him a shot at the ninth inning in 2013.

The closer market for the 2013 season looks to be a soft one.  Notable names that will touch free agency are Jonathan Broxton, Brandon League, Juan Carlos Oviedo (former Leo Nunez), Ryan Madson (if he opts out), Jose Valverde, and former Angels and Met closer Francisco Rodriguez.  Other than maybe Valverde, who led the AL with 49 saves, nobody projects to be any better than the Yankees in house solutions.  However, this can all change after 2012.

Yankees Spring Training Camp Notes -- 2/27

Third base-man Alex Rodriguez during Yankees Photo Day. Quite the studio in Tampa. (Getty Images)
  • The New York Yankees officially announced the signing of Eric Chavez. In other news, water is wet. Relief pitcher David Aardsma was placed on the 60-day disabled list shortly after the announcement.
  • After AJ Burnett's departure for Pittsburgh, it appears as if the walk-off pie duty will fall on him. Joe Girardi says that he is the favorite to replace the starter in that job.
  • Speaking of AJ Burnett, he had to drop some cash in order for him to wear No. 34 again in Pittsburgh. He wrote out a check to the college fund for Daniel McCutchen's daughter in exchange for the number.
  • Joba Chamberlain is getting ready to throw off a full mound some time soon. He could throw about twenty pitches to get back in the groove of things.
  • Joe Girardi has set his pitching rotation for the early portion of Spring Training and it goes as follows: March 2nd Adam Warren, March 3rd Ivan Nova, March 4th Freddy Garcia, March 5th Michael Pineda, March 6th CC Sabathia/Phil Hughes, March 7th Hiroki Kuroda.
  • Robinson Cano will be away from the team in Tampa for a little while as he tends to his family after his grandmother passed away in the Dominican Republic.
  • Andy Pettitte is in town for a little while just hanging out as a guest instructor. He'll be working with some of the pitchers as much as he can. He joked around about pitching batting practice only to be received as a joke by Derek Jeter. Bernie Williams will be around soon to hang out much like Pettitte.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stirring Straw Live Chat

Babe Ruth's jersey to sell for record-sum, Yahoo Sports says

Yahoo Sports reports that Babe Ruth's 1920 jersey (aka, the jersey he wore during his first season with the Yankees), is on sale. They say it has the potential to be auctioned for the most money in any baseball auction to date. See the article here

Now, I am not the biggest auction fan - the extent of my knowledge on the topic is Honus Wagner's T-206 tobacco card in 2007 and the $2.8 million it sold for in 2007.

But, that being said, this, to me, is the most important piece of memorabilia in baseball's history. Why? In 1920, the year after the Black-Sox Scandal, baseball needed a savior to avoid fans from losing interest in a potentially "corrupt game". Ruth's trade to the Yankees, and the Yankees' decision to make Ruth a full time hitter (he only pitched in 4 games in his entire Yankee career), helped bring people back to the game.

Of course, Honus Wagner's cards (and the handful of them left) are historic. But, rightfully so, this jersey is the greatest.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2/26 Camp Notes

(Reuters)
Here are today's camp notes:

  • In order to make room for Eric Chavez on the 40-man roster, the Yankees took Chris Dickerson off the 40-man. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. I'm happy they were able to keep him because he's a useful player and I'd like to see him up again soon. (Link)
  • Mariano Rivera threw his first bullpen of the spring and said he felt good. (Link)
  • Austin Romine had an MRI on his back which revealed inflammation. The Yanks are gonna hold him back a few more days. There's no need to rush him. Romine says he can tell it's not gonna be a big thing by the way he feels. (Two Links)
  • And as always, Chad Jennings has all the guys that threw bullpens and took batting practice. (Link)

Podcast Episode #4: Nick is a Fantasy Guru

Nick and I are back and we have a good amount to talk about. We start by wrapping up the AJ Burnett deal since it was finalized after the last time we recorded. We then move forward to Russell Martin and the talks of an extension. The negotiations have been tabled, but we discuss if this would be the right move and what this would mean for Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez. Lastly, we move on to talking about the Jays and Orioles and what to expect from them this year. You can listen to it below:


Or you can download it here.

And you can subscribe on iTunes here. (Be sure to rate and review us)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2/25 Camp Notes

(Reuters)
Here are today's camp notes:
  • Raul Ibanez expressed how happy he was to be a Yankee as he met with the media today. He's spent some time talking to minor leaguers. People have said he's a great clubhouse guy and he's proving it. (Two Links)
  • Alex Rodriguez also spoke to the media and said that his knee is 100% healthy and that he wants to hit fourth. (Two Links)
  • Here are the guys who hit and threw bullpens, along with other notes. (Link)

Friday, February 24, 2012

2/24 Notes: Everyone Reports

(Bryan Hoch)
So today is the day that everyone reports to camp and Spring Training officially begins. Yay for that. On to the notes:
  • Derek Jeter spoke to the media today like he does at the beginning of every Spring Training. His main points were that he will play as long as he feel he can and he's having fun and that he was shocked to get Michael Pineda. (Two Links)
  • Austin Romine sat out today due to his sore back and he's basically day-to-day. Joe Girardi says he'll sit tomorrow too if he has to. (Link)
  • No bullpens were thrown today, but a bunch of guys took batting practice. Click to link to see who. (Link)

Musings on Angelo Gumbs

The thing that makes the Yankees farm system good is not top tier talent, but the amount of depth in it. Maybe the guys at the top of the system don't match up that well with other teams, but when you start to get lower and lower on prospect lists, the guys that the Yankees have, for the most part, are more valuable than what other teams have to offer. A great example of this is the 2012 Low-A Charleston team. It's going to feature a lot of good prospects including Mason Williams, Bryan Mitchell, Tyler Austin, Ben Gamel, and former first round picks Cito Culver and Dante Bichette Jr. One guy getting lost in all of this is second baseman Angelo Gumbs.


You won't see Gumbs on any Top 100's or (most) Top 10's, but he is definitely a legitimate prospect. He was taken in the second round of the 2010 draft and given a very nice $750,000 signing bonus. After getting his feet wet in Rookie Ball just after signing he posted a .264/.334/.406 slash line with Short Season Staten Island. These numbers aren't great, but it's all about the tools with him. He's a great athlete, but is very raw and needs a lot of polish on both sides of the ball.

The reason I bring Gumbs up is because this week at Baseball Prospectus, Jason Parks took on the Yankees farm system in his "What Could Go Wrong" series. If you're not familiar, he takes the best five prospects (in his opinion) from every system and talks about what may go wrong in the upcoming year for them. Anyway, he had Gary Sanchez in the one spot, Manny Banuelos at two, then Dellin Betances, followed by Mason Williams. The order is a little shaken up, but nothing too crazy. But after this, he wrote about Gumbs. Here's a mini scouting report:
On a short-season team that featured up-the-middle talent like Cito Culver and Mason Williams, second baseman Angelo Gumbs stood out as the athlete worth watching. I’ve been noisy about Gumbs’ athleticism and the projections he holds both on defense and at the plate. He flashed a bit of this promise in 2011, but his production won’t spark much prospect love. If you were lucky enough to see the former second-round pick in action, there is a good chance you witnessed Gumbs’ competitive fire take him out of games. Call it immaturity or give it another label, but when faced with a setback on the field, Gumbs’ own disappointment in the result was often visible, and on quiet nights, quite audible. Some industry sources I’ve spoken with question Gumbs’ makeup, but I’m not ready to call his competitive fire a flaw. It goes without saying that he needs to mature on the field. But Gumbs played the entire season as an 18-year-old, and at that age, I like to see a player who demands the best from himself.
[snip]
Based on the snapshot, Gumbs’ athleticism stands out, as I was able to see a few routine ground-ball executions, and one nice glove-side play where Gumbs was able to flash his first-step quickness and reactions. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that Gumbs wasn’t able to show off the full range of his physical abilities, as I was at the mercy of the balls in play, and Gumbs only touched the ball a handful of times. I would have paid extra to see him take flies in the outfield. His skill set belongs in the vast wilderness of center field.
At the plate, Gumbs looked more comfortable than [Cito] Culver, with a natural feel for his swing and natural contact ability; it just seemed easy for him to pull the trigger, jump into the zone, and control the bat and barrel the ball with authority. Even the balls he fouled off were quality swings, as he was locked in most of the night. The statistical results of the evening run counter to my claims of quality, but he was putting good wood on the ball; he just wasn’t getting any help from the holes on the field. He also has more power potential than I realized. The kid has juice in the bat.  
Obviously Gumbs is very athletic and has all the tools to become an All-Star, but I didn't expect this type of praise from anyone. Now before we get our expectations up, let's remember that Parks is an outlier and that he's one of the few that like Gumbs this much and also, coming from a scouting background he's bound to put more weight on what he sees. I like him a lot too, heck I've even predicted him to break out in a few chats and he's definitely someone I'm going to be keeping my eye on even with all the talent he'll be surrounded by.

The Last Roster Spot

When the Yankees signed Eric Chavez to a major league deal a couple of days ago, they didn't just fill the back-up corner infielder role, but they also filled the 24th spot on the roster. That's right, 24 spots on the roster are currently filled leaving one remaining for a reliever. This means that the only way Bill Hall and Russell Branyan are going to make the team is if someone gets hurt. That's a real shame too, because I was looking forward to seeing Branyan hit some moon shots, like this one.
(Pro Rumors)
Anyway, the way I see it, the one spot left can be filled by four different people depending on what the Yanks feel they need and of course who performs well in Spring Training. Hideki Okajima was in this group until he failed his physical. So let's take a look at the candidates.

Cesar Cabral: Joe Girardi has made it known that he would like a second lefty to work with in the pen and Cabral would give it to him. The 23 year old was a Rule 5 pick from the Red Sox system and has put up pretty good numbers. There are a few somewhat serious problems with Cabral, however. First of all he hasn't pitched above Double-A, not to say he put up bad numbers there, but it goes without saying that the difference between pitching there and in the majors is a big one. There's also the fact that Cabral's best pitch is a change up which bodes better against righties than it does lefties. The fact that he is a Rule 5 guy though could help him in a tie breaker situation.

(Mike Ashmore)
Mike O'Connor: O'Connor's signing in the middle of the off-season went under the radar maybe because it was a minor league deal or maybe because no one cared about another lefty reliever. Anyway, O'Connor probably doesn't have that much of a chance to make the team, but I think he should get a decent look. He spent most of last year in the Mets system (Triple-A) and pitched to a 3.47 FIP in 60.1 innings. In his combined MLB stints he has .243 batting average against versus lefties and a 4.18 FIP.

Brad Meyers: This is the other guy that the Bombers took in the Rule, a right-hander from the Nats. Meyers is a more of a control guy than anything else and spent most of last year in Triple A pitching to a 3.43 FIP thanks in a large part to a sub-two walk rate. I don't think Meyers has a real shot of making the team unless some injuries occur or management decides that they don't want the second lefty. I like Meyers a lot and I know Nick does too, but unless the competition comes down to just righties where his Rule 5 status can come into play, I see him going back to Washington at the end of camp.

George Kontos: Kontos is a personal favorite, who I think could be very good in that last bullpen spot. He's a guy who can throw multiple innings if need be and uses a nice fastball-slider combo to record a good amount of strikeouts. For Triple A Scranton last season, the 26 year old logged 89.1 innings in 40 games and pitched to a 2.62 ERA before getting short stint with the big league club in September. I like him a lot as solid middle reliever down the line, but it wouldn't shock me if they opted for one of the Rule 5 guys just for depth purposes. In that case, Kontos would be the first guy in the case of an injury.

All four of these are solid options and I wouldn't really argue with any of them getting a roster spot. A lot of this going to depend on what they do in camp and how much Joe Girardi really wants that second lefty. I want to see Kontos get the job because I think he can do very well in it, but as of right now I think it will Cabral. Should be a fun little competition to watch out for in the coming month or so.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2/23 Camp Notes

Boomer! (Reuters)
Here are the notes from today at Yankee camp:
  • The big news is Austin Romine who has a sore back which will keep him out for a few days, but isn't thought to be too serious. (Link)
  • Also on the injury front, George Kontos will be out only a few more days due to his oblique. This is good news because it was possible that he would be out for a few weeks. (Link)
  • Speaking of injuries, Eric Chavez reported to camp today, although his signing is not yet official. (See what I did there?) (Link)
  • Another worthy note (sort of) David Aardsma will be issued the number 34, cutting AJ Burnett from our minds permanantly. (Link)
  • Also, the Yanks and Russell Martin have re-opened negotiations about a possible extension. Martin's agent said that they would even be willing to work with the team as far as the budget goes. Sounds good to me. (Link)
  • And as always Chad Jennings has the list of guys who threw and hit today. (Link)

Mariano Rivera NOT Overpaid

In the midst of all the Mariano Rivera retirement talks, Tom Van Riper released an article for Forbes this week on the financial relief that the Yankees will see after the all-time saves leader calls it a career. His argument is that for the amount of work that Rivera does in one inning, he is overpaid. Van Riper cites statistics that show that in most cases, the team with the lead in the ninth inning will secure the victory. He did not point out if those situations were save scenarios for a closer to be called into the game.

The main issue that I have with his argument is the fact that he singles out Mariano Rivera as an over paid player. First of all, he is being paid to seal victories for the team with the most pressure to bring home the World Series trophy when the season is all said and done. Couple that with the fact that he has demonstrated that he is the best at his craft in his career and he's worth every bang for his buck.

Most of the money that has been flushed out by this team has not been on him, but on players that could help get the ball to him and relieve the pressure of a setting like New York. Try spending the same amount of money on a different reliever and feeling confident in getting the same results as Rivera? It just isn't the same, because there is no name in the league that comes close to the reliability this man has not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.

Take Rivera and place him in a Mets uniform. Give him the same salary that he is earning with the Yankees. The investment fails, because of the fact that this Yankees team has been built for years around the fact that if you hold a slim lead in the 9th inning, you can still win. It would take years for another team to replicate what the Yankees have been able to do for the money to work.

When Mariano Rivera started off as a closer in 1997 and helped the Yankees make a run in the playoffs, he made $550,000 and recorded 43 saves. He has five World Series rings on his hand and if 'overpaying' him now doesn't make up for his contributions in the 90's, it just is not fair. Putting his contract aside, Rivera will retire with his name among the greatest to ever take the field.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2/22 Camp Notes

(Reuters)
Here's are the notes from today at Yankees camp:

  • Joba Chamberlain threw off a full mound for the first time since his Tommy John surgery and said he feels really good. He's slated to throw again on Friday. (Link)
  • Derek Jeter says he knows what Mariano is going to do after this season, but he's not telling either. Let the speculation continue. (Link)
  • The YES Network has hired Lou Piniella as a special contributor. Piniella will work games as an analyst, also pre- and post-game from the studio, contribute to Yesnetwork.com and do a CenterStage. (Two Links)
  • Lastly here's a list of the guys who threw bullpens and took batting practice along with some other notes. (Link)

Yanks Sign David Aardsma

Per Byan Hoch, the Yankees have signed reliever David Aardsma to a MLB deal as he rehabs back from Tommy John surgery. The deal is reportedly worth $500,000 and the righty could possibly come back some time later on this season. Andrew Marchand is reporting that it's a two year deal and is geared more for 2013 then it is for this year. It is a club option after this year.

Aardsma's last season in the majors was 2010 when he closed games for Seattle. He logged 31 saves in 52 appearances while pitching to a 3.44 ERA. I'm not really sure what to think of this move yet, but he could help the Yankees down the stretch. Should be interesting to see how it pans out. However, for now, we don't really need to worry about it.

Realistic expectations for Mariano if this is his last year

(Fox Sports)
Mariano Rivera has decided when he will retire. As of now, he will not publicly say whether this is his final season or not, said New York Times writer Lynn Singer.

If this is indeed the end of the road for the greatest closer of all time, I will be the first to say I am happy that I was along for the ride and that I saw Mo pitch hundreds of times. Mariano is the type of player you tell your grandkids about. In an era defined by "trying to find the story that sells the most", Rivera found a way to avoid it all in the media capital of the United States.

Enough of my rambling, after all, we do not know for sure that this is Mariano's last year. I think Mo will have a great year regardless of his decision. However, I also believe we may see some more experimenting with other relievers (read: Rafael Soriano/David Robertson) if he informs Yankees Management that this is his final go-around. After all, if Rivera is gone after 2012, the Yankees have a hole to fill at closer.

Would this be a way of "showing" Mariano the door? Yes, of course.

But, is baseball a business? Yes.

Does Mariano want to see the Yankees succeed in the future? I hope so.

Does this mean Mariano will lose out on 20 possible save opportunities? Probably not, unless he is underperforming.

All I am saying is that Mariano has to be very careful with his decision. If he makes his decision public during the year, he may see his saves go down.

Even if he does not make his decision public, we may still see his saves go down. As much as we like to believe it, he is not invincible.

Regardless of whether Mo misses out on a few saves, it will make little difference because even if this is his last year, he has already booked his ticket to Cooperstown and Monument Park.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yanks, Chavez Agree on Deal

Per Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Eric Chavez have agreed to a major league deal. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the deal if one year (obviously) and worth $900,000 with incentives. This was expected any day once the AJ Burnett deal was made official and I'm glad they finally got it out of the way. It seemed to be the last thing needed to be done. I know Chris will be happy.

2/21 Camp Notes

(Bryan Hoch)
Another day and another post of notes. Here they are:
  • David Robertson was asked about Mariano Rivera's comments from yesterday and he responded that, "You never know. He might Favre us." (Link)
  • The Raul Ibanez signing was made official today, thus filling the 40-man roster. Luckily, pitchers are now allowed to be placed on the 60-day disabled list and the Yanks have two guys eligible (Pedro Feliciano and Joba Chamberlain). This will help when/if the team signs Eric Chavez. (Link)
  • George Kontos sustained the first injury of camp with a tweaked oblique. That always seems to be the big injury in Spring Training, if you remember last year. Anyway, Joe Girardi said that Kontos will miss hopefully a few days, but possibly a few weeks. I like Kontos a lot and think he has a shot to make the MLB bullpen in the same spot Luis Ayala occupied last season. (Link)
  • The Yankees will have their team bonding session on March 1, which is the day before their first exhibition game. (Link)
  • Eric Chavez may not be a Yankee yet, but Joe Girardi slipped in saying that he would be in the mix for back up Mark Teixeira at first base. I'm sure we'll see him soon. (Link)
  • As far as players working out today David Adams was working out at second base and Justin Maxwell in left. (Link)
  • Andruw Jones feels great and ready to go he says. His knee was drained six times last year before having surgery this off-season. (Two Links)

Four Yankees Crack BA's Top 100 List

After a long wait, Baseball America finally released its top 100 prospect list. The Yankees to make the list were Manny Banuelos (No. 29), Dellin Betances (No. 63), Gary Sanchez (No. 81), and Mason Williams (No. 85).
29Manny  Banueloslhp, YankeesAge: 21.ETA: 2012.
Yankees player-development boss Mark Newman compared his poise to Whitey Ford—when Banuelos was 18.
63Dellin  Betancesrhp, YankeesAge: 24.ETA: 2013.
Last year he became the 10th member of New York's 2006 draft class to reach the majors.
81Gary  Sanchezc, YankeesAge: 19.ETA: 2014.
Took hits for his defensive ability and makeup in his first full season, but dished them out with his bat.
85Mason  Williamsof, YankeesAge: 20.ETA: 2014.
Heads up a deep, athletic group of Yankees prospects headed to low Class A Charleston.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Williams make the list. He definitely deserves it and is on his way to being a top 50 prospects next year at worst. I really have no complaints on where anyone was placed. They all seem like fair assessments.

The Baseball America crew answered some questions to go along with the list and answered this regarding the Yankees:
:Jay (Illinois): Can you give us 10 names that just missed the top 100? Thanks!
Jim Callis: Giants C Tommy Joseph was No. 100 until Yoenis Cespedes signed. Others who just missed, in no particular order: Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn, Astros SS Jonathan Villar, Rangers RHP Neil Ramirez, Marlins OF Marcell Ozuna, Royals RHP Kelvin Herrera, Nationals RHP Alex Meyer, Padres C Austin Hedges, Yankees RHP Jose Campos, Pirates RHP Luis Heredia. 
Joel (KCK): Until Boston or the Yanks can actually develop a prospect and have them have sustained success at the major league level, is it that off-base for the majority of baseball fans to feel that ALL Bos/NYY prospects are overrated by the majority of the industry experts?
J.J. Cooper: Sorry Joel, you're missing something here. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester would seem to qualify as homegrown talents with sustained success as do Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon. On the Yankees side, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova and others would like to differ with your assessment.
Andrew Brotherton (Atlanta, GA): We all know about Mason, Manny, and Dellin, along with newly acquired Jose, who are the next wave of Yankee prospects to make the Top 100 prospects? Could you see Montgomery, Bichette, Ravel Santana, Jake Cave, Murphy, Flores, Austin entering the list?
John Manuel: Glad to see a Yankee fan so giddy about their prospects; it's so rare ... Ravel Santana and Dante Bichette Jr. are my picks to click out of that group to jump into the Top 100 next year, but Austin is a good sleeper. I like Mike Montgomery a lot but he's likely a future setup guy, and there are really no setup guys (in terms of realistic ceiling) in this top 100. That's what kept Lance Lynn, for example, out of the top 100. Check today's podcast when it's posted to hear some more discussion on that point.
Chris (Hicksville, NY): Is Gary Sanchez from the Yankee system a Jesus Montero situation all over again in terms of can Sanchez play another position if he can't make it as catcher? I love the podcasts by the way.
John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words on the podcast. We're excited about the fact that they are going well. I think JJ Cooper deserves a lot of credit for that; I'm proud to work with him. As for Sanchez, I think the safest thing to say is yes, he's similar to Montero, though he's more of a pure hitter in terms of his swing. The makeup or maturity of Sanchez is more in question than it was for Montero at a similar stage. But he's not as big as Montero; I wouldn't give up on him as a catcher just yet. He can grow up; Montero couldn't stop being 6-foot-4, 225.

A Look at the Yankees Starters Through Pitch F/X

A few weeks back I posted about the new break throughs in pitch f/x and how much easier it is analyze pitchers with the new player cards they have on Brooks Baseball. They've broken down the movement, trajectory, and speed of each pitch thrown by every pitcher since 2007, which makes life for players, teams, and writers a lot easier. In this post I'm going to take the six Yankees starters and look at each of their numbers pitch by pitch. Here we go (you can click on each chart to enlarge):

CC Sabathia
Michael Pineda
Hiroki Kuroda
Ivan Nova
Phil Hughes
Freddy Garcia
I know it's a lot to digest so I'll just point out a few things. First of all, the best pitch in the rotation according to whiff rate is CC Sabathia's change up which comes in at 21.88%. That's followed by Ivan Nova's slider (21.65%), Michael Pineda's slider (19.45%), and Sabathia's slider (18.51%). This isn't a perfect comparison because of the sample size (ie. Sabathia has obviously thrown more sliders over the last five years than Nova has). Remember, this is only MLB data so there's only one year for Pineda and Nova.

There's not much else I can say about, but I urge you to look through the graphs because they're very interesting. If you have time, you should go to the Brooks Baseball website that I linked to above so you can check out the more in depth stuff like trajectories, speeds, etc. I hope to be using this stuff more going forward and especially during the season.

The Back-Up Catcher Situation and Austin Romine

Jesus Montero put the Yankees in something of a bind when it came to roster flexibility. The bat was obviously very real and could play anywhere, but Montero's defense was a serious question mark and he couldn't be trusted as a legitimate back up to Russell Martin. Combining this with the fact that they needed to get his bat in the lineup every day, the Yanks would have had to carry three catchers in 2012. Now that he has been shipped to Seattle the picture is a little bit clearer.

Since the big trade, I feel like Gary Sanchez has been getting a lot more attention. This isn't to say that it's unwarranted, after all, Sanchez may have the most upside of any position player in the system and he has power that rivals Monteros. But in the process Austin Romine, the catching prospect that is closest to the Majors, has been getting overlooked. However, this may not be a bad thing.

(Bus Leagues Baseball)
Heading into the 2011 season, a lot of people were expecting Montero to be the long term designated hitter/first baseman and Romine to be the legitimate catcher of the future. I kind of feel like this put a lot of pressure on the latter, especially since he was repeating Double A. In other words, big things were expected from the young backstop. Even with a concussion that kept him out for a chunk of the season, he still hit .286/.351/.378 with six homers before getting short stints with Scranton and the big league team.

I thought these numbers were pretty good, but with all the buzz surrounding Montero's imminent call-up, Sanchez's attitude problems, and JR Murphy's improvements with the glove and the bat, he got overshadowed. But now with Jesus gone, the path is clear and Romine will have the first crack at the bigs among the remaining catchers in the system. The question is when.

Many will want him to be the back up behind Russell Martin, but I'm not sure that's the best idea. Romine only had 15 plate appearances in Scranton and didn't hit too well in his small sample sizes in Triple A and the MLB. I think the bat can use some time back with Scranton before he gets a permanent call up. That's where Frankie Cervelli comes in. Cervelli can serve as a very viable back up until either an injury occurs or the Yankees brass feels he's ready.

Obviously this isn't that pressing of an issue, but it does play into Romine's development so it shouldn't be taken too lightly. I, unlike many others, think that he can still be a solid MLB regular and I expect a solid year out of him.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Girardi Speaks: 2/20 Camp Notes

(Bryan Hoch)
Today was the first day that pitchers and catchers had to participate in baseball activity so there were a lot of pictures circulating Twitter (most of them pretty bad) of pitchers throwing bullpen, players stretching, and people just standing around. However, a lot of notes came from today because Joe Girardi spoke to the media for the first time. Here are today's happenings starting with what the Skipper had to say:

  • Girardi said that he envisions Phil Hughes as a starter long term, but that the right-hander would have to battle with Freddy Garcia for the number five spot in the rotation. (Link)
  • As for the front of the rotation, Girardi said that CC Sabathia will get the ball on Opening Day, but after that he will be keeping an open mind. He also said that he wants CC to stay at his current weight (or at least close to it). (Two Links)
  • When asked about the bullpen, he said that as of right now, nothing has changed since and that Rafael Soriano will pitch the seventh innings, David Robertson the eighth, and of course Mariano Rivera in the ninth. (Link)
  • AJ Burnett was of course the main topic of conversation for Yankee fans over the last week or so and Joe believed that the team may not have won the World Series without him in 2009 and that he did everything the team asked him to. (Two Links)
  • Joe also says that he thinks Alex Rodriguez will have a big bounce back year, although he's not sure how much DH time the third baseman is going to get. He says that he will play it by ear. (Two Links)
  • Girardi anticipates that Frankie Cervelli will be the back up catcher on Opening Day, although Austin Romine among others will get a look. (Two Links)
  • As for the lineup, the Skipper thinks he's gonna go with Cano-A-Rod-Teixeira in the 3-4-5 spots while having Jeter and Granderson bat 1-2. He's "not married to that" though. (Two Links)
  • Lastly, a story that seemed to get blown a little bit out of proportion was Mariano Rivera saying he has already made up his mind about his future. The 42 year old closer's contract runs out after this season so retirement could be very possible. Many of the beat guys were saying that it sounded like he was going to retire, but you never know. Let's worry about that when the time comes. (Link)

Goldstein on Moreno and Cayones

Today over Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein and RJ Anderson examined the AJ Burnett trade and broke it down from both sides. Goldstein took a look at the prospects that the Yanks got back. Here's what he had to say:
Diego Moreno ranked ninth on the Pirates’ list 15 months ago, but his career has been hampered by injuries, suspensions for immature behavior, and lack of development. He's a wide-bodied right-hander with plus-plus velocity touching 98; he can throw strikes with the pitch, but that remains the sum of his abilities. For every plus slider he throws, he'll deliver three that just sweep across the plate, and his fastball lacks much in the way of deception or movement. He'll likely get to the big leagues at some point on his fastball alone, but it will take an unexpected step forward for him to make an impact.
20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones belongs in a scene from Moneyball. What does he do? He gets on base. He has an advanced approach at the plate and a line-drive swing that should produce good batting averages, but it's hard to figure what he'll do around those skills. He has well below-average power and lacks the speed for center or the arm strength for right. Even if he puts up good numbers at Low-A Charleston this season—and that is a distinct possibility—his upside is limited.
Obviously neither guy is a top-of-the-system caliber guy, but they are a little intriguing. Moreno will probably start the season in Trenton while Cayones will join an already prospect-heavy Charleston team. It won't hurt to at least keep tabs on these guys. If you want to read it, here's the whole piece.

Yankees Have $4.2 Million to Spend on Draft

If scouts didn't already think their job was hard enough, thanks to the new CBA it just got harder as the days of getting Dellin Betances type players in the 10th round are almost all, but over.

The new rules assign teams with a "bonus pool" that they are allowed to use on their draft picks. Should they exceed that pool by up to 5% then they have to pay a 75% tax on the overage. If they exceed the pool by 5-10% then they have to pay the 75% tax and forfeit a first round pick. For 10-15% over the pool they pay 100% tax  and lose a first and second round pick. Finally if a team exceeds the pool by more than 15% they pay a 100% tax and lose two first round picks.

It is a pretty steep price to pay and will prevent those late round bonuses that helped teams like the Yankees steal prospects like Betances.

Jim Callis put together a listing of each team's draft pool for the 2012 draft and the Yankees have $4,192,200 to spend. The figure is the seventh lowest in baseball.

The Yankees spent just over $6.2 million on last years class. If this rule was in place last year then the Yankees would have been over the 15% mark and had to pay a 100% tax, while forfeiting two first round picks. What this means is you can definitely expect a decrease in the quality of prospects the Yankees bring in this year.

Stirring Straw Live Chat

Chat Reminder

Just a reminder that we'll be chatting today at 1:30. We'll be talking AJ Burnett, the lefty bat situation, and anything else that's somewhat relavent to the Yankees. See you all there.

Cashman told C.C. to lose some weight - Is this a long term solution

According to espn.com, the Yankees were not using C.C. Sabathia's weight as a bargaining chip this offseason when he decided to opt out of his old contract - they simply wanted their ace back.

After C.C. signed a 5 year, 122 million dollar extension, the Yankees sat down with C.C.. Something of a much greater weight was on Brian Cashman's mind.

In that meeting, the Yankees told Sabathia they wanted him to lose weight because they needed him to perform at a high level as he gets older. He is 31.

Well so be it, here we are, towards the end of February with pitchers and catchers set to report soon. According to multiple sources, C.C.'s weight is down approximately 10-15 pounds. Matt reported this earlier.

C.C. insists this is a long term solution. I am not so sure. Wallace Matthews reported earlier C.C. has always had trouble losing weight because of his body type. I do not discount this even though it seems Matthews is picking on Sabathia. Body type does matter with weight loss.

Besides this, weight, as we all know, is one of those things that is very easy to lose when you are focused on it all the time. For C.C., he is not going to be weight-watching as he gets ready for a big start against Boston in the dog days of summer.

To be positive, if Kendrick Perkins, NBA big man (big man highlighted for emphasis that he was big) proved anything, it is that weight can be lost by big guys.

But will C.C. keep the weight off over the course of his 5 year contract? That's where I'm not so sure.





Breaking News: Yankees sign DH/OF Raul Ibanez

(Babes Love Baseball)
With pitchers and catchers working out in Tampa, Raul Ibanez will be among the position players reporting in the coming days. The Yankees have finalized a one year deal worth $1.1MM with the 39-year old. With incentives, his deal could be worth $4MM.

With the Burnett trade to the Pirates finalized, the Yankees freed up some money to follow through with their signing of Ibanez. The front office chose to go with him over Johnny Damon over thoughts that the former Yankee would have been too caught up in his pursuit of 3,000 hits and concerned with plate appearances. Ibanez is in decline, but his bat still has pop with a home-run to flyball ration better than Damon's. Not to mention if they ever needed one of them to play outfield for a short time, Ibanez has the better arm.

The Yankees now look towards signing Eric Chavez at their price. The veteran infielder has expressed interest in returning to the Bronx or retiring.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19 Camp Notes

Hiroki Kuroda. (David Waldstein)
Today was the first day that pitchers and catchers had to be at camp. This is the day I had circled on my calendar and it makes me happy, but nothing really happens. The players just need to alert the team that they are in Tampa. But despite that, it's a glimmer of hope and it's only a couple of weeks until Spring Training games begin. Here are some notes from today via David Waldstein:


  • It was confirmed today that CC Sabathia has lost weight apparently 10-15 pounds, but Waldstein said it looked like more. (Link)
  • Even though pitchers had to report today, Mariano Rivera was not around and Brian Cashman said that Mo will show up when he wants to. Such a boss. (Link)
  • Obviously expectations are gonna be high for Michael Pineda since he was the biggest acquisition of the off-season and the Yanks had to trade their top prospect for him. Cashman tried to temper those expectations by saying Pineda will more than likely not be the Bombers number two starter due to his two pitch arsenal. The General Manager said the young righty needs to work on his change up. (Link)
  • As for a lefty bat, Cash said he wants the hitter to be able to play some defense. Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez seem the most likely although Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon are still waiting to see what the Yankees do also. (Two Links)
  • Frankie Cervelli was cleared of concussion symptoms in November and is ready to go. Cervelli is slated to be the back up catcher. (Link)
  • As far as other injuries go, Andruw Jones had arthroscopic surgery done on his knee to repair a partially torn ligament and Alex Rodriguez had blood cycling treatments done on his shoulder and knee. Both are expected to be 100% and will have no limitations. (Two Links)
  • In his meeting with the media today, Cashman also said he likes the extra Wild Card team because it puts more value in winning the division. (Link)

2012 Mock Draft: The Yankees Select...


30. New York Yankees: Travis Jankowski, CF - Stony Brook

Someone not picking the Yankees to take a prep player. Shocking, right? There are enough prep arms left on the board to take a look at, but the Yankees lack depth when it comes to top outfield prospects. Jankowski is someone playing right in the backyard and could have easily gone earlier than this. He is a true plus athlete with tremendous speed that he knows how to use. He doesn't have great power, but speed is his calling card and it will allow him to stick in center field with no problem. The Stony Brook season has yet to get underway.

If you would like to see the rest of the mock draft just click here and read away.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yanks Close to a Deal With Rapada

Update (6:43pm): Per David Waldstein, the deal has been completed. Not a bad depth move.

Original (6:15pm): Per Bryan Hoch, the Yankees are close to a minor league deal with south paw Clay Rapada with an invite to MLB Spring Training. This is probably in response to Hideki Okajima not being able to join the team after failing his physical. Rapada, 30, pitched to a 6.06/4.49/3.57 ERA/FIP/xFIP line with the Orioles in 2011, but only logged 16.1 innings in 32 appearances. He did spend most of the year in Triple A where he was actually pretty effective, but did record a K/9 rate north of nine. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I'll sign anyone to MiLB deal so I'm all for it. I'm just happy they're not spending $8 million over two years on a lefty reliever (again).

Okajima Will NOT Join the Yankees


Over before it started. Waldstein had a follow up tweet that said it was Okajima's left shoulder that Yankees doctors did not like on the MRI.

Taking a look at MLB Trade Rumor's free agent list, the only left-handed relievers left unsigned are Mike Gonzalez, Arthur Rhodes, and former failed Yankee Damaso Marte.

Based on talent alone Gonzalez is the best conventional choice left on the market, but the Yankees will need to act fast if they want him with the Oakland Athletics going after him and the Rangers interested in bringing him back.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Small Tribute to AJ

Allen James Burnett was traded to the Pirates today. His time with the Yankees was...well interesting to say the least. In his three years in pinstripes, Burnett went 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA while logging 584 innings. For someone with his type of stuff, it's so frustrating to see what it translated to. Coming off a career year in Toronto, he signed the big five year deal worth $82.5 million with the Bombers that started with so much optimism. To see it end like this is sad.

Say what you want about Burnett, but I'm gonna miss him a little bit. Through his time in New York, we could always trust him to take the ball when he was called upon and he was always a stand up guy. No matter how badly he pitched, he was always standing by his locker after the final out to field questions from the media. Obviously he let his emotions catch up with him at some points and he was pretty horrendous, the last two years, but if you ask anyone, he really cared about the way he pitched and always tried his hardest. As far as I'm concerned, there's no way you can lump his name in with the Carl Pavanos and Kei Igawas.

As much hate as we have built up toward AJ, we have to consider all of these things. There's also Game 2 of the 2009 World Series. That was a series-changer and Burnett pitched the game of his life. He was a  big part of that team and the Yanks may not have gotten that ring without him. So I leave you with this video from his defining moment as a Yankee. Feel free to leave some of you favorite (or least favorite) moment of AJ as a Yankee.


It's Official: AJ Burnett Traded to the Pirates

Update (2:41): Per Jonathan Mayo, the other prospect is outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Cayones, 20, is really just a lottery ticket who will start 2012 in Extended Spring Training and then go on to Short Season-A.

Original (2:23pm): Per Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded AJ Burnett to the Pirates in return for two minor leaguers. The Bucs will also take on $13 million of the remaining $31.1 million left on his contract. It is assumed that the Yanks will use this money to sign Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez.

In my opinion, I didn't think the move was all that necessary and it would have been nice to have the extra depth around, but AJ was pretty bad these last two years. I definitely understand it, however, and I don't have a big problem with it at all. Since the day he signed, I have never been a fan. Anyway, I wish him the best in Pittsburgh and thank him for 2009.

As far as the players the Yankees received back, Joel Sherman is reporting that one of them is relief pitcher Diego Moreno who ended 2011 in Double A. He apparently has a big arm, but is also very raw. The other player is apparently an A-Ball guy who's a marginal prospect. Not a bad haul at all considering I thought he was untradable at the start of the off-season.

Yankees News and Notes: Okajima, AJ, CC

Here are some notes from Yankee Land today:


  • The Yankees signed lefty and former Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima to a Minor League deal a while back, but he reportedly failed his physical and his contract has been voided. This gives Matt O'Connor and Rule 5 selection Cesar Cabral a better chance of making the team out of camp as the second lefty out of the pen. (Link)
  • The Yankees and Pirates have agreed that the Bucs are gonna pay $13 million of the $33 million left on AJ Burnett's contract in a trade that'll send the righty to Pittsburgh. The only thing left to work out is the players the Yanks will get back. (Link)
  • CC Sabathia has apparently lost some weight is hoping to maintain it through the season unlike in 2011. (Link)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rant: I don't like the word depth

Begin Rant:

Depth is one of those words that means a lot but says very little in baseball.

If a team has a certain number of effective pitchers, they have good depth. If a team has a good lineup, they have good depth. Ultimately, if a team struggles, it's because certain players are not performing - a lack of depth.

In realistic terms, I measure depth by a team's ability to succeed if, and when, injuries happen.

Recently, I have heard from many media outlets that the Yankees have depth in pitching.

What does this mean? If the Yankees end up trading Burnett, they have 6 potential starters - CC, Kuroda, Nova, Pineda, Garcia, Hughes.

To me, this does not mean anything because you have a 5 man rotation; one of these guys is going to have to sit out anyway.

If one of these pitchers is hurt then yes, the Yankees do have the depth to replace this pitcher with a major-leaguer.

However, I do not believe a strength of the Yankees is that they have good depth.

If this were the case, then they would be able to sub out players and receive a similar type of impact from the bench. I do not think Andrew Jones will be as effective in the outfield as Curtis Granderson.

Thank you for listening.

End Rant.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Quick Look At Jorge Soler

There is no doubt that Yoenis Cespedes stole the Cuban spotlight this off-season and rightfully so. If you saw his recruiting video, you know exactly what I'm talking about. He was a great athlete and he apparently tore up the Cuban baseball league. However, now that he has signed with the Athletics and his show is finally over, we can move on to another defect.

If it weren't for Cespedes, Jorge Soler would definitely be getting more media attention. Soler, 20 in two weeks, is also a toolsy outfielder who declared for free agency this off-season, but is still looking for a home. Here's a scouting report via Baseball America.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds at Thunder Bay, Soler stands out for his thick, physical build and strength. Power is Soler's best tool, as he shows great bat speed, the ability to hit balls out to all fields and the potential to hit 25 home runs per year. While scouts like his power and some like his swing, he bars his front arm and the stiffness in his stroke is a concern for some scouts. Scouts have offered differing opinions on his ability to hit breaking balls, but he has a history of laying off pitches outside the strike zone in international competition and has more on-base potential than Cespedes.

Soler is athletic for his size and there are reports of him running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds—a time that grades out as well above-average speed—but several scouts have said he's really an average runner at best, running better underway than down the line. Soler was a tall, slender guy back in 2008 when he played third base for Cuba at the 16U COPABE Pan American Championships in Mexico, but he's blown up physically since then. Depending on how much bigger he gets, there's a chance he could end up at first base down the road, but he should be able to handle right field for the near future. Scouts are mixed on his outfield instincts but he does have an above-average arm. He would likely begin his career at one of the Class A levels.
To add to this report, Kevin Goldstein said that Soler would have ranked 38 on his top 101 prospects for 2012. That is below Manny Banuelos, but ahead of Gary Sanchez, Dellin Betances, and Mason Williams. There is no doubt that Jorge would boost the Yankees system and he is the one thing that the their farm is missing: a big bat somewhat close to the top. But we need to remember, he is very young and still has a ways to go. He is asking for a lot of money and with a lot of risk involved, it may not be worth it.

The Cubs and the Yanks are apparently the top two teams interested in Soler's services and I would love to see the latter ink him. If this is the case, we're gonna have to be patient because he'll probably start in Tampa. However, if all goes well, they'll have a legitimate all-star for years to come.

AJ Burnett: Tuesday's Latest

Update (4:30): Per Bryan Hoch, the Yankees and Indians trade talks have come to a halt since the offer is not on the table.

Update (3:31 pm): Per Jon Heyman, the Indians have also checked in on Burnett and those talks have revolved around Travis Hafner, who would be a perfect fit for the Yankees DH situation. That leaves one other team who's interested, although it is still believed he will land with the Bucs.

Original (12:02 pm): Just like we hinted at in our podcast on Sunday, there is a West Coast team interested in AJ Burnett's services. The Angels have interest, but find themselves on the right hander's no-trade list, according to Ken Rosenthal. The Pirates are still seen as the favorites to land Burnett as the two teams look to finalize a trade in the coming days.

There is little progress to report on the Yankees selection of prospects to receive from the Pirates.

Talks are also stirring about possibly holding onto him and dealing the starter at the trade deadline, where he could be worth more.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vladimir Guerrero wants the Yankees; Ibanez still considered

This headline would have been great for the Yankees, when Vladimir Guerrero was starting off as an Angel in Anaheim. Now at the age of 37, the former most valuable player is looking for a job and expressed interest in signing on to play designated hitter in the Bronx. Buster Olney first reported the news and adds that Raul Ibanez is still considered the favorite to sign.

After hitting .290/.317/.416 in 590 plate appearances for the Baltimore Orioles, he will definitely be looking for a bounce back season wherever he plays. The only question is how much pop is left in the bat for him.

If the Yankees were to sign him, it would primarily be used for his bat. But it would be nice to see a few throws like this from time to time. (Note: This was 2004. His MVP year.)

Stirring Straw Live Chat

Yeonis Cespedes Signs With the Athletics

The mystery team wins again. The Oakland Athletics have signed Yeonis Cespedes to a four year deal worth $36MM, according to Yahoo Sports. The Yankees were never fully engaged in talks for the slugger. Due to their monitoring of money and their current roster.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

AJ Burnett Latest: Sunday Edition

The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees are still working on the final framework for a trade that could send AJ Burnett to the National League. The blueprint has been set, it is all a matter of balancing out how much each team is willing to pay and what other players are involved in the deal.

The Yankees are double checking also to make sure that there aren't any other bidders for the right hander's services, where they could get a better deal. Once a trade is completed, Joel Sherman states the obvious of using free money to sign Eric Chavez or another designated hitter.

If a deal gets done, it could be early this week. The trigger will not be pulled this evening, because the Yankees are still discussing players from the Pirates farm system that they would like to acquire in the exchange. It's looking like $13-15MM of Burnett's remaining salary will be payed by the Pirates, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Heyman goes on to tweet that this compromise on money could be due to the focus on prospects by the Pirates. The Yankees have that same focus, because Brian Cashman has openly said that he doesn't want to just give away AJ Burnett.

Talks started off fast and are now moving slow. There is no deadline for a deal to be made. Hate it or love it, AJ Burnett is focused on coming into Spring Training to pitch like he did in the American League Divisional Series for whatever team he is on.

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