Saturday, March 31, 2012

New York Yankees Injury Woes and Starting Rotation Set

Less than 24 hours ago, manager Joe Girardi spoke to reporters and called Michael Pineda's start 'very important." At the same time, The Stirring Straw published an article talking about Freddy Garcia's trade value as a starting pitcher. Garcia, once destined to be sent to the bullpen, will be the team's fifth starter after Michael Pineda was diagnosed with shoulder tendonitis. Pineda's season will start on the 15-day disabled list.

The starting rotation officially looks like this:
1) LHP CC Sabathia
2) RHP Hiroki Kuroda
3) RHP Phil Hughes
4) RHP Ivan Nova 
5) RHP Freddy Garcia

There was quite the scare yesterday when the Yankees heard Pineda complaining about shoulder pain after his flogging by the Phillies. In his worst Spring Training start, Pineda tossed 2.2 innings and allowed six runs.

His fastball velocity sat at 91-92 throughout the night. It was revealed that he felt the pain before the game, but failed to tell anyone about it. He said his arm was "a little sore" after the game. Results came back to the team this morning of his injury and the move to the disabled list was made. No surgery will be needed and with the Yankees pitching depth, the team will take his time to recover fully.

Joining Michael Pineda on the disabled list will be Cesar Cabral, who was seen with his arm in sling after an MRI. The injury will sideline him for more than a few weeks and as a result left-handed pitcher Clay Rapada's chances of making the bullpen as the second lefty could be at 75%.

Cabral could need Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season. A visit to Dr. James Andrews may be in the works next. Since the left-handed reliever is a Rule 5 draft pick, the Yankees could retain the rights to him for next season, if Tommy John surgery sidelines him for the year.

-Left-handed veteran starter Andy Pettitte threw 33 pitches in a simulated game. His return to the Major Leagues is also another reason why the Yankees are not so quick to panic on the Pineda injury. It is very unlikely that Pettitte pitches in one of the Yankees final games of the Spring.

-Dante Bichette Jr. and family are in camp today. His father was speaking to Girardi in the dugout, possibly reminiscing on their playing days together. Mason Williams is also present and will most likely be suiting up for a game.

- Raul Ibanez is in the line-up for today's game and will be playing right field.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Odd Man Out: Looking Into Freddy Garcia's Trade Value

As Spring Training is drawing to a close, it is looking more and more likely that Phil Hughes has won the battle for the fifth stater's role and Freddy Garcia will be moved to the bullpen. With Raul Ibanez's struggles as the designated hitter, some may be calling for a deal in which the Yankees would acquire another bat. To put it simply, Garcia alone in the deal will not get that done.

If anyone is going to be traded, there is no doubt that it will be Garcia. Andy Pettitte is expected to return in May and the Triple-A team has incredible depth with Adam Warren and David Phelps ready to take spot starts. If injuries arise, any one of those two prospects can be given the call.

This spring, Garcia performed at a solid level. The only problem was that Hughes simply out-performed him. Teams could definitely use him as a fourth or fifth starter. He very well could be one of the best arms on the trading block, once the first pitch of the Yankees' season is thrown.

With a five million dollar salary, a majority of teams can accommodate the right-hander in their team's spending. The only thing is that Garcia has a say in the team that he goes to, until June. The Yankees could wait until then to move him to any team and gives them time to see where Pettitte's arm is at.

The final point that will be made is a conclusion about Garcia. He will be with the Yankees through June 16th and it will be after then, that the Yankees begin to look into who to move and what's on the market.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28 Camp Notes

(Yankees Fans Unite)
Here are today's camp notes:
  • The Yankees played the Braves today and tied at five in 10 innings. Hiroki Kuroda struck out six and gave up two runs in seven innings of work, while Cory Wade allowed a run in an inning, and George Kontos allowed two in two. Here's the box score.
  • Nick Swisher took ten at-bats today at the minor league complex and went 4 for 8 with two walks. Apparently, he's gonna take another day of hitting and then get into a game on Friday.
  • CC Sabathia and Kuroda will take the ball in the first two games of the season, but the rest of the rotation has yet to be decided. Joe Girardi says that will be worked out within the next few days. (Link)
  • Austin Romine had a set back with his back injury and reportedly has more inflammation. With this news the Yanks went out and claimed catcher Craig Tatim off waivers from the Diamondbacks. (Link)
  • Curtis Granderson underwent and MRI on that sore elbow of his and it came back negative. Very good news. (Link)

Yanks Sign Jack Cust

Per Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have signed designated hitter Jack Cust to a Minor league deal. The Astros signed Cust to a two year deal, but apparently released a few days ago, I guess when the 'Stros realized he couldn't play the field. Cust, now 33, isn't the same 25-30 homer guy he was a few years ago with the A's, but he still gets on base quite a bit and can put some pressure on Raul Ibanez who has been struggling. I guess this means they aren't expecting much from Russell Branyan then.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27 Camp Notes

(The Onion)
Here's the latest from Tampa:
  • The Yankees played the Blue Jays tonight 4-3. CC Sabathia was the starting pitcher and he allowed three runs while striking out five in six innings. David Robertson threw a hitless inning, Cesar Cabral allowed an unearned run in an innings, and Clay Rapada added a perfect inning. Here's the full box score.
  • Joba Chamberlain spoke to the media for the first time since his ankle injury and basically just said he didn't have any regrets and that he was just trying to be a good father, although he felt bad about letting the team down. He said he does plan on pitching this year though, which would be awesome. (Two Links)
  • Andy Pettitte also threw a 35 pitch live batting practice session, which he felt really good about. (Link)
  • Jorge Vazquez was re-assigned to Minor League camp after tonight's game, which isn't really all that surprising. (Link)
  • Curtis Granderson was scratched from tonight's lineup with a sore elbow and was sent for a pre-cautionary MRI so let's hope for the best there. (Link)
  • Three other quick notes: Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan threw for the Double A team today, Rafael DePaula is with the team, and David Adams has been told he will start in Trenton. (Lots Of Links)

Video Of Some Minor Leaguers

Now that Minor league Spring Training games have started, we're probably going to see more updates from camp on Twitter and such. Josh Norris of The Trentonian, who covers the Trenton Thunder (Double A) just got down there a few days ago and shot some video of batting practice yesterday. I was tweeting some of the videos from our Twitter account, but it just became too much so I decided to just make a post here. If you click here, you will be brought to Norris' page on Youtube where all of his videos are posted. There is video of Ravel Santana, Angelo Gumbs, Dante Bichette Jr., and Tyler Austin and Nik Turley and Phil Wetherell facing hitters. He also says that there is more to come. Make sure you keep a look out because it's good stuff.

Yankees International Free Agent Roundup

Baseball America released their international free agent review for the AL East that is filled with a number of prospects the Yankees signed this year.

According to BA, the Yankees signed 10 different players to six figure bonuses, which was led by the $700,000 shelled out to third base prospect Miguel Andujar. There is a lot of good info in there and if you are a BA subscriber I fully suggest you go and read it and for those who are not a while give a summary of what BA has to say regarded these guys.

  • Andujar: He isn't a flashy player with a lot of tools, but he has solid tools across the board, his approach at the plate is advanced for his age, and he could move fairly quickly for an international free agent by opening 2012 in the GCL.
  • Moises Cedeno: The 6 foot, 190 pound Panamanian signed with the Yankees for $354,800 and was the youngest player to sign a contract in 2011. He touches 93 mph with his fastball, has an advanced changeup, and can "spin a curveball".
  • Abiatal Avelino: A 5'11", 180 pound shortstop from the Dominican Republic who the Yankees were able to snag for $300,000. He was signed for his defense as he is highly athletic with a plus arm, while he is only an average runner and does not have much present power.
  • Luis Severino: Severino is a 6'1", 185 pound right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic who signed for $225,000. He has touched 95 mph with his fastball, due to high athleticism and a quick arm, that he pairs with a potentially plus slider that comes in at 82-86 mph.
  • Wascar Rodriguez: Other than having a terrific first name, Rodriguez is a lanky 6'3", 165 pound outfielder with raw plus power. The key words with him are raw and projectable power. Signed for $150,000.
  • Alvaro Noriega: Noriega is a Colombian catcher who the Yankees signed for $175,000. The 6", 190 pound catcher is strong and appears to be fairly advanced and solid both behind the dish and at the plate.
  • Victor Rey: Dominican third baseman who signed for $135,000 and stands 6'2" and 170 pounds. He has wiry strength, although he is extremely raw at the plate.
  • Raudy Guzman: Guzman is a Dominican right hander who stands 6'1", 190 pounds and signed for $100,000. He is currently 87-92 mph with his fastball and has a good changeup, although his curveball lags behind and is more of a slurve.
  • Freiter Marte: He is already 22 years old, but because of his name, that is better than Wascar, the Yankees still gave up $100,000. The 5'10", 170 pound center fielder hit .203/.267/.348 in 21 games in the DSL last year. Has good speed, but is very raw offensively. The rawness coupled with his age makes this a puzzling six figure bonus in my opinion.
  • Giovanny Gallegos: The 6''3, 185 pound 20-year-old right hander out of Mexico had Tommy John surgery last summer, but looked very good before the surgery with a fastball that touches 92 mph and two breaking balls that are average pitches and can be thrown to both sides of the plate. Signed for $100,000.
  • Luis Niebla: 21-year-old right hander from Mexico who stands 6'2" and 180 pounds signed for $75,000. Touches 92 mph with a good curveball and occasional changeup. Is said to be more polished than Gallegos, but also has some projection remaining.
  • Dallas Martinez: 6", 175 pound 17-year-old right hander out of Mexico who already touches 93 mph. He also throws a nice breaking ball and flashes a changeup.
  • Daniel Vavrusa: Only player signed out of the Czech Republic. He is a 6'3", 185 pound catcher who bats right handed. He has an average arm with projectible power and signed for just $10,000.
There is a lot to like out of this group and the sheer quantity of players bodes well for the Yankees' chances of striking gold. They seemed to target a lot of smallish right handed pitchers who have good athleticism and live arms. There wasn't any Gary Sanchez or Jesus Montero in this draft class, but Andujar is an extremely solid talent and could have easily gotten a seven figure bonus.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26 Camp Notes

The Yankees didn't play today, but a good amount still went on. Here it is:

The Future Outfield Conundrum

The Yankees future budget has been a hot topic of discussion this off-season. This is not only because it could save the team a lot of money if they get under the $189 million threshold by 2014, but because there really hasn't been much else to talk about. The winter is the time to speculate and to think about how different things can pan out and the payroll was one of those topics in Yankee land. Now that the season is a week and a half away, this is going to be the last time I talk about the budget for a while.

The reason I wanted to write this post up was because on yesterday's podcast, Chris and I talked about how the Yankees would have decisions to make come 2014 if they want to get that budget down. I don't think there's any way they won't re-sign Robinson Cano to a long term deal by then, but the real decision comes in the outfield with both Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher becoming free agents in the next couple of years.

At first glance the obvious choice is to re-sign Granderson because he's a center fielder and those are harder to find than corner outfielders, but there could be more to it than that. Grandy is 31 years old right now and by the time he wants to re-sign as a free agent he'll be entering his age 33 season. If we say (hypothetically) that he puts up somewhat similar numbers to 2011 over the next two years, he's going to want a lot of money, and rightfully so. However, this contract would be at least three or four years at around $15 million or so per year. This is a lot money to give a guy who will be declining and probably won't be able to play a great defensive center field or play the position at all in the latter part of the deal.

This decision could be made a little easier for the Bombers if they were deeper in the outfield at the upper levels. Sure they have guys like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Ravel Santana, but those guys are light years away and won't be useful at all in this situation. The one thing gives Grandy and edge over Swisher is that it seems like there are more in-house candidates who could play right than center. There are guys like Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, and Zoilo Almonte who could probably handle it in a platoon situation as long as they don't get over-exposed. There's really no one at the upper levels who can take on center field on an every day basis at all.

Obviously there's a lot of time before the front office has to make a decision, but it's a pretty fun thing to think about. But for now, let's get back to the present because we are eleven days away from Derek Jeter stepping into the batter's box for the first time of the 2012 regular season.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Today's Camp Notes

A lot went down in Tampa today so here's the scoop:
  • The Yankees played the Tigers today and they tied at one in ten innings. Michael Pineda stuck out four and gave up a run in five innings of work. In the first two innings, his fastball sat in the 88-91 range, but he was able to gun it up a little bit in his later few with a bunch of 93's and a 94. David Robertson struck out one in a scoreless frame in his return to game action. Alex Rodriguez got hit by a pitch in the ribs and was taken out of the game for pre-cautionary reasons. He is fine and will be able to play in the Yanks next game on Tuesday. (Box Score)
  • Ramiro Pena was optioned to Triple-A while Manny Delcarmen, Colin Curtis, Jose Gil, Kevin Whelan, and Cole Garner were re-assigned to Minor League camp. (Link)
  • Joba Chamberlain was released from the hospital today and will wear a cast on his foot for the next six weeks. (Link)
  • Joe Girardi said in his mid-game interview that he's hoping that Nick Swisher can play on Tuesday, but they don't want to push it. He says he did some running today and everything was good, but they'll see how he feels then.
  • Andy Pettitte threw a light bullpen session and still feels good. (Link)

Podcast Episode #6: It's Baseball Season

I'm back, but with a substitue co-host. Nick had some travel plans so Chris was able to fill-in. We talked about the Joba news, Andy Pettitte signing back with the team, Raul Ibanez's struggles, and some of the young arms that have made an impression. You can listen to it here:

You can also listen here.

Or you can download it off of iTunes right here. (Be sure to rate and review us).

Recent News and Notes: Joba, Freddy, D-Rob, Cuts

(NY Daily News)
Yesterday we heard that Joba Chamberlain's outlook could be a lot better than expected because there were no microfractures in his ankle. Today he was released from the hospital in a wheelchair. Here's some other stuff.
  • In yesterday's game against the Tigers, Raul Ibanez hit his first homer of the Spring (finally) in a 4-2 win. Freddy Garcia also took the mound for the first time since taking a comebacker off the hand and gave up one hit and struck out four in 4.1 innings. Not too bad if you ask me. (Box Score)
  • Speaking of Garcia, the Yankees apparently tried to trade him to the Marlins, but the Fish weren't interested. I wouldn't be shocked if they held on to him for now. (Link)
  • Today, the Yanks will take on the Tigers again and David Robertson will pitch in a game for the first time since his foot injury. (Link)
  • And lastly, Dellin Betances, Juan Cedeno, and Mike O'Connor were all apart of the team's most recent round of cuts. (Link)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Joba Outlook Could Be Better Than Expected

Per Sweeny Murti, Joba Chamberlain could be back sooner than expected. Murti reports that Joba could be released from the hospital today and if all goes well with the healing process, he could be back on the mound as soon as July. I assume they mean rehabbing and not back with the team obviously, but it's still nice to hear after we heard that it could possibly be career-ending. Let's just hope for no more set back and a safe, speedy recovery.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Exclusive: Joba Chamberlain Injury Video

Joba Chamberlain's injury on Thursday night was life threatening and at the same time poor judgement by the Yankees relief pitcher. Due to the silliness of deciding to jump on a trampoline with kids, we've decided to in a sense add insult to injury by pretty much imagining the events of what happened as this scene from "The Simpsons." Have a laugh. If you want to get an idea of how severe the injury was to Chamberlain, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News calls it "life threatening."

Rafael DePaula Will Finally Begin His Yankee Career

DePaula agreed to sign with the Yankees as an international free agent a year and a half ago, for what wound up being $500,000, but was unable to obtain a visa until today.

DePaula, who will turn 21 tomorrow, had been suspended for a year for "misrepresenting" his age.

DePaula isn't a terribly imposing figure on the bound at 6'2", 200 lbs. but comes equipped with a plus fastball that according to Baseball America has gotten up to the high-90's recently. Updates reports also have him with an advanced feel for a changeup that he did not have back when he was considered one of the top two international free agent.

Where In The World Is Kei Igawa?

Now here's a question that probably has been driving the Yankees universe crazy: Where in the world is Kei Igawa?

Well in the last few days, his agent has said that Igawa has been drawing interest from teams in the United States and Japan to play in 2012. When asked if there was a need for him to take a year off, the agent said no.

In his blog, Igawa said that he did not know what the status was for his pitching and would leave things up to his agent. He said that he was able to throw 30 pitches off a mound and has been working out. The Yankees did not invite him to Spring Training.

The Orix Buffaloes have been aggressive in their push to sign him, if he returns back to Japan. They left an open spot on the roster for Igawa and he has still yet to decide on what to do.

In his spare time, his blog says that he entered a 128-team soccer tournament and won his regional division. He could be lucky to find success in another sport, because the Yankees experiment of countering the Daisuke Matsuzaka signing flopped.

He has been the punchline of many jokes and as much as fans may enjoy mocking him, New York has most likely seen the last of Igawa in pinstripes. Well, more like the minor leagues has seen the last of Igawa.

Major Setback for Joba Chamberlain; Breaks ankle on trampoline

Last Friday, Andy Pettitte came out of retirement to sign a one year contract with the Yankees. This friday, Jack Curry of the YES Network is at it again by breaking the news that Joba Chamberlain has dislocated his right ankle in a trampoline accident.

Chamberlain was playing with his son last night at an athletic facility that had trampolines. He was taken to the hospital after he must have fallen and landed the wrong way. His son was not hurt in the accident.

The right-handed reliever underwent surgery last night and is expected to stay at the hospital for the next few days. Manager Joe Girardi visited him this morning.

There is no time frame for a possible return by Chamberlain yet, according to general manager Brian Cashman. The team is still not sure if the injury is career threatening. If he is unable to play in 2012, he would have missed a year and a half when he returns in 2013.

Chamberlain was rehabbing well from Tommy John surgery and was projected for a return in possibly June.

This now raises question marks for Joe Girardi as he tries to sort out the starting rotation and then fill the void in the bullpen. Heads will be rolling, much like Joba's ankle.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Struggle of Raul Ibanez; Looking Ahead

Two hits in 34 at-bats. That is all that Raul Ibanez has contributed to the New York Yankees in Spring Training. He inked a one-year deal with the team to be the designated hitter. The only problem is how very little hitting has been done. 

Most veterans of the game will never get too concerned over Spring Training struggles and as is the case with Ibanez. He turns 40 years old in June and has been in the game for 16 years to know that a .059 batting average is not good. The signing is currently looking one like the Yankees had in 2010 with Randy Winn.

Winn was 35 years old when the Yankees signed him to be an extra outfielder and take a few swings at designated hitter. Sound familiar? Such is the case with Ibanez, but he's five years older. There is no happy ending to the Winn story as he was released to make room for Curtis Granderson's return from an injury. Winn could not even make it with them until the All-Star Break.

Now a story that starts the same way as Ibanez's, but with a happy ending, is the one of Marcus Thames. He was abysmal in Spring Training and then found a way to earn a spot onto the roster down the stretch and came through with clutch hitting. If Ibanez can last that long, he could be looking for that type of ending to his career. 

He could see some competition when it comes to keeping his job, when Russell Branyan returns from his back injury. His numbers against right-handed pitching were very similar to Ibanez's statistics in 2010. 

Russell Branyan
2010: 254 BA, 19 HR, 43 RBI
.352 OBP,  522 SLG, .874 OPS, .375 wOBA

Raul Ibanez
2010: 277 BA, 12 HR, 60 RBI
.366 OBP, .455 SLG, .822 OPS, .352 wOBA

Branyan will strikeout more than Ibanez, but patience has to be a virtue with him. He will find a way to get more walks than him in less at-bats. His edge in on-base plus slugging is what definitely helps him when it comes to the argument that he strikes out too much. 2012 is looking like the perfect chance for Branyan to bounce back, once he stays finds a way to stay healthy. 

There is an alternative for Ibanez in Branyan. Critics have to be patient or else a story like Marcus Thames' 2010 could end up being cut in Tampa. 

Quick Injury Hits: Swisher, Robertson

Here are just a couple of injury updates:

  • Nick Swisher had his groin act up (don't worry it's the other one). He's gonna sit out until Friday, but says he feels better already. (Link)
  • David Robertson is going to throw batting practice again on Friday and if all goes well he could get into a game at some point this weekend. (Link)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Publicity stunts in NY Yankee history

Tim Tebow is a Jet. As a Jets fan, this screams publicity stunt.

Let's take a look at the top 5 publicity stunts in Yankee history.

1) Billy Martin hired, fired, hired ... etc, etc, etc, etc. --- You really think a team would rehire a coach 4 times for wins?

2) Hideki Matsui to Yankees --- Japanese media loved this one.

3) Old Timers Day --- A great tradition for the guys who deserve to be there. When Clay Bellinger comes back, it's about selling tickets.

4) New Yankee Stadium --- What was wrong with the old one? Oh yeah. Not enough money involved.

5) John Sterling as Yankees broadcaster --- He is ok, but the only reason someone else doesn't have his job is because people love his home runs calls.

Pettitte's Effects on the Kids

As I'm sure many of you still are, I am still in shock about this whole Andy Pettitte thing. When he left after the 2010 season, I thought that there was no way he was coming back. Even a few weeks ago when he went down to Tampa as a guest instructor, all of the reporters said that he seemed content with his retirement. Yet the Yanks offered him a sizable contract in December and had him throw secret bullpen sessions and none of it got out until Jack Curry reported that the deal was done. I just can't believe that was the first we heard about it.

(Abe's Words)
Dave posted yesterday about how it makes sense because there's little risk and he offers some more depth, but the growing question is the effect that it will have on the kids. The Yankees have a stacked rotation in Triple A with DJ Mitchell, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos and all five of them could have been called up at some point in 2012 without any questions asked. So with the extra veteran arm, what does it do to them?

Well, chances are that it won't effect Betances or Banuelos because if all goes right, they should spend the whole season in Triple A. They have only combined for a handful of starts with Scranton (now Empire State) so they should get a full year down there, along with Austin Romine. Pettitte shouldn't really get in the way of the B's development.

(An A-Blog for A-Rod)
It really comes down to the guys who are basically ready to pitch in the big leagues now like Mitchell, Warren, and Phelps. Right now the Yanks have seven pitchers at the MLB level who are very capable which gives them more depth than they know what to do with (literally). They have to keep the three mentioned above in the Triple starting rotation because no team gets through the year with just five starters or even six. Chances are that they are gonna need to call upon one of these youngsters at some point in the season even with the new addition.

However, this does make one of the arms more dispensable than before. With the extra depth, the Yanks could use one of these guys as a trade chip to acquire an Andre Ethier-type bat mid-season if the Raul Ibanez thing isn't working out. These guys definitely have some value on the market as young starters who are just about ready to contribute to a Major League ball club.

It could also lead to quicker changes for these guys. Obviously a pitcher is more valuable in a Triple A starting rotation than he is in the bullpen, but the Yanks might not have a choice. DJ Mitchell is seen as a long term bullpen guy because of his great change up, but the Bombers wanted to keep in the rotation until it was necessary for him to move to the pen. However, with an excess of pitching, we may see Mitchell move to the pen at some point this season.

I'm not really sure what the Yanks plan to do with Pettitte and I'm not sure they do either. I think they saw a good pitcher at a nice price and pulled the trigger because it was something they couldn't pass up. I think the brass is hoping to just figure it out when they have to or that it will work itself out which more often than not it does. The most fun for me though will be seeing how it effects the kids who are eagerly waiting to break onto the scene.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Camp Notes: Second Round of Cuts Made

(AP Photo)
The latest from Tampa:
  • The Yankees made another round of cuts today by optioning DJ Mitchell, David Phelps, George Kontos, and Brandon Laird to Triple A. (Link)
  • The Yankees are playing the Pirates tonight behind Michael Pineda. It just got underway so here's the box score.
  • Derek Jeter is out of that lineup still apparently bothered by the calf injury. He's not expected to play until Friday. (Link)
  • Andy Pettitte reported to camp today and threw his first bullpen. He said he felt terrible at first, but started to get things going after a while. (Link)
  • Lastly, Kim Jones is moving on from YES to pursue a new career opportunity and Meredith Marakovits of SNY and WFAN to take her spot. You can follow her on Twitter here. (Link)

Potential Draft Prospects/College Notes: Week 5

Mike Zunino, C
College: Florida
B/T: R/R | HT: 6-2 | WT: 220
Projected: Top 5 
Notes: Sac fly, (2) HBP. He looks fine to me.

Jake Barrett, RHP
College: Arizona State
B/T: R/R | HT: 6-3 | WT: 220
Projected: 1st supp. - 2nd Round
Notes: I would have to think his stock has taken a hit with the move to the closers role, especially when he hasn't been completely dominant even picking up his second loss of the season coming in for relief of Brady Rodgers this weekend.

Andrew Heaney, LHP
College: Oklahoma State
B/T: L/L | HT: 6-2 | WT: 174
Projected: 1st supp. - 2nd Round
Notes: He has an effortless delivery which is a plus, but I just don't love his mechanics. That doesn't take away from what he has accomplished this season. With a 89-91 mph fastball and average curveball and changeup Heaney has gone 4-1 with an 0.92 ERA. He also has an impressive 8:52 BB:SO ratio. He is already challenging Brian Johnson as the top left-handed college pitcher.

Nolan Fontana, SS
College: Florida
B/T: L/R | HT: 5-11 | WT: 190
Projected: 2nd - 3rd Round
Notes: Not a strong weekend from him, but I will forever remain intrigued.

Minor League Notes

(Bleeding Yankee Blue)
Here are some minor league notes via RAB and Chad Jennings:

  • Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman confirmed everyone's thought process by announcing that Dante Bichette Jr. will start the year in Low-A Charleston, skipping him over Short Season-A Staten Island. Newman says Bichette will play third while Tyler Austin will play right field. I'm not sure why they wouldn't just let them split time at third because this hurts Austin's value as a prospect quite a bit. The good news is that that roster is going to be stacked.
  • Newman also says that Ravel Santana is healing quicker than expected and will be back very close to the start of the season. He will be starting the year with Staten Island. And while we're on the topic of prospect center fielders, Slade Heathcott won't be back until June because the shoulder injury he suffered last season that resulted in surgery.
  • And lastly, Jeremy Bleich is throwing bullpens after missing most of the last two years with a shoulder injury. We should see him at some point this season.
  • And just two other notes on positions: Rob Segedin, who played third for High-A Tampa has played some right field this Spring and will be the starting right fielder for Tampa this season while Greg Bird, last year's fifth round draft pick, will be kept behind the plate for the time being, although he is looked at as a long term first baseman or outfielder. Bird should be starting with the GCL team or Staten Island.

Hard Knocks: New York Yankees Spring Training 2012 Edition

In the winter, it was looking like the Miami Marlins were going to be the team with the most drama heading into Spring Training. They hired manager Ozzie Guillen, signed a crop of new free agents that includes shortstop Jose Reyes, showed off new uniforms and logos, and they're in South Beach. Drama was expected to happen. But it seems like the Yankees would be a perfect fit for the HBO show "Hard Knocks" that focused on the NFL's training camp leading into the season, only MLB edition. (The title Hard Knocks isn't really fitting, but we'll do with what's familiar on HBO.)

We are just about three weeks into Spring Training and I'd like to take this moment to pitch Hard Knocks: New York Yankees 2012. Here is what we have seen so far...Enjoy!

Episode 1 (Mission 28 Begins): The opening scene is the Yankees being sent home by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series, last fall. It quickly recaps the news faces brought into the team and the goodbyes that include Jorge Posada's retirement. Fast forward a little bit to spring training, where Derek Jeter and the team are ready to restart their mission for New York's 28th Wrold Series Championship. The team is all smiles with a slimmer Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. The one face not seen around at first is Mariano Rivera. He shows up and then begins to talk about his very own possible retirement
after 2012. David Robertson slips down stairs, Joba is shown rehabbing, and the show concludes with questions on everyone's minds about what happens once the all-time saves leader retires.

Episode 2 (Hitting the High Notes and Low Notes): The show opens with a flashback to "the flip" play by Derek Jeter to Jorge Posada in the 2001 ALDS. Then Bobby Valentine rants about the Yankees' luck behind that play and attempts to add fuel to an already burning rivalry. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez dismiss his comments and do their own thing. Starting with Rodriguez's new knees and the impact that everyone thought they were going to have on his game. He shows he's still got some pop and crushes his first home-run of the Spring with the first pitch he sees. Then you've got the story of Raul Ibanez at the age of 40 and filling in the designated hitter's role. At-bat after at-bat, he fails to deliver or even get a hit. He remains cool and collected, while others begin to question his signing. One man that hopes to capitalize on this is Bill Hall as he tries to make the team and impress manager Joe Girardi.

Episode 3 (The Starting Rotation Battle): The main story for the Yankees heading into Spring Training is the pitching rotation. CC Sabathia is a lock to be the Opening Day starter. The only question is who will follow. Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova all appear to be locks. The plot focuses on the drama that will unfold between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. The fight between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia begins to thicken as they both start to pitch in live games. Hughes is looking stellar with a few shutouts in his latest starts. Garcia surrenders a few runs in two of his three starts. The velocity is up for Hughes. Pineda finds his own struggle as he can not light up the radar gun with his fastball. Episode concludes with the news breaking that Andy Pettitte will be returning to the Bronx.

Stay tuned for next week's episode breakdown on Monday...

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's time for some common sense: the Andy Pettitte signing

Prior to the Andy Pettitte signing, the Yankees looked like they had a five man rotation: C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and either Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia.

All I have heard since Andy Pettitte signed is the Yankees are breaking up their "plan". Let me start by saying that if all organizations had a plan months in advance, then very few trades/signings would be made. They changed their strategy to go after a well-respected member of the Yankee family who may still have some gas in the tank. The Yankees would not have made this move if it wouldn't have made the team better as a result.

It is important to remember a few things:

1) Andy Pettitte signed a minor league contract
No. Pettitte won't be playing in the minor leagues. But, it is important to remember Pettitte is not being payed the big bucks (he is only making $2.5 million). If he doesn't pitch well and the Yankees take him out of the rotation, he will probably retire. No harm to one of the greatest Yankee pitchers ever.

2) Injuries happen
If the Yankees did not sign Pettitte and they had a few pitchers go down with injuries, they would be pulling people from the minor leagues. By signing Andy, the Yankees give themselves flexibility to play around with rotation spots.

3) Hughes has come out of the bullpen before
Though Phil Hughes won 18 games in 2010 as a starter, he has been a reliever and it is not out of the question to see him there again. The Yankees once thought Hughes would be dominant as a starter, but it is clear he better start pitching up to expectations or he will be in the bullpen.

4) Ivan Nova uncertainty
Though Nova posted a 16-4 record last year, I'm not sold on a pitcher who has had one good year. If you remember way back in January, I wrote we should not expect too much from Ivan this year. If Nova falters, we will be happy Pettitte is pitching.

5) Trading pitchers is a possibility
When players are signed and released, we often forget subsequent moves can be made. In the Yankees' case, they are in at an advantage in trade negotiations. Brian Cashman could start the conversation like this: "Hey, (insert Gm name here), which one do you want, Hughes or Garcia?" I wouldn't hear too many complaints if either of these players were moved.

In reality, Andy Pettitte will likely be a fourth starter if he pitches well during spring training. Because of this, I think it is fair to assess him as just that - a forth starter. Though Andy has done great things in the past, it is unreasonable to expect a player just returning from retirement to lead us to a 28th world title. Though, with Andy's postseason record, you never know.

Yanks Spend Just Under $3 Million in IFA

Per Baseball America, the Yankees spent $2.93 million on the International Free Agent market in 2011. That was good for eleventh most in the MLB with the Rangers spending the most ($12.83 million) and the Dodgers spending the least ($177,000). The biggest bonus they gave out was $750,000 to third baseman Miguel Andujar which was tied for the 21st largest bonus given out. The Yanks are usually big spenders internationally which is why this was a little surprising, but maybe they are prepping for the future because the new CBA puts a cap on the amount that they can spend.

Injury Reports Galore

(Getty Images)
We haven't been posting a lot in the last few days so we'll try to change that. Here are a bunch of injury reports via Sweeny Murti:
  • Robinson Cano was hit on the hand by a pitch and was removed from the game. X-rays came back negative and the team is calling it a contusion. I'm sure he'll take a few days off.
  • Derek Jeter hasn't played in the last few games because of a calf injury. He received treatment yesterday and says he expects to play on Tuesday.
  • Nick Swisher has been dealing with a groin ailment and says its feeling a lot better and is ready to play on Tuesday as well.
  • Freddy Garcia was hit on the hand by a pitch last week on a comebacker and was removed from the game immediately. There was a lot of swelling, but it feels a lot better and he will be throwing a bullpen on Tuesday.
  • David Robertson threw a 25 pitch bullpen yesterday and feels great. He expects to be in a game at some point this weekend at the latest.
  • And lastly, Andy Pettitte will report to Tampa on Tuesday and will throw a bullpen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Andy Pettitte Signs With Yanks -- Wait What?

Per Jack Curry, the Yankees have signed left hander Andy Pettitte to a minor league deal worth $2.5 million over one year. I'll give you a few minutes to let that sink in. The last time the 39 year old pitched was in 2010 for the Bombers when he pitched to a 3.28 ERA over 129 innings. Buster Olney is reporting that after Andy spent time with the team a few weeks ago as a coach he brought up the possibility. The Yanks will have to work him back into shape so we won't see him for a while. It'll be interesting to see where he'll fit in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Goldstein Ranks the Organizations

Kevin Goldstein released his Yankees top 20 prospects last week and a couple of days ago he released his organizational rankings with the Yanks coming in at 15. He writes, "There is plenty to dream about in terms of young talent, but other than Banuelos and Betances, the upper levels are bereft of quick help." KG is right on with the fact that they have no impact bats at the upper levels that can provide help in the next year or two which is a little bit of a concern with Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson becoming free agents soon. The strength of this system is the upper level pitching and the raw talent in the lower levels. If you want to read the rest of the piece, you can find it here.

Who is the Yankees' most valuable player?

When it comes to the MVP award, I am of the belief that the most valuable player is one that, if replaced, would be missed most. For a team with one great player, he is their MVP. For a team with a few great players, the situation becomes a bit more hazy.

The Yankees are a team with more than a few great players. Now, in reality, the Yankees' preseason MVP makes little impact on the team. But, I will look at the Yankees MVP through the lens of "if this one player was injured, our team would struggle the most".

Yankees potential MVPS: Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, C.C. Sabathia, Mariano Rivera and Mark Teixeira.

Curtis Granderson's replacement if injured: Chris Dickerson/Andrew Jones.
It is clear the Yankees are secure in the outfield if Granderson was injured. Are they perfect? No. Is Chis Dickerson going to put up monster numbers? No. But can he hit in the mid .200's and get on base occasionally? Yes.

Robinson Cano's replacement if injured: Eduardo Nunez/Ramiro Pena.
The Yankees have also set themselves up for success here. Last season, Nunez played over 100 games and came to the plate more than 300 times. He drove in 30 runs and stole 22 bases last year. We are done with this conversation.

C.C. Sabathia's replacement if injured: Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia (whoever is not the fifth starter).
C.C. is a perennial all star, but Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia can ably fill in. Both are veterans, and both have had a good season in the past 2 years. For those with memory loss, Hughes had 18 wins in 2010.

Mariano's replacement if injured: Rafael Soriano/David Robertson
If Rivera retired right now, I would feel comfortable. Soriano has had an ERA under 3.00 every year but 1 since 2005 (last season is the only exception). I am still confident in Soriano because he had some injury issues last year. His injuries allowed David Robertson to come into his own. Want a statistic that indicates his success? In 70 games, Robertson had a 1.08 ERA.

Yankees MVP: Marx Teixeira. His replacement if injured: Eric Chavez.
Chavez has been a reliable presence throughout his career. However, these days are over. When he was at his prime, he was playing third base for Oakland. Last season, as a Yankee, Chavez only played 3 games at first (and 42 at 3rd). Yet, Chavez does bring an offensive presence to the lineup (.262 average). However, he cannot replace Tex. In his 9 year career, Teixeira has hit over 25 home runs every year. He has hit over 30 home runs in 8 straight seasons. Defensively, he is irreplaceable; he has only made 11 errors in 3 years with the Yankees.

It is clear the Yankees can replace their potential MVPs with serviceable players. But, Mark Teixeira is the "most irreplaceable". If he stays healthy, the Yankees have a good chance to take home World Series #28.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nova and Rivera Toss Scoreless Innings; Yankees Drop First to Red Sox

Not much has changed between the Yankees and Red Sox, who played eight innings of scoreless baseball before a few errors in the top of the ninth brought across a run for Boston. The Yankees pitching continues to shine early in the ballgame as Ivan Nova and Mariano Rivera combined for five scoreless innings pitched.

Nova got off to an economical start by retiring the side in the first inning with just seven pitches. He was missing a few of his spots being set up by Russell Martin behind the plate, but he still found a way to produce outs. He only surrendered only two hits and struck out three batters in his four innings of work.

Manager Joe Girardi announced that the team will start to make cuts this weekend. Just in case the thought occurred to anyone, Mariano Rivera struck out the side to keep his job safe with just thirteen pitches.

Red Sox starter Felix Doubront had the Yankee bats confused as Alex Rodriguez and Martin were the only hitters at the top of the order that were able to scramble hits off the pitcher. Raul Ibanez's woes continue as his batting average drops to .095 with an 0-3 showing.

This is the second time in Spring Training that the Yankees have been shut out this year. There is still time for Kevin Long and his hitting staff to get the mechanics down for these Yankee

Quick Hits for Tuesday
- Jack Curry of the YES Network says that Eduardo Nunez (bruised right hand) will probably get three days off and will not return to the lineup until possibly Saturday.

- Curry goes on to talk about manager Joe Girardi saying that David Robertson could start to throw off a mound this weekend. He worked on an elliptical machine today.

- We've known for a little while now that Kim Jones will be leaving the YES Network. In the spirit of Women's History Month, we decided to tweet at her and wish her happy trails. She showed some love back to the Stirring Straw!

March 13 Camp Notes

Here's the latest from Tampa:
  • Bernie Williams arrived in Tampa today and will stay until Friday as a guest instructor. I always think it's cool when they have the old guys come back. (Link)
  • Eduardo Nunez was in the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Red Sox tonight until he tried to take BP and felt some pain in his hand. It's just a bruise, but it looks like it's gonna take some more time. (Link)
  • And as always Chad Jennings has the pitching groups and all that fun stuff. (Link)
  • As for my trip, I am now back in New York (got in this afternoon). Before I left for the airport, I was able to stop by the Minor League complex and watch a little practice. I was only able to stay for a while but I was able to watch the GCL champions from last year do some infield work which was pretty cool.

Push the Panic Button: Signs that the Yankees Are Doomed in 2012

The New York Yankees entered Spring Training with their heads held high and the mission of winning their twenty-eighth World Series was in effect. Well I'm here to bring you the reality check that you have been missing out on.

There will not be another trophy added to the collection in the Bronx. Spring Training has
shown us that this team is not ready to compete with some of the lesser teams of Major League Baseball. There was a four game losing streak last week to the Phillies (lost 9-3), Pirates (lost 7-4), Rays (lost 4-0), and Blue Jays (lost 6-1).

Considering the fact that the Pirates and Blue Jays did not make the playoffs, it is pathetic. The Yankees did all that they could to unload AJ Burnett to the Pirates and now they lose to them. He may be out with an eye injury, but when he returns he might as well only bolster the pitching staff that beat the Yankees.

Against the Rays, it was the same old bats that would come up short against James Shields' arm. The Rays made the playoffs last year after defeating the Yankees and they picked up right where they left off. Joe Maddon is ready to make this team the team to beat in the American League East, after the Red Sox collapsed. The Yankees are headed for the same fate if they don't straighten out their gameplan against the division rivals.

Alex Rodriguez and Phil Hughes are peaking in Spring Training. Rodriguez belted the first pitch that he saw over the wall. Hughes has been lighting up the radar gun and pitched three scoreless innings in his last outing against the Minnesota Twins (a game they would go on to lose.)

The pitching woes don't end there. Michael Pineda is a huge question mark for them. They traded Jesus Montero, the future of the franchise, for this pitching prospect. Pineda's scouting reports from his time in Seattle have him throwing mid to high 90's with his fastball. He's looking like the Phil Hughes of 2011. Fellow writer Matt Filippi tells us not to panic, but I think we should.

At this rate, this team will not make the playoffs and could even finish behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the standings. They did beat us last week, after all.

Brian Cashman needs to stop worrying about the future of the salary cap and budget and focus on getting this team some arms and bats to do work now. Money should never be an issue with this team. George Steinbrenner would be rolling around in his grave.

Fix this!

Yankee Fan that Panics over Spring Training

I hope you enjoyed this satirical piece put together. Lesson learned, there is a lot of time for improvement in Spring Training. Wins and losses mean nothing until Opening Day.

This piece was intended to give you an insight into how ludicrous some fans sound as they start to worry in March. Mind you, these are the same fans that put up Facebook statuses and tweets complaining about wins and losses about how the teams needs to win every day.

The funnier ones are those that have Yankees General Manager as their occupation on the social network and criticize Cashman's every move. You have no control over what happens, so just sit down and let the man do his job. You can only dream of the day that you have his job.

The Stirring Straw loves Yankee fans, we just want you to take a listen to how crazy some statements can be. Don't get carried away and just listen to yourself speak.


Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12 Camp Notes

The great thing about this pic is that the arm on the left with the two
bracelets belongs to me. (Reuters)
I know these notes are going up late, but I just got home from tonight's game. Here's the latest from Tampa:
  • First off, they lost to the Astros tonight 4-3. Personal fave JR Murphy had an RBI single in the ninth and Nick Swisher tripled in a run, but it wasn't enough. Kuroda threw three scoreless frames, but didn't have great control as he walked two. Here's the full box score.
  • David Robertson no longer has a boot on his right foot and says he is pain free. He played catch today and will be back for Opening Day. Crisis averted. (Link)
  • Unfortunately, farmhand Dan Burawa tore his oblique and will be out indefinitely. Burawa has a great arm and made a good impression on the team before the injury. He was slated to start the year with Trenton. (Link)
  • Here are the guys who threw side sessions and some other notes. (Link)
  • Now, more importantly, on to me. I started my day with a breakfast from McDonalds and moved onto the Minor League complex. I watched Bryan Mitchell throw a bullpen and boy does he have one hell of an arm. I like him a lot and he will start on that very prospect-heavy Charleston team in 2012. Kramer Sneed and Zack Nuding were two others guys that I saw throw as well.
  • Later on I got to see Dante Bichette Jr. and Matt Duran take batting practice. They put on quite a show together, especially Bichette who has some crazy quick hands. I actually got to talk to him afterward and he seems like an awesome kids as all reports seem to indicate.
  • Then before the game tonight I got to see Zoilo Almonte, Gary Sanchez, Melky Mesa, Nick Swisher, Bill Hall, and Alex Rodriguez. Got some sweet pics too, which I'll put up at some point in the next two days.

On Pineda's Velocity

Last year in Yankees camp, one of the team's best, young pitchers suffered a velocity decrease from the low-mid 90's to the high eighties. At first we were told not to worry about it and that he was still be building arm strength, but as Spring Training went on, nothing changed. That pitcher was Phil Hughes and through the first week or so of games, Michael Pineda has experienced a lack of velocity on his fastball as well.
(NY Daily News)
Obviously it's still early in the Spring so we shouldn't get crazy over this at all although it is worth noting that people said the same thing about Hughes. Let's wait another two starts before we start to make judgements about the new starter. A lot of people (and ESPN NY) have been making a bigger deal about this than need be. Just let whatever happens, happen.

To ease your minds a little it there are a couple of reasons why Pineda's velocity (or as Andrew Marchand cleverly abbreviated it, v-lo) could be down. First of all, let's remember that he was put on an inning limit last year and his total only increased by around 22, while Hughes did not have the same luxury in 2010 as his work load increased by 80 innings. Usually anything more than a 30-40 inning increase will result in some type of arm fatigue.

Also, take into account that Pineda did not pitch in Winter Ball this year, something he had done in years past. The Mariners wanted him to take it easy this winter with the extra work load, so chances are he doesn't have the arm strength that he usually has at this point this year. It's probably going to take some time before he's hitting 93 consistently.

One more thing to consider is that Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and the USS Mariner (a Mariners blog), wrote about the lack of velocity and said it's not a big deal because Pineda is the type of pitcher that usually builds velocity as the game goes on and does not come out throwing his hardest. The whole article is right here and I suggest you read it if you have some time because it's a very good piece. He did actually 93 on the gun the other day too which was nice to see.

A lot is going to be said about Pineda in the coming days, weeks, and months and he will always be judged very too harshly over that time because the Yanks gave up their top prospect for him. Just remember that because chances are that he's not going to win 20 games this year or have a sparkling ERA. As long as we see improvements in his change up and he shows that great control and great stuff through the year, we should be happy with him because building his future is more important than his 2012 season.

The Yankees are not the most dominant sports team in New York

When it comes to New York sports, winning is the most important thing.

Historically, the Yankees certainly hold the best resume; no one can deny that winning 27 World Series championships puts you at the top.

However, today, March 12, 2012, the Yankees are not the most popular or dominant sports team in New York.

As much as it pains me to say it (as a New York Jets fan), that distinction belongs to the New York Giants.

Why? New York is a "what have you done for me lately" market. The New York Jets went from darlings to dysfunctional because of an 8-8 season. The Knicks had Linsanity, now they are 5 games below .500. The Rangers are tops in the Eastern Conference, but it is just hockey.

The Giants have done something lately - football is the most popular sport in America (this year's Super Bowl was the most watched television program in history). They have won two Super Bowls. Not only were these championships dramatic, but both were some of the best Super Bowls in history.

The Yankees have also won a championship lately, in 2009, and are also the most powerful media brand in America. But, the past two years have been "downers" for the boys in the Bronx. They have not signed a major free agent since the 2008-2009 offseason and do not seem like they want to spend the big bucks anymore. Truth be told, they are not the Evil Empire anymore. They may be Darth Helmet more than Darth Vader.

It seems to me like the Yankees have lost some of their allure. Can they regain it? Certainly. But is it possible that they will slide into another 9 year championship drought? Yes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Podcast Episode #5: Live From Tampa

I'm here in Tampa while Nick is stuck in dreary Massachusetts, but that didn't stop our podcast. We talk about Michael Pineda and his velocity issues, the team's budget, and we preview the Red Sox and Rays for 2012. You can listen to it here:

You can also download it here.

Or you can download it off of iTunes here. (Make sure you rate and review us too.)

March 11 Camp Notes: My First Day

I landed here in Tampa yesterday afternoon and today was my first day at Yankees camp. It was a lot of fun, but I only have two more days to enjoy before I head back to New York. My first day was full of a lot of sun, baseball, and some autographs. For today's camp notes I'll be able to share some of my experiences from throughout the day. Here we go:
  • The Yankees split their squad today and sent one to play one Minnesota while one played host to the Phillies (the game I attended). They lost the former 5-1 while winning the latter 3-0. The main things to take are that Phil Hughes pitched well and Mariano Rivera made his Spring Training debut. Here are the box scores. Chris has a recap of the traveling game here.
  • Eduardo Nunez said that he still feels some pain in his hand when he swings. The doctor is going to check him out today and he said he's a little worried. (Link)
  • Chad Jennings has all the guys that filled in and a bunch of other notes here.
  • Now on to my experience. I was able to talk Russel Martin, Derek Jeter, and Bill Hall for a little bit. It wasn't anything noteworthy, but they're all really nice guys. Especially Hall because I'm pretty sure he was just happy I was able to pick him out of a crowd. 
  • I was also able to meet Dan Barabarisi who's the Yankees beat writer for The Wall Street Journal. We mostly just talked about some of the players and things going on with the team. He's a really nice guy and a really good writer so make sure you follow him on Twitter here.
  • Lastly, just want to let you all know that I'll be Minor League complex all day tomorrow for work outs and I'll be at tomorrow night's game against the Astros so make sure you check out my tweets here.

Phil Hughes Pitches Three Scoreless Innings; Yankees Come Up Short In Fort Meyers

Phil Hughes rebounded from a rough first start against the Pittsburgh Pirates with three scoreless innings in today's game against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Meyers. He surrendered 2 runs in 1 1/3 innings in his Spring Training debut, when his pitch count was 35. Joe Girardi hoped for Hughes to throw 45-50 on Sunday afternoon, but he worked his three innings economically with only 36 pitches.

Of his 36 pitches, 24 were strikes and he only surrendered one hit to the Twins' leadoff hitter Ben Revere. His fastball was clocked at 93 mph in his first outing and was around the same speed against the Twins. He struck out one batter today.

Nick Swisher traveled with the team to Fort Meyers and collected a double. Francisco Cervelli brought him home with an RBI single as he went 3 for 3 on the day.

Brett Gardner tried his best to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead, but was thrown out at home by a great throw from Joe Benson to Joe Mauer at home. Benson homered earlier in the game to give the Twins a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning.

In the seventh inning, Twins third baseman Danny Valencia gave the Twins the lead with a homerun off Graham Stoneburner. The Twins would not look back and tackle on three more runs in the eighth inning to solidify a 5-1 win over the Yankees.

Notes: Back in Tampa, David Robertson was seen walking around the clubhouse without a boot on his foot. He fell down stairs at his home and injured his foot, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. He said that his foot has been feeling better each day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

KG's Top 20 Prospects

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus came out with his top 20 prospects last week and here they are:
  1. Manny Banuelos, LHP
  2. Gary Sanchez, C
  3. Dellin Betances, RHP
  4. Mason Williams, OF
  5. Jose Campos, RHP
  6. Ravel Santana, OF
  7. Dante Bichette Jr., 3B
  8. Angelo Gumbs, 2B
  9. Austin Romine, C
  10. Cito Culver, SS
  11. JR Murphy, C/3B
  12. Brett Marshall, RHP
  13. Slade Heathcott, OF
  14. Adam Warren, RHP
  15. Claudio Custodio, SS
  16. DJ Mitchell, RHP
  17. Brandon Laird, 3B
  18. Mark Montgomery, RHP
  19. Ramon Flores, 1B/OF
  20. Jake Cave, OF
Goldstein was pretty aggressive here and seemed to heavily weight upside as we can see with Santana and Gumbs in the top 8. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it's just interesting to point out. Santana is a personal favorite, along with Custodio, Montgomery, and Flores. Here's what he had to say about each of them:

Year in Review: Teenage Dominican was the most impressive player in the Gulf Coast League.
The Good: Santana is loaded with athleticism. He still has plenty of room to fill out on his skinny frame, and has the potential for plus power to go with his good feel for the strike zone. He has a quick bat that produces hard contact to all fields. He runs well and has the skills for center field, and he has enough arm to play right field.
The Bad: Like many young players early in their development, Santana has trouble with secondary pitches, and lefties gave him significant trouble. Much of his final projection is a bit of an unknown, as he could end up a speedy center fielder with some power, or a power-hitting right fielder with some speed. The risk with those two projections is him turning into a tweener.

"Impressive tools and skills, and would rank higher if scouts thought he could stick at shortstop."

"Potentially a fast moving reliever with decent heat but outstanding slider."

"Impressive young hitter, but limited defensively."

The one thing he didn't mention about Flores that is very important is the fact that he has great plate discipline. Montgomery's another guy to watch. He was taken in the fourteenth round of the 2011 draft and has dominated out of the bullpen. He represents the latest guys that have been taken in later rounds by the Yankees to be bullpen fodder (see Robertson, David). How he gets handled could determine how they go about moving other bullpen arms up the system such as Brandon Pinder and Phil Wetherell. To read the whole article, click here.


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