A few unrelated items:
• Today is the start of the international signing period. In essence, teams are allowed to sign 16-year-old Latin American kids. Some will get huge signing bonuses, others a few thousand. The Yankees will announce their deal with Dominican catcher Gary Sanchez, a kid who reportedly can really hit. They also are said to have a deal with a speedy shortstop named Damian Arredondo and RHP Chris Cabrera.
Be careful getting too excited about this stuff. Projecting how a 16-year-old kid will fare against vastly better competition in a different county six years down the road is an inexact science at best and a complete crapshoot at worst. Oakland invested millions in a pitcher named Michael Ynoa last year and all he has done is come down with a sore elbow.
Quite often, it’s the players who sign for the smaller bonuses who end up making their way through the system. There are a few analysts — particularly Ben Badler of Baseball America and Jorge Arangure of ESPN.com — who really know this market. Most everybody else is just guessing.
• MLB announced that that All-Star rosters will now have 33 players each. They added an extra pitcher. At some point soon, they’ll pull fans out of the stands and let them take an inning at second base. While the game “counts” because it determines home field for the Series, it really has become a farce with the convoluted voting process and assorted sideshow activities. How much of an honor is to be an All-Star when 66 players get selected?
• Interleague play isn’t going away any time soon. According to MLB, the games drew an average of 33,351 fans, well above the intraleague average of 28,727. There are plenty of reasons for this, particularly the amount of games played after school was out in different parts of the country. But, nonetheless, the owners love it.
If you’re interested, the AL held a 137-114 edge, the sixth straight year it won the series. The White Sox and Cubs still have a game to play.
• Jim Leyritz was arrested again in Florida, this time for domestic battery as he allegedly struck his ex-wife.
It was a sad sight last month when Leyritz was at Land Shark Stadium, pressed up against the wall next to the Yankees dugout imploring players to come over and say hello to him. It’s unfair of Leyritz to do that, putting his old friends in a position where somebody could snap a photo of them shaking hands with an accused felon. He did the same thing in 2008 when he showed up at spring training just a few months after being charged with DUI manslaughter.
At some point, the Yankees need to tell this guy to stay away from their players until or unless he gets his life straightened out.