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Wide-open bullpen could be a constant transformation

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 31, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Mariano Rivera

As you might suspect, I initially thought the idea of a 7-year-old blog Pinch Hitter was kind of adorable. Something cute and quirky if nothing else, a nice little sideshow during these final cold days of January. But here’s what struck me when I read Carter’s piece: I agreed with every bit of it.

Preston Claiborne· Dave Robertson is about to be the Yankees closer? Yep.

· Right now, Shawn Kelley looks like the favorite for the eighth inning? Yep.

· Matt Thornton was learly brought on board as the new Boone Logan? Yep.

· Preston Claiborne has a leg up on the competition for the middle innings? Yep.

· David Phelps and Adam Warren will factor in if they’re not needed as starters? Yep.

Not that it’s all going to play out that way — plenty of things can and will change in spring training — but as the roster is currently constructed, with what we know of it today, Carter’s bullpen analysis makes perfect sense.

The Yankees have done nothing to push Robertson out of the ninth inning, and there’s no free agent out there who seems likely to change that between now and Opening Day. Last year’s strikeout rate makes Kelley a late-inning standout among the current relievers, and Thornton is clearly a reaction to the team’s need for an experienced lefty. If nothing else, Claiborne’s familiarity leaves him well-placed on Joe Girardi’s radar (he could certainly be overshadowed in the next two months, but right now he’s the guy Girardi knows and trusts the most). And both Phelps and Warren could have a real chance to play a role significantly more important than that of a mopup man.

So, yes, I agree with Carter. But here are five reasons both he and I could be totally wrong.

Dellin Betances1. As Derek pointed out this morning, Robertson is no sure thing in the ninth. I happen to feel pretty confident that he’ll be fine in that role — I’ve known the guy for a long time, we’ve all seen him pitch out of unreal jams, and his personality just doesn’t strike me as one to be particularly rattled if/when he knows that ninth-inning job is his — but at the same time, we just don’t know. He’s earned the shot, and Robertson would be the first to say it’s now on him to do the job.

2. Kelley might the be late-inning standout at the moment, but one big year isn’t much of a track record. I keep thinking of guys like Andrew Bailey and Ryan Madson who have been very good late-inning relievers but need to get healthy. Madson is basically throwing a tryout bullpen in about a week. Might the Yankees get positive reports and give him an incentive-heavy deal? If not, there are still a handful of other guys out there — Derek mentioned Fernando Rodney and Francisco Rodriguez — and I still wonder if their asking prices might reach a point that gets the Yankees involved.

3. The Yankees didn’t give Matt Thronton two years and $7 million without having the full expectation of using him in the big league bullpen. He’s clearly the go-to left-hander, and I suppose he could pitch his way into that eighth-inning mix (though he seems to be primarily a left-on-left guy at this point). That said, Cesar Cabral has a big arm, and Thornton is 37 years old with declining velocity. Could a guy like Francisco Rondon impress in big league camp? And what about Vidal Nuno as a kind of unusual choice from the left side?

4. Yes, Girardi is familiar with Claiborne. That means he’s familiar with the early part of Claiborne’s big league debut — when he literally wasn’t walking anyone and did a nice job of pitching his way into the mix — but it also means Girardi is familiar everything that came next, when Claiborne was legitimately knocked around in the second half of last season. Claiborne might have the early advantage of familiarity, but guys like Dellin Betances (who Carter mentioned), Mark Montgomery and Chase Whitley surely see some opportunity there. Same for that long list of veterans like David Herndon, Jim Miller and Matt Daley. Could one of them become this year’s Shawn Kelley and emerge out of relative obscurity? In this bullpen, the opportunity is certainly there.

5. Because they have big league bullpen experience — and because there seems to be a believe that Michael Pineda is the favorite for that fifth-starter job — Phelps and Warren are the easy choices for starter-turned-reliever options, and those guys don’t necessarily have to be limited to long relief. At various times, those two have looked like pretty good big league pitchers. But Jose Ramirez is also a long-time minor league with a nice arm that might profile well in the bullpen, and the Yankees loved what Shane Greene showed last year with his improved command.

With a bullpen this wide open, there might be some obvious names that stand out, but there’s also a lot of work to be done and a lot of decisions to be made. This bullpen remains a work in progress, and it might stay that way beyond spring training.

Associated Press photos

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93 Responses to “Wide-open bullpen could be a constant transformation”

  1. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    We’ve got the arms and the manager and pitching coach who can sort them into a solid bullpen.

  2. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    “Blake
    Ryan is totally redundant if they sign Drew. Jeter would be the back up SS. Why would they waste a roster spot like that?”

    I don’t know how else I can explain this but that’s not true…..if they sign Drew its for him to start at either SS, 3B, or 2B…..Ryan isn’t going to start even now on this team because he literally hits worse than Chris Stewart.

    Drew is a 3 or 4 win player when he’s healthy….maybe more in YS. The 2 aren’t related…..one is a starter…..one is a reserve.

  3. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    people don’t need to be ‘educated’ just because they disagree with someone else wanting drew just like they didnt need to be educated last year on how important it was to sign josh hamilton.

    nobody’s right or wrong at this point.

  4. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    “people don’t need to be ‘educated’ just because they disagree with someone else wanting drew just like they didnt need to be educated last year on how important it was to sign josh hamilton.”

    I don’t know a problem with someone not wanting Drew…..just don’t tell me he’s the same as Brenden Ryan….there is no real basis for that.

  5. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    don’t have a problem *

  6. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    blake-

    They aren’t going to sign a guy like Drew and then play him at third while Jeter plays short. It would be a laughable situation and embarrassing to Jeter. The only way they sign Drew is if Jeter is willing to move to third and I will believe that only when I see it.

  7. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Re-post:

    blake January 31st, 2014 at 2:55 pm
    I don’t know. He’s such a good fit given their needs and the available options.by Mike Axisa 2:00 PM

    Why aren’t the Yanks going after Drew? They’ve blown the 189 mill. He’s the best infielder available (?) and now he might come cheap.by Dave Miller 2:00 PM

    this wasn’t me I promise…..just another smart fan :)

    ——-

    No, just another observer with no skin in the game. If this keeps up I’m going to have to run a loop of my prior post describing this disconnection in detail.

  8. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Re-post

    Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 2:38 pm
    bigdan-

    I don’t think the jury will be out on the Yank offense if Ryan has to play full time at short. A bottom three of Johnson, Roberts and Ryan will significantly reduce the scoring potential. And that’s assuming Teixeira is productive and Jeter can at least DH.

    —–

    Not only is the jury out but it’s been sequestered and sent home on vacation!

    It’s very difficult right now to predict how good the Yanks offense will be given all the variables. I think it could be very good. 800++ runs good and easily compensate for Ryan at short. Or, because of age and injury concerns, be quite mediocre. I’m fairly sure it will be better than last year no matter happens.

    But I really believe the Yanks will live and die with their starting pitching. I don’t think they are likely to have an offense strong enough to make up for all their obvious holes. But great starting pitching can make up for a lot of sins. It did last year for about two months.

  9. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    it’s kinda like the HOF debate…..if you don’t think Bernie is a HOF fine…..as long as you don’t think other guys that are in are either. That’s a subjective thing and it’s opinion.

    If you don’t want Drew or don’t think he’s worth it and that’s your opinion then ok…..but there really isn’t a lot of objective info that would suggest Drew and Ryan are redundant and that was the part I was taking exception to. One guy can hit and was the SS on a WS team last year…..the other is a bench player that has a 56 OPS+ over the last 2 seasons.

  10. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    ” Because they have big league bullpen experience — and because there seems to be a believe that Michael Pineda is the favorite for that fifth-starter job — Phelps and Warren are the easy choices for starter-turned-reliever options, ”

    i still won’t be surprised to see pineda in the bullpen especially if he turns out to be fragile as a starter.

  11. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    “They aren’t going to sign a guy like Drew and then play him at third while Jeter plays short. It would be a laughable situation and embarrassing to Jeter. The only way they sign Drew is if Jeter is willing to move to third and I will believe that only when I see it.”

    this may be true and could be the most likely reason they aren’t pursuing him if in fact they aren’t…..

  12. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    “But great starting pitching can make up for a lot of sins. It did last year for about two months.”

    a bad infield can make great starting pitching look worse than it is.

  13. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    But great starting pitching can make up for a lot of sins. It did last year for about two months.”

    a bad infield can make great starting pitching look worse than it is.

    ——

    Not a problem if your pitching is truly superior. Those extra couple of outs mean a lot more when your pitching is average or slightly better. I don’t think Guidry batted an eye when Dent booted one. Now if it’s Phil Hughes, well lets talk about the two run homer.

  14. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    bigdan-

    If what you are saying is that with respect to the offense anything can happen, I guess I can’t disagree, except that if Ryan is the everyday shortstop and Roberts is the everyday second baseman and Johnson is the everyday third baseman I think an 800+ run season is an extremely low probability event. JMHO.

    With respect to the pitching I believe it could range from very good to so-so, depending on CC, Nova, the 5th spot, how Tanaka adapts to his first year in MLB, whether Kuroda can pitch well for a full year and how many ground balls get through the left side of the infield.

    I don’t see them being good enough as things stand right now to make the WS, but with luck anything could happen. However, their offense is sufficiently aged, and their infield sufficiently thin, that it seems to me the weight of luck right now tends toward the downside rather than the upside. JMO, of course, that’s why they play them.

  15. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    “a bad infield can make great starting pitching look worse than it is.”

    don’t the yankees have to run jeter and teixeira out there to see what they have ?

    if either of them has serious problems, 2014 is probably a goner.

    i’m guessing the yankees are rolling the dice they’ll both be good.

  16. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    drew’s average ops+ for the past 5 seasons is 89. nothing to write home about there either.

  17. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    “don’t the yankees have to run jeter and teixeira out there to see what they have ?”

    At this point they have no other choice. They probably didn’t ever have a choice anyway. You have to dance with the girl you brought to the dance.

  18. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I basically agree with all your points Wave. So does Vegas. That’s why the Yanks aren’t anyone’s favorites this year. I’m just considering the most positive scenario which, to me, involves dominant starting pitching. No question that there are big question marks regarding health of lineup and infield defense as well as the bullpen.

  19. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    “Not a problem if your pitching is truly superior. Those extra couple of outs mean a lot more when your pitching is average or slightly better. I don’t think Guidry batted an eye when Dent booted one. Now if it’s Phil Hughes, well lets talk about the two run homer.”

    if you have the Tigers rotation that K’s tons of guys sure……but the starters the Yankees have really need to get ground ball outs to have success……so it could be a problem

  20. yanks61 January 31st, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 8:45 am
    Best Scroogie by record- Elroy Face 18-1 for Pirates.
    Blake- best change up Pedro Martinez?

    ——————————————————————–

    Hi, YT. Sorry, late to the party as usual. In case you’re back later, I just wanted to mention that Face threw a fork ball not a screwball. I thought you’d want to know that!

    By the way, before shoving off for the night, I wanted to put in my nomination for the best curveball I ever saw – Camilo Pasqual. From Wikipedia:

    Pascual’s best pitches were his fastball and devastating overhand curveball, described by Ted Williams as the “most feared curveball in the American League for 18 years”.

  21. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    The starting pitching could indeed be good, especially if a healthy Pineda shows up. Certainly we are all rooting for that. And Tanaka is a real treat. I just wish this cloud of pessimism didn’t constantly intrude on my thoughts.

  22. Tar January 31st, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    @just don’t tell me he’s the same as Brenden Ryan…”

    Look they have 3 SS’s on the roster.
    If they add Drew that would be 4.
    If they cut Nunez that still leaves the with 3.
    Why the hell would the Yankees need 3 SS’s?

    That is Why Ryan would be redundant. I am not saying Ryan is the Same player as Drew, I am saying Ryan is not necessary if they sign Drew. At that would entail Cash admiring a mistake in signing Ryan so quickly into the offseason.

    Have to run have a good day

  23. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    “drew’s average ops+ for the past 5 seasons is 89. nothing to write home about there either.”

    again he’s been a different player when he’s been healthy…..the last 2 seasons he’s played 120+ games he’s had a 113 OPS+ and 111+ OPS+ respectively. His numbers are skewed by the years he’s been hurt.

  24. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Hey, I loved Camilo Pasqual. Might have been his name though. Back in the 60s ethnic names were kind of a rarity.

  25. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    “Look they have 3 SS’s on the roster.”

    they have 2 SS’s on the roster right now…..Nunez isn’t a SS so he doesn’t count. Ryan can’t hit a lick and and we aren’t even sure if Jeter can play SS.

    So really they only have 1 guy that we are sure can play SS at the big league level…..and he hits worse than Stewie

  26. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    My positive spin is this. Tanaka arrives Day One as an Ace, pure and simple. Top 5 pitcher in the league. CC regains most of his form and becomes a solid 2. Kuroda pitches like the 2 he’s been the last couple years. That’s 1-2-2 to start. Better than virtually any other staff in the league.

    Nova shows career expected improvement and becomes a solid 3. The guys vying for the 5th spot are good enough to pitch league average, which is really a good 4.

    So your rotation is 1-2-2-3-4. I think with that you can compete with Tampa for the best.

  27. Against All Odds January 31st, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 2:50 pm
    seems like ted’s left us at least lately. once people stopped reacting to his posts it seems like he got bored and went away, just as expected.

    ————————-

    Maybe but he doesn’t seem like the type that will just take his ball and go home.

  28. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Yanks61

    Just came back on. Must have felt your presence. My bad —Scroogie would pertain to Luis Arroyo, with forkball to Elroy Face. Favorite and greatest Yankee team I remember is the 61 Yankees where just about every player had 20 or more homers!

  29. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Baseball Prospectus polled a number of major league executives the other day about Tanaka’s prospects. Most thought he was very good, but would have adjustment issues in his first year. The majority saw him somewhere between Homer Bailey and Mat Latos in terms of effectiveness in 2014.

  30. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    i dont hate drew. he makes the roster better but i’m not sure he makes the team better.

  31. UnKnown January 31st, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Clubhouse Confidential has Tanaka slotted right behind Strasberg and ahead of Latos and Bailey. I will take it.

  32. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    “Maybe but he doesn’t seem like the type that will just take his ball and go home.”

    Ted would just tell you (in three long paragraphs) that your comment makes no sense because he doesn’t have a ball, that a ball is irrelevant because he is writing, not playing, and that he is at home to begin with.

  33. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I think it’s possible that this starting rotation, the 2014 team could bring back the feeling you had when you watched the late 1990s teams. When I would turn on the game back then, and looked at the starting pitching matchup, I’d always ask myself the question, “how could we possibly lose this game?”

  34. blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    “i dont hate drew. he makes the roster better but i’m not sure he makes the team better.”

    you lost me Y’s…..

  35. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    ” The Yankees’ infield doesn’t need a bench player or platoon partner, they need starters. Third base is a mess, where at the moment, only Kelly Johnson projects to start. If the Yankees are truly building a competitive team, a real starting third baseman is a necessity, and someone with 16 games of experience is tough to count on. While Johnson could do big things with his bat in Yankee Stadium, the third base depth is far too low for any team. With uncertainty about Alex Rodriguez moving forward, the Yankees could target some youthful third baseman that will at least give the team more than depth at third base, but upside as well.”

    Lonnie Chisenhall

    http://itsaboutthemoney.net/ar.....hisenhall/

  36. mick January 31st, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    If it’s between Baker and Drew, they must want Drew and think they have a lowball chance of getting him.
    MOst thought the market would open up. I did not.
    The same thing happens every year…

  37. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    No amount of health will turn Brendan Ryan into a guy that can hit. Drew has actual offensive skills that make him into a potential above average bat at SS.

  38. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I think Tanaka is one of those rare breed pitchers who has excellent stuff, but actually pitches better than his stuff. I like his attitude the best. Give me the damn ball. I’m finishing this thing. Screw the pitch count. You know, like Gibson.

    He wants the big stage. He wants to be like his hero Godzilla.

  39. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    No amount of health will turn Brendan Ryan into a guy that can hit. Drew has actual offensive skills that make him into a potential above average bat at SS.
    ——————————

    Which is totally irrelevant since Jeter is going to play SS unless he’s hurt.

    Now clearly, the best move going forward this offseason would be to sign Drew, pencil him in at 3b and if something happens to Jeter, then Drew moves over to SS and Kelly Johnson goes to 3b.

    But as of this moment, the Yankees seem disinclined to do that – maybe the asking price is too high, maybe, despite what Boras has said, Drew really doesn’t want to play a spot other than SS.

  40. yanks61 January 31st, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    WYH – Pedro Ramos was on many of those same Seantor teams. He pitched late in his career for the Yanks in a late season pick up. Too late to get into the WS, which was a shame, because he really pitched well for the Yanks in 64. They kept him around in 65 and 66. He had a negative W-L record but good ERAs. Of course those Yankee teams were already pretty terrible.

    YT, 61 was my favorite year as well – thus the handle!

    Yep, even Johnny (on the Spot) Blanchard had 21 Hrs. I can’t recall too many players who’ve ever had as many clutch, late game hits as Blanchard. A real favorite of mine that year.

    Now I really have to leave. Have a great afternoon everyone.

  41. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    “Unless a major trade occurs, it looks like the players the Yankees currently have are the ones they’ll be bringing to Spring Training. And boy, that outfield and starting pitching sure looks impressive. Certainly set at catcher as well. The bullpen is more intriguing than established, but there’s definitely potential there. Then we come to the elephant in the room. Four positions on the infield and a solid question mark next to every single one of them. With as much money as the Yankees have spent this offseason, having an infield as shaky as this seems like building a fancy luxury liner with the most amazing amenities without reinforcing the hull. However, if you squint hard enough, there are some positives to be found right behind the mound. Let’s go around the horn.”

    http://www.pinstripealley.com/.....ra-roberts

    Sorry, but like many here, squinting is not helping!

  42. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    blake January 31st, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    “drew’s average ops+ for the past 5 seasons is 89. nothing to write home about there either.”

    again he’s been a different player when he’s been healthy…..the last 2 seasons he’s played 120+ games he’s had a 113 OPS+ and 111+ OPS+ respectively. His numbers are skewed by the years he’s been hurt.
    ——————–

    Random question – and I’ll preface it by saying that I respect your posts a lot – but aren’t you the same guy who was saying that Ellsbury was a bad signing because you can’t count on him to be healthy? Couldn’t you say the same about Stephen Drew?

    For the record, I have no problem with signing Drew.

    As I said on the last thread – the best option right now is:

    Sign Drew
    Sign Diaz
    Sign Baker
    Trade Ichiro for Putz

  43. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I think Tanaka is one of those rare breed pitchers who has excellent stuff, but actually pitches better than his stuff.

    NPB Tracker and some of the american journalists that cover NPB had a podcast and one of the things they talked about is Tanaka’s ability to make adjustments. All 3 guys agreed that Tanaka has been the best japanese pitcher they have ever seen at making adjustments within a game. He knows almost right away what stuff is working and what isn’t and is able to change his game plan on the fly.

    They used a comparison to Darvish, which was that Tanaka will make an adjustment inning to inning in a game, where as Darvish takes his adjustments game to game. He tries to stick with the game plan and figure it out and it may take him a game or two to adjust, where as Tanaka is mostly instantaneous.

    That was one of the big reasons they thought Tanaka would have a lot of success in the majors. (though they all also agreed that Darvish has the better stuff and would have the better overall ceiling).

    Tanaka has a lot of tangible secondary ability that makes his stuff play up and his stuff is already very good. Thats why he can be a top pitcher in the majors. I think he can be maybe the best #2 in the league or at the lower end of the #1s. Mike Axisa said that an ace is a guy who is like a top 5 pitcher nearly every season, where as a #2 is a guy who will sometimes put up a top 5 type season but is usually just like a top 25 pitcher overall. Thats what I think is the likely best case scenario for Tanaka. Best season in the majors if he gets some lucky babip/lob%/hr% in a season, but otherwise steadily within the top 25 of pitchers in the majors.

  44. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Trader –

    Chisenhall may not be much of an improvement over Johnson at 3b. Consider that the Indians are converting Carlos Santana to 3b even though they have Chisenhall – doesn’t seem like they’re brimming with confidence over his abilities at the position.

  45. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    My guess is that at 3b the Yankees are going to see what happens with the first half of this season – hope that Johnson gives them some power, and an average glove that doesn’t cost them any games. They’ll hope that Heathcott and a couple of other prospects put together solid first halves and then see where things stand between the Padres and Headley.

  46. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    JF

    Hopefully, he will catch on quickly to each opposing players weakness and that McCann will be able to help him quickly adjust to a new league. Both are going to need a bit of time with the analytical team!

  47. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    JF

    Hopefully, he will catch on quickly to each opposing players weakness and that McCann will be able to help him quickly adjust to a new league. Both are going to need a bit of time with the analytical team!
    ———————–

    Just a reminder – Darvish’s ERA was nearly a run higher in his first season than it was in his second…there’s going to be an adjustment process.

  48. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I guess the real question is whether the starting pitching will, as a group, be better than last year. It’s hard for me to believe Tanaka will pitch better in his first year in MLB than Pettitte did in 2013, although it isn’t that hard for me to believe the 5 slot will outperform Hughes’ year last year. I guess CC could be better, should be better, but Nova could easily be worse because he had an outstanding year last year.

    But the starting pitching needs to be better because it looks like the pen will be worse (although with bullpens you never know).

  49. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Kuroda also has his little black book of how he pitches AL batters, so hopefully he lets Tanaka study from that since they have such a similar repertoire.

  50. bigdan22 January 31st, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Nice post JF.

    It pretty much goes without saying that what goes on between the ears is almost as important as what the gun reads or the break on the slider.

    Was having a drink at a fancy bar in Bev Hills once with Steve Lyons. You know, the pants guy. Before he got in that mess. He just went on and on about how talented everyone is in the major leagues and how intelligence, tenacity and just plain guts is the difference at that level.

    Tanaka seems to have those intangibles that are actually pretty tangible.

  51. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Chip

    Not promoting Chisenhall. The article didn’t give him glowing reports, but did mention that maybe Long could help him versus lefties.
    I would like to see a young rookie take over at third, and have the skill to be the Yankees next shortstop. That’s why I had hoped a trade could have been made for Chris Owings. Would be nice to root for two rookies this year!

  52. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    “Clubhouse Confidential has Tanaka slotted right behind Strasberg and ahead of Latos and Bailey. I will take it.”

    uhm….heck yea. They are all pretty much guessing though. We won’t know until he pitches how good he will be and we probably really won’t know until next year what we have because some growing pains and adjustments will probably happen.

  53. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Wave –

    I agree with you on the starters

    If the Nova we saw in the second half is the one who shows up next season…great
    Andy had a great year – hard to expect Tanaka to match that
    Kuroda will be Kuroda
    I hope CC is better this year than he was last
    Pineda should be better than Hughes

  54. fuji January 31st, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    “It’s hard for me to believe Tanaka will pitch better in his first year in MLB than Pettitte did in 2013, ”

    i think a whole lot of things have to go right for the yankees to make the playoffs in 2014, but tanaka being with them gives them a chance.

    to me 2014 isn’t a total loss if tanaka gets experience and the yankees see what they need for 2015. jeter and teixeira are just huge variables. i don’t know how the team makes the playoffs unless both players come through in 2014.

  55. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    “Random question – and I’ll preface it by saying that I respect your posts a lot – but aren’t you the same guy who was saying that Ellsbury was a bad signing because you can’t count on him to be healthy? Couldn’t you say the same about Stephen Drew?”

    yes Chip but it’s two totally different levels of risk…..Drew isn’t getting 153 million dollars. I’m talking about Drew for a 2/20 or 2/30 deal…..not a 7/153 deal. Part of the reason I’d like for them to sign him is because of need….but the other is because his market is depressed so there could be a bargain there.

  56. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Chip

    Not promoting Chisenhall. The article didn’t give him glowing reports, but did mention that maybe Long could help him versus lefties.
    I would like to see a young rookie take over at third, and have the skill to be the Yankees next shortstop. That’s why I had hoped a trade could have been made for Chris Owings. Would be nice to root for two rookies this year!
    ————————-

    I’m rooting for them to sign Alemedys Diaz – let him get the rust of 2 years of not playing off in Scranton this year and then next season he’s the starting SS (I’m assuming Derek’s retiring after this year)

  57. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    “No amount of health will turn Brendan Ryan into a guy that can hit. Drew has actual offensive skills that make him into a potential above average bat at SS.”

    yes….they aren’t the same.

  58. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    JF

    Isn’t his strikeout pitch mainly the splitter? Are most batters going to look for a first pitch fastball in the strike zone, given his pinpoint control?

  59. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    “Random question – and I’ll preface it by saying that I respect your posts a lot – but aren’t you the same guy who was saying that Ellsbury was a bad signing because you can’t count on him to be healthy? Couldn’t you say the same about Stephen Drew?”

    yes Chip but it’s two totally different levels of risk…..Drew isn’t getting 153 million dollars. I’m talking about Drew for a 2/20 or 2/30 deal…..not a 7/153 deal. Part of the reason I’d like for them to sign him is because of need….but the other is because his market is depressed so there could be a bargain there.
    ———————-

    I feel like we had the same conversation about getting a guy on as a bargain about Bourn and Fielder. Drew’s a Boras client and even though it seems like right now there’s no market for him I won’t believe it until I see where he actually signs and what he signs for.

  60. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Chip,
    isn’t Diaz all all glove no bat type guy? I want them to sign him because…why not….but I’m not sure he’s the answer short or long term.

  61. Ys Guy January 31st, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Drew causes problems as well as solves some. He restricts what they can do next year if he’s getting $10+M. And he’s asking for 3 year, he’s played only 10 games more than Kevin Youkilis the LAST 3 years.

    So I can see how “on paper” he makes them a better team today, but I’m alot less certain that he makes them better going forward.

    But as I said, I don’t HATE Drew.

  62. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Just a reminder – Darvish’s ERA was nearly a run higher in his first season than it was in his second…there’s going to be an adjustment process.

    He could also be like Iwakuma or Kuroda and simply be very good from the start though. It really depends on how quickly he adjusts to the major league strike zone. Darvish had issues with it until around july where he finished out the year with a 2 bb/9 and 1 ERA. Maybe if Tanaka adjusts quicker we see a better first year.

    We can expect some kind of adjustment period, and I think its the most likely scenario, but Tanaka could also simply be pretty good right away. Kind of like how some prospects come up and dominate right away and other guys take a season to dominate. Never sure which you’re gonna get. I’d always bet on the need for adjustments though.

  63. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    “I feel like we had the same conversation about getting a guy on as a bargain about Bourn and Fielder. Drew’s a Boras client and even though it seems like right now there’s no market for him I won’t believe it until I see where he actually signs and what he signs for.”

    yea I’m not talking about paying a ton for him…..if somebody wants to give him or a 5 year deal or even a 4 year deal then I’d probably pass at this point……but a 3 year deal or a 2 year deal espeically would be great.

  64. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I’m for signing Drew but its one of those ‘you already mucked up the past 3 years now that you’re over the limit you need to just keep going’ kind of things. They have a terrible infield, so even if Drew isnt the nicest choice they really do need to sign him. Failing that they definitely need to make a trade during the season.

    I don’t see how all of Ryan/Johnson/Roberts/Nunez could possibly work out and I think the probability for 2 of them working out is even pretty low.

  65. Wave Your Hat January 31st, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    fuji-

    To win the division in 2014 the Yankee pitching has to come through, Jeter has to play an adequate shortstop, Teixeira needs to resemble his pre-injury self, Roberts needs to stay healthy and hit adequately, Johnson needs to play an acceptable third and the old guys need to avoid injury. Soriano needs to stay better than he was 2010-2012.

    To make the playoffs as a second wild card they won’t need all of things to go right, but they need a majority of them to go right.

    That seems possible now, before the season starts. But of course, all things seem possible now.

  66. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Blake and Chip

    “While Diaz has received mixed reviews on defense — he reportedly has a strong arm, but may not have the best range — scouts believe the 6’1 shortstop has the potential to grow into an excellent batter. He did not hit for a ton of power in the Cuban Serie Nacional, but is still young and projectible. If he puts on muscle mass, he could certainly ramp up his slugging. If not, he still showed a very nice bat in Cuba with a .315/.404/.500 batting line during the 2011-12 season, his last before defecting.”

    Perfect replacement then for Jeter- if range is not a concern . Jeter won five gold gloves with a moniker of no range.

  67. Mottsx January 31st, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    “No amount of health will turn Brendan Ryan into a guy that can hit. Drew has actual offensive skills that make him into a potential above average bat at SS.”

    What about some Tony Bosch “gummies”?

  68. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Andy Pettitte’s 2013 is a pretty good comp for Tanaka next season if you think he will perform exactly like Darvish/Matsuzaka and end up around a 108 ERA+. Probably more K’s and less hits per 9 than Pettitte had but I could see the ERA being similar if there is an adjustment period for Tanaka.

    RLYW has the ‘baseline’ CAIRO projection for Tanaka at 3.68 ERA which could probably be a 108 ERA+ next season. So if you think adjustment season then 3.6-3.8 ERA is likely. If Tanaka adjusts faster than normal due to these tangible things that he has, then maybe the 65%-80% projections become within reach. 3.0-3.5 ERA.

  69. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Blake,

    Other way around on Diaz – the bat is there, teams aren’t sold on his defense.

    From Mike Axisa in December:

    Diaz hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs in 270 at-bats during the 2011-12 season in Cuba, his last before defecting. He hit .308/.401/.444 from 2008-12. Reports on his defense are mixed, which is why some teams expect him to move to the other side of the bag.

  70. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Blake and Chip

    “While Diaz has received mixed reviews on defense — he reportedly has a strong arm, but may not have the best range — scouts believe the 6’1 shortstop has the potential to grow into an excellent batter. He did not hit for a ton of power in the Cuban Serie Nacional, but is still young and projectible. If he puts on muscle mass, he could certainly ramp up his slugging. If not, he still showed a very nice bat in Cuba with a .315/.404/.500 batting line during the 2011-12 season, his last before defecting.”

    Perfect replacement then for Jeter- if range is not a concern . Jeter won five gold gloves with a moniker of no range.
    ————————–

    Correct, worst case scenario he’s a 2b not a SS – Yankees could use help there too.

    Maybe – and this is a lot of projection – you sign Diaz and then next winter they target Asdrubal Cabrera and Chase Headley and your 2015 infield is Tex, Diaz, Cabrera and Headley.

  71. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Isn’t his strikeout pitch mainly the splitter? Are most batters going to look for a first pitch fastball in the strike zone, given his pinpoint control?

    I guess they might look for that but Tanaka can throw all of his pitches for strikes, so I don’t think that kind of plan would work for very long.

    We really have to see how Tanaka’s stuff changes with the major league ball. His 2-seamer is supposed to have more movement and he has already said he will go to a more vertical breaking slider in MLB. That could move his slider to become a pitch equally as devastating as his split.

    I also wonder which pitch he is going to take for his 4th pitch, his change or curve. I can’t imagine the Yankees will want him to keep both since the NPB style of kitchen sink repertoires doesn’t work that well in the majors.

  72. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Chip,
    eh either way they should sign him…..they need as many infielders as they can get as the have 3 spots that need long term solutions and they really have nothing concrete in house…

  73. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I predict Tanaka will have a 3.10 Era, 1.215 WHIP, 185 K’s, win 16 ball games and be the Yanks best starter by the end of the season.

  74. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Yankees really should look at DIAZ. They have no one, literally no one, taking up any of the infield spots other than 1B going forward. They should sign every damn IFA SS possible and just fill the diamond with SSs. It doesn’t matter if they end up as a 2B or 3B because no one is blocking them there!

  75. Mottsx January 31st, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Rob Refsnyder looks promising for 2015 at 2B.

  76. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Rob Refsnyder looks promising for 2015 at 2B.

    Really doubt that. He finished 2013 at A+. For him to jump from A+ to the majors with only 1 season inbetween would be incredible. Realistically he is 3 seasons away from being even a call up at the major league level.

  77. pete2 January 31st, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Thornton was awful against RHB’ers last year(823 OPS). He is a pure LOOGY and is no Boone Logan. His ERA was only as low as it was last year with the Red Sox (who tried to use him like a Logan) because their bullpen bailed him out of a bunch of jams.

    I think the bullpen will probably end up with a couple of guys playing a key role nobody is even talking about, but no idea who they may be. Girardi is going to have to experiment a bit to find out what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully the in-house options are up to the job, but there are no guarantees.

    Now that the Mets have their 250 million refinancing deal with no payroll constraints as part of the new deal, they could pull the plug soon on Drew. Clock is ticking on Drew.

  78. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Yankees really should look at DIAZ. They have no one, literally no one, taking up any of the infield spots other than 1B going forward. They should sign every damn IFA SS possible and just fill the diamond with SSs. It doesn’t matter if they end up as a 2B or 3B because no one is blocking them there!”

    Agreed….anybody they can get that can play infield especially SS they need to get…..they have nobody…..Jagleo MIGHT can be an answer at 3B…..they have nothing close up the middle

  79. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Boone Logan is a pure LOOGY though. Thornton should be better vs lefties than Logan was.

    .254 .319 .460 .780 vs RHP last year.
    .297 .379 .475 .855 vs RHP career.

  80. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Yankees really should look at DIAZ. They have no one, literally no one, taking up any of the infield spots other than 1B going forward. They should sign every damn IFA SS possible and just fill the diamond with SSs. It doesn’t matter if they end up as a 2B or 3B because no one is blocking them there!
    ————————

    I have no problem with that.

    In fact, didn’t Eric Jagello after he was drafted say something along the lines of he was happy to go to the Yankees because there’s no one blocking him?

  81. Chip January 31st, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Again, I’ve never seen Pirela play, but those of you who have are telling me he has hands of stone at 2b…if he can improve on that then they might have something in him.

    But at SS especially they’re totally devoid of anything that resembles a ML player in their system.

  82. pete2 January 31st, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    fuji January 31st, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    “a bad infield can make great starting pitching look worse than it is.”

    don’t the yankees have to run jeter and teixeira out there to see what they have ?

    if either of them has serious problems, 2014 is probably a goner.
    ==================================================

    Yes, of course they do.

    2014 won’t be a goner if the Yankees anticipate the problems. In Jeters case that can be done by signing Drew.

    They do need a backup option for Tex though.

  83. Mottsx January 31st, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I thought Cito Culver’s defense was ML ready but he hits like a high school girl’s soft ball player?

  84. Yankee Trader January 31st, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Tanaka has been working out in Japan with the larger baseball.

    Thornton was probably the best AL set up pitcher in 2009. Second best in AL was probably, our favorite whipping boy, Phil Hughes.

    Still think the Yankees should have taken a chance on lefty O’Flaherty.

  85. blake January 31st, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Mottsx says:
    January 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm
    I thought Cito Culver’s defense was ML ready but he hits like a high school girl’s soft ball player?

    He’s graduated to boys middle school since he stopped switch hitting

  86. pete2 January 31st, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    “Boone Logan is a pure LOOGY though. Thornton should be better vs lefties than Logan was.

    .254 .319 .460 .780 vs RHP last year.
    .297 .379 .475 .855 vs RHP career.”

    Logan had issues early in his career but the last 3 years have been 673, 788, 780.

    Thornton used to be very good against RHP’ers but he threw much harder. I didnt see him much with the White Sox last year but he could not get RHB’ers out with the Red Sox, so while his season totals had 823 OPS against RHB’ers they likely were worse in Boston. Maybe he can bounce back.

    Thornton as you said should be a good LOOGY

  87. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    .780 OPS against is not good though. Logan has always been a LOOGY outside of 1 year where he had reverse splits and was terrible against lefties.

    I think moving out of fenway should help Thornton vs RHP. He had a .258 .313 .395 .709 line vs Righties on the white sox in 2012. Maybe moving to NYS and some bounce back equalizes it.

  88. WakaTanaka January 31st, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 4:40 pm
    Rob Refsnyder looks promising for 2015 at 2B.

    Really doubt that. He finished 2013 at A+. For him to jump from A+ to the majors with only 1 season inbetween would be incredible. Realistically he is 3 seasons away from being even a call up at the major league level.

    ——————————————–

    2015 is optimistic, but I think three years is a little pessimistic. He excelled in 500 PAs in high A and should be starting 2014 in AA. Splitting the middle with 2016 seems reasonable for an ETA.

  89. Revenge of Stoneburner January 31st, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Mottsx January 31st, 2014 at 4:37 pm
    Rob Refsnyder looks promising for 2015 at 2B.

    *****

    like the k:bb rate on him, plus he comes from a really good college baseball program.

  90. Jerkface January 31st, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    He excelled in 500 PAs in high A and should be starting 2014 in AA. Splitting the middle with 2016 seems reasonable for an ETA.

    Yea thats reasonable if you expect him to simply be good at each level. AA is the hardest level though, so if he has to repeat for any reason it moves that ETA. If for some reason he breaks out and really just trashes AA/AAA he could move faster, but I just never expect Yankee prospects to break out like that. Seems we never get lucky in that manner.

  91. Shame Spencer January 31st, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    “Yankees really should look at DIAZ. They have no one, literally no one, taking up any of the infield spots other than 1B going forward. They should sign every damn IFA SS possible and just fill the diamond with SSs. It doesn’t matter if they end up as a 2B or 3B because no one is blocking them there!”

    Yes.

    Sign everyone.

  92. MTU January 31st, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    New one ———>

  93. WakaTanaka January 31st, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Jerkface,

    I completely agree that most prospects are going to fail and there’s definitely a better chance Refsynder never makes it than that he makes it in one year. Any talk about prospects being promising or their ETA has to be framed around them most likely not working out.

    I don’t think an advanced college bat really needs to break out to advance one level per year, though. He was 40% above league average in High A. He could take a pretty big stumble in AA or even AAA and still do enough to advance.

    I’m just saying he a promising option for 2016. There is not “literally no one” in the pipeline. IF is a weakness, but there are a few prospects.

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