The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Week in review: Prospects come in, Wheeler goes out

Zelous Wheeler

Even in the context of a pretty quiet winter (so far), this really was a quiet week for the Yankees.

The biggest news came on Thursday when the Yankees protected four prospects from the Rule 5 draft while also opening one 40-man roster spot by sending Zelous Wheeler to Japan. Wheeler made his major-league debut this season after signing a minor-league deal last winter. He was an obvious DFA candidate — despite the Yankees lack of infield depth — and the team turned his spot into a few hundred thousand dollars.

More significant were the four prospects added to the 40-man roster.

Tyler Austin was an easy choice for protection given his strong second half and his potential as an impact hitter. Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder were also obvious candidates because of their big fastballs and potential to help out of the big league bullpen as early as Opening Day.

The curious choice was Mason Williams, who was protected despite underwhelming offensive numbers the past two years. He’s a good runner and a strong defensive player, and the Yankees felt he was too much of a Rule 5 risk if left exposed (could easily have fit as a team’s fourth or fifth outfielder). Also, the Yankees haven’t given up on his upside. Just two years ago, many outlets considered Williams to be the Yankees top prospect.

Andy Pettitte, Anruw Jones, Rusell Martin• Three big bits of news that didn’t involve the Yankees this week: Giancarlo Stanton signed a record contract with the Marlins; Russell Martin agreed to a five-year deal with the Blue Jays; and there was a high-profile trade that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis and Shelby Miller to Atlanta. For the Yankees, it’s the Martin deal that stands out. He’ll be back in the division one year after a terrific season with Pittsburgh.

• Two bits of news that seem to work in Dave Robertson’s favor: Zach Duke got a three-year deal to pitch out of the White Sox bullpen, and Andrew Miller reportedly has multiple three-year offers already on the table. It seems teams are willing to give money and years to relievers this offseason, and Robertson is arguably the top relief pitcher on the market.

• Brian Cashman did his annual sleep-on-the-sidewalk thing on Thursday night, helping raise awareness and funds for Covenant House. At the event, Cashman said he’s still not certain whether Hiroki Kuroda wants to pitch next season, but he’s still expecting Kuroda to pitch somewhere — either in the U.S. or Japan. The Yankees are certainly in the market for a starting pitcher, so that could be an option at some point.

• Speculation about Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada continues to gain steam, and this week Baseball America declared the Yankees to be the favorites to sign the 19-year-old. The sooner Moncada is cleared by the government, the better for the Yankees, who can’t sign him after July 2 because of penalties for overspending this year.

• The Yankees did add one more international free agent this week, reportedly agreeing to a contract with Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery. That’s the latest piece in a massive international haul for the Yankees this season.

• Among the notable Yankees left exposed to the Rule 5 draft are first baseman Kyle Roller and relief pitcher Mark Montgomery. Roller put up strong offensive numbers in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, but all-bat players are not ideal Rule 5 fodder — hard to carry a guy like that on the bench — and the Yankees decided to take their chances, though one source indicated the team gave consideration to putting him on the roster. Montgomery, on the other hand, once seemed to be the team’s top relief prospect, but that was before a shoulder injury and disappointing numbers in the upper levels.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees announce Black Friday and Cyber Monday ticket deals

The Yankees sent this announcement a few days ago. Just something to keep in mind for those of you looking to grab some tickets for next season.

Royals Yankees BaseballThe New York Yankees today announced special holiday on-sale opportunities exclusively for MasterCard cardholders to purchase tickets for select 2015 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) and continuing through 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 24, all fans using their MasterCard may purchase specially priced individual game tickets to select 2015 New York Yankees home games in April, May and June as part of the “MasterCard Preferred Pricing” program, which offers discounts of up to $15 per ticket in select seating categories when purchasing using a MasterCard.

Select MasterCard $5 and Half-price Games will be available for purchase during the above on-sale.

Additionally, from 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) through 11:59 p.m. on Cyber Monday (December 1) only, there will be a special “Buy 2, Get 2” offer. Fans can save up to 50 percent off select seats with this opportunity by using their MasterCard and the code MCB2G2. The “Buy 2, Get 2” offer is valid for four games during the 2015 season (May 8, May 22, May 26 and June 18).

Fans interested in taking advantage of the above special single-game MasterCard on-sale opportunities may purchase tickets by visiting www.yankees.com/priceless or www.yankeesbeisbol.com, or by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 469-9849 or (800) 943-4327 (TTY). This on-sale opportunity will not be available at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office or Ticketmaster outlets.

Existing Yankees Season Ticket Licensees using their MasterCard will have special advanced access to all of the above ticket specials during an exclusive pre-on-sale from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. ET on November 28.

Also on sale on www.yankees.com beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Black Friday (November 28) will be 16-game, 12-game and nine-game value plans for the 2015 regular season. The 16-game, 12-game and nine-game plan offers are available for all fans regardless of the form of payment. Nine-game plan offers are available starting at $90. Existing Yankees Season Ticket Licensees, regardless of the form of payment, may begin purchasing these value plans at 8:00 a.m. on November 28.

The specifics of 2015 regular-season ticket specials (eg: Senior Citizen, Student, Youth, Military Personnel), as well as the 2015 regular season promotional schedule, will be announced at a later date.

The on-sale for all other 2015 individual game tickets will be announced at a later time.

Select Yankees season ticket plans are now available on both a full-season and partial-season basis. For complete season-ticket information, please visit yankees.com or yankeesbeisbol.com, contact the Season Ticket Sales and Service Department via email at seasontickets@yankees.com, or call (212) YANKEES [212-926-5337].

For group tickets for individual games during the 2015 regular season, a Yankees group sales representative can be reached at groups@yankees.com or by calling (212) YANKEES [212-926-5337]. Individual-game suites are available by contacting the Yankees Premium Sales and Services department at premium@yankees.com or (718) 508-3955.

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pace of play: Do games need to be shorter, or just feel shorter?

Shane Greene

Now that the Arizona Fall League has finished, we’re getting some hard numbers on the pace-of-play initiatives being tested down there. According to MLB.com:

In addition to the 20-second pitch clock, games at Salt River employed two-minute, 30-second time limits on breaks between innings and between pitching changes. And each team was limited to three “time out” conferences per game, inclusive of meetings between pitchers and catchers, coaches and pitchers, and coaches and batters.

The average game time of the 16 games played at Salt River, in which the clocks were enforced, was two hours and 42 minutes — a full 10 minutes quicker than the Fall League average in 2013. A closer look at the numbers shows that extrapolating the average time per plate appearance from the MLB average of 77 plate appearances per game would equate to an even brisker average game time of two hours and 39 minutes.

And here’s a quote from former Yankees prospect Pete O’Brien, who was catching in the Fall League:

“I know I’ve been talking to some guys and they feel rushed,” O’Brien said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out. When things are going good you don’t really notice the clocks, but when the wheels start coming off a little bit, you start worrying about the clock.”

The numbers themselves are interesting, but Rob Neyer makes a good point: Isn’t this about pace of play and not time of game? As he wrote for FOX Sports: While I agree that Americans’ attention spans have gotten shorter, I think all that means is they want less time between action. And if the action keeps coming, they’ll keep watching. What’s more fun to watch? A crisply played, action-packed game that lasts three hours, or a snooze-fest that goes 2:30?

Neyer makes the case that getting some help from television (which tends to slow things down between innings) and by creating a new set of expectations in the minor leagues (where players get used to taking their time between pitches) would help speed up the action. If the games are shorter, that’s great. What seems more important, Neyer argues, is essentially that the games feel shorter.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 1:36 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

A closer look at the updated Yankees 40-man roster

Panama Legend Series Baseball

The Yankees made their single most significant 40-man roster change on Thursday when they protected four prospects from the Rule 5 draft and sent Zelous Wheeler to a team in Japan. At the time, the team announced that there were 38 players on their roster, but it seems to have been a miscount — Mason Williams wasn’t listed online — and the 40-man instead sits at 39 players.

That leaves one open spot, with the Yankees likely to add at least four players before it’s all said and done (shortstop, third baseman, starter, reliever). Trades could obviously change things, but here’s a look at the current 40-man roster, with the ways it might change in the coming months.

I’ve tried to break players into major leaguers and minor leaguers, though there’s obviously some overlap with plenty of minor leaguers perfectly capable of winning a job on the big league roster in spring training.

Banuelos PinedaSTARTING PITCHERS (10)
Majors: Shane Greene, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka
Minors: Manny Banuelos, Jose Campos, Jose De Paula, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley

Depending on the way he’s progressing in spring training, I suppose the Yankees could open the season with Nova on the 60-day disabled list if they have a non-roster guy they’d like to carry on Opening Day (perhaps Andrew Bailey or Rob Refsnyder, for example). It’s also worth wondering how the Yankees view Campos given last year’s surgery. Is the presence of Banuelos, De Paula and Mitchell as immediate rotation depth enough to risk losing Whitley if/when the roster gets tight? He has options and would surely be claimed, but given the alternatives, Whitley could theoretically become a DFA candidate if the Yankees add more than one starting pitcher.

ClaiborneBetancesRELIEF PITCHERS (11)
Majors: Dellin Betances, David Huff, Shawn Kelley, David Phelps, Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson
Minors: Danny Burawa, Preston Claiborne, Branden Pinder, Jose Ramirez

Easiest way to open a couple of roster spots might be to non-tender Huff and Rogers. Huff is coming off a nice season, and he’s certainly a useful piece, but he might have become expendable with the additions of Wilson and De Paula. As for Rogers, he’s going to be fairly expensive for a guy who might not even deserve a big league roster spot. If the roster gets tight and the Yankees have to open another spot, Claiborne could be a DFA candidate. Depends entirely on how the Yankees feel about him compared to recent additions Burawa and Pinder.

SanchezMcCannCATCHERS (4)
Majors: Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine
Minors: Gary Sanchez

Clearly the Yankees would prefer to have both Murphy and Romine in big league camp so that they have two young options for the backup catcher role (at the very least, Romine’s good insurance in case Murphy gets hurt in March). But it’s worth noting that Romine’s out of options, and it’s entirely possible the Yankees are going to have to DFA him eventually anyway. He’s more likely to be claimed in the winter than at the end of spring training — right now team’s might see him as being worth a look; in late March they’d have to seriously have a spot for him — but would the Yankees rather risk losing Romine or risk losing one of the pitchers who could provide legitimate depth during the season?

PirelaRodriguezINFIELDERS (5)
Majors: Martin Prado, Alex Rodriguez, Brendan Ryan, Mark Teixiera
Minors: Jose Pirela

Given the way Pirela played last season, and the way he’s continued to play this winter, it’s hard to see any of these guys as a real DFA candidate under any circumstances. Ryan is the only legitimate shortstop in place, and the Yankees have made it clear that they’re committed to bringing Rodriguez back next season. Pirela seems to be a legitimate bench candidate, if not a potential starting second baseman. He’s listed as a minor leaguer here because there’s certainly a good chance that he could end up back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he also might be a favorite for a bench role if the Yankees don’t add a significant utility type this winter. Ultimately, there aren’t enough infielders for the Yankees to risk losing one of them on waivers.

Williams (2) EllsburyOUTFIELDERS (9)
Majors: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chris Young
Minors: Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, Eury Perez, Mason Williams

Now that the catchers are thinned out, this is where the Yankees roster is most overstocked, but it’s also a spot without an easy way to trim. All of the minor league outfielders have options remaining, which makes then an easy target on the waiver wire. Now that Young is in place as a right-handed fourth outfielder, Perez might be more expendable than he was at the beginning of the offseason, but he’s also the most experienced and reliable of the minor league outfielders on the 40-man. Trading one of Flores, Heathcott or Williams might make sense given the depth of left-handed outfielders (which goes beyond the 40-man to include guys like Jake Cave and Taylor Dugas).

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman to once again rappel for Stamford holiday event

Brian Cashman just slept on the streets of New York City (again), and in a few weeks he’s going to climb down the face of a building (again). Cashman is once again participating in the Heights & Lights event in Stamford, CT. It’s happening the weekend before the Winter Meetings, which means an early morning on a cold rooftop asking Cashman about free agents and trades. Here are the details from a press release distributed by the the city of Stamford:

Yankees Cashman BaseballOn Friday morning, December 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 am (ET), Rick Reichmuth, FOX News Channel’s Meteorologist, Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees and Bobby Valentine, Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University will rappel from the one of Stamford, CT’s tallest buildings, the Landmark Building. Santa’s Elf, Brian VanOrsdel will be on hand, strapping Brian and Bobby in and guiding them down the 22 stories of the building, all the while broadcasting live on the FOX News Channel, “FOX & Friends” morning newscast.

The event marks the start of Rappelling Santa’s arrival in Stamford and is a good practice run for the rappelling crew for Sunday’s Heights & Lights program.

On Sunday, December 7 at 5:00 pm, Brian Cashman, Bobby Valentine, Santa and friends are scheduled once again to make their daredevil descent down the 22 stories of the Landmark Building, for Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp’s Rappelling Santa. After the rappel, Santa’s busy holiday schedule will take him straight up Bedford Street to Latham Park where he will join the Stamford Community for music with The Cast of Peter Pan Jr. from Saxe Middle School and the lighting of the Holiday Tree, donated by Bartlett Tree Company.

WHEN:

Practice Rappel: Friday Morning, December 5, 2014 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Heights & Lights Rappel: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM

WHERE:

Rappel at Landmark Square, Broad Street;

Tree Lighting at Latham Park, Bedford Street, Stamford Downtown

Heights & Lights is presented by Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp. and sponsored by The Advocate, 95.9 The Fox, Star 99.9, WEBE 108, Bartlett Tree Company, Happyhaha.com and The First Congregational Church of Stamford and brought to you by Stamford Downtown and The City of Stamford. Free Cocoa at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. THIS EVENT IS FREE!

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 9:26 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Friday notes and links: Robertson, Miller, Billings, prospects

A few notes and links as we wrap up this week before Thanksgiving (pretty amazing that it’s this late in the year already, isn’t it?):

Dave Robertson• Andrew Marchand talked to a handful of executives and scouts about the free agent market for former Yankees closer Dave Robertson. The general consensus seems to be that Robertson is in a position of real strength this winter. “I could see him getting four years and $40 million,” a National League executive said. The game has a lot of money, and relievers seem to be fairly popular now that offense is down throughout the league.

• Adding to the case for Robertson landing a big contract this winter are the most recent reports about Andrew Miller’s free agency. Without the closing experience or bullpen track record of Robertson — also, without the draft pick compensation — Miller reportedly has multiple three-year deals on the table, and Jon Morosi reports it’s likely he’ll eventually get a four-year contract. That’s good news for Robertson.

• The crew over at Baseball America has brief scouting reports for every player protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter. The scouting reports on the four Yankees additions — provided by former Yankees minor league beat reporter Josh Norris — include few surprises, but it’s good information if you don’t know much about Tyler Austin, Danny Burawa, Brandon Pinder or Mason Williams. The basic idea: One big bat, two big arms, and one strong glove who hasn’t hit in a couple of years.

• Ben Badler at Baseball America points out that the Padres didn’t protect Rafael DePaula, who went from the Yankees to the Padres in the Chase Headley deal. DePaula has a big arm, but he didn’t have a very good year. Badler notes that new Padres GM A.J. Preller faced discipline several years ago, and it’s believed that discipline was linked to premature conversations about signing DePaula back when he was an amateur. Preller was with the Rangers at the time, and there were questions about DePaula’s actual age. Obviously the Yankees wound up signing him.

• Remember Bruce Billings? He was one of the guys who shuttled up and down to give the Yankees bullpen an extra arm when it was short-handed. Well, he’s signed a minor league deal with the Nationals.

• Of the international free agents likely to make a significant impact this season, power-hitting corner outfielder Yasmany Tomas might be the most highly touted. Jesse Sanchez reports that the Padres and Braves have eclipsed the Phillies as the perceived favorites to sign Tomas. Seems unlikely the Yankees will get involved because they don’t have an open spot in the outfield.

• Here’s a goofy baseball-nerd link (and I spent way too much time reading this after lunch): Over at Grantland, Ben Lindbergh used a tweet from Tyler Kepner as a springboard to trace the longest roster-spot lineage for each team in baseball. To explain, the longest lineage on the Yankees roster is Alex Rodriguez, who actually dates back to September of 1998 (on that date, the Yankees signed Alfonso Soriano, who was eventually traded for Rodriguez). The longest lineage in baseball belongs to Corey Kluber. The path that led him to Cleveland can be traced all the way back to 1977!

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 6:11 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Winter ball notes: Pirela and Flores stay hot in Venezuela

The Arizona Fall League has ended, so our weekly winter ball updates are going to be a little more limited at this point. The Yankees really don’t have a ton of high-profile guys playing this offseason — the pitching is especially thin — but there are some upper-level guys who could fight for bench jobs in spring training, so it seems worth keeping track of how they’re doing.

Jose Pirela• On Saturday, Jose Pirela went 2-for-4 with a home run for Aguilas del Zulia in Venezuela. It was his first homer since October 27, and it started a stretch of three straight two-hit games during which he also doubled twice. Yesterday he went 0-for-4 and struck out for the first time in seven games. In the past week he’s played right field three times, second base once and third base once. That ability to play all over the field might be just as important as his bat when it comes time to play for a big league job this spring.

• We’ve seen Pirela put up great winter numbers in the past, which is why I’m actually more fascinated by the offseason production of outfield prospect Ramon Flores., who hit two homers on Sunday and has multiple hits in five of his past eight games. Coming off a minor league season that was limited by an ankle injury, Flores has hit .390/.470/.520 as an everyday guy in Venezuela. He was most recently moved into the No. 3 hole in the lineup. The past two years, Flores has never gotten much playing time in winter ball, but this year he’s become a regular and he’s made the most of it while getting time in all three outfield spots. Flores has a spot on the 40-man, so he could become a legitimate big league option if a Yankees outfielder gets hurt this year.

Perez• Also on the 40-man roster, and also in the mix for a big league job should someone get hurt, relatively new outfielder Eury Perez has finally shown signs of life in the Dominican Republic. He went 4-for-6 last Friday — that one day his batting average jumped nearly 50 points — and he followed with a two-hit game the very next day. One curious thing about Perez: He has a .360 career on-base percentage in the minors, but he really doesn’t walk a ton. He has yet to draw a walk after 74 at-bats this winter. He walked 13 times in 238 Triple-A plate appearances last year. For comparison, Flores drew 33 walks in 271 Triple-A plate appearances. Perez was hit by a pitch eight times; Flores was hit by a pitch once.

• He doesn’t have a 40-man spot, but Adonis Garcia belongs in that conversation of outfielders who could play for a bench job at some point next season. The versatile Cuban — he’s played all three outfield spots and a little bit of third base in the minors — has finally gotten his bat going this winter. He homered last Friday, then he homered again on Sunday. That was the end of a stretch when he had 14 hits in seven games, and he’s had hits in his past two games as well, bringing his winter slash line up to .317/.371/.417. He’s capable of hitting for more power than that slugging percentage suggests. Needs to hit to keep from being completely eclipsed by the Yankees glut of upper level outfielders.

Castillo• The Yankees have absolutely no shortstop depth in the upper levels, and their middle-infield depth is pretty much limited to Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. But a kid named Ali Castillo is doing what he can to be on the radar. Trenton’s shortstop this season is now hitting .317/.348/.421 in Venezuela this winter — he’s Pirela’s teammate — while playing shortstop, third base, second base and left field. As I’ve written before, he’s not really considered much of a prospect, but the top of the Yankees system is awfully thin in the infield. Beggars can’t be choosers, and Castillo’s doing what he can this winter. He currently has a five-game hitting streak.

• Here’s a guy I know very little about: Right-handed pitcher Luis Niebla is pitching in Mexico and has a 3.25 through seven starts. On Tuesday he went five scoreless with three hits and three strikeouts. He was signed back in 2011 and pitched pretty well at three different levels this season. He finished the year in Charleston where he had a 2.23 ERA through 36.1 innings. In his final start of the minor league season, Niebla went seven scoreless with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Gallegos• Another guy signed out of Mexico in 2011 is Giovanny Gallegos, and like Niebla, he’s currently pitching in the Mexican Winter League. Working out of the bullpen, Gallegos has allowed just one run — it came on a home run — through 12 innings. He’s walked four, given up nine hits and struck out eight. He’s already 23 and had a not-so-great year as a multi-inning reliever in Charleston. His last outing of the regular season was a good one: four scoreless innings.

• Recently re-signed Triple-A reliever Diego Moreno vultured a couple of wins out of the bullpen this past week in Venezuela. He got off to a great start in winter ball, then had a bat stretch, but he’s now gone six straight outings without allowing a run, and an intentional walk on Tuesday was his first walk since October 31 and only this third walk in 13.1 innings this winter.

• New addition Jose De Paula — the minor league lefty signed to a big league deal earlier this month — still has just two appearances this winter. He made two starts back in October, but he hasn’t pitched for his Dominican team since the Yankees acquired him.

Associated Press photo of Pirela

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 2:52 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman: Yanks open to adding more than one starting pitcher

Brian Cashman slept on the street last night. He’s done it once a year for a few years now, all to raise money and awareness for Covenant House, an organization that works to help homeless youth.

“You’ve got to see the great work these people are doing for people who just need a fighting chance,” Cashman said.

Talking to the media last night, Cashman said a lot of the stuff we’ve come to expect this time of year. Which is to say, he didn’t say much. No real revelations here, but here’s a little bit of what he had to say.

Joe Girardi, Brian CashmanOn Hiroki Kuroda’s plans for next season
“I haven’t heard anything officially. Do I think he will play and put himself back in play for the major leagues as well as the NPB in Japan? I would think, yes. The guy is way too talented. I know he’s 38 or 39, but he’s way too talented to give it up and retire. If he wants to keep playing, he’ll have a market. That’s not an issue. But I have not officially heard that he wants to do anything. … I wouldn’t say (whether the Yankees want Kuroda back). Every dollar counts to something. Everything we do has to be accounted for, so it will have an impact on something else. It depends on the entire context of the roster. But I do need starting pitching, so he’s clearly an area that would solve some issues. We’ll see.”

Surprised by Russell Martin’s contract?
“No. He’s been great. I’m not surprised. The catching market is thin; that’s why Pittsburgh proactively went after Cervelli the way they did, in anticipation of losing (Martin). I was surprised he wound up in Toronto because I think everybody expected a different location for him. I thought two other places, if I had to predict before the winter where he might wind up. Toronto got themselves a hell of a player. I’d rather it not be them because they’re in our division. But I’m not surprised by his contract.”

On Brandon McCarthy and the possibility of adding two starters
“Obviously (McCarthy) did a tremendous job for us. He put himself in a hell of a position to command respect in the free agent market. Clearly we have interest but that’s about as far as I can really say at this point. … No (signing McCarthy wouldn’t keep the Yankees from signing another pitcher). I mean, bottom line is, I think you’re asking if I’m open to adding more than one starter. Yeah, I’d be open to that.”

Any 40-man additions difficult decisions?
“No. I think they were all layups for various reasons. So, no. We added who we felt we had to add. You’d prefer that you didn’t have to add anybody and guarantee that you’d get them back. But that wasn’t the case with any one of these guys. So, hence their additions.”

On the Yankees priorities this offseason
“I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority. Kind of reinforce our pitching (as well). I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on. Bullpen, clearly with the Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That’s a handful right off the bat. I can’t really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I’m just going to say we’re doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 11:50 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Five thoughts following yesterday’s Rule 5 decisions

Here are five quick thoughts following yesterday’s changes to the Yankees 40-man roster:

Jacoby Ellsbury1. Nine outfielders on the Yankees 40-man roster, and only one of them — freshly added Tyler Austin — has any real experience in the infield. Maybe the Yankees can keep working with Carlos Beltran at first base, but for the most part, that’s almost a quarter of the 40-man roster taken up by guys who play the same three positions. And five of them — Ellsbury, Gardner, Heathcott, Flores, Williams — are left-handed hitters with somewhat similar skill sets (more speed than power). There’s good reason to keep all of them — short-term roles or long-term potential — but that’s a lot of roster space and a lot of repetition.

2. We know the Yankees are planning to add two infielders this winter, but as it stands, the team has just five infielders on the roster. That’s the only reason I saw any chance for Cito Culver to be added (never thought it was remotely likely, but there is a serious upper-level deficiency there, even when you factor in Rob Refsnyder). It’s also the only reason I thought Zelous Wheeler might survive the winter. Neither is remotely an ideal player to have on the 40-man, but the infield depth is awfully thin. Going to have to sign some minor league free agents — like Wheeler and Yangervis Solarte last winter — to add some depth.

3. Once again, we learn the same lesson: Don’t make too much of lower-level success. When Mark Montgomery was pitching in High-A and Low-A — even those first few outings in Double-A — he looked like an extreme high riser. He was going to soar through the system and grab a big league bullpen job even before the Rule 5 draft became a factor. I honestly thought he might get there in 2013. But so many things can happen along the way. Montgomery had a shoulder issue, his fastball fell back a little bit, his upper level numbers weren’t so overwhelming, and now he’s clearly fallen down the ladder. The Yankees made it clear that Danny Burawa, Brandon Pinder, Preston Claiborne and Chase Whitley are ahead of him. Not sure they would have felt the same way just two years ago.

4. As I wrote yesterday, these decisions have to be seem in the context of the Rule 5 draft. It’s about prospect upside, certainly, but it’s also about calculated risks. Who’s likely to be chosen in the Rule 5 and who’s not? Mason Williams hasn’t hit nearly enough to suggest he belongs on a 40-man roster, but he’s defensively ready to be a major-league center fielder, and he has the kind of speed that might be helpful off a big league bench. He could easily have been stashed on a major-league roster as a fifth outfielder. Kyle Roller, on the other hand, has raked in the minor leagues, but he’s a defensive liability and doesn’t necessarily fit well as a bench player (how many teams carry a DH as a reserve?). Maybe some team will bring him to camp to give him a look as a first base candidate, but Williams might actually have been a bigger risk to stick as a Rule 5 pick. A team source indicated there was real consideration of putting Roller on the roster.

5. Roster maneuvering isn’t nearly finished. The Yankees now have 38 players on their 40-man. We know they’re in the market for a shortstop, a third baseman, a starting pitcher (at least one) and a reliever. Barring a trade involving guys on the 40-man, the Yankees are almost certainly going to have to open at least two more roster spots. That could come by non-tendering Esmil Rogers and David Huff. Could also make some tougher decisions on young players who don’t have a clear role going forward. Whatever it takes, some more roster spots are going to have to open eventually.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Manfred: “The core of (instant) replay will be similar”

Rob Manfred

Here’s Dave Skretta of The Associated Press reporting from the latest round of owners meetings:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Praising the transition as quick and orderly, Bud Selig announced Thursday that baseball owners unanimously approved a five-year term for Rob Manfred, who will succeed the longtime commissioner early next year.

Selig spoke at the conclusion of two days of meetings in Kansas City, where owners discussed a variety of issues that included pace of play, instant replay and domestic violence initiatives.

Selig will chair his final owners’ meeting in January in Arizona.

“I’ve been so busy and every day is so frenetic that the last month or two, I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking about it,” Selig said, “but you know, we are where we want to be. We’re having a wonderful transition, orderly transition, good transition. That’s very important.”

Manfred, who has worked for MLB since 1998, was chosen to replace the 80-year-old Selig in August over Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. He will assume office Jan. 25.

“It hits me every day when I go to work,” Manfred said. “I agree with Commissioner Selig, we’ve had a really productive and smooth transition.”

One of Manfred’s mandates will be to attract young fans back to baseball, and many believe that will involve speeding up the game. The average time of a nine-inning game increased from 2 hours, 33 minutes, in 1981 to a record 3:02 this year, with postseason games stretching nearly 4 hours.

Selig appointed a committee chaired by Braves President John Schuerholz to discuss ways to improve the pace of play. Among the ideas experimented during the Arizona Fall League were pitch clocks and requiring hitters to remain in the batter’s box between pitches.

MLB can’t alter the rules for 2015 without agreement from the players’ association, though it can implement changes unilaterally with one year advance notice. Selig said union head Tony Clark and other representatives from the players’ association provided their input.

“I want the committee to continue to do its work,” Selig said. “This was very productive in terms of ideas. The experience in the Arizona Fall League made quite an impact on a lot of people.”

When changes may be implemented at the major league level remains to be seen. Selig said he wants to “push them” and will have more to say on the subject in the next couple months.

Owners also spent time discussing the first season of expanded instant replay, largely considered a success after several calls were overturned during the postseason.

The system also slowed games. Given the opportunity to challenge everything from force and tag plays to fan interference and home runs, managers often stalled in the middle of the diamond while awaiting word from their dugout whether to contest a call.

“I think the core of replay will be similar,” Manfred said. “I think the changes we’re contemplating — without getting into them — are largely technology improvements. … I think there are also some issues related to exactly how long it takes to get replay going.”

MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre said during a recent meeting of general managers in Phoenix that putting a stop to all the lingering would be a priority.

“That’s one area we’ll do something differently,” Torre said. “I’m not sure what that is, but certainly we will eliminate some of that standing around because 10 seconds is a long time.”

Selig also applauded the record-breaking $325 million. 13-year deal reached by the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton, calling it the “objective of everything we did” in changes to the game’s economic model, which included revenue sharing and luxury taxes.

“What I like is individual franchises making decisions to make themselves better, Selig said.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 9:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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