Archive for the ‘Misc’
This morning, Baseball America released its annual Top 10 Yankees Prospects list. Very little surprise that Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and John Ryan Murphy — who ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th a year ago — have fallen out of the Top 10 entirely. Also very little surprise that Luis Severino has jumped to the head of the class, one spot in front of breakout organizational slugger Aaron Judge.
For good reason, the Yankees list is focused on younger, lower-level prospects who still have a ways to go. Jorge Mateo, Luis Torrens and Miguel Andujar are on this list purely because of projection (and the fact Mateo ranks so highly is a testament to his overwhelming tools). I’ll post some personal thoughts on the list later today when I have a chance to jot them down, but for now, here’s Baseball America’s Top 10.
My initial reaction is one of very little surprise. I didn’t expect to see Mateo quite this high and wouldn’t have been shocked to see Miguel Andujar replaced by a different third baseman at No. 10, but ultimately this list makes a lot of sense.
1. RHP Luis Severino
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Jorge Mateo
4. 1B Greg Bird
5. C Gary Sanchez
6. LHP Ian Clarkin
7. 2B Rob Refsnyder
8. LHP Jacob Lindgren
9. C Luis Torrens
10. 3B Miguel Andujar
Easiest way to really understand what the Yankees need is to take another look at what they have. If the Yankees had to put together an Opening Day roster based strictly on players currently in the system — now that the free agents are officially free agents — it would look something like what’s listed in this blog post. It’s a roster heavy on big names but light on dependability. It’s also a roster without a ton of offensive wiggle room. It’s a roster that suggests the Yankees need improved production from those players already in place as much as they need new pieces to fill the gaps.
Since we’re basing this on the entire organization and not just the 40-man roster, I’ll go ahead and give Refsnyder the second base job over Jose Pirela, enough though they’re probably pretty even on the immediate pecking order (that said, I still think it’s more likely that Prado opens the season at that position; I’m putting him at third for this exercise based entirely on what’s currently in place).
As for putting the Nos. 3-7 hitters in order, that’s anybody’s guess, but it’s worth acknowledging that this might be the actual group that makes up the heart of the order next season. Unless the Yankees sign Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval, or go with a big DH and roll the dice with A-Rod at third, what new addition is going to slid into one of those run-producing spots? Maybe bat Ellsbury third again and bat Prado second? However you stack them up, the quartet of Beltran, Teixeira, McCann and Rodriguez will have to fill some key spots in the order. If that group can’t hit, the Yankees are in real trouble.
Thought about putting three catchers on this roster — considered John Ryan Murphy ahead of Zelous Wheeler — but the fact is, I don’t think the Yankees are actually going to carry either Wheeler or a third catcher. Remarkably, though, there’s at least some chance the other three players on this list actually make a run at an Opening Day job. Cervelli could certainly return as the backup catcher, Pirela seems like a realistic bench option, and Perez could stick around because of his speed, his strong minor league numbers, and the fact he would bring some right-handed balance in the outfield.
That said, it’s interesting to note just how little immediate depth is currently in place. There’s plenty of catching depth, and the Yankees have some young options at second base, but the current outfield depth is overwhelmingly dominated by completely unproven players — guys like Perez, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, maybe Tyler Austin if he has a tremendous spring — which suggests the Yankees could be in the market for a Chris Young type to bring some immediate insurance. And frankly, a Chris Young type would probably be interested in signing with the Yankees because of the potential for playing time and a roster spot (and because the three guys currently penciled into the regular outfield have had injury problems in the past). Infield depth, too, is a need. The depth chart at second, third and shortstop gets pretty thin pretty quickly.
In theory, this is not a bad group by any means. As far as an in-place rotation at the very beginning of the offseason, this group is actually pretty strong. It’s risky — a lot of injury concerns in this rotation — but the Yankees could conceivably have a good rotation without making a single addition (that’s especially true if you factor in Ivan Nova’s potential return from Tommy John surgery early in the year). Problem is, this rotation also has the potential to fall flat. Tanaka’s elbow, Pineda’s shoulder, Sabathia’s knee and Greene’s relative inexperience are all red flags, and the past six months left no doubt that a rotation can crumble quickly.
Despite the potential for a strong rotation already in place, the Yankees are in the market for more. Hal Steinbrenner said as much when he went on the radio immediately after the Yankees season came to an end. Re-signing Brandon McCarthy seems to be one possibility — he fit in well, pitched well, seems well suited for the market and the clubhouse — but there are other depth moves that could add rotation insurance. Worth wondering, too, if the Yankees might be willing to spend big on one of the top free agent starters on the market. Could double-down on pitching to try to make up for offensive shortcomings.
This list is deceiving largely because it includes two non-tender candidates and two guys who could very easily become Triple-A options (or borderline DFA options) when all of the maneuvering is said and done. Basically, what the Yankees bullpen has in place at the moment are three relievers and a bunch of young guys. Betances, Kelley and Warren all seem to be relatively safe bets to return to some sort of late-inning role next year. Kelley could be non-tendered (but that seems extremely unlikely) and Warren could be traded (especially if a team values him as a starter), but for now it seems safe to pencil them into the 2015 bullpen. Problem is, there’s not another safe bet currently on the roster outside of perhaps Phelps (assuming he’s eventually bumped out of the rotation).
What that means is that the Yankees still have some work to do in the bullpen. Re-signing Dave Robertson would make a big difference, if only because it would bump everyone else down a peg. Robertson would not only give the Yankees a strong closer, but also it would strengthen the options for the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Signing a left-handed reliever — or deciding to trust one of the young lefties in the system — would also make a significant difference. Add Phelps, Robertson and a lefty and suddenly the Yankees have six relievers in place, leaving one spot open for a solid competition between the young guys (or some low-risk, low-cost free agents). The Yankees really don’t have a ton of bullpen depth in place at the moment, but that could change quickly.
Associated Press photos
Bovada has released its early odds for the 2015 World Series. No surprise that the Yankees are not among the favorites. In fact, they’re barely in the top half of Major League Baseball. They’re given the same odds as the last-place Red Sox. Here’s Bovada’s list:
Odds to win the 2015 World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers 15/2
Washington Nationals 15/2
Detroit Tigers 10/1
Los Angeles Angels 10/1
San Francisco Giants 12/1
St. Louis Cardinals 12/1
Kansas City Royals 16/1
Seattle Mariners 18/1
Baltimore Orioles 20/1
Oakland Athletics 20/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 20/1
Atlanta Braves 22/1
Boston Red Sox 22/1
New York Yankees 22/1
Cleveland Indians 25/1
Cincinnati Reds 33/1
Tampa Bay Rays 33/1
Texas Rangers 33/1
Toronto Blue Jays 33/1
Chicago White Sox 40/1
Milwaukee Brewers 40/1
New York Mets 40/1
Chicago Cubs 50/1
Miami Marlins 50/1
San Diego Padres 66/1
Philadelphia Phillies 75/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 100/1
Colorado Rockies 100/1
Houston Astros 100/1
Minnesota Twins 100/1
Associated Press photo
Just a few late afternoon notes on this first day of the offseason:
• A source said this morning that the Yankees have been granted a fourth option year for outfielder Eury Perez, the 24-year-old claimed off waivers from the Nationals at the end of September. Perez has speed and pretty good minor league numbers, and he could be a right-handed fourth outfielder candidate next season. The fact the Yankees can send him to the minors, though, makes it a little easier to keep him on the 40-man roster.
• Along those same lines, I was told that “it does not appear” that Austin Romine will qualify for a fourth option year. That means he’ll be out of options next season. He’ll either have to make the big league team or face the uncertainty of waivers (assuming the Yankees don’t make a move with him this winter).
• Here’s an interesting idea: George King reports a belief that the Yankees are interested in talking to Raul Ibanez about becoming their hitting coach. It’s an interesting idea mostly because Ibanez really does carry himself like he’s a coach already. He communicates well, and the Royals basically treated him as a coach through the playoffs. Ibanez has no coaching experience, and there’s no telling whether he’d even want the job, but it’s an interesting possibility.
• While the Yankees will surely be in the market for some third base help this offseason, they could face some competition from their rivals in Boston. Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox are interested in both Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley as alternatives to Will Middlebrooks. This surely comes as little surprise, but it further supports the idea that signing Headley is going to require basically a full-time job and a significant contract. He’s not likely to rejoin the Yankees strictly as a backup or alternative to Alex Rodriguez. Most likely, bringing Headley back basically means giving him the third base job.
• The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the 10-person ballot being considered on the Golden Era ballot this winter. The group will be reviewed and voted upon at the Winter Meetings on December 8. Here are the candidates: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.
Associated Press photo
What the Yankees 40-man looks like now • 10.30.14
It’s the day after the World Series, which means expiring contracts are finished, there’s no more 60-day disabled list, and one high-profile suspension has ended. This is what the Yankees 40-man roster looks like today with 35 spots filled.
Of these nine, only Campos is definitely ticketed for the minor leagues next season. Banuelos and Mitchell seem likely to open in the Triple-A rotation, but they could get a look in big league camp depending on other options for the rotation and long-relief roles. I guess Campos is the strongest DFA candidate here, but I’m sure the Yankees would prefer to give him more time. Still a lot of potential, just slowed considerably by an elbow injury.
Of these eight, only Betances, Kelley and Warren seem to have big league jobs locked up. Huff and Rogers are perhaps the best non-tender candidates on the roster. Ramirez, Claiborne and Whitley could come to camp with a chance to win big league jobs, but those three are also obvious Triple-A candidates. The Yankees are likely to add at least one or two minor league relievers this offseason in preparation for the Rule 5 draft.
Romine and Cervelli are out of options, which takes away some of the wiggle room the Yankees had last season. Plus, Sanchez is ready for a promotion to Triple-A, which takes away some of the playing time that Romine and Murphy shared this season. There’s an obvious logjam at catcher, and it will be interesting to see how the Yankees address that situation this winter. Carrying five catchers — all playing at Triple-A or higher — seems a bit excessive.
With Stephen Drew, Chase Headley and Derek Jeter all becoming free agents, the Yankees infield has obviously grown thin and uncertain going forward. There’s a chance only two of the guys listed here — Prado and Teixeira — will actually be in the Opening Day infield. Rodriguez is obviously a complete wild card. Ryan is the only true shortstop option on the current roster (Pirela and Wheeler have played there in the minors, but they’re not ideal fits for the position). There’s also a chance Wheeler won’t last through the winter. Could be a DFA candidate if/when the Yankees need to open a roster spot.
A lot of outfielders on the current roster, and still the Yankees could be in the market for a right-handed outfielder this offseason. One thing that helps: The Yankees have been told that Perez — their late-season acquisition — has qualified for a fourth option, which means he can be sent to the minors next year. That surely makes it easier for the Yankees to keep him on the roster. Instead, Richardson is the prime DFA candidate here. Seems like a lock that minor league outfielder Tyler Austin will be added to the 40-man this winter. Mason Williams could be added as well.
Associated Press photos
Step one: 121 players become free agents • 10.30.14
The MLB Players Association has announced the list of 121 major leaguers who became free agents today. This list does not include the minor leaguers whose contracts expired, and it doesn’t include the major leaguers who maybe become free agents because of team, player or mutual options in their contracts. Here’s the list from the MLBPA:
Below is the complete list of 121 XX B free-agent players, sorted by 2014 team, eligible to negotiate and sign with any club beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Another 32 players may be eligible for free agency pending the option provisions in their Uniform Players Contract (UPC).
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Mets
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue Jays
*Eligible per contract terms
Associated Press photo
Up next: Baseball’s offseason begins today • 10.30.14
The World Series is over, which means the offseason has officially begun. Because their season ended without a playoff appearance, the Yankees got a bit of a head start and used that to sign general manager Brian Cashman to a new contract (his old contract expired at the end of this month). Now that the postseason is over, the offseason schedule is complete. Here’s what’s coming up.
Later today: Eligible players will be declared free agents. The Yankees have 10 major-league players who qualify, most notably Derek Jeter, Dave Robertson, Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda and Chase Headley. This should also be the day that Alex Rodriguez’s suspension officially ends.
November 3: Deadline to make qualifying offers. Seems likely Robertson will be the only Yankees player to get one (Hiroki Kuroda is another possibility). Because they were traded mid-season, Headley, McCarthy and Stephen Drew are not eligible for qualifying offers.
November 4: Free agency opens to all teams for all players. Before this date, teams have exclusive rights to negotiate with their own free agents. The market will be fully open on Tuesday.
November 6: Silver Slugger Awards announced. We already know the Yankees have no finalists for Gold Gloves (announced on Nov. 4), but there are no Silver Slugger finalists. Not that the Yankees have a realistic Silver Slugger candidate, either.
November 10: Deadline to accept or reject a qualifying offer. Baseball’s never had an accepted qualifying offer, but that could change this year. After Drew and Kendrys Morales had trouble getting contracts last winter — at least partially because they were attached to qualifying offer compensation — a player like Robertson might choose to accept a significant one-year deal rather than go shopping for a multi-year contract.
November 10-12: General managers’ meetings in Phoenix. Not to be confused with the Winter Meetings, the GM meetings happen too early in the offseason to see a ton of player movement. These meetings are more about rules and business issues.
November 10: Rookie of the Year announced. Dellin Betances will surely be on some ballots, maybe Masahiro Tanaka as well, but Jose Abreu seems to have the American League ROY wrapped up.
November 11: Manager of the Year announced. This is the award I voted for this year, and in my mind, it’s also the most difficult to accurately judge. I think Joe Girardi had a fine year, but he’s not going to be in the mix for this award.
November 12: Cy Young Award announced. Would have been interesting to see whether Tanaka could have stayed in the mix through a full season.
November 13: Most Valuable Player announced. Surely it’s Mike Trout’s turn to win the MVP. Yankees don’t have anyone seriously in the mix. For a while, it seemed Brett Gardner might land a very-bottom-of-the-ballot vote or two, but he’s not a real MVP candidate.
November 20: Deadline to protect players from Rule 5 draft. My sense is that OF Tyler Austin and RHP Branden Pinder are the safest bets to be protected by the Yankees. OF Mason Williams and RHP Mark Montgomery are each high-profile, high-ceiling players who would be Rule 5 eligible as well (but haven’t put up particularly good numbers). 1B Kyle Roller isn’t nearly as high-profile, but he’s performed at a higher level.
December 2: Non-tender deadline. This is basically the last day for Yankees to offer contracts to unsigned players. Esmil Rogers seems to be the Yankees most obvious non-tender candidate.
December 8-11: Winter Meetings in San Diego. Usually a busy time for trades and free agent contracts. Key front office executives from every team gather in one place, and the offseason usually heats up quite a bit.
December 11: Rule 5 Draft. Always happens on the final day of the Winter Meetings. To make a selection, teams must have an open spot on their 40-man roster, and anyone taken in the major-league phase must stay on the big league roster all season. The Yankees lost reliever Tommy Kahnle in last year’s Rule 5.
January 16: Deadline to exchange arbitration figures. Three days after the deadline to file for arbitration — not a particularly meaningful deadline — teams and players actually have to exchange figures. It rarely gets to this point. Even after exchanging figures, contract negotiations can continue until an actual hearing in February.
Associated Press photo
From Josh Dubow at The Associated Press, here’s a look at the excitement of a World Series Game 7. Pretty cool that we’re about to see one tonight.
In Kansas City, Game 7 of the World Series conjures up memories of Bret Saberhagen’s brilliance, a St. Louis meltdown and the only Royals championship in 1985.
The flashbacks in San Francisco aren’t nearly as sweet. There was Willie McCovey’s game-ending lineout that was oh-so-close to being a Series-winning hit in 1962 and another loss 40 years later by Barry Bonds & Co. to the Angels.
Be it Babe Ruth, Jack Morris or Mariano Rivera, the moments created in an all-or-nothing game resonate through baseball history.
Who knows what’s on deck Wednesday night when Giants visit the Royals in the 37th winner-take-all game in Series history?
“A Game 7 in the World Series is a gift for everyone,” Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said. “It’s pretty special. It’s like incredibly entertaining for fans, incredibly entertaining for the world and the game of baseball.”
It can also be heartbreaking. Just ask McCovey.
He came up with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the Giants trailing Ralph Terry and the Yankees 1-0 in 1962. McCovey hit a screaming liner that went right to second baseman Bobby Richardson to give the Yankees the Series. Had the ball been a foot or two in either direction, San Francisco would have won it all.
“I think about the line drive, yes,” McCovey said during the 2012 Series. “Can’t get away from it.”
That dramatic ending came two years after Terry lost Game 7 on a game-ending homer by Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski.
“I was looking at this as a chance to redeem myself,” Terry said. “Otherwise, I might have been remembered as one of the great losers of all time.”
San Francisco’s other Game 7 of the World Series was much more anticlimactic. The Giants had a 5-0 lead in Game 6 that year against the Angels, just eight outs away from a title. But Anaheim scored three in the seventh and three in the eighth to win it.
John Lackey then shut down Bonds and the Giants in a 4-1 victory in Game 7.
The Royals’ only Game 7 followed a similar pattern, but with a much happier result for them. Kansas City rallied to win Game 6 against St. Louis with two runs in the bottom of the ninth with help from a missed call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger.
The Cardinals never recovered and lost 11-0 in Game 7 behind a five-hitter by Saberhagen.
The strangest ending might have been in 1926. Babe Ruth drew a two-out walk in the ninth off fellow future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander with the Yankees trailing the Cardinals 3-2. With Bob Meusel at the plate, Ruth broke for second, but the great slugger was thrown out by Bob O’Farrell. It’s the only time the final out in a Series came on a caught stealing.
HE WHO HESITATES
The long World Series drought for the Red Sox would have been much shorter than 86 years if not for three Game 7 losses along the way. The first of those came in 1946 against the Cardinals when the game was tied at 3 in the bottom of the eighth. Enos Slaughter was on first with two outs when Harry Walker hit a line drive to center. Leon Culberson threw the ball to shortstop Johnny Pesky, who hesitated for a second as Slaughter dashed home with the deciding run.
The Tigers won a laugher in Game 6 to force a seventh game against St. Louis in 1968, but had to get through October ace Bob Gibson to win it all. Gold Glove center fielder Curt Flood slipped chasing a fly ball in the seventh and the two-out misplay broke a scoreless tie. A five-hitter by Mickey Lolich on two days’ rest did the rest in the Tigers’ 4-1 win.
A MORRIS MASTERPIECE
The 1991 Series was tense all the way through with three extra-inning games and five one-run contests between Atlanta and Minnesota. The Twins forced the seventh game on Kirby Puckett’s game-ending homer in the 11th inning of Game 6 and the tension didn’t let up one bit the next night. John Smoltz and Jack Morris were locked in a classic duel as the game was scoreless despite each team loading the bases with one out in the eighth. Smoltz left in the eighth but Morris kept going through the 10th and ended up the winner when Gene Larkin hit a bases-loaded single with one out in the bottom half.
Just like this year’s Series, a Game 6 rout by the home team forced a decisive seventh game and it turned into a classic as the Yankees tried to beat Arizona for a fourth straight title in 2001. Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson all took the mound that night in the desert. Rivera had a 2-1 lead going into the ninth but got in trouble after his throwing error on a bunt attempt. Tony Womack tied the game with a double. That set the stage for Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat RBI single over a drawn-in infield that ended the Yankees’ dynasty.
Associated Press photos
With black-and-white photographs and some of Jeter’s own words, the Yankees captain takes us through the day he went back to Yankee Stadium to clear out his locker. There were a lot of things to throw out, and a lot of things Jeter wanted to keep…
“But more than any one thing,” Jeter wrote. “I know what I’ll miss most of all is the people. So after spending way too long trying to figure out what to take, I just decided to box it all up and ship it to my house in Tampa. I wanted to spend my last afternoon hanging out with the clubhouse guys.”
Pretty cool pictures of Jeter’s spot at the very back of the clubhosue — or very front, depending on where you enter. It’ll be interesting to see who, if anyone, gets that prime spot next season.
Know who played the most games at shortstop for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year?
It was Carmen Angelini, the mostly forgotten prospect who, for at least a little while, was one of the Yankees top young players at the position. He was a 10th-round pick out of high school, and he would have gone sooner if not for a commitment to play college ball at Rice. He was a smart kid, by all accounts a good kid, and he was awfully gifted for such a young player. There was a sense that if everything worked out, he just might play his way into the conversation as an everyday player in the big leagues.
But he never reached that point. Angelini was hurt for a while, he’s 26 years old now, and a .607 OPS in Triple-A actually made this one of his better professional seasons.
Point is, it’s easy to dream on the potential of young talent. It’s harder to actually clear all the hurdles and turn that young talent into a big league regular. The Yankees have gotten some shortstops to the majors, but guys like Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez never proved themselves as anything more than part-timers.
What the Yankees have done lately to shift the odds is to add a bunch of options. Right now, the lower levels of the minor league system are loaded with young shortstops who give the Yankees several opportunities to actually find a player who reaches his best-case scenario.
“They can all play shortstop, and they can play well,” outgoing vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said.
International prospect Abiatal Avelino and fourth-round pick Tyler Wade were in Charleston this year. Young Venezuelan Thairo Estrada spent some time with Staten Island. Two guys from the 2012 international class, Angel Aguilar and Jorge Mateo, made this U.S. debuts and each landed on Baseball America’s Top 20 prospects list for the Gulf Coast League.
“So that’s five guys there,” Newman said. “And then we’ve signed three shortstops (off the international market this year): a guy named Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo — two Venezuelan shortstops — and then a South Korean guy named Hyo Park. We’ve got shortstop depth. A few years ago it was catching. Now we’ve got shortstop depth.”
It’s depth in every sense of the word, including the fact that it’s extremely deep in the system with a long way to go. But there’s talent and potential.
“Jorge Mateo has as many tools (as anyone),” Newman said. “What (Luis) Severino is from a pitching perspective, this guy is from a position-player perspective. Now, they can’t move as fast because hitting’s different than pitching, but he can fly. He’s an 80 runner. Wow. Wow tools. I mean, holy (cow) tools.”
The Yankees have a bunch of lottery tickets. The trick is getting one to actually pay off down the road.
Associated Press photo