The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Friday notes and links: Pettitte, A-Rod, Drew, Moncada

A few notes and links on this chilly Friday:

Andy Petitte, Alex Rodriguez• At this point, Alex Rodriguez has probably done too much damage to ever restore his reputation or his status within the game, but Andy Pettitte has a suggestion: “Just get everything out,” Pettitte said last night at Joe Torre’s Safe at Home gala. “Everything has to be out, otherwise it seems like something’s always chasing you around. That’s just the best way to do things, I think, the easiest way to do things.” Pettitte came clean quickly after his own PED use was exposed, and that seemed to save his reputation as one of the game’s good guys. It’s one thing to have made a mistake. It’s another thing to stack mistakes on top of mistakes.

• Speaking of which, Joe Torre said last night that he does not expect Major League Baseball to issue further punishment in the wake of the most recent A-Rod revelations.

• Sick of A-Rod stuff? Me too. Today Newsday reported that Anthony Bosch told federal investigators that Scott Boras “orchestrated a meeting to help fabricate medical records and concoct a cover story to explain a failed drug test by Boras client Manny Ramirez.” That’s not great.

• Sick of PED story? Me too. How about the Yankees giant hole at shortstop? Of all the free agents on the market, I still contend that Stephen Drew on a short-term deal might be the best solution, but Joel Sherman notes that the Mets are also considering that option to fill their own hole at shortstop. If the Yankees can get a long-term answer — maybe Starlin Castro, for example — that might be a better solution, but that might not be possible. Of all the stopgaps, I happen to like Drew the best because of his defense and the potential to buy low on his bat.

• Another name popping up often in Yankees speculation is reliever Andrew Miller, who could be the best alternative to Dave Robertson. Of course, the Yankees aren’t the only team interested. Miller comes with no qualifying offer compensation, and Jon Heyman reports that no fewer than 22 teams have shown interest in possibly signing him.

• Add one more familiar face in Pittsburgh. The Pirates announced today that they signed A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal. It’s reportedly worth $8.5 million. He’ll get to throw to Chris Stewart and Francsico Cervelli (and maybe Russell Martin if the Pirate re-sign him). Burnett reportedly turned down quite a bit more money from Philadelphia. Really wanted to be back with the Pirates. I always like when guys do that late in their careers.

• Bubbling under the surface of the usual offseason wheeling and dealing is the unusual status of Yoan Moncada, a 19-year-old Cuban infielder who completed a workout for major-league scouts earlier this week. Kiley McDaniel’s been doing some great stuff lately, and at FanGraphs he goes into detail about Moncada’s remarkable situation. It’s unlikely any other Cuban player I can remember, and baseball’s rules for young international talent mean that timing is everything if the Yankees want to make a run at him. Moncada is, by all accounts, and elite talent in a fascinating set of circumstances.

• You’re forgiven if you don’t recognize the name, but the Braves have signed former Yankees minor league lefty Francisco Rondon to a minor league contract. Rondon was briefly on the Yankees 40-man roster, but he never made a big league appearance.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 7:08 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Nightengale: Trade market could be lively this winter

We’ve already heard Brian Cashman said that this year’s GM Meetings were a little more busy than usual. It seems that sentiment stretches beyond the Yankees general manager. Here’s USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with his piece wrapping up this week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix. It includes a lot of references to the Yankees, and it definitely leaves the feeling that several teams laid significant groundwork the in the past week or so.

Brian CashmanThey parted company Thursday, promised to keep in touch, and by the time they get together again next month in San Diego, the baseball landscape could look entirely different.

The four-day Major League Baseball general manager meetings concluded with just two free agent signings and a couple of small trades, but the GMs predicted a potential tidal wave of trade activity over these next few weeks.

“I think it’s going to be an active trade market,” says Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “There’s a lot of aggressive conversations going on. It seems like there’s a lot of teams looking to change their clubs.”

Considering the woefully thin free-agent market, which just lost one of the biggest prizes when DH Victor Martinez agreed Wednesday to a four-year, $68 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, teams have little choice but to interact with one another.

“I expect it will be a pretty busy trade season,” Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels says, “because the free-agent market has areas that are really lacking. It pushes teams toward the trade table.”

The biggest marquee position players on the market are San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, Baltimore Orioles DH Nelson Cruz and Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin.

The Giants want him Sandoval back, and the Boston Red Sox are trying to lure him into a visit next week. Yet, with the Giants showing a sense of urgency, there may be no need for Sandoval to make that Boston flight. The Orioles are doing the same with Cruz, visiting with him Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Hiroki Kuroda, Francisco Cervelli, Derek JeterThe Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays may have cornered the market on Martin, and considering the Pirates traded for New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, they realize that it may be time to drop out of this high-priced poker game.

The market has been quiet for the three premium free-agent starting pitchers. Oakland A’s ace Jon Lester is being heavily courted by the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, with the loser likely sent back into the trade market where the Philadelphia Phillies have Cole Hamels waiting. Max Scherzer and James Shields also are awaiting mega offers, which could impact the trade market.

And, once again, the Yankees are being stealth, refusing to tip their hand on whether they’re willing to write a $100 million check, after spending $480 million on last year’s market.

They already have committed $170 million to just 10 players on next year’s payroll, after spending $232 million a year ago, according to the 40-man rosters submitted by teams to Major League Baseball’s central office, and obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

“It will be high, I can tell you that,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman says. “It will be impressive.

“I’m just hopeful the roster will be as impressive.”

Brandon McCarthyThe Yankees, who are still hoping to get out of the $61 million they owe Alex Rodriguez, may simply try just to keep their team intact from a year ago, trying to retain free-agent closer David Robertson and starter Brandon McCarthy.

Yet, after missing the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time in 20 years, agent Scott Boras says the Yankees may have no choice but to call his Newport Beach, Calif. office, and enter the Scherzer sweepstakes.

“The Steinbrenner history has always been we’re going to win,” Boras says. “It serves their brand. It serves their model to do everything they can to win.”

“This guy is a No. 1 pitcher. There aren’t that many of them. It’s the difference between a good team and a World Series team.”

The game is so flush with money these days that even the Miami Marlins are willing to write the biggest check in franchise history to retain Giancarlo Stanton, who’s eligible for free agency in two years. They’ve had serious conversations about a long-term contract, ranging from six to 10 years in length.

“We’re trying to get away from having to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Marlins president Mike Hill says. “Enough of that. We want to win.”

The Marlins will keep Stanton through at least this season, no matter whether he signs an extension or not, Hill says. They have let teams know they won’t even listen to trade proposals, so teams stopped asking.

“We’ve been up front since last offseason that we weren’t trading him,” Hill said. “I think that message has been received.”

While Stanton will remain in Miami, there are plenty of other All-Star outfielders on the open trade market. The Boston Red Sox are listening on Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and the Dodgers have teams know they are willing to trade Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or even Matt Kemp.

Just not Yasiel Puig.

“I think that’s most likely the best course of action,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. “Things play out in different ways, but I’ll be surprised if it’s not in a way to move an outfielder to address an area that’s not as deep.”

The Atlanta Braves also have two of the finest young outfielders available on the market in Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, and are shopping catcher Evan Gattis, too.

“We obviously have all options open,” said John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations. “Nothing is settled here.”

Or anywhere else for that matter.

It’s that time of year.

Let the trades begin.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 3:59 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Winter league notes: Tyler Austin resting after left knee injury

AustinA knee injury knocked Tyler Austin out of the Arizona Fall League a few days early, but it shouldn’t significantly impact the rest of his offseason.

On Saturday, Austin was chasing a foul ball and got the worst of a collision with fellow Yankees prospect Greg Bird. Austin was reportedly carted off the field and did not return during this final week of the season.

“He has been diagnosed with a bone bruise (in his left knee),” assistant general manager Billy Eppler said in an email. “There is no damage to his meniscus or any ligament issues. He will rest for the next 2-3 weeks.”

Last year, Austin had to leave the Fall League after just four games because of that wrist issue that bothered him through much of 2013 and again caused some problems early this season. The wrist seems to have healed, and concern about the knee seems minimal.

Thursday was the Fall League finale for the Yankees. Their Scottsdale team actually had the worst record in the league and will not play in tomorrow’s championship game, but that record is really through little fault of the Yankees hitters. In fact, of all the Scottsdale players with at least 50 at-bats, the Yankees ranked first, second and third — Bird, Judge, then Austin — in OPS. In Thursday’s finale, Judge, Bird and Dante Bichette combined for seven hits, four RBI and nine total bases. Alex Smith and Kyle Haynes each added a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.

The final Yankees stats from the Fall League:

BirdGreg Bird: .313/.391/.556
Patience and power, Bird is a Fall League MVP candidate with the highest OPS among players with at least 70 at-bats. Led the league in runs, tied for the lead in homers, second in hits and RBI. Had 10 walks and seven strikeouts in final 10 games.

Aaron Judge: .278/.377/.467
Doubled in each of his last two games, but again showed he’s more than a pure slugger. Took some walks. Hit for a pretty good average. Played only in right field (clearly not being groomed for a bench role). Ken Davidoff wrote about him, so obviously he’s pretty big-time.

Tyler Austin: .304/.392/.449
Saw time in both left field and right field — had never played left field in the minors — but got no time at either infield corner. Struck out just four times and walked five times in his last 11 games.

BichetteDante Bichette: .260/.317/.274
Sent to Arizona only after Eric Jagielo was injured and unable to attend, Bichette had just one extra-base hit and 18 strikeouts. Kind of a continuation of his final month in Trenton. Good year overall, but still has something to prove next season.

Kyle Higashioka: .409/.480/.682
Sent with the intention of getting very limited playing time, but he made the most of his 22 at-bats. Had a hit in each of his six starts, doubled in each of his last three games. Good catcher; needs to hit to gain prospect traction.

Caleb Cotham: 13.1 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, 6.08 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
The strikeouts were pretty good, but the .321 opponents batting average was not. It’s an offensive league, and obviously Cotham wasn’t walking many guys. Cotham’s a righty, and right-handers slugged .655 against him.

HaynesKyle Haynes: 11.2 IP, 9 K, 8 BB, 2.31 ERA, 1.63 WHIP
The ERA looks really good, but the WHIP and walks tell a different story. Haynes allowed seven runs, but only three were earned. More than 2.5 groundball outs for every flyball out.

Alex Smith: 10.1 IP, 8 BB, 7 K, 10.45 ERA, 3.19 WHIP
Smith isn’t the first pitcher to have a rough time in the Arizona Fall League, and he certainly won’t be the last. Pitched a scoreless innings in the finale, but allowed five earned runs in his two outings before that. Ultimately allowed 25 hits (a .446 opponents batting average).

A few updates from winter ball:

De Paula• Signed to a major-league contract earlier this week, lefty Jose De Paula has made two starts in the Dominican Winter League. He went five innings with five strikeouts each time, and he’s allowed just one run. Each start, though, came last month. He hasn’t pitched since October 24.

• Seems like I’ve written this every week, but it’s still true: Ramon Flores is having a really good winter. Still earning regular playing time with Tigres de Aragua in Venezuela, Flores had three hits on Wednesday, two hits and three walks on Thursday, and his winter slash line is up to .403/.477/.481 through 77 at-bats. He has nearly as many walks (11) as strikeouts (13).

• Likely heading back to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfield with Flores next season, Adonis Garcia is starting to hit a little bit more in Venezuela. He hit his first winter home run last Friday, and he has seven hits — two for extra bases — in his past four games. Still not taking many walks or hitting for much power, his slash line is .299/.343/.361.

Perez• Also factoring into the Triple-A outfield is Eury Perez, who’s played all three outfield positions in the Dominican Winter League. He’s still getting most of his time as the Escogido leadoff hitter, but he’s slashing just .212/.212/.308 with no walks and 12 strikeouts through 52 at-bats. He’s been thrown out the two times he’s tried to steal a bag.

• It seems unlikely, but if the Yankees can’t add a second baseman or third baseman this winter, then Jose Pirela could come to camp with a real shot to win the second base job. This winter, though, most of his playing time is coming in the outfield corners. Pirela’s played the infield just four times this winter, and for the past week and a half he’s been playing only left field and right field. He has a hit in his past two games, but he has yet to repeat that dazzling first week. He’s still hitting .286/.357/.571 through 63 at-bats.

• Still bouncing all over the field in Venezuela, utility man Ali Castillo had a slow week — one hit in his past 12 at-bats, hasn’t started the past two games — but he’s still hitting .318/.347/.427 through 110 at-bats, the most at-bats of any Yankees player in winter ball. Castillo has started at second base, third base, shortstop and left field.

Arcia• A Venezuelan teammate of Castillo and Pirela, Francisco Arcia isn’t playing much these days, but he does have three hits in his past two games. He basically lost regular at-bats after Nationals catcher Sandy Leon arrived and took over as the everyday guy behind the plate. Not that Arcia hit much when he was playing. He has a .217 average with 14 strikeouts through 15 games.

• Re-signed to a minor league deal earlier this offseason, Diego Moreno got another save in Venezuela on Saturday. It was his first since October 17, when he got his fourth save in five appearances. In his past four appearances, Moreno’s pitched 3.1 scoreless innings with four hits, no walks and a strikeout. The Yankees really don’t have many notable pitchers doing much this winter. Giovanny Gallegos got a win in Mexico on Monday, but that’s about it.

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 12:15 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Six things we learned during the GM Meetings

The GM Meetings wrapped up yesterday in Phoenix. As usual, there wasn’t a ton of news coming out of them, but there were little tidbits here and there — and one fairly significant trade — that impact our expectations going forward. A few things we learned:

Chase Headley1. Offense is awfully valuable. The Tigers already have Miguel Cabrera, who’s one of the very best hitters in the game, but they’re committing four years to retain another huge bat in Victor Martinez. And they wasted little time getting a deal done. They could have tried to make a play for Max Scherzer, but they focused on a 35-year-old hitter who doesn’t really have a good position in the field. It’s all about the bat, and that’s surely good news for guys like Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz and Yasmany Tomas. Interestingly, I wonder if the Yankees might go the opposite direction in addressing their infield needs. Seems possible they could focus on defense-first options Chase Headley and Stephen Drew.

2. The Yankees bullpen is unsettled. When the week started, there was still some chance Dave Robertson would accept the qualifying offer and give the Yankees the same late-inning bullpen depth that helped them this season. But now that Robertson has declined and hit the open market — just one day before Joe Girardi talked about the importance of a deep bullpen in the game today — the Yankees relief situation seems especially unsettled. Certainly they could move Dellin Betances into the ninth inning, but that doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Adding a lefty filled one hole, but the bullpen still feels awfully incomplete without Robertson.

3. Don’t rule out Hiroki Kuroda. Granted, the Yankees might make all of their moves and spend all of their money before Kuroda finalizes a decision on whether to pitch next season, but Cashman didn’t seem to be completely ruling him out when asked about Kuroda this week. In fact, Cashman said he’d be surprised if Kuroda decided to retire. Could this be another Andy Pettitte situation where he makes a late decision and takes a smaller contract just to give it one more shot? Given all of the rotation uncertainty, the Yankees might have a hard time dismissing that possibility.

Stephen Drew4. Shortstop possibilities are endless. Cashman said he’s been talking to Scott Boras about Stephen Drew. The Yankees have also been connected in trade rumors for both Alexei Ramirez and Elvis Andrus. Hanley Ramirez is apparently willing to play other positions, but he might still be the most productive shortstop option out there. Jimmy Rollins looms as a trade candidate. There are teams with extra young shortstops to consider. The shortstop market has a ton of possibilities, but none is a standout option without significant downside. The Yankees typically don’t show their hand in a situation like this, and right now, it’s still hard to say which of many possible directions they might go. The GM Meetings might have brought some shortstop clarity, instead they brought lingering uncertainty.

5. Alex Rodriguez isn’t going away. At least, he’s not going to completely vacate the headlines. There are plenty of reasons he remains such a fascinating focal point — his contract, his potential impact, his off-the-field issues — and much of the Yankees offseason is being dictated by the uncertainty that A-Rod brings. The Yankees basically have to allow for him to have a spot in the lineup, without actually counting on him for anything. It’s strange (and that’s without all of the bizarre scandalous stuff). One way or another, he was a significant topic for three days, and none of those days brought any real news about him.

6. Some roster spots are in sharper focus. We still don’t know who exactly the backup catcher will be, but we can essentially narrow it down to John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine (with Murphy as the clear favorite). We also know not to expect any more additions in the outfield now that Chris Young is in place. And we have a name and a face to assign the left-handed relief role after the trade for Justin Wilson. The Yankees have also essentially stopped talking about Brendan Ryan as if he’s a remote possibility to start at shortstop, with Cashman even saying that shortstop is the position of greatest need. Still some big additions to come — infield, rotation, bullpen — but at least a few things are more clear today than they were at this time on Sunday.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 8:58 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Thursday notes and links: Cashman wraps up “busier” GM Meetings

Just a few notes and links on this rainy Thursday:

Masahiro Tanaka• This was the final day of the GM Meetings, and Brian Cashman said these meetings “felt busier” than past GM Meetings. Wonder if that means he laid a lot of groundwork. He mentioned that shortstop remains the “most important spot” in the Yankees offseason. That spot also seems to have the widest net of possibilities. I’m guessing these meetings weren’t especially busy just because of the Francisco Cervelli/Justin Wilson deal.

• Speaking of the trade, Cashman told reporters in Phoenix that the Yankees and Pirates nearly completed a Cervelli-for-Wilson swap a few years ago. Last night, that trade actually happened. For whatever it’s worth, Brandon McCarthy tweeted that Cervelli is a “stud” of a player. Maybe he’ll sign with Pittsburgh now.

• Very early in this offseason it was reported that the Angels are open to trading either Howie Kendrick or David Freese, which is obviously interesting for a Yankees team looking for either a second baseman or a third baseman. Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are among the teams to check on Kendrick, but at this point the Angels are indicating that they’re more likely to keep him than trade him.

• If the Yankees ever want Giancarlo Stanton, they might have to trade for him. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins are discussing a massive contract worth at least $300 million and at least 10 years to keep Stanton in Miami. Of course, Stanton would have to decide whether such an incredible contract would be worth the real possibility that the Marlins might never be able to spend enough to build a winning team around him.

• Left-handed Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang is expected to be posted on Monday according to Mark Feinsand of the Daily News. Feinsand notes that Yang — who won the Korean version of the Cy Young — is considered roughly a No. 3 starter and that the Yankees could see him as an option to add rotation depth without spending the money necessary to sign one of the top three starters on the market.

• The Yankees sent a press release tonight mourning the death of longtime fan — and friend of George Steinbrenner — Bill Stimers. From the release: Stimers, a longtime Yankees fan, was befriended by Yankees Principal Owner George M. Steinbrenner after the two met in the mid-1970s. Beginning on June 26, 1976, at Steinbrenner’s request, Stimers became a fixture in the Yankee Stadium press box, where he would frequently put his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball on display. To many, Stimers was known as “Bill the Baker,” having worked at Entenmann’s Bakery in Bay Shore, Long Island.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 9:56 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

No Yankees on any MVP ballots

Jacoby Ellsbury ; Brett Gardner

For a while it seemed Brett Gardner might sneak onto the bottom of an MVP ballot or two, then perhaps Dellin Betances would get a low-end vote by someone considering him the top reliever in baseball, but in the end, no Yankees appeared on any MVP ballots this season. It’s not shocking considering the season, but it’s pretty stunning in the big picture. Thirty different voters, all with 10 spots to fill, and not one Yankees player was mentioned. Here are the final results, with Mike Trout winning a unanimous decision. In the National League, it was Clayton Kershaw winning both the MVP and the Cy Young.

Player, Team
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
9th
10th
Points
Mike Trout, Angels 30 420
Victor Martinez, Tigers 16 4 3 3 2 1 229
Michael Brantley, Indians 8 6 5 4 1 1 1 1 191
Jose Abreu, White Sox 1 6 3 1 6 5 2 2 1 145
Robinson Cano, Mariners 1 1 6 5 2 4 2 1 1 124
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 1 1 3 8 4 1 5 3 122
Nelson Cruz, Orioles 6 3 2 2 2 1 1 102
Josh Donaldson, Athletics 1 2 2 3 3 6 5 2 96
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1 2 2 2 2 1 6 5 82
Felix Hernandez, Mariners 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 48
Corey Kluber, Indians 1 1 2 3 2 2 45
Alex Gordon, Royals 1 1 2 2 3 1 2 44
Jose Altuve, Astros 1 3 3 3 9 41
Adam Jones, Orioles 1 3 1 1 2 2 34
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 1 5 1 1 22
Greg Holland, Royals 1 1 1 13
Albert Pujols, Angels 1 1 5
Howie Kendrick, Angels 1 3
James Shields, Royals 1 3
Kyle Seager, Mariners 1 1

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 7:54 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Tonight: Torre Foundation gala; Hot Stove worth watching (maybe)

Joe Torre

A heads up on two things happening tonight:

1. If you’re up for it, check out Yankees Hot Stove tonight on YES Network. I’ll be on there with my friend David Waldstein, along with some of the usual YES guys including Bob Lorenz and Jack Curry. If seeing a few writers isn’t enough to bring you in, Jack has an exclusive interview with Brian Cashman. At least tune in for that. As a bonus, you can critique my TV awkwardness.

2. Tonight is the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation’s 12th Annual Celebrity Gala. It always brings plenty of current and former Yankees into the city. Tonight’s honoree is Andy Pettitte, and Bob Costas is serving as master of ceremonies. From the release announcing the event:

Sports stars and celebrities join together for the 12th anniversary of the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which was founded in 2002 by Ali and Joe Torre in response to the impact that domestic violence had on Joe Torre and his family. Its mission is to educate to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives.

The event will support the Foundation’s programming initiative, Margaret’s Place, named in honor of Joe’s mother. This violence prevention and intervention model offers students an opportunity to explore issues of violence in a stable, non-threatening environment, while helping them understand that they are not alone or to blame. There are currently 11 Margaret’s Places in NYC and LA, where they have reached more than 45,000 students through countless school-wide campaigns, healing activities, educational opportunities, and private and group counseling.

Obviously a wonderful cause, and one that hits home for Torre. Here’s a list of VIPs scheduled to attend: Bob Backlund, Lorraine Bracco, Jose Cardenal, Dominic Chianese, Terry Collins, Angel Cordero, Ken Dashow, Steve Donahue, Howard Finkel, John Flaherty, Joe Girardi, James Lipton, Lee Mazzilli, Bill O’Reilly, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Willie Randolph, Dusty Rhodes, Chris Russo, CC Sabathia, Steve Tyrell, Meredith Vieira, Suzyn Waldman, Bernie Williams and Todd Zeile.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 5:30 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

International notes: Maeda thrives; Moncada shows off

A Japanese starter pitching well against big league hitters. A Cuban teenager working out in front of major-league scouts. A Korean infielder expected to wait until mid-December to hit the market.

This has been a week with some relatively significant news about the international free agent market. In recent years the Yankees have been fairly hesitant to spend huge money on older international players, but they changed that strategy to land Masahiro Tanaka last winter. This summer, they spent lavishly on international teenagers. It’s a market impossible to ignore, even if it’s difficult for outsiders to fully grasp it.

Here are five international players who should be somewhere on your radar as we get deeper into this offseason. There are plenty others out there, but we’ll mention these five today:

Kenta Maeda, Robinson CanoRHP Kenta Maeda
Still not technically available to major league teams, Maeda could very well be the next big money pitching prospect to come out of Japan. On Wednesday the 26-year-old pitched five shutout innings in an exhibition against big league superstars including Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria and Yasiel Puig. Not necessarily pegged as a future ace, Maeda seems as if he could be a mid-rotation guy right away.
For the Yankees? Are the Yankees really going to give a $20-million maximum posting fee two winters in a row? I suppose it’s possible, but they seem to have their sights more clearly focused on some of the mid-market free agent starters already available here in the US. If the Hiroshima Carp are slow to post Maeda, I wonder if the Yankees’ desire to get rotation depth locked up could lead them to make a move before Maeda even hits the market.

INF Yoan Moncada
More of a high-end prospect than an immediate big league possibility, Moncada is a 19-year-old Cuban sensation who recently established residency in Guatemala and participated in a scouting showcase on Wednesday. The Yankees were there, as were plenty of other teams, and Moncada apparently performed as expected with power at the plate and the potential to play several positions (might be more of a second baseman or third baseman than a true shortstop). Jeff Passan just wrote a good piece on the reasons Moncada could be the final straw leading to significant changes in the way international teenagers are signed.
For the Yankees? This is a prospect, not an immediate big leaguer, so it’s not a question of whether he fits on the Yankees roster. It’s a question of whether they’re willing to spend the money necessary to sign him (or whether they’ll even be allowed). The Yankees have already gone well beyond their international spending allotment for this year and could be willing to spend even more in an effort to take advantage of the current system before something like an international draft is put in place. Then again, if Moncada isn’t made available until late June, the Yankees will essentially have no chance to sign him because of their penalties for extreme spending this year.

OF Yasmani Tomas
In the short term, Tomas is probably the biggest international player on the market. Long term, Moncada might have a higher ceiling, but Tomas seems ready to be a middle-of-the-order slugger right away. Jorge Arangure just wrote an excellent profile for Vice Sports, describing both the hype and massive potential of the corner outfielder who defected from Cuba in June and turns 24 later this month.
For the Yankees? Although the Yankees are one of the possibilities specifically mentioned in Arangure’s story, it’s worth remembering that the Yankees don’t really have an outfield opening at the moment. They could create one by trading Brett Gardner or by deciding to take their chances with Alex Rodriguez at third base (shifting Carlos Beltran to DH) but neither seems especially likely at the moment. Could be the next Cuban slugger in the big leagues, but the Yankees would have to open a position for him to play.

SS Jung-Ho Kang
On Monday Ken Rosenthal reported Kang will likely be posted some time after the Winter Meetings. Everything about his performance in Korea makes him look like a future star — a bunch of home runs, won an award as the league’s top defensive shortstop — but every scouting report seems to question how well his defense and power measure up to major-league standards. C.J. Nitkowski pitched in Korea and offered an interesting perspective on the level of competition that Kang’s been facing.
For the Yankees? Kang being posted after the Winter Meetings means the Yankees would have to wait to make a run at him, and for a team that needs to lock up a couple of infielders this offseason, waiting around might not be the best strategy. They also need at least one guy who can definitely play shortstop. The Yankees need assurances — not more questions — in their infield, so they’d have to be pretty sold on their scouting reports to take a shot on Kang.

2B Jose Fernandez
His whereabouts were unknown for a while, and by mid-October there came word that Fernandez had defected from Cuba in hopes of landing a big league contract. Scouting reports describe a guy with a lot of contact skills, limited defensive ability, and little power or speed. If he can play second base, then he has the benefit of playing a position that’s relatively thin both on big league rosters and on the free agent market.
For the Yankees? He’s a 26-year-old, not-great-defensively second baseman whose primary offensive tool is his ability to make contact and get on base. The Yankees already have a guy almost exactly like that in Rob Refsnyder. Given the Yankees desire to find either a third baseman or a second baseman this winter, it’s hard to completely dismiss the Fernandez possibility.

Associated Press photo of Maeda

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 2:40 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

How the Yankees roster has changed in five days

Nothing overwhelming, nothing drastic, and nothing especially surprising — but in the past five days, the Yankees roster has changed a bit. It’s changed with one trade, one big league signing, one depth signing and one out-of-their-hands decision. On this final day of the GM Meetings, here’s a look at the way the Yankees roster is different than it was just a few days ago.

Francisco CervelliIn the outfield
Now that Chris Young is back on a one-year deal, the Yankees outfield seems settled. He’ll be the right-handed fourth outfielder the team needed, with guys like Ramon Flores and Eury Perez waiting for an opportunity to play some sort of role themselves. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were the Yankees most reliable hitters last season, and they’ll have to expect more out of Carlos Beltran now that he’s had that elbow bone spur removed. Barring a trade, those three will be the outfield regulars while Young gets some at-bats against lefties.

Behind the plate
Sending Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh opens a door that had been closed for too long. Losing Cervelli frees a little bit of salary — Cervelli was going to get a small raise in arbitration — but it mostly frees a roster spot for either John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine. Based on the way those two were treated last season, Murphy has to be considered the favorite. Romine, though, is out of options, which could factor into the decision if both perform well in spring training. Ultimately, though, the backup catcher job is clearly going to a young guy.

In the bullpen
One spot is less settled than ever, another might be solidified. No one was stunned when Dave Robertson turned down the Yankees qualifying offer, but it did take away the easiest way to rebuild the late-inning depth that made the Yankees bullpen such a strength last season. They’ll have to find someone to fill that hole. In acquiring Justin Wilson, though, the Yankees found the left-handed reliever they clearly needed. Not necessarily a traditional left-on-left specialist, Wilson could be more of a Boone Logan type called one to face left-right-left in a single inning.

On the bench
Assuming the Yankees add someone new to play shortstop — Stephen Drew, Jimmy Rollins, whoever — then the bench seems almost entirely set at this point. The backup catcher will be one of two young guys (either Murphy or Romine), the fourth outfielder will be Young, and Brendan Ryan will be back as a defensive utility infielder. That leaves only one spot on the bench, possibly for an in-house guy like Jose Pirela, or possibly some versatile veteran the Yankees are able to bring into big league camp. They ultimately have more openings in the lineup than on the bench.

In the minor leagues
By signing left-handed starter Jose De Paula, the Yankees showed they’re focused on rotation depth beyond the big league roster. De Paula signed a big league deal, but he has an option left and will likely head to Triple-A where he could enter the spot-starter competition with Bryan Mitchell, Manny Banuelos and Chase Whitley. By trading for the lefty Wilson, the Yankees bought some development time for top left-handed relief prospects Jacob Lindgren and Tyler Webb. By trading Cervelli, the Yankees clearly opened the Triple-A catching job for Gary Sanchez (though they might also have opened the desire to find a veteran like Gustavo Molina or Bobby Wilson to back up in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 11:49 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

About new Yankees lefty Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson

The Yankees had too many catchers and not enough left-handed relievers. They changed that last night. You already know all about Francisco Cervelli — high energy, good numbers for a backup catcher, strong reputation with the staff — but here’s a little bit about new lefty Justin Wilson.

His background
The Pirates made him a fifth-round pick back in 2008 and he worked mostly as a starter in the minor leagues. He’s been strictly a reliever in the majors. Wilson got his first taste of the big leagues in 2012 (only eight games, most of them in September) but he really established himself with a 1.06 WHIP through 58 appearances in 2013. This year he was back in the Pirates bullpen where his WHIP was up a little bit, but so were his strikeouts. He just turned 27 in August.

His stuff
Wilson’s arsenal is built on his fastball, which averages well into the mid-90s. He throws some version of that fastball most of the time, and he pairs it with a cutter or slider, depending on what you want to call it. “It’s a mixture cutter/slider,” Pirates catcher Chris Stewart said. “He calls it a cutter, but sometimes it gets bigger than that.” He has swing-and-miss stuff with more than a strikeout per inning this season.

His splits
Although he immediately jumps to the top of the Yankees left-on-left pecking order, Wilson is not strictly a specialist. In his career, he’s actually held right-handed hitters to a slightly lower OPS than left-handed hitters (.609 for righties; .617 for lefties). Reverse splits are true not only for his career, but also specifically for this past season when lefties hit .253/.314/.367 and righties hit just .201/.324/.299.

His role
Having played his first full big league season in 2013, Wilson still has one year before he reaches arbitration. That means he’s under team control for four seasons — basically his age 27, 28, 29 and 30 seasons. With Matt Thornton traded away, the Yankees have no obvious lefty for their bullpen, but Wilson clearly fits that role at the moment. With Wilson, the Yankees don’t have to go after a free agent lefty and they don’t have to rush one of their young guys. “Power arm,” Stewart said. “Can be erratic at times, (but) when he’s one, pretty dominating. He’ll be a good addition to their bullpen.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 8:48 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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