Keith Law Ranks Yankee Farm System 20th In MLB

This is super late, but Keith Law of ESPN released his organizational farm system rankings yesterday.  He had the Yankees 20th out of 30 teams, which may seem a bit low to us Yankee fans.  The full article is Inisder-only, but this is what Law had to say about the NYY farm:

“The Yankees’ system still has more talent than production, as several key prospects continued to have trouble staying on the field, but a very strong 2013 draft class and a blowout year on the international front have the system trending up again.”

If you recall, 20th is exactly where Law had the Yankees last year.  I’d argue that a system that got a tremendous full season from Aaron Judge, monster years from guys like Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Rob Refsnyder, a bounce back year from Tyler Austin, American pro debuts from high-upside young players like Mateo, Molina, and Palma, and has more pitching depth than people might give it credit for is already trending up and deserving of a higher rank than 20th.  …

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Musing On Lineup Possibilities

Joe Lineup Card

“So I put Gardy here, and Teix here, and Didi here… “/Courtesy of Reuters

While they’re still hampered by an old, declining, high-injury risk group of power bats in the middle third of the batting order, the Yankees have done pretty well to upgrade their positions of greatest weakness and add some much needed depth to the position player portion of their roster this offseason.  There are enough guys in place and a few more guys who’ll be in play when ST starts to give Joe the potential to mix and match his lineups more strategically than he’s been able to the last few years.  Then it was him mixing and matching just to keep guys healthy and have enough warm bodies to fill out a lineup card.  Now it could be much more geared towards playing matchups and emphasizing the strengths of each player, of course with the goal of keeping the aforementioned old, injury-prone players healthy remaining in place.…

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Update On The Moncada Situation: The Wheels Are In Motion, Things Are Happening Even As We Speak

Not sure too many people saw the update to yesterday afternoon’s Yoan Moncada unblocking post, so here’s the full update as of early last night.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the policy requiring native Cubans to apply for and receive a specific unblocking license before they can be let into the United States has been changed by the US Treasury Dept.  Because he had already met the criteria required for the general unblocking license, Moncada has now been declared eligible to enter the US to play baseball, at least as far as the US government is concerned.

The burden now falls on MLB to verify Moncada’s identity and residency paperwork before officially declaring him a free agent.  MLB had been hiding behind the specific license policy as a way to avoid that responsibility and delay Moncada’s entry into the country, for reasons we’ll never be told but I assume I already know.  According to Passan’s report, MLB was working yesterday to set up a meeting with the US OFAC to go over the specifics of the policy change.  …

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Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes.  According to this report by Ben Badler, the holdup in getting him unblocked and eligible to sign does not reside with the US Dept. of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as many believed, but rather with MLB itself.

“Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s ‘general license,’ which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC…

“MLB issued the following statement to Baseball America on Sunday: ‘MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.’

Except, by the OFAC guidelines, Moncada has met the criteria of the general license to be considered unblocked, and he is not alone.

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Covering A Short Rotation With A Deep Bullpen, Or Why I Still Want A 1-Inning Closer

Soriano Untuck

An untuck reunion would be pretty sweet, no? Courtesy of Getty Images

We’re less than 4 weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa for the start of Spring Training 2015.  When they do, the question marks and problems in the rotation will become all too real.  Every picture of Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia throwing long toss is going to be a reminder that each of them may be 1 pitch away from major elbow and knee injuries at all times, and a reminder of how little depth the Yankees have behind them to fill in if/when injuries strike.

The Yanks continue to stand pat on diving into the free agent bargain bin to add an arm.  As much as some of us might want them to do that, the smarter way to upgrade the pitching staff might be to go back to the free agent reliever pool and lock up somebody to work as a traditional 1-inning closer.  The bullpen is already shaping up to be one of the deepest and best in baseball.  …

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: A World Without Brendan Ryan

With the Braves claiming Eury Perez off waivers last Friday, the loop was finally closed on the Stephen Drew roster addition. Perez was the most logical choice to be sacrificed, as the Yankees have plenty of 40-man outfield depth in the form of their own young players. Now that he’s gone though, the clock may and should be ticking on Brendan Ryan.

What does he bring to the table at this point? He can’t hit. At all. Statistical metrics have his defense on a major decline from where it was 2-3 years ago.  The money owed to him is a little more than half of the already minuscule number the Yanks are paying to Drew this year.  Drew’s presence on the roster gives the Yankees another solid shortstop option to back up Didi, and the presence of guys like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder who can play second base makes Ryan expendable there as well.  Ryan serves no purpose on this roster anymore.  …

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Monday Night Open Thread: A-Rod Gossip And Snow

Sorry for the slow day on the site today, gang.  For some reason I could never get my brain to start getting into blog mode, and every time I got close something came up at work.  Blogging equivalent of an 0-5 day at the plate with 2 inning-ending GIDPs and 6 runners left on base.

Not that anybody was short on reading material today.  A lot of local papers were running with more anti-A-Rod stories instead of actually reporting on something that matters.  I’m not going to give any site the pageviews they so desperately want.  If you want to go find the stories on your own, more power to you.  The long and short of it is that A-Rod met with Rob Manfred to try to put last year in the rearview and focus on moving forward.  He reached out to do the same thing with the Yankees and got turned down, and now the team is supposedly gearing up to try to fight having to pay him the HR bonus money that they included as part of his contract that he signed.  …

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Quick Hit: Kiley McDaniel’s Yankee Farm System Evaluation

If you’ve been waiting with hands clenched in anticipation for this since last week like I have, then this morning was a beautiful morning for you.  Kiley McDaniel released his farm system evaluation for the Yankees over at FanGraphs, and it’s an absolute doozy of a post.  I’m talking detailed scouting reports on tons of players, videos, breakdowns of players to watch at all levels, and mentions of a few names that I’ve never even heard of.  If you’re a big prospect person and still in the prospect-y mood from our events here last week, definitely set this aside for your lunch time reading today.

If you want the highlights, McDaniel is higher on both Jacob Lindgren and Jorge Mateo than anybody else I’ve read, down on Gary Sanchez and Domingo German, and thinks Tyler Wade and Juan De Leon will start to make their way up the ladder this year.  Even if you don’t have time today to fully dive into this, I would recommend carving out some at some point to read the whole thing.…

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Blood from a Stone, or Just What Can We Expect from Mr. Rodriguez?

The last time we saw Alex Rodriguez playing Major League Baseball, he was performing quite well, batting .244/.348/.423 with 7 HR and a 113 wRC+ across 181 PA. That is, of course, well below the lofty standards set by his career as a whole, and a rather unattractive slash line in the context of the era – but I would also suggest that it was fairly encouraging. At 38-years-old, with two surgically repaired hips and a surgically repaired right knee, Rodriguez managed to be an above-average hitter over what amounts to a quarter of a season. If you cocked your head and squinted a bit, things were looking up for Rodriguez, as he prepared for the upcoming season. But that was 2013, and ‘the upcoming season’ ended up being ‘TBA.’ And … well, you know the rest.

As of this writing, it has been 488 days since Rodriguez played professional baseball. By the time the Yankees suit-up for their first Spring Training game in March, it will have been one year, five months, one week, and three days since the last time Rodriguez donned pinstripes – and that’s assuming he plays some role in that game.…

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