Sickels Releases Top 20 Yankee Prospects List

John Sickels released his top 20 Yankee prospects list today. Here are his top 10 guys, as well as his general comments on the system:

1) Jesus Montero, C, Grade A: I know that his position is up in the air, but I love this bat so much that I’m going to give him a straight Grade A. This is a Mike Piazza/Manny Ramirez type bat.

2) Austin Romine, C, Grade B: Not in Montero’s class as a hitter, but he’s not bad, should improve further, and is much better defensively.

3) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline Grade B. Intriguing young lefty, undersized but has a very good arm and has performed quite well thus far.

4) Zach McAllister, RHP, Grade B-: Strike-throwing-ground-ball-generating-inning-gobbler with advanced pitching feel. A fifth starter, long reliever, or trade bait in New York.

5) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B-: Excellent tools, will have to see how his skills develop, and if he overcomes concerns about his makeup from high school.

Click here to read the rest

Newman on Chapman, Bleich, and Others

Chad Jennings spoke to Mark Newman recently, and came through with a wealth of information. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:

Aroldis Chapman is arguably the most intriguing free agent pitcher still on the market. He might be this winter’s most intriguing available player, period. “Who knows what the price tag is going to be on this deal,” Newman said. “He’s not where (Stephen) Strasburg was.” When Chapman threw a bullpen for scouts earlier this month, Newman said the reports were exactly what he expected: Huge fastball. Spotty command. Inconsistent secondary pitches. “But if you don’t like that, you need to be in another business,” Newman said.

Newman went on to opine that Chapman would likely start at A or AA in any system that he enters once he signs. With the Yankees garnering incredible revenues from a new ballpark and a playoff run yet keeping payroll steady, I would expect them to jump right into the international free agent market and snag Aroldis.… Click here to read the rest

Lining Up The Yankee Rotation

As it stands right now, the Yankees have a pretty damn good starting rotation. All three of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Javier Vasquez could easily head the rotations of just about any team in baseball. While I think we’d all agree that Sabathia is the ace and leader of the staff, I think there is room for debate as to who is the Yankees’ second best starter.

Because of how it lined up this past year–and the success the rotation had in 2009–it seems that everyone assumes Burnett will be the second starter, followed by Andy Pettitte, followed by Vasquez, followed by Jophil Chamberhughes. By the end of the season, though, I think we’ll all see that Vasquez is a fourth starter in “number” only.

Both the CHONE and CAIRO systems project the incredibly durable Vazquez (no fewer than 198 innings since 1999) to throw more innings than Burnett, walk fewer than Burnett, and strike more batters out than Burnett.… Click here to read the rest

A New Year's resolution: To not have to talk about left field anymore

So far Brian Cashman has followed through on one-third of my dream offseason plan — the bringing Nick Johnson back component. At this point the Yankees apparently have no further interest in Ben Sheets, and it appears that the Cardinals are about to lock Matt Holliday up.

Since the Javy Vazquez trade it’s been all left field all the time in Yankeeland, and I’m just as tired of talking about it as you are. Unfortunately, there’s little else to set our sights on given the way the rest of the team is presently constricted for 2010. Rather than waste 1,000 words analyzing a situation that none of us truly know the ultimate resolution to, I’m just going to present a quick list of the remaining available left fielders that have been linked to the Yankees (which is basically every available left fielder):

2010 BJ wOBA 2010 SG wOBA
Marlon Byrd .335 .328
Johnny Damon .348 .339
Jermaine Dye .350 .337
Reed Johnson .312 .313
Xavier Nady .347 .349
Marcus Thames .338 .320

The name that surprised me the most here was actually Xavier Nady.… Click here to read the rest

A New Site and A Legal Resolution

As you have probably noticed, The Yankee Universe is no more. Theyankeeuniverse.com will forward to theyankeeu.com for one month, and then this site will be the permanent and lasting home of this weblog, now called TYU: The Blog Formerly Known As The Yankee Universe. After several rounds of negotiations with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, we were unable to come to an amicable solution over the domain dispute that rocked the site earlier this month. Unfortunately, our limited resources and fear of litigation forced us to mostly concede to MLBAM. However, I can assure you that we did not go down without a fight, and the amazing word of mouth of the baseball blogosphere certainly riled them up a little bit: they demanded that after initial wave of bad p.r. we keep all negotiations private.

So, we would like to offer a disclaimer. TYU: The Blog Formerly Known As The Yankee Universe is in no way affiliated with the New York Yankees, MLB, MLBAM, Yankee Stadium, or Yankees Universe.Click here to read the rest

Cashman Trying To Make Yankees Younger

The Yankees have long been considered an older team, dependent on aging veterans to succeed. However, as NoMaas notes, Brian Cashman has been doing everything he can to change that culture:

“We have to get back to doing what made the Yankees so good for such a long period beginning in the ’90s,” said Cashman. “We’re in the position we’re in because we stopped developing our own young players.”

“… storm clouds are on the horizon if we keep just staying old,” Cashman said. “You’ve got to reinvent yourself with youth and mix them in with the veterans, instead of going all veterans.”
[snip]
And look at the results since he re-signed and was giving “full authority.”

Average age of Yankee pitchers

2005: 34.2
2006: 32.5
2007: 31.4
2008: 30.6
2009: 29.3 (which happens to be the average age of pitchers on the ’96 team)

Average age of Yankee hitters

2005: 32.2
2006: 30.8
2007: 30.6
2008: 31.3
2009: 30.5
This is a great trend.

Click here to read the rest

Holliday Likely Off The Table

From Buster Olney:

Sources: The Cardinals’ offer to Holliday is believed to be over $100 million.

I am sorry, Chris, but it seems like your hope for a Holliday miracle will not be fulfilled. I never saw the Yankees getting involved on Holliday, but as the offseason proceeded, it looked like he might be had for a song. It would not have shocked me to see Brian Cashman swoop in at the last moment to steal the best hitter on the market for a bargain rate. However, a deal of at least 5 years and 100 million is much too high for the Yankees to get involved. They simply have too many long term commitments to make one of that value to a left fielder.… Click here to read the rest