Just how good is the low Yankee farm system?

Keith Law’s minor league organizational rankings are out, and the Yankees are 9th overall. After the Montero trade, this seems about right. The Yankees have a fairly deep, if bifurcated, farm system – solid guys like Austin Romine, David Phelps, and Adam Warren supporting high ceiling prospects like Dellin Betances up top, and tons of new faces at the bottom levels, but little in between. Keith Law makes a comment about this:

“I might be jumping the gun here, but I see a lot of star potential on their bottom few affiliates, including new acquisition Jose Campos from Seattle”

Full comment at the ESPN insider-only link here.

I find the bottom parts of the Yankee farm system very interesting. If we divide our top-8 low-level prospects into tiers, this is what you get:

  • Tier 1: Gary Sanchez – Sanchez is clearly the better prospect of his peers, showing enormous power for his age, and the potential with some seasoning and hard work to stay at catcher.
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Picking A Lefty DH HGTV Style

First, you have your too expensive property. That would be Johnny Damon. Reportedly, he wants $5 million for his services. That’s a bit more than all the other candidates we are going to be looking at. But he has more living space. If (God forbid) something were to happen to Brett Gardner as he continues to slide head first into every base (including first), he is a cringe-worthy accident waiting to happen. Damon could at least play left without being too embarrassing. It might be fun to see that noodle arm hitting Jeter with a four-bouncer again.

The next property on our list is perhaps right around budget. That would be Hideki Matsui. Nobody is going to even assign him a glove. This property doesn’t have that extra bedroom or bathroom. All Matsui is going to do is bat against right-handed pitchers. Yes, he could play left if there was an emergency, but you hope that property doesn’t have to be stretched that way.… Click here to read the rest

Ninja Cash Having A Monster Offseason

Ninja Cash moves in silence.

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Say what you will about how he handles his marital business, but there’s no denying that Brian Cashman has been on a real hot streak over the last couple years as GM.  He has made moves that have made the Yankees better, younger, and deeper as a Major League team and an organization, and has kept them consistently balanced for the present and the future through a combination of aggressive big-dollar signings, smart low-dollar signings, and wise decision making in the trade market, for trades both made and not made.  He’s continued that hot streak this offseason, pulling of a collection of smart moves that few saw coming, and doing it under the first semblance of a real payroll budget.

It seems like it was ages ago now, but Cash’s best move this offseason might very well have been the his first one, the re-upping of CC Sabathia before he opted out and became a free agent. … Click here to read the rest

Bill Hall’s potential roster spot

The Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league deal Tuesday and he was quite excited about it. It’s a minor league deal, so let’s remember that there is absolutely no risk involved here. If he doesn’t perform well enough in Spring Training, he can be cut with no repercussions. Let’s pretend for a second, though, that he plays well enough to make the team out of camp and goes north with the Bombers. Where could he fit in?

Despite not hitting very well against LHP in the last few years (54, 77, 77 wRC+ vs LHP from 2009-11), I’m sure he’ll get chances against lefties. But where? Hall played mostly at second last year and that’s obviously not going to happen. Per UZR and DRS, SS and 3B are the only places where he’s not a defensive liability, but he’s not going to play short and didn’t play any 3B last year. In 2011, he only logged four innings away from 2B.… Click here to read the rest

Posting odds on Vegas-style Yankee lines

Over-Under on A-Rod home runs: 29

If we’re talking about stupid money, what better place to start than lightning A-Rod?

Bill James’ metric is predicting somewhat of a bounce-back season for A-Rod – .277/.373/.497 with 29 homers in 130+ games played – the slash line would equal bumps in both slugging and OBP.  But A-Rod’s home runs per plate appearance have declined every season since 2007

  • 2007 – 7.6%
  • 2008 – 5.9%
  • 2009 – 5.6%
  • 2010 – 5.0%
  • 2011 – 3.7%

Rodriguez’s walk rate improved last season (11%) from 2010 (9.9%), so his plate discipline is still there. Perhaps that translates to the idea that his power output should go back up if he’s healthy and starts swinging again? However, A-Rod has averaged just 124.5 games played and 538 plate appearances per season since 2008. If we’re generous and bump him to 140 games played and 600 plate appearances in 2012, and if we give A-Rod the benefit of the doubt and assume he reverses the downward HR/PA trend (we’ll bump him up to 4%), that still only equals 24 HRs in 2012.… Click here to read the rest

Sherman-Yanks willing to absorb 25M to move AJ

Joel Sherman had an interesting tidbit in his column this morning. Here it is:

Owner Hal Steinbrenner already has expanded his budget once this offseason to allow the signing of Hiroki Kuroda. He has yet to say the Yankees can do so again in order to sign even one additional player, much less two. This is why the Yankees are quietly — but diligently — still working to trade A.J. Burnett.

They know no team will take all of Burnett’s remaining two years at $33 million. But if they could save, say, $4 million this year and next year, it would provide some wiggle room to finish off their roster heading into spring training.

That quote in bold caught my attention, knowing a thing or two about how these things often work. It’s phrased as something of a hypothetical, so at first glance it would seem premature to take this as anything other than his own musings. But I doubt a good reporter like Sherman would invent those numbers without clarifying that as his own personal speculation.… Click here to read the rest

Why the Yankees are the Best at Scouting and Developing Relief Pitchers

Over 20 years ago, the Yankees began developing the greatest failed starting pitcher in history, Mariano Rivera. With Hughes and Chamberlain in constant rotation/bullpen limbo over the last few years, you could make a case that not much has changed in two decades. Banuelos and Betances should see regular starts in the later part of 2012 or sometime during the 2013 season, but if they don’t immediately pitch into the middle of the rotation, we’ll hear the same discussion about how poorly the Yankees have developed starting pitchers. Regardless, the team remains the best organization at scouting and developing relief pitchers.

Of the top 15 relief pitchers in 2011, according to ERA, five were graduates of the Yankees’ minor league system. (David Robertson 1.08, Tyler Clippard 1.83, Mariano Rivera 1.91, John Axford 1.95, and Alfredo Aceves 2.03) Three of the top six saves leaders in 2011 were drafted or signed by the team. (John Axford 46, Mariano Rivera 44, and Drew Storen 43) Three of the top five holds leaders were also drafted or signed by the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest