Catching the Future

Yesterday afternoon at around 3, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York let loose a flurry of tweets , letting us know that the Yankees and catcher Russell Martin are working on a possible contract extension. Marchand’s full story on the matter can be found here. Earlier this week, we heard that Russ and the Bombers had been discussing a three year contract. This idea is also something I discussed back in December. After I wrote this yesterday afternoon, both Jack Curry and Jon Heyman (h/t RAB for the Heyman link) said that the talks weren’t all that far along. Still, Continue reading Catching the Future

Yankees counting on Sabathia to stay in shape

This time last year, the storyline surrounding Yankees’ ace C.C. Sabathia was focused on two things: the looming opt-out clause in his contract, and all the weight he had lost in the offseason by giving up Cap’n Crunch. Most of us were encouraged to see Sabathia trim down a little bit, especially since he had just had minor knee surgery earlier in the offseason, but by the end of the season it appeared that Sabathia was back on the Cap’n, and many people blamed his weight gain for his supposed late season fade.

The Yankees denied that their was concern over Sabathia’s weight during the season, but now Brian Cashman seems to have confirmed that it was indeed an issue. Cashman went so far as to have an “awkward” discussion with Sabathia, manager Joe Girardi, and trainer Steve Donahue about the big lefty’s weight in the offseason, though he denied bringing it up during the season. “I let our trainers carry the ball on that during the second half of the season,” Cashman said, “and then I got involved.” Cashman also said he did not broach the subject during Sabathia’s contract negotiations last fall, and there are no weight clauses in Sabathia’s new deal.

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Yankees counting on Sabathia to stay in shape

Braun, Baseball And Getting It Right

Ryan Braun has won his arbitration case challenging the claim made by Major League Baseball (MLB) that he used exogenous (artificial) testosterone at the end of the 2011 season. MLB’s claim was based on a drug test performed on a urine sample taken from Braun the afternoon of October 1, presumably after Braun’s Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in game 1 of the NLDS. Braun is the first major leaguer to successfully challenge a positive doping test under baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

At this point, we can’t be sure how Braun won his case. Most reports follow ESPN, and claim that Braun’s urine sample was collected from Braun on the Saturday in question, and stored in the collector’s basement until the following Monday. Such handling arguably violates MLB’s own rules, requiring that “absent unusual circumstances” all urine samples must be delivered to Federal Express for shipment “on the same day they are collected”. (For a well-reasoned opinion to the contrary, see Drew Silva here.) But SI.com’s Will Carroll has tweeted that Braun’s lawyers proved that the delay in processing caused the high level of testosterone in Braun’s sample – that Braun’s legal team was able to show “not just WHY it happened, but HOW.” I’m hoping that Carroll or someone else (maybe Braun himself) will provide us with more detail. Braun himself plans to meet with the media later this morning; maybe we’ll learn something more at that time.

In the meantime, we find ourselves once again considering the Braun matter without having all of the facts in hand. Naturally, this doesn’t prevent certain people who ought to know better from speaking out. Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (an agency that plays no role in MLB’s drug testing program), has called the decision “a real gut-kick to clean athletes.” MLB Vice President Rob Manfred announced that “Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the [Braun] decision.” Manfred was one of the three arbitrators on the panel that decided the Braun case (Manfred voted against Braun), and his public disagreement with the decision is (as Maury Brown so perfectly put it) “bashing on a process that MLB collective bargained for, put in place, agreed to, and went forward with.”

There hasn’t been much about the process in the Braun case that has gone the way it should have gone.

click “view full post” to read more Continue reading Braun, Baseball And Getting It Right

Nightly Links: Martin, Banuelos, Sanchez

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, who spoke with Russell Martin‘s agent, a three-year extension is being discussed. Jack Curry appears to doubt the news, saying that Martin’s side felt he could earn more in free agency. I am a huge fan of an extension, after Martin’s BABIP took a big hit last season, I expect him to have a much better offensive year. With the Yankees looking to save money for 2014, extending Martin now would help them avoid a bidding war next offseason. There are rumors in camp that Gary Sanchez showed up to camp a Continue reading Nightly Links: Martin, Banuelos, Sanchez

Composite Prospect Rankings

Yesterday, Jeff Zimmerman of RotoGraphs released his composite rankings for the top 100 prospect lists. What we are left with is the average rankings from all 7 major lists, Baseball America, Scout.com, ESPN, MLB, Project Prospect, Bullpen Banter, and Baseball Prospectus. Although Zimmerman’s purpose is for drafting prospects in fantasy baseball, the composite list indicates a general consensus of rankings. The first three are the usual Bryce Harper, Matt Moore, and Mike Trout, but quickly diverges from there. Manny Banuelos #16- The Yankee prospects are headlined by Banuelos with a 20.1 composite rank. His lowest placement was from Project Prospect Continue reading Composite Prospect Rankings

Thinking about the last roster spot

With the recent signings of Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez, the Yankees’ 2012 25-man roster is virtually complete.  Bill Hall and Russell Branyan may wage battles in spring training to unseat Chavez and Ibanez, but considering that the latter two have major league deals, you would have to think that they would be the favorites.  Presumably, the winner of the Chavez-Hall battle will be the main backup at 3rd base and possibly get some time at 1st, while the winner of the Ibanez-Branyan battle will be the primary DH against right-handed pitchers. The starting lineup is pretty much set, with Continue reading Thinking about the last roster spot

Andruw Jones, regular DH?

Joel Sherman’s column this morning dealt with Andruw Jones, and his desire to get more playing time this season in order to help his eventual Hall of Fame case. He’s cleaned his knees up, spent the winter working out with Alex Rodriguez, and is getting himself more trim to increase his utility in the outfield. It’s certainly nice to see Jones working hard, but with what may be the best starting outfield in all of baseball, Jones will have an uphill climb if he intends to take playing time away from Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, or Nick Swisher.

However, the biggest impediment to Jones getting more plate appearances is the simple fact that he’s very much a platoon player at this point in his career. Though he clobbered southpaws in 2011, he hit a mere .172/.303/.406 against right-handed pitching. That’s simply not going to hack it even for a bench player like Jones on a regular basis, especially considering that Jones hasn’t hit same side pitchers particularly well since way back in 2006. However, as recently as 2010 he was somewhat serviceable, hitting .219/.327/.453 (108 wRC+) in 226 plate appearances against RHP. That might not look like much, but consider that Raul Ibanez, whom the Yankees are counting on to be the primary designated hitter against right-handed starters, hit just .256/.307/.440 (101 wRC+) against them last season, and he’ll turn 40 years old at the beginning of June.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t have high expectations for Ibanez, but if Jones’ offseason training regimen includes getting better against right handed pitching, he just might be able to earn himself an everyday spot in the lineup bat some point. Continue reading Andruw Jones, regular DH?

In Defense of Vague, Early Spring Training Reports

It’s become a running joke on the internet for years now that X player is “in the best shape of their life” or “is adding a changeup in spring training” or whatnot. Without much to write about in early spring training, we see a lot of these kinds of stories. While sometimes they can be meaningless or inaccurate, I’d like to offer a brief defense of these types of stories. Chad Jennings wrote this kind of post yesterday. Phil Hughes, following a disastrous season, worked his butt off over the offseason and came into camp in great shape. We’ve been Continue reading In Defense of Vague, Early Spring Training Reports