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, it’s worth touching on here.

Without Jesus Montero in the organization anymore, it may stand that for the next few years, Russell Martin is the best option at catcher for the Yankees. Francisco Cervelli is a fine back up, but most certainly not a starter. Austin Romine may be knocking on the door soon, but if the Yankees are talking to Martin about an extension, we have myriad reasons to question their commitment to Romine.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees counting on Sabathia to stay in shape

For his part, Sabathia has pledged to work hard at staying in shape this season. “It’s up to me to take away any possible factors and be ready and strong the whole year,” he said.

For what it’s worth, I think accounts of Sabathia’s “fade” are grossly overstated. First and foremost, to expect him to have maintained the level of performance he displayed from his June 25th start through August 1st is just wholly unrealistic, so some of this “fade” was simply a bit of regression to the mean. Secondly, Sabathia’s late season numbers really weren’t as bad as they appear at first glance. For example, though his ERA for August was a rather unsightly 4.68, he maintained excellent peripherals (45 strikeouts and just 5 walks allowed in 42.1 IP), and 12 of the 22 earned runs he allowed came in two starts against Boston and Tampa Bay. In Septmeber, his walk rate increased noticeably (perhaps as a result of pitching every sixth day instead of every fifth day, which Sabathia notes he wasn’t comfortable with), but his strikeout rate was a very robust 9.9 batters per nine innings and his ERA was 3.08.… Click here to read the rest

Braun, Baseball And Getting It Right

While we wait for more facts, let’s dispose of two points currently circulating about the Braun case. The first take is that the Braun case was decided on a “technicality”. This argument is based on a wrong idea of how drug testing works. The labs don’t search for testosterone in urine the way you and I would search for a worm in an apple. The testing process can take a day or longer, and there are many steps involved. All of these steps – including sample collection, sample storage and sample preparation, along with the chain of custody that documents the journey the sample takes along the way – are integral parts of the testing process, no matter how technical a step may seem to us. Labs don’t skip steps and offer up excuses later. When a lab skips a step, it tosses out the result and starts over.

In order for a lab to use a test method, the test method has to be validated – the test itself must be tested.… Click here to read the rest

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.
  • Manny Banuelos told reporters today that he planned on improving his fastball command this season. As a prospect, his walk rate is his biggest issue, and he could take big steps if he fixed his major flaw. Of course, it would be cool if he grew a few inches too.
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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.

Yogi ranks Banuelos #1

  1. Manny Banuelos #16- The Yankee prospects are headlined by Banuelos with a 20.1 composite rank. His lowest placement was from Project Prospect at #8, and highest was from Bullpen Banter at #30.
  2. Gary Sanchez #44- Sanchez’ 52.1 composite rank places him between Ranger’s 3B Mike Olt, and the Cubs new 1B Anthony Rizzo. His lowest rank at #39 also came from Project Prospect, and highest came from Baseball America at #81.
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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 Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Martin, Swisher, Granderson, and Gardner occupying 8 lineup spots, and a platoon of Andruw Jones and Ibanez/Branyan filling the DH at-bats.  The bench is still a work in progress because of the above competition, but presumably Francisco Cervelli will be the backup catcher, and Eduardo Nunez will be the primary backup for 2nd base and shortstop, joining Chavez/Hall to cover the infield.  … Click here to read the rest

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 hearing that story for months, so it’s nice that Jennings confirms earlier reports. Joe Girardi adds,

“I think his curveball has been a little bit more crisp,” Joe Girardi said today. “I think there’s more arm speed there. I think the ball’s coming out better. We’re gonna truly find out when the games start, but it just looks like he’s throwing the ball better this spring than last year at this time… He was hurt last year and that didn’t help.

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