What does Jack Cust bring to the table?

In case you missed the news, the Yankees signed left-handed hitting OF/DH Jack Cust to a minor league deal yesterday.  Cust is an interesting addition, and could be considered a possible replacement for Raul Ibanez if Ibanez continues to struggle.  Cust was cut by the Houston Astros this spring after posting an Ibanez-esque .040/.200/.040 in 25 AB’s this spring.  He posted a .213/.344/.329 triple-slash line in a limited role with Seattle in 2011. Cust has made a career out of his excellent power and patience, though his inability to make consistent contact and mediocre defense hurt his value significantly.  Cust Continue reading What does Jack Cust bring to the table?

Rumor: Teams interested in Maxwell

Justin Maxwell has had a whopper of a spring thus far, and though it probably won’t help his chances of making the Opening Day roster in the Bronx, it may land him a shot at the big leagues somewhere else. Yesterday, George King reported that both the Astros and the Orioles were interested in Maxwell, though neither have apparently inquired about him Brian Cashman. Baltimore and Houston are quite possibly the two worst teams in baseball heading into the 2012 season, so taking a flyer on a young player like Maxwell might make some sense if they can acquire him cheaply. The Yankees, on the other hand, already have a proven fourth outfielder/lefty masher in Andruw Jones on their bench, so there isn’t an obvious place for Maxwell to play right away, but he’s also out of options, so he would have to clear waivers before he couldd be assigned to the minor leagues. Continue reading Rumor: Teams interested in Maxwell

Some Thoughts On The First (Real) Games Of 2012

The Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics are the two best teams in baseball right now, according to their records. This is a fact. But that doesn’t keep it from being complete nonsense either. The Mariners beat the A’s 1-3 Wednesday morning (evening in Japan, midday in Spain) in 11 innings, in a game that said a lot more about how awesome Japanese fans are than about the two sides that actually, you know, played. And today, the A’s struck back, pulling off a 4-1 win in only 9 innings.

These games were played at around 6:00 AM EST, which is why you probably didn’t watch them. But you know who did? This guy. Here are my thoughts, conveniently presented in bullet-point form. I’ll try to work the Yankees in there as much as possible, I promise.

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If They Retired Today, Who Makes the Hall of Fame?

With the quiet lull in place before the burst of energy that marks opening day, its a good time to have one of my favorite baseball discussions. Who makes the Hall of Fame? Let’s supposed that these players retired today, without playing a day in the 2012 season or beyond. Who is in? Active players only. In, no discussion: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Pudge Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Roy Halladay, Vlad Guerrero I don’t think anything more needs to be said about this group. Vague, silly steroids concerns aside, everyone is Continue reading If They Retired Today, Who Makes the Hall of Fame?

Mulling the Yankees’ Bullpen

David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s SweetSpot threw a bit of a wet blanket around the New York Yankees’ bullpen in his over/under piece this morning. The thought was a bit sobering. There is an argument to be made that without last year’s bullpen, the Yankees would not have won 97 games. Mariano Rivera was familiarly brilliant. David Robertson was even better. Cory Wade was stolen from the Tampa Bay Rays and came up big. Luis Ayala had a 2.09 ERA. Boone Logan had a decent season. And Hector Noesi was useful more often than he wasn’t. There was also 27 good appearances by Joba Chamberlain before he went down. How good was that bullpen? They tied with the Atlanta Braves for the least percentage of inherited runners scoring. They were tied for third in holds. And they were that good despite entering the game with the fourth highest leverage index of all teams in baseball. Is the bullpen set up for a big regression?

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Prospect Profile: David Adams

As Brien mentioned, David Adams is slated to start the season in Trenton. Adams was one of the Yankees’ top prospects, but his road to the majors took a detour when he suffered a particularly nasty fractured ankle in 2010. Adams has worked hard to get back on the field and appeared in some rehab games in the Gulf Coast League and Tampa last season, but 2012 should put the young infielder back on track.

Name: David Adams
Position: 2nd Base
DOB: May 15, 1987
HT: 6’2 WT: 200
B/T: R/R

Background:
The Yankees drafted David Adams in the third round of the 2008 Draft, out of the University of Virginia and he quickly started his professional career. It looked like Adams would sprint through the minor league system and towards the majors, as he started with a strong showing in Staten Island. He started 2009 in Charleston, playing 67 games and hitting .290/.385/.394 before being promoted to Tampa. Interestingly, Adams had not hit a single homer while playing for Charleston, but knocked seven for Tampa as he finished out the season with the Yankees.

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The NY Spring Training Double Standard

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) Lost in all the talk about Ivan Nova‘s command, Andy Pettitte‘s return, and Michael Pineda‘s velocity is the rather pedestrian spring being had by another Yankee starting pitcher.  This pitcher has made only 4 official starts this spring and in those 4 starts has thrown 14.0 total innings.  In those 14 innings, he has allowed 7 earned runs on 19 combined hits and walks while striking only 10.  As a back-of-the-rotation candidate, these numbers could be acceptable.  For a guy being paid top dollar who is expected to anchor the starting rotation of Continue reading The NY Spring Training Double Standard

From Rotation to Bullpen & Back Again…Why?

The foremost question plaguing the Brian Cashman era in New York remains, “Are the Yankees any good at developing pitchers?” Any real answer to that question means considering not only players on the current roster, but those who have moved on to greener pastures (or grayer ones), as well as current prospects like Banuelos and Betances, who could quickly make us forget mistakes of the past. But, the fact is, the question might never even get asked if not for the tortured career arcs of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the last pair of premier prospects to emerge from the Yankee farm system. Both reached the big leagues in their early twenties, but now, though still a rather tender age, after half a decade of injury and inconsistency, both are facing uncertain futures. Part of what makes their development so frustrating is that, superficially at least, it seems as though the organization either never had a plan, or couldn’t stick to it, as Chamberlain and Hughes bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation, never given time to fully adapt and adjust to the challenges of either role.

In reference to similar indecisiveness by the Red Sox (most recently concerning Daniel Bard, but also with Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon in recent memory), Michael Schur postulates that “John Smoltz kind of screwed everything up” by making it easier to believe “that pitchers can just kind of flip back and forth.” But, of course, veteran pitchers like Smoltz have been changing roles with considerable success throughout the history of the game. Dennis Eckersley went one way. Derek Lowe went the other. Brett Myers will, this coming season, be asked to change roles for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Tim Wakefield did it that many times in a single year. What distinguishes Bard, Chamberlain, Hughes, et al is the multiple conversions happening so early in their careers. The 23-year-old pitcher is already facing the challenge of adapting to a longer season, heavier workload, and tougher competition, why should we believe that he can also handle the changes in approach, routine, and stress entailed in moving from starter to reliever, or vice versa?

Tangotiger asked last week, “Is there a Red Sox/Yankees variable in bullpen-to-starter moves?” Specifically, he speculated, “Can we blame the media scrutiny?” I find this to be an interesting question, but before we could identify that variable we’d need to prove either that a.) there is a “control group” of other organizations who don’t exist in such a fishbowl, but have recognizably different (and likely better) track records in making the bullpen-to-starter transition work, or b.) other organizations don’t even bother with bouncing their young starters between such roles. The latter is clearly not the case. The strategy of getting a 20-year-old’s feet wet in the bullpen is one which is increasingly common. I’m not convinced, however, that the results justify this strategy. It might surprise Yankees fans to know that of the 31 pitchers from the last decade who have made at least 35 starts and 35 relief appearances before the age of 27, Chamberlain and Hughes rank 3rd and 4th respectively in rWAR (despite their thoroughly mediocre totals).

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Girardi to make rotation decision soon

Calling it “probably” the hardest decision he’s had to make in his tenure as manager of the Yankees’, and with Opening Day now just eight days away, Joe Girardi indicated yesterday that he would be making his decision on which pitchers would win the final three spots in the starting rotation in the coming days, though he doesn’t want you shedding too many tears over his plight. “The other years, we were almost searching for five starters,” Girardi said. “This year, I think we’ve got six quality guys for five spots.”

Girardi’s comments have provoked some wildly different interpretations, though most people seem to have wound up back where we started when camp opened: with the assumption that Freddy Garcia will be the guy without a chair when the music stops. The Post’s George King, however, read Girardi’s comments as implying that Garcia is the frontrunner of the bunch. And, indeed, Girardi did have some very nice things to say about the elder statesman of the Yankees’ starting corp.

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