World Series Game 1: Justin Verlander Vs. … Barry Zito?

The Yankee season is over, but why not watch the rest of the baseball season? We have a real treat of a pitching match up tonight, Justin Verlander against the great Barry Zito. That’s pretty one sided for the Tigers. The way the Giants have been playing lately, Verlander really should start this series off by stopping the San Francisco momentum. Here are some links to look over as we await tonight’s 8:00 start. Kiley McDaniel at FanGraphs finished up his series covering the Yankees farm system. You can catch all 4 parts here. (1, 2, 3, 4) Steven Goldman Continue reading World Series Game 1: Justin Verlander Vs. … Barry Zito?

Scouting Otani

Shohei Otani is the new shiny object on the international free agent radar, so of course the Yankees have been linked to him. Like most amateur free agents, I don’t really know anything about him (he’s 18 and he throws hard), but if you’re a Baseball America subscriber you can head over there and read Ben Badler’s scouting report on him. A sampling:

Otani has great arm speed and arm action with a loose, easy delivery. His fastball sits around 92-96 mph and has touched 98 (he hit 99 according to a video online, though BA could not find a scout who could confirm a reading above 98). Pitching every fifth day, Otani’s fastball may sit in the lower end of that range, but his power arm is a major draw for scouts. Some scouts liked the life on Otani’s fastball, though others thought it flattened out, which contributed to him getting hit against Canada.

Scouts were mixed on Otani’s offspeed pitches. His best secondary offering is his tight slider that he throws around 82-85 mph. He also mixes in a splitter and a big, slow curveball that so many Japanese pitchers seem to throw. The one area where scouts consistently said Otani needs work is on his command, as he’s prone to bouts of wildness and isn’t as advanced in that area compared to the U.S. high school pitchers who went in the first round in the draft this year.

Otani is an unusual case, bcause unlike most Japanese players he has announced his intention to skip playing in NPB and sign directly with a Major League franchise. That means he won’t be subject to the posting system, but it presents a different set of logistical challenges in its own right. For one thing, just because Otani has advised them not to doesn’t mean an NPB team won’t draft him, and if they do MLB teams won’t be able to negotiate with him until March. Additionally, as an amateur free agent, he’ll be subject to the spending limits imposed by the new CBA. The Yankees have already spent almost all of their allowance, and the clock on that doesn’t reset until July 2nd. To sign him before that, the Yankees would have to pay a penalty in terms of taxes and loss of ability to sign future prospects. I doubt they’ll do that, but considering that the amateur signing pool will begin to be scaled to a team’s record starting this season, it would certainly make sense to do that, as odds are that the Yankees won’t be able to sign any top international amateurs without exceeding the spending pool anytime soon.

Update: The Nippon Ham Fighters did indeed select Otani with the first overall pick in the NPB draft, so MLB teams won’t be able to negotiate with him until April. Continue reading Scouting Otani

Joe Girardi’s final press conference of 2012

So Joe Girardi had a press conference today, the final one of the 2012 season.

Nothing particularly earth shattering was revealed. There were no surprise ailments or injuries to key players. He also said there weren’t any nagging injuries that the coaching staff didn’t know about it. Apparently, the majority of the offense came down with a bad case of suckitis at the same time.

Some more highlights:

  • Girardi said he expects all of his coaches to return so if there’s anyone who was hoping for a Kevin Long firing, sorry.
  • CC Sabathia has not seen Dr. James Andrews yet. Sabathia was planning on getting his elbow checked out. Girardi said Sabathia is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
  • Girardi also revealed that he has not spoken to Alex Rodriguez since the end of the postseason. Girardi added that A-Rod was totally healthy during the playoffs and that the plan is to have Rodriguez be the everyday third baseman next season. We’ll see about that one. I remember when A.J. Burnett was going to be in the starting rotation this season.
  • Girardi was asked about Ichiro Suzuki and he said he isn’t sure the Yankees will bring Ichiro back but that he enjoyed being around him.
  • He was asked about the lack of crowd noise during the playoffs and said that the lack of offense probably had something to do with it. Yeah, ya think? It’s not some massive conspiracy. The crowds were loud when they were scoring and quiet when they weren’t.

See? Nothing crazy to see here. I’ll admit I’m disappointed. I was convinced everyone on the offense contracted some weird illness that caused them to forget how to hit a ball. Oh well. Continue reading Joe Girardi’s final press conference of 2012

The Real Impact Of Derek Jeter’s Ankle Injury

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) The immediate impact of Derek Jeter’s ankle injury was major and painfully obvious to anybody who watched the ALCS. Without him in the lineup or on the field, the Yankees managed to score just 2 runs in the final 3 games while giving up more than that and committing 3 official defensive errors, 5 if you want to be a stickler like me and give Chavez and Teix Es for their stay-back botches in Game 4.  Even deeper than the on-field results, the entire attitude and morale of the team Continue reading The Real Impact Of Derek Jeter’s Ankle Injury

Offseason questions: Who’s in right?

For a team that feels as though it could be about to undergo some big changes, the Yankees have surprisingly few holes in their projected lineup for 2013. Six regular position and four pitchers who made multiple big league starts remain under team control, and you’ll probably see some of the team’s own free agents return to fill a few of those spots. So, “blow it up!” media histrionics aside, why is there a distinct feeling that things are going to be different in The Bronx when pitchers and catchers report in four long months?

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Offseason questions: Who’s in right?

Do The Yankees Have Room For Big Papi?

Most of us hate David Ortiz, but only because he’s worn a Red Sox uniform over the last 10 years. In that time, he’s hit .290/.389/.573, and he’s killed the Yankees with a .313/.403/.569 triple slash. Last year, at 36 years old, the designated hitter signed on to a one year deal with the Boston for $14.5 million. Age was a major deterrent from issuing a multi-year deal, but he’s continued to defy the expected deterioration in hitting. A late season injury to his Achilles in August limited him to 383 plate appearances in 2012, but in that time he Continue reading Do The Yankees Have Room For Big Papi?

Uncertain to the core

Of all the uncertainties that face the New York Yankees heading into the post season, concern about the “core” should probably come to the top of the list. The last we saw Derek Jeter, the captain and Yankee stalwart since 1996, he was flat on the infield after suffering what we later learned was a fracture to his ankle. This past Saturday, he had surgery on the ankle and is expected to be ready to go by Spring Training. The last we saw Mariano Rivera, the 42 year old designee as the greatest closer that ever lived was being carted off the field with a torn up knee and a blood clot later complicated his injury. Andy Pettitte was the only one of the old guard that ended the season on his feet, but that was after getting drilled in the leg and suffering a fracture of his own that would take two months to heal. You know Jeter will be back and Rivera said he would be back. Andy Pettitte gave himself a month to decide to come back for another season. These three last links to the beginning of this great Yankee era have never finished a season with more doubts about what the future holds.

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Continue reading Uncertain to the core

Looking at the Yankees’ future at catcher

As Brien mentioned, the Yankees job for starting catcher is up for grabs right now. Russell Martin‘s contract was for one year and the Yankees have yet to indicate whether they plan to resign him. This year they sent a pretty clear signal that they do not view Francisco Cervelli as a viable option, while they groom their next backstop of the future. First, they traded for Chris Stewart at the end of Spring Training, sending Cervelli to the wandering Empire State Yankees and then only gave him three at bats and a handful of innings behind the plate after being called-up in September. While thinking about this potential hole in their lineup, it struck me that the Yankees have found themselves in a place many of us thought they would avoid, given their penchant for drafting and developing some strong catching prospects.

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, the Yankees had a solid starting catcher behind home plate. This can be attributed in part to the Jorge Posada‘s arrival in the majors, first as a backup and later as one of the Yankees’ key players during their impressive string of playoff runs and World Series titles.  As Posada’s career neared the end, Yankees fans saw few reasons to be concerned, after all, we had been hearing about Jesus Montero for years.  It was understood that there were many questions about Montero’s ability to be a serviceable major league catcher, however, his offense was what excited people. After all, if Montero proved unable to work out defensively, the Yankees had Austin Romine right behind him. Now, Montero finds himself in Seattle, having been traded for Michael Pineda, a move that will likely be hotly debated at least until the young hurler finally dons pinstripes on a mound at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees signed Martin to fill the gap between Posada and the prospects, but after a hot start Martin has seen mixed results during the past season and a half, often garnering a lot of frustration and discussion from fans this past season. Meanwhile, Romine spent the bulk of the season on the DL, after injuring his back during Spring Training and suffering multiple setbacks, making it hard to know just when/if he will be ready for the Bronx. As I mentioned earlier, the Yankees have made it a habit to draft some strong, offensively-minded catchers and they have quite a few working their way up the ladder. So, while we will have to wait and see what Brian Cashman decides to do behind the plate in 2013, let’s take a look at who and where the potential Yankee backstops of the future are now.

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Continue reading Looking at the Yankees’ future at catcher

Banuelos to miss all of 2013

Brian Cashman is giving an interview on WFAN, and while much of the conversation is very similar to the interview he did on ESPN Radio Sunday, the Yankees’ general manager did confirm that Manny Banuelos, the team’s top pitching prospect, will miss the entirety of the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. That’s not a surprise, obviously, but the Yankees arent even going to hint that he could make an early return, apparently.

Banuelos, who was all the rage after a strong Spring Training performance in 2011, struggled with walking batters after being promoted to Double-A that season, and then missed almost all of 2012, first with a back injury and then with an elbow injury. The latter problem was originally diagnosed as being non-structural and the Yankees were hoping to have him pitching in winter ball, but announced that he would indeed need Tommy John surgery during the last week of the regular season.

(h/t to Rob Abruzesse for alerting me to the interview) Continue reading Banuelos to miss all of 2013