About Brad Vietrogoski

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

Thursday Morning Links: 12/24/15

Merry Christmas Eve, gang.  Here’s a few links to get you through the morning, assuming you aren’t doing last-minute shopping/wrapping or sweating out the delivery of your final gift like I am.

– On Monday, Mike Axisa of RAB broke down Starlin Castro’s batting stance changes in 2015 and how those changes could lead to meaningful, long-term improvement in his offensive production.

– George King of The Post updated the Yankees’ search status for more starting pitching, including the non-existent Ivan Nova market and the team’s desire to sign a starter to a MiL deal.  It’s one of the most depressing articles I’ve ever read.

– On Tuesday, Alex Putterman of BP Bronx ran some numbers to see if the 2009 Yankee infield was the best of all time.

From the IIATMS team:

– On Monday, Ted discussed the other factor in the recent Yankee trades- trading players with more known and predictable production for players with more upside.  Depth and certainty for need and upside.  I can dig that.

– On Tuesday, EJ argued that Mason Williams is still a top 10 organizational prospect.  I have him just outside my top 10 right now, so I can dig this idea too.

No link on this one, but the Yankees reportedly signed 4 players to MiL deals yesterday.  The most notable one was Vinnie Pestano, who was a very good middle reliever for the Indians a few years ago.

I don’t really care for Christmas music and this song has been beaten to death by TV ads, but I can still bob my head to it so here you go.

Continue reading Thursday Morning Links: 12/24/15

Quick Hit: Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Yankee Prospects List

If you weren’t aware that prospect season had arrived before this week, you better be aware by now.  Following up on Baseball America’s unveiling of their top 10 Yankees prospects on Monday, the gang at Baseball Prospectus did the same yesterday.  You can find the full list here, and I believe everything is free, but if you don’t have the time for that here’s the top 10:

1) Aaron Judge
2) Jorge Mateo
3) Gary Sanchez
4) James Kaprielian
5) Dustin Fowler
6) Rob Refsnyder
7) Drew Finley
8) Eric Jagielo
9) Brady Lail
10) Ian Clarkin

The love for Mateo continues, although the BP staff didn’t put him above all.  That top spot went to Judge and I think that’s the right decision.  Some struggles in his first Triple-A experience shouldn’t overshadow everything else he’s done in his MiL career or his well-rounded tools set, and they shouldn’t be enough to rank him below a guy in A-ball.  This list in general is a little more in line with what I’ve been working on putting my top 30 together.  I like Refsnyder as a 5-8 guy, I definitely think Jagielo and Clarkin should still be in the top 10 despite their injuries, and I like seeing Brady Lail in there.  He might get the least amount of love out of all the Yankee prospects.  Fowler at 5 is a bit of stretch to me, although I do think he’s a solid top 12-15 prospect, and Finley at 7 is surprising, but every list is going to have a few like that.

The complete write-up also features a :”top 10 players under 25″ list and that brings recent prospect graduates Luis Severino and Greg Bird back into the mix.  The list was put together by IIATMS alum Kenny Ducey and it does a good job showing how much young talent the Yankees have assembled over the last few years as they try to rebuild on the fly. Continue reading Quick Hit: Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Yankee Prospects List

Quick Hit: Baseball America’s Top 10 Yankee Prospects List

Prospect ranking season is upon us, people.  Baseball America has been releasing their updated organizational top 10 lists for a while now and today was the Yankees’ turn.  Courtesy of Josh Norris, here is the top 10 Yankee list:

1) Jorge Mateo
2) Gary Sanchez
3) Aaron Judge
4) James Kaprielian
5) Domingo Acevedo
6) Rookie Davis
7) Tyler Wade
8) Rob Refsnyder
9) Wilkerman Garcia
10) Dustin Fowler

That’s… a lot different than my top 10.  There’s a lot going on here.  The top 4 are inarguable in any order, although I definitely wouldn’t put Mateo above 2 top 50-100 guys who are in Triple-A.  Acevedo at 5 is a huge shock considering his age and lack of full-season experience, and I don’t buy Wade as a top 10 talent, but I can’t argue with Davis or Refsnyder and I like the inclusion of Garcia and Fowler.  Garcia may be the best shortstop prospect in the organization that never gets talked about and Fowler really put it together this year across all aspects of the game.

The full write-up and scouting reports on each player can be found here, although you must be a BA subscriber to get all of that action.  I guess this should serve as notice that we need to get our prospect stuff churning inside the IIATMS lab.  We busted out the top 30 last year and I fully intend to do it again this year.  We’ll start with some more prospect talk in the weeks to come. Continue reading Quick Hit: Baseball America’s Top 10 Yankee Prospects List

Monday Morning Food For Thought: Hope For CC?

The news of CC Sabathia‘s early offseason progress came out last week and reaction among Yankee fans was understandably “meh”.  That’s what happens when you’ve had the kind of poor last few seasons that Sabathia has had, and it all seemed to come to a head in 2015.  The performance was still bad, the health was still not good, and Sabathia finally had to confront an alcohol problem that he’s been dealing with for the last few years.  There was already little reason to expect much from Sabathia in 2016, and it wouldn’t be completely unfair to say his latest problems make it even less likely that he’ll be a positive contributor.

And yet he will remain in the rotation.  Joe and Cash have each already said as much in previous interviews and meetings with the media, and the current state of the rest of the Yankee rotation pretty much necessitates it.  The depth isn’t there, the collective health and injury risk factor is sky high, and the Yankees are severely limited in what they can add to help those issues thanks to their trusty 2-way, self-enforced limitation on spending money and trading away top prospects.  At the absolute least, Sabathia is going to be the team’s #5 starter on Opening Day.  Based on what he’s shown the past few seasons, that’s not a good sign for the Yankees’ chances in 2016.

But should we be taking his offseason workout progress more seriously?  Should this news of CC being “light years ahead” of where he’s been the last few offseasons not be completely brushed off as the introduction to another stereotypical “best shape of his career” ST story?  The reason Sabathia is so far ahead of where he’s been the last few offseasons is because he’s healthy.  That sounds stupidly simple and it is, but that hasn’t been the case the last few offseasons.  Those have been spent recovering from surgeries and working on delayed/modified workout schedules.  Not this year.  CC’s pitching arm is healthy and his knees are healthy, well as healthy are they’re going to be.  He’s been throwing all offseason and it sounds like he’s been working out hard.  He hasn’t been able to do those things the last couple of years and we’ve seen the results.  I’d like to think those results can improve a little when the guy is able to complete a full, normal offseason workout routine.

Don’t forget that CC did lead the Yankee staff with 167.1 innings pitched in 2015, and he looked better in his final few starts after a late August DL stint and return with his knee new brace.  He’s going to be wearing that brace for every start in 2016 and that should help the wear and tear that we know is going to build up on the right knee.  Between the brace, the extra rest, and the 2-week DL stint, maybe the Yankees learned some things about how to keep Sabathia fresher over the course of a full season.  Factor in the positive start to his offseason workouts and perhaps the light isn’t entirely snuffed out on Sabathia’s career.  Chances are he’s going to be more bad than good next year and it seems like everybody is already prepared for that outcome.  But if there’s even a small chance he’s got a little something left, simply being healthier than he’s been the last few offseasons should be taken as a positive sign.  We already know he can’t be effective anymore when he’s hurt.  It’d be nice to see what he can do when he’s healthy. Continue reading Monday Morning Food For Thought: Hope For CC?

Saturday Morning Links: 12/19/15

A batch of links to start your weekend.

– On Thursday, Chad Jennings of LoHud had some thoughts on Dellin Betances’ workload and some quotes from Betances on how he works out to be able to handle the larger workload.

– Ben Diamond of BP Bronx looked back at Brett Gardner’s history of second half slumps and how they may be tied to the injuries he’s accumulated over the course of a season.

– El duque of It Is High… lamented the Yankees’ inability to develop any quality third basemen internally.  That lack of positional depth could hurt them this year if Chase Headley starts to decline.

– On Friday, Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs posted the 2016 ZiPS projections for the Yankees.  These projections are put together by friend of the blog Dan Szymborski.  This is definitely worth a deeper look when you have time, but the short version is these projections are pretty pessimistic.  No biggie, I think that was the case last year too.

From the IIATMS team:

– On Wednesday, Dom compiled and presented the 2016 IIATMS Hall of Fame ballot.  It’s the best ballot I’ve seen so far.

– On Thursday, I finally got around to discussing my beef with the Justin Wilson trade.  It’s admittedly a minor beef, like a dollar menu cheeseburger-sized beef.

– Scott looked ahead to next year’s HOF class and the potential good chance for a few former Yankees to get in.

– On Friday, Stacey looked back at the Yankees’ history of games on days when Star Wars movies were released.  You would think the MLB equivalent of the Evil Empire would thrive on these days, but not so much.

Continue reading Saturday Morning Links: 12/19/15

Friday Morning News And Notes: 12/18/15

[caption id="attachment_79756" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Brendan Ryan Mustache That stache is going to be a big loss in the clubhouse. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

I’d say today is the last day of real work before Christmas.  Everybody knows the last few days before are throw-away days, so here’s hoping everybody has an easy one in front of them today.

– The Yankees officially completed the Starlin Castro trade yesterday by announcing Brendan Ryan as the PTBNL in the deal.  This was reported by multiple guys when the trade news first broke, so not really a surprise here.  The deal to re-sign Ryan for multiple years was a strange one and I’m sure nobody will be sad to see him go.  That said, the Yankees are a little short on backup third base options at the moment, although I imagine they’ll look to use one of their 2 open 40-man spots to address that.

– Via Chad Jennings, CC Sabathia said he is “light years ahead” of where he’s been the last few years with respect to his offseason workouts.  He’s been coming off injuries the last few offseasons, but he says he feels healthier than ever and has been working out hard to prepare for next year.  He’s going to be given a spot in the rotation as long as he’s physically healthy enough to pitch.  Nothing wrong with having the healthiest version of him possible to start the season.

– Former Yankee Andrew Bailey signed a MiL deal with the Phillies yesterday.  That deal comes with a ST invite.  I thought the Yanks trying to buy low on Bailey as a reclamation project was a good move.  Too bad it didn’t work out.  Hopefully Bailey has better luck at his next stop.

– Via George King, it sounds like the Yankees are really high on James Pazos as a potential replacement for Justin Wilson.  I forgot that he was included in the list of “untouchables” at the deadline this year, that’s pretty funny.  But hey, if he figures out his fastball command there’s no reason he can’t be an effective lefty reliever.  His slider is already very good.  FWIW, Pazos was also mentioned in a Mark Feinsand article about the young relief depth earlier this week.

– Via that same Feinsand article, Joe had some positive things to say about Mark Teixeira‘s rehab progress and said he expected Teix to be ready to start spring camp when it kicks off in 2 months.  “I saw him the other day.  He’s doing much better. I’m excited to get him back.” Continue reading Friday Morning News And Notes: 12/18/15

The Problem With The Justin Wilson Trade

A week has passed since the Yankees shipped Justin Wilson to the Tigers for 2 Triple-A pitchers.  It’s done, it’s over, it’s old news by now, and yet I still can’t fully accept the deal and move on.  I completely understand why the Yankees made the move.  It was another textbook example of the “trade from positions of organizational depth to address areas of weakness” strategy that Cash has employed to try to rebuild this roster on the fly, and that strategy seems to be working pretty well.  I also completely understand why a lot of people didn’t like the idea of trading away an important piece of the 2016 Major League puzzle to fill holes in the Triple-A rotation.  That doesn’t exactly send the right message, especially when that message is being delivered behind the standard “we’re committed to building a championship-caliber team each and every year” company line.

The more I’ve thought about this trade and whether I did or did not like it, the more I’ve gone back and forth on it.  That’s probably more time than anybody should mentally expend thinking about Justin Wilson, but this was the one move the Yankees have made this offseason that we really didn’t see coming.  And then it hit me.  That’s exactly why I’ve been struggling with this move and why I think a lot of other people have too.  Trading Wilson was an unexpected move and it was unexpected because unlike the previous trades, the Yankees didn’t go into this one with a solid Plan B already available.

Think about the other two trades this offseason.  The Yankees were OK trading John Ryan Murphy because they already had Gary Sanchez waiting in the wings and Austin Romine around for injury insurance.  If the Twins weren’t willing to make the deal to send Aaron Hicks back, the Yankees had backup 4th outfielder options in Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams already on the 40-man roster.  They aren’t right-handed hitters, but they bring the same defensive flexibility and speed element to the field and they showed they can handle the stick in some small MLB sample sizes.

Then the Castro deal.  The Yankees, as uncomfortable as they likely were with it, had a plan to cover second base next year in place before they got serious with the Cubs.  That’s part of why they acquired Dustin Ackley in the first place and why they didn’t pull the trigger on Refs when the A’s wanted him at the deadline.  Cash’s decision to make Adam Warren the feature piece of the return package was made knowing he had Bryan Mitchell and Ivan Nova around for swingman depth and a slew of other young righty arms to step into the vacated short relief work.  Whether the Yankees did or didn’t make those two deals, they would have been able to easily fill those areas of need internally. Continue reading The Problem With The Justin Wilson Trade

Wednesday Morning Links: 12/16/15

In my quest to better accommodate my severely decreased writing (and reading) time, I’ve made the executive decision to split the weekly Linkapalooza into smaller chunks.  Figure one on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, the other on Friday afternoon.  Sound good?  Good.  Here’s what’s cooking this week.

– On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain’s Blog ran the tab on the current 2016 payroll and looked ahead to the potential luxury tax hit for this year.

– Jayson Stark of ESPN shared his thoughts on the Pete Rose situation and Rose’s legacy.  I don’t care much for Rose or his HOF eligibility, but if you do then definitely read this.

– On Tuesday, Mike Axisa of RAB discussed the void of reliable middle inning relief work left by the Adam Warren and Justin Wilson trades and how the Yankees might go about filling it.

– Tanya Bondurant of Pinstripe Alley wondered if the Chase Headley contract will go down as a bad one.  It’s a fair question to ask and one I honestly didn’t think we would ever have to ask, especially not after year 1.

– And in case you missed it on Monday, longtime commenter and newest member of the IIATMS staff UYF published his first post about the booming baseball contract business and what it means for the Yankees.

We’ve got some good HOF stuff coming up later this morning, so stick around for that.  Let’s groove.

Continue reading Wednesday Morning Links: 12/16/15

Quick Hit: Updated 2016 Opening Day Roster

It’s been almost 2 months since I did this exercise and there’s been a couple major changes since then, so let’s see where the projected 2016 Opening Day roster stands as of this morning, shall we?

Starting Lineup:

1) Jacoby Ellsbury– CF
2) Brett Gardner– LF
3) Carlos Beltran– RF
4) Mark Teixeira– 1B
5) Alex Rodriguez– DH
6) Brian McCann– C
7) Chase Headley– 3B
8) Starlin Castro– 2B
9) Didi Gregorius– SS

Starting Rotation:

1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Michael Pineda
3) Luis Severino
4) Nathan Eovaldi
5) CC Sabathia

Bench: Gary Sanchez, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Hicks, Greg Bird

Bullpen: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, Bryan Mitchell, Ivan Nova, Nick Goody, Jacob Lindgren Continue reading Quick Hit: Updated 2016 Opening Day Roster