Author Archives: Brad Vietrogoski

What’s Ichiro Going To Do This Year?

Ichiro K vs BAL

I don’t mean in terms of production. That I can already anticipate. Every projection system out there has Ichiro Suzuki pegged as a below-average hitter again this year, hardly a shock when you consider his .281 wOBA last year and the age at which he’ll play this season (40). The title of the post is more in reference to how Joe plans on using Ichiro this season and how much he plans on using him.

The Yankees’ efforts to trade Ichiro have cooled down considerably from a few months back. Unless a team suffers multiple injury casualties to their outfield in spring camp, chances are they won’t be able to move him before the start of the season. He’s most likely ticketed for the Opening Day bench and a role as the 4th outfielder, but with Alfonso Soriano around and a much better offensive option on days where Jeter or Teix is DHing, Ichiro almost becomes the 5th outfielder. Joe simply can’t afford to play him as a regular 4th outfielder when he’s downgrading offensively at shortstop or first base.…

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Handicapping The Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

Steinbrenner Field

Steinbrenner Field. The site of the only Yankee game action a lot of these players will see in 2014

The Yankees announced their list of non-roster invites to spring camp yesterday, 26 in all.  As expected, all the recent MiL signings received an invite and an opportunity to compete for one of the last spots on the Opening Day roster.  There’s also a decent-sized contingent of non 40-man prospects who got the nod, although one glaring omission was utility man Ronnier Mustelier.  Mustelier seemed like a lock to get invited again considering the need the Yankees have for right-handed power and a third base platoon partner for Kelly Johnson, but for whatever reason they decided to proceed without him.

While all of these 26 players technically have a non-zero chance of making the Opening Day roster, the reality is that only a few of them have an actual chance and the rest are just there to fill out workout groups and early spring split squad games.  …

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Yankees Sign 17-Year-Old Australian Pitcher Brandon Stenhouse

Brandon Stenhouse

Stenhouse and his dad.

Already over their 2013-2014 international spending limit, the Yankees pushed themselves further over by reportedly signing Australian pitcher Brandon Stenhouse to a 6-figure contract yesterday.  Stenhouse, 17, is a right-hander who drew the eye of scouts after pitching in the Under 18 National Championships.  There’s not much out there on him scouting report-wise, but the report from Australia references fastball velocity in the low 90s and the pictures make him look like he’s got a decent frame.

The exact figures of the deal are unknown, but the Yankees’ plan for Stenhouse is not.  He’s going to report to the team’s Tampa complex for a 2-week Extended ST “orientation” in April and then go back to Australia to complete school.  Once that’s done, he’ll return to the US to start his professional baseball career full-time.

Due to the small amount of information available on him, it would be unfair to even try to guess what Stenhouse’s potential is and what kind of ceiling he has.  …

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Can Russ Canzler Be Of Any Use?

Russ Canzler 2013

As the Yankees wind down their offseason spending spree, the position players are coming back into focus as the group most in need of a boost.  Third base, second base, a true backup at first base, and a bench bat that’s actually league average are all still big areas of need and areas unlikely to get any more help than they already have.  In digging through the collection of third base platoon candidates and trying to make sense of the DH rotation, there was one name I skipped over that could be another option in camp if nobody stands out.  That name is Russ Canzler, 27-year-old righty bat who’s back for his second go-round with the Yanks.

If you don’t remember Canzler, it’s because his first tenure as a Yankee lasted a little over a month.  They claimed him off waivers from Cleveland last January, then lost him to the Orioles via waivers when they had to make more roster moves in February.  …

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Filling Out The Back End Of The Bullpen

There’s no denying that the Yankees have done a helluva lot of work to reload their team this offseason.  They’ve spent over half a billion dollars in contracts, both in large amounts and small, to upgrade their rotation, lineup, and to a very small degree their bench.  One roster area that hasn’t harvested the fruits of that half-billion dollar labor is the bullpen.  To date, the Yankees’ only addition of significance to the 2014 ‘pen has been Matt Thornton, a 37-year-old lefty specialist who, while still effective against same-side hitters, is at the point in his career where his best days are behind him.

This singular signing in response to the loss of Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and some guy named Mariano Rivera has put the Yankee ‘pen in a state of uncertainty, one that the free agent market is no longer as well equipped to resolve as it was a few weeks ago.  As we move below the 3-week threshold until pitchers and catchers report to spring camp, it’s time to look at what the Yankees could do to fill out and fortify their bullpen.…

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Let’s Talk About Some More Prospects

Rafael De Paula Futures Game

The Masahiro Tanaka signing storm has calmed down a bit, things are getting back to normal in Yankeeland, and we’re exactly 3 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting.  Obviously that means it’s time to talk about prospects again.  The Yankee Minor League complex in Tampa is open and there are already a handful of top guys down there getting ready for the season, plus I’m releasing my yearly top 30 prospects list next week.  Timing couldn’t be better.  Last time I rattled guys off the top of my head who I had already labeled.  This time it wasn’t so easy.  Probably the most mental energy I’m going to exert today.

Prospect I Want to See Bumped to A Full-Season League- Gosuke Katoh

Katoh didn’t come with any of the hype that the 3 Yankee 1st rounders in last year’s draft did, and there were some who thought he was a big reach as a 2nd round pick.  All he did to silence the critics was hit .310/.402/.522 (.434 wOBA) in 215 GCL plate appearances and showcase the plus defensive skills that already had scouts pegging him as a long-term second baseman.  …

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Reconsidering The Yankee Rotation With Tanaka

Tanaka Yankees

Before the news of the Masahiro Tanaka signing came out yesterday morning, the Yankee rotation was in big trouble.  At least that’s the spin that was being put on the majority of the conversations, reports, and blog posts around the Yankosphere.  CC Sabathia was coming off a terrible year and was going to be another year older with no indication that he could ever rebound to become a good pitcher again.  Hiroki Kuroda was also going to be another year older and potentially ready to break down and regress after a poor second half in 2013.  Ivan Nova was a big, inconsistent question mark, Michael Pineda was an even bigger question mark in bold font who might never be a starter again, and the rest of the 5th starter competition contingent was nothing special.  There was no way the Yankees were going to compete for anything with that crew.

After the Tanaka signing, the whole story changed.  Now Sabathia could be looking at a bounce back year after having a normal offseason throwing program to work on his mechanics and getting into even better shape.  …

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What Could A-Rod Have Done For The Yankees This Season?

A-Rod BOS HR

Barring a highly improbable decision by the federal courts, Alex Rodriguez will not play a single Major League game this season for the Yankees or any other team.  His playing career as we know it looks like it could be over and if he does try to come back in 2015 he may be on the receiving end of a beanball targeting that would make what Ryan Dempster did last August look like a walk in the park.

While the Yankees know that A-Rod will not be their starting third baseman this season, they’ve still yet to figure out who will be.  We know that they’re bringing a small army of replacement level competitors to Spring Training.  The most likely scenario is that 2 of those players split time at the hot corner as part of a replacement platoon, at least until one of them gets hurt or sucks so badly that someone else needs to replace him.  It’s a risky strategic decision given how much money the Yankees have spent to upgrade the rest of their lineup this offseason, and one that could backfire if they’re unable to get consistent production and value out of the position.…

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Thinking About The Potential DH Carousel

Carousel

Not pictured: the Yankee DHs

We’re less than 4 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, so baseball is officially out there on the horizon.  When that Friday comes, baseball will officially be back and a few days later when the rest of the team arrives at the Tampa complex Spring Training 2014 will be fully underway.  As usual, there will be a handful of roster battles that will dominate the ST headlines, highlighted by the annual 5th starter competition.  A bench job or 2 will be up for grabs, as will some bullpen roles, possibly the closer role if the Yanks do end up signing another veteran late-inning reliever, and the third base platoon jobs.

One spot that won’t be up for competition this year is designated hitter.  The older and injury risky Yankees have more candidates for the DH spot than ever this season and will most likely be rotating a large cast of veteran characters through it in an attempt to keep everybody as well-rested and healthy as possible.  …

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