Author Archives: Brad Vietrogoski

Are The Yankees Overvaluing Their Own Relief Pitchers?

Whatever the reason, be it the desire to wait for the A-Rod suspension verdict, Masahiro Tanaka taking top priority presently, a last gasp attempt to stay below the luxury tax threshold, or a combination of the 3, the slow pace with which the Yankees have gone about rebuilding their bullpen this offseason doesn’t feel right to me.  For the most part, strong bullpens have been a staple of the last 15-20 years of Yankee teams.  The 2013 edition was hit or miss, burned by a group inability to keep the ball in the ballpark and a soft middle relief underbelly that took its share of beatings before some games could even get to D-Rob and Mo.  Mo is gone now, along with top lefty Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain.  Chamberlain is a loss in manpower only, and nobody needs to be reminded that a pitcher like Mo can’t be replaced, but for a group that lost that many innings it seems like the Yanks would want to make an effort to replace more than just their LOOGY.…

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Projecting Michael Pineda As A Starter In 2014

Pineda Trenton

After 1 failed trade and 2 lost seasons, it appears as though the Yankees will finally get to see what Michael Pineda can do in 2014.  Actually, it might not be what he can do so much as they’ll at least get to see him throw a pitch in a regular season game.  The shoulder injury suffered in 2012 may have taken away enough of what Pineda had to prevent him from ever being the pitcher he was or becoming the pitcher he could have been.  The Yankees certainly treated him as carefully as possible in his rehab from the injury to increase the chances of him making a full recovery.  They placed him on strict pitch count limits last year in the Minors and shut him down early after he reportedly felt some stiffness and soreness in the surgically-repaired shoulder late in the summer.  Still, there’s no way to know what type of pitcher he’s going to be moving forward until he’s back out competing on a Major League mound.…

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Concern Over Tanaka’s Workload?

Tanaka WBC

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

There’s not much that can slow down the Masahiro Tanaka train now that the 30-day negotiation window has been opened.  He’s young, he’s strong, he’s very good, and he’s generally regarded as the hands down best starting pitcher available on the FA market this offseason.  If anything could, however, it could be a growing sense of concern over the workload already accumulated on Tanaka’s arm.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports posted a story on this very topic on Monday, quoting multiple unnamed MLB front office personnel who expressed varying levels of concern about Tanaka’s arm and the stress that’s already been put on it.

I’m not one to get all worked up over pitch counts and innings counts and how much or little a guy is pitching when he’s younger.  If recent MLB history has taught us anything, it’s that managing young pitchers’ workloads is basically a crapshoot.  For every Matt Harvey who gets managed “correctly” and safely by today’s standards, there’s a Tim Lincecum or Felix Hernandez who come up and throw 200+ innings a year at a very young age with no problems and no repercussions.  …

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Thursday Morning Snow Day Musings

Happy New Year, everybody!  I hope your NYE celebrations were as fun as mine was, and I also hope you were smart enough to take today and tomorrow off from work because I wasn’t and the weather isn’t exactly cooperating with any of us.  There were 3-4 inches already on the ground when I drove to the office this morning out in Wisco and it looks like the Northeast is fixing to get pounded something fierce today and tomorrow.  I’m expecting another slow day at work and things are still moving pretty slowly in Yankeeland as we wrap up the holiday season, so I figured it was as good a time as any to touch on some random topics.

- If some of the theories that have been floating around are correct, we could find out the arbitrator’s decision in the A-Rod suspension appeal hearing as early as tomorrow.  While I don’t think there’s much of a chance that the entire suspension is voided, I do think it will get cut down some from the original 211 games.  …

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Where Does Zoilo Fit In Now?

Zoilo Almonte 2013

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

It was an up and down 2013 for Zoilo Almonte.  He hit .297/.369/.421 (.361 wOBA) in 293 Triple-A plate appearances in his first experience at the level, showing improved plate discipline and on-base skills that had yet to be part of his offensive repertoire.  When the barrage of injuries struck the Major League club, he got called up to the show in the summer and the results weren’t nearly as good, .236/.274/.302 (.257 wOBA) in 113 PA.

A hamstring injury ended his season early, but he picked it up back in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.  If you haven’t been following the comings and goings of that league closely, and I don’t blame you if you haven’t, Zoilo hit .316/.343/.454 out there and has seen time at all 3 outfield positions.  What does that mean as far as his Major League standing for 2014 goes?  Probably not much.  Almonte has hit in this league before, and with the new acquisitions made by the Yankees to upgrade their outfield it’s not a stretch to say he’s the 7th outfielder on the 40-man right now behind Ellsbury, Beltran, Gardner, Soriano, Ichiro, and Wells.…

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What Do The Yankees Still Need To Do This Offseason?

Beltran Presser

Will we get another big introductory presser? Hope so.

A week ago today we reached the official halfway point of the 2013-2014 offseason.  53 days had passed since the last out of the World Series was recorded and 53 days remained until pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to spring camp.  The Yankees headed into the holiday break last week with a lot already accomplished.  They had retooled their outfield, improved their infield depth and bench for next season, replaced their primary lefty out of the bullpen, and brought back one half of the 400 innings Cash said he wanted to add.

Despite losing Robinson Cano to Seattle it’s been a pretty productive offseason thus far.  If I were handing out offseason midterm grades, I’d have the Yankees in the B- to B range.  With the calendar close to turning to 2014 and with the start of next season now closer than the end of last season, there’s still work to be done to improve that grade up to an A level.  …

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Projecting David Phelps As A Starter In 2014

Phelps 2013

I continue to stand by my belief that the Yankees will not actually follow through with their plan to fill out next year’s rotation from within if, for whatever reason, they don’t end up signing Masahiro Tanaka.  If they do decide to take that path, however, I don’t think there will be much of a competition in Spring Training to determine the final 2 spots.  Michael Pineda was brought in to be a top-of-the-rotation stud along side CC Sabathia.  Regardless of whether he’s still capable of being that type of pitcher or not, the Yankees owe it to themselves to have him in next year’s rotation to at least attempt to start getting some value out of that trade.

If he’s the #4 starter, the last spot will more than likely go to David Phelps.  He’s got more experience than any of the other young starters on the 40-man roster, he’s had more success at the Major League level, and those 2 things have traditionally held the most weight when the final decision is made in the annual Yankee spring rotation competition.  …

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Some Cheaper Tanaka Alternatives

Bronson Arroyo 2013

Meh…

Yesterday the news broke that the Rakuten Golden Eagles were not going to post Masahiro Tanaka this offseason.  Then some reports came out that they still hadn’t decided if they were going to post him this offseason.  Then there was a report that they still would post him this offseason.  So as of right now they’re not planning on posting him and they’re going to offer him a record NPB contract to stay, but they might post him because they haven’t decided if they want to post him even though they don’t have to post him and eventually they will post him but maybe not.

As far as the Yankees are concerned, they almost have no choice but to move on assuming that Tanaka isn’t going to be posted.  The process has already dragged out longer than they anticipated or wanted it to and their rotation isn’t getting any better while they wait around for Rakuten to make up its mind.  …

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Report: Rakuten Won’t Post Tanaka

MasahiroTanaka

Maybe next year, guy.

It seemed like things were starting to move in a positive direction on the Masahiro Tanaka front.  The new posting system between MLB and NPB was agreed upon and officially announced, and earlier this week Tanaka told his team that he wanted to pitch in MLB in 2014.  Despite their waffling on the decision to post him and their clear desire not to, it was reasonable to expect that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would eventually give in and honor Tanaka’s wishes, not wanting to set a bad precedent for future players who would want to make the jump to the top level of competition.

But in the immortal words of Lee Corso, not so fast, my friend!  A report by Ken Belson of the NY Times, citing multiple Japanese newspaper sources, states that Rakuten has decided not to post Tanaka and instead will retain control over him for the 2014 season.  Rather than limit themselves to the $20 million max posting fee and risk losing more in stadium and merchandise revenues by not having Tanaka next season, the Eagles appear to prefer maintaining their team control over Tanaka, as is their right, and maximizing their own revenue potential.…

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