Jim Callis of Baseball America Talks Yankees Prospects

CB:  After being listed as Baseball America ’s 108th best prospect prior to the 2011 amateur draft, the Yankees selected Dante Bichette, Jr. with the 51st pick.  He signed quickly and promptly set the Gulf Coast League afire hitting .342/.446/.505 and winning league MVP honors.  Looking back, do you think your initial evaluation was accurate?  If not, what has changed?

JC:  Our initial evaluation was based in part about suspicions that he’ll eventually wind up in the outfield. If he can stay at third base, and the Yankees think he can, then he’ll have more value. Bichette has boosted his stock since the draft with his strong debut and his initial play at third base.

CB:  Can you tell us a little bit about Cito Culver?  How does he project going forward?  Will he stick at SS?

JC:  He’s a defensive-minded shortstop and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to stick there. The question with Culver is whether he’ll hit enough to be a big league regular, though his defense may be enough to carry him.… Click here to read the rest

Putting Together My Hall of Fame Ballot

Jeff Bagwell –  If there was one player on the 2011 ballot that should have been a “sure thing,” it was Bagwell.  He was a tremendous hitter with immense power who played nearly the entire prime of his career in the immensely pitcher friendly environment that was the Astrodome.  His MVP season in 1994 should go down as one of the greatest offensive performances of all time.  With a .491 wOBA (207 wRC+), 32 doubles, and 39 home runs in the 110 game strike shortened season, Bagwell absolutely owned pitching that season.  While 1994 was the only season in which Bagwell won MVP honors, he put together campaigns in 1997 and 1999 where he was certainly worthy of winning the award.  In addition to his offensive production, Bagwell was a huge asset both defensively and on the basepaths.  He finished his career with a .406 wOBA, 449 home runs, and 1529 RBI.  His 83.9 fWAR is good for fourth highest among modern era first basemen behind only Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Albert Pujols.… Click here to read the rest

Valuing the 2011 Free Agent Class

2. Prince Fielder, 1B

3 Year WAR Trend – 6.4, 3.5, 5.5

Bowden’s Projection – 8/$192M

Chip’s Projection – 8/$185M

Projected Value – $171M

Fielder’s appeal, aside from his unbelievable abilities at the plate, is his age.  At only 27 years old, he’s four years younger than Pujols, and has around 3-4 prime seasons ahead of him.  This alone, makes him a incredibly hot commodity.  Considering his lower price tag, we could see a few teams like the Angels, Orioles, Nationals, and Giants sumbit bids.  Save for the Nationals, who were big time players last winter, I don’t see any of the other three teams being serious bidders.  Ultimately, I see him going to the Cubs as the consolation prize for not landing Pujols.  Concerns about long-term durability, weight, and performance projections keep him from breaking $190M.  8/$185M seems like a slight overpay, as I see him valuing at closer to $170M over the next eight seasons.

3. Jose Reyes, SS

3 Year WAR Trend – 6.4 (2008), 2.9, 6.2

Bowden’s Projection – 6/$108M

Chip’s Projection – 5/$90M

Projected Value – $110M

I’m fully prepared to be wrong on this projection, but I’m going with it anyway. … Click here to read the rest

Setting the record straight on Wilson

While garnering losses in the All-Star game, ALDS, ALCS, and World Series in the same season is certainly a dubious distinction, Vaccaro seems to miss two obvious points. The first point being that a pitcher’s W-L record is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I could delve a little deeper into those reasons, but we’ve covered that ad nauseum in this space countless times already. In the interest of keeping this article from digressing too far off course, I’ll leave it at that.

The second, and perhaps most important, issue is that in order to meet this achievement, you have to be a pretty good pitcher. While the fans, managers, and players do an imperfect job when it comes to selecting All-Stars; they tend to mostly select deserving players. Wilson, regardless of how you judge All-Stars, was clearly worthy of his selection having posted a 9-3 record with a 3.20 ERA (if you’re a traditionalist), a 3.43 FIP, and a 117/42 K/BB ratio (if you’re a stats guy) at the break this past July.… Click here to read the rest

Practicing Tolerance During the Award Season

The portion of the article drawing the most ire from Heyman’s most fervent detractors was his placement of Jose Bautista on his American League MVP ballot:

“5. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays OF-INF. No question he’s been the best player in the league. His 1.092 OPS is way ahead of the rest. Good at everything on a baseball field.”

Understandably, upon seeing “the best player in the league” ranked fifth on Heyman’s ballot, it ruffled several feathers among the statistically-minded masses. If Bautista is the league’s best player, why wouldn’t he also be the most valuable? To most of us, it seems counter-intuitive and irrational to penalize a player for something he has little control over. Bautista can neither choose his teammates, nor magically lift his team’s performance to the level of a playoff contender at will. As good as he is, he’s just one person playing on a team with 24 other players. He can only be responsible for his own performance.… Click here to read the rest

Would Cashman Bolt for the Cubs?

The job as the Yankees GM is constantly evolving, always in flux.  Although Cashman enjoys a nearly unlimited supply of financial capital at his disposal, money doesn’t win championships.  Faced with the continuous pressure to put a winner on the field every season, he’s had to learn to balance the Steinbrenner’s “win now” mentality with his “build for the future” ethos.  It’s not an easy task, but it’s one Cashman has shown he’s uniquely suited to handle.   In this respect, he has plenty of reasons to remain both challenged and engaged in the position he’s encumbered for the past 14 years.

Even though Cashman said he’s “not looking to go anywhere,” we shouldn’t take that to mean he’s not willing to listen to competing offers. Clearly, the Yankees will offer him the best deal financially.  That’s a given.  Though he loves working for the Yankees and feels challenged in his current job, it is possible he might be looking for a new challenge.   … Click here to read the rest