E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He lives and works in Washington, DC.

Author Archives: EJ Fagan

Mason Williams Hasn’t Been Bad This Season

It’s safe to say that 2013 has been a poor season for the Yankee farm system. They’ve had a few muted breakouts (Rafael DePaula, JR Murphy, O’Brien) coupled with quite a lot of stalled momentum from the 2012 season (Williams, Austin, Heathcott, Sanchez, Montgomery), and some decent work down low.

Depending on who you talked to, Mason Williams was the top Yankee outfield prospect entering this season. After two strong showings in short season ball in 2011 and Low-A in the first half of 2012, Williams was on top of the world. He was promoted to High-A to finish out the 2012 season, and did passably well enough (104 wRC+, 16.3 K%, 3.5 BB%, .303 BABIP, .145 ISO, .277/.302/.422) there to merit articles like these. People were justifiably comparing him to top Yankee outfield prospects like Austin Jackson, and celebrating the performance of the other members of his prospect trio.

And then, the bad news started to hit. In front of the backdrop of the 2013 MLB Yankee season, all of the above minor league disappointment followed.…

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Brian Cashman’s Front Office Deserves Credit for a Good 2013 Season So Far

I love Mike Axisa. However, I strongly disagree with his impassioned rant after last night’s 18-inning loss:

The Yankees didn’t just lose Thursday afternoon/night’s 18-inning marathon with the Athletics because they couldn’t buy a hit after the first inning. They also lost because they half-assed their way through an offseason in which they deemed it acceptable to downgrade all over the field despite a) winning the division by the skin of their teeth last year, and b) knowing it was very likely going to be Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Real nice going away present. That surfboard the A’s gave him today was more respectful.

The Yankees lost on Thursday because they’re desperate. Desperate to hold onto the last glimmer of success from the dynasty years and afraid (unable?) to adapt and move forward with a new chapter in franchise history. Now they’re left with this laughable relic of a roster that is caught between being not truly good enough to contend and not bad enough to completely tear down and rebuild.

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Another One Bites the Dust: Ty Hensley Out Until Spring Training 2014

Originally, Ty Hensley was going to miss 2-3 months following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Given that he was 19 years old, the missed time wasn’t a big deal. He was likely ticketed for EST anyway. But bad news broke today: Hensley won’t pitch until Spring Training 2014. Its way too early to label him a bust, but its not too early to place him into a larger pattern of terrible Yankee minor league pitching prospect management.

The Yankees need to stop sucking at keeping their minor league pitchers healthy. You can’t blame them for any individual case, but a strong pattern is emerging for the team: they just aren’t good at developing minor league pitching. Their success rate at taking promising young arms and turning them into big league 25-man roster players is almost zero. Over the past five years, you balance the successes of David Robertson, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova (kinda-sorta), and David Phelps against the brutal, injury/trade/terribleness graveyard of their top prospects.…

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Please, Give Me More Rainouts

The Yankees made the road trip to Cleveland, but only played two of four games due to rain. Outside of their division, this means that the Yankees are going to have a headache double header to play at some point in the future, most likely in September. Axisa at River Ave Blues is a little bit worried:

Now here’s where things get really messy: it’s supposed to rain all day in New York tomorrow. The heaviest stuff is expected in the morning, but the forecast right now says the showers will continue through the night. Three consecutive rain outs (in two different cities) would be pretty crummy. Not only would the bombers have three postponed games to make up just two weeks into the new season, but you also have to worry about the hitters losing their rhythm and what not. The Yankees’ bats did some major damage on Monday and Tuesday and I really would like that to continue.

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Farm Recap 4/9/2013 Cito [P]ulver[izer]

The big news today: Cito Culver hit 2 home runs for Charleston. Culver has been mashing the ball this year. Last year, he hit just 2 bombs in each of 2011 and 2012. He’s driving the ball so far this year – adds 2 doubles and 1 triple to that total in a week. If he hits for even a below-average amount of power, look out. If he hit .300/.360/.420 this year, I’ll rate him up there with the best.

Charleston beats West Virginia, 10-7

Cito Culver, SS – 2 for 6, 2 HR
Greg Bird, 1b – 1 for 6 – Cooling off
Dante Bichette, 3b – 1 for 3, 3 BB
Pete O’Brien, C – 1 for 4
Daniel Camarena – 4 IP, 11 hits, 5 runs 0 K 1 BB – ……

Tampa beats Dunedin, 4-2

Mason Williams CF, Angelo Gumbs 0 for 3 each, 2 and 1 BB respectively
Gary Sanchez, C, 1 for 4, 2b
Ben Gamel, LF, 1 for 3, 2b BB
Carmen Angelini, SS, 2 for 3, HR 2b – Still hanging on

Trenton beats New Hampshire, 5-1

JR Murphy, C 3-5
Slade Heathcott, CF, 1 for 4
Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, OF, 0 for
Caleb Cotham, 5 innings 1 IR, 5K, 1BB – Sleeper pick to be a decent MLB reliever
Jeremy Bleich, 3 IP, no runs – I’ve got Bleich fatigue at this point

Scranton loses to Rochester 2-1

Corban Joseph, 2b, 1-2, 2 BB
Austin Romine, C, 2 for 4
Vidal Nuno, :LHP, 7 IP, no runs, 0 BB, 6 K – The kind of start that could set up for a long MLB callup.…

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MLB Needs To Tweak Free Agency

Almost under our noses, the economics of baseball profoundly changed. The most overt changes came during the 2011 CBA negotiations, where two big developments happened: draconian amateur spending caps were implemented, and a $189 million salary + other stuff soft cap was implemented. But more importantly, the success of MLB Network, MLBAM, and other negotiated TV deals brought scores of millions of dollars of equally-divided revenue to major league teams.

The result is something that looks like a fairly level playing field. Roughly half of MLB teams now have payrolls over $100 million, and several others have the capacity to spend more if need be. Teams are taking that extra payroll room and spending on big extensions for home-grown players. You know who these players are, but some recent monster extensions include Justin Verlander, Joey Votto, Elvis Andrus, etc.

The bloodbath (from a Yankee perspective) week of extensions prompted Jonah at Grantland to declare that free agency is on a “march toward irrelevance.” The 2014 free agent class after Robinson Cano, who may be extended himself, is incredibly weak, and is comprised mostly of players on the wrong side of 30.…

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Site Maintenance Tonight: Expect Outages

Update: We’re still in the process of moving things over. In the meantime, things could be a little off. Please stick with us!

Warning: Because so damn many of you are reading, we’ll be performing some site maintenance tonight, and switching to a new server. The site will go down roughly around 7:30 pm tonight, and could remain out for a few hours. This page won’t be available while we are down, so look for updates via Twitter.

Also: it’s awesome that so many of you are reading. Keep that up!

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Mythbusting: The International Draft Didn’t Kill Puerto Rican Baseball

In my book, the most enduring myth in baseball is that the introduction of the amateur draft in 1990 destroyed Puerto Rico as an incubator of MLB talent. People use it as an example why the international draft the MLB and MLBPA are negotiating right now is a bad idea. I’ll let you decide. Can you spot the draft-related decline in Puerto Rican MLB players after 1990?

PRDRPlayersTop

Can you spot it? I include Dominican players (the red line) to show what people are really talking about: the decline of Puerto Rico as a hotbed of baseball talent in relation to the newest non-US powerhouse: the Dominican Republic. While levels of Puerto Rican MLB players remained fairly constant, even growing a little bit, through the early aughts, Dominican baseball exploded. This does not mean that baseball on the island declined, just that it didn’t explode as much as baseball on the other island.

But yeah, there’s a slight decline over the last seven years or so.…

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Are We Systemically Overrrating Yankee Pitching Prospects, Underrating Yankee Hitting Prospects?

The Yankees have a lot of strong prospects in their minor league system since about 2005, when they began to turn around one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Some of these top prospects include: Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Christian Garcia, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon, Eric Duncan, Melky Cabrera,  Brett Gardner, Alan Horne, Jesus Montero, Jeff Marquez, David Robertson, Zach McAllister, Hector Noesi, Eduardo Nunez, plus the current crop.

I list out those names for a couple of reasons. The first is a little bit of nostalgia. I loved following these players as they climbed the minor league ladder. But the second is more important: it seems like Yankeee pitchers have on the whole disappointed a lot more, while quite a few Yankee hitters have significantly exceeded expectations.

I tackled this idea last season, putting the blame on the Yankee coaching and front office staff for generally sucking at evaluating pitchers.…

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