About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

5 Minor League Players To Watch This Spring

The Yankees have a lot to sort out for their MLB club this spring. We’ll be watching Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon fight for rotation spots. We’ll check in and see if Derek Jeter‘s swing is indeed corrected, or if Joba Chamberlain is actually as fat as people are reporting. But Tampa will also be filled with about 200-some minor league players looking to continue their journey to the big leagues. Here are five players who deserve to be watched during spring training.

Jesus Montero – A few months ago, he was set to enter Spring Training as the presumptive Yankees starting catcher. Now, he’s sidelined behind Russell Martin, and will probably return to Triple-A for at least another half season. However, Montero could change all that with an impressive spring. He will probably stick around until the final round or two of cuts are made, and a big performance could change the Yankees mind.… Click here to read the rest

Frank Piliere Releases Top 100 MLB Prospects List

[image title=”manuel-banuelos-540×366″ size=”full” id=”25087″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]Frank Piliere of AOL Fanhouse released his top-100 MLB prospects yesterday. The Yankees came out pretty big.

#4 Jesus Montero: “He still has critics who like to point to his defense but there is just about no one who will criticize Montero’s bat. Will he be a good defensive catcher? No, but he has shown enough improvement to be an adequate defender. That combined with a potentially special bat make for an impressive total package.”

#13 Manuel Banuelos: “Some like to pretend Banuelos came from nowhere in 2010. Well, he didn’t. He picked up a couple ticks on his fastball and lives at 93-95 now, but even before the spike he was armed with two good secondary offerings and plus command.”

#34 Gary Sanchez: “Most organizations would sign up for having Sanchez as their top prospect, but he doesn’t even get the title of top catching prospect in his organization. That may soon change, however, as Sanchez’s bat rivals Montero’s at the same age and he looks like he’ll be a better defender.”

#44 Dellin Betances: “If not for his injury history, Betances would likely be toward the top 20 in this list.

Click here to read the rest

The Looming Time Bomb Of CC's Opt-Out

[image title=”cc-sabathia-with-ny” size=”full” id=”25044″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]Dan Mennella at MLB Trade Rumors noted the following yesterday:

Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia has shed 30 pounds this offseason in an effort to reduce the load on his surgically repaired right knee, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Typically, we don’t get too excited over this sort of Spring Training cliche, as we’re bound to hear quite a bit about who’s in shape and who’s not over the next couple weeks, but 30 pounds is a lot of weight, and we’re especially mindful of the opt-out clause in Sabathia’s contract after the 2011 campaign. If he’s healthy and has a big season, Sabathia could be in for another big payday next offseason.

Health seems very important to this equation. Sabathia is owed $23 million per year from 2011 until 2015. That means if he opts out, he leaves $92 million dollars over 4 seasons on the table. He will be 31 years old.

If Sabathia has another Cy Young-caliber season, it will no doubt be the correct economic decision for him to exercise his opt-out clause and try to earn similar money over more years on the open market.… Click here to read the rest

Shameless Plug #1 – Yankees Annual 2011

[image title=”book110_300″ size=”full” id=”25030″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]Forgive me for tooting my own horn and trying to sell you a great product.

I have just been informed that this year’s Yankees Annual magazine has been sent to the presses, and is also now available for pre-order. I had the privelege of writing two articles for this year’s Annual, which also includes articles written by MLB Trade Rumor’s Howard Megdal,  AOL Fanhouse’s Dan Graziano, Baseball Daily Digest’s David Golebiewski and a whole bunch of other writers who are universally more qualified than I am. Over the four years that I have been writing for it, the magazine has evolved from a basic spring training and fantasy baseball preview to a real hub for high quality Yankee writing. It will include everything from an interview with Pat Venditte to Professor of Physics and Baseball Analyst contributor Alan M. Nathan’s attempt to measure the length of a legendary Mickey Mantle home run.

My first article is called, “A Good Harvest”, and recaps the 2010 season in the minor leagues.… Click here to read the rest

Projecting the 2011 Minor League Rotations

With the off season winding down, I figure that it is about time to see where everybody is going to wind up. The Yankees manage to emerge from a slow post-2011 off season while hanging on to all of their top pitching prospects. I have prepared this graphic in order to attempt to project where they will all end up.

[image title=”2011 Yankee rotations” size=”full” id=”24896″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]

Brian Cashman wasn’t kidding when he said that our upper minor league rotations are full. The Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Double-A Trenton Thunder will have, by some measures, 10 prospects to fill 10 rotation spots. Craig Heyer and Shaeffer Hall are certainly the runts of the group, but they are a big improvement on the years when these kinds of guys took those spots. There is some downside to that of course – players won’t really be able to move up to a higher level in the middle of the season without an injury clearing the way.… Click here to read the rest

Top 20 Yankee Hitters Of All Time?

Over at Bleacher Report, they came up with a list of the top 20 Yankee hitters of all time. The list:

1. Babe Ruth
2. Lou Gehrig
3. Derek Jeter
4. Mickey Mantle
5. Joe DiMaggio
6. Don Mattingly
7. Bernie Williams
8. Yogi Berra
9. Earle Combs
10. Billy Dickey
11. Tony Lazzeri
12. Roy White
13. Bob Meusel
14. Thurman Munson
15. Phil Rizzuto
16. Jorge Posada
17. Roger Maris
18. Wade Boggs
19. Frank Crossetti
20. Bobby Richardson

I look at this list with a big fat blank stare. Wade Boggs? Frank Crossetti? Jeter over Mantle? Bernie Williams over Yogi Berra? Bob Meusel ranked 13th all time? If we’re including players like Wade Boggs, where is Alex Rodriguez? And what the hell is Bobby Richardson, Mr. .299 OBP, even doing in the top-40? He’s a big reason why Mantle didn’t get more RBIs.

Here is my list, using the following criteria: overall contribution as a position player, more credit to post-Jackie Robinson era players, and limited to contributions as a Yankee.… Click here to read the rest

The Real Moneyball Lesson

[image title=”Moneyball” size=”full” id=”24842″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]Mike Axisa at River Ave Blues wrote a great post yesterday about one of Cashman’s comments at his talk with Josh Norris:

Josh Norris sat down for a chat with Brian Cashman on Friday (part onepart two), getting the GM to spill the beans about a number of topics, including Jesus Montero, the draft, and a bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately he didn’t say anything controversial, so those of you who enjoy that sort of stuff are out of luck. Rather than give you just a link and telling you to check it out, I wanted to talk briefly about some of the stuff Cashman discussed. I block-quoted some of it and added my two cents below, but still, you should go check out the interview in its entirety. Josh did a great job as usual. On to the quotes…

We have been very aggressive in the draft and re-dedicated ourselves to tools, not necessarily to performance coming out of the amateur ranks.

Click here to read the rest

Yes Censorship Points To Conflict In Yankee Front Office (UPDATED: RAB Statement)

[image title=”yankees-randy-levine-brian-cashman-17b796d2d3c4b7f1_large” size=”full” id=”24691″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]I’ve avoided commenting much on Moshe’s post about how YES seemed to have put pressure on two of its blogs, River Ave Blues and The Pinstripe Bible, to wait to see if anyone involved with deny it. The YES Network’s official response was “no comment”, as was the official response from both the writers at River Ave Blues and the Pinstripe Bible. That they refused to deny that something went on, in my mind, is pretty close to confirmation that something did go on.

Some bloggers, promoted by YES, said that the Rafael Soriano deal was a bad decision. They weren’t particularly vitriolic about it, they just disagreed with the signing. At the same time, Brian Cashman publicly, although politely, disagreed with the signing. He said that it was a bad idea, and very blankly stated that he had nothing to do with it. Someone else in the Yankee organization went over his head and convinced ownership to make a bad move.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees Sign Bartolo Colon to a Minor League Deal

Via MLB Trade Rumors:

The Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, but they signed a former Cy Young Award winner who was once traded for the lefty they coveted this winter. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal (Twitter link).

Colon had been showing signs of life in the Dominican Winter League. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2009, throwing 61 solid innings in 12 starts, with a 4.19 ERA.

As far as potential 5th starters go, Colon’s pretty much the best you can bring in on a riskless minor league deal. I don’t know anything about his physical shape, but plenty of players have benefited from taking a full year off from baseball. The 162-game grind doesn’t heal completely in the short off season. I’d say that at this point, Colon is an odds-even chance to be our 5th starter. Normally I don’t read much into “best shape of his life” reports, but (hat tip RAB) Colon did lose something like 40 pounds in order to get into shape for the DWL.… Click here to read the rest