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

Author Archives: EJ Fagan

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?


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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The Right and Wrong Ways to Think About Prospect Hugging

I’m a prospect guy. I’ve always been most passionate about baseball when I’m reading about or watching some guy in High-A who might make the major leagues some day. Last week, I advocated trading four young Yankee players, including top outfield prospects Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott, in a package for Padres star Chase Headley

Reacting to my post, several readers dug in their heels against the idea of trading prospects in general. Their reaction is probably best summarized by OldYankeeFan’s comment:

I would NOT give up any prime meat for a 2 year rental.
You never know who is going to make it large.
We dangled Mo, Cano and others in the past. Fortunately, they weren’t taken. AJax was!

That will NEVER happen again if we keep trading our better/best prospect for ONE shiney object.

I share some of this instinct, but I think it is misguided.…

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What Would You Trade for Chase Headley?

The Padres are considering trading Chase Headley, and there isn’t a team more desperate to add a position player right now than the New York Yankees. While it would be nice to pull off a Swisher-like trade for Headley, sending Dellin Betances, and an autographed Derek Jeter game-used bat to San Diego in return for last year’s 5th place NL MVP pick, it is unlikely. So, I have a simple question: What is your best offer?

Headley has been worth an average of 4.0 bWAR over the past 3 seasons, capped by an impressive 6 WAR performance last year. He’s entering his age 29 season with two years of team control left on his contract. Headley plays a very good third base, and has hitting talent that was masked by his home ballpark for most of his career, before an impressive breakout last season. He is a career .302/.372/.464 hitter away from PETCO, including .300/.395/.541 in 2012.

For all intents and purposes, Headley is fairly comparable to Ryan Zimmerman or Evan Longoria.…

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Three days in Florida


I had the privilege of spending three days in Florida watching baseball this weekend. I saw three games in three different ballparks: Nationals at Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Tigers at Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, and Yankees at Red Sox at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

The Players

You could hear an audible gasp in Tampa when the Yankees subbed out their regulars for minor league players, and that was after five innings of watching Kevin Youkilis, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, and the rest play baseball. You could sense an even greater frustration in Fort Myers, where Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, and Eduardo Nunez were the most famous players in the ballgame. But for me? I came to see the scrubs. Here are some observations on a few that I got to watch this weekend:

Tyler Austin - I’d never seen him in person before, but one glance could tell you all you need to know about why scouts peg him as a 1st baseman and/or possible tweener.…

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The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013

A week ago, the 2013 Yankees were walking on a tight rope. Their roster, while a significant downgrade from the 2012 squad, looked strong enough to contend for a wild card spot in the American League. The team’s rapidly aging core was still effective last year, and should a few things go right should have...

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