Wednesday Morning Food For Thought: Don’t Forget About Andrew Bailey

Bailey ST 2015

Joe’s already got his eye on him. Courtesy of the Yanks’ PR handle

I name dropped him in the ST roster battles post yesterday morning, but I think Andrew Bailey deserves a little more digital ink based on the news that came out yesterday.  Via Chad Jennings, Bailey threw a bullpen yesterday afternoon.  Like Ivan Nova, he’s been back throwing bullpens for a while now and he spoke like a player who felt he was almost back to normal game shape:

“I came in and spent the offseason training, working as I would if I played last year. The doctor gave me 18, 24 months (to be healthy after surgery), and we’re in that 18th, 19th month. Everyone around here, training staff, coaches and strength and conditioning have all kind of (treated it as if) I’m a normal guy with some needs. Hopefully we get rid of those needs. Everything feels great. I’m with the team and doing everything as I would normally, and if I need a little extra work here or there, that’s fine too.

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Previewing The Spring Training Roster Battles

Miller ST 2015

The new closer? Maybe, maybe not… Courtesy of the AP

The dust is still settling from yesterday’s Yoan Moncada decision, and to be perfectly honest I can’t figure out how I feel about it or how I should respond to it.  The Yankees’ entire process leading up to the decision and their explanation after the fact aren’t adding up to me, they have me in a mental pretzel, so I’m just going to back burner that for a second and move forward with normal Spring Training activity.

Roster battles are always one of the more fun ST storylines.  Something about the spirit of competition and the possibility of an unsung player performing well enough to earn himself a shot at the big time, it’s classic sports storytelling.  The Yankees don’t have a ton of really exciting roster battles on tap this spring, but there are a few that are worth following.  Here’s a quick roundup of the key ones to watch.…

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Monday Morning Rapid-Fire Reactions To What I Missed Over The Last Week

hank-steinbrenner-smoking

There was a Hank sighting and I missed it?? Damn

Good morning, dear IIATMS readers.  How’s everybody feeling this morning?  It feels good to be back after a week off, and it feels even better to have had nothing go majorly wrong in Yankeeland while I was away.  It was a bummer to miss pitchers and catchers report day last Friday, but that disappointment is overwhelmed by the excitement that comes with the start of Spring Training and the return of baseball to our lives.

Last week was not an inactive one, and naturally I have my own opinions on the comings and goings of that last week.  Before proceeding with what’s going on in the present and getting back to business as usual around here, I wanted to circle back and give my quick takes on the major stories I missed last week.  I promise this won’t take long.

A-Rod’s Apology Letter

Loved it.  Loved everything about it.  He was obviously in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when it came to the public apology, and I think he made the right decision to handle it the way he did.  …

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Quick Hit: Cash Sets The Stage For Refsnyder

Brian Cashman was a guest on Mike Francesa’s show yesterday afternoon.  He talked about a variety of topics, including where the team stands on Yoan Moncada and James Shields, what the expectations are for CC Sabathia, and the health of Masahiro Tanaka.  But the most telling comments might have been the ones about the situation at second base.

Via Brendan Kuty, Cash explained that the Stephen Drew signing was a low-risk one and one the team is willing to cut bait on if he doesn’t rebound from his putrid 2014.  He also didn’t come and declare that Drew was going to be the starter at second base, saying of Rob Refsnyder:

“The bottom line is, he’ll go into camp, and he’ll compete, and he’ll have a chance to potentially earn a spot on the roster.”

That quote should be music to the ears of the Yankee fans who were against the Drew signing.  One of their biggest problems with the decision was the perceived blocking of Refsnyder at second.  …

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A Quick Word On All This Relief Prospect Depth

The talking point of the Yankees acquiring more organizational depth this offseason has been hammered home for a while now, perhaps nowhere more than with the bullpen.  There are already a ton of arms that are in competition for the last bullpen spot or 2, and there are going to be a ton of young arms waiting in the wings for their chance to break in and contribute.  I mean really, a ton of arms.  In somewhat of a particular order, here’s a breakdown of the current relief prospect depth:

1) Jacob Lindgren
2) Jose Ramirez
3) Chasen Shreve
4) Nick Rumbelow
5) Tyler Webb
6) Danny Burawa
7) James Pazos
8) Branden Pinder
9) Mark Montgomery
10) Nick Goody

That doesn’t even include guys like Phil Wetherall, Dietrich Enns, and Diego Moreno who have had some success working in relief in the middle levels of the system, and 2014 draft picks like Jonathan Holder, Jordan Foley, Sean Carley, and Jake Kelzer.  …

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Resetting The Organizational Catching Depth

As usual, the Yankees are experiencing the pains of a 40-man roster crunch.  They have yet to make a move to open up a spot for the recently-signed Stephen Drew, and when they do they will have to deal with a possible surplus of infielders on the roster.  That’s not the worst problem to have when you’re coming off a year in which your infield was as bad as the Yankees’ was in 2014, and it should work itself out by the time Spring Training comes and goes.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Bombers were going through a similar crunch with their catching depth.  They opened the offseason with 5 catchers on the 40-man and not enough spots for all those catchers.  Francisco Cervelli was traded to Pittsburgh for Justin Wilson, which opened up the backup MLB job for John Ryan Murphy and eased the playing time concerns at the rest of the upper levels.  With that issue cleared up, let’s do a quick review of the team’s current catching depth.…

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Thursday Afternoon Food For Thought: The Importance Of All These Marginal Upgrades

This was originally supposed to be a longer series of posts after the regular season ended, but I figured some of the wounds were still too fresh and I didn’t want to be too big of a downer.  We all know there were a ton of bad losses last season.  Listed below are the 5 games I believe the Yankees should have won the most:

  • 5/11/14- Brewers 6, Yankees 5.  Yanks blew an early lead after scoring 3 off Matt Garza in the top of the 1st.  Bullpen coughed up the lead late, then gave up the walk-off loss in the bottom of the 9th after a Teix HR to tie the game in the top half.
  • 7/5/14- Twins 2, Yankees 1.  Yanks lost on a walk-off error in the 11th inning after managing to score only 1 run against Minnesota starter Yohan Pino.  They didn’t have a single extra-base hit in the game.
  • 7/21/14- Rangers 4, Yankees 2.  The team made 5 defensive errors and scored 2 runs on 4 hits in 7.1 innings against Miles Mikolas.  
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The Already Youngering Yankees Continue To Get Younger

For years there has been a growing cry from Yankee blogs and fans alike for the team to get younger and start getting more from their farm system.  The term “rebuild” is seldom used in Yankeeland.  The front office openly declares every year that they plan on contending for titles, whether that goal is a realistic one or not, and they have stubbornly refused to be sellers at previous trade deadlines when doing so could have helped stimulate roster turnover and make the team younger.

This offseason has been a major sign that the Yankees are truly committed to following through on the goal of getting younger and better prepared for the future and creating opportunities for some of their prospects.  No huge deals have been given out in terms of money or years, they have steered clear of the top tier starting pitching targets, and there has been a noticeable focus on sacrificing a bit for the present to build for the future.  …

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Don’t Discount The Defensive Upgrade In The Infield

2013 Projected Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis
2013 Actual Opening Day Infield: Kevin Youkilis, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix

2014 Projected & Actual Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson

2015 Project Opening Day Infield: Mark Teixeira, Martin Prado, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley

I didn’t crunch any numbers to show it, but nobody needs to see them to know that the Yankee infield has been a disaster area for the last 2 seasons.  The names above tell the whole story.  A combination of aging core players, major injuries, lack of organizational depth, flawed budget plans, and head-scratching free agent strategies took what had been the greatest strength of the roster for a while and turned it into a glaring, gaping, broken beyond repair weakness.

After slogging through another season of below-average offensive and defensive output from the starting infield 2014, the Yankees had to do something to upgrade the unit this offseason and they appear to have done that, from a defensive standpoint if nothing else.  …

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