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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From Evil Empire to Tweener – Or, Why It’s All About the SP

Yankeeland is a pretty conflicted place these days, and I think this is why: They’re tweeners. Neither direction really works for the Yankees, because they’re in-between: they’re not a contender right now; yet they lack many big-improvement moves to pursue; yet they’re just good enough to avoid a rebuilding project that might not work anyway.

The roster right now isn’t good enough to win, and other than signing Max Scherzer for a huge seven-year contract that will look bad before there’s still $100 million left on it, there isn’t any big improvement to be found.

(1) Andrew Miller and the most likely upcoming free agents (a mid-market SP and Headley) just maintain the status quo (replacing David Robertson and Hiroki Kuroda, plus keeping Chase Headley).

(2) Major offense improvements are tough to find because five regulars have immovable contracts producing at likely the 1-3 WAR level (McCann, Teixeira, Beltran, Ellsbury, and A-Rod – who may not be a regular, but the point remains that they feel compelled to keep a spot for him).…

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Quick Hit: Greg Bird Off To A Hot Start In The AZFL

The Arizona Fall League is a little over a week underway and so far it’s been mostly uneventful for the Yankee reps.  Tyler Austin and Dante Bichette Jr. are both off to slow starts with the bat and Aaron Judge has only appeared in 3 games.  None of the 3 pitchers are doing anything special in their first few appearances.

The one player who is making headlines is Greg Bird.  He’s gotten the most burn out of the 4 position players, playing in 8 of the 9 games so far, and he’s been a fixture hitting in prime middle-of-the-order spots and playing first base.  In 36 plate appearances, Bird has a .394/.444/.758 batting line with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 R scored, and 9 RBI.  His 25 total bases are almost double the next highest total on his team.

About the only thing Bird hasn’t done well is limit his strikeouts.  He’s K’d 10 times in his 36 plate appearances.  …

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Quick Hit: Giving Props to Larry Rothschild

The Yankees pitching staff this season felt as if it was cobbled together from rubbish and assorted cadavers, and held together by Scotch tape and some good ol’ fashioned Elmer’s glue. A total of thirty-three players threw a pitch for the team this year (and I say ‘players’ and not ‘pitchers’ because of Dean Anna), and thirteen pitchers started at least one game. The Yankees Opening Day rotation – CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda – combined to make only seventy-seven starts. Twenty-seven games were started by pitchers in their first taste of the Majors (Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell), and another twenty-seven went to folk that were on another team when the season kicked off (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, and the immortal Esmil Rogers). And, finally, the team used twenty-six different players out of the bullpen. To call it a staff in flux may be the understatement of the year.…

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Jeter Providing One Last Memory With Late-Season Surge

Jeter vs TOR 9-20

Courtesy of Getty Images

Things were looking bleak for Derek Jeter heading into his final homestand at Yankee Stadium.  He was in an 0-28 slump, his season OPS had dropped below .600, and his team had slowly and sadly withered and fallen off the postseason race radar.  It seemed like there was going to be an almost pitiful feeling to Jeter’s last 6 home games; a team trying to pump meaning and energy into a situation that had none, a player trying to not go out in underwhelming fashion, and a fanbase just trying to be polite and pay respect to the memory of the better times for the player they loved.

Then Jeter picked up a hit in the final game of the last road trip, breaking the hitless streak and giving himself a little momentum heading back home.  Then he hit a deep home run on Thursday night in the first game of the homestand and finished with a 2-hit game.  …

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