Issues With The Incumbents: Health At The Top Of The Order

Ellsbury-Gardner 2014

Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Because of the high amount of roster turnover this offseason, the bulk of the player analysis has focused on the new guys.  Will Didi be able to hit enough to be an everyday shortstop?  How will Headley do in a full repeat season?  Can Eovaldi improve his performance to match his stuff?  How will all the new bullpen arms get worked in?  Does Stephen Drew really suck as bad as he did last year?

While all of those are valid questions and some are very important to the Yankees’ future, it’s the returning group of holdover players that is more important to the team’s immediate success.  There hasn’t been a lot said about that group of incumbent everyday Yankees this offseason, and over the next week or so I’d like to shine the spotlight back on them and take a look at what they key issues are with them that will determine how 2015 plays out.  …

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Yankees Announce Full List Of Non-Roster ST Invites

Pitchers and catchers are a little more than 2 weeks away from reporting to Spring Training 2015.  Today the Yankees revealed a bunch more names that will be in attendance on that date as they officially announced their full list of non-roster invitations to spring camp.

The list is headlined by top prospects Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Jacob Lindgren, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, and Jake Cave.  I believe it’s the first ST invite for all of them.  A group of top MiL relief prospects also got the nod: Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb, Nick Goody, and James Pazos.

The 6 players who signed MiL deals all had those formally announced today, confirming their participation in spring camp.  Those 6, if you don’t remember all of them, include IFers Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, and Nick Noonan, catchers Juan Graterol and Eddy Rodriguez, and RHP Scott Baker.  I’d say Baker actually has the best chance to make the Opening Day roster from this group.…

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Ten Years Later: The Yankees Top-10 Prospects of 2005

Much has been made of the Yankees inability to develop top flight talent over the last ten to fifteen years or so. In the eyes of many, the team’s post Core Four development record amounts to Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and a slew of disappointments and busts. That is not wholly inaccurate, I suppose, as expectations for prospects – any team’s prospects – are generally sky high. Optimism abounds, making disappointment an inevitability in most circumstances. For every Mike Trout that the Angels develop, for example, they suffer dozens of folk like Brandon Wood and Dallas McPherson (hold onto that thought). Our memories are geared to remember the extremes of most any scenario, hence our insistence on clinging to the booms and the busts, and not focusing on those prospects that simply worked out.

With this in mind, I began perusing old Yankees prospect lists to see how their best talent on the farm has shaken out over the last decade.…

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Wednesday News And Notes: 2/4/15

Slow news day and I’m sick.  Here’s what’s happening:

– The James Shields winds have started blowing again, with a report out today that he’s expected to sign by the end of the week.  Both Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman have reported that the Yanks are not interested and not pursuing him, but like I said yesterday, I’ll believe that when he signs somewhere else.

- Via Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Yoan Moncada is looking to sign with a team soon and even got a direct quote from him stating that:

“My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the Major Leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be.”

Those are my goals too, Yoan.  What a funny coincidence.

– In the prospect and projection world, Dan Szymborski released his ZiPS projection top 100 prospects list for 2015 yesterday.  Like Keith Law’s list, it featured Aaron Judge and Greg Bird as the 2 Yankee representatives, with Judge ranking lower on the ZiPS list (48th) and Bird higher (60th) than they did on Law’s.…

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Nova Says Rehab Is Going Well, Should Rejoin The Team In June

There hasn’t been much on Ivan Nova‘s rehab from last year’s Tommy John Surgery, so it was good to get this report from the AP yesterday:

“New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova says his surgically repaired right elbow feels great and appears on track to rejoin the team by June.

Nova is throwing on level ground at the Yankees’ minor league complex. He tore a ligament in the elbow last April 19 during a game against Tampa Bay and had surgery 10 days later.”

Flat ground throwing is the pitcher’s equivalent of a baby learning how to stand up and wobble around before it can walk, but it’s an important rehab step for TJS guys, one that gives them their first real test of the elbow.  If Nova says his elbow feels great and there isn’t any pain or swelling, that’s the best possible news at this stage.

Nova may end up being more important to the rotation this year than most TJS rehab cases simply because he’s another depth arm that can soak up innings if other pitchers get hurt.  …

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Report: Yoan Moncada Officially Declared A Free Agent By MLB

Via Jeff Passan, top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada was officially declared a free agent by MLB today.  He is now eligible to sign with any team.

According to Passan’s report, MLB will require all players wishing to come over to sign with teams to provide a sworn affidavit stating that they have established residency in another country, have no intention of going back to Cuba, and are not Cuban government officials.  This will allow them to receive the general unblocking license from the US government that was the apparent holdup previously.  Funny how that first story came out last week about MLB dragging its feet on the licences and now we have a resolution this week.

With MLB’s shenanigans in the rearview, the Yankees move right to the front of the line of favorites to sign Moncada.  They have until June 15th of this year to make him any offer they want plus a 100% penalty tax on the deal.  …

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Quick Hit: Happy Anniversary, Cash

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Courtesy of the Daily News

If you didn’t know, today marks the 17th anniversary of Brian Cashman taking over as GM of the Yankees.  17 years as the GM.  That’s an eternity in modern sports, especially when you’re talking about the most successful and most widely known American sports franchise in the history of the world that has a well-earned reputation for front office fireworks.  Whether you like Cash or not, that’s an impressive feat and one that merits mentioning today.

During Cash’s tenure as Yankee GM, the team has won 4 World Series titles, 6 AL pennants, and 12 AL East titles, including 9 straight from 1998-2006.  That’s quite the resume, one that basically writes Cash a check for whatever he wants to do when he decides he’s done GM’ing and one that keeps the Yankees coming back to him to do the job while some call for his firing.  He’s had some great moments and some he’d probably like to take back.  …

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: James Shields, Anybody?

Everybody knows the situation with the rotation heading into spring camp this year.  We know it’s got a potentially higher ceiling than people are giving it credit for but that it needs a lot to go right for that to happen.  We know the depth behind the projected starting 5 isn’t there, and we know that the latest projections are not optimistic about the health concerns surrounding those starting 5.

Enter James Shields, who is somewhat surprisingly still out there on the free agent market and reportedly losing his luster rapidly.  Buster Olney said on Sunday that Shields’ “leverage is gone now” and went even further in saying that “Shields is in the worst possible spot of any free agent” still left.  Nick Cafardo described Shields’ current situation as “radio silence,” which is not something you want to hear when you had visions of getting 5 years and 9 figures this offseason.

There is some belief that a team could come in with a lower-figure 4-year offer and land him, but given the limited confirmed interest and dropping asking price, should the Yankees swoop in and try to get Shields on a shorter, higher-dollar deal?  …

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Quick Hit: FanGraphs Releases ZiPS Projections For 2015 Yankees

Now that rosters have been mostly set and prospects have been ranked, the next step on the march towards pitchers and catchers reporting is the release of 2015 projections.  Earlier this morning, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the Yankees were released over at FanGraphs.  It’s a mixed bag of good and bad if you’re the kind of person who values projections in any way, and I invite everybody to read through the whole post when you have the time.

If you’re just looking for the highlights, here they are.  ZiPS is high on Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann, projecting all of them to outperform their 2014 slash lines.  It’s also somewhat optimistic about Mark Teixeira, pegging him for a .332 wOBA, albeit in just 377 plate appearances.  A handful of rookies also got favorable WAR projections, most notably Luis Severino, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder, and Aaron Judge.

The pitching, on the other hand, was mostly lowlights.  …

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