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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Expansion Won’t Help Run Scoring

MLB run scoring is down. A lot:

There are many causes of decreased run scoring. Jeff Zimmernan at The Hardball Times thinks that one solution is to expand the number of MLB teams:

Why should there be expansion? One reason is the run scoring environment. Run production has dropped from from a steroid-era high of 5.1 runs per game per team in 2000 to 4.1 last season. Pitching is now the dominant force in the game. The last four times the majors expanded, runs increased as the pitching talent was spread thinner. Looking at the two seasons before an expansion of teams and the two seasons after, the average increase in runs scored per game was a third of a run. Without expansion and if things remain static, scoring will likely go even lower as pitching talent becomes more and more concentrated.

This is an interesting, testable hypothesis: when there is a more concentrated talent pool of potential MLB players, run scoring decreases.…

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Are You Ready For Some Baseball?

Yankees Players

Courtesy of the AP

I don’t want this to turn into another one of the zillion “now it’s officially baseball season” lines that was going on around on Twitter last night.  I’m an all-sports guy, so I’ll actually be using the next few weeks to catch up on what I’ve been missing in the NBA, NHL, and college basketball.  But make no mistake, the end of the Super Bowl and football season is definitely the time when baseball’s return starts to feel really close and starts to get fun.

The date for Yankee pitchers and catchers to report is February 20th.  That’s 18 days away, less than 3 weeks.  That’s nothing.  That time will pass before you even realize it and then baseball will officially be back.

Every minute of every hour of every day that passes over the next 18 days is bringing us closer to the return of baseball.  Closer to seeing what Tanaka and Pineda and CC look like after an offseason to strengthen and condition their bodies to survive another long season.  …

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Saturday News And Notes: 1/31/15

It’s the last day of January and the start to a monster sports weekend.  I spent my morning hanging curtains and washing dishes, so I hope everybody else’s has been more exciting than that.  Here’s what’s going on around the Yankosphere.

– The dollar figure on the Scott Baker deal is in.  Via Jon Heyman, he’ll make $1.5 million if he makes the Major League squad.  I’d say that’s a longshot possibility at best, but you never know.

– MLB.com unveiled its top 100 prospects list yesterday.  2 Yankee farmhands made the cut, with Luis Severino coming in at 23 Aaron Judge at 68, and Greg Bird nowhere to be found.  Byron Buxton was #1 for the second year in a row.  Check out the whole list here.

– If you missed it the other day, Yankee MiLer Tyler Palmer was suspended 50 games for testing positive for Amphetamine.  Bummer for him.

– It didn’t make the ‘Palooza yesterday afternoon, but Mike Axisa wrapped up his ranking of the 40 players currently on the 40-man roster.  …

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Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 1/30/15

It’s Super Bowl weekend, which means I’ll temporarily forget how terrible I am at sports betting and lay some coin down on the game and a bunch of prop bets.  If you aren’t already following me on Twitter and are in the mood to make lose some money on Sunday, take the plunge and be on the lookout for my bets this weekend.  I’m actually less excited for this game than I’ve been for a Super Bowl in a long time.  All the lame #DeflateGate talk and the MSM crawling up its own butt about Marshawn Lynch has been agonizing.  But I digress.  We’ve got a batch of links to cover so let’s get to it.

On Monday, Wally Matthews of ESPN NY discussed the strained relationship between A-Rod and the Yankees and how it should not override the importance of winning ballgames.  Duh.

– On Tuesday, Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley reviewed the Ichiro Suzuki trade on the heels of his new deal with the Marlins.  …

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Report: Yankees Sign RHP Scott Baker To MiL Deal

Via Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed right-hander Scott Baker to a MiL contract.  There’s been talk for a while on whether or not they would add some cheap potential rotation depth, and Baker fits that mold perfectly.

Baker, now 33, was a consistent 2-3 WAR pitcher for the Twins from 2007-2011.  He suffered an elbow injury and had TJS in 2012 and has never regained his form since then.  He’s pitched a total of 95.2 innings over the last 2 seasons, 1 with the Cubs and the other with the Rangers, and has had a FIP around 5.00 and precious few strikeouts during that time.

If you want to put a positive spin on this, you could point out how his IP and K numbers were better in 2014 than in 2013, but it’s difficult to see Baker being much of a contributor this year.  He’ll get his work in during ST and make a few appearances.  He’s a good emergency arm to have around in Triple-A if he stays there after spring camp, but nothing more.  …

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