Some late afternoon news and notes: 2/20/14

Here are some late afternoon news and notes for you from sunny Florida.

From Chad Jennings of Lohud:

  • Michael Pineda threw another bullpen session today and he not only impressed catcher Peter O’Brien but manager Joe Girardi also liked what he saw: “Does he look like he’s putting too much effort to let the ball go, or is it coming out easy? That’s what I’ve seen. It’s coming out easy. I don’t see him overthrowing. And the stuff being sharp, hitting his spots with some sink and some run to it. His slider looks good. His changeup looks good. His mechanics to me look much more polished than they were a couple of years ago. He’s had a lot of time to work on it and to think about it. He’s much more consistent in his delivery.”
  • More on Pineda: He didn’t face live batters like Vidal Nuno or Adam Warren but Girardi said that had nothing to do with Pineda’s health.
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On the Phillies, and Despicable Business Decisions

Early this morning, Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reported that the Phillies had formally accused Ben Wetzler, last year’s fifth-round draft pick, to the NCAA for violating its strict “no agent” rule. This comes on the heels of the Phillies reporting last year’s sixth-round drat pick, Jason Monda, for the same violation. What do the two have in common? Well, aside from the fact that they, like most every other amateur player negotiating with a Major League team, has some form of representation at the table? Both spurned the overtures of the Phillies, and chose to return to college for their senior years.

Speaking in generalities, this simply does not happen (at the very least, it hasn’t happened since A.J. Hinch was an 18-year-old draftee, as opposed to the Vice President of Professional Scouting for the Padres). It may be due to the fact that a large percentage of these players end up signing (particularly those that are drafted in the first several rounds, and offered bonuses of six figures or more), or it may be a product of teams realizing the nature of the beast, and avoiding the possibility of burning any bridges, with respect to agencies and talent – either way, this maneuver by the Phillies is essentially uncharted territory.…

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Pineda’s Mechanical Adjustments

Mechanical adjustments are usually good news or bad news, as they’ll either fix issues or create new ones. The Yankees don’t like to mess with what works, though in recent years, players have taken the initiative to try and correct problems or improve. One of my favorite examples, in terms of pitching, is David Robertson, who altered his mechanics to mimic Mariano Rivera. It worked here, but in the case of Mark Teixeira, who in 2012 tried to develop an opposite field approach to avoid shifts, the results were a two month .228/.283/.386 slash before he gave up and went back to his old hitting style.

We hear a lot about new mechanics in Spring Training, and I expect we’ll see some from a few hitters, like Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Johnson, and some pitchers, especially guys like Dellin Betances or Mark Montgomery. It’s rarer to see starting pitcher’s mechanics adjusted, but it seems that Michael Pineda has made some changes during his two years of rehab.…

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Quick hit: Two Yankees on Baseball America’s Top Prospects List

Baseball America published their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball last night.

The top three prospects are Twins OF Byron Buxton, Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras. Buxton has topped every prospects list so far this year.

As for the Yankees, RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Yes, that Masahiro Tanaka) comes in at #4 and C Gary Sanchez is #35. Tanaka is included because he’s considered a rookie even though he has years of service in Japan and Baseball America recognizes him as such.

Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott, who were all on the 2013 list, did not make it this year.

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Honest Post-Offseason Roster Evaluation: The Rotation

Tanaka-Sabathia ST Bullpen

Last year was a strange combination of opposites for the Yankee rotation.  CC Sabathia went from no-doubt ace to one of the worst pitchers on the staff by year’s end while Ivan Nova went from almost getting pulled from the rotation in April to the best pitcher on the staff by year’s end.  Hiroki Kuroda was excellent again, save for the final month or 2 of the season, while Phil Hughes was pretty much horrible again, save for a month or 2′s worth of good starts.  The steadying force in the middle of the rotation was grizzled vet Andy Pettitte, who battled through early back problems to turn in a final few masterful performances in September and join his buddy Mo in going out at the top of his game.  In the end, that wasn’t enough to put the rotation over the top and the group as a whole didn’t pitch well enough to overcome the team’s offensive deficiencies.

Pettitte is gone now, as is Hughes, and a new era of Yankee starting pitching could be dawning in 2014.  …

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The IIATMS Podcast Episode Six: Pitchers, Previews and Underrated Players

Tonight, Domenic, E.J. and Stacey discuss Michael Pineda expectations, Homer Bailey‘s new ginormous contract, they preview the AL West, they teach Stacey another stat, and finally all three name their most underrated players they’ve seen play (Yankee and non-Yankee players).

Feel free to comment below, tweet us at @IIATMS or send us an email with any questions for the show or suggestions at

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Projecting 2014: Michael Pineda

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

The Yankees traded for Michael Pineda two years ago, and since then he’s thrown 0 major league pitches. After a breakout rookie season in Seattle, the Mariners felt that they had enough pitching to deal for the Yankees’ Jesus Montero, so they bid farewell to their young starter. In that rookie season, Pineda looked like one of the brightest young pitchers in baseball, owning a 9.11 K/9 a 2.89 BB/9, and a 3.42 FIP in 171.0 innings pitched. He was a great young pitcher, similar to the reputations now given to Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, or Chris Archer.

Two years later, Pineda is one of the forgotten players in this Yankees’ pitching staff. He’s spent this time recovering from a minor labrum tear, and the recovery has been slow and methodical. When the injury first happened, Jay Jaffe took a look at how other pitchers fared after labrum tears, and the majority of the results were not good.…

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Jeter Press Conference Recap 2/19/14

Jeter vs CHW

“Being a Yankee is good enough for me.”

From the moment he stepped up to the podium, Derek Jeter looked uncomfortable. He said he didn’t want a press conference because he didn’t want to be a distraction today – especially because it’s the first day that position players were reporting to camp. He wanted to get his message out the way he chose to do it via Facebook.

He didn’t have a prepared speech and said he just wanted a Q&A.

The first question was the most obvious and the one that’s on everyone’s mind: Why now?

Jeter said he took a lot of time to think about it and that the difficulty of last year made the decision easier. He said that he felt it was the right time. He added that he’s done it for long enough and that he can’t wait to start doing other things.

He reiterated that his decision has nothing to do with how he feels physically.…

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