Heathcott, Neal, Or Mesa?


Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

We’re nearly two weeks away from opening day, and the Yankees haven’t designated a third or fourth outfielder yet. In recent days, Zoilo Almonte, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores have been optioned down, Adonis Garcia has suffered an injury, Matt Diaz has looked awful, and Ronnier Mustelier and Juan Rivera have been getting looks in the infield. The front office did acquire Ben Francisco earlier this week, but Cashman called him a bench option. Slade Heathcott, Thomas Neal, and Melky Mesa are all that remain.

On paper, Heathcott seems like an unlikely choice. He’s been in the Yankee system since 2009, but he has just 869 plate appearances thanks to a number of injuries. The highest level of the minor leagues he’s seen is High-A, where he hit very well this year, but would be in a rare position to jump from such a low level to the major leagues. Regardless, Brian Cashman called him a “dark horse candidate” for the outfield job.…

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Are We Systemically Overrrating Yankee Pitching Prospects, Underrating Yankee Hitting Prospects?

The Yankees have a lot of strong prospects in their minor league system since about 2005, when they began to turn around one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Some of these top prospects include: Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Christian Garcia, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon, Eric Duncan, Melky Cabrera,  Brett Gardner, Alan Horne, Jesus Montero, Jeff Marquez, David Robertson, Zach McAllister, Hector Noesi, Eduardo Nunez, plus the current crop.

I list out those names for a couple of reasons. The first is a little bit of nostalgia. I loved following these players as they climbed the minor league ladder. But the second is more important: it seems like Yankeee pitchers have on the whole disappointed a lot more, while quite a few Yankee hitters have significantly exceeded expectations.

I tackled this idea last season, putting the blame on the Yankee coaching and front office staff for generally sucking at evaluating pitchers.…

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Lame Duck Joe


While Hal breaks traditional Yankee business rules to start contract negotiations with Robinson Cano, it bears reminding that there is another key piece of the puzzle entering this season in the final year of his current contract- manager Joe Girardi.  This season will be Joe’s sixth at the helm of the Bronx Bombers and other than the one post I wrote on the subject a while back, there doesn’t seem to be much discussion anywhere about his future with the organization and where the front office should put re-signing him on the priority list.

Joe’s status in 2013 isn’t a lame duck one in the truest sense of the phrase.  He’s got a 479-331 record, won three division titles, an American League pennant, and a World Series championship in his five years as Yankee manager, so his body of work definitely doesn’t merit a position on the hot seat.  If the Yankees don’t make the postseason this year, it will have more to do with injuries and the step back the team took in overall talent this past offseason than Girardi’s managing.  …

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Yankees Scouting Rangers’ Exhibition Game

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Yankee and Red Sox scouts are in attendance at today’s Rangers game. This builds upon the trade speculation, after we heard that a Ranger’s senior scout was in attendance to watch Joba Chamberlain.

Of the players that could be available, today’s game featured David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Craig Gentry, Elvis Andrus, and Mike Olt (at third base). Geovany Soto is unlikely to play today, and for those wishing on Jurisckson Profar, he’s off to the WBC.

The Rangers don’t have a ton of depth in the outfield, so I don’t think David Murphy or Craig Gentry will be moved. Mitch Moreland makes sense at the moment, but his defense in right field is awful, and there’s no place to put him once Mark Teixeira returns. Mike Olt is still a possibility, but he only came into the game in the 6th inning.

For inquiring minds, the Red Sox, who are also scouting today’s game, have similar needs to the Yankees, as they’d like to acquire some depth in the outfield, as well as a possible corner infielder now that David Ortiz is facing setbacks.…

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Afternoon News And Notes: Hughes, Neal, Huff

Before we get started, there is currently an untelevised game going on, and Yankee pitchers have been getting crushed. Jose Ramirez started today’s game and only earned one out before giving up 4 walks and 2 hits. Adam Warren came on in relief and was equally awful against the Blue Jays, giving up 4 hits and 5 walks in 1.1 innings. Branden Pinder fared slightly better by only giving up 3 hits in his 1.1 innings, but one of those was a solo home run by Mark DeRosa. They plated one more run, and by the fourth inning, Toronto was up 17-3. Don’t be too distraught, this is what happens when major league hitters face Single-A pitchers at this point in Spring, though Warren has fewer excuses.

Phil Hughes threw a bullpen this morning, and he said that he felt great on the mound. Though his command was off, he attributed it to the bullpen scenario. The right-hander also stated that he’s preparing to be ready for the 5th or 6th game of the season, but prefers quality starts over the quantity.…

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Boesch should not be a “major” option for Yanks

When I happen to be in my car during a Yankee game, listening on the radio, I’m surprised by just how often the Yankees face a “really good hitter.” That isn’t a distinction that I give out, but the radio voices of the team, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, sprinkle that phrase on batters quite liberally over the courses of the games and the season. One player they happen to lavish this praise upon is the now former Detroit Tiger, Brennan Boesch. John and Suzyn sure do love this guy and they even discussed it briefly last night during the game against the Phillies. Both commentators, of course, wanted the Yankees to give Boesch a shot. To their credit, they usually see Boesch rake against the Yankees. He owns a career line against the Bombers of .363/.369/.538/.907 with 3 home runs in 84 plate appearances. However, that is most definitely not an accurate picture of Boesch.

After hitting just .240/.286/.372/.659 (77 OPS+), Boesch’s career line is .259/.315/.414/.729.…

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What to expect from Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki

Many Yankee experts were less than thrilled when the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners on July 23, 2012. And yet, despite a year and a half of far-diminished results prior to joining the Yankees, Suzuki had a bit of a renaissance in pinstripes. In 67 games for the Yankees, Ichiro put together a triple slash line of .322/.340/.454. He then was one of the few bright spots in the debacle of an ALCS and has been (cliche alert) tearing the cover off the ball this spring. The interesting question for a 39 year old Ichiro is whether we are to believe his last year and a half as a Mariner or his few months with the Yankees.

There is disagreement in the projection systems. His OPS projections range from a low of .653 to a high of .729 and a wOBA from a low of .283 to a high of .313. The interesting part of the projections was the range on his walk percentage.…

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Betances Discusses Simplifying His Mechanics


Chad Jennings at LoHud provided us with some quotes about Ivan Nova‘s new arm motion earlier this week, and now we have some quotes from Dellin Betances on simplifying his mechanics. As I pointed out on Tuesday, Betances has done some major tinkering to his mechanics since 2011. Among them, he’s maintained the position of his hands to his chest at the beginning of his delivery, and cut down on the movement of his back leg on the follow-through. He’s made some other changes as well, which I couldn’t catch from the video comparison.

I’m trying to be quicker, trying to get my arm up quicker. Sometimes I drift and my arm doesn’t catch up, and that’s when I (struggle). When I get it out quick, I feel like I’m good.”

It’s hard to see a difference in arm quickness in the image above, but if you watch Betances pitch, you’ll see that one of his biggest problems is repeating his delivery.…

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2013 Storylines: The Walking Wounded

Curtis Granderson

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

A byproduct of being an old team is the higher tendency for players to get injured.  The Yankees have walked a fine line in that department in the last two seasons as they’ve aged, and their ability to adapt and overcome those injuries has been what’s kept them at the top of the AL East while they’ve battled Father Time.  This season, that battle is going to rage on like it never has before.  The Yankees would be wise to load up on the Raid, Icy Hot, and batteries for the MRI machine (they run on batteries, right?), because the injury bug is going to be a fixture in the clubhouse in 2013.

The Yanks finished 2012 really banged up, and they’ll carry a lot of those injuries over to the start of the 2013 season.  Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera had season-ending injuries that they’re still working their way back from.  Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia had injuries that had yet to be diagnosed that surely impacted their playoff performances, and like Jeter and Mo they will both have the start of their 2013 seasons affected as a result.  …

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