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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Tanaka Update: He Says “So Far So Good” For The Elbow During Offseason Workouts

Tanaka Workout

Courtesy of Kyodo

We’ve heard pretty consistent information on CC Sabathia‘s offseason rehab and workout programs, but precious little on Masahiro Tanaka and what he’s been up to.  That changed recently when Kyodo Sports in Japan did a quick story updating his offseason workout progress.

Tanaka has been back in Japan working out with some of his former Rakuten Golden Eagles teammates, and according to the article he has been running, doing fielding drills, and playing catch.  Those throwing sessions have included breaking balls, although it goes without saying that these sessions are a fraction of the intensity level of a real bullpen session or actual game throwing.

When asked about how everything was going, Tanaka said “So far so good — including that (the elbow),”  He also said he’s not planning on changing his approach now that he’s pitched in MLB and teams have had a chance to face him and scout him firsthand.

“Whether I’m the ace or I’m used in different roles within games, I’m always thinking I’m going to win, so I’m not going to change anything I do.”

The concern level for his UCL is going to be sky high all season, but for now this is all good news.  …

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Yanks Put 3 In Scout.com’s Top 100 Prospects

There’s another top 100 prospects list out, and the Yankees did a little better on this one.  Scout.com posted their top 100 yesterday afternoon, and while the Yanks did not put anybody in their top 50, they did have 3 representatives in the 51-100 section.  Luis Severino was 51st, Aaron Judge was 57th, and Greg Bird was 96th.

Severino’s inclusion and team-high ranking on this list goes to show how widely spread the opinions on him are, and once again exemplifies the high level of subjectivity and personal bias that goes into each and every one of these rankings.  Everybody has their own thoughts, their own criteria, and that’s what makes this type of stuff fun and interesting to follow if nothing else.

For the sake of comparison to Law’s list, Scout.com’s top 5 was Bryant, Correa, Buxton, Lucas Giolito, and Francisco Lindor.  Addison Russell was 8th.

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Thursday Night Open Thread: 1/29/15

Another slow day in Yankeeland as we click them off on our way to pitchers and catchers reporting.  The prospect thing is still going strong though, and today’s big news was Keith Law’s top 100 MLB prospects list on ESPN.  I still haven’t decided whether I think Greg Bird being ranked 80th or Luis Severino not at all is the bigger mistake, but they’re both pretty bad.

Feel free to continue to discuss Severino, Bird, the top 100, the Yankee farm system in general, how very, very good the starts to the new seasons of “Archer” and “Justified” have been. or anything else that tickles your collective fancies here.  And for members of the Greg Bird Fan Club, official or unofficial, you’ll be happy to know that I made some major progress on my quest to get his name updated on his Baseball-Reference page.  B-R actually tweeted back at me today and I politely explained the problem to them.  So far no dice on the update, but if you’d like to help that cause, feel free to join the fight and let them know how critical it is that the name be updated.…

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Can Adam Warren Return To Being a Starter?

Courtesy MLBPressBox.com

Adam Warren was one of the biggest surprises for the Yankees in 2014 pitching out of the bullpen. He had a 2.97 ERA and a 3.28 xFIP and stabilized the middle innings before the Yankees got to Dellin Betances and David Robertson later in the game.

The biggest surprise with Warren was his added strikeouts and velocity coming out of the bullpen. Even though that will generally happen with most pitchers who go from starting to relieving, it was especially noticeable with Warren because he also relieved in 2013 and never showed this kind of stuff. According to Brooks Baseball, Warren averaged 95.28 MPH on his fastball after averaging 93.97 MPH in 2013 and his K/9 jumped to 8.69 last year from 7.48 the previous season.

Even after Warren’s great season in the bullpen last year, returning him to the rotation must be considered this year due to the Yankees’ lack of depth in their rotation. Top pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are all health risks, and Chris Capuano is a performance risk at the fifth spot.…

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Quick Hit: Yanks Put Judge And Bird In Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects List

The Keith Law prospect extravaganza rolls on today as he unveiled his top 100 MLB prospects list a little while ago.  The Yankees were represented by 2 players on the list: Aaron Judge at #23 and Greg Bird at #80.

The full write-up and list is Insider-only (of course), but here’s what Law had to say about Judge:

“He showed outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact in his first full year in pro ball while giving glimpses of the huge raw power you’d expect from someone of his build…

… He’s an above-average defender in right, faster than you’d expect, with the arm to profile there and the potential to post strong triple-slash numbers if he can make that one big adjustment.”

And on the Birdman:

“Bird’s swing is very short to the ball, and he accelerates his hands quickly for hard contact to all fields, rarely putting the ball on the ground because he squares it up so frequently.

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Keith Law Ranks Yankee Farm System 20th In MLB

This is super late, but Keith Law of ESPN released his organizational farm system rankings yesterday.  He had the Yankees 20th out of 30 teams, which may seem a bit low to us Yankee fans.  The full article is Inisder-only, but this is what Law had to say about the NYY farm:

“The Yankees’ system still has more talent than production, as several key prospects continued to have trouble staying on the field, but a very strong 2013 draft class and a blowout year on the international front have the system trending up again.”

If you recall, 20th is exactly where Law had the Yankees last year.  I’d argue that a system that got a tremendous full season from Aaron Judge, monster years from guys like Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Rob Refsnyder, a bounce back year from Tyler Austin, American pro debuts from high-upside young players like Mateo, Molina, and Palma, and has more pitching depth than people might give it credit for is already trending up and deserving of a higher rank than 20th.  …

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Musing On Lineup Possibilities

Joe Lineup Card

“So I put Gardy here, and Teix here, and Didi here… “/Courtesy of Reuters

While they’re still hampered by an old, declining, high-injury risk group of power bats in the middle third of the batting order, the Yankees have done pretty well to upgrade their positions of greatest weakness and add some much needed depth to the position player portion of their roster this offseason.  There are enough guys in place and a few more guys who’ll be in play when ST starts to give Joe the potential to mix and match his lineups more strategically than he’s been able to the last few years.  Then it was him mixing and matching just to keep guys healthy and have enough warm bodies to fill out a lineup card.  Now it could be much more geared towards playing matchups and emphasizing the strengths of each player, of course with the goal of keeping the aforementioned old, injury-prone players healthy remaining in place.…

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Update On The Moncada Situation: The Wheels Are In Motion, Things Are Happening Even As We Speak

Not sure too many people saw the update to yesterday afternoon’s Yoan Moncada unblocking post, so here’s the full update as of early last night.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the policy requiring native Cubans to apply for and receive a specific unblocking license before they can be let into the United States has been changed by the US Treasury Dept.  Because he had already met the criteria required for the general unblocking license, Moncada has now been declared eligible to enter the US to play baseball, at least as far as the US government is concerned.

The burden now falls on MLB to verify Moncada’s identity and residency paperwork before officially declaring him a free agent.  MLB had been hiding behind the specific license policy as a way to avoid that responsibility and delay Moncada’s entry into the country, for reasons we’ll never be told but I assume I already know.  According to Passan’s report, MLB was working yesterday to set up a meeting with the US OFAC to go over the specifics of the policy change.  …

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