Thursday, February 20, 2014
4. Masahiro Tanaka
Who said the Yankees have a bad farm system? They’ve got the 4th best prospect in baseball!
Other Yankees prospects on the list include Gary Sanchez and ...Masahiro Tanaka. Gary Sanchez is also on the list. I think that means the Yankees have 4 of the top 100 prospects.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Early in the offseason, the Yankees – with so many holes to fill – used a strategy of making many offers at one time, letting agents know that with each signing, they would re-assess and pull some bids. The Yankees actually made Drew an offer at that time, believed to be for two or three years, when the shortstop was still looking to do considerably better – four or five years.
And, as it happened, the Yankees spent more than they anticipated on players such as Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka and, at some point, rescinded the offer for Drew. And once Tanaka was signed and the $189 million dream was crushed, Hal Steinbrenner put a clamp on going any further. That means they are not bending for Drew, a decision they believe is made a tad easier because they were worried about the condition of his ankles and hips anyway.
At this moment, though, Drew seems a good risk, particularly because he played healthy and well last year for the champion Red Sox. His request is down to two years with an opt-out after one.
Sherman then makes a strong point when he notes that if Johnson doesn’t pan out at third or if there is a shocking injury to Brian Roberts, the Yankees will go trade for someone. It will happen. And since the odds of Johnson not working out or Roberts being injured (in some shocking twist of fate) are so strong then it really makes more sense just to get Drew now.
Sherman actually wrote to Hal Steinbrenner on the issue and here was his reply:
“No team is without concerns. We will address those concerns as we go, just as we did in several areas last year. … I am comfortable with our payroll as it stands now. Tanaka put us way over the $189 million, but I believe it will prove to be a solid investment. The rest of the pieces we will figure out as we go — just as all other teams do. We have a very good club and we will continue to improve in areas that we see need it; not just in areas that need it on paper. We need to see what actually transpires in those areas and react.”
It seems like he’s basically reiterating what Sherman says - they’ll make a move during the season to address the problem, but by then it will cost a lot more than a two-year contract and the 55th pick in the draft (and the requisite slot money). It just makes more sense to get Drew now. As Keith Law said the other day , “[Drew] is such a perfect fit for the Yankees that I can’t fathom their apparent disinterest.” Me neither, Keith.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – Hand on his heart, Mark Teixeira says there’s no reason for the Yankees to panic over the lingering tightness in his right wrist, that it’s the expected surcharge of last summer’s surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath. Teixeira, in fact, says you can put him down for 150 games this season, even if common sense screams in protest. One hundred fifty? Seriously?
Teixeira’s wrist, after all, ranks among the Bombers’ top three unanswered questions for 2014, right there with Masahiro Tanaka’s arm and Derek Jeter’s ankle.
No one, including Teixeira, has a clue whether he’ll ever recover his home run stroke after playing just 15 games last year. And even if Teixeira fully heals from the wrist operation, his previous breakdowns — a hamstring injury in 2010 and a calf strain in 2012 — say plenty about the trend line.
Teixeira, who turns 34 in April, has been in decline since 2007, when his OPS stood at .963. It’s fallen every year since then, bottoming out at a career-low .807 in 2012.
As Klapisch says, there are two concerns with Teixeira this year. How often can he play, and how well can he hit when he does play? CAIRO is projecting 408 PA of .240/.331/.462. With his defense that projects to be worth about 1.4 WAR. If he gets 600 PA, that pro-rates to about 2.0 WAR. He’s being paid like a 3-4 win player, but odds are he won’t get there. But the Yankees probably need him to exceed his CAIRO if they are going to contend this year.
Monday, February 17, 2014
RLYW’s Official We Haven’t Received a Cease and Desist Request Players Under 25: 2B Edition
Second base is rarely the home of interesting or particularly good prospects. It’s generally the home of failed SS prospects. However, the Yankees actually have a few solid 2B prospects, which is nice because they have a pretty major hole with Cano leaving. There’s no Cano or anyone really close in the Yankees system, but 2B is far from the worst position in the Yankees system. I’m going to start with the closest guy (Corban Joseph excepted - he’s a year too old) and run down to the younger prospects.
Jose Pirela (24) Throws Right, Hits RIght - .272/.359/.418 in 530 PA at AA for a 118 wRC+ (10.6% BB and 11.5% K) and .304/.333/.304 in 24 PA at AAA for 81 wRC+ (4.2% BB and 8.3% K)
10 HRs, 42 XBH, 19 SB, 3 CS
Jose Pirela is not an exciting prospect, but he is a pretty steady one. He’s one of those guys who sort of crawls up the MiL levels. He doesn’t have any outstanding skills, but he doesn’t really have any underwhelming skills either. After running through Rookie Ball, A and A+ in a year a piece, he seemed to have met his match in AA, posting a sub .650 OPS in his 2011 campaign. While he bounced back to a .800+ OPS in 2012, it wasn’t enough to get him promoted to AAA with both Corban Jospeh and David Adams blocking him so he returned to AA in 2013 and had another solid year with a .750+ OPS earning himself a late season promotion to AAA.
He can play other positions, but only profiles as average or above average at 2B. On offense he controls the zone well with a good eye and the ability to make contact. He is basically a gap hitter, but he can get one out every once in a while. If he has one above average tool it is his hit tool where he is above average and has the potential to post a .300 season or two and to back it up with a solid OBP.
Looking back to 2010, he had a 30 SB campaign, but every other year points more towards him being a guy who can be a threat, but not a constant worry for opposing pitchers. He’ll likely be more of an 8-13 bag guy. Given the state of the Yankees infield and Pirela’s extended experience in the high minors, he has a solid chance of making it to the ML this year. Once he’s there, he’s not going to be anything dynamic or breathtaking, but he’s going to be solid and do everything decently.
Mike K’s note: I saw Pirela play last year. I see him as a future UIF, maybe even a super-utility as he’s played a little outfield. If he becomes a Randy Velarde type the Yankees will be thrilled, but I think that’s his ceiling. Barring a Stephen Drew signing, he’ll spend time in NYY this year.
Rob Refsnyder (23) Throws Right, Hits Right - .370/.452/.481 in 62 PA at A for 173 wRC+ (9.7% BB and 19.4% K) and .283/.408/.404 in 507 PA at A+ for 140 wRC+ (15.4% BB and 13.8% K)
6 HRs, 35 XBH, 23 SB, 6 CS
Rob Refsnyder was pretty hyped coming out of the draft and fresh off of an MVP award winning College World Series performance. Even though he played OF for Arizona, the Yankees selected him as a 2Bman, the position he manned in high school. He scuffled a bit in A ball in 2012, hitting to a .680 OPS and not really having a position. In 2013 he made all the hype seem justified, crushing A ball to begin the season to a tune of a .933 OPS and continuing his run into A+ with a .812 OPS and more walks than Ks. To be fair, no one doubted that he could hit, but conquering A ball in his first full season like that is still pretty nice.
What makes his 2013 more impressive is that he was in the midst of transitioning to 2B full time, and not having a good time of it early. However, it was reported that his defense rapidly improved as the season went on, making his high error total slightly misleading. Refsnyder has great zone control (he posted .400+ OBP at both levels in 2013) and pitch recognition, and a solid swing which will allow him to be an above average hitter, even if his power never ends up grading out above average. He’s not going to blow anyone away on the bases speed wise, but his baseball intelligence gives him a chance to be a solid low double digit threat. Despite only recently converting to 2B, many see a lot of potential defensively and 2014 will be a big year for Refsnyder.
It seems like Refsnyder will open the season at AA and if he has another year like his 2013, his stock will skyrocket. Refsnyder can hit and hit well, even if he’s never going to be a significant HR threat. He can run well enough to be a threat on the base-paths and his legs and bat are good enough to play in the OF if he can’t stick at 2B. Fortunately he seems to be quite talented if raw in the infield and while the Yankees may not want to be patient, they will probably be willing to wait on Refnsyder if he needs another year after 2014. That being said, he has a chance of being more or less MLB ready in 2015. (I actually wasn’t all that excited by Refsnyder coming into this, as I did research, the more I liked him, of course a lot depends on his continued success in transitioning to the IF.)
Mike K: 23 in AA is a bit old, but it’s only his 2nd full season of pro-ball. I’m high on Refsnyder too, but he’s got to get to AAA by mid-season to be more than a stopgap. I think he’ll do that, but Trenton is a tough place to hit.
Angelo Gumbs (21) Throws Right, Hits Right - .213/.261/.351 in 218 PA at A for 75 wRC+ (6% BB and 25.2% K) and .214/.265/.302 in 170 PA at A+ for 61 wRC+ (4.7% BB and 18.2% K)
4 HR, 29 XBH, 16 SB, CS 6
Angelo Gumbs is also a OF convert, but since he was drafted out of HS, he’s younger and quite a bit more raw than Refnsyder, despite playing SS in high school giving him some middle infield experience. Gumbs is a pure tools guy, his best season was his solid A ball campaign in 2012 where he eclipsed .750 OPS and ran unchecked on the bases. However, his 2013 was pretty disastrous as his average dropped 60 points bringing his OBP and slugging down with it. A tooled up 2B hitting .750 in his first full length pro season is exciting. Repeating the same level and regressing the next year is not.
Gumbs scouting report is one of great potential and rough reality. He has crazy fast hands (think Sheffield) which gives him great power potential for a middle infielder. However, he gets stuck trying to violently pull the ball (hey Sheffield again) and is very aggressive. He sees the ball pretty well and generally does a good job of swinging at good pitches, but his aggression and over-swinging have led to a good number of Ks. If he can balance everything out, he’ll be a solid hitter with good power.
Gumbs’ aggression/approach vs. talent issues manifest themselves on the bases as well. He is fast and aggressive on the bases which allows him to rack up some pretty nice stolen base numbers. But his instincts aren’t superb and he is a bit over aggressive, so he is vulnerable to being picked off and running himself into outs. Defensively it is more of the same, Gumbs is very talented but inconsistent.
Gumbs has the ignominious “honor” of being one of the few real prospect who was demoted in 2013, after his disastrous first half in A+ the Yankees swapped him to A ball for Refsnyder. The bad thing is that his line in A was basically the same as his line in A+. Gumbs’ potential is tantalizing, he’s pretty handily the highest upside 2B prospect in the system, but a lot needs to come together. A lot.
Mike K: 2012 was derailed by a pretty significant lower leg injury. I’m certainly hoping that a lot of Gumbs’s issues this past year are just a result of recovering from the injury and lost development time. I think they’ll start him in A+, but another stint in Charleston wouldn’t surprise me, with the idea being let him regain some confidence, and then May/June promote him to A+ and Katoh to A.
Gosuke Katoh (19) Throws Right, Hits Left - .310/.402/.522 in 215 PA for 171 wRC+ (12.6% BB and 20.5% K)
6 HR, 22 XBH, 4 SB, CS
If you can remember all the way back to the 2013 draft (about 9 months ago), you might remember some excitement about the first round when the Yankees drafted Jagielo, Judge and Clarkin in the back half of the round. The next day was filled with a bit of confusion as the Yankees nabbed Gosuke Katoh (19) R/L with their 2nd round pick. I remember watching the video of him and thinking how poor of a swing he had – Ichiro-esque and without power. To make matter worse, while he was supposedly good defensively, his arm limited him to 2B. A mediocre slap hitting 2B is not what you generally look for in the 2nd round.
Katoh clearly didn’t give a damn what any of the naysayers thought and crushed the GCL (Rookie level) to a .310/.402/.522 line. His power was especially surprising given his wiry build and youth. Despite his good results, it’s important to note that this was in the GCL and Dante Bichette Jr lit up the GCL too.
Katoh is still a project and has to fill out his frame to keep up his power as he climbs the ladder, but he has the tools to be a solid player. He looks to be a solid hitter with surprising power and good speed, on the defensive side, he’s supposed to be great, although limited by his arm. There is some hope that the Yankees can improve his throwing enough to stick him at SS. If he can shift to the other half of the double play combo, his already solid prospect status will get a nice boost. Katoh is a little bit too young and inexperienced for me to get super excited about, but there’s something there.
Others: Jose Rosario (23), Claudio Custodio (24), Hector Crespo (22), Derek Toadvine (22), Jake Anderson (22), Bryan Cuevas (20 - big year in the dominican league in 2012, OK in GSL last year), Jose Javier (22)
TAMPA — Kevin Long considers Robinson Cano practically a son, they grew so close over the years in the Bronx. And that bond, forged during their countless sessions in the batting cage, allows him to speak frankly about the $240 million man who is now a Seattle Mariner.
That is, while Long couldn’t be prouder of what Cano accomplished as a Yankee, it bothers him that neither he nor anyone else could get through to the second baseman about his notorious lack of hustle, knowing it’s likely to tarnish his standing, especially with the fans.
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Long was talking about Cano’s habit of not running hard to first base on routine ground balls, nothing else. And it was particularly frustrating for him because he helped Cano overcome his other bad habits over the years, centering around his nonchalant nature that once led Joe Girardi to bench him for lazy defense.
I tend to think that someone that averaged 160 games played out of 162 over the last seven seasons would not be classified as a dog, but that’s just me. I seem to remember Paul O’Neill not hustling on routine ground balls and never hearing a word about it, but for whatever reason people chose to focus on that with Cano and ignore the fact that he did just about everything else brilliantly.
No big deal, he’s Seattle’s problem now. How will they possibly deal with Cano dogging his way to 5-7 wins?
Friday, February 14, 2014
Who will man shortstop for the Yankees next year after Derek Jeter retires? Well, here’s one possibility.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Yankees were among the teams in attendance today to watch a showcase for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz in Arizona. The Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, and Giants were also on hand.
Diaz, 23, hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances at-bats during his last season in Cuba from 2011-2012. There are questions about his defense, so his future might actually be at second base.
For comparison’s sake, Yoenis Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 in Cuba. If Diaz translated similarly he’d hit around .250/.310/.350. If there are questions about his defense, then I’d have to question his projected value.
But there’s no harm in scouting him.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
And Then There Were None
Bernie Williams was the first Yankee that I really watched develop from minor league prospect to Hall of Fame caliber MLB player, even if he didn’t quite reach the bar. When Bernie came up in 1991 he was joining a team that had finished last in the AL East in the previous season and was on its way to going 71-91 that year. He didn’t have a great rookie year, but he showed flashes of what would eventually come and by 1993 he had established himself as the starting CF on a team that was steadily improving. The Yankees probably would have made the postseason in 1994 if not for the lockout, and then they got the wild card in 1995 and lost a heart-breaking series in the ALDS to Seattle.
For a lot of Yankee fans, Derek Jeter is actually the player that Bernie was for me.
I’d love to say I remember Jeter’s debut in 1995, but I really don’t. He got called up towards the end of May and spent a couple of weeks in the majors and didn’t really do anything of note, hitting .234/.280/340 in 50 PA before being sent down until September. I do remember him getting called up and making a couple of appearances in September. While Andy Pettitte established himself in 1995 and Mariano Rivera pitched a fair amount, Jeter and Jorge Posada were really footnotes that year, although the fact that Posada made a pinch-running appearance that year in the ALDS tickles me to no end.
I had no idea what was coming next. I don’t think any of us did. The fact is, the majority of prospects never pan out. While Jeter and Posada and Pettitte and Rivera were all considered decent to great prospects, the odds were against them becoming what they eventually did become. But 1996 saw Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte become key contributors. It took Posada a few more years to join the mix. Jeter won the Rookie of the Year in 1996 and the Yankees won the World Series, something they hadn’t done in 18 years.
And we still didn’t know what was to come. After a disappointing end to the 1997 season, the Yankees demolished MLB in 1998 and Jeter was probably the most valuable player on the team that year, finishing third in the AL in the MVP balloting. He followed that up with a sublime 1999 that had him as probably the most valuable position player in the league. Although he never replicated that season again, he continued to provide the Yankees with offense that few teams were getting out of the shortstop position.
As I became more aware of statistical analysis in baseball, I began to resent the deification of Jeter by the mass media. I’m a bit of a contrarian and the fact that Jeter was so fawned over started to turn me against him. Despite what some people would like to believe, I never actually ‘hated’ Jeter, but I probably underrated him because of that. I would focus on the fact that his defensive metrics didn’t match his reputation and that he wasn’t as good as the talking heads made him out to be. He didn’t occupy the same place in my fandom that Rivera or Bernie did.
The faces changed around the core over the next decade, but Jeter kept on keeping on. There are way too many memories to list, but I often think about his 2004. On May 19 Jeter had 183 PA and was hitting .187/.250/.265 in a season that was heading to disaster. Over his next 538 PA he hit .329/.387/.543 and salvaged a season that looked lost. And of course, he had his famous sprint/dive into the stands in the July 1 game that year, saving a game that felt like a postseason game that the Yankees would eventually win in 12 innings.
When Jeter hit .270/.340/.370 at age 36 in 2010 (an OPS+ of 90) I thought he was done. But he proceeded to hit .308/.359/.411 (OPS+ of 107) over the next two years.
I had a hard time getting into last year’s team. I never thought of myself as a fair-weather fan. I mean hell, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan and I don’t even remember the last time they had a winning record. But last year’s Yankee team wasn’t very good and didn’t hold my interest much. Is it a coincidence that they also didn’t have Jeter for almost the entire year? Their problems were larger than that, but I can’t help but think that not having him around made the team feel different.
I don’t think the 2014 Yankees are a particularly good team. They can contend if a lot of stuff goes right, which could happen. One of those things would be Jeter defying his age, staying healthy and hitting well enough to compensate for his defensive limitations.
Bernie’s 2003 knee injury ended up turning him from a great player to a replacement level player and as much as I was a fan of his, it was tough to watch him at the end. Posada’s concussions cost him his job at catcher and his offense out of DH wasn’t good enough although he did end his career with a strong ALDS in a losing cause.
We were fortunate enough to see Rivera and Pettitte exit baseball while still being valuable players.
I hope we’ll get to see the same from Jeter.