The 2013 Arizona Fall League season kicks off tomorrow night, another chance for established prospects to improve their stock and non or fringe prospects to possibly work their way onto the Major League radar. The Yankees will once again be well represented, sending 7 players to join the Scottsdale Scorpions, but unlike last year the 7 representatives aren't all household names. This year's group includes everybody from top 3 organizational prospects to a few players whose names you might have never heard. If you aren't up to date on who's making the trip this fall, here's your refresher.
("Add any more money to 2014 and I'll f*cking kill you." Courtesy of Getty Images)
Way back in March, I opened up the "2013 AB4AR Season Preview" series with a post on the most important storyline the team was going to face this year, how the hell they were going to manage to contend on a budget. In a vacuum, the Yankees cutting payroll down to $189 million and still staying competitive is the easiest thing in the world. They're still the biggest, baddest dudes on the block with the deepest pockets and they're still spending more than every team in MLB not named the Dodgers. If any team can put together a winner with a hair under $200 mil, it's the Bronx Bombers.
Baseball isn't played in a vacuum though, especially not the business-savvy version of Major League Baseball that's spread across both leagues in the last handful of years. The Yankees' plan to start their payroll cutting plan in 2013 while still maintaining their traditional level of competitiveness was flawed from the beginning and they executed that plan to flawless flawed perfection over the course of the season. Whether Hal Steinbrenner truly meant what he said when he said he was still committed to fielding a championship-caliber team is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that attempting to do that in the way the Yankees did in 2013 was completely and utterly wrong.
It's been 3 months since Michael Pineda was activated off the disabled list to continue rehabbing his shoulder from 2012 surgery. It's been 2 months since he was removed from his final Triple-A start of the season with stiffness in that shoulder and shut down for the rest of the season. Despite the team taking a very cautious approach with his rehab workload, and despite Cash saying at his year-end presser that Pineda was and is healthy, the fact remains that he was shut down for the season after throwing only 40.2 official MiL innings and has still yet to throw 1 regular season pitch as a Yankee after 2 years.
There's been little to no information on what Pineda has been doing since being shut down. He spent the remainder of the regular season throwing side sessions at the team complex in Tampa, but there's been no talk of the next step or a plan for 2014. Cash continues to take the cautious stance with Pineda, saying only that Pineda would "compete for a job" next spring and referencing the MiL options he still has remaining. Knowing, at least based on Cash's word, that Pineda was healthy at the end of this season and knowing what the team's intentions were when they traded for him, that's just not good enough for me.