Thursday, January 31, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Yankees Sign Travis Hafner

(Yeah, I used the all caps "breaking news" tag for this signing.  It's a Major League player with legitimate offensive value, so I'm a little excited about that after watching the recent string of Quad-A signings.  Deal with it.)

After reports came out yesterday that the Yankees were in serious talks with Travis Hafner, they finalized those talks today by signing him to a 1-year, incentive-heavy deal to be their main designated hitter for 2013.  The deal is reportedly a guaranteed Major League deal, meaning a 40-man roster spot will have to be cleared to make room for Hafner.  But that's an acceptable sacrifice to make to add a potential impact bat like Hafner's, injury concerns and all.

I wrote about Hafner and my desire to see the Yankees sign him weeks ago, so obviously I'm happy to see them add him and his thump to the lineup.  Hafner is a huge injury risk, and as close to a sure thing as there is to end up on the DL at some point, but his offensive production potential as a righty masher hitting in Yankee Stadium is well worth that risk.  The Yankees are very familiar with Hafner and I have to think they did their homework on his medical reports before deciding to go through with this deal.  With what's left out there on the FA market, this is as good a cheap 1-year deal as they could have found, and one that could have potentially big returns if Hafner bucks the trend and stays healthy.

** UPDATE 2/1/13 1:46PM- Deal is official according to Jon Heyman.  Hafner's base salary will be $2 million per Ken Davidoff, and his deal also includes "reachable incentives" per Dan Barbarisi.  DH- Check. **

The Importance Of Joba & Aardsma This Season

(Just a couple of wild and crazy guys.  Courtesy of Reuters)

I've made reference multiple times recently to the Yankees having another strong bullpen in 2013, and I strongly believe that's going to be the case.  They've got the greatest closer of all time back for another shot at a last go-round, arguably the best setup man and one of the best pressure relief pitchers in baseball ahead of him, 2 strong lefty specialists to play the late-inning matchup game, what will be a more than serviceable long man in whoever loses the 5th starter competition between Ivan Nova and David Phelps, and 2 veteran power arms to work the middle relief innings in Joba Chamberlain in David Aardsma.  But it is worth pointing out that the overall depth created by the loss of Rafael Soriano is slightly less than it was in 2012, when depth became a really important issue for obvious reasons.

Keeping that "anything can happen" experience from last season in mind, Joba and Aardsma could have more important roles to fill this season than people first realize.

This Is Starting To Get Ridiculous

I know I'm not the only one who's already tired of all this A-Rod future talk, and I really hope I'm not the only one who's starting to get confused by all of it.  I know it's not surprising for a story like this involving Rodriguez to get as much of a media frenzy going as it has, but it's insane how quickly the focus of the story keeps changing.  First it was shock and anger that A-Rod could be stupid enough to do this again and get caught, if he actually did do it that is.  Then it was all talk about voiding the contract, which is probably never going to happen, working a buyout, and/or forcing him to retire.  Now we've moved on to just stating that not only is A-Rod never going to play for the Yankees again, but that he's never going to play baseball again according to this article from today's Daily News.

"According to numerous baseball sources, the hip surgery Rodriguez is now recovering from will likely derail his playing career, leaving him in such a diminished role that he may consider a settlement or an outright retirement. He still has five years and $114 million left on his contract."

Numerous baseball sources, huh?  Do any of these sources have medical degrees or did any of them participate in the surgery?  Because every medical source that's been involved makes it sound like A-Rod is absolutely going to be able come back and play.  And as Matt Imbrogno pointed out yesterday on one of our TYA email chains, a diminished A-Rod is still a pretty productive one compared to league averages for third baseman.

As for the "voiding the contract" talk, can that just be put to bed now?  It's not going to happen.  At all.  The CBA governs all things PED related and has provisions written into it to protect players from having this exact proposed scenario (contract being voided based on PED use) play out.  If the Yankees were smart enough to write language into Alex's contract that gave them a clear cut way out of the deal, we would have heard about it by now.  They don't have a case to be made for voiding the deal, and A-Rod has no reason to voluntarily retire to help the Yankees and 114 million reasons to try to come back.

The best thing the Yankees can hope for, if they really want to rid themselves of Alex, is to negotiate a buyout, try to get it down as much as possible from 100% of the contract value to lessen the payroll hit, collect the 85% insurance, and move on.  Anything other than that basically a pipe dream.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Somebody Get Ian O'Conner A Paddle...

(Sweet shirt, bro.  Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing)

... Because he's fixin' to dish out a written spanking to Alex Rodriguez.  We've been having some fun with the early MSM outcry in response to the latest A-Rod PED story on the AB4AR Facebook Page today, and for my money Ian O'Conner's piece from yesterday takes the cake.  It's a horrifically brilliant combination of moral grandstanding, lazy logic, self-disagreement and contradiction, and regurgitated attempts to state what is already known.  In short, it's a typical "write it as quickly as possible and get it posted so we can get pageviews" ESPN NY Yankee post.

Lowlights after the jump...

Projecting Andy Pettitte

(What can Andy-Wan do in 2013?)

Andy Pettitte's decision to come back for the 2013 season wasn't nearly as dramatic or surprising as his return last season.  He already sounded like he was leaning towards coming back when he said he was going to take some time to think it over, and the Yankees re-signed him to another 1-year deal with little trouble in late November.  Now that it's officially been determined that he won't be participating in the World Baseball Classic, we can start to look forward to what Andy's going to do on the mound for the Yanks in 2013 and for how long he's going to do it.  Pettitte is an important part of the Yankee rotation as the middle link between the rock solid 1-2 starters and the iffy back end, but his age and related injury concerns make him a bit more of a question mark than your average #3 starter.

Along with it being prospect season and still the late part of hot stove season, it's also projection season.  There isn't a whole lot out there on Andy yet, but it's still worth taking a peek to see what kind of production Andy is projected to put up this coming season.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

John Sickels Ranks Yankee Farm System 14th In MLB

(Wildcard, bitches!!  Courtesy of Josh Norris)

We're just over a week removed from the AB4AR Top 30, and just over a month removed from John Sickels releasing his Top 20 Yankee prospects with the bulk of prospect ranking season still to come.  Sickels followed up on his individual rankings yesterday with his organizational farm system rankings, and he had the Yankee system coming in 14th out of 30, up from 16th last season.

Not surprisingly, Sickels identified the core of A-ball hitters as the Yankees' biggest strength and their lack of upper-tier pitching prospects as their biggest weakness.  He also continued to paint Rafael DePaula as the key part to determining where the Yankee system could be heading next year, sticking DePaula with the "wildcard" tag he first gave him last month.

A 14th place ranking is right in line with where most people expected the Yankees to fall (10-15), and as was the case with Baseball America's 11th place ranking I believe this is a positive sign for the Yankee system to move up in the overall organizational rankings a year after losing their previous top 2 prospects.  A strong 2013 season for this group could result in a top 5-10 ranking in 2014.

New Report Connects A-Rod To Additional PED Use

(Get ready for more of this.  Courtesy of the AP)

When the 2012 season ended, I said I wasn't going to spend the entire offseason on this blog talking about Alex Rodriguez and what a bum he was, and promised only to write about him in situations where it was warranted. I think this is one of those situations. In a report released today by the Miami News Times, A-Rod's name was included in a group of professional athletes who have been receiving various performance enhancing drugs from Anthony Bosch, currently under investigation by both MLB and the DEA. Written records from the clinic Bosch runs indicate Rodriguez has been receiving PEDs, including HGH, from Bosch from 2009 through last season. What has already been a tumultuous last few seasons for A-Rod, starting with his original PED outing and admission in 2009, is only going to get worse with the release of this new report.

Pineda To Throw Off Half-Mound Today

(Courtesy of Bobby Martinez/NY Post)

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have dominated the injury/recovery headlines for the better part of this offseason, but Michael Pineda's name popped back into the picture yesterday when Dan Barbarisi tweeted out this report that, according to Cash, Pineda is scheduled to throw off a half-mound today for the first time since having shoulder surgery last year.

This marks another step in the right direction for Pineda, who has been working out and throwing on flat ground since September.  The last time we heard about Pineda's progress,Cash was praising how good his arm and his physical conditioning looked, and since we haven't heard anything since then it's a safe assumption to make that everything has been progressing on schedule.

There was no timetable given for how long Pineda will work off the half-mound before returning to throwing off a full mound, and he's still months away from returning to any kind of game action, but this is good news for the Yankee rotation's potential emergency depth.  They will continue to downplay the prospect of Pineda returning this year, but if he stays on schedule and doesn't suffer any setbacks he should still be on track for an early-to-mid summer return.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Yanks Sign Juan Rivera To A MiL Deal

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

As first reported by the ESPN NY comedy duo of Marchand and Matthews, the Yankees have signed Juan Rivera to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  No details yet on what the dollars will be if he makes the team, but Rivera will join Matt Diaz, Russ Canzler, and the litany of other internal and external candidates competing for a spot on the 2013 Yankee bench.

Rivera, now 34, started his career with the Yankees and has spent almost all of his time on the West Coast since leaving in 2003.  He's a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who can moonlight as a first baseman and has a strong platoon split against left-handed pitching.  He has a .274/.323/.443 career slash line (.331 wOBA) and a .286/.333/.489 career slash against lefties, but he hit just .244/.286/.375 in 339 PA with the Dodgers in 2012, and his offensive production has waned in the last few years as he's moved into his 30s and struggled with injuries.

Defensively he's not much, and could only be used in the outfield corners, and there isn't much else he brings to the table.  But for the purposes he would serve with the Yankees this is as good a cheap signing as any.  Rivera has a long Major League track record, a recent Major League track record, and a positive split against southpaws, which is more than you can say about some of the other guys they've brought in.  Even as a player clearly in decline, Rivera falls right smack dab in the middle of the early roster battle I laid out this afternoon.

Ranking Final Roster Spot Contenders (First Try)

(Would Eduardo Scissorhands make my roster cut?  Courtesy of Getty Images)

I commented last week on Cash's statements regarding the current Yankee roster construction, and the declaration that the team would be willing to go to Tampa with "what they've got" right now.  By my count, there are still 4 roster spots unaccounted for, almost all of them on the bench, and the group of candidates to fill those spots is uninspiring to say the least.  But it's looking more and more likely that this group, and maybe an additional cheap MiL signee or 2, are going to be the players battling it out for the final 4 spots, and that being the case we might as well start separating the real contenders from the pretenders.  Spring Training is still a few weeks away, so I'm going on nothing more than past performance and perceived team needs, but here are my early rankings for who I think should get the final 4 roster spots.

Yankees' Plan This Offseason Could Be Setting Them Up For Future Failure

(Courtesy of the AP)

One of the posts I read over the weekend that really stuck with me was Greg Corcoran's open letter to Brian Cashman over at Bronx Baseball Daily letting Cash know what he thinks of the Yankees' offseason plan.  The general theme of Greg's post was that while he can get on board with what the team has done this offseason to transition to the sub-$189 mil payroll in 2014, he didn't see their no-spending approach as a real plan for success after the payroll ceiling had been reached.  Specifically, he cited the Yankees' failure to sign or trade for useful players on multi-year deals and their perceived assumption that multiple prospects are going to come up and contribute as flaws in their logic, and that got me thinking.

As it is, the Yankees have seen their monetary advantage shrink over the past few seasons as teams started signing their own players to new deals before they hit free agency.  Now, with that spending already capped and more teams working to extend their big names, any plan to reload after reaching 189 could prove useless if there are no big free agent targets left.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Pitch Or Not To Pitch?

(Definitely don't want a repeat of this.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

First Andy Pettitte was going to participate in the World Baseball Classic this year.  Then the rosters were announced and he wasn't because the Yankees had concerns about him injuring himself.  Now it sounds like the window of opportunity might be open for him again per the latest report from Wally Matthews, who can actually be of value as a writer when he sticks to his reporting guns.  According to the report, Joe Torre confirmed that the Yankees would still prefer to have Pettitte skip the WBC but that both sides have until February 20th to make an official decision.

Personally, I think it would be cool to see Pettitte pitch in the WBC.  It's obvious he wants to, he's probably already in good pitching shape from his offseason workouts knowing that he was planning to play this season from the beginning, and I think we can all be sure this season is going to be his real, actual final one, so why not get that experience in while he still has the chance?

At the same time, I can see where the Yankees are coming from and when I put my homer fan glasses back on to look at the situation, I start to side with them.  Pettitte hasn't been a pillar of good health in his later years, and even though last year's injury was on a fluke play, those same fluke risks and regular injury risks are always there.  Pettitte is an important part of the Yankee rotation, and if he's going to get hurt and miss games in 2013, I'd rather it be because of something that happened in a Yankee uniform after the season started.  Even a minor injury in the WBC could be something that lingers and negatively affects his performance over the course of the entire Major League season, and that wouldn't be a good thing.

So we'll see where this goes.  My money is on the Yankees holding firm and us seeing Andy pitching in ST games in March rather than WBC games.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gary Sanchez Named #3 Catching Prospect By

(Courtesy of Matt Burton/

On Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan Mayo of released his "Prospect Watch" top 10 catching prospects rankings.  Top Yankee prospect Gary Sanchez was 3rd in those rankings, behind Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets and Mike Zunino of the Mariners.  Seeing as those 2 guys are easily the 2 best catching prospects in baseball, that's a pretty big accomplishment for the 20-year-old Sanchez.

Mayo's explanation of his putting Sanchez 3rd included high praise for Sanchez's defensive skills, saying he had the potential to be "an exciting two-way player for the Yankees."  This is higher praise than usual for Sanchez's defense, and that's coming from someone who was pretty complimentary of the improvements Sanchez made in last week's AB4AR Top 30.  Sanchez does have the plus arm, but right now doesn't project to be anything better than average at best behind the plate.  Still, with Sanchez's advanced offensive skills and high ceiling, it makes sense that Mayo would rank him 3rd if he believes Sanchez could be that good defensively.

Sanchez is still years away from the show, but his positional rankings project him in a positive light for the future. Last year had Sanchez 4th overall, just ahead of Wilin Rosario of Colorado, who posted a .356 wOBA and hit 28 HR in 117 games for the Rockies in 2012.  Rosario also rated as a very poor defensive catcher according to FanGraphs.  Sanchez has a similar offensive makeup to Rosario, and still has time to improve his defensive skills.  If he can be even slightly better than Rosario defensively and improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline skills, Sanchez could be a very valuable Major League catcher.

People Know What "Chance" Means, Right?

I mean, I thought everybody knew the definition of the word, but I guess not after the immediate reaction and subsequent over-dramatization and over-coverage of this harmless quote that Cash dropped yesterday when asked about the possibility of A-Rod missing the entire 2013 season:

“I think because (of) the serious nature of the surgery and the condition that he’s trying to recover from, you know, there is that chance.”

Chance  noun  /'chan(t)s - the possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation.

Everybody ready for a quick lesson?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 1/25/13

It was snowing this morning.  Not a lot, just enough to coat the cars and get a little bit on the roads; an inch to an inch and a half at the most.  That's pretty common in Wisconsin, nothing people around here haven't seen before, which is why it was so bizarre to see a car spun out on my way into work and then to hear stories from other people about accidents they saw on the highway.  It's an inch and a half of snow, maybe 2 at the most.  How the fuck do you crash your car in that??  We're not talking "The Day After Tomorrow" here, folks.

I've been driving in the snow since I first learned how to drive, and I've had to do it in good snow vehicles and bad snow vehicles.  There's really not much to it.  You go a little slower than you normally would, you watch the road to spot problem areas, you keep your windshield wipers going, and you don't slam on the brakes.  Anybody who can't do that and ends up crashing his or her car in less than 3 inches of snow should have their licenses taken away.  Now onto the links!

- On Tuesday, Abe Froman-Sausage King of NoMaas looked back at the track record of low-dollar/advanced-age Yankee signings as they seem primed to add a few more of those guys soon.

- Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes scored an interview with Dante Bichette, Jr., likely starting third baseman for Low-A Charleston this year.

- Chris Mitchell of Pinstripe Pundits hasn't given up on Ivan Nova, and provided some statistical support to explain why nobody should be giving up on Nova.

- On Wednesday, Mike Axisa of RAB identified possible trade deadline targets to address the Yankees' needs since they don't appear to be interested in addressing them prior to Spring Training.

- Mike Eder of TYA started searching for trade options to upgrade at catcher, since picking up George Kottaras and his non-guaranteed deal apparently wasn't a good option.

- Steve Skinner of Bleeding Yankee Blue ranked the AL East shortstops heading into 2013.  I'd be hesitant to put Jeter at the top until I see how he looks coming off surgery, but at his best he's still probably the pick of the litter.

- Jimmytoucan of Yankees Fans Unite commented on the early roster projections for the Trenton Thunder.

- On Thursday, Chad Jennings of LoHud examined the best and worst case scenarios for Robinson Cano and the Yankees in relation to his upcoming free agency.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS continued to bang the logic drum in response to the reactions around the blogosphere to the latest luxury tax news.

- El duque of It Is High... reacted to the ridiculous "Youkilis not returning Joba's calls" non-story as only he can.

- Steven Goldman of Pinstriped Bible mused on the transition towards building a bigger, better bullpen at the expense of the bench and how the Yankees will be affected by that this season.

- On Friday, Fernando Alejandro of Respect Jeter's Gangster looked ahead to the number of guys who are free agents in 2014 as a way to put the underwhelming 2013 offseason in context.

- Bryan Hoch of Bombers Beat had some good quotes from Brian Cashman on the current state of the Yankees and the upcoming season.

This week's Friday Jam is "Jambi" by Tool.  Tool is probably the most popular band to not put out new music regularly.  There are huge gaps between albums and it always seems like they grow in popularity from one to the next.  There have been rumors of a new album out for a while now, but rumors of a new Tool album are like rumors connecting the Yankees to big names during the offseason.  Until it actually happens, you can't put too much faith in them.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Plans For D-Rob After His Arbitration Years

 (He should probably get his own private bathroom too... )

After the quick burst of 1-year agreements with their arbitration-eligible players last week, the Yankees now have all but 1 of their key core roster members under contract for 2013.  The lone remaining unsigned guy is David Robertson, and both he and the Yankees submitted their arbitration numbers for a possible hearing next month.  D-Rob is in his second year of arbitration eligibility and one way or another he stands to get a big raise from the $1.6 mil he made in 2012.  Robertson submitted $3.55 million as his desired figure while the Yankees submitted $2.85 mil, which is right in line with MLBTR's prediction of $2.8 mil.  They can still work out a new deal before taking it to arbitration, but what about after his arbitration years are up?  What then?  The Yankees will have some serious decisions to make on the future of their bullpen after this season, and D-Rob figures to play prominently in those decisions.

** UPDATE 11:37 AM- Jon Heyman reporting that the Yanks and D-Rob have agreed to a 1-year/$3.1 million deal for 2013.  That locks him in for this season, but everything after the jump is still relevant. **

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dan Johnson, Come On Down...

You're the next contestant on "2013 New York Yankees Quad-A Bench Competition!!"

Sweeny Murti had the story via Twitter, and the Yankees now have another candidate for a spot on this year's bench.  Johnson is a 33-year-old lefty swinger who can play first base but for the Yankees' purposes would be best-suited as a lefty platoon DH.  He's bounced back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A since 2005, and has a career .237/.338/.412 Major League slash line (.329 wOBA) in over 1,500 PA, but has seen his overall production decline from '05 to present day.

Johnson brings good power to the table, and has very strong BB and K rates, but his defensive limitations and recent down trending production makes him a less-than-desirable option as a platoon/bench player.  At best, he captures some magic and gets some big hits as part of the early-season bench corps.  At worst, he's organizational depth who can continue to do what he's always done and mash at Triple-A.  Nothing to get excited about, but then again it's not like the Yankees are trying to be exciting right now.

Checking In With Wally Matthews

If this offseason were "Inception," we'd all be in limbo right now.  Just an endless string of nothingness.  The biggest news in Yankeeland yesterday was that Scott Hairston signed with the Chicago Cubs for 2 years.  Second biggest story- the Yanks are apparently not interested in free agent catcher George Kottaras even though he makes a a lot of sense for them.  That's how boring it is right now.  The biggest Yankee-related story didn't even involve the Yankees, and both of the biggest stories revolved around them doing nothing.  Hachi machi, that's bad.

But fear not, Yankee fans.  Because Wally Matthews is kicking off his countdown to Spring Training, and he's doing it as only Wally Matthews can.  By trolling the crap out of Alex Rodriguez.  I wish I was kidding.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Offseason Space-Filler Post: Top 5 Closer Entrance Songs

The final stage of this offseason is progressing at a painfully slow rate, and real, valuable news and talking points are at a minimum, so why not go back to the off-topic fun well with another song list?  It beats breaking down Thomas Neal's Double-A contact splits, right?  As everybody is now aware from my previous "Top 5 Songs" post for at-bat music, part of my mind lives in a perpetual state of 15-year-old-ness, and I've put just as much thought into my personal top 5 closer entrance songs as I did for the at-bat songs.

In my hypothetical fantasy world, the world in which I'm not only a professional baseball player but a pitcher and a good pitcher, I'd be an awesome closer.  I'd rock mid-90s heat with some movement and a killer slider, I'd be more than willing to throw inside and buzz hitters' towers, and I definitely wouldn't be anything close to the polished professional that Mo is.  Think like a more subdued Brian Wilson, with a less bushy beard and not trying so hard to be "weird," combined with the brutal media honesty of Chris Perez, and that'd be me.  With that in mind, here are my personal top 5 songs I'd consider for my entrance music.

Thinkin' 'Bout Youkilis' Swing

 (Yeesh, guy.  Courtesy of Matthew O'Haren/Icon SMI)

There's been a lot of chatter around the Yankosphere in the last week or so regarding the work that the Kevins, Youkilis and Long, are putting in trying to tinker with Youkilis' batting stance and swing, chatter that I've managed to steer clear of up until now.  It's not that I don't think the chatter is worthwhile; I'm just more of a "see it and analyze it" kind of guy when it comes to swing mechanics, and with just mental pictures of the changes right now I didn't feel qualified to offer my 2 cents on how optimistic I am that the changes will return positive dividends.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2012 Statistical Trends: Derek Jeter's Bounce Back

 (Oh so smoove.  Courtesy of the AP)

It was a continuation of his strong second half in 2011, but that didn't make Derek Jeter's offensive performance in 2012 any less impressive.  To be 2 years older than he was when he first started to look like he was slipping, the oldest everyday shortstop in MLB by far, and lead the American League in wOBA at his position (.347) while playing 159 games was just the latest entry in the long book of career accomplishments for Jeter.  His race to 3,000 hits in the rearview, Jeter rapidly ascended the all-time list last year and enters 2013 knocking on the door of the top 10, with it looking very likely that he'll finish the year just outside the top 5 if he stays healthy.  Health will play the biggest role in determining whether Jeter keeps the positive momentum from his 2012 season going, but before we look ahead to that, let's look back at 2012 and what changed to breathe life back into Jeter's bat.

Yanks Sign Another MiL OF; I'm Getting Bored Writing About Them

Boy the Yanks are really picking the bones of the Cleveland 40-man clean, huh?  Every casualty that gets cut to make room for a new signing pretty much has a Yankee MiL contract waiting for him when he finishes cleaning out his locker.  Maybe somebody should tell the front office that these moves don't make up for not offering Swish a contract.

The latest Quad-A warm body is Thomas Neal, a 25-year outfielder with a 7-year MiL career in 2 systems and 9 games of 2012 Major League service under his belt.  He had some pretty good years in the lower levels of the San Fran system, and even posted a .343 wOBA for their Triple-A affiliate in 2011.  But he got dropped back down to Double-A in Cleveland's system last year, so take that however you want to judge the guy's ceiling.  For what it's worth, he's got decent MiL numbers, good power, some speed, tolerable K and BB rates, and can play multiple positions.  Blah, blah, blah.

Diaz.  Canzler.  Neal.  Somehow I don't think these guys are going to be battling for a spot on Pinstriped Bible's Top 100 Yankees list.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Would The Yankees Really Go To Tampa With What They've Got Right Now?

 ("Canzler, Nix, Diaz, Nunez, pop the champagne.  Amiright, guys???" Courtesy of Getty Images)

I didn't write about it last week when the comments were made because it didn't tie in to the Prospect Week theme, but Cash made some head-scratching statements to our buddy Wally Matthews about the Yankees' current roster makeup and the stance they're taking as the offseason winds down and moves into the preseason.

“I know it’s getting late, but we’re still looking."

“We’re open for business, but we’re not going to do something just to do something. If we have to, we’ll go to Tampa with what we’ve got."

It's just 2 short sentences, but there's a lot to take from those statements.  "Getting late," "still looking, " open for business," and "If we have to... " all lend some possible insight as to exactly what the situation is at the top levels of the Yankee decision-making hierarchy and how Cash feels about it.  By now, I'm assuming he's as fed up with the penny pinching as most of the fanbase is and is just trying to get through the offseason by creating as few a number of waves as possible.  But as the guy whose job it is to construct the best team possible, can Cash really be serious about going to Tampa with what he's got?

Could The WBC Help Teix's 2013 Start?

(Sad Teix is sad.  Courtesy of David Pokress/Newsday)

The Yankee participation in the 2013 World Baseball Classic was made official last week with the unveiling of the rosters.  Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira will represent their respective countries while Andy Pettitte, who had been rumored to be participating, was left off the Team USA roster for obvious injury concern reasons.

While I have no qualms with the 40-year-old Pettitte participating in a regular Spring Training program, I wonder what effect, if any, playing in the WBC will have on Teix.  His slow April starts have become an annual source of frustration in Yankeeland, and to date nothing he's done in ST has helped solve the riddle:

April '09- .200/.367/.371 (.331 wOBA) in 90 PA
April '10- .136/.300/.259 (.271 wOBA) in 100 PA
April '11- .256/.392/.549 (.406 wOBA) in 102 PA
April '12- .244/.290/.395 (.298 wOBA) in 93 PA

2011 is the obvious outlier here, as Teix got off to a hot start and then fall back from there, but the other 3 years were defined by an uncharacteristic lack of power and low batting average.  Will a trip to the WBC this year help?  It's hard to say.  In theory, hitting against a higher level of competition in the Classic seems more beneficial to a veteran like Teix than playing intrasquad games or scrimmaging against college teams, but who really knows?  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  It certainly couldn't hurt to try something new, right?

Yanks Better Be In On Kottaras

 (He can't be worse than Cervelli.  Courtesy of the AP)

The Yankees' involvement in trade talks with Washington had barely got off the ground last week when the Nationals swung a 3-team deal with Seattle and Oakland to trade Michael Morse to the Mariners.  He addressed their desperate need for offense without being a great fit for the system, and once again the Yankees found themselves on the outside looking in as a good right-handed bat passed them by.  But there was something else that came out of that trade that could help New York.  Oakland had to clear a 40-man roster spot to make their part of the trade work, and they did that by DFAing catcher George Kottaras, who they had just re-signed to a 1-year deal to avoid arbitration.  Their current catching situation being shaky at best, Kottaras presents the Yankees with an opportunity to add some depth and some offensive skill to the position.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Complete 2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30

(Courtesy of Wade Spees/

Well it's been fun, but this post will mark the official end of AB4AR Prospect Week for 2013.  Now I have to come up with some ideas for what to write about next week, so for a simple, straightforward, clean ending to this week, here's the entire Top 30 list in order, with links to each of the individual write-ups in case you wanted to go back and pick out all the dumb things I said for later in the season.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30:

More Jim Callis Commentary On The Yankee MiL System

A little over a week ago, Jim Callis of Baseball America released his personal top 10 list of best MiL systems in baseball, with the Yankees just missing the cut and coming in 11th place.  It was confirmed at that time that Callis' 3 fellow BA rankers also had the Yankees 11th, painting a pretty encouraging picture, to me at least, about the state of the Yankee system after a very uneven 2012.  Recently, Chad Jennings of LoHud caught up with Callis and spoke to him in greater detail about his thoughts on the Yankee system, where he felt their strengths and weaknesses were, and what their next step should be.  Some quotes from Callis and my personal takes on what he had to say after the jump.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Not A Prospect Yet (But Worth Watching): Daniel Camarena

(Courtesy of Perfect

If you're a left-handed starting pitcher, you're automatically going to get more attention as a young draft pick/prospect than your right-handed counterparts.  It's why I included Vidal Nuno in this year's AB4AR Top 30 over guys like Jose Ramirez and Branden Pinder, and why Matt Tracy was the focus of the first "Not A Prospect Yet" post this week.  Daniel Camarena, despite not making any kind of noise in this year's Top 30, is an even more intriguing potential prospect than Nuno or Tracy because of his status as a young, high school pitcher.  Camarena is fresh off his 20th birthday in November, and even with an extremely small 2012 sample size to evaluate, is the type of pitcher who could quickly make his way onto next year's Top 30.

Thoughts On The Arbitration Avoidance Contracts

The Yankees and D-Rob each submitted their arbitration salary figures yesterday, starting what could be the only arbitration situation New York enters this offseason.  Their other 3 remaining arbitration-eligible players all signed 1-year deals this week, the final ones they'll sign before all 3 become free agents next offseason.  How do all those deals look?  Glad you asked.

Joba Chamberlain- 1 year/$1.875 million.  Good for Joba getting a raise after 2 straight injury-shortened season, and given his tenure and likely status as the pitcher next in line behind D-Rob for the setup role with Soriano gone, I think it's a fair deal.

Boone Logan- 1 year/$3.15 million.  A significant hike from the $1.875 he made in 2012, but understandable given the very good body of work he's had in a Yankee uniform and the importance the LOOGY role has taken on in the past few seasons.  A jump to over $3 mil in his final arb year should set Logan up nicely for life on the open market in 2014, and I think now the Yanks are much more likely to let him walk than try to bring him back on a multi-year deal for that kind of money.

Phil Hughes- 1 year/$7.15 million.  I'm a little surprised this number was so high for Hughes.  He had 1 slightly above-average year as a starter at league minimum in 2010, 1 below-average year at $2.7 mil in 2011, and another slightly above-average year at $3.2 mil in 2012.  I said I thought Hughes was going to be valuable as the only under-30 starting pitcher on the market next offseason, and the Yankees may have just helped usher him out the door with this $7+ mil deal.  If Hughes pitches better than he did in 2012 this season, he's going to be looking at offers of $10 mil per easily.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 1/18/13

I can't get enough of this Manti Te'o story.  It's one of the sickest/craziest/most hilarious stories I've encountered in my lifetime and I absolutely cannot stop reading and talking about it.  I mean, what a fucking loser.  I don't care what the reasons are, being a starting middle linebacker for the most widely-recognized football team in the country and then going through with a plan to create and kill off a fake online girlfriend in an age where there was no way you were going to get away with it is absolute lunacy.  It's bizarro world shit of the highest order.  And just so we're clear, if you honestly buy this "victim of a cruel joke" excuse that Te'o and Swarbrick are selling, you are a complete moron.

What really gets me, and what I think isn't being given enough attention here, is that he and his little Twitter buddy waited around until his grandmother died in real life to kill off the fake girlfriend.  Were they sitting around planning the end date for the fake girlfriend like writers for a TV show?  Were they always planning on doing it after the grandma died?  Did Manti Te'o WANT his grandma to die just so he could piggyback the dead girlfriend on top of that?  I'm a pretty cold, tasteless dude, but that's low even by my standards.  Now onto the links!

- Mike Eder of TYA had a pair of great posts on individual hitters' swing mechanic problems.  On Monday, he covered A-Rod and his bad hip, and on Tuesday he looked at Kevin Youkilis and his hands.

- On Tuesday, Josh Norris of Minor Matters posted some early details on the Yankees' 2013 MiL Spring Training schedule.

- Greg Cohen of Sliding Into Home got back into the blogging groove by stating that he did not like the idea of Andy Pettitte pitching in the WBC this year.  Based on Andy's recent health track record, I'm inclined to agree and am glad he's off the roster.

- Bryan Van Dusen of The Greedy Pinstripes put an interesting spin on the "slow offseason" complaint that many have had by looking at the Yankees' activity compared to other teams.

- Alex Pugliese of Yanks Go Yard asked who from the A-Rod-Youkilis pairing made the most sense as the everyday third baseman this season.

- On Wednesday, Mike Axisa of RAB looked at early projections for Derek Jeter based on his ankle injury for 2013 and beyond.

- William Juliano of The Captain's Blog broke down the dollars on Rafael Soriano to determine who was a winner and loser in him opting out of his Yankee contract and signing with Washington.

- On Thursday, Chad Jennings of LoHud discussed Eduardo Nunez's middle-of-nowhere situation and brought up an interesting high-ceiling career comparison.

- El duque of It Is High... is getting tired of waiting for Cash to make his customary January move, and tired of waiting for the kids in A-ball.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS pointed out the lack of compatability in Hal's "getting under the luxury tax but not being open to extensions" payroll policies.

- On Friday, Steph Bee of Pinstriped Bible mused on the idea of trading Curtis Granderson.  It's an idea that almost everybody out there has had come across their mind at some point.

This week's Friday Jam comes from Nine Inch Nails.  Trent Reznor is pretty damn boss these days, winning Academy Awards, recording with QOTSA for their new album, and reportedly considering bringing NIN out of retirement.  I saw Linkin Park cover this at a concert one time and a bunch of younger mid-teens kids in the crowd had no clue what the song was.  That was sad.  Those kids should have been slapped.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.  Say hi to your fake internet girlfriends for me.

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: 10-1

 (Courtesy of Tim Priddy/Four Seam Images)

It's all been building to this.  The past 54 calendar weeks since the first AB4AR Top 30.  Suffice it to say this is arguably going to be the greatest moment of this year, and 2013 is only 17 days old.  The last group of players, the top 10, of the 2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 is released today.

From the new kids on the block with upside to the guys transition through the levels to this crop, each group of 10 has had some defining characteristics and the top 10 here is no different.  This group of players consists of upper-level guys right on the doorstep of making the Major League roster, some of them with the chance to be long-term fixtures at their positions, and also the elite group of lower-level guys who are fixing to be future All Stars at their positions.  If they aren't traded, the next core group of homegrown players could be sitting right within this top 10, and many of them play positions at which the Yankees are going to have a need in the next couple of years.

Not A Prospect Yet (But Worth Watching): Adonis Garcia

 (Courtesy of Mike Ashmore)

There was a period of time 10-15 years ago when the Yankees dominated the international free agent game.  They brought in El Duque, they brought in Hideki, they brought in Contreras.  That last move didn't really work out, but it was still the Yankees using their financial muscle to bring in high-ceiling international talent.  Right around the time that Bahhston signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Yankees started to drift back to the pack on the international market, and recently they've been in the news more for losing out on or not even getting involved in the biding for players like Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jorge Soler.

They did make one move last year that could produce some upside, though.  In early May the Yankees signed Adonis Garcia, a then 26-year-old bat-first Cuban outfielder, to a 1-year MiL deal worth $400,000.  The move didn't sound like much at the time, and it still might not be, but Garcia hit the ground running upon making his US debut and has already shown he's no slouch with the bat.  His ceiling is low, but there might be something there worth watching.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: 20-11

 (Courtesy of Beverly Schaefer/The Times of Trenton)

As we move forward from the first third of this year's rankings, the faces start to become a little more familiar.  9 of the 10 players included in the middle section of this year's Top 30 were on last year's list.  They also start to become a bit more experienced, with 9 of the 10 having played in a full-season league last year and 7 of the 10 playing in at least 1 game at the Double-A level or higher.  There's slightly less upside in this group than in the group of 10 from yesterday, or at least upside that's a little better known, but there is also more polish and polish is what I'm looking for to know that a player is on the right track.  After the jump, check out positions 20-11 in the 2012-213 AB4AR Top 30.

No Yankees In Keith Law's Top 25 Under 25

Last Friday, Keith Law of ESPN released his 2nd "MLB 25 Under 25 Rankings," listing who he felt were the top 25 players under the age of 25.  Not surprisingly, the Yankees were not represented on this list, as they didn't finish the 2012 season with 1 player on their active roster who was under 25 and likely won't start 2013 with a single player who falls into that category either.  For what it's worth, they only put 1 player (Ivan Nova) on Law's 1st edition of this ranking system in 2011, and that list was 50 players deep.

The famed "Yankee Way" has not been kind to young players in the past decade, treating them almost as spare roster parts to be used to patch up and fill in weak areas caused by injuries to their older veterans rather than key contributors to a winning franchise.  The Yankees prefer to bring in veteran players, specifically ones they feel fit their system, and for the most part that's been a pretty successful strategy in remaining competitive.  But while they've remained competitive, teams like San Francisco have been winning World Series titles on the strength of their under-25 players, and teams like the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, who both use under-25 players as everyday players, have knocked the Yankees out of the postseason.

The Yankee Way is going to take a hit in the next year with the ownership-imposed payroll cut to get under the luxury tax.  Even mining for the cheapest of 1-year deals, the Yankees are going to have to lean on some of their younger, cheaper internal players, which makes their current lack of those quality under-25 guys all the more glaring.  As important as it is for them to score big with their 3 1st-round draft picks this year, it's equally important for some of their current prospects to have big years and put themselves in position to be everyday or close to everyday contributors in 2014 and beyond.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: 30-21

 (The next big thing?  Courtesy of Josh Norris)

Well I think I've dragged the suspense out long enough.  No more explanations of my thought process, no more looking back at the guys who aren't on the list anymore, and no more teasing with the guys who didn't make it.  It's time to start getting into the meat and potatoes of the 2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30, and that starts today with spots 30-21.  In a slight change from last year, I'm splitting the actual Top 30 up into 3 10-spot posts and today we'll tackle the bottom 10.

The bottom third of this year's Top 30 is the place where you'll find a lot of new faces, be they players who just started their pro careers in 2012, players who just worked themselves onto the prospect radar, or players who were on the fringe and did enough last year to force themselves onto the list.  It's also a place where you'll find guys who dropped in the rankings from their positions last year, mainly because of their failure to progress and improve upon their 2011 production.  It's a collection of unknown potential and unrealized potential.  So without further adieu, here are the first 10 spots in this year's AB4AR Top 30.

Soriano Signing Fills The Draft Pick Pool

 (I wonder if he smiles at the Nats' presser.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Just as things were starting to look bleak for old Sour Puss, Scott Boras worked his magic again and got another team who felt they needed bullpen help to overpay for his client.  According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Washington Nationals have agreed to sign Rafael Soriano to a 2-year/$28 million deal with an option for a third year.  In almost identical fashion to how he hooked the Yankees after his brilliant 2010 closing campaign in Tampa, Soriano parlayed an excellent year into another big contract.  You gotta give credit where credit's due; he and Boras knew what they were doing after all.

The best Yankee-centric news to come out of this development, besides ending all the discussion about what we'd be willing to pay to take Soriano back, is the guarantee of a second supplemental 1st-round pick in this year's MLB draft.  Paired with the pick the Yankees would have already had and the supplemental pick they get for Cleveland signing Nick Swisher, the Yankees are now holding 3 of the first 32 picks in the draft.  Right now those picks would be the 27th, 30th, and 32nd, with the possibility of them shifting depending on where Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn end up signing.

From a prospect perspective, since that's what this week is all about, this is a big opportunity for the Yankees to add some depth and high-ceiling talent to their farm system.  They haven't had much success with their most recent 1st-rounders, reaching for Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. only to watch both of them stagnate in Low-A ball in 2012, and it's still too early to make a solid call on Ty Hensley, who raised some eyebrows post-draft with the reports of his "shoulder abnormality."  That, combined with the injury and regression struggles of the organization's upper-level starting pitching, has created another talent void in the system, a void that can start to be filled by scoring in this year's draft.

The Yankees played the qualifying offer game correctly and have been rewarded for it with more picks and a bigger draft spending pool.  I know they're drafted heavily on makeup and intangibles the last few years, but this year might be the year to put that aside a bit and go for the big talent.  They don't all need to be home runs, but the Yankees have to hit big with at least 1 of this year's picks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Not A Prospect Yet (But Worth Watching): Corey Black

 (Courtesy of Bill Lyons/Staten Island Advance)

The members of the 2012 draft class are the most under-represented on this year's Top 30, mainly because the majority of them have such a small sample size to evaluate, but that doesn't mean there aren't good players and future AB4AR Top 30 members included.  Such is the case with Corey Black, a 4th-round pick out of Faulkner University.  Black made a name for himself prior to the draft and in his pro debut season on the strength of his fastball velocity, which sits mid-90s and was reported to hit triple digits on more than one occasion this past season.  In some circles that would be enough to get you on a top 30 prospects list, but some uncertainty surrounding Black's ultimate role as a Yankee led me to leave him off the radar for now until his career path becomes better defined.

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: Just Missed The Cut

 (A bridesmaid again in 2013.  Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/

The bad part about any top prospect list, be it 10, 15, or 30 players deep, is that there are always going to be some good, worthy guys who don't make the cut.  That was the case last year with the first edition of the AB4AR Top 30 and it held true this year as well.  Truth be told, it was a pretty big chore to not only figure out who made the list and who didn't, but also to figure out which of those players who missed the cut were most worthy of these 5 also-ran spots.  There is a lot of depth in the Yankee system right now, don't forget that, and the group of players who failed to crack this year's Top 30 are just as good a representation of that as the 30 who made the list.  After the jump, check out the 5 guys who fell just short of cracking the Top 30 this year.

Lack of Logic In Latest Upton Rumors

For a team that's supposedly not interested in acquiring him, the Yankees sure have been connected to Justin Upton a lot this offseason.  The latest rumor, as reported by Jon Morosi of FOX Sports on Sunday, has them interested in putting a package comparable to what Seattle offered together for Upton but, according to Morosi, also being unwilling to take on the 3 years and $38+ mil still owed to Upton.  Morosi suggests trading Curtis Granderson to Seattle as a way to help cut payroll in advance of trading for Upton, but this is where the train starts to come off the tracks.

First, trading Granderson to make payroll room for Upton would basically be a lateral move for 2013, not a move that improves the team.  Is an Upton-Gardner-Ichiro outfield any better than a C-Grand-Gardner-Ichiro one?  Maybe just a little if Upton rebounds to his 2011 form, but giving up prospects and trading away your best outfielder to get marginally better makes no sense.  And if the hold up really is not wanting to add payroll, then trading Granderson is hardly a fix for that.  He's coming off the books after this season anyway, so to move him now and weaken your 2013 outfield when he doesn't really affect the 2014 payroll anyway would be a classic "robbing Peter to pay Paul" scenario.

Most of what was discussed in Morosi's piece was his own speculation and hypothetical scenarios, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was some truth to it based on how the Yankees have conducted their business so far this offseason.  If money really is the hold up with Upton, then it's another example of the payroll goals getting in the way of smart baseball decisions.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not A Prospect Yet (But Worth Watching): Matt Tracy

 (Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/

Way back in February of last year, when TYA was having its Prospect Week, you might recall this post where I pulled up a couple names to keep an eye on in terms of future prospect potential.  One of the key names in that post was Matt Tracy, a left-handed pitcher who was making the transition from reliever to starter in an experiment the Yankees would hope turn out to be a goldmine.  Tracy's 2012 season was an inconsistent one.  He started off scorching hot for High-A Tampa after missing some time with injuries before hitting a wall in mid-July and struggling to finish the season, but still earned the opportunity to start a game in the Triple-A playoffs.  It wasn't quite enough to help him crack this year's Top 30, but certainly enough to put him on the radar for next year if he can continue to improve.

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: Those We've Lost

 (From #1 in our hearts to negative WAR in Seattle.  So long, sweet prince)

Before we jump into this year's AB4AR Top 30, it's only appropriate to look back at the guys from last year's inaugural Top 30 who fell off the list.  That's right, people.  I'm teasing you with some prospect foreplay before getting to the main event.  You know you love it.

As I stated last night, last year's list was admittedly full of some big misses on my part, and some of those misses have been corrected by not having them re-appear on this year's list.  But there were also some guys who played their way off the list, some guys who were let go by the organization, some who were traded away, and one who graduated to the Majors with a solid rookie season.  There was high turnover from last year to this year, with 9 players from the first Top 30 failing to make this year's edition.  After the jump, check out who those players are, what led to their dismissal/removal from this year's rankings, and what's in store for them in 2013.

Welcome To 2013 AB4AR Prospect Week

At long last, the day has come.  It's been a long while since I've done this, over a calendar year in fact since the inaugural AB4AR Top 30 actually started in late December of 2011.  But the stars have aligned, the prospects have all been ranked, and the time has finally come for them to be unveiled to the world.  And like last year, I'm not just going to plop 30 names out in a single post and call it a day, oh no.  This celebration is going to stretch across this entire week, building what I'm sure will be a tidal wave of emotion and anticipation towards the release of the top 10.

Here's the plan for this week.  Not only am I going to release the 2nd edition of the AB4AR Top 30, I'm also going to take a look back at some of last year's Top 30 member who were removed from this year's list, I'm going to cover the players who just missed the cut for this year's list, and I'm going to dig even deeper to find some guys who may not qualify as true "prospects," but are still worth knowing about.  Yes sir, it's going to be a week chock full of prospecty goodness, because let's be honest, when we're sitting here talking about the idea of signing Jim Thome or Javy Vazquez, that's a clear sign that it's the dead time of the offseason.  And what better way to brighten that up then by looking to the future?

So strap yourselves in, clear your schedules, tell your boss to pound sand, and tell the wife/husband and kids you'll see them next week.  This party kicks off this afternoon at 1 PM Eastern/12 Central.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

AB4AR Top 30 Introduction: The Method To My Madness

The beauty and the fun of prospect ranking is that everybody has their own system.  There's a standard set of criteria that everybody has to consider when evaluating players and deciding where to rank them, but how they consider them and what criteria they put more weight on is what ultimately determines the differences between one person's top prospect list and another, and what sparks the conversation and debate that we all love to have about prospects.

Before we dive into the 2012-2013 edition of the AB4AR Top 30, I thought it would be a good idea to give some explanation on the system I use and why I use it.  It's mainly so you the readers know why I ranked guys the way I did, but it's also partially for me.  I thought I knew what I was doing last year when I took my first stab at a top 30, and it turned out that I didn't know as much as I thought I did about some players.  This year, I wanted to be more thorough in my evaluation of each player, and more consistent in the way I followed my system.  I spent the entire season working on these rankings, and revised them often as the season progressed based on how each player performed against my set of criteria.

I think the list I've come up with this year is much better than the first edition, and much more representative of my ranking system and the criteria I put more weight on when evaluating guys.  So to give everybody an idea of my thought process and what's most important to me when ranking prospects, here's a quick explanation of my personal ranking system.

Not Javy Vazquez Again. Please

(No, no, a billion times no)

I wanted to let this one sit as a post on the Facebook Page, but after all the pain he's caused me I just can't.  Nick Cafardo reported yesterday that the Yankees were among a group of teams who have been following Javy Vazquez's work in a Puerto Rican winter league.  That's right, the same Javy Vazquez who posted these 2 lines in his previous 2 tours with the Yanks:

2004- 198.0 IP, 4.91/4.58/4.71, 17.7% K rate, 33 HR
2010- 157.1 IP, 5.32/5.56/4.69, 17.7% K rate, 32 HR

There's that old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  Well the Yankees have already been fooled twice by Vazquez, and that was back during times when he was still considered a good pitcher in most Major League circles.  Now he's been out of the league for a year, he's 36 years old, and I'd rather not see who the blame falls on if he fools the Yankees a third time.  I know they're bottom feeding for pitching depth this offseason, but there's no logical reason for even entertaining the idea of bringing Vazquez back.  I don't care if he's healthy, if his velocity is up, or if he's had a cybernetic third arm added to his body.  I've seen everything I need to see to know that Javy Vazquez sucks in a Yankee uniform.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Extensions For Joe & Cano Should Be A Priority

When he wasn't busy trying to pull non-existent wool over the eyes of us Yankee fans or slapping us in the face with his bulging money clip, Hal Steinbrenner did take some time the other day to comment on the upcoming contract situations for Joe Girardi and Robinson Cano.  Both of them enter 2013 in the final year of their current deals, and in typical Yankee fashion Hal played the "we don't do extensions" card.  That's not surprising knowing how the Yankees do business when it comes to new contracts, but considering they're already changing the way they do business by trying to scale back payroll, it would be wise to loosen up the standards on the extension front as well.

Why Not Travis Hafner For DH?

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

The Yankees are still in the market for a designated hitter for this season, and it's one of the few positions where they can actually afford to look for a lefty since they have A-Rod and Kevin Youkilis to handle the right-handed DH duties.  Mark Hale reported earlier this week that the Yankees have "no interest" in 42-year-old Jim Thome, which doesn't come as a huge surprise, but there is another name out there that I think could be a better fit than people realize.  That name is Travis Hafner, former Cleveland Indian who had his team option declined and hasn't generated a whole lot of buzz this offseason because of his annual injury problems.  This is going to sound crazy, but I think those injury problems are EXACTLY why the Yankees should be interested in Hafner.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 1/11/13

Major victory for me in my day job this week, people.  Truly life-altering stuff.  In my position, I'm constantly being shipped cases of sample containers for projects I run, usually bottles and cans.  When you do a lot of business with the big soda and beer companies of the world, there always exists the opportunity to get some free product, but I've never been lucky enough to experience that perk in the hundreds, probably thousands, of container samples I've received since I started working for my company.  Until this week.  I got me a fresh 24-case of 16oz aluminum Bud heavies sent to my attention for machine testing.  The King.  I damn near pissed my pants in excitement when I realized the bottles were full.  I saved about 5 to use for the project and the other 19 are going right back to the crib to take their rightful place in my fridge.  Is it shitty beer?  Absolutely.  Am I going to do my duty as an American and enjoy the hell out of every last drop?  You betcha.  Who needs profit sharing when you've got free beer?  Now onto the links!

- On Monday, Derek Albin of Pinstripe Pundits analyzed the history of Yankee draft picks to find where their strengths and weaknesses have been, both past and present.

- On Tuesday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog looked back at past instances of HOF voters letting their moral compasses get in the way of logic.  Timely considering all the anti-steroid stuff going around this week from current BBWAA members.

- Chad Jennings of LoHud had some more nitty gritty details on A-Rod's injured left hip thanks to a Tuesday afternoon conference call with the suddenly famous Dr. Kelly.

- Erica Morales of Bleeding Yankee Blue wondered about Joba Chamberlain's future with the Yankees as he heads into a contract year this season.

- On Wednesday, Steven Goldman of Pinstriped Bible made his 3-point pitch for why the Yankees should trade Phil Hughes.

- Mark Simon of ESPN looked at Mike Mussina's career and made a strong HOF case for Mussina when he becomes eligible next year, a case that might also be strengthened by his not being connected to PEDs.

- SG of RLYW looked back at the last 5 years of projections vs. actual production from Alex Rodriguez to see if there's anything they can tell us about what to expect in 2013 after his upcoming surgery.

- Matt Hunter of Yanks Go Yard investigated the fit between the Yankees and Michael Morse.  Spoiler alert- it's a good one.

- On Thursday, Mike Eder of TYA identified 2 Cuban players that would be great targets for the Yankees, especially because they aren't subject to the new CBA rules on international free agents.

- El duque of It Is High... mused on what Brian Cashman could be up to behind the scenes during this part of January, his usual big surprise time of the offseason.

- Mike Axisa of RAB looked back through the Baseball America archives at some past top Yankee prospects and top 5-10 lists, and how they panned out.

- On Friday, Bryan Van Dusen of The Greedy Pinstripes weighed the option of giving up a big prospect package for Justin Upton in the wake of the failed Seattle trade.

- Stacey Gotsulias of Second Place Is Not An Option continued her daily countdown to Spring Training 2013 with a look back at one of Jason Giambi's better seasons in pinstripes.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS offered up his take on Hal's offseason commentary from yesterday, and it was far more level-headed than mine.

This week's Friday Jam is a doozy, "Savage Henry" by Lo-Pan.  If you aren't familiar with their work, do yourself a favor and get familiar because these guys rock, plain and simple.  I checked them out a month or so ago in one of Magary's "NFL Jamboroo" posts on Deadspin and I've been hooked ever since.  Lead singer's got some pipes on him.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.  And just a reminder, only 2+ days left until Prospect Week and the 2nd annual AB4AR Top 30.