Monthly Archives: February 2009
With Spring Training running at full speed, I’m beginning to realize that while I enjoy the other sports our society offers, baseball still is the sport that I get most excited about.
The Yankees had a busy offseason, and coming off their first season without a playoff berth in over a decade, I’m certainly excited beyond normal measures. I’m going to take a look at the outlook for the Yankees this year, one group at a time.
February 23: Prospects
March 2: Infield
March 9: Outfield
March 16: Bullpen
March 23: Rotation
10. Mark Melancon, RHP
Melancon missed 2007 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and spent 2008 working on regaining his stuff. He works mainly off two pitches, a two-seamer and a biting curveball. Tabbed by some within the Yankees organization as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, Melancon has only 20 innings above AA-ball and still has a ways to go before putting his injury past behind him.
9. Phil Coke, LHP
Called up late in 2008 to provide left-handed innings out of the Major League bullpen, Coke is entering spring training as a starter. While I’m generally a fan of letting pitchers start until they prove that they absolutely cannot handle it, Coke’s lack of a third quality pitch paired with his bullpen success for the Yankees makes me think Coke should stay in the bullpen.
EDIT 1:33PM – Wouldn’t you know it, not 24 after I posted this, Joe Girardi informed reporters that Coke would pitch out of the bullpen. Coke being left-handed and his fastball/slide combo make him an ideal candidate to be used as a situational lefty, or toss multiple innings if needed.
8. Zach McAllister, RHP
I have a hard time talking about Yankee prospects that are starting pitchers, because the Yankee rotation looks pretty set for foreseeable future. McAllister features a hard sinker that’s comparable to Chien-Ming Wang’s. He mixes in a four-seamer and a changeup, but doesn’t necessarily blow hitters away. He relies on the guys behind him and pitches to contact.
7. Jeremy Bleich, LHP
Bleich immediately became the Yankees top-rated left-handed starter when they drafter him in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft. He’s a smart, Andy Pettitte-type lefty that mixes in two above-average off-speed pitches with his fastball. Bleich could be a candidate to rocket through the system if his elbow injury isn’t an issue.
6. Austin Romine, C
The Yankees system lacks in quality positional players, but Romine qualifies as one. Splitting time with the Yankees other catching stud, Romine demonstrated a good feel for hitting, with fleeting power potential. He’ll spend 2009 working to continually improve his handling and receiving behind the plate, as well as building on an encouraging offensive showing.
5. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Being comparable to Scott Kazmir is a pretty nice way to start your professional career. Arodys won’t turn nineteen until after the season, and already has an impressive grasp on his above-average fastball and power slider. His command is impressive for such a young prospect and is dripping in potential.
4. Andrew Brackman, RHP
A two-sport athlete (baseball & basketball) at NC State, Brackman was drafted by the Yankees knowing he needed Tommy John surgery. Brackman uses his 6’10 frame to power his 98-99mph fastball which he complements with an excellent curveball. Because of injury and basketball, Brackman hasn’t pitched consistently since high school and will take a while to readjust. He tops out with staff ace potential, but carries considerable risk. He is however, an excellent athlete for someone his size.
3. Dellin Betances, RHP
Betances has had scouts fawning over his pure stuff for several years now, but he’s still only 20 years old. He’s struggled with injuries and command issues, but when he’s on, there’s no one with more dominating stuff in the Yankees system. He is constantly working on repeating his delivery to improve his control and health. He’s a power arm with considerable upside, but like Brackman, he has command and injury concerns. He’ll need to continue to develop his changeup to go along with his overpowering fastball and power curve.
2. Austin Jackson, CF
Jackson is probably the best New York positional prospect in terms of ceiling and certainty. He’s an athletic outfielder who rates above-average across the board, but lacks one standout tool. He broke out in 2007, but failed to push the Yankees hand the following year. Jackson will begin the year at AAA Scranton but may see the Bronx this year depending on the production levels of Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera.
1. Jesus Montero, C
Has legitimate 80 power on the 20-80 scale, although it’s still somewhat raw. He hit .326 for Single-A last season, including a .344 mark in the second half. He’s a pure hitter with no discernible weakness at the plate, as he recognizes and handles any type of pitch. The question with Montero is whether he’ll improve enough defensively to stick at catcher. He’s big, and at 18, probably not done filling out. He struggles blocking balls and his arm strength is less than ideal. More than likely, Montero will hit enough to be an all-star anywhere, but just like pitchers, I believe it’s best to let Montero catch until he proves he absolutely can’t handle it.
GREEKS____25 25 – 50
TORGOS____22 09 – 31
The Torgos took on the defending Competitive League Champions and held their own. They avoided the mercy-rule for the first time this season. Defense helped the Torgos force a season high seventeen turnovers which led to nine points.
The Torgos out-rebounded the Greeks, 28-27, but a 28.6% shooting percentage doomed the Torgos. Nate scored 13 and Jaryd bucketed 12 to lead the Torgos, with each grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
The Torgos played tough in the first half, going into halftime down 25-22, but were outscored by sixteen in the second half.
My cousin, JR Briggs, made an interesting discovery a while back. He was in a Michael W Smith worship video! Funny thing is, he didn’t even know it until he saw it. He talked about the whole thing here, on his blog, jrbriggs.com. It’s set to Never Been Unloved.
Here’s the video, JR shows up at the 3:18 mark.
Champs 64, Torgos 31
With the return of the Torgos best player, Roberto, they played a little better than they did in the opener. They were still mercy-ruled halfway through the second half, but operated much better on offense.
Roberto, Jaryd and Logan managed the boards better and combined for 19 rebounds. Nate led the team with 11 points, Roberto had eight, while Jaryd and Logan had five apiece.
Halfway through the game, the Torgos developed a new team motto for the season – No Dunks. We’re now fully committed to preventing our opponents from dunking on us.
Back in October, when the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since before the strike, I offered my solution on How To Fix The Yankees. I took a look at who was leaving, who was staying, what everyone was being paid, and how I would fill out the roster without increasing the payroll. Here’s the roster and payroll I suggested:
C – Jorge Posada – $13.1MM
C – Jose Molina – $2MM
1B – Mark Teixeira – $22.5MM
2B – Robinson Cano – $6MM
SS – Derek Jeter – $20MM
3B – Alex Rodriguez – $32MM
IF – Wilson Betemit – $1.165MM+
[Nick Swisher – $5.3MM]
IF – Cody Ransom – $400K
LF – Johnny Damon – $13MM
CF – Brett Gardner – $400K
RF – Xavier Nady – $6.5MM+
OF – Melky Cabrera – $1.4MM
DH – Hideki Matsui – $13MM
SP – CC Sabathia – $14MM
SP – Chien-Ming Wang – $5MM
SP – Mike Mussina- $12MM
[AJ Burnett – $16.5MM]
SP – Andy Pettitte – $5MM
SP – Joba Chamberlain – $400K
RP – Mariano Rivera – $15MM
RP – Damaso Marte – $4MM
RP – Brian Bruney – $1.25MM
RP – Jose Veras – $400K
RP – Edwar Ramirez – $400K
RP – Phil Coke – $400K
[Al Aceves – $400K]
RP – Mark Melancon – $400K
[Jonathan Albaladejo – $400K]
I said I’d rather see two pitchers and Teixeira than three new pitchers and that’s exactly what Cashman went out and did. There are some things that I know now that I didn’t know then.
1. Phil Coke will be working as a starter in Spring Training. As well he should. Pitchers are far more valuable in the rotation and should be given every opportunity to be developed as such until they prove they can’t handle it. So he’s out of my bullpen, replaced with a longman, Al Aceves. Dan Giese is another option if the Yankees choose to get Aceves regular starts at AAA.
2. Mike Mussina was dead set on retiring. So he’s out of the rotation, replaced with AJ Burnett, who will make more this season than Sabathia. Burnett has devastating stuff in regards to his pitch repertoire, but delicate stuff in regards to his elbow and shoulder. Andy Pettitte also signed for much lower than anticipated or originally offered. Incentives could escalate his salary to $12MM.
3. I’m getting the feeling that Mark Melancon will begin the year in the minors barring an incredible spring. So he’s out of my bullpen for now to, replaced with Jonathan Albaladejo for now. Albaladejo had a solid showing in winter ball and fared decently with the Yankees briefly in 2008 before getting injured.
4. The Yankees traded for Nick Swisher. He becomes part of what I’d use as a rotation of him, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and Hideki Matsui through left field, right field and DH. There’s been talk of trading Xavier Nady or spinning Swisher off somewhere before he even plays for the Yankees. But I’d hold on to both of them unless someone (Braves?) is desperate enough to pony up a top prospect for either of them. Matsui’s been through two knee surgeries in the past year and Swisher’s the only one of the four signed beyond 2009.
My base roster payroll comes out to $198.35MM, if every incentive is hit by every player with incentives, it comes out to just a shade over $208 million, exactly in line with last year’s payroll. The Yankees have only a few questions heading into the 2009 season.
I. Will Jorge Posada be healthy enough to catch 120+ games?
The Yankees really need Posada to return to his career averages and stay healthy because the alternatives are brutal. Jose Molina will hold his own behind the dish, but is outmatched by Major League pitching. Ditto Kevin Cash. New York has some stud catching prospects, but they’re all still several years away from being seriously considered Posada’s replacement. So Hip-Hip needs to remain effective for a couple more seasons.
II. How does the centerfield situation play out?
Right now, it looks like it’s between the constantly regressing Melky Cabrera and the good-field, no-hit, all-hustle Brett Gardner. The addition of Mark Teixeira to the lineup affords the Yankees the luxury of running one of these guys out there everyday and hitting them ninth to see what they’ve got. Personally, I’d stick Brett Gardner out there and let him play. During limited playing time late last season, Gardner showed terrific defensive value and if he can get on base with any regularity, steal some bases and go first to third, he should help the Yankees lineup by giving them some much-needed speed.
III. How does Alex Rodriguez handle all the new allegations?
Regardless of the Players Union’s definition of “confidential and anonymous” is, A-Rod will remain the center of attention of jealous, ex-jock journalists. His talent is undeniable, but his ability to deal with negative reports is questionable at best. He’s the best hitter the Yankees have and will need his bat to be raking in order to rebound from a down offensive output.
GILLETT 47, TORGOS 14
Yep, you read that right. The Torgos opened up their first season in the Competitive League with a 33-point loss. For the past two years we’ve played in the Recreational League, but this year decided to join the Competitive League. Probably not the best idea.
We were a player short and were completely dominated. We were out rebounded 35-19 and had 25 turnovers compared to Gillett’s six.
Mike turned the ball over four time in the Torgos first five possessions as Gillett grabbed an early 14-4 lead. The Torgos managed only four points in the second half, and made a total of five shots the entire game.