Open Thread: Al Aceves

And so it begins: Yankees interested in Mike Gonzalez
Sabathia on same conditioning program as last offseason
The Mexican Gangster rides again.

The Yankees have always been big players on the international market, and their current big league roster shows the fruits of their labor in the Dominican Republic (Robinson Cano, Ivan Nova), Venezuela (Jesus Montero, Frankie Cervelli), and Panama (Mariano Rivera). They’ve also started to emphasize Mexico in recent years, with scout Lee Sigman heading up the operation down there. They were reportedly prepared to select a little know Mexican League right-hander named Joakim Soria in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft at Sigman’s behest, but the Royals beat them to it.

A few years ago, Sigman and the Yankees worked out a package deal to acquire four players from one Mexican League club for a total of $450k. One of those players was top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, and another was the veteran Al Aceves. Less than ten months after signing, Aceves was in the big leagues, starting games down the stretch in 2008. He established himself as a bullpen extraordinaire in 2009, proving capable of throwing four pitches or four innings in an outing at a moment’s notice. The Mexican Gangster was invaluable in bridging the gap between the starting pitcher and the Phil Hughes-Mariano Rivera tandem at the end of the game as the Yankees stormed to the World Series.

Aceves never came close to achieving that kind of success in New York again. Following a lengthy rain delay at Fenway Park on May 8th of last season, Joe Girardi called on the righty in the fifth inning. He worked out of a jam then came back for the sixth, but he slipped a bit while delivering a pitch and his back locked up on him. We never saw Aceves in pinstripes again. The back problems — which were nothing new — and numerous setbacks kept him on the shelf for the rest of the season, and during the offseason he made things worse by falling off his bike and breaking his collarbone.

The injury was expected to keep Aceves out of action for three months, meaning he was going to miss the majority of Spring Training. The Yankees non-tendered Aceves one year ago today, just one day after the injury was reported. “Because of the back issue, we could not give him [a major league contract],” said Brian Cashman, who later tried to re-sign him to a minor league deal. The move to cut Aceves loose looks mind-numbingly stupid in hindsight, as he showed up to camp not only healthy and ready to go on the first day, but he did so for the Red Sox. The Gangster threw 122 total innings for Boston this past season (majors and minors), so either he healed better than expected or the Yankees’ doctors completely mis-evaluated him. Either way, there’s nothing they can do now other than learn from their mistakes.

* * *

Here’s your open thread for the night. Both the Devils and Islanders are in action, but you can talk about anything you want here. Go nuts.

And so it begins: Yankees interested in Mike Gonzalez
Sabathia on same conditioning program as last offseason
  • Ted Nelson

    “They were reportedly prepared to select a little know Mexican League right-hander named Joakim Soria in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft at Sigman’s behest, but the Royals beat them to it.”

    Baseball offers a much larger sample size to assess FOs than NBA, for example, but this still demonstrates some of the randomness of it all. Whether a draft is a monumental success or failure can hinge on one star player… and a team can be all lined up to get that guy only to see him go before they have a chance…

    Similar story was out there this season about Joey Votto. That they targeted him and claim to have been only one of two teams extensively scouting him… but the other team was the Reds and they took him before the Yankees first pick. And maybe (hypothetically) McCann was their second choice and Lester their 3rd choice… but Weeden was their 4th choice. Over a large enough sample this is really not much of an excuse, and ever team is unable to get talent it wants through the draft… just saying that a few bits of luck can change the course of a franchise and probably of an executive’s career.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Jesus. That’s pretty wild. If your first four targets or so turn out pretty well I’d say that you’re a pretty good scout. Every guy’s top 10 list or so heading into the draft, half of them would likely be busts.

  • cr1

    Aceves seemed completely unfazed to find himself in the white-hot spotlight less than a year after moving north from the Mexican leagues, and somehow I imagined him as equally unfazed at being dropped by the Yankees and snapped up by the Red Sox, turning up at Fenway with that same matter-of-fact look …

    Boston ‘seems’ to be a couple of starters short — maybe that turns into a chance for a place in their rotation for Aceves.

    I wish him well.

  • David in Cal

    ISTM that the Yanks have made a lot of bad decisions that could have been avoided by a more accurate medical report. I haven’t compared the Yanks’ results with other teams, but it’s possible that the Yanks aren’t getting the best possible medical opinions.

    • CP

      At the same time the Yankees missed on Aceves’ medicals, the Red Sox missed on Martin. It happens to every team, and it’s the hardest thing in baseball to predict.

  • RetroRob

    Aceves = Anger.

    Yeah, I know. I should let it go, but I thought the difference between what he wanted and what the Yankees offered was small enough in Yankee-world that he should still be with the Yankees.

    One item I found interesting was the comment that the Yankees have “started to emphasize Mexico in recent years.” I thought it was more a case that other teams had abandoned Mexico, considering the level of talent not enough to have heavy scouting operations there. I take it to mean the Yankees have the financial power to continue operations where other teams can’t, with the goal of digging up more jewels not being widely scouted.

    If that’s the case, I wonder if the Yankee Mexico model will expand to Latin America with the new CBA. I believe teams are going to spend less money there, so the Yankees might be able to make up what they lose with the spending cap by having more scouts on the ground to better identify talent.

    • JohnnyC

      No. As Mike summarized last week, in the new CBA:

      “•Players must register with MLB’s scouting bureau in order to be eligible to sign. That should cut down on the number of age and identity fraud cases. The top 100 prospects will be subject to drug testing.”

      Any players you unearth will have to be registered anyway. It actually militates against more scouting.

      • Need Pitching

        Putting the players on a list isn’t going to mean teams are going to just sign them because they are on a list. They will actually have to scout them to see if they are worthwhile. The teams that know the players the best from scouting them the most will have the best idea of what a player’s value actually is. There is still incentive to scout potential signee’s as much as possible, they just won’t be able to completely hide a player.

      • Ed

        Think of it like how waivers work in August. Teams only really care if a few players make it through waivers. Most guys are put on waivers and immediately pulled back when claimed. They get put on waivers so that it’s less obvious what your real intention is.

        They can do the same thing here. If you like one guy, then ask 5 guys to register for the draft. Make it so that other teams don’t have the time or staff to scout everyone that registers.

  • Nick

    the aceves thing still pisses me off

  • AndrewYF

    From what I remember a year ago, there was probably some attitude problems behind the scene with Aceves. The combination of the chronic back injury and the motorcycle accident plus whatever was going on behind the scenes was what led to him getting cut. But getting non-tendered was probably the best thing for his career. He got in shape and proved the Yankees wrong. Good for him, loved him when he was on the Yankees and can’t begrudge him his success. No real point in being angry about it, it literally ended up mattering zero for both the Yankees and the Red Sox’s seasons.

    • MannyGeee

      Accident was a pedal bike, no?

    • Billion$Bullpen

      I heard nothing of this said attitude issue. From everything I have ever seen and heard from Aceves he appears to be a good dude, hard worker, and best of all an inexpensive controlled player that gives you some serious value.

      Makes me sick to see him on Boston, and I find it almost hard to root against him. He did not want to go to Boston or anywhere else, the Yanks forced his hand and he got snapped up.

      I had no similar problem rooting against either of the perfect game Davids when they went to beantown, and have never completely forgiven them (im kidding kind of)

  • Tom Zig

    Omar Minaya, hired by the Padres. Odd.

    • Mattchu12

      There’s a joke about an all-latino in California in there, but I’m too lazy to find it.

  • Yada Yada Yadier Molina

    I almost felt bad for Ace watching him in the dugout in Baltimore after Game 162, sitting there with that 1,000-yard stare. He had given everything he had when it mattered most, and it was all for naught.

    Then I took another look at that ‘B’ on his cap, and suddenly I felt much, much better about his plight.

  • Rick fuckin Rude

    Who cares?

  • forensic

    Little surprised tonight’s open thread wasn’t Gary Sanchez’ birthday, considering some of the prospect love he gets.

  • well you know

    “It would be a good idea, having another lefty on the team,” Cano told the Daily News.

    That’s GM Robby Cano and he’s talking bat, not arm. Cashman can call the O a strength but the players know where the weakness is with Tex and Swish both flailing from the left side.

    Not a fan of the Papi solution but for the amount the Yanks will spend on a bad loogy, they could have upgraded from Swish to Beltran, a significant upgrade vs RHP.

  • Kevin

    Yanks aren’t the first team to goof in letting someone go based on medical reports or other reasons only to see that player do well elsewhere and they won’t be the last.
    It happens and there’s no telling if he’ll be that good in the future, especially being used as much as he was.

  • Gonzalo

    Yanks aren’t getting the best possible medical opinions, that’s a good one.
    While they saw something wrong with aceves, they saw nothing in Feliciano.

    • KL

      And they nailed Martin when other teams passed on him. So it seems they are getting good medical opinions. So your point is?

  • KL

    Wow a Mike Axisa whining about Aceves. Can another post about Rafael Soriano be far behind?