Monday Night Open Thread

Opening Day is just one week away, folks. The Yankees open the 2015 season regular next Monday afternoon at home against the Blue Jays, which is so close and yet so far at the same time. Anyway, the Yankees had an off-day today, their last one of the Grapefruit League season, so there are no camp notes to pass along. Nothing happened at the complex. Instead, check out this Dan Barbarisi article on Jacob Lindgren‘s rap skills and banana suit. And his pitching, too.

This is your open thread for the night. MLB Network is showing the Twins and Red Sox live tonight, if you’re interested, but none of the local hockey or basketball teams are playing. Weird. Talk about whatever here.

Domingo German needs Tommy John surgery, apparently

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to a post on his Instagram account (journalism!), right-handed pitching prospect Domingo German needs Tommy John surgery. He was in New York recently to get checked out. It’s unclear if he’s already had the procedure or will have it soon. The Yankees have not confirmed anything.

German, 22, was acquired from the Marlins in the Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi trade in December. I ranked him as the club’s 11th best prospect last month. German is on the 40-man roster and was in big league camp, though he only pitched in one Grapefruit League game (March 17th). It’s not unusual for a young prospect yet to pitch above Low-A to see limited action in big league camp though.

While with the Marlins last year, German threw 123.1 innings after throwing only 67 innings in 2014. The huge innings jump could be to blame for his elbow woes, though it’s impossible to know how many innings German threw in Instructional League in the first half of 2013 before joining Miami’s rookie ball affiliate when the season started in late-June.

German had a 2.48 ERA (3.26 FIP) with good strikeout (22.4%) and walk (5.0%) rates in those 123.1 innings last year, all in Low Class-A. He was the Marlins’ lone representative in the 2014 Futures Game. German was slated to open the 2015 season in the High-A Tampa rotation.

Minor league option rules are complicated, so I don’t know if German will qualify for the fourth option when the time comes. He was just added to the 40-man roster this offseason, so that’s a long ways away. See you in 2016, Domingo.

A trip through the MLBTR archives: March 2008

Harden. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
Harden. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Okay, I’m really bad at this. I promised to post these monthly looks back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives early in each month, preferably during the first week, yet I completely forgot about March. Never did it. Time to correct that now. Better late than never, right?

As a reminder, I’m not here to make fun of Tim and everyone else at MLBTR. They’re all great. I’m just having a little fun by looking back at rumors that didn’t come to fruition (as well as those that did!) with the benefit of hindsight. We’re going seven years back in time, so now it’s time to dive into the March 2008 archives. March isn’t a great month for trade and free agent rumors, so most of the Yankees-related nuggets were speculation. Away we go…

March 2nd:

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times explores the relative surprise that Robinson Canó has been considering his draft position and reputation as a prospect, and details how frequently the Yankees almost dealt him before he made the big club.  Canó was nearly dealt for Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltrán, and Randy Johnson in different instances. 

It seems like there’s a “he was almost traded as a prospect” story for every great player. Mariano Rivera was almost traded for Felix Fermin. Rivera and Jorge Posada were almost traded for David Wells. Andy Pettitte? He was in more trade rumors than I could possibly remember in the 1990s. Prospects get mentioned in trade rumors. That’s part of baseball. Every so often one of those prospects develops into a great big leaguer, like Rivera or Posada or Cano.

Robbie was not a highly touted prospect — he never once made a Baseball America top 100 list — because he wasn’t a great athlete, didn’t have much power, and earned a reputation for being lazy. Not a silly “he jogs to first on ground balls” kind of lazy reputation either. Cano had conditioning issues and didn’t put in any extra work while in the minors. He did a complete 180 in 2005 or so, becoming a fitness machine and a workaholic, reportedly because A-Rod got on his case a bit.

Anyway, trading Cano seems ridiculous given what he turned into, but back from 2002-04, I don’t think any of us would have thought twice about it. He was a good prospect with flaws, not a great prospect, and someone who eventually hit on the best case scenario because he matured as a person. That doesn’t mean teams should hang on to every prospect just in case, of course. It just makes me wonder about someone like, say, Mason Williams, who clearly doesn’t lack the physical gifts to be an impact player, just the maturity.

March 6th:

He says Paul Konerko “remains quietly available,” and expresses the opinion that the Mets or Yankees could both use him.  Rosenthal believes Chicago’s biggest need is starting pitching.

Just to make it clear, this was not an actual rumor, it was Ken Rosenthal speculating. Konerko, who had just turned 31, hit .259/.351/.490 (116 OPS+) with 31 home runs in 2007, which is good but down from the .291/.372/.540 (132 OPS+) with 39 homers he averaged from 2004-06. He then hit .240/.344/.438 (103 OPS+) with 22 homers in 2008, the third year of his five-year, $60M contract.

Had the Yankees traded for Konerko prior to the 2008 season and he did something like that, we all would have hated him. The “he can’t handle New York” stories would have been everywhere. Konerko presumably would have split time at first base and DH with Jason Giambi in 2008 before taking over as the regular first baseman in 2009, which potentially means no Mark Teixeira. That sure would have changed a lot, eh?

Of course, Konerko shook off that down 2008 season to hit .277/.353/.489 (114 OPS+) with 28 homers in 2009 and then a monster .312/.393/.584 (160 OPS+) with 39 dingers in 2010, the final year of his contract. Assuming all of that had happened in New York — a big assumption, I know — I wonder what kind of contract offer the Yankees would have made him after 2010. Konerko eventually sign a three-year, $37.5M deal to return to the White Sox in real life, though for some reason I think he would have ended up with more from the Yankees.

March 8th:

The Yankees are eyeing southpaw relievers Damaso Marte and Brian Fuentes, who’ve seemingly been on their radar for months.  Fuentes makes $5.05MM this year, Marte makes $2MM this year with a $6MM club option for ’09.

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post has an update to Cafardo’s Yankees/Fuentes item.  Renck says that while the Yanks have scouted Fuentes, Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd says there’s “zero chance” of a trade at this time.  I imagine he wants to see a healthy Luis Vizcaino before considering it.

The Yankees went about ten years without a reliable lefty reliever after Mike Stanton was allowed to leave as a free agent, and I feel like Marte and Fuentes were the two names they were most connected to during that time. They eventually did get Marte — World Series hero Damaso Marte to you! — in 2008, though Fuentes remained nothing more than rumor fodder.

The nugget about Vizcaino was interesting. He had an okay year in New York in 2007 (4.30 ERA and 4.42 FIP) and turned that into a two-year, $7.5M contract with Colorado after the season. Best of all? The Yankees got a draft pick out of it! Vizcaino was a Type-B free agent under the old system and he rejected arbitration, giving the Yankees the 44th overall pick in the 2008 draft. (The Rockies didn’t have to give up a pick since he was a Type-B, not a Type-A). That pick didn’t work out (Jeremy Bleich), but still, it was neat. Those were the good ol’ days, when a decent middle reliever got you a supplemental first round pick.

March 16th:

Hounded by the Yankees-centric media, however, the soon-to-be free agent surely launched a jolt of pain through Yankees Nation when he was asked if he likes New York.

His response?  “It’s all right,” he said.

Sabathia continued to maintain with reporters that “in a perfect world,” he would want to stay with Cleveland.  After all, “I’ve been here since I was 17.”

This was the first time CC Sabathia and the Yankees were mentioned in the same rumor. Johan Santana had been traded to the Mets just a few weeks earlier and everyone shifted focus to Sabathia, an impending free agent. The Yankees later admitted that was their plan too — they passed on Johan so they could sign Sabathia after the season, an incredible gamble that paid off handsomely. I know CC ain’t all that good now, but man, he was a beast from 2009-12.

Also, the one thing I remember most about the Yankees’ pursuit of Sabathia as a free agent was how everyone tried to come up with reasons why he wouldn’t want to come to New York. He’s from the West Coast, he liked hitting in the NL, that sort of stuff. In this MLBTR blurb, Sabathia gave the answer he was supposed to give — what’s he supposed to say, “I can’t wait to leave the Indians” when he’s still with the Indians? — but it was spun into “Sabathia doesn’t want to be a Yankee” stories. Ah, the internet.

March 19th:

According to a source of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, “the Yankees have apparently expressed interest in Rich Harden.”  Slusser believes the A’s would demand full price for Harden, perhaps asking for Ian Kennedy and young pitchers.

Man, Rich Harden was a boss back in the day. He had “best stuff in MLB” type of stuff. Mid-90s fastball, Tanaka-esque splitter, filthy slider … he was absurd. I’m trying to think of a modern day equivalent and I’m coming up empty. Andrew Cashner maybe?

Anyway, Harden was only 26 in March 2008 and his injury problems were just starting to set in. He made only nine starts in 2006 due to an elbow sprain and seven appearances (four starts) in 2007 due to a shoulder sprain. That said, he went into the 2008 season with a career 3.60 ERA (3.55 FIP) in 464.2 innings — that worked out to a 124 ERA+ back then (I miss offense) — and had insane stuff, so everyone was projecting ace-caliber production should he stay healthy.

The Yankees never did trade for Harden and he sure pitched like an ace in 2008 — 2.07 ERA (2.95 FIP) with 181 strikeouts in 148 innings. That’s a 210 ERA+ (!) and 30.4 K%. Ridiculous. The Athletics traded him to the Cubs in July 2008 for four players, most notably a middling catcher prospect named Josh Donaldson, and Harden threw only 315.2 more big league innings in his career after 2008. He had all sorts of shoulder trouble and eventually tore his capsule. Shame.

I remember being all in Harden during the 2006-08-ish period. I loved his stuff. Loved loved loved it. I’m much more apprehensive nowadays when it comes to pitches with injury concerns, especially arm injuries, even if they haven’t had surgery. That doesn’t mean I would avoid them at all costs, but the rumor says the A’s wanted “full price” for Harden, and while I was definitely open to that back then, it would be an easy no for me these days.

Farm System Offers Some Help Now, More Help Later [2015 Season Preview]

Severino. (Presswire)
Severino. (Presswire)

Two years ago, the Yankees had a miserable season down in the farm system, with several top prospects either getting hurt, underperforming, or simply failing to move forward in their development. When big leaguer after big leaguer went down with an injury, the farm system had little to no help to offer. It was bad enough that Hal Steinbrenner and his staff essentially audited the player development system after the season, though they only made procedural changes.

Things were not nearly as bad last year, though they weren’t as good as they could have been either. Having three first round picks in the 2013 draft helped infuse high-end talent, and several other young lower level players took quicker than expected steps forward in their development. That didn’t stop the team from replacing longtime VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman and farm director Pat Roessler, both of whom were let go last October. (Newman retired, but his contract was up and all indications are he wasn’t going to be brought back anyway.)

Gary Denbo, who has worn many hats with the Yankees over the years, was tabbed as Newman’s replacement and he now oversees the player development system. (His official title is vice president of player development.) Eric Schmitt dropped the “assistant” from his old assistant director of minor league operations title and was promoted this offseason. Several other coaching and development staff changes were made as well, including the return of Greg Colbrunn (Low-A hitting coach) and Eric Duncan (Short Season defensive coach).

The Yankees are hoping those changes lead to a more productive farm system and soon. Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and Steinbrenner all said his past offseason that young players were going to play a big role in the franchise going forward, which makes sense given Hal’s plan to get under the luxury tax threshold in two years or so. The system isn’t quite ready to graduate impact talent to the big league level, but there are several of those types of prospects on the horizon for 2016. Time to look ahead to the coming year in the minors.

The Top Prospects: Bird, Clarkin, Judge, Sanchez, Severino

You can rank them in whatever order, but I think most will agree 1B Greg Bird, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Aaron Judge, C Gary Sanchez, and RHP Luis Severino are the five best prospects in the system. Judge and Severino are a notch above the other three thanks to their sky high upside, though Cashman recently called Bird “by far the best hitter” in the organization and Clarkin might have the highest probability of the bunch. Sanchez has been around seemingly forever and I think people are getting sick of him, yet he just put up a 108 wRC+ at age 21 as an everyday catcher at Double-A. That’s pretty impressive.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

Severino is the sexy flame-throwing starter, but I consider Judge the more exciting and more polished prospect. He’s shown much better contact skills and a better approach than even the Yankees realized he had when they draft him 32nd overall in 2013, plus he also has huge raw power and is an asset defensively in right field. Judge needs to learn when to turn it loose so he can best tap into that power, but otherwise he’s a very complete prospect. Severino has big upside but still needs to improve his breaking ball and delivery.

With it looking more and more likely Sanchez will return to Double-A Trenton for yet another season, four of the Yankees’ top five prospects will be with the Thunder to start the 2015 season. Only Clarkin won’t be there — he’s slated to open the season with High-A Tampa, and while he could be promoted to Trenton later in the summer, the other four guys could be bumped up to Triple-A Scranton by then. Between Bird, Judge, Sanchez, Severino, and others like 3B Eric Jagielo and OF Jake Cave, Double-A is going to be a very fun affiliate to watch this summer.

Ready To Help Now: Flores, Lindgren, Pirela, Refsnyder

Inevitably, the Yankees will need help from within this year. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to underperform, and the team will have to dip into the farm system for help. UTIL Jose Pirela suffered a concussion running into the outfield wall a week ago, but before that he was first in line to be called up whenever infield or outfield help is needed. His defense isn’t good anywhere; Pirela’s simply hit his way into the MLB picture.

With Pirela hurt, OF Ramon Flores figures to be first in line should outfield reinforcements be needed. I get the feeling Flores is going to spend about ten years in the league as a left-handed platoon outfielder, a Seth Smith type. He’s not a flashy prospect but he can hit, especially righties, and won’t kill his team in the field. 2B Rob Refsnyder isn’t ready for the big leagues defensively, but the Yankees could stick him at second base on an everyday basis this year and no one would think they’re crazy. He’s done nothing but hit since turning pro. Refsnyder just needs more reps on the infield after playing the outfield in college.

LHP Jacob Lindgren is New York’s best bullpen prospect and the most MLB ready, so much so that I think he should be on the Opening Day roster. Yeah, he could probably use a little more minor league time — Lindgren has yet to play at Triple-A, for what’s it worth — to work on his command, which is why he was sent to minor league camp yesterday, but Lindgren can get big leaguers out right now if the Yankees need him to. Pirela made his MLB debut last September and I expect Flores, Refsnyder, and Lindgren to make their debuts this year, sooner rather than later.

Ready To Help Soon: Austin, Bird, Judge, Rumbelow, Severino

As I mentioned earlier, much of the Yankees’ potential impact talent is likely to arrive in 2016, not 2015, including Bird, Judge, and Severino. I wouldn’t be surprised if Severino debuts this summer though. The Yankees have moved him very aggressively. RHP Nick Rumbelow is also likely to debut in 2015 as a strikeout heavy reliever, though he wasn’t as much of an Opening Day roster candidate as Lindgren. OF Tyler Austin figures to be a September call-up after spending the summer roaming the outfield with Triple-A Scranton.

Getting a cup of coffee and being ready to contribute are different things, however. Guys like Lindgren, Refsnyder, and Pirela are able to help the Yankees at the MLB level right away, at least in some aspects of the game. Others like Bird, Judge, Austin, and Severino aren’t big league ready and the Yankees shouldn’t plan on calling them up for help this year. They all need more seasoning in the minors. Next year we’ll be talking about them as players ready to help at the MLB level. They’re not ready at this very moment though.

Rumblin' Rumbelow. (Presswire)
Rumblin’ Rumbelow. (Presswire)

Breakout Candidates: DeCarr, Hensley, Mateo

You could make the case SS Jorge Mateo broke out last year, albeit in only 15 rookie ball games, but I think he has top 100 prospect in the game potential. Mateo, 19, is insanely fast with surprising power and a good approach at the plate to go with strong defensive chops at short. He received a ton of love last year and a full, healthy season in 2015 could have him atop New York’s prospect list and ranked among the best shortstop prospects in baseball.

RHP Ty Hensley‘s career has been slowed considerably by injuries, most notably two hip surgeries and a hernia that caused him to miss the entire 2013 season and the start of 2014 as well. He is healthy now and I get the sense the Yankees are ready to turn him loose with Low-A Charleston. Get him out there and let him pitch as much as possible early in the year just to make sure he gets those innings in, know what I mean? If they have to shut Hensley down in August to control his workload, so be it. He needs to make up for all the lost development time.

RHP Austin DeCarr was the Yankees’ third round pick last summer and is surprisingly refined for a kid just a year out of high school, throwing three good pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup) for strikes. It’s unclear where the club will send DeCarr to start the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he opened the year alongside Hensley in Charleston’s rotation. Other potential breakout candidates include OF Mark Payton, RHP Gabe Encinas, OF Leonardo Molina, OF Alex Palma, and SS Angel Aguilar.

Sleepers: Acevedo, De La Rosa, Haynes

Over the last few weeks RHP Domingo Acevedo has generated some buzz for his imposing frame (listed at 6-foor-7 and 190 lbs.) and a fastball that has touched triple digits. Perhaps he’s more of a breakout candidate than a sleeper? Is there a difference? Who knows. Anyway, Acevedo’s size and stuff make him super interesting, though his full season debut is likely a year away. He’s a deep sleeper.

RHP Kyle Haynes is a more traditional sleeper. The 24-year-old reliever came over from the Pirates in the Chris Stewart trade and has good stuff, specifically a mid-90s fastball and an average-ish slider. Command holds him back, which along with his age and role is the reason you haven’t heard much about him. The Yankees have had some success getting these big stuff, bad command guys to throw strikes in recent years (Shane Greene most notably), and Haynes could be next.

The most intriguing sleeper — even moreso than Acevedo — in my opinion is RHP Simon De La Rosa. The 21-year-old is a late bloomer who didn’t sign until age 19 in 2013 — he received a measly $50,000 bonus at that — but he packs mid-90s heat into his 6-foot-3, 185 lb. frame and also throws a curveball and a changeup. Despite his age, I don’t think the Yankees will aggressively move De La Rosa up the ladder because he’s so raw. The tools are there for a quality pitching prospect though.

The New Batch: DeLeon, Emery, Garcia, Gomez

Last summer the Yankees went on an unprecedented spring spree and signed many of the top available international prospects. I haven’t seen a final number anywhere, but estimates have the club shelling out more than $30M between bonuses and penalties. The two best prospects the Yankees signed are OF Juan DeLeon and 3B Dermis Garcia, though 3B Nelson Gomez, OF Bryan Emery, OF Jonathan Amundary, and C Miguel Flames are among the other notables. These guys will all make their pro debuts this season. That’s a big talent infusion in such a short amount of time.

Slade. (Presswire)
Slade. (Presswire)

Last Chance?: Campos, Heathcott, Williams

As is the case every year, the Yankees have several former top prospects facing make or break seasons in 2015. RHP Vicente Campos is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is only throwing bullpen sessions now, so he’s unlikely to return to the mound until midseason. He’s thrown just 111.2 innings over the last three years. OF Slade Heathcott played only nine games in 2014 due to a pair of knee surgeries. He’s looked healthy in camp and needs to finally have a full season in 2015. Both Campos and Heathcott were non-tendered this offseason and re-signed to minor league contracts.

Some have called this a make or break season for Sanchez but I don’t agree with that at all. His defense needs to progress, absolutely, but he’s consistently been an above-average hitter throughout his career despite being three-ish years young for the level each step of the way. OF Mason Williams is definitely facing a make or break year, on the other hand. He hasn’t hit and has had to be benched for lack of effort on multiple occasions. Williams certainly doesn’t lack tools, he just hasn’t displayed the makeup and work ethic needed to be a big leaguer. More of the same will end his time as a prospect. Talent is important, but it will only buy you so many chances if you don’t put he work in.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2015

Record Last Week: 3-4 (41 RS, 38 RA)
Grapefruit League Record: 15-12-1 (123 RS, 108 RA)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Twins (Tues. on MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Rays (Weds. on YES, MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Pirates (Thurs. split quad on YES, MLB.tv), @ Tigers (Thurs. split squad on ESPN, MLB.tv), vs. Nationals (Friday on YES, MLB.tv), @ Nationals (Saturday at Nationals Park, MLB.tv), Sun. OFF

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Open Thread: March 29th Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 this afternoon. Chase Headley (3-for-4 with a double and a homer) and Rob Refsnyder (2-for-3 with two doubles) were the stars on offense. Stephen Drew and John Ryan Murphy both went 1-for-4 with a double and Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-1 with a walk. A-Rod played three innings at first base and supposedly did fine, though he only had to make routine plays.

Nathan Eovaldi started and was again very good, striking out five and allowing three hits in 4.2 innings. He threw 89 pitches, so it wasn’t his most economical outing. Eovaldi has 14 strikeouts and no walks in 13.2 Grapefruit League innings. Chase Whitley (one out) and Esmil Rogers (five outs) combined for two perfect innings, and Chasen Shreve retired four of the five batters he faced. There was no video broadcast for this afternoon’s game, so there are no highlights to watch. For shame. Here’s the box score and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • The Yankees announced another round of cuts: Scott Baker was released, Bryan Mitchell and Ramon Flores were optioned to Triple-A, and Kyle Davies, Francisco Arcia, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Slade Heathcott, Kyle Higashioka, Jacob Lindgren, and Nick Rumbelow were all reassigned to minor league camp. So much for Lindgren on the Opening Day roster. Brian Cashman said the team hopes to re-sign Baker, presumably after Opening Day so they don’t have to pay the $100,000 retention bonus. I unofficially count 36 players still in big league camp. [Bryan Hoch]
  • Dellin Betances threw an inning in a minor league game. He allowed an unearned run on one hit, throwing 14 of 16 pitches for strikes and sitting 91-94 mph. “I executed my pitches instead of thinking about mechanics. I felt a lot better. I’m definitely going in the right direction,” he said. [Bob Klapisch]
  • Mark Teixeira took a pitch to the right knee during a minor league game. He left the game, walked it off, and told reporters he was fine. The Yankees say he has a contusion and no tests are scheduled. Didi Gregorius (wrist) feels better today and expects to be ready for Opening Day. Jared Burton (lat) has resumed playing catch. [Klapisch, Hoch, Dan Barbarisi, Chad Jennings]
  • And finally, old buddy Hiroki Kuroda made his first regular season start back with the Hiroshima Carp yesterday. He struck out five and scattered five hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings. Hiroshima won 2-1. Poor Hiroki still can’t get any run support. Here’s some video of his outing.

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Gonzaga-Duke game is going on right now, as is the Islanders game. MLB Network will replay a handful of non-Yankees games tonight as well. You folks know how these threads work by now, so have at it.

Sunday Links: Draft Combine, Hensley, Lopez, Alvarez

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are playing the Astros this afternoon (Nathan Eovaldi vs. Scott Feldman), but there will be no video broadcast, so we won’t have a game thread. Instead, here are some miscellaneous links and notes.

MLB, MLBPA considering pre-draft medical combine

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA are expected to discuss the idea of a medical combine for draft prospects during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. The current CBA expires after 2016. This comes after the Astros declined to sign California HS LHP Brady Aiken — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — after an issue with his elbow popped up during a physical. Aiken had Tommy John surgery a few days ago.

It’s easy to understand why teams would be in favor of a medical combine, but the players have little to gain from this. Of course, draft prospects are not MLBPA members, so the union is free to negotiate away their rights, which they’ve been doing for decades. A medical combine would bring a ton of logistical issues — who is eligible/required to participate? who are the doctors? how will this impact college players given the clown show that is the NCAA? — though I fully expect one to implemented at some point, if not 2017. The MLBPA has shown time after time they will sell out amateur players for the betterment of union members.

Hensley healthy and participating in all workouts

After being viciously assaulted in December, RHP Ty Hensley reported to Spring Training this year as a healthy player and has been able to participate in all workouts, according to Brendan Kuty. “If you didn’t know something had happened, you wouldn’t know from watching him. He’s been working hard,” said minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson.

Hensley, 21, has had a lot of physical setbacks in his career. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-draft physical and reduced his bonus from $1.6M to $1.2M. Then he missed the entire 2013 season after having surgery on both hips and to correct a hernia, and then he was assaulted in December. Hensley is really easy to root for, he’s been very upbeat while dealing with all this adversity, though the fact of the matter is he has thrown only 42.1 innings since being the 30th pick in the 2012 draft. That’s a lot of missed development time. I expect Hensley to start the season with Low-A Charleston and hopefully he plays a full, healthy season.

Felix Lopez out of the picture due to “family issue”

Executive Vice President/Chief International Officer Felix Lopez is out of the picture now, reports Bill Madden. George King says Lopez was not fired, but he is no longer on the team’s masthead after being listed there as recently as March 16th. “It’s a ‘family issue,” said Madden’s source. Lopez is married to Jessica Steinbrenner (George’s daughter) and was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations at the club’s complex in Tampa, though reportedly he often overstepped his bounds and dabbled in the team’s Latin America operations.

Madden says Lopez had an “unauthorized heavy hand” in negotiations with Yoan Moncada and effectively ended the club’s chances of signing the Cuban infielder. Who knows if that’s true — David Hastings, Moncada’s agent, told Nick Cafardo he gave the Yankees a chance to match the $31.5M deal the Red Sox offered, for what it’s worth — it seems like everyone in the organization has tried to pass the Moncada blame onto someone else, but either way Lopez is out of the picture. It really seems like no one is on the same page at the top of the organization. Everyone is going in a different direction.

Yankees have scouted Yadier Alvarez

The Yankees are among the many teams that have scouted 18-year-old Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, reports Jon Heyman. Alvarez has been working out for teams in the Dominican Republic and has consistently sat 94-97 mph during workouts while touching 99. He  can not sign until the 2015-16 signing period opens on July 2nd, though Heyman says Alvarez is petitioning MLB to allow him to sign before then.

New York exceeded their international bonus pool during the 2014-15 signing period, so they can’t sign a player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. So if Alvarez can’t sign before July 2nd, the Yankees have no chance at him. They won’t be able to make a competitive bid. If MLB allows him Alvarez to sign before then though, the Yankees can get involved and offer him whatever they want, which I’m sure will be just enough to fall short.

Jeter looking to open restaurant in Tampa

According to Eric Snider, Derek Jeter is looking to open a restaurant in the Tampa International Airport, but faces stiff competition from more established brands for the 3,439 square foot space. The restaurant, which is tentatively named “The Players’ Tribune Bar & Grill,” was billed as having a “VIP atmosphere” in the bid documents. Here are some more details:

The Player’s Tribune menu skews upscale (no prices are listed), ranging from Buffalo Chicken Wings to Braised Porchetta, Spanish Garbanzo Bean soup to Roasted Pear Salad. There’s only one athlete-branded item, unusual for a sports-themed restaurant: the Jeter Burger. (Photographs of Jeter, (Blake) Griffin and (Chris) Paul decorate the menu.) The only other fame-named entree is the Salvador Dali Egg Breakfast.

iPads will be made available at “virtually every seat” so customers can peruse The Players’ Tribune website. High-def big screens will favor games by Tampa Bay teams.

Jeter made it no secret he wants to focus on his business ventures after retiring as a player, and, well, he’ll hardly be the first ex-athlete to open a restaurant. If he misses out on the airport space, I’m sure Derek and his people will continue to look for a location elsewhere in Tampa. Seems like The Player’s Tribune — the website, by the way, is about a million times more interesting than I (and many others) expected — is the brand Jeter is pushing.