Archive for Asides
Via George King: Long-time pro scout Gordon Blakeley has left the Yankees for a position with the Braves. He will be a special assistant to their new GM whenever they hire a permanent replacement for the recently fired Frank Wren. King says Blakeley’s contract was up later this month. “I was with the Yankees a long time. But this is a new challenge, and I am looking forward to it,” he said.
Blakeley held a few different positions during his 21 years with the Yankees, including VP of Baseball Ops and head of pro and international scouting. Blakeley had been working in the pro scouting department since 2004, focusing mostly on Latin American prospects. He was the scout who originally signed Robinson Cano, Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, and Phil Hughes, among others. VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman is retiring and some other player development folks are said to be on the chopping block, so there will be a lot of turnover among the head farm system honchos this winter.
According to his agent, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas has been declared a free agent by MLB. He already established residency in Haiti and has been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, so this was the final step in the process. Tomas is free to sign with any team and he reportedly already has a $75M offer in hand.
Tomas, 23, held a showcase for scouts a week ago and is currently visiting teams for private workouts. It’s unclear if the Yankees have invited him for a private workout — they did have Aledmys Diaz and Rusney Castillo come to Tampa for firsthand looks earlier this year, for what it’s worth — and their level of interest is unknown at this point. Tomas is said to be a middle of the order right-handed hitter with power, and, if true, I think the Yankees should be all over him.
For the 12th consecutive season, the Yankees led the American League in attendance in 2014, according to Maury Brown. The Yankees drew 3,401,624 fans this summer, third most in baseball behind the Dodgers (3,782,337) and Cardinals (3,540,649). The Giants (3,368,697) and Angels (3,095,935) were the only other teams to draw 3M+ fans. The Indians (1,437,393) had MLB’s worst attendance.
The Yankees averaged 41,995 fans per game this season, up from 40,489 last year but down from 43,733 from 2012. Brown says total MLB attendance has dropped 1.5% since 2012 and the Yankees are a bit higher than that (3.9%). They averaged 45,839 fans per game during the first three years of the new Yankee Stadium and 42,072 in the three years since. With no Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter farewell tour to prop up attendance, the Yankees could take a big hit next year if the team’s on-field performance doesn’t improve dramatically.
3:44pm: Jagielo had to undergo surgery to repair the fracture, he announced on Instagram. (The picture isn’t gross.) Everything went well.
1:01pm: Third base prospect Eric Jagielo is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his face, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Josh Norris. Jagielo took a fastball to the face during an Instructional League game over the weekend. He will be replaced on the Arizona Fall League roster, according to Newman.
Jagielo, 22, was the Yankees’ first round pick in the 2013 draft. He hit .259/.354/.460 (132 wRC+) with 16 homers in 85 games around an oblique injury with High-A Tampa this year. The broken bone stinks but that seems like the best case scenario whenever you talk about a pitch up around the head. Jagielo could have suffered a concussion or serious eye damage. All things considered, this is good news. Heal up and get ready for 2015.
MLB announced it will test pace of game rule changes in the Arizona Fall League this year. The list of changes is right here. Here’s the short version: batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times (unless there’s a wild pitch, passed ball, foul ball, etc.), intentional walks are automatic (manager signals, batter goes to first with no pitches thrown), pitcher-catcher conferences are limited, and a game clock will be installed. Pitchers will have 12 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and 20 seconds with men on base.
There’s no doubt baseball has a pace of game problem and these days people have short attention spans with plenty of ways to distract themselves. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve looked down at my phone between pitches at a game, or at my computer while watching at home. MLB isn’t going to shorten up commercial breaks, so this is the next best thing. I do think the pace of play would be less of an issue if offense hadn’t disappeared — it’s one thing to watch a high-scoring game last three and a half hours, it’s another to watch three total runs score and batters ground into the shift for three and a half hours. We’ll see. The AzFL begins play next week.
Carlos Beltran had “loose pieces” and the bone spur removed from his right elbow earlier today, the Yankees announced. The team says he can begin throwing and hitting in approximately six weeks and can begin playing in approximately 12 weeks. The procedure isn’t expected to have any sort of impact on his usual offseason routine. Beltran has said he will stay in New York to rehab this winter.
Beltran, 37, finished his first season in pinstripes with a .233/.301/.402 (95 wRC+) batting line and 15 homers in 449 plate appearances. He mashed early in the season but never seemed to put it together while playing through the bone spur. Hopefully Beltran will get back to being a middle of the order force once healthy next season. Hope is pretty much all the Yankees can do at this point.
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees have started the process of putting together a new contract for GM Brian Cashman. His current deal expires at the end of the October but this is something they have to take of sooner rather than later so they can begin mapping out the offseason. A few weeks ago we heard the Steinbrenners wanted to bring Cashman back despite their second straight postseason-less year.
“My stuff’s not really resolved, so there have been no discussions just yet,” said Cashman to Chad Jennings when asked about offseason plans over the weekend. “That will all wait for another day. I don’t want to talk about game-planning or focus, what should or shouldn’t be looked at. I’ll wait until we all sit down with ownership, they can map out their strategy and who’s going to be a part of that, and we can go from there.”
Cashman has been the GM since 1998 and that’s an eternity in GM years. There are plenty of strong arguments for both keeping him and finding a new GM, but, either way, the Yankees need to make some changes to their team-building approach because the whole “throw money at free agents” strategy doesn’t work like it once did. The game has changed and the Yankees have yet to keep pace.
Baseball America continued their look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league today with the short season NY-Penn League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Mets RHP Marcos Molina, Nationals RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and Mets SS Amed Rosario claim the top three spots. C Luis Torrens is the only Yankees farmhand on the list and he ranks fourth after playing 48 games with the Staten Island Yankees.
Torrens, 18, hit .270/.327/.405 (115 wRC+) with two homers in 48 games with SI. “He continued to stand out for his show-stopping arm,” said the scouting report, which lauds his other defense skills as well. “Offensively, Torrens has intriguing life in his bat and flashes some pull power … He recognizes spin out of the pitcher’s hand and does a good job staying back on breaking balls. He drives balls from gap to gap and handles velocity well … He is confident and poised beyond his years.”
The SI Yanks had the least amount of high-end talent among Yankees’ affiliates this year — RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list — and Torrens was far and away the best prospect on the team. The next relevant list is the Low-A South Atlantic League, which is a few days away. OF Aaron Judge and RHP Luis Severino are locks for that list. Other possibilities include 3B Miguel Andujar, SS Abi Avelino, SS Tyler Wade, LHP Ian Clarkin, and RHP Brady Lail.
Other League Top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League.
The Yankees outrighted left-hander Josh Outman to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He was designated for assignment last week to clear a 40-man roster spot for Eury Perez. I believe Outman will become a minor league free agent after the World Series but the Yankees were probably going to non-tender him in November anyway. He had a decent year with the Rockies last season (3.25 FIP) and earned a nice salary as an arbitration-eligible player this year ($1.2M). Outman, 30, did not allow a run in 3.2 innings across nine appearances for the Yankees in September.
Brett Gardner has been named the Yankees’ finalist for the AL Hank Aaron Award, the team announced. The award is given annually to the top offensive player in each league, so Gardner doesn’t really have much of a chance of winning, but every team needs a nominee. There is a fan voting component, so cast your vote right here. The last Yankee to win the AL Hank Aaron Award was Derek Jeter in 2009.