Never one to conform to the traditional measuress of top 10’s, top 30’s or top 100’s, Project Prospect posted their gigantic list of the top 200 prospects in the game today. The list is headed by the usual suspects (Wieters, then Price) and is full of familiar names up top, guys like Colby Rasmus, Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward. Seven Yankees’ farmhands made the list: Jesus Montero (#37), Austin Jackson (52), Dellin Betances (71), Zach McAllister (110), Brett Gardner (115), Jairo Heredia (169), and Austin Romine (196). So Andrew Brackman isn’t one of the 200 best prospects in the game but Chris Withrow is? Really?
With a team like the Yankees, there really aren’t many questions that need answering in Spring Training each year. We know who’s going to play on the infield every day for the next two years, and 80% of the rotation is locked up for the foreseeable future as well. Sorting out the last bullpen spot and maybe center field just isn’t all that exciting.
Thankfully, there’s always Triple-A. The organization is blessed with Major League ready pitching depth at the minor’s uppermost level, and they sport position players cut from every kind of cloth imaginable. Very few of these players are guaranteed full time jobs with Scranton, and the rest of the bunch are is just doing their best to secure a job beyond the end of camp.
As Spring Training roars past it’s midpoint, we can start to get a sense of who fits where in the Triple-A picture. Some guys have been locked into jobs since November, others have taken advantage of their opportunity and are beginning to run away from the competition, while other players haven’t done much of anything to help their cause. There are still enough question marks that it’s worth breaking down the roster position by position, and try to figure out who fits where.
Much like everything else he does, I like the way Jason Churchill presented his Triple-A Tacoma projection over at his awesome site Prospect Insider, so excuse me while I bite his style. The good stuff is after the jump.
As I’m sure you can imagine, when I filled the inaugural RAB Fantasy Baseball League last week there were plenty of people who got left in the dark because they just didn’t send the email in time. Well, those people didn’t take no for an answer and instead formed a second league, affectionately dubbed the RAB Alternate League. This new bastard league has some openings available (three to be exact), so if you still want in just send me an email at the address on the right.
The league settings are the same as the original league (you can see them here), and the draft is scheduled for this coming Sunday (the 22nd) at 6:15pm. Remember, it’s a crazy deep twenty team keeper league, so please only email if you’re serious about playing. I’m not managing the league, but it’s in very capable hands, and of course it’s 100% free. Thanks in advance.
Update (11:10am): The Alternate League is full. Thanks again everyone.
We usually try to avoid stories from the tabloids, but occasionally one comes along that’s worth directing your attention to. Joel Sherman of The New York Post penned one such piece, talking about the bond that has developed between the members of the Yanks’ starting rotation, and what newcomers CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett have done to build up some of that all important team chemistry. Allow me to quote:
On a suggestion from A.J. Burnett before a Feb. 28 game at Steinbrenner Field, the members of the Yankees’ projected rotation went to watch Joba Chamberlain warm up. And a habit was born.
“We have Five Musketeers,” manager Joe Girardi said.
One for all, all for one.
The fraternity in the Yankees clubhouse has been noticeably stronger this spring, and no place has that been more overt than among this re-shuffled rotation. The five starters have committed to each other in a variety of ways, including going to watch each other’s pre-game warm-ups.
Most days all four non-starters will attend the bullpen session of that day’s starter. Only Chamberlain and CC Sabathia made it yesterday (Chien-Ming Wang continues to battle a cold and Burnett had a family issue), but this has become the in thing and about seven young pitchers, including David Robertson and Phil Coke, stood on the side to offer support. At the conclusion of the warm-up, Pettitte was surrounded by fellow pitchers giving him fist bumps. This is now routine for that day’s starter: fist-bumping unity.
“It means a lot to get those knuckles,” Sabathia said.
“You have to have each other’s back,” Pettitte said. “This is a tough place to play, but if you know everyone is in your corner pulling for you and wants you to be successful, that does help you win. We have to have (this unity) and we are going to have it.”
“As a starting pitcher you can leave,” Chamberlain said, “and to look over and see that they have not left that feeling is indescribable.”
I’m firmly in the “chemistry is overrated” camp, but it’s great to see the staff coming together like this. Andy Pettitte is a guy that doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone in this game, but his quote shows just how much each guy appreciates knowing that every one else has their backs. Sherman also mentions that Sabathia bought a slew of courtside tickets for Orlando Magic games and has been taking different teammates to each game, and that Burnett has taken his teammates out on his boat and is organizing an all-out bass fishing tournament. Good stuff.
What do you guys think, how important is chemistry? Talk about that, or whatever else you want here. The only local team in action tonight is the Nets, who are out in Denver. Anything goes, just be nice.
Oh, and if you haven’t gotten a chance to vote in this week’s Fan Confidence Poll, make sure you don’t miss out.
Photo Credit: Steve Nesius, Reuters Pictures
Things were much more positive in Yankeeland this past week than they were the week before, even if Robbie Cano and Damaso Marte came back from the WBC with hopefully minor injuries. Jorge Posada returned to action behind the plate and felt good afterwards, and Mariano Rivera threw both a bullpen session and live batting practice. A-Rod is also off crutches as he rehabs from his hyrid hip surgery.
As far as the action on the field goes, CC Sabathia got knocked around a bit but Joba Chamberlain returned to form and AJ Burnett dazzled in his second spring start. Things went so well last week that we even found out that Bryce Harper wants to be a Yankee and Guiseppe Franco will say ci vediamo dopo to YES. All in all, I’d call it a pretty good week.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. At some point in the next few weeks I’ll create a permanent link to a graph showing the change in fan confidence over time, but for now this will have to hold you over. Don’t worry, I’ll pretty it up eventually. Thanks in advance.
Via The Boston Globe, the Yanks and Cubs have been keeping an eye on Bobby Crosby, who no longer has a spot on the A’s roster after the signings of Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra. In an effort to improve his versatility and (of course) boost his trade value, Oakland has played Crosby at short, third and first base this spring. I lobbied against Crosby before we learned about A-Rod’s injury (a day before, to be exact), but that doesn’t change my opinion at all. I mean, I guess if it’s a pure salary dump (owed $5.25M in 2009) and all they have to give up is one of those “future considerations” thingees, then maybe. But just maybe, nothing more. (h/t Seamus)
Team USA has their backs against the proverbial walls in the WBC tonight, facing elimination after being mercy ruled by Puerto Rico last night. Their opponent: those gutty, gritty, pesky, playing the game the right way Netherlandians. I’m sure you remember that this is the same Netherlands team that send the Dominican Republic home with their tail between their piernas.
Roy Oswalt gets the ball in the elimination game, and of the four starters on the team, he’s the one I feel most comfortable with in a win or go home situation. Team mascot Dustin Pedroia is officially out of the tournament with an oblique strain and has been replaced by the Orioles’ Brian Roberts. It looks like the Netherlands is sending Marlins’ farmhand Rick VandenHurk to mound since staff ace Sidney Ponson (hah) threw yesterday. VandenHurk was the World Team’s starter in the 2007 Futures Game, and has a 6.96 ERA in 95.2 big league innings.
ESPN2 is carrying the game; first pitch is scheduled for 7:30. Chat about that, or anything else on your mind here. Oh, I also want to mention that Chase Utley is making his spring debut tonight, less than four months after having the same surgery to repair a torn hip labrum that A-Rod will eventually have. I guess that’s a good sign. Anyway, enjoy the game.
Update (7:49pm): If you’re bored on this somewhat lame feeling Sunday night, Brian Foley at The College Baseball Blog is going to be chatting at 9pm. Head over and ask him how awesome Steven Strasburg is or how long he thinks it’ll be until Gerrit Cole blows out his labrum (12 K in 5 IP last night). I keed, I keed.
Photo Credit: Hans Deryk, Reuters Pictures