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Oct
10

Sunday Morning Links

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A few links for your Sunday morning.

Ronald Monestime takes a look at Andy Pettite and says that he deserves to be considered this generations Mr. October as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do.  I love Pettitte and what he has done for the Yankees all of these years, but he’s the same pitcher in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  Jeter is the same player in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  If you’re going to label someone Mr. October simply for stepping it up in the playoffs, it has to be Rivera.  As great as he has been in the regular season, his postseason numbers are even further off the charts.

Speaking of Rivera, heres a pretty cool piece in which Kerry Wood compares Rivera to Greg Maddux.  It’s probably not a comparison made often as one is a starter, one a closer, but it makes sense and it’s pretty cool to hear it from someone with Wood’s perspective.  Rivera and a PED accusation free Maddux could end up going down as the greatest starter and closer of their generation (and obviously in Mo’s case G.O.A.T.).  It’s just too bad we never got to see Rivera close out a game for Maddux, despite the Boss’ best efforts.  Speaking of which, here’s a link to when the Yankees struck out with Maddux (and Bonds) and signed Jimmy Key.  The last line is classic Steinbrenner, and would soon ring true.

Sam Borden took a look at A-Rod and how he heads into October without the pressure he’s had in the past after his heroics last season.  The best part for me is that Borden made sure to point out that A-Rod had plenty of good playoff moments with the Mariners and wasn’t really the choker we had all been led to believe.  Many of the glowing A-Rod articles after last season neglected to mention this, and I’m glad Borden pointed it out.

Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune briefly talks about his history with George Steinbrenner and how it feels different in the postseason without him around.  The further away we get from his death I think the more we’ll appreciate that the 2009 team was able to win the World Series in his last full year alive.

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Oct
09

The Killer B’s: Who is coming first?

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Thankfully the Yankees have the Killer B's, not Killer Bees

Bobby (NY)

What is a realistic path for Banuelos to the majors? He is still young for AA right?

Klaw
Yes, but I’ve talked to multiple scouts about him (and I think he’ll be here next week) and it sounds like he’s not very far off.

Picked up this question in Klaw’s chat at ESPN on Thursday and thought it was pretty interesting.  I look forward to seeing Law do an actual prospect profile on Banuelos next year.  He hasn’t seen him yet, but noted on twitter that several scouts told him Banuelos was the best pitcher they had seen all year. Considering Law says he’s not far off, could Banuelos be the first of the Killer B’s to make an impact in the Bronx?

Banuelos is by far the youngest of the three, as Betances has 3 years on him and Brackman has more than 5.  At the same time, both Brackman and Betances have struggled with injuries and neither have much more minor league experience than Banuelos does.  Brackman and Betances also are expected to take longer to develop due to their big frames.  While their length should give them an advantage down the road it can lead to struggles with repeating their deliveries and being consistent.  Banuelos on the other hand checks in at just 5’10”, which while concerning (not many sub 6 feet starters out there), also is helpful in his development as he has less to worry about in his delivery.  Without the extra length, it’s easier for him to be consistent.

Obviously Brackman has the biggest advantage in already being on the 40 man roster.  If he’s healthy and continues to progress, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see him in the bigs in 2011, even if he comes up in the pen (to be moved back the rotation, right?).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Banuelos before Betances though.  Because the Yankees are always competing for the World Series, they often aren’t in a hurry to get young pitchers in the major leagues, and Banuelos will still be barely 20 on Opening Day next year.  If he dominates at AA (no sure thing) and Betances struggles or gets hurt, why wouldn’t Banuelos get the first crack at the majors, other than his age?  The biggest X factor in this is that they are all trade bait and there’s no guarantee any or all of them will ever throw a pitch for the Yankees, but I think it’s interesting that in the scouting community, Banuelos is closer than I would have expected.

Categories : Minors
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Oct
03

Sunday Morning Links

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Here’s some Sunday morning links as we wait to see where the Yankees end up in the AL East and continue to recover from last nights Burnett vs. Dice-K “duel” (this was written Saturday night, if it’s truly a duel I’ll be shocked).

Joe LaPointe suggests increasing the number of playoff teams to an NHL’esque 16.  It’s preposterous to think that more than half the teams in baseball belong in the playoffs, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the number increase from 4 teams in each league at some point.  I was hesitant about the Wild Card, and while I think it has been a success (other than 2004 and 2007), it would be an extremely slippery slope for MLB to expand further.  They are already having issues getting the bottom feeding team to spend money that is literally given to them, if the odds of making the playoffs doubled, teams could point to their spot in the playoffs as “success”.

Jon Paul Morosi argues that the Yankees are better off winning the Wild Card and makes a pretty compelling case.  I’m not one to root to face one team or another unless there is a specific advantage/disadvantage, but in a vacuum I’d rather face the Twins than the Rangers. The flip side I’d rather have the Yankees have home field, but at the end of the day, I don’t really prefer one team to the other, though homefield in a potential ALCS would be huge.  Either way they are in for a battle and can beat either team, or lose to either team.

Billy Crystal was honored on Friday for directing “61*” and an exhibit for the movie opened.  The exhibit will be on display until the end of 2011.  The article is more generous about the movie than I am (it was okay, not great), but a good quick read and certainly would be worth checking out the exhibit if you’re at the Hall of Fame in the next year.

A couple of links about parity and competitiveness in MLB.  Chris Stankovich points out that several small market teams are competing this year, and more importantly points out that several teams convince their fans that they simply cannot compete.  If I were fan of the Royals, I wouldn’t be pissed about the Yankees, I’d instead be pissed that they can’t model their system like the smaller market teams who can have success.  In that same vein, Jon at WFNY (and Indians blog) goes into the breakdown of how impact players on several teams were acquired.  It’s promising (in a way) to see that more impact Sox players have been signed through free agency than Yankees players.  Get to the Indians part and it has to be pretty disappointing to see how they have drafted.  It’s beyond awful.

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Oct
02

A.J.’s trade value, or lack thereof

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Theodorakis/News

A lot has been written and said about A.J. Burnett recently and many fans are calling for him to be traded.  The obvious answer to that is that A.J. is untradeable.  For the most part that is true, but clearly if the Yankees really wanted to trade him they could, it would just cost them a ton of money.  Without getting too unrealistic and saying the Yankees should eat $40 million (of the $49.5 million remaining on his contract), what could they possibly get for him?  Let’s take a look at some possible candidates in a Burnett trade and decide if shipping him out of town would be worth it.

Derek Lowe- The Braves had interest in Burnett when he was a free agent, reportedly offering him a 5 year/$80 million contract.  When they couldn’t get him, they settled for Lowe at 4 years the $60 million.  Lowe has two years and $30 million left on his deal, so the Yankees would certainly have to eat some of the cash on Burnett’s extra year.  Would you trade Burnett and $10 million for Lowe, essentially paying $40 million for 2 years of Lowe, who hasn’t pitched in the AL East since 2004 and has a 4.37 ERA in the NL East the past two years?  Though it would be tempting to have one less year of expensive mediocrity, A.J. has had success in the AL East much more recently than Lowe and has more upside.

Barry Zito- Zito has 3 years and $64.5 million remaining on his contract (including a buyout).  I don’t think I need to go much further discussing this one do I?  Despite Zito not being a total disaster the past two years (and that’s a compliment), there’s no way he’d have success in the AL East at this point in his career.  As frustrating as A.J. can be, I cannot imagine watching Zito and his 85 MPH fastballs in the Bronx for the next 3 years.

Carlos Zambrano- A few months back I would consider this an absolute no.  Now I think the Cubs would.  Zambrano is owed just under $36 million over the next two years, so while the AAV is similar to A.J.’s, the extra year owed to Burnett is huge.  Burnett has obviously been a disaster lately while Zambrano has been on a tear.  Since being put back in the rotation in August Zambrano is 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA.  Those numbers are a bit fluky, but there’s no doubt he’s looked much better since coming back.  Zambrano of course has had several disciplinary and attitude issues with the Cubs, would they jump at the chance to get him out of their clubhouse and bring in the well-liked Burnett?  I doubt it, and again, because of the extra year, the Yankees would have to chip in some cash.  If the Cubs were interested in the swap, that could tell us a lot more about his relationship with the Cubs and maybe more behind the scenes issues we don’t know about it.  If that’s the case, would you want the Yankees to bring him in?

Other than these three there aren’t many pitchers out there that you could even consider matching up in a trade.  Dig into position players and you can find the untradeable players due to their contracts such as, Vernon Wells (4 years/$86 million), Alfonso Soriano (4 years/$72 million), Alex Rodriguez (oops).  Clearly trading A.J. would not be easy, and no matter what you get back you’re not guaranteed an upgrade.  Like it or not, A.J. is here to stay, so you might as well treat him like everyone’s crazy uncle. We have to deal with him, but he’s family, so just get ready to grind your teeth for the next three years while A.J. takes the mound.

Categories : Guest Columns
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Sep
26

Sunday Morning Links

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Here are some links while we have to wait all day for the Moseley vs. Dice-K pitchers duel (good luck to ESPN selling this game).

Here’s a good read on maple bats and the potential fix to the very real problem of them breaking.  Within the piece there are several other links to good articles.  Barry Bonds being one of the first players to use maple bats might end up having a bigger impact on the game than Bonds being one of the thousands to have used PED’s.

An update on Mark Mulder and the cautionary tale of pitching . Mulder’s career is a great reason why the Yankees are cautious to lock up their young arbitration eligible pitchers early and will likely continue to do so with Hughes going forward.  Through the age of 27 Mulder already had 97 wins and seemed to be well on his way to a great, Pettitte like career. He won just 6 more the rest of his career and is now trying his hand at golf, still just 33 years old.

I think instant replay in baseball is just a matter of when, but not if at this point.  Still, the more it’s talked about, and the more awful calls that cost teams games, the quicker it will be here.  Bob Costas was recently on the Dan Patrick show and ripped Bud Selig over the lack of replay in baseball.  Here is a quick rundown of what he had to say, and here is full audio of the segment.  I certainly will celebrate the day there is a good replay plan in place in MLB.

Jon Heyman took a look at some of the question marks plaguing all of the playoff contenders.  People that focus solely on the Yankees can certainly point out their flaws, but there’s certainly no perfect team out there.  Heyman also notes that the Yankees aren’t likely to go all out for Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.  While this makes sense to anyone who’s paid attention this year, many in the MSM still are fitting Crawford for pinstripes in the offseason.  I just don’t see it myself.

Categories : Guest Columns, Links
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Sep
25

Another kind of Wild Card

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While the Andrew Brackman call-up story has been all over the map, it was confirmed on Thursday that Brackman has indeed been activated.  We still have no idea if Brackman will throw his first major league pitch this year (Thursday would have been an ideal time).  If he does, and he’s a success, could we see Brackman on the postseason roster?

The pitching roster for the playoffs is far from set and the possibilities are being debated all over the place and I’m sure within the Yankees organization.  If Brackman gets some garbage time innings in and dominates, I could see him replacing whoever is currently penciled in for the last spot on the roster.  While it sounds crazy, Brackman has upside that Moseley, Vazquez, Gaudin and Mitre just don’t have.  If he comes in and dominates for 5-10 innings over the next 10 days, why not?

This idea all stems from how valuable Francisco Rodriguez was for the Angels in 2002.  He wasn’t called up until September and didn’t throw his first major league pitch until September 18th.  He was 20 years old with 317.2 minor league innings, Brackman is 24 with 247.1 innings, so it’s not like Rodriguez had a huge advantage in experience, especially considering Brackman went to college. K-Rod established himself quickly and despite just 5.2 major league innings, there was no way the Angels could leave him off their playoff roster.  They were rewarded when Rodriguez’ domination continued into the playoffs and helped the Angels to the title.  I don’t think Brackman has it in him to dominate like K-Rod did, but he could also pitch 5 or 6 innings if needed in an extra inning or a bad AJ kind of game.  He could truly be a wild card.

I will say that I don’t expect this to happen, but I would love for Brackman to get his feet wet in the majors and pitch well enough for him to even be in the discussion.  While the last spot on a playoff bullpen may not matter much, if he pitches well enough to get real innings in, he could be extremely valuable.  The value of relievers is greatly overrated in the regular season, but dominating performances out of the pen can go a long way in a tight postseason series.  We’ve seen enough of Mariano Rivera over the past decade and half to know how valuable a shutdown reliever can be, but he hasn’t been alone.  He’s the only one who has done it consistently, but there’s no way the Angels win in 2002 without Rodriguez, or the Sox in 2004 without Foulke, or the Cardinals in 2006 without Wainwright all dominating out of the pen.  What do you think, if Brackman pitches and dominates over the next 10 days, would you want to see him on the mound in October?

Sep
19

Sunday Morning Links

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Here’s some Sunday morning links while we wait for Yankees-Orioles followed by Pats-Jets (my pick: Pats 27, Jets 13).

In light of the recent news that Joe Torre is stepping down as Dodgers manager, Chad Finn at the Boston Globe takes a look back at the 1998 Yankees.  Finn takes shots at the Yankees from time to time but it’s all in good fun and he’s one of the Boston writers who I can actually read when it comes to baseball.  He gets a shot in at Joe Morgan and calls Tim Raines a Hall of Famer, so he’s good in my book.

Within a piece at AOL Fanhouse Andrew Johnson has an interesting take on the Jeter situation comparing him to the Dave Matthews Band.  Once you read it, it does make some sense.  The best line of the whole piece however, is this “I’m a sportswriter, not an ethicist.”  If only more people that write or talk about sports for a living understood that.

Carl Crawford was upset for the criticism he took after getting thrown out at third base to end Tuesday nights game.  Personally I’m not buying that the Yankees will be all in on Crawford in the offseason, but if he got upset by this and he ends up in pinstripes, he’ll have quite an adjustment to the New York media.  It’s also interesting that the writer notes Crawford seemed pretty stung by the criticism coming from the Yankees.

Ken Burns is back in the baseball business as his new documentary “The Tenth Inning” is set to air on PBS on September 28th and 29th.  “The Tenth Inning” is a sequel to Burns’ 1994 “Baseball”, and will cover new things that have happened in baseball since the last film.  For many of the readers here the past 15 years or so covers a lot of the time we’ve been avidly following the game, so it is sure to be a very interesting watch.

Categories : Links
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Sep
18

Gardy or Grandy in 2011?

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Elsa/Getty Images

On twitter recently Stephen R. from TYU threw out a question about what you would give up for Colby Rasmus. It wasn’t considering team needs, salary, etc. but he wanted to know how Yankee fans valued their prospects vs. Rasmus. There were interesting responses, and one of the often repeated arguments was that Yankee fans would rather trade Gardner than Granderson. This brings me to my question: Who does more for the Yankees in 2011?

I’ll start by saying I am a big proponent of Granderson. I think going forward for 2011 and 2012 (at least) Granderson will outproduce Gardner. Looking at their 2010 seasons this assertion seems a little off the wall, but I think we have seen the worst of Granderson and the best of Gardner. Granderson has been a valuable player this year, Gardner has played at an All-Star level. I get that. My concern is going forward. Aren’t we seeing the absolute peak of Gardner’s abilities this year?

If the 2010 Granderson is the player he is going forward, he still provides value as an average offensive player with above average defense in CF. Working with Kevin Long has helped Granderson recently, though there is no way we can directly correlate that Long’s help “fixed” Curtis. Whether it was Long’s help or not, Granderson’s bat has picked up in the past month. Long will likely be around next year and Granderson is a willing listener and learner. Either way, Granderson definitely has room for improvement. Will he ever be the beast he was in 2007 and 2008? Probably not, though at just 30 years old on Opening Day 2011, he’s still in his expected prime and is definitely capable on improving his 2010 season. Granderson’s 2010 BABIP is .283 vs. a career BABIP of .316. I can’t ignore that his 2009 BABIP was .275 so I don’t want to say he has been unlucky for two straight years, but his batted ball data hasn’t seen any major shift in 2009-2010 from the rest of his career. His career LD% is 20.7 which he is matching this year and was at 21.2% in 2009. With his speed and line drive rate, I have to think his BABIP is due for a rise next year. Even if it doesn’t, he’s still valuable.

If the 2010 Gardner is the player he is going forward, he provides a ton of value. I’m just not convinced Brett will keep this up going forward, this is likely his peak. What can he realistically do better than he is doing this year? He’s not going to hit for power. I doubt he’ll become a .420 OBP guy. Are more of his balls in play likely to fall in for hits? Doubtful. His defense is great and isn’t something that he’ll necessarily improve going forward. Gardner to me is the epitome of a sell high piece right now. We don’t know that Gardner can repeat this next year. If he does, that’s great. If he doesn’t, then you’ve just lost a very valuable trade chip and might have a 4th OF on your hands. Noted Yankee hater* Keith Law is still not sold on Gardner. He doesn’t believe Gardner’s skill set will allow him to continue producing at this level. Whether it turns out to be true or not, that’s a fair assessment. I don’t advocate trading Gardner for a middle reliever, but if there are teams out there that are sold on Gardner’s 2010 as his true level, you have to investigate. Considering the financial cost, I believe Gardner, at least to some teams, would be more valuable on the trade market than Granderson anyway.

*not really

In 2011 Gardner could certainly be a more valuable player than Granderson, but Granderson is far more of a sure thing. Granderson’s potential peak is higher, but more importantly Gardner’s potential floor is lower.  Maybe the Yankees are 100% sold on Gardner and like his cheap production, but if these guys come up in trade talks during the offseason, I’d much rather Gardner be the one packing his bags.

Sep
12

Are you ready for some football?

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Since it’s the start of the NFL season I wanted to intertwine football and the Yankees. Let’s take a look at some professional athletes with ties to the Yankees and the NFL.  Which ones made the right choice?

Pat White- As has been discussed here, White was recently cut from the Miami Dolphins after being a 2nd round pick just last year.  His football prospects are not looking great right now (there are rumors he received zero phone calls once cut), so it would be interesting to see if he has considered heading back to the diamond and soon after writing that White signed a deal with the Royals to return to baseball, though he may not be completely done on the gridiron.  As we know, the Yankees drafted him in the 48th round of the 2009 draft, but he was also drafted three other times, in the 49th round in 2008 by the Reds, in the 27th round in 2007 by the Angels and in the 4th round in 2004 by the Angels (passing up 6 figures).  He got a college education and $2.4 million guaranteed so despite his recent axing, he likely made the right choice.

John Elway- It’s pretty easy to say John Elway made the right choice, but he was a good baseball player as well.  Two years before he was drafted in the NFL, the Yankees spent their 1981 2nd round pick on Elway.  In 1982 he played 42 games for Oneonta and put up an impressive .318/.432/.464 line.  If the Baltimore Colts didn’t cede to his trade demand, maybe he would have actually stuck with baseball.  Who knows if he ever would have made it to Yankee Stadium.

Drew Henson- Drew Henson turned out to be the anti-Elway.  He did stick with baseball but wasn’t quite good enough and went back to football.  That didn’t work out so well either as he has appeared in just 9 NFL games with one start.  Had he stuck to one sport or the other coming out of High School he definitely would have had a better chance, but we’ll never know if stepping away from the football field would have allowed him to learn how to hit a curveball.

Daunte Culpepper- Culpepper’s struggles with academics almost led him down the baseball path.  While he was recruited by big schools like The U and Florida out of high school, he didn’t have the test scores to get in (seriously the couldn’t sneak him into The U?).  He did find a home at the University of Central Florida where he committed to playing quarterback.  Had he never found a college to call home, he just may have joined the Yankees, who drafted him in the 26th round in 1995.  Culpepper must have been a pretty menacing dude on the mound at 6’4 and 250+ pounds with a great arm.  There is no doubt Culpepper made the right call as he has earned a ton of money in the NFL.

Deion Sanders- Deion primarily went the football route where he became a Hall of Famer and one of the best cornerbacks of all time.  He did stick around baseball long enough to play in 641 games and put up a .263/.319/.392 line, that’s not too shabby considering his two sport status.  Deion was terrible as a Yankee with a 55 OPS+, and his most famous Yankee moment is probably pissing off Carlton Fisk which almost led to a brawl.

Bo Jackson- Deion and Bo were undoubtedly the biggest two sport athletes in the past 25+ years.  Bo, who went on to have very successful, but injury shortened careers in both MLB and the NFL was originally drafted out of high school by the Yankees in the 2nd round in 1982 (a year after taking Elway in the 2nd round). Jackson went unsigned and chose to go to Auburn to play both football and baseball.  Jackson had Hall of Fame talent in both sports, and had he stuck to one sport and avoided injury he likely would have made it.  He’ll have to settle for being in the Tecmo Bowl Hall of Fame.

Dave Winfield- Mr. May definitely made the right choice in sticking to baseball and spent 9+ years with the Yankees.  Along with being a first round pick in baseball (as a pitcher, no less) he was drafted in the 17th round of the NFL draft despite never playing college football.  Winfield was also drafted in the both the NBA and ABA drafts.  While football was probably never a serious choice he likely could have made it in pro basketball, but not with the success he enjoyed in baseball.  Despite being drafted in several sports, in the recent Baseball Analysts draft, Winfield waited by the phone but never got the call. (that last sentence might not be entirely true).

Others of note:  Brandon Jones of the Seattle Seahawks was drafted by the Yankees in 2001.  World Cup goalie Tony Meola (ok, that’s futbol not football but he did try out for the Jets) was drafted by the Yankees.

Categories : Guest Columns, Players
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Sep
11

Saturday morning links

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Some Saturday morning links for your pleasure:

Here’s an update on former Yankee Matt Nokes.  It’s pretty cool that he has stayed in the game and is so devoted to the art of hitting.  Usually you hear about guys like Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn being students of the game, but Nokes seems to fit right in.

Bonus link to Nokes’ website with video of him catching a Roger Clemens fastball in the ribs and throwing it back to the mound.

A post at mlb.com takes a look at Andrew Brackman and the success he has had this year.  There are lots of quotes from the Brackmonster himself and the piece notes that he is close with Austin Romine and how well they work together.  We may see that battery in the Bronx in a few years.

A story about Roger Clemens and steroids that doesn’t immediately call him Former Yankee Roger Clemens.  I’m sure it will never become public, but I wonder if Bud Selig will have anything to say to the Blue Jays if they knew all along that Clemens was juicing (if he was).  I doubt the Blue Jays could have disclosed anything since it is personal medical records, but I wonder if there is/was any plan in place for what a major league team is supposed to do if they find proof that a player is using steroids.  Clearly everyone looked the other way in the past, but if it becomes public that the team knew and did nothing to stop it, Selig will be none too thrilled.

While the Yankees had a banner year down on the farm, the rival Red Sox took a step back.  While they appear to have had a solid draft to build some depth, many of the crown jewels of their system either didn’t take steps forward or took steps back in 2010.  Just remember this the next time organizational rankings come out, just because someone says Team A is better than Team B, it doesn’t mean that can’t change.

Categories : Links
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