Saturday Links: Ellsbury, Severino, Comcast, Headgear

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This is the last Saturday without some kind of baseball game — Spring Training, regular season, postseason, whatever — until November. That is pretty, pretty awesome. Here are some assorted links I have to pass along.

Ellsbury among worst contracts, Severino among best assets

Over at ESPN, Dan Szymborski used his ZiPS system to rank the 25 worst contracts (subs. req’d) and 25 best assets (subs. req’d) in baseball. Albert Pujols, who still has six years and $165M left on his deal, ranks as the worst contract while Carlos Correa checks in as the best asset. Mike Trout is second. I’d be more interested to see the 25 best contracts, but Szymborski included players in their pre-arbitration years.

The Yankees had one player on each list. Jacoby Ellsbury ranked 13th on the worst contracts list, sandwiched between Shin-Soo Choo and Justin Verlander. “Ellsbury’s Gold Glove days are behind him, though he remains at least a competent defensive center fielder, which means, at least theoretically, that flexibility keeps the number of (possible trade) suitors higher than some of the more limited players higher on this list,” said the write-up. Others like Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia didn’t make the worst contracts list because their deals expire soon.

As for the good news, Luis Severino ranked 21st on the best assets list, right behind Sonny Gray and a few spots ahead of Carlos Carrasco. “Severino’s 4.37 FIP wasn’t as impressive as his 2.89 ERA, but that should also improve considerably given he was a 21-year-old who started the season in Double-A and was thrown directly into a pennant race,” wrote Szymborski. I have to say, I’m not used to seeing the Yankees having a player on a best assets list. Or only one player on a worst contracts list, for that matter. Times are a changin’.

No progress in YES/Comcast squabble

There still has not been any progress in the YES Network/Comcast dispute. “Nothing to report,” said one YES executive to Ryan Hatch earlier this week. Again, the dispute is over rights fees. YES wants to charge cable providers a bit more money to carry the network going forward, and Comcast doesn’t want to pay, citing declining ratings and other things. I hope the two sides work something out before Opening Day. It seems likely Comcast customers will be left in the dark for Grapefruit League games, however. (Spring Training games are available on MLB.tv with no blackouts, thankfully.)

(ESPN)
(ESPN)

MLB, MLBPA to test new protective headgear for pitchers

According to William Weinbaum, this spring 20 big league pitchers will test out a new protective headgear that is a “hybrid of a cap and a helmet.” It weighs 10-12 ounces and has a carbon fiber shell, and as you can see in the photo above, it resembles a visor. “The average thickness is about 0.7 inches and is greatest in places most susceptible to catastrophic injury,” writes Weinbaum.

It’s unknown if any Yankees will use the new protective headgear, though no one in camp has worn them while throwing bullpens or live batting practice, as far as I know. Bryan Mitchell took a line drive to the nose last year, and a few years back Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face by a line drive during Spring Training, so I guess they’re the obvious candidates to wear some kind of new protective visor.

Chewing tobacco may soon be banned at Yankee Stadium

Thanks to a bill introduced by New York City Councilman Corey Johnson, smokeless tobacco may soon be banned at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, reports Tim Rohan. “If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all Major League cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Yankees (and Mets) have told Johnson they will support the bill.

Chewing tobacco is already banned at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium, and AT&T Park after similar bills were approved unanimously in those cities. The goal isn’t so much to prevent players from using smokeless tobacco — it is a personal choice, after all — it’s to prevent them from using it on television where kids can see it. Tony Gwynn passed away following a battle with salivary gland cancer and Curt Schilling is still fighting mouth cancer, both of which have been attributed to their use of chewing tobacco as players. I don’t know if any Yankees use it regularly — CC Sabathia always seems to have a wad in his lip on days he doesn’t pitch, right? — but it soon may be off-limits.

Minor League Notes: Mateo, Garcia, Signings, Releases

 
The video above is OF Aaron Judge discussing his experience at MLB’s annual rookie development camp. SS Tyler Wade was there as well. I saw him walking around in the video. Not sure who else was there. I’ve got a whole bunch of minor league notes and links and whatnot that I’ve been collecting for the last few weeks, so I’m going to dump them all here in this post. Enjoy.

Mateo rated fastest runner, toolsiest infield prospect

Over at MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo looked at the toolsiest prospects in the minors. He simply added up each player’s 20-80 scouting scale grades in the five tool categories on their top 100 prospects list. SS Jorge Mateo came in third behind only Twins OF Byron Buxton and Nationals OF Victor Robles. Mateo is the toolsiest infielder on the top 100. I don’t necessarily agree with adding 20-80 grades — 60 hit/60 power is definitely not the same as 80 hit/40 power even though they both add up to 120 hitpower (?), for example — but that’s what Mayo did, and Mateo scored well. Hooray.

Also, Jim Callis examined the top individual tools in the minors, and Mateo is listed as having the best speed. “Mateo has outstanding raw speed — he can go from the right side of the plate to first base in less than four seconds — but he’s more than just a raw speedster,” said the write-up. “He has succeeded on 83 percent of his steal attempts as a pro and led the Minors with 82 in 2015, his first year in full-season ball. Mateo’s quickness gives him plenty of range at shortstop, and he also exhibits some surprising power potential during batting practice.”

Garcia a potential top 100 prospect for 2017

The crew at Baseball Prospectus released their top 101 prospects list last week, and earlier this week they looked at ten players who were not on this year’s top 100, but could jump into next year’s. SS Wilkerman Garcia is among the ten listed. The article is free. You don’t need a subscription. Here’s a snippet of their write-up:

He is the complete package up the middle, with some of the smoothest hands you’ll see from an 17-year-old, and the arm and range to stick at short for the long haul. Garcia is still raw at the plate, but he’s a switch-hitter with some feel for the barrel from both sides. That is a nice little top-prospect starter kit. The one thing he is lacking right now is a track record outside of the complex, something he will remedy this season.

I feel like each Garcia scouting report is better than the last, which is cool, but it’s also the offseason, so I’m not really sure what changed. Either way, Wilkerman is an exciting prospect and so far the best to come out of the Yankees’ massive 2014-15 international spending spree, though it’s still super early.

Minor League Ball’s top 20 Yankees prospects

John Sickels at Minor League Ball published his annual list of the top 20 Yankees prospects a few days ago. You already know who the top four guys are. We could argue the order for days but the top four are clearly the top four. RHP Domingo Acevedo comes in at No. 5. He seems to be a very divisive prospect. Some people are super high on him. Others … eh. Sickels seems to be pretty high on SS Kyle Holder, who he ranks ninth in the system. I don’t think you’ll see Holder ranked that high anywhere else this prospect season.

Yankees sign four players, release 13 others

According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed the following minor league free agents: RHP Tyler Cloyd, 3B Deibinson Romero, OF Jared Mitchell, and RHP Wandy Soto. They have also released the following players, per Eddy: C Isaias Tejeda, 2B Angelo Gumbs, IF Bryan Cuevas, OF Jordan Barnes, OF Griff Gordon, OF Jose Infante, OF Teodoro Martinez, RHP Gean Batista, RHP Francis Joseph, RHP Matt Borens, RHP Lee Casas, RHP Taylor Garrison, and RHP Corey Holmes.

Cloyd and Romero both received invitations to Spring Training after spending last season in Korea. The 28-year-old Cloyd had a 5.81 ERA in 159.2 innings for the Samsung Lions while the 29-year-old Romero hit .253/.328/.449 with 12 homers. I should note the KBO is very hitter friendly. The league averages in 2015 were a 4.90 ERA and a .279/.356/.429 batting line. Mitchell, 27, hit .209/.298/.308 in 100 games between Double-A and Triple-A with the Angels and White Sox in 2015. Both Cloyd and Romero are Triple-A depth. Romero’s mostly a third baseman but has played a bunch of first over the years, so he’ll help fill the gap created by Greg Bird‘s injury. Mitchell, a former first round pick, is probably going to Double-A.

Among the released players, the most notable is Gumbs. He was New York’s second round pick out of a California high school in 2010. Gumbs was one of those super toolsy prospects with a ton of upside who was crazy raw. He played quite well with Low-A Charleston in 2012 (.272/.320/.432) but he’s had some injury problems in recent years and just stopped hitting. Gumbs put up a .176/.224/.213 line with High-A Tampa last year.

Links: IFAs, AzFL Review, Mahoney

Here are a couple stray links I have lying around that are worth checking out. So go check them out:

Just a heads up, the four full season minor league affiliates begin their regular season on Thursday, April 7th this year. That’s three days after the big league Yankees behind their season.

Weekend Open Thread

Two years ago today, the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year contract. That was a good day. I was going to embed a video with 2015 Tanaka highlights, but the only one I found has incredibly NSFW music, so we’ll stick with 2014 instead. Anyway, here are the weekend links as you get ready to brave the snow:

  • Tim Rohan has a fun story on the luxury auto dealer in Miami who sells and modifies cars for various MLB players, as well as other celebrities. Apparently big leaguers are his most creative clients, and they often try to one-up their teammates. Ivan Nova gets a mention for buying a $175,000 limo van.
  • David Laurila recently spoke to Billy Eppler, who had been an assistant GM with the Yankees before leaving to become GM of the Angels earlier this offseason. He spoke about the things he learned in New York, the transition to the Angels, and his vision for the team going forward. Pretty neat stuff.
  • This Michael Paterniti article on flight SR111 is from 2000, but it just popped up in my Twitter feed the other day. The article is a gut-wrenching look at the crash and the aftermath, particularly from the perspective of the medical examiner who had to sift through the wreckage. You might not want to read that if you’re flying soon.
  • Matt Norlander wrote about Emmanuel Omogbo, a basketball player at Colorado State who recently lost his family in a house fire. It’s a tragic story but also a bit heartwarming because of all the help and support he’s received.

Friday: Here is tonight’s open thread. Every one of the local hockey and basketball teams is in action tonight except the Devils, so talks about those games, the links, Tanaka, or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread after you dig yourself out of the snow. The Knicks, Devils, and Islanders are all playing, plus there’s a ton of college hoops on the schedule as well. Have at it.

Sunday: Here is the open thread for one last time. The NFL Conference Championship games are on today. First you have the Broncos and Patriots (3pm ET on CBS), then you have the Cardinals and Panthers (6:30pm ET on FOX). The Rangers and Knicks Nets are both playing as well, plus there’s some college basketball on as well. Enjoy.

Weekend Open Thread

Another week down, another week closer to Spring Training. I’m starting to get desperate here. I need baseball. This offseason has been weird in too many ways. Anyway, here are the weekend links:

  • With the 2016 Hall of Fame vote compete, it’s time to look ahead. Jay Jaffe posted his annual five-year Hall of Fame projection. He sees eleven players being voted into Cooperstown over the next five years, including ex-Yankees Tim Raines (2017), Mariano Rivera (2019), Derek Jeter (2020), and Mike Mussina (2021). Jay’s the best Hall of Fame analyst out there. Don’t miss it.
  • Here’s a fun story from Arwa Mahdawi about a guy named Jeffrey who had kind of a boring wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, do it all again the next day life. He was sick of it, so he quit his job to pursue other stuff, until one day he picked up a Citi Bike in lower Manhattan and rode the damn thing to California. The trip took five months.
  • A few weeks before El Chapo was captured (again), Dana Priest wrote about the connection between the media and drug cartels in Mexico. The cartels use the threat of violence to control the news and have murdered reporters over their stories. Social media has made it more difficult for the cartels to control the news, but not impossible. Pretty scary stuff.
  • And finally, here’s an awesome post on The Players’ Tribune from former NHL player Ryan Whitney, who wrote about his experience playing in Russia. He retired young due to ankle problems and spent his final season as a player in Sochi. The YouTube video cracked me up.

Friday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. Not a whole lotta sports! going on tonight. The Nets are playing and that’s pretty much it. Not even any college hoops on the schedule. Anyway, you know how these work, so go nuts.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs resume with the Chiefs vs. Patriots (4:30pm ET on CBS) and Packers vs. Cardinals (8pm ET on NBC). The (hockey) Rangers already played, but the Devils are playing right now, and both the Knicks and Nets will play later tonight. There’s also a whole bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else.

Sunday: For one last time, this is the open thread. I’m bumping it up to the top of the site a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs. Today you’ve got Panthers vs. Seahawks (1pm ET on FOX) and Steelers vs. Broncos (4:30pm ET on CBS). The Rangers and Islanders are both playing too, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Have at it.

Saturday Links: Powell, Interpreters, Instant Replay, ESPN

Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)
Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

The Yankees handled some major offseason business on arbitration filing day yesterday. They agreed to new one-year deals with Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley, and exchanged figures with Aroldis Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova. They can still work out contracts with those four players. They aren’t necessarily headed for arbitration hearing now. Anyway, here are some assorted links and notes to pass along.

Yankees scouted cricket player Kieran Powell

Here’s a fun little story. Kieran Powell, one of the best cricket players in the world, is attempting to transition to baseball. Jack Curry says the Yankees had a scout on hand for his workout Wednesday. Powell, 25, is from the West Indies, and last summer he spent eight weeks working with former big leaguers to develop baseball skills. From Jared Diamond:

Following a contract dispute with the West Indies team, Powell’s agent sent footage of Powell to major-league teams, catching the eye of scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers. They arranged for Powell to spend eight weeks last summer training in Southern California with two former Dodgers players to start the process of dropping his “cricket habits” and learning the nuances of baseball. (Powell declined to reveal which ex-players worked with him.)

Powell headed to the IMG Academy in Florida to continue training following his crash course with the Dodgers. He’s been working with Tim Raines Jr. and former Yankees farmhand John-Ford Griffin. Here’s some video of him in the batting cage.

There is almost no overlap between baseball and cricket at the pro level, so Powell would be a pioneer. The games are similar in that you’re hitting a ball with a bat, but the swing mechanics are very different. (Cricket involves an extreme uppercut, for example.) Both games do require top notch hand-eye coordination though, and Powell has that.

Curry says the Yankees aren’t interested because they didn’t see any standout baseball skills, and one evaluator went as far as telling Wally Matthews, “He sucks. He’s not worth any time.” Ouch. I am curious see how Powell does on the diamond though.

Teams required to provide Spanish interpreters

According to Jerry Crasnick, teams will be required to provide full-time Spanish interpreters for players beginning next season thanks to a new directive implemented by MLB and the MLBPA. Many clubs already have interpreters while others rely on coaches or other players to translate during media scrums. Teams routinely hire individual interpreters for Asian players, but not Spanish players.

Carlos Beltran has been pushing for full-time Spanish interpreters for years, and in fact David Waldstein says Beltran reached out to the MLBPA to make it happen. Most notably Beltran spoke out after Pineda spoke to the media without an interpreter following the pine tar incident two years ago. “It’s a problem, of course, because he can’t express himself the way he wants to,” said Beltran the next day when he found out Pineda did not have a translator.

Roughly 25% of players come from Spanish speaking countries these days, so this is long overdue. I’m surprised it took this long for MLB and the union to get something done. You’d think they want to help players who are attempting to communicate in their second language. Hopefully the league implements a similar program in the minors. Of course, the MLBPA has been hanging minor leaguers out to dry for years now, so who knows.

MLB not close to changing replay rules for slides

MLB is not close to changing the instant replay rules for overslides, reports Jon Morosi. Those are the nitpicky plays where the the player comes off the base for an instant. Stuff like this:

I hate that. Yes, the rules say the player is out, but man, I don’t think that’s what anyone intended when they wanted expanded replay. If the player completely overslides the base, yes, then replay. But a little pop up off the bag like that? Especially when it’s the result of the impact of the slide? I feel like that should be off-limits from replay. Either way, no rule change is coming. Stay on the base.

ESPN releases early Sunday Night Baseball schedule

A few weeks ago ESPN announced the early season portion of their Sunday Night Baseball schedule. As always, the Yankees will be among the most featured clubs. Here are their games:

  • April 10th: Yankees at Tigers
  • May 1st: Yankees at Red Sox
  • May 8th: Red Sox at Yankees
  • July 17th: Red Sox at Yankees

The back-to-back Yankees-Red Sox games in early-May made me laugh. ESPN still pumps up the rivalry even though it’s been four years since both teams were good at the same time. At least some more teams will be involved in Sunday Night Baseball next year, including the Astros and Diamondbacks. The Astros haven’t played on Sunday Night Baseball since 2013 and the D’Backs haven’t been featured since 2008.

Also, ESPN announced a new Sunday Night Baseball booth: Dan Shulman remains as play-by-play man and will be joined by Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone. Curt Schilling will be moved to other broadcasts and John Kruk is going to be an in-studio analyst. Having a pro-Yankees guy (Boone) in the booth will be a welcome change.

Weekend Open Thread

Another week in the books means we’re another week closer to Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report in one month and ten days according to the countdown in the sidebar. It can’t come soon enough. People are starting to get offseason cabin fever, it seems. Here are the weekend links:

  • Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza are baseball’s two newest Hall of Famers, and, as Tyler Kepner explains, the two were almost teammates with the Mets. Griffey blocked a deal to the Mets before the he was traded to the Reds. So, instead, the Mets used the players they were going to send to the Mariners for Griffey to get Mike Hampton. Hampton helped them win the 2000 pennant, and when he left as a free agent, the compensation draft pick turned into David Wright. Neat story.
  • I really enjoyed Corinne Landrey’s post on the best long plate appearances of 2015. At seven minutes and 47 seconds, the Andrew Miller-Troy Tulowitzki battle was the longest plate appearance of the season in terms of elapsed time. It was the highest leverage plate appearance of both their careers at 8.23 LI (!). It’s also kinda fun Clayton Kershaw (batter) had a 13-pitch at-bat against Madison Bumgarner, which ended with a ground out.
  • Rather than link you off to some individual articles, I’m going to point you towards Longform.org’s favorite pieces of 2015. That way you can pick and choose what you want to read. There’s an overall top ten and then top fives within different categories. Lots of great stuff in there. Make sure you check it out.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing. There’s no college hoops though. Talk about those games, the links, or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs start today, so you’ve got the Chiefs vs. Texas (4pm ET on ABC and ESPN) and then the Steelers vs. Bengals (8pm ET on CBS). The Rangers and Islanders both played earlier today, though there is a bunch of college hoops on the schedule tonight. Have at it.

Sunday: Here’s the open thread one last time. I’m bumping this to the top of the site a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs. The Seahawks and Vikings play first (1pm ET on NBC) and then there’s the Packers and Redskins later this afternoon (4:30pm ET on FOX). The Devils and Nets are playing, and there’s some college basketball action too. Go nuts.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope your first day of 2016 went well. I made a bunch of resolutions like everyone else, most of which I probably won’t keep. So it goes. Here are the weekend links:

  • The end of the year means it’s time for Jayson Stark’s annual Strange But True columns. Here’s the regular season and here’s the postseason. There’s a bunch of Yankees-related stuff sprinkled throughout, though the fun is catching up on all the weird, crazy stuff that happened in baseball last year. They’re must reads, as always.
  • Here are David Laurila’s best quotes of 2015. My favorite, from MLB historian John Thorne: “It’s as if you had a competition between Fred Flintstone and Bill Gates. Hitters are primitive. There’s strategy involved in pitching, and there ought to be with batting — not mere swinging.”
  • This David Garrick article about the ownership of Petco Park is pretty wild. A mentally-ill man named Derris Devon McQuaig currently holds the legal title to the ballpark because he walked into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitted a properly filled-out deed transfer. That’s all it took. McQuaig has created quite a headache for the Padres.
  • And finally, check out this Tim Rohan piece on Tommy John surgery. I forgot I had it sitting in my bookmarks, so it’s a few weeks old. My bad. Anyway, one thing I learned: there are different Tommy John surgery methods, so different doctors perform the surgery in different ways. They all leave different size scars too. Who knew?

Friday: Here is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks are playing, plus there’s some college football and college basketball on as well. Talk about those game, the links, or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, and there’s a bunch of college football and basketball going on too. Have at it.

Sunday: This is the open thread for the last time. I’m posting it a little earlier than usual because the Jets are playing a pretty big game this afternoon (vs. Bills, 1pm ET on CBS). They’ll clinch a playoff spot with a win, from what I understand. You’ve got that game, the rest of the NFL slate, plus the Knicks, Islanders, and some college hoops.