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A winter’s worth of rumors about an international spending spree proved true last week when the Yankees signed more than 20 players and spent more than six times their spending pool on the first day of the 2014-15 signing period. You can relive the day right here. Here’s more breaking down the record-setting day, and here are some more stray signings and links:

  • The Yankees have signed 16-year-old Venezuelan OF Raymundo Moreno for $600k, reports Ben Badler. He is not among Baseball America‘s nor MLB.com‘s list of the top 30 international prospects. Balder says Moreno has “above-average speed, an average arm and gets good reads off the bat in the outfield. He has good bat speed and gap power from the right side.”
  • Jesse Sanchez reports the Yankees have signed Dominican SS Griffin Garabito for $225k while Kiley McDaniel says they have also signed 19-year-old Dominican RHP Yossty Vargas. Both are older (relative term here) prospects who can begin playing right away. Neither was ranked among Baseball America’s or MLB.com’s top 30 international prospects.
  • In an Insider-only piece, Chris Crawford says that ” in terms of both quality and quantity, [the Yankees had] the most impressive class by a considerable margin.” He also notes that they are also considered the favorite to sign a few of the top players who are still available.

Total Known Bonuses: $15.335M. Total Penalties: ~$13.135M. Total Spent: ~$28.47M.

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Source: FanGraphs

This was a tale of two games. It was all Yankees in the first two innings and all Indians after that. Masahiro Tanaka‘s worst start of the season and an offense that completely vanished after the third inning led the Yankees to a 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday night. The little two-game winning streak is snapped and New York is back to being only one game over .500 at 45-44.

Something came up tonight (nothing bad, everything’s fine), so I wasn’t able to watch this game at all after the first inning and can’t recap in much detail. Trevor Bauer was all over the place early on though, throwing 67 pitches in the first three innings while allowing three runs and putting seven of the first 14 men on base. Then he threw 45 pitches in the next four innings and retired 13 of the final 14 men he faced. The one base-runner came on a Nick Swisher error. It was a weak grounder right through his legs.

The Yankees did not have a hit after the third inning and did not have a base-runner after the fifth inning. They worked Bauer hard early on, scoring those three runs on a string of mostly singles — the sacrifice bunt in the second inning was silly with Bauer on the ropes, but in fairness, it was Zelous Wheeler at the plate. Two walks (of course) on the night, no extra-base hits. The 2014 Yankees in a nutshell.

Tanaka, meanwhile, got smacked around pretty good. He set a new season-high in hits (ten) and runs (five allowed) for the second straight start, surrendering a pair of homers to Michael Brantley and Swisher. Brantley was 3-for-4 with two doubles and the homer. He’s really impressive. Tanaka struck out five and got another ten outs on the ground, plus Cleveland hitters swung and missed 14 times at his 99 pitches, but his mistakes were crushed. He was bound to hit a rough patch at some point. The All-Star break will do him some good.

The box score and video highlights are at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Brandon McCarthy will make his Yankees debut on Wednesday night, in the third game of this four-game series. Vidal Nuno threw seven shutout innings for the Diamondbacks tonight. Somewhere there is a Yankees fan lamenting the trade. Josh Tomlin will be on the bump for the Tribe.

Minor League Update: No time for the full update tonight, sorry. The box scores can be found right here. 2B Rob Refsnyder had two hits (single, double), OF Zoilo Almonte had three hits (triple, two singles), 1B Peter O’Brien had two hits (double, homer), RHP Luis Severino struck out eight in four innings, LHP Jacob Lindgren fanned three in two perfect innings, and fourth rounder LHP Jordan Montgomery allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in his pro debut. That’s about it.

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Juan De Leon and his trainer. (Photo via @BenBadler)

Juan De Leon and his trainer. (Photo via @BenBadler)

As expected, the Yankees went on a huge international free agent spending spree when the signing period opened last Wednesday. By my unofficial count, the team signed 22 players for $14.51M worth of bonuses on the first day of the signing period alone, and those are just the players we know about. I’m certain there are other deals in place that have not yet been reported.

Now that the signing period has opened and most of the heavy lifting has been completed, let’s break down everything that happened on the international front. There’s a lot to digest here.

The Penalties
The Yankees were assigned a $2.2M signing pool for international players this summer, but they blew right through that. Based on what we know, they will have to pay approximately $12.31M in taxes for going over their pool, and the final number will be higher than that since it is inevitable several signings have yet to be reported. Between bonuses and penalties, the current total payout is $26.82M, or thereabouts.

In addition to the tax, the Yankees are now prohibited from signing a player to a bonus larger than $300k during both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, the last two covered by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here is the most important thing: their signing pool will not change in those years. Their pool will be whatever size it’s supposed to be based on their finish in the standings, but now they can not hand out any big bonuses. They aren’t actually losing any pool money these next two signings periods.

So … Good Idea or Bad Idea?
I’ve been going back and forth about whether going all in on one signing period is a good idea. At this point I think it is. Yes, they effectively removed themselves from the bidding for the top international prospects in the next two signings periods, but the Yankees usually do a very good job of finding cheap talent in Latin America. RHP Luis Severino ($225k), SS Abi Avelino ($300k), and SS Thairo Estrada ($45k) all signed for relative peanuts. Heck, go back a few years and both Robinson Cano ($150k) and Ivan Nova ($80k) came cheap. That $300k bonus cap the next two summers shouldn’t hinder them from finding quality prospects.

More than anything, I think it’s good the Yankees added all that talent right now. Remember, we’re talking about 16-year-old kids here. Even if things work out great, we’re still talking about four or five years in the minors before they make their MLB debut. It’ll take another few years after that for them to have a real impact. This is a long-term process and by signing all of these players now, the Yankees are starting that process. They added a ton of talent in one fell swoop. (Signing players is the easy part, developing them into MLB players is the real challenge.) I’ll take a bunch of top youngsters today over the prospect of signing top youngsters tomorrow.

What Kind Of Talent Are We Talking About Here?
As always, information about international prospects is hard to come by. It’s gotten about a million times better over the last few years, but there are still lots of conflicting reports. Here are where the team’s most notable signees were ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com, for comparison:

Player Bonus Baseball America MLB.com
SS Dermis Garcia $3.2M 9th 1st
3B Nelson Gomez $2.25M 6th 2nd
OF Juan De Leon $2M 2nd 5th
OF Jonathan Amundaray $1.5M 22nd 7th
SS Wilkerman Garcia $1.35M 7th 14th
SS Hyo-Jun Park $1.16M 18th 13th
C Miguel Flames $1M 16th 25th
OF Antonio Arias $800k 28th 9th
SS Diego Castillo $750k 24th 16th

According to MLB.com, the Yankees signed the top two, three of the top five, four of the top seven, five of the top nine, and eight of the top 20 available prospects. According to Baseball America, they signed one of the top five, three of the top eight, four of the top nine, and six of the top 20 prospects. Bit of a difference there, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Consensus rankings are boring. The most important thing is that both publications agree the Yankees landed some of the very best international prospects last week. They brought in the elite.

Bats, Not Arms
As you may have noticed in the table, all of the team’s notable signings are position players, particularly up the middle players (De Leon and Amundaray are center fielders). This year’s crop of international free agents was light on pitchers to start with — according to Baseball America, only two of the top ten and five of the top 30 prospects were pitchers — but hoarding position players prospects is not a bad idea in and of itself.

Offense is getting harder and harder to find these days. Run-scoring around the league is down to its lowest point in years — MLB teams have a combined .316 OBP in 2014, which would be the lowest since 1972, the year before the DH was adopted — and that makes quality bats even more of a top commodity. Pitching is important, it absolutely is, but right now impact bats are something of a market inefficiency. Everyone wants one but few are actually available. Look at the Cubs and their prospects. Remember, not all of these guys will be future Yankees. Some will be used as trade bait and young, high-end bats are valuable. Stockpiling position player prospects makes a ton of sense.

Exposing A Broken System
This last week has exposed just how broken MLB’s spending restriction system is. The system was intended to level the playing field and give every club a shot at acquiring the best talent, but instead the Yankees (and Red Sox, as well) blew through their spending limit and signed the top available talents. Meanwhile, both the Brewers and Rays had to swing trades for pool money to sign just one top prospect because they can’t afford to pay the penalties.

Rather than create a fairer market, the new system has given large market clubs even more of an advantage. It’s not about a willingness to go over the pool to sign players, every team would do it if possible, but some simply can not do it financially. The Yankees didn’t break the rules at all, they will pay the tax and deal with the bonus limitations the next two years, but to them that is simply the cost of doing business. Smaller market teams can’t dream of doing that. Expect the system to change somehow during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

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First, some notes:

  • In case you missed it earlier, RHP Luis Severino was ranked 34th by Baseball America and 48th by Baseball Prospectus in their midseason top 50 prospects list.
  • C Gary Sanchez, C/1B Peter O’Brien, OF Ben Gamel, and LHP Matt Tracy have all been named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. Here’s the full roster. Congrats to them.
  • RHP Jose Ramirez was placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL and IF Scott Sizemore was placed on the temporary inactive list, reports Brendan Kuty. Not sure what’s wrong with Ramirez. The temporary inactive list usually means the player has a family matter. In other news, RHP Jaron Long has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, according to Nicholas Flammia.
  • Baseball America (no subs. req’d) released their Midseason All-Star Teams over the weekend. No Yankees’ farmhands made the Minor League Team, but IF Yangervis Solarte, RHP Masahiro Tanaka, and RHP Dellin Betances made the MLB All-Rookie Team. 2B Rob Refsnyder made the Minor League All-Surprise Team.

Triple-A Scranton‘s game was suspended due to rain with one out in the bottom of the fourth. The pitching staff has been worked hard of late and I’m sure those guys are all happy to get a few innings off. The game will be resumed tomorrow. Here’s the box score if you can’t wait.

Double-A Trenton (10-3 win over Reading)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 RBI
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-5, 1 K
  • DH Peter O’Brien: 2-3, 4 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP – had gone eleven games without a dinger
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 11/2 GB/FB – 63 of 99 pitches were strikes (64%) … has allowed exactly two earned runs in five of his last seven starts
  • LHP Cesar Cabral: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K — 14 of 20 pitches were strikes (70%) … quietly has a 19/5 K/BB in his last 12.2 innings

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d) published their midseason rankings of the top 50 prospects in baseball today. Twins OF Byron Buxton tops both lists despite appearing in only six games this season due to a wrist problem. There’s just too much ability to drop him after only a half-season. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant and Astros SS Carlos Correa rank second and third in the two lists, just not necessarily in the same order.

The Yankees had one prospect make the two lists: RHP Luis Severino, who was 34th for Baseball America and 48th for Baseball Prospectus. No other Yankees farmhands made it. “Yankees’ breakout prospect is a long way from big leagues but has three potential above-average pitches,” said the Baseball America write-up while Baseball Prospectus says “Severino is a legit talent and one of the most enjoyable arms to watch in any farm” while noting his slider must continue to develop to avoid a future in the bullpen. I think OF Aaron Judge and C Gary Sanchez will crack the back half of top 100 lists after the season, but they aren’t top 50 guys right now.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Triple-A Scranton (13-9 loss to Charlotte) they managed to hit five homers and lose

  • RF Jose Pirela: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K — third homer in his last ten games
  • 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K — mashin’
  • LF Adonis Garcia: 1-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • DH Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • 1B Scott Sizemore: 0-2, 2 K — not sure why he was pulled from the game, though with all the recent roster moves, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a call-up
  • PH-1B Corban Joseph: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 3-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — everyone once in a while he shows of flash of why he was once a highly touted prospect
  • LHP Jeremy Bleich: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 29 of 54 pitches were strikes (54%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 0.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 13 of 24 pitches were strikes (54%) … yikes, not what they needed with a short bullpen following the Jim Miller and Bruce Billings call-ups
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — eight of 13 pitches were strikes
  • LHP Taylor Dugas: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 11 of 16 pitches were strikes (69%) … yeah, the bullpen was so short they had to use a position player to pitch
  • RHP Antoan Richardson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0/3 GB/FB — only six of 17 pitches were strikes (35%0 … yeah, the bullpen was so short they had to use TWO position players to pitch

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Buffalo)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-5, 1 SB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-5, 1 K — this is only the fourth time in 25 games with at least five plate appearances that he’s gone hitless
  • RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — I know he can’t hit lefties, but I have a hard time believing he isn’t a better option than Alfonso Soriano at this point
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 BB
  • 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-3, 1 2B, 1 BB — hopefully he tears it up down here and forces his way back into the MLB picture
  • DH Scott Sizemore:  0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • C John Ryan Murphy: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — second homer in 13 games since being sent down
  • RHP Edgmer Escalona: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/5 GB/FB — 37 of 47 pitches were strikes (79%) … got the spot start in place of RHP Bruce Billings, who was a late scratch … safe to assume Billings is on his way to join the MLB team to give the taxed bullpen a fresh long man
  • LHP Francisco Rondon: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 47 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K — six of 13 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Matt Daley: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 20 of 28 pitches were strikes (72%) … 36/7 K/BB in 25.1 innings at this level

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Source: FanGraphs

It wasn’t particularly easy, but the Yankees beat the Twins by the score of 6-5 on Friday afternoon to win their second straight game. The Twinkies always come through whenever the Yankees need a win. Let’s recap the Independence Day victory, for America:

  • Early Offense: The Yankees were all over Kyle Gibson. Three of the first four, four of the first seven, and five of the first eleven men they sent to the plate had extra-base hits, including run-scoring doubles by Brian Roberts and Mark Teixeira. Teixeira missed a homer by a foot or two. Brett Gardner had a triple and Frankie Cervelli had a double amid the carnage. Carlos Beltran (sac fly), Brendan Ryan (sac fly), and Jacoby Ellsbury (two-run single) also drove in runs as the Yankees scored six runs in two innings against Gibson.
  • Chased Whitley: Make it three straight dud outings for Chase Whitley. The right-hander allowed four runs (including two solo homers) and put nine men on base in only three innings of work, needing 74 pitches for nine outs. Over his last three starts, Whitely has allowed 17 runs on 27 hits and six walks in 10.1 innings. That is very bad. The Yankees really need another starter.
  • Turn Back The Clock: When he woke up Friday morning, Roberts was hitting .237/.309/.355 (84 wRC+). He’ll go to bed hitting .248/.318/.384 (94 wRC+). That’s what a 4-for-5 with three doubles and a triple day will do for ya. Two of the doubles and the triple banged off the wall (one double was a grounder inside the line), so this was no luck. He was smashing everything. Roberts is the first Yankee with a four extra-base hit game since Alex Rodriguez had two doubles and two homers against the Devil Rays in 2005. Roberts is also the first Yankee with zero homers in a four extra-base hit game since Jim Mason in 1974 (four doubles). Crazy.
  • Bullpen On Parade: Since Whitley bowed out after three innings, Joe Girardi was forced to dip deep into his bullpen. David Huff chucked three perfect innings then Adam Warren and Dellin Betances combined to throw the seventh and eighth. Betances allowed a run on a single, a hit batsman, a double steal, and a ground out. He looks like he’s running on fumes. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for him. David Robertson allowed a double and struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save. Forty-seven of his last 65 outs are strikeouts. Think about that.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees had ten hits, including four by Roberts and three by Cervelli. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Teixeira had the other hits. Gardner drew the only walk, so the team now has two or fewer walks in seven of their last eight games … the Yankees had eight extra-base hits as a team for the second time this year (this was the other game), but it’s the first time they had eight extra-base hits with no homeruns since July 2007 (this game) … Zelous Wheeler made this great catch falling into the dugout, but it didn’t count because he was out of the field of play. Stupid rules.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Blue Jays lost (on a Nick Punto walk-off!) and the Orioles were rained out, so the Yankees are three games back of Baltimore and 2.5 games back of Toronto in the AL East. Depending on the outcome of the late game, they will be either 3.5 (Mariners lose) or 4.5 (Mariners win) games back of the second wildcard spot. David Phelps and Yohan Pino will be the pitching matchup in the third game of this four-game series on Saturday afternoon.

Minor League Update: It’s a holiday, so I’m taking a break from the usual minor league update. Here are the box scores: Triple-A Scranton, High-A Tampa, Low-A Charleston, Short Season Staten Island, Rookie GCL Yanks1, and Rookie GCL Yanks2. Double-A Trenton was rained out. 1B Greg Bird homered, LHP Miguel Sulbaran threw five one-hit innings, and 3B Eric Jagielo singled. Oh, and 2B Rob Refsnyder hit a three-run walk-off homer. That about wraps it up.

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Only six questions this week, but some of the answers are kinda long. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the best way to send us anything through the week.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Several people asked: What happens with Brian Cashman when his contract expires after the season?

A bunch of people sent in some variation of this question. Some nice (is it time for a change?), some not so nice (fire that idiot!). Needless to say, when you commit over $500M to free agents in an offseason only to get worse and potentially to miss the postseason for the second straight year, it’s only natural to wonder if a change in leadership is needed.

I’ve been a Cashman supporter over the years but I do think it’s time for the Yankees to make a change. He’s been the GM for 16 years now. That’s an eternity in GM years. The Yankees are still trying to win by almost exclusively signing free agents and that’s not just going to work in the game these days. The best players are not hitting the open market until their post-prime years. Baseball has changed but the Yankees have not. They’re still trying to build a team the same way they did 10-15 years ago and it’s not working.

I feel the Yankees have reached the point where bringing in a new GM with a different voice would really benefit the club. I think the same applies to managers and coaches too — eventually they get stale and it’s time for a new voice to shake things up. That’s human nature. It happens. The club’s way of doing business needs an overhaul, not one or two minor tweaks. I mean, given their payroll, other teams rely on the Yankees to make mistakes to contend, and there have been a lot of mistakes in recent years.

Who should replace Cashman? That’s a hard part. Assistant GM Billy Eppler is the obvious in-house candidate but he is being given serious consideration for the Padres GM job (he interviewed for the position yesterday, the team announced). He might not be a long-term option. Hiring someone from outside the organization is tricky because the New York market is so unique. Money doesn’t guarantee success and the expectations are through the roof. Experience in this kind of market is not required but it would preferred.

If Eppler gets the Padres job, I have no idea who the Yankees could replace Cashman with. Ex-Cubs GM Jim Hendry is in the front office as an advisor but no thanks. Advisor and ex-GM Gene Michael has made it pretty clear he’s out of the GM game at age 76. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer? Eh, maybe. Hiring Billy Beane or Andrew Friedman away from their teams is totally unrealistic. There figures to be a few GM openings this winter (Phillies? Diamondbacks?), so the Yankees would have competition for the top candidates.

I do think it’s time for the Yankees to bring in a new GM — I’ve been saying they could move Cashman to a high-level advisor role when the time comes for years now, similar to Kenny Williams and Mark Shapiro, and I still think that. He’s worth keeping around, especially if they bring in a GM from outside the organization — because there needs to be some change. The team-building strategies are too outdated to continue. Going from Point A (Cashman) to Point B (new GM) will be very difficult and my biggest fear is Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine hiring some figurehead GM they can walk all over.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Joe asks: Why don’t the Yankees switch Gardner and Ellsbury in the lineup? Why bat Ellsbury third when Gardner has shown more power this year?

I agree completely. (I said this earlier this week.) Jacoby Ellsbury‘s batting third because he’s the big name and he’s the guy with the huge contract, but he is totally miscast in that lineup spot in my opinion. Brett Gardner would be as well, don’t get me wrong, but when you look at their skills, I think Ellsbury makes more sense in the leadoff spot and Gardner third. To wit:

  • Their batting averages (.288 vs. .284) and on-base percentages (.358 vs. .352) are essentially identical. It’s not like one guy has a big 25 or 40-point advantage or something.
  • Ellsbury is quicker to steal than Gardner. I don’t have any stats to back that up (I don’t even know if that stuff is available) but I think we can all agree that’s the case.
  • Gardner has shown more usable power this year (.144 ISO vs .106 ISO, 8 HR vs. 4 HR) and does a better job of taking advantage of the short porch. Every Ellsbury hit looks exactly the same — line drive to center or left-center. Hard to hit for power and clear the bases like that.

Since they get on base at almost the exact same rate, the Yankees would be better off using Gardner’s slight edge in power — remember, he has more power than Ellsbury but is still no better than an average power hitter overall — a little lower in the lineup, with potentially more men on base. It wouldn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re struggling to score runs like the Yankees have been, I see very little downside to making the swap.

Daniel asks: Why is it that when you’re showing the rankings of different international prospects and you give MLB.com and BA’s, the rankings are so vastly different? It doesn’t seem like it’s quite as stark a difference with US prospects. Why the big gaps, and who do you trust more anyway?

I listed each player’s ranking in our massive International Free Agency Open Thread the other day — the unofficial final tally was 22 players and $26.8M in bonuses plus penalties, by the way, and there are still some more signings to come — and in some cases the rankings are very different. Venezuelan OF Jonathan Amundaray was ranked seventh by MLB.com and 22nd by Baseball America, for example. Dominican OF Antonio Arias was ninth by MLB.com and 28th by Baseball America. A two or three spot difference is nothing, but 15-20?

I think this stems from the general lack of reliable information about international prospects. MLB.com and Baseball America do a really awesome job of digging up info on these kids, but it’s still tough to find a consensus. Remember, these are 16-year-old kids who have a lot of development left. They are even more unpredictable than high schoolers, so the opinions very wildly. It comes down to the difference in sources, I guess. I trust Baseball America (Ben Balder) the most because he’s been on the international free agent beat for a while now and always seems to have the most information and the best projections (about who is signing where, etc.). I think it’s important to consider all possible sources through. The more info, the better.

Joe asks: Hiroki Kuroda gets terrible run support, it seems.  What Yankees starter has gotten the worst?

Kuroda has never gotten run support in the big leagues. The Dodgers never scored for him back in the day and even in 2012, when the Yankees had a good offense, they still never scored for him. Here is the where the team’s starters rank among the 157 starting pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season (only Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka have qualified for the batting title):

Juan Nicasio of the Rockies has received the most run support this year (6.79 runs per game) by almost a full run (Jesse Chavez and Matt Shoemaker are tied for second at 5.88). Andrew Cashner has received the least run support at 2.17 runs per game. Yikes. How in the world can someone pitch like that, knowing that if they give up two runs, they’ll probably lose? The Padres, man.

Maxwell. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Maxwell. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Dustin asks: Chris Capuano is now a free agent. Should the Yanks give him a minor league deal? Same for Jerome Williams and Justin Maxwell if they clear waivers. And would Nolan Reimold even be worth claiming on waivers and giving up something of minor value?

I’d take all four of those guys a minor league contract at this point, especially Maxwell, who might be a better option for the right-handed half of the right field platoon than Alfonso Soriano. He stunk this year (11 wRC+ in limited time), but Maxwell has hit .230/.344/.407 (105 wRC+) against lefties in his career. It’s not like the Triple-A Scranton outfield is full either. Reimold is hurt all the time (56 games from 2012-14) but has kinda shown he can hit southpaws (career 98 wRC+). Capuano has a knack for underperforming his peripherals and I consider both him and Williams as replacement level arms at this point of their careers. The Red Sox were nice enough to audition Capuano in the AL East for the Yankees. Of these four guys, Maxwell seems most likely to be useful.

TomH asks: RAB and others have recently noted a kind of creeping mediocrity among MLB teams, probably resulting from the Bud Selig era leveling moves. How do you think this pretty obvious general mediocrity will affect baseball’s popularity?

It’s probably a net win for the game. More teams are in the race and that means more fans are excited and paying attention (and going to games and buying merchandise). I joke all the time that the Yankees are unwatchable these days, but I watch a ton of non-Yankees baseball too, and I think the level of play around the league is very low right now. Most of MLB is Yankees-esque unwatchable. Is that because of Selig’s competitive balance? I’m sure that’s part of it. I think it’s good for the game overall to have more teams in the race and more fans interested, but I do think baseball is at its absolute best when there are two or three superpowers fans can hate. Maybe I’m just biased as a Yankees fan.

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Two quick notes:

  • RHP Alfredo Aceves has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse, MLB announced. It was his second offense and the suspension begins immediately. I was just thinking Triple-A Scranton had more bodies than rotation spots, but this clears it up. Aceves wasn’t coming back to the MLB team unless things went way wrong, so this doesn’t hurt the Yankees’ depth all that much.
  • Mark Simon wrote about 2B Rob Refsnyder and his big jump this year, from starting the season in Double-A to being on the cusp of MLB in early-July. “He was thinking too much,” said Trenton hitting coach Marcus Thames when asked about Refsnyder’s early season struggles. “Anytime you start doing that, your mechanics are going to break down. I told him to just relax.”

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Buffalo)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 3-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 2 BB, 1 K — 19 walks and 19 strikeouts in 24 games at this level
  • DH Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (fielding)
  • RHP Chris Leroux: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 Balk, 8/3 GB/FB — 59 of 94 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 17 of 23 pitches were strikes (74%) … 29/11 K/BB in 29.1 innings this season … the Yankees got him from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett trade a few years ago

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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