Sunday Links: Captain’s Camp, Baker, Burton, Posada, NYCFC

The Captain's Campers. (Tyler Wade on Twitter)
The Captain’s Campers. (Tyler Wade on Twitter)

The Yankees are playing the Phillies this afternoon but there is no video broadcast of the game. Hard to believe not being able to watch a Spring Training game is the exception these days, not the rule. It wasn’t all that long ago when watching a spring game was a pipe dream. Anyway, I have some miscellaneous links and notes to pass along.

Denbo Creates “Captain’s Camp” For Top Prospects

Here’s a great story from Brendan Kuty. New player development head Gary Denbo created a six-week program this offseason called Captain’s Camp, which is designed to promote “quality character, accountability and respect for the game” in the team’s top prospects. The Yankees invited 15 of their top prospects to the first annual Captain’s Camp in Tampa back in January, and they took part in all sorts of team-building exercises, including visiting a children’s hospital.

“It kind of gave me an idea of what they want. How I should eat in the off-season to get ready for a long season. We got to talk to some big league guys who have done it before. They told us their personal experiences with it. You try to take a little bit from each person,” said Jacob Lindgren. Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, and Scott Rolen were among those who voluntarily came to the camp to meet and speak with the prospects. (Rolen and Denbo know each other from their time with the Blue Jays.) This is really great. Between this and some coaching/development personnel moves, Denbo’s done nice work since replacing Mark Newman in October.

Based on the photo and the article, the 15 prospects include Lindgren, Jake Cave, Ian Clarkin, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Gosuke Katoh, Leonardo Molina, Alex Palma, Nick Rumbelow, Luis Torrens, Matt Tracy, and Tyler Wade. So two are still unknown. The other two are Luis Severino and Jorge Mateo.

Baker, Burton Among Article XX(B) Free Agents

According to MLBTR, righties Scott Baker and Jared Burton are among this year’s Article XX(B) free agents as players signed to minor league contracts despite having more than six years of service time. The Yankees must pay Baker and Burton a $100,000 bonus at the end of Spring Training if they aren’t added to the 25-man active roster (or MLB disabled list). This isn’t a surprise, the Yankees knew both players would be Article XX(B) free agents when they signed them.

Burton’s minor league contract includes four opt-out dates throughout the season, which indicates the Yankees are prepared to pay him the $100,000 to send him to the minors. Chris Capuano‘s injury means Baker just might make the Opening Day roster as the long man and seventh reliever. The guy the Yankees can send out there and run into the ground for as many innings as necessary to spare the rest of the bullpen, then designate for assignment when Capuano is healthy a few weeks into the season. We’ll see how that last bullpen spot shakes out as the spring progresses.

Posada Memoir Coming In May

Jorge Posada has a memoir coming out! Keith Kelly says the memoir, which is titled “The Journey Home,” will hit bookstores on May 12. There will be both an English and Spanish version. It is described as a “father-son book” based Posada’s relationship with his father, Jorge Sr., and Joe Torre, who he “always regarded as a second father,” as well as his two children, Jorge and Paulina. It doesn’t sound like this will be sort of juicy behind-the-scenes tell-all story, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth reading.

The Yankees Stadium field earlier this week. (NY Daily News)
The Yankees Stadium field earlier this week. (NY Daily News)

Teixeira, Others Not Happy With Soccer Games At Yankee Stadium

As you know, the Yankees will share Yankee Stadium with the expansion New York City Football Club of Major League Soccer this summer. In fact, NYCFC is playing their first game at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. The MLS season runs through October and NYCFC will play a total of 17 games in the Bronx. More than one Yankees player is less than thrilled about the wear and tear on the field.

“It’ll definitely cause an issue, but it’s nothing that we can control, so we can’t worry about it … It’s terrible for a field. Grass, dirt, everything gets messed up,” said Mark Teixeira to Dan Barbarisi. Brendan Ryan told Barbarisi he’s going to change the way he approaches ground balls because of potential bad soccer-related hops. “I’m going to be selling out to go get that ball (and limit the bounces), and I’m going to err on that side much more.”

The Yankees have insisted they have a world class grounds crew and therefore have no concern about the condition of the field since it was first announced NYCFC would call Yankee Stadium home. Team president Randy Levine doubled down after Teixeira’s comments, telling Ken Davidoff the team is “very confident that both playing surfaces, through all of our planning, will be perfectly playable throughout the year.” Well, we’re going to find out one way or the other very soon.

Open Thread: March 14th Camp Notes

The Yankees played a pair of split squad games this afternoon, beating the Tigers 4-1 in the home game. Michael Pineda started and was excellent, striking out four and allowing just one base-runner (a walk) in three scoreless innings. Dellin Betances allowed a run on two hits in his inning of work and Andrew Miller struck out a pair in a perfect inning. Chase Headley continued his hot spring by going 2-for-3. Didi Gregorius went 1-for-2, Stephen Drew went 1-for-3 and both Mark Teixeira and Garrett Jones went hitless in three at-bats. Here’s the box score and video highlights for that game.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Yankees fell to the Blue Jays 1-0 on the road. Tyler Wade was thrown out at the plate to end the game. Esmil Rogers started and scattered four hits in three shutout innings. He struck out three. Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Rodriguez both went 1-for-3 while Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner both went 0-for-3. Chris Young went 1-for-2 with a walk. Eric Jagielo took a fastball to the thigh in the ninth inning and was lifted for a pinch-runner (Wade), but he’s fine. He jogged down to first then jogged off the field once the pinch-runner came out of the dugout. Here’s the box score and video highlights for that game, and here’s the rest from Tampa:

  • CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Scott Baker, and Kyle Davies threw bullpen sessions while Andrew Bailey threw a simulated game. I believe this was Severino’s first bullpen since missing a few days with strep throat earlier this week. It was originally reported Bailey would pitch in an actual Grapefruit League game this weekend, but I guess not. Either way, he says he feels great. [Ryan Hatch, Mark Feinsand, Anthony McCarron]
  • Ivan Nova is close to throwing curveballs in the bullpen as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He could begin throwing them as soon as Thursday’s bullpen session. Brendan Ryan (back) hit off a tee and was expected to begin taking ground balls today. [Associated Press]
  • The Yankees play the Phillies tomorrow afternoon — there’s no video broadcast! — and have their first Grapefruit League off-day on Monday. Nathan Eovaldi will start tomorrow and Sabathia will make his spring debut Tuesday.

This is your open thread for evening. YES will replay this afternoon’s home game against the Tigers at 10:30pm ET and MLB Network will replay this afternoon’s road game against the Blue Jays at 11pm ET. All five local hockey and basketball teams are playing tonight and there’s a bunch of college basketball on the schedule as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Spring Training Dual Game Thread: Split Squad

BIG MIKE IS HEREThe Yankees are playing a pair of split squad games this afternoon and guess what? There’s video broadcast available for both games. What’s better than one Yankees game? Two Yankees games! Even if they’ll be played at the same exact time.

Half the Yankees are at home in Tampa to play the Tigers and the other half traveled 40 minutes or so up the road to play the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Lots of players were called up from minor league camp today to help fill out the rosters, as you can imagine.

Reason to watch today’s home game: Big Mike! Michael Pineda is making his second start of the spring this afternoon and he’s always fun to watch. He’s probably scheduled for three innings or 45 pitches, something along those lines. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are both scheduled to pitch in that game as well. Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. SS Didi Gregorius
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. 2B Stephen Drew
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Garrett Jones
  6. C Austin Romine
  7. RF Tyler Austin
  8. LF Jake Cave
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Michael Pineda

Available Position Players: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, and RF Aaron Judge will be the second string off the bench. C John Ryan Murphy, C/1B Alvaro Noriega, IF Dan Fiorito, and OF Danny Oh are also on the bench.

Available Pitchers: RHP Dellin Betances, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Nick Rumbelow, LHP James Pazos, and RHP Jared Burton are all scheduled to pitch. LHP Fred Lewis, LHP Matt Tracy, and RHP Jaron Long are the extra arms.

Reason to watch today’s road game: Esmil Rogers is making his second spring start and he’s supposedly looked very good in camp — meaning he’s actually locating consistently — so let’s see if that continues this afternoon. Also, Alex Rodriguez is playing third base for the third time this spring. This will be his third game in the last four days  and first road game of the spring overall. Here’s the starting nine:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 3B Alex Rodriguez
  5. DH Chris Young
  6. 2B Jose Pirela
  7. C Eddy Rodriguez
  8. 1B Kyle Roller
  9. 2B Cole Figueroa
    RHP Esmil Rogers

Available Position Players: C Trent Garrison, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Ali Castillo, SS Cito Culver, 3B Eric Jagielo, LF Ben Gamel, CF Michael O’Neill, and RF Taylor Dugas are coming off the bench to replace the regulars. C Kyle Higashioka, C Tyson Blaser, IF Tyler Wade, and OF Mark Payton are the extra players on the bench.

Available Pitchers: RHP Chris Martin, RHP Danny Burawa, LHP Tyler Webb, RHP Cesar Vargas, and RHP Diego Moreno are all scheduled to pitch after Rogers. RHP Taylor Garrison, RHP Caleb Cotham, and RHP Zach Nuding are the extra arms.

The weather is nice for both games: a little cloudy but no threat of rain and temperatures in the mid-80s. Both games are scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and both games are available on MLB.tv. There are no blackouts in the New York area. The home game against the Tigers will also be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the games, everyone.

Spring Training Game Thread: Skeleton Crew

(Presswire_
(Presswire)

The Yankees took the two-hour bus trip down to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox tonight, so, as you might expect, not many regulars are in the lineup. Two hours there and two hours back for a Spring Training night game? Nope. The guys on this trip drew the short straws, basically. This is one of those Spring Training games that will make you wonder why you’re watching.

Tonight’s reason to watch: Prospects, basically. All the big prospect names are scheduled to play tonight and a few big arms will be coming out of the bullpen as well. Also, infielder Tyler Wade is up from minor league camp for the night, so we’ll get to see him in action too.

Here is the starting lineup for the evening:

  1. RF Ramon Flores
  2. CF Chris Young
  3. 1B Garrett Jones
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. C John Ryan Murphy
  6. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  7. LF Slade Heathcott
  8. 3B Jonathan Galvez
  9. SS Nick Noonan
    RHP Adam Warren

Available Position Players: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Tyler Wade, SS Cito Culver, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Jake Cave, CF Mason Williams, and RF Aaron Judge will be the second string off the bench. C Francisco Arcia, C Trent Garrison, C Kyle Higashioka, and IF Dan Fiorito are the extra players.

Available Pitchers: LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Jose Ramirez, LHP Jacob Lindgren, RHP Branden Pinder, and RHP Nick Goody are all scheduled to pitch. LHP Tyler Webb, LHP James Pazos, and RHP Nick Rumbelow are the extra arms.

It’s cloudy in Fort Myers and there is some rain in the forecast, but not much. Might be a quick drizzle or two during the game. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch nationally on MLB Network and MLB.tv. The game won’t be blacked out on either in the New York area. Also, if you’re in the Red Sox market, you can watch on NESN as well. Enjoy the game.

March 13th Camp Notes: Tanaka, Sabathia, Gregorius, Ryan

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are traveling down to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and the regular game thread will be along a little closer to game time. Until then, here are the day’s notes from Spring Training:

Luis Severino, Aaron Judge top MLB.com’s top 30 Yankees prospects list

Severino and Judge, yet again. (Presswire)
Severino and Judge, yet again. (Presswire)

As part of their look at the best minor league prospects in each organization, the crew at MLB.com published their list of the top 30 Yankees prospects earlier this week. Jim Callis also compiled some notes and scouting grades in a supplemental piece. As always, MLB.com’s info — the list, scouting reports, video, etc. — is all free. It’s great.

Predictably, RHP Luis Severino and OF Aaron Judge claim the top two spots, in that order. Severino is No. 1 on MLB.com’s and Baseball America’s lists while Judge is atop Keith Law’s, Baseball Prospectus’, and my top Yankees prospects lists. I guess Judge wins. SS Jorge Mateo, 1B Greg Bird, and 2B Rob Refsnyder round out the top five on MLB.com’s list.

You can click through to see the full top 30 for yourself. MLB.com included two of last year’s international signings and ranked them pretty highly as well — OF Juan DeLeon and SS Dermis Garcia ranks 15th and 16th, respectively. They also ranked four other players who didn’t make my top 30: RHP Rookie Davis (No. 24), UTIL Jose Pirela (No. 25), 2B Gosuke Katoh (No. 28), and RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 30).

The 21-year-old Acevedo was one of my five prospects to watch heading into the 2014 season and the MLB.com scouting report is pretty glowing:

In his limited game action, Acevedo hit 100 mph and worked at 95-97 mph. He also has an advanced changeup and some feel for spinning the ball, though he’s still trying to find a comfortable grip for his slider. His command is work in progress, though he does a decent job of throwing strikes.

Between his velocity and his size — he’s 6-foot-7 and carries maybe 50 pounds more than his listed 190 — Acevedo presents an extremely intimidating figure on the mound. He’ll have frontline starter stuff if he can develop a good breaking ball, and he’s still a potential closer if he doesn’t.

Acevedo is older than most international prospects — he signed as an 18-year-old in October 2012 — but they don’t check IDs on the mound. If he continues to show big stuff and gets people out, the Yankees won’t care if he makes his MLB debut at 23 or 26. The 2015 season will be an important one when it comes to determining if Acevedo is one of the team’s top prospects going forward or just a tease.

MLB.com’s list essentially wraps up prospect ranking season. The Yankees have a middle of the road farm system that is on the rise thanks mostly to last summer’s international spending spree. Severino and Judge are high-end prospects while others like Bird and Jacob Lindgren look like high-probability big leaguers. The Yankees focused on youth this winter and that means we should expect to see a few of these guys get an opportunity at the MLB level in the next year or two. That’s exciting.

The Defense First, Power Second Bench [2015 Season Preview]

Murphy and the skipper. (Presswire)
Murphy and the skipper. (Presswire)

From 2009-12, the Yankees did a good job of having a functional bench, giving Joe Girardi options to pinch-hit or rest players without the lineup taking a huge hit. That hasn’t been the case the last two years due mostly to injuries — many projected bench guys were pushed into everyday roles. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

The importance of the bench in today’s game is obvious, especially for the Yankees, who have an older roster and plenty of players who need regular time off. Three of the four bench spots were filled with new players this winter, and every member of last season’s Opening Day bench has since been jettisoned. It’s an entirely new crop of players. Let’s look at the reserves and where these guys fit in the big picture.

Catcher: John Ryan Murphy

Alternative: Austin Romine

Long-time backup Francisco Cervelli was traded away this winter for two (maybe three) reasons. One, the Yankees wanted to clear a spot for Murphy, who was impressive filling in during Cervelli’s hamstring injury last year. Two, they wanted to bolster their bullpen with Justin Wilson. (Three, they wanted to save a little cash.) The job is not Murphy’s just yet — he is competing with Romine in camp — but all signs point to him being the guy.

Murphy, 23, put up a .284/.318/.370 (93 wRC+) batting line in 32 big league games last year but his defense is his calling card. Anything he can do with the bat — he’s a year removed from a 117 wRC+ between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013, for what it’s worth — is a bonus. Murphy has ranked as a top shelf pitch-framer in his brief big league career and he’s considered a strong receiver who handles pitches in the dirt well.

The Yankees value catcher defense greatly. They wouldn’t clear the spot for Murphy if they didn’t believe he could excel defensively. Brian McCann is the clear cut number one catcher and will be asked to carry the majority of the workload behind the plate this year, so Murphy’s job is to get the pitching staff through the game whenever McCann needs a day off. That’s it. If he hits, wonderful. But that is secondary as far as the Yankees are concerned.

Infielder: Brendan Ryan

Alternative: Jose Pirela

Pirela. (Presswire)
Pirela. (Presswire)

Once again, the 32-year-old Ryan is dealing with a back injury in Spring Training. He started light workouts earlier this week but there’s no firm timetable for him to return to game action. That is opening the door for Pirela, just like last year’s back injury opened the door for Dean Anna. If Ryan has another setback — he’s already had one this spring — it’s hard to see how he’ll ready for Opening Day.

If healthy though, the backup infielder’s job is Ryan’s. The team owes him $2M this year and he’s still an above-average fielder at the hard to fill shortstop position. He can’t hit a lick — .167/.211/.202 (12 wRC+) in 124 plate appearances last year and that’s pretty much what you should expect going forward — but the Yankees are now a run prevention team and he fits the mold. Ryan is a guy who plays when someone else gets hurt or needs a day off, that’s it. He’s not a pinch-hitting option or even a pinch-running option.

Pirela is pretty much the exact opposite of Ryan. He can hit — or at least we think he can hit — but his glovework is very shaky. The 25-year-old hit .305/.351/.441 (117 wRC+) with Triple-A Scranton last season and is off to an 8-for-15 (.533) start to Grapefruit League play, and that’s his calling card. Pirela’s a hitter. He’s not much of a defender but he can play just about every position other than pitcher or catcher. If Ryan can’t start the season on time, Pirela is the odds on favorite to start the year as the backup infielder.

Outfielder: Chris Young

Alternative: Pirela? Ramon Flores?

New York’s very first move of the offseason was re-signing Young to a one-year deal worth $2.5M. They grabbed him off the scrap heap last summer and he had a nice month of September in pinstripes (146 wRC+ with three homers), which earned him a new contract. Overall, the 31-year-old young hit .222/.299/.385 (95 wRC+) with the Mets and Yankees in 2014.

Young’s days as an everyday player are pretty much over. He’s a right-handed platoon bat because of his power, not his ability to hit for average, that’s what the Yankees need with two left-handed starting outfielders and a third who is a switch-hitter whose weak side is the right side. Young’s defense remains above-average — he can play all three outfield spots in a pinch — and he can even steal a base off the bench. He figures to be used most often as Carlos Beltran‘s defensive replacement in right field, though I’m sure he’ll get plenty of starts against southpaws as well.

The Yankees don’t have an obvious alternative to Young. Pirela is probably the best option and Flores is the most MLB ready of their upper level outfield prospects. Pirela is right-handed and Flores is left-handed, and that’s not insignificant given the makeup of the roster. Others like Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin need more minor league time before realistically being considered MLB options. If Young gets hurt, Pirela’s probably the guy. Assuming he isn’t filling in for Ryan, of course.

G.I. Jones. (Presswire)
G.I. Jones. (Presswire)

Utility: Garrett Jones

Alternative: Pirela? Austin?

The Yankees have been after Jones for years — they first tried to acquire him from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett trade — and they finally landed him in the Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi trade this offseason. He gives them a backup plan at three positions where they have players who have battled injuries in recent years: first base (Mark Teixeira), right field (Beltran), and DH (Alex Rodriguez).

Jones, 33, hit .246/.309/.411 (99 wRC+) with 15 homers last year, though Miami used him as their everyday first baseman, and he’s not an everyday player. He’s a left-handed platoon hitter, one who’s hit .260/.314/.475 (116 wRC+) against right-handed pitchers over the last three years with this spray chart:


Source: FanGraphs
Yeah, Jones is going to enjoy hitting in Yankee Stadium. And that’s going to be his job. Come off the bench and try to yank something over the wall. Jones has made a nice little career of doing just that and that’s all the Yankees want him to do in 2015. Play some right field, play some first base, see a few starts at DH, mash some taters. Very straight forward.

As with Young, there is no obvious alternative to Jones, so I guess Pirela is the guy by default. Austin can also play first base, right field, and DH, but he has yet to play above Double-A, so he needs to spend some time in Triple-A before helping the big league Yankees. Jones will likely see the most playing time of the projected four bench players and that makes him the most difficult to replace.