Open Thread: 2/18 Camp Notes

Pretty slow day down in Tampa, which isn’t surprising since pitchers and catchers are scheduled to officially report tomorrow. Most of them are probably trying to enjoy the final day of the offseason. Here’s the latest from camp…

  • Hiroki Kuroda arrived yesterday and played catch with Larry Rothschild, and today he got up on the mound and threw a 25-pitch bullpen session. Here’s a photo. “I’m aware there’s a lot of great hitters in the American League East,” he said afterward. “But it’s something I have to be on the mound and feel myself. I’m sure I’ll have that experience.” (David Waldstein & Chad Jennings)
  • Yesterday we learned that Hideki Okajima failed his physical and won’t be in the camp with the Yankees, and apparently it was the MRI on his left shoulder that gave the team pause. I hear left shoulders are important for lefty relievers. (Waldstein)

Here’s your open thread for the night. The Nets already played, so the only local team in action tonight is the Islanders. It’s Saturday though, so I recommended getting out of the house if you can. Talk about anything you want here if you happen to be around.

(h/t to John for the video)

Update: Yankees sign Clay Rapada

6:54pmET: Via David Waldstein, it’s a done deal. The Yankees have signed Rapada to a minor league pact and invited him to Spring Training, replacing Okajima.


5:00pm ET:
Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees are close to signing Clay Rapada to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 30-year-old left-handed reliever was released by the Orioles earlier this week. The Yankees are likely looking for a Hideki Okajima replacement after he failed his physical.

Rapada — not to be confused with Clay Zavada, the guy with the mustache — has 78 appearances and 52.2 big league innings to his credit with the Cubs, Tigers, Rangers, and Orioles. He’s held lefty hitters to a .153/.252/.220 batting line with 9.35 K/9 (26.5 K%), 3.89 BB/9 (11.0 BB%), and 42.0% grounders during that time (just 136 PA) with his mid-80s fastball, mid-70s slider, and funky ass delivery. There’s no such thing as a bad minor league contract, so hooray for LOOGY depth.

Mailbag: Biggest 1-2 Punches In Baseball History

(Photo Credits: Sabathia via AP; Pineda via NY Post)

Daniel asks: Assuming Michael Pineda becomes the number two starter, CC Sabathia and Pineda (aside from being one of the more lethal 1-2 punches in the AL) must be the largest 1-2 in both height and weight we’ve ever seen in baseball no?

I’m a bit of a sucker for completely useless trivia like this, and thankfully we have the B-Ref Play Index to help us find the answer. Both Sabathia and Pineda are 6-foot-7, and CC is listed at 290 lbs. on the official site while Pineda admitted to being 280 lbs. yesterday. The former racked up 6.9 bWAR last season while the latter was at 2.8. So let’s do a search for teams with pitchers meeting those minimum requirements: 6-foot-7, 280 lbs., and 2.8 bWAR.

The results? Nine total teams have had exactly one pitcher satisfy the criteria, and it’s all the same guy: CC Sabathia, with the Indians (2002-2003, 2005-2007), the Brewers (2008), and Yankees (2009-2011). That’s it. Sabathia is such an extreme outlier in terms of size of performance in baseball history, it’s ridiculous. Now let’s relax the criteria a bit to see if we can actually get some results. Let’s use a minimum height of 6-foot-5, a minimum weight of 240 lbs. and a minimum bWAR of 2.5.

This time around we get 47 different teams with exactly one player meeting the criteria, though it’s only 14 different pitchers: Sabathia (ten times), Carlos Zambrano (eight times), John Lackey (five times), Gavin Floyd (four times), Josh Johnson (four times), Aaron Harang (three times), Chris Young (three times), Carl Pavano (three times), J.J. Putz (twice), Pineda (once), Justin Masterson (once), Mike Pelfrey (once), Guillermo Mota (once), and Jeff D’Amico (once). We still haven’t found a team with two productive pitchers that size though, so let’s drop the weight requirement all together and stick with the 6-foot-5 and 2.5 bWAR minimums.

Okay, now we’re talking. Fifty-four different teams have had at least two players meet the criteria while five had had three: 2003 Cubs (Zambrano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood), 1997 Cardinals (Matt Morris, Alan & Andy Benes), 1991 Mariners (Randy Johnson, Erik Hanson, Bill Krueger), and both the 1985 and 1987 Cubs (Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe). Dan Haren and Jered Weaver have one season meeting the criteria but figure to put a few more together. Same goes for Doug Fister and Justin Verlander. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have two such seasons together and should be able to add a third this year. Andy Pettitte and Sabathia are the list for their 2010 efforts.

Needless to say, Sabathia and Pineda have a chance to do something never before done in baseball history just by being themselves — physical huge and really effective on the mound. Add in Ivan Nova (6-foot-4), Freddy Garcia (6-foot-4), and Phil Hughes (6-foot-5), and the Yankees have a chance for one of the tallest rotations in baseball history. Poor Hiroki Kuroda (6-foot-1) is going to be stuck looking up at everyone.

The Morning After: A.J. Burnett

"Two words dude: Primanti Bros." (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After far too much back-and-forth, the Yankees and Pirates finally agreed to a trade that will send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh for two minors leaguers and $13M is savings for New York. Let’s round up some miscellaneous links surrounding the move…

  • Burnett will take his physical on Sunday, and the trade should become official on Monday afternoon. Once that happens, the Yankees will move toward signing both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez for roughly $1M each. (Sweeny Murti, Erik Boland, Jon Heyman & Joel Sherman)
  • Remember all that talk about the Mystery Team? Apparently it was the Phillies, who would have had to trade Joe Blanton for salary relief to make it work. That’s just … weird. Not sure I follow Philadelphia’s logic there. (Buster Olney)
  • If you’re still curious about Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones, I recommended reading the trade recaps at Pirates Prospects and Baseball America. There’s a tiny chance Moreno turns into a semi-useful reliever, but I wouldn’t count on it. This deal was all about freeing up money.

Every since we first found out that the Yankees were shopping Burnett, I’ve been saying I didn’t expect them to trade him. I certainly didn’t expect them to get $13M salary relief in a potential deal. I figured they’d be lucky to get $8M back. Then again, I’m constantly wrong about this stuff. Saving that much on a pitcher they had very little use for is a good deal in my book, even though paying $20M for A.J. to pitch elsewhere is less than ideal.

Open Thread: 2/17 Camp Notes

(J. Meric/Getty Images)

The big story of the day is obviously the imminent trading of A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for $13M in salary relief and two “prospects,” a deal that is only pending physicals and MLB approval. Meanwhile, here’s the latest from Tampa…

  • Joba Chamberlain threw off a half-mound again, and he’ll do so three more times next week. He’ll then get up on a full mound for the first time during rehab the following week. “I’ve been very blessed not to have had anything go wrong,” he said. (Anthony McCarron & Erik Boland)
  • Michael Pineda is currently at 280 lbs. but said he’s most comfortable at 270. He’ll drop the ten extra pounds during camp. Remember, he’s 6-foot-7, so his 280 isn’t like Bartolo Colon‘s 280. (Boland)
  • CC Sabathia lost a ton of weight this offseason (again), and he’s had conversations with the Yankees about maintaining his weight during the course of the season. It’s unclear if Sabathia or the team initiated said conversations. (Buster Olney)
  • “I just want to be in the rotation. I don’t mind if I’m number one, two, three, or five,” said Ivan Nova. “I don’t care. I just want to be in the rotation and win games.” My guess? He’ll be the three to open the season, which means nothing. (Boland)
  • There was no on-field batting practice for the big leaguers today, but a bunch of pitchers threw bullpens. Nameless, mystery pitchers. (McCarron)

Here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils and Knicks are playing tonight, and reportedly MSG and Time Warner have struck a deal so New Yorkers can actually see what all this Linsanity stuff is all about. Not sure if the network will be back on in time for tonight’s game, however. Talk about whatever you like here.

Okajima fails physical, will not be in camp with Yankees

Via David Waldstein, left-hander Hideki Okajima has failed his physical and will not be in camp with the Yankees. His minor league deal technically won’t be voided just because it never became official. It was pending the physical, so the agreement is off. If the Yankees want to carry a second lefty in the bullpen this year, the Spring Training competition is down to Mike O’Connor and Rule 5 Draft pick Cesar Cabral (the team’s #29 prospect).

Burnett headed to Pirates in salary dump trade

So long, A.J. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

After three years, A.J. Burnett‘s time in pinstripes is coming to an end. The Yankees have agreed to trade the right-hander to the Pirates for prospects Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno. Pittsburgh will pay $13M of the $31.9M left on his contract, broken down into $5M in 2012 and $8M in 2013. The deal is pending physicals and MLB’s approval because of the amount of money changing hands. Ken Rosenthal, Joel Sherman, Dejan Kovacevic, Buster Olney, and Jonathan Mayo all had a hand in breaking the news.

Burnett made 98 starts in three years for the Yankees, pitching to a 4.79 ERA and a 4.63 FIP. Kinda hard to believe that his greatest attribute was his durability when that was the biggest question at the time of his signing. Burnett helped the club to the 2009 World Championship but was a total dud in the two following years. At age 35, he is unlikely to improve in a meaningful way going forward. Moving out of Yankee Stadium and the AL East and into pitcher friendly PNC Park and the NL Central should certainly help his performance.

Moreno, 25, is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever. Pirates Prospects says he routinely runs his fastball up to 97 with a mid-80s slider. He struck out 45 (9.1 K/9 and 23.4 K%) and walked 18 (3.6 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%) in 44.2 relief innings split between High-A and Double-A last season. No team took a shot on him in December’s Rule 5 Draft. The Pirates suspended Moreno in 2010 after he got caught kissing a fan in the bullpen, believe it or not.

Cayones, 20, hit .228/.333/.325 in 135 plate appearances split between the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and Short Season NY-Penn League last season. Pirates Prospects says he has an advanced approach to hitting (career 9.5 BB%) but apparently not much power (.108 ISO), which is a problem because he’s a left fielder. His best tool is his name, which is a straight 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Neither Cayones or Moreno were among Pittsburgh’s top 30 prospects in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, and neither would have cracked my Top 30 Prospects List.

The Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda acquisitions crowded the pitching staff, leaving Burnett to fight for the fifth starter’s spot with Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. The Yankees obviously decided that getting some salary relief was the best way to go. Rumor has it they’ll soon sign Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez to fill out their bench and DH spots, respectively. Burnett was incredibly frustrating to watch, especially the last two years, but he came across as a stand-up guys in interviews and was generally regarded as a positive force in the clubhouse. I’ll miss A.J. the person, but not the pitcher.