Yankees sign Ronnie Belliard to minor league deal

Via Enrique Rojas, the Yankees have signed infielder Enrique Rojas Ronnie Belliard to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He’ll earn $825,000 if he makes the team.

Mini-Manny suited up for the Dodgers last year, posting a .276 wOBA in 185 plate appearances. He’s a season removed from a .339 wOBA and two seasons removed from a .369 wOBA, so he can hit a little. He spent plenty of time at first, second, and third over the last few years with basically average UZR scores (±1), so he provides a little bit of versatility as well. Hey, minor league contract? Zero complaints here. Let Eduamiro Penunez earn its job.

Ex-Gov. Paterson forks over $62K World Series fine

So much for putting up a fight. After vowing to challenge the charge that he owed $62,125 in fines due to an ethics violating stemming from 2009 World Series tickets, former New York Gov. David Paterson has paid the fine, the Daily News reported today. Paterson, who could still face a criminal investigation for perjury, violated ethics regs by accepting five free tickets to Game 1 of the 2009 World Series, and the fine is the largest ever levied by New York’s Public Integrity Commission. “This closes the case,” Walter Ayres, the commission’s spokesperson, said. “We imposed a penalty, he paid it. There is nothing else to say.”

Yankees discussing left-handed starters, mostly mediocre ones

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of pursuing a left-handed starter in the wake of Andy Pettitte‘s retirement. On the supposed list of targets: Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Wake LeBlanc, Clayton Richard, and Gio Gonzalez. My quick analysis is no, no, no, okay, and meh. Joe already looked at Kazmir, but a few of the other guys will be covered over the weekend.

You know who’s a half-decent left-handed starter? Jeff Francis. Too bad he signed with the Royals for half of what the Yankees are playing Pedro Feliciano in 2011. In fairness, Francis did say he chose Kansas City because of the opportunity they provide, but the back of New York’s rotation isn’t exactly tough to crack these days.

Report: Cano hires Scott Boras

Via Enrique Rojas, Robbie Cano has fired agent Bobby Barad and hired Scott Boras. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, he’s not coming up on free agency anytime soon. Cano will make $10M in 2011, then the team holds a $14M club option for 2012 ($2M buyout) and a $15M option for 2013 ($2M buyout). If he continues to play at the level he did last year, those options are no brainers.

Robbie makes three Boras clients on the infield, joining Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Rafael Soriano and Andrew Brackman are also Boras clients, and the team has a great working relationship with the super-agent. It’s hard to blame Cano, I’d hire Boras if I was a player.

RAB Live Chat

2011 Draft: Baseball America’s Early Top 50 Prospects

Now that Felipe Lopez has signed a minor league contract with the Rays, the 2011 Draft Order is finally set. As you know, the Yankees surrendered their first round pick to sign an all-important eighth inning reliever, so their first selection is number 51 overall. You can thank Javy Vazquez for that one. After that they pick 88th, 118th, 149th, then every 30 picks thereafter.

The upcoming draft class is the best in a long, long time, loaded with high-end college talent. Baseball America’s early look at the top 50 draft prospects (subs. req’d) has Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon as the top talent, followed by former Yankees’ first rounder Gerrit Cole. “[Cole had the] best pure stuff in 2008 draft and has best pure stuff this time around,” said Jim Callis. In most years, Rendon, Cole, TCU LHP Matt Purke (ranked third), UConn OF George Springer (fourth), and Vanderbilt RHP Sonny Gray (fifth) would be favored to go first overall, plus UConn RHP Matt Barnes (eighth) showed first overall stuff last summer with Team USA. None of these guys will fall to the Yankees at 51, so they’re going to have to hope one of the late-first round guys, a 25-35 kind of talent, is still around when they pick.

Andy Pettitte Retirement Press Conference Liveblog

It’s a sad day in Yankeeland, as we all get ready to say our final goodbyes to Andy Pettitte at this morning’s press conference. I can almost guarantee that he’ll run through the usual list of thank yous – his family, George Steinbrenner, the entire organization, etc. – and then say he made the decision only after a long internal debate. He’ll miss the competition and the comradery, but not the physical grind and being away from his family. It’s a retirement press conference, not anything we haven’t seen before. That doesn’t make it any less sad though.

If you’re sitting at home, you’ll be able to watch the press conference on YES or MLB Network when it starts at 10:30am ET. If you’re stuck in the office, it’ll be available on the official site and MLB.com. Here’s the liveblog for all to enjoy.