No fancy intro today, I gave you the schpeel yesterday. The Yanks have a pretty obvious top 4 prospects, and an even more obvious #1. After that though, opinions vary because everybody has their own preferences, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m hear to tell you what mine are. One thing we can all agree on is that it’s a great time to be fan of the farm system, because the system hasn’t been this stacked since the law firm of Johnson, Soriano & Henson roamed the upper levels.
Yesterday I gave you the guys who just missed the cut, today you get the rest of the list. I find the last 8 guys on the list (plus the 5 just misses) to be very interchangeable, which is a good thing because they’re all #23 caliber prospects, not #30 types. Lemme know what you think in the comments. The good stuff is comes after the jump.
One of the members of the House Oversight Committee just asked Roger Clemens if he is or ever was a vegan. Clemens looked bewildered, glanced around the room, and basically said, “Uhhh, what is a vegan? I don’t know what that is.” Apparently, the House Oversight Committee really has nothing better to do. · (22) ·
Enough of this steroid talk. This hearing is a joke. In other Yankee news, Kat O’Brien reports in Newsday that Chien-Ming Wang wanted a long-term deal, but the Yankees said no. As Wang put, the Yanks told him that they would rather not sign a deal because it’s tough for pitchers to stay healthy. I wonder if the Yanks are concerned about Wang’s October performance. 5.2 innings do not a career make. · (15) ·
Duff Wilson in The Times reports that Congressional autograph seekers may have broken federal laws. Maybe the House Ethics Committee can get in on this circus as well.
And if anyone is interested, MLB.com is carrying the hearings live right now.
Also, Andy Pettitte supposedly said he used HGH once in 2004 also. So the Mitchell Report couldn’t even get a complete picture of the people named in it. Good work, Senator. · (5) ·
We all want this to be over after today. We all know that Bud Selig screwed this one up. We all know that this sideshow circus down in DC is no longer about rooting out performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
But for the next day, we’re stuck with it. We’re stuck with two grown men engaged in a public shouting match with legal ramifications and the reputations of distinguished baseball players and former Senators on the line. We’re stuck with grandstanding politicians and clueless baseball officials. And as the day gets started, we’re stuck with conflicting reports about Andy Pettitte‘s testimony.
What we do know is that Andy Pettitte — along with Chuck Knoblauch and Kurt Radomski — will not be at today’s hearing. What the media hasn’t yet pegged down is why and what Pettitte said in his deposition sessions. An ESPN report from late Tuesday noted that members of Congress excused the Yanks’ lefty because he may not be a good witness:
Sources told [ESPN.com's TJ] Quinn that Pettitte was not a good witness when he appeared before congressional lawyers during a sworn deposition on Monday. Pettitte often contradicted himself, the sources said, so the committee agreed to his request not to appear Wednesday.
But as the rest of that article relates and as pieces on CBS Sportsline and The New York Times detail, Pettitte’s testimony may be the nail in Roger Clemens’ coffin. While The Times report notes the existence of a signed affidavit given by Pettitte to the House Oversight Committee in lieu of testifying, CBS’ story has the details from the affidavit:
Roger Clemens told Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte nearly 10 years ago that he used human growth hormone, Pettitte said in a sworn affidavit to Congress, the Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Pettitte disclosed the conversation to the congressional committee holding Wednesday’s hearings on drug use in baseball, a person familiar with the affidavit said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the document had not been made public.
According to the person familiar with the affidavit, who said it was signed Friday night, Pettitte also said Clemens backtracked when the subject of HGH came up again in conversation in 2005, before the same House committee held the first hearing on steroids in baseball.
Pettitte said in the affidavit that he asked Clemens in 2005 what he would do if asked by the media about HGH, given his admission years earlier. According to the account told to the AP, the affidavit said Clemens responded by saying Pettitte misunderstood the previous exchange in 1999 or 2000 and that, in fact, Clemens had been talking about HGH use by his wife in the original conversation.
Furthermore, as ESPN reports, McNamee once told Pettitte that the “stuff [McNamee] gave Roger” was illegal.
Now, right now, all the information we know for sure is that this affidavit exists. The AP story on Sportsline relies on anonymous sources who could be wrong. In less than 12 hours, we’ll know sure, but things do not look good for Roger Clemens.
Someone tell me again though what this has to do about changing the culture of PED use in Major League Baseball? I’m dying to hear the answer to that question.
Kat O’Brien, on her first day in Tampa, checked in with Chien-Ming Wang, and the Yanks’ ace said he took his playoff failures pretty hard. It took Wang a month to get over the losses, and he says that his arm was dropping so that he couldn’t get on top of his sinker. With the youngster breathing down his neck, Chien-Ming Wang will, I predict, turn in a big season in 2008. · (33) ·
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Pitchers and catchers will soon officially be in Tampa strutting their stuff with the hopes and promises of a new season filling the air. Times like this make us wonder how we ever managed to dread the dog days of summer. Just like the big league squad, the minor league affiliates are full of optimism with the new season on the horizon.
Overall, the farm system is in pretty good shape. There’s high end talent mixed with high probability talent, and the pitching crop at the upper levels is starting to be complimented by the position player crop at the lower levels. There’s an alarming lack of lefthanded pitchers, ditto power hitting prospects. The Yanks have surplus from which to make trades, and a good amount of guys that could be cheap injury fill-ins at the Major League level this year. Gone are days of Aaron Small, Matt Childers, Donovan Osborne and Terrence Long. There’s also a bright new crop of kids set to come up from Latin America this year, led by SS Jose Pirela and OF Kelvin DeLeon.
Unfortunately the Yanks didn’t pull off any neat trades this winter like last year (unless you count that Tyler Clippard-Jon Albaladejo blockbuster), so this year’s prospect list doesn’t include any new and fancy names. As always, the delicate balance between ceiling and probability are the main criteria for the rankings, but other stuff like performance, track record, position and handedness (tie goes to the lefty) also play a role. I had some trouble trimming the fat at the end of the list, so I decided to write-up a few extra players that just missed the cut.
The real Top 30 comes out tomorrow, but for now here’s five guys on the outside looking in. Fun starts after the jump.
On the eve of Spring Training, Buster Olney reports that the Yankees are concerned about Andy Pettitte and expect the lefty to start Spring Training a bit behind in his physical preparations. As expected, the staff feels that the Mitchell Report distractions have hindered Pettitte’s off-season routines.
Andy Pettitte no longer has to go to Washington, and instead, he is scheduled to report to the Yankees’ training camp in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday. But staff members expect that Pettitte will be behind in his preparation for the 2008 season, because of the off-field issues that have dominated his offseason.
The Yankees won’t get a first-hand read of just how far Pettitte will be behind until they see him throw later this week, but the status of the team’s No. 2 starter is a major concern within the organization…
In past years, Pettitte has worked out during the offseason — sometimes with Clemens and McNamee — before starting his throwing regimen in early January. The Yankees’ staffers don’t know exactly where Pettitte is in his training, but they will operate under the assumption that he will be behind Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Hughes and their other starters.
While on the surface this seems as though it’s something of a big deal, it’s hard to tell what the real story is here. Olney doesn’t seem to get a source close to Pettitte to confirm or deny that the Yanks’ number two starter hasn’t been throwing. And even the anonymous Yankee “staff members” who are concerned don’t bring many concrete worries to the table.
Olney notes that an injury to his son pushed Pettitte’s training schedule back as well, but who knows? If anything, this is simply a story that we’ll keep our eyes on once pitchers and catchers report and throwing schedules come into focus.
Jorge Posada thinks the Yankees are underdogs this year. Since the Red Sox won the World Series, they’re the team to beat. “Yeah, well, they won. Now it’s up to us to take that away,” he said. · (8) ·
I’m going to do an impersonation for you. Let’s see if you can guess who it is.
Yesterday, I wrote that Joba Chamberlain could start the season in the bullpen. Today, Joel Sherman confirms, via a team official, that that will be the case. He’ll prepare in Spring Training as a starter, but will move into the setup corps once the season commences.
1. Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy would stay healthy to form the rotation. All five would be needed from the outset because the Yanks have just two scheduled off-days from March 31 through May 4.
2. Chamberlain stabilizes the area the Yankees profess offers their greatest uncertainty in 2008: Their setup crew in front of Mariano Rivera. The Yanks envision Chamberlain dominating in the eighth based on his 0.38 ERA and .145 batting average against in 19 regular-season games as a reliever last year.
3. The Yanks see the Chamberlain/Rivera tandem helping them be a dominant late-inning team over the first two months of the season. At some point in June, the Yanks would send Chamberlain to the minors for 3-4 weeks to stretch him out to 5-6 innings in preparation to be a full-time starter in the second half.
4. The Yanks hope is that over the first two months other relievers show enough fortitude/reliability to be moved into the eighth inning. Only Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins are guaranteed jobs. The Yanks think Girardi, who was a Cub teammate of Farnsworth for three years, might help the talented righty find greater consistency and grab the eighth inning.
Sherman also notes that Humberto Sanchez and Mark Melancon could be ready to go by the time Chamberlain is transitioning to a starting position.
This does seem like the ideal plan. Let’s hope it shakes out that way.