It was going to be next to impossible for the 2011 minor league season to feel like anything but a disappointment after all the success of 2010. Last year was more normal than anything else though, with a typical number of breakouts, steps back, and injuries. The Yankees still boast several high-end prospects and an absurd amount of depth, particularly on the mound. Not everyone is bound for stardom, but the Yankees have a plethora of useful players on the way to fill their roster and/or use in trades.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that ranking prospects is not a black-and-white exercise, there’s no right or wrong. It’s an inexact science, and everyone has their own personal philosophy. Some prefer pure upside while some place more value on probability, and everyone’s balancing act is different. I lean slightly towards probability, but I think you’re going to see clubs place a much greater emphasis on ceiling given the draft and international spending restrictions put in place by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Premium talent will be harder to come buy, especially for a perennial contender like the Yankees.
I won’t argue (much) if you think two prospects ranked consecutively should be flip-flopped, in most cases we’d just be splitting hairs. The gap between the number one and number four prospect this year is pretty small, as is the gap between number five and number 15 prospect or so. All the guys after that are pretty interchangeable. Once again, it all comes down to preference. Like everyone else, I use rookie status to determine prospect eligibility. That means anyone with more than 130 at-bats or 50 IP in the big leagues is not eligible for the list, though I ignore the service time cutoff because that stuff is too difficult to track. Two top 30 guys from last year — Ivan Nova and Eduardo Nunez — graduated to the big leagues in 2011 while three others — Jesus Montero, Andrew Brackman, and Hector Noesi — have since moved on to other clubs.
It seemed that interest died down for a couple of days, but last night and this morning I received a few emails with details for new leagues. So let’s get back down to this.
RAB Robertson with the Save; ID: 59737; pw: heirapparent
RAB [Name unknown]; ID: 58314; pw: hiphipjorge
If you have a league and emailed it to me, and I haven’t posted it, re-send. I’m a disorganized fellow and I’m sure I’ve lost a few of the emails.
Remember, if the leagues full up and you want to create a new one, just follow these steps:
1) Go here to create your league. We’re doing head-to-head leagues with 12 teams. The stats we prefer to use are in the original post.
2) Email me — josephp (at) riveraveblues (dot) com — and give me the league info, including the ID and password, so I can add it to this post.
3) Email me again when the league fills up.
That about covers it. Questions can go through email, through the tip box, or, if you don’t need an immediate response, in the comments.
So here it is, the final mailbag of the offseason. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any links, questions, comments, etc.
Andrew and many others ask: If the Yankees do trade A.J. Burnett and eat $23m of the contract, does that $23m still get attached to the Yankees’ luxury tax figures over the next two years?
We’ve been getting this question a few times a day, but I have absolutely no idea how this stuff works. I have to think we’ll get a definitive answer if and when a trade does go down.
Let’s just say they do eat that $23M split evenly over the next two years, does his luxury tax hit become $11.5M ($23M divided by two)? Or does it become $14.5M ($23M + $16.5M annually for the first three years of his contract divided by five)? It would have to be the first way, right? Otherwise they’re paying luxury tax on money they’re not paying Burnett.
Ryan asks: Does the possible A.J. Burnett trade make the possibility of signing a big time free agent like Cole Hamels more likely now, with the subtraction of his salary on the payroll?
I suppose it does, but they’re not going to save a ton of money by trading Burnett. If they’re going to drop huge money on one player next year, it’ll be because they’ve replaced Nick Swisher on the cheap. His salary ($10.25M) plus Hiroki Kuroda‘s salary ($10M) is where your $20M a year player is coming from. Either that, or they Yankees will have to raise payroll further. Freeing up some money by trading Burnett will help, but it won’t be the only reason they go after Hamels or someone like that.
Jon asks: Any chance the Yankees take a Jon Lieber-esqe flier on either Scott Kazmir or Brandon Webb?
Well, the Lieber contract was two guaranteed years knowing that he’d miss the first year after Tommy John surgery. There’s no way in hell you can guarantee Kazmir or Webb anything, it’s been far too long since they were effective big league pitchers. Plus those guys both had serious shoulder problems, not just an elbow. Minor league contracts? Fine. Nothing more though, otherwise you’re just wasting time, roster spots, and money.
Joseph asks: IMO, while I can’t doubt his NL West success, I don’t believe [Ian Kennedy] would be anywhere near the pitcher he was last season if he was on the Yankees in the AL East. He doesn’t have blow-me-away stuff and in my opinion, a lot came together last year for him. So, what’s your take? I don’t dive too heavily into advance stats, so my analysis is lacking.
We don’t even have to bring up his stuff or his command or anything like that. This applies to every pitcher ever: moving from the NL West to the AL East will cause your performance to suffer. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ian Kennedy, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, or Pedro Martinez in his prime. It’s unavoidable. The lineups in the AL East are far better, there’s a DH instead of a pitcher batting, and the ballparks are much less forgiving. In terms of pitching environments, the AL East and NL West couldn’t be any more different.
Kennedy is no exception like I said, and in fact his numbers would probably take a bigger hit than most because he’s on the best team in the division and doesn’t have to face his own lineup. Since moving to Arizona, 145.2 of his 416 innings (35.0%) have come against the punchless Giants, Dodgers, and Padres. Replace those teams with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays, and he’d do worst. It’s just the way it is. IPK is a really, really good pitcher, but his performance would absolutely suffer if he was still in pinstripes.
Will asks: I feel as though big market/high payroll teams are being put in an disadvantaged spot by the draft process/new CBA. Now that there is a cap on the draft/international market I feel like it is unfair to winning teams. How else are those teams going to acquire talent besides free agency? Picking so late in the draft is already a disadvantage, now the new CBA and possible worldwide draft would really hurt teams like the Yanks. What do you think?
The spending restrictions put in place by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement hurt everyone, but they hurt good teams the most. The more you win, the less you have to spend on top amateur talent without hurting themselves in the future (by forfeiting picks or future spending money per the new rules). Instead of being rewarded for winning, you’re punished. Good teams like the Yankees will be stuck signing free agents to improve their roster long-term, unless they just completely out-scout and out-player develop everyone else. It sucks, but at least the Yankees have more money to use on free agents than any other team.
Via George King, the Yankees are nearing a deal that would send A.J. Burnett to the Pirates in exchange for two marginal prospects. Pittsburgh would absorb $13-15M of the $33M left on the right-hander’s contract. “It will happen this weekend,” said King’s source. “Probably Saturday.”
Pitchers and catchers report on Sunday, and the Yankees probably don’t want this to drag on into camp. The commissioner’s office will need to approve the deal because more than $1M is changing hands, but that’s considered nothing more than a formality.
Happy Thursday, here’s the latest from Tampa…
- “His delivery’s really good right now. He’s way ahead of schedule,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild about Ivan Nova. “There’s a quiet confidence to him.” Rothschild also said the rotation order behind CC Sabathia has not been determined, but that’s not surprising. (Erik Boland, Anthony McCarron & Dan Barbarisi)
- Derek Jeter, Ramiro Pena, Frankie Cervelli, and Curtis Granderson were among those who took batting practice with hitting coach Kevin Long and Charlie Hayes in attendance. (Boland, Barbarisi & McCarron)
- Hayes is in camp because his son threw for the Yankees brass today. Tyree Hayes, 23, spent the last six years in the Rays and Reds organizations, pitching to a 4.11 ERA with 6.6 K/9 (16.9 K%) and 3.4 BB/9 (8.7 BB%) in 341.2 IP. He never made it out of A-ball though. (McCarron)
- Cervelli took some ground balls at third base, which is as much about shaking off rust as it is working towards becoming a legitimate option at the position. He’s already the emergency infielder, we know that. (McCarron)
- Boone Logan showed up and did some work with strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea. (McCarron & Boland)
Also, condolences to Gary Carter’s family. The Hall of Fame backstop passed away at age 57 today following a bout with cancer. You couldn’t be a baseball loving kid in New York in the late-80’s without knowing who The Kid was. For shame.
Here is tonight’s open thread. The Rangers, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, but talk about whatever’s on your mind. enjoy.
Via Ben Badler, soon-to-be 21-year-old right-hander Rafael DePaula is still in the Dominican Republic waiting for a visa, which would make his $500k contract with the Yankees become official. The two sides agreed to terms in November of 2010, but DePaula has been stuck in visa limbo because he’d previously lied about his age and identity. He spent last year working out at the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic, and I suspect he’ll do the same this summer if he doesn’t get a visa anytime soon. DePaula has a great arm and could still become one of the team’s better pitching prospects, but he’s lost a lot of development time with all these delays.