As you all know by now, signability is a major factor in MLB’s first-year player draft, so much so that it’s informally referred to as “the sixth tool.” While big names like Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello receive the bulk of the attention as players who fell because of their price tags, more often than not it’s the lesser-known players, the second or third round guys who feel they’re worth first or second round money, who end up being the real signability steals of the draft.

The Yanks have worked this angle to perfection in recent years, digging deep in their Swiss bank accounts to bring players such as Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances and Carmen Angelini into the system. All three were solid sandwich or early-second round talents in their respective drafts, but their lofty bonus demands and college commitments scared teams away. The Yanks took each player later than their talent warranted (Jackson and Betances in the 8th round, Angelini in the 10th), and paid out bonuses typically given to players selected in the late first round. All three are now among the most promising prospects in the system.

While this year’s draft class is lacking in overall quality compared to that of the last three or four years, there is still plenty of talent to go around. Here are two guys who fit the Jackson-Betances-Angelini mold — top talents with top bonus demands. It’s not a matter of if the Yanks will pay the money needed to sign these kids, it’s just a matter of how fast the ink can dry on the signing bonus check. Fun starts after the jump.

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Categories : Draft
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The next stop on the Joba train comes on Wednesday. The soon to be starter will aim to throw 50 to 55 pitches in relief against the Orioles, hopefully with a bit more economy than Saturday, where he threw 40 pitches (22 strikes) over two innings of work. After that, though, the Yanks might run into an issue: You can’t count throwing more pitches than that out of the bullpen, even if Mussina is the starter.

This would create an interesting scenario for the starting rotation. Namely, who do you axe in favor of Chamberlain? If he’s going to start a game, it’s best not to screw around. After throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday, he should be on tap to pitch Monday (five days’ rest), and certainly no later than Tuesday. With the off day on Thursday, the Yanks will have some juggling to do.

Kennedy is going tonight, and Pettitte is going tomorrow. That much is set. Clearly, a lot rides on Kennedy’s outing. He’d be the clear choice for removal from the rotation. If that were the case, you’d probably see Mussina go Friday, Wang go Saturday, Rasner Sunday, and Joba Monday, possibly with Kennedy shadowing him. The alternative there is to swap Kennedy for Karstens and have the latter shadow Joba.

If Kennedy pitches well tonight, though, it makes little sense to remove him from the rotation. Girardi has not ruled out a six-man pitching rotation, so pushing everyone back a day is an option. That would allow Joba some more time in between starts, and also help keep his innings in check for the rest of the season. The only drawback, of course, is that you’ll get fewer appearances from Wang. That’s an issue that certainly needs to be addressed.

The only issue I have with a six-man rotation is the bullpen. Are the Yankees prepared to only have six guys coming out of the pen? Recent history says they are not. As with many other potential moves, this could spell the end of Morgan Ensberg — and of Jason Lane, if the team decides to use Ensberg’s roster spot for a reliever rather than another position player.

Clearly, though, this is a good problem to have. As they say, you can never get enough good starting pitching.

Categories : Pitching
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  • To coin a phrase

    Yankee fans are very possessive of Derek Jeter. He is, after all, the team captain, and he is the proud owner of four World Series rings. On the other hand, though, are fans of other teams who can’t stand Jeter and all the accolades Yankee lovers toss his way. Over the weekend, Joe Posnanski coined a new word that sums up why non-Yankee fans don’t like Jeter. The word is Jeterate. Check out Posnanski’s piece; and don’t take it too seriously. The Bobby Abreu acronym is a good one too. · (5) ·

April 6

One park that will now be a parking lot. (Photo by Ben K.)

When the Yankees and the City of New York agreed to the deal that allowed the Yankees to build a new stadium atop a popular park for a green-starved South Bronx neighborhood, the city — and not the Yankees — was supposed to replace the parkland before the new stadium opens in ten months. Now, according to a weekend report in The Times, the cost of replacing the parks has skyrocketed, and the city is well behind schedule.

Timothy Williams reports:

The cost of replacing two popular parks where the new Yankee Stadium is being built has nearly doubled. At the same time, several of the eight new parks, which were supposed to be completed before the new stadium opens next spring, have been delayed by as much as two years, according to city documents.

The price of the new small parks — which are to replace tennis and basketball courts, a running track and baseball and soccer fields eliminated to make way for the new stadium — is now projected to be $174 million, almost one-seventh the cost of the $1.3 billion stadium itself. The original estimate had been $95.5 million. The increase comes amid skyrocketing costs for construction projects, both public and private, around the city.

As anyone who’s read my subway work at Second Ave. Sagas knows, skyrocketing construction costs have impacted all facets of New York construction from the subways on up. It’s not a surprise, then, that the cost estimates for these parks has doubled, and the final figures will probably exceed the $174 million mark when Heritage Field — on the site of the current Yankee Stadium — is completed in three years, five years after the South Bronx lost its parks to the new stadium.

Interestingly, as the article notes, the construction costs for Yankee Stadium have gone up by as much as 60 percent, but the Yankees are loathe to talk about that aspect of the project.

So then, why should we care about parkland in the Bronx? It’s easy to overlook the community aspects of this new Yankee Stadium. Admittedly, the building going up on the northwest corner of 161st St. and River Ave. looks great, but the community shouldn’t be ignored. While the vast majority of Yankee fans coming to the Bronx visit Yankee Stadium as though the building and the surrounding stores and bars are an isolated baseball bubble, they exist as part of a larger neighborhood, and that neighborhood — and the city at large — is getting screwed over.

As a good government advocate, I find it more than a bit dismaying that the Yankees aren’t paying to cover the costs of the parkland. While they’ve donated some money to cover the cost of taking over one of the borough’s most popular greenways, the city is footing the bill. This is just one of the ways in which the city is giving the money-laden Yanks a taxpayer-funded break to build a new stadium on valuable park space.

To make matter worse, the current replacement park at Jerome Ave. and 161st St., which has become very popular, will be turned into a parking lot. The Yankees win while the people who live in the neighborhood lose. At a time when the city is strapped for cash and is looking to cut funds for some vital services, that they have to fund park costs because they did a hundred-million-dollar favor for the Yanks is a black mark on the team. The Yankees weren’t going to leave New York, and the City knew it. Yet, city officials caved anyway. It’s too late to make amends, and the Yanks and the City are simply honoring terms of a deal they struck. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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While the final score – 6-1 – of the Yanks’ first loss since Tuesday makes the game sound like a lopsided Baltimore victory, for six innings, this afternoon’s game had all the makings of a pitcher’s duel. Darrell Rasner, throwing a few too many pitches early on, had another outstanding start, and Garrett Olson overcame last week’s outing to flash the stuff that has everyone raving this year.

This game got out of hand when the bullpen took over. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Orioles beat up on LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Veras. While Mike advocated for getting rid of Billy Traber, I have to believe that LaTroy wouldn’t be too far behind. He’s been spectacularly ineffective this year, and the Yanks will soon have two high-ceiling relievers in Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox knocking on the Yanks’ bullpen door.

In the end, though, I can’t really complain tonight. While this loss drops the Yanks under .500 and back into last place, if they’ve won five out of six games, and I’d always take that.

Categories : Game Stories
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Nice little article by Baseball America regarding the River Dogs’ catching tandem. Sorry, subscription required.

Triple-A Scranton (11-5 loss to Pawtucket) how many homers did the pitching staff allow today? let’s count…
Brett Gardner & Greg Porter: both 0 for 4 – Gardner walked, scored a run & K’ed … Porter K’ed twice
Justin Christian, Jason Lane Cody Ranson & Chris Stewart: all 1 for 4 1 R – Christian, Lane & Stewart all doubled … Christian was hit by a pitch … Lane also drove in a run & walked
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K
Bernie Castro: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1BB
Jeff Karstens: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1-4 GB/FB – allowed 2 homers
Billy Traber: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB – he’s been terrible this year, regardless of level, he should be the first to go when they need a 40-man spot … allowed 2 homers
Steven White: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K – 25 of 51 pitches were strikes (49%) … allowed 2 homers as well
JB Cox: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2-2 GB/FB – stopped the bleeding

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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With 19 of their next 28 games coming against teams with losing records, don’t you get the sense that this team is about to go on a major roll? Something good is cooking in Yankee land, and I’m not talking out the BBQ’s in everyone’s back yard today.

The Yanks face a lefty starter for the upteenth time this season, with Garrett Olsen taking the hill for the O’s in Camden. This is the same Garrett Olsen that the Yanks bludgeoned last week, and Girardi was kind enough to fill out the same lineup responsible for that massacre.

My stupid lineup trick worked yesterday, so let’s keep it going.

1. J-Dam, LF
2. D-Jet, SS
3. B-Ab, RF
4. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, 3B
5. H-Mat, DH
6. S-Dunc, 1B
7. R-Can, 2B
8. C-Moel, C
9. M-Cab, CF

And on the bump, the molten hot D-Ras.

Notes: Wilson Betemit is back with the team, the Former Attorney General was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the roster. There’s nothing wrong with the move, Alberto was rotting away on the bench for the most part, and he should be getting regular at-bats, something he’ll be able to do in SWB.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Hip, hip rehab!

    As the Yankees are finally starting to look like the competitive team we knew they could be, one more missing piece of the puzzle could rejoin the Bombers on the next home stand. Jorge Posada will head down to extended spring training to play in a few games this week. He’ll test his in-game throwing for a few days, and if all goes well, he could be back in the lineup during the first week of June. Teams will run on him until he throws out a few guys, and I hope the Yanks don’t aggravate Posada’s arm further. It will no doubt be a relief to have his bat in the lineup. · (8) ·


Coming back to .500

By in Game Stories. · Comments (26) ·

At some point, the Yankees were going to turn things around this season. At some point, the Yanks would go from being the butt of the American League jokes to being a force in baseball. And all it took was a two-game disaster against the Mets and the return of the team’s $275-million man.

A week ago, the Yanks were treading water. They were 20-24 and looked listless against the Mets on national TV. What a difference seven days make. In that span, the Yanks have gone 5-1 to even their record at 25-25 and to move out of cellar of the AL East. A mere 4.5 games separate them from the Red Sox, and the Yanks, hitting on all cylinders, are about to enter the easiest stretch of their schedule.

Today’s game could easily be a turning point in the Bombers’ season. For the first time this year, the Yanks mounted a late-inning comeback to win, and a win like this just shows how the ball is now falling for the Yanks.

Once again Chien-Ming Wang, winless in four starts, didn’t have his best stuff. He walked too many hitters and couldn’t keep the Mariners off base. Jarrod Washburn, long a Yankee nemesis, kept the Yanks off the bases.

But the offense picked it up against the bullpen, and Jose Molina delivered a huge two-out double in the eighth. The Amazing Mariano Rivera nailed the final three outs – two by the big ol’ K – for another save. Rivera for Cy Young!

The Yanks, ridin’ high off a five-game streak, take their act down I-95 to Baltimore tomorrow. Darrell Rasner goes for his fourth wins in as many tries. This is Yankee baseball, and I like it.

Categories : Game Stories
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Montero MIA

By in Down on the Farm. · Comments (35) ·

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 loss to Indianapolis)
Wilson Betemit & Justin Christian: both 1 for 4, 1 BB – Betemit drove in a run, K’ed twice & committed an error when he missed a catch while playing short … Christian scored a run & K’ed
Brett Gardner: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Jason Lane: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 5, 1 K
Cody Ransom: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K
JD Closser: 2 for 4
Jeff Marquez: 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 14-2 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) – not the greatest outing, but it’s progress
Heath Phillips: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Chris Britton: 1 IP, zeroes – 10 pitches, 8 strikes … behold the power of Britton

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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