Report: Committee forming to work on draft changes

Via Bob Elliott, a committee is being formed to work on changes to the amateur draft, most notably making it world-wide and instituting a slotting system. “This time it has a chance,” said Elliott’s source, a scouting director.

The current CBA expires after 2011, and I have a hard time believing they’ll open it up to implement these changes before then. The 2010 draft is now less than six months away, and it just doesn’t seem reasonable that the two sides could get away with making any changes before then without giving the club’s plenty of notice. Then again, what do I know.

Unconfirmed Rumor: Yanks reach agreement with Baldelli (UPDATE: No they don’t)

Update (11:23am): Cashman on the news: “That would be false.”

11:06am: Via Rocco Baldelli’s Facebook page, the Yankees have reached an agreement with the free agent outfielder. Joe wrote up the case for Baldelli earlier in the week, and of course it’ll all come down to his health. If he can stay on the field and produce in a platoon role, then there’s nothing not to like about this move.

We’re still looking for more confirmation on this, so don’t take it as gospel just yet. For all we know, that could be a fake page.

A-Rod sought out Gaborik for reassurance about hip surgery

Via Mark Herrmann, Yanks’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez sought out current Rangers’ star Marian Gaborik last March for reassurance about having the torn labrum in his hip surgically repaired. Gaborik, who had his hip repaired by Dr. Marc Philippon (A-Rod‘s doc) last January while playing for the Minnesota Wild, spoke with Alex face-to-face in Vail about what to expect.

“It was the doctor who did everything,” said Gaborik. “But I know that for myself, it was always good to hear from somebody who had it done and got through things. And [A-Rod] had a great year.” Gaborik said the two haven’t spoke since.

After missing about three months total due to the injury, Gaborik signed a five year, $37.5M deal with the Rangers during the summer (that’s a huge deal in the NHL). He’s currently among the league’s top five in both goals and total points, so it’s not like A-Rod’s the only world class athlete to come back from this procedure and excel.

Yes, Eric Byrnes is a left field option

Just last night I used this space to make a case for the Yankees potentially acquiring Conor Jackson, and now I’m going to write about another Diamondbacks’ outfielder, Eric Byrnes. Arizona designated the fan favorite for assignment yesterday, signaling the end of one of the most ill-advised contract extensions in recent memory. The deal was so absurd at the time it was signed that it almost had to be ordered from ownership, who was probably trying to use Byrnes’ popularity to keep fans around following the team’s recent run of futility.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear right now. I am in no way advocating a trade for Byrnes, nor am I saying the Yankees should claim him on waivers as part of the DFA process. There is one, just one scenario in which the Yankees should look at Byrnes, and that’s if the D-Backs’ are unable to trade him within the ten day window, he clears waivers, and they release him. That’s the only way, period. In that case, Arizona would be on the hook for Byrnes’ entire $11M salary in 2010, less the pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum, which is what whatever team signs him would have to pay. That’s it, that’s the only way the Yankees should even think about bringing Byrnes aboard.

So why should the Yanks even have interest in Byrnes in the first place? Well because they’re looking for a righty hitting outfielder for under $2M, and Byrnes fits both criteria. He’s been limited to just 482 plate appearances over the last two seasons because of hamstring issues and a broken hand suffered on a hit by pitch, during which time he hit just .218-.271-.382. Certainly it’s nothing to get excited about, and any team that picks him up would be banking on Byrnes returning to his pre-2008 levels, when he was moderately productive.

Prior to the injuries and extension, Byrnes was a .268-.330-.452 hitter in his five full seasons, good for a perfectly average OPS+ of 100. However, he excels at hitting lefties, posting a .284-.354-.511 batting line against them during his career, and the small sample size data from 2008 and 2009 actually drags those numbers down a bit. Byrnes isn’t going to walk a ton (236 unintentional walks in 3,170 career plate appearances) but he won’t strikeout a ton either (16.7% of his plate appearances have ended with strike three), and in general we know what he is. He’s at best a league average offensive performer, perhaps less now as the hand injury and hammy trouble has presumably slowed him down.

Defensively, Byrnes has been superb in left and center fields throughout his career, posting +5.6 and +11.1 UZR/150’s, respectively. Jeff Zimmerman’s age-adjusted UZR projections have him at +5 and +4 UZR in those spots next year, though the Fan’s Scouting Report isn’t as kind. You probably already know that Byrnes is a complete nut job, and will run into pretty much anything on the field to make a play. For the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s now slightly below average defensively in left following the leg issues.

On the bases, Byrnes been an extremely successful basestealer, swiping 128 bags in 151 attempts (84.8% success rate, which is amazing). Baseball Prospectus’ stats say he’s been worth just about 4.5 runs on the bases over the last four years in non-SB baserunning situations, which is very good. Again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume Byrnes is just a league average baserunner now because of the injuries, however remember that running from bag-to-bag has more to with instincts that just raw speed.

So, after all that, we’re saying that Byrnes is a bit below average both offensively and defensively, and just about average on the bases. That’s basically a one win player, which has a lot of value at the league minimum. If Byrnes were to rebound somewhat, he might even be a bit of steal since the D-Backs are footing the bill. He’d be a fan favorite, and give the Yanks a bit of insurance in case Brett Gardner and/or Jamie Hoffmann poop the bed in Spring Training. And the best part of all is that there’s zero strings attached. The Yanks could sign Byrnes, give him a nice long look in camp, and if they don’t like what they see, they can cut him loose with zero consequences. There’s no risk at all, and frankly I don’t see why anyone would be against bringing Byrnes about under those circumstances.

Photo Credit: Chris Park, AP

Gaudin, Logan file for arbitration

Via Bryan Hoch, both Chad Gaudin and Boone Logan filed for salary arbitration today, which is the deadline to do so. Filing for arb is just a formality, and the two sides will exchange salary figures on Tuesday. Hearings start in February, though they can agree to a deal anytime before that.

The Yanks came into the offseason with five players eligible for salary arbitration, however Chien-Ming Wang was non-tendered, Brian Bruney and Melky Cabrera were traded away, and Sergio Mitre re-upped for $850,000.

Open Thread: Another Friday night

It’s been a long week, for me at least. Time to kick back and enjoy the evening. I’ll be catching up on some reading — reading Stephen King’s The Shining for a book club. I haven’t read anything of his other than The Dark Tower Series (through Book 4) and Misery. I’m interested to see how this one differs from the movie.

Anyway, have at it in tonight’s open thread.

Roundup: YES ratings, Kevin Maas, minor arms

Who doesn’t love Friday afternoon? We can taste the weekend, and the last few hours at work should just fly by. To keep you occupied for just a little while longer in the ol’ cubicle, some links.

YES remains really popular

For the seventh straight year, YES Network, one of RAB’s online partners, was the most watched regional sports network in the country. According to Multichannel News, the network “notched a 13.9% primetime rise to 82,000 TV households” in the New York area, up from 72,000 in 2008. YES outpaced NESN, its closest national competitor, by approximately 8000 viewers per day and more than doubled SportsNet NY’s viewership. In the New York area, YES’ primetime schedule — mostly Yankee and Nets games — topped even ESPN in the ratings game. That’s money, literally, for the Yanks.

Remembering Kevin Maas

Earlier this week, I looked back at 1990. It was a very bad year for the Yankees as the team finished in last place with no pitching and no hitting. Today, Bruce Markusen, the author of the Card Corner column at Bronx Banter, chimes in with his take on that lost season’s one bright spot, Kevin Maas. The phenom, a picture of balance and focus on his 1991 Leaf baseball card, set the world on fire with his 150 OPS+ and 21 HR in his first 300 plate appearances. As with many after and many before, he would never attain that level of success again and was last scene working at Charles Schwab in 2008.

Rating the Minor League arms

Over at The Hardball Times, Max Marchi rated some young outfield arms, and a few Yankee farmhands made the list. Edwar Gonzalez, a 27-year-old, all-arm no-hit kid who hasn’t played past AA, came in third, and Melky Mesa another all-arm no-hit guy, ranked second.