Learning from Dellin Betances

Four years ago, I urged the Yankees to take a tall, hard-throwing local kid from Brooklyn named Dellin Betances with their first pick of the 2006 draft. Proving again that they’re smarter than me, the Yanks did in fact take Betances, but not until the 8th round. Despite all his promise, Betances hasn’t been able to stay healthy and has yet to make it out of A-ball in three-plus professional seasons.

Moshe at the brand spankin’ new TYU says that we need to learn a lesson from Betances, that these kid pitchers in the minors are just prospects and far from sure things. Arodys Vizcaino has all the potential in the world, but he’s so young and far away that he would have just graduated high school last spring. Moving him as the centerpiece of a package for a pitcher of Javy Vazquez‘s quality shouldn’t be an issue.

Open Thread: Welcome to 2010

Well, the decade is just about a day old, and yet it still feels like 2009. Weird. I expected more.

Anyway, it’s a slow night, so talk about whatever you want here. The Knicks are playing, plus that 15-inning game against the Red Sox is playing on YES. So … have at it.

Summarizing the Damon situation

We’re very familiar with the breakdown in negotiations between Johnny Damon and the Yankees. We know what the Yanks were willing to pay and how Damon and Scott Boras have seemingly overvalued the left fielder. Today, at The Hardball Times, Chuck Brownson summarizes the Damon situation and walks away with a conclusion that Damon’s fielding averages out to average over the last three years and he can still hit. “Damon’s value, therefore,” writes Brownson, “should have him worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 to $12 million per year for two years. Even at the discounted market rate this offseason, he’s easily worth $16 million over two years and yet, there’s seemingly very little interest in his services.

The problem though is one of decline. Damon’s defense has seen a decline over the last three years, and he is at an age when one year can be the difference between a 4.5-5 win player and a disaster in left field. He’s 36 now and playing in an era when teams are loath to dole out big money to older outfielders. Eventually, he’ll sign somewhere — perhaps with the Yanks — for few dollars, but it’s not a surprise that no team has come close to meeting his demands.

Jose Ramirez named Short Season Pitcher of the Year

Trades and attrition have put a sizable dent in the farm system over the last 18 months or so, but one of the few players that has emerged in that time is Jose Ramirez, who was named Short Season Pitcher of the Year yesterday.  The 19-year-old righty posted a 55-16 K/BB ratio in 64 IP last season, allowing just 34 hits for .156 AVG against.

“He wasn’t a high-profile guy, but he’s kind of what we’re searching for in Latin American pitching,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “He had a feel for the strike zone. He can spin the ball and has a good feel for a changeup. He can get it up to 96 mph. And he throws strikes.”

The Yanks can spend all they want in the draft, but the Latin American market is where they really make a killing. Ramirez is just the latest in a long line of unheralded arms that’s gone on to make some noise after coming to the states.

Watching the ball drop

Happy New Year everyone.

*YES did a commercial like this, we know. But it’s still hilarious.

Brandon Laird arrested in Phoenix

Via Marc Carig, Yanks’ prospect Brandon Laird was arrested (along with his brother, Tigers’ catcher Gerald Laird) at U.S. Airways Arena in Phoenix following last night’s Suns-Celtics game. Gerald was cited with assaulting a security guard, Brandon with disorderly conduct following a brawl in the lounge area of the arena. A third person was also arrested.

Laird is (at least) the fourth Yankee farmhand to get in trouble for beatin’ someone down within the last three years, joining George Kontos, Austin Krum, and J.B. Cox. Hey, at least they aren’t stealing laptops from schools.

Open Thread: River Ave. Blues top ten of 2009

For the Yankees, 2009 was a very, very good year. The team won a Major League-leading 103 games. Then, they went 11-4 throughout the postseason and ended the year with a parade through the Canyon of Heroes. The Old Guard pulled out a fifth ring, and the newcomers and mid-decade interlopers did their thing too. With that 27th championship wrapped up, we were in an Empire State of Mind throughout the fall.

Last year on this date, I presented the top ten most popular RAB posts of the year, and so I offer it up again. Even as the Yanks won the World Series, our readers craved rumors, rumors and even more rumors.

1. Updated Yankees 2009 payroll information
Our most popular post of the year was one written in February. Joe analyzed the Yanks’ 2009 payroll and the team’s long-term salary commitments as well. Apparently, that’s what happens when we write a post that’s the top hit on the Google Search page for 2009 Yankees Payroll.

2. Stealing Juan Cruz
As Brian Cashman worked to put together the 2009 Yankees, Mike suggested that the team take a good, hard look at Juan Cruz. Luckily, the Yanks ignored us. Cruz missed most of August and September and put up a 5.72 ERA in 50.1 innings for the Royals. He strike out numbers dropped by nearly 50 percent while his walk rate remained the same. It was not a good year for Cruz.

3. A-Rod now dating above replacement level
Who says we have to be classy all the time? Our third most popular post of 2009 was one reporting that A-Rod and Kate Hudson were officially an item. Kate, as we all know, was the reason why the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, and we’ll have to hope that A-Rod rebounds from their recent off-season breakup. Supposedly, A-Rod is still into Madonna.

4. Yanks acquire Javy Vazquez for Melky, Dunn
Brian Cashman delivered an early Christmas present for the Yanks when he packaged Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino in a deal for Javier Vazquez. The Braves needed to free up some salary, and Cashman has coveted Vazquez since he was dealt from the Yanks following the 2004 season.

5. Spillover Thread: Yanks in talks to acquire a starting pitcher
The night before we learned Javy Vazquez would return to the Yanks, the Internet was abuzz with rumors of an impending trade for a pitcher. While the Yanks and Braves worked out a deal, no one knew exactly which pitchers the Yanks were targeting, and many fans spent the evening speculating on the identity of the trade target.

6. On the day after Christmas, my GM got for me…
As a Christmas calmed settled over the baseball world this past weekend, we debated which missing pieces the Yanks would need to fill to make a run of it in 2010. Will they land a left fielder? Another bat? Another pitcher? And what of the bench? These questions remain unanswered.

7. Prospect Profile: Mark Melancon
Another Google-inspired popular post, Mike’s Mark Melancon profile has drawn Yankee fans from around the world looking for more information on this late-inning option. Melancon will open the 2010 season competing for a job in the Bronx bullpen.

8. What the Blue Jays seek for Halladay
On the day after Thanksgiving, it seemed obvious to all that the Toronto Blue Jays would send Roy Halladay packing. Joe explored what Toronto expected in return. In the end, Halladay was part of a three-team deal that sent prospects and players every which way. The Doc is in Philly where he won’t face the Yankees during the regular season at all.

9. Why it’s Duchscherer, Sheets or stand pat with the pitching staff
Just a few days before the Yanks acquired Javier Vazquez, Joe urged the team to look at free agents Justin Duchscherer or Ben Sheets or no one at all. In the end, we had no idea the team was trying to reel in a bigger fish.

10. Going after the big Fish
As rumors of pitchers swirled around baseball, Mike urged the Yanks to look at Josh Johnson. The wheelin’ and dealin’ seems finished for now, but Josh Johnson could emerge as the biggest name available at the trade deadline come July.

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And so as evening falls, we bid adieu to 2009. It was a great year for both RAB and the Yanks, and we’re looking forward to an even better 2010. This is your open thread for the night. Have fun. Be safe. And toast the Yanks’ great season before midnight ushers in another year and a blank baseball slate.