Reports: Yankees “likely” to retire Nos. 51 and 20 soon

(Primera Hora)
(Primera Hora)

Over the weekend, word got out the Yankees are planning to retire No. 46 and honor Andy Pettitte with a plaque in Monument Park this August. According to both Mark Feinsand and Andrew Marchand, the team is also planning to honor Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada at some point and are “likely” to retire Nos. 51 and 20.

The Yankees retired Joe Torre’s No. 6 last year and also dedicated monuments to Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Goose Gossage. When they made those official announcements, the team said the “ceremonies are part of a recognition series that will include Bernie Williams in 2015,” so the Bernie news isn’t surprising. It’s unclear when Posada will be honored. Perhaps that won’t be until 2016.

Needless to say, both Williams and Posada are very deserving of having their numbers retired as homegrown star players, with Posada being a borderline Hall of Famer. (I’m not sure he’ll get in, but he has a case.) Both were key pieces of the most recent Yankees dynasty and all-around awesome players who helped create a generation of success for the franchise.

At some point soon the Yankees will retire No. 2 in honor of Derek Jeter. With Nos. 6 and 42 recently retired, Jeter, Pettitte, Bernie, and Posada are the team’s only obvious remaining candidates to have their numbers retired. (There’s zero chance No. 13 will be retired.) So while there are will be several ceremonies bunched together in the span of two or three years, they figure to be the last number retirement ceremonies for a while.

Fan Confidence Poll: January 16th, 2015

2014 Record: 84-78 (633 RS, 664 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), did not qualify for postseason

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Weekend Open Thread

Pitchers and catchers are one week away, folks. Spring Training is so close that we’re starting to see the usual early-camp puff stories. Brian McCann worked on beating the shift! Nathan Eovaldi is working hard on his breaking stuff! Michael Pineda can’t wait for the season to start! Ah, the joys of February. Here are the weekend links:

  • Here’s a must read piece from Ben Lindbergh on pitch-framing. Lindbergh explains he first learned about the true value of framing pitches as an intern with the Yankees a few years ago, when the Yankees stumbled across the data themselves. Make sure you check it out.
  • Alex Speier examined the gap between Triple-A and MLB and why it’s so difficult for position player prospects to make the jump and succeed right away. Long story short, teams have so much information these days and they know all about a player’s weaknesses before he even gets to the big leagues.
  • Great article by Sam Mellinger, who looks at an alternate universe in which the Royals don’t mount that incredible comeback to win the wildcard game last year. “Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we were the best team in the American League,” said a team official. “We weren’t. We were one of them, but we didn’t even win our division.”
  • Sam Dykstra wrote about the speed of top minor league prospects, specifically looking at their speed tool from a scouting perspective compared to their statistical speed score. By Dykstra’s measure, Aaron Judge was one of the worst prospects at underperforming his speed tool in 2014.
  • Late Add: Make sure you check out Andrew McCutchen’s piece on baseball leaving lower-income families behind at The Players’ Tribune.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The NBA starts their All-Star break tonight with the Rising Stars Challenge (9pm ET on TNT). The Devils are playing and there’s the usual slate of Friday night college hoops as well. Talk about anything and everything right here.

Saturday; Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. The NBA All-Star Skills Competition stuff is on tonight (8pm ET on TNT) and all three hockey locals are in action. There’s also some college basketball as well. This is your open thread, so talk about whatever.

Sunday: Once again, here is your open thread for the evening. The NBA All-Star Game is on (8pm ET on TNT) and there’s some college hoops going on as well. Talk about those games, No. 46 being retired, or anything else right here.

Yanks to retire No. 46, honor Andy Pettitte with a plaque in Monument Park

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Andy Pettitte Day is coming to the Bronx on August 23rd. According to Josh Pettitte, Andy’s son, the Yankees are retiring No. 46 and will honor Pettitte with a plaque in Monument Park this summer. The team has not made any kind of official announcement. (Here’s a screen cap of Josh’s tweet in case it gets deleted at some point. Something tells me this was supposed to be a secret.)

Over the last 18 months or so, various team officials said the Yankees are planning to honor former personnel in the coming years. Joe Torre’s No. 6 was retired last summer while Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Goose Gossage received plaques in Monument Park. The club previously announced Bernie Williams will be honored in some way in 2015 as well.

In addition to Pettitte and Bernie, the Yankees are inevitably going to retire Derek Jeter‘s No. 2 at some point very soon. I have to think Jorge Posada will be honored in some way as well, either with a plaque and/or by retiring No. 20. Every one of these guys is an obvious and deserving candidate for some kind of honor in Monument Park.

Pettitte played 15 years with the Yankees, winning five World Series titles. He went 219-127 with a 3.94 ERA (115 ERA+) in pinstripes and is the team’s all-time leader in strikeouts (2,020). Pettitte is third in on the Yankees’ all-time wins list (219), third in innings (2,796.1), and third in pitching WAR (51.6). A case can be made he is the best starting pitcher in franchise history.

No. 46 will be the team’s 18th (!) retired number. Nos. 1 (Billy Martin), 3 (Babe Ruth), 4 (Lou Gehrig), 5 (Joe DiMaggio), 6 (Torre), 7 (Mickey Mantle), 8 (Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey), 9 (Roger Maris), 10 (Phil Rizzuto), 15 (Thurman Munson), 16 (Whitey Ford), 23 (Don Mattingly), 32 (Elston Howard), 37 (Casey Stengel), 42 (Mariano Rivera and Jackie Robinson), 44 (Reggie Jackson), 49 (Ron Guidry) are all retired.

Video: Actual game footage of Yoan Moncada

According to representative David Hastings, Cuban wunderkind Yoan Moncada could sign with a team within the next week or so. The Yankees have had the 19-year-old Moncada in for a private workout and speculation is he could receive a bonus upwards of $40M, which would be taxed at 100% due to the international spending rules. By all accounts, Moncada is a budding superstar.

Until now, the only real footage we’ve seen of Moncada is short highlight clips and token workout shots, which look great but only tell us so much. Thankfully, Ted Berg recently stumbled across some actual game footage of Moncada against Team USA during the 18U World Championship in Taiwan in September 2013. The video is embedded above. Ben Badler has some details:

In Moncada’s first at-bat, he shows off his speed with an infield single from the right side of the plate against against lefthander Justus Sheffield, who was a first-round pick (No. 31 overall) of the Indians in 2014. Moncada flipped around to bat lefthanded the rest of the game. After an intentional walk, Moncada lined an opposite-field single against righthander Jacob Nix, the Astros’ 2014 fifth-rounder who agreed to terms but never signed in the debacle involving Brady Aiken. Nix erased Moncada in their next matchup, getting Moncada to chase a 1-2 fastball above the strike zone for a swinging strikeout. In his final plate appearance, Moncada shows off his speed again with a bunt single down the third-base line against righthander Luis Ortiz, the Rangers’ 2014 first-round pick.

Keith Law (subs. req’d) recently saw Nix and said he has a “good chance to go in the back of the first round” this summer, so the video shows Moncada against three first round talents. That’s pretty good. Better than the short, grainy clips we usually have to settle for with Cuban players.

Moncada hit .375/.483/.542 in 29 plate appearances during the 2013 tournament according to Badler. Here’s more video of him facing Colombia (1-for-2 with a double and two walks) and Taiwan (1-for-4 with an infield single). Moncada definitely looks the part of a future star. Those are four (well, three) quality at-bats against three premium arms from his age group and physically, he looks like he was chiseled out of marble. Moncada looks like he was put on this Earth to play baseball.

Links: Tickets, Pace of Play, Trades, Travel, Hensley, Ichiro

I'm sick of the offseason too, Brett. (Presswire)
I’m sick of the offseason too, Brett. (Presswire)

Got a whole bunch of random links and notes to pass along, some more important than others. Here’s the latest:

Single game tickets on sale February 24th

Individual game tickets for the 2015 regular season go on sale online on Tuesday, February 24th at 10am ET, the Yankees announced. The Mastercard pre-sale runs from February 18th through the 23rd. You can walk up to the ticket window to purchase tickets starting February 25th. All the details are right here.

MLB, MLBPA making progress on pace of play changes

According to Jon Morosi, MLB and MLBPA are making progress towards rule modifications to speed up the pace of play, and they should have an agreement in place before Spring Training. Teams and players are going to want any changes in place relatively soon so they have all spring to adjust.

It’s unlikely a pitch clock will be added or hitters will be forced to keep at least one foot in the box, says Morosi. It’s more likely both sides will be required to begin play as soon as the television broadcast returns from commercial breaks. That’ll shave, what, a minute or two off each game? It’s something. MLB and MLBPA are expected to continue to look into speeding up games going forward.

Yankees settle all outstanding trades with cash

This stuff is easy to forget about, but the Yankees had several outstanding “player to be named or cash” trades to finalize this offseason. Specifically, they owed a player or cash to the Diamondbacks for Martin Prado, the Athletics for Jeff Francis, and the Indians for Josh Outman. Chad Jennings confirmed all of those trades were settled with cash this offseason, not a player. So there you have it.

2015 travel map

Yankees to travel 29,137 miles in 2015

Over at the indispensable Baseball Savant, Daren Willman posted travel maps for all 30 clubs for the upcoming 2015 season. The Yankees are set to travel 29,137 miles this summer, which is exactly middle of the road — 15th most out of the 30 teams. That is up slightly from 28,001 miles last year. The isolated Mariners will again travel the most miles this year (43,281) while the Reds will travel the fewest (20,612). Usually a more centrally located team like the Royals or Cardinals travels the fewest miles. Lucky for the Reds, I guess.

Preliminary hearing for Hensley attacker set for May

A preliminary hearing for Anthony Morales, the man who allegedly attacked RHP Ty Hensley over the holidays, has been set for May according to Brendan Kuty. Morales has been charged with felony aggravated assault and battery after attacking Hensley following an argument about signing bonuses. Hensley reportedly wouldn’t tell Morales, an ex-college football player who was in training camp with the Carolina Panthers last year, the size of his signing bonus, which is easily Googleable. Hensley suffered multiple facial fractures and lost a tooth in the attack but did not suffer a concussion or other neurological damage. He has resumed throwing bullpens even though his jaw had to be wired shut.

Minor League Ball’s top 20 Yankees prospects

Over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels posted his annual top 20 Yankees prospects list. RHP Luis Severino and OF Aaron Judge predictably claim the top two spots and both received “B+/Borderline A-” grades. “While the Yankees farm system is not at the very top of the organization rankings, it has improved over the last couple of years, should continue to improve, and certainly rates as an upper-tier system,” wrote Sickels. “The large amount of Grade C+ talent gives depth and since much of that talent is quite young and projectable with potentially higher grades to come, there is a lot to look forward to.”

(MLB.com)
(MLB.com)

Ichiro‘s been looking for “enthusiasm” the last two years

A few weeks ago Ichiro Suzuki joined the Marlins on a one-year contract worth $2M. He’ll serve as the fourth outfielder behind a young group that includes Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in addition to Giancarlo Stanton. At his introductory press conference, Ichiro told Jim Armstrong he felt “incredible enthusiasm” when meeting with the team, “so I wanted to respond to their enthusiasm and I believe that is something I have been looking for the last two years.”

So there’s a very subtle little jab at the Yankees there. Remember, at the end of last season, Ichiro cryptically told reporters that “obviously there’s a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can’t see, that goes on inside (the clubhouse), but what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future.” Eh, whatever. Seems like Ichiro holds a bit of a grudge against the Yankees for whatever reason — dropping him into a fourth outfielder role last year? — but that’s in the past now. Onwards and upwards.

Passan: MLB could address the expanding strike zone to help boost offense

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the last several years, the strike zone has been expanding downward for whatever reason. Jon Roegele did some great research a year ago and Jeff Sullivan followed up later in the season. Pitches at or below the knees are being called strikes more often and it’s taken a bite out of offense. It’s not just the extra called strikes either. Hitters have to better protect the bottom of the zone now and those pitches are mighty hard to hit with authority.

According to Jeff Passan, MLB is considering addressing the expanding strike zone in an effort to help boost offense around the league. The Playing Rules Committee will monitor the zone in 2015 and could adjust the textbook definition of the strike zone in time for the 2016 season if it is deemed necessary. So nothing’s going to happen with the zone this year. Next year at the earliest. Here’s more from Passan:

The problem, sources said, stems from technological leaps that caused unintended consequences. In 1996, when the league last changed the strike zone to extend it from the top of the knees to the bottom, beneath the hollow of the kneecap, it did so to encourage umpires to call knee-level strikes. The lower end of the zone, in practice, was about three-quarters of the way down the thigh, so the idea was that by adjusting the eye levels of umpires to look lower, the result would be a more traditional strike zone.

Then along came Questec, the computerized pitch-tracking system, followed by Zone Evaluation, the current version tied in to MLB’s PITCHf/x system. With a tremendous degree of accuracy – especially in recent years – the systems tracked textbook balls and strikes, and the home-plate umpires’ performances were graded on a nightly basis. Over time, not only did umpires’ strike zones move down to the knees, they went to the hollow and even a smidge below.

“What we’ve done is eliminate one variable (through technology), which is the varying application of the strike zone among umpires,” said Mets GM Sandy Alderson, chairman of the Playing Rules Committee. “Now, as a result, one can decide how the strike zone should be defined with some confidence that the umpires will call it that way. There’s a lot less slippage between the policy reflected in a rules change and the actual outcome.”

A week or two ago Ben Lindbergh looked at how the strike zone has hurt offense around the league and, simply put, the answer is a lot. Correcting the strike zone won’t get offense back up to a “normal” level all by itself, but it would be a step in the right direction. I’d much prefer a correctly called strike zone to eliminating the shift or forcing relievers to face two batters, something like that.

Anyway, in order to MLB to act, we have to hope the strike zone either continues to expand downward or at least stays the same as last year. That sorta stinks, but it is what it is. Either way, I’m glad this is being looked at. The strike zone is the strike zone, it is explicitly defined in the rulebook, and it should not growing with each passing season.