King: Yanks held third private workout for Yoan Moncada

(Dodgers Nation)
(Dodgers Nation)

For the second straight day, 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada was in Tampa for a private workout with the Yankees, reports George King. It was his second straight day at the complex and third private workout with the team overall. They first worked him out last month before bringing him back this week.

Here are some more details on this week’s workouts, courtesy of King:

On Thursday, for the second straight day, the Yankees held a private workout for the 19-year-old switch-hitter that was attended by club scouts, team officials and general partner Hank Steinbrenner, who is rarely seen around the team.

Wednesday night’s workout was held at George M. Steinbrenner Field under the lights. Moncada took ground balls at second and third and faced live minor league pitching. On Thursday the showcase was shifted to the minor league complex and conducted in daylight, and he again faced minor league hurlers.

King says the Yankees don’t want to pay Moncada the $30M to $50M bonus it will take to sign him, which seems like typical Yankees posturing. They always seem to say “we like him, but not at that price” whenever they really want someone.

Moncada’s agent David Hastings has said they hope to sign soon, perhaps by Monday, though that didn’t seem like a firm deadline. Whoever signs him is going to have to pay a 100% tax on the bonus. Steinbrenner being at yesterday’s workout seems to indicate ownership wants to see Moncada firsthand before giving the thumbs up to sign him. Either that or Hank had nothing better to do. Intrigue!

Girardi’s Press Conference Notes: A-Rod, Rotation, Spring Competitions

Spring Training is officially underway. Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today and the first actual workout is scheduled for tomorrow. Plenty of players have already been down at the complex working out for days if not weeks.

Joe Girardi held his annual start of Spring Training press conference this morning, and, as you can imagine, there were a ton of Alex Rodriguez question. But thankfully, there were some actual baseball questions too. It was a nice change of pace. “Name tags are an option,” joked Girardi because of all the new players in camp.

Video of the press conference is above. Here’s an abridged version and some thoughts.

On A-Rod

  • On the apology letter: “A person’s approach is the way they feel most comfortable doing it, whether that’s how you or me or anyone else would have done it … I think he apologized to the game. Steroids have hurt this game. It has changed the way we look at a lot of things … (The apology) was Alex’s choice and it was the way he was comfortable doing it and we’ll deal with it.”
  • On balancing workload and preparation: “I think you’re talking about him possibly DHing on a lot of days in Spring Training. That’s not quite as taxing as playing everyday in the field. He’s going to need to get his a-bats.”
  • On possibly playing first base: “That will be a conversation I have when he gets here. I want to see his face (and his reaction). He said he’s willing to do whatever he can to help us.”
  • On expectations: “I haven’t really put any numbers on it. I said this earlier: I think it’s fair to give him a fair number of at-bats before you start to judge where he might be at just because he’s played 44 games in two years and did not play last year, and I think it’s going to take him a good part of Spring Training just to get his timing down.”
  • On being a distraction: “One of the things I learned in 1996 when I came here is this is a different place. It’s different when you put on a New York Yankees uniform. You are with one of the most recognizable companies in the world. That’s part of the gig here … For the new players that are here, they’re going to get it right away … If you’re with the New York Yankees you need to learn how to deal with situations like that.”

Girardi also said the Yankees could opt to send A-Rod to minor league camp some days so he could get more work in. Minor league camp is pretty informal, he could leadoff every inning and get way more at-bats then he could in regular Grapefruit League games. Long story short, Girardi has no idea what to expect from Alex on the field and they need to see him in camp before finalizing any plans.

These press conferences are usually a little light and upbeat, especially early in Spring Training, but Girardi seemed pretty serious when asked about A-Rod being a distraction. His answer about players needing to be able to deal with it while playing for the Yankees was firm. He didn’t beat around the bush. Girardi knows it’s going to be a distraction and he expects his players to deal with it like professionals.

On Priorities In Camp

  • The rotation: “I think getting the rotation ironed out, seeing how all these guys fit and how it affects the bullpen guys who will begin Spring Training as a starting pitcher, who can possibly push their way into the rotation.”
  • The lineup: “Figuring out our batting order I think is something important. There’s some people we don’t know exactly where they’re at.” (Meaning A-Rod, physically.)
  • Picking a closer and possibly using co-closers: “I think you could do that. Would you like to iron it out? Sure. I think you have to see how people react in those situations. A number of guys I think are capable of closing, but I think (both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller) are more than capable.”
  • Competition in general: “I think there’s probably a little more open competition (than most years). I’ll try to reiterate to our players on a constant basis you’re not going to impress me the first day of camp, not going to impress me first week of camp.”

Girardi mentioned most of the competition in camp will be for specific roles and not necessarily roster spots. Aside from the last bullpen spot, the roster is mostly set right now. They have just to figure out who goes where in terms of the batting order and bullpen, specifically.

These are the sort of things that can’t be ironed out until the very end of camp too. Early on, players need to get their timing back and get back into the swing of playing. They’re not — or shouldn’t be, anyway — trying to put up big numbers the first few weeks of camp. After a few weeks of games the coaching staff will be better able to slot people into roles. Right now, they have to focus on getting ready. Late-March is when Girardi has to put together the roster puzzle.

On The Rotation

  • On CC Sabathia: “Until you really get him into the rigors of pitching every fifth day, and possibly going three or four turns on regular rest, you’re not really sure how that knee is going to fare. We feel good about it and we feel good about where he’s at.”
  • On Masahiro Tanaka: “I think you can say the same thing about Tanaka. What he’s went through is not really uncommon. There have been a lot of pitchers who have pitched a substantial amount of time (with the same injury) before something had to happen.”
  • On keeping tabs on Tanaka in the offseason: “They would communicate through (head trainer) Stevie Donohue. I would keep in contact with Stevie and see how Masahiro was doing. Its difficult because he’s not pitching in games in the offseason. A lot of us feel great in the offseason. It’s the second week in camp we start to feel sore.”
  • On Nathan Eovaldi: “We expect him to be one of our starters and be extremely productive and mature as a pitcher and develop as a pitcher. (He’s a guy) who can be a workhorse for you and give you valuable innings. We expect him to be a big part of our rotation.”
  • On a potential six-man rotation: “It’s something that we will talk about. As far as having a six-man rotation all the time, no. But if you get into long situations where you play 18 games in a row, could we inject a (sixth starter) to give the guys extra rest. Absolutely.”

Girardi also mentioned they are pleased with Ivan Nova‘s progress during his rehab from Tommy John surgery and there are no restrictions for Tanaka’s spring work. He’ll prepare like any other season. He didn’t say if the same is true for Sabathia because no one asked.

It was pretty clear from his tone that Girardi knows there is a lot of injury risk in the rotation and guys might not make it through camp in one piece. He also seems to know it’s pretty much out of his hands. The team followed doctor’s orders with Tanaka and Sabathia and if they say they’re healthy, they have to proceed accordingly. I like the idea of mixing in the occasional sixth starter earlier in the season much better than a straight up six-man rotation too.

Miscellany

  • On leadership without Derek Jeter: “I think within a clubhouse you can have one person who is considered the leader, but I think there are fractions of that as well (meaning a bullpen leader, a rotation leader, etc.) … I think you’ll have guys step up in different areas. I think there’s enough veteran presence and leadership qualities that guys will just handle it.”
  • On expectations: “I think you come into Spring Training every year with the goal to win and be the best you can be as a club. There are a lot of things we need to iron out. Probably more than I can remember. Some of it because of injury and some of it because of new faces. I think this team has a chance to be really good.”
  • On other teams in the AL East: “Oh I think you obviously pay attention to what other teams are doing. What you realize over a 162-game schedule is there’s a lot of things that have to go right for you to be the winner at the end … Sometimes just everything pretty much goes according to plan.”

Yeah, the Yankees are due for one of those years where everything goes pretty much according to plan.

RAB Live Chat

2015 Preseason Top 30 Prospects

For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn't prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)
For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn’t prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)

One year after implementing some procedural changes to their player development system, the Yankees took the next step and made some personnel changes last fall. Long-time VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman retired — his contract was up and I get the sense he wasn’t going to be brought back anyway — and was replaced by Gary Denbo, who’s worn many organizational hats over the years. Pat Roessler, the team’s director of player development for more than a decade, was also let go, as where several other staff members.

The changes were made following a season in which the Yankees actually got some help from within. The kind of help that didn’t come at all in 2013. Shane Greene and especially Dellin Betances had an impact on the mound, and others like Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez, and Bryan Mitchell got a chance to make their MLB debuts. It still wasn’t enough though. The Yankees didn’t have anyone to step in when Mark Teixeira or Carlos Beltran got hurt, and beyond Greene there was no real rotation help to be had.

Overall, the farm system did improve last year. Several prospects hit on something close to their realistic best case scenario and zoomed towards the top of the organizational prospect list. The Yankees also spent more than $30M in international free agency between bonuses and penalties last summer, essentially making a mockery of a broken system while hoarding most of the top available talent. Those prospects are all teenagers though. It’ll be a while before they have any sort of big league impact for New York.

This is, unbelievably, my ninth Top 30 Prospects List at RAB. The other eight can be found right here. This next part is very important: I am not a scout nor am I an expert. I’m a guy with opinions. And they’re wrong. Like, all the time. I read a lot — an embarrassing amount, really — and I have my own preferences for what makes a good prospect. I read everything. Baseball America, Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, MiLB.com, random interviews with local papers, you name it. There’s plenty of information out there and I try to soak it all in. What qualifies me to put together a list like this? Nothing, I’m just a guy with a blog. Start one of your own and you can put together a top 30. Or a top 100, if that’s your thing. This is meant to be for fun, not any sort of definitive ranking.

I use the rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) to determine prospect eligibility because that’s what everyone else uses. I don’t pay attention to service time because that stuff is too complicated. Also, I don’t rank any recent international signings because those guys haven’t even played a professional game yet. Just a personal, long-standing policy. I’d rather be a year late than a year early on players like that. Rest assured, next year’s Top 30 will inevitably feature a bunch of guys from last summer’s international spending spree. Four players from last year’s list graduated to MLB and eight are no longer in the organization. That seems like a lot.

Alright, so let’s cut the small talk and get to the rankings. I changed the format slightly this year just to shake things up a bit. Hopefully you like it. All the relevant stats and bio information is listed before the write-up. All headshots from MLB.com or MiLB.com, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Top 30 list starts after the jump. Enjoy.
[Read more…]

Mailbag: Heyward, Upton, Commissioner, Jeter, Moncada

Happy pitchers and catchers day, everyone. Got eleven questions for you in this week’s mailbag. Use the “For The Mailbag” form to send us any questions throughout the week.

Heyward and the good Upton. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Heyward and the good Upton. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Vinny asks: Do you see a scenario next offseason where the Yankees sign one of Jason Heyward or Justin Upton and deal Brett Gardner?

Sure, it’s definitely possible. Both Heyward and Upton are going to get $100M+ rather easily — Heyward could get $200M+ if he has that big breakout year offensively everyone is waiting for — and the Yankees might go for it because they’re both so young. Upton turns 28 in August and Heyward turns 26 in August, so they’d be getting multiple prime years, not just decline years. Upton’s a much better hitter than Heyward and the Yankees do need an impact bat (especially a right-handed one) more than they need another defense first outfielder. Sign Upton to Jacoby Ellsbury‘s deal (seven years, $153M), then flip Gardner for a pitcher? I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I do think it’s possible.

Jerome asks: If you were elected commissioner, what changes to the game would you try to impose?

Prior to last year, I would have said instant replay was my number one priority, but baseball has that now. The system is imperfect but it’s good enough for me. I would love to get the strike zone automated with lasers or radar or however the hell they would do it, but the umpires’ union wouldn’t go for that. Calling balls and strikes is their baby. They’re not giving that up.

So, instead, I would look at speeding up the game by having hitters keep one foot in the box at all times — I don’t think pace of play is a major issue but I do think it is something that can be improved — and figure out how to get the Mets some real owners. What’s going on in Flushing can’t continue. It’s an embarrassment to the league. I’m sure that will be a legal mess but it’s something I consider important. I’d also look into expanding and adding two teams. (Interleague play is too popular among casual fans to eliminate it.) The game appears to be healthy enough financially to support two new franchises, so let’s do it. It’ll spark interest. Those would be my major points.

Dan asks: If you can only attend one of the scheduled retirement ceremonies, which one would you attend?

I think I would go to Jorge Posada‘s. I would rank my favorite dynasty era Yankees 1) Mariano Rivera, 2) Posada, 3) Bernie Williams, 4) Andy Pettitte, and 5) Derek Jeter. (Note: This doesn’t mean I hate Jeter.) I would absolutely love to go to all four ceremonies this year and I’m going to try to do that, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Posada’s. Switch-hitting catchers with power, patience, and a fiery attitude are my jam.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Christian asks: Will Jeter get a monument in Monument Park? And if so, when will that happen?

I actually answered this question in a previous mailbag but it is worth revisiting in the wake of the recent retired numbers news. Here’s what I said on September 26th of last year:

I was thinking about this yesterday and decided against including it in the thoughts post. Right now there are monuments for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Miller Huggins, and George Steinbrenner in Monument Park. All of them were dedicated posthumously. If the Yankees decide to add a monument for Jeter after he retires, he’ll be the first person to have one dedicated in his honor while still alive. So, really, this question is asking whether he will be worthy of a monument in 40, 50, 60 something years. My answer is yes. Jeter is the greatest Yankee since Mantle and he was at the core of their most recent dynasty. If he isn’t worthy of a monument, I’m not sure how anyone else would be.

All of that still stands. My opinion hasn’t changed since September. I do think Jeter is worthy of a monument but is he going to be the first guy to have one dedicated while still alive? That’s the real question.

Douglas asks: Is there any chance one of the “core four” or Bernie pop up at spring training as a “special guest instructor?”

Oh absolutely. Bernie, Posada, and Pettitte have all already been to camp as guest instructors in previous years, I’m pretty sure multiple times too. Rivera recently told the Associated Press he will not be in camp as a guest instructor this spring but is open to doing it in the future. “It’s too early. I have a lot of other things to do besides that. I’m focusing right now on the church,” he said. As for Jeter, I’m guessing he will spend some time away from baseball so early into his retirement, especially since he seems to have all this other business stuff going on. That said, he does live in Tampa, so he might pop by this year. Eventually he’ll be back as a guest instructor. I’m pretty sure of it.

Joe asks: Will 2015 be the first season since 1992 that the Yankees did not have a future Hall of Famer on the roster?

Yeah it looks like it. The Yankees have had at least one future Hall of Famer on the roster every year from 1993-2014 thanks mostly to Wade Boggs and Jeter, but there were other notables like Rivera and Ichiro Suzuki along the way. Alex Rodriguez has had a Hall of Fame career but there’s no way he’ll get voted in at this point. The players on the projected Opening Day roster with the best chance to get into Cooperstown are Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia. Sabathia was on the Hall of Fame track until these last two years, and Beltran’s right on the bubble. JAWS says Beltran is just short and I think his case will be better if he gets over 400 homers (he’s at 373). Right now, I get the feeling Beltran’s going to fall short of Cooperstown.

Andrew asks: What kind of free agent contract do you think Chase Headley would have gotten if it weren’t for his ridiculously good 2012 season?

Headley’s monster 2012 season was so obviously a career year. He’s not going to do that again and I don’t think the Yankees or any other team expects him to. It definitely helped him this offseason though, the same way Ellsbury’s career year helped him last offseason. Teams still absolutely pay for past performance, just not as much as they once did. Headley signed for four years and $13M annually this winter. Without that career year, I think he’d end up with something like four years and $10M annually, or maybe even three years and $10M annually. Jed Lowrie got three years and $7.6M per year this winter and Headley’s clearly a better player. The gap is bigger than $2.4M per year. So my guess is four years and $40M total without that huge year.

(Jesse Sanchez)
(Jesse Sanchez)

Nicolai asks: Wouldn’t every team that signs Yoan Moncada trade him under almost no circumstances for several years? I mean, how could you get even close to equal value in a trade considering his signing bonus?

Yeah pretty much. I mean, sure, there’s always a chance he could end up in a blockbuster for someone like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper in a year, but the chances of that happening are remote. Whoever spends all that money to sign Moncada is going to hold onto him as long as possible and tout him as the future of the franchise — their Trout or Harper, basically — until they’re blue in the face. The team that signs Moncada is paying all that money because they really want him. Not to trade him in a year or two.

DJ asks: Are we seeing a “golden age” of Cuban talent? Scouts seem to be especially high on Yoan Moncada, Yoan Lopez and now Yadier Alvarez. Are these prospects really this great or are their agents/handlers just doing a great job of selling them to the baseball world?

It sure seems like a golden age, doesn’t it? Every year there’s one or two top guys — like top top guys, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, etc. — becoming available and eventually the well will dry up. The island isn’t that big. I don’t know when that will happen, but eventually all the top (top) players will be off the island and Cuba will become something like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, when the best players available each year are 16-17 year old kids. That shift might be happening right now with the 19-year-old Moncada and 18-year-old Alvarez being the current top available position player and pitcher, respectively. It may seem like it now, but Cuba’s not going to keep spitting out 20-something superstars forever.

James asks: How long does a team control a player after they sign them as an international free agent? In other words, how many years are you getting Moncada for by giving him a signing bonus of $30-40 million dollars?

Players get six full years in the minors before becoming eligible for minor league free agency. That goes for drafted players and international free agents. The team could then add the player to the 40-man roster after the sixth year to prevent them from becoming a minor league free agent — the Yankees did this with Melky Mesa in 2010 — which means they could then spend another three years in the minors, their three option years. And then on top of that, there’s the player’s six years of team control at the MLB level. So we’re potentially talking about 15 years of team control. But that never really happens. If a guy’s not on the 40-man roster before becoming eligible for minor league free agency, there’s usually a reason.

Bryan asks: Who are the longest tenured MLB players? With A-Rod debuting in 1994, I’m curious how many other current active players (if any?) have been around since the strike.

Now that his suspension is over, A-Rod is the longest tenured active player in MLB. He made his big league debut on July 8th, 1994, 19 days before his 19th birthday. He is the only active player who played during the 1994 season, so he’s the only guy left from the strike year. Here are the next five longest tenured active players:

  • LaTroy Hawkins: Debuted at age 22 on April 29th, 1995. He said he’s planning to retire after 2015.
  • Jamey Wright: Debuted at age 21 on July 3rd, 1996. Just signed a minor league deal with Texas.
  • Bartolo Colon: Debuted at age 23 on April 4th, 1997.
  • Torii Hunter: Debuted at age 22 on August 22nd, 1997.
  • David Ortiz: Debuted at age 21 on September 2nd, 1997.

A bunch of players debuted in 1998, including Beltran, Aramis Ramirez, A.J. Pierzynski, Bruce Chen, and Adrian Beltre. Joe Nathan, Tim Hudson, Buddy Carlyle, Kyle Farnsworth, and Jose Molina all debuted in 1999. Farnsworth and Molina are currently free agents who appear to be getting pushed into a forced retirement, so I guess they’re not really active. Anyway, that’s it. Only 16 players who played in the 1990s are still active today if you count Farnsworth and Molina.

Severino and Judge crack Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list

Severino and Judge, yet again. (Presswire)
Severino and Judge, yet again. (Presswire)

On Thursday night, Baseball America released their annual top 100 prospects list during a live MLB Network broadcast. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant claimed the top spot and was followed in order by Twins OF Byron Buxton, Cubs SS Addison Russell, Astros SS Carlos Correa, and Dodgers SS Corey Seager. The full top 100 can be seen right here.

The Yankees landed two players in the top 100 and they’re two players you expect: RHP Luis Severino ranks 35th and OF Aaron Judge ranks 53rd. Interestingly enough, Baseball America ranked Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada tenth during the television broadcast, but he isn’t on their online list. I can’t remember them ever ranking an unsigned player before.

Anyway, in the subscriber-only report, Baseball America gave Severino a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) for both his fastball and changeup. He received a 60 for his control and a 50 for his slider. (50 is average, 60 is above-average, 70 is well-above-average.) Judge received a 70 for power, a 55 for his arm, and 50s for his hit tool, speed, and defense. Five average or better tools is really, really good.

Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com ranked Judge as the 23rd, 49th, and 68th best prospect in baseball, respectively. Those three plus Baseball America’s ranking average out to 48th overall. Severino was ranked 23rd by MLB.com and 51st by Baseball Prospectus. (He didn’t make Law’s.) Those two rankings plus Baseball America’s average out to 36th overall. Two consensus top 50 prospects ain’t bad at all.

Update: In a supplemental piece, J.J. Cooper said 1B Greg Bird didn’t miss the top 100 by much.

Thursday Night Open Thread

It appears Derek Jeter‘s post-playing career life is now shifting to radio. Sirius XM Radio announced earlier this week that Jeter and his The Players’ Tribune website are launching a weekly nationally broadcast radio show on XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel 85. Here’s the press release. The show will air every Wednesday at 7pm ET. (The first broadcast was yesterday. Sorry I didn’t say something sooner.) The show will have rotating hosts much like the website has rotating contributors. I’m not much of a sports radio guy, but if that’s your thing, check it out.

This is your open thread for the night. Neither the Knicks nor Nets are playing because apparently a full week for the NBA All-Star break just isn’t long enough. The Rangers and Islanders are playing though, and there’s the usual slate of college hoops too. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Shameless Self-Promotion: I answered some questions for Razzball’s Yankees season preview, so check that out. Feel free to hate on me for the Rob Refsnyder answer.