Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2015

Record Last Week: 3-4 (41 RS, 38 RA)
Grapefruit League Record: 15-12-1 (123 RS, 108 RA)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Twins (Tues. on MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Rays (Weds. on YES, MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Pirates (Thurs. split quad on YES, MLB.tv), @ Tigers (Thurs. split squad on ESPN, MLB.tv), vs. Nationals (Friday on YES, MLB.tv), @ Nationals (Saturday at Nationals Park, MLB.tv), Sun. OFF

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?

Open Thread: March 29th Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 this afternoon. Chase Headley (3-for-4 with a double and a homer) and Rob Refsnyder (2-for-3 with two doubles) were the stars on offense. Stephen Drew and John Ryan Murphy both went 1-for-4 with a double and Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-1 with a walk. A-Rod played three innings at first base and supposedly did fine, though he only had to make routine plays.

Nathan Eovaldi started and was again very good, striking out five and allowing three hits in 4.2 innings. He threw 89 pitches, so it wasn’t his most economical outing. Eovaldi has 14 strikeouts and no walks in 13.2 Grapefruit League innings. Chase Whitley (one out) and Esmil Rogers (five outs) combined for two perfect innings, and Chasen Shreve retired four of the five batters he faced. There was no video broadcast for this afternoon’s game, so there are no highlights to watch. For shame. Here’s the box score and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • The Yankees announced another round of cuts: Scott Baker was released, Bryan Mitchell and Ramon Flores were optioned to Triple-A, and Kyle Davies, Francisco Arcia, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Slade Heathcott, Kyle Higashioka, Jacob Lindgren, and Nick Rumbelow were all reassigned to minor league camp. So much for Lindgren on the Opening Day roster. Brian Cashman said the team hopes to re-sign Baker, presumably after Opening Day so they don’t have to pay the $100,000 retention bonus. I unofficially count 36 players still in big league camp. [Bryan Hoch]
  • Dellin Betances threw an inning in a minor league game. He allowed an unearned run on one hit, throwing 14 of 16 pitches for strikes and sitting 91-94 mph. “I executed my pitches instead of thinking about mechanics. I felt a lot better. I’m definitely going in the right direction,” he said. [Bob Klapisch]
  • Mark Teixeira took a pitch to the right knee during a minor league game. He left the game, walked it off, and told reporters he was fine. The Yankees say he has a contusion and no tests are scheduled. Didi Gregorius (wrist) feels better today and expects to be ready for Opening Day. Jared Burton (lat) has resumed playing catch. [Klapisch, Hoch, Dan Barbarisi, Chad Jennings]
  • And finally, old buddy Hiroki Kuroda made his first regular season start back with the Hiroshima Carp yesterday. He struck out five and scattered five hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings. Hiroshima won 2-1. Poor Hiroki still can’t get any run support. Here’s some video of his outing.

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Gonzaga-Duke game is going on right now, as is the Islanders game. MLB Network will replay a handful of non-Yankees games tonight as well. You folks know how these threads work by now, so have at it.

Sunday Links: Draft Combine, Hensley, Lopez, Alvarez

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are playing the Astros this afternoon (Nathan Eovaldi vs. Scott Feldman), but there will be no video broadcast, so we won’t have a game thread. Instead, here are some miscellaneous links and notes.

MLB, MLBPA considering pre-draft medical combine

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA are expected to discuss the idea of a medical combine for draft prospects during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. The current CBA expires after 2016. This comes after the Astros declined to sign California HS LHP Brady Aiken — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — after an issue with his elbow popped up during a physical. Aiken had Tommy John surgery a few days ago.

It’s easy to understand why teams would be in favor of a medical combine, but the players have little to gain from this. Of course, draft prospects are not MLBPA members, so the union is free to negotiate away their rights, which they’ve been doing for decades. A medical combine would bring a ton of logistical issues — who is eligible/required to participate? who are the doctors? how will this impact college players given the clown show that is the NCAA? — though I fully expect one to implemented at some point, if not 2017. The MLBPA has shown time after time they will sell out amateur players for the betterment of union members.

Hensley healthy and participating in all workouts

After being viciously assaulted in December, RHP Ty Hensley reported to Spring Training this year as a healthy player and has been able to participate in all workouts, according to Brendan Kuty. “If you didn’t know something had happened, you wouldn’t know from watching him. He’s been working hard,” said minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson.

Hensley, 21, has had a lot of physical setbacks in his career. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-draft physical and reduced his bonus from $1.6M to $1.2M. Then he missed the entire 2013 season after having surgery on both hips and to correct a hernia, and then he was assaulted in December. Hensley is really easy to root for, he’s been very upbeat while dealing with all this adversity, though the fact of the matter is he has thrown only 42.1 innings since being the 30th pick in the 2012 draft. That’s a lot of missed development time. I expect Hensley to start the season with Low-A Charleston and hopefully he plays a full, healthy season.

Felix Lopez out of the picture due to “family issue”

Executive Vice President/Chief International Officer Felix Lopez is out of the picture now, reports Bill Madden. George King says Lopez was not fired, but he is no longer on the team’s masthead after being listed there as recently as March 16th. “It’s a ‘family issue,” said Madden’s source. Lopez is married to Jessica Steinbrenner (George’s daughter) and was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations at the club’s complex in Tampa, though reportedly he often overstepped his bounds and dabbled in the team’s Latin America operations.

Madden says Lopez had an “unauthorized heavy hand” in negotiations with Yoan Moncada and effectively ended the club’s chances of signing the Cuban infielder. Who knows if that’s true — David Hastings, Moncada’s agent, told Nick Cafardo he gave the Yankees a chance to match the $31.5M deal the Red Sox offered, for what it’s worth — it seems like everyone in the organization has tried to pass the Moncada blame onto someone else, but either way Lopez is out of the picture. It really seems like no one is on the same page at the top of the organization. Everyone is going in a different direction.

Yankees have scouted Yadier Alvarez

The Yankees are among the many teams that have scouted 18-year-old Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, reports Jon Heyman. Alvarez has been working out for teams in the Dominican Republic and has consistently sat 94-97 mph during workouts while touching 99. He  can not sign until the 2015-16 signing period opens on July 2nd, though Heyman says Alvarez is petitioning MLB to allow him to sign before then.

New York exceeded their international bonus pool during the 2014-15 signing period, so they can’t sign a player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. So if Alvarez can’t sign before July 2nd, the Yankees have no chance at him. They won’t be able to make a competitive bid. If MLB allows him Alvarez to sign before then though, the Yankees can get involved and offer him whatever they want, which I’m sure will be just enough to fall short.

Jeter looking to open restaurant in Tampa

According to Eric Snider, Derek Jeter is looking to open a restaurant in the Tampa International Airport, but faces stiff competition from more established brands for the 3,439 square foot space. The restaurant, which is tentatively named “The Players’ Tribune Bar & Grill,” was billed as having a “VIP atmosphere” in the bid documents. Here are some more details:

The Player’s Tribune menu skews upscale (no prices are listed), ranging from Buffalo Chicken Wings to Braised Porchetta, Spanish Garbanzo Bean soup to Roasted Pear Salad. There’s only one athlete-branded item, unusual for a sports-themed restaurant: the Jeter Burger. (Photographs of Jeter, (Blake) Griffin and (Chris) Paul decorate the menu.) The only other fame-named entree is the Salvador Dali Egg Breakfast.

iPads will be made available at “virtually every seat” so customers can peruse The Players’ Tribune website. High-def big screens will favor games by Tampa Bay teams.

Jeter made it no secret he wants to focus on his business ventures after retiring as a player, and, well, he’ll hardly be the first ex-athlete to open a restaurant. If he misses out on the airport space, I’m sure Derek and his people will continue to look for a location elsewhere in Tampa. Seems like The Player’s Tribune — the website, by the way, is about a million times more interesting than I (and many others) expected — is the brand Jeter is pushing.

Open Thread: March 28th Camp Notes

The Yankees lost to the Orioles 10-2 this afternoon. The two runs came on solo homers by Alex Rodriguez and Stephen Drew. Based on the video above, A-Rod knew it was gone off the bat. Carlos Beltran singled for the team’s only other base hit. Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Young all took 0-for-3s.

Scott Baker started and got roughed up, allowing five runs on five hits in two innings. He struck out three. Dellin Betances allowed a run for the fifth consecutive appearance and is still fighting whatever it is he’s fighting. The YES gun had him up to 94 mph, so I think it’s just mechanical. He needs to fix it soon though. Justin Wilson allowed two runs in 1.1 innings of work. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest from Tampa:

  • Minor scare this afternoon: Didi Gregorius landed awkwardly on his left wrist diving for a ball and has been diagnosed with wrist strain. X-rays came back negative and he is day-to-day. Exhale. Joe Girardi said they hope Gregorius will be back in the lineup by Wednesday. [Chad Jennings]
  • CC Sabathia pitched in a minor league game this afternoon and allowed four runs on five hits (two homers) and two walks in five innings. He struck out seven, sat 88-91 and touched 92, and threw 69 total pitches. Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Warren threw bullpen sessions and Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) took full batting practice for the first time since getting hurt. [Wally Matthews, Brendan Kuty, Nicholas Flammia, Erik Boland]
  • Weird moment in the Double-A game today: Gary Sanchez accidentally hit Bryan Mitchell while trying to throw out a runner attempting to steal second. The trainers came out to look at Mitchell and he remained in the game. Phew. [Kuty]
  • The Yankees still have not announced Adam Warren will be the fifth starter, but Esmil Rogers is making tomorrow’s road trip and is listed as a reliever. Evidence keeps mounting. [Bryan Hoch]
  • And finally, the Yankees named Luis Severino and Rob Refsnyder their 2014 Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively. Congrats to both.

This is your open thread for the evening. This afternoon’s game against the Orioles will be replayed on YES at 10pm ET, if you’re interested. The Knicks and Devils are playing tonight and there’s a bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or anything else here.

Spring Training Game Thread: All Eyes On Dellin

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The regular season is now nine days away, meaning ace righty reliever Dellin Betances has nine days to figure out whatever has caused his velocity to drop and his command to disappear. I’m concerned but not panicked at this point. Betances is scheduled to pitch this afternoon and he probably has two or three more Spring Training appearances left after today, so there isn’t much time for Dellin to straighten things out.

Betances is scheduled to come out of the bullpen, so he’ll be the focal point of this afternoon’s game. He told Kevin Kernan he found some mechanical issues while watching video — “I’ve been opening up a little too much with my front shoulder,” he said — and hopes to iron things out with more work this week. Fingers crossed. Betances may only be a reliever, but he’s a very important part of this Yankees’ team that is built to win close games.

Today’s reason to watch: Aside from Betances, bullpen candidates Scott Baker, Andrew Bailey, Chasen Shreve, and Jacob Lindgren are all scheduled to pitch as well. Some have a better chance of making the team than others, obviously. Baker had a disastrous spring debut (1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) but has rebounded well with two strong outings (7.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) and could sneak onto the Opening Day roster as the long man. Another strong showing today will only help his cause.

The Orioles made the trip up from Sarasota for this afternoon’s game and, needless to say, they didn’t bring many regulars for the game. Teams are in full blown “don’t let a division rival see your regulars if possible” mode at this point of Spring Training. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. CF Chris Young
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Scott Baker

Available Position Players: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, and RF Garrett Jones will be the second string off the bench. C Kyle Higashioka, C Eddy Rodriguez, IF Ali Castillo, and OF Taylor Dugas are the extra players.

Available Pitchers: LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Andrew Bailey, LHP Chasen Shreve, LHP Jacob Lindgren, RHP Dellin Betances, and RHP Chris Martin are all scheduled to pitch. HP Nick Rumbelow, RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Diego Moreno, and LHP Tyler Webb are the extra arms.

It’s sunny and surprisingly cool in Tampa this afternoon. It’ll be in the upper-60s/low-70s for the game. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. MLB Network will be blacked out in the Yankees’ home market but MLB.tv won’t. Enjoy.

Open Thread: March 27th Camp Notes

The Yankees walloped the Phillies 10-0 in five innings and change this afternoon. The game was called early due to rain. Stephen Drew (3-for-3 with a double) and Brendan Ryan (2-for-3 with two doubles) led the offensive attack. Yup. Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann all went 1-for-3 while both Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez each went 1-for-2 with a walk. Chase Headley went 1-for-4 and Tyler Austin ended the day with a bases-clearing double.

Michael Pineda started and was pretty sharp, scattering five singles in five innings. Two of the singles were ground balls with eyes and two others were bloops. Only one was hit moderately hard. Big Mike struck out five and didn’t walk anyone. He was the team’s only pitcher of the afternoon thanks to the rain. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest of the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • In case you missed it earlier, Masahiro Tanaka was officially named the Opening Day starter. The rest of the rotation order was also announced, though the team still hasn’t named Adam Warren the fifth starter. That should happen soon. Ivan Nova, Andrew Miller, Chase Whitley, and Vicente Campos all threw bullpen sessions while Tanaka did some flat ground work. [Chad Jennings]
  • A-Rod is scheduled to play five innings at first base Sunday, his first game action at the position. Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) did more tee and soft toss hitting today. Garrett Jones went over to minor league camp this morning for some extra hitting work. He’s had a crummy spring. [Bryan Hoch, Donnie Collins, Jennings]
  • Jared Burton, who was released yesterday, still has a locker in the clubhouse and has agreed to a deal to remain with the team. My guess is he will sign a new minor league contract soon after Opening Day so the Yankees don’t have to pay him the $100,000 retention bonus. Burton is sidelined with a lat strain. [Brendan Kuty]
  • And finally, CC Sabathia will not be starting tomorrow as scheduled. He’s instead going to pitch in a minor league game while Scott Baker starts against the Orioles. The Yankees don’t want Sabathia facing a division rival so close to the regular season. [Hoch]

This is your open thread for the evening. This afternoon’s game against the Phillies will be replayed on MLB Network, but not until 6am ET tomorrow. MLB Network is showing the Mariners and Royals live tonight, both the Knicks and Nets are playing, and there’s lots of college basketball on too. Talk about anything and everything right here.

2015 Draft: Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery

(San Diego Union Tribune)
(San Diego Union Tribune)

Less than a week after leaving his start for IMG Academy with what the umpire said was “tightness in his arm,” top 2015 draft prospect Brady Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. Aiken made the announcement himself on The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter‘s site. What a world. (Jeter and Aiken have the same agent, Casey Close.)

Aiken, 18, was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. He agreed to a $6.5M bonus with the Astros, but Houston backed out of the deal after they looked at his elbow during the physical and got scared. Aiken opted to do a post-graduate year at IMG so he could enter the 2015 draft rather than go to college and wait until the 2017 draft. Here’s a snippet of Aiken’s post at Jeter’s site:

Since last summer, a lot of people have wondered how I could have turned down a multi-million-dollar signing bonus after being picked first in the Draft. Now, I know they’ll probably be wondering about it again. I can honestly say I don’t regret not signing. It was a very difficult decision, but it also was an informed decision based on circumstances only a few people know the truth about. My family and I planned for all the possible outcomes. We weighed the pros and cons, talked with friends and mentors and doctors whose opinions we value and discussed it over a number of family dinners. This wasn’t a decision we made lightly.

Gosh, how bad does that make the Astros look? This 18-year-old kid just had his arm cut open and the first thing he did was type out an article saying he doesn’t regret passing on their multimillion dollar offer.

Anyway, there is plenty of recent precedent for teams drafting a player with an injured elbow in the first round. Just last season, both ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman and UNLV RHP Erick Fedde had Tommy John surgery in May, then still went 9th and 18th overall in June’s draft, respectively. The Nationals took California HS RHP Lucas Giolito with the 16th pick in 2012 knowing he would likely need Tommy John surgery, which he did two innings into his pro career.

The Yankees selected NC State RHP Andrew Brackman with the 30th overall pick in the 2007 draft knowing he would need Tommy John surgery, so they’ve rolled the dice on an injured player before. They also selected Florida JuCo RHP Shane Greene in the 2009 draft while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, though he was a 15th round pick, not a first rounder. Point is, teams are willing to roll the dice of top pitching prospects with bad elbows. Hoffman, Fedde, Giolito, and Brackman were all considered top 10-15 prospects in their draft classes before getting hurt, like Aiken.

Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said last summer the Yankees tend to lean towards college players, but Aiken seems right in New York’s wheelhouse as a big (6-foot-4, 205 lbs.) lefty with command of a mid-90s fastball, a power curveball, and an excellent changeup. I was thinking that sounds a lot like young Andy Pettitte, then I remembered Keith Law (subs. req’d) called Aiken a”pretty good version of the Kershaw Starter Kit.” So yeah, Aiken’s a great pitching prospect. When healthy, anyway.

Thanks to the compensation pick for David Robertson, the Yankees have a $7.885M bonus pool for this year’s draft, the sixth largest in baseball. If Aiken indicates a willingness to sign and the Yankees are willing to roll the dice, they have the money to make it work. They’d have to go cheap with other picks to compensate, but it’s doable. The real question is whether the Rangers (fourth overall) or Cubs (ninth) will bite and take Aiken before New York’s first pick (16th overall). Those two clubs appear most likely to gamble on Aiken given their bonus pools and draft tendencies.

For what it’s worth, both Keith Law and Jim Callis say they still expect Aiken to be a first round pick this year.