Keith Law released his 2013 farm system rankings today (subs. req’d), which are predictably topped by the Cardinals. They have Oscar Taveras, a ton of MLB-ready power arms, and quality depth coming out of their ears. The Twins and Rays round out the top three while the Angels bring up the rear at #30. The Yankees rank tenth.
“It’s a top-heavy system, but the group of position players who started in low Class A Charleston last year, some of whom finished in high-A Tampa, could produce as many as three above-average or better regulars plus several other guys who’ll have big league value,” wrote Law while also saying they’d rank higher had Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos not gotten hurt. Baseball America had the Yankees ranked 11th while John Sickels had them 14th, so the consensus right now is that 10-15 range. Tampa was the only AL East team ahead of New York, with the Orioles (13th), Red Sox (17th), and Blue Jays (24th) lagging behind. · (53) ·
2012 Record: 95-67 (804 RS, 668 RA, 96-66 pythag. record), won AL East, swept in ALCS
Top stories from last week:
- The biggest story of the week, by far, was Alex Rodriguez‘s inclusion in a report regarding a South Florida performance-enhancing drug peddler. MLB is performing an investigation and the Yankees will not comment until that is complete.
- Meanwhile, the Yankees added a new left-handed hitting DH, signing Travis Hafner to a one-year contract worth $2M plus incentives. New York also signed Juan Rivera to a minor league contract, and they continue to seek a right-handed hitting outfielder. Russ Canzler was designated for assignment to clear room on the roster for Hafner.
- Injury News: Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw off a half-mound for the first time since surgery last May. Derek Jeter (ankle) resumed baseball activities down in Tampa.
- The Yankees announced their Spring Training invitees, which include top prospects Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin. Sanchez, Austin, and Mason Williams made MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects List.
- Andy Pettitte will not pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in a few weeks.
- Michael Kay signed a new multi-year contract with the YES Network.
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.
The Ravens and 49ers will meet in Super Bowl XLVII (that’s 47) tonight at 6:30pm ET on CBS, and my official prediction is a 24-20 win for San Francisco. No particular reason, it’s a complete guess on my part. My football knowledge is pretty limited; it would be generous to call me a casual fan. I enjoy watching football because I have little rooting interest and it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a sport once in a while.
Anyway, talk about the big game (and the commercials!) or anything else right here. There are no hockey or basketball games being played and no other network is stupid enough to broadcast new shows tonight. It’s Super Bowl or bust. Enjoy.
Got a quartet of minor league signings to pass along. None of these guys have a realistic chance of making the big league team anytime soon, so they’re just depth guys to help fill out the affiliates’ rosters. Everything comes from Matt Eddy…
- RHP Kelvin Perez: The Yankees re-signed the 27-year-old right-hander, who posted a 1.14 ERA (3.26 FIP) in 74.1 relief innings for Double-A Trenton last season before making a brief late-season cameo with Triple-A Empire State. Walks have long been his bugaboo (career 3.9 BB/9 and 10.0 BB%). He has the best chance of eventually helping the big league club of anyone in this post.
- LHP Josh Romanski: Like Perez, Romanski re-signed with the team after spending most of last season with Double-A Trenton. The 26-year-old managed a 4.97 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 29 innings across three starts and nine relief appearances. He missed a bunch of time due to injury.
- RHP Chris Smith: The Yankees signed Smith, 24, out of the independent Frontier League. He pitched to a 2.92 ERA with 116 strikeouts and 50 walks in 129.1 innings across 19 starts with the Washington Wild Things last summer. Josh Norris spoke to a scout who said he’s a command and control guy who lives in the high-80s.
- SS Leugim Barrosco: Another indy baller, the 27-year-old Barrosco hit .317/.345/.364 with 14 steals in 91 games last season. They signed him away from the Rio Grande Valley White Wings of the North American League. Barrosco was born in Cuba and the most interesting thing about him is that his name is Miguel spelled backwards.
During a recent radio interview, Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden he is still looking to add a right-handed bat before the end of the offseason. Both Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz joined the team on minor league deals earlier this winter, while Melky Mesa and Ronnie Mustelier represent internal options.
There are literally zero right-handed hitting outfielders who played exclusively in the big leagues last year left in free agency. The crop of minor league free agents includes guys like Brett Carroll, Jason Michaels, Jason Repko, and former Yankee Chad Huffman. There’s a chance Russ Canzler will clear waivers and we should never rule out a trade, but overall it is not a pretty sight out there. I’ll be surprised if Cashman’s able to add someone better than Diaz or Rivera between now and the start of camp. · (61) ·
The Yankees have passed on big money Cuban players like Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman in recent years, but they have signed several lower profile players from the island as well. The most notable is Ronnie Mustelier, the 28-year-old outfielder/utility man who’s hit .324/.378/.497 in 150minor league games since signing with New York. He’s expected to get a long look in camp and has an outside chance of winning a bench spot.
The team’s most recent low-profile Cuban addition is 27-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder Adonis Garcia, who received a $400k bonus last year and hit .263/.311/.424 in 57 games after signing. Reliable information about these players is usually scarce, but Ben Badler of Baseball America (subs. req’d) recently listed Garcia as one of ten players who improved their stock in winter ball. Here’s the important stuff…
… there’s a good chance he’s going to reach the big leagues. Garcia played center field and hit .292/.319/.481 playing for Mayaguez in Puerto Rico, where he outshined his teammate, $42 million Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig. Garcia is a better fit on a corner outfield spot and doesn’t have an impact bat, but he’s shown a knack for hitting and surprising pop for his 5-foot-9 stature, as his six home runs were tied for second in the league.
Garcia ranked third on the ten-player list behind Cardinals mega-prospect Oscar Taveras and infielder Eddie Rosario of the Twins. Bigger name prospects like Jean Segura (Brewers) and Starling Marte (Pirates are further down the list.
Thirty-nine winter ball games isn’t definitive proof of anything, but it is worth nothing Garcia drew just four unintentional walks (2.4 BB%) against 24 strikeouts (14.5 K%) in 39 games down in Puerto Rico. His walk rate (5.8%) in the minors last year wasn’t anything special, but like Mustelier he was able to avoid strikeouts (14.9%). It’s good that he has shown the ability to make contact, but I always worry about guys with low walk rates because it could mean they’re a hacker or just unable to work deep counts. The number of talented hitters who flamed out because they couldn’t control the strike zone is very, very high.
The bigger concern for Garcia next year will be playing time, because the Yankees do have a bunch of outfield prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Barring injury, the everyday outfield in Trenton is expected to feature Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin, and those guys have to play everyday. That is non-negotiable. Scranton will have guys like Mustelier, Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, and Abe Almonte vying for playing time, and it’s possible either Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera (maybe even Russ Canzler if he clears waivers) will be in Triple-A as well depending how the bench shakes out in camp. With all due respect, Garcia is the odd man out for me right now. No question.
“It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you the rest of your life.”
A rather fitting quote from a great movie on a chilly and overcast Saturday in New York. It’s also Groundhog Day, and apparently the groundhog did not see his shadow so that means an early spring. Sure it does. Hey, whatever brings baseball weather as soon as possible is a-okay in my book.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Rangers and Knicks are both playing, but you folks know how these things work. Talk about whatever you want here. Enjoy.
Saturday: The contract includes an additional $4M in incentives according to the AP. Hafner will earn $100k each for his 150th and 155th plate appearances, with six-figure payouts for every 15 plate appearances thereafter. He’s going to rack up some big incentive bucks in a hurry if he stays healthy.
Friday: Spring Training opens in less than two weeks, and the Yankees finally have their new DH. New York has agreed to sign Travis Hafner to a one-year contract according to Jon Heyman. Ken Davidoff and Dan Barbarisi say the deal is worth $2M guaranteed with “reachable incentives.” The contract is pending a physical, which is far from a slam dunk in this case. The Yankees will need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move once things are finalized.
Hafner, 35, picked the Yankees over the Rays according to Buster Olney. He’s a career .278/.381/.507 (135 wRC+) hitter who had some monster seasons back in the day (167 wRC+ from 2004-2006). Hafner hit .267/.363/.447 (124 wRC+) overall and .278/.385/.470 (136 wRC+) against right-handers over the last three years. The one they call Pronk takes a lot of walks (12.7% since 2010) and his strikeout rate is a touch better than the league average (19.2 K%). He’s not a dead pull hitter (2010-2012 spray chart) but he is most dangerous when he hooks the ball into right. The move into Yankee Stadium should boost his numbers plenty.
Injuries have been a big problem for Hafner the last few years, which is why the physical is not given. He had right shoulder surgery (debridement) in October 2008 and right knee surgery (meniscus) this past May. Shoulder inflammation (2010), an oblique strain (2011), a foot strain (2011), and a bulging disc in his lower back (2012) are also in the not-too-distant past. Hafner has played in 95+ games just once in the last five years (2010). Staying on the field has definitely been an issue and will be a concern in 2013.
Hafner has not played the field regularly since 2003 or at all since 2007, so he’s strictly a DH. It’s not ideal, but the options are limited at this point. He’s also a big lumbering dude (listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 lbs.) who offers no speed whatsoever. We’re talking never gonna take the extra base, will need three singles to score from first, Molina-esque speed. Mark Teixeira will look like Brett Gardner by comparison. Okay, maybe he’s not that slow, but you get the point. Hafner’s career-low .233 BABIP lat year can be blamed on a sky-high 10.1% infield fly ball rate, but otherwise his batted ball profile was unchanged.
The Yankees signed Dan Johnson to a minor league contract last week, so he’s likely ticketed for Triple-A Scranton now. Hafner’s lack of durability means Johnson will probably get a shot at some point, however. Bench help and general pitching depth are the last remaining items on the offseason agenda since it’s now obvious a new starting catcher just isn’t happening. Matt Diaz (minor league deal), Russ Canzler (waivers), and Juan Rivera (minor league deal) will compete for the right-handed bench bat role while Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez are the favorites for the backup infielder spot.
It’s not often a ballplayer will talk openly and honestly about his performance, especially when he’s on the downside of his career. That’s why this great Dan Barbarisi piece on Mark Teixeira is a must read. Teixeira, who turns 33 in April, talks about being overpaid — “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 million. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable.” — and how things aren’t as easy now as they were a few years ago. We all know Tex is on the decline, it’s been going on for several years now, but it’s refreshing to see him talk about it so candidly. Make sure you check it out. · (66) ·
Yankees GM Brian Cashman will be a featured speaker at a finance conference next month, and in advance of the conference he conducted an interview with Index Universe. There are a lot of analogies made between baseball and investing and other finance topics, but Cashman does talk about the team’s statistical analysis department, why they are conservative when it comes to Japanese pitchers, undervalued assets, his worst mistakes, all sorts of stuff. The interview gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation, so make sure you check it out. (h/t SG) · (20) ·