Open Thread: 2/21 Camp Notes


Saturday was the first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Tampa. Position players are due to report on Wednesday — many of them are already in camp though — and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Thursday. Here are Saturday’s notes from Spring Training:

  • CC Sabathia regained ten pounds this offseason — “I lost a bunch of weight drastically, pretty quick, two years ago, and kinda was off balance and didn’t know really how my body was working,” he said — and received regular platelet-rich plasma injections in his knee over the winter. He threw his first bullpen of the spring and is “able to go 100% and not feel anything.” [Dan Barbarisi, David Lennon, Bryan Hoch]
  • In addition to Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren, David Carpenter, Bryan Mitchell, and Chris Capuano also threw bullpen sessions. Betances has already thrown a few bullpens and will face hitters at the end of next week. Esmil Rogers has been told to prepare to start the March 5th game against the Pirates. That’s the team’s third Grapefruit League game. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty, Marly Rivera]
  • Carlos Beltran has reported early and has been doing a lot of work in the batting cage this winter following elbow surgery. He did say the soreness is worse some days than others. Brian McCann, Gary Sanchez, and the rest of the catchers took batting practice. Didi Gregorius has reported early. [Marly Rivera, Kuty]
  • Minor league note: the Yankees have hired former Angels speedster Reggie Willits to be their minor league outfield and base-running coordinator. [Chad Jennings]
  • And finally, Sabathia said Alex Rodriguez‘s return is not a big deal to the Yankees in the clubhouse, just to the media. [Bob Nightengale]

This is your open thread for the night. The Devils are playing and there’s come college basketball on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.

MLB and MLBPA announce new pace of play and instant replay rule modifications for 2015

We should see less standing around in 2015. (Presswire)
We should see less standing around in 2015. (Presswire)

We’ve heard they were coming and now they’re official: MLB and the MLBPA announced on Friday a series of rule modifications for the 2015 season designed to improve the pace of play. They also announced some modifications to the instant replay system. The full press release is right here.

A pitch clock is not coming to MLB in 2015, as expected. A 20-second clock was tested in the Arizona Fall League last fall and will be implemented in Double-A and Triple-A this year, meaning it’s only a matter of time before it comes to MLB. Just not yet. Here’s a recap of the new pace of play changes:

  • Batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box during an at-bat except after an “exception” occurs. An exception being something like a foul ball, an umpire granting time out, a broken bat, ducking out of the way of an inside pitch, etc. So basically if the batter takes the pitch, he has to stay in the box afterwards. Makes sense to me.
  • Two timers are being installed at each ballpark — one near the outfield scoreboard, one near the press box — to time commercial breaks. Nationally televised games get two minutes and 45 seconds for commercials, all other games two minutes and 25 seconds. Long story short, play will begin as soon as time runs out, meaning right when the broadcast returns from commercial.

Now here’s the important part: the penalty for breaking any of the pace of play rules is a warning or a fine “with discipline resulting for flagrant violators.” It won’t be a called strike if the batter steps out of the box or a called ball if the pitcher isn’t ready to pitch as soon as the commercial break ends or anything like that.

“These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play,” said new commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement. “The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

As detailed by Dayn Perry earlier this week, games averaged 3.13 hours last season. That’s up from 2.90 hours as recently as 2010. With offense going down and strikeouts going up, all that extra time is downtime, not exciting balls in play. It’s players stepping out of the box, pitchers and catchers meeting on the mound, that sort of stuff. The new rules won’t eliminate all of that but it will cut down on some of it. In a perfect world every at-bat would look like this …

… but that will never happen.

“The Players believe that enforcing the rules that currently exist regarding between inning breaks and plate appearances is the best way to address the issue of pace of play,” said new MLBPA chief Tony Clark in a statement. “We’re confident that today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the pace of the game without jeopardizing the integrity of the competition.”

Now let’s recap the modifications to the instant replay system:

  • Managers “may now” ask for a replay from the dugout and are no longer required to approach the umpire. It doesn’t sound like that is mandatory but I could be wrong. Either way, this is another pace of play measure.
  • Tagging up and touching a base is now reviewable. I remember watching a game last year (forget who, pretty sure it wasn’t the Yankees) where a runner left third base early on a sac fly, and they couldn’t review it. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like the perfect use of replay. Anyway, now they can review it.
  • Managers now retain their challenge after every overturned call. Last year they could only retain their challenge after the first successful overturned call. Managers will also have two challenges in the postseason, not one.

The tag up/touch the base change is captain obvious stuff. It’s hard to believe that wasn’t reviewable last year. Hopefully signaling from the dugout cuts down on the number of times we see the manager standing around and waiting to get the signal from the dugout before asking for a review going forward. I also like letting managers keep their challenges indefinitely as long as they’re successful. Reward them for being right.

For whatever reason there will be no instant replay in Spring Training. I guess everyone got the feel for it last year. The pace of play changes — batters keeping their foot in the box, the timers, etc. — will be in place during Grapefruit and Cactus League play because the players (and umpires!) need time to get used to them. I don’t think pace of play is a major issue — I certainly don’t think shaving 10-15 minutes off the average game will suddenly draw more non-baseball fans to the game either, but I digress — but I do think it’s something that can be improved. These new measures are a nice first step.

Open Thread: 2/20 Camp Notes

Before we get to the first installment of daily Spring Training notes for the 2015 season, we have a very important piece of official business to take of: today is RAB’s eighth birthday. I can’t tell you how big of a life-changer this site has been. I’ve gotten to meet lots of cool people and make some really great friends thanks to RAB. It’s grown into something way more than any of us ever thought it would. Thanks for reading as always. And please, take a second to tell us how great we are.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training today and the first official workout is scheduled for tomorrow. (Workouts through March 2nd are free and open to the public, the team announced.) Joe Girardi held his annual start of camp press conference this morning — recap and thoughts are right here — and there was plenty of other news and notes to come out of Tampa. Here’s the daily recap from Spring Training:

  • Masahiro Tanaka spoke to reporters after Girardi’s press conference. He said his elbow feels “absolutely fine” and he even threw two splitters during his 21-pitch bullpen session yesterday. His next bullpen is scheduled for Sunday. Tanaka had an MRI on his elbow after the season (in October) and everything came back fine. [Brendan Kuty, David Waldstein, David Lennon]
  • Adam Warren has already thrown live batting practice twice and is way ahead of the other pitchers. He has consistently been the “shows up to camp super early and gets way ahead of everyone” guy over the years. It seems like he’s set up to start the team’s first Grapefruit League game on March 3rd. [Chad Jennings]
  • Jose Ramirez is over the lat injury that cost him most of last season and has already thrown bullpens. Chase Whitley‘s wife is due to give birth any moment now, so he’ll probably miss a few days of camp soon. Nathan Eovaldi said he’s thrilled to be a Yankee and needs to work on both his consistency and offspeed stuff. Michael Pineda looks to be in excellent shape, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. [Jennings, Jack Curry, Andrew Marchand]
  • At a Triple-A Scranton event yesterday, Mark Teixeira said his wrist feels better than it has in years. “This offseason, I got a chance to just work out and get strong. That’s who I am. I’m a big, power-hitting first baseman, and I have to be strong,” he said. [Donnie Collins]
  • Among the position players already in camp are Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Chase Headley, and Garrett Jones. Drew is excited about having his regular Spring Training in three years after dealing with injuries and last year’s contract situation.[Brendan Kuty, Jennings]
  • And finally, among the notable guest instructors this year are Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Hideki Matsui, Ron Guidry, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Billy Connors. There will be plenty more coming in and out these next few weeks. [Associated Press]

This is your open thread for the night. The Rangers, Devils, Knicks, and Nets are all playing tonight, so talk about those games, the start of Spring Training, or anything else right here. Have at it folks.

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.


  • 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,,, 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 or, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Top 30 list starts after the jump. Enjoy.
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