Middle of the road, here they come. John Sickels at Minor League Ball released his farm system rankings earlier this week, and he has the Yankees pretty much right in the middle at 14th overall. He says their strength is the collection of potential impact bats on the brink of Double-A, specifically catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin. The lack of impact arms is their weakness.
Baseball America recently placed the Yankees 11th overall in their preliminary farm system rankings, and there really isn’t a ton of difference between 11th and 14th. The 11-15 range certainly passes the sniff test though, neither ranking seems unrealistic. · (80) ·
Michael Kay will continue to be the primary play-by-play voice of the Yankees after signing a new multi-year agreement with the YES Network, according to a release. Kay has been with YES since the network launched in 2002 and he’s not leaving anytime soon. No word on the other announcers, if you’re wondering. · (87) ·
Today hasn’t been crummy enough, so I’m going to top it all off with a Sidney Ponson video. He actually started the last game I ever attended at the Old Stadium, but that’s on me. I remember it was the middle of September and Ponson got squashed by the Rays. No excuses, I had chances to catch another game before the end of the season but I didn’t.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Rangers, Islanders, and Devils are all playing, so talk about those games or anything else here. Have at it.
Via Ken Rosenthal: Andy Pettitte will not pitch for former manager Joe Torre and Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He had until February 20th to make his final decision.
As I’ve said before, I’m glad Pettitte will remain with the Yankees in Spring Training even though it would have been neat to see him pitch in the WBC. Rosenthal says there’s a chance Justin Verlander will join the squad — Kris Medlen recently withdrew from the event as well — which would be a pretty huge for Team USA. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Frankie Cervelli as the only Yankees who will participate in the tournament. · (31) ·
A report in The Miami New Times concerning Anthony Bosch — who is under investigation by MLB and the DEA — says Alex Rodriguez is among the players who received performance-enhancing drugs from his South Florida clinic. According to the clinic’s records, A-Rod received HGH and other substances from Bosch from at least 2009 through last season. Here’s the A-Rod-related text so you don’t have to read the entire article…
There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.
That’s not the only damning evidence against A-Rod, though. Another document from the files, a loose sheet with a header from the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, lays out a full regimen under the name Cacique: “Test. cream… troches prior to workout… and GHRP… IGF-1… pink cream.”
There’s more evidence. On a 2009 client list, near A-Rod’s name, is that of Yuri Sucart, who paid Bosch $500 for a weeklong supply of HGH. Sucart is famous to anyone who has followed baseball’s steroid scandal. Soon after A-Rod’s admission, the slugger admitted that Sucart — his cousin and close friend — was the mule who provided the superstar his drugs. In 2009, the same year this notebook was written, Sucart (who lives in South Miami and didn’t respond to a message left at his home) was banned from all Yankees facilities.
The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012″ and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”
Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz are among the other players named, and all have South Florida ties. MLB will implement in-season HGH testing this year and although I stopped caring about the PED stuff a long time ago, this is obviously going to be a huge, huge story. I’m sure we’re going to hear an awful lot more about this. This is only the start.
Update: Ken Davidoff says the Yankees are going to stay out of the way and let MLB do its thing. The Rangers issued a statement saying they will do the same with Nelson Cruz. Standard protocol.
Update Part Deux: It’s worth noting that players can be suspended for “possession” of PEDs according to the Joint Drug Agreement. There does not have to be a failed test. There’s even a whole section on how to appeal a suspension without a failed test. Several players, including Edinson Volquez, were allowed to serve PED-related suspensions while on the DL.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Brian Cashman confirmed that Michael Pineda will throw off a half-mound tomorrow for the first time since having shoulder surgery in early-May. Pineda, who turned 24 a little more than a week ago, has been throwing off flat ground since at least September. Moving up to a half-mound isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a big step in his rehab from a very serious injury. Good news. · (39) ·
Got two small updates on former Yankees. First, Nick Johnson has decided to call it a career according to Sweeny Murti. The 34-year-old retires as a .268/.399/.441 (126 wRC+) hitter with a 15.7% walk rate, though injuries — specifically to his right wrist and hand — derailed his career. More than anything, this gives me a chance to post Johnson’s batting line with Double-A Norwich in 1999: .345/.525/.548 with 123 walks, 88 strikeouts, and 37 hit-by-pitches. Yes, 37 hit-by-pitches.
Second, Freddy Garcia has signed a minor league contract with the Padres according to multiple reports. Garcia, 36, should do quite well in Petco Park given his extreme fly ball ways. Plus it’s a minor league deal, so tough to complain about that. The sweaty one posted a 4.29 ERA and 4.35 FIP in 254 innings with the Yankees over the last two season. Good luck in San Diego, Freddy, see you in the World Series. · (19) ·
But now you’ve probably seen that video because it’s been circulating through the interweb today, but it’s the greatest thing ever. We need a little more showmanship in baseball today, it’s supposed to be entertainment. We all work too hard to come and sit and watch adults taking a child’s game seriously.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Nets are the only local sports team in action, so talk about that game or anything else here. Enjoy.
This is no secret, but the Yankees have an old roster. Their position players averaged 32.7 years of age last season (weighted by playing time), making them the oldest group in franchise history by a little more than three months. New York is returning almost the exact same squad this year, except with Brett Gardner (29) replacing Raul Ibanez (40) in left and Ichiro Suzuki (39) replacing Nick Swisher (32) in right. The DH spot remains unaccounted for at the moment. Barring something unexpected, they’ll set a new record for average position player age again this year.
With relatively old age comes many things, namely injury concerns. Not only do older players tend to get hurt a little more often, they also take longer to recover. It comes with the territory and is a valid concern for the Yankees this coming season. Derek Jeter (ankle) resumed baseball activities today following his October surgery, but we won’t know if he’ll be ready for Opening Day until well into Spring Training. Alex Rodriguez (hip) isn’t coming back anytime soon, probably not until after the All-Star break according to Dr. Bryan Kelly.
One thing these old Yankees do have going for them is a track record of durability. Ichiro has played in at least 157 games in 11 of his 12 years in MLB, and his 485 games played over the last three seasons are tied with Prince Fielder for the most in baseball. Robinson Cano is right behind those two at 480 games since 2010. Curtis Granderson has appeared in at least 156 games in three of the last four years and ranks 24th in games played (451) over the last three seasons. Jeter (447) and Mark Teixeira (437) are also among the top 50 in total games played since 2010. By my count, the only other team with more than three players on that list is the Tigers with six.
Now past durability does not guarantee future health, of course. Jeter’s been remarkably durable over the years but that didn’t prevent him from crumbling to the ground with the ankle fracture during the postseason. Teixeira played in 155+ games in four straight seasons before battling a cough, wrist issues, and a calf injury last summer. Granderson missed a month with a hamstring problem in 2010 and an ulcer landed Ichiro in the DL in 2009. Heck, CC Sabathia has been the model of pitcher durability over the years and he landed on the DL not once, but twice last season. He’s not a position player, but I digress.
Anyway, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. The point I really wanted to make is that while injuries and recovery from those injuries stand out as concerns stemming from the team’s age, I’m just as worried about these guys staying productive all season. Older players don’t just get hurt and miss time, they wear down and stop being productive down the stretch. The 162-game schedule is no joke, especially when you’re talking about guys on the wrong side of 30 who have been playing 150+ games annually their entire careers. It’s one thing to get hurt and be replaced by the fresh body, it’s another to stay healthy but not produce.
Via Erik Boland & Sweeny Murti: Derek Jeter performed on-field baseball activities down in Tampa today for the first time since having ankle surgery in October. The Cap’n took swings in the cage and fielded a bunch of grounders (55 to be exact), typical offseason/rehab stuff. He did not run, however. Good news, obviously. · (25) ·