• NYP: Yankees have interest in bringing back Raul Ibanez

    Via George King & Ken Davidoff: The Yankees have some interest in a reunion with Raul Ibanez. I assume he would come back in the same role he held last summer, meaning part-time DH and part-time outfielder. At least that was the plan before Brett Gardner’s injury forced into into the field on a nearly everyday basis. Obviously the Yankees know him well and are comfortable with what he brings to the table.

    Ibanez, 41, hit .242/.307/.487 (117 wRC+) with 29 homers in 496 plate appearances for the Mariners this past season, though he was awesome in the first half (24 HR and 143 wRC+) and a disaster in the second half (5 HR and 79 wRC+). Raul whacked 19 homers with a 102 wRC+ for New York in 2012, but remember, he was pretty terrible before he started hitting all those insanely clutch homers in late-September and October. Despite his awful defense and complete inability to hit lefties, I do think Ibanez makes some sense for the current Yankees roster in a limited role. The question is whether he wants to stay close to his Seattle home.
    · (54) ·

C/3B Peter O'Brien during Arizona Fall League play, which has literally nothing to do with this post. (Presswire)

C/3B Peter O’Brien during Arizona Fall League play, which has literally nothing to do with this post. (Presswire)

There is nothing special about this Tuesday other than the fact that it’s thoughts day. That’s something special, right? Anyway, here are some random tidbits on my mind that really aren’t worth a full post.

1. The deadline to set the 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow and we already know the Yankees will protect RHP Shane Greene and RHP Bryan Mitchell. C Gary Sanchez, OF Slade Heathcott, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Chase Whitley, and RHP Danny Burawa are eligible this year as well, ditto RHP Jose Campos according to Josh Norris. I say this every year around this time, but sometimes the best way to keep a player is to leave them unprotected. Ivan Nova was not big league ready in 2008 and, sure enough, the Padres returned him to the Yankees after he got bombed in Spring Training. Campos is 21 and he threw only 87 innings for Low-A Charleston this season after missing virtually all of last season with an elbow injury. Hiding him as the last guy in a big league bullpen for a full 162-game season will be close to impossible at this point of his career, even for a terrible team like the Astros and Twins. Guys with big arms who are higher up the minor league ladder flop in that role as Rule 5 picks every year. Leaving Campos unprotected is a low risk by Rule 5 Draft standards and the Yankees stand to save a 40-man spot and one of his option years. I suspect they will protect him because they protect just about everyone, however.

2. As Joe wrote yesterday, the Yankees appear likely to spend big on international free agents next summer, meaning they’ll blow past their allotted signing pool and pay the penalties the following year. Those penalties including being limited to bonuses of $500k or less (or $250k or less, depending on how far over they go). I understand the strategy of spending huge one year, landing a whole bunch of prospects, then dealing with the penalties and not signing anyone the next summer, but I also don’t like it. You’re basically eliminating yourself from contention for half the talent pool. I also don’t think it’s possible to say the next year’s talent crop will be weaker than the current year’s — thus justifying the extra spending — because we’re talking about 14 and 15 year old kids. The 18 to 21-year-olds in the draft are hard enough to predict from one year to the next. Doing it with teenagers is impossible. The new spending restrictions really suck and hurt the Yankees immensely, especially since the backbone of their farm system for decades was Latin America. I don’t think the solution is alternating big money years and small bonus years (due to penalties). You eliminate yourself from contention for too many players that way …

OF Mason Williams in the Arizona Fall League. Also irrelevant to this post. (Presswire)

OF Mason Williams in the Arizona Fall League. Also irrelevant to this post. (Presswire)

3. … but at the same time, I think the Yankees do a really good job of finding super cheap talent in Latin America. By super cheap I mean $250k or less, which is still a ton of cash in the real world. Guys like RHP Luis Severino ($225k), OF Ravel Santana ($145k), RHP Gio Gallegos ($100k), and SS Thairo Estrada ($75k) all signed for less than a quarter-million in recent years. Maybe that ability to find relatively cheap talent means it would make sense to go over the spending pool one year and incur the penalties the next since they’ll still dig up players in the down year. That makes sense to come extent, but again, you are taking yourself out of the running for the top talent in a given year with that strategy. I don’t know the best way to go — it’s probably a combination of both depending on the talent pool and a given year, but again, who can predict that? — all I know is that this new system stinks.

4. Jon Heyman recently reported Hal Steinbrenner is “at the center of things” this winter, getting involved in talks with agents and whatnot. Ownership has been dipping its toes in the roster building pool more and more these last few years and with payroll set to come down, they seem to want even more control to ensure they actually get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. My biggest concern is depth. Owners get involved to bring in stars and big name guys, not role players. The Yankees have less money to spend this winter than most realize and if Hal & Co. blow it all on two or three big name free agents, there will be nothing left to upgrade the margins of the roster. The Bombers will end up with a top heavy roster similar to the 2004-2008 squads. You know what I’m talking about. Realistically, New York needs a catcher, a second baseman, a third baseman, a right fielder, a DH, at least two (preferably three) starters, at least one (preferably three!) relievers, and a bench. Two or three big name free agents won’t be enough to turn things around even if they’ll create the biggest headlines.

5. The hot stove is just getting warmed up, but there have already been a few contracts handed out (Tim Lincecum, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz*) that show just how much money is available in the game right now. Teams can’t spend big on amateurs and the best young big leaguers are getting signed to below-market contracts, so the only place that money can go (aside from the owner’s pocket) is towards free agents. Remember, all 30 clubs are getting an extra $25M or so starting in 2014 thanks to the new national television contracts. That’s an extra $25M to pump into the team, just like that. Put all that together and it’s even more annoying the Yankees are trimming payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold. Every other team in baseball is increasing its spending and using the extra cash while the team with the most revenue and in the biggest market is purposefully scaling back and refusing to use its natural financial advantage. This is only going to become even more obvious as the top shelf free agents come off the board. Sigh.

* How much more awful does letting Russell Martin walk for two years and $17M look now? Goodness.

Categories : Musings
Comments (128)
  • Morosi: Yankees have interest in Jhonny Peralta

    Via Jon Morosi: The Yankees are showing interest in free agent infielder Jhonny Peralta. I looked at him as a target last week and he’s a pretty great fit for their needs on the left side of the infield. New York will continue to look for infield help even after giving Derek Jeter a new contract and agreeing to re-sign Brendan Ryan.

    Peralta, 31, hit .303/.358/.457 (123 wRC+) with eleven homers in 448 plate appearances for the Tigers this season while also missing 50 games due to a Biogenesis-related suspension. He has played shortstop exclusively the last three years but has a couple thousand innings worth of experience at third base as well. The obstacle is convincing Peralta he should come to the Yankees to bounce between short and third rather than play one set position with another team. Stephen Drew took less money from the Red Sox last winter to avoid that kind of situation in New York.
    · (31) ·

  • Yankees announce 2014 Spring Training schedule

    The Yankees announced their 2014 Spring Training schedule late last week. Pitchers and catchers are due to report on Friday, February 14th with position players to follow five days later. The first full squad workout is slated for Thursday the 20th. The Yankees will play their first exhibition game on Monday the 25th against Florida State, then Grapefruit League play opens the next day against the Pirates. The Bombers will play a pair of exhibition games against the Marlins in Panama City on March 15-16th, remember.

    Spring Training season tickets go on sale today while individual game tickets will be available on January 10th. The full release is right here.
    · (4) ·

I was planning to post this video tonight anyway because hey, why not? But in the wake of the Brendan Ryan re-signing, it seems appropriate to go with a compilation of defensive wizardry at shortstop. That’s not Ryan though, that’s Braves youngster Andrelton Simmons, who recorded the highest single season dWAR — defense component of WAR at Baseball Reference — in baseball history this past season (5.4). That’s among all players and all positions. Greatest defensive season ever according to the metric, if you can believe that. Needless to say, the video features some insane plays (the plays at 2:28, 3:53, 9:05, 12:12, and 19:15 stand out in particular).

Anyway, once you’ve watched all 25 minutes (!) of Simmons, use this as your open thread. The Patriots and Panthers are the Monday Night Football Game, plus the Nets are playing. There’s got to be college something or other on as well. Talk about whatever. Enjoy.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (25)

Late addition: After talking about this with a few people, thinking about it some more, and reading the comments, it strikes me that perhaps Rosenthal misheard or misinterpreted the information. Even using the high-end signing figures the Yanks are just barely over that 5 percent threshold. Given the significant penalty for going even that fraction over, I find it hard to believe that they made such an error. Mistakes are made, of course, and it’s possible, but at this point I’m more apt to believe that they are still within the zero to 5 tier, and thus accrue only a tax on the overage rather than a restriction on players they can sign in the upcoming international signing period.

Furthermore, Rosenthal states that the “Cubs and Rangers went over the limit in 2012-13,” when in fact the Cubs and the Rangers are both over their limit in the current signing period, which is 2013-2014 (seeing as it started July 2, 2013 and extends into 2014). From what I’ve read, the Rays were the only team to exceed their international pool allotment in 2012-2013.

It would appear, then, that the Yankees’ plans to spend big in the international market concern this coming year’s class, which will open for business on July 2, 2014. The Yankees will have a larger pool of money this year, since they finished lower, but that won’t change the equation too much; last year, as the No. 28 team, they got less than $200K less than the No. 18 team. But the new period does give them a fresh crop of talent, and if they don’t care about the penalties they can spend as much as they’d like. Given the facts and the implications, this seems far, far more likely than them spending further money during the current period.

Original. One signature element of the current CBA is the restriction placed on almost all forms of amateur player acquisition. In both the Rule 4 draft and the international signing period, teams have limited pools of money at their disposals. Exceeding those limits incurs penalties that affect teams the following year, thereby discouraging lavish spending in any single draft or signing period. There’s even talk of an international draft, which would further limit teams in acquiring talent.*

*Really, it’s just one more way MLB strives for boring parity, rewarding bad teams with enormous talent opportunities, both in available dollars and preferred selection. But I digress.

Teams can create advantages for themselves, given the right circumstances and conditions. For example, if a team feels the current international class is strong and the next is weak, it can splurge before facing the heavy restrictions the following signing period. It appears the Yankees will take that path this year. They’ve already exceeded their $1.8 million international cap, signing CF Leonardo Molina for $1.4 million and SS Yonarius Rodriguez for $575,000. According to a recent bit by Ken Rosenthal, they’re not quite done yet.

According to Rosenthal, the Yankees are just 3.8 percent over their capped limit, but he also has the Rodriguez signing at $550,000. MLB Trade Rumors, which has the Rodriguez bonus at $575,000, notes that figure puts the Yankees more than 5 percent over the cap, therefore already inducing penalties. In that case they won’t be able to sign any player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period, which, given the two bonuses given to their signings this year, is a major impediment. The same penalty, with a greater tax on overages, is in place for the 10 to 15 percent bracket. That essentially means that as long as they can stomach the 100 percent tax on overages, there is no reason to sit at 5.1 percent over the cap. You might as well go all the way to 14.9 percent. Spending that exceeds 15 percent over pool dollars limits a team to $250,000 on a single player during the next signing period.

The question is of how the Yankees are going to spend this money. All of Baseball America’s Top 30 international prospects have signed. There could be a number of players with whom they have experience and who might have flown under BA’s radar. Even in that case, the Yankees don’t have a whole lot of bonus money within that 15 percent threshold; just under $200,000, to be exact. So in order to make an impact, they might have to go over 15 percent and further limit themselves for the upcoming signing period.

Or it could all be hooey. Rosenthal cites “rival international scouts,” and rival scouts have agendas. At the same time, if the Yankees are in fact over the 5 percent penalty, they might as well go hog wild. The rules make very little distinction between a 5.1 percent and a 14.9 percent overage.

Comments (35)

The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the up and down final season of an all-time Yankees great.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

When the Yankees coaxed Andy Pettitte out of retirement last season, it was supposed to be one last ride off into the sunset. Pettitte was going to come back, give whatever he had left, then walk away after the season. Again. Instead, a fluke injury robbed him of three months at midseason. The competitive juices were still flowing, so Andy decided to give it another go in 2013.

Unlike last summer, Pettitte was more than just a fun, feel-good story this year. He was an integral part of the team and he was paid as such — the Yankees re-signed him to a one-year pact worth a hefty $12M and penciled him in as their number three starter behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. This wasn’t “okay Andy, come back whenever you’re ready and do what you can.” This was “let’s go Andy, if we’re going to go anywhere you have to help carry us.”

Pettitte was baseball’s oldest starting pitcher come Opening Day and sometimes it was painfully obvious. Let’s break his season down into four separate acts.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Act I: Early Awesomeness
When he wasn’t hurt in 2012, Pettitte was pretty freakin’ awesome. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA and 3.48 FIP in 75.1 innings, posting his best strikeout (8.24 K/9 and 22.8 K%), walk (2.51 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%), and ground ball (56.3%) rates in years. It was amazing and much-needed considering how close the AL East race was down the stretch.

Early on this past season, that same Andy was on the mound. He pitched the team to their first win of the year with eight innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox in the third game of the season, and he followed up by allowing six runs total in his next three starts while throwing at least six innings each time. The Astros (of all teams) pounded him to close out the month (seven runs in 4.1 innings), but Pettitte got right back on the horse and pitched well in early-May. Following seven innings of two-run ball against the Royals on May 11th, he was sitting on a 3.83 ERA and 4.08 FIP in 44.1 innings through seven starts. Dandy.

Act II: Injuries & Ineffectiveness
On May 16th, Pettitte was forced from a start against the Mariners due to a sore trap muscle after only 4.2 innings. He had missed one start in April due to a stiff back, but the trap injury landed him on the DL for a touch more than two weeks. That was the risk of relying on a 40-year-old starter — a 40-year-old starter who had not thrown more than 130 innings since 2009 at that — injuries and physical setbacks figured to pop-up at some point.

Andy returned to the mound on June 3rd and clearly was not himself. He allowed at least four runs in eight of his next nine starts (including seven straight at one point), a nine-start stretch that featured a 5.04 ERA despite a 3.62 FIP. Opponents hit .295/.329/.436 against him in those nine games and the Pettitte trademark, the ability to wiggle out of jams, had deserted him. Pettitte looked old and washed up. I’m not sure there is another way to put it. He looked like a guy who should have stayed retired, frankly. The team didn’t have much of a chance to win on the days he pitched and through 17 starts, he had a 4.47 ERA and 3.78 FIP.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Act III: Empty The Tank
Something changed on June 24th. That ability to escape jams and keep the team in games had returned. Pettitte held the Rangers to two runs in six innings on that date, and five days later he held the Dodgers to two runs in seven innings. From June 24th through September 17th, a span of eleven starts, Andy allowed two earned runs or less eight times and only twice did he fail to complete six full innings of work. That works out to a 3.06 ERA and 3.54 FIP in 64.2 innings. He was back to being himself and not a moment too soon. The Yankees were fighting to stay in the playoff hunt and Pettitte had emerged as their best starter just as Kuroda began to fade.

Act IV: Blaze Of Glory
Following 6.1 innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays on September 17th, Pettitte owned a 3.93 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 169.1 innings across 28 starts. Three days later, he announced his intention to retire (for the second time) after the season. “I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field,” he said. “The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game.”

Andy’s final start at Yankee Stadium came two days later, on Mariano Rivera Day. The Yankees honored Mo will a long and incredible pre-game ceremony before Pettitte took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Giants. In that final home start, he surrendered two runs on two hits in seven innings against the defending World Champions. Andy walked off to the mound to a long and thunderous ovation after being removed from the game.

Four days later, Pettitte and long-time teammate Derek Jeter were sent out to the mound to remove Rivera from the final appearance of his career. Those few days were just unreal. Incredibly exciting and emotional and heartbreaking all at once. What a way to go out.

Andy made the final start of his season and career on September 28th, appropriately enough against the Astros in Houston, his hometown and the only other Major League team for which he played. Pettitte went out in style, allowing one run in the complete-game win. It was his first nine-inning complete-game since August 2006 and his first nine-inning complete-game for the Yankees since August 2003. It was the kind of start that seemed unthinkable as recently as mid-June, and yet, Andy did it. Remarkable.

* * *

All told, Pettitte pitched to a 3.74 ERA and 3.70 FIP in 185.1 innings this season, right in line with his career 3.85 ERA and 3.74 FIP. Same ol’ Andy, basically. Steady and reliable. Yeah, the 2013 campaign was shaky at times but that was to be expected at his age and with the long recent layoffs. When it was all said and done, Pettitte was an obvious positive for the 2013 squad. He retires as the greatest Yankees pitcher in history — an argument can certainly be made for Whitey Ford, but I think Andy just edges him out — and one of the most beloved players in team history. Few rank above him.

It is sad to see Andy go again, but I think it’s clear the time has come to call it a career. When he retired following the 2010 season, I thought it was obvious he still had something left in the tank and could continue pitching for another year or two. This time, I’m not so sure. He really labored for long stretches of time this summer and his usual start-to-start consistency just wasn’t there. The nagging injuries, stiff backs and strained lats and the like, became more frequent as well. Pettitte is one of my all-time favorites and the Yankees wouldn’t have hung around the postseason race as long as they did without him, but the tank looks to tapped out. Saying goodbye will be much easier for fans and Pettitte alike this time around.

Categories : Players
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2013 Season: 85-77 (637 RS, 671 RA, 77-85 pythag. record), didn’t qualify for playoffs

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?

Categories : Polls
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Weekend Open Thread

By in Links, Open Thread. · Comments (124) ·

If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, then you might remember my Friday Randomness posts from the pre-RAB days. That was a long, long time ago. Geez. It was literally just a collection of links I had sitting around, interesting stuff I read throughout the week. Almost all of it was baseball related, but once a while some non-baseball stuff would sneak in. I’ve decided to bring that back here and this is the first entry. The nightly open thread is a pretty good spot to do that. This week’s stuff is pretty old, but that’s okay. Away we go:

  • My buddy Robert Sanchez profiled Cy Young winner Max Scherzer earlier this year for ESPN (Insider req’d). Scherzer’s brother Alex committed suicide last June and Max really opened up about their relationship and how his brother’s death affected him both on and off the field. Robert is one of the best writers I know and Scherzer is an impossibly great guy (met him at the ALCS). You can’t read the piece and not come away rooting for him.
  • Former big leaguer infielder Adrian Cardenas — who I once wrote up as a potential target for the Yankees — wrote an article in the New Yorker about why he quit baseball at age 25. He now studies creative writing and philosophy at NYU because he simply enjoys school more than baseball. Hard to believe someone can work so hard to get to the show then give it up to go back to school, but I guess the game isn’t for everyone, even if you’re good at it.
  • In another ESPN piece (Insider req’d), Sam Miller wrote about the science of team chemistry. Front offices are trying to measure and quantify “clubhouse atmosphere,” and a study by professors from Rutgers and Santa Clara University found that clubs with a lot of diversity outperform other clubs by about three wins a year. Young players hang out with other young players, Dominican players hang out with other Dominican players, star players hang out with other star players, stuff like that, so the more overlap you have between groups, the better the clubhouse chemistry. Pretty fascinating stuff.
  • Last one and this one’s kinda old: friend of RAB Jonah Keri spoke to Coco Crisp about the art of stealing bases, specifically getting jumps and reading a pitcher’s move. It’s a long but really interesting read. These small, easy to overlook “game within the game” aspects of baseball always fascinate me.

I’ll try to keep the links more current going forward, but I had some bookmarks to clean out and these were all in them. Figured I might as well post them here rather than just dump them. Hope you find one or two worthwhile.

Friday: Anyway, now that that’s all out of the way, here is open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are both playing tonight, plus there’s college basketball on somewhere. I’m sure of it. Talk about whatever. Go nuts.

Saturday: Once again, use this as your open thread for the night. The five hockey and basketball locals are all playing, plus there’s college football and basketball on somewhere. Anything goes here. Have at it.

Sunday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. The late NFL game is the Chiefs and Broncos (that should be fun) plus the Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else.

Categories : Links, Open Thread
Comments (124)

First, the notes:

  • The Yankees have hired Jody Reed as a roving instructor, reports Joel Sherman. The long time big league infielder worked in the organization from 2007-2010. He spent last year managing in Double-A for the Dodgers. This is one of the few personnel changes the team made to their development staff.
  • Matt Eddy has the list of all 550 minor league free agents, only ten of which are Yankees: RHP Cory Arbiso, RHP Sam Demel, RHP Yoshinori Tateyama, C Bobby Wilson, 1B Andrew Clark, 1B Randy Ruiz, IF Reegie Corona, IF Walt Ibarra, OF Fernando Martinez, and OF Corey Patterson. Ibarra is the only one of those guys who is even close to being considered a prospect and he’s already signed with the Cubs.
  • The Yankees have signed 3B Zelous Wheeler to a minor league contract, according to Eddy. No idea if he got an invite to Spring Training. The 26-year-old hit .275/.354/.414 (~117 wRC+) with eleven homers in 461 plate appearances splits between Double-A and Triple-A with the Orioles this past summer. Just a depth signing, the Bombers need all they can get on the left side of the infield.
  • Starting in 2015, the NCAA will switch to a flat-seamed baseball similar to what they use in the minors, reports Aaron Fitt. A study showed the flat-seam ball travels an average of 20-feet farther than the raised-seam ball they’ve been using forever. Breaking balls will also break a bit less. The NCAA is doing it boost offense, but the new ball will also make it a bit easier to evaluate pitching prospects at the collegiate level.

Second, the updates:

Arizona Fall League (season ended this week, so these stats are final)

  • OF Tyler Austin: 4 G, 4-12, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (.333/.438/.500) — his season ended early after the bone bruise in his right wrist flared up
  • UTIL Addison Maruszak: 10 G, 9-32, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 10 BB, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.281/.452/.344) — replaced Austin on the roster
  • 3B/C Peter O’Brien: 16 G, 12-63, 5 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 26 K (.190/.212/.413) — 26 strikeouts in 66 plate appearances (39.4%)
  • OF Mason Williams: 22 G, 23-86, 11 R, 6 2B, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 4 SB, 2 CS (.267/.330/.337) — was hoping for more considering how hitter-friendly the AzFL is
  • RHP Brett Gerritse: 9 G, 11.2 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 12 K, 2 HR,1 WP, 1 HB (9.26 ERA, 1.96 WHIP)
  • LHP Fred Lewis: 11 G, 11 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 10 K, 1 WP (0.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
  • LHP Vidal Nuno: 5 G, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 20 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 18 K, 1 HR (3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) — a roster spot is his for the taking in Spring Training at this point
  • LHP James Pazos: 10 G, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 9 K, 2 WP (1.74 ERA, 1.94 WHIP) — saw him during one of the televised games and he was pumping 97 from the left side, so that alone making him interesting

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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