Minor League Notes: Newman, AzFL, Higashioka

A few days ago we learned the Pulaski Yankees of the rookie Appalachian League will be joining the organization as the Yankees’ eighth domestic minor league affiliate starting next season. The club will serve as a stepping stone between the two rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates and Short Season Staten Island. Here are some more minor league notes with the Arizona Fall League still more than three weeks away.

  • According to¬†George King, the Yankees have known about the impending retirement of VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman since February. He’s been with the team since 1988 and has been running for the running the farm system for the last 15 years now. King adds that special assistant Trey Hillman, who was tabbed as Newman’s likely replacement, may not be interested in the job. Hal Steinbrenner will conduct a “total evaluation” of the player development system after the season and it may result in a “complete overhaul.”
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been re-signed after becoming a six-year minor league free agent, according to Matt Eddy. Josh Norris adds Higashioka has been assigned to the Arizona Fall League as the team’s last position player. He missed most of these season following Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are sending several top prospects to the desert this year, including OF Aaron Judge, 3B Eric Jagielo, 1B Greg Bird, and OF Tyler Austin.
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder was named the second baseman for Baseball America’s Triple-A International League All-Star Team. No other Yankees’ farmhands made their classification All-Star Teams. SS Angel Aguilar, UTIL Bryan Cuevas, and OF Alex Palma all made the official GCL postseason All-Star Team.
  • Marc Hulet of FanGraphs reviewed the year the was in the team’s farm system. RHP Shane Greene and RHP Luis Severino understandably earned praise for their rises this season, albeit at very different levels.
  • And finally, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs put together a super early look at the 2015 draft class. Lots of names and lots of information. Make sure you check it out. The Yankees are currently slated to have the 18th overall pick.
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Update: VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman will retire after the season, other changes possible

Newman.
Newman.

The Yankees will likely have a new voice running the farm system next year. Vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman is believed to be retiring after the season, reports George King. The team has not made an official announcement and both Newman and Brian Cashman declined to comment on the matter, so this isn’t final just yet.

Newman has been with the Yankees since 1988 and has been running the farm system for the last 15 years. He came under some scrutiny last season when Hal Steinbrenner was unhappy with the team’s player development system. King says there is some belief the Yankees would decline to renew Newman’s contract after the season even if he doesn’t decide to retire. Sounds like he’s a goner either way.

The Yankees tend to promote from within, so it’s no surprise that King says special assistant Trey Hillman is expected to replace Newman. Hillman, who managed the Royals from 2008-10, rejoined the Yankees this past offseason. He managed in the team’s farm system from 1990-2001 and has also spent time managing in Japan. Hillman spent this season working with minor leaguers, I believe.

In addition to Newman, the Yankees are also likely to cut ties with director of player development Pat Roessler after the season, according to King. He has been in that role for quite a while now. King says former Yankees hitting coach Gary Denbo will likely replace Roessler. Denbo has been with the team as a scouting and player development consultant since 2009.

The Yankees only made what they called “procedural” changes late last year after reviewing their farm system, and many fans (myself included) weren’t thrilled about that. Procedural changes are boring because we can’t actually see them at work. Replacing Newman and Roessler would be substantial changes to the player development system though. I have no idea how qualified Hillman and Denbo are for those positions, but they will bring new voices, and hopefully that leads to some production from the system. The Yankees definitely need it.

Update: Newman has already informed Hal Steinbrenner that he intends to retire, according to Mark Feinsand. Steinbrenner plans to conduct a “total evaluation” of the player development system that could result in a “complete overhaul” after the season. Feinsand says Denbo, Roessler, amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, and player development staffer Jody Reed could all be replaced. Furthermore, Feinsand hears any replacements are expected to come from outside the organization “as the Yankee brass believes that new ideas and a new direction are needed.”

Yankees finish off sweep of Astros to wrap up 2013 season


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees aren’t going to the postseason, but this game almost dragged on long enough to have they playing in October. The 2013 season ended with a 5-1 win over the Astros (in 14 innings!) and a sweep in Houston. Let’s recap the last victory of the year:

  • Shutdown Bullpen: Considering how terrible the bullpen was at times down the stretch, it’s kinda funny they turned in one of their best efforts of the season on Sunday. Six relievers combined to retire of 27 of 30 batters faced in nine scoreless innings. They struck out a dozen. Dellin Betances was particularly impressive (four strikeouts in 2.1 perfect innings), as what Matt Daley (two strikeouts in two perfect innings). David Robertson closed out the season with a perfect frame.
  • Late Rally(ies): Let’s just say the Yankees didn’t show much urgency at the plate in this game. There were a lot of quick outs in the first seven innings and understandably so. Everyone wanted to go home. Eduardo Nunez (double) and Curtis Granderson (single) didn’t get the memo, apparently, and combined to create the trying run in the eighth. The two teams remained tied at one until the 14th, when Mark Reynolds hit a mammoth homer to left center to put everyone out of their misery give the Yankees a one-run lead. Nunez doubled in two runs later in the inning and J.R. Murphy singled in another to give the club some more breathing room. Five of eight batters reached base in the 14th after five of the previous 22 batters reached.
  • Almost Historic: One more strikeout. That’s all the Yankees needed to set a new franchise single-game strikeout record. Instead, they tied the club record by whiffing 19 Astros in the 14 innings. They also struck out 19 Blue Jays in 2001 (17 innings) and 19 White Sox in 1987 (15 innings). The franchise record for a nine inning game is 18 strikeouts, done twice before — Ron Guidry’s game in 1978 and a combined effort just two years ago.
  • Leftovers: For the 17th time this year, the Yankees did not draw a single walk. That ties the franchise record set in 1919 and 1971 … Nunez led the way with three hits but Granderson, Brendan Ryan, and Zoilo Almonte had two apiece … David Huff struck out a career-high-tying seven while allowing one run in five innings … the Yankees struck out 16 times themselves (David Adams five times all by himself), one shy of the franchise’s all-time record. They’ve struck out 17 times on three occasions, most recently in 2010.

For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, check out FanGraphs. For the final standings, go to ESPN. With the season over, it’s time for hot stove talk and rumors and trades and whatever else the next four and a half brings. I do think the Yankees will be busy this winter and I do think there are some front office-level changes coming, particularly on the player development side. We’ll see. Thanks for sticking around this season. It was a blast.

Yankees bring back Oppenheimer, Newman, and Eppler for 2012

Via George King (subs. req’d), the Yankees have re-signed pro scouting director Billy Eppler, amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, and VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman for 2012. Eppler and Oppenheimer were both candidates for the Angels GM job earlier this offseason, with Eppler finishing as the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto. Oppenheimer was also up for the Orioles GM job. It’s only a matter of time before the Yankees lose those two to other clubs, but they’ll remain in the Bronx for at least one more year.

GM Meetings Notes: Pettitte, Aldred, Peterson

"Tell Derek we'll give him a G4. A G6 is out of the question." (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

The annual General Manager Meetings officially start tomorrow in Orlando, though the hot stove is a 24 hours-a-day league. Most of the items on this week’s agenda involve off-the-field stuff like rules and the draft and what not, but of course there will be rumors. Oh yes, there will be rumors. Here’s what Brian Cashman had to say this evening (sources in parenthesis)…

  • There’s still no word as to whether or not Andy Pettitte plans to pitch in 2011 (Jon Paul Morosi). Pettitte recently indicated that if he does pitch next season, it will be his last. Don’t go yet, Andy.
  • Triple-A Scranton pitching coach Scott Aldred will interview for the team’s vacant pitching coach position later this week (Marc Carig). Leo Mazzone is not a candidate for the job after turning them down about five years ago. You might remember that the long-time Braves’ pitching guru said he’s interested in the job a few weeks ago. He’s been out of the game for three seasons now.
  • Cashman would neither confirm nor deny that former Mets’ pitching coach Rick Peterson is a candidate for the Yankee job (Anthony McCarron). The Brewers canned Peterson on Monday, unsurprising after hiring a new manager. The official RAB stance is a “no” on Peterson, who’s a big time control freak and hasn’t done much of anything since getting away from those three great arms with the Athletics half-a-decade ago. Then again, it’s not easy for fans to evaluate pitching coaches since basically all of their work goes on behind the scenes.
  • Cash hopes to bring the rest of the coaching staff back intact, though Mike Harkey could end up in the dugout as the pitching coach rather than out beyond the right-centerfield wall as bullpen coach (Chad Jennings). Hitting coach Kevin Long already agreed to a fat new deal, so that leaves Harkey, bench coach Tony Pena, first base coach Mick Kelleher, and third base coach Rob Thomson. Both Pena and Thomson have been mentioned as managerial candidates elsewhere, but those jobs are quickly going to other people.
  • The Yankees don’t think that Derek Jeter would ultimately decide to leave the New York, but they’re preparing themselves for a long and presumably grueling negotiation (Jon Heyman). Would it be wise for Jeter to wait this one out and let some other free agents sign to take away the team’s back-up plans? Who else is there anyway?
  • “I’m not optimistic that we’re going to get anything done from a Yankees perspective,” said Cashman (Bryan Hoch). “Maybe we will from an industry perspective. From a Yankee perspective, we’ll gather as much information as we can, but I don’t think there’s anything close enough for us to act on.” Doesn’t sound like he expects them to pull off any big trades or sign any free agents this week, but remember that the wheels of the Curtis Granderson trade were first put into motion at least year’s GM Meetings

And finally, congrats to VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman for winning the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award, given for distinguished service in minor league player development. Given the monster year the farm system had, he deserves it. A job well done.