Saturday Links: Otani, Draft Info, Mock Drafts, Old Timers’ Day

Otani. (Presswire)
Otani. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Orioles continue their weekend series later tonight, with a 7:15pm ET game. Boy, I sure do hate Saturday night games. Anyway, until then, check out Jorge Posada’s letter to his younger self at The Players’ Tribune, then check out these stray bits of news.

Latest on Shohei Otani

Earlier this week Jeff Passan posted a bit of an update on Nippon Ham Fighters ace/slugger Shohei Otani, the best player in the world not under contract with one of the 30 big league teams. Otani is only 22, which means he would be subject to the international bonus hard cap if he were to come over to MLB this offseason. Waiting until he’s 25 would allow him to sign a contract of any size. Anyway, the important details from Passan:

  • There is “significant skepticism” that Otani will come over to MLB this winter. Teams estimate his market value right now, at age 22, at at least $200M. Market value is not the same thing as earning potential, of course.
  • MLB is expected to be “vigilant to ensure the sanctity of the system is not made a mockery by extralegal payments,” meaning a team couldn’t give Otani a long-term contract shortly after signing him, thereby circumventing the hard cap.
  • AL teams believe they have an inside track to sign Otani because they can let him DH between starts. NL teams are wary of letting him play the outfield when he’s not on the mound.

Otani, by the way, has been hampered by a nagging ankle issue this season. He has yet to pitch and only recently did he return to the lineup as a designated hitter. He’s hitting .407/.469/.815 with five doubles and two homers in eight games so far.

My guess — and this is only a guess — is Otani will not come over to MLB this winter. I think he’ll instead announce his intention to come over next offseason, allowing teams to get their international bonus money situation in order. Right now, just about every team has agreements in place with Latin American players for July 2nd, leaving them no money for Otani over the winter. We’ll see.

Latest Mock Drafts

With the draft two days away, the consensus right now is the Twins will select Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright with the first overall pick. That allows California HS SS/RHP Hunter Greene, the unanimous No. 1 prospect in the draft class, to slip to the Reds with the second pick, or maybe even the Padres with the third pick. Anyway, here are the latest mock drafts and their Yankees’ picks:

In the FanGraphs write-up Eric Longenhagen notes the Yankees have had “special assistants” in to see Rogers, though I should note that isn’t unusual for any player under first round consideration. Baseball America says the Yankees have been “linked to college arms all spring, but (they) also could go for the right college bat.” MLB.com links them to California HS 1B Nick Pratto (RAB profile) in addition to Canning and Rogers.

(Self-Promotion: I posted a mock draft at CBS that is little more than educated guesswork, so check that out. I’m not going to tell you who I have the Yankees taking. No, I’m not above begging for clicks.)

(Matthew Ziegler/Getty)
(Matthew Ziegler/Getty)

Swisher, Boucher to represent Yankees at draft

Last week MLB announced the representatives for all 30 teams for Monday’s draft broadcast on MLB Network. Nick Swisher and Denis Boucher are representing the Yankees. Here are every team’s representatives. Swisher is Swisher. He played for the Yankees from 2009-12 and was very productive. He’ll go down as one of Brian Cashman‘s greatest trades. Also, when Swisher left as a free agent, the Yankees used the compensation draft pick to select Aaron Judge. That trade is the gift that keeps on giving.

Boucher has been with the Yankees since 2010 and he more or less runs their amateur scouting in Eastern Canada. His MLB playing career was brief (1991-94 with the Blue Jays, Indians, Expos) and since then he’s worked to grow the game in Canada. Boucher has coached Canadian Olympic teams, in the World Baseball Classic, and a bunch of other international tournaments. He’s also been involved in developing Canada’s youth baseball program. Certainly not a household name, but Boucher has done a lot to promote the game north of the border. Pretty cool the Yankees are rewarding him with a trip to the draft.

Also, I should note MLB has announced four prospects will attend the draft Monday: Greene, Rogers, Kentucky HS OF Jordon Adell (RAB profile), and Alabama HS OF Bubba Thompson (RAB profile). Would be kinda cool if the Yankees picked a kid actually at the draft, no? Judge and Ian Clarkin were there for the 2013 draft, remember.

Yankees announce Old Timers’ Day roster

Old Timers’ Day is Sunday, June 25th this year — two weeks from tomorrow — and a few days ago the Yankees announced the list of attendees. Here’s the press release. Most are the usual suspects. Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Paul O’Neill, Ron Guidry, etc. The guys we see every Old Timers’ Day. The most notable first time Old Timer is Jorge Posada. He’s the first member of the Core Four (groan) to attend Old Timers’ Day. Neat.

Also, during the Old Timers’ Day festivities, the Yankees will hold a special ceremony to honor new Hall of Famer Tim Raines. Raines is going into the Hall of Fame as an Expo (duh), but he was an incredibly productive platoon outfielder with the Yankees from 1996-98. Rock hit .299/.395/.429 (120 wRC+) with 18 homers and 26 steals in 940 plate appearances those years, his age 36-38 seasons. Pretty awesome.

Game 63: Old Timers’ Day

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Based on experience, Old Timers’ Day is an event best enjoyed live at Yankee Stadium. It makes for a long day at the ballpark, but being there to see all those great Yankees on the field is pretty damn awesome. Pretty much no other team in baseball can pull off something like this.

Today is the first Old Timers’ Day since Yogi Berra passed away, which is pretty sad. Yogi and George Steinbrenner had their long feud from 1985-99, but since then, he had been a staple at Old Timers’ Day. Berra was one of the greatest catchers in history and seeing players like him is what makes this day so special.

The full roster of Old Timers can be found right here. We’re still waiting for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera to make their Old Timers’ Day debuts, though there are still plenty of all-time great players and personal faves scheduled to appear today. I’m looking forward to seeing Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui myself.

The Old Timers’ Day festivities are scheduled to begin at 11:30am ET or so. There will be the baseline introductions and then the Old Timers’ Game, as usual. Here are the lineups, via Pete Caldera:

Old Timers' Day lineup

Looks a wee bit lopsided to me! The Clippers have youth on their side though. Don’t underestimate guys like Bubba Crosby and Mariano Duncan. They want to show they can still play during their Old Timers’ Day debut.

We’ve got some pretty nice weather in New York today. It’s sunny with temperatures in the low-80s. It’s really windy though. My hat almost got blown off my head a few times when I went out for breakfast this morning. Like I said, the Old Timers’ Day stuff will begin at 11:30am ET. The series finale between the Yankees and Tigers will follow at 2pm ET. Enjoy the day, everyone.

Update (1:26pm ET): Here is the lineup for the regular game this afternoon:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. C Austin Romine
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Michael Pineda

Here is the Tigers’ lineup.

Saturday Links: Old Timers’ Day, Mateo, Pettitte, Draft

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Rays will continue their three-game series a little later this afternoon. Until then, here are some links to help you pass the time.

Old Timers’ Day roster announced

Earlier this week the Yankees announced the roster of attendees for the 70th annual Old Timers’ Day this summer. Old Timers’ Day is Sunday, June 12th this year. That’s two weeks from tomorrow. Among the first time Old Timers this year are John Wetteland, Mariano Duncan, Bubba Crosby (!), and Eddie Robinson. Robinson, 95, is the oldest living Yankee. Pretty cool that he’ll be there. Here’s the full Old Timers’ Day roster. Still no Core Four members. /shrugs

Mateo among Law’s top 25 midseason prospects

Keith Law updated his list of the top 25 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d) a few days ago. Both Dodgers SS Corey Seager and Twins OF Byron Buxton have since graduated to the big leagues, so Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito now sits in the top spot. SS Jorge Mateo just barely makes the list at No. 25. Here’s a piece of Law’s write-up:

Mateo’s line this year is a little fluky — .388 BABIP and more home runs (5) than he had in all of 2015 (2) — but he certainly can hit and run, which, as long as he’s at shortstop, makes him a future above-average regular with a chance to develop into a star.

I respectfully disagree about the .388 BABIP being fluky. It is not uncommon for a top prospect to run a high BABIP in the minors, especially speedy guys like Mateo. A .380-ish BABIP across the full season wouldn’t be completely nuts. Anyway, Mateo ranked 55th on Law’s preseason list, so he made a real big jump in the span of two months. OF Aaron Judge ranked 35th before the season and is not in the updated top 25.

Pettitte, Thurman to represent Yankees at 2016 draft

Andy Pettitte and scout Mike Thurman will represent the Yankees during the 2016 draft broadcast on MLB Network this year, MLB announced. Here is the full list of team representatives. It reads like an MVP Baseball 2005 roster. Thurman is the team’s Pacific Northwest scout and Pettitte is Pettitte. Commissioner Rob Manfred announces all first round picks during the broadcast before the team representatives take over, so Pettitte figures to announce New York’s second round selection (No. 62 overall). David Cone, Jeff Nelson, Tino Martinez, and Willie Randolph are among those who have represented the Yankees in previous drafts.

Yankee Stadium security guard fired for stealing memorabilia

According to Nathaniel Vinton, a Yankee Stadium security guard — and former NYPD detective — named Joe Flannino was fired for stealing memorabilia. Flannino was on the Yankee Stadium security staff from 1997-2013 before being reassigned to the archive room, which is where he was caught lifting documents. As far as I can tell there was no arrest made. Flannino was terminated and apologized to team officials. I wonder what else is in that archive room. Probably some pretty cool (and valuable) stuff, huh?

Yanks announce Rivera plaque coming to Monument Park, ticket sale dates, promotion dates

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Earlier today the Yankees announced a whole bunch of the 2016 calendar news. First and foremost, individual game tickets will go on sale online beginning Monday, February 22nd at 10am ET. You can walk up to the Yankee Stadium ticket booth and begin buying tickets the following day, February 23rd.

Now that you know when you can buy tickets to get in the door, here’s the big news: the Yankees are dedicating a plaque in Mariano Rivera‘s honor this coming season. No. 42 is already retired in Rivera’s (and Jackie Robinson’s) honor, but now he’s getting a plaque too. Pretty cool. The Rivera plaque ceremony will take place on Sunday, August 14th. That’s a 1pm ET game against the Rays.

The Yankees also announced they will have a special ceremony honoring the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Yankees on August 13th, the day before Mo’s ceremony. We celebrated the 1996 Yankees all last week during Retro Week. Old Timers’ Day is scheduled for Sunday, June 12th. The 1996 club is getting their own special day, as they should. No plans for that ceremony have been announced yet.

And finally, the Yankees also announced their full 2016 promotional schedule. You can see it here. The highlights: bat day for the unmarketable Alex Rodriguez on May 14th, Didi Gregorius bobblehead on August 7th, and a Dellin Betances bobblehead on September 10th.  I want them all.

Game 68: Old Timers’ Day

Willie's Day. (Presswire)
Willie’s Day. (Presswire)

Today is one of my favorite days of the season: Old Timers’ Day. It’s not just Old Timers’ Day either — the Yankees will also honor Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park today, something that is long overdue. He’s arguably the best second baseman in franchise history, after all. One of the three best at the very least.

The full roster of Old Timers can be found right here. No Derek Jeter, no Jorge Posada, no Andy Pettitte, and no Mariano Rivera. Lame. No Hideki Matsui or Mike Mussina either. Even lamer. Still plenty of all-time greats though. I’m looking forward to seeing Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Charlie Hayes, and Johnny Damon the most for some reason. I mean, I want to see all of ’em, but those four in particular.

Here are the Old Timers’ Game lineups, via the Yankees on Twitter:

Old Timers' Day Lineups

Now, the bad news: the weather kinda stinks today. It was raining this morning into the early afternoon, though things cleared up not too long ago and the forecast says it will stay clear for Old Timers festivities. Then it’s supposed to start raining again later tonight. The baseball gods will clear things up and make sure they get the ceremonies in. I’m sure of it.

The Old Timers’ Day stuff starts at 4pm ET and will be shown on YES. No, it is not streamed online anywhere as far as I know. At least not legally. Tonight’s game against the Tigers will follow at 7pm ET and will also be shown on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. The lineups haven’t been announced yet. That’ll happen closer to game time. For now, enjoy the Old Timers’ Day fun.

Update (3:39pm): The lineups for tonight’s game are out already. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. LF Chris Young
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Enjoy the day, folks.

Injury Update: Mason Williams (shoulder) went for an MRI today, Joe Girardi told reporters. They don’t have the results yet. Williams jammed his shoulder diving back into first base on a pickoff throw last night.

Sunday Links: Harper, McCann, Old Timers’ Day, Draft

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)
(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The Yankees and Orioles wrap up their three-game series later this afternoon. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Future Yankee Bryce Harper?

It was inevitable. When the Nationals visited the Bronx to play the Yankees last week, Bryce Harper was asked about his hardly imminent free agency and whether he would consider signing with the Yankees. Harper grew up a Yankees fan because of his father, a big Mickey Mantle fan, and famously said he wants to “play in the pinstripes” in his 2009 Sports Illustrated feature.

“I enjoy playing for the Nationals,” said Harper to Dan Martin last week, astutely avoiding the question about the Yankees. “We try to win a World Series, just like every other team. If I could bring that back to DC, bring that back to the city, that’s what I want to do. I’ve said it for a long, long time. That’s something that I want to do … We have such a great team here. I look at every single day as a new day. I go in and have the same mentality. DC is a great place to play. It’s a monumental town.”

Harper won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season, when he will still be only 26 years old. He’s already one of the best players in the game and figures to be in position to smash contract records when he hits the open market a la Alex Rodriguez in 2000. Sure, the Nationals have one of the wealthiest owners in sports and could sign Harper to an extension at some point, but Giancarlo Stanton set the bar at $325M, and I’m sure Scott Boras will look to top that with Harper. (Stanton signed his deal at roughly the same service time level Harper will be at after the season.)

It both is and is not too early to look ahead to Harper’s free agency. It is early because geez, it’s still three and a half years away, but it isn’t because Harper is so talented and will be such a hot commodity. He’s a can’t your eyes off him superstar in every way. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently wrote it “would be shocking if Harper isn’t wearing a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in 2019,” in fact. Most of the team’s huge contracts will be off the books by then and the Yankees will be in position to go huge for Harper, who might command 12 years and $400M+ come 2018.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

How McCann stopped popping up

During his first season with the Yankees, Brian McCann was a pop-up machine, hitting weak fly ball after weak fly ball, which resulted in a disappointing .232/.286/.406 (96 wRC+) line with a .231 BABIP. All those weak fly balls were easy outs, hence the low BABIP. McCann has been one of the team’s best hitters this season though, coming into the weekend with a .264/.327/.447 (122 wRC+) line that is right in line with the 121 wRC+ he put up during his healthy seasons with the Braves from 2009-13.

How did McCann improve this year? He stopped popping up, as Eno Sarris explains. McCann credits former hitting coach Kevin Long for some mechanical adjustments late last season. “Last year, for whatever reason, my hands weren’t taking a direct route to the ball,” said McCann to Eno. McCann averaged about 4.0% infield pop-ups from 2006-03, but that jumped to 5.0% last year, and it doesn’t take into account all the weak fly balls to the outfield. This year he’s down to a 0.8% pop-up rate (!), one of the lowest in the game. Fewer pop-ups, more hard contact, better McCann.

Old Timers’ Day attendees announced

Earlier this week the Yankees announced the list of former players, coaches, and personnel who will attend Old Timers’ Day next Saturday. Here is the full list. No Derek Jeter, no Jorge Posada, no Andy Pettitte, and no Mariano Rivera. Also no Mike Mussina or Hideki Matsui either this year. Lame. Oh well, it’ll still be fun. The Yankees will honor Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park that night as well.

Several 2015 draft picks en route to Tampa

According to his Twitter feed, LHP Jeff Degano (2nd round) traveled to Florida earlier this week, which usually indicates he has a deal in place and will sign soon. Bryan Hoch and Jeff Hartsell say 3B Donny Sands (8th) and LHP James Reeves (10th) will turn pro as well. Also, RHP Kolton Montgomery (16th) and 1B Kale Sweeney (29th) told ABC 4 Sports and Norm Sanders, respectively, they are signing with the Yankees and will report to Tampa. The team’s mini-camp for draftees actually started Thursday, so these guys are probably already in uniform working out.

And finally, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed to Chad Jennings the Yankees will sign RHP Alex Robinett (32nd). Robinett is a second lieutenant and a staff ace at West Point, and will have to finish his military commitment after playing this summer. “Hopefully we can keep him in some kind of baseball shape when he’s able to finish that commitment and come back after serving his country,” said Oppenheimer. Earlier this season Cardinals righty Mitch Harris became the first military academy graduate to play in MLB in nearly a century.

Law’s team-by-team draft breakdowns

Keith Law posted his AL and NL draft reviews earlier this week (subs. req’d). He didn’t hand out grades or anything like that, just said which picks he liked and didn’t like. Law says the Yankees “wanted a bat with their first pick, but all the candidates went before them,” which is what I wondered the other day. He also says Degano has “first-round stuff, but slipped because he hadn’t pitched in more than two years due to Tommy John surgery and will turn 23 this fall,” and that RHP Drew Finley (3rd) “was a steal.” The Yankees reportedly had interest in Finley for their supplemental first round pick, the 30th selection, but they were able to get him with the 92th pick. Neat.

Also make sure you check out Draft to the Show’s review of New York’s draft class.

Saturday Links: Leyritz, Tommy John Surgery, Tulowitzki

The Yankees and Royals continues their series with a dreaded Saturday night game (man I hate those) later today. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Jim Leyritz invited to Old Timers’ Day

For the very first time, Jim Leyritz has been invited to Old Timers’ Day, according to George King and Steve Serby. Apparently Leyritz ran into Jennifer Steinbrenner over the winter and that got the ball rolling. “I don’t want to think the Yankees define who I am, but I spent 11 years there, it was my family. To be back and part of that family, I can’t tell you what it means to me. I am so pleased it’s finally happening,” said Leyritz.

Leyritz hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history in Game Four of the 1996 World Series, when he tied the game with a three-run shot off Mark Wohlers in the top of the eighth. That homer altered the course of two franchises. Of course, Leyritz has had ugly off-the-field issues since the end of his playing career, most notably facing DUI and manslaughter charges following an accident in 2010. He was acquitted and ended up serving one year probation, plus he settled a civil suit with the family of the woman who was killed for six figures.

Yankees lend their arms to Tommy John surgery research

Over the last year or so, the Yankees have been bit by the Tommy John surgery bug like just about every other team. Last April they lost Ivan Nova to the zipper, Masahiro Tanaka is trying to avoid surgery for his partial ligament tear, and a few days ago Chase Whitley suffered an elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery. Top prospects Ty Hensley and Domingo German had their elbows rebuilt earlier this year as well.

In an effort to help find a way to reduce torn elbow ligaments, the Yankees and several other teams have participated in biomechanical research conducted by MLB and American Sports Medicine Institute, according to Mike Vorkunov. Here are the details:

Last March, in eight spring training camps around baseball, including the Phillies and Yankees, 80 pitchers — 40 with no history of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction and 40 with one — were stamped with 23 reflective markers and threw 10 fastballs at full effort as 10 cameras tracked and analyzed their movement.

It was the first attempt by Major League Baseball, the players association and ASMI to learn if there was a bio-mechanical underpinning to pitchers that eventually had to have Tommy John surgery and those that had avoided it to that point.

The study found no link. The results were hardly dispositive and the research itself was just an initial step for the group.

Another study — this one spanning five years — started this spring and will monitor pitchers with five organizations fresh out of the draft. The Mets are participating in that but it’s unclear if the Yankees are as well. “That the elbow ligament, when it tears, is the end result of multiple processes. We’re not going to find one unifying theory. My guess is it’s multiple factors,” said Dr. Gary Green, MLB’s chief medical officer. The league is also looking into less invasive ways to repair a partial tear, like Tanaka’s. Check out the article, some interesting stuff in there.

Tul-oh no! (Victor Decolongon/Getty)
(Victor Decolongon/Getty)

Tulowitzki will not request a trade from Rockies

Well this is interesting. Troy Tulowitzki told Thomas Harding will not request a trade from the Rockies after meeting with his agent a few days ago. “Whatever happens on the Rockies’ end happens, but for me to sit here and try to force my way out of here, that’s not the case,” said Tulowitzki. “I don’t think it’s fair to my teammates and the relationships I’ve built here to take that route.” (Tulowitzki left last night’s game with a quad injury, by the way.)

I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but I get the feeling there is much more going on here behind the scenes. Perhaps Tulowitzki asked the Rockies for a trade but agreed to not make it public, not only to avoid bad PR, but to also avoid killing the team’s leverage in trade talks. If other clubs know Tulowitzki demanded a trade out of Colorado, they’re going to make nothing but low-ball offers. The Rockies’ hands would be tied. The Yankees supposedly don’t have interest in trading for Tulowitzki, but, either way, my guess is this will not be the last time his name pops up in some sort of trade rumor.

Surprise! Infield shift usage is up in 2015

This should come as no surprise. According to Pat Graham, use of the infield shift is up considerably around baseball this year. It’s up nearly 33% (!) in fact. The Rockies and Diamondbacks, two teams with new GMs after not being known as very stat savvy in recent years, have increased their shift usage the most from 2014 to 2015. The Yankees used the shift as much as any team in baseball last year and the same is true this year. They seem to get burned by it constantly, but who really knows? Shift usage and success is very tough to evaluate based on the little freely available data we have.