Saturday, March 3, 2012

Remember 1st Overall Pick Brien Taylor?

Being reported originally by John Swartz

Brien Taylor was once paid more than $1 million by the New York Yankees, but it was the cash that cops paid him that landed him behind bars.
A former baseball standout at East Carteret High School who was drafted by the New York Yankees was arrested on drug charges.
Taylor, 40, was arrested Thursday in Beaufort and now faces a host of cocaine charges after a joint effort between the Carteret County Sheriff's Office and the Morehead City Police Department. Investigators said they bought "a large quantity of cocaine and crack cocaine from Taylor over a period of several months."
The former No. 1 selection in the Major League Baseball draft now faces a slew of charges involving the possession of and the intent to sell and distribute cocaine.
Taylor was placed in the Carteret County Jail under a $275,000 bond and is scheduled for a court appearance Friday morning.
Taylor, a native of Beaufort, was selected No. 1 overall in the 1991 amateur draft, and signed his first contract for more than $1 million. Taylor, however, never made it to the Major League level. An arm injury he sustained in a fight cut the left-hander's career short.

Updates From The Grapefruit League Opener

1st inning:
Granderson looks like he is going to start where he left off last year. He hit the first pitch he saw and laced it for a double. Ibanez , with an assist from the wind, had a double two batters later to knock him in to make it 1-0 Yankees after a half of an inning. Here comes Ivan Nova.

Nova starts off the game with a K of Rollins. Nunez with an error at SS... no way. Another error on a pick off attempt by Ivan Nova and apparently Eric Chavez is no Mark Teixeira. Hunter Pence took Nova deep after that with a 2 run home run on a 3-0 count.  This wind is going to be a problem today, that was evident on that Bill Hall pop up catch.

2nd Inning:
Bill Hall with a base hit. Included this  because I really like what he did with his workout regime this offseason.

Nix with a throwing error at 3rd to keep the inning alive. Another K for Nova.

3rd Inning:
Granderson with an opposite field home run to tie the game at 2 each.

David Phelps is in for the Yankees to pitch now. Phelps looked good, 1-2-3 inning with a K.

4th Inning:


5th Inning:
Papelbon is in? WOW... 1-2-3 inning for him. Gardner is 0-3 today with a K.

1-2-3 for Manny Banuelos

6th Inning:

Cole Garner (who?) with a double off Dontrelle Willis. RBI single by Jorge Vazquez knocks him in while Jorge takes 2nd on the throw. 3-2 Yankees take the lead.

Manny Banuelos is struggling, especially with his command. Bases loaded with two outs because of two walks. He gets out of it though!!!

7th Inning:
Chris Dickerson with a two out double off Chad Qualls. DeWayne Wise gets a rbi triple, with another assist from the wind, and the Yankees take a 4-2 lead with Dickerson crossing the plate. Cole Garner with a 2 run home run to follow the triple to take a 6-2 lead.

Dellin Betances sighting! Dellin is wild, that was his 3rd pitch to go back and hit the screen. He walked Pierre and a wild pitch allowed him to take 2nd base. Now another walk.. still no one out. Double play helps though in this situation. Dellin has always shown an ability to settle down from batter to batter.

8th Inning:
1-2-3 the Yankees go.

Cesar Cabral begins his case for the last bullpen spot here in the 8th inning. He had a couple hiccups but he pitches a scoreless inning. On to the 9th.

9th Inning:
Dickerson walks and is moved to third after a DeWayne Wise single. Two out , two rbi double by Zoilo Almonte to put the Yankees up 8-2. Zoilo has been tearing it up so far this spring.

Mike O'Connor is going to try to "close" it out. Gives up a 2 run home run to Kevin Frandsen to make it an 8-4 Yankees lead with one out. A two out rbi double makes it 8-5 Yankees and Clay Rapada is up in the bullpen. Strike out ends the game

Yankees win 8-5

Meet A Prospect : Adam Warren

Adam Warren was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 first year player draft out of the University of North Carolina where he graduated with a degree in business administration. The year prior, in 2008, he was drafted in the 34th round by the Cleveland Indians but declined to sign with them. He went 32-4 with a 3.42 ERA and 240 strike outs in 65 games , 49 of them being starts, in his college career at UNC. He left UNC being the second winning-est pitcher in UNC history and tied Scott Bankhead for second on the list in winning percentage at a staggering .889. He won his first 19 games as a Tar Heel , marking the longest streak since Bankhead won 20 games in 1983-1984. In 2004 he was chosen to be New Bern Sun Journal Baseball Player of the Year.

Adam Warren is currently a pitcher for the Yankees AAA affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He is often paired with fellow AAA pitching prospect David Phelps and DJ Mitchell who all seem ready to come up to the majors as early as 2012. Warren, a polished college pitcher, gets the slight edge ahead of these two because Phelps has had some injuries in 2012 and DJ still needs to work on polishing his pitches. Warren has a great ability to eat innings and has made major strides with his slider, which is quickly becoming his out pitch. Adam also possesses a curve ball, which is swing and miss good when he locates it correctly, and a changeup that is generating more and more ground balls to complement his slider and fastball. Warren actually throws three types of fastballs with a 4-seamer, a 2-seamer, and a cutter in his repertoire which all sit in the low 90's.

Warren is younger then the two prospects he gets lumped in with, at age 24, and is not yet rule 5 eligible and does not possess a 40 man roster spot. His ceiling is that of a #3 or #4 starter although I personally see him more at the back end of a rotation somewhere or in the bullpen. The future and the time is now for Adam Warren and 2012 I believe will be his official audition in Yankees pinstripes. Good luck to him on and off the field.

Spring Training Day 14

Two weeks into spring training and the first grapefruit league game is here against the Philadelphia Phillies. The starts will be Ivan Nova for us and Cole Hamels, maybe you have heard of him, for the Phillies. The Yankees expect to see Nova pitch a couple innings followed by David Phelps, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, and Mike O'Connor. Other pitchers are available to pitch but not expected to today. This should be a fun and important day because , according to Joe Girardi, Nova is pitching for his spot in the rotation and apparently has a lot to prove. David Phelps is just fun to watch because he is in AAA and if he can stay healthy is on the short list of first responders if the Yankees need a starter during the season. The Killer B's are always fun to watch because they are the most highly touted pitching prospects that we have in the system right now and are closer then ever, both also pitching in the AAA rotation this year. Cesar Cabral and Mike O'Connor are both pitching for that last bullpen slot on the team along with Clay Rapada who is also available today but not expected to pitch.

Here are the lineups courtesy of Lohud Yankees Blog, a friend of the Greedy Pinstripes.

For the Yankees :

Brett Gardner LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Eric Chavez 1B
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS
Bill Hall 2B
Jayson Nix 3B
RHP Ivan Nova

For The Phillies:

Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Hunter Pence RF
Jim Thome DH
Ty Wigginton 3B
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Domonic Brown LF
Erik Kratz C
Michael Martinez 2B

Should be a fun game to watch with surprisingly a lot of regular guys in the lineup. What I find kind of odd is the fact that Raul Ibanez, the guy we signed as a platoon hitter to hit RIGHT handed pitchers, is starting at DH against a left handed pitcher for the second straight day. Andruw Jones is scheduled to start at DH tomorrow and also surprisingly against a right handed pitcher. Joe Girardi does not pay attention to the whole righty-lefty matchups in Spring Training.

More to come later when the game is wrapped up along with CC and Pineda's side sessions and such from Yankees camp. 

Introducing Your 2012 Charleston River Dogs : Part 1 of 3 Starting Rotation

Being borrowed from our friend Greg over at Evil Empire Prospects. His site really is great when it comes to Yankees prospects and I think it is going to take him far real soon. Anyway I'll stop buttering him up before I ask him to borrow $20 bucks and Ill just post the article.

Introducing Your 2012 Charleston River Dogs. Part 1 of 3: Starting Pitching
The Charleston River Dogs are poised for a great season thanks to a solid pitching staff and an excellent hitting lineup.

The coaching staff of the Charleston River Dogs, the Yankees' Single A affiliate, has been taking questions all offseason about their team for the upcoming season.
"Is this the best team you have ever coached at this level?"
"Are these the best outfielders you've ever coached in single A?"
"Is this the most talented class of players that has come through Charleston since the Joba, Hughes, and Montero class?"

You get the idea. The answer has been unequivocally "yes." Given the fact that the Yankees have all of this talent coming into Charleston and moving up through the ranks, I thought it would be fun to look at the who's who of 2012 Charleston prospects before the season gets underway.

I'll start off by saying I'm not going to get much into the organizational guys since there is very little chance they'll ever reach the majors. Suffice it to say that guys like Kyle Higashioka, Andersen Feliz, Garrison Lassiter, Kelvin Perez etc. will be back for another season to fill out the innings and back up the real prospects.

Starting Pitchers 
1. Headlining the starting rotation will be newly acquired 20 year old Jose Campos from the Jesus Montero trade. You can check out his scouting report in the link, but he's a big 6'4 pitcher with all the talent in the world. If he refines his secondary offerings he has future ace potential in the major leagues. His fastball gets as high as 98 mph, that's enough to excite me. There's an outside chance he starts in High A, but that rotation is already a bit crowded.

2. Bryan Mitchell (no not the Redskins 3rd down halfback/special teams extraordinaire) will also start the season in Charleston. Mitchell is 6'2, will be 21 at the start of the season, and he has one of the best curveballs in the entire system. His fastball can also touch 96 with good movement. He also has a change up. The key for him is learning to harness and control his stuff. His 4.09 ERA is not going to take him very far in the minors, but he's got some of the best stuff in the whole farm system and towards the end of last season in Staten Island he started to put it all together and dominate.

3. Here's the guy I talked about in my last article who is rolling off everyone's tongue as this year's sleeper. Matt Tracy is a big, 6'3, 212 lb lefty drafted out of college. He is much older than the other two at 23 years old, but he also has something #1 and #2 do not, a powerful left handed arm that can throw the ball up to 94 mph, rare amongst lefties. As if this wasn't enough, he also throws a dominant change up and a developing curveball, which the Yankees farm system is notorious for being able to develop very well. Given his age, he could move very quickly to High A Tampa this year, and if there is space I could even see him in AA Trenton by the end of the season. In prospect circles, I have heard the name Andy Pettitte thrown around a lot when this guy's name comes up.

4. Another lefty, probably more highly touted than Tracy to start the 2011 season, will likely stand in his shadow to start the 2012 season. He'll be 21 to start the season, so he still has some projection left in him, although at 6'1 his size may be called into question. He started off hot in Staten Island last year then teetered off towards the end. His fastball is similar to Matt Tracy at 94 mph, but he struggles much more to control it. Much like Tracy, he also throws a change up and a curveball. In a lot of ways, he is a younger, smaller version of Matt Tracy, which gives him more time to develop but also has him at somewhat of a physical disadvantage. As of right now I would say the greatest likelihood is that DeLuca ends up in the bullpen long term. Given his tool set, however, he could be a late inning type reliever. He's got a long way to go though and control may be a major issue with him unless he has a breakthrough season somewhere along the line.

5. The 5th slot is more difficult to predict than the other four. If Rafael DePaula ever gets his visa, this is his slot to lose. If not, which is currently looking like the case, then the spot is a crapshoot. That's what happens when you lie to the US government in the post 9/11 era. To tell you the truth he probably deserves it to a certain extent, but that's neither here nor there. William Oliver, Wilton Rodriguez, Kelvin Perez, and Vidal Nuno are all candidates, although I suspect Nuno will be doing something in Tampa next season. Most of the above players are organizational fodder. Nuno, who has probably the most talent, is another guy like Jose Quintana who we will probably lose at the end of the season if he does anything good. The only one on the list who could morph into a prospect is Wilton Rodriguez, but I'd say that's doubtful.

That does it for the starting rotation, next up will either be the relievers or the hitters, not sure which.

So it's okay to finish in 2nd... or 3rd?

Because everybody should brag about finishing in 2nd place in their division.

Ever since the idea of adding a second wild card team to the postseason came about I was against it.

The NHL has 30 teams, and 16 of them get into the playoffs (53%). The NBA also has 30 teams, and 16 of them make the postseason (53%). The NFL has 32 teams, and 12 of them make the playoffs (38%). I'm sure some people think that makes those leagues' postseasons more exciting, as more teams have a shot at the championship, but to me that waters down the significance of making the playoffs in the first place.

MLB has 30 teams, but only 8 of those teams make the postseason (27%). To me that makes a berth in the postseason mean so much more, as it's so much harder to get there. Not to mention having half the league get to the postseason makes division championships, something all teams in all sports like to brag about, utterly meaningless.

It's not as bad as youth leagues that give every single team and player trophies, which makes competition completely pointless, but it's not that far off from what the NHL, NFL, and NBA do.
*Note, I believe that competition is a good thing for kids to learn and go through. I lost as a kid playing sports, and I won as a kid playing sports. Doing so showed me the importance of hard work in order to accomplish my goal(s). If losing discourages a kid that much, then that kid isn't even close to prepared for the real world, and their parents and teachers have some work to do before the kid leaves high school.

In fact, the only reason I came to accept wild card teams was because they were a necessary evil. I think the two division system we saw before 1994 was making it so too many teams just didn't have a chance, turning fans away from the game (MLB adopted the 3 division format in 1994, but the postseason was cancelled due to the strike). I mean, not all fans can be as die-hard as Cubs fans, who fill Wrigley Field game in and game out even though they're seeing a losing team. But you can't have an odd number of teams in the MLB playoffs, because that would mean somebody would be sitting around for up to two weeks. And CC Sabathia can tell you how extra days off can actually hurt a baseball player.

So the wild card was the way to go. But Bud Selig has changed things so there will now be two wild card teams in each league, and they will play one game against each other to move on. One game? This isn't football, hockey, or basketball, where the entire team contributes in a single game. Baseball teams depend on multiple starting pitchers to contribute to the team getting to the postseason, and they don't all do so in one game. So it seemed stupid to have a baseball team get eliminated from the playoffs because of one loss, where only one starter contributed.

That is until somebody at Daily Sports Pages pointed out that hurting the wild card teams with a one-game series is a good thing. Sure, MLB has to have a wild card team, but they don't have to give the wild card teams an even playing field with those that actually won their divisions. After all, MLB teams had 162 games to earn a berth in the postseason (the fact that the NFL only has 16 games to earn a playoff berth makes it so I don't look down so much on how many of their teams make the postseason).

So not only does the new system making winning divisions that much more important, but they make having the best record in the league that much better (as they would face the wild card team that moved on from the one-game series), and the teams that couldn't win the division have it a lot tougher in the 2nd round.

By the way... I'm not the first person to use the term "one-game series", but am I the only one bothered by it? How can something be a "series" if there is only one of it? I should just accept some things and move on.