Monday, April 2, 2012

Where is this need for offense?

I wanted to quickly touch on a subject that many Yankee fans, who don't like the Montero/Pineda deal (whether that be from the outset, or in hindsight), keep saying.
The Yankees don't have nearly as many impact bats in the minors, as they do impact arms.

First of all, how many "impact" arms hold up in MLB? "Not many"? Exactly. Having a lot of pitching depth in minor league baseball means nearly nothing to whether the team will have pitching depth at the MLB level in the future.

By the way, the Yankees need to fill 5 starter spots, and 7 spots in the bullpen. So although the Yankees have five pitchers in AAA that could possibly help the big club this season, in 3 or so years that current depth may not be there.

Moving on, how much more offense do they need? Here's what the Yankee offense could look like in the future -

C - Gary Sanchez
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Robinson Cano (I see no way he's not re-signed/extended by the Yankees)
3B - Dante Bichette Jr (I'm not 100% sure about Dante, but it's a good possibility)
SS - Derek Jeter (I'm fairly certain 2014 is his last year, especially as a regular)
LF - Brett Gardner
CF - Curtis Granderson (not as sure of his return as Cano, but either him or Swisher will be back)
RF - Mason Williams
DH - Alex Rodriguez

So the only real question mark on the offensive side of things in the future is SS, and Jesus Montero was not going to fill that spot anyway. And since the Yankees were not going to get a great pitcher to combine with Sabathia atop the rotation, without including Montero, then what is the problem?

Spring Training 4/2/12

The Yankees are going back down the most hideous park in Baseball down in Miami tonight, televised on MLB Network at 7:05 ET. Here is tonight's lineup.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner CF
RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Cain's extension, and what it means to the Yankees

Via MLBTradeRumors, Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants have agreed to an extension. The deal extends Cain for 5 years after 2012, and guarantees Matt $112.5 million. Cain receives a $5 million signing bonus, will get $20 million per season between 2013 and 2017, and includes a club/vesting option (based on a healthy 2017 season) worth $21 million with a buyout of $7.5 million. So the annual average value of the contract for 2013-2017 will be $22.5 million (Matt's making $15 million this season).

Buster Olney, via Twitter, pointed out that Cole Hamels is now slated to be "far and away" the #1 free agent after the season. That's not #1 free agent pitcher, that's #1 free agent overall. Which will be an incredible bargaining tool for Hamels, ensuring that he'll get paid more than what Cain just got.

What does that mean for the Yankees? Well, I think that makes the Michael Pineda acquisition even better. After this season the Yankee rotation, minus Pineda, could include CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes. Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, and Andy Pettitte are on one year deals, and it's not a certainty what-so-ever that even one of those three will be back in pintripes come next season. Even if we were to assume one of the AAA kids could take a rotation spot, that still leaves a nice hole in the rotation.

I'll stop here to point out that it's extremely unlikely the Yankees would enter a season with two rookies in the rotation. So anybody out there thinking "the Yankees could fill the rotation with two of Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Phelps, and Mitchell" can put their hands down now.

That would mean the Yankees might think of nabbing Cole Hamels, which could really throw a wrench into the team's future, since he'd cost an AAV of at least $23 million. They already have just under $119 million tied into 5 players for 2013, and that doesn't include the options for Cano ($15m) and Granderson ($13m), nor does it figure that Mariano Rivera will be a free agent. And what about possibly re-signing Swisher, or signing his replacement, for 2013?

If you didn't before, now you see why I and other Yankees fans were so excited about the trade for Pineda. Michael won't even reach his first year of arbitration eligibility until 2014, and won't be a free agent until 2017. Even as a bottom of the rotation starter he has great value to this team, and it's desire to get under a $189 million payroll in 2014 and 2015. But as a #3 or higher starter? Yeah, we'll be kissing Brian Cashman's feet quite a bit in the future.

Meet A Prospect : Andy Pettitte Edition

This week we are going to be doing something a little different when it comes to the Meet A Prospect section of the site. Instead of doing current Yankee prospects we thought it would be an interesting read to touch on some of the current Yankees and look at what their scouting reports said about them. First up is the recently un-retired Andy Pettitte.

Andy Pettitte, left handed starting pitcher,  was drafted in the 22nd round in the 1990 First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees out of  his high school in Deer Park, Texas. Andy did not sign with the Yankees that season and instead decided he would go to a junior college which, you may or may not know, allows you to get drafted every season rather then having to play two seasons of college baseball before being eligible again for the draft. Also, as the rules have since changed, no other team could talk to Andy Pettitte nor sign him until a day before the next year's draft because he did not sign with the Yankees. It did not matter anyway as Andy signed with the Yankees the very next season, in 1991, as an amateur free agent for $80,000 which was a nice bonus at that time. Andy turned down a chance to pitch for perennial powerhouse University of Texas to travel to New York.  

Pettitte made his pro debut in 1991 going 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in 6 Gulf Coast League (GCL) starts followed by a 2-2 record with a 2.18 era in the New York Penn League (NYPL). Those two levels combined Pettitte had 83 K's and 24 BB's for nearly a 4-1 ratio, which is amazing. His command was very impressive but his velocity and "stuff" were considered nothing more then average. 

Throughout the minors his walk rates got better and better but his K/9 rate got worse and worse. While he showed all the way through the system that he could get advanced hitters out no one was every crazy about Pettitte due to his strike outs. He never once did rank as a Top 10 prospect in any league that he played in because of the low strike out rates and Pettitte projected to be a back end of the rotation starter due to his strike out issues. Pettitte was never graded higher then a "B" graded prospect in his entire minor league career but he had an uncanny ability to hammer the strike zone, keep batters off balance with his off speed stuff, and give his team a chance to win every single time out there. 

I think that his career, if it ended today, ended up being pretty good and was borderline Hall of Fame worthy. Let's start with where, in my opinion, he really made a name for himself and that was the post season. Who can forget the Game 5 duel with John Smoltz in the 1996 World Series that he won down in Atlanta 1-0 after being pummeled in Game 1 in New York. Who can forget Pettite's dominance going into the 8th inning in Game 4 of the 1998 World Series clinching game against the San Diego Padres? Who could forget his 2009 post season performance where he was the clinching winning pitcher in all 3 rounds of the post season including the World Series?  That is all before you consider his two 20 win seasons including a second place finish in the AL CY Young in 1996 to Pat Hentgen. 

Does Andy Pettitte's (current) 240-138 record with a 3.88 ERA and 117 ERA+ in 3055 IP get him into the hall of fame? He is a borderline candidate in my opinion but I honestly would not vote him in because I would not consider the post season statistics but I know that some will. He was also, lets not equivocate, helped a TON by run support playing in New York and even in Houston. In my opinion he was only dominant in three of his seasons and that is not hall of fame worthy. What say you?

Check in tomorrow for another special installment of Meet A Prospect featuring Yankees all star CF Curtis Granderson.