Credit: Cliff Welch, MiLB.com
It sounds as though top pitching prospect James Kaprielian will not pitch for the Yankees this spring. With multiple news reports citing that he will be “babied”, the plan is for Kaprielian to start the year with Single A Tampa. Although he’s ready for at least Double A, the Yankees prefer the Californian to pitch in the warmer Tampa climate over Trenton, New Jersey.
At 23, Kaprielian does not need much more seasoning in the minor leagues. The former college pitcher would probably be in the major leagues for good now if not for missing most of last year due to injury. I have no doubt he would have been in prime competition with Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and others for the final two spots in the rotation had he been healthy last season.
If the Yankees take a very conservative path for Kaprielian, there will most likely be an innings limit placed on him. I hope he shows that he is ready for greater challenges. If he can stay healthy this year, it’s a near certainty that he’ll be in position next spring to challenge for CC Sabathia’s spot in the rotation. I do not expect the Yankees to re-sign Sabathia upon the conclusion of his contract this year. CC’s been a great Yankee but Team Steinbrenner is not going to sink millions in a past-his-prime pitcher when they can go with young cost-controlled arms.
I am convinced that Kaprielian is a big league pitcher. When his time arrives, I have no doubt he’ll have his pinstripes for a very long time.
According to Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, it will be a successful year for Jacoby Ellsbury if he can score 100 runs. Considering that Ellsbury has never scored 100 runs in a season with the Yankees and has only reached the milestone once in his career, that seems to be a tall order for the 33-year-old centerfielder. Okay, he came close a couple of times while in Boston but still, it’s a mark he has reached only one time.
Ellsbury’s best year was 2011 when he scored 119 runs, and had 212 hits, 32 home runs and 105 RBI’s for the Red Sox. He has never come close to matching those numbers again. In three years with the Yankees, he has only averaged 69 runs scored per year. His highest home run total in those three years was his first year with New York when he hit 16 home runs.
In looking at his trend line, there’s no reason to expect more than 70 runs scored, 9 home runs and 55 RBI’s. Very pedestrian numbers for a $153 million contract. Even his stolen base numbers have steadily declined. I really do not think Ellsbury has another career year in him. As the saying goes, speed does not age well. Ellsbury’s just biding time until someone like Clint Frazier or Jorge Mateo is ready to take his job. Then he’ll be baseball’s most expensive bench performer, assuming he’s not on the DL.
If only the Yankees had ponied up $87 million more after the 2013 season to re-sign Robinson Cano as opposed to bringing in Ellsbury. It would have been the better investment. I know, I know, hindsight is 20-20…
Chase Headley should be grateful for Ellsbury. It’s the only thing that keeps the spotlight off him as the team’s weakest link. Miguel Andujar, hurry up and develop!
“What are we at the park except to win? I’d trip my mother. I’d help her up,
brush her off, tell her I’m sorry. But Mother don’t make it to third.”
It was reported in this morning's New York Post (by George A. King III) that the Yankees have placed infielder Rob Refsnyder on the trading block. With a wealth of young talent and a man without a position, Refsnyder has become the forgotten man. I think all of us wanted him to succeed but it appears that it won’t be for the home team. We tend to trade these types of guys to the Pittsburgh Pirates or San Diego Padres so we’ll see where Refsnyder ends up. I wish him the best of luck for finding major league success.
Yesterday, the Yankees took yet another spring game when they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2.
In a couple of not-so-great highlights, Gleyber Torres swung and missed badly on a pitch, falling on his back. It generated a chuckle from the normally stoic Girardi. Clint Frazier took a ball to his noggin that had deflected off Dustin Fowler’s glove in the outfield. Frazier was criticized for being overly aggressive on a play that should have belonged to Fowler. Say what you will about Frazier’s crazy red hair but it definitely has its health and safety benefits.
Yankees first base candidate Ji-Man Choi was also struck in the side of his face with a fastball from reliever Antonio Bastardo. He appeared okay but was pulled from the game for precautionary reasons. Bastardo is a Pirate thanks to current Yankee Jon Niese (acquired from the Mets for Niese last summer).
Masahiro Tanaka continued to look great with three strong scoreless innings to start the game.
The Yankees improved their spring record to 9-2 with the win.