Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yankees Spring Training Open Thread 3/2

So what happened today in New York Yankees Spring Training camp?

The New York Yankees signed outfielder Chris Denorfia to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Denorfia was recently of the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and will be spending time with his sixth organization if he makes the ball club.

The Yankees and the Tigers kicked off the Grapefruit League with Luis Severino on the mound, Happy Severino Day everyone. Severino was wild in the game allowing a HBP and grand slam while mixing in a 95-97 MPH fastball. What does it mean? Little to nothing, emphasis on the nothing.

Jorge Mateo tripled in the game and almost had a home run in the spring game with the Tigers showing the world his blazing speed we have been hearing so much about.

Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius played side-by-side for the first time this afternoon in a Yankees 10-9 victory. Too Many Damn HRs.

Ian Desmond and the New York Yankees?

Earlier on during our annual Prospects Month I discussed the state of the Yankees farm system and specifically showcased New York's plethora and stable of upcoming shortstop prospects. I broke all these shortstops down to future shortstops, assuming they stay in this organization, and future third or second baseman, again assuming they stay here in the Bronx, but the Texas Rangers gave me something else to think about when they signed former Washington Nationals shortstop and second baseman Ian Desmond. The Rangers did not sign Desmond to replace Elvis Andrus at short or to take over in the infield at all though, the team has plans of having him play in left field in Arlington Park in 2016. Is this something the Yankees could conceivably be doing with all their shortstop talent they have down on the farm?

Truth be told the Yankees have a ton of outfield prospects as well but none of them are the "can't miss" or blue chip prospects that every team covets. Ben Gamel won the MiLB Player of the Year Award in 2015 and Mason Williams, Dustin Fowler, Slade Heathcott and others look to be very usable and capable MLB pieces going forward but outside of Aaron Judge the Yankees are lacking true impact and game changing talent. Could the Yankees use all their shortstops to build a complete team full of versatility and flexibility? In a word, yes!

For the sake of consistency and not contradicting myself I will leave the likes of Jorge Mateo, Thairo Estrada, Hoy-Jun Park and Wilkerman Garcia at the shortstop position since we kept them there in previous posts here on the blog. This leaves, and this is obvious an incomplete list but I picked the most notable shortstops left in the organization, Cito Culver, Abi Avelino, Tyler Wade, Vince Conde, Angel Aguilar and Kyle Holder as potential outfielders for the club. Could any of them hack it? No pun intended.

Culver's biggest issue as a Yankees prospect has been his inability to hit, not to defend, and you need a certain amount of offense out of any outfielder leaving Culver on the outside looking in once again. Meanwhile Avelino is a small guy standing at 5'11" and weighing in at 186 lbs and has seemingly shown little in the power department hitting just seven home runs in four professional seasons. Avelino is just 21-years old but it seems unlikely he'll ever have the bat to carry him in the outfield at the Major League level. The same can be said for Wade and Holder, although Holder is still considered raw with the bat and elite defensively in the middle infield, but Angel Aguilar may have a true shot.

Aguilar is just 20-years old and has already shown a patience at the plate that could lead towards big power numbers and a higher batting average. Aguilar also has the frame for an outfielder standing at 6'0" and 170 lbs. with plenty of time still to grow into his frame and add power. As a member of the Gulf Coast Yankees Aguilar played center field, albeit for a single game, and did not look out of place giving the Yankees a glimmer of hope if they choose to move the talented middle infielder to the outfield. The Yankees need to move someone, probably multiple people, off the shortstop position to make room for them all and Aguilar may be the best bet to move from the shortstop position to the outfield.

Quick Hit: Cliff Lee Won't Pitch in 2016

You guys know me by now, when I get something in my mind I get stuck on it for a while and I don't stop until that player comes off the board. Well Cliff Lee was my latest target and Cliff Lee came off the Yankees board this week, sort of. Lee wanted a "perfect fit" along with a substantial base salary with incentives and if he didn't get that he was going to take his ball and go home for the season. Well Lee didn't get that so he's doing just that, at least for now.

Lee last pitched in July 31, 2014 and has been sidelined due to elbow problems and a partially torn flexor tendon in his left shoulder. Lee finally has a clean bill of health and drew interest from at least 15 teams but never got to the point where he threw in front of teams. That's a lot of question marks for a 37-year old pitcher who has not thrown a professional pitch in 18 months and that perfect fit never came around for Lee.

Could Lee come back and pitch in July for a team before the trade deadline? Absolutely, the idea of Lee is not dead. It's just dead for now.

ST: New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers 3/2

The New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers will kick off their Grapefruit League schedule’s this week with the first matchup of spring training for the two clubs. Baseball is back ladies and gentleman and it sure is a sight for sore eyes.

Luis Severino takes the mound for the Yankees today in the spring opener. Why? Manager Joe Girardi said the first few selections were made because these arms were the most ready. Severino, who was seen throwing in the Dominican Republic this winter, will start Wednesday followed by Ivan Nova on Thursday and Bryan Mitchell on Friday.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET at George M. Steinbrenner Field and can be seen on MLB Network and the YES Network. Enjoy!

If Seattle Doesn’t Want Dae-Ho Lee….

The Seattle Mariners are desperate for any kind of offense to show their face inside SafeCo Field this season and they have gone to great lengths to find that offense. The team has been searching desperately for anyone and everyone they can to protect Robinson Cano in Seattle and their search went as far as Asia this winter. The Mariners signed 33-year old slugger Dae-Ho Lee to a minor league deal with an invitation to their spring training camp out of South Korea hoping to take advantage of his power and if they decide they don’t want him I think the Yankees should snatch him up, ASAP.

Lee has played for 15 seasons in Japan and has been a part of two consecutive Japanese Series championship teams and will now look to make a name for himself in the Major Leagues. While the Lee signing flew sort of under the radar the imposing figure that is Lee cannot as he stands at 6’4” and 250 pounds, which FYI is down 15 pounds from his playing weight while in Japan. Lee lost the weight hoping to be more nimble, quick and better on the defensive side of the baseball. Lee is listed as a first baseman.

The Yankees have Chris Parmelee slated to be the new “Greg Bird” in Scranton this season but a power threat like Lee may be too intriguing to pass up. Lee will be competing with former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle for a backup platoon spot while Gaby Sanchez, the former Pittsburgh Pirates player, is also in the mix. Lee would have a lot less competition in New York for a backup first base job.

If Lee were to come to New York, which is extremely unlikely, he would bring his career .303 average with his 323 career home runs with him. Lee hit .282 with 31 home runs and 98 RBI in 2015 and describes himself as “not really a big home run guy” despite his frame. Lee just tries to hit everything with the sweet part of the bat and when he does he says it goes far. Sounds like a good plan to me. This is one spring training competition I will personally be keeping an eye on because if it doesn’t work and I’m the Yankees GM, which admittedly I’m not, I am handing him an opportunity in the Bronx whether on a MLB or MiLB deal.

Japanese Pitchers in MLB & Tommy John Surgeries

The talk over the last three spring training camps for the New York Yankees has been either Alex Rodriguez or the newest Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka. Three springs ago it was the arrival of Tanaka and last spring all the talk was surrounded around Tanaka's elbow. Tanaka had been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament the season before and has rested and rehabbed the injury following doctors orders rather than undergoing Tommy John surgery. Tanaka's ligament has shown no change either way and enters this spring with all the attention still on his elbow. Some are worried he still needs Tommy John surgery and others are concerned about a routine surgery on the elbow to remove bone spurs, either way all eyes are still on the elbow. Tanaka is not the first Japanese-born pitcher to have elbow problems though and we will showcase a few of them for you this morning.

Most recently we watched Texas Rangers ace pitcher Yu Darvish undergo the ulnar collateral ligament surgery. Darvish will miss the beginning of the 2016 season and missed the 2015 season with the surgery.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyuji Fujikawa also went through various elbow issues and Tommy John surgeries after coming over from the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization to the United States and the Major Leagues.

It's not just the Major Leagues and their bigger mounds, smaller balls and more frequent pitching schedule that's to blame though in my opinion. Tokyo Yakult Swallows ace Shohei Tateyama missed the entire 2014 season with the surgery while Kazuki Yoshimi of the Chunichi Dragons also had his UCL replaced causing him to miss the 2014 season.

Why did we do this? No reason, really. This is no guarantee that Tanaka will ever need the Tommy John surgery and there is no guarantee that the next big thing to come out of Japan will either. It's strictly for information purposes. There are far more American born pitchers that require the surgery and there have been pitchers that have survived by resting and rehabbing their ligament, Ervin Santana for example who never had the surgery, leaving a glimmer of hope for Tanaka and the Yankees.

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/2: Babe Ruth Gets Paid

On this day in 1927 Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in Major League history at the same when the Yankees announced that the Bambino will make $70,000 per season on a three year contract. Ruth asked for $100,000 but Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Yankees owner got him to agree for less.