Saturday, March 17, 2018

Checking In with Anyelo Gomez, Mike Ford, Jose Mesa and Nestor Cortes

The New York Yankees have one of the best farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, which could be a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. Having a great farm system is ideal as the Major League team can have plenty of options and depth if an injury or need arises, whether it be on the field or as a part of a trade, but at the same point it can be a curse with the team constricted to just a 40-man roster. When a minor league player reaches a certain plateau with a team, usually six seasons, the player has to either be added to the 40-man roster or that player will be available for any and all teams to take them as a part of the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees were pillaged this winter during the Rule 5 Draft losing many players in the Major League and Minor League parts of the draft, and we will check in with a few of them today, namely Anyelo Gomez, Mike Ford, Jose Mesa and Nestor Cortes.

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Anyelo Gomez, RHP, Braves (from Yankees): Yet another interesting player in a Yankees system that is producing too much talent for the team’s 40-man roster, Gomez ran up the ladder in a strong 2017 season, briefly reaching Triple-A and ending with a cumulative output of 70 1/3 innings of 1.92 ERA pitching with 11.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He hasn’t dominated this spring, but the Braves obviously like his arm and have plenty of reason to try to hang onto him in a year in which they do not expect to compete for the postseason.

  • Nestor Cortes, LHP, Orioles (from Yankees): What’s that we were saying about the Yankees? Ah yes, another such player. The 23-year-old just ran up over a hundred innings of 2.06 ERA ball in the upper minors, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He has held his own as a starter this spring, too. With the O’s in need of both lefty relievers and rotation depth, he seems to be on track for a job.

  • Mike Ford, 1B, Mariners (from Yankees): An injury to Ryon Healy initially looked like it could help to open a door for Ford, but it’s a fairly short-term issue for Healy, and Ford is hitting just .150/.292/.325 through 48 PAs this spring. With Daniel Vogelbach on hand as another lefty swinging first base/designated hitter option, Ford could have a tough time sticking in Seattle.

  • Jose Mesa, RHP, Orioles (from Yankees): Indications are that Mesa is not quite keeping pace with his two fellow Rule 5 hurlers. Indeed, he has surrendered five walks and five earned runs in his 5 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League action.

Mike Ford struggling with the Mariners, I have to say, is a tad bit disappointing given the Yankees lack of a true first base backup for Greg Bird this season. Sure, Austin Romine and Neil Walker can get the job done in a pinch but what if the Yankees run into a preidcament like they did in 2017 with Bird? Are they prepared to go with Walker at the position for the remainder of the season? Maybe. I just have to think the team would feel better if they had a hard hitting first baseman down in Triple-A that was knocking on the door is all. Disappointing. Gomez and Cortes seem like locks to stick with their new teams, while I'd take back Mesa just because. Mesa has struggled, and did so a lot with the Yankees in their Minor League system, but I love a good reclamation project, and Mesa with the right instructor could be just that.

Luis Severino Named Yankees 2018 Opening Day Starter

The New York Yankees have their Opening Day starter for the 2018 season and it is not Masahiro Tanaka. No, it is the young right-hander that doesn't want to be the ace of the staff, Luis Severino.

This morning Yankees manager Aaron Boone took any doubt out of the equation of who the Yankees ace will be heading into the 2018 season when he named Severino the Opening Day starter. Just a few hours after the announcement Masahiro Tanaka did himself no favors having another lackluster spring outing in a 9-3 exhibition loss to the Detroit Tigers. Tanaka gave up four runs in 2.2 innings pitched today which cemented the idea in many eyes that Severino should start Game One of the 2018 campaign.

Severino will make his first career Opening Day start on March 29 against the Toronto Blue Jays inside the Rogers Centre, the first of a four game series. Tanaka will pitch Game Two followed by CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray in that order. Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees fifth starter, will start the April 2nd home opener in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays.

No one should be surprised that Severino and not Tanaka was named to the Opening Day start after Tanaka pitched to a 4.74 ERA in 2017, although the right-hander did have a strong October, which was followed by a 11.25 ERA this spring including his start today.

Congratulations to Severino on the Opening Day nod, and it is now time for the other four starters to begin preparing for the season. Now they know when they will start and the real work starts now. World Series or bust.

They Some Kind of Shut Us Down...

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)
Astros win ALCS Rematch…

The headline of this post are Aaron Boone’s words, not mine.  

I preface this by saying I know Spring games mean absolutely nothing. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say my fear of the Houston Astros is their starting pitching. I think the Yankees’ offense is equal to the World Champions. Some argue the Yankees are better while other put the Astros on top. Either way, both offenses will be among the very best in the game. Now, the starting pitching, at least in my opinion, is not quite so close.

Yesterday’s matchup featured the number five starters for both teams. For the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery gave up two solo home runs. Meanwhile, Houston’s Lance McCullers, Jr held the Yankees hitless until Miguel Andujar’s lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Astros limited the Yankees to two hits, winning the game 2-0. The game felt like a microcosm of the difference between the Yankees and the Astros. Of course I didn’t actually get to “see” the game since it was not televised and I am not in Tampa. Manager Aaron Boone felt that Montgomery was “crisper” than earlier Spring starts.  Giving up two runs is not the end of the World and in fact it fits within the definition of a quality start (outside of the shortened number of innings for Spring starts).  A good start by Monty but a dominant one by the son of a former Yankee.  

The top of the Yankees order (Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) went 0-for-12, with five strikeouts.  

I am not going to fret over a meaningless Spring game but it is the back end of the starting rotation that concerns me when you compare the Yankees to the Astros. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jordan Montgomery but seriously I’d rather have McCullers, Jr. The difference maker is the depth. The Astros have Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh, two very capable pitchers in reserve, if there are any injuries in the rotation. The Yankees have Luis Cessa and Domingo German. The top young prospects like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield have shown they are not quite ready to be a force at the MLB level, now, even if we know they eventually will.

Maybe I am unnecessarily concerned about the rotation and the young guys will rise to the challenge if the chips are on the line. But if it was my team, I’d be trying to find a way to sign Alex Cobb, a ‘tried and true’ AL East pitcher.  

Is Tyler Austin bound for Scranton?…

I was wrong yesterday when I said that Ronald Torreyes might be the one most adversely impacted by Neil Walker’s presence on the roster.  After hearing Boone’s words yesterday, it sounds like the guy who should be most concerned about making the Opening Day roster is Tyler Austin. Boonie sounds like he is comfortable with a second base tandem of Tyler Wade and Walker, finding regular at-bats for both, and indicated Walker is the one who could provide relief for Greg Bird at first base. 

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
I can’t really put my finger on it, but it has never seemed like the Yankees have fully embraced Austin despite his big hits. I know that health is part of it, but it just doesn’t seem like they want him on the MLB roster. I hope I am reading that wrong and Austin turns out to be a major contributor for the team this year.  

Cave finds a home…

I have always liked Jake Cave but I recognized there was simply no room for the talented outfielder. I remember how excited he was to participate in Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 draftee a couple of years ago. He started the Spring off strongly and was drawing raves, but he cooled off and was subsequently returned to the Yankees.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Tringali)
After Cave was designated for assignment earlier in the week to make room for Neil Walker, the Yankees shipped the 25-year-old outfielder to the Minnesota Twins for young Dominican RHP Luis Gil, 19. Gil was not rated among the Twins top prospects and has yet to play outside of the Dominican leagues. He continues the Yankees trend of stockpiling young power arms with tremendous upside. Cave was inserted at #26 for the best Twins prospects by, ahead of Twins outfielder and New York native Zack Granite.

In Minnesota, Cave is expected to help at the Major League Level or provide depth at Triple A. For his sake, I hope it’s the former. The Twins made statements yesterday they’ve been interested in Cave since last year’s Jaime Garcia trade. They noticed the power surge and it is something that they want to “keep on track” in the words of Twins manager Paul Molitor. 

We wish Cave the very best as he continues his journey to reach the Major Leagues. 

Speaking of finding jobs…

The Toronto Blue Jays have signed infielder Danny Espinosa, recently released by the Yankees, to a minor league contract with an invite to camp. Espinosa will have a very short time to prove that he belongs on the field when the Blue Jays open Rogers Centre on March 29th against Espinosa’s old club. The best way for an infielder to play in the Major Leagues? Find the team that employs Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo owns the DL in a way that only Jacoby Ellsbury understands.  

The odds are probably against Espinosa this late in March so he’ll probably toil in Triple A until injuries open up big league opportunities.

Well, it’s Saturday. For most of us, that’s a day off. Nothing better than sitting back to watch a Yankees game on a lazy afternoon. Fortunately for us, today’s Spring game between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida (1 pm Eastern) will be televised. Masahiro Tanaka on the mound and Estevan Florial in center field. It should be a fun day!

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Go Yankees!