Mailbag #2 January 27, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 30-rule for Pitchers, Alan Horne, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Marquez, Joba Chamberlain, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano.
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Presenting…our second mailbag.
What will the Yankees do with the six major league starters they have on the roster? Does Kennedy get demoted? Or do they skip starts with Chamberlain and Hughes using Kennedy to fill in?–Eric
No one has a definitive answer on that one yet. I think they could extend Hughes to about 160 innings, considering he threw ~146 in 2006 and ~110 this year. Ian Kennedy will be able to throw ~195 innings after throwing ~165 this year. Joba Chamberlain, who threw 112 innings this year, won’t go more than about 140 innings this year. Assuming a healthy starter throws 200 innings a year, and Andy Pettitte and Chien Ming-Wang match their innings total from last year, that leaves 147 innings to be accounted for. This number increases if you account for Joba Chamberlain either starting or finishing the year in the bullpen–let’s say he pitches 100 in the rotation and 40 in the bullpen. That now leaves us with 187 innings to fill. Mike Mussina doesn’t have the stuff, endurance, or adaptability to pitch that much, so let’s say he pitches 140 innings. That now leaves us with 47 innings. Jeff Marquez and Alan Horne will probably be major-league ready by October, and either could pitch in the bullpen in 2008 to start or end the year, and their innings cap will be around 180-185, so either one could step in. So, if you really think about it, you would need seven pitchers to get through the year–meaning Mike Mussina needs to come through.
Maybe you could show some of the commenter’s why the 30 rule is new wave. Look up just a few of them;
W. Ford 112 r, 207, 210, 230 ave.
B. Turley 7.3r, 60.3, 247.3, 212 ave.
M. Stottlemyer, 96.0r, 291.0, 252.7 ave.
F. Peterson, 215.0r, 181.3, 220 ave.
Pettitte, 175.0r, 221.0, 215.7 ave.
Moose, 87.7r, 241.0, 227 ave.
Now, I understand there is much more money involved with pitchers. If the other guys could do it, why can’t the big 3? I realize that one would have to evaluate each pitcher on the merits of pushing them (just a little bit) longer.–Old Ranger
The 30-rule is in place because studies on pitchers have proven that increasing a pitcher’s woarkload by my more than 30 innings a year gives him a significantly higher injury risk for the following season. Throwing a baseball isn’t a natural motion–throwing underhand is. Since most pitchers pitch over-the-top, there is increased stress on the shoulder and elbows when pitching, so it must be controlled. Otherwise, again, there will be injury.
Will Cano be keeping his number, 24? or switching back to 22?–Aubrey
Probably 24–I see no reason to change numbers.
Some Questions I Answered January 25, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Abraham Almonte, Andrew Brackman, Austin Jackson, Edwar Ramirez, Frankie Cervelli, Jairo Heredia, Jeff Marquez, Joba Chamberlain, Jose Tabata, Kevin Whelan, Phil Hughes, Prylis Cuello, Scott Patterson.
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A fellow blogger asked me several questions regarding the Yankees and the system. These are interesting questions, and either point can be argued. Here are the questions and answers.
Who is your breakout candidate of the year for the Yankee farm system?
Kevin Whelan–I think he’ll get his control together.
If one player is going to disappoint this year in the Yankee farm system, who would you pick?
Jeff Marquez. I don’t think he’s that good, and AAA hitters may finally catch up to him.
Who is your sleeper?
Jairo Heredia–I think his stuff translates into serious results at a young age.
Which Milb-affiliate will be most interesting this year?
AAA Tacoma (Rays)–at various points throughout the season, most (or all) of Evan Longoria, Wade Davis, Jacob McGee, Reid Brignac, David Price, and Desmond Jennings will pass through there.
You’re Brian Cashman in the 2007 draft. Do you select Andrew Brackman? If not, who do you select and why?
I would select Brackman. Pitching depth in the system is incredibly deep, as by the time all of the veteran’s contracts expire, there will be enough spaces for the younger players/prospects, many of whom are turning out nicely. The way things are turning out, there are more prospects than spots, so there is no need for a player who will develop quickly, someone Brackman is not.
Prylis Cuello or Abraham Almonte?
Both are extremely raw and projectable, but I’ll lean towards Almonte, since their isn’t much OF depth in the system.
Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes?
Joba–I may be one of the few who think that injury concerns aren’t a particular problem with Joba–he’s dropped
significant amounts of weight, and he has very good mechanics (for what I hear). Joba’s two (going on three?) plus pitches are better than Hughes’s two. Joba is superior in stuff, strikeouts, and hittability, and, from what we saw last year in the majors, the control is a crapshoot between the two. That said, both will be very good/excellent pitchers for a long time.
Austin Jackson or Jose Tabata?
AJax–he’s a surer bet once his tools translated into success last year. If Tabata develops good power this year, though, I might lean towards Tabata.
Scott Patterson or Edwar Ramirez?
Edwar–he’s the younger of the two Indy leaguers, and his changeup is a plus plus pitch. He can add a little frame to get some juice on his FB, and I think he can add another pitch (curve?). Patterson is in his prime as we speak, and won’t be around for long.
Francisco Cervelli, great catcher or greatest catcher ever?
“Merely” great. I think Cervelli has plus defense, and although he hasn’t shown much power, he has improving contact skills and solid on-base skills. If he adds some power (12-15 HR power)–well, you never know.
On a different note, the mailbag will be up by Sunday–thanks for the responses so far, and keep them coming! Everyone’s questions will be answered.
Mark Newman Reveals Plans for Top Prospects December 21, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Bronson Sardhina, Humberto Sanchez, J. Brent Cox, Jeff Marquez, Juan Miranda, Mark Melancon, Nick Green.
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In an interview with Yankees Senior VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman, Chad Jennings found out where some of the Yankees top prospects will start next year. My take is in italics.
Juan Miranda: Miranda will start the season at AAA, according to Newman. He and Eric Duncan will play every day, alternating between 1B and DH. Miranda has more upside than a Shelley Duncan/Wilson Betemit/Jason Giambi tandem, and should be the starter at 1B by mid-season.
Mark Melancon and J. Brent Cox: Both relievers will be ready on Opening Day after missing 2007 with elbow surgery. Both will also start in Tampa to avoid the cold weather at AA Trenton and AAA Scranton, but will advance throughout the year. Melancon, a closer drafted in the 9th round out of U of Arizona in 2006, is a high-ceiling player who projects to be a closer. This will be a setback for Cox, as he has gone as far as AA in 2006. Hopefully, he still has the stuff and control that made people say he had the potential to be better than Huston Street.
Humberto Sanchez: Sanchez will not be ready opening day after Tommy John surgery. He has been oft-injured throughout his minor league career, and it has derailed him from realizing his potential. With Anthony Claggett a non-prospect, and Sanchez and Kevin Whelan not sure things, the Gary Sheffield trade isn’t looking so good right now.
Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez: Newman notes that both Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez could make the Yankees out of Spring Training as relievers. He says that the club could do another starter-to-late-season reliever conversion, like that of Joba Chamberlain. Horne’s stuff is good for the bullpen, but last year had a 5.04 BB/9 rate in the 1st inning of starts, so his control might not be good as it takes him time to settle in. Marquez would be the groundball machine, but the Yankees’ bullpen doesn’t strike anyone out, and they already have LaTroy Hawkins to get a lot of groundballs.
Nick Green Signed: Green agreed on a minor league contract with the Yankees. On that note, Bronson Sardhina is being pursued as well on a minor-league deal. Newman notes that many of these fringe players don’t like to sign with the Yankees because the Yankees are very set with their lineups and pitching, so they won’t get much of an opportunity. Well, Nick Green isn’t a top prospect–he’s a fringe player, really–but he’s back with the Yankees, and could make the club out of Spring Training in the utility role as opposed to Alberto Gonzales.
Yankees Take Step Forward, Then Back, With Santana Deal December 2, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances, Jeff Marquez, Johan Santana, Jorge Posada, Mark Loretta, Phil Hughes.
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This past week, I have been very busy, but I still have been following the progression in the talks between the Yankees and Twins.
The Twins, as we know, have told the Yankees that Ian Kennedy cannot be the center of any Santana deal. This is largely based on a rumored B.S. offer by the Red Sox to drive up the price for the Yankees (Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and a third prospect) that, as it stands, is superior to that of the Yankees. The Yankees didn’t see that, however, so Hank Steinbrenner and Gene Michael convinced Brian Cashman put Phil Hughes in the deal. So as it stands, the Yankees have an offer of Hughes, Melky Cabrera (who has one foot out the door), and a third prospects. Per Jon Heyman of S.I. via MLB Trade Rumors, the Twins are asking for Austin Jackson or Alan Horne. The Yankees are laughing at them and offering only a second- or third-tier prospects, someone along the lines of a Jeff Marquez and even maybe an Alberto Gonzalez.
This trade is bad and getting worse for the Yankees. The Yankees, under Hank Steinbrenner, are a mess as there is no definition of who is in charge of the front office. Despite the championships under George, they were always followed by a period of turmoil due to the nature of acquiring aging stars and signing them to mega-years and mega-money. The farm system-less Yankees of 2002-2005 are largely responsible for the World Series Drought and the end of the 1996-2001 dynasty. Of the few prospects the Yankees have had since that time–Eric Duncan, Dioner Navarro, Phil Hughes, C.J. Henry, Drew Henson, and even Jose Contreras–only Hughes is on the fast track to pan-out to his potential. Now that the system has some depth, the new Steinbrenner in charge is willing to trade the face of hope when there was none (that is, Hughes) for a slowly declining pitcher who hasn’t succeeded against the AL East, gave up 33 HRs, and refuses to throw his good slider. Agreed, there is depth behind Hughes in the system (Alan Horne, Dellin Betances, Humerto Sanchez, Dan McCutchen, etc.) only Horne is close to MLB-ready–and he there’s a chance may be traded anyway. Also agreed, the last time the Yankees traded their top prospect (Dioner Navarro) for a left-handed ace (Randy Johnson), they gave up an equal amount in terms of value, but the Yankees, for all of Johnson’s moaning, groaning, and back problems, clearly got the better of the trade.
I am not opposed to trading Kennedy–he has 3rd starter potential, has average stuff, doesn’t throw hard, and there are arms with more potential in the system–but the Twins, as we know, won’t take that. But the Yankees shouldn’t trade the face of the system and the future, who has great make-up, stuff, control, and mind away to another team.
POSADA’S DEAL FINALIZED This was expected. Jorge Posada officially signed his 4yr/$52.4 M contract. However, at the press conference, he made two somewhat telling statements.
The first is that he has talked to Andy Pettitte weekly, and Pettitte is seriously considering retirement. This heightens the Yankees’ need for a left-handed starter, preferably Santana, because it isn’t wise to go with a rotation of three kids, Wang, and Mussina, regardless of a near-1000 run offense.
The second is that, speaking of Santana, Posada essentially pleaded for the Yankees to acquire him. While touting Hughes as the best arm the Yankees have got a couple of years ago, he indicated that he would trade Hughes for Santana if necessary. Go back to catching and stop complaining, Jorge.
YANKEES CLOSE WITH LORETTA This is per MLB Trade Rumors. Initially believed to have punched Robinson Cano’s ticket to Minnesota, per what we are hearing, that isn’t quite the case. It is believed that the Yankees could add Wilson Betemit as a deal-sweetner for the Twins, thereby giving the Twins their de facto starting 3rd baseman. In any case, Loretta, once a pesky, high average shortstop with the Padres, is in his decline years but is still a solid “super-utility” middle infielder who represents an upgrade, offensively, over Wilson Betemit or Alberto Gonzalez. However, his range and defensive are notoriously below-average.
What can the Yankees do with the Rule 5 draft? November 24, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Chris Lubanski, Dan Smith, Eric Duncan, Frankie Cervelli, Jeff Marquez, Marcos Vechionacci, Michael Gardner, PJ Piliterre, Rule 5 Draft, Steven Jackson.
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So here is the second in a series of segments on MLB and Yankees questions:
What can the Yankees do with the Rule 5 draft?
Well, to begin, Rule 5 eligibility is when a player that was signed or drafted at 18 or younger did so 5 years ago, or when a player that was signed or drafted did so 4 years ago, and is not on the 40 man roster. The Yankees have several players eligible–Francisco Cervelli, Jeff Marquez, Steven White, PJ Piliterre, Eric Duncan, Marcos Vechionacci, Steven Jackson, and Michael Gardner. The first three were protected on the 40-man roster, and the deadline to set the roster was midnight on Tuesday. That means that Piliterre, Duncan, Vechionacci, Jackson, and Gardner are eligible. Piliterre projects best as a Brad Ausmus-type–that is, a low-batting average, great defensive catcher. At worst, he can be a Wil Nieves type. If he is taken, there is no real loss there. Duncan, thus far, is a 1st round bust from 2003, but he is young for his level (AAA) and should have been protected, as the kid has potential to be a solid ML-first basebman. However, due to the time he takes to adjust to a new level, he likely won’t make it through 2008 on another team. He will likely be taken and returned, so no biggie there. “Nacci” is a raw player with an amazing glove but developing bat. He has yet to be consistently above HiA, so he won’t hit much if he is selected. However, he could always be selected in the AAA or AA phases. Jackson struggled largely in his transition from sinkerballer to power pitcher, but did better in AA and could eventually be a decent middle reliever. However, there are other, better prospects who can do the same thing better. Gardner is just an older, non-prospect, organizational player. No loss here.
On the other hand, talking of the protected guys, Cervelli, who has only played as high as HiA Tampa, was protected mainly because the Nationals selected Jesus Flores, also a catcher, from the Mets system, and he did well for the Nats. Besides, he is ready enough to be the 3rd catcher on the 40-man roster, anyway. Marquez is probably on the 40-man to be able to serve as a replacement-level starter for 2008, or to be traded for a heating-up Johan Santana deal. White, once the best pitching prospect in the system, has had an injury-ravaged minor-league career and has struggled while adjusting to new levels. However, he is able to help out the Yankees in the bullpen next year, a weak spot in the bigs.
Now, Mike over at River Ave. Blues has a great post at who the Yankees can take in the Rule 5 draft. None of the lower-profile guys intrigued me more than a fairly young lefty named Dan Smith, from the Braves. This is what he had to say on Smith:
He backs his low-90’s heat with a great changeup, although he struggles to spin his breaking ball consistently. He comes over-the-top and uses a huge downhill plane, which makes him tough to hit (7.00 Hper9 career) and is the main reason he’s given up only 18 homers in 338 career innings.
Smith’s biggest pitfall is that his command comes and goes, as he’ll rack up big walk totals (4.36 BBper9) to go along with big strikeout totals (9.74 Kper9).
Not bad, and the Yankees can fix him out. At least he will cost less and his peripherals are more honest than those of 36-year-old Ron Mahay, whom the Yankees are reportedly pursuing.
Of the high profile players–well, of the only one, really, it would also be nice if the Yankees can get the #5 overall pick from 2003, Chris Lubanski, from the Royals.
Val Majewski, the prospect/suspect of the Baltimore Orioles, is also eligible. I’d take a pass.
Top 30 Prospects: #20 Jeff Marquez November 18, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Jeff Marquez, Top 30 Prospects.
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Drafted: Supplemental 1st Round, 2004, out of Sacramento College (CA)
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Marquez is one of those “ground-ball pitchers” that in fact doesn’t have sinkerballer-type numbers. He has a sinker, 92-93 MPH, but his GO/AO ratio (1.36/1) doesn’t mix well with his declining-by-year strike out numbers (5.45 to 9 last year). He has one of the best changeups in the system, with the same arm angle as his fastball, and it comes in at 76 MPH. His curveball is also good at around the same velocity.
Control/Performance: Marquez has developed very nice pinpoint command and control, walking only 79 over his last 252.1 IP (2.82 per 9). His curveball moves a lot, but generally breaks into the dirt. Marquez was widely expected to have a breakout year in 2007, but he didn’t quite have that. He spent the whole season in the Trenton rotation, going 15-9 with a 3.65 ERA and 166 H and 44 BB in 155.1 IP (1.35 WHIP). His home run rates jumped this year, as he allowed only 11 HRs in his previous 300 or so innings, and then allowed 11 HRs just last year. Being a sinkerballer, he has never allowed less than a hit per inning in any year except his 2005 season at Charleston, when he still allowed 8.89 H/9.
Outlook: Again, everyone expected Marquez to have a breakout year, but he didn’t. Now, with the glut of up-and-coming Yankee starters, plus the “trinity” of Joba-Kennedy-Hughes, there is no room for him. His strikeout rates are concerning, considering his lack of Wang-esque groundball rates, but there is still potential in his arm. A 1st round pick in 2004, his time to prove himself is running out quickly. He is better served in another organization, and he will will be at least a decent pitcher. He will likely start next year in AAA, as he has nothing more to prove in AA, and he will be one of the fill-in starter call-ups when the Yankees have a double-header or injury.
Grades: Ceiling B-/Health: B+ Comparison: Carlos Silva
Rule 5 Draft August 8, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brian Bruney, Ferdin Tejeda, Frankie Cervelli, Jeff Karstens, Jeff Marquez, Matt DeSalvo, Ross Ohlendorf, Rule 5 Draft, Steven White.
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Exemptions to Selection Eligibility
Players signed at age 19 or older are exempt from the Rule 5 draft for four years after being drafted (in the amateur draft) or signed by their current organization; players drafted or signed at age 18 or younger are exempt for five years. For example, players drafted in 2004 (or later) at age 19 (or older) will be exempt from the 2007 Rule 5 draft, as will players drafted in 2003 (or later) at age 18 (or younger).
The exemption periods were extended by one year in October 2006 as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The change took effect immediately, exempting many players from the 2006 Rule 5 draft even though they had been signed in some cases more than four years before the new agreement came into effect. Prior to the rule change, players were exempt for three or four years after the year they were signed (regardless of the year they were drafted), rather than four or five years.
The diary was largely concerned about the Yankees and the prospects they could lose through the Rule 5 draft. The exemption period doesn’t affect many Yankee prospects, and anyone not exempt and not on the 40-man roster is free for the vultures. The Yankees have many good prospects off the 40-man roster (Jeff Marquez, Ferdin Tejeda, Ross Ohlendorf, Frankie Cervelli, Steven White) and some organization players on it (TJ Beam, Brian Bruney, Matt DeSalvo, Chase Wright, Jose Veras, Jeff Karstens, Andy Phillips, Chris Basak, Kevin Reese, Kevin Thompson). However, some busts that still have time to pan out–Eric Duncan and Tim Battle–might not be spared. It is possible that Brian Cashman will re-align his 40-man roster to protect his players of the future and get rid of the AAAA players, but it isn’t certain. There are others, like Reggie Corona, and Brett Smith, that are good but not elite prospects, and their success may not translate to MLB success. However, there are others, like Steven Jackson, that are simply so ineffective that it really doesn’t matter whether anyone takes them or not. However, one thing to consider is that not all of these prospects are major league ready, and the key to the Rule V draft is that the players taken must stay on the MLB roster the whole year, whether on the DL or active, or they must be returned to their original club. The only prospects that aren’t MLB-ready in the least, though are Cervelli and Tejeda. The others–Ohlendorf, Marquez, and White–have reached at least AA or AAA and could conceivably be used some how in an MLB pitching staff.