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MLB Reports Top 100 MLB Prospects In Mid – 2014 (1 – 50)

The Cubs have 4 players in our top 50 prospect lists, and are stockpiling an impressive arsenal of young talent at the Minor League Level, and some players have already seeped into the Major Leagues.  If most of these guys pan out, the Cubs will be a force to be reckoned with in the not too distant future!

The Cubs at tied for 1st in having  5 players in our top 50 prospect list (3 in the top 12), and are stockpiling an impressive arsenal of young talent at the Minor League Level, and some players have already seeped into the Major Leagues. If most of these guys pan out, the Cubs will be a force to be reckoned with in the not too distant future!

Top 100 Prospects (1 – 50)

 

Jordan Gluck (Baseball Operations Analyst): 

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To make this list you must be able to meet rookie eligibility. To be eligible for a list, a player must have rookie eligibility.

To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.

This list doesn’t include players in the 2014 Draft nor the 2014 international signing period.

For Part 2 of our list – Click the Link Below

MLB Reports Top 100 Prospects In Mid – 2014 (51 – 100)

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The New York Yankees Organizational Depth Charts (All Affiliates) – Spring 2014 (Majors and Minors)

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org Depth Chart + Payroll Expert – find his website here)

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Brian Cashman has signed 10 new Free Agents this winter, and also made a mockery of the waiver wire list, with his 2013 pluckings last campaign to aid an injury riddled squad of veterans.

Simply put, this franchise has done a brutal job of drafting over the course of the last decade or so. Cashman has to take his share of the blame for that.

Luckily for the big market club, these can be overlooked when you feature a payroll in the $235 MIL range.

Having said this, the cupboard is not bare in the Minor Leagues. Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Believe Everything You Read: A Response to The New Normal For the New York Yankees- Part II

Alfonso Soriano came back to New York - and thrashed on the competition, with 17 HRs and 50 RBI - in just 58 games with the Bronx Bombers.  He also snuck in 18 SB for the campaign, but nobody even noticed.  Still the experts have failed to recognize that the offense was significantly better once this man entered the fray.  Even with his 38 year old season coming up, it is entirely possible he could club another 25 - 30 HRs and approach 85 - 95 RBI out of the DH slot.

Alfonso Soriano came back to New York – and thrashed on the competition, with 17 HRs and 50 RBI – in just 58 games with the Bronx Bombers. He also snuck in 18 SB for the campaign, but nobody even noticed. Still the experts have failed to recognize that the offense was significantly better once this man entered the fray. Even with his 38 year old season coming up, it is entirely possible he could club another 25 – 30 HRs and approach 85 – 95 RBI out of the DH slot.  Along with McCann, Beltran, Ellsbury, a potentially full year of Teixeira and Jeter, this lineup is a hell of a lot different from the team that limped to a 85 – 77 mark for the 2013 year.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

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As with the first part of this piece, this article is in response to a piece written for Grantland by Rany Jazayerli (which can be found here) that paints a fairly negative picture of the near-future for the New York Yankees.

Once again, I would encourage everyone to visit Grantland.com as it is a one stop shop for some of the best internet based writers on the planet. 

Again, a quick thank you to Fangraphs.com and Baseball-reference.com.

Those organizations are a huge reason for the increased understanding and intelligent discussion relating to baseball over the last decade, and they are used throughout as resources for all advanced statistics. 

If you aren’t reading the content on those sites, I would strongly suggest you do.

We will start with our Point/Counter-Point structure with a discussion of the new Yankee line-up, and more so, the effect of the departure of Robinson Cano on that lineup.

For Part 1 Of Don’t Believe Everything You Read:  A Response to The New Normal click here.

Alfonso 2013 Highlights as a Cub and a Yankee – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance Is Advised


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Brian McCann Signing Proves The Yankees Are Not Thinking About A Rebuild: Try A Reload!

The near 30 Year old McCann has clubbed 20+ HRs in 7 of his 8 seasons, including smacking 20 in 2013 - in just 356 AB.  His Career 3 Slash is .277/.350/.823.  McCann could also be used as a DH by the team to maximize his AB.  McCann will be the best offensive Catcher in the Bronx since the days of Jorge Posada.  Each one of the Yankees big runs at World Series Titles have had great Catchers.

The near 30 Year old McCann has clubbed 20+ HRs in 7 of his 8 seasons, including smacking 20 in 2013 – in just 356 AB. His Career 3 Slash is .277/.350/.823. McCann could also be used as a DH by the team to maximize his AB. McCann will be the best offensive Catcher in the Bronx since the days of Jorge Posada. Each one of the Yankees dynasty’s  at World Series Titles have had great Catchers.  New York has set themselves up nicely for the 2014 year.  They must now wait on the Alex Rodriguez hearing before they can set how much money they can spend next campaign.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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For those people who thought the Yankees were going to begin a rebuild project in the Bronx, forget about it.

This is the 27 time World Series Champions way of saying, “we intend to be around for a long time.”

The Yankees will still try to come under the $189 Luxury Tax Threshold, but that doesn’t mean they wont finagle around it with the Free Agents they bring in for next year.

Brian McCann was just the 1st strike.  Count on them bringing back Robinson Cano, and at least 2 Starting Pitchers.

Brian McCann Highlights

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MLB 30 Team Power Rankings: Week 19

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Sunday Aug.04/2013

The Braves have charged out of the ALL - Star Break at a pace like they did to start the year. an 11.5 Games Lead, most of their offense is starting to click have helped the team hold down the fort now that the pitching has had vast injuries

The Braves have charged out of the ALL – Star Break at a pace like they did to start the year. They have an 11.5 Games Lead in the NL East over Washington, and most of their offense is starting to click –  which have helped contributed to the team hold down the fort now that the pitching has had vast injuries.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

It is time for the MLB Power Rankings.  These are based on my thoughts on whether who has the best chance to win the World Series.

A lot of these positions are based on who has the toughest Strength of Schedule left, who their competition is for the Division, and possibly even the League they are in.

How unfortunate it is for the Indians and the Royals to have the Tigers winning 9 of their last ten – to fend off their those absurdly hot AL Central counterparts?

The good news for the KC and CLE teams is that the AL East are beating up on each other in the last month, while Texas will see a Nelson Cruz suspension dampen their odds of making the Post Season.

Check out the Show we did on AL and NL Rankings Here on the 2 And A Hook Podcast

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2 And A Hook Podcast #10: All Star Chat, Yankees, Dbacks + Trade Deadline Talk

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Friday, July.12, 2013

MLB reports and The Benchwarmers Show present 2 and A Hook Podcast

MLB reports and The Benchwarmers Show present 2 and A Hook Podcast.

‘2 And A Hook’ is an expression from Baseball:  ‘Throw the guy 2 Fast balls and then a Hook’ (AKA Curve Ball, Wiggly one, Chair etc..)

By James Acevedo – Host (Podcast Veteran )

Guests On The Show

Im back & ready after being off during the 4th of July week to give you all another baseball packed podcast. On today’s show, brought to you by MLB Reports ( www.mlbreports.com ) & yours truly The Bench Warmers Show.

I star by paying respect to the great Yankee Stadium PA announcer Bob Sheppard on the 3 year anniversary to the day that he passed away…

I talk to the boss man Chuck Booth as he returns to do his segment!  16 Minutes in and a 31 Minute Segment

Chuck makes some notions about the New York Yankees and Brian Cashman needing to risk it all for this year – for the legacies of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano.  Plus whether the club can trade Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes – and maybe acquire a bat. Read the rest of this entry

The Yanks Are In Desperation Mode + Need Cashman To Be A Riverboat Gambler!

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Monday July.01/2013

The Yankees do have some decent prospects coming along the way like Mason Willians, Tyler Austin, Will the club stay true to their word and go under the 189 Million Dollar Luxury Tax Threshold next year?  If yes, the club could struggle for a few years like it hasn't for two decades.  Meanwhile, who cares about 2013's payroll.  The club will stand to receive over $50 MIL in insurance dough for their hurt players.  Why not reinvest the loot - and take some free swinging stabs?

The Yankees do have some decent prospects coming along the way like Mason Willians, Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez. Will the club stay true to their word and go under the 189 Million Dollar Luxury Tax Threshold next year? If yes, the club could struggle for a few years like it hasn’t for two decades. Meanwhile, who cares about 2013’s payroll. The club will stand to receive over $50 MIL in insurance dough for their hurt players. Why not reinvest the loot – and take some free swinging stabs?  The club begins play today at 42 – 38, 4 games out of playoff spot, but 17 -24 in their last 41 Games Played.  They play 2 series versus the Twins, and also have  other series versus the Indians and Royals before the Break.  Will they make hay, or freefall by then?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

It wasn’t always a rosy picture for the New York Yankee fanbase after the 1982 season.  In 1985, I became a fan of the team and Don Mattingly when I saw them smoke the Toronto Blue Jays like 22 – 0 or something on a  Nationally televised game.

My dad was a huge Thurman Munson fan – and told me the legend of the Yankees when I started being able to hear.  I even caught like his hero in little leaguie.  Sometimes you pick up your love for the team based on your dad.

We still both love them to this day.  I was there for 11 years of struggling from 1985 – 1995.  Even when the club cashed in their 1st World Series in 1996, to me while it was cool, it would have been so much better had ‘Donnie Baseball’ been part of the ride.

The Bronx Bombers ripping off 3 more titles from 1998 – 2000 – and then another in 2009, have made me happy to be a fan.  It is not just the playoffs that I have savored.  This team has averaged 94 – 95 wins for the last 20 seasons.

The Yankees would be lucky to be in the 2013 ALCS like 2012

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New York Yankees Organizational Rosters + Salaries + Depth Charts – (MLB + MiLB)

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Sunday, June.09/2013

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The Yankees do have some decent prospects coming along the way like Mason Willians, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanders and etc.. Will the club stay true to their word and go under the 189 Million Dollar Luxury Tax Threshold next year?  If yes, the club could struggle for a few years like it hasn't for two decades.

The Yankees do have some decent prospects coming along the way like Mason Willians, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanders and etc.. Will the club stay true to their word and go under the 189 Million Dollar Luxury Tax Threshold next year? If yes, the club could struggle for a few years like it hasn’t for two decades. These prospects could go  a long way in forecasting their recovery time to contention.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and welcome Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB) – visit his website  here  

You guys are all in for a treat.  Jeff Kleiner recently contacted me about a partnership merge for the website.  He has developed a site (prosportsrosters.com) that covers all organizational affiliates in the Minors for all of the Major League Baseball Clubs.  We are going to combine efforts to bring you the best look at salaries, current 25 Man Player Rosters and Depth Charts for all 30 teams. 

Jeff is going to provide the documents in form of spreadsheets and I am going to accompany the posts with deep analysis of what the numbers tell us from my perspective.  If you can’t wait for all of my assessments for each club, go and visit Jeff’s website over at http://www.prosportsrosters.com.

In Speaking with Jeff, he is one of the more passionate fans I have come across towards the game of baseball.  He spends enough time in updating his MLB Facts for it to be a Full-Time Job.  So after the usual Video Clip and READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY button, you will find some serious &*!@?!#!

Jeff updates this page below on a daily basis.  After you click on it….Bookmark it.  There is a 3 year salary forecast and stats not listed here on this page.  Jeff updates these pages daily and these changes include any Roster moves!

For a Full 3 year Salary Outlook plus last years Stats for every player in the Yankees Organization click here

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NYY “Down on the Farm”- Week 4: Familiar Faces

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Wednesday May 1, 2013

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

This week DOWN ON THE FARM….

As stated my Major League article this week, Triple-A lost several assets this week to the Major League club. Austin Romine and Vidal Nuno were both called to the Majors to help ease some of the injury woes facing the Bronx Bombers.  

While those new names will graces the scorecards in the Bronx, there are some familiar names still hanging around Scranton, who deserve a bit of attention this week.

 Chien-Ming Wang has started two games since his return to the Yankee organization.  Wang has managed to keep runners off base and has delivered 22 ground outs in 2 starts.  

Obviously, every Yankee fan remembers the terrific seasons where Wang posted other-worldly Ground Ball Rates of above 60%.  If his shoulder is healthy and his sinker is, well, sinking, Wang could be a very useful depth piece as the season rolls along for this organization. Read the rest of this entry

Yankees Update: Bad News On El Capitan While The Team Keeps Winning

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Wednesday April.24/2013

Derek Jeter. The Yankee Captain. A future Hall of Famer.  Last October, Jeter broke his ankle during the American League Championship Series.  All off-season, it was reported that Jeter would be ready for Opening Day.  After a series of set-backs, it has now become clear that due to a small crack in his ankle, Jeter will not be ready until after the All-Star Break. Can the Yankees survive without their captain? Only time will tell.

Derek Jeter. The Yankee Captain. A future Hall of Famer. Last October, Jeter broke his ankle during the American League Championship Series. All off-season, it was reported that Jeter would be ready for Opening Day. After a series of set-backs, it has now become clear that due to a small crack in his ankle, Jeter will not be ready until after the All-Star Break. Can the Yankees survive without their captain? Only time will tell.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

Transitions are rarely easy.  People, generally, are creatures of habit and routine.  Change is almost always seen as a scary thing for most.  Yankee fans are no different.  The transition from the old guard is an overwhelming theme to this season for the Yankees. 

As Week Three of the Major League season moved along, the Yankees received more bad injury news on their shortstop, Derek Jeter.  The Yankee captain suffered a significant setback in his recovery from a broken ankle when it was reported that a small crack had emerged in the same location as the injury. 

Reports had indicated that Jeter’s surgery would prevent such a re-occurrence.  Obviously, this is not the case, and now, the Yankees will be without their shortstop until at the very least the All-Star break.

Yankee fans’ reaction was obvious as the news broke.  For the better part of two decades, Jeter has been the constant in the Yankee lineup, and this injury reminds Yankee fans, again, that the times, they are a changing. 

The Captain:

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Yankees Week Two – Getting Right in Cleveland + A Triple Play = 4 – 1

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Week Two for the New York Yankees was a far more fun ride than Opening Week.  An offensive outpouring in Cleveland followed by taking 2 out of 3 from Baltimore has left the Yankees within striking distance of 1st place in a very strange AL East.  Now the Yankees enter the second half of April within striking distance of 1st place in a very strange AL East.

Week Two for the New York Yankees was a far more fun ride than Opening Week. An offensive outpouring in Cleveland followed by taking 2 out of 3 from Baltimore has left the Yankees within striking distance of 1st place in a very strange AL East. Now the Yankees enter the second half of April within striking distance of 1st place in a very strange AL East.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent):

In baseball, a momentum turn can be a slight thing.  A player getting a seeing eye single through the infield that turns him from slumping to streaking. A pitcher getting a lucky hop that turns a rally into a double play.

For this Yankees team, the momentum turn seems to have been C.C. Sabathia‘s gem against the Tigers on a Sunday afternoon.  

The Yankees used that 7 Inning performance to jump-start the second week of the season. In almost every regard, Week Two was the anti-thesis of Week One.

After Sabathia dominating the Tigers’ line-up and the Yankees getting after Detroit ace Justin Verlander, the Yankees headed to Cleveland where it was either raining or the Yankees were scoring runs.

After Opening Week, the 11 and 14 runs scored in the first two nights in Cleveland allowed the fan base to breathe easy.  This run shed some light on an issue I wanted to look at this week.  

Before the season got under way, my pre-season piece focused on the Vernon Wells trade and keeping the faith in a Yankees front office.  

The line-up’s ability to score runs has been largely based on the performance of their veteran acquisitions in the off-season (and the fact that Robinson Cano is absolutely an offensive superstar).

Pronk Cometh:

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Down On The Farm – New York Yankees Update

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Almonte is showing his stuff at Triple-A, Particularly, his plate patience is something to keep an eye on and may land him in the Bronx sooner than originally expected.

Almonte is showing his stuff at Triple-A, Particularly, his plate patience is something to keep an eye on and may land him in the Bronx sooner than originally expected. In Scranton, Zolio Almonte has begun to separate himself from Melky Mesa as the more advanced outfield prospect.  The Most exciting thing about Almonte is how he is managing Triple A Pitchers  He Has worked out 10 Walks – while putting up a very impressive .512 OBP.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent): 

Yankees Report From Down on the Farm:

As of the writing of this paragraph, Almonte had worked another two Walks to further improve that On Base Percentage.  The ability to control the strike zone and force pitchers to throw strikes may be the most important factor in promoting a ball player.  

In the pre-season, we talked briefly about Almonte as a potential replacement for an injured Curtis Granderson.  While Vernon Wells has obviously filled the ranks of the Yankee Outfield, should there be regression from Wells or further injury, Almonte is beginning to show himself as a real option to get Major League At-Bats.

Zolio Almonte HRs:

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Trust In Cash: Vernon Wells And Getting Through Early 2013

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Monday April.1, 2013

Our own Chuck Booth predicted that Mr. Wells could be wearing pinstripes this season and low and behold, Chuck was right.  Now, to see if Wells can bridge the gap for the Yankees until Curtis Granderson returns.

Our own Chuck Booth predicted that Mr. Wells could be wearing pinstripes this season and lo and behold, Chuck was right. Now, to see if Wells can bridge the gap for the Yankees until Curtis Granderson returns.

By Nicholas Rossoletti (Yankees + Trade Correspondent)

There have been few moments as divisive for Yankees fans over the past year than last weekend’s trade for Vernon Wells.  While I will get to the trade analysis of the Wells deal, I find it incredibly interesting the conversations and general disdain Yankee fans are currently showing for the management team in the Bronx.  

The Yankee universe took to social media after the announcement of the trade.  A large contingent were calling for Brian Cashman’s job, which I’m sure is not anything unusual for the General Manager of the Yankees.  It did get me thinking about where the team is coming into the season.

Vernon Wells Highlights – Parental Guidance is Advised:

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The Yankees Prospects Going Into 2013

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Tampa Yankees are the High-A affliate for the Yankees and served as the home for Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, Tyler Austion and Slade Heathcott during the 2012 season.

The Tampa Yankees are the High-A affiliate for the Yankees and served as the home for Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott during the 2012 season.

By Nicholas Rossoletti  (Yankees Correspondent/Trade Correspondent): 

Heading into the 2013 season, few things in the Yankee universe have been more controversial than the organizations goals to get under the $189 million salary mark after the season.  It has been largely debated as to whether such a goal is realistic for an organization known for spending wildly in its never-ending pursuit of championships.  

It is also hotly debated whether the goal will have the desired effect of taking some of the Yankee millions out of the revenue sharing arena and placing them back into the Steinbrenner family pockets.  I won’t spend much time discussing the benefits or negatives of a team sticking to a 189 million payroll, but I will say that it is very possible to build a world champion well within that budget.

The first step to building a future champion regardless of how much money the Yankees spend is to follow the formula that brought the Yankees success over the past two decades: build a base around young talent.  So with this article we will take a look at the prospects that Yankees fans have to hope pan out and begin heading for the Bronx.

Slade Heathcott showing off how to slide in the AFL:

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MLB Reports Top 100 Prospects: A Rebuttal To The MLB.com’s Top 100

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Tuesday February.12, 2013

Our favorite Minor League Prospect - Tyler Austin has been invited to Yankees Spring Training in 2013.

By Jordan Gluck (Prospects/Baseball Operations Correspondent)

Before I show you my top 100 prospects – I want to get you familiar with my grading tactics and styles and what I value most. All prospects have ceilings and very few players reach that ceiling. First lets go through the tools of what I personally value most and where.

Tools: 

Bat:1
Power:2
Speed:3
Glove:4
Arm:5
Makeup:?

Those are the 5(6) tools that scouts use and the scale goes from 20-80. 80 being HOF rare like Giancarlo Stanton Power and 20 being absolutely terrible like Bengie Molina has 20 speed. Most people reading this will probably have more than 20 speed so that’s how pathetic it is.

Jurickson Profar Prospect Highlights:

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Top 5 Catching Prospects in Baseball

Friday August 17th, 2012

Codey Harrison (Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst) – The second installment of a 3-part series featuring the top 5 prospects from middle of the field positions. This week we are focusing on one of the hardest positions in all of baseball to find superstars at. One of the biggest reasons is that catchers take a lot longer to progress defensively than any other position in baseball. Bryce Harper who was known for being a catcher in high school was drafted as an outfielder by the Nationals so he could make it to the Major Leagues much faster. Being able to call a game behind the plate, and knowing the angles that are needed to block pitches in the dirt can take several years to master. The wear and tear on a catcher can be a vigorous one, as most catchers only catch 140 games an entire season even if they are healthy the entire season. With current catchers in MLB who are stars like Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Buster Posey, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, and Miguel Montero, it’s time to take a look at the potential future catching stars who replace the current MLB All-Star catchers. Plus teams look to move star catchers from their primary position to save their bats and extend their careers in the process.


Travis d’Arnaud (Toronto Blue Jays AAA) - Travis d’Arnaud was the prize prospect along with RHP Kyle Drabek the Blue Jays acquired in the Roy Halladay trade. d’Arnaud was named the 2011 Eastern League best catcher by the leagues managers. For the position, d’Arnaud has plenty of future plus tools (Hit, Power, Arm, and Fielding), and is on pace to supplant current Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia by the start of the 2013 season. d’Arnaud is currently on the disabled list, but for the season with AAA Las Vegas he’s batting .333, .380 OBP, .595 SLG, with 16 home runs, and 52 RBIs. One of the very few things scouts are drawn away from d’Arnaud is his approach at the plate, as he is very aggressive having walked on 19 times, while striking out 59 times on the season. Read the rest of this entry

Can the Yankees Win It All in 2012?

Sunday January 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans: Last year, the Yankees won 97 games in the talented American League East. 97 wins was enough for the Yankees to win the division and guarantee themselves home field advantage in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they ran into the Tigers and their superb pitching staff. The Yankees long season came to a early close when the underdog Tigers took three out of five from New York in the ALDS. Now, with only a couple of new faces on a veteran roster, the Yankees will try yet again in 2012 to return to the World Series.

If the Yankees win the World Series, it will be with their veterans leading the way. The average age of the Yankees Opening Day lineup will be 32. This might be something that Yankees GM Brian Cashman should be worried about in the future, but not especially in 2012. Position by position, the Yankees are one of the strongest teams in baseball. Their weak spots are obvious, but let’s see how they stack up against the other teams in the A.L. East.

Catcher: Russell Martin: Martin struggled in 2011. He had a 57 wRC and hit only .237 in 125 games. Part of his offensive struggles were due to a .252 BABIP; but the reality is that he has never been able to play at the level he did in 2007. For 2012, Martin should play five days a week with Francisco Cervelli getting the other starts. I love watching Cervelli play because of his competitive grittiness. If he could learn how to hit, he’d be one of the best catchers in the league. Overall, the Yankees catchers aren’t very good. Luckily for them, they have top prospect catchers Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine on the way. In two years, the Yankees will have some of the best catchers in the league.

Rank at the Catcher position out of A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

First base: Mark Teixeira: Tex had just an average 2011. He is still one of the best offensive and defensive first basemen in the American League. Teixeira hit .248 with 39 home runs. A lot of his bad average was due to his miniscule BABIP ( .239)- which compared to Matt Kemp‘s .380 BABIP, shows how unfortunate Teixeira was. Teixeira should see some of his numbers get back to where they were before last year.

Rank at the First Base position out of A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Second Base: Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano wasn’t ever considered a highly touted prospect, but he never failed at any level the Yankees had him at. Ever since Cano was called up in 2005, he has been morphing into a perennial All-Star. 2011 was a great year for Cano. He won a Silver Slugger award, the Home Run Derby and he was the second best hitter in a loaded Yankees lineup. In 2012, Cano could improve his defense and keep producing offensively, in order to improve as a player and possibly become the best second baseman in the game.

Rank at the Second Base position out of A.L. East teams: (A close) 2 out of 5

Shortstop: Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter has seen his overall production plummet in the last two years. He had a solid second half in 2011, but you have to wonder how many more years he’ll be the Yankees starting shortstop. There’s no question that the thirty-seven year old will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer one day. However, there will be a time when the Yankees need to find a new shortstop… and that time is coming soon. 2012 could be Jeter’s last year at the position, and I’m sure he’d like nothing more than another World Series championship.

Rank at the shortstop position among A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez: As much as I can’t stand him, A-Rod is one of the best players in baseball. The only thing that has kept Rodriguez from numerous MVP awards is his health. He hit 16 homers in 99 games in 2011. This offseason, A-Rod went to Germany to have an experimental procedure done on his knee. In the NBA, Kobe did a similar thing, in going to Germany receive some sort of voodoo procedure on his knee. He came back feeling rejuvenated with a new healed knee. I’m not sure that the surgery will work for Alex Rodriguez, but if it does- it could add a year or two to his career. If A-Rod is healthy this year, the Yankees will have a huge boost to their lineup.

Rank at the hot corner amongst A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Corner Outfield: Nick Swisher: Nick Swisher is known as one of the most likeable and funny players in the league. The one time Oakland Athletic has been a solid outfielder for the Yankees the last three years. Swisher got off to a rough start in 2011. He hit only .213 up until June, causing Yankees fans to wonder if they would need to trade for a new outfielder. Then all of a sudden, Swisher starting making solid contact and he hit .326 and .323 in the coming months. Swisher is a solid outfielder who is capable of hitting .260 with 25 homers and ninety walks in the coming year.

Corner Outfield: Brett Gardner: Gardner is one of the best players on the Yankees, but he never seems to get enough recognition. The pesky outfielder played resplendent defense and posted 5.1 WAR last year. He stole 49 bases in 2011, and in 2012 he should get the steal sign from his coaches more often. The biggest mistake the Yankees could make would be to trade Gardner away.

Rank among other A.L. East Corner Outfielder pairs: 1st out of 5

Center Field: Curtis Granderson: The ” Grandy Man” has become one of New York’s most beloved players in recent memory. Granderson had a bounce back year in 2011, hitting 41 home runs. Granderson’s contract has a team option in 2013, which they Yankees will most likely pick up. For 2012, Granderson probably won’t hit forty home runs again, but he could easily take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and hit 30 to 35 bombs.

Rank among other A.L. East Center Fielders: 2nd out of 5

Rotation: C.C. Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the games and the perfect candidate to lead the Yankees pitching staff. With his large frame, it should come as no surprise that Sabathia has thrown over 180 innings eleven straight years. Sabathia showed no signs of age last year. He posted a 2.88 FIP and struck out 230 batters during the regular season. Sabathia’s 2011 WAR ( 7.1), was worth over $32.2 million according to fangraphs. Sabathia is set to make $23 million in 2012. So while it might not look like it, the Yankees are actually getting a bargain for Sabathia’s production.

A week ago, the Yankees traded their most promising young bat (Jesus Montero) for Michael Pineda. The Yankees are betting that Pineda will evolve into a top of the rotation arm for years to come. Pineda is by no means a complete pitcher. He has an above-average fastball and slider, but his changeup is below par. The impressive thing about Pineda is that he’s already learned how to control his pitches and he demonstrates great command. If he wants to take his game to the next level, then he is going to have to improve his changeup.

On the same day the Yankees acquired Pineda, they also signed former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $10 million deal. This is a low risk deal for a team with such a high payroll. Kuroda didn’t come cheap, but this looks like a solid acquisition for the Yankees. In 2011, Kuroda had a 3.07 ERA in thirty-two starts. His numbers might not be as strong moving from a pitcher’s park to the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. I could see Kuroda struggling somewhat in New York, but he brings much-needed talent to the Yankees rotation.

C.C. Sabathia was the only Yankees pitcher who threw two hundred innings in 2011. The Yankees need their pitchers to work deeper into games, so they don’t have to overwork the bullpen. The back-end of the rotation will be critical for the Yankees success. They have the veterans A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia, and then the younger pitchers Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. Most likely, all of these guys will see time starting in 2012. I think that Nova is the best of the bunch, but Burnett might have a slight advantage for a rotation spot with his huge contract.

Starting Rotation rank out of A.L. East teams: 2nd out of 5. They would’ve been third or fourth without adding Pineda and Kuroda. Adding those pitchers were good moves, since they want to keep up with the best teams in the East.

Bullpen: is as strong as it’s been in years. As all Yankee fans know, Mariano Rivera doesn’t age so he should be ready for another year of closing for NY. David Robertson was last year’s unsung hero out of the Yankees ‘pen. The difference between Robertson in 2011 and the Robertson of old, is simple. In 2011, he increased his fastball velocity. This led to a higher strikeout rate (13.50 K/9 in 2011, 10.42 K/9 in 2010)  and a lower amount of home runs allowed(0.14 HR/9 in 2011, 0.73 HR/9 in 2010).

The Yankees bullpen should also include Joba Chamberlain, who fell into a nice groove as the Yanks 7th inning man last year before falling to Tommy John surgery, should be back.  He will face competition from those pitchers who lose the race to become the Yankees’ fifth starter. Dellin Betances, considered by most as one of the Yankees top prospects, might see more innings this year as a long reliever. The loss of Noesi will hurt, but the Yankees have the pieces in place to trade midseason for extra bullpen help as they have done in the past.

Bullpen Rank out of A.L East Teams: 2nd out of 5

With a loaded team and a smart General Manager who knows how to operate a large payroll, Manager Joe Girardi should led the Yankees back to the playoffs in 2012. There are not very many teams that can compete with this Yankees offense… and if Pineda and Kuroda thrive in New York, they will have a very solid rotation. Yankees fans have a lot to be excited about for the upcoming year. But then again, don’t they always?

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

 

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