Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baseball America and the Yankees Top 10

Baseball America released its top 10 prospects for the Yankees organization yesterday and it is as follows:

1. Austin Jackson
2. Jesus Montero
3. Andrew Brackman
4. Austin Romine
5. Dellin Betances
6. Zach McAllister
7. Afredo Aceves
8. Phil Coke
9. Mark Melancon
10. Bradley Suttle

I don't necessarily agree with Jackson getting the top spot over Montero, but I can't really complain either. He played at a higher level and is still only in what, his third year of full baseball? But Montero is going to be a beast no matter where he ends up (1B or C) and Jackson is going to be contributing full-time in the near-future.

Betances over McAllister = no for me. Betances is constantly trying to stay healthy while battling his mechanics for control, albeit he straightened that out in the second half this year. Yes, Betances has the ability to strike out anybody. He also has the ability to walk anybody and hit anybody. I think McAllister is underhyped because he (in all likelihood) will never be a #1 or #2, as he projects more like a #3 or #4 and an innings eater. But his chance of actually getting there, from what I've read and the stats, seems to be much better than Betances. I've got no problem with Betances on the list, but I think McAllister deserves more respect.

I don't understand why Aceves is on there and I'm still not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing that a guy they picked out of the Mexican league last year cracks the Yanks' top ten prospects.

But Melancon below Coke? If they're factoring Coke's starter status into the equation, maybe I could agree. But then if they're also choosing to include what he did as a reliever this year in the bigs, I can't. His stuff plays up a bunch when he's relieving. If they believe that's his final destination, and not a starter, Melancon has to be above him. This is all before factoring in age, where Melancon has an advantage (Melancon, 23 - Coke, 25). Melancon is a legit closing prospect and the most likely candidate to replace Mo should the time come, while Coke looks like a LOOGy.

I would've gone with Brandon Laird over Bradley Suttle as well, but like Jackson vs. Montero, really can't complain either way. Suttle has an interesting bat at 2B, but Lairds got monster power while still having a significantly lower K% than Suttle (19% to 25%). Laird slugged very slightly higher than Montero (I know it sounds weird to compare him to a kid 2 years younger, but 20 in A ball isn't bad), while batting 50 or so points lower. Hopefully that gives you an idea of what the kid is capable of.

This list should be pretty similar next year. I think Aceves is the only lock to lose it next year. Jackson could (if he gets brought up early enough, but I don't think its going to happen), Coke could (only if they decide hes a reliever and make him the lefty option in the pen) and Melancon could (but they probably want him to see some time in AAA before a call up, in which case, he won't get in 50IP). Unless Brackman, Betances or McAllister start Joba-ing everybody down on the farm, I don't think lose prospect status (Brackman might get a September call up but nothing that would pull him off the list). Romine, Montero and Suttle are probably 2-3 years out, so no threat there. Unless some of the young draftees (Lassiter, Marshall) and international guys go wild, this list should look about the same.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The First Base Situation

Now, I realize people are going to go bonkers at the chance to sign Mark Teixera this offseason. While he is a great player in all respects, there are other options that need to be explored before you commit to a guy for the 6 or 7 years and the hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to sign him.

While it might not sound as sexy, I suggest the idea Shelley Duncan/Juan Miranda platoon. Now, I know Miranda is a relative unknown, but his ability to hit right handed pitching is well documented. His September call up also showed he wasn't overwhelmed by Major League pitching. I realize it was only 10 ABs, and he isn't going to bat .400 for the entire season, but thats not what we need him to do. If he gets on base as is his strong suit, he can get close to the production that is leaving with Giambi from the left side of the plate.

For the righty portion of our platoon, we have Bam-Bam Duncan. Given that our outfield situation is relatively set in a Damon/Nady/Gardner mix, Shelley is left without a real spot (at least early in the season, until we see if Gardner is legit). Putting him at first base to face lefties would be a good use for a guy with power like his. Even with the poor season he had last year, his career OPS in 84 PA is .817.

This combo isn't going to replicate Teixera or his .400 OBP, not to mention his gold-glove caliber defense. But it's not the worst thing that could happen to us. Teixera isn't going to turn the team around, and I am always going to be wary of a 7-year deal. Yes, Teixera should age well, but who knows? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, we could get by with a Miranda/Duncan for a year or two until a trade option opens up or possibly an internal replacement (Jesus Montero, if they have to move him off C). This smells an awful lot like six years ago when a relatively young 1B coming off a great season got a huge contract (hi, Jason Giambi!). We've been riding this one out for the last three years. Yes, Teixera is no Giambi and isn't likely to fall the way the Giambino has, but do you think the last 2-3 years of his contract are going to be worth it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trading Robinson Cano

For my first post, I'll try to reason through the sentiment pervading a lot of the online community in regards to Robinson Cano. After a subpar season, many people are calling for Cano to be traded and understandably so. He signs his contract that locks him up through the arbitration years, and proceeds to have his worst season. Not the start to the contract the Yankees were hoping for.

To trade Cano now is to sell low. He could easily come back next year and post .300/.350/.450 and make the Yankees look foolish. At the same time, if you are going to trade him within the next year, it's got to happen this winter. The Yanks have no real suitable internal replacement for him (Ramiro Pena is too raw with the bat) for them to move him during the year, and I don't see them moving Cano, only to have to make a move for a new 2B. Trading Cano really is only viable if you get Orlando Hudson this offseason. So they're kind of hamstringed in this regard, not to mention the fact that moving Cano for any real immediate MLB impact return is going to require more than just Cano.

The Yankees, in my opinion, are left with no other option that to stick with Cano for the next year, which isn't the worst thing. While I'm not Cano's biggest supporter, I doubt we're going to see the debacle that was this season. He could easily bounce back to a .290/.320./.400 clip next year, which makes him an above average 2B.

In the long run however, I don't think we're ever going to really get consistency from Cano. His impact is tied too closely to his BA because of his approach (or lack thereof) at the plate. While he showed great improvement in his walk rate from 2006 (18) - 2007 (39), he regressed somewhat this past year (26) in comparable at bats. He's never going to be a great OBP guy, and if he struggles with his swing, he's going to be a sub-par player.

Next year, lets revisit this idea when its more productive (and feasible) to do so. As for now, let's live with Robinson Cano as our 2B and consider ourselves lucky its one of the larger issues facing the Yankees. A lot of teams would kill to have that problem.