Friday, February 28, 2014

Brian McCann hit his first homerun of the spring, and the Yankees hit four total on the day in their 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers Friday in Lakeland.

The Tigers tried putting together a late-inning comeback, scoring four runs in the 7th against Brian Gordon, but in the end, it wasn't enough to overcome the four homeruns hit by the Bombers.

McCann put the Yankees on the board against reigning Cy Young winning Max Scherzer in the top of the 2nd inning with a solo homerun.

“I usually don’t hit home runs early in camp,” McCann said. “I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. My first two games, I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve felt at the plate.”

The Yankees brought in McCann to be the same guy that hits at least 20 homeruns a year, and help be a serious upgrade over the eight homeruns that the Yankees got from the catcher position last season.
Fifth starter candidate Michael Pineda will make his spring debut on Sunday. Only it won't be in a Grapefruit League game, it'll be a simulated game that he'll start in Tampa at the Yankees spring training complex.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he's moving a little bit slower with Pineda "just to make sure" that he's healthy as he continues to work his way back from shoulder surgery.

“(Pitching a sim game is) just kind of the way it works out,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about building guys up, and we’ll do a sim for him the first game. I believe his second game is a real game.”

Girardi added that other starters expected to throw in simulated games at some point this spring.

Pineda has been getting a lot of compliments so far this spring, from both coaches and players that have seen him throw in bullpens.
After impressing in their spring debuts on Wednesday, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann will be back in the Yankees lineup on Friday when they head on the road to Lakeland to take on the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Carlos Beltran, who went 0-for-3 in his debut, will also be among those getting on the bus. It'll be pretty much the same squad that faced the Pirates in Bradenton on Wednesday.

Adam Warren will be on the mound for the Yankees, making his first start of the spring. The Tigers will hand the ball to reigning Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer.

Warren is one of the four starters fighting for the fifth starter job. Even though he pitched very well for the Yankees out of the bullpen last season, moving to the rotation is something that the Yankees might not be looking to do with Warren.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Derek Jeter made his spring debut for the Yankees Thursday, playing in his first major league gamer since September 7th of 2013, and even though he didn't get any hits, Jeter left the game healthy, and that's all you can ask for.

The Yankees' bullpen is where you can point the fingers once again, a day after giving up four runs in the 7th inning to lose the game. A three-run homerun by Mel Rojas Jr. was just part of the  five-run 8th inning that helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to victory over the Yankees for the second day in-a-row, winning 8-2 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter was the story of the game for obvious reasons. He played five innings at shortstop and went 0-for-2 at the plate.

He grounded into a double play in his first at-bat following a walk by Brett Gardner to lead off the bottom of the first, then groundout out to the third baseman.

It was a very good sign that Jeter ran hard down to first base on both of his groundouts, and did not come up limping or favoring his right ankle. He's said often that he feels great, and it looked like he wasn't lying after seeing him play today.
For the first time since September 7th of last season, Derek Jeter will return to the Yankees lineup, making his spring debut for the Yankees today in Tampa.

It's sure to be a crazy day at George M. Steinbrenner Field, as Jeter will be playing the first game, albeit not a real game, since announcing that he'll be retiring after this upcoming season.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there," Jeter said. "I think everyone, when Spring Training starts, looks forward to getting the games underway so they can get into a routine.

"The first few days of Spring Training, it's just going through a lot of drills, trying to get in baseball shape. Once the games start, you can get into a daily routine, so I'm looking forward to that."

After playing in just 17 games last season, Jeter worked extremely hard during the offseason, and has gone through fielding and running drills without any problems this spring, and is not worried about how his body will hold up during games.

It may seem silly, but with the departure of Robinson Cano, and the eventual retirement of Derek Jeter, the Yankees couldn't afford to lose another key homegrown player. That is one reason why so many fans were happy with Brett Gardner's surprising extension. Teams may not get extra wins for developing their own talent, but fans still like the idea of teams developing their own talent. The funny thing about this way of thinking is that the Yankees may have blocked a future homegrown star, by retaining Gardner.

The Yankees have a few major league ready outfield prospects, and some of these outfielders are, or were, top prospects. Guys like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores were all thought of as possible future starters. Before this offseason, these players seemed to have multiple spots to battle for.

The team looked like it would need replacements at each outfield position by 2015. But now these players just have one outfield spot to fight for.

Some have wondered what the team will do with these players now, or how this affects their development. In my opinion people are overreacting to the Gardner extension. The presence of Gardner shouldn't change anything.  These players aren't going to be less motivated by having one less spot to fight for, and the Yankees shouldn't look to trade a prospect just because they can.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Three of the Yankees' four big offseason acquisitions made their spring training debuts Wednesday, and two of the three made great impression in a game that the Yankees would end up losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5, because of a bullpen implosion, Tuesday in Bradenton, Florida.

Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran were all in the lineup for the Bombers in their first Grapefruit league game of the spring, and they got to work quickly.

McCann drove in the first run of the game after Ellsbury drew a walk to lead off the top of the 1st inning, moving over to 2nd base on a line drive up the middle by Yangervis Solarte. Solarte got to third base in the single by McCann and then scored on a base hit by Ramon Flores, who now has 2 RBIs in two games this spring.

With two outs in the 2nd inning, Ellsbury drew his second walk of the game that led to Solarte blasting a two-run homerun off of Edinson Volquez, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
Today the fake games get a little less fake.

The Yankees opened their spring schedule yesterday against Florida State University, and today they play an actual major league club in their Grapefruit League opener.

Ivan Nova will be on the bump for the Yankees in this one. He's already got a spot in the Yankees rotation this season as the likely 4th starter -- unless something very unexpected happens during the spring.

Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances will be among the pitchers coming out of the bullpen behind Nova.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For the first time in 261 days, Jameis Winston lost a game at Florida State University when his FSU Seminoles were defeated by the Yankees, 8-3, Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner in their spring training opener.

Vidal Nuno started the game for the Yankees, pitching two very quality innings, striking out three -- two in the first inning -- and giving up just an infield single.

"I felt good," he said. "Starting the season, just having everything in place right now. I got a lot of more work to do, to get done, but overall I'm happy where I'm at right now. But every day I gotta keep working at it."

Nuno said he took his usual approach into this game: throw strikes and keep hitters off balance.

“Throwing strikes, that’s my main concern about right now,” he said. “Showing the coaches that my main concern is throwing strikes. … It’s getting out there and just showing the pitching coach and the coaches that I can get out there and do that every five days.”

Nuno, in my opinion, has a much better chance of winning the fifth starter job than most people think. He showed his stuff pretty well in a few appearances with the Yankees last season, and now gets a chance to really show the Yankees' coaches what he has.

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally been announced. Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced after the team's game against FSU that Masahiro Tanaka will make his spring debut on Saturday, March 1st against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Adding to that, CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda will also make their first appearances of the spring on Sunday, according to Girardi.

All three are expected to go three innings, or 35 pitches, and plans to bring each of them into a new, clean inning.

"That's a big thing for them, to come into a clean inning," Girardi said. "That's the way (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) drew it up."

Prior to the Brian McCann signing the Yankees seemed ready to give the catching position to one of their several catching prospects. But Francisco Cervelli's injury, and Austin Romine's poor season, made the McCann signing inevitable. Now that the Yankees signed an all-star type catcher for the next few seasons they really have a few expandable catchers in their system.

The most logical Yankee trade chip is John Ryan Murphy. Murphy's value is pretty high right. He is ready for the majors, but probably won't get an opportunity to play there as a Yankee this season. Both Cervelli and Romine need to rebuild their value after 2012, and likely won't get as much as Murphy.

According to Keith Law, Murphy would have the ability to start for a few MLB teams.
Law had this to say about Murphy, he “looks like a solid-average everyday catcher, probably not more, but not a whole lot less. His game management skills are exceptional, from game-calling to reading hitters to understanding situations.” Law also stated that Murphy is “going to be an every-day catcher for somebody.”

With that said, Murphy hasn't really made any top 100 lists. He may have come close, but in general he isn't considered a top 100 prospect. However, he did make one top 100 prospect list. A list that didn't rank prospects on their upside or talent, but rather on their 2014 projections.

It feels soooo good to be back. The Yankees are finally back to taking the field against players other than themselves. Today, they host Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and his undefeated Florida State University squad at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Vidal Nuno will be on the mound for the Yankees, and says that he is expected to pitch two innings.

Nuno is an underdog candidate to grab the Yankees' fifth starter job. Even after a good showing in the big league's last season, people don't see Nuno as a serious candidate, but he actually has a good chance of getting a spot with a good spring.

It seems like not a day has gone by this spring where you don't hear anything about how impressive Masahiro Tanaka looks during his bullpens and live batting practice sessions.

Today won't be the first.

Tanaka threw another simulated game early Monday, tossing 35 pitches, the most he has thrown so far in an session. He obviously wasn't throwing at full effort, but that didn't make his stuff anything below great, according to the hitters that saw him first hand.

Sizemore: “For me just missing time and not seeing live pitching for a while, you're obviously just kind of trying to see the pitches well and pick it up out of the hand. But even some of the curveballs that he threw me that I saw well were so sharp that it still kind of fools you and you can't pull the trigger on it. I was definitely impressed, one with his command, and two with his stuff.”

Anna: “A lot of pitches, a lot of movement and really deceiving. … I've seen a lot of (different types of pitches from him). I don't know which ones sometimes, but his splitter is really dirty. His curveball’s really good. His fastball gets on you. It’s definitely tough to face him for sure, with all his pitches and how good they are.”

Wheeler: “I saw one splitter, but the splitter was really nasty. Very nasty. If he throws it like today, he’s going to be successful. That was the one I swung and missed on. It’s a good pitch. … (Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda) have got the slow delivery, take a while to get to the plate and the ball jumps off. But you know, they've got very good stuff. Fastball, slider, everything that pitchers need to get outs.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Yankees have been trying to make an effort lately -- not much, but still and effort -- to improve their bullpen with key relievers like Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan gone from last season.

On Saturday, they cam to terms on a minor league deal with Andrew Bailey, who won't even be able to pitch until late in the season, possibly August or September, according to GM Brian Cashman, and they could be setting their sites on another possible late-inning reliever.

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Yankees are keeping an eye on another former Red Sox reliever, Joel Hanrahan, who is also working his way back from surgery.

Martino writes:

The Yankees also continue to monitor another former All-Star, Joel Hanrahan, who underwent Tommy John last year (the Mets have also watched him throw a bullpen session). If Robertson is successful, a player like Hanrahan would probably serve as a setup man.
All of this might end up being due diligence, but it underscores that even internally, the Yankees understand their bullpen is thin, a potential weakness that could undermine some of their improvements in other areas, like the rotation and lineup.

Hanrahan underwent Tommy John on May 16th of last year, and it's very possible that he could be ready to pitch in the majors as some point in the first half of the season, and that could be a big deal.

David Robertson is the leading, and only, candidate to assume the closer role from the now retired Rivera, and Shawn Kelley appears the be the front-runner to replace Robertson as the setup man. Ideally, the Yankees would like Bailey to be healthy at the end of the season to help give a boost to the back-end of the bullpen, and Hanrahan can do the same thing, but much earlier in the season.

Hanrahan, 32, has a career 3.85 ERA, and can be very lethal on the mound when healthy. He only pitched 7 1/3 innings for Boston in 2013 before bring shutdown.

I'm not saying that they need to do everything they can to sign this guy, but bringing him in on a minor league deal can be another low-risk, high reward signing that the Yankees really like to bank on.

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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

The Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East in 2012. So that offseason, they set out to built a team much different than the expensive all-star players that they had brought in before; guys like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

Instead, the signed guys like Johnny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Mike Napoli -- clubhouse guys that play for the team, and not the player.


Well, that team turned right around to win the division, and eventually the World Series.


And now here are the Yankees. They missed the playoffs last season, and needed to rebuild their team, having to replace the likes of Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, the disappointments of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson and Boone Logan.


Even though they said that they wouldn't, the Yankees spent a lot of money -- about $500 million -- on free-agents in an effort to set themselves up for a playoff run.


Interestingly enough, three of the players that the Yankees have signed all just happened to have played for the Red Sox in 2013 -- Matt Thornton, Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Bailey. I suppose that if you can't beat your opponents, you might as well become them.


Obviously I'm just kidding with this. I highly doubt that the Yankees set off into the offseason with the goal of signing as many Red Sox players as they can. It just so happened to be that they had needs, and those players filled the holes that needed to be filled.


Unless they go out and sign Stephen Drew, only then will I start to become very suspicious.


Yankees links worth sharing:


* After watching Aledmys Diaz workout the other day, the Yankees have decided that they won't make the Cuban shortstop an offer, reports the NY Post.


* Vidal Nuno will start the Yankees' spring training opener on Tuesday.


* A spring training notebook from Day 9 of workouts; featuring stuff on Michael Pineda, and who will start the other games this week.


* Gardner's extension makes a lot of sense for the Yankees, who almost never extend players.


* The Yankees are playing it smart by locking up Gardner for the next four, possibly five, years.


Today's warm-up song: "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake. He was on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday night, and was pretty good on that. So today's song is because of that.


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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Pineda threw his first live batting practice session Sunday morning, throwing to live hitters for the first time this year. And though it wasn't great, it also wasn't terrible.

“The ball was coming out really good,” catcher John Ryan Murphy said. “Sometimes he tends to cut them a little bit, but that’s usually his first few warm-ups. After he starts getting through a little better, the fastball comes out really good.

"His command was really good today. I don't think he’s where he thinks he should be yet, but overall he was pretty good. … (His command) was better in the bullpen. He was just a little jumpy out there on the mound I think because he was excited and anxious about his first day out there.”

Murphy said that Pineda was throwing much better in the bullpen during warmups, but I can tell you from experience that throwing to just your catcher in the bullpen is much different than having an actual hitter in the box.

"Today was just my first time," Pineda said. "I need to be ready for the games, not batting practice."

** Yankees manager Joe Girardi announce the starting rotation for the first four spring training games: Vidal Nuno will take the mound against FSU on Tuesday; Ivan Nova gets the ball against the Pirates on Wednesday; David Phelps will take the mound Thursday, also against the Pirates; and Adam Warren will start against the Tigers on Friday.

Nuno said that he expects to throw two innings, and I would bet that you can expect the same from the other four starters.

** After coming to terms with right-hander Andrew Bailey Saturday night, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he doesn't expect Bailey to be in the big leagues until late in the season, possibly August or September.

Before he said that, the hope was that he would be ready to pitch by the middle of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery late last season, but considering that he hasn't even began throwing yet, there is still a long way to go in his rehab process.

** While everyone was focusing on Brett Gardner and the four-year contract extension that he signed with the Yankees, it was revealed that Derek Jeter will make his spring debut on Thursday against the Pirates. That game can be seen on YES.

** Speaking of Gardner's extension, Cashman said that he hasn't had any talks with David Robertson's agent about an extension. Robertson is eligible to become a free-agent after the season.

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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Brett Gardner and the Yankees have agreed to terms on a four-year, $52 million extension with the Yankees, says YES Network's Jack Curry. The new deal includes a 5th year club option for $12.5 million or a $2 million buyout.

The extension won't start until 2015, meaning he will still be paid his 2014 salary of $5.6 million.


"I don't want to be anywhere else," Gardner said. "There's no better place to play baseball than in New York. I've never been anywhere else. I got drafted here almost nine years ago, and I love it here. I love everybody in the organization, the coaching staff and all my teammates, and this is where I want to be."


Gardner's extension does not include a no-trade clause, but we will get a $1 million bonus if traded at any point.


The Yankees don't typically give out contract extensions to players, but did try to negotiate with Russell Martin before the 2012 season, and also tried talking with Robinson Cano during last season. Neither player came to an agreement with the Yankees on an extension, and left the Bronx via free-agency.


"It's a demonstration from our end," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "We don't typically do this, but it shows the level of confidence, belief and trust in the type of person and player he is, and we're excited to know he's going to be part of this thing going forward."


This deal obviously eliminates any talks of the Yankees using Gardner as a trade chip to get a pitcher.


But even throughout the trade talks, Brian Cashman has been a big supporter of Gardner, and never really wanted to move him. Back in December, the Yankees reportedly shot down a trade proposal from the Cincinnati Reds that would have sent Gardner to the Reds for Brandon Phillips, straight up.


After locking up Jacoby Ellsbury on a seven-year, $152 million deal this winter, it seemed like the Yankees were ready to trade, or let Gardner walk after this season.


"Free agency is something that, it kind of intrigued me, and it also kind of scared me," Gardner said. "It's probably the biggest decision I ever had to make in my life. I put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day, it's a lot of money.



"Where I come from, that money or twice that much money, I'm not going to change the way I live my life."

Gardner said that his hope is to remain with the Yankees for the rest of his career, and retire as a one-team player, just like his former teammate Mariano Rivera, and soon-to-be former teammate Derek Jeter.


"It's meaningful being able to play for New York, and hopefully one day I can retire and say that I didn't play for another team," Gardner said. "I think that would be awesome. There's definitely a lot more media to deal with on a daily basis, and it seems like a lot more on the line day in and day out, but it's something that I enjoy and it's something that I take a lot of pride in. I love putting on these pinstripes every day."


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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Vidal Nuno told The Star-Ledger Sunday morning that he will start the Yankees' spring training opener Tuesday against Florida State University at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"They just want me to throw strikes," Nuno told the New Jersey paper. "For me, I want to get back into game situations and umpires."


Nuno said that he expects to throw two innings, the norm for early spring training starts.


Nuno is one of the four pitchers that are battling for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation this season, and though he might not be the top candidate, he certainly has shown in the past that he is capable of giving the Yankees quality starts.


He made his major league debut with the Yankees last season on April 29th, pitching three scoreless innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched five scoreless innings in his first start for the Bombers on May 13th in the second game of a double-header against the Cleveland Indians.


Nuno was optioned back down to Triple-A Scranton on May 30th, and suffered a groin injury on June 7th that caused him to miss the rest of the season.


He is a guy that can throw a lot of strikes. People that have watched him before say how much it's like he's a pitcher in a video game, where you can just put down a target and he'll hit it.


You would think that his pretty good stint with the Yankees last season gives him a better chance to make the club. But we shall see.


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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.
When he's healthy, he can bring a lot, actually. You may have saw what was reported Saturday night, that the Yankees are signing reliever Andrew Bailey to a minor-league deal.


Bailey, when healthy, is one of the more underrated relievers in the league. He was great a couple of years ago with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to Boston.

Bailey saw limited time with the Red Sox in his two years on the team because of injuries. The labrum tear knocked him out in 2013 after just 28.2 innings. In two totals years in Boston, his ERA is 4.91 in just over 45 innings.

The first three years of his major league career, all with the Athletics, were much better. His ERA was 2.07 in the three years combined, and he struck out 174 batters in 174 innings, while walking 69. His strikeouts per nine was 9.4 and his walks per nine was 2.8. He was even named AL Rookie of the Year in 2009 after posting a 1.84 ERA in 68 appearances.

David Robertson is expected to be the closer this season, and Shawn Kelley is the early favorite heading ins spring training to be the 8th inning guy in front of Robertson. If Bailey is able to come back healthy mid-season, he could slide into the 8th inning role, and also serve as insurance for Robertson.

I really like this signing. It has a chance to be a very low-risk, high-reward signing for the Yankees if he comes back to be as good as he can be. This is not a guy that was good for a season or two, he has been good throughout his entire career.

I also think that this deal could mean a lot more in 2015 than it does in this season. Because he is going to be missing quite some time with the injury, he could use this year to build his case to be here next year, and make a real run at becoming the closer -- he has 89 career saves -- if Robertson candle handle the 9th inning this season.

Yankees links worth sharing:

* Francisco Cervelli says everything that happened between him, Biogenesis and Major League Baseball was a mistake.

* The Yankees and Red Sox have been getting into a little war of words in the past couple of days, but former Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury is just ignoring everything.

* David Phelps could begin the season in one of several roles for the Yankees, and he'll be ready for whatever that role is.

* There are still five big issues that are confronting the Yankees has they head into the second week of spring training.

* The Yankees are currently the favorites to sign Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who could announce his signing Monday.

Today's warm-up song: "Empire State of Mind" by Jay Z and Alicia Keys. This song goes along with the news that I will announce on Twitter this morning.

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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Yankees' bullpen has been left with quite a few holes  since Mariano Rivera retired during the offseason. After spending nearly $500 million on free-agents over the winter, the Yankees did very little address those bullpen holes.

With David Robertson likely to be the closer, Shawn Kelley the early favorite to be the setup man, and Matt Thornton likely to take over as the lefty in the bullpen after Boone Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies, the rest of the spots are up for grabs.


But that could soon be changing quite a bit with the Yankees reportedly on the verge of signing right-hander Andrew Bailey to a minor-league deal with a ton of incentives included.


The major-league side of Bailey's deal with the Yankees is worth $2.5 million, and includes an option for 2-15, plus a buyout.


Bailey, 29, had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in July, and the hope is that he'll be ready to take the mound for the Yankees in mid-May.


This has a chance to be a very low-risk, high-reward type signing for the Yankees. Back in his early years with the Oakland Athletics, Bailey was one of the best relievers in the league, and getting back to full-health could turn into a big add-on to the bullpen in the middle of the season.


He spent the last couple of years with the Boston Red Sox, and in 2013, he had a 3.77 ERA in 28.1 innings.


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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.
The Yankees are considered the front-runners to land Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz after holding a private workout for the middle-infielder on Friday. 

A decision on where he'll sign could come Monday, with the Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays, Braves, Phillies and Mariners. For the moment, the Cardinals appear to be the other top candidate in the running.


Derek Jeter is expected to be the everyday shortstop for the Yankees this season, with Brendan Ryan getting most of the reps as his back. But with Jeter's impending retirement coming after the season, adding a young middle-infielders for the future is something they must do.

Diaz has been compared to Jose Iglesias in the field, which is a good thing, but they say that his bat is not as good as his glove, which is where spending a lot of money on this kid could become a little risky.

The Yankees already have Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts signed under one-year deals to be the two main second baseman, but if Johnson is going to playing third base a lot this season, Diaz could possibly move over to second to platoon with Roberts, who has not played more than 77 games in the last four years.

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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

The United States and Canada weren't the only bitter rivals going at is Friday, as Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino made some interesting comments during a media session that caught the attention of Yankees president Randy Levine.

Lucchino took some shots at the Yankees after the Bombers spent $438 million to sign Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran this winter.

“We're very different animals. I'm proud of that difference,” Lucchino, speaking about the different styles of the two clubs. “I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. I can't say I wish them well, but I think we've taken a different approach.”

Since Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs after the 2012 season, the Red Sox have tried very hard to rid themselves of big, long-term contract, leading to such moves as trading away Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in August of 2012.

Last winter, they built their teams with a handful of savvy free-agents signings, like Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew. All of those signings played big roles in Boston's World Series run last season.

The Yankees, on the other hand, tried hard to save money the last couple of offseason in hopes of getting under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold by 2014, but after missing the playoffs last season, the spent nearly $500 million on free-agents in hopes of getting them back to October.

"If you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they've done this year, there's quite a contrast there,” Lucchino said. “I'll quickly say we do keep open the prospect of signing a long-term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime. We haven't ruled that out. There's just a rebuttable presumption against doing that. But you can rebut it. The circumstances can allow for you to go ahead and do it. The Yankees do it more often it seems to me as a matter of course."

Yankees team president Randy Levine returned serve after hearing of Lucchino’s comments.

“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees,” Levine said. “But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I’m confident Cash and Joe and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”

Baseball games finally start this week, with Opening Day still a month away. Yet, the rivalry has already begun to heat up this season. Let's play ball already!

Yankees links worth sharing:

Ray Perkins faced replacing the legendary Bear Bryant, much like how David Robertson faces replacing Mariano Rivera.


* Even a simple live batting practice session is a big deal when it comes to Masahiro Tanaka.

* A New York Yankees team preview for 2014 from CBSSports.com.

* A list of international prospects that could be coming to the US next year for the Yankees to target.

* Mark Teixeira is going to miss the first week of spring training games, but could start playing in games by March 3rd, at the earliest.

* Tanaka is still making great impressions early in the spring; CC Sabathia had an interesting trip to Dr. James Andrews' office in October.

Today's warm-up song: "Sirens" by Pearl Jam. I don't know if you have heard this song or not, but Pearl Jam really nailed it with this one. Great listen.

Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Friday, February 21, 2014


TAMPA, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka certainly drew a lot of hype over the winter leading up to his signing with the Yankees, and it will continue to be that way until he pitches in his first major league game this season -- his first start will likely be against the Houston Astros during the opening series of the year.

And even though he's only thrown a handful of time so far this spring, the compliments just continue to roll in.

Tanaka threw his first live batting practice session today, and yep, you guessed it, people had nothing but great things to say about the $155 million 25-year-old.

"As good as advertised," said Brian McCann, who caught Tanaka for the first time. "He’s got a great split. It really falls off the table. His motion’s completely the same as his fastball, and that’s the key to getting swings and misses."

Austin Romine was one of the hitters to face Tanaka today, and he was almost left speechless when he first saw his highly talked about splitter.

"I think he threw a split and I had to turn around and ask what the pitch was," Romine said. "I’ve never seen a ball move like that before. I haven’t had the chance to catch him yet, but from a hitting standpoint, like I said, I’m glad he’s on our team."

"It really falls off the table," McCann said of the pitch. "His motion’s completely the same as his fastball, and that’s the key to getting swings and misses."

Today was the first time that Tanaka had faced live hitters since the final game of last year’s Japanese playoffs. He guessed that he was throwing around 70 percent, and came away happy with the results.

“I felt really good out there,” he said. “It was the first time I had batters in the batter’s box, but I felt really good out there today.”

Tanaka has not yet been told when he will start pitching in spring games, which begin next week, but he says that he'll be ready for whenever his first action might be.

“I don’t think I need that many live BP sessions,” he said. “I’d like to get into games more and try to build my arm strength through games.”

** CC Sabathia said that he went Alabama during the offseason to Dr. James Andrews’ facility in Alabama to have his mechanics analyzed and stored in a database. It was something that he had done 10 years ago with the Cleveland Indians, and wanted to compare between then and now.

"It’s the same as it was 10 years ago," Sabathia said. "… Pretty much, except the rotation in my hips. You get old. You get bad hips when you get old, right?”

After working extremely hard throughout the winter, Sabathia came into camp weighing 40 pounds lighter than he has in the past.

"I threw all offseason, so I’m ahead of where I was last spring, maybe even the spring before, just from all the work I’ve been doing," Sabathia said. "I’m encouraged by the way I feel. My arm angle seems to be good, getting the ball out, my arm just needs to catch up with the rest of my body."

He threw 25 pitches of live batting practice Friday and that he couldn't find the strike zone very often, but feels much better on the pound after dropping weight and having a full year to recover from his elbow surgery last offseason.

“I felt great,” Sabathia said. “My legs felt great, didn’t get tired, so I’m actually excited. I know it wasn’t the prettiest, but it felt good.”

** Yankees manager Joe Girardi will announce on Sunday who he plans to start in the early slate of spring training games that start with Florida State University on Tuesday, followed by games with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and Thursday.

The early signs so far, based on who has been throwing lately, point to David Phelps and Vidal Nuno each getting a start next week.

** Girardi has said that Francisco Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and Romine will battle it out for the backup catchers job behind McCann this season, but he may have also hinted that Cervelli currently has the upper-hand in the competition.

"You’ve got three guys vying for that spot that played for us last year, so obviously there’s some competition there," Girardi said. "You’re looking for the best player, but [Cervelli] has got more experience than all of them and he played very well in the short time that we had him last year."

If you remember, Cervelli won the job last spring, but played in just 17 games in 2013 because of a broken hand that he suffered early in the season, and then a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

Also, the fact that Romine and Murphy have options could come into play. “That’s something that’s always brought up,” Girardi said. “Obviously, we’re in this thing to win it so we got to do what we feel is best.”

** Alfonso Soriano missed his second straight day of workouts for what is being called the flu. Soriano was seen in the weight room earlier in the day, working out a little bit.

"He's a little better today than he was yesterday," Girardi said. "We hope to have him out there tomorrow."

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 Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is still recovering from the wrist surgery that he had in July, and it's going to cause him to miss the first week of spring training games. The Yankees' first exhibition game is on Tuesday against Florida State University, but Teixeira won't be able to play until March 3rd, at the earliest.

Teixeira has yet to take live batting practice this spring, but says that he is about ten days away from facing live pitchers.

When he does start playing in games, he'll being doing so with his wrists taped, something that he says he had never done before January.

“I am following doctors’ orders,’’ said Teixeira. “The tape feels good and I tape myself.’’

Kelly Johnson is going to be Teixeira's backup at first base according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Johnson is also expected to spend a lot of time at third base, so you can see that this isn't the ideal situation.

Russ Canzler is also in camp this spring as a non-roster invite, and we can assume that he'll play in some games at third base, filling in for Teixeira, and letting Johnson play third base. Corban Joseph is also in camp, and also has experience playing first base.

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Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.

Prior to the 2013 the Yankees decided to acquire a second GCL team. The move allowed the Yankees to bring over more new Latin American players than ever before. Because the Yankees had two rosters, players like Thairo Estrada, Alvaro Noriega, Luis Torrens, Abiatal Avelino and many others had the opportunity to come to the states and get consistent playing time. Estrada for example would of probably had to play in the DSL last year if the Yankees didn't add another GCL team.

Considering the Yankees are expected to make a huge splash in the international market in 2014-2015 they might push even more talent to the GCL this year. This would clear as much room as possible for the 2015 roster crunch. While we don't know exactly who the Yankees are going to send to the GCL next season, there are some obvious candidates.

Below is a list of prospects that may make their stateside debuts in 2014. The list includes any public information on these players. Lastly the list wasn't made in any particular order.

1. Manolo Reyes:

Reyes has had a tough journey so far. He originally signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2008, but was suspended and released due to questions about his paperwork. Because of paperwork issues, and his suspension, he had to wait until 2012 to sign with another team. Fortunately for him, he was able to sign with a team before MLB IFA restrictions were implemented.

The right-hander  signed for 600 thousand.Considering that he is now 24 years old he will have to make a Rafeal De Puala like splash in his debut to be taken seriously. Reyes is known primarily for throwing a very hard fastball that has reached 99 MPH in the past. In addition to his fastball he throws a hard curveball and a powerfull splitter. The stuff seems to be there for him to succeed, but he really lacks command and control.

2. Domingo Acevedo:

Like Reyes, Acevedo's fastball sits in upper 90's and has reached 99 MPH. That's pretty much the only similiarity between the two players. Acevedo has much better control than Reyes and only walked 11 batters in 41 innings. Acevedo's secondary pitches are a changeup and a breaking ball, that both need work. He's an unfinished product, but he's only 19 years old. Acevedo has a very high ceiling. Recently Ben Badler tweeted this about Acevedo  he has a "Mid-90s fastball, feel for a changeup" and is an "enormous human".

3. Simon De La Rosa:

De La Rosa was signed for 50,000 in 2012, a signing that is believed to be a great bargain. Like the previous two players on this list De La Rosa has a mid-90s fastball. But his command isn't perfect, and in general he struggles with command and control. He a BB/9 of 6.55 last season. In addition to his fastball he has a an above average curve. De La Rosa is still just 20, so he won't be that old if he enters the GCL now.

4. Jorge Mateo:

There are a lot of shortstops that appear ready to jump to the states next season, but Mateo has more potential than any of them. Mateo had a WOBA of .405, and a WRC+ of 145 last season, to go with 49 stolen bases, and 7 homeruns. Mateo's weighted stolen base total per a 100 at bats (wSB/100) implies that he is one of the best base-stealers in the minor leagues. Mateo's wSB/100 is 6.5. That is .1 point lower than Billy Hamilton's. Mateo is also thought to be a good defender, with excellent range. Mateo's overall package suggests he may be this years version of Abiatal Avelino.Mateo will be 19 next season and is ticketed to begin the season with one of the two GCL teams.

5. Yancarlos Baez:

Baez was one of the Yankees big international signings in 2012. Baez signed for $650,000, a figure some thought was too high. The Yankees picked him over Wendell Rijo, so they obviously believe in him. Baez is fast switch hitting shortstop, that may have above average offensive potential. Unfortunately Baez missed the entire 2013 season due to injuries and may not be ready to begin the 2014 season in the Gulf Coast League. The Yankees might have to push there anyway, considering they are rumored to have signed several shortstops.

6. Yonauris Rodriguez:

The Yankees signed Rodriguez this past season for $575k. Like Baez, Rodriguez is a shortstop that is known more for his glove than his bat. Rodriguez is a high-energy player who has quick hands, a strong arm and good range on defense. He was actually considered one of the best defensive players at the position in last years IFA pool. However he was not ranked as a top 30 player by Baseball America. Rodriguez is probably going to stick in the DSL this season, but the possibility exists that he impresses the Yankees enough to let him play in the GCL at some point.

7. Angel Aguilar:

Anguilar is the final shortstop on this list, and probably has a better shot to come stateside than the previous two players. That's because he already has a couple years of DSL action under his belt. He had a WOBA of .356 and a WRC+ of 116. Like Mateo, he will be 19 next season and should play on one of the two GCL teams.

8. Alexander Palma:

Palma was the second biggest signing of the Yankees 2012 class. He signed for $800k, and was kept in the DSL for the entire season. Palma is thought to have good bat speed and the ability to be a good hitter. Badler wrote that he was one of the better batters in his class, and while some question his power he should be an all around good offensive player. Defensively he looks like a right fielder who has average speed.

9. Wilmer Romero:

Romero, is a good example of just how far top international players can  fall. He was ranked as the 9th best international free agent, when the Yankees signed him in 2011 but has yet to make his U.S debut. When he first signed Kieth Law had this to say: he's “a potential five-tool center/right fielder.”
Badler also praised him, saying that he “has a projectable, athletic frame with plus speed, a plus arm and plus raw power.” Despite this high praise Romero has spent three seasons in the DSL. Romero will need to show his potential in the GCL next year, or he will be a forgotten prospect. He's still just 20 years old so he has some time on his side.

The previous nine prospects are/were highly thought of players. This is why there was as much public information about their skills or background. However the following group of players are known mainly for their stats, which is why they won't get a detailed writeup. These players are:

10. Christopher Cabrera:

Cabrera was a once highly touted righty starter, that needed Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and needed surgery. Since the surgery he hasn't really been himself, and may never reach his potential.

11. Frank Frias:

Frias put up monster numbers in the DSL last season. Frias posted a WRC+ of 161, and a .432 WOBA. Frias will be 20 years old when the GCL season begins, so it makes sense to start him there. The outfielders ceiling isn't really known, but hopefully those numbers aren't a fluke. It worth noting that DSL numbers carry very little weight.

12.  Allen Valerio:

Valerio just turned 21 years old a month ago, so he will probably be pushed to the GCL next season.  Considering that he plays first and third he'll probably have no trouble finding playing time.  Valerio really improved his 2012 stat line, and may be a later bloomer. Valerio WOBA was .423 and his WRC+ was 156. He also showed a great eye at the plate, by having a walk rate over 16%.

Other possible players are: catcher Brian Reyes, LHP Carlos Diaz, RHP Moises Cedeno, OF  Miguel Mojica, RHP Jordan Ovales, Luis Cedeno, Jhoan Morban, catcher Jesus Aparicio, OF Adam Silva and a few other players.

This may seem like a lot of names, but fans should remember two things: the Yankees brought over 25 international players last season, and not everyone on this list is a star. The first nine players in this article, have the highest profiles and include most of the higher ceiling players.With that said sometimes players can come out of nowhere, so it's a good thing the Yankees have so many low level teams for these guys to play on.

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Josh Sabo is  Minor League writer for Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @JoshSabo1.