Daily Archives: March 8, 2013

With Teixeira out, who plays first?

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If the Yankees weren’t in trouble when Curtis Granderson went down, then they were really in trouble when Mark Teixeira went down. With two-thirds of the Yankees power bats down due to injury, the Yankees have to scramble to figure out who is going to take the coveted honor of being the Opening Day first baseman. Out of curiosity yesterday, I asked my Twitter followers what they think the Yankees should do about the first base situation. Their answers actually made more sense and gave more insight than anything Brian Cashman has said so far. Here were some of their suggestions (and me adding commentary).

My thoughts: The Mark Reynolds idea, I actually liked but there was a small problem. If we sign Mark Reynolds he would basically be Curtis Granderson 2.0. He has the power but he also strikes out a lot. The second suggestion of moving Youkilis to first and Nix to third is a more realistic idea. Youkilis has played first in his career so him moving him there would be a good idea and for the meantime have Nix go to third. Defensively that would work out great. Offensively, Nix would have to step out (and so would Youkilis).

My Thoughts: Not well, but they can play. That would be a great way to describe the two suggestions, mostly Rivera. Johnson has actually been impressive at first when he’s played during the Spring. His defense this Spring has almost been Teixeira-like. Almost. But I think Dan Johnson could be a good defensive first baseman in the meantime while we wait for Teixeira to come back. It’s not like we’re really missing anything with Teixeira’s bat in April, anyway. It’s more about defense for the first month.

My Thoughts: Again, good idea to move Youkilis to first but the Yankees would never move Nunez to third. Yankees made it clear he was just the shortstop. Nothing else. Besides, moving around and committing errors was what got Nunez sent to the minors last season in the first place.

My Thoughts: Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff as replacements for Teixeira. All right, that sounds like a good idea but what happens to them after Teixeira comes back? They’d have to go somewhere and I don’t think either of them have minor league options. Staying in house with Dan Johnson seems more realistic.

My Thoughts: I’m sold! I’m sold! I am sold! Johnny Damon did offer his services to the Yankees for the outfield position but Cashman said no. Maybe Johnny would like to come back at the first baseman. But, we can’t get our hopes up. Cashman would most likely say no again. And losing Raul Ibanez does hurt a lot more now. Ibanez had a great bat and wasn’t bad when you put him in the outfield. It now hurts a lot that the Yankees didn’t even bother making an offer for Ibanez. That could have helped.

My Thoughts: It hurts even more now that the Yankees don’t have Eric Chavez. Chavez had been one great bat and a good defender for the Yanks, so having him back would be a great idea. Only question would be, what would the Yankees have to give in order to get Chavez, and would the Arizona Diamondbacks want to actually give up Chavez. He’s there now, and the Yankees doing nothing to bring him back in the offseason is coming back to bite them.

It seemed the popular option when I asked was Dan Johnson to be the first baseman. I wouldn’t mind Dan Johnson taking over for Teixeira in April, and he can’t possibly hit any worse in April than Tex. Choosing a first baseman for the Yankees leads to fans thinking of a lot of possibilities for the team. So, who would you choose?

Spring Training 3/8/13 Lineup

Brett Gardner DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Jayson Nix 2B
Dan Johnson 1B
Melky Mesa CF
Thomas Neal LF
Ronnier Mustelier RF

Adam Warren P

Start Time: 1:05 p.m.
T.V: Marlins Television

Prospect Predictions: 2013 Edition

New home of the SWB Rail Riders

New home of the SWB Rail Riders

With spring training under way and a pretty good view of what’s to come, let’s get into a little fortune telling for the 2013 season. I’ve singled out a few categories to focus on concerning our young up and comers and have chosen a position player and pitcher to highlight in each one, so without further nonsense let’s get started….

Returning from Injury:

Jose Campos

Here’s the obvious choice for a rebound season after spending much of 2012 on the DL. The sometimes referred to “spare part” in The Trade, Campos broke out of the gate and did exactly what he was projected to have done. Through his first four starts consisting of 22 innings, he allowed three earned runs, walked five and struck out 23. In spite of only allowing 2 runs in that fourth start, he allowed twice as many hits (8) as he had in any other game, indicating a bit of an issue. In his following outing the wheels came off and he gave up a staggering 8 earned in just 2.2 innings. He was pulled from that game and shut down for what ended up being the remainder of the season. It later came out that he was experiencing some elbow discomfort, and not just the usual aches and pains that pitchers go through but something more serious. He admitted that he tried to look past the pain in order to stay on the mound, not wanting to disappoint his new team. Armed with some plus stuff, excellent command and polish not usually found in players his age, Jose has an excellent chance to make his way up the prospect lists. His health is obviously a question mark right now, but if he can stay off the DL he will be an important part of the depth of pitchers in the system.

Ravel Santana

Santana made his way back to the diamond last year, but it was on the tail of a devastating ankle injury, much like that suffered by David Adams. Reports were that he was not operating at full tilt, and was tentative in many respects. It wasn’t surprising to see as the injury was fairly severe and a full recovery wasn’t expected to come in his first year back. After a stint in the DSL, Ravel made his stateside debut in the GCL in 2011 and put up a .929 OPS. His season ended in ugly fashion, and he spent the winter and into the following summer rehabbing his way back to the field. Before the injury, Santana was a five tool player that was one of the most exciting in the system. Since his recovery he’s held back in the field and on the bases, as well as getting antsy at the plate. He also experienced some issues seeing the ball in his first ever night games, which was addressed and supposedly he began to adjust to. It remains to be seen how he’s going to come back once he’s had a full recovery and he gains his confidence back, so this prediction has a few caveats but I’ll take the gamble. Ravel has major upside to his game and can make an impact in a number of ways; the kind of player you’d love to dream on.

Other notables: Danny Burawa, Angelo Gumbs, Jake Cave, Anderson Feliz

Bounce-back Season:

Dante Bichette Jr.

Dante’s first year of full season ball was well, a disaster on paper. A former first round pick, DBJ tore up his debut in short season leagues hitting to the tune of a .947 OPS across both the GCL and NYPL. Dante earned a promotion to play in low A at Charleston and that’s when he hit a wall. Both his power and patience at the plate took a hiatus, and his average fell nearly a hundred points, bringing his OPS down to .653. What you won’t find on any of the stat sheets are the things behind the scenes; mainly the changes in his approach that he went through in his quest to make it to the big leagues. While Dante has always been a bat first guy, there were some things about his swing that concerned the team with him moving forward. While it wasn’t something that would hinder him in the lower levels, his swing was a bit long and would be subject to exposure against advanced pitching. Better to address it now then to wait until he was already over his head. DBJ went through a few different approaches at the plate, making slight alterations to his mechanics throughout the year. He finally settled in to something that was comfortable to him, and reports were that it finally paid off, although it was quite late in the season for it to make any significant change in his overall numbers. With his swing working the way they want it to, look for Dante to bounce back in 2013 and show the prowess at the plate we saw in his debut.

Bryan Mitchell

Mitchell is regarded as having some of the best raw stuff in the system, but has yet to put it all together in a consistent season long run. He has the strike out numbers you want to see, knocking out a batter per inning, but his walk totals tell the story of his inconsistencies around the zone. Looking at his game logs you’ll see him go from one run games to an ERA north of 9, further exemplifying his issues with staying on track. He’ll be heading into his age 22 season and a trip to Tampa this year, so he’s not exactly behind the curve, but with his raw stuff and pitchability you want to see better results. He did end the season on a high note, throwing two scoreless 6 inning outings to cap off an up and down year. If he can stay within himself and not revert to the max-effort approach on every pitch he might just start to live up to his potential. When he’s free and easy he’s a force to be reckoned with, it’s a matter of getting that guy on the mound each night.

Other rebounders: Cito Culver, Taylor Morton, Graham Stoneburner

Breakout Year:

Jose Ramirez

I did a profile on Jose last year, as I really liked what I was seeing out of him and his finally putting it all together. The rub with Jose was his issues in staying on the field, and is still a concern but the questions about his stuff have been put to rest. He’s always had potential as a reliever, with two offerings that are easily a plus grade if not higher. He throws a heavy FB with good arm side run to it that sits in the mid 90’s and gains a few ticks as he gets warmed up. He was reported to have hit a legit 100 mph last year and can get just below that with regularity. His changeup is one of the two or three best in the system beside Banuelos and Kahnle giving him a great jump-off point. What he struggled with for so long was his breaking ball, changing it numerous times trying to find something he was comfortable with. He eventually settled on a slider, which shows being anywhere from average to plus depending on the outing. It’s this third pitch that will help keep him in the rotation and keep his value at a maximum. We’ve gotten to see him a few times during this years spring training, and so far he’s showing that potential. He’s garnered some praise from the staff and stood out on the mound flashing his plus pitches. One area that was questionable about him, his poise and makeup, has been put to the test thus far as he’s gotten himself in a few jams but managed to work his way out of them. A good sign for sure, and hopefully he’ll continue in that vein. He’ll be part of a pretty solid rotation in Trenton and with a solid year could make a play for time in the BX in 2014.

Greg Bird

Bird could have been also fit into the bounce back from injury category, just Ravel could have been pegged into this one, but so be it. Bird is all bat; he started out as a catcher but injury concerns have pushed him to first base. He has plenty of stick to remain there though, as he displays plus power to the pull side and above average to the opposite field. A short stroke, tremendous bat speed and an eye for the plate could easily have him hitting for average as well. He’s also showed to have above average defense playing first base. A healthy season in Charleston could have him putting his middle of the order potential on display for us all in 2013.

Also on the rise: Rafael DePaula, Matt Snyder, Gabe Encinas, Corey Black

Dark Horse:

Vidal Nuno

I’ve mentioned Nuno in the past, and probably have a bit of bias towards the guy but he’s earned a mention here as a dark horse candidate. Vidal went through some growing pains as a young player and ended up getting cut from Cleveland’s system and looking for work in the Indy Leagues. Through all that he’s come a long way as both a person and a player, committing himself to his craft and further developing his repertoire. He worked on his changeup and cleaned up his mechanics, giving him a nice pitch mix and a consistent solid delivery that saw him handing out very few free passes and leading the system in K’s last year. He’s not an overpowering pitcher, sitting around 88-91 with his FB, but he has a fair amount of deception to his delivery and very good command of the zone. He’ll always have to rely on his accuracy as he won’t be able to simply muscle his way through a lineup, but being left handed and keeping runners off the basepaths is a good thing in YS. He will come to SWB to start the year, and likely sits behind Warren in the pecking order but i’d really like to see him get his shot in the BX, wether it’s for a few spot starts or as a left handed long man in the event that Phelps gets bumped up to the rotation. Nuno is a bit of an underdog here, and I like that about him.

Ben Gamel

Gamel got the snub on our prospect list this year, but when you consider how close those guys are at the bottom of that list it’s not as bad as it first seems. When you get to that point, you could exchange several of them and they all could make a claim for making the cut. Gamel, like Flores a year ago gets lost in the fray a bit with all of the big name OF prospects that have made their way to center stage the last two years. Flying under the radar isn’t a bad thing though, but it may not be for long. Gamel can flat out hit, showing excellent plate recognition, the ability to hit to all fields and get the barrel on the ball. Right now his power is mainly to the gaps, but from what we’ve heard he’s packed on a bit of muscle this past winter and that gap power could translate into over the fence power. Gamel can cover any spot in the OF, playing up a bit more to the plus side in the corners. In a system wrought with center fielders his best chance to make a name for himself may be a corner spot, so his power will have to evolve as he moves along. If he did indeed bulk up and it carries over to game time Ben could make his bones as a regular corner guy. Everything else is there, it’s all about the long ball now.

Deeper in the shadows: Chris Breen, Rookie Davis, Jordan Cote

The baseball world is no doubt abuzz today with the news that one Mariano Rivera will announce his retirement upon the conclusion of the 2013 season in a press conference being held tomorrow. I just want to take a quick moment to tip my cap to not just the greatest closer the game has ever seen, but one of the greatest pitchers, mentors, role models and all around human beings to ever grace the diamond. It’s been nothing short of a thrill to have spent the better part of the last two decades watching him confound hitters, breaking their bats and sending them on their way. He is as ageless as he is beguiling, and I look forward in relishing every last time he takes the stage this final season. Thanks for all of the great memories Mo… words that hardly seem adequate.

Morning Bits: Mariano, Tex injury update, Cashman quotes and more…

mug3Good morning all.   Let’s get you going with the some articles.  Enjoy the weekend.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times looks into Mariano closing out his career.

— Daily News writer Mark Feinsand mentions that doctors told Teixeira that the wrist injury shouldn’t linger all season.

Bill Madden of The Daily News writes that Cashman is going to sit and wait out the injuries.

From the YES NETWORK here is a quick cut of Joba.