Sunday, January 13, 2008

Huston Street

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, industry sources believe that Billy Beane and the A's may continue the rebuilding process by dealing Huston Street, following the acquisition of Joey Devine. The Yankees would be wise to get involved in any kind of Street sweepstakes, as the bullpen is certainly an area of concern at this point, and Street would provide the dominant set up man the Yankees lack. While he is sure to be expensive, a talented reliever like Street does not become available everyday and he would fill more of a need than Johan Santana. A package centering around Alan Horne and including 2 or 3 additional players could get it done.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

#9 Prospect: Andrew Brackman

Age: 22

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 230 lbs

Position: Starting Pitcher, Right Handed

Andrew Brackman was the Yankees' first selection with the 30th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. Brackman spent his collegiate career at NC State, where he was a dual sport athlete for the Wolfpack, playing on the basketball team and pitching for the baseball team. After his sophmore season at NC State, Brackman decided to dedicate his time to baseball and from the looks of it, he made a good choice. A-Brack signed a 4.5 million dollar contract with a 3.3 million dollar signing bonus.

Brackman was a standout athlete at Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He led his baseball team to the Ohio State Chamionship game as a senior with a 1.04 ERA and was also named the fourth best prospect in Ohio by Baseball America. Brackman was also a dominant force on the basketball court, averaging 20 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. He was the runner up for the Mr. Basketball Award in Ohio but won Ohio's Division I Player of the Year honors.

Brackman uses his large, powerful frame to pound the zone with blistering heat. Brackman comfortably sits at 92-97 mph and can easily pump it up to 99 mph. His four seam fastball(thanks to his tall frame) has a great downward plane and his two seamer has "plus life" to it. Brackman also throws a spike knuckle curve. A true plus pitch, this is Brackman's primary strikeout pitch which is said to be a devastating offering. Brackman's third offering is a change-up which is average right now but also has the potential to be a plus pitch.

Brackman was a risky pick by the Yankees due to his injury issues but the sky is the limit for A-Brack. While he isn't a very polished pitcher, his stuff, his stature, and his athleticism make him a top tier prospect with the potential to be one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. I truly believe that with the help of Nardi Contreras and a lot of hard work, he can become a dominating force in the majors. Tommy John has a very high success rate now and most pitchers come back throwing even harder. This surgery could help Brackman more than hinder him since he seems so eager to hit the 100 mph mark, a feat he has never accomplished. Hopefully Brackman reaches his potential because he is a once in a life time talent.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hey Guys!

Welcome those visiting from Peter Abraham's blog...take a look at some of the older posts, we have a lot of creativity here and if you read the post just below this one you'll see that it is the elongated version of my post on Peter's blog. Thanks a lot again to Peter for the opportunity and you all for visiting.

Who is in charge here?

Who’s the boss? That’s the question in the Yankees front office right now, and despite the power seized by Brian Cashman after 2005, right now, it doesn’t look as though he still has his power.
First of all, we have to look at what Cashman has done since being given full control. In the 2005-06 off season, Cashman gave Johnny Damon a four year deal to fix centerfield, and that has been with mixed results as of now. His 2006 was very good and he filled a major need, but his 2007 proved injury prone, but he did play significantly better after he did recover late in the year, and proved he can still be a fine defensive outfielder, in spite of his arm. Kyle Farnsworth was signed to a three-year deal that has been a disappointment. Farnsworth is dominant at times, but is far too inconsistent to be effective in the bullpen. Cashman signed Octavio Dotel, who proved to not be able to pitch until August, and would have proven a much better signing if the Yankees had an option year on him for 2007, where we could have gotten a better idea of how healthy he was. Dotel appeared effective, if wild, in his brief Yankees stint.

Flash forward to the 2006 trade deadline, when he made the deal in which we gave up nothing particularly useful (save for a sufficient young middle reliever) for a top 5 offensive right fielder in Bobby Abreu. Abreu went on a tear with the Yankees and after a slow start to 2007 continued on the tear and has been an excellent acquisition. The trade of Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson was a good one, that will never be recognized because Wilson struggled under his limited and wildly inconsistent playing time, but has a career OPS+ of 113 and has hit .290/.389/.527 against left-handers. When it is considered that we obtained him for a meddling starting pitcher with tremendous control problems currently fighting for a starting spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, this was a trade that was good, but didn’t quite pan out.

The 2006 off-season was where Cashman really got creative, as he swung deals exchanging Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson for Luis Vizcaino, Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Alberto Gonzalez, while signing Andy Pettitte to fill Johnson’s void in the rotation. Those deals did little to contribute in 2007, as Vizcaino was the only one to see significant time with the major league club, but it did help to restock the farm system with young arms, many of which are projected to see Major League time in 2008 with a degree of success expected. Andy Pettitte was an excellent addition as he provided some stability to an otherwise injury prone rotation and looks to help ease a very young rotation into success in 2008. The letting-go of Bernie Williams was critical, as it became more and more apparent he was a designated hitter who struggled against right-handers and was on a team full of them. Re-signing Mike Mussina was a mistake that I did not advocate, and after one year, it appears as though Mussina’s starting spot may be in serious jeopardy for 2008. The acquisition of Japanese postee Kei Igawa looks like a mistake after just one season, but it is important to remember that he did have brief stretches of success in 2007, and he was signed to a very cheap 5-year contract, making judgement of the acquisition difficult at this time, although it certainly cannot count as a point in Cashman’s favor.

There was just one significant midseason trade in 2007, and that was of Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit, an excellent deal. Proctor was rapidly on the decline, with significant increases in ERA, walks, WHiP and a decline in K/9 and K/BB. Betemit was a 25-year old switch hitter with tons of power potential and considerable enough plate discipline to make a difference. While he can’t hit lefties, a platoon with Shelley Duncan should help solve that problem at first base and his versatility off the bench is of great importance, as the Yankees can rest Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano or Alex Rodriguez without too great a loss, and his defense is more than sufficient across the infield. Additionally, despite the off-season controversy, the signing of Roger Clemens has to be commended because ultimately, it was either Clemens getting those starts or another Cashman signing in Kei Igawa, and obviously anyone would prefer Clemens, who did do a very solid job down the stretch for the team.

Thus far this offseason, he hasn’t added much other than LaTroy Hawkins and retained Rodriguez, Pettitte and Posada, but he did secure Joe Girardi, which was a major point in our favor as his bullpen management and in-game strategy should be a significant boost to the Yankees on the whole. Over the past two seasons of full Cashman control, the Yankees have drafted the highly talented Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Melancon, Andrew Brackman, Brad Suttle and Carmen Angelini, while standing firm in his position to not trade them or the very highly regarded Phil Hughes, Jose Tabata and Alan Horne. The Yankees farm system has gone from one of the worst to one of the best in a short time, and while this is partially the work of Damon Oppenheimer, Cashman does play a role in the players drafted, particularly those in the later rounds, where Cashman has taken advantage of the Yankees’ financial strength and taken players who fell because of injury concerns or signability issues late in the draft, and enticed them to sign by doling out first round contracts.

The information above makes it clear that Cashman’s clear talent is for drafting and developing. While his trades have all been strong, his free agent signings have proven to be a mixed bag, with some great, some terrible. Recent reports suggest that Hank Steinbrenner has assumed much of the control, and Brian Cashman no longer has it. I think it is clear that Cashman is an excellent General Manager who has turned us into a very well run organization in a very short time and deserves the power he had and should maintain it. This is no knock on Hank, but Brian has been far above average and should continue to help us. It would be a massive disaster if the team pushed him out of the picture and allowed him to leave as a free agent after this year.

#10 Prospect: Jeff Marquez

Age: 23

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 175 lbs

Position: Starting Pitcher, Right Handed.

Jeff Marquez was the 41st pick in the supplemental round of the 2004 draft out of Sacramento City College as a compensation pick for the loss of free agent David Wells to the San Diego Padres. Jeff essentially is a power sinkerball pitcher that throws a 2 seam fastball with a hard downward plane, a four seam fastball that tops out at about 95, a plus change-up, and an average curveball that he has been developing for the last two seasons. Jeff hammers the zone with his two seam fastball to get ground balls but he has also shown the ability to strike batters out(career 6.78 K/9). Marquez controls his fastball and devastating change-up very well but is still having trouble locating his curveball.

This year at Trenton, Marquez had mixed results. His strikeouts were down, 5.45 K/9 compared to 7.99 K/9 in 2006. His GO/AO ratio was also down at 1.67 compared to 2.03 last season. His overall numbers were still excellent as he pitched 155 innings with a 3.65 ERA. He was much better in the first half of the season then the second as his ERA was almost one and a half runs higher(3.18 to 4.47 ERA).

Marquez is a very interesting prospect, he has great stuff, great control but as a "sinkerball" pitcher his GO/AO ratio concerns me. A good sinkerball pitcher should post a GO/AO ratio of 3.00. Marquez's best ratio was 2.03, which he posted last year in Tampa. In Marquez's defense, he isn't exactly pitching with a major league defense behind him so his GO/AO ratio could see a significant increase if he pitched on a major league ball club. The high fly ball total could be due to the increased frequency with which he used his curveball, a pitch he has yet to master.

Marquez's future rides on his development of his curveball. He has two major league ready pitches in his fastball and change-up but if he doesn't develop the curve, he may wind up in the bullpen- which isn't a bad thing. This may be the best spot for Marquez anyway since all of the rotation spots are filled. Brian Cashman has already stated that Marquez will be tried out as a reliever in Spring Training.

Jeff will most likely start the year in Scranton in the bullpen unless he makes huge strides with his curveball. If a pitcher lands on the DL, Marquez will probably be one of the first few arms to be called up to take over. If his curve becomes a legitimate pitch, Marquez could end up being a solid #4 or #5 starter in a major league rotation. If not, his future is in the bullpen where he could become an excellent set up man.

Credit: Patrick Teale

Mike Cameron

Just read that Mike Cameron was on the verge of signing with the Brewers shortly after reports that the Yankees had interest. This is disappointing, as Cameron would prove to be a significant upgrade over Melky Cabrera in center field offensively, and provide sufficient defense. Cabrera is a nice player, but his ceiling is limited and he's never shown the power or patience coveted when evaluating offensive value. Nonetheless, I have to believe this limits the chances of a Johan Santana trade, if ever so slightly, just because the Yankees would have one less option in terms of playing center field.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yankees Top 10 Prospects

In the next few weeks, myself and members of Holy Cow Blog will be creating a Top 10 prospect list which will be voted upon by the writers of the blog and other trusted prospect buffs. The system will work like this:

1. 10 points
2. 9 points
3. 8 points
4. 7 points
5. 6 points

and so on...

The points will be tallied and we should have the list up by the end of the week. Once the list is posted, I will be doing a prospect profile for each ranked player.