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New York Yankees: All-Prospect Team Position by Position

Up until 2010, the New York Yankees and the words ‘Farm System’ were rarely used in the same sentence.

Just as the Yankees do with everything and anything, the task of building up a reputable farm system was met with relentless determination to do whatever it took to be deemed one of the best.

As I go through a zillion stats and video clips, some prospects stood out more than others.

Based on all my tireless research and notes from whom I liked down in Tampa, I present my New York Yankees All-Prospect Team.

This list covers all fielding positions and the DH, but not pitching as that talent deserves it’s own article.

**SIDE NOTE: The Yankees looked for certain distinct traits during the 2009-2010 drafts, as they grabbed more overall athletic players with risk, instead of grabbing guys with more definite talent but less upside. This seemed to baffle other teams scouts, as it made no sense when the Yankees could have waited and gotten a majority of these youngsters in later rounds.

Either the Yankees front office is trying to build a young bench, while hoping one or two turn into Brett Gardners’…. OR they will be used as pure trade-bait with no intentions of ever making them the future of the Yankees. Most of these prospects have the potential to be legitimate players, but getting them there is another story. This is purely just my opinion.

CATCHER: Gary Sanchez

This was not an easy choice, but 18-year-old Gary Sanchez has all the best traits of Austin Romine‘s defense and Jesus Montero‘s bat.

The Yankees gave Sanchez $3 million to obtain his talents, but that is a lot of money for a teenager and it can bring distractions. If Sanchez continues to work hard he will be a premier catcher and hitter in the majors.

Sanchez is 6’2″ and 190 pounds, which is a great size to be efficient behind the plate. He has advanced defensive skills, a strong throwing arm but he needs continual practice to perfect using them all together.

He already has above average power offensively and as Sanchez matures physically, so should his bat. Whether Sanchez can mentally stay in check through it all could be his greatest downfall, but my bet is in 2010 he will be one of the top five prospects in baseball.

DH/1B: Jesus Montero

Sorry, but I just don’t see Jesus Montero remaining behind the plate as a catcher. Especially if he stays in pinstripes it just isn’t happening, with all the talent the Yankees have at his position.

This spring did not help the highly coveted Montero’s reputation that he could hit or play defense. It was really ugly and defensively Montero is not a natural catcher, especially standing at 6’5″ and 230 pounds.

Montero has proven himself enough with his bat in the minors to be rated one of the top ten prospects across baseball. I bet some people might have a different vote post-Spring Training.

Montero will be my DH/1B, but that is all. My guess is Montero will never see the Bronx in any other role than as a DH. Montero could possibly, yet highly unlikely be manning first-base down the road too.

There is no other 1B prospect down on the Yankee farm that provides a bat like Montero’s. He can manage first-base just as well as any other youngster because he can hit and this team needs some reliable power.

Should I take that last sentence back??

No, only because these players are all so underdeveloped and this is part of the learning curve to get to the bigs.

2B: Corban Joseph

Second baseman Corban Joseph is said to have the best bat of all the Yankee prospects, behind Jesus Montero.

Even though the Yankees have another 2B prospect, David Adams, who is better defensively, he has been injury prone. Other then his plus arm, Adams is average or below Joseph in most other categories but not by much. He was the player that hindered the Mariners decision on trading Cliff Lee.

Joseph is not ideal either but with hard work, along with hitting the gym to build strength he could be a good second baseman who can hit.

3B: Brandon Laird

Prospect Brandon Laird is currently manning third-base in Scranton, but is on the 40-man roster.

Laird keeps defying odds, as scouts have always wondered if this kid could really make it to the bigs.

Through hard work and constantly improving himself, has shut his naysayers up. The only thing he really needs to improve is his patience at the plate because when he is in the zone Laird can hit for power, as well as average.

Laird won the 2010 Eastern League MVP award and his big brother, Gerald, is currently a MLB catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. I presume as a back up to Molina.

SHORTSTOP: Cito Culver

Most scouts wondered why the Yankees took shortstop Cito Culver in the first round of the 2010 draft. Admittedly, I agreed at the time because Culver’s bat was not even close to being where his defensive abilities were.

The only other shortstop the Yankees ever drafted out of high school was Derek Jeter, so whatever they saw must have been dynamite. Culver, like Jeter is a natural athlete and has baseball instincts. Cito is an above-average defender, with a better than plus arm. But I am sure the fact that he is a switch-hitter got the Yankee scouts dreaming big things.

After reading about Culver, I was in tears. This kid has been literally through hell and back, but baseball remained a constant and an escape from harsh realities.

Culver’s father is in jail for burning down the family’s home on Easter back in 2008. Mr. Culver will remain behind bars for at minimum another six years. Cito, his mother and sisters managed to escape.

Culver is a special kid, who works hard and he wants to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees. Well, I think this young man will go get it.

OF: Slade Heathcott

Outfielder Slade Heathcott is described as Austin Jackson, but with way more potential. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: All-Prospect Team Position by Position’ »

MLB Breaking News: Rays Manny Ramirez Retires After Failing Another PED Test

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In typical ‘Manny being Manny‘ form, instead of playing by the rules Manny Ramirez cheated the game of baseball once again.

Manny failed another PED (performance enhancing drug) test and instead of facing the music, Manny is running with his tail between his legs.

Another superstar, that really wasn’t special at all because you have to wonder if anything Manny did was done naturally.

Below is MLB’s Official Press Release:

Manny Ramirez is retiring as a player, Major League Baseball announced in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

The statement said Ramirez had “an issue” under MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and informed the league he is hanging it up rather than “continue with the process under the program.”

The statement, in full, reads as follows: “Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the drug program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter.”

The New York Times, citing two sources, reported Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during Spring Training.

If the issue involving Ramirez was a drug violation, he would be facing a suspension of 100 games.

Ramirez, with 555 career home runs, signed with the Rays this offseason and was off to a 1-for-17 start at the plate. The 12-time All-Star wasn’t with the team on Thursday because manager Joe Maddon said he was attending to a “family matter.”

In 2009, Ramirez, 38, was suspended 50 games by MLB for violating the league’s drug policy.

“We are obviously surprised and disappointed by the news,” the Rays said in a follow-up statement. “We will have no further comment on this matter, and our fans and organization will carry on.”

The Rays selected the contract of Casey Kotchman from Triple-A Durham to fill Ramirez’s roster spot.

Reaction from around the league to Ramirez’s decision was swift.

“Up until the past couple of years, I thought he was on his way to the Hall of Fame,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “I can’t think of a guy who got as many big hits as he did in his career. There are not many guys who could make a difference in a ballgame like him, You hate to see greatness all of a sudden fade. I thought he was a great player.”

Said former teammate Eric Hinske: “I loved him. He was always nice to me. He was always one of the hardest workers. He was always taking swings and getting his own BP guy throwing to him all the time. I know he’s had his issues with teammates. But during my time in Boston, he was great.”

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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New York Yankees: Rained Out But The Texas Rangers Aren’t Fooling Me

It is still cold and raining here in New York making it was to wet for baseball, so the Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins game was eventually cancelled.

Clicking back and forth between American Idol and ESPN 2, I got to see San Francisco Giants Timmy Lincecum shut-down the San Diego Padres. Let me say that Timmy-Jim is legit. Then I watched the Giants closer Brian Wilson pitch his first inning, as he is on my fantasy team; and finally witnessed the Boston Red Sox lose again. The Red Sox are now 0-5.

As a Yankees fan, you would think I would be elated with the way things are going for Boston but I am not.

How can that be?

The Red Sox will without a doubt get it together because the level of talent is too grand for this to continue much longer. Whether the Red Sox are 0-5 or 500-0 heading into the weekend series against the Yankees because it doesn’t change New York’s approach or need to win.

What is bothering me is all this talk of the Texas Rangers. Yes, the Rangers are the reigning AL Champions but to be frank it is by courtesy. I have never thought the Rangers and still don’t consider the team one of the elite.

Sure, you can argue that the Rangers swept Boston last weekend, but can you also agree that was not the real Red Sox?

You have to consider that the Cleveland Indians are following in the Rangers footsteps, having taken the first two games for the Red Sox and going for the sweep on Thursday. This makes you realize how truly shell-shocked the Red Sox are.

So, even though the Rangers are 6-0, their last three wins were against the Seattle Mariners. Seattle is about as competitive as the Indians, King Felix or not. This just proves my point even further. Oh and

Looking back at 2010, the Rangers were in a very similar situation losing six games in a row between April 15-April 21, so surely they can relate.

Well, sorry to burst Ranger fans bubble, but the party is about to be over.

Why or how can I say this about the Rangers with such conviction? Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: Rained Out But The Texas Rangers Aren’t Fooling Me’ »

New York Yankees: Still Too Cold Even For A Hot CC Sabathia

Hosting the Minnesota Twins for game two of a four game set, the New York Yankees had everything alined to win for the second night in a row.

Ace CC Sabathia would be on the mound, the Yankee bats have been hot and the bullpen had been lights out.

As the night got colder, Mark Teixeira hit another 3-run bomb and that was followed by a début homer by Andruw Jones putting the Yankees up 4-0.

Sabathia kept up his end of the deal, by the end of the seventh he had held the Twins scoreless, retiring the last 17 batters he faced and posted six strikeouts.

Every frozen fan at the game, like myself was hoping that Sabathia would be back to start the eighth inning but we knew better and gave CC a well deserved standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.

Hey stranger things have happened, but not when your manager is Joe Girardi and the fact that Sabathia’s pitch count was at 104.

Without even having to glance into the bullpen to confirm what I already knew, Rafael Soriano jogged out and got on the bump after throwing 19 pitched the night before in the Yankee win.

Soriano walked three batters, but managed to get two outs but in the process handed the Twins their first run scored of the night. Girardi’s new pitching coach Larry Rothschild had already made the call to the bullpen to get Soriano off the mound.

This is where I questioned Girardi’s tactics. Soriano was clearly off, but the umpire calls were also questionable. With two out already, I would have left Soriano in, just for the mere reason that I trust him more than Dave Robertson or Boone Logan.

I get that his pitch count was at 32 but one more batter wouldn’t have killed Soriano. Even knowing that most pitches Soriano threw in a game last year was 33, with Delman Young coming to the plate with the bases loaded an exception could have been made.

I however do not disagree with Girardi pulling Sabathia after the seventh inning.

Sabathia is the Yankees most precious cargo and there are still 157 games left to play. The risk is even worth losing a game like the team did tonight because I can promise you that Yankees Universe is sleeping a lot better knowing that their ace is still perfect.

In the post game’s Bryan Hoch quoted Sabathia agreeing with his skipper:

“I know [manager] Joe [Girardi] and how he is,” Sabathia said. “It’s early in the season, and he’s trying to protect us. I kind of had a feeling that was my last inning.”

Well, now it is official that the only thing New York hot Tuesday night were the Mets, and of course the Amazins’ were not even home. Typical.

As for Wednesday night, the votes are in and the  motto for the Yankees is avenge and revenge, as their good-old buddy the American Idol, Carl Pavano will be pitching.

Pavano has been on the mound at Yankee Stadium more as a Twin making less money, than he did in the pinstripes that made him rich. What a perfect time to make Pavano payback and get another win.

“Most ball games are lost, not won.” –  Casey Stengel

New York Yankees: A New Hughes Problem?

New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes has not looked like the 18-game winning player from 2010, not even for a moment.

Hughes did not have a good Spring Training, but to be fair that is what the time is allocated for, guys to get ready for the regular season.

So, is it too early to jump ship on Hughes?

Yes, but there is no doubt his first outing did not breed any comfort that better things were coming.

Hughes’ fastball lost it’s velocity to the point of being ineffective, as Tigers Miguel Cabrera proved hitting two bombs without a blink off him.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that this has actually been a problem for weeks now, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild continues to be baffled about what the problem could be.

“This is going to be a concern until you see [velocity],” Rothschild said. “When you get going and start to see velocity, you can relax a little.”

Declining velocity is not unheard of and is all to common for pitchers, even ones as young as the 25-year-old Hughes. The reason?

Well, there are many theories from taking on a heavier workload to physical changes.

Renowned pitching coach Alan Jagar claims that continued conditioning of the arm is key to help young pitchers avoid losing their arm speed.

Jagar recently told Tim Keown of ESPN that implementing the Long Toss, Surgical Tubing Exercises, Core Work, Yoga and a pitching coach that takes video to help with sound and supportive mechanics has to be done more.

Jagar also says that when a young pitcher hits the majors being put on restrictive throwing limits is the fastest way for loss of velocity to happen.

Is it incurable?

Not at all, according to Jagar it is just a matter of re-awaken the arm because it is in there somewhere, but it will take time.

Whether this is a case with Hughes I yet to be seen, but it will be addressed sooner than later. Just remember Hughes velocity skyrocketed when he was moved to the bullpen in 2009. Maybe Hughes carried that into last season and now his arm is just overworked. That seems the logical to me.

Regardless, Hughes is talented enough to fix the problem and Rothschild is just the coach a pitcher would want to guide him.

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New York Yankees: CC Sabathia Participating in Special Auction That Benefits Autism

CC Sabathia signed Lindt Bunny. (this is the actual item)

New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia is participating in a special online auction benefiting the charity Autism Speaks.

Sabathia is one of the celebrities participating in the 2nd annual Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction, to help to celebrate the Easter season and support the autism cause.

Lindt is auctioning off celebrity-signed, porcelain versions of the iconic Lindt Gold Bunny, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.

The auction is part of Lindt’s partnership with Autism Speaks – this is the third year Lindt has partnered with Autism Speaks during the Easter season to support those affected by autism and to raise funds and awareness for the cause.

Fans can start bidding on this one-of-a-kind item, signed by New York Yankees CC Sabathia at starting today April 4, 2011 thru April 9, 2011.

This is the greatest gift for any Yankees or baseball fan, as it is the gift that gives back. The picture above  is the real item you will be bidding on.

Good Luck and thank you CC for always making New York Yankee fans so proud!