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Posts Tagged ‘Manny Banuelos’

Hal and Hank Steinbrenner (Hal is on the left)

The Daily News reported this morning that the Steinbrenner family may have the Yankees up for sale.

“Rumors are flying in Major League Baseball and New York banking circles that the family that has owned Major League Baseball’s premiere franchise since Cleveland shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the club for $8.8 million in 1973 is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.”

Later this morning, the Yanks issued a flat denial. Via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

“‘I just learned of the Daily News story. It is pure fiction,’ (Hal) Steinbrenner said in a statement. ‘The Yankees are not for sale. I expect that the Yankees will be in my family for many years to come.'”

Is this a case of the Daily News, forever locked in a back-page battle with the New York Post, creating a story to spur readership? Or are the Yankees actually on the block? If this were any other tabloid, my gut would be to dismiss the story outright. But this one has Bill Madden in the byline, and over the years I’ve come to respect Mr. Madden’s ability to unearth behind-the-scenes information. So…

The answer may not lie in the perceived value of the Yankees franchise, currently reported to be around $3 billion. Instead, it might be better to examine the current ownership group for any signs they may want out of the baseball business. The two principles, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, are near polar opposites in terms of their personalities. Hank is much more the fan and fiery competitor. Like George, he also has something of a mercurial temperament – this is the son who lambasted the NL for not having the DH, called out Derek Jeter for building a mansion in Tampa, and stoked the Yankee – Red Sox rivalry by memorably deriding “Red Sox Nation.” Hank even looks more like his father than his brother. Hal, on the other hand, is far more concerned with the bottom line. Hal once referred to himself as a “finance geek.” While it should be obvious to anyone that while he may have been one, I can’t ever picture the bombastic George referring to himself that way.

There is also the fact that Hal is beginning to realize that while Hank was probably overzealous in giving Alex Rodriguez a ten year, $260 million extension going into his age 33 season, his preferred method of building from within isn’t exactly as easy as Gene Michael made it look in the 1990’s. None of the top prospects he anticipated being part of the team’s core by now – Phil Hughes, Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Ian Kennedy and Manny Banuelos – has been able to establish themselves as major leaguers. Of that list, only Hughes is a regular contributor; Montero and Kennedy are now elsewhere, Nunez is back in the minors and Betances, Romine and Banuelos have been plagued by inconsistency and injury while in the high minors. He understands that the Yankee fan base won’t stand for losing. In order to keep the seats filled at Yankee Stadium (and ad revenue on the YES Network peaking), he needs a winning product on the field. At the same time, Hal has made it a goal to have payroll below the anticipated $189 million luxury-tax threshold by the 2014 season – a season in which the Yankees already have $75 million in salary committed to four players and will likely be well over $100 million if they decide to resign any combination of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Ivan Nova, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin.

While I find it hard to believe that Hank would be willing to part ways with the Yankees, it isn’t hard to see Hal wanting to leave the circus and go home to heading Steinbrenner Properties. If this season’s on-the-field troubles continue, I suspect Hal may begin earnestly looking for a way out. He’ll be pressured to do something that really doesn’t work well in the New York market: find inexpensive talent to replace popular (and productive) players jettisoned for contract reasons. He got to preview the way a frugal owner gets treated in the situation when negotiating Derek Jeter’s contract last year. Imagine him playing hardball over money with Cano and Granderson, two popular players entering their prime and the resulting back page fallout from that.

The big question is whether the rest of the family trusts Hank to run the financial side of the team and keep his temper in check. Those of us old enough to remember George Steinbrenner from the 1980’s shudder a bit at the thought of Hank reprising that role. Still, if Hal actually does want out (that $3 billion price tag is awfully enticing to a “numbers guy”), I can see the family giving Hank first shot at forming a new ownership group. It would certainly be interesting, in an All My Children kind of way.

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As we head into the homestretch of Spring Training, many fans are wondering which of the Yankees highly touted prospects will make the team. My best guess is that only two will be on the Opening Day roster – and one won’t be the guy everyone seems to think. Here’s a quick run-down, beginning with pitchers and catchers.

Pitchers – Coming into camp, there were six youngsters on the radar. All have demonstrated that they’ll be in the majors someday and a few have shown glimpses of top of the rotation talent.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Lomoglio

Dellin Betances: Headed to AA Trenton. Although he impressed at times, those moments were mostly in the early spring. As the competition began to stiffen, his lack of command and inexperience began to show. Don’t worry, though. He has all the tools to be an ace one day. My best guess is he gets a cup of coffee in 2012 and is a full time Yankee in 2013.

Manny Banuelos: See above, although he’s shown more poise. He may actually fast track to the boogie down faster than Betances; he has better command of more pitches at this stage and he’s left-handed.

Andrew Brackman: Remember how Randy Johnson frustrated the Expos early in his career, as his 6’10” frame got completely out of kilter with men on base? Brackman is at that stage now. He throws hard and has a wicked breaking ball, but his mechanics need a lot of fine tuning. He’s headed for AA Scranton, but we may see him in pinstripes sooner than the other Killer B’s.

Ivan Nova: Yankee fans, meet your number 4 starter. It isn’t official yet, but he has proven himself capable this spring. He is combining a plus fastball with a “cut-slider” and improved change to make hitters look foolish at times.

Adam Warren, David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell: All three are proving that they may be serviceable as middle of the rotation or relief type pitchers. A lot of teams would drool at this trio, but with the Yankees, they’re merely trade pieces.

Catchers – Most teams have trouble finding one young catcher. The Yankees have 3 kids who are pushing for a MLB spot. The back-up spot on the Yankee roster will be open until early May with Francisco Cervelli’s injury. Which one goes north?

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero: The kid can hit, but his defense…well, no one is going to confuse him with Thurman Munson just yet. I really hope the Yanks send him back to AAA to start the year – to allow him to play every day and work on it. Catcher is still a defense-first position and having an all-offense catcher isn’t a luxury the team can afford. I suspect that the manager understands that, having been a catcher during his MLB career.

Austin Romine: The most polished defensively of the trio, his odds of being the heir to Jorge Posada are pretty low. By bringing him north and letting him play 2-3 times a week, he can show off those skills and hopefully hit well enough that the Yanks can set him up as a big-time trade piece – or that he plays so well that Cervelli winds up on the trading block. He is good enough to start for about 20 teams right now, including a few with hopes of contending.

Gary Sanchez: With only 47 pro games under his belt, the 18 year old is near the top of Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect list. He is still at least two, and more likely four, years away from being ready for the majors. But if the scouts are right, this kid is the next coming of Johnny Bench.

Coming tomorrow, I’ll look at the minor league infielders and outfielders trying to make the Opening day roster.

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Andy speaks to reporters / Courtesy NY Times

For some reason, a large number of Yankee fans were surprised by the news that Andy Pettitte decided to call it a career. Mr. Mailbag’s inbox is overflowing with questions; I figured this is as good a time to answer them as any.

Dr. Mr. Mailbag,

Since Andy isn’t returning this year, does this mean the Yankees season is doomed?

Sincerely, Afraid

Well, afraid…in a word, no. Even if everything stands pat, the current rotation isn’t as bad as everyone seems to think. The line-up should be actually be better than last year’s. Boston did improve their team, but Tampa Bay is much worse. And if we’ve learned one thing about the Yankees in the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees won’t stand pat if the team needs something come mid-season. Barring a sudden surge by a surprise team, the Yankees should wind up in the playoffs in 2011.

Mr. Mailbag:

How can I live without Andy? The Yankees just won’t be the same without him!

-Crying in my pillow

Well, Crying, you’re not alone. I’ve seen a lot of these in the last 24 hours. I understand that to a certain generation of Yankees fans – pretty much those under the age of 30 – Andy is the starting pitcher of record. But you should understand that what makes the Yankees the most successful franchise in sports history is the way this team replaces great players with other great players. If you’re of the current generation, you probably find it hard to understand how fans of my generation can hold such high regard for Thurman Munson or Chris Chambliss. (To me, Chambliss’ homer in the ’76 ALCS is still the most thrilling Pinstripe moment I’ve ever witnessed). For fans of my father’s generation, it was Mickey Mantle. And on through time it goes, back for 90 years, to the time of the Babe and Lou. There’s a crop of talented players making their way up from the minors now; guys named Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, Montero, and a whole bunch more. Andy Pettitte can’t necessarily be replaced anymore than Munson could. But other great players will come along who will carve out their own dynasties. It’s the Yankee way.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

How many ballots will it take for Andy Pettitte to get into the Hall of Fame? If it takes more than one, It’s a damn shame!

-A Yankee in Texas

Well, Texas… I hate to break it to you, but Andy probably isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame. He has a borderline case: in his favor, he did finish his career 102 games over .500; right now, only one other pitcher with a similar number isn’t enshrined (oddly, former teammate Mike Mussina). But when compared to the other pitchers of his era; well, his numbers don’t particularly stack up well. His career ERA is higher than that of non-HOF candidates like Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Al Leiter. If anything, Andy should root really, really hard for Mike Mussina to get a HOF nod – because their final career numbers are eerily similar. In fact, Mussina’s are better than Pettitte’s (higer ERA+, more strikeouts, wins, complete games, higher winning percentage and lower OPS allowed), so you can bet if Mussina doesn’t get in, Pettitte won’t. Plus, Pettitte has the whole PED’s issue hanging over his career. I don’t think in the grand scheme of things it will make a huge difference, but if he’s close and that negatively influences a couple of voters…well, you get the idea.

Dear Mr. Mailbag,

When are the Yankees going to retire #46?

-A Huge Andy Fan

Um, Probably never. Was Andy an important cog in the past 5 championships? Yes. Does that mean he’ll get his number retired? No. Consider how many players from the 90’s dynasty have their numbers hanging on the outfield wall. Bernie Williams? Tino Martinez? David Cone? Paul O’Neill? Each was as integral to those championships as Pettitte; each as beloved in the Bronx as Andy – and none has their number retired. I strongly suspect that unless a player winds up in the Hall of Fame, their number will remain in circulation.

Mr. Mailbag,

Why did Andy Pettitte retire? The Yankees need him!

-Alarmed in the Bronx

Well, alarmed, as Andy said this morning, his heart just isn’t in it anymore. If you’ve watched Andy pitch over the past 5 years, then you know he’s gotten by mostly on heart. His once overpowering cut fastball doesn’t have the life it once did and neither do his secondary pitches. Perhaps more importantly for an athlete his age, he doesn’t have the drive to overcome injury – and a 38 year old pitcher is likely to step out on the mound with a nagging injury as not. Given his current state of mind, he’s making the right decision. Based on physical ability, he’s probably still better than Sergio Mitre. But without that competitive fire, Andy Pettitte would finish his career reminding Yankee fans why we hated Kevin Brown.

That’s it for now. These are representative of the most common questions I’ve seen. Somehow, I’m sure there will be more over the weekend, so stay tuned! Oh, and if you have one, feel free to shoot it out to me at Twitter or Facebook!


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A bit late on this, but Baseball America has released the New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2011. And here it is:

1. Jesus Montero
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Dellin Betances
4. Manny Banuelos
5. Andrew Brackman
6. Austin Romine
7. Hector Noesi
8. Eduardo Nunez
9. Slade Heathcott
10. Brandon Laird

No real surprises on the list. Montero ranking #1 makes sense, considering he could very well be holding the starting catcher position out of Spring Training at the start of next season. As you can tell by the list, some prospects have made considerable improvements. Sanchez (#7 in ’10) and Brackman (#10 in ’10) have moved up the ranks. The thing that has to catch your eye is Dellin Betances ranking #3 on this list. It just shows how good of a year he’s had, considering he was left off the top 10 list all together in 2010.

With Zach McAllister and Arodys Vizcaino leaving the team, it opened up some new spots for other propsects. New additions to this year’s list include: Noesi, Nunez and Laird.   (more…)

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Item 1: Derek Jeter will be a Yankee in 2011 and get paid like the Derek Jeter of 2000, not 2010. At least that’s the scuttlebutt coming from Wallace Matthews of ESPN. The good news is that no other teams have even bothered contacting Casey Close, Jeter’s agent. Nor do they have any plans on doing so, since they would rather pay Jeter on a Marco Scutaro type contract, not a Derek Jeter type contract. (On an aside,why does every sportswriter want to compare Jeter to Scutaro? If Jeter isn’t offended by that comparison, then he’s made of sterner stuff than I imagined).  Even though Hal Steinbrenner sounded a note of hardball negotiations last week, Matthews’ sources think it’s more bluster than anything else. As he wrote,

“…although the Yankees appear to hold most of the leverage in this one, both sources agreed they are unlikely to wield very much of it.”

The even better news is that it dashes Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle’s hopes of putting Jeter into a Giants uniform.

Item 2: Baseball’s latest arms war, better known as the Cliff Lee bidding war, has begun. As expected, Brian Cashman was on the phone with Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, first thing Sunday morning. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), the general managers for several other teams were also burning up Braunecker’s minutes on Sunday. Those teams are reputed to be the Rangers and Phillies – and then several long-shot candidates, including the Nationals, Brewers and Cubs. Given the financial situations of those last three teams and the fact that Lee is expected to get a contract somewhere north of 6 years/$125M, I doubt you can consider them serious contenders. That leaves the Yanks, Phillies and Rangers battling it out. Regardless, Braunecker has been busy telling everyone and anyone not to expect anything soon:

“Historically, these deals take some time,” Braunecker told the Daily News in a telephone interview Monday. “When you look at the calendar and we’re already into the second week of November; we don’t handicap the timing of this stuff, but we don’t anticipate this happening too quickly.”

The Rangers desperately need Lee back, since without him they don’t make it to the World Series last year. Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg has made no secret that he has every intention of bidding high. Ruben Amaro of the Phillies has to be kicking himself (and is being kicked bythe Philly press) for trading Lee away last off-season for what was basically nothing. And the Yankees really don’t have a plan B for 2011 without Lee. There aren’t really any internal options now, although one of the “Killer Bs” (Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, and Manny Banuelos) may be ready for a late-season call up. This dovetails neatly into…

Item 3: Has anyone heard from Andy Pettitte? Not really – and the Yankees aren’t figuring to hear from Andy before Thanksgiving. Although I love Andy for what he’s done in the past and think he can still be an extremely effective pitcher in 2011, he is beginning to remind me of Brett Favre. As much as the Yankees would love to have Cliff Lee in pinstripes, if neither he nor Pettitte are around in 2011, the Yankees rotation looks to be paper thin. Pettitte is the key, since regardless of what happens with Lee, if he decides not to come back then the team is stuck with Ivan Nova or a journeyman (quick: how fast can you say Dustin Moseley?) in the 5 spot. Neither can be particularly enticing. Although I can say that possibility would give Joe Girardi’s binder a heck of a workout.

Item 4: And finally, speaking of giving the Girardi Binder a workout, the pages would be burned out by May if Mariano Rivera doesn’t wear pinstripes in 2011. Fortunately, nobody really expects that to happen. But it does appear that Rivera’s contract has taken a back seat to those of Jeter and Pettitte, which has to give Yankee fans everywhere at least momentary heart palpitations.

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Yankeemetrics abound this week: Katie Sharp has some really interesting stats on Yankees baseball over the last few days. Here’s just one: “Javier Vazquez has now allowed a home run in eight straight games. That is the longest single-season streak by a Yankee since Andy Pettitte allowed a HR in eight straight games in 1999 (19 straight, combining 1999-2000).”

Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos have both been promoted to Double-A Trenton.

You remember I told you about that man who was trying to deliver a photo to President Barack Obama? Well, he completed his mission. Barack Obama gets a gift from Yogi Berra.

From Politico.com:

“One man, standing at the edge of the yellow police tape, handed POTUS something (it looked like a maroon 8.5×11 folder but pool was too far away to tell.) POTUS looked at it, then handed it to Nicholson [Obama’s trip director],” read the report.

So who was the man, and what was in the envelope? Turns out it was Tom Murro (a.k.a. the “Celebrity Magnet” from New Jersey) who had a gift for Obama from baseball legend Yogi Berra: a photo of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson coming in safe after stealing home during a 1955 World Series game against Berra and the Yankees. Berra wrote “Dear Mr. President, He was out!” and signed his name in blue pen. Here is the video.

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Attention Yankees Fans. You now have the chance to own a baseball signed by C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Bucky Dent and Joe Torre!

They’ve all signed baseballs to be a part of our SUBWAY Baseball DeSIGNS tour, a collection of baseballs decorated by Little Leaguers and signed by professional athletes and celebrities. The 40-baseball display has been making tour stops across the country and is currently set up at the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, PA. The baseballs are also viewable at SubwayKids.com and the Official SUBWAY® Facebook page.

The balls are up for auction NOW on eBay through its Giving Works program.  All the proceeds generated will go to support the Little League Urban Initiative. Go ahead and Bid! The auction ends on SUNDAY Aug. 29. (more…)

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On Thursday, Lance Berkman was placed on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. He was 7-for-39 with no homers and 4RBI’s as a Yankee. “We just felt that it hadn’t progressed quite as quickly as we wanted it to,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We just felt that it was probably in his and our best interest to DL him and that way he’s not rushing back. He still lacks some stability and has not had a chance to run yet.”

Frankie Piliere of Fanhouse gave full-length scouting reports of Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.

On Betances: The bottom line here is this: keep Dellin Betances on the mound and healthy and his talent is as good as anyone at the minor league level. Health is the only thing that can hold him back.

On Banuelos: Look around the big leagues and find the left-handed starting pitchers that average 93 mph or better with their fastball. It’s a very short list. Throw in the fact that Banuelos is a consistent strike-throwing machine with two above-average secondary pitches and you have a very rare commodity….If he can remain healthy and keep his shorter frame in check, he is a true front-of-the-rotation type pitcher.

Yankees prospect, Zach McAllister, was sent to the Indians as the player to be named later in the Kearns trade.

(more…)

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John Sickel of MinorLeagueBall recently listed the Yankees top 20 prospects going into 2010. I am going to include the list with his grades, but without his write ups and analysis. Click the previous link to see his write up of the players.

  1. Jesus Montero, C, Grade A
  2. Austin Romine, C, Grade B
  3. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B
  4. Zach McAllister, RHP, Grade B
  5. Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B
  6. Mark Melancon, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+
  7. Gary Sanchez, C, Grade C+
  8. John Murphy, C, Grade C+
  9. Kelvin De Leon, OF, Grade C+
  10. D.J. Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+
  11. Wilkin De La Rosa, LHP, Grade C+
  12. David Adams, 2B, Grade C+
  13. Corban Joseph, 2B-3B, Grade C+
  14. Adam Warren, RHP, Grade C+
  15. Neil Medchill, OF, Grade C+
  16. David Phelps, RHP, Grade C+
  17. Andrew Brackman, RHP, Grade C
  18. Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C
  19. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Grade C
  20. Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C

OTHERS (All Grade C): Sean Black, RHP; Gavin Brooks, LHP; Jairo Heredia, RHP; Jamie Hoffman, OF; Brandon Laird, 3B; DeAngelo Mack, OF; Melky Mesa, OF; Juan Miranda, 1B; Hector Noesi, RHP; Ivan Nova, RHP; Eduardo Nunez, SS; Kevin Russo, 2B; Romulo Sanchez, RHP; Graham Stoneburner, RHP; Brad Suttle, 3B; Pat Venditte, RHP-LHP; Kevin Whelan, RHP.

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