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Saturday, October 23, 2004
 
DEREK AND ALEX (Disclaimer: Derek Jeter is my favorite player on the current Yankees, but much of this is the product of frustration.) So, in case you hadn't heard, the Yankees lost their ALCS to the Red Sox this past week. What makes the loss so huge is that it came after the Yankees had been up 3-0 and everyone, including me, was sure that the Red Sox were dead in the water. Following the loss, a blame game amongst Yankee fans and media began and it seems the most common whipping boy has been Alex Rodriguez, he of the .320/.414/.600/.336 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) postseason. While Rodriguez has taken the brunt of the blame, Derek Jeter has been praised, he of the .245/.339/.347/.239 postseason. So, if Rodriguez was being criticized and Jeter was being deified, despite A-Rod clearly outperforming him during the postseason, there has to be some deeper yet valid reason, right? Wrong. The Jeter backers point to Derek being the "only one who looked like he wanted to win Game 7". Were it not for some of the other arguments I've heard in the support of Derek Jeter through the years, that would be the stupidest thing I've ever read. The Yankees are a team built to win and anything less than a World Series title is a failure. I am almost 100% sure that everyone wanted to win, and just because they weren't being as much of a cheerleader as The Captain does not mean they didn't care. And as for all the support of Jeter that stems from his cheerleading...come on. Stepping outside of the world of stats for a second, in my history on athletic teams I have noticed two distinct styles of motivation/leadership. There is the extrovert, the leader/player who derives their motivation and ability to motivate others from cheering on and being vocal, and then there is the introvert, the leader/player who derives their motivation and ability to motivate others from being silent, focused, and getting their job done. I have always felt the extrovert is overrated. If you want to support Jeter for being that, go ahead, but I won't be joining that camp. Those types of leaders are nothing more than a joke to me. Do your job and shut up and I'll appreciate you more. Making that situation even more ridiculous was the media/fan outrage that A-Rod was beginning to try and be like Jeter. Process this for a minute: because Alex Rodriguez was cheering on his teammates and doing fist pumps...he was trying to be like Jeter, seeing as Derek Jeter is the first person ever to cheer on a teammate or do a fist pump. And what happened when the media asked The Captain about the team's failure? He gave a response that translated said, "past Yankee teams of the late '90s would have closed out this series, but not this team". Are you kidding me? You're the captain of the team and you did nothing all postseason long. You were an overall negative towards the goal of victory and you won't shoulder the blame? You'd rather pass it off on your newer teammates implicitly? That is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the media surging to defend Jeter by coming out with a wave of articles talking negatively of the new Yankees in comparison to the old Yankees. I love Derek Jeter as a baseball player. He is my favorite player on my favorite team. Sometimes, it is tough to accept that though because the media and many Yankee fans feel this insatiable desire to build Derek up to be more than he is, especially in reference to other players. Derek is a likely HoFer and has been a great postseason player over the course of his career. That said, he is nowhere near the regular season performer that Alex Rodriguez has been, he is nowhere near the postseason performer that Alex Rodriguez has been, he is nowhere near the baseball player that Alex Rodriguez is and has been. If you think Derek Jeter is better than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. If you think Derek Jeter should be praised for anything he did this postseason and more so than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. If you think Derek Jeter is a better pick to start a franchise than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. Derek Jeter is many things, so it is sad that what he should be known for most commonly is being ridiculously overrated by the media and Yankee fans. *** School is back under control so more frequent posting will begin. In negative prospect news, Bronson Sardinha never made it to the AFL so the Yankees have no one worth tracking over there. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, October 17, 2004
 
... Sorry I haven't updated in a while, school is beckoning, but here is some great info on the Yankee farm system courtesy of Pinstripes Plus. Check it out, and let me know what you think of the developments in Comments. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, October 03, 2004
 
BREAKOUT PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: '04 The qualifications for this award are that the guy needs to be someone who was not hyped much before this year, but had the type of performance that was impossible to ignore, and as a result made himself into a serious prospect. This was probably the most seriously contested award as many players emerged as potential prospects for the Yankees this year. There was Erold Andrus, who started the year as an all-or-nothing A- slugger, turned into a slap hitting offensive negative, and then concluded the year hitting for average, hitting for power, getting on base, and just being an all around force. There was Hector Made, who also started out the year on that BC team doing absolutely nothing, but concluded the year on fire and beginning to live up to BA's selection of him as the system's sleeper prospect entering this season. There was Melky Cabrera who began to develop the 5th tool as the year went on and has began earning quite a reputation amongst prospect followers on the internet. In the end, none of these players were chosen. Melky was already too much of a known commodity to me, Made already received BA attention, and Andrus just missed making the cut. Amongst pitchers there was Eric Abreu, who some of the more avid Yankee minor league followers had already heard of, coming stateside and dominating 3 levels of minor league baseball. There was also Jesse Hoover, leaving a lasting impression on the NYPL in his pro debut and Matt DeSalvo, who quickly earned a name as one of the best pitchers in the FSL and the Yankee system. In the end, none of these guys were chosen, Hoover because of his age, though his performance was still outstanding, DeSalvo because his season was derailed by a back injury, and Abreu for the same reason as Hoover (though that was a much harder decision to make). So, who IS the winner? Well, for some of you who've been following this blog for some time, this is probably the most obvious award I've given out. Marcos Vechionacci, 3B, 18, R GCL Yankees/SS Staten Island/A+ Tampa So what was it that separated Marcos from all the others in my mind? A huge part of it is that though he is now 18, Marcos was 17 for most of the season and this qualified as his age-17 season. It is difficult to put a value on statistical performance in R ball, but I can find no problems with what Marcos did in the GCL. In addition, the lone fault I could possibly find with his NYPL performance is that there was not much, if any, power and then I remember that the league average IsoP was .113 in a league comprised mainly of college draftees age-21 and above. In addition, though he wasn't given much of a chance to participate at Tampa, it is important to remember that was where his whirlwind year started. The Yankee minor league brass was impressed enough by him to choose him as a fill-in on their A+ team when roster-filler was needed. That speaks volumes, and that is what started my obsession with him. Outside of his near faultless statistical performance, the other thing that must be considered with Marcos is his physical ability. According to BA, Marcos does not have an outstanding tool, but at the same time, he is not below average in any tool. In addition, what appears to be his best aspect thus far, outstanding plate discipline/patience does not count as a tool. Getting excited about what a player does in a small sample in a R or SS league is foolish. That said, I have a hard time conceiving of a measure in which Marcos does not have the look of an offensive stud. For those concerned about defense, don't be. Marcos played the majority of his games as a 3B this year, which is why I have that as his listed position, but whenever needed, he slid over to 2B and SS for his teams and did the job there as well. To put what Marcos did in '04 in his main leagues into some perspective, here are some numbers: Player A: .301/.364/.473/1:2.2 (AVG/OBP/SLG/UiBB:K) Player B: .320/.392/.458/1:1.4 Both players played in the same leagues, but Player A played in the lower league for 49 more ABs and Player B played in the higher league for 13 more ABs. Player B has the clear advantage in plate discipline and seems to be a more polished hitter while Player A has a clear power advantage. Both players play the same position though Player B does so much better than A. Lastly, Player B put up those numbers in his age-17 season while A did so in his age-18 season so the power advantage becomes smaller and perhaps even negligible. Player A is Eric Duncan in '03 and B is Vech in '04. That performance by Duncan was good enough for him to become the organization's number 2 prospect entering '04 (as ranked by both BA and myself), and it will be interesting to see where it leaves Vech entering '05. One last thing to keep an eye on in regards to Vech is where he begins next year. I had assumed that he would begin '05 at Charleston in the SAL, which would put him a year ahead of most prospects, but based on what BA has been saying, it seems the Yankees are seriously considering placing him at Tampa to begin the year. That is how impressed they are by the advancements he has made and is making at the plate. If he does start at Tampa, I might have to rename this the Vech Blog. And if he starts in the SAL, I will have a hard time not keeping track of his numbers and comparing them to what B.J. Upton and Delmon Young, two of the best prospects in recent memory, did on that same team during '03 and '04 respectively. *** YANKEE PROSPECT 1st TEAM: '04 C: Dioner Navarro, 20, AA/AAA .263/.340/.366 (AVG/OBP/SLG) 1B: Eric Duncan, 19, A-/A+ .258/.357/.473 2B: Robinson Cano, 21, AA/AAA .283/.337/.457 3B: Marcos Vechionacci, 18, R/SS/A+ .319/.390/.454 SS: Hector Made, 19, A- .289/.336/.381 0F: Erold Andrus, 20, A- .291/.338/.421 OF: Melky Cabrera, 20, A-/A+ .304/.355/.446 OF: Bronson Sardinha, 21, A+/AA .290/.372/.393 LH: Brad Halsey, 23, AAA 2.63/6.8/2.3/8.0/0.5 (ERA/K:9/BB:9/H:9/HR:9) RH: Tyler Clippard, 19, A- 3.44/8.8/1.9/9.2/0.7 This team was based on performance in age context. There was a minimum of 75 IP for the starters and 225 PAs for the hitters. In addition, I tried to place guys in positions that they spent the majority of their minor league season at with some flexibility when it comes multiple top performers at one position. In those cases, I took the liberty to shift guys to less demanding defensive positions, but never more difficult ones. Overall, this gives a good idea of the positions that the system is lacking in (power-hitting COF, I'm looking at, or more appropriately, for you). *** The AFL starts on Tuesday so I will most likely begin updating more frequently on the multitude of respectable prospects the Yankees sent there, i.e. Bronson Sardinha. In addition, I will begin doing the research for the updated top prospect list. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
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    Alfonso Soriano

    Batting Average:.279
    On-Base Percentage:.322
    Slugging Percentage:.464
    Gross Production Avg:.261

    Alex Rodriguez

    Batting Average:.284
    On-Base Percentage:.372
    Slugging Percentage:.536
    Gross Production Avg:.301

    Nick Johnson

    Batting Average:.258
    On-Base Percentage:.365
    Slugging Percentage:.404
    Gross Production Avg:.265

    Javier Vazquez

    Earned Run Average:4.16
    Strikeouts:111
    Walks:37
    Home Runs:23

    Brandon Claussen

    Earned Run Average:4.02
    Strikeouts:9
    Walks:7
    Home Runs:2