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MLB Trade Rumors: 3 Potential Destinations for the Nationals’ John Lannan

It has been rumored in recent weeks that left-hander John Lannan may be on his way out of Washington.

Ever since the Edwin Jackson signing on February 2nd, the Nationals have had one too many starting pitchers. Generally, this is not a bad thing. The Nationals can address other needs with their excess pitching though, with Lannan generating the biggest return.

If Lannan is traded, Chien-Ming Wang or Ross Detwiler would take over the No. 5 spot in the rotation, with the other becoming the long man out of the bullpen.

The Nationals are in need of bench depth, as well as a capable center fielder. They could also choose to just trade him away for a few mid-level prospects.

Lannan has been an effective starter over the course of his career, garnering a 4.00 ERA and a 38-51 record. He has been better in recent years, becoming a guy capable of pitching 180+ innings.

As a No. 5 starter, that’s pretty valuable.

The Nationals seem to have a win-win scenario with Lannan. If they trade him, they can potentially fill a need. If they keep him, they have another guy who can give them close to 200 innings.

Whether he’s traded or not remains to be seen, but here are five potential destinations.

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MLB Spring Training 2012: Sabathia/Hughes See 1st Action in 7-4 Loss to Pirates

The Yankees were no match for the newly-extended Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates today in Bradenton. To celebrate his new six-year contract with Pittsburgh, McCutchen killed the Yankees for two hits and two RBI.

CC Sabathia was given the ball to start the game—his first live game action this spring. He pitched pretty well in two innings of work, allowing three hits and a run while recording one strikeout.

When asked about how he felt, Sabathia responded, “I’ve still got work to do, but my arm feels good and my body feels good.”

He threw 35 pitches over the course of two innings.

Phil Hughes saw his first action of the spring as well, throwing 1 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs (one earned), allowing four hits and striking out one.

Although he was slated to go the full two innings, some tough spots prevented Hughes from going any further in the contest.

After having problems with velocity last season, Hughes was consistently clocked at 93 MPH on the radar gun, a very good sign for the Yankees.

Prospect Brett Marshall came on in relief of Hughes and turned in the only scoreless outing of the day for Yankees pitchers. In 1 2/3 innings, Marshall issued one free pass and struck out one.

Graham Stoneburner and Chase Whitley pitched the final three frames of the contest. Combined, they allowed nine hits, four runs and struck out two.

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira all made the trip to Bradenton for the game, going a combined 3-for-10 with an RBI (Cano). 

Second baseman David Adams provided the team with two RBI in his 1-for-2 effort, while Francisco Cervelli added an RBI of his own on his 26th birthday.

Melky Mesa, Ramiro Pena, Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell all recorded hits of their own.

Prospect Zoilo Almonte, after going 4-for-4 in the previous three spring games against the Phillies, made an out in his only at-bat after pinch running for Teixeira.

The Yankees are now on their first losing streak of the season, but they should be happy with what they saw today from Phil Hughes.

Hughes put it best today, saying that it would be a “dogfight” for the fifth starter’s job, and he did plenty to impress the club with his outing. Topping at 93 MPH for nearly any pitcher is impressive in the first start of Spring Training, but it is especially noteworthy when that pitcher is Hughes—who battled dead arm for most of last season.

It will be an interesting battle all spring for the job, but it’ll be hard to deny Hughes if his velocity keeps increasing.

The Yankees play again on Wednesday against the Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

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MLB Spring Training 2012: Pineda Throws 2 Shutout Innings in 9-3 Loss to Phils

The Yankees dropped their first game of the spring today against the Phillies in Bright House Park.

Fans got their first chance to see the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, Michael Pineda, in his start today against Joe Blanton.

Pineda, who has already lost about seven or eight pounds, did not disappoint. In his two scoreless innings, Pineda struck out two while allowing just one hit.

His changeup has been a work in progress in the early goings of Spring Training, but he reportedly used it quite effectively today.

At one point in his two innings, Pineda recorded six consecutive swinging strikes to Jim Thome and Shane Victorino.

David Robertson got the call for the third inning, and allowed one run on one hit while walking one. It was his first action of the spring.

Rule-5 pickup Cesar Cabral pitched the fourth, allowing just one hit before working a scoreless frame. Dan Burawa followed Cabral with a scoreless inning of his own.

Adam Miller then came on to pitch the sixth, and that’s when the floodgates opened. In 1 1/3 innings, Miller allowed five runs on just two hits. He issued three free passes.

Juan Cedeno came on in relief of Miller, and allowed three runs on three hits in his inning of work. He struck out one and walked one. Michael Martinez touched him up for his first home run of the spring, as well.

To finish off the game, Ryan Pope pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out two in his impressive spring debut.

The offense totaled 10 hits during the game against the combination of Joe Blanton, Scott Elarton, Austin Hyatt, Brian Sanches and David Herndon.

Catcher Gustavo Molina went 2-for-2 in the game, and prospect Zoilo Almonte continued his perfect spring with a 1-for-1 effort. Almonte also drove in one of the team’s three runs.

Eduardo Nunez was 1-for-1 in the game, but left after being hit in the back of the right hand by an Austin Hyatt fastball. He received precautionary X-Rays, and Nunez does not believe that anything is broken.

The team is calling it a right hand contusion.

Despite the tough loss to the Phillies, the Yankees can take many positives away from this game. For starters, Zoilo Almonte is proving to the team that he can hit.

Almonte, a high ranking prospect in the Yankees system, will definitely be making a case to be placed AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to begin the season.

Another positive was the strong showing of Michael Pineda. Even with all the hooplah surrounding his weight issues and the fact that he has yet to develop a serviceable changeup, Pineda pitched a very strong two innings today.

The team will be hoping that Nunez’s hand feels better within the next coming days, as he will be an important bench piece for them this season.

The Yankees’ next game will be on Tuesday in Bradenton where they will take on the Pirates

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Bryce Harper: Predicting His Impact on the 2012 Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper’s status with the 2012 Washington Nationals has become one of the hottest topics of Spring Training thus far. He’s one of the most talented prospects ever in Major League history, and it’s no question that the Nationals would love to have him on the 25-man roster.

Apparently, manager Davey Johnson seems willing to give Harper every chance this spring to make the club. Even though veterans Mike Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth will all have the upper hand, Harper will still be given ample opportunity.

If Harper has a strong spring, Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo will have no choice but to consider him for the Opening Day roster. 

Harper is somebody who needs to be playing everyday, no matter the level. If he plays well enough this spring to make the team, but not well enough to start, the Nationals would be wise to have him play in AAA so he can continue to get regular at-bats.

Even if he did play well enough to earn a starting spot in right field, he would be a huge work in progress. It’s obvious that he has serious talent, but he still needs work defensively in the outfield, along with his base-running and with his discipline at the plate.

Such things can only be corrected with a sufficient amount of playing time. Playing sporadically as a fourth outfielder in the majors won’t do much to help his progression into the superstar player he seems destined to be.

The 19-year old is confident in his abilities, and given his manager’s confidence in him, it’s definitely a possibility that Harper will be suiting up as the Opening Day right fielder in 2012.

Harper’s emergence with the team would have a direct effect on Werth, who will be asked to shift from his natural position of right field over to center. That move would make Bernadina the team’s fourth outfielder, or emergency plan just in case Harper falters.

Werth, who failed to produce at a level reflective of the monster contract he signed prior to last season, would have a tough task ahead of him. He would be asked to transition into playing center field everyday, as well as being asked to cover for the inevitable mistakes that Harper would make in the transition to an everyday outfielder.

Werth’s offense, though, will probably benefit from Harper’s presence in the lineup.

In 561 at-bats last season, Werth hit a putrid .232/.330/.389 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. With the added protection of Harper, Werth would theoretically see an all-around increase in his production.

Having Harper on the roster would surely improve the Nationals offensive production. That being said, the defense would take a pretty big hit, at least at first. Harper seems determined this spring to improve his game, so he may turn out to be a more-than-serviceable outfielder.

The Nationals figure to be a much improved club this season, with or without the presence of Harper on the 25-man roster. The additions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson will be huge for the rotation, and the under-the-radar signing of Brad Lidge should help to solidify the back end of the bullpen.

The team won 80 games in 2011. With the additions of Gonzalez, Jackson and Lidge, the team could see its win total increase into the 88-range. With Harper on the team, though, that win total could increase even further into the 91-range.

With 91 wins, the team would most likely be fighting with the revamped Marlins for a Wild Card spot. Should they win the Wild Card, the Nationals could end up cast as a playoff sleeper in October.

There’s no doubt that Harper will be a productive major leaguer when his time comes, but he could really be a valuable asset to the Nationals this season. Although he may make the defense a bit weaker, the offense and the bench will be improved as a result of him being on the team.

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Yankees Lineup Projections, Part 4 of 9: Jeter’s Got One More Good Season in Him

Signs of aging were prevalent last season for Derek Jeter, as his first half left much to be desired.

Jeter hit .270/.330/.353 prior to the All Star break and was batting .257 with just two home runs on the day he collected his historic 3,000th hit.

He had a remarkable second half, however, hitting .327/.383/.428. He finished up the year with a respectable .297/.355/.388 line with six home runs and 61 RBI.

Jeter’s second half resurgence shows that he still has a little something left in the tank. He is just three seasons removed from a third-place finish in the American League MVP voting, when he hit .334/.406/.465 with 18 home runs, 66 RBI and 30 stolen bases.

Although he’s lost a step or two defensively, and despite what advanced statistics tell us, Jeter is still one of the better defending shortstops in the league. Sure, he may not get to as many balls as he used to, but he’s relatively sure-handed on the balls he is able to reach.

I expect another good season from Jeter this year.

He will be hungry for a championship this season, possibly more so than ever before. He knows he may have only one more season with teammate Mariano Rivera, and after seeing Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada retire in consecutive seasons, he knows that the clock’s ticking.

Jeter will retain his No. 2 spot in the lineup in 2012, at least for one more season, and will help to set up the bigger bats in the lineup. He is still capable of scoring 90 to 100 runs, as well as collecting close to 200 hits.

A perennial .300 hitter every season, I think Jeter has one more left. He should hover around a line of .300/.360/.390 with 10 home runs and 60 RBI.

Even if Jeter produces the next two seasons, expect a retirement announcement from the Yankee Captain following the 2013 campaign. He’s had a long, successful career, and deserves a happy retirement.

Should he retire after 2013, he’ll be retiring just as his teammates, Pettitte and Posada, did—on top.

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Baltimore Orioles: Manny Ramirez Could Become Sammy Sosa Round 2

I might as well be up front about this before I go into much detail. Signing Manny Ramirez is not a good idea.

Manny just isn’t the answer for any team.


If I were Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, I would be going nowhere near Manny Ramirez at this point in time. Or ever, for that matter.

Despite being in the cellar of the American League East, the Orioles are a team with potential. Top prospect Manny Machado is not far from being a part of the Orioles’ lineup, and the rotation is chock full of a bunch of young hurlers that could put it together at any moment.

The O’s won’t be competing this year—and probably not next year either—but why throw the walking distraction, Manny Ramirez, into a group of unseasoned, young talent?

Manny won’t have any positive influence in the clubhouse and, more importantly, probably won’t even produce enough to be a consistent member of the lineup.

Signing Manny would be like bringing back another former slugger, Sammy Sosa.

On Feb. 2, 2005, the Orioles and Chicago Cubs pulled off a trade that sent Jerry Hairston, Mike Fontenot and David Crouthers to the Cubs and Sosa to the Orioles.

Sosa was coming off a .253/.332/.517 season with 35 home runs and 80 RBI. Clearly on the decline in his career, Sosa had previously tested positive after a drug test in 2003.

Needless to say, he produced at a level much less than expected in his one-year stint with Baltimore. He hit .221/.295/.376 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI in 380 at-bats.

Manny, should a team actually sign him, will miss the first 50 games of the season because of a failed drug test. He most likely won’t be playing in every game following, so is 90 games of a possibly non-productive Manny Ramirez worth it?

Ramirez has brought nothing but negative media to himself over the past few years of his career, and GM Dan Duquette should think twice before extending a contract his way.

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Canada’s Russell Martin Is Making a Case for Comeback Player of the Year, Eh?

When the New York Yankees signed Russell Martin to a one-year contract during the offseason, they were hoping simply for Martin to provide spring training competition to youngsters Francisco Cervelli and Jesus Montero.

After a solid spring, Martin earned the starters job and has hit the ground running so far this season.

The Yankees have played 14 games this season and Martin has been the catcher in all but one of them. In 13 games, he has belted four home runs, knocked in 11 runs, stolen two bases and has hit a very respectable .289. 

The team never expected such an offensive output from Martin, who had hit a combined .249 over the previous two seasons with the Dodgers.

During his final two seasons in Los Angeles, he hit 12 home runs, drove in 79 runs and stole 17 bases. 

This came as a shock to the Dodgers organization, as Martin was beginning to become one of the premier backstops in the league. His best statistical campaign came in 2007 when he won the Silver Slugger and was voted on to the All-Star roster.

He compiled a .293/.374/.469 triple slash line while hitting 19 homers and driving in 87 runs. He also stole 21 bases, the most for a catcher since Jason Kendall swiped 22 bags in 2000.

Because Martin is such a superb defensive backstop, any productivity they receive from him with the bat is a huge bonus.

Gaining the trust of a pitching staff is generally very difficult for a catcher with a new club, but Martin has had no trouble so far establishing a bond with his pitchers.

It seems as if the pitchers love throwing to him. They aren’t afraid of bouncing balls in the dirt because they know that he’ll block them. Martin isn’t afraid of giving up the body for the sake of the team and the pitchers respect him for that.

A perfect example of that is AJ Burnett.

Burnett has always had a “personal catcher” during his tenure in the Bronx. In 2009, it was Jose Molina. In 2010, it was Francisco Cervelli. There will be no more of that in 2011, as Martin has stepped up and taken control.

Burnett has been off to a fast start in 2011, posting a 3-0 record with a 4.67 ERA.

So sure, maybe it’s a little early to hand Russell Martin the honor of the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year. But if he keeps producing at this pace, there may not be any other worthy candidates.

Other comeback players such as Justin Morneau, Grady Sizemore, Erik Bedard, Bobby Jenks, Joe Nathan, Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy will all be in the running as well.

Regardless of if Martin is named Comeback Player of the Year, the Yankees will be happy if he continues to produce at the same rate he is now.

Another All-Star selection may not be out of the question for Martin and neither would 20+ homers and 80+ RBI. Don’t be surprised if he steals upwards of 20 bases, either.

All-in-all, the Yankees are happy they signed Russell Martin and will probably look to lock him up long-term sometime in the near future.


For updates about new articles, follow me on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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Yankees Pitching Prospect Preview, Part 3 of 5: Left-Hander Manny Banuelos

Manny Banuelos trails only Jesus Montero in the Yankees‘ prospect rankings. Banuelos is clearly the best hurler the Yankees have in the minors, and he’ll get a long look in spring training this season.

If his career minor league statistics are any indication of his future successes, he’s going to be a quality pitcher for a long time.

Banuelos is the smallest of the Yankees young crop of hurlers. Listed at just 5′ 10″, he is a mere shadow to the gargantuan Dellin Betances. Also, Banuelos is just 155 pounds.

Luckily, his small stature has no bearing on his skill level.

Banuelos was signed by the Yankees as a 17-year-old out of Mexico in 2008. 

In his first professional season, Banuelos pitched in the Gulf Coast League. In 12 games (three starts), the young left-hander pitched to a 4-1 record with a 2.57 ERA. In 42 innings, he struck out 37.

He spent nearly the entire 2009 season with the Yankees Single-A affiliate in Charleston. The lone game that he didn’t pitch for Charleston was with High-A Tampa. 

Combined, Banuelos recorded a 9-5 record in 2009. In 109 innings, he posted a 2.67 ERA with 106 strikeouts. He displayed impeccable control, walking just 28 batters over the course of the season.

Banuelos’ biggest strides came in 2010, when he pitched at three separate minor league levels. He pitched in the Gulf Coast League, in High-A Tampa, and also in Double-A Trenton.

He would have began the season at Double-A Trenton, but an emergency appendectomy in spring training kept him sidelined until late-June. With just two rehab starts, he was ready to begin his season.

In total, he started 15 games in 2010. He threw 64.2 innings, while ringing up 85 batters. He posted a career-low 2.51 ERA. Despite very respectable stats, he posted an unimpressive record of 0-4.

Banuelos began his career with the Yankees as a frail left-hander whose fastball rarely topped 90 mph and whose off-speed pitches were inconsistent at best.

After spending three years in the Yankees’ system, Banuelos has developed very nicely. Still very frail, his fastball now ranges from 90-94, and has topped at 96.

His off-speed stuff has progressed as well, as he now features a changeup that fades away from right-handed hitters. His curveball is still a work in progress.

Banuelos has a very smooth, deceptive delivery that makes his pitches seem faster than they actually are. Although 94 is not overwhelmingly fast, his deceptiveness allows him to consistently pitch up in the zone.

His control and command has already been deemed Major League ready, and it’s still improving as he continues to grow and develop as a pitcher.

A growth spurt is probably out of the question for the 20-year-old Banuelos, so don’t expect much of a change in his figure.

No matter his size, Banuelos projects to be a top-of-the-rotation starter that the Yankees will be happy to have for years to come.

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New York Yankees Prospect Preview: Right-Hander Hector Noesi

Hector Noesi is just 24 years old, but he has experience in the Yankees system. The club signed the big 6’2″ right-hander when he was just 17 years old, out of his hometown Esperanza, Dominican Republic in 2004.

His pro career didn’t officially begin until 2006, when he hurled just seven innings in five games. He put up a very low ERA of 1.29 in those games, while striking out 11.

Noesi’s 2007 didn’t begin until he finished a 50-game suspension for his violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. When he came back, he pitched in the South Atlantic League for the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate in Charleston. He went 1-for-1 in five games, all of which were starts. He had a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings.

His season was cut short, though, due to an elbow injury. He underwent Tommy John Surgery that offseason and returned in time for the second half of the 2008 season.

That season was split between the Gulf Coast Rookie League and the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate in Staten Island. In the GCL, he went 2-for-1 with a 3.65 ERA. He started seven games and appeared in seven more out of the bullpen. Combined, he struck out 24 in 24.2 innings.

In Staten Island, Noesi finished his season strong. He went 1-for-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He started all five games he appeared in, and in 24 innings, he struck out 31.

Noesi began to show improvement in 2009. He split the season between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. In Charleston, he went 3-for-4 with a 2.38 ERA. He struck out 78 in 75.2 innings.

With High-A Tampa, Noesi was 3-0 with a 3.92 ERA. He again displayed a great strikeout per inning ration, as he struck out 40 in 41.1 innings.

Noesi’s unheralded rise through the Yankees’ system began in 2010. He made stops at all three levels of the minors and saw success with all three teams.

He started the season with High-A Tampa and went 5-for-2 with a 2.72 ERA. Next, he spent time with Double-A Trenton. After a 3.10 ERA and an 8-4 record, Noesi was on his way to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He finished his season there, pitching to a 1-1 record with a 4.82 ERA.

Overall in 2010, Noesi threw 160.1 innings, struck out 153 and only walked 28 batters.

What makes Noesi so special is his strong, fluent delivery and his impeccable command. Although command is usually the final thing to return after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Noesi hasn’t showed any sign of having problems. He has walked just 51 in 326 innings since returning.

He has a very lively fastball that can maintain its 90 to 93 mph velocity deep into games. In the past couple of seasons, his fastball has been reported to touch 96 on occasion. He also throws a quality changeup, slider and curveball.

Each of his breaking pitches needs work, which may be the only thing holding him back from cracking the rotation this spring training.

Assuming he gets assigned to Triple-A to start the season, Noesi will likely be the first arm to be called up should the Yankees suffer an injury. He’ll be the center of attention this season in the minors and could be a permanent member of the Yankees pitching staff come 2012.

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Player Profile: New York Yankees Rotation Candidate Ivan Nova

If you’re a Yankees fan, then you know who Ivan Nova is.

If you’re not a Yankees fan, then here’s a little background information on the man who will likely assume the No. 5 spot in the rotation for the 2011 season.

Nova, 24, is listed at 6’4″ and 210 pounds. The big right-hander was born on January 12, 1987 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.

Nova was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Yankees in 2004 out of the Dominican Republic. After being exposed to the Rule 5 draft in December 2008, he was selected by the Padres. He was returned to the Yankees at the end of the 2009 spring training. To protect him from future Rule 5 drafts, the Yankees placed him on the 40-man roster.

To say that he’s been an inconsistent minor leaguer would be quite an understatement. In 2006, as a 19-year old, he pitched to a 3-0 record in the Gulf Coast League. He had a 2.72 ERA with 36 strikeouts and just seven walks in 43 innings.

Next season, for Single-A Charleston, he went 6-8 with a 4.98 ERA. In 99.1 innings he struck out just 54 with a very high 31 walks.

In 2008, for Single-A+ Tampa, Nova pitched to an 8-13 record with a 4.36 ERA. He threw a career high 148.2 innings and racked up 109 strikeouts. He also walked 46 batters.

Nova split the 2009 season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He went 5-4 with Trenton with a 2.36 ERA while striking out 47 and walking 31. For Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nova was not nearly as effective. He turned in a 1-4 record with a 5.10 ERA.

Last season, Nova saw time in the majors. In 10 games (seven starts), Nova went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 42 innings. He struck out 26 and walked 17.

Ivan Nova has been considered to have some of the best stuff in the Yankees farm system. He throws a low-90’s fastball that has been reported to touch 94 on occasion. He also throws a two-seam/sinker that he has great command of. When down in the zone, he can induce many ground balls.

His pitches are sneaky fast. He has a very relaxed, calm delivery that allows him to maintain his velocity deep into games.

His curveball and changeup are his best pitches. His big breaking curveball is his strikeout pitch, and he uses the changeup early in counts to induce ground balls.

Probably his best trait, though, is his composure. He won’t lose a game by getting worked up over a bad call or after allowing a few base hits in a row. He’ll continue to fight and continue to get outs.

The only criticism of Nova’s game is that he’s not aggressive enough. Often with two strikes, he continues to pitch to contact when he has the stuff to strike a batter out. He avoids pitching inside as well, which sometimes affects his ability to put batters away.

Nova is the smart choice for the final spot in the Yankees rotation. If his scouting report is accurate, then I predict that he could win 12 games for the Yankees with an ERA around 4.00. If he can give the Yankees close to 150 innings, it’ll be a successful season for Nova.

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