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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/15/23

PECOTA high on the 2023 Yankees; Cortes’ funky deliveries may be OK despite balk crackdown; Spring training predictions; Bigger bases showcased

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Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus: BP released its annual PECOTA projections yesterday, and of most interest to Yankees fans is the fact that the system currently has New York notching the best record in baseball at a rounded 99-63 — well ahead of their AL East rivals and also better than the Mets, Dodgers, and even the defending champion Astros. The league-best 568 runs allowed is also impressive. Esteban will have some more specific thoughts on the extended PECOTA player projections later today.

The Athletic | Zach Buchanan: This is both a league-wide piece and behind a paywall but worth reporting regardless. The new pitch timer is seemingly going to have a byproduct of MLB encouraging its pitchers to have more consistent deliveries. So the “rock the baby” motion of the Astros’ Luis Garcia (just to name one example) will be tweaked to avoid an increase in balks.

As for Nestor Cortes’ fun stylings? Per Buchanan and EVP of baseball operations Morgan Sword, those seem to be fair game. Let us hope the umpires see it that way, too! | Randy Miller: How about some good ol’ fashioned spring training predictions? Miller offered his thoughts on some spring topics, including a bold prediction that the Yankees ultimately DFA Josh Donaldson before Opening Day and the less-exciting idea that Aaron Hicks will be the starting left fielder with Oswaldo Cabrera back in Triple-A. For those curious, Miller does have Oswald Peraza as the starting shortstop, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the bench for now but perhaps on the move to another club by midseason.

Final note for today: Check out the bigger bases for 2023! This is one of MLB’s less-advertised new rules, but is thankfully less controversial since these larger bags reportedly helped cut down on some minor league injuries and also added at least a small boost to the more dynamic running game.