We've been doing countdowns to the date when Yankees pitchers and catchers report for spring training, but few signs are as indicative of the season being just around as the corner as the arrival of the new Baseball Prospectus annual. The 2015 edition is a milestone issue for BP, as it marks the 20th year of publication. That's right--BP has been making these longer than Yankees prospect Luis Torrens has been alive.
As an unabashed supporter of BP, I wrote an article last year giving a slight preview at what the 2014 annual had to offer in relation to the Yankees. My 2015 annual arrived this week, and I'm happy to offer another sneak peak at what BP produced this year. The names of the people involved in this year's annual are quite awesome--there's BP editor-in-chief Sam Miller, former BP EIC/current Grantland writer Ben Lindbergh (who wrote the Yankees essay), and SB Nation writers Grant Brisbee, Bryan Grosnick, and Patrick Dubuque (who wrote most of the Yankees player comments). It's all terrific information, and it's available on Amazon for just $18.50. (The Kindle edition is coming soon, and last year, that was only about $10.) Considering all the content, that's not a bad price to pay at all.
Like last year, I'm definitely not going to divulge everything BP had to say on the Yankees because that wouldn't be fair to their hard work. As an incentive to hopefully get you to buy it though, I've included a sample of notes below that I found particularly interesting in this year's book:
- Lindbergh's essay is excellent, as it somehow hits on almost every aspect of the Yankees' 2014 campaign in just a few pages. There's the internal conflict of how much Derek Jeter's farewell tour was actually worth to the Yankees beyond the playing field (SABR President Vince Gennaro estimated at least $25 million in revenue from Jeter alone). There's analysis about the Yankees' strategy of investing heavily in the free agent market and how it did not work as well as it had in the past, even though the team's average age wasn't much older than it was during their championship years. There's even a little bit about their skills at spotting veteran talent, and how their international spending on amateurs could plant the seeds for a big reward. It's really a must-read.
- A telling comment on Chase Headley: Anyone expecting 2012 is going to be disappointed, but that does not mean his contract was a poor investment. Given his excellent glove and still-potent bat at the plate, BP argues that while Headley won't be a star, he'll "provide nearly the value of one." I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat.
- In 2014, Nathan Eovaldi had the fourth-fastest velocity among all qualified starters in baseball. That's impressive. He's still certainly an unfinished product though, and if he doesn't start missing bats, it could be problematic.
- Brett Gardner's power in 2014 was definitely exciting for longtime fans, especially the crowd at Pinstripe Alley. Take it with a grain of salt though. He might not receive as many fastballs right in his wheelhouse in 2015, so hopefully his offensive production can compensate for the possible decline in dingers.
- It's hard to be optimistic about CC Sabathia at this point in his career given his degenerative knee and declining production, but if you're looking for a silver lining, here's one. Even though he made just eight starts and struggled to push his fastball past 90 mph, his strikeout and walk rate were among the best in his career. Maybe if CC has a little more luck in 2015, he can fare better? We can only hope, given how much the Yankees owe him.
- There was one small blemish on Masahiro Tanaka's brilliant debut aside from the agonizing UCL tear: His fastball needs work. Obviously his splitter and slider were more than enough to keep his strikeouts way up, but imagine how awesome could be if he stays healthy and his fastball gets even just a little bit better.
- This shouldn't surprise anyone, but BP's top Yankees prospect, Aaron Judge, has "above-average power without even trying." Not only that, but he's an even more advanced hitter than just being a pure slugger, as evidenced by his .308/.419/.486 triple slash in A-ball. Judge has the offensive talent to breeze through the system. Keep your eye on him as he takes on high minors pitching. Hold them in contempt, Judge.
- Although some are intrigued by his Triple-A numbers, Jose Pirela looks like another Willie Bloomquist. Yippie...
- That was a bit of a bummer, so here's some nice words about under-the-radar third base prospect Miguel Andujar: "The scouts swear that there's both power and defense hiding deep within him, waiting to be unlocked by a grizzled coach or a voyage of self-discovery." Quest onward, Miguel!
- A fellow you don't know: 2012 international signee Luis Garcia. How's this for a quote?
Some quick minors notes:
"Imagine playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey, but with an assault rifle. That's, who hit 99.5 mph in a September game."
If you enjoyed this sneak peak, there's so much more, like an ode to Brian Roberts with a comparison to telomeres receding and a cell dying, Didi Gregorius/Derek Jeter subliminal messaging, and, of course, encouraging Alex Rodriguez to embrace villainy, then you should definitely check out the annual. You won't regret it.