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Yankees Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: Hope everyone had a great weekend Want to thank everyone for coming, and hope you don't mind us starting out with the Yanks. For the AL East, we're going in order of division finish. Jim Callis will be back Wednesday for his second chat in five days, this time on the Red Sox organization.

 Q:  John from Staten Island, NY asks:
One guy who seemingly came out of nowhere was rhp Eric Abreu. Last year he was in the Dominican League and by the end of this year he was dominating the FSL. Is he the real deal and where will he start the 2005 season?
 A: 

John Manuel: We had a ton of questions about Abreu during our league Top 20 chats, and Eric didn't pitch anywhere enough to qualify. He had big numbers in the New York-Penn League, though, and three good starts at high A Tampa, raising some expectations. Yankees officials put Abreu (who used to be Erick Antigua) in their middle tier of RHPs prospects, behind big arms such as Philip Hughes and Christian Garcia and more polished products such as Chien-ming Wang and Steven White, right in with the likes of Jeff Marquez, Brett Smith, Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard. His success this year stemmed from his ability to throw his 90-92 mph fastball for strikes. It's a good pitch, not great, and his secondary stuff is still just OK, though he throws his change and curve for strikes. He's got some polish and could start in Double-A with a big spring, though more likely he'll join Clippard, Abel Gomez and probably Jason Jones at high Class A Tampa.

 Q:  Bill from New York City, NY asks:
Brett Smith signed very late and didn't pitch at all last summer. Where do the Yankees plan to start him in 2005 and what is his ETA?
 A: 

John Manuel: Smith did sign late, but the Yankees did get a look at him in their Sept. mini-camp. He's got a chance to move quickly if he shows he can repeat his somewhat funky delivery and throw strikes with his plus slider. I think he could start in high A next year and, if all goes well, get traded in June or July. Seriously, he's a nice middle-of-the-rotation prospect who probably needs 2 1-2 years in the minors at least.

 Q:  Patrick Murphy from Manhattan asks:
Do you see Sean Henn as a reliever in the majors? What about Ramon Ramirez?
 A: 

John Manuel: I see both of those guys as relievers. Both have electric stuff with good velocity and sharp power breaking balls, but neither commands the fastball or changes speeds well enough to be starters in the big leagues, unless they show marked improvement. Ramirez is a better bet for me to start, if he could develop a splitter or changeup to combat lefthanded hitters and have something that's not hard. His slider could be a really nice weapon in middle relief, if he can take to that role.

 Q:  Patrick Murphy from Manhattan asks:
How close were Abel Gomez, Tyler Clippard and Eric Abreu?
 A: 

John Manuel: All three of those guys will make the Top 30, that's all you're getting out of me, Patrick (thanks for several fine questions). They'll probably be ranked in the order of Abreu, Clippard and Gomez, though Gomez might have the highest upside of the three. I'm just very cautious ranking pitchers who lack fastball command, and that's Gomez' problem, well, that and two fringy secondary pitches. He's a lefty who throws heat, though, one of the system's better pure arms.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim, CA asks:
Hi John, thanks for taking my question. In last year's handbook, it said that Melky Cabrera was the best defensive outfielder in the system. Now it says he doesn't have the speed to cover CF. What gives? If Cabrera can stay in center, would he rank higher? Who does he profile like in the majors? An OFer version of Bill Mueller? Thanks again!
 A: 

John Manuel: What gives is, the Yankees don't have an outfielder who is a future Gold Glover in the system. Sometimes, an average big league defensive OF is the best an organization has, and that's the case here. The organization is split on Cabrera as a CF; it's such a feature position in Yankee Stadium, adequate probably doesn't cut it. I was cautious in writing up Cabrera's future power, but if you take the Jose Vidro comp to heart, you're talking a .300-.320 hitter with 15-25 homers. That's certainly enough for a corner guy.

 Q:  Rick from Bayonne NJ asks:
Alot of #1 prospect busts for the Yankees the last few years. Eric Duncan bust or stud?
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, we won't know for a couple of years, but I like Duncan's bat (Jim Callis likes it even more than I do), and I think he'll be a solid average or slightly above-average major league player. It sounds like he is a tad short defensively tools-wise at third base, but with work he could be an average defender. If another club believes that and if Duncan gets off to a fast start in 2005, I think he would be a nice piece in a big league trade. He's just not going to move A-Rod, and the Yankees are pretty locked in with Jeter and A-Rod on the left side, obviously.

 Q:  Josh from Work, St. Pete asks:
Is Robinson Cano a legitimate #2 prospect, or is he only rated this high by default. He is one of the few Yankees on the list thats already played AA and most of the players on the top-10 were low A players or 2003 or 2004 draft picks. Where would he rank on a system like the Dodgers, would he even be in their top-10?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, Cano is legit. He could be an everyday starter on a championship team; he's a second baseman who's pretty good defensively and offensively, a lot of 60's and 50's tools wise with a 65 or 70 arm. You know, I thought coming into this he was kind of like Todd Walker, but it sounds like he's not quite the hitter Walker is but a much better defender. In a system like the Dodgers, yeah, he might not make their 10 because the Dodgers have a lot of guys with serious upside. But Cano would make most Top 10s, I should think. He's young, he's pretty good now, has a chance to be a lot better in terms of hitting for power, and he's had success at high levels.

 Q:  Patrick Murphy from Manhattan asks:
Is there still hope for Rudy Guillen?
 A: 

John Manuel: I answered another by Patrick? Oh well . . . Guillen is a good question, because the Yankees think there's still hope, but it's hard to find anyone saying he should have been in their Top 10. He still has tools . . . his high ankle sprain this year never really healed enough for him to be comfortable, but you know, a lot of major leaguers play and play well when they're hurt. Guillen didn't do that. For a guy who's supposed to have big raw power, that was an underwhelming performance, injury or not. And the ankle injury pushed him off of CF. That's a combination that moved him down the list a ways, into the 11-20 range. There's still hope, of course, but he has to prove he still has those tools and can carry them into games.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
Hey there John, A couple quick questions here. First, where do Marquez, Hoover and Andrus fit in on the Yankees' list? From my point of view, it's kind of shocking that well, anyone wouldn't make the list considering how thin the system is. Also, since the Yankees come first this year, it's kind of hard to tell how these prospects compare relative to everyone else--do we rare Yankees fans who actually care about the minor leagues truly have something to look forward to in Duncan, Hughes, etc? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: Ben, thanks for the questions. Marquez and Hoover figure prominently in the 11-15 range, they are legit pitching prospects. However, remember that Hoover is a college senior draft, he's a reliever, he's 22, he threw about 60 innings in his first three years at Indiana Tech. He's got a very live arm, but before 2004, he was an unknown quantity, even within his own NAIA program. Marquez also is a late bloomer, good stuff, good makeup, but some also project him as a reliever, and it's hard to put relievers in the top 10 for me, especially when neither has pitched in a full-season league. Andrus is not in the same class of prospect, especially since he's moving to 1B.

John Manuel: As for the Yankees, instead of comparing them to other orgs, just compare them to themselves. It's a deeper organization than it was last year or two years ago, in my opinion. Most of the talent is at Class A and below, that's the problem, and for me it's still a back-of-the-pack organization. in the 16-30 range in terms of talent. But it's better off than it has been.

 Q:  PGM from BTF asks:
Odds on Vecci's ultimate position?
 A: 

John Manuel: 60 percent third base, 30 percent short, 10 percent other . . . I mean, does that help you any? Better question is, how much quickness can he maintain, and can he stay at short? There are some people very, very excited about him, and he will move quickly because he has a knack for putting the fat part of the bat on the ball. The organization is very excited about him.

 Q:  Chris from Georgia, Vermont asks:
There is a lot of changes within the Yankees Top 10 this year compared to last year. Does that mean that the Yankees are starting to rebuild some of their depth, especially on the mound? Guys like Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard aren't in the Top 10, but seem to have lots of potential.
 A: 

John Manuel: First, the Yankees had a very good draft in 2004, and that's reflected in their top 10. Second, guys like Wang and Cabrera who were in the top 30 last year moved into the 10 with good years (or, in Wang's case, a strong finish). Third, yes, I think the Yankees are improved. DeSalvo and Clippard profile as middle or back-of-the-rotation pitchers. If they're in your Top 10, you're in trouble. I like both of those guys, but neither has a plus pitch. Fastball command--a very important building block--is their forte, but neither has a plus secondary pitch (maybe Clippard's curve), and their fastballs have just average velocity.

 Q:  Rabbit from Ptown, CA asks:
Hey, whats your take on HooverJones? Do they have a chance to be something great?
 A: 

John Manuel: I've given my Hoover take. Jones is interesting, but no, I don't think he's going to be something great. Maybe at best he's John Lieber, because he's a strike-thrower who pounds the zone with average stuff. The Yankees have a few guys like that such as the aforementioned Clippard and DeSalvo.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Who is most likely to actually have a future in the Bronx?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think Cano could be the Yankees' second baseman next year and he could do fine there. Navarro could be the backup in '05 or '06; he's just 21. I could see Duncan as the first baseman of the future if they don't trade him. And I definitely think one or two of the righties we've mentioned could break into the rotation in the next five years.

 Q:  Lin Garrett from Abroad asks:
If you were me, who would you have taken with our first four picks this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: The guys you took. Don't know how much of this was Lin's draft, but the Yankees had a productive draft at first glance. Hughes' health and the ability of Marquez to remain a starter are big keys to how this draft turns out.

 Q:  Mickey Abbott from NYC asks:
Aren't you a little high on Christian Garcia, considering he just started pitching less than a year ago? How do you know he's not a flash in the pan like so many other high school arms?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, I am high on him, but he has two potential plus-plus pitches in a mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve. I don't know that he's not a flash in the pan, but if you're going to rank players, you have to take a stand and have an opinion, backed up with reasons for taking that stand. I think I did that with Garcia. He's athletic, has arm strength, good makeup, very good stuff . . . I'm comfortable ranking him as highly as I did.

 Q:  Other GMs from Key Biscayne, FL asks:
Do you see any good Yankee prospects being available in the Rule 5 draft next month?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not really. It shouldn't be hard for the Yankees to protect their talent on the 40-man roster. If Andy Phillips is left off the 40-man, I'd grab that guy, he can hit and would be a nice role player in the big leagues if not an everyday 1B. Maybe Kevin Reese could be a nice reserve LH bat, he's hit enough at high levels for me to think he could stick, but I don't think he has much upside.

 Q:  Fabien Brandy from Manchester, England asks:
Any sense the Yankees are in on Kendry Morales or any of the other Cuban defectors?
 A: 

John Manuel: We've heard they are in on Morales, but I don't think anyone will be spending huge dollars on Cuban players anytime soon. Other than Livan and Orlando Hernandez, the rest of those players have not brought a good return on the investments clubs have made . . . and no one has wasted more money on Cuban players than the Yankees. Yobal Duenas, by the way, not a prospect.

 Q:  Kevin Maas from Domino's Pizza asks:
What is the status on Tim Battle? Is he over cancer? Where does he stack on the Yanks list? Does he have a chance at a MLB career?
 A: 

John Manuel: Battle's cancer isn't the problem anymore, and he can thank Big Stein for that, the owner paid for his medical bills (and that probably cost him a lot of calzones). Battle has loud tools without the production to go with it. It's hard to be a five-tool hitter if you can't hit, but the Yankees gave Battle a lot of individual work with hitting coaches this year and will continue to invest time in a player with his upside.

 Q:  Adam from Charlottesville, VA asks:
Why has everyone been down on Dioner Navarro? He has the same talent he had last year when he was ranked ahead of Robinson Cano.
 A: 

John Manuel: People are down on him for good reasons; he came to spring training fat and happy, essentially, so he doesn't have the same talent he had last year. He got out of shape and lost some bat speed, which hurt his hit tool and his power tool, and his defense tool also was poor this year, he was lazy receiving in the first half of the year. He got better defensively as the year went on, but he has to prove that his bat will be enough for the big leagues. Right now, no one is convinced of that.

 Q:  matt from hawaii asks:
what is your take on clippard and halsey both had solid years and they are not in the top ten is this a good thing for yankees fans meaning our farm system is growing deeper again? also what is hughes ceiling ...ace? thanks alot
 A: 

John Manuel: I've talked a bit about Clippard, who I probably like more than the Yankees because of my proclivity to rank guys who command the fastball high. Halsey is just a guy, he's a 5th starter, no plus pitch, at least he has options left and can be a fill-in. I do think the system is deeper, and while it's very early on Hughes, I do think he has front-of-the-rotation potential. That's why we ranked him where we ranked him.

 Q:  Isaac from Madison, WI asks:
John, thanks for these chats. Do you see the (relative) takeover of the yankees top ten list by pitchers as a sign they have started developing good pitchers? It seems like most of these pitchers are just a reflection of recent top ten lsts for the Yankees: their highest draft picks from the previous draft. Also, where is J. Poterson, I thought he had a sky high ceiling?
 A: 

John Manuel: I see it as a sign that they drafted a lot of pitchers this year. Also, we don't go in order of the draft, seeing as how Garcia was the fifth person they drafted this year and the second I ranked on the top 10. Poterson hit .207 in the GCL; let him do something before he gets ranked highly.

 Q:  Todd from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
Did the Yankees miss on former number one pick David Parrish? Will he only project to a serviceable backup?
 A: 

John Manuel: They missed, definitely. If he's a backup in the majors, that will be impressive.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
What is the ultimate position and offensive potential for Bronson Sardinha?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think he's a left fielder who, best-case scenario, hits .300-.310 with 15-20 homers. He's got a sweet swing. It sounds like mental focus is the biggest thing with Sardinha, both offensively and defensively.

 Q:  David Puddy from NYC asks:
Not that it was ever great to begin with, but what happened to Edwardo Sierra's control this year? Is he still in the Yankees' plans?
 A: 

John Manuel: You're a face painter? Anyway, Sierra has some mechanical issues that preclude fastball command, but some in the organization also say that he just gets satisfied when he throws a good pitch and doesn't have the mentality needed to trust himself and attack hitters with his best stuff. He's in the top 30, just not the top 10, not with that walk rate.

 Q:  Brian from Scarsdale asks:
How fast do you think Jesse Hoover will advance? He got work in the rotation and out of the pen. Is he the heir apparent to Mo Rivera or will he be a starter going forward?
 A: 

John Manuel: Lots of Hoover questions . . . I think that's getting way ahead of yourself. His future depends on his development of his offspeed stuff. I think the Yankees will give him a chance to come up with a changeup or a split-finger pitch, but he probably ends up in the bullpen.

 Q:  Jerry Seinfeld from NYC asks:
What's the deal with Mark Phillips?
 A: 

John Manuel: He isn't very good, that's all. There's a lot more to being a prospect than throwing hard. I think there also was a lot more going on off the field with Phillips that precluded him from reaching his potential. He's not a factor, Jerry.

 Q:  JACK from NORFOLK asks:
does Cano have any chance to be their every day second baseman in the near future?
 A: 

John Manuel: Signs point to yes, if the big league staff listens to and trusts the minor league side.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
Isn't it great not to get tons of e-mails about Drew Henson?
 A: 

John Manuel: Seeing as how this is my first year doing the Yankees, it's not a big deal. But yeah, it's good not to get questions about a guy who wasn't really a baseball player. I think Mark Phillips is the new Drew Henson.

 Q:  Stat guy from Peter Gammons' garage asks:
For an 18 year old, Erold Andrus put up some pretty good numbers this year in Battle Creek. What's his deal? Can he play center?
 A: 

John Manuel: Get out of Peter's garage! Actually, Andrus is 20, and the Yankees apparently feel that he cannot play center field, because he's moving to first base. Andrus is interesting, some power, some speed, a knack for hitting, but it sounds like he lacks a plus tool in any category.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
I've always wondered why the Yankees don't draft a lot of guys with signability problems, and then overpay them not to go to college. Any thoughts?
 A: 

John Manuel: It's a good question, one that Jim Callis has tackled in Ask BA very well, and one I asked Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer about back in the spring when we did our big "Slide of the Yankees" story. Their answer was, the Yankees do not have an open-ended budget in their scouting dept., so they can't just empty the bank. Apparently, they were willing to do so more internationally than they were domestically from 1998-2002. They seem to have reversed course the last couple of years, though.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Is Mitch Jones just a minor league version of Rob Deer, or will he be able to actually contribute in the big leagues?
 A: 

John Manuel: Your Rob Deer comp is right on, except Deer also was a plus defender in RF. Jones is moving to 1B. I think he's a fringy big leaguer at best, but he also has hit for power.

 Q:  Joe Hackett from Nantucket asks:
Andy Phillips had quite the bounce-back year in AAA, though he played 85% first base. What positions could he play for Joe Torre? Is he a Mike Lamb-like defender? Will he take Mike Vento's spot towards the end of Top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: As I've stated earlier, I'm a Phillips fan. He's not a great defender at any spot; if he can play some third base (which he's done earlier in his career), he can make the club as a reserve. I'm not sure he can play 2B anymore after the leg injuries he has had, and I don't think he's even as good as Mike Lamb defensively. The comp I got for Phillips from one club official was Kevin Millar, and at age 27, Millar was having a mediocre year for the Marlins. He was a late-bloomer with no obvious position who hit his way into being an everyday starter for a World Series championship team. Can Phillips do that? He'd have to get the playing time, but I don't think he'd be a bad fallback to have at 1B (along with a veteran like Olerud) for the Yankees if Giambi doesn't come back.

 Q:  Trevor from Herndon, VA asks:
In one of the League Top 20 chats, I asked whether Robinson Cano could play second for the Yankees next year. I was emphatically told no. You, however, seem to disagree. Could Cano be successful next season in the Bronx?
 A: 

John Manuel: Frank actually asked that question, Trevor, and the answer wasn't emphatic. Alan Matthews told you he agreed when scouts told him Cano might be better off if he would move to third. The Yankees officials who see him everyday say you have to do that to appreciate how his instincts, infield actions and anticipation at second base. I'll buy that argument, plus, Cano rubs some scouts the wrong way with his seemingly nonchalant playing style. The Yankees insist that he loves the game and can handle the glare of playing in the Boogie Down. So yes, I think he could be successful as a 2005 rookie.

 Q:  Brian from Scarsdale asks:
I know some Yankee fans are of the belief that Jon Poterson was taken too early for someone without a position. What are your thoughts on where he was taken as well as his potential.
 A: 

John Manuel: Poterson has raw power, and raw power flies off the draft board. The Yankees drafted him that high because they weren't sure he would be there when the draft came back around to them, and they don't have anyone in their system with his raw power. It's a risky pick, but the Yankees haven't taken many risks in the draft over the last couple of years. I think it's good to see them taking some risks on high upside players.

John Manuel: And I apologize, Hubie Brown apparently has seized control of my body today with all the "upside" references.

 Q:  Mike Koblish from Exton, PA asks:
A couple years ago weren't you saying the NY system was highly underrated and there was a big group of Latin players coming? As I reacll you and Jim Callis had a little back and forth about whether the Yankees or Sox systems was better (or perhaps less awful). What happened to all those good young Latin prospects and, of course, are you ever going to own up the idea that the Sox mediocre system is better than the Yankees lousy one?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mike you may have seen that discussion on SOSH (or maybe you started it). Jim and Josh Boyd had that discussion, Josh saying the Yanks were under-appreciated because of their Latin program. I wasn't in on that Red Sox-Yankees debate, and I'll weigh in on that at the end of the chat. That's what's called a "tease" in the business. Anyway, the Yankees have four Latin prospects in the top 10 with Cano, Navarro, Vechionacci and M. Cabrera. They traded J. Arias. Others like Rudy Guillen and Ramon Ramirez still have a chance but had poor years in 2004, and Ferdin Tejada just didn't develop the bat the Yankees though he could develop. He was lost on waivers to the Padres. I think the Yankees have decided they can't totally depend just on their international signings and have re-committed to finding domestic talent (and paying for good domestic talent) in the draft to supplement their Latin American and Asian operations.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
One more...are Tim Battle and Estee Harris legitimate prospects? Is the ability to make contact something that can be learned?
 A: 

John Manuel: Battle is legit but is far away. There are bigger questions on Harris, whose bat speed and overall tools weren't as impressive as they had been expected to be. He may not make the top 30.

 Q:  John from Westchester asks:
Any insight as to why the Yankees chose the players they did to play in the AFL? Seems like all of them are career minor leaguers. Why not evaluate some of their better talent out there?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sardinha was supposed to go but got hurt (broken finger). I think the rest of the guys are being checked out for 40-man roster questions. And really, who else would the Yankees send? Players like Cano and Navarro are playing in Latin America. Maybe Steven White could have gone, but there's not much else in the upper levels for the Yankees to choose from.

 Q:  Chatterer from BTF asks:
I noticed you've included the Best Tools, etc, in the online edition - how about Projected 2008 Lineup? C'mon, it'll be fun.
 A: 

John Manuel: This shocks me. I thought the future lineup was a waste of space, especially with the Yankees, but your thoughts to the contrary are duly noted. I'll venture this guess: C: Navarro. 1B: Andy Phillips! 2B: Cano. 3B: A-Rod. SS: Jeter. LF: Matsui (34 in '08). CF: Tim Battle if it's anyone internal. RF: Melky Cabrera. DH: Giambi (still under contract). Rotation: Hughes, Garcia, White, Wang and Marquez. Closer: Either Hoover or Sierra. Wow, that will never, ever happen.

 Q:  John Fake from Anytown, U.S.A. asks:
Alex Graman had good AAA numbers but looked overwhelmed in NY. Is he a guy another team could use?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's out of options, so he either makes the Yankees as a lefty reliever this year or finds a new home at the end of spring training.

 Q:  Felipe from Jersey City asks:
Where in the world is Hector Made?
 A: 

John Manuel: In the top 30, but his limited bat could make him a future utility guy instead of an everyday player.

 Q:  Sean from Fullerton asks:
What type of chance does Aaron Rifkin have at making it to the majors? He has hit 20+ HR's in AA each of the last two seasons, but only hit about .250 this past season. Does he have to get traded to get moved up?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not much of one, at least with New York. Rifkin's power makes him attractive to some, but the organization isn't as high on him as it is on 2004 draftee Ben Jones at 1B or even Andy Phillips. Plate discipline is an issue with Rifkin and makes him profile more as a 4A kind of hitter.

 Q:  Alan Chang from Chicago asks:
Where do you see RHP Chien-Ming Wang in the future? A starter or middle reliever? How would you rate his stuffs?
 A: 

John Manuel: I see him as a starter, but a back-of-the-rotation guy who will constantly struggle to find a way to get lefthanders out. I don't know if he could physically handle being a reliever, he's had shoulder problems and now hamstring issues.

 Q:  Frankie from PinstripesPlus asks:
What is the ceiling for Steven White?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think White can be a solid No. 3 starter, a 200-plus innings guy. He doesn't have a true strikeout pitch or else he'd have a higher ceiling, but I like him a lot as a prospect, especially if the improvement he showed on his breaking ball continues.

 Q:  Gambling guy from Vegas asks:
Overunder on the next year that the Yanks have a Rookie of the Year?
 A: 

John Manuel: Good question . . . let's say 2020, and I'll take over.

 Q:  Frankie from New York asks:
Out of these guys, Toni Lara, Maximo Nelson, Marvin Moscat, who could come closest top the 10 list next year?
 A: 

John Manuel: Actually, that last answer wasn't fair. Big Stein is in his early 70s, and whoever takes over ownership of the Yankees just won't be as driven to win as he is. Say what you want about Steinbrenner, his desire to win is a big reason the Yankees are so good every year. I should go under 2020.

John Manuel: Anyway, back to this question. Good question, I'll take Nelson, who hits 95 witih his fastball in the GCL, Moscat and Lara also are interesting choices.

 Q:  Frankie from New York asks:
Did Mike Martinez get any consideration for this list?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not for the 10, got considered for the 30, didn't make it, but he's an interesting player. I respect Titans alumni, he's just an older guy who is a reliever, needs to succeed at upper levels for me to rank him.

 Q:  Mickey Abbott from NYC asks:
I appreciate your backing up your Christian Garcia pick, but I must point out that if you look at many of BA's old Top 10 lists, you'll find that if there's 5 hitters and 5 pitchers, 3 or 4 of the hitters will make it, but only 1 or 2 of the pitchers. The attrition rate of pitchers due to injury alone (50% have major surgery within five years) is enough to warrant separating the rankings, I'd say. Also, on Garcia, "good makeup" is not what I heard. But things change, and I know that you guys at BA love the upside rather than the expected value.
 A: 

John Manuel: Mickey, glad you paid attention to the chat. I've met Garcia and his parents and I trust what the coaching staff at South Carolina, which recruited him, tells me on his makeup. And we realize more than anyone the attrition rate of prep pitchers. It's just hard to turn away from (uh-oh, here comes Hubie again) upside potential of a pitcher like Garcia, who also performed quite well in the GCL. You make valid points; I think I did too and again, I'm quite comfortable ranking Garcia where I ranked him.

 Q:  Frankie from New York asks:
If someone aksed you straight out, who is gonna be the best big league pitcher in the Yankee farm system, who would you say?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd say Hughes; that's why he was ranked highest among their pitchers.

 Q:  Frankie from New York asks:
Is it true that some scouts never thought Jason Jones would even get drafted? He was an OK college pitcher. What got into him in 2004?
 A: 

John Manuel: He got healthy; big knee problems in 2003, that's why he wouldn't have gotten drafted. He got healthy in 2004 and showed good stuff, four good pitches.

 Q:  Frankie from New York asks:
Why are the Yankees so anti-Colter Bean? Will this guy ever get a chance?
 A: 

John Manuel: One more from Frankie . . . I think because he's a sidearmer without great stuff, but I'm a Colter Bean guy. I wrote a feature on him when he was at Auburn and I do think there's a place for righty "specialists" in today's bullpens, and Bean gets righthanders out. he also ate up lefthanders (.170+ oppo. BA) this year, so he's doing something right. Maybe he doesn't look the part, though I thought pinstripes were supposed to be slimming.

 Q:  Proc from Boston asks:
Hi John...who do you think has a better farm, the Yanks or the Red Sox? Both systems have been depleted over the years via trading.
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, we've had a billion versions of this question, good way to finish up. I think the Yankees have better depth to their system right now than the Red Sox, mostly because of their 2004 draft and the arms the Yankees brought in. But I like the top of the Red Sox' system better. There's no Hanley Ramirez in the Yanks' system, and I like some of Boston's top 10 arms (Papelbon, Lester, A. Sanchez, Delcarmen) better than the Yankees' guys because they all have had some success at higher levels. I'm not as big a Brandon Moss fan as some, but Moss and Luis Soto are nice bats for the Sox, and I'd take Shoppach over Navarro. So at the top, I think the Sox are in better shape. Overall depth, I'd give the edge to the Yankees. Not trying to play both sides; just being honest.

John Manuel: And that's going to have to do it . . . thanks for the questions and keep them coming all winter with our Top 10s. We'll have the Red Sox on Wednesday, the Orioles on Friday and the Devil Rays and Blue Jays next week, with chats to go with the Top 10s as we work through the A.L. East. Enjoy.

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