The Stealth Bomber Series: Interview with OF Ben Gamel

March 14, 2012 | 13 comments | in Featured | by SJK

In the our Stealth Bomber series, we talk to players in the farm system who aren’t yet on the New York radar, but hope one day to be so.

Ben Gamel was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. Committed to Florida State, the Yankees convinced Gamel to forgo the tomahawks and join the organization out of high school with an above-slot bonus. In 2011, the Florida product helped lead the Staten Island Yankees (A-) to a league championship, hitting .289./373/.432 over 55 games. His older brother, Mat, will likely be the starting first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers this season. In the midst of Spring Training, NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese sat down with the 19-year old lefty to talk about his season at Staten Island, hitting adjustments, his big-league brother, and more.

Sensei John Kreese: How’s spring training going so far?

Ben Gamel: Going well.

SJK: Did you go to the minicamp?

BG: Yes.

SJK: And then did you get to go home for a while?

BG: Yeah, for about two weeks.

SJK: What types of things are you working on in the spring?

BG: Trying to get timing back. Trying to find my arm slot. Trying to get back to where I was in the season.

SJK: Tell me how you think last season went.

BG: It was a success. We had a great group of guys. We won the league. I was happy with what I did and was able to contribute to that.

SJK: When we talked to Angelo, he said you were one of the guys that impressed him — he said that you really heated up towards the end of the season.

BG: Yeah, I did. I was out for about 3 weeks because I broke my finger. I was struggling, didn’t have that much confidence. And then when I came back, I hit a stride and went from there.

SJK: What clicked?

BG: The time off for my broken finger was actually a good thing. Me and the hitting coach, Ty Hawkins, figured some stuff out. It really helped me. We put in the work.

SJK: What did you figure out?

BG: The positioning of my hands. I moved them up, pre-pitch.

SJK: Along those same lines, what do you think you strengths are as a hitter and where do you need to improve?

BG: There’s always room for improvement. I need to get bigger and stronger, so I can impact the baseball more and stride more towards the ball.

SJK: What about defensively?

BG: My arms need to get stronger…it all ties in to getting stronger.

SJK: So what type of training are you doing to achieve the goal of getting stronger? Weights?

BG: Weight training, yeah. I also worked out with Grady Zapata [personal trainer]. He helped me and my brother a ton.

SJK: Big year for your brother this year.

BG: Yeah, huge year.

SJK: Was he excited when Prince Fielder signed elsewhere?

BG: I don’t know if he was excited that he left, because he and Prince were pretty good friends. But Mat is excited about the opportunity that he has.

SJK: He’s having a big spring so far too [.318/.423/.773].

BG: Yeah, he’s swinging the bat well.

SJK: Was there competition between you two growing up?

BG: He’s seven years older than me. We’ve always been close. And now we’re closer than we’ve ever been.

SJK: Has he offered you any advice on what you’ll go through?

BG: I saw him go through it. Don’t get me wrong, he always beat the sh** out of me. He puts it on me.

SJK: Is he still bigger than you?

BG: Oh yeah, way bigger.

SJK: So you still can’t beat him up yet?

BG: No, not yet. Maybe one day.

SJK: My little brother is bigger than me now.

BG: That gives me hope.

SJK: So, you saw your brother go through the minors. Is there anything about the minor league experience that was different than you expected?

BG: My first spring training. Everyone was saying how crazy it was going to be. It wasn’t like that. It was really relaxed and laid back. You just go about your business.

SJK: When I talked to some of your teammates, they told me that the Yankees don’t drill you into the ground. In other words, they don’t make you do hours and hours of practice. It’s not that type of environment. Is that true?

BG: Yeah, it’s true.

SJK: At the beginning of the season, do they set certain objectives for you?

BG: Yeah, we have “objective meetings” where we go over the previous year.

SJK: Did they already do that with you?

BG: Yes.

SJK: What do they want you to work on?

BG: First step in the outfield. They want me to impact the ball more.

SJK: Completely different topic, because I’ve always been curious about this…what do you guys do for food?

BG: We get breakfast and lunch. And for dinner, they give us meal money.

SJK: In high school, you were primarily a center fielder, right?

BG: I played some corners, but the majority of my time was in center.

SJK: So now they have you on the corners.

BG: I’m comfortable in the outfield, more so right than left.

SJK: Why’s that?

BG: I played right all season at Staten Island.

SJK: Have you met any big leaguers since you’ve been in Tampa?

BG: I’ve seen them more than I’ve met them.

SJK: So you didn’t run up to them for an autograph?

BG: [laughs] No. I try not to. I wanted to, believe me.

SJK: What guys at Staten Island stood out to you?

BG: Tyler Austin came up [promotion from GCL] and hit really well. Dante, Cito, Mason, Angie…all those guys.

SJK: Farm is stacked down in those levels.

BG: Yeah, we are.

SJK: Lastly, what are your goals for 2012?

BG: I’d like to break with Charleston. Just improve overall.

SJK: Excellent, Ben. That’s all I have for questions. We appreciate it. We’re look forward to following you this year and building off your success from last season. Best of luck.

BG: Appreciate it. Thanks.

Many thanks to Ben for taking some time out of spring training to chat with us. We wish him the best of luck in the coming season. Make sure you keep an eye on him.

Home-field advan…never mind

March 13, 2012 | 17 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Last week, it was announced that the Yankees Triple-A team would play every game on the road this season, because of renovations to their home stadium, PNC Field.

That’s an extra 72 games on the road. Sixty of those 72 “road” games will be played in stadiums in upstate NY, which will rotate as the club’s “home.”

The Yankees’ AAA affiliate is where some of the farm system’s crown jewels will apply their trade, most notably Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Austin Romine. There’s some other solid prospects there as well, like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and DJ Mitchell.

And now, these players will not have the stability of a home park, something which has rarely happened in baseball history (maybe even the first time for an MLB affiliate). There will be more travel, more buses, more hotels — these are the kids who are on the brink of moving to the Bronx, and now they’ll be shuffled around like a local Little League All-Star team. So we have to ask: Is this a good thing for their development??

And we’re not the only ones posing this question…some of the players and staff are asking the same thing:

Pitcher David Phelps:

“It’s another obstacle you’ve got to climb,” Phelps said. “Whatever attitude you take into it, is how you’ll deal with it. If you go into it thinking it’s going to be worse than it really is, it’s going to be worse than it is.”

IF Kevin Russo:

“Every baseball team has a home base. It’s going to be a little weird just not having one,” said 27-year-old infielder Kevin Russo, embarking on his fourth season with the team. “Friends, family, girlfriend, they all don’t really understand. Even I don’t understand it.”

Media Relations Director, Mike Vander Woude:

“I don’t how much it will impact the players because they are used to traveling,” Vander Woude said. “We’ve got 84 of the 144 games that will be played within three of four hours of Scranton and that will help. It will amount to a few more hotel stays than we’d normally have.”

Maybe it won’t have an impact at all, but it’s definitely worth asking the question. They don’t call it “home-field advantage” for nothing.

Manny, are you too good for your home!?!

VOTE: Who will be the biggest positive surprise?

March 12, 2012 | 16 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The candidates….

Alex Rodriguez: Will turn 37 in July, coming off the worst two seasons of his career, appeared in only 99 games in 2011 due to injury

Phil Hughes: Mysterious dead arm in 2011, limited him to 74.2 terrible innings (5.79 ERA/4.90 xFIP)

Mark Teixeira: Has declined offensively each year since becoming a Yankee, with the most notable dropoff coming against RHP.

Rafael Soriano: Pitched only 40 innings in 2011 due to elbow problems (4.12 ERA/4.18 xFIP)

Teixeira will not be using birth control in his attempts to figure out right-handed pitching.

VOTE: Presenting the 2012 NoMaas Rap Contest finalists

March 11, 2012 | 34 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Welcome to the winner’s table. The verses below were selected as the best of the bunch for the 5th Annual NoMaas Rap Contest. Now it’s up to the people to decide who wins the free NoMaas T-shirt. Voting will close on Wednesday, March 14th at 11:59 Eastern.

Many thanks to everyone who submitted verses, and if yours wasn’t selected, feel free to whine and complain.

Finalist # 1: Monteros non ability to catch is so overated

Budget cutting, we spending less percentage wise than the Tigers
Hal squeezing Cash’s nuts like he had some pliers
still charging ten bucks for some cheap lemonade
these dumb fans will still show up, we getting paid

Finalist #2: Nice (Ca$hmoney feat. the New York Yankees)

All you suckas got nothin on me,
Cause I’m muthafuckin Ca$hmoney
Traded Jesus and Hector Noesi
Now give it all up for Joey G!

[Hit it!]

JOE G: All my logic comes straight from the binder
Tell em to bunt if they need a reminder
RANDY LEVINE: I’m the reason we signed Soriano
DL: I’m currently home to Feliciano
WALLY MATTHEWS: I’m nothing but an ESPN minion
LUPICA: The Yankee payroll is 200 million
CERVELLI: I fistpump every time I get a hit
CC: I eat Cap’n Crunch to make me fit
CANO: I got with all the wimmin in Taiwan!
JETER: My interviews make y’all yawn
BMG: Runnin fast but hitting like a girl
IBANEZ: Got a face that makes you wanna hurl
GRANDY: I’ll make another run for MVP
AJ: No yanks fan is gonna miss me!
PINEDA: Throwin fastballs with some sliders in the mix
NUNEZ: Oops, I just made another E6
AROD: No denying I can still hit for power
MO: I take it, throw it then take a shower
SWISH: This is the best shape I’ve been in years!
BECKETT: Just shaddup and pass me some beers

Finalist #3: Mell Hall cellmate

If you got a thin system
I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 prospects, and a Bichette’s one

I got this Grand Street School six-foot-eight-inch dude
Betances throwin’ through steel–Kevlar, too

Heathcott’s heat cocked, scouts see him and go
Slobber like Joba when the firewater flows

No disrespect to Flanny, but it’s Manny’s time to shine
Sorry Nuney, Banuelos changeup f*ckin’ twistin’ your mind

On the farm, catcher stash: One ‘stache is brown
Dirty Sanchez and Romine f*ckin’ holding it down

Lil’ poke for your pu*sy from our big-ass sticks
Slick swings from Mason, Murphy, and the king of all picks:

Son of a Blake Street Bomber,
I’m real glad for you, son
I got 99 prospects, and a Bichette’s one

Fenway, I know this rhyme is gonna annoy ya
Cuz NoMaas pluggin’ these boys like we was Pedroia

Fried bird in his hand, and none in the bush
Josh Beckett lost his rings while he was fingering tush

With Lackey in backy, thumb in his ass
Call of Duty on screen, dying wife on blast

Anus mouth, heading south, yo brotherly love
Human Centipede, Pap’ll be the center one of

Who you got, Boston? Think Iglesias is sick?
He’s Jose with the glove but Enrique with the stick

Meet the home run king of 2021
I got 99 prospects, and a Bichette’s one

Our centaur loves gash, whether human or horse
That’s why A-Rod sticks it to Mrs. Cliff Lee, of course

If you got two in the pink, and one in the stink
Do it like DJ with nine inches in Mink

As sure as Jorge pees freely, and farts got lumps
The Minkman takes over when Francesa takes dumps.

This just in: Suzyn Waldman spotted on Park Ave
Holding her purse, her panties, and a Jeter autograph

Yo, we got a deep system
Pimpin’ Dante’s son
Cuz we got 99 prospects, and a Bichette’s one

Finalist #4: Hey Boston

Ya’ll yell “steroids” when Alex comes up;
When it’s Ortiz who needs a junior sized cup.

We gave you Aceves, Cashman what the f*ck;
So when Theo got one right, it was all about luck.

Ya’ll should take a look at Crawford in right;
It’s good that he’s fast, too bad he’s not white.

You ain’t won a playoff game since god knows when;
The Patriots lost to the Giants again.

Beckett hangs out in the clubhouse drinkin beer;
That fat boy’s a Texan, but he’s sure not a steer.

So what does that mean, are you saying he’s gay?
Who cares, he’s the new human rain delay.

You’ve sucked since your mouthpiece left ESPN;
Now he’s ripping Francona to please Cherington.

The Yankees, and Tampa, now Toronto’s in the race;
This could be your year to finish in 4th place.

Finalist #5: Stump Merrill

Boston’s recedin’ like Jeter’s hairline
Saw Arod with an American Gladiator doin 69
Don’t go smooth to the plate you’ll be balkin
Cashman bangs bitches and they get arrested for stalkin

Finalist #6: John Sterling

That ball is high, just like me
Unlike Jorge, my hands got no pee.
An A-Bomb from A-Rod, or maybe El Capitan
You’ll think that fly to second is really a gone.

Am I wailing Suzyn? The world may never know.
Everyone thinks I’m just another John Doe.
Here’s a secret: You can’t predict baseball
But Mark can send Tex Messages from here all the way to Saint Paul.

A Ribbie for Robbie makes everyone Swishalicious
I still think El Comedulce would be mighty delicious.
I’m not homeless, I’ve got the Lowe’s Broadcast Booth
And unlike Brett Pedroia, I don’t hang with the youth.

Russel has muscle, and so do I,
The Grandyman can, you may hear me cry
Signing off, it’s me, the Voice of the Yankees
One more thing: Suzyn and I do the Hanky Panky!

A special honorable mention goes to MC Brett Pedroia – while he didn’t reference anyone in the Yankees org, he was still gracious enough to contribute a submission

I know what boys like
I know what guys want
I know what boys like
I’ve got what boys like

I know what boys like
I know what guys want
I seen them looking

I make them want me
I like to tease them
they want to touch me
I never let them

I know what boys like
I know what guys want
I know what boys like
Boys like, boys like me

Question #3 about 189: Will the Yankees be better or worse in 2014?

March 8, 2012 | 53 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

At the editorial offices of NoMaas in Boise, ID, we’ve been debating around the water cooler about how this $189 million thing will affect Wins & Losses. While we absolutely believe the main reason behind the payroll cut is so that Steinbrenner Inc makes more money, we’ve been discussing what effect the cut will have on the baseball product. After all, we’ve been advocating efficiency for years, and the Hal Doctrine might push the organization towards that more than ever. Efficiency is a good thing and obviously, Brian Cashman’s been steering the club’s decisions in that direction over the last few seasons. When opportunity costs increase, the evaluation process needs to be more astute. This can be a big positive over time.

With all this said, it’s also important to realize that Hal Steinbrenner is not allowing for a transition period. He’s drawn a hard line in the sand and mandated that this payroll level by achieved by 2014 — and considering the current configuration of the team, the Yankees will be worse than they are now, at least in the 2014 season. Here’s why:

The worst contracts will still be on the books in 2014

Try as they might to add bargain players, the Yankees will still have the millstone of Alex Rodriguez’ contract around their necks. ARod’s salary drops to $25 million in 2014, but for the purposes of the luxury tax, it will be counted at the yearly average of the entire contract: $27.5 million. This historically atrocious contract will serve as a painful reminder of the reality of opportunity costs for the next 6 seasons.

The next biggest contract the Yankees currently have is CC Sabathia, with a $24.4 million hit. Sabathia will turn 34 in 2014 and will likely be overpaid at that point, though not to the level of ARod. Mark Texeira will also be 34 in 2014. He’s already overpaid relative to his $22.5 million AAV contract.

Together that’s $74.4 million in obligations that you know are going to net negative value. If that’s not dispiriting enough, bear in mind that we may be subjected to a 40-year old Derek Jeter exercising his player option for 2014.

The best values on the current roster will cease being values in 2014

Nick Swisher will be a free agent after this upcoming season. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson will be a free agents after 2013. These are great players who are generating excellent value at their current prices. However, in 2014, most or all of that value will be gone. The Yankees will either have to pony up, or find replacements who are likely to generate less wins.

Russell Martin is a nice value at $7.5 million, but he will also be a free agent after the 2012 season, and he’s already rejected the Yankees lowball extension offer. Hopes are high for Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to rebound as prime cost-controlled assets. However, next year (2013) will be their last year of arbitration and then it’s free agency. Even the king of value, Brett M Gardner, will cease to be such a grand bargain. The 2014 season will be his final arbitration year and we can expect him to earn about 70% of what he’s worth. That’s still a nice player to have, but it means more value to make up with less money.

GMs are becoming more savvy

As the Omar Minayas and Jim Hendrys of the world continue to get replaced by GMs without mild retardation issues, Brian Cashman will have less opportunities to cheaply acquire undervalued players like Nick Swisher. It’s more difficult to swindle. Combine this fact with less money to spend on free agents, and that’s a problem.

Randy Levine

While Brian Cashman has shown admirable restraint in acquiring free agents, the Yankees team president has a long history of spending like a drunken sailor. Chances are the front office knew last offseason that a payroll reduction would be required in the near future. Yet, Levine still handed out a totally irresponsible contract to Derek Jeter when nobody was bidding anywhere within earshot. He followed that up with the brilliant Rafael Soriano deal. Despite the new budget reality, there’s every chance Randy Levine can’t be stopped.

Hopefully over time, the $189 million directive will push the Yankees even more towards the philosophy of becoming leaner, maximizing the farm system, and avoiding idiotic contracts. Efficiency can produce great results. However, this will take more than two years to accomplish, and thus for at least the 2014 season, the Yankees will be a worse team than they are today.

Where many of our debates take place: the NoMaas break room

Make-or-break for Phil Hughes

March 6, 2012 | 33 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Hughes reportedly changed his offseason training from the method above.

Question #2 about 189: Will the Yankees reduce prices for fans?

March 6, 2012 | 61 comments | in Featured | by SJK

If the Yankees are to reduce payroll from the current $212 million level to $189 million by 2014, not only will they avoid paying luxury taxes ($14 mil in 2011), they will also be eligible to receive a rebate on some of their revenue-sharing outflows.

The Yankees are looking at significant savings if everything goes according to plan. So, if the organization’s costs are reduced, will some of those savings be passed along to the fans? Or will the Steinbrenners just pocket the extra dough, while investing less in the baseball product?


Get rid of cable

March 5, 2012 | 28 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

When you can’t record your favorite shows, you get unhappy.
When you get unhappy, you perform poorly at work.
When you perform poorly at work, you drink a lot and eat fried chicken.
When you drink a lot and eat fried chicken, you look like Josh Beckett.
When you look like Josh Beckett, you grow a beer gut and chin pubes.

Don’t grow a beer gut and chin pubes.

It’s time to battle!: The 5th Annual NoMaas Rap Contest

March 4, 2012 | 51 comments | in Featured | by SJK

The rules:

1. Write a min. 4-line verse w/ at least one reference to a member of the Yankees org.
2. After a few days, we’ll pick the Top 5 verses and then put them up for public vote.
3. Include your real email address if you want to be eligible.
4. You can enter as many times as you want.

The winner gets a free NoMaas T-shirt of his/her choice.


Question #1 about 189: Will they be able to control this guy?

March 3, 2012 | 38 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Over the next week or so, we’ll be analyzing and posing questions about the Steinbrenner Budget Cut, which aims to reduce the Yankees payroll to $189 million by the beginning of the 2014 season.

Of the recent comments Brian Cashman made about the budget situation, this is the one that stood out the most to us (from Lohud):

The only thing is, how does this landscape affect us with our current commitments? Decisions we made from the past will affect decisions in the short term going forward, until some of those contracts expire, or you move them at some point. A lot of those contracts, not that you want to trade them, either have full no-trades or 10-5 rights, so some of those circumstances you just have to hope they stay healthy and productive and they are finishing your career type contracts with the Yankees and you hope that you can maximize your potential with them all, but it will limit your array of choices on those contracts term years because those are legitimate commitments that affect the bottom line.

Read between the lines. “Decisions we made from the past?”/”Finishing your career-type contracts?” It’s clear that in order for the Yankees to cut payroll and for baseball product not to be sacrificed, then there’s one particular person that needs to be kept on a leash.

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