Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 25th Recap: Chapman Traded, Yanks Take Astros In Series Opener, 2-1

The 25th of July, 2016 will forever be remembered as an extremely busy day for the New York Yankees. The day began with the announcement of the inevitable but still blockbuster of a trade that saw the Yankees send fireballer closer-extraordinaire Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for four players. The centerpiece of the deal is 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres, who, leaving from my hometown High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, was the Cubs number one overall prospect(41st overall in MLB, According to Baseball America). The other three players include former Yankee reliever Adam Warren and two Minor League outfielders. I knew the day was coming, but, it didn't make it sting any less to witness the greatest bullpen of all time dismantled. And yes, New York made out like bandits in the deal and could even possibly re-sign Chapman over the off-season, but, that sure was a fun 21 games stretch and I am going to miss it.

The memorable 25th continued as another rumored trade piece Michael Pineda toss seven phenomenal innings of one-run ball as he led the bombers to a game one when against the Houston Astro's in Minute Maid Park. It was far and away Pineda's best outing of the year, allowing just five hits, striking out eight while lowering his ERA to 5.00 in route to his fifth victory of the season. Taking the ball and the loss for Houston was 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who also happened to be the guy who knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs a season ago. I have to imagine this one felt good for the boys in pinstripes.

Michael Pineda's first pitch of the ball game was promptly deposited into the right field seats off the bat of George Springer, giving the Astros a quick one run lead. But, that would be The first and last time that anyone in an Astros uniform touched home.

Chase Headley was the offensive hero of the day for New York, as the third baseman was involved in both of the Yankees runs in the ball game tonight. With two outs in the the top of fifth, Headley hit a soft single to center that scored Gregorius, who had doubled a batter earlier, tying the game at one. And then in the top of the eighth, Headley led off the frame with a single to right field and was chased home when the next batter Austin Romine smacked a double into centerfield, pushing New York ahead permanently, 2-1.

Now that Chapman is gone, No Runs DMC is no more.  And even though the back end of the bullpen needs a new nickname, the dynamic duo of Delin Betances and Andrew Miller, or as I like to call them "A-B-See You Later"(tweet me @@Benny Tomko to let me know what you think of the nickname), combined to allow just one hit while striking out for as they locked down the victory for Pineda and the Yankees in tonight's series opener.

Put on your seatbelts Yankees fans, I'm sure there's going to be in INSANE amount of trades come in the next six days.  But, as they say in the Big Apple, "the show must go on," and it will tomorrow night as the Yanks Play game number 100 tomorrow, game two of the Houston series, With first pitch scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.

This Day In New York Yankees History 7/26: Yankees Acquire Alfonso Soriano

Saying that the New York Yankees offense struggled last season is probably the understatement of the year so New York needed a savior. On this day they got one when they acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs for minor league relief pitcher Corey Black. The 37 year old came back to New York with come cash from Cubs after making his major league debut with the Yankees way back in 1999. The Yankees ultimately traded him to the Texas Rangers before the 2004 season for Alex Rodriguez. Soriano would go on a tear and almost brought the Yankees all the way back to the postseason before falling just short in late September.

Also on this day in 1961 the Yankees made some history with the home run ball but it had nothing to do with Roger Maris surprisingly. Instead it was the Yankees Johnny Blanchard as he hit his fourth consecutive home run over three games to set a new major league record. The backup catcher of the Yankees hit two home runs on this day to help New York beat the White Sox 5-2.

Also on this day in 1939 the Bronx Bombers earned their names by scoring in every inning to beat the St. Louis Browns 14-1. This is only the second time in franchise history that the Yankees have achieved this feat.

Finally on this day in 1933 Joe DiMaggio showed the Yankees brass that he was made for long hitting streaks. As a minor league player Joe D saw his 61 game hitting streak come to an end in a PCL game against the Oakland Oaks. DiMaggio played for the San Francisco Seals as a 19 year old when he set a new minor league record destroying the mark of 49 consecutive games with a hit set by Jack Ness in 1914.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros 7/25

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros are set to kick off a three-game series here in Houston in just a few minutes in a tale of two stories for each team. The Astros still have a shot at winning the division this season or at the very least winning a Wild Card while the Yankees don't know which direction they are going in. They need to figure it out though as the team has six more games before the August 1st trading deadline including tonight. In the start tonight the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound to face off with Dallas Keuchel for the Astros. The game will be played at 8:10 pm ET and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11 and MLB TV.

Follow along with us during this game and every game heading up to the August 1st trading deadline by either liking us on Facebook or by giving @GreedyStripes a follow on Twitter. Also be sure to click the TGP T-Shirts link at the top of the blog to get your Jacoby Ellsbury milk carton shirt for stealing home or any of the other awesome shirts we can bring to you through our partnership and friendship with BreakingT.

Big Mike vs. the Ultimate Yankees Killer in recent years. Go Yankees! Turn things around.

ICYMI: Luis Torrens and a Cautionary Tale for Greg Bird to Follow

The New York Yankees were stunned to find out during spring training this season that Greg Bird would miss the entire 2016 campaign with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Many thought the future was now for both the Yankees and for Bird as Mark Teixeira strolled into what could be his final season in the Bronx but the injury brings up more questions now than anyone has answers for. How will Bird’s shoulder react to playing first base? Can he once again drive the ball for power at the Major League level? Will he be ready in spring training 2017 or will the Yankees have to find a one-year stop gap to give Bird ample recovery time? Again more questions than answers but the Yankees have a cautionary tale for Bird to follow in fellow prospect and catcher, Luis Torrens.

Torrens missed the entire 2015 season with a similar torn labrum in his shoulder and has made his comeback to professional baseball this year. Torrens had the luxury of being assigned to short-season Staten Island in the New York-Penn League so he had a little more recovery and rehab time but he doesn’t look like he has needed it much. Torrens hit .311 and had a .360 on base percentage with the Staten Island Yankees before earning the promotion back to Charleston with the Riverdogs where, albeit in a small sample size, he has gotten even better.

This is both an encouraging sign for the Yankees as Torrens was once thought of as a better prospect and catcher than Gary Sanchez and for Bird who has a recent example to model his rehab and such by. Torrens seems better than ever and there is no reason, assuming all the stars align, that Bird can’t be either. It’s a cautionary tale though as Torrens has been back in Charleston for basically a week and back playing professional baseball for a couple a months now since the surgery.

It is worth mentioning that Torrens, while it may not seem like much to most, has to throw the ball back to the pitcher a good 150-200 times a day including warm up pitches, actual in-game pitches, bullpen sessions etc. Torrens also has to hit where Bird may really throw the ball maybe 50-100 times in a game and rarely at full strength. Torrens had a similar surgery and is holding up with all the extra wear-and-tear and you have to think Bird will be fine too. Every body is different, every injury is different and every surgery is different but Bird is young, athletic and he’s already working out and rehabbing the shoulder so he should be just fine in 2017. Fingers crossed.

Player Profile: Gleyber Torres

Now that Chicago Cubs former #1 prospect Gleyber Torres is a New York Yankee many may be wondering who exactly this young shortstop is... Torres is a Venezuelen born shortstop who signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2013. He then made his professional debut in 2014 when he made his debut with the Arizona League Cubs. Torres was not there for long as then he got the call up to the Cubs Low-A affiliate, the Boise Hawks. In 50 games in 2014 he hit .297/.386/.440 with two home runs. He was then promoted to their Myrtle Beach affiliate for the 2015 season, which many look at as his breakout year.

In 2016, Torres is currently batting .275/.359/.433 in 94 games with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Many scouts say that Torres plays very mature for his age and even though he is a 19 year old playing professional baseball, it sure doesn't seem like it.

Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55 Many scouts are comparing the young phenom to a young Derek Jeter. He is a young kid who can hit for contact and has a solid arm. Keith Law, explained that Torres' approach to the plate on an 0-2 count is equivalent to Jeters's was. He also states this with Torres' type of talent he could land himself within the top 5 prospects as soon as next year.

With Torres becoming a New York Yankee today he will now be packing his bags to go play in High-A with the Yankees #2 prospect Jorge Mateo. The plan as of now would be to most likely move Torres to second base and keep Mateo at short. Both are expected to be in the majors by 2018 so it will be interesting to see them move up the ranks together in the Yankees farm system side by side.

Torres currently ranks as the #1 prospect in the Yankees system, right in front of new teammate Jorge Mateo, MLB.com also ranks him as the #24 prospect in the MLB as well as being the #8 shortstop prospect.

Luis Severino Returns To The Big Club

It's being reported that the Yankees have recalled Luis Severino from AAA.

There's no official word on what role Luis is being brought back to New York for, but it may be to replace Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen.

Of course, that doesn't mean Severino is the new closer, or is a new addition to the three headed monster. It could be a temporary move before the Brian Cashman makes some more changes, like... maybe... David Robertson?

Most Popular Article of the Week: Yankees Trade Partners: The Chicago White Sox Redeux

We’ve already discussed the Chicago White Sox as potential trade partners for the New York Yankees once this season but that was when many of us were under the impression that the Chi Sox were in the hunt as buyers at the August 1st trading deadline. Recent comments from their GM Rick Hahn state otherwise as the team is now prepared to once again rebuild so we have decided to give the White Sox a redeux, or remix, to their trade partner post to see if the team still matches up with New York on a potential trade this season.

If the White Sox decide to totally blow up the team the most attractive, and most expensive, pieces Chicago has will be left-handed starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Both would also fit into the plans for the Yankees as they search for controllable players beyond the 2017 season. Sale is under contract through the 2019 season while Quintana is an absolute bargain, in my opinion, through the 2020 season. The problem, which has been the problem in New York for quite a few years now, is whether Brian Cashman would be willing to part with the prospects that it would take to land one or both of these arms.

You would have to think that Jose Abreu would at least be discussed in a deal if Chicago were to start selling off everything that isn’t tied down and the general consensus is that New York will be in the market for a first baseman this winter. Whether that first baseman is intended to start or serve as insurance for Greg Bird will obviously be determined by how Bird progresses from shoulder surgery but if the team were to land a talent like Abreu, which again would be expensive and because of that unlikely, you have to think Brian Cashman at least has that conversation with Rick Hahn. Abreu is just 29-years old and under contract through the 2019 season.

The final piece the Yankees would possibly be interested in, with an extension anyway, is third baseman Todd Frazier. Now I know what you’re thinking, the Yankees already have Chase Headley. You’re right but in a perfect world who would you rather have going forward? Headley or Frazier? Yes, Frazier. Frazier is a free agent after the 2017 season and is 30-years old so he isn’t the ideal candidate but like I alluded to earlier he is a major upgrade over Headley in my opinion. Also Headley has been much better of late and his contract isn’t like an Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira contract that is close to unmovable as possible.

Will the Yankees get any of these players from Chicago if they decide to sell? Stay tuned and find out.

Adam Warren's Back, Baby!

As excited as I am over the Yankees adding top prospect Gleyber Torres to their already nice farm system, not to mention another good outfield prospect in Billy McKinney, I'm more intrigued by Adam Warren.

"He's back, baby!"

I guess this is because in the past I've been more about what a player can do for the Yankees now, rather than what they might be able to do down the road. Sure, I've come around to rooting for the team to keep improving their minor league system, but I can't help but put more focus on the guys that are a factor to the team's success right now than in two to three years.

That's why I ran right over to Warren's Baseball Reference page to see how he's been doing this season. Mind you, I knew it wasn't anything special, but I was in for a bigger disappointment.

Up to this point of 2016, Adam has been pitching quite poorly. In 35 innings this season, all but five of which have come as a reliever, Warren's ERA is 5.91. For comparison, in 287 innings spanning three seasons for the Yankees, Adam had an ERA of 3.23. I'm betting that Cubs fans were extremely disappointed with that performance, as most people thought he'd be a very solid contributor to any team's bullpen.

So what has gone wrong? I mean, there must be some explanation for why Adam Warren's pitching has fallen so far. Heck, we're not talking about a guy in his late 30s, whose career has been on the decline for years. Warren is just 28 years old, and a healthy 28 year-old at that.

Well, here's what I found...

For starters, Adam Warren is walking more batters. During his 2014 and 2015 seasons, Adam walked 2.75 and 2.67 batters per nine innings. However, that rate has nearly doubled to 4.89 batters per nine innings this season. That alone could be a big factor in Adam's declining performance, but there's more.

As bad as walks can be for pitchers, at least there's a chance they won't come around to score. That's not the case when it comes to giving up home runs, something that Adam has done a ton this season. In 2014 Warren gave up .46 home runs every nine innings pitched, and that number was a low .69 again in 2015. So how bad is Adam's homer rate this season? 1.8 per nine innings!

Another way to look at Adam Warren's homer issues this season is this... Between 2014 and 2015 he gave up 14 home runs, which spans 210 innings. However, in just 35 innings this season, Adam has given up 7 long balls

I had to keep looking at his stats to try and figure out just why in the World Warren is giving up so many homers this season. What I found was a nice jump in his fly ball rate. See, in the two years before going to Chicago, batters hit the ball in the air 31.5% of the time. However, nowadays opposing hitters are lifting the ball into the air 40.4% of the time. That's a significant jump, and it indicates to me that he's changed how he's pitching to batters.

Warren's pitch selection backs me up on that thought...

As a matter of fact, little about Adam Warren's pitch selection has remained the same with the Cubs. He's not throwing as many sliders (25.5%, as opposed to 31% between '14 and '15), not as many curveballs (7.5%, as opposed to 10.2% the previous two seasons), and more changeups (22.1% instead of 15.7%). And while Adam is throwing more fastballs than before (34.2% in '16, 28.6% between '14 and '15), a much smaller portion of them are of the cutter variety (.6% in '16, next to 2.95% in '14 and '15).

This has led to batters changing their approaches against Adam Warren, too. Batters from 2014 to 2015 swung at 30.3% of pitches outside of the strike zone (harder pitches to hit), but are only doing that 25.8% of the time this season. Furthermore, they are swinging at more pitches in the zone (better pitches to hit), 73.8% in 2016 instead of 65.9% in his previous two years.

I'm not a pitching coach, so I can't say what Adam Warren needs to do to get back to his pre-2016 self. Although it doesn't seem to hard to figure out... More sliders, less curveballs, a lot less changeups, and more cutters (hey, Mariano, get back here and straighten this kid out!). All the while keeping the ball down, so opposing batters can't get the ball into the air as often.

In conclusion, Adam Warren does not seem like a lost cause. Fans' opinion of Larry Rothschild would go way up if he can get Mr. Warren back to being the guy Yankees fans thought he could be for the team coming into this season. And to be honest, the trio of Warren-Betances-Miller could very well keep teams from scoring nearly as much as No Runs DMC did.

Time to get working on a new t-shirt design.

BREAKING NEWS: Aroldis Chapman Traded to Chicago Cubs

Just a quick post here since I'm at work, will update this later.

Aroldis Chapman has been traded to the Chicago Cubs for four players including top prospect Gleyber Torres (SS), outfielder Billy McKinney, RHP Adam Warren and one other.

Stay tuned.

The Future Keeps Getting Brighter

I'm loving how the Yankees have been focused more on the future.

That's kind of how I look when I see possible future rosters.

For the longest time the Yankees were constantly adding older players who were past their prime, hoping that the player could rekindle some of their previous magic.

For example, I'm sure you'll never forget the Stephen Drew experiment at second base. In 2013, the season before the Yankees traded for him, Drew put up a respectable batting line of .253/333/.443. And while he hadn't put up those type of numbers consistently from year to year, Stephen did have a couple other nice seasons under his belt. So Drew was made a Yankee in hopes of straightening him out for good. That didn't happen. Over two seasons, Stephen hit a sad .187/.257/.352.

Then there was 2012 when the Yankees brought Raul Ibanez aboard. Raul didn't hit as poorly for the Yankees as Stephen Drew would a couple of years later, but his triple-slash of .240/.308/.453 with 19
home runs was a far cry from the line of .287/.353/.505 while averaging 28 homers a season he put up for the Mariners and Phillies between 2006 and 2009.

Things are certainly different now.

During the 2014/2015 offseason, the Yankees traded for Didi Gregorius to play shortstop. Didi struggled a bit in his first season in pinstripes, however he has come along nicely in 2016, batting .297/.329/.464, to go along with some very nice defense. It looks like the Yanks may have found their long-term solution at the position that was left vacant by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

Then you have this past offseason, which saw the Yankees deal for Starlin Castro. Sadly, like what happened with Didi in his first season with the Yankees, Castro is struggling. As of right now Starlin is batting a paltry .262/.295/.406. Hopefully his July numbers (.286/.321/.416) are a sign that he's coming around, and by this time next season it looks like he could be the long-term solution to losing Robinson Cano three years ago.

People like Daniel here will not let you forget that Rob Refsnyder could be a factor for the Yankees, either.

"I don't know who this 'Daniel' guy is, but I love how he supports me."

Now the Yankees added to their already respectable minor league system by trading Aroldis Chapman for top prospect Gleyber Torres, and another good prospect in Billy McKinney.

All this while holding onto possible 2017 starting right fielder Aaron Judge, possible 2017 starting first baseman Greg Bird, possible future starting catchers in Gary Sanchez and Luis Torrens, possible future star Jorge Mateo, and possible future key starters in Luis Severino and James Kaprielian.

*that's a lot of "possible" there, but that's why having prospect depth is so valuable.

I know of at least one person out there that can't be convinced that the future of the Yankees is looking pretty good, but I'm ready to tell him and everyone else that they are wrong. And yes... I have FACTS to prove it.