Friday, July 1, 2016

While We Wait: The Soul of the Game

You ever have that one movie that no matter how many times you see it that it doesn’t get old? You ever have that one movie that no matter what else is on if you see it on TBS or something you have to watch it. Even if it’s not the same edited or shortened down by cable TV? Soul of the Game is that movie for me (among others….. I mean Sandlot is a no-brainer…. come on) so I decided while we wait on the Yankees game to begin I would watch a movie. My “go-to” movie tonight is Soul of the Game so I figured I would share that with you as well while you wait.

If you haven’t seen it the movie covers the time period where Jackie Robinson was breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The movie has Jackie in it and Branch Rickey but this movie focuses more on the Negro League struggle, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. In the movie you see Jackie trying to earn the respect of Satchel, players being loaned and traded for series just to fill the house with fans, Gibson’s battle with a brain tumor and so much more.

It’s an “oldie but a goodie” so check it out. Enjoy the movie while we wait.

2016 Yankees Post-Draft Top 10 Prospects List

The New York Yankees have officially signed all of their Top 10 prospects from the 2016 MLB First year Players Draft. Can any of these ten crack the Yankees Top 10 post-draft prospects list here on the blog? Well let’s find out.

1.       Jorge Mateo
2.       Gary Sanchez
3.       Aaron Judge
4.       James Kaprielian
5.       Dustin Fowler
6.       Ian Clarkin
7.       Wilkerman Garcia
8.       Miguel Andujar
9.       Rob Refsnyder (for now)
10.   Blake Rutherford

Rob Refsnyder will likely graduate from prospect status at some point this season which is why I specified the “for now” in my rankings. Bryan Mitchell and Jacob Lindgren saw injuries derail their chances at the Top 10 while the top five or six seem to be common on any prospect list you see. Some have Tyler Wade ranked pretty highly but we all know by now how I feel about him. His no bat, all defense and no power talent skill doesn’t excite me like it does others, no disrespect intended.

And we finish with Rutherford 10th. Now I don’t feel like the nine guys in front of him will be any better than Rutherford but he is so far away, he’s starting his career in the GCL with the GCL Yankees, which means he has some earning and work to do before he climbs any higher.

That’s my list. What’s yours?

Imagining Kyle Schwarber in a Yankees Uniform in 2016/2017

The New York Yankees are playing hard to get when it comes to trading one or all of their three-headed monster that they have deemed “No Runs DMC.” D stands for Dellin Betances, M stands for Miller and C stands for Chapman and the Yankees will likely ask the world for any of the three. We already know that to be the case with the Chicago Cubs and their interest in Andrew Miller as the team has informed the Cubs that they would want Kyle Schwarber in return for the lefty set up man in the Bronx. Could you imagine a bat like Schwarber’s hitting inside Yankee Stadium 82 times a season?

Forget the fact that Schwarber has no position to play for a minute and use recent examples of why the Yankees could make this work. They have a 39-year old right fielder with bad knees currently out there coming off the books after the 2016 season, a 41-year old DH coming off the books the season after next, a third baseman who isn’t going to win a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger any time soon and a wide open position at first base that is dependent on the health of Mark Teixeira’s knee and Greg Bird’s shoulder. The Yankees could find a spot for him if they wanted to and they could hide him defensively, they have done it before and you definitely do it again for a talent liker Schwarber.

The Cubs have said “no” to trading their 23-year old stud but of course a team doesn’t show their best hand right off the bat. It’s still early and the market has yet to really define itself. The tone has not been set and the top guys have not started coming off the board yet making other teams desperate. And the Cubs may stick to their “no” and that’s fine because I’m sure some team will sell a bit of the future for multiple years of Miller and if not, that’s fine too. Keep him. But seriously, can you imagine Schwarber in a Yankees uniform?

Looking at a potential and totally hypothetical 2017 roster with Schwarber in it and a healthy Greg Bird makes me salivate. An outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Schwarber and the addition of his big bat to the middle of the lineup finally giving the Yankees a true clean-up hitter that could hit 40-50 out of Yankee Stadium is exciting. Make it happen Cashman. Now.  

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ San Diego Padres 7/1

The New York Yankees made the long trip to the polar opposite end of the United States last night just so they could spend the next three games in sunny Southern California. Their hosts for these three games? The San Diego Padres and Petco Park. With these two teams kicking off a three-game weekend set tonight in San Diego you have to think these are almost must win games for the Yankees, especially if they plan on contending like Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine say they are. In the matchup tonight the Yankees will send Nathan Eovaldi to the mound hoping that July is better to him than June was while the Padres counter with Colin Rea.

Eovaldi is probably the happiest of any Yankees pitcher to see the calendar turn from June to July and he’s especially happy presumably about seeing all though outfield space out there inside Petco Park. Eovaldi has seen his ERA rise to 5.19 through just 15 starts this year and has already set a new career high in home runs allowed with 17 as we stand here on July 1st. A whole lot of baseball is left to be played and Eovaldi needs to turn it around sooner rather than later.

Rea has been lucky to pitch inside Petco Park lately as this mark his seventh start in his last eight outings that have come in San Diego. Rea has been inconsistent like many 25-year olds can be but the right-hander has shown flashes of brilliance at times leaving the Yankees unsure of just which Rea they will be seeing tonight in Petco.

The game will be played at 10:40 pm ET inside Petco Park and can be seen on the Fox Sports 1 and MLB TV. Have I mentioned lately that I hate west coast games? I know that I have but it bears repeating. West coast games are so damn inconvenient for east coast fans but I guess sometimes the same can be said for west coast fans when the games are on the east coast. I’m just complaining because I’m frustrated with this team so don’t mind me. Maybe they will give me something to be happy about tonight inside Petco Park. Go Yankees!

Buy or Sell?

Jon Heyman's latest news regarding the possibility of the Yankees trading Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller may upset some fans.

It turns out that one Yankees official said the chances of the Yankees signing or extending Chapman are as high as 50-50. 

Sure, the team could always trade him away and still re-sign him as a free agent, but I really don't think that would be a good plan. What if Aroldis ends up really liking his new team, and the area? The Cubs have been in talks about possibly acquiring Chapman for a while, and I can absolutely see a player liking Cubs fans and the organization enough to want to stay.

The traffic sucks, but it's still a nice place.

Besides, there's a chance being traded away could leave a bad taste in a player's mouth. Even if Brian Cashman were to tell him that they want to sign him in the offseason, that doesn't mean Aroldis would be okay with the move. 

Then there's Andrew Miller, who should fetch the Yankees a much nicer return should he be traded away, thanks to him being better and under contract for two more seasons at just $9 million a year (a steal for a closer of his caliber).

That same Yankees official that spoke about Chapman earlier went on to say that the Yankees asking price for Miller is so high that chances are "less than one percent" he gets dealt.

That bit of news doesn't bother me. Because one, the Yankees asking price... at least at this point... should be sky high. And two, keeping him around for at least two more years at a very good price can only help the team.

I may be reading this wrong, but according to this Yankees official that spoke with Heyman, it sounds like the Yankees would like to keep both Chapman and Miller around. Thinking back to my article about the team's payroll and future, I'm not sure how that would work. But how awesome would it be to keep this three-headed monster around?

There is one more thing in Jon Heyman's article, and it really bothers me...

Jon notes that one rival said the Yankees are one of about a dozen teams looking at starting pitchers to buy.


Starting pitchers, even "okay" ones, do not come cheap. Especially during the season. So the Yankees would have to trade away a decent package of prospects, which would be incredibly stupid for a team that's rebuilding (yes... REBUILDING... deal with it). I don't mean to say somebody like Aaron Judge or Jorge Mateo could be dealt, but I can easily see guys like Rob Refsnyder and Ben Gamel saying "b-bye" thanks to them having MLB experience and being expendable (at least in the eyes of management).

The Yankees have never been sellers (whether you can call them that when they traded away Rickey Henderson in 1989 is at least a bit debatable), and until they actually make a move I can't bring myself to believe they'll be sellers now. Even if Cashman and Company believe it's the right thing to do, when it comes down to it I can't see them basically giving up on this season by the end of July.

Meet a Prospect: Blake Rutherford

The New York Yankees have signed each of their Top 10 draft picks from this year’s MLB First Year Players Draft but none of them may be more important than the 18th overall pick Blake Rutherford. Rutherford is one of those special talents that, if developed correctly, could become an absolute powerhouse in the league and in center field for the Yankees for a long, long time. Rutherford is special and after signing with the Yankees this week well ahead of the deadline to sign the long process to the Major Leagues can begin. Let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Blake Rutherford Edition.

Blake Rutherford was born on May 2, 1997 and attended Chaminade College Preparatory School at the time the Yankees came calling with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 Draft. As a freshman in Chaminade Rutherford committed to UCLA but has forgone that commitment to begin his professional career with the Yankees. Rutherford headed into the draft as a Top 10 potential pick while some even discussed him going first overall to the Phillies despite concerns that he would not sign.

So with the 19-year old the Yankees got potentially first overall talent and definitely Top 10 talent with the #18 pick. Some said he wouldn’t sign but it was clear as you watched the draft that money was not going to keep Rutherford from signing. Rutherford has drawn comparisons to Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals since draft day with his arm being a concern that may push him from center field to left field but the power should come eventually. I say again, Rutherford is 19-years old.

At 19 finds Rutherford to be an above-average hitters with above-average raw power. Rutherford has great speed on the bases and in the outfield although thinks Rutherford will eventually move to right field. Rutherford garnered a 55 score on the 20-80 scale that scouts use by with his running coming in at 60, his best score individually.

Rutherford can hit with power to all fields, brings athleticism to the system and has a line-drive swing that I personally enjoy watching. I hope I’ll enjoy watching him in Yankees pinstripes for a long, long time. Welcome to the team Blake and more importantly welcome to the family. 

Weekly Prospects Check In: Jorge Mateo

You guys know me by now and you know that I’m not one to beat around the bush or equivocate much. Jorge Mateo has been slumping lately. He’s been slumping bad and his potential promotion to Double-A is potentially in jeopardy because of it. It’s not likely, but it could happen.

Mateo was named to the World Team in the Futures Game as a part of the All-Star Game festivities so there is always that. I just hope this is a little funk that he gets out of soon because I’m not sure I can deal with much more prospect let down after the James Kaprielian news this week.

Pick it up Mateo and I’ll see you in Trenton. 


This Day in New York Yankees History 7/1: Andy Hawkins No-Hitter

On this day in 1990 Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins throws a no hitter against the Chicago White Sox and loses the game 4-0. He is not credited with an official no hitter since he only had to throw 8 IP and the White Sox did not have to hit in the 9th inning.

Also on this day in 1944 Joe DiMaggio tied the major league consecutive hit record of 44 held by Wee Willie Keeler.

Finally on this day in 1914 Yankees first basemen Harry Kingman became the first person born in China to play in a major league game. He would go 0-3 with a walk but the historic aspect remains relevant.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Will Randy Levine Please Shut Up?

Am I the only one that cringes every time I hear Randy Levine open his mouth? I can’t be, right? Will Randy Levine please shut up already? No really, he needs to. In his latest sound bite Levine was bashing the media when asked the question about whether the New York Yankees should be “sellers” at this year’s trading deadline. Now myself, as a person who has watched at least 90% of the games this season with the exception being day games while I’m at work and many of the west coast games, I think the Yankees should be sellers. You know why? Because I watch the games and I look at the schedule and I know that the Yankees being within striking distance of the second Wild Card is a fallacy that will correct itself once the Yankees stop playing teams like the Minnesota Twins. Randy Levine on the other hand? He’s either dumb, delusional, ignorant or a combination of the three.

Here is the exact quote from Levine from the StubHub press conference earlier in the week regarding the idea of the Yankees trading away pieces at the trade deadline:

“You (reporters) obviously have nothing more important to write about than to write nonsense about that,” Levine said. “When we decide to become sellers, if we decide to become sellers, or if we decide to become buyers, you’ll know about it. I guess the difference is most of you guys have never run anything. We have a lot of history here of knowing what we’re doing and a lot of confidence in our baseball operations people, so we’ll see what happens.”

The Yankees should sell and they should start with the team president first and work their way down. Idiot. Just another ignorant and condescending statement from another ignorant and condescending person who rode the coattails of George Steinbrenner and now thinks that their crap doesn’t stink. Well it does because I smell it every time you open your mouth, please shut up. Thank you and have a great rest of your night. 

Yankees Options to Replace Ivan Nova in their Rotation

Ivan Nova Sucks! Not really but if you follow along on Twitter you know that has kind of become my thing since Stephen Drew was manning second base for the New York Yankees. While nothing short of an act from God was going to save or help Drew it has seemed this season that the more I rag on a player and the more I tell them they “suck” the better they do. It’s a reverse psychology thing that I’ve been reluctant to say out loud but I feel like I have to in the curious case of Nova. He’s been terrible lately and in his last seven outings the right-hander has posted a 2-4 record with a 6.92 ERA with an ugly .313 batting average against him. If this post doesn’t work and turn Nova around here are a few options the Yankees could use to replace him in the starting rotation. 

Luis Severino. Any list that doesn’t start and end with Severino is an uninformed list and is wrong. Sure Severino has had his struggles this season but as a man that preaches sample size I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a much larger sample size of Severino dominating hitters from A-Ball to the MLB level than there is a sample size of him struggling. Since coming off the disabled list Severino has posted a 3-0 record with a 3.19 ERA down in Triple-A but more importantly than that he has been tweaking things and building confidence with strong starts and victories. He already has a 40 man roster spot and his option has already been used for the 2016 season. If anyone should come up in my opinion it should be Severino. 

If it’s not Severino then Plan B in my eyes is Chad Green who has also been opening up some Yankees fans eyes down beside Severino in the Scranton rotation. Green has flown under the radar after a bad start in his MLB debut which has covered up his (at the time of this writing) 0.98 AAA WHP and his 82 K’s in 81.2 innings pitched. At the time of this writing Green is leading the International League in ERA, is third in WHIP and is sixth in strikeouts. Green has also used his minor league option already for the 2016 season and already has a 40 man roster spot. If you’re not convinced Severino is back then Chad Green may be the best option of the bunch. 

We’ll lump the last two options together because honestly they may both be better off as bullpen pieces at this point. Luis Cessa and Phil Coke are both pitching well down in Scranton and both have made cameos this season with the big league club. Cessa owns a 40 man roster spot while Coke does not. Cessa is stretched out as a starter while Coke is in the process of being stretched out as a starter. Remember when I bragged about how good Chad Green’s WHIP was this season? Phil Coke’s is better as 0.96 and International League batters are batting a meager .202 against him as a starter. If all Nova is going to give you is five innings and six runs allowed what’s the harm in bringing up Coke for five innings and hoping that he can give up three runs or less? I don’t see one.