Saturday, December 3, 2016

I See That New York Post Guy is Reading My Blog Again

A certain somebody at the New York Post may have me blocked on Twitter after I asked to be credited with breaking a news story that I rightfully broke but that doesn’t mean he removed my blog from his bookmark list. Remember back earlier in the winter when I asked the Yankees to shake up the offseason and shock the world by acquiring Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks? Well here we stand a few weeks later and that certain somebody had the same idea. Go figure.

In the article, which can be found with a simple Google search I’m sure as I will not be crediting him with anything unfortunately, the proposed trade proposal for Greinke includes Arizona also throwing in Brandon Drury while the Yankees send Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, Domingo Acevedo, Albert Abreu, Ian Clarkin and Bryan Mitchell to the Diamondbacks. Boy, oh boy. Where do I begin?

Jacoby Ellsbury. No trade clause, not really a moveable contract even if he didn’t have one and his production is severely lacking. Arizona wants salary relief to come from trading Greinke, not another deal that will weigh down the franchise.

Chase Headley. Maybe you haven’t heard of the guy in Arizona currently manning third base, Jake Lamb? Again, a hefty contract (although not completely unreasonable for two seasons) and it doesn’t really fill a need for Arizona in my opinion.

Before I continue let me point out that I am well aware that after the Headley contract expire the Diamondbacks would begin saving money in the latter years of the contract but the fact remains that the only reason they want to trade him is to save money NOW, not later. Carrying on.

That’s an awful lot in terms of prospects when you’re taking on over $100 million in salary and an AAV of $34 million. No, no and no. It’s a salary dump for a player coming off a down year, treat it as such. 

Yankees Lose Minor League Hitting Coordinator to Twins

Another one bites the dust. The Minnesota Twins came into the offseason needing a hitting coach and they finally found their man in the way of the New York Yankees minor league hitting coordinator, James Rowson. The Minnesota Twins fired their hitting coach Tom Brunasky on November 8th after four seasons and the club wasted no time in finding their replacement at the Yankees expense.

Rowson has been the Yankees minor league hitting coordinator for the past three seasons after spending parts of two seasons as the MLB hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs in 2012 and 2013. Under Rowson the Yankees have seen the emergence of players like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, Aaron Judge and others not only reach the MLB level but succeed at the MLB level in spurts.

Rowson also worked with Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Wellington Castillo, Anthony Rizzo and others while with the Cubs so he comes to Minnesota with a resume of success. It’s a shame to lose him from the Yankees perspective but I am glad to see one of our own (Rowson was a minor league outfielder for the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees during his playing career) get a shot back at the MLB level.

Good luck James.

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/3: Enter McCann & Ellsbury

On this day in 2013 the New York Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven year deal worth $153 million. The team also made the Brian McCann signing official by signing the catcher to the richest contract ever for a catcher with a five year deal worth $85 million.

Also on this day in 2013 the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inducted three more members by the pre-integration panel. The list includes former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, longtime umpire Hank O'Day, and Deacon White who made his debut as a barehanded catcher in 1871. These three would bring the total of players in the hall to an even 300 members.

Friday, December 2, 2016

So What’s Changed in the New CBA?

Major League Baseball, the owners, the players and the MLB Players Association have reached a tentative five-year labor contract before the deadline on Thursday and quite a bit changed from the new collective bargaining agreement to the old. This should be expected, especially when 26 years old labor peace is on the line, but in the end the deal got done. Here is what changed in the new CBA and here are some of the changes you should expect to see in 2017 and beyond.

The All Star Game will no longer determine which league and team gets home-field advantage in the World Series after 14 seasons. Thank goodness. The team with the better regular season record will be at home for Game One and potentially Game Seven starting in the 2017 World Series.

The 15-Day DL is no more. It is now known as the 10-Day DL. Minor change but I like it, especially for a team like the Yankees who like to give their players “a day.”

The luxury tax will rise from $189 million to $195 million in 2017, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021. Tax penalties increase from 17.5 % to 20% for first time offenders who go over the luxury tax while second offenders continue to pay 30%. Teams like the Yankees who have gone over the luxury tax at least three consecutive years will see their penalties rise from 40% to 50%. There is also a surtax of 12% for teams who are $20 - $40 million above the threshold while teams with more than $40 million in salary over the threshold will pay 42.5%.

No longer will teams who sign qualifying offer attached players have to give up a first round draft pick or their highest pick in the draft. Under the new rules a player can only be offered a qualifying offer once in his career and the team signing the player lose their third highest pick, not their highest if they are a revenue sharing team, it’s second and fifth highest picks if the team paid luxury tax in the prior season and it’s second highest pick if it doesn’t fit any of the prior criteria. More complications but all you need to know is your first round pick is now safe.  

If the player signs a deal worth more than $50 million his old team will receive a pick at the end of the first round while the team would receive a Competitive Balance Round B pick if the contract signed is under $50 million. If that team pays luxury tax the draft pick would drop to after the fourth round regardless of the contract their previous player signed. THAT HURTS.

If you are more than $40 million over the luxury tax threshold your highest selection in the next draft immediately drops 10 places. THAT ALSO HURTS.

25 and 40 man rosters are still a thing. No 26 man rosters like previously reported. September call ups are also still a thing, and I like that.

Smokeless tobacco is now banned for all new players, or players who has less than one day of major league service. Older players are grandfathered in.

The regular season got four days longer but those are scheduled off days for teams and players.


Matt Holliday to the Yankees?

I have to admit that ever since the very beginning of free agency I have been against the idea but I feel like it would be irresponsible of me to not at least make the case for and against Matt Holliday in pinstripes. Holliday wanted to be a Yankee, he was very vocal about it, before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals and now that the 37-year old (in January) is a free agent once again the rumors that he could be Bronx bound are gaining traction once again. Let’s explore.

The New York Yankees have at least been rumored to be interested in the likes of Carlos Beltran and Edwin Encarnacion but you would have to think, especially considering the Yankees newfound sense of austerity, that Holliday would come far cheaper than either of those two DH candidates. Holliday, unlike Beltran, could spell Greg Bird against left-handed pitchers as well and play some first base while also getting some at bats as an outfielder as well. Holliday has played a whopping 1,698 games in left field but his defensive days, and definitely his better defensive days, may already be behind him.

I know I’ve preached for much of this young offseason that I wanted a player to DH that could also be counted on in the outfield and at first base, and Matt Holliday checks all those boxes, but I have also preached seeing the youth movement through until the end. Signing a 37-year old Matt Holliday does not do that, even if he does have a little bit left in the tank. I wouldn’t jump up and down and threaten to boycott the team if Holliday is signed but if you’re asking me if I personally want him, well that answer has to be no. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/2: The League vs. Jackie Robinson

If you have been reading these posts you know two days prior Jackie Robinson attacked the New York Yankees organization calling them racist for not having a black player in the league. Well it was on this day in 1952 that then Commissioner Ford Frick announced plans to take action against Robinson. Nothing much came of these comments or this plan from Frick so it must have all been simply water under the bridge.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gittens, Estrada Named Yankees Organization All-Stars

Gittens, Estrada Named Yankees 
Organization All-Stars
Pair of Pinstriped Prospects that spent time in the Lowcountry Stand out in talented system 

CHARLESTON, SC – In a season of broken records and the first playoff appearance in over a decade, it was hard to stand out on what will go down as one of the best on-field displays in Charleston’s history. Shining brightly among one of the strongest farm systems in baseball, RiverDogs first baseman/DH Chris Gittens and infielder Thairo Estrada were each named Yankees Organization All-Stars as announced by Minor League Baseball on Monday.

Including two from the historic 2016 RiverDogs squad, 11 of the 12 members of this year’s Yankees Organizational All-Star team all have spent time in Charleston in their career. All five of the Yankees’ top affiliates (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Trenton, Tampa, Charleston, and Staten Island) each made the playoffs in their respective leagues while front office moves at the trade deadline impressed analysts at the MLB Pipeline enough to rate the Yankees farm system as the second best in all of baseball.

Collecting the organizational accolades at the designated hitter position, Gittens flashed his power and was the heartbeat of the Charleston lineup starting right from Opening Day. The Sherman, Texas native hit .253/.359/.478 with 21 homers that ranked second in the South Atlantic League and tied Kyle Higashioka for the Yankees’ organizational lead. The former 12th rounder out of Grayson College drove in a team-high 70 runs and came four home runs shy of Charleston’s single-season franchise record. His 2016 long ball total is tied with Ben Jones’ 2006 season for the sixth most in franchise history.

The impressive season brought plenty of previous hardware for the hard hitting infielder as Gittens was voted the RiverDogs Player of the Year by the Charleston fan base and he was named to the Postseason All-Star Team by a vote of the league’s management and media.

Gittens’ most impressive game came on the road in West Virginia on June 16 when the 22-year-old smashed three home runs, one of just two hitters in the league to complete the trifecta, while going 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBI. Along with his eye-popping power, the Yankees farmhand showed solid plate discipline, reaching base safely in a league-high 33 straight from April 21-June 2 while drawing 56 walks on the season that ranked tied-sixth in the league.

Estrada’s time in a RiverDogs uniform was brief, but the Venezuelan native would make an impression and earn an early promotion to Tampa before capturing organizational accolades at second base. Coming off an All-Star 2015 campaign, the 20-year-old hit .290 with eight homers, 49 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 118 games across two levels in his first full season. He struck out just 67 times in 455 at-bats and owned a .346 OBP on the season.

With the RiverDogs, Estrada hit to the tune of a .286 average while slugging five home runs that included a power surge of three in two days from May 14-15.

Led by third-year skipper Luis Dorante, the RiverDogs captured the Southern Division first half title to clinch the first RiverDogs playoff appearance since 2005 while going 76-63 on the season, their highest win total since 2012. Off the field, the RiverDogs enjoyed equal success, welcoming over 293,000 fans through the turnstiles at The Joe for the first time in their history.

RiverDogs season tickets, half-season ticket packages and mini plans are now available for the 2017 campaign. The RiverDogs begin the season on April 6 when they host the Lexington Legends at Joseph P Riley, Jr. Park. Ticket information can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at

Fidel Castro and the New York Yankees

Wow. What an interesting story I just read regarding the New York Yankees and a connection with former Cuban leader and Dictator Fidel Castro? Say it ain’t so? Rumor has/had it that Castro loved baseball and even tried out for the New York Yankees team before the Cuban revolution but this is no longer rumor, the record has been set straight and it’s an awesome read.

Adrian Burgos Jr., a history professor at the University of Illinois and the author of “Playing America’s Game: Latinos and the Color Line,” did the research and found out that this try out simply never happened. Burgos adds that Castro may have went and tried out for the Washington Senators at one of their many try outs held in Havana, Cuba but Burgos also states that Castro was not as talented as other Cuban prospects where scouts “went looking for him.”

The Yankees were not active in Cubs or Latin America for that matter until the 1960’s which immediately puts this myth to bed. It was a fun myth while it lasted and it’s always fun to play the “what if” game but this one goes to bed along with other folk tales like the demise of The Greedy Pinstripes. Heard that one too recently. We’re still here and kicking. Have a great day everyone. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/1: Larsen and Turley Come to New York

It was this day in 1954 that we could thank the Baltimore Orioles for giving us two great starting pitchers in Don Larsen and Bob Turley. This was the largest trade in major league history where 17 players changed hands including Turley and Larsen coming to New York. This deal was so complex it was not completed until the day after the MLB Draft even though it began way back on November, 18.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Obligatory “What About Chris Carter” Post

The New York Yankees have a long offseason ahead of them and the team is surrounded by more questions than answers unfortunately so when a player the caliber of Chris Carter becomes available you know we all have to ask the obligatory question, “Would Chris Carter fit in with the Yankees in 2017?” That is what we will look to explore in this blog post today, keep reading.

The New York Yankees need a DH type player and a player that can also play first base just in case would likely be near the top of Brian Cashman’s priority list coming into this offseason. Greg Bird is still a huge question mark, Dustin Ackley and Brian McCann are gone and the Yankees need depth now more so than ever. Another thing the Yankees need is power and Chris Carter checks every one of those boxes for a team.

Carter led the National League in home runs in 2016 with 41 but he didn’t do much else with the Milwaukee Brewers. His average will never be high but you’re not buying him for that, you’re buying Carter for his home runs and RBI totals in the middle of that Yankees lineup.

Carter is arbitration eligible this season and would likely come on a one-year deal. Should the Yankees get him in the fold? I’m leaning towards yes but I am honestly undecided. I like the 41 home runs and 94 RBI totals from 2016 but I am not entirely in love with the .222 batting average nor the 206 strikeouts last season. What say you?