Wednesday, March 21, 2018

TGP 2018 Predictions: The Playoffs

Welcome back to Prediction Season here on The Greedy Pinstripes. With the standings, division winners and Wild Card winners now predicted here on the blog by yours truly it is time to move on to the postseason. Just as a reminder, not that I have to remind any of you reading because you are all dedicated and hardcore Yankees and MLB fans, the first Wild Card winner will host the second Wild Card winner in a one-game playoff. The winner of that game heads out on the road to face off with the team with the best record from their respective league, who has a “bye” in the first round of the postseason. ALDS and NLDS series are best-of-five while the ALCS, NLCS and the World Series are of course best-of-seven. Let’s get to it!

American League Wild Card Round

Seattle Mariners @ Boston Red Sox

The first time in what feels like forever that the Seattle Mariners make the postseason. Is this 1995 all over again? Honestly, I don’t think so, but I went with it anyway… because to hell with the Red Sox. Anything can happen in a one-game playoff. Anything. Even the Mariners taking down the might, mighty Red Sox. Dave Dombrowski should be fired at the end of the game, but he won’t be which is great news for Yankees fans.

National League Wild Card Round

San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs

These two foes have matched up time-and-time again it feels like in the postseason, so what is one more time for old times sake, right? The Chicago Cubs will, in my opinion, take a step back in 2018 in terms of production from their previous two seasons, which will suit the Giants just fine. The Giants have potentially a strong starting staff and enough veteran leadership to get them over the hump in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen and I truly think they will find a way in the later innings to take down the Cubs. Chicago goes home, San Francisco moves on in an even-numbered year. Both road teams winning the Wild Card Round? That has to be unheard of, oh well.

American League Division Series

Seattle Mariners @ New York Yankees (Yankees win series 3-1)

I am going to give the tie-breaker for home field advantage to the New York Yankees (a) because I am a homer that owns a Yankees blog, and (b) because of some head-to-head matchups or something like that. With the Mariners high off their “1995 all over again” victory of the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Round the New York Yankees are here to remind the Mariners of another playoff series they were both a part of, the 2001 American League Championship series where the 116-win Mariners came into the series the heavy favorites over the Dynasty Yankees. The Mariners lost, and sometimes history repeats itself. Sometimes it just takes 17 years to do so. Yankees win.

Cleveland Indians @ Houston Astros (Astros win series 3-2)

In a matchup of two titans, two powerhouse offenses and two dynamic pitching staffs this series has all the makings of being an instant classic that will undoubtedly go all five games. These kinds of series remind me of those games that come down to the last second with the winner being the last team who has the ball, the last team to take an at-bat, whatever the case may be. I truly think both teams will be amazing once again in 2018, but the pitching staff and the depth that the Astros have will prevail in the five-game series. Plus, I wanted a rematch of the 2017 ALCS between the Yankees and the Astros, I mean who doesn’t? Right? It is time for Justin Verlander to eat his preseason words regarding the Yankees.

National League Division Series

San Francisco Giants @ Washington Nationals (Nationals win series 3-1)

The window for the Washington Nationals to win is just about closed, hell it will be all but closed once the calendar turns to October of 2018, and the Nationals will play like it this postseason. The Giants are a great team but having to presumably burn Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card Round will come back to bite them as the Nationals dominate the series on all sides of the game. The Nats will pitch better, they will hit better, they will defend better and they will do the little things they have to do when it counts in order to win. Nats in 4.

St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodgers win series 3-2)

Here is a series we haven’t seen before in recent memory, a playoff matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are younger than ever, and subsequently hungrier than ever, in the ever-changing aspect that is Major League Baseball. This is truly a David v. Goliath type situation, but in this one I think the Cardinals, like the Yankees from 2017, have one more year to wait before they can knock off the big boys. The Cardinals will be back in 2019 with another year under the wings and a chip on their shoulder, but this year it will be the Dodgers once again moving on after a hard-fought five-game series.

American League Championship Series

Houston Astros @ New York Yankees (Yankees win series 4-2)

Here we go again, so much for parity in Major League Baseball, huh Commissioner Manfred? In a rematch of the 2017 American League Championship Series the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees will once again square off head-to-head. This time around the Yankees will have homefield advantage, and this time New York will have Giancarlo Stanton and a slew of others at their disposal that they did not have last time around. The young, inexperienced Yankees took the Astros to an eventual Game 7 before falling to the reigning World Series Champions, but that was last season. This is 2018 and the New York Yankees are on a collision course with a certain team from the National League, and not even Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander or some dude with a long beard could stop them. Call me a homer, call me an optimist, just don’t call me late to the Canyon of Heroes. Yankees in six.

National League Championship Series

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals (Nationals win series 4-3)

Remember how I said the Cardinals and Dodgers series was a David v. Goliath type series? Well if that is the case then this series is a Goliath vs. Goliath type series as both teams here matched or exceeded the 95-win plateau during the 2018 regular season. This will be a hard-fought battle that will go all seven games, but one man in particular will be the difference maker in my opinion. Bryce Harper knows what he is playing for. Bryce is playing for a chance at a World Series ring, his legacy as a part of the Washington Nationals and his next free agent contract after the season ends, and for that reason I think we will see a version of Harper that we have never seen before. We will see a focused, yet unruly, and disciplined, yet unyielding, version of himself both at the plate and in the field that will go unmatched by anyone wearing a Dodgers uniform this series. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun to watch as the Washington Nationals shock the World and head to the World Series to face off with the New York Yankees.

BOLDED teams are predicted as the winner in each respective series.

The 2018 World Series, folks. The New York Yankees and the Washington. Let us keep in mind that the last two seasons I didn’t have the Yankees making the World Series, but I did have them winning a second Wild Card in both, so my predictions, albeit biased, are usually pretty spot on with them. “Haters gonna hate” though, am I right?

Two million strong and counting folks! I can’t say it enough. Leave your thoughts, comments and predictions down below in the comments section, or drop us a line on Twitter @GreedyStripes. Another day closer to Opening Day, can you smell the fresh cut grass yet? Because I can…

TGP 2018 Predictions: The Standings

As we count down the days until Opening Day 2018 I wanted to take the opportunity to say this, it is Prediction Season here on The Greedy Pinstripes. Every season I make a series of predictions, sometimes bold and sometimes not so much, before the season, and then I look back on them at season’s end to see how in tune I really was with my wizardry. Spoiler alert, I usually don’t do well in these predictions, but I put them and myself out there nonetheless for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy, and leave any constructive criticism in the comments below, or hit us on Twitter by tagging @GreedyStripes. Two million strong and counting folks!!

American League East

New York Yankees (X)                       94-68
Boston Red Sox (Y)                           90 -72
Baltimore Orioles                               80 - 82
Toronto Blue Jays                               76 - 86
Tampa Bay Rays                                 72 - 90

American League Central

Cleveland Indians (X)                        93-69
Minnesota Twins                                84-78
Kansas City Royals                            83-79
Chicago White Sox                            73 - 89
Detroit Tigers                                     64-98

American League West

Houston Astros (X)                           94-68
Seattle Mariners (Z)                          88-74
Texas Rangers                                   85-77
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim      83-79
Oakland Athletics                             75-87

National League East

Washington Nationals (X)                 96-66
Philadelphia Phillies                          84-78
New York Mets                                  82-80
Atlanta Braves                                   71-91
Miami Marlins                                   62-100

National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals (X)                       92-70
Chicago Cubs (Y)                               89-67
Milwaukee Brewers                            86-76
Pittsburgh Pirates                                74-88
Cincinnati Reds                                  70-92

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers (X)                 95-67
San Francisco Giants (Z)                  87-75
Colorado Rockies                             85-77
Arizona Diamondbacks                    83-79
San Diego Padres                             70-92

(X) denotes Division Winner
(Y) denotes Wild Card 1 Winner
(Z) denoted Wild Card 2 Winner

Yes, I went bold in the American League West. I don’t have a real and true reason why I feel like the Seattle Mariners will have a great season, but I just do. They have a younger team with a few key guys in key positions that are hungry, and I just have a hunch. This will be one I will likely regret when we look back at the end of the 2018 season, but oh well. For now, the Seattle Robinson Cano’s are in as the 2nd Wild Card team in the American League while the Texas Rangers are selling off pieces in July. Another bold prediction in the National League East as I have the young Fightin’ Phils in second place behind the big right-arm of Jake Arrieta. It isn’t so much that I feel like the Phillies are ready to compete, although they have a young core and nucleus that could easily sneak up on people this summer, but I feel like the NL East is just going to be that bad this season. I truly wanted to put the Atlanta Braves a little higher, but with Philadelphia (and the rest of the NL East) facing off with the Braves and Marlins around 40 times a season each we should see some inflated win numbers out of that division in my opinion. I truly think the most competitive division in all of Major League Baseball this season will be the National League West who will have four potential teams that could make the postseason, with the exception being the San Diego Padres. I like all their teams, and I think it could be fun to watch all summer long out West this season.

Again, leave your predictions in the comments section below or hit us op on Twitter, @GreedyStripes.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Giancarlo Stanton vs the Miami Marlins...

Looking Forward to Today’s Game…

Today’s Spring Game featuring the Miami Marlins at Steinbrenner Field is one I’ve been looking forward to all Spring. When the Yankees traveled to Jupiter, FL last Sunday, Giancarlo Stanton didn’t make the trip and the game was not televised. That’s not the case today. Stanton is in the lineup and the game will be on TV (YES Network). 

For the game starting at 1:05 pm Eastern, here is the scheduled lineup:

Brett Gardner, CF
Aaron Judge, RF
Greg Bird, 1B
Giancarlo Stanton, LF
Gary Sanchez, C
Didi Gregorius, SS
Neil Walker, 2B
Brandon Drury, 3B
Tyler Austin, DH

The starting pitcher will be Luis Severino. The starter for the Marlins will be a familiar face (Caleb Smith). Another former Yankee (Garrett Cooper) will be the starting right fielder for the Fish. It’s always good to see the great Don Mattingly even if he is tasked to lead the Stanton/Ozuna/Yelich-less Marlins for CEO Derek Jeter.

It would be fun to see Stanton go yard against his old club today. It would have been nice to see old friend Starlin Castro but as with most veterans, he did not make the road trip. Nevertheless, as noted above, there is no shortage of former Yankees in the park.  

Photo Credit: Bryan Hoch, via Twitter
By Order of Aaron Boone…

The Yankees announced the order of the starting rotation on Saturday. Luis Severino gets the Opening Day assignment at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada on March 29th against the Blue Jays. I thought the honor would go to Masahiro Tanaka as the recognized ace of the staff but there’s no disputing that Sevy was the Yankees’ best starter in 2017 when he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting behind elite starters Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. 

1.  Luis Severino
2.  Masahiro Tanaka
3.  CC Sabathia
4.  Sonny Gray
5.  Jordan Montgomery

At first, I was surprised when I saw that Gray was penciled in behind Sabathia but it does make sense to break up Sabathia and Montgomery. You can also insert short jokes about Sonny Gray here while stating he gives hitters a different look between the two left-handed six-foot-sixers. Admittedly, I am a little concerned about Sabathia pitching on the turf at Rogers Centre with his balky knee. Boone had better get the bullpen up early in that game.

Jordan Montgomery draws the assignment for the home opener at Yankee Stadium on Monday, April 2nd against the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Congratulations to Severino for his anointment as the King of the Pitching staff. I suspect it will be many years before he is ready to relinquish the crown. Hard to believe the guy is only 24 years old. Unless the Yankees sign Clayton Kershaw next off-season (very unlikely), Severino should have an extended reign.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
The Rule 5 Draft Revisited…

2017 Rule 5 Draft - Major League Phase - Yankees Lost

Round 1, 7th Selection:  RHP Anyelo Gomez, Atlanta Braves
Round 1, 9th Selection:  LHP Nestor Cortes, Baltimore Orioles
Round 1, 11th Selection:  1B Mike Ford, Seattle Mariners
Round 3, 18th Selection:  RHP Jose Mesa, Jr, Baltimore Orioles

Last year, the Yankees lost catcher Luis Torrens when he stuck on the MLB roster for the San Diego Padres all season long despite batting .163/.243/.203 with .446 OPS. He didn’t have any home runs and only 7 RBI’s in 56 games and 139 plate appearances. The Padres can now send the 21-year-old to the Minors for more seasoning with no fear of losing him.

As prospects continue to season in the Yankees farm system, there will be more significant losses in the years ahead. You cannot protect everyone on the 40-man roster when they become Rule 5 eligible and this figures to get more challenging over the course of the next few seasons.

Anyelo Gomez, Braves

Spring Stats:
1-1, 10.80 ERA, 7 games, 8.1 innings pitched, 10 hits, 10 runs (earned), 4 BB, 6 SO’s

Gomez was having a good Spring for the Braves until he got hammered by the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday, giving up four runs over two innings. However, is still projecting that he’ll make the Braves Opening Day roster despite the hiccup. Expectations are low for the Braves this year so they can afford to take their chances with the talented young right-hander.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Braves
Nestor Cortes, Jr, Orioles

Spring Stats:
0-1, 4.35 ERA, 4 games (3 starts), 10.1 innings pitched, 12 hits, 5 runs (earned), 3 BB, 9 SO’s

Cortes is getting a long look in O’s camp as he is second on the team with most innings pitched. Given the dearth of pitching for the Orioles, it is a certainty that he’ll break camp with the big league club. He is under consideration for the rotation and even if he is not successful, he’ll be moved to the bullpen for now. I am not expecting Cortes to come back.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Carr)
Mike Ford, Mariners

Spring Stats:
.182/.321/.341, .662 OPS, 20 games, 44 at-bats, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 8 walks

When training camp first opened and Ford started strong for the Mariners, I thought he was a lock to make the Mariners (especially when it was announced that new starting first baseman Ryon Healy had surgery to remove a bone spur in his right hand). But Ford has cooled off and Healy is not expected to miss much time, if any. Daniel Vogelbach (.400, 4 HR, 10 RBI) has had a much stronger Spring than Ford and appears to be the leader for first base behind Healy. If Healy starts the season on the DL, Ford could make the Opening Day roster but I doubt he sticks for the entire season. Healy feels that he will be ready for Opening Day. He made his first appearance of the Spring yesterday against the Los Angeles Angels and was 1-for-3 with a RBI double. More than likely, Ford will be back to take his place as the starting first baseman for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)
Jose Mesa, Jr, Orioles

Spring Stats:
3-1, 5.87 ERA, 5 games, 7.2 innings pitched, 10 hits, 5 runs (earned), 7 BB, 5 SO’s

Looking a pure numbers, it would seem unlikely that Mesa would stick on the Orioles roster but then again, we’re talking about the Orioles and their underwhelming cast of pitchers. While I think it’s unlikely they would carry two Rule 5 pitchers on the active roster, it is a strong possibility that both Cortes and Mesa will make the Opening Day roster. Whether Mesa remains there all season remains to be seen. 

Of these players, I think Ford and Mesa are the players most likely to be returned to the Yankees. Dependent upon performance (or maybe not as Luis Torrens showed), I think that Gomez and Cortes are gone for good.

Photo Credit: AP (Chris O'Meara)
2017 Rule 5 Draft - Triple A Phase -Yankees Lost

These players were lost and will not be returning to the Yankees organization.

Round 1, 18th Selection:  RHP Yancarlos Baez, Minnesota Twins
Round 2, 32nd Selection:  C Sharif Othman, Miami Marlins

I guess it’s a good problem to have when your team has so many strong prospects that good players are lost (“the cup runneth over”) but it’s still painful to see these guys that we’ve cared for thrive in other uniforms with no return for the Yankees. I know, that’s a bit of a ‘prospect-hugging’ statement. Seriously, I do hope they find MLB success. I just hope it isn’t against the Yankees.  


As we begin the last full week before the start of the regular season on Thursday, March 29th, the answers for the Yankees’ Opening Day Roster seem to be taking shape. However, the one question I am already tired of is ‘will Jacoby Ellsbury begin the season on the DL?’ Of course he will…next question. Regardless of whether or not Ellsbury is ready, I don’t really care. The guy has become an afterthought for me. If he helps the team this year, fantastic. But let’s just say that I am keeping expectations low…very low. A good player “when on the field”, but that’s not a bet I’d want to make. He becomes a greater injury risk with each passing year and he was already the King of the DL dating back to his Red Sox days (with no intended offense to Troy Tulowitzki who certainly has every right to lay claim to the throne).

Danny Espinosa was 4-for-4 with a RBI in his Spring debut with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. Where was that bat during his few weeks with the Yankees this month? That’s the right way to make a good impression for his new club. The odds are against him making the Blue Jays’ MLB roster to open the season but days like yesterday certainly help. Jake Cave’s debut for the Minnesota Twins didn’t go so well. He started in center field and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in a game that saw former Yankee Phil Hughes get hammered for 9 runs (5 earned) in 3 1/3 innings.

It will soon be game time for Yankees-Marlins. Let’s Go Yankees! 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Checking In with Anyelo Gomez, Mike Ford, Jose Mesa and Nestor Cortes

The New York Yankees have one of the best farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, which could be a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. Having a great farm system is ideal as the Major League team can have plenty of options and depth if an injury or need arises, whether it be on the field or as a part of a trade, but at the same point it can be a curse with the team constricted to just a 40-man roster. When a minor league player reaches a certain plateau with a team, usually six seasons, the player has to either be added to the 40-man roster or that player will be available for any and all teams to take them as a part of the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees were pillaged this winter during the Rule 5 Draft losing many players in the Major League and Minor League parts of the draft, and we will check in with a few of them today, namely Anyelo Gomez, Mike Ford, Jose Mesa and Nestor Cortes.

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Anyelo Gomez, RHP, Braves (from Yankees): Yet another interesting player in a Yankees system that is producing too much talent for the team’s 40-man roster, Gomez ran up the ladder in a strong 2017 season, briefly reaching Triple-A and ending with a cumulative output of 70 1/3 innings of 1.92 ERA pitching with 11.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He hasn’t dominated this spring, but the Braves obviously like his arm and have plenty of reason to try to hang onto him in a year in which they do not expect to compete for the postseason.

  • Nestor Cortes, LHP, Orioles (from Yankees): What’s that we were saying about the Yankees? Ah yes, another such player. The 23-year-old just ran up over a hundred innings of 2.06 ERA ball in the upper minors, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He has held his own as a starter this spring, too. With the O’s in need of both lefty relievers and rotation depth, he seems to be on track for a job.

  • Mike Ford, 1B, Mariners (from Yankees): An injury to Ryon Healy initially looked like it could help to open a door for Ford, but it’s a fairly short-term issue for Healy, and Ford is hitting just .150/.292/.325 through 48 PAs this spring. With Daniel Vogelbach on hand as another lefty swinging first base/designated hitter option, Ford could have a tough time sticking in Seattle.

  • Jose Mesa, RHP, Orioles (from Yankees): Indications are that Mesa is not quite keeping pace with his two fellow Rule 5 hurlers. Indeed, he has surrendered five walks and five earned runs in his 5 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League action.

Mike Ford struggling with the Mariners, I have to say, is a tad bit disappointing given the Yankees lack of a true first base backup for Greg Bird this season. Sure, Austin Romine and Neil Walker can get the job done in a pinch but what if the Yankees run into a preidcament like they did in 2017 with Bird? Are they prepared to go with Walker at the position for the remainder of the season? Maybe. I just have to think the team would feel better if they had a hard hitting first baseman down in Triple-A that was knocking on the door is all. Disappointing. Gomez and Cortes seem like locks to stick with their new teams, while I'd take back Mesa just because. Mesa has struggled, and did so a lot with the Yankees in their Minor League system, but I love a good reclamation project, and Mesa with the right instructor could be just that.

Luis Severino Named Yankees 2018 Opening Day Starter

The New York Yankees have their Opening Day starter for the 2018 season and it is not Masahiro Tanaka. No, it is the young right-hander that doesn't want to be the ace of the staff, Luis Severino.

This morning Yankees manager Aaron Boone took any doubt out of the equation of who the Yankees ace will be heading into the 2018 season when he named Severino the Opening Day starter. Just a few hours after the announcement Masahiro Tanaka did himself no favors having another lackluster spring outing in a 9-3 exhibition loss to the Detroit Tigers. Tanaka gave up four runs in 2.2 innings pitched today which cemented the idea in many eyes that Severino should start Game One of the 2018 campaign.

Severino will make his first career Opening Day start on March 29 against the Toronto Blue Jays inside the Rogers Centre, the first of a four game series. Tanaka will pitch Game Two followed by CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray in that order. Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees fifth starter, will start the April 2nd home opener in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays.

No one should be surprised that Severino and not Tanaka was named to the Opening Day start after Tanaka pitched to a 4.74 ERA in 2017, although the right-hander did have a strong October, which was followed by a 11.25 ERA this spring including his start today.

Congratulations to Severino on the Opening Day nod, and it is now time for the other four starters to begin preparing for the season. Now they know when they will start and the real work starts now. World Series or bust.

They Some Kind of Shut Us Down...

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)
Astros win ALCS Rematch…

The headline of this post are Aaron Boone’s words, not mine.  

I preface this by saying I know Spring games mean absolutely nothing. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say my fear of the Houston Astros is their starting pitching. I think the Yankees’ offense is equal to the World Champions. Some argue the Yankees are better while other put the Astros on top. Either way, both offenses will be among the very best in the game. Now, the starting pitching, at least in my opinion, is not quite so close.

Yesterday’s matchup featured the number five starters for both teams. For the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery gave up two solo home runs. Meanwhile, Houston’s Lance McCullers, Jr held the Yankees hitless until Miguel Andujar’s lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Astros limited the Yankees to two hits, winning the game 2-0. The game felt like a microcosm of the difference between the Yankees and the Astros. Of course I didn’t actually get to “see” the game since it was not televised and I am not in Tampa. Manager Aaron Boone felt that Montgomery was “crisper” than earlier Spring starts.  Giving up two runs is not the end of the World and in fact it fits within the definition of a quality start (outside of the shortened number of innings for Spring starts).  A good start by Monty but a dominant one by the son of a former Yankee.  

The top of the Yankees order (Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) went 0-for-12, with five strikeouts.  

I am not going to fret over a meaningless Spring game but it is the back end of the starting rotation that concerns me when you compare the Yankees to the Astros. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jordan Montgomery but seriously I’d rather have McCullers, Jr. The difference maker is the depth. The Astros have Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh, two very capable pitchers in reserve, if there are any injuries in the rotation. The Yankees have Luis Cessa and Domingo German. The top young prospects like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield have shown they are not quite ready to be a force at the MLB level, now, even if we know they eventually will.

Maybe I am unnecessarily concerned about the rotation and the young guys will rise to the challenge if the chips are on the line. But if it was my team, I’d be trying to find a way to sign Alex Cobb, a ‘tried and true’ AL East pitcher.  

Is Tyler Austin bound for Scranton?…

I was wrong yesterday when I said that Ronald Torreyes might be the one most adversely impacted by Neil Walker’s presence on the roster.  After hearing Boone’s words yesterday, it sounds like the guy who should be most concerned about making the Opening Day roster is Tyler Austin. Boonie sounds like he is comfortable with a second base tandem of Tyler Wade and Walker, finding regular at-bats for both, and indicated Walker is the one who could provide relief for Greg Bird at first base. 

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
I can’t really put my finger on it, but it has never seemed like the Yankees have fully embraced Austin despite his big hits. I know that health is part of it, but it just doesn’t seem like they want him on the MLB roster. I hope I am reading that wrong and Austin turns out to be a major contributor for the team this year.  

Cave finds a home…

I have always liked Jake Cave but I recognized there was simply no room for the talented outfielder. I remember how excited he was to participate in Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 draftee a couple of years ago. He started the Spring off strongly and was drawing raves, but he cooled off and was subsequently returned to the Yankees.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Tringali)
After Cave was designated for assignment earlier in the week to make room for Neil Walker, the Yankees shipped the 25-year-old outfielder to the Minnesota Twins for young Dominican RHP Luis Gil, 19. Gil was not rated among the Twins top prospects and has yet to play outside of the Dominican leagues. He continues the Yankees trend of stockpiling young power arms with tremendous upside. Cave was inserted at #26 for the best Twins prospects by, ahead of Twins outfielder and New York native Zack Granite.

In Minnesota, Cave is expected to help at the Major League Level or provide depth at Triple A. For his sake, I hope it’s the former. The Twins made statements yesterday they’ve been interested in Cave since last year’s Jaime Garcia trade. They noticed the power surge and it is something that they want to “keep on track” in the words of Twins manager Paul Molitor. 

We wish Cave the very best as he continues his journey to reach the Major Leagues. 

Speaking of finding jobs…

The Toronto Blue Jays have signed infielder Danny Espinosa, recently released by the Yankees, to a minor league contract with an invite to camp. Espinosa will have a very short time to prove that he belongs on the field when the Blue Jays open Rogers Centre on March 29th against Espinosa’s old club. The best way for an infielder to play in the Major Leagues? Find the team that employs Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo owns the DL in a way that only Jacoby Ellsbury understands.  

The odds are probably against Espinosa this late in March so he’ll probably toil in Triple A until injuries open up big league opportunities.

Well, it’s Saturday. For most of us, that’s a day off. Nothing better than sitting back to watch a Yankees game on a lazy afternoon. Fortunately for us, today’s Spring game between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida (1 pm Eastern) will be televised. Masahiro Tanaka on the mound and Estevan Florial in center field. It should be a fun day!

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Go Yankees!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Battle of the AL Titans...

With the help of a Walker…

Neil Walker makes his much anticipated debut in a Yankees lineup today in the only Spring rematch of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros…and the game is not televised…ugh! With no offense to the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox, this is one Spring game that could be a preview of coming attractions for October. Obviously, the outcome of this game decides nothing but I look forward to the Yankees-Astros battles over the course of the coming season. Hey, H-Town, we’re coming for you…

Photo Credit: AP (Kathy Willens)
As it stands, based on the comments floating out of camp, it appears that Tyler Wade has the advantage to start at second base for the Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 29th. His at-bat yesterday against Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Rivero was epic. After Rivero sent Wade backwards into the dirt with a high and inside pitch, Wade battled back and worked a hard-fought walk. Last year, I have no doubt he would have struck out in that situation, allowing Rivero to get inside his head. Time and again, Wade is making the plays to show that he belongs. Given how much corporate executives raved about him over the winter and his subsequent performance this Spring, it’s easy to see why his name will be on the Opening Day roster. Walker’s flexibility to play multiple positions will most certainly keep his bat in the lineup even if Wade becomes the starter. Both Danny Espinosa and Adam Lind paid the price for the Walker signing  as evidenced by their releases, but I think the remaining player most adversely impacted will be Ronald Torreyes. It is interesting and perhaps telling that Walker’s debut against the Astros will feature him at first base rather than second base.  Have bat; will travel. Walker is ready to help wherever he is need in the infield except for shortstop and catcher. But something tells me he’d play those positions if they let him.

I remain very high on Brandon Drury. At the beginning of training camp, so many jumped on the Miguel Andujar bus after his series of home runs, but based on the signals I was reading, the organization feels that he needs more time to work on his defensive game. Also, given the many signs that there is mutual interest between the Yankees and Manny Machado, it makes you wonder about Andujar’s future in the organization. It seems like he is destined to be trade bait at some point. Nevertheless, for now, I am excited about Brandon Drury’s presence at third base even if Andujar or maybe Machado takes his job at some point in the future.

Joel Sherman of The New York Post recently ran an article which detailed how highly Drury is thought of by the Arizona Diamondbacks. They didn’t want to trade him but it was the only way they could land Steven Souza Jr from the Tampa Bay Rays to replace slugger J.D. Martinez who, as we know, left via free agency to sign with a certain team in Massachusetts. In his column, Sherman quotes D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo saying Drury might hit 30 home runs this year. Admittedly, that might be a bit too optimistic, but I like the potential of the player. The quote by Lovullo that stuck out with me is: “A great competitor, a great teammate. Cares on a pretty impressive level about being the absolute best he can be every single day. The Yankees got a special player. Very quiet. Very intense. But very attentive.”  I feel strongly that Drury is going to be a significant contributor for the 2018 Yankees. Frankly, I’d love for him to play so well the Yankees decide they don’t need Machado. 

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
It was disappointing to see Chance Adams’ reassignment to Minor League Camp on a down note. It wasn’t a great spring for him. He pitched in three games for a total of 4 2/3 innings, departing with 0-1 record and 11.57 ERA. 9 hits…ouch…6 runs…ouch…3 walks…ouch. In my eyes, both Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu represent stronger future rotation possibilities.  I am starting to side with those who believe that Adams’ future lies in the bullpen.  It wasn’t only this Spring, there were signs last year in Triple A that started making me question his future as a starter. With all sincerity, I hope he proves me wrong. But that’s up to him, not me.

I like Jordan Montgomery but realistically, if the price is right, I’d still sign Alex Cobb. Pitching, pitching, pitching…you can never have enough.

Manager Aaron Boone is going to have so many options when he writes up his lineups depending upon matchups, but I really liked yesterday’s Aaron Judge-Giancarlo Stanton-Gary Sanchez sequence against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sanchez, of course, killed it with 5 RBI’s.  I am convinced that El Gary can be “the beast” in the batting order all season long. Best hitter on the team in my opinion. Then again, there are no weaknesses, top to bottom. Boone could use a Power Ball machine to determine his batting order and not be wrong. Okay, that approach might be a little too much, but how many first-time managers are handed the keys to a Lamborghini?  Poor Ron Gardenhire was the most experienced manager hired in the off-season and he was given a Ford Pinto. For Boonie, life is good.

I’d take $84 million guaranteed too…

With my apologies to those of you who are Jets fans, I am glad that QB Kirk Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, I say that as a lifelong (long suffering?) Vikings fan.  Perhaps Minnesota overpaid for a QB with a losing record, but I like Cousins as the team’s new field general. I have greater faith in him than I did the three Vikings quarterbacks who departed via free agency. Case Keenum.  Great guy, but was it him or the system?  Could be a one-season wonder. Maybe not, but I’d rather have the guy who is coming off three consecutive 4,000 yard seasons. Sam Bradford. Love the arm, but the dude can’t stay healthy. Teddy Bridgewater. He looked like the future star of the organization until the devastating knee injury. Do we really know if he can successfully make it back? For a team that is Super Bowl-caliber, the Vikings couldn’t take the chance. Bridgewater could blossom for the Jets and provide them with the QB they’ve been lacking. From a character standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find many better than Bridgewater. I think the Jets made the right move to sign him.  I really hope that he realizes the greatness that seemed destined for him in Minnesota.  There's no doubt he has championship-quality drive and determination.

During the press conference yesterday in Minneapolis to announce the signing, Cousins sounded a bit like Brian Cashman talking about Aaron Boone in his description of how the city and team “checked all the boxes”. I kept anticipating some type of “expect to be great” line in Kirk’s speech but he did “check the boxes” for me by mentioning Super Bowls (plural).  Works for me. Congratulations to Kirk and his family. I wish him much success and happiness in the Twin Cities. Now, just bring me the Super Bowl, I means Super Bowls, that I’ve waited all my life for!

Photo Credit: Star Tribune (Elizabeth Flores)

But, back to baseball. Go Yankees!