Tuesday, November 21, 2017

All Aboard the Yankees Train...

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post
The 40-Man Chess Match…

Yesterday figured to be a very busy day for the Yankees as MLB teams had to set their 40-man Rosters of Record for Rule 5 eligibility (draft to be held at the conclusion of next month’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL) and it was.

Before the past weekend, the Yankees only had two open spots on the 40-man. Then, a few trades later, the Yankees were able to protect six young prospects from becoming potential ex-Yankees. Granted, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft has to stick on a MLB roster for the entire year but it happened as recent as last year when the San Diego Padres held on to Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens (even though the very young Torrens was over-matched at the Major League level).  

DEPARTURES

RHP Nick Rumbelow
RHP Ronald Herrera
LHP Caleb Smith
1B Garrett Cooper

ADDITIONS

LHP Reiver Sanmartin
LHP J.P. Sears
RHP Juan Then
RHP Michael King
International Bonus Pool Money ($250,000)

ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER

RHP Domingo Acevedo
RHP Albert Abreu
RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
INF Gleyber Torres
INF Thairo Estrada
OF Billy McKinney

Trade: Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. I thought this was the best trade. Sears, 21, fits the Yankees mold as a former collegiate player who could be useful in the bullpen. Even though his fastball tops out at 92 mph, he has been something of a strikeout machine. In his final year at The Citadel, he led NCAA Division I with 142 K’s in 95 1/3 innings. Then (not the pitcher), last year, in his first year in the Minors, he struck out 51 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Then (the pitcher), 17, a projected middle of the rotation starter, is the only new prospect to crack MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Yankees (his debut is at #28 in front of RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Trevor Stephan).  

Credit:  MLB.com
Trade:  Ronald Herrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Reiver Sanmartin.  Herrera provides the Rangers with an arm that is nearly ready while the Yankees buy some time with a lower level prospect. Sanmartin, 21, is a year younger than Herrera and has compiled a 14-4 record with 2.62 ERA over three minor league seasons.  

Credit:  MiLB.com
Trade: Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and Shohei Otani Money. The Yankees lose a valuable lefty with Smith’s departure but I figured that his roster spot was the least secure. Cooper did a decent job when called upon last year, but it was inevitable that the Yankees would have to make a decision between Tyler Austin and Cooper despite the latter owning a name that recalls the late great actor Gary Cooper and the movie classic The Pride of the Yankees. The writing was on the wall when Billy McKinney started working out at first base in The Arizona Fall League. This trade is being advertised as Derek Jeter’s first even if he probably didn’t handle any of the negotiations. Marlins VP of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo knows a thing or two about Yankees prospects. Many were calling this trade a huge win for the Marlins but I thought it served a very useful purpose for the Yankees. They cleared two spots on the roster which ensured that Thairo Estrada and Jonathan Loaisiga ("Johnny Lasagna") could be protected and added a lottery ticket with the 22-year-old King. Maybe King never realizes his dream, but the additional international bonus pool money gives the Yankees a total of $3.5 million to pursue Shohei Otani. If the Yankees are successful in signing Otani, it would be very hard to look at this trade as a failure for the Yankees regardless of how Smith or Cooper eventually perform for the Marlins.  


The Yankees should gain better clarity about the availability of Otani later today. The MLBPA extended the posting agreement deadline, which had been scheduled to expire yesterday, by 24 hours. The new deadline is tonight at 8 pm ET.  If the parties are able to agree on a new posting agreement, it ensures that Otani will be posted this off-season and will make his much anticipated trip to the United States to choose his next team (or as I prefer, sign with the Yankees).

Credit:  The Japan Times
The Yankees will need to make additional roster moves should they sign Otani and/or re-sign CC Sabathia but for now, the Yankees are prepared for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. I am fearful of losing LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Cale Coshow, and/or RHP J.P. Feyereisen, among others, but it speaks to the strength of the Yankees farm system that the potential losses will hurt. 

I can’t end this post without mentioning another transaction that occurred yesterday even if it was non-Yankees news. The Toronto Blue Jays waived former Yankees fan favorite Rob Refsnyder and he was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. While I wish Refsnyder well in Cleveland, I kind of wish that he’d go somewhere like San Francisco where the Yankees wouldn’t have to routinely see him. I hold out hope that Refsnyder will achieve the promise he once held but admittedly his flame of potential is growing dimmer. 

Credit:  Mark Lomoglio, Icon Sportswire
Now that the 40-man roster maneuvering has been completed, I fully expect the next week to be very quiet. Perhaps there are more managerial interviews but most likely, we’ll be on the other side of the Thanksgiving Weekend before we see any notable Yankees news.  

While I would have loved being able to protect every valuable prospect, I thought the Yankees did a very good job covering the best of the best. Project Next Dynasty continues on its very very bright and positive path. We are now accepting applications for Bandwagon Fans. Go Yankees!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Workin' on the Weekends...


The First Round continues…

Brian Cashman, the general manager currently working on a handshake deal with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner, was burning the weekend oil yesterday.  

After interviewing Hensley Meulens and Aaron Boone over the previous two days, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was in town to meet with Cash on Saturday. I don’t know Woodward and perhaps he may be a wonderful manager one day, but I don’t think he’s the right guy for the job right now. In his post-interview comments, he talked much about what Dave Roberts did. I am less concerned about what Roberts did and more concerned about what Woodward would do. I don’t want Dave Roberts 2.0.  Roberts did an outstanding job, but the new Yankees manager needs to be his own man. I know that Roberts name came up because the questions were asked about how Woodward gained insight working with the man who led the Dodgers to the doorstep of a World Series championship this year. But I really want a manager who is strong and confident in his own words and style. I thought Aaron Boone did a better job addressing the media despite the lack of any coaching experience.  


It is well known the Yankees want a manager who will accept analytics and input from the front office. When Woodward was asked about analytics, he responded, “As a coach, it took the progression from Seattle to L.A. for me to understand the benefit of it.” That tells me he didn’t come to fully appreciate analytics until the last two years considering he joined the Dodgers on December 17, 2015.  

Maybe I am overly negative about Woodward because I do not really know anything about him. I wasn’t in the room when he talked with Cashman, but he’s probably the least preferred (for me) of the candidates interviewed. I’d rank the candidates, based solely on those who have interviewed, in this order:

YANKEES MANAGER
  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Aaron Boone
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Eric Wedge
  5. Chris Woodward
Here is my order for preferred bench coaches:

YANKEES BENCH COACH
  1. Al Pedrique
  2. Eric Wedge
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Jay Bell
  5. A name that has not expressed interest in coaching or managing…Jorge Posada (if he did have interest, I’d move Hip-Hip-Jorge further up the list)
I feel strongly that Pedrique needs to be part of the 2018 coaching staff. He knows the young Baby Bombers better than anyone. There is no one that has the same level of relationships that he’s built with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Chance Adams and others. He is credited for believing in a smallish-16 year old Jose Altuve when no one else would. After many other teams, including the Yankees, passed on Altuve for being too small, Pedrique talked the Houston Astros into giving the 2017 AL MVP and World Series Champion $15,000 to sign. That might be the best $15,000 ever spent in Major League Baseball, at least in modern times. Pedrique was able to see beyond the physical size to view the talent and the heart of the player. 

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell, via Pinstriped Prospects
I had to put Posada’s name on the list. I miss the guy’s passion and intensity. When he’s on the field, there’s probably not too many guys that want to win more.   


You may have different thoughts but that's fine.  No one said that we had to agree.

No word if the Yankees will continue to interview more guys before moving on to Round 2. I had expected Jerry Hairston, Jr to talk but there have not been any indications he will.  Brad Ausmus has made it known that he wants to take a year off before resuming his managerial career. He was interested in the Red Sox job only because it was close to his home in Cape Cod and he grew up as a Red Sox fan. Aside from the Red Sox, Ausmus wants to devote the next year to his family. You can’t blame him for his priorities. I thought maybe the Yankees should interview Pittsburgh Pirates coach Joey Cora so that the Red Sox-Yankees Wars could be the Battle of the Cora Brothers. Okay, I am just kidding on that one. For the reasons I cite Pedrique as the preferred bench coach, I believe he should be afforded the opportunity to interview for the managing job.  

We’ll see. The process continues and should gain better clarity over the next days and weeks as we move forward.

Making Room on the 40-Man…

Monday, November 20th is a big day for the Yankees. The 40-man roster of record for Rule 5 eligibility must be set by 7 pm Central Time. The Yankees had previously added outfielder Jake Cave and reliever Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster, which left two spots open. With big names like Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu and Billy McKinney, among others, that need to be protected, something has to give on the 40-man roster.  

On Saturday, the first move was made when the Yankees sent Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for two lower level prospects…LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then.  Sears, 21, was an 11th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Then, 17, was an international signing for $77,500 in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.  

John Patrick Sears pitched at Class A level after his draft selection last year. A reliever, he pitched a total of 27.2 innings for two teams.  In 17 games, he struck out 51 batters while walking only 12.  His ERA was a combined 0.65, but he did not give up any earned runs when he moved from Short Season-A Everett to Full Season-A Clinton (10 innings of work).  He is “Sonny Gray-sized”…alright, an inch taller (5’11”).  According to Baseball America, he works in the 88-92 mph range with a high spin fastball and uses deception from a low delivery slot.

Credit:  Citadel Athletics
Juan Then (man, did the ‘now and then’ jokes start popping up on Twitter) is obviously still very young (and raw). He carries high upside and projects as a mid-rotation starter.  Then pitched rookie level ball in the Dominican Summer League and was 2-2, 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings. He struck out 56 batters. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, and he also worked with a couple of offspeed pitches.  


It’s tough to see a Major League-ready arm depart for future hopefuls, but it is the price that must be paid when you own one of the best farm systems in baseball. The Yankees will lose quality talent through Rule 5 but moves like this help protect more players. Last year was tough when the Yankees lost young catching prospect Luis Torrens who stuck on the San Diego Padres’ roster all season. I expect this year to be no different. For Rumbelow, he’s 26 and will have a much clearer shot at making a 2018 opening day roster with an opportunity to join the Mariners bullpen already stocked with former Yankees David Phelps and James Pazos.  

I wonder if Brian Cashman is working today. Stupid question, I know he is. Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

All Talk and No Action...

Credit:  Rich Schultz, Getty Images
Moving on to the Next Round?…

The Baseball off-season continues to move at a snail’s pace. Of course, things will change as we get past the Thanksgiving holiday and move into December and closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings.

In the meantime, we continue to pick apart every little thing that happens ad nauseum.  We learned this week that Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner not only supported GM Brian Cashman’s decision to sever ways with former manager Joe Girardi, he agreed with it and it has been something that they’ve had talks about for the past several years. Of course, that leads me to believe that it was Steinbrenner’s call and there are details that we may never really know. We do know there were perceived communication issues and that Girardi had failed to connect with the clubhouse, particularly over the last couple of seasons. Given how vocal both Cashman and Steinbrenner have been about the Girardi situation, it seems like there are more issues at play than just communication and connectivity to players. Steinbrenner implied that the Yankees would have made this decision even if the Yankees had won the World Series.  

Although Girardi lasted a decade in the Bronx, he’s now been fired twice by ownership groups that gave scathing departing remarks. Girardi was NL Manager of the Year for the Florida Marlins in 2006, yet he was fired after the season. Then-owner Jeffrey Loria almost fired Girardi on the spot during an August game when Girardi told Loria to stop heckling the home plate umpire. Girardi may have done a decent managing job for the Yankees but you have to think that future teams will take a more cautious approach when/if considering him for managerial openings. I don’t know Girardi so I cannot attest to his personality beyond what I’ve seen during his pre- and post-game interviews but there’s something there, if I was an owner, that would give me pause about Girardi. I have no hard feelings against the man and I hope that he gets another opportunity in MLB but it was clearly time for a change.

Credit:  John Raoux, Associated Press
Upon the conclusion of the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida, this week, GM Brian Cashman resumed his managerial interviews.  

Former Yankee Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens was in the Bronx on Thursday. I really like Meulens. I know that a lot of people have scoffed at the guy and he has no managerial experience, but I like his communication style (handles himself very well in interviews) and he is clearly a guy that knows baseball and relationships.  He is fluent with multiple languages including a little bit of Japanese which gives him the ability to talk directly to the majority of players without the assistance of interpreters. He enjoys a great relationship with shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom he managed in the WBC Classic. Meulens has been part of three World Series championships in San Francisco.  

Credit:  ESPN Internet Ventures
Cashman also spoke with former Yankee Aaron Boone on Friday. Boone is best remembered for his home run to the beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 American League Championship Series, a year before the Sox finally ended the Curse of the Bambino. It was Boone’s 2004 knee injury, suffered in a pre-season basketball game, that led the Yankees to their acquisition of Alex Rodriguez and the drama that ensued. Boone, as everyone knows, comes from a family rich in MLB tradition, with a grandfather, father and brother that were all Major Leaguers. There’s  no doubt he is an intelligent guy but like Meulens, no managerial experience, and unlike Meulens, no coaching experience.  


I think either Meulens or Boone could do a good job if they are surrounded by the right coaches. I kind of like the idea of using either Al Pedrique or Eric Wedge as the new manager’s bench coach. I would not be disappointed to see Rob Thomson return to that role. It appears that Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward is next up for a managerial interview. I don’t really know much about Woodward so I don’t have any opinions about him.  At this point, I clearly prefer Meulens and Boone over him. Not sure if Woodward will be the last of the candidates before we start Round 2 or if there will be more guys paraded through the Bronx.  The next round will feature a trip to Florida to meet with the Steinbrenner family.  I’d probably take the candidates by Trinity Memorial Gardens in Trinity, FL. If the ground rumbles (the Boss turning over in his grave), you know the candidate is probably not the one.  

I am anxious for the Yankees to make a decision, but I understand they are under no pressure to hurry and can afford to take their time. Outside of Shohei Otani, they do not figure to be big players in Free Agency despite the greedy nature of us, the fans. CC Sabathia has already said that he’d return despite not knowing who the next manager will be. So, for now, we wait…

All Rise for the Judge!…

Congratulations to Aaron Judge for being named AL Rookie of the Year, as expected, and his second place finish in the AL MVP voting. I expected the AL MVP vote to be much closer than it really was. Jose Altuve took 27 of 30 first place votes with only two going to Judge. There was some outrage from the media but the class exhibited by Judge was so professional and heartfelt (as we have come to expect with the big slugger). After Altuve won, Judge tweeted: “M-V-P!!! Nobody more deserving than you!! Congrats on an unforgettable 2017!! @JoseAltuve27”. Judge makes me proud that he is a Yankee every day.

Credit:  SI.com
Yankee Dreams extinguished…

The Yankees lost a long-time farmhand and one-time top prospect when outfielder Mason Williams signed a minor league free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. I am sorry that it never worked out for Williams in Pinstripes. I had very high hopes at one point that never came to fruition. Hopefully, for his sake, the change of scenery helps him achieve some the success that had once seemed inevitable for the talented 26-year-old.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
Another former Yankees prospect, a few years removed from the organization, pitcher Manny Banuelos, has signed a minors deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Williams and Banuelos were the top prospects with the Yankees. Of course Banuelos was part of the Killer B’s (the trio of Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman). 


The only Killer B that made it was Betances. Like Williams, I hope that Banuelos can find success in Chavez Ravine. He has failed to impress the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels so maybe fourth time’s a charm. I really liked Banuelos as a young prospect and had hoped to see him achieve MLB success. 

And we continue to wait. Go Yankees!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Scott Boras, STFU!


When Scott Boras talks it seems that a lot of people around Major League Baseball, both the fans and the people directly associated with the game, tend to listen which has proven to be a great power for the super-agent over the years. The problem with some people is when they learn that they let that power and their ego go to their head and it ruins them. Now I’m not saying this has happened yet with Boras or that it will happen at all but I will say one thing, his comments on Derek Jeter and the purchase of the Miami Marlins really kind of rubbed me the wrong way. It made me want to scream, it made me want to head down to the GM Meetings and tell Boras to simply “STFU!” 

Boras was very critical of Jeter and his group of investors that purchased the Miami Marlins and their decision to slash payroll by subsequently trading away Giancarlo Stanton. Boras was quoted as saying the following in a USA Today interview from the GM meetings: 

“When you’re looking at building a market and you have an All-Star outfield with all he dynamics,’’ Boras said, “and you have a club being purchased at $1.2 billion, what happens is that you got a marketplace saying the new owners are coming in here and saying they’re making the franchise better. We’re excited. And then where we are now creating a plan where we are not going to win five or six years.

“We’re going to basically reduce our payroll. We’re going to rid our team of our substantial stars. We’re going to set up this five-, six-year plan. We basically have a system in baseball where we have sales of franchises, and we have a reduction.

“Basically the idea is to reduce the debt service to pay for the franchise by reducing all major league payroll, not being competitive, basically using the argument that we’re going to build a successful team through development.

“That has nothing to do with the fans. It has nothing to do with winning. It has nothing to do with anything other than a financial plan that suits ownership without consideration of the impact it has on Major League Baseball.’’ 


So let’s discuss this. Is Boras more worried about the fans of Miami and the fans of Major League Baseball, or is he more worried about himself and how a trade of the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich or whoever else the Marlins decide to trade could affect his clients on the free agent market this season, and how that could affect his wallet? Call me pessimistic but I am leaning towards the latter. I am leaning towards Boras knowing that he has that platform and the power to say and change things around the league during this time of the year and I think that Boras is taking full advantage of that. Who could blame him? I don’t, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to agree with his actions either. 

IBWAA SELECTS ALTUVE, STANTON IN MVP VOTE

IBWAA SELECTS ALTUVE, STANTON IN MVP VOTE
 
Los Angeles – The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) announced the winners in its Most Valuable Player category Thursday, with the Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve winning the group’s American League award, and Giancarlo Stanton, of the Miami Marlins, being selected in the National League.
 
Altuve received 107 first-place votes (72.79%) and 1838 points while being named on 146 of 147 ballots (99.32%). Others receiving first-place votes include Aaron Judge (28), Mike Trout (7) and Francisco Lindor (2).
 
Stanton received 58 first-place votes (40%) and 1492 points while being named on 144 of 145 (97.96%) ballots. Others receiving first-place votes include Paul Goldschmidt (25), Nolan Arenado (20), Joey Votto (16), Charlie Blackmon (15) and Anthony Rendon (7).
 
Election results are as follows:
 
AL MVP
 
1st Place:                  Jose Altuve, Houston Astros – 1838 points
2nd Place:                 Aaron Judge , New York Yankees – 1341
3rd Place :                 
 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 1067
4th Place:                 Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians – 997
5th Place:                  Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians – 562
6th Place:                  Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians – 389
7th Place:                  Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox – 376 
8th Place:                  Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox – 280
9th Place:                 George Springer, Houston Astros – 207
10th Place:                Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 202
 
NL MVP
 
1st Place:                  Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins – 1492 points
2nd Place:                 
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks – 1115 
3rd Place
:                  Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds – 1025
4th Place:                  Charlie Blackmon , Colorado Rockies – 1003
5th Place:                  Nolan Arenado , Colorado Rockies – 959
6th Place:                  Anthony Rendon , Washington Nationals – 577
7th Place:                  Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs – 512
8th Place:                  Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers – 253
9th Place:                  Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers – 243
10th Place:                Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals – 185
 
Ballot tabulations by Brian Wittig & Associates, using the Borda Method.
 
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
 
Among others, IBWAA members include Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck, Billy-Ball.com; Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Jon Heyman and Jesse Spector, Today’s Knuckleball; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Brian Kenny, MLBN; Will Leitch, Sports on Earth; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com; Tom Hoffarth and J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times; Tracy Ringolsby, MLB.com; Ken Rosenthal, TheAthletic.com; Eno Sarris, FanGraphs; David Schoenfield of ESPN.com; Jim Bowden and Bill Arnold.
 
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit 
www.ibwaa.com.

Contact:
 
Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA
baseballsavvy@aol.com

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thunder Extend Netting At ARM & HAMMER Park for 2018 Season

Thunder Extend Netting At ARM & HAMMER Park for 2018 Season
Extended Netting (1)

The Thunder, presented by NJM Insurance, are pleased to announce that the backstop netting at ARM & HAMMER Park has been extended for the 2018 season.

The backstop net at ARM & HAMMER Park will be the first in Minor League Baseball to use the green MLB-exclusive knotless netting. The backstop netting will extend in a triangle shape to the end of the dugout on both sides of the ballpark.

"Following the recommendations of Major League Baseball, we explored many options for how we could comply," said Thunder GM/COO Jeff Hurley. "Fan safety is a top priority for us and we found this netting from C & H Baseball was the perfect balance of safety without affecting sightlines for our fans."

The project has been completed for Opening Day at ARM & HAMMER Park as the franchise prepares for it's 25th season.

"Providing a great ballpark experience includes ensuring the safety of spectators," said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. "I applaud Thunder management for taking this step to further protect fans without detracting from their ability to enjoy the game."

C & H Baseball, based in Lakewood Ranch, FL, has produced baseball field equipment, backstop netting, and stadium padding design, production, and installation for over 49 years.

Your Thunder, presented by NJM Insurance, will begin the 2018 season, the 25th in franchise history, on Thursday, April 5 when they host the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants). Season tickets, Pic-A-Plans, Mini Plans and Group Tickets are on sale now at www.TrentonThunder.com and by phone at 609-394-3300.

--THUNDER--

“Curacao Kid” Andruw Jones Signs on for RiverDogs Hot Stove Banquet

“Curacao Kid” Andruw Jones Signs on for RiverDogs Hot Stove Banquet
Braves slugger and ten-time gold glover will be the featured guest at the 14th annual event

CHARLESTON, S.C. – One of the great all-around players of his generation, a winner of ten consecutive gold gloves, ten straight 20-homer seasons, and a 2005 Silver Slugger Award, former Braves great Andruw Jones will be the featured guest at the Charleston RiverDogs’ 14th Annual Hot Stove Banquet & Auction presented by Tom McQueeney State Farm on Friday, February 2 at the Charleston Marriott Crystal Ballroom.

The RiverDogs, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, welcome a former member of the Braves for the eighth time and a former Yankee, also for an eighth instance in the annual event’s history. The Hot Stove Banquet has become one of the most highly anticipated occasions by RiverDogs fans each season.  Past speakers include Bobby Cox, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Ryne Sandberg, Wade Boggs, and Goose Gossage in an event that brings baseball fans together to celebrate the magic of America’s pastime.

Jones, a five-time All-Star, will share behind-the-scenes stories, answer questions, and pose for pictures. The event will open with a cocktail hour and silent auction that includes baseball memorabilia from past Hot Stove speakers, collectibles from RiverDogs Director of Fun Bill Murray, vacation packages, and more, beginning at 6pm.

Tom McQueeney State Farm Insurance is the presenting sponsor for the 11th consecutive year. Proceeds from the Hot Stove Banquet benefit The Citadel, College of Charleston and Charleston Southern baseball scholarship funds.

Over an accomplished 17-year big league career, Jones collected over 1,900 hits and slugged 434 home runs while batting .254/.337/.486 with 152 stolen bases. He spent 12 years with Atlanta after signing as an international free agent at age 16 with the Braves out of Willemstad, Curacao in 1993, and finished his career in pinstripes over two seasons with the Yankees.

Inserted as a regular his rookie year in 1996, Jones made his Major League debut as just a 19-year-old, and helped the Braves win a second consecutive NL pennant in his first of ten years in which he both won a gold glove and produced at least 20 homers from 1998-2007. Jones broke out as arguably the game’s biggest young star during his rookie season after Braves GM Mark Schuerholz dealt away Mark Whitten to the Mariners following a World Series title in 1995, confident in the 19-year-old’s ability. Jones was named the top prospect in the South Atlantic League the year prior after leading the Class A circuit in runs scored (104) and stolen bases (56) while batting .277, and being named the Braves’ Minor League Player of the Year.

The “Curacao Kid” played a crucial role in Atlanta’s 1996 run that just fell short, including becoming the youngest player to hit a home run in the October Classic, taking Andy Pettitte deep in his first at-bat of Game One before adding a second inning dinger off Brian Boehringer to etch his name into history as the first player since 1972 to hit home runs in their first two World Series at-bats.

Jones had his best season as a pro in 2005 when he hit .263 with 51 homers that led all of baseball and 128 RBI to earn the Hank Aaron Award as the National League’s top hitter, Silver Slugger accolades, and a second-place finish in the NL MVP race behind Albert Pujols. The 6’1” slugger’s age-28 season was the peak of an impressive tenure in the Majors that included a pair of 40-homer seasons (seven 30 HR seasons), five 100-RBI campaigns, and four years in which he scored at least 100 runs. His ten career gold glove awards in the outfield are bested only by Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente who hold 12 each.
Individual tickets to the Hot Stove Banquet are $75 and can be purchased online at riverdogs.com and rileyparkevents.com. Groups can reserve a table of eight for $600 and a table for ten at $750 by contacting the RiverDogs Special Event Department at (843) 577-DOGS (3647).
RiverDogs season tickets, half-season ticket packages, and flex plans, including options to the Riley Park Club, are now available for the 2018 campaign. The RiverDogs begin the season on April 12 when they host the Kannapolis Intimidators at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, preceded by a weeklong road trip to open the year and an exhibition opener at The Joe on April 3 against Myrtle Beach. Ticket information can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com/tickets.


--RIVERDOGS--

Previous Hot Stove Speakers
2017 – Tom Glavine
2016 – Ryne Sandberg
2015 – Goose Gossage & Brett Gardner
2014 – Phil Niekro & Javy Lopez
2013 – Wade Boggs
2012 – John Smoltz
2011 – Bobby Cox
2010 – Dale Murphy
2009 – Gaylord Perry
2008 – Jeff Francoeur
2007 – Tommy John
2006 – Jim Bouton
2005 – Bobby Richardson