Monday, November 4, 2013

Current Arizona Fall League Standings - 11/5

The Scorpions are currently 5 games out of first place in the AFL East. 

Scorpions finally snap losing streak with 7-4 win in Peoria

Tonight, the Scorpions finally snapped their 8 game losing streak by beating the Peoria Javelinas on the road, 7-4. This one was tied after nine innings of play, but due to three Scottsdale runs in the top of the tenth the Scorps were able to come out with a much-needed W. 

Pinstripes outfielder Mason Williams did not start this one, but did pinch run in the tenth, scoring one of those three runs. Besides him, reliever Brett Gerritse also appeared in this victory, giving up 2 runs in 1 inning. That's not great, but you know, they won. Who cares?

The Yankee Stadium Experience - Part Two: NYY Steak


The Old Yankee Stadium had grit and walls caked with history.  Although the Stadium most of us grew up with wasn't ACTUALLY the original stadium.  You see the retrofits made to the Stadium in the 70s took away some of the older features.  The New Yankee Stadium re-instituted many of those features to give the appearance of a 1920's ballpark in the 21st century...and with it, 21st Century amenities.

Amenities like restaurants within the Stadium.  What a marvel concept.  Not only can you get concessions representing every culinary palate imaginable (more on that in another YSE to come), but you can have a fine dining experience surrounded by Yankees memorabilia in one of the finest steak restaurants in the 5 burroughs, NYY Steak.

Make sure to call ahead, because you won't be just walking into NYY Steak...this restaurant has an exclusive feel, but is only limited to whomever calls in first!  Where in the Stadium IS NYY Steak you ask? Well, there are 2 entrances to NYY Steak, one from the outside that takes you through the lobby of the Hard Rock Cafe near Gate 6 and one from inside the Stadium within the Great Hall (see pictures below)...there is plenty of signage to direct you and you can always ask one of those helpful people holding a "Can I Help You?" signs.


Not the Person to Ask About NYY Steak...

What makes this Steak House different from others?  Well for one...the view.  Where else can you eat great food with banners the size of your house in your sight line or with a wall filled, absolutely filled with the signatures of Yankees past?  The answer: nowhere else.  NYY Steak is one of a kind (although there are 2 more locations now, one in Manhattan and one at the Seminole Casino).

My view of the Great Hall from our seats when we ate there.
To top it all off, the food is spectacular.  I suggest ordering their signature dish, the Long Bone Ribeye (27 oz of succulent meat for $58).  They sear NYY Steak into the bone...INTO THE BONE!  Want an appetizer? The jumbo shrimp cocktail will cost you $19, but it was worth it.  Look, I'm not suggesting going there every time you visit...I've only been there once in all the times that we have been to the Stadium.  While you are there you might as well splurge just this once.  And get an order of onion rings (err...Championship Rings)...they are exquisite.  And they bring everything to your table on plates with retired numbers engraved in them...pretty cool if you ask me.

Long Bone Ribeye
Championship Rings
Signature China - Babe Ruth Edition
It really is a once in a blue moon type of deal for the "regular" fan, which I would include myself know, the people that probably can't afford it, but really can't afford not to every once in awhile.  I took my parents there on one of our family visits to the Stadium...dinner for three was right around $200, which is the equivalent to a trip to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

For more information on NYY Steak and to make year-round reservations, click on the link below:
NYY Steak

Mariano Rivera Named Comeback Player of the Year

Mariano Rivera has been named the American League Comeback Player of the Year for the 2013 season with the New York Yankees. Rivera missed most of the 2012 season after tearing his ACL shagging fly balls in the outfield in Kansas City and came back in 2013 for his farewell tour firing on all cylinders.

Mo finished the 2013 season with a 6-2 record with a 2.11 ERA, 44 saves, 1.047 WHIP, and a 2.4 WAR

Francisco Liriano took home the award for the National League in case you were wondering.

What the Yankees Can Learn From the Cardinals and Red Sox

This is a little painful to write, but here goes:

For the first time since 1999, the teams with the best records in their respective leagues met in the World Series. The Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two to win their third World Series title in 10 seasons. Both teams finished with 97 wins , but their roads to the Fall Classic were very different.

The Cardinals were in the World Series for the second time in three years. After surviving a tough five game series against upstart Pittsburgh, they clinched their 19th NL pennant after disposing of the star-studded Dodgers in six games thanks to some homegrown prospects, including NLCS MVP and 21 year-old rookie RHP Michael Wacha.

Despite the loss, the Cards will continue to be one of the top teams in baseball for a long time, thanks to a plethora of young aces like Wacha, Joe Kelly, and Shelby Miller. Their bullpen is loaded with power arms who throw close to 100 mph. They also have young studs coming up like OF Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong, who got some burn in the Fall Classic.

The Yankees need a Michael Wacha. Badly
Let's not forget that the Cardinals' haven't even been in position to draft so high. Wacha was drafted with the pick they received from the Angels when Albert Pujols left in 2012. He and Miller were selected 19th overall in their respective drafts (2012 and 2009). Kelly was a third rounder in 2009. Oscar Taveras was an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year-old in 2008. 

The Red Sox, on the other hand, completed one of the most stunning turn-arounds in sports in years, going from last place in 2012 to World champions. After they dumped over $270 million on the Dodgers, Boston signed scrappers like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and ALCS MVP Koji Uehara to short-term deals, and had several underachieving players have bounce back seasons, lifting them to their best record since 2004.

Everything went right for Boston this year. They could have easily settled for 85 wins in maybe a wild card spot, but they won the whole darn thing. Their three top pitchers, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey all bounced back big time this year. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia managed to stay healthy. Finally, of course, all their short-term investments came up paydirt.

So what does this have to do with the Yankees? Well, a lot. The Yankees missed the playoffs winning just 85 games this year, as you all know. A lot of that has to do with the injuries, but a common theme every season for them, the age and lack of young talent, finally started to bite them in 2013. Instead of young guys, the Yankees regularly started has-beens and never-beens like Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and Chris Stewart every single day.

The Cards and Sox (dare I say it) have provided the blueprint for greatness for the Yankees. Both teams, while having high payrolls, were built by bright GMs with smart short-term deals and outstanding minor league development, both of which the Yankees currently lack.

The Red Sox managed to strike gold with short term deals with guys like Victorino
The surplus of pitching the Cardinals have from their own system is absolutely ridiculous, featuring three young aces and several power arms in their bullpen. Of course, don’t forget Oscar Taveras, a top five prospect in baseball. The Yankees have had young arms too, but poor development and bad luck had minimized their impact in the last several years. Let’s just say Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly, and Shelby Miller could end being what Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy did not become.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox, after paying much less than they did during their fateful shopping spree in the 2010-11 offseason. But also, they have plenty of homegrown guys on their roster as well. Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury were Theo Epstein products all first making their marks in their last title run in 2007.

Now, they have plenty of young talent coming up next year led by Xander Bogaerts, who hit .296/.412/.481/.893 in 34 plate appearances in these playoffs. He’ll likely be right at home on the Red Sox’ left side of the infield, possibly Pedroia’s double play partner. The Yankees need a Xander Bogaerts.

Basically, the Cardinals and Red Sox are trying to become what the Yankees have been since 1995: a long run of success sustained by homegrown talent from within as well as some high priced talent. The Yankees need to find a way to get back to that.

The Yankees don’t have a Michael Wacha or a Xander Bogaerts. They need one with Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and soon Derek Jeter gone to retirement. There’s no youth movement coming in next year, maybe the year or two after. That’s totally unacceptable. Like Boston and St. Louis, the Yankees need a strong young core like in the 90s if they’re going to get back to being legitimate World Series contenders over the long term.

The Yankees can't win with old, washed up players like Vernon Wells
If the Yankees are going to be competitive in 2014, they have no choice but to be big spenders. Their likely targets include catcher Brian McCann (enough of Chris Stewart already!), Jacoby Ellsbury or Carlos Beltran (no more Ichiro and Vernon Wells! Please!), Matt Garza or Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka (easy upgrade over Phil Hughes!), and of course, Robinson Cano. Cano is by far the best second baseman in the game, and he demands big money like A-Rod or Teixeira, so the Yankees are damned if they do sign him and damned if they don’t.

But that’s another problem in itself. Is solving the problem on the short term again still worth it if it means they aren’t immediately focused on rebuilding? Keep in mind what the Red Sox did this season was nothing short of amazing. They had everything go right for them, and the risk was minimal, since they signed several mid-range free agents to short-term contracts.

Signing guys to long-term deals into their mid to late 30s is a huge risk that the Yankees are willing to take on. But is it worth it? Everything will also need to go right for them for them to win in 2014, as it did this year for Boston. Like Lackey, Buchholz, and Lester for Boston, the Yankees need a bounce back season for their ace CC Sabathia. They also need whoever is left on offense to be healthy, especially Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira.

But hey, if the Red Sox could go from 93 losses to World Champions, it’s not impossible for the Yankees to return to glory next year.

A Rod Failed Stimulant Test In 2006

Reports today claim that Alex Rodriguez failed a stimulant test back in 2006 as a member of the New York Yankees. 

More to come when I am not typing while driving :)

Granderson, Cano, & Kuroda Get Qualifying Offers

With today being the final day to offer your free agents a qualifying offer the New York Yankees have extended qualifying offers to three of their free agents. Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and Curtis Granderson all received a qualifying offer and have a week to either accept or decline the offer. Accepting means they would be signing a one year deal worth $14.1 million with the Yankees. Declining and signing with another club means the Yankees would receive a compensation pick in this years draft. 

The only player who may accept is Curtis Granderson but with a multi year deal being rumored from the Grandy camp I doubt it. Kuroda and Cano were offered offers as a formality as I believe both will be back with the Yankees, or in Japan in Kuroda's case, for 2014. 

All Time New York Yankees Team - The Rotation

 Andy Pettitte
Whitey Ford
 Ron Guidry
 Red Ruffing
 Lefty Gomez

The New York Yankees have surprisingly not had as many huge starters in their history as you would think. After 27 World Series championships you would think that this would be a tough list to make but it really wasn't. Andy Pettitte leads the Yankees in strike outs, wins, and a ton of other stats and definitely has a place on this team. Andy passed Whitey Ford in many of those stats as Whitey has long been thought of as the greatest Yankees starter of all time so he was also an easy pick. Ron Guidry was a co captain along with Willie Randolph for the 1986-1988 seasons and was our one bright spot in the rotation for those long and terrible years in the 80's. After that the list got tough.

I originally had Jack Chesbro on the list as he enjoyed a 41 win season once but it was early in the 1900's and was for the Highlanders, not the Yankees, so I chose to leave him off. I also had Allie Reynolds on the list but he was versatile with him jumping back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. I settled, for lack of a better word, for Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez to finish out the rotation. Interesting fact is Red Ruffing currently has the highest ERA of any player in the Hall of Fame with a 3.80 ERA but he is in the hall nonetheless.

Here is my list, what's yours?

Remember The Bullpen

The vast majority of the free agent talk has revolved around two men... Robinson Cano and Masahiro Tanaka, and for good reason. Cano has been the Yankees best hitter for years, while the retirement of Andy Pettitte and likely loss of Hiroki Kuroda mean the rotation needs a top of the rotation starter.

"Bring back Robbie! And sign Tanaka!"

But we can't forget that the retirement of Mariano Rivera has left a big hole in the bullpen. Not when it comes to the closer role, as I've lobbied hard for David Robertson to take over that spot for a while. And there are plenty of viable arms to fill other reliever roles, but a little extra oomph would sure be nice.

Like I said in my "What I'd Like To See" series, I wouldn't be totally against trying Shawn Kelley as the 8th inning guy, but I can't say I'd be 100% comfortable with it. Kelley did have a very nice strikeout rate of 12 per nine innings last season, although it was well above his career number of 8.6 before 2013. And while Shawn has a walk rate that's a touch too high for such a spot in the bullpen, it's not like D-Rob wouldn't be able to come in for a 4+-out save once in a while (In his career, Rivera completed 241 games while getting more than three outs).

You can go here to see a list of free agent relievers, however I'm going to go over the ones that interest me...

Edward Mujica

Before 2013, Mujica has saved just four games (two for the Padres in 2009 and two for the Marlins in 2012), however Edward ended up saving 37 games for the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals last season. His strikeout rate of 7.2 per nine innings in his career isn't overly impressive, especially when you consider that it was only at 6.4 in 2013, so that may be of concern. But when you put so few runners on base, I don't think you need to worry. Over his last 275.2 innings pitched, Mujica's WHIP is a very low 1.001.

I expect the 29 year old would be able to find a closing gig in 2014, but the Yankees should keep an eye on him.

Jesse Crain

Crain has spent the last three years with the Chicago White Sox, where he's had an ERA of 2.10 that goes along with a similarly nice WHIP of 1.167. In his last two seasons, Crain has posted the same strikeout rate of 11.3 per nine innings, and saw his walk rate drop from 4.3 per nine innings to only 2.7.

Unlike Mujica, Crain isn't a good choice to be a team's closer, seeing as how 4 saves in 28 opportunities throughout his career. That's not to say he's blown 24 saves, just that he hasn't gotten a chance to finish games and thus earn the save. The point is, unlike Mujica, he's far more likely to accept a set-up role.

But don't think this is a no-brainer, as I've so far left out a big issue... Crain is currently recovering from a shoulder strain that resulted in him missing the entire second half of the season. Jesse has had issues with his throwing shoulder a handful of times in his career, including having surgery on it in 2009 to repair a torn labrum. So there's plenty of risk involved here. But that risk could make the 2013 All Star inexpensive, and worth a try.

Juan Carlos Oviedo

The former Leo Nunez, who saved 92 games for the Marlins between 2009 and 2011, was signed to a minor league contract with the Rays last season. He didn't appear in any games last season, as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. And he barely threw in 2012, accumulating only six innings in the minors.

This is another one of those "let's take a shot on an injured guy" things, which I'm sure some fans are getting sick of. But we're not talking about a regular player here, like what other reclamation projects were signed for. If Oviedo/Nunez didn't work out, that's when somebody like Kelley would get a shot. Or that could lead to a youngster like Dellin Betances getting a bigger role with the team.

Juan's career strikeout rate of 7.3 per nine innings isn't awesome by any means, but it was at 9.8 in 2010. And his WHIP has hovered around 2.50 since 2007. His walk-rate isn't bad either, as it only went above 3 per nine innings once since 2007.

Jose Veras

Veras first came to the Yankees in 2006, but was never given that much of a chance. Over four seasons with the Bombers, Jose only threw 103.2 innings, before he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for cash.

He's done a fairly good job in the past three seasons, with an ERA of 3.50 while striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings. Jose has walked a few too many batters in his career, so that would concern me a bit. But he did save 21 games last season, while tells me he could handle late-game pressure.

Joe Nathan

At one point Joe Nathan was considered one of the best closers in the game. Before having Tommy John surgery before the 2010 season, Joe had saved 246 games in the previous six seasons for the Minnesota Twins. His first season back from TJS was rough, but from 2012 to 2013 Joe has recorded 80 saves for the Texas Rangers.

Nathan's strikeout rate of 10.5 per nine innings, along with an ERA just above 2.00, makes him a very attractive candidate to pair up with David Robertson.

The only question when it comes to going after Nathan is cost. Although he will turn 39 in a few weeks, Nathan is looking at getting closer-type money rather than middle reliever-type money. That could mean he'll get $12 million per year, rather than $12 million over three years like most quality middle relievers would be looking at.

Then again, $12 million a season may be a bit high, but the point is still the same... Joe Nathan is not going to easily fit into the austerity budget, especially with all the holes the team needs to fill in key/regular spots.

That gives the Yankees two very nice but more costly options in Mujica and Nathan, a solid option in Jose Veras, and two good reclamation projects in Crain and Oviedo. With the team apparently being interested in guys like Granderson, McCann, Beltran, Choo, and Tanaka, I see no way they can spend much on the bullpen. So Jesse Crain would be my choice. But if the front office says "eff it", and opens up the checkbook, then by all means go after Joe Nathan.

Yankees Interested In Omar Infante

The Yankees want to resign Robinson Cano back in the worst way and will do everything reasonable to do so but just in case that does not work out the Yankees and Brian Cashman have reached out to free agent Omar Infante and a back up plan. Infante, 32, did not receive a qualifying offer so there would be no draft pick compensation for the second basemen coming off of a strong .318/.345/.450 this season with the Tigers. The speculation has risen to at least a three year deal worth $25,000,000 for Infante which could rise significantly if the Yankees don't get Cano back in the fold so stay tuned.

The All Time New York Yankees Team

The New York Yankees have one of the most storied histories in all of baseball including 27 World Series Championships, 17 more than any other team in Major League history, and some of the best players to ever play the game of baseball. The Yankees have the most history and the most tradition of any team in all of sports, not just baseball, and have the most retired jersey numbers than any other team. It is difficult in some positions to even pick a "best of all time" at that position but I will attempt to do my best here in a series of posts. Check back every day to see who I think makes the cut as a member of the all time New York Yankees team.

This Day In New York Yankees History 11/4

On this day in 2001 all Yankees fans witnessed Luis Gonzalez bloop a single over a drawn in infield over Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to walk off in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. As much as this one hurt to lose this was, and I know I have said this a couple of times, the greatest World Series of all time in my opinion.

The starting pitching made a little bit of history in that same Game 7 of the 2001 World Series as for the first time since 1985 we have a pair of 20 game winners starting the game. The Yankees started Roger Clemens and his 20-3 record and he was faced off with Curt Schilling and his 22-6 record for the D Backs. The previous World Series that two 20 game winners faced off was when Bret Saberhagen and his 20-6 record for the Royals faced off with John Tudor and his 21-8 record for the St. Louis Cardinals.

On this day in 2003 the Yankees hired Don Mattingly to be their hitting coach replacing Rick Down. It is always kind of cool to bring back Yankees legends to be part of the coaching staff. Mattingly would later be promoted to bench coach for Joe Torre and was one of the top candidated to replace Torre in 2008 before the Yankees decided on Joe Girardi.

On this day in 2005 the New York Yankees hired former co captain and Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry as their new pitching coach replacing Mel Stottlemyer. Former Red Sox Joe Kerrigan also joined the team on this day as the bullpen coach.

On this day in 2009 Hideki Matsui and the Yankees went crazy on the Philadelphia Phillies to capture their 27th World Series championship. The Yankees would beat the defending champions 7-3 in this game and would win the series in six games with Hideki Matsui taking home the World Series MVP award. Matsui tied a World Series record with six RBI's while Andy Pettitte became only the second pitcher to ever collect the victory in the clinching game in all three postseason series.