Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fangraphs Interview w/ Yankees JR Murphy

Fangraphs ran an interview with Yankees prospect JR Murphy today and it is really a great read that I had to share with you today on this slow Wednesday evening. CLICK HERE to read the original article and give a view or two and I will paraphrase below here for everyone else.

Murphy on his positional past: “I started catching my sophomore year of high school. I then missed my junior year, so I only caught two years prior to being drafted. When I was drafted, I was unsure of what they wanted me to do. They told me I was going to catch.
“I played the majority of my first two years behind the plate. I also played some third, maybe 10 games in each of those years. They basically wanted to see how I looked [at both positions]. I wanted it to be catching — I’ve always loved catching — and that’s what they saw fit.

“[Originally] the move was made at my high school. I was a pitcher and third baseman prior to being a catcher. He said ‘Hey, there aren’t too many 5-foot-10 pitchers out there in the big leagues. I’m going to stick you behind the plate and see how you like it.’ It evolved from there.”

On developing as a catcher: “It’s been a long process. I was not very good when I was drafted. I’ve come a long way. We have very good player development here in the organization, including some really good catching guys, so I’ve learned a lot. In many ways, I’m completely different from when I signed. Slowly, but surely, there’s been a total evolution.

“Catching is as much mental as it is physical, and I’ve made great strides in that area. It goes back to all the catching knowledge we have in this organization. Don Wakamatsu is here. Julio [Mosquera] our minor league catching guy. Joe [Girardi] and Tony [Pena]. I’ve also talked to the other catchers in the organization.”

On calling a game: “You have a plan, and you also have to be able to think along with the hitter. Actually, you have to stay one step ahead of what the hitter is thinking. Reading swings is important. That’s something Larry [Rothschild] stresses a lot, reading swings and knowing what to throw after that.

“When you play a team many times throughout the year, they learn your tendencies. You have to be careful not to fall into patterns when you’re calling games.”

On priorities and his hitting approach:
 “Hitting has been my most constant since I’ve signed. That being said, it’s such a grind catching that you have to learn to balance the two. My No. 1 priority is catching and if I hit, great. A lot more time is put into my catching than my hitting.

“My [hitting] approach varies depending on the situation, but at this level, you mostly just want to put together good at bats and help the team win any way you can. I try not to guess along with the pitcher, but there are spots where you can open up and do that somewhat. As catcher, you’re calling a game yourself, so you kind of get a feel for what they‘re doing against you. Even so, you mostly just want to stick to your approach and react.”

On his first big league start: “I was anxious. Once I found out I was playing, I just wanted the first pitch to be thrown so I could be all right. I was a little antsy to get the game started, but once it did, I was OK. For the most part [C.C. Sabathia and I] were on the same page. He may have shaken off a few times, but it went fine. I felt comfortable back there.
“I’m not surprised I’m here. I’ve put a lot of hard work in, and I’m confident. I’m obviously glad I’m here, and I hope I’m here for a lot longer. I feel ready.”

Derby Is A Daddy; The 3rd Generation Bat Dog Is Here

(Trenton, NJ)- Derby, the Golden Retriever bat dog for the Trenton Thunder Minor League Baseball team, recently became a father and the Thunder are proud to introduce the newest four-legged member of the Thunder family.  

The Thunder gained worldwide attention starting in 2002 when then two-year old "Chase That Golden Thunder" joined the team as an official bat dog, entertainer and mascot. In 2008, Chase fathered a litter of puppies. His son "Home Run Derby" followed in his father's pawsteps in Trenton while "Ollie" continued the family business with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA, Toronto). Chase and Derby worked alongside each other at ARM & HAMMER Park from 2010 until Chase's passing last July.  

The puppy will make many appearances at Thunder games this season. He will be trained by Shelly's School for Dogs in Millstone, NJ and should make his bat dog debut for Thunder fans during the 2015 season. The puppy, like his dad Derby, is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER.

The puppy was born on December 15 at Goldilocks Goldens of Levittown, PA. Derby's mate Reba had a litter of two puppies, a boy and girl.  

Being posted with permission from the Trenton Thunder organization. The original article can be seen HERE

Derek Jeter Is A Single Man Again

Derek Jeter is a single man again after he broke up with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Hannah Davis. I think the question that everybody wants to know is whether Davis got a gift basket or not, well she did so don't worry about her. Jeter reportedly dumped her because she was becoming too famous for him, does Jeter have a God complex? This isn't the first time he has dumped a girlfriend right before they really blew up in the media and such.

Yeah Jeets!

Meet A Prospect: Michael O'Niell

Michael Aaron O'Niell, the nephew of former Yankees player and YES Network color commentator Paul O'Niell, was born on June,12 1992 in Powell, Ohio to Mike and Sandy O'Niell. Michael spent his time at Olentangy Liberty High School in Powell, Ohio and spent his college years at the University of Michigan. O'Niell stands 6'1" and weighs 195 lbs and is in his age 21 season heading into 2014. The Yankees drafted O'Niell in the third round of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft out of Michigan marking this as the second time the Yankees drafted O'Niell in the draft, the first time in the 42nd round of the 2010 draft out of High School. O'Niell signed a contract with the Yankees after being drafted and is now playing outfield for the Staten island Yankees in the New York Penn League.

O'Niell bats and throws right handed and as I said is an outfielder by trade playing in left field and center field as recent as this season. O'Niell had various accolades in his college baseball career including being named as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All American, he is fourth on Michigan's stolen base list, many player of the week awards, many All American team nominations, and was named the Big Ten prospect to watch before the 2013 season.

O'Niell made his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees in 2013 and finished the season appearing in 64 games and 281 plate appearances. Michael put up a slash line of .219/.282/.293/.575 which is probably not what he had in mind but at a more advanced level then some draft picks, like Gosuke Katoh and Eric Jagielo for instance,  and should be fine heading into 2014. O'Niell hit 17 doubles, one triple, and knocked in 14 RBI's for the Staten Island Yankees but was a cause for concern on the base paths stealing nine bases and being caught seven times. The fact that O'Niell also had 93 strike outs in 64 games and only drew 14 walks is another valid cause for concern but I do not put much stock into these first half seasons after the draft, for better or for worse. O'Niell will be fine and has plenty of time, seasoning, and development ahead of him and I look forward to watching him grow in a Yankees uniform.

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #55 Bucky Dent

Bucky Dent was the runner up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in his first season in 1974 while with the Chicago White Sox. Dent was traded to the New York Yankees before the 1977 season and quickly made an impact. Dent was a member of the American League All Star teams in 1980 and 1981. Dent finished with a career .349 World Series batting average and was a big part of the Yankees winning the World Series in 1977 and 1978.

Oh and Bucky F'in Dent!

55 days until Yankees Opening Day

Saber-Series: The History

A young twenty something year old fresh out of the Army and working the graveyard shifts at  Stokely-Van Camp's pork and beans cannery decided to use this time to begin writing about one of the true loves in his Bill James grew up an avid fan and writer and so when he returned home from South Korea and began working overnight he decided that it was the perfect opportunity to express his love for the game on paper. But there was something different about James, he was an avid fan of the game but like so many others he didn't care about the usual hoot and hollering of player interviews and clubhouse atmospheres. James was concerned with what was happening on the field and in his writings he would often like to pose questions such as  "Which pitchers and catchers allow runners to steal the most bases?" James would then follow this question up with an analysis to determine the answers and he would present it in his own witty way. Few took him seriously at the time and many editors feared that a general audience wouldn't understand or even care about what James had to offer. This didn't stop James because in 1977 he self published his first book, The Bill James Abstract.
The Bill James Abstract of 1977 contained 80 pages of James' own analysis, he compiled his data from hundreds of box scores from the previous year and these in depth statistics were the bulk of the book. The abstracts eventually picked up steam and every year fans waited for their copy to come in the mail during spring so that they could read up on their favorite players and teams. James was successful at this for quite a few years but after writing twelve of his abstracts, James discontinued the publication in 1988 citing a burnout related to his workload. James went onto write a few historical abstracts entitled "The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract" and also wrote a few other annuals with the most prominent being "The Bill James Handbook" which he began writing in 2003 and continues to this day. James who is considered to be the god-father of sabermetrics had no intention of slowing down and his work thrust advanced statistics into the mainstream creating a culture that not even MLB teams could ignore. Billy Beane, Oakland A's GM began applying advanced statistical analysis to his team beginning in the 90's. But as I said, James had no intention of leaving the game and in 2003 John Henry, new owner of the Boston Red Sox hired James.
The hiring of Bill James by the Boston Red Sox signaled a shift in the sails for Major League Baseball, teams, owners, and executives were slowly but surely beginning to see the advantages of using sabermetrics. Although not everybody was happy and Red Sox manager at the time Grady Little criticized James idea of ousting a traditional closer and using several marginally talented relievers to finish a game. James has always been very tight lipped about his involvement with the Red Sox front office but it is believed that James has gained much more respect and guiding input as the years progressed. In fact, James is often given credit for the Bo Sox first World Series win in 86 years (2004.) Since then the Red Sox have won two World Series and as of 2013 James is still employed by the team. 

James innovations with the game of baseball have been nearly unparalleled. He is credited with the creation of several notable stats used in sabermetrics today such as Runs Created, Range Factor, Win Shares, Defensive Efficiency Rating, etc. (all of which I will explain in future articles). His work clearly continues to resonate throughout the game and we owe him at least as devoted fans to better understand the fundamentals of the science.

Now I could go on for several dozen pages about the history of sabermetrics, its founders, its work, but what I am trying to accomplish here is give the average/above average fan a base of knowledge on sabermetrics. Bill James who like I said is often considered the god father of the science is a crucial part of that history and that is why I wanted to give you his background. Below I will list some URL's to James' work and if you have any other questions reagrding the history of the science or more about it's early days please feel free to ask. As for now this is all I am going to talk about it's history because I want to begin explaining the actual science.Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next edition of Saber-Series coming out later this week!

Prospects Month: Top 28 Yankees Prospects List #24

Continuing our look at The Greedy Pinstripes Top 28 prospects list as a part of Prospects Month we name our #24 prospect, Mark Montgomery!

Here is the complete up to date list. Check back every day as the list fills out and we continue our look at the prospects in the New York Yankees system during Prospects Month here on TGP.

24. Mark Montgomery
25. Rookie Davis
26. Jake Cave
27. Ben Gamel
28. Angelo Gumbs

Exclusive Interview W/ Yankees Gosuke Katoh

Today we are very excited to bring you an interview with Yankees second round pick in the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft Gosuke Katoh! Katoh burst onto the scene in a big way with huge power numbers out of High School after signing quickly out of the draft. Without further rambling from me here is the interview with Mr. Katoh. Enjoy!

TGP:  How cool was it to meet Ichiro, among the other Yankees players, last season? Is he someone that you looked up to as a young baseball player?

Gosuke Katoh: Ichiro was definitely someone I looked up to as a kid and I became a lefty hitter because of him. I modeled my swing after him as well as his lifestyle and work ethic. I obviously grew up watching the bronx bombers on TV so I was extremely nervous when I met them at Angels Stadium after the draft. However as stupid as this might sound, they are all human. They are all very nice and treated me like I was one of their own. It made me want to play along with them.

TGP: Can you share some of your memories with Jerry Coleman? We saw your touching tweet about following in his footsteps.

GK: I met Mr. Coleman unexpectedly through my agent because they both reside in San Diego. Although our meeting was short, I learned many life lessons from his experiences both on and off the field. 

TGP: Do you have a girlfriend/wife waiting for you at home while you are on the road so much?

GK: No but my family and goldfish are waiting :)

TGP: What are you doing this offseason to improve on your 2013 season?

GK: I gained 20 pounds from the end of the season and I also worked on being more balanced and making consistent contact offensively

TGP: What do you do during the offseason to keep yourself occupied?

GK: During my free time I like to just relax, listen to music, and spend time with my family and friends.

TGP:  What were your thoughts when the Yankees lost out on the Robinson Cano sweepstakes?

GK: Contrary to what everyone believes, I was actually very saddened when Cano left the Yankees. I was always a fan of him because we had a lot in common; we were both second basemen that hit lefty. I took many notes from him both defensively and offensively and even wore his number through high school. When I met him in Anaheim he was the funniest and kindest player there. He had me laughing all the time at second base when we were taking ground balls together. He kept me relaxed in front of all the other players and spectators. Even though this scenario might have been impossible, I always dreamed of being his teammate and playing together. But now that he has left I would like to fill in that spot and take the Yankees to another World Series title. 

TGP: Favorite restaurant to eat at?

GK: Chipotle

TGP: Have you seen much of Masahiro Tanaka pitching in Japan?

GK: He was a high school sensation so I had always watched him on tv during his teen years. I also watched him play at USC when Team Japan played USA in a friendly high school classic. I don't remember much but I remember how explosive his fastball was. 

TGP:  As a recent draft pick I am curious as to your thoughts on the new draft rules, draft slots, and such?

GK: I was never too worried about money to begin with. I knew that I couldn't sign because I want the money; I had to sign I wanted to start my career out of high school. The slots definitely brought the pay stubs to some players but in my opinion it was a lot less stressful because I knew what I would get if I got picked. No negotiations and a lot less work for both the advisers, players, and organization. 

TGP: I think this answer may be obvious but in my time around social media I have noticed there are two kinds of fans when it comes to prospects. You have the "prospect humpers" (myself being a self professed prospect humper) and a name yet to be determined (due to my lack of creativity) describing those who want to sell all the prospects off for the 37 year old "sure thing." Which category do you think yourself as a fan falls into?

GK: I like both. When I think of prospects I think of young energetic players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Yasiel Puig. However they are also obviously immature. These young prospects can learn from the veterans' experiences and wisdom so I think a good balance of both is a necessity for a championship team.

TGP: What current Major League player do you think you compare to the most?

GK: Orlando Hudson

TGP: I know you probably don't think of things like this but how long before you think we could see you in the Major Leagues? I have your ETA down as late 2016, is that accurate?

GK: Obviously the sooner the better but I will do what it takes to get to Yankee Stadium. I've been working hard to make my dream come true

TGP: If you could be the Yankees GM for a day what would you do? Don't have to really be realistic here. 

GK: Permanently change the team name to the Bronx Bombers and sign Mariano to a 1 day contract and put him in center field :)

TGP: Were you a Yankees fan growing up? If not what team did you root for?

GK: I was never a fan of one team; but I always followed all the Japanese players in the league. When Hideki Matsui was signed by the Yankees I quickly hopped on the bandwagon. Ichiro and Kuroda followed so I followed the Yanks even more. 

TGP: Where in the world did all that power come from in the GCL? 

GK: A lot of people assume that a larger frame translates to power but that is not always the case. As we all know, Force=Mass x Acceleration from newtons law of motion. From this we can see that force also comes from quickness or acceleration and not just mass or a large frame. Even though a combination of both is fantastic, I was not necessarily given the gift of mass therefore I try to be as quick as I can to the ball to put more force on the ball.

TGP: Most famous person in your cell phone?

GK: Joe Girardi (can we maybe get that Gosuke?)

TGP: Most embarrassing song in your iPod?

GK: I am proud of every song in my playlist 

TGP: We'll finish with this one, where do you see yourself in life and your career in five years?

GK: No one will ever know my future but I would definitely love to be playing at Yankee Stadium in the next couple years and bring home another World Series title. 

Thank you once again for taking the time Gosuke, there were some great answers here that the readers are sure to enjoy. We wish you nothing but luck this season and nothing but the best with your 2014 season, your career, and your life both on and off the field. You can follow Gosuke on Twitter by following @GosukeKatoh.  

This Day In New York Yankees History 2/5

On this day in 1930 the New York Yankees lost shortstop Leo Durocher after a fallout in the Yankees clubhouse after a salary dispute with Yankees general manager Ed Barrow. Durocher was 24 years old at the time and coming off a .246 average without a home run and 32 RBI's the previous season.

On this day in 1942 the Yankees traded Tommy Holmes to the Braves for Gene Moore and Buddy Hassett. Holmes played ten seasons and hit over .300 for the Boston Braves and would establish the National League record for consecutive games hit in with 37 until Pete Rose broke the record in 1978. You haven't heard of Moore or Hasset have you? Exactly.

On this day in 2002 Luis Arroyo was inducted into the Latin American Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. The Puerto Rican born relief pitcher had an eight year career and a 40-32 record with 36 saves and a 3.93 ERA in his career. Arroyo was best known for his 1961 season with the New York Yankees when he went 15-5 with 29 saves.

On this day in 2010 the ball that Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th home run was sold at auction for $103,579 to an anonymous bidder. The home run was hit at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 2007 and was recovered by a Rutgers University student.