Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yankees Sign Anna & Nuno To Major League Deals

The New York Yankees have announced the signings of both Dean Anna and Vidal Nuno to Major League contracts for the 2014 season. Anna will make the $500,000 league minimum and Nuno will earn slightly above that with $540,500. Both players have all six years left of team control and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. This doesn't mean much in the short term but it makes it much more likely for these two to make the Major Leagues this season, possibly out of Spring Training.

Scranton Wilkes Barre RailRiders 2014 Schedule Released

The 2014 schedule for the Scranton Wilkes Barre RailRiders team, the AAA affiliate for the New York Yankees, is in and being brought to you as a part of Prospects Month here on The Greedy Pinstripes. CLICK HERE to see the full schedule for the RailRiders as they head into their second season in their newly renovated PNC Field. The RailRiders season starts on April 3, 2014 and ends on September 1.

Meet A Prospect: Kelly Johnson

Kelly Andrew Johnson was born on February 22, 1982. Johnson was drafted in the 1st round, 38th overall, in the 2000 Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft by the Atlanta Braves.

Kelly made his Major League debut on May 29, 2005 and became a regular outfielder that season after the Braves outfield was stricken with injuries. 2005 was your run of the mill rookie season except for when Johnson was named the National League Player of the Week for the week on June 13 after batting .417 with three home runs and 11 RBI’s. Johnson went into 2006 looking to build on his rookie campaign but was sidelined for the entire 2006 season due to an elbow injury that he suffered during Spring Training. Johnson ended up needed Tommy John surgery on June 1, performed by Dr. James Andrews. Johnson took the down time of the 2007 offseason to work with Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard to learn how to play second base and earned the starting second base job and the leadoff position in the lineup heading into 2007.  Johnson would only stay the Braves leadoff hitter until June that season to Willie Harris and then lost his starting job when he was platooned at second base with Yunel Escobar. All in all Johnson finished 2007 with 16 home runs and a .276 batting average. Johnson would quickly get his starting second base job back in 2008 when Yunel won the starting shortstop job for the Braves. Johnson responded by having the longest hitting streak in the National League in 2008 hitting in 22 straight games and also hit .398 with 19 RBI’s in the month of September. Johnson finished 2008 with a .287 batting average with 12 home runs, 69 RBI’s, 86 runs, and 11 stolen bases putting to bed any more talk of a platoon situation, at least for now. 2009 was not a good year for Johnson as he lost his full time starting position once again and was non-tendered in December of 2009 making him a free agent.

It didn’t take Johnson long to latch on as on December 30, 2009 he signed a one year deal worth $2.35 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Johnson had nothing but good to say about Arizona, who tried to acquire him from the Braves before the non-tender.Phoenix is just a place I've always liked, it's one of the top for me. Just with the team, we've got guys all over the field that are young, athletic, tons of talent. It's one of the places that you come in and you did not want to face the guys that were on the mound.” Johnson’s first month as a Diamonback was a good one earning him Player of the Month  by hitting nine home runs, slugging .750, batting .313 with 18 RBI’s, scoring 17 runs, and having a .404 OBP. Johnson also hit for the cycle in 2010 against the San Francisco Giants. The 2011 season saw Johnson hit a few clutch home runs, including two grand slams, that were big lifters for the Diamondbacks team. On August 23 of 2011 though Johnson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for second basemen Aaron Hill and John McDonald. Johnson hit his 100th career home run in a Blue Jays uniform in what was an uneventful year and a month plus in Toronto.

In January of 203 the Tampa Bay Rays signed Johnson to a one year deal worth $2.45 million and Kelly was the Rays Opening Day designated hitter. In the 2013 season Johnson played all over the field including DH, left field, second base, third base, and three games at first base. Johnson got into 118 games in 2013 and posted a .235 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI’s, although his walk rate dropped 27 less walks this season than last and saw 60 less strike outs, although he did play in 24 fewer games. Johnson would head into the 2014 offseason as a free agent once again and would sign a one year deal with the New York Yankees worth $3 million. Now Johnson plans to take his versatility and experience to the Bronx where I fully expect him to put up 20 home run numbers and RBI totals inching towards 80. Good luck in the Bronx Kelly and welcome to the family!

Spring Training Day Three News & Notes

Mark Teixeira and his wrist have arrived in Spring Training camp and soaking up most of the attention this morning. Teix gave multiple interviews and gave everyone a status update on his wrist and his expectations for both the spring and this coming season. Nothing really news worthy, nothing we haven't already heard before. On to a few news and notes for this slow Sunday morning.

David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Matt Thornton took their turn in their first bullpen sessions of the spring. Matt Daley will also be there but he is unlikely to make the team out of the spring unless he really gets some help and pitches his butt off.

Live batting practice starts tomorrow for most, David Phelps and Adam Warren are already throwing to hitters, with Vidal Nuno, Dellin Betances, and Chase Whitley scheduled to throw to batters. No word on whether it will be the catchers that will take turn hitting or if it will be someone else but either way live batting practice is something.

Speaking of Dellin, Betances was in the Dominican Republic in January working out for three weeks getting ready for the season with the same "pitching guru" that helped out with Joel Peralta and a few others. Betances has been down in Tampa since the beginning of February getting ready for the 2014 season.

Thanks again to Chad Jennings for the bullpen assignments:

· Bullpens
Matt Daley (to Austin Romine)
Shawn Kelley (to Francisco Cervelli)
Dave Robertson (to Brian McCann)
Matt Thornton (to John Ryan Murphy)
Manny Banuelos (to Gary Sanchez)
Cesar Cabral (to Roman Rodriguez)
Brian Gordon (to Pete O’Brien)
Chris Leroux (to Jose Gil)
Mark Montgomery (to Francisco Arcia)
· Batting practice groups (same as yesterday)
Group 1: Francisco Arcia, Jose Gil, Pete O’Brien, Gary Sanchez
Group 2: Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli

Yankee Stadium Legacy: #43 Bobby Murcer

Bobby Murcer reached the Major Leagues at the age of 19 in 1965 but took some time to get acclimated with the Yankees. Murcer finally broke out in the 1969 season with a 26 home run season in pinstripes and followed it up with 20 home runs in each of his next four seasons. In 1972 Murcer hit a career high 33 home runs and scored 102 runs that season. Also in 1972 Murcer made his second of five straight MLB All Star Game teams.

43 days until Yankees Opening Day.

Prospects Month: Top 28 Yankees Prospects List #13

Continuing our look at The Greedy Pinstripes Top 28 prospects list as a part of Prospects Month we name our #13 prospect, Shane Greene!

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.

13. Shane Greene
14. Jose Ramirez
15. Peter O'Brien
16. Aaron Judge
17. Ty Hensley
18. Luis Severino
19. Abiatal Avelino
20. Rob Refsnyder
21. Nik Turley
22. Cito Culver
23. Ramon Flores
24. Mark Montgomery
25. Rookie Davis
26. Jake Cave
27. Ben Gamel
28. Angelo Gumbs

Exclusive Interview w/ Bleacher Creature Fred Weiland

 We wanted to go into a little different direction with our interviews associated with Prospects Month today and we did when we interviewed Fred Weiland. Weiland is a Twitter follower of ours, a Bleacher Creature, someone who has been a continued presence at Yankees Fantasy Camp, a great guy in the community and with charity work, and an all around good guy. Fred was nice enough to take time out of his Fantasy Camp 2014 schedule to do this interview for us and for that we truly appreciate it. Enjoy the interview! 

The Greedy Pinstripes: Mr. Weiland, how are you today sir? We appreciate you taking the time to do this for us!

Fred Weiland: Hello, getting ready to write a book about Jackie Robinson and his tennis counterpart. Had a lengthy discussion with Al Downing who was the first black Yankee SP down here in Tampa at Yankees Fantasy Camp 2014.

TGP: How long have you been a fan of the New York Yankees?

FW: I have been a fan of the Yankees since the late 90's. My boss was a huge fan and he would always have the games on at work so he got me hooked. Then when I retired in 2008 the trips to Yankee Stadium were pretty regular.

TGP: How did your son become a Yankees fan? You're side of the story anyway.

FW: My son used to be a Mets fan. [Carlos] Beltran was his favorite player. On his 8th birthday I got tickets to Yankees-Orioles and had his name put up on the scoreboard twice during the game. The Yankees lost but he was now a true fan of the Pinstripes.

TGP: How long have you been a member of the bleacher creatures?

FW: I started following Bald Vinny on Twitter in 2011 and was a big fan of Freddie "Sez" Schuman. I had seats in a different location (234) but always noticed the acvivity across the way in left field with Nicky Swish and The Creatures and wanted to be a part of that.

TGP: How long have you had season tickets to the Yankees?

FW: In 2008 after I retired I started going to a bunch more games with my kids and bought a partial season ticket package that expanded every year. In 2011 I had two packages for 61 games and was a very happy baseball fan. The next year I curbed it back to 41 games but in a location in the Granstand with a better view. Then started buying tickets online in Section 203 for 5-6 games a season. I asked my ticket rep if I could get Section 203 for a complete season but was told that the waiting list was very long. This summer our family moved to Columbus, Ohio but I have kept the tickets. Because I cannot imagine not being a part of the Pinstripe family. In 2012 we got Spring Training season tickets as well. Last year with the move it was too difficult to get to Tampa. Now we renewed our tickets for Tampa in 2014. Every Yankee fan needs to see them at least once in Tampa and go to Himes Field to watch the rookies train and play intrasquad games.

TGP: Thoughts on the new stadium and Section 203?

FW: I love the new stadium because it is so open and the view are amazing as you walk around the stadium. We love to either watch games in  Section 203 and celebrate Yankees victories with the best fans anywhere in any sport, the Bleacher Creatures. As much as I love Section 203 my son loves it more. In our house we have a section of the bleachers from the old stadium. On the day Udi died my son got his Bleacher Creature scarf and wore it all day and then placed it across the seats in memory of his friend. They bonded last summer at an event with Bald Vinny. Udi told some great stories to my son and his friend Shaun.
On my last day in NY after our move at the Mariano bobblehead giveaway I saw Udi by Vinny's booth and thanked him for befriending my son and how he loved his stories. He smiled and walked off into the night.

TGP: Favorite reaction to roll call? Has to be Nick Swisher, no?

FW: I love Gardner's muscle move, Johnny Damon always was entertaining with his response, Swisher was great as well. Even the former Yankee Curtis Granderson had a good shoulder roll. Should be interesting with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Mickey Rivers and Mike Torrez just walked by. Mickey says hello. Both great guys! Imagine what Mickey's roll call reaction would be.

TGP: Hey Mickey! What would your roll call reaction be?

FW: I just asked Mickey and he said he would do a dance. Either a salsa like Victor Cruz or a very hip original style of his own. If you sit in Section 203 you feel the energy.

TGP: What is the process in accepting new members into the Bleacher Creatures?

FW: Being accepted to the inner core of the Creatures is like any group. Spend time out there and watch the games and talk to the fellow Yankee fans. Be passionate about your team. Vinny and a lot of the other Creatures are out there day in and day out. In crappy weather and beautiful sunny days rooting for the team.
In a way being a Creature is a calling. When you go out there and sit among those fans you know that this is where you were meant to watch the games. It is like a Field of Dreams for the fans. Not just to do Roll Call and leave but to sit and interact with these great fans that truly bleed Yankee Blue. We had my son's room painted in 2009 and we searched for the color Yankee Blue. We located it and added some Fat Heads. If we hadn't moved there would be a stadium mural on his wall with a picture taken of him in Section 203.

TGP: Much respect and our condolences go out to Udi Latarre, his friends, and his family. He will truly be missed. Tell us a little about him and maybe share your favorite memory with him. 

FW: As I mentioned above Udi had a special bond with my son and luckily I was able to share it with him. I regret not getting to know him better. I really feel bad for my friends Bald Vinny, George Brew and Nannette Simmons. They lost a very dear, close friend and that hurts me as well.

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?

FW: I guess that I am part pro-prospect and part quick fix guy sure thing guy. Older guys have a lot to teach younger guys. I played professional tennis for 4 years and my coach was an older (65) year old ex player. He taught me so much as a rookie. Many of the times I learned those lessons were when we played in a match against other guys and he could show me how to execute a strategy during a match, same way a Beltran can show the younger guys how to compete. Or an Ichiro can teach the younger crew. But then you have to allow the young guys to get the oppotunity to succeed ....and fail. Then learn from both.

TGP:  Many people don't probably know that you had a big time role in bringing Bald Vinny back to Yankee Stadium and the creatures in 2012. Tell us about that. 

FW: In 2011 I had noticed on Twitter that Vinny was having a rough time with the terrible weather. I had also reached out to Vinny to do an event for charity. We were never able to get the event going that year but after the season ended Vinny expressed his regret at not being able to return to the Stadium on a full time basis in 2012. I was deeply saddened that the number one Yankee fan would be gone. The year before during the 2010 playoffs Freddie Sez had died and we as a family had so many great memories of seeing him at the stadium and pictures with my son. To lose Vinny would have been too great of a loss. So I reached out to him and asked him to stay. He really means so much to Yankee fans. He is the heart and soul of the New York Yankees fan base. I expressed those words to him. I know he has his own family. So at times it is difficult to be away from them. But being in his element in Section 203 breathes life into the stadium.
My family loves to walk by his booth before every home game to say hello to Vinny and George Brew, his assistant. My friends know that when we go to a game that they will have to make a stop by Bald Vinny's booth. That is my ritual. It makes me sad to think that our move to Ohio will keep me away from the Bronx so much but knowing that Vinny stayed on is something that makes me personally very happy.

TGP: Tell us about participating in the Yankees fantasy camp with Jeff Nelson and Tanyon Sturtze. 

FW: Nellie and Sturtze are great guys and great Yankees. Our team the Clippers had them coach us for 2 years along with Ron Shelton who was a pitcher in the Orioles organization as our team coordinator. They play a good cop/ bad cop duo. Nellie is the good cop and Tanyon is the bad. On a daily basis he lets you know on every occasion when you do something wrong. It is a  lively atmosphere with them as our coaches. You definitely need thick skin with Sturtze. He is a great coach and pushes you to improve yourself every day.  If I was a kid playing youth sports then I'd want a coach with Sturtze's passion for the game. Nellie has a great sense of humor. Always has me cracking up over something that he has observed on the field.
For a guy that has 4 World Series rings he is on of the nicest pro athletes that I have been around. Very humble. Highly intelligent. We have organized a charity event the last 2 years with Bald Vinny to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis/NY and Stomp the Monster; which assists cancer patients that have financial hardships.

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

FW: If I was Yankees GM then A-Rod would not be my enemy. Maybe not a model citizen but he does want to play ball in NY. I would encourage him to do more community service and spend a year just interacting with regular NYers. I'd also give Bald Vinny a lifetime job as a Yankees goodwill ambassador. I'd never have let Dana Cavalea get fired as trainer.....big mistake!

TGP: Hopefully a dumb question but should we expect to see you in the bleachers for the 2014 season?

FW: Yes I will be in  Section 203 in doubt!

TGP: What do you think of our chances this season with all the new additions?

FW: With new additions including #19 [Masahiro Tanaka] the Yankees will be a tough squad. Lookout AL opponents! Especially Bahston.

TGP: Most famous person in your cellphone?

FW: Hmm. Tanyon Sturtze would say it was him. Neal "Colt 40" Feinberg from Howard Stern is a likely one.  Dion Graham "The Wire" actor and voice for "First 48" is another. Third is Bob Ryland, The Jackie Robinson of Tennis.

TGP: Most embarrassing song in your iPod?

FW: "Katy Perry" Kissed a girl or SpongeBob Squarepants "Best day ever"

TGP: Keep or fire John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman?

FW: Hire Ryan Ruocco & fire John Sterling, give him a weekly show on YES. Fire Suzyn and give her a co host job with Sterling on YES. Hire a former player to work with Ruocco, Nellie [Jeff Nelson] would be good but he is newly married and lives out of NY area. Maybe have 3 or 4 ex players rotate like on YES broadcasts. They need players on the radio broadcast desperately. People that know the game.

TGP: Michael Kay or Mike Francesa?

FW: Michael Kay is a great voice for ESPN and YES, Francesa is knowledgeable for sure. I listen to both but if you asked me who I'd like to hang out with then it would be Michael.

TGP: We'll finish with this very controversial topic, to ban the wave or not to ban the wave?

FW: Ban the Wave in the Bronx. After all this is Yankee Stadium. Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Berra, Mantle. The Wave belongs in Flushing. Although that team never has a reason to do The Wave.....cause they always lose.

Wow what an interview, no skimping on the answers here. Thank you so much Fred for taking the time once again to do this for us and our readers, it is very much appreciated. You can follow Mr. Weiland on Twitter by following @islandofweiland, by following his blog, or by going to Section 203 at Yankee Stadium and hanging with the Bleacher Creatures. Thanks again Fred and we hope to speak again with you soon! Ban the wave!

This Day In New York Yankees History 2/16

On this day in 1967 Red Ruffing was selected to be in the Hall of Fame by getting the most votes on the second ballot after the BBWAA did not choose anyone in the first vote in January. Ruffing had 273 wins.

On this day in 2001 the Yankees re-signed Mariano Rivera to a four year deal worth $40 million. Mariano passed Dennis Eckersley's major league record with 16 saves in the playoffs the season before and was coming off a 7-4 record with a 2.85 ERA with 36 saves.

On this day in 2004 the Texas Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez with a boatload of cash to the Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. This comes days after the Red Sox tried to acquire Alex for Manny Ramirez but the Red Sox needed Alex to restructure his contract, something Alex was willing to do, but the MLB Player's Association denied the request and ultimately the deal.