Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yankees expecting big season out of McCann in 2015

It's tough to dispute the viewpoint that Brian McCann's 2014 season was a bit of a downer after he signed that big deal with the Yankees last winter, but that doesn't mean the team doesn't still have big expectations for his future. 

"I think McCann came on strong for us in the second half [of last year], and I think next year we'll have a full season of what we expected from him," GM Brian Cashman told

McCann certainly seemed to labor at times during his first year in pinstripes, batting just .232/.286/.406 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 140 games. Those numbers, similar to the ones he put up from 2010-2013 with the Braves, appear to be part of an ongoing decline for the catcher, who hasn't hit higher than .270 since 2009.

Yet the Yankees are continuing to rely on McCann for much of their success as Opening Day nears, inconsistent as he was for them last season.

"It's important," Cashman said, referring to the Yankees' counting on McCann improving. "It's important. Bottom line, it's important."

It probably should be indeed, but that still doesn't necessarily justify scapegoating McCann for New York's recent all-around struggles. 

Besides him, outfielder Carlos Beltran's average reached just .233, first baseman Mark Teixeira's .216 and second baseman Stephen Drew's .150 last year, so McCann definitely wasn't the only one on the club to underperform. But since McCann still has four seasons left on his contract, it is somewhat understandable why he could be singled out in some cases, especially when one considers that those years will pay him a total of $68 million. 

No matter how you choose to look at it, though, the Yankees are at least acknowledging their bad offensive campaign.  

"We need to be a better offensive club than we were last year," Cashman said. 

Alex Rodriguez the Glutton for Punishment

Alex Rodriguez is either:

A)     An idiot
B)      A glutton for punishment
C)      All of the above
Let me explain. Reports came out yesterday that A Rod was training with Barry Bonds. Ten years ago this would have been great news but after Bonds connections to steroids and Rodriguez coming off a season long steroid suspension how did this equate to being a good idea in his head?

Remember the now famous Instagram photo of Alex working out in the batting cage? It turns out those photos were taken in San Rafael at the Future Prospects facility that is owned and run by Charles Scott, a friend and Arizona State teammate of Bonds. Granted Bonds has also worked with Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford and other members of the San Francisco Giants there last spring but come on.

To play Devil’s advocate though can this really make America hate Rodriguez any more than they already do? Probably not. Can it make him better and more prepared for the 2015 season? Absolutely. No harm no foul I guess when you’re Alex Rodriguez. 

Reminder: Prospects Month 2015 is Coming

Every year since our inception with the exception of our inaugural year we have done prospects month for the entire month of February and this year will be no different. This time around may be a little different than last time around only because of the sheer amount of time and effort that this month takes but I promise to bring you the most, and the best, information on the Yankees farm hands that I absolutely can. Last year I went for an interview every single day of the month and honestly it took me nearly 3 months to line those up, send them out, type them out and bring them to you. Honestly I doubt I will get half that this season, and I apologize for that in advance if you were a fan, but I will bring as much as I can to the table like I always try to do.

Anyway I just wanted to give everyone the heads up that if you’re a first timer, check it out, and if you’ve been hear before don’t fret, it’s coming. Have a great day everybody. 

The Short History of the Yankees & Diamondbacks Trading

I watched the YES Network’s Hot Stove episode the other night with Didi Gregorius being interviewed by the great and very humble Jack Curry and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great interview and it really cemented my beliefs in Gregorius that he is humble as well, a hard worker and in love with the game of baseball. While watching I got thinking of the now numerous times that the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks have hooked up in trades since their inception and decided to showcase them here just for fun. I may even judge a trade or two, who knows. Also I will simply hit the high spots, I will not delve into every single minor transaction between the two teams because frankly that would be boring and it would take all day. Anyway, about those trades…

Remember when the Yankees traded Raul Mondesi to Arizona and cash for Jon-Mark Sprowl, David Dellucci and Bret Prinz? Yeah me either but apparently it happened on July 29, 2003. I remember the name Prinz but I truly do not remember Dellucci wearing pinstripes, I guess I’m getting old.

Remember the big three team trade between Arizona, New York and the Detroit Tigers that saw pieces like Curtis Granderson come to New York, Ian Kennedy and other head to Arizona and Austin Jackson and Phil Coke head to Detroit? As hard as 40 home run power is to find these days it’s hard to watch Kennedy win 20 games in Arizona and make a Cy Young Award attempt while Granderson gets hit by two pitches and misses most of the 2013 season.

The Peter O’Brien and Martin Prado trades are still up in the air because O’Brien is still in the minors and Prado has been traded away, with others, for Garrett Jones and Nathan Eovaldi. Obviously the Didi Gregorius trade is still getting an incomplete grade and will for at least three to five more seasons.

For some reason Brian Cashman loves hooking up with Arizona in a trade and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Paul Goldschmidt, just saying. 

The Yankees Should NOT Make A Big Trade

While so many people in the Yankees Universe are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for the team to trade for a big-time pitcher, I'm sitting back hoping they don't.

From this position I can see that the sky is certainly not falling.

There's no doubt that the Yankees' starting rotation has questions, mainly of the "health" variety. And although a team should be prepared for the worst, it's not always the smart thing to do. The Yankees don't have a plethora of trade chips, so if they make a trade that turns out to be unnecessary, then they've likely really hurt themselves should a hole someplace else open up, and they can no longer fill that hole by trade (at least not well).

Let's define "necessary"...

The Yankees currently have six starters to choose from (Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano, and Adam Warren), and by June they could have seven (Ivan Nova). Should Tanaka's elbow, Pineda's shoulder, and Sabathia's knee actually hold up, Eovaldi's BABIP against comes down to normal levels (it was .327 last year, leading to him giving up a few extra hits), and Capuano remains a solid pitcher, then another starter will not be necessary. And that doesn't include Warren continuing to throw well, and Nova returning.

However, what happens should Carlos Beltran go down again? Chris Young? Yikes! Having all your trade chips at that time would be ideal in order to avoid starting Chris Young (who had a triple-slash of .217/.296/.399 the last three years) day in and day out. Garret Jones? We're not getting much better, here.

The fact is the Yankees don't have enough to trade for a good to great starter now, and trade for a good to great player during the season. So save those trade chips for when you have to make a deal.

Another thing to consider here is that if a team were to deal a pitcher, then that pitcher is going to come in one of two varieties...

1. A pitcher that has at least two years of team control remaining.

2. A pitcher that only has a year of team control remaining.

The pitcher in example 1 is going to cost quite a bit, especially if that "team control" means arbitration or pre-arbitration years. Additionally, teams tend to want to hold onto key contributors when they still have a shot, and seeing as how neither this nor future seasons have even started, they indeed have a shot. Besides, either the Yankees don't have what it takes to get that deal done, or they shouldn't do it because of what I discussed earlier.

The pitcher in example 2 may not cost as much, but you have to ask yourself... is this the year to make such a deal? I mean, to be honest, the 2015 Yankees don't look like serious contenders for the AL East, let alone the postseason. Sure, they are going to be really fun to watch, but trading away a huge package right now is like a Texas Hold-Em player going all-in with a ten of spades and nine of hearts as his hole cards. At least wait until you get another ten or nine on the flop and/or turn.

Please tell me I used those terms correctly. I'm not a poker player.

So the Yankees should avoid a big trade right now, and wait until the season starts to truly see where the holes on the team are, and then address them. Making a huge splash for somebody like Cole Hamels may lead to the Yankees having the best starting rotation in the American League (the Nationals would probably still be the best in all of MLB), but if they're forced to deal with Chris Young or Garrett Jones playing every day in right field, then it's all for naught.

This Spring Especially Important for Sabathia, Tanaka and Beltran

Pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp on February 20th, exactly one month away, and this year should be especially interesting with all the Yankees returning from injuries. While the official report date is February 20th I believe we will see, and should see, a few notable players showing up early to camp including, but not limited to, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Carlos Beltran.

We have all seen the Alex Rodriguez workout and batting cage pictures and should fully expect to see #13 showing up to camp early while Brett Gardner is already said to be taking early swings. Mark Teixeira’s wrist and long injury list will always be a concern so he may show up early but I am not sure anyone would blame him if he didn’t. Sabathia, Tanaka and Beltran almost have to though as they have the most to prove. Is CC’s knee healed and was it the reason for his decrease in velocity and decrease in effectiveness? Will Tanaka be able to avoid the knife and Tommy John surgery, at least in a Yankees uniform? Is Beltran’s elbow fully healed and was it the reason for his down season in 2014?

Only way we’re going to find out is if these guys show up early and put in the work. I guess that makes this post to be continued…

If the Yankees Sign Yoan Moncada

We all learned yesterday that the New York Yankees held a private workout for Yoan Moncada which made me wonder what the team would do if they signed him. Obviously at just 19 years old the second baseman would likely start his professional career in the minor leagues creating a pretty significant logjam in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. With Robert Refsnyder and Jose Pirela looking more and more likely to head to Triple-A to start their seasons would Moncada possibly force the hand of Brian Cashman into a trade?

There is a flurry of scenarios that could happen here including, but not limited to, trading either Rrefsnyder or Pirela (or both) to clear the logjam. This gives Moncada a clear path to the major leagues and possibly brings back the starting pitcher the Yankees have presumably been after all offseason long. This chain of events could also spell the end of the Brendan Ryan era in New York as Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius could split time and bounce around at shortstop giving Moncada the bulk of the playing time at second base. Another scenario includes, although is highly unlikely, that Moncada can play third base (and he can, physically) and bumps Chase Headley to first base, Mark Teixeira to the DH spot and Alex Rodriguez and/or Garrett Jones off the team all together.

A lot can happen if the Yankees sign Moncada and it will likely shape the remainder of the offseason and the rest of the calendar year if they do. Honestly though, it will more than likely shape it in a good way for the foreseeable future. Bring me Yoan. 

Reggie Willits Joins New York Yankees Organization

Reggie Willits is back in the major league and is now a member of the greatest organization in the world, the New York Yankees. If you don’t know who Willits is he is a former Oklahoma standout and MLB outfielder with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Willits stole 40 bases in six seasons with the Angels, obviously in very limited playing time, while being thrown out just 17 times. Willits is now the outfield and base running coordinator for the team after restoring and reviving Binger-Oney’s baseball program.

As a play Willits was a very aggressive base runner and will likely help the Yankees get aggressive on the basepaths, here’s looking at you Brett Gardner. Willits will also undoubtedly work with the plethora of outfield prospects the team has that are pretty close to the major leagues.  Welcome to the family Mr. Willits. 

Wrigley Field Bleacher Won’t Be Ready for Opening Day

This isn’t really news concerning the New York Yankees but I thought it was interesting enough to share with you guys and gals this morning. The main reason I wanted to share is because it’s embarrassing to the game and it has to be embarrassing to the Cubs. The organization has been talking up their renovations of Wrigley Field for what seems like forever now and when they finally pull the trigger they find out the new bleachers won’t be ready in time for Opening Day.

The Cubs are replacing the right and left field bleachers as a part of a five year overhaul of the 100 year old Wrigley Field in case you’re not up to speed on what is going on in Chicago. Supposedly the bleachers will not be ready until Early May in left field and late May in right field. This is causing the Cubs to either relocate or refund around 1,000 season ticket holders before May 11.

It’s also worth noting that the big left field video screen will be ready on Opening Day but the smaller one in right field will not be operational in May. What a mess, but at least you got Jon Lester. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/21: Joe D Misses the Hall

On this day in 1953 the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio missed out on the Hall of Fame in his first try at Cooperstown. DiMaggio would have to wait until the 1955 season before 88.8% of the BBWAA added him to the ballot and inducted him into the hall. On this day Cardinal legend Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons were elected to the hall.