Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recap: Red Sox 10, Yankees 6

Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the spring and Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran logged a couple of RBI singles Wednesday as the Yankees dropped their second straight to the Red Sox, 10-6, in a slugfest at Steinbrenner Field.

A-Rod Returns to His Old Ways: Facing Red Sox right-hander Branden Workman with the Yankees trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Rodriguez crushed a solo shot over the left-center field wall -- bringing his exhibition batting average up to an impressive .455. It was the infielder's only hit in two at-bats on the day, and was accompanied by an easy defensive putout in the second.

Ellsbury and Beltran Headline Early Rally: The Yankees didn't lead much in this one, but when they were ahead briefly in their half of the third, they largely had Ellsbury and Beltran to thank for it. Down 1-0 with Joe Kelly on the mound, the veteran outfielders connected on a pair of clutch two-out run-scoring singles -- the first RBIs of the month for both. 

Pitching Struggles: The Yankees' pitching staff -- with the exception of a Travis Shaw homer off Andrew Miller in the third -- performed solidly for a good portion of the afternoon, but began to struggle once Boston's bats came up in the fourth. Indeed, the Red Sox hitters managed to plate four off Yankees youngster Bryan Mitchell in that frame -- adding two more earned runs off bullpen candidate Chris Martin later in the eighth.

Capuano Injured: Yankees starter Chris Capuano recorded the first two outs of the first pretty routinely, but left the game with an apparent leg injury after inducing a Brock Holt grounder. The severity of the wound is not yet known, but popular opinion right now seems to be Capuano will miss some notable time. 

Betances Dominates Top of the Second: This contest certainly wasn't a perfect one for the Yankees, but that still shouldn't overshadow that Dellin Betances looked good again. In his second outing in the last week, Betances retired three consecutive Red Sox hitters with two swinging strikeouts -- one of which came against major-leaguer Daniel Nava.

Next Up: Masahiro Tanaka will make his long-anticipated 2015 debut Thursday when the Yankees host the Braves in their first night game of the year -- beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET. Tanaka is set to throw roughly two innings when the Yankees go head-to-head with Atlanta's Shelby Miller -- a former Cardinal who they already beat last May. 

Yankees Player Suspended 72 Games for Steroid Use

A member of the New York Yankees has been suspended for 72 games this season after testing positive for steroid use. No smart guy it was not Alex Rodriguez before you sarcastically ask, it was Brayan Alcantara and the steroid was Stanozolol. Stanozolol is a synthetic and anabolic steroid according to reports.

Alcantara is 21 years old and currently on the Yankees Dominican Summer League roster and has spent the last three seasons inside the Yankees minor league system.

Chris Capuano Leaves Grapefruit League Start w/ Strained Quadriceps

Chris Capuano left his second Spring Training start this afternoon with a strained right quadriceps muscle. Capuano was starting against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, and suffered the injury while covering first base in the first inning on a ground out from Brock Holt to Garrett Jones. Capuano is scheduled to undergo an MRI and will likely be shut down for at least a week or two with the injury, maybe longer if I know how cautious the Yankees are with their pitching.

Let the Yankees blogosphere now determine who will and who should, because it’s likely to be two different set of answers, replace Capuano if he is deemed not ready for Opening Day on April 6 against Toronto. It seems likely that the Yankees will start Capuano on the DL according to reports but nothing has been confirmed at this time. 

What If Stephen Drew Remembers How to Play Baseball?

Joe Girardi, the manager of the New York Yankees, tried to break the internet and specifically Twitter yesterday when he announced that Stephen Drew was signed to be the Yankees second baseman. Honestly what was he supposed to say but anyway I digress. Many on Twitter were furious over the "news" and I had a lengthy conversation for an hour on my lunch break about the topic when the news broke that was on the borderline of getting heated. You guys know me, I have been beating the drum for Refsnyder since last season, but what if Drew actually remembers how to play baseball and has a season that matches the back of his baseball card in 2015?

We have to keep in mind that Drew is playing an offensively anemic position at second base and if Girardi's spring training lineup is any indication he will be batting 8th in the Yankees lineup. Drew hit .162/.237/.299 combined with the Yankees and Red Sox with a whopping seven home runs. Honestly I think that was more of the exception to the rule because his career numbers, including his dismal 2014 season, sit at .256/.322/.425 with a 162 game average of 15 home runs. The fact that Drew is left handed and playing inside Yankee Stadium can only help that fact and turn what could be fly balls, pop outs and doubles into home runs with New York. 

So let's assume that Drew hits closer to the .256/.322/.425 than the .150 he hit in New York in 2014 and closer to 15 home runs than the three he hit in the Bronx last season and that can only help what was an anemic offense last year. Refsnyder hit for a high average in the minor leagues but that's just that, the minor leagues, and has no guarantees of doing so in the major leagues. If Drew remembers how to hit in 2015 then he is an absolute bargain for the Yankees this season and if he doesn't his salary makes him or Brendan Ryan easily expendable (with Drew heading to the bench). If Drew is let go and Refsnyder fails then the team has no suitable backup plan so it only makes sense to hope for the best with Drew and hope the lack of a spring training hurt him last season. If, if, if I know but it's March, not July, and "ifs are all we have right now. 

Spring Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 3/11

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox is quite possibly the best and greatest rivalry in all of sports and the 2015 edition kicks off this afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field. I may be hyping up a Spring Training game a little too much but it was a long winter full of heartbreak and disappoints so stay with me. Today the Yankees will send Chris Capuano to the mound to face off against Joe Kelly for the Red Sox.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB Network. Enjoy the game Yankees family and enjoy the rivalry. 

MLB Exhibition Games inside Cuba May be Closer than You Think

When President Barack Obama announced that the United States government and the Cuban government would begin talks and actions to eliminate the embargo and improve diplomatic relations between the two countries the baseball community went into a frenzy. Major League Baseball, more than the NFL, the NBA, or any other sport combined sees more Cuban defectors come to the United States to play their game so many around the league, fans and owners alike, wondered what this could mean to the game. One interesting change and addition that could come of it could be having spring training games, exhibition games or even regular season games inside the country of Cuba. These changes were thought to be many years down the road but after Rob Manfred talked to the United State government about playing exhibition games in Cuba we may be closer than we originally thought.

Of course Manfred would be a fool to speculate on a time frame for this to happen, and apparently he isn’t a fool because he refused to specify a time frame when asked about the subject, the MLB Commissioner seems to be really pushing for this to happen. Why wouldn’t he? There was 25 Cuban born players in the major leagues last season including Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and the American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu.

This wouldn’t be the first time MLB visited Cuba as the Baltimore Orioles played the Cuban national team in Havana in March of 1999 and major league teams visited Cuba a lot before Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959. Major League Baseball has hosted exhibition games in Panama and Mexico City while playing regular season games in Puerto Rico, Tokyo, Monterrey, Mexico, San Juan and Sydney just in the past 15 years ad with Cuba a mere 90 miles from the tip of Florida we may be adding Cuba to that already pretty impressive list very, very soon. 

Brendan Ryan Only One Setback Away from Opening the Door for Jose Pirela

Last spring training Brendan Ryan battled a neck injury that caused him to miss Opening Day and not break camp with the New York Yankees. Instead Dean Anna made the Opening Day roster and made a new for himself hitting his first major league home run before being designated for assignment and latching on with the Pittsburgh Pirates. This time around Ryan is battling a back injury that he suffered from before even entering camp and has yet to do more than very limited baseball activities. With another setback or two we could be in for Groundhog Day part two and that could open the door for a new utility man, Jose Pirela.

Pirela’s biggest flaw and Ryan’s greatest strength to the team is the ability to play the shortstop position if Didi Gregorius proves that he cannot hit major league pitching or get injured but having Stephen Drew on the roster gives the Yankees some insurance and depth. In the case of a potential Gregorius issue or injury the Yankees could easily put Pirela at second base and Drew at shortstop and not skip a beat defensively.

That scenario begs my next question, if Drew can back up shortstop and Pirela and/or Robert Refsnyder can play multiple positions in the infield and outfield including second base then why is Ryan even on the roster? That one, my friends, may be the hardest question to answer. 

TGP Daily Poll: Yankees Shutout Boston

The theme for the Yankees this spring training has been pitching, pitching and more pitching. That pitching, led by Chris Capuano, will completely shut down and shutout the Boston Red Sox in George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Vote in our predictions poll on

Will the Yankees Ever Allow Facial Hair?

Will the New York Yankees ever end their policy that keeps players from having anything more than a neatly kept mustache? I sure hope not. Looking through the Yankees Photo Day pictures I kind of enjoy not seeing the Jayson Werth’s, the Danny Espinosa’s and the Charlie Blackmon’s of the league. Straight off the top of my head I can only remember Jared Burton, the reliever from the Twins that is over on a minor league deal, having any facial hair on the team this season other than maybe a five o’clock shadow. This is one of those trends that started in the 1970’s and has made a comeback with the “idiots” from the Boston Red Sox in the mid- 2000’s.

Little known fact that facial hair was considered to be “ungentlemanly” in Major League Baseball up until the 1973 season when Reggie Jackson came to the Oakland Athletics spring training camp with a mustache. The A’s owner Charlie Finley did not want Jackson to stand out so he paid each of his players $300 for growing a mustache that season and the 70’s exploded with facial hair in the game. That explosion is back and it’s as disgusting as ever. I’m not a facial hair hater, I tend to only shave once or twice a week and I have at least a five o’clock shadow every single day, but I think some of these beards have gotten out of hand and they are generally unattractive.

This is not Duck Dynasty, this is Major League Baseball, start acting like it. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/11: Yankees Lose Nick Johnson

On this day in 2006 the New York Yankees lost out on an opportunity with their own free agent when first basemen and designated hitter Nick Johnson signed a three year contract extension worth $16.5 million with the Washington Nationals. The 27 year old first basemen signed a $3.2 million one year deal in January with the Nationals after spending his first five seasons with the Yankees.