Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Training News & Final Roster Decisions

The New York Yankees have basically finalized their Opening Day roster with a few announcements that came out of Tampa this afternoon.

The final two bullpen spots will go to Chris Martin and Chasen Shreve while Justin Wilson joins the pen as well.

Esmil Rogers is the long man while Chase Whitley, who possibly had the best spring of any of the Yankees pitchers, heads to Triple-A.

Joining Whitley in Scranton is Slade Heathcott. Someone who will not be in Scranton is Andrew Bailey who will start the 2015 season with the Tampa Yankees.

Robert Refsnyder and Nick Noonan have been officially sent to minor league camps.

What if Didi Isn’t Ready?

Didi Gregorius was expected to test out his sprained wrist yesterday afternoon and did not as planned due to some swelling in the wrist. Didi stayed in the game after the play so the Yankees are probably just being safe rather than sorry, like they are known to do, but what would New York do if Didi had to be placed retroactively on the disabled list to start the 2015 season?

Robert Refsnyder has had his heart broken a few times this offseason because he got his hopes up that he had a chance to make the team. None more than when the Yankees traded Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins seemingly opening the door for him. A Stephen Drew signing later and Refsnyder looked destined to start the season in Triple-A despite hitting nearly .350 this spring before a Brendan Ryan leg injury got his hopes up once again. If Gregorius were to start the season on the disabled list and if Jose Pirela is still battling a concussion the door may be opened for Refsnyder but the team would be in serious trouble at the shortstop position. 

Drew would slide into the starting shortstop position with Refsnyder getting the starting nod at second base presumably if Didi were not ready for Opening Day. Pirela could also get the job at second base but it seems more and more likely that Refsnyder has jumped over him on the depth charts after another strong spring. The only advantage to carrying Pirela over Refsnyder is the 40 man roster spot but Ivan Nova and Chris Capuano are 60 day DL candidates plus the team has an open spot on the roster anyway making the point pretty moot. 

I’m not saying that Refsnyder should be happy that an injury occurred but the truth of the matter is it looks like that is the only way the team is going to give him a real shot in the Bronx this season. I hope Didi is okay but it does make me feel good that the Yankees have assembled enough depth and insurance to seemingly not skip a beat in the instance of an injury. 

New York Yankees Split Squad Games 4/2

Including this afternoon's game inside Joker Marchant Stadium the New York Yankees have four spring training Grapefruit League games left to play before the games start meaning something. The goal from now on is to get through the games healthy and scrap the results because they ultimately mean nothing. Today the Yankees start that campaign by sending Bryan Mitchell to the mound to face off with the Tigers Angel Nesbitt.

In the second game the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound to play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The home game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV while the away game will just be on MLB TV.

MLB Average Salary Tops $4 Million

For the first time in Major League Baseball history the average salary for a MLB player has topped the $4 million mark. The mark is a new record for the league thanks in large part to teams like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has the largest average annual value per season with $31 million while his Los Angeles team has the highest payroll in baseball at $270 million. Major League Baseball has had the largest two year growth in more than a decade due in large part to the re-emergence of the Dodgers, the Miami Marlins spending money again and the Yankees being the Yankees and the entire league is benefiting from it.

The average salary for this season heading into the season looks to be $4.25 million according to the Associated Press which is up from $3.95 million in 2014 and $3.65 million in 2013. The last year before free agency was introduced into the game, 1976, the average player was making $50,000 so you can see the steep increase we have seen across the years even with the strike that ended the World Series in 1994. 

Rob Manfred Wants a Team in Montreal

Rob Manfred is at least entertaining the idea of bringing a major league team back to the great city of Montreal with one big stipulation. Manfred said this week that Montreal would have to bring in a new stadium before getting any chance of having the sport back in the city. Olympic Stadium, the former home of the Montreal Expos, will host two exhibition games this spring between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds but will have to have “an adequate facility that could support baseball over the long haul” said Manfred.

Major League Baseball is at least entertaining an idea of moving a team to Montreal or expanding the pool of teams there but would be reluctant to do so without a strong commitment from the city. Montreal has been without a major league franchise since the Expos left after the 2004 season for Washington. Montreal did draw 96,350 fans last season in a pair of exhibition games last spring with the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays so the fan base and interest is there despite the Expos not drawing a million fans in any of their final seven seasons. More than 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the 2015 version of the exhibition series in a stadium that only hold 45,757 so another pair of sellouts looks imminent.

While there are no immediate plans to expand Major League Baseball from 30-32 teams the league has to use these exhibition games in non MLB cities as a starting point when they decide which city will get the new team. It may not be today, it may not be in my lifetime and it may not be ever but if MLB does move a team like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Oakland Athletics or if the league does expand to 32 teams it looks like Montreal may be the first and likeliest destination for the league.

TGP Daily Poll: CC Sabathia & Brendan Ryan

CC Sabathia is coming off a knee surgery and a terrible 2014 season that forced him into the Yankees #3 slot in the rotation. Brendan Ryan battled injuries for a second straight spring and has no real purpose on the team. Ryan will still start more games than Sabathia does in 2015.

Vote in our prediction poll on

Charleston Riverdogs Named Best Local Team AGAIN

RiverDogs Named “Best Local Sports Team”
AGAIN by Charleston City Paper

Charleston City Paper readers continue to endorse the ‘Dogs

CHARLESTON, SC – The Charleston RiverDogs’ “Fun Is Good” philosophy seeks to make each and every fan’s experience a special one at The Joe. Judging by the Lowcountry’s response, the initiative continues to be very successful.

For the 11th consecutive year, readers of the Charleston City Paper selected the RiverDogs as the city’s “Best Local Sports Team.”

“We are excited once again to be named the ‘Best Local Sports Team’ by the readership of the Charleston City Paper,” said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “The Charleston City Paper is an integral part of our community, so this award is a big one for us to receive once again. All the thanks for this award go to our fans, because without them the RiverDogs baseball experience wouldn't be possible.”

Known for wholesome family entertainment, RiverDogs games are a fun experience for people of all ages. This past year was especially special for the club as they donned new seersucker uniforms for Sunday games, brought back Disco Demolition on its 35th anniversary, gave away Bill Veeck “bobble-legs” and staged Rainbows Night while entertaining scores of fans on a consistent basis.

Whether it is the game between the foul lines, the tasty food and beverage options at The Joe, the unique merchandise available in the souvenir store, the Kids Zone or the always entertaining between-innings promotions, RiverDogs baseball has become synonymous for a great night out with family and friends in Charleston.

Tampa Yankees Release 2015 Promotional Schedule

Here are the Tampa Yankees 2015 Promotional Nights and Giveaways!
April 10 - Home Opener. Three in one Tampa Yankees Magnet Schedule Giveaway. Post-Game Fireworks.

April 14 - School Day.

April 22 -Masahiro Tanaka Poster Giveaway.

April 24 - Bright House Networks Customer Appreciation Night and Post Game Fireworks.

April 25 - Uncle Bob's Self Storage Autism Awareness Night and Jersey Auction.

April 27 - Running Club Day presented by BayCare. Water Bottle Giveaway.

May 2 - Bill Currie Ford Boy Scout Night.

May 3 - Pepsi Cola Little League Day and 20th Season Pin Giveaway. Food Truck Rally.

May 16 - Bill Currie Ford Armed Forces Night. Post-Game Fireworks.

May 27 - School Day.

May 28 - Tote Bag Giveaway.
June 6 - BayCare Strike Out Cancer Night with Jersey Auction. Water Bottle Giveaway. Food Truck Rally. Post-Game Fireworks.

June 27 - Bark at the Ballpark.

July 4 - Everyday Heroes Night & July 4th Celebration with Jersey Auction. Food Truck Rally. Post-Game Fireworks.

July 15 - Brian McCann, Fathead Poster Giveaway.

July 18 - Full Throttle Christmas in July Toy Run and Outdoors Night.

July 31 - Blue's Birthday Bash.

August 1 - Beach Day.

August 8 - Star Wars Night.

August 22 - Back to School Blast. Backpack Giveaway. Post-Game Fireworks.

September 5 - Fan Appreciation Night. Brett Gardner Bobble Legs Giveaway. Food Truck Rally. Post-Game Fireworks.

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/2: Todd Zeile Yankees Home Run

On this day in 2003 Todd Zeile hit a home run in his first at bat as a Yankee becoming the only major leaguer to hit a home run for ten different teams passing Tommy Davis and his nine clubs. Zeile's list of teams he has homered with includes the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, and Rockies.

Also on this day in 2001 on Opening Day Roger Clemens became the all-time American League strikeout leader moving ahead of Walter Johnson when Roger struck out the Kansas City Royals Joe Randa for his 3,509th K of his career. Roger was now in seventh place in Major League history in strikeouts.

Also on this day in 1996 Derek Jeter hit a home run off Dennis Martinez in a Yankees 7-1 victory over the Indians. The 22 year old infielder became the first rookie Yankee shortstop to start the season since 1962 when Tom Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek. Joe Torre also won his first game as the Yankees manager on this day, the first of 1,173 victories in his 12 season tenure.

Finally on this day in 1972 New York Mets manager Gil Hodges suffers a fatal heart attack and dies after a round of gold in West Palm Beach. The Mets would name Yogi Berra as the manager to run the team after the strike ends