Monday, July 13, 2015

Home Run Derby Open Thread

The field is set, the buckets are full of balls, the clocks are set at 5:00 each, the fans are piling inside The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and the Home Run Derby is set to begin. This is the only bit of baseball we have left for the day and this is the last post of the day so let's make the most of it. I like to predict things, and I'm pretty good at it sometimes, so I am going to take a stab at predicting the winner of the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby tonight. Leave your predictions in the comments section of the site or follow us on Twitter (@GreedyStripes) to leave your predictions there.

1. Albert Pujols 
8. Kris Bryant 

4. Joc Pederson 
5. Manny Machado 

3. Josh Donaldson 
6. Anthony Rizzo 

2. Todd Frazier 
7. Prince Fielder 

The biggest upset in the first round I have in Prince Fielder taking out Todd Frazier. Fielder has won a couple of these in his career and can really hit home runs in any park, especially a hitting friendly park in Cincinnati. I almost wanted to pick Kris Bryant over Albert Pujols but I think nerves may get to him a bit in the contest, just a hunch. 

1. Albert Pujols
4. Joc Pederson

3. Josh Donaldson
7. Prince Fielder

See above for Kris Bryant and scratch his name out and insert Joc Pederson. I truly think Pujols will lose in one of these two contests but it's too hard for me to go against the top home run hitter in the league in 2015. Joining Pujols in the finals will be Toronto Blue Jays's third baseman Josh Donaldson. 

1. Albert Pujols
3. Josh Donaldson

Donaldson was my pick all along and I won't change that now. Donaldson is your 2015 MLB Home Run Derby Champion. Write it down, just make sure it is in pencil. 

Source: Yankees Will Keep Rob Refsnyder Past All-Star Break

The New York Yankees have finally called up their top middle infield prospect Robert Refsnyder and while many believed it would just be for the two games before the All-Star Break a "source" inside the Yankees organization has announced that this line of thinking won't be the case. According to this source, take that with a grain of salty obviously, the Yankees will keep Refsnyder on the big league club through the All-Star Break and will have him on the team when they return home to Yankee Stadium to play host to the Seattle Mariners.

How will the Yankees accommodate this, the return of Carlos Beltran and the return of Brendan Ryan? Well that was not mentioned specifically but the team could always activate and then designate Brendan Ryan to finally cut ties with the shortstop, the team could send down Gregorio Petit and force Refsnyder into a bit of a platoon job, the team could designate Garrett Jones for assignment or the team could take advantage of their off-day on the Monday after the break to send down Bryan Mitchell temporarily.

Yankees Sign 15 International Free Agents

Despite the Yankees facing financial spending restrictions in the international free agent market the New York Yankees signed 15 IFA's thus far this signing period. After the Yankees spent nearly $30 million in the international market during the 2014-2015 international signing period the team cannot sign any IFA for more than $300K in both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 international signing periods. While the restrictions will keep the Yankees from signing any top talent these next two signing periods it hasn't stopped the Yankees from signing players this week. Here are those players:

RHP Luis Medina - $280K
RHP Deivi Garcia - $100K
LHP Heiner Moreno - $100K
RHP Rony Garcia
RHP Alex Mejias
RHP Luis Ojeda
RHP Elvis Peguero
LHP Argelis Herrera
C Moises Lobo
2B Diego Duran
3B Sandy Acevedo
3B Alfred Pujols
SS Jesus Graterol
SS Brayan Jimenez
SS Kleiber Maneiro

ICYMI: The Rant That Got Robert Refsnyder Promoted

If you follow us on Twitter you know that I have no love-loss for the Yankees second baseman, Stephen Drew. If you’re not following @GreedyStripes on Twitter then it’s likely that you miss out on four or five “Stephen Drew Sucks” tweets a night because I’ve made it my mission to tweet that after every out he makes or error he commits. As a fan of this team and as a fan that spends his money on Yankees jersey’s Yankees tickets, Yankees memorabilia, MLB TV subscriptions and such frankly I’m disgusted and I’m fed up. The Mendoza Line is being moved down from .200 to .175 and being named the Stephen Drew Line for crying out loud. Drew is really one of the best 750 players in Major League Baseball right now?

Jose Pirela is currently the Yankees backup second baseman and as much as I clamored for the guy last season he hasn’t exactly made me look good in 2015. Pirela’s defense has been atrocious, I’ll say it, while Drew’s has been above average and Pirela hasn’t done much to press the issue on the offensive side of the ball either forcing the Yankees to keep Drew in the lineup five days a week hitting in the 9th hole. I know the guy is making a monstrous, and I say this with the utmost sarcasm, $5 million this season but there are better options simply being wasted away in Triple-A, his name is Robert Paulson Refsnyder.

I’ve seen so many ridiculous tweets over this calendar year regarding Refsnyder as a below average defender with a miniscule improvement offensively but I vehemently disagree. The defense means nothing to me when the incumbent’s offense resembles that of a blind and crippled senior from the nursing home taking at bats for the local high school’s JV Baseball team. Neither does Drew’s 11 home runs on a team that fails to string hits together, manufacture runs and score many runs outside of the long ball. Waiting on the three run home run doesn’t work over the course of 162 and beyond. We’ve seen it far too many times and I thought the team was getting away from that. Drew brings that home run or die mentality and at this point the Yankees offense is dying.

Refsnyder not only brings a very much improved defense to the club, something all those tweeters are not exactly pointing out any more conveniently, a right handed bat that can even out a very left handed heavy lineup, average hitting, power hitting and power to the gaps, young legs and speed. In 77 games in Triple-A last year Refsnyder batted .300/.389/.456 with an OPS of .845 while hitting eight home runs and driving in 33 RBI. Refsnyder did strike out 67 times but he walked 41 times which more than made up for it. In 2015 thus far in 78 games, at the time of this writing, Refsnyder is batting .290/.388/.414 with an OPS of .802. Ref has hit seven home runs thus far and has drove in 36 RBI in a very pitching friendly PNC Park while walking 43 times and striking out just 44 times. Refsnyder has three less doubles, 16 to 19, in 2015 than he did in 2014 and has stolen nine more bases this season.

So to those who keep stating that Refsnyder is struggling or not putting the pressure on Drew and Brian Cashman this season after a great 2014 campaign, you’re wrong. If you were beating the drum for Refsnyder in the Bronx in 2014, and lord knows I was leading the marching band in that deparment, then you should be in 2015 as well. Maybe more so this season. Drew is a black hole at the bottom of the lineup and a black hole in the Yankees lineup. Refsnyder continues the youth movement around Major League Baseball and in the Bronx while being a sight for sore eyes in many Yankees fans eyes. Hal Steinbrenner wants ratings and attendance? Bring the fans what they want and something entertaining to watch because this offense goes to sleep after the first three innings. Brian Cashman wants to keep payroll down? Stop paying veterans who suck $5 million when you comparable or far superior players in the minor leagues. Joe Girardi wants victories? Stop playing Drew and start playing Refsnyder. I hate starting a Friday morning pissed off but this is how I feel and I can’t keep it bottled in anymore.

Refsnyder – 2016

Most Popular Article of the Week: Milwaukee Brewers Potential Trade Partners

The New York Yankees are still atop the American League East despite essentially black holes at second base and right field while the bullpen that was showcased as a plus has been anything but. I’ve said it in every one of these posts and I’ll say it again here, the American League East Division will be decided by the July 31st trading deadline. While the last two teams we covered, the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox, are unsure of whether they will sell or not but one thing for sure is the Milwaukee Brewers will sell this summer, could the Yankees take advantage?

Milwaukee has stated that they would like to build around, not sell off, pieces like starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson, catcher Jonathan LuCroy and shortstop Jean Segura but the team would be willing to sell on about anyone else. The list of available players for trade is highlighted by center fielder Carlos Gomez and closer Francisco Rodriguez while Aramis Ramirez and others will likely be shipped off before seasons end. The only two players that would really fill a need for New York would be second baseman Scooter Gennett, who the team would like to hold onto if they could, and very expensive outfielder Ryan Braun. Gennett is hitting .240 and has posted a .279 OBP this season with four home runs and 16 RBI. Gennett would not come cheap and is likely out of the Yankees budget as far as prospects go. Young middle infielders with upside, good defense and pop are hard to come by these days making Gennett unlikely to even be traded, let alone to the Yankees.

Braun is intriguing to some, not so much to others. He has had issues with his thumb for the last few seasons and has seen a steep decline in his numbers as well. Braun was also involved in the Biogenesis scandal that cost Alex Rodriguez his 2014 season while he also comes attached to a hefty salary with all these questions marks making his acquisition questionable. What is not questionable is his on the field performance which is evident by his .273 average, .339 OBP, 15 home runs and 55 RBI. Braun would give the Yankees another middle of the order bat that hits from the right side and an enormous upgrade over Carlos Beltran. If the Yankees take on the whole salary they could also pay less in terms of prospects, but would they?

Honestly New York would not make the trade for Braun. The team has aspirations of getting under the luxury tax threshold either in 2017 or 2018 and Braun’s contract that runs through the 2021 season (his age 32-37 seasons) for $111 million doesn’t exactly fit into that plan. If Braun was able to replicate his numbers he posted earlier in his career he’d still be a bargain for $20 million or less annually and could replace the production left behind when Mark Teixeira and A-Rod’s contract expires but I just can’t see the Yankees doing it. It makes too much sense to do it now when they can wait until he’s broken down and 35 or 36 years old and get him in a “salary dump” type trade. Silly Yankees.

Home Run Derby Preview

This evening on ESPN the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby will take place with a new set of rules, a new roster and a new timed event. The numbers above are a little out of date(by about a week actually) and I have updated those numbers below.

1. Albert Pujols - 26
8. Kris Bryant - 12

4. Joc Pederson - 20
5. Manny Machado - 19

3. Josh Donaldson - 21
6. Anthony Rizzo - 16

2. Todd Frazier - 25
7. Prince Fielder - 14

The new rules for the game state that each hitter will not get a set number of outs like in year's past but instead will have a five-minute clock running at all times during the contest. The batter will have five minutes to see how many home runs he can hit in the time period. In the final minute the clock will stop after each home run hit and will restart after what used to be constituted as an "out" is recorded. Batters will be awarded time bonuses if they hit two home runs that travel at least 420 feet and another time bonus if the home run travels at least 475 feet.

Meet a Prospect: Robert Refsnyder

Robert Refsnyder was called up before Saturday night's game against the Boston Red Sox and has played in each of the last two games for the Yankees. The Yankees have had essentially a black hole at second base ever since Robinson Cano left via free agency and has tried to fill the position with Brian Roberts, Yangervis Solarte, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and others and none of the options have been especially effective. Refsnyder has killed the ball in every minor league stop of his career while making great strides with his second base defense after being drafted out of the University of Arizona as an outfielder. It makes me especially happy and especially proud for whatever reason to allow you to meet a prospect, Mr. Robert Refsnyder.

Robert Daniel Refsnyder, born Kim Jung-tae, was born on March 26, 1991 in Seoul, South Korea before being adopted at five months old by Jane and Clint Refsnyder. Refsnyder's parents were of German and Irish descent and lived in Laguna Hills, California where Rob became an avid fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Lakers. While in Laguna Hills Refsnyder attended Laguna Hills High School where he played basketball, baseball and football for the High School teams. Refsnyder would then take his talents with him to the University of Arizona's baseball team where he led the team to a College World Series title in 2012. Refsnyder was named the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player in that series leading the New York Yankees to draft him in the fifth round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft.

Refsnyder was drafted 187th overall in the draft as a right fielder and after signing for a $205,900 signing bonus was assigned to the Charleston Riverdogs as a second baseman. Refsnyder began the 2013 season back in Charleston where he raises his .241 batting average from his debut season to .370 with a .452 on base percentage in 13 games before being promoted to the Tampa Yankees where he finished the 2013 season batting .283 in 117 games. Refsnyder earned a promotion to the Trenton Thunder in 2014 where he worked with hitting coach Marcus Thames on potentially increasing his power output. Refsnyder hit .342 with six home runs under the watchful eye of Thames and after 60 games earned a call up to the Yankees top farm system affiliate, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

In Refsnyder's first 19 games as a member of the RailRiders he batted .371 with three home runs catching the eye of many inside the Yankees organization including Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Refsnyder, bouncing back and forth from the outfield and second base, finished the season with a .300 average, eight home runs and 33 RBI in 77 games. Refsnyder was invited to spring training in 2015 and was given an opportunity to win the second base job out of camp over Stephen Drew but was assigned to Triple-A to begin the season to primarily work on his defense. Refsnyder was hitting .290 with seven home runs, 17 doubles, 37 RBI and came along with a much improved defense before the promotion on July 11.

Refsnyder's debut was not one that will always be remembered by the casual MLB fan but it will always be remembered by those Yankees fans that have watched him progress through the farm system and work his way all the way to the Bronx. Welcome to the Bronx Rob and welcome to the family, we're glad to have you.

Yankees Still America's Team in Major League Baseball

For the 12th straight season the New York Yankees are America's Team when it comes to the 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Despite the owner being "cheap" and the YES Network and overall attendance numbers being down across the board inside the new Yankee Stadium the New York Yankees are still America's top choice among baseball fans according to The Harris Poll. 

Ever since 2003 the New York Yankees have been atop the annual poll and have maintained that top spot this year despite the loss of Derek Jeter and the welcome back party for Alex Rodriguez. The Boston Red Sox placed second for the seventh straight year while the New York Mets came in at the #14 position.

Weekly Check In: Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez is fresh off his trip to Cincinnati and the All-Star Game Futures Game appearance and is headed back down to Trenton to play for the Trenton Thunder. Sanchez has played extremely well this season and has been very deserving of the Futures Game nod. Now Sanchez turns his attention to earning a promotion to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

The biggest thing standing in the way of Sanchez are the incumbents at the catcher position for Scranton, Austin Romine and Juan Graterol. Graterol could easily be moved down to Trenton to accommodate a move but I'm not entirely sure the Yankees want one of Romine or Sanchez splitting time down on the farm.

New York did the same with John Ryan Murphy and Romine and it seems like Romine took a step back because of it. If the same happens again it would surprise us all I think but this is the Yankees so you never really know.


This Day in New York Yankees History 7/13: Retired Numbers

Brandon McCarthy, a player that the team acquired before the July 31st trading deadline in 2014, made the joke that the Yankees should just issue him a number rather than him trying to pick one since so many numbers are retired. Well on this day in 1984 the Yankees retired two more numbers as Roger Maris's #9 jersey and Elston Howard's #32 were enshrined in Yankee history forever. Plaques were also put up in their honor to pay tribute to the two Yankees players.

Also on this day in 1960 Yankee Stadium held the second All Star Game in three days as the game marked the return of Willie Mays to New York. The San Francisco Giants superstar would go 3-4 with a home run and single off the Yankees Whitey Ford to lead the National League to a 6-0 victory.

Also on this day in 1973 Bobby Murcer hits three home runs off Gene Garber to account for all five of the Yankees runs in a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. This game was played on Friday the 13th at Yankee Stadium as it took only one hour and 51 minutes to play.

The other Yankee to hit three home runs on this day was Joe DiMaggio in 1940 in a double header against the St. Louis Browns. DiMaggio drove in nine runs as the Yankees sweep the Browns by the scores of 10-4 and 12-6.