Friday, August 14, 2015

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 8/14

The first fight between these two clubs was won pretty handedly by the Toronto Blue Jays but the now underdog New York Yankees will look to land the knockout blow in the rematch. The last head-to-head matchup came in the Bronx, New York inside Yankee Stadium with this three game set coming inside the Rogers Centre which should be bumping and full of fans all weekend long. In the first matchup the Yankees will send Ivan Nova to the mound tonight to face off with the Blue Jays ace David Price. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

New York has two more pretty tough road games with these Toronto Blue Jays before traveling back home to play host to the Minnesota Twins on Monday in the Bronx. If you click the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog you can have your tickets in hand for those games next week when the team heads home. Until then let’s root for the home team from afar! Head over to Twitter and follow us, @GreedyStripes, to interact during each and every Yankees contest this season.

Greg Bird is here, Jacoby Ellsbury is back and the Yankees are ready to slaughter some Blue Jays. Go Yankees!

Alex Rodriguez to be Honored on September 13th

The New York Yankees are finally ready to save face and honor their DH Alex Rodriguez for hitting his 3,000th hit in his Major League career. The Yankees will honor Rodriguez in a special pre-game ceremony on September 13th before the team plays host to the Toronto Blue Jays. Alex hit his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium on a home run off the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander that was ultimately caught and held ransom by Zack Hample.

Whether the Yankees are trying to save face or if they are simply looking to benefit from another presumed sellout at Yankee Stadium remains to be seen but in the end it doesn’t matter. Alex will be honored the way he should be and the fans, whether they stuck with him or not throughout the whole steroid suspension and Biogenesis fallout, will be able to cheer on the Yankees legend. Kudos to Hal Steinbrenner and the entire Yankees organization on this one, you get two thumbs up from this guy. 

The Cry For Homegrown Talent May Be Ill Advised: 2000

Another season and another World Series for the New York Yankees in the year 2000. This would be the last World Series the Yankees would win for nine more seasons after a couple heartbreaking losses in 2001 and 2003. Will this Yankees team be any different in the homegrown players department or will it be more of the same? Spoiler alert, it's going to be more of the same. Let's look:

Infield looks awfully familiar with Tino Martinez at first, Knoblauch at second, Brosius at third, Yankee farm hands Derek Jeter at shortstop and Jorge Posada behind the plate, and Jose Canseco(Athletics, Devil Rays) and Glenallen Hill (Cubs) getting the bulk of the DH time. Jim Leyritz did get some time as the designated hitter before Canseco was acquired dumped on the team.

The outfield was a mess in 2000 before the Yankees acquired David Justice from the Cleveland Indians to finish the year as their every day left fielder. The Yankees had their locks at center field with Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill in right field but left field was a mess. Clay Bellinger (Yankees), Lance Johnson (White Sox and Cubs), Felix Jose (Royals and Cardinals), Roberto Kelly (Yankees from 87-92), Ricky Ledee (Yankees), Luis Polonia (Angels), Shane Spencer, and Ryan Thompson (Mets) all spent time in left field.

The pitching staff didn't get much of an upgrade in 2000 over the 1999 team. Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez, David Cone, and Andy Pettitte were all there and they were joined by former Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves right hander David Cone.

The bullpen looked similar as well with mainstays Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, Jason Grimsley and Mariano Rivera getting the bulk of the calls from Joe Torre. The new guy this season was Randy Choate as he burst from the Yankees system to help out of the bullpen along with Ramiro Mendoza.

The Yankees used more and more homegrown talent in the bullpen but still relied on trades and free agency to collect their fourth World Series title in five seasons. Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch, and Jim Leyritz among others would never see another World Series in Yankees pinstripes.

The 2009 Yankees, the 2015 Yankees & Losing Streaks

I've already said it more than once this season and I've already said it once during the team's little losing streak and struggles since the July 31st trading deadline, this team is special. I truly believe that. While I admit that being "special" doesn't always win games just like being talented doesn't always win the World Series I also admit that an extended losing streak doesn't make or break a season in most cases, especially since we're not even technically to the middle of August yet. When the Yankees were sporting mustaches and winning seven games in a row or when the team held what looked to be a comfortable 6.5 game lead in the American League East Division everyone was comparing this team to the 2009 Yankees, and I'm still doing that despite their struggles over recent weeks.

Since the July 31st trade deadline the Yankees have had a lot of trouble winning games against the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins. The Indians were well under the .500 mark at the beginning of the series while the Rangers were just beginning to have hopes and dreams of being involved in a second Wild Card race. The Blue Jays were the team that added the most at the July 31st trading deadline despite being six games out in the American League East Division race at the time. The Yankees offense went to sleep, the pitching wasn't perfect and the team lost some games while subsequently losing their division cushion as well but should the sky be falling right now in the Bronx? I don't remember the sky ever falling during the 2009 season like it is falling right now.

The 2009 Yankees began the month of June by posting a 9-10 record including loses in five of their last six games before beginning a road series against the Atlanta Braves. New York lost the first game against the Braves before rattling off seven wins in a row and 10 wins in 11 contests saving their season. The 2009 Yankees, a super team if there ever was one, lost a season high five straight games that season and sat as far back in the division as 6.5 games at one point which would normally garner the boo birds to come out in full force. The 2015 Yankees is far from a super team, there aren't any more super teams in Major League Baseball with the new rules and guidelines set up in the latest collective bargaining agreement, and hasn't been farther back than three games at any point this season while never having longer than a six-game losing streak. This isn't the 2009 team by any means but they aren't in the same situation that team was in either, they are right in the thick of things for the division right now.

My point is this, the super team and the juggernaut that the 2009 Yankees were didn't always start out that way, they built that through chemistry, clutch hitting and team unity. This 2015 version has all those things as well on a much smaller scale, albeit with much better pitching, and can gather the same result as the 2009 team did. They just need to get out of their own heads and they need the fans support, not their criticisms and boo's. Do your part and they will do theirs.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 8/14

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays have 10 games remaining head-to-had including tonight’s contest that begins a huge three game set inside the Rogers Centre. Toronto is riding high off the acquisitions of Mark Lowe, David Price, LaTroy Hawkins and Troy Tulowitzki and have ridden the foursome all the way back into contention in the American League East Division. The Yankees will look to snatch control back from Toronto this weekend and that begins tonight when the team sends Ivan Nova to the mound looking to build off two consecutive good starts. The Blue Jays will counter with their ace David Price in what turns out to be a rematch of last week’s game between these two clubs. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

  • Nova battled a bout of tired arm two starts ago and despite the scares he has rebounded nicely in his last two starts. Nova dueled with David Price last time out and had a shutout going until the 6th inning of the contest when his shutout and quality start went up in Smoak. Smoak as in Justin Smoak who hit a grand slam to seal the deal and end his afternoon.

  • Price dominated the New York Yankees in his last start and looks to do the same tonight at home in Toronto. In the two starts Price has made in a Blue Jays uniform he has allowed just one run on six hits with five walks in 15 innings returning to his dominant form. Price has allowed two runs or fewer in 13 of his 15 starts this season, vintage David Price.

The Yankees need a win, I don’t have to say it because everyone including the players know it to be true. It’s not going to be easy, the Blue Jays have all the confidence and all the momentum coming into the series, but it can be done. One lucky break here, one clutch hit there and one stellar performance from Nova and bullpen tonight inside the Rogers Centre is all we need. Go Yankees!

My Plan to Fix the Offense & Win the Division

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are in an absolute dogfight now for the American League East Division and then dog the Yankees are backing is losing. The offense is struggling, the pitching has been good but has had to be perfect, the bullpen is overworked and the team is losing. This team can be fixed and it can be fixed without trading away the team’s top prospects for bulky contracts and aging veterans. Brian Cashman sent a statement to the rest of the league, the Yankees team and their fans this July by standing pat and holding into the team’s prospects but that only works if the team now utilizes them. Have no fear Mr. Cashman, as I know you’re reading, for I have a plan to fix this offense, win some games and win the division. Will you comply?

You know where I’m starting this off with, the same place I always start it off with. Robert Refsnyder is such a superior hitter to both Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan that the offense could only go up with him in the 8th or 9th position in the lineup. Adding Refsnyder to the bottom of the order with a  red hot Didi Gregorius leaves runners on base for the table setters and the big boppers in the middle of the lineup giving the Yankees plenty of RBI chances. At worst some of these solo home runs turn into two and three run home runs.

The second move you make to fix the offense is to move Alex Rodriguez out of the #3 hole. I’m not saying you drop the guy back to #7 or so just because he hasn’t hit a home run in a couple weeks but I am suggesting you mix and match in the lineup depending on who is hot and who fits the bill. Carlos Beltran has been hot lately and is quietly having a nice bounce back season in 2015 and right now batting him 3rd and batting Alex 5th or even 6th just makes sense right now. Alex is trying to hit home runs, you can tell by his body language and you can tell by the way he swings, and that is never a good sign for a guess hitter.

The final adjustment needed is to fix Jacoby Ellsbury by any means necessary. The YES Network had a nice image of his batting stance post-DL and his stance prior to the DL and it has changed just enough to affect him. Whether Ellsbury closed off his stance a bit to help protect against a foul ball off his knee or is it’s a simple mechanical adjustment that the hitting coach needs to catch remains to be seen but whatever it is, fix it now. As Ellsbury and Brett Gardner go, so do the Yankees.

Fix Ellsbury, add Refsnyder to the bottom of the order and switch A-Rod and Beltran. It sounds simple, maybe too simple, but it could mean another run or two a night and another win or two a week and every run and every win means so much at this point in the season. Make the change Cash or you’re essentially pulling the trigger on the 2015 season.

Meet a Prospect: Greg Bird

The New York Yankees designated their only true backup first base option this week when they gave Garrett Jones his walking papers thus leaving Mark Teixeira without a backup. The Yankees have used Brian McCann, Brendan Ryan, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez at the position over the past two seasons but New York and their GM Brian Cashman decided to bring in a true backup first baseman for this 16 games in 16 days swing the Yankees are currently in the middle of, enter Greg Bird.

Gregory Paul Bird was born on November 9, 1992 and attended High School at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado where he was named the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as a senior. Bird’s time as a High School player garnered the attention of the New York Yankees who came calling in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft with their fifth round pick. Bird was committed to the University of Arkansas as a catcher but the Yankees were able to talk him into foregoing his commitment with a hefty signing bonus.

Bird only got into four games in 2011 before suffering from an injury riddled season in 2012 where he was limited to just 28 games. Bird did finish slashing .337/.450/.494 with two home runs which was enough to garner a promotion to the Tampa Yankees in 2013 but the back injury that cost him much of his season is still a concern to this day. Bird looked healthy in 2013 though as he went on to hit .288/.428/.511 with 20 home runs while also leading minor league baseball with 107 walks. Bird won the Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees Minor League Player of the Year with his impressive season, a season to build on for 2014.

Bird repeated the 2014 season with the Tampa Yankees before earning a promotion to the Trenton Thunder. Bird hit a combined 14 home runs in 2014 before the Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he hit a 450-foot home run in the AFL Fall Stars Game. Bird led the AFL with six home runs and was named the AFL Most Valuable Player before earning a promotion to the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders in 2015. Bird has continued to hit and is now officially a member of the New York Yankees, welcome to the family Bird. Bird is the word!

Weekly Check In: Robert Refsnyder

The New York offense is struggling to score runs with any sort of consistency and the Yankees are struggling to win any games, period. This is not a good combination for a team in the midst of a playoff race with the Toronto Blue Jays. New York has gone back to getting little to no production out of Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew meaning that while the drum beating has been quiet over the past few weeks that stops today. My name is Daniel Burch and here I am standing before you today with the biggest drum I could find and I’m beating it as loud as I can while I stand outside Brian Cashman’s door screaming at the top of my lungs “Robert Refsnyder!”

Refsnyder has made his fair share of errors but honestly I think it’s more due to him being discouraged than anything. Refsnyder was golden with the glove in the weeks leading up to his promotion and made three errors in less than a week after his demotion. Some call it bad luck, some call it as just the way the chips fell and the cards were dealt but I call it a lack of confidence. Joe Girardi gave Refsnyder the backing he needed while he was up in the Major Leagues letting him start every day, stay in games late rather than pinch hit or substitute him for defense, etc. and Brian Cashman crushed those dreams, and has continued to crush those dreams.

Stop over-grooming Refsnyder, stop wasting his at bats and his bullets in Triple-A and stop slapping the young man in the face. Call him up, keep him up. 


Starting the Rally Cry Against the Toronto Blue Jays

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays make the trip north tonight to the Rogers Centre to start a big three game series over the weekend. Including tonight's contest these two teams have 10 games remaining head-to-head in a division race that is looking likely to go down to the wire. We all know the Yankees offense has struggled over the past week or so and we all watched as the Toronto Blue Jays swept away the Yankees inside Yankee Stadium last week, but who cares? That was then, this is now. This is why you play a game every single day in the Major League Baseball schedule and this is why you play 162 games over the course of a season. Those games don't mean nothing, but they are less and less important if the Yankees sweep them back over this weekend or get a much needed series win against their new foes in the AL East.

So here is my rally cry for the Yankees, my plea to shut up all the haters, to quiet the fans that are ready to jump off the bandwagon and attend games in Queens at a moment's notice and let's here's to quelling the thought that the mighty Yankees will miss the postseason altogether for a third straight season. The Yankees can right the ship and they will, talent wins out more times than not, but they need you to do your part so that they can do their part. Stop being negative, stop the booing, stop digging the grave for the 2015 Yankees on just August 14th and start the rally cry for the Yankees season in your area.

We'll be on Twitter all series long, and all season long, so head on over to the app and give @GreedyStripes a follow. Tag us in your rally cry, because the rally party starts here. #SWEEPTHEJAYS

This Day In New York Yankees History 8/14: RIP Phil Rizzuto

The best part about being a fan of the New York Yankees is the history, the aura, and the prestige of watching not only a team that wins a lot but watching one that expects to win a lot. The worst part about being a fan of the Bronx Bombers is watching those players grow old, retire, and eventually pass away. This was the case on this day in 2007 when Yankees legend and play by play man Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto passed away in his sleep. Rizzuto was the oldest living Hall of Famer at the time when he passed away at a New Jersey nursing home from complications with pneumonia. Rizzuto was 89 years old.

Scooter was the Yankees shortstop during the dynasty seasons in the 1940's and 50's, appeared in numerous commercials, did color commentary for the Yankees, and even sung with Meat Loaf on his song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" that won a Grammy.

Also on this day in 1933, a little happier moment in Yankees history, New York retired the #44 jersey of Reggie Jackson in a pre-game ceremony. Mr. October was fresh off an induction into the Hall of Fame after playing with the Yankees from 1977-1981 helping the Yankees reach the playoffs four times and win two World Series championships.

Finally on this day in 1960 Mickey Mantle was booed by the Yankee Stadium crowd and benched by then manager Casey Stengel for not running out a routine ground ball (cough Cano cough). The ground ball resulted in an inning ending double play in a Yankees 6-3 loss to the Washington Senators. On the play Roger Maris was also hurt as he bruised his ribs sliding hard into second base trying to break up the double play.