Monday, December 21, 2015

Ryne Sandberg Meet & Greet Auction Goes Live

RiverDogs to auction a chance to meet Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg

CHARLESTON, SC – The Charleston RiverDogs have announced they will hold an online auction for the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Fans can bid on the chance to join Sandberg on Friday, January 22, for a private Meet & Greet, presented by The Kickin’ Chicken.

The online auction for the Ryne Sandberg Meet & Greet is currently open for bidding at and will continue weekly through 12 noon on Thursday, Jan. 21. Fans can bid all week (every week) with the bidding closing at 12 noon each Friday.  There will be two weekly winners, and there is a cap of 30 individuals who can participate.  Winners will be notified by email.

During the Meet & Greet, winning bidders will have the opportunity to secure autographs, photos and visit with one of the premier infielders of all-time. The minimum bid is $50, and $150 will get you a “buy it now” guarantee. Refreshments will be provided by The Kickin’ Chicken.

The Hot Stove Banquet is an annual event that is hosted by the RiverDogs to keep the thrill and magic of baseball in the air throughout the off-season. Proceeds benefit The Citadel, College of Charleston and Charleston Southern baseball programs along with the Singleton Memorial Fund. The banquet, which will be held on the evening of Friday, Jan. 22, in The Crystal Ballroom at the Charleston Marriott, is again presented by Tom McQueeney State Farm Insurance.

For tickets to the Hot Stove Banquet and additional information about the Meet & Greet, please contact the RiverDogs at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or visit

ICYMI: The 1996 Team All Over Again 20 Years Later

The 1996 New York Yankees team was a team of destiny and a team that sparked a dynasty. That 1996 squad was extremely special and never laid down and died or let another team beat them down without knowing that they were in a fight. The 1996 team was fresh off a devastating loss in the Wild Card Round the year prior that marked the first time in quite a few years the team made the postseason. The 2015 version of the Yankees also broke a streak of non-playoff seasons, although it was just a two-year absence, and also lost in the Wild Card Round. The similarities do not stop there.

That team did not spend heavily on the free agent market the offseason before but the team did make the smart signings or trades, something Brian Cashman is currently trying to do. The 1996 squad went into the season with David Cone as their biggest free agent signing followed by a reclamation project in Dwight Gooden and a young gun named Andy Pettitte anchoring the rotation. New York doesn’t have a huge free agent signing this winter as of yet but Luis Severino could be the next Andy Pettitte to take the rotation, and the league, by storm. Mariano Duncan was also signed by the Yankees that winter and while, again, not a huge pickup it was a smart pickup. Duncan’s defense and ability to play small ball played into the hands of the Yankees and Joe Torre perfectly that season. Could that be Starlin Castro?

The Yankees were very active in the trade market that offseason as well pulling off a major trade and a minor notable trade. The major trade saw Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock head to Seattle for reliever Jeff Nelson, first baseman Tino Martinez and Jim Mecir. The minor trade was a player to be named later trade that brought Tim “Rock” Raines to the Bronx. New York may already have their minor trade of the offseason, Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy, but the major trade is yet to come.

The final and most glaring similarity is a rookie and the lack of confidence from upper management in the middle infield. In 1996 it was Derek Jeter who George Steinbrenner didn’t think was ready for the show, especially defensively, while it’s Hal and Brian Cashman who lack the confidence in Robert Refsnyder heading into 2016. The stars are aligning, give the kid a shot.

I am in no way comparing the two teams, that 1996 team was built to win for a long time prior to that season, but the similarities are too glaring to ignore.

Most Popular Article of the Week: Brace Yourselves: A Robert Refsnyder Trade is Coming

Brace yourselves Yankees fans because more trades are coming and one of those trades will likely include Yankees second base prospect Robert Refsnyder. The New York Yankees acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan at the Winter Meetings leaving the Yankees with their second baseman for at least the next four years, five years if the Yankees pick up a very team friendly option for the 2020 season. New York has concerns about Refsnyder’s defense and are not going to let him play a bench role on the team unfortunately, eventually he will have to be traded.

Refsnyder is Major League ready now despite what a lot of fans say. His defense is adequate and his bat is getting better all the time. Refsnyder looked poised and relaxed in his small shot in the big leagues in 2015 and teams would be heavily interested in his services I would think. But who would New York send Refsnyder to in a hypothetical trades? There are a few teams actually.

The Cincinnati Reds come to mind immediately as they are shopping their third baseman Todd Frazier, first baseman Joey Votto, outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Brandon Phillips. Frazier would interest the Yankees the most at third base and would cause the team to make yet another trade involving Chase Headley but it could work with Refsnyder and a whole lot more. Frazier is a pipe dream, I know, but what Brian Cashman is doing right now goes to show you that even a pipe dream is a possibility at this point.

The second base market is quickly coming together with Ben Zobrist going to the Cubs and the Mets getting Neil Walker so many teams are now scrambling for former Met and postseason hero Daniel Murphy. All the teams that lose out on Murphy’s services could be interested in Refsnyder as a backup. Another option could be a team like the San Diego Padres or Atlanta Braves who are seemingly rebuilding and would be willing to send either Julio Teheran or James Shields, Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner back to the Bronx.

If the Yankees don’t trade Refsnyder, and they will eventually, he will begin the season back in Triple-A and back at second base for the RailRiders. Rest assured though, a trade is coming and Refsnyder will be a part of it. It may be this winter or it may be in July, but it is coming!

Meet a Prospect: Domingo German

Domingo German was the fifth piece to move in the trade between the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins on Friday that saw the Yankees David Phelps and Martin Prado and the Marlins Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones change teams. German is an intriguing prospect, although is likely to start in High A Ball in 2015, after coming out of the Marlins and Mariners systems as a highly touted right hander.

When Seattle traded him to Miami he was their 6th best prospect in their system and when Miami let him go to New York he was considered to be their 8th best prospect in the system. German, a native of the Dominican Republic, showcased his talent's in this years Futures Game where he threw a perfect frame as he continued to build on a strong season in Low-A as a starting pitcher. German is 21 years old and entering his age 22 season is likely headed to Tampa with the Tampa Yankees.

German hits 94 MPH with his sinking fastball and compliments it with a slider he is working on and what is considered to be an above average changeup. German posted a 9-3 record last season with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts and 123.1 IP while striking out 113 and only surrendering 25 walks.

German missed the 2015 season with Tommy John surgery and looks to come all the way back in 2016.

Baseball America Releases Top 10 Yankees Prospects

Baseball America has been releasing their Top 10 Prospects for every team around Major League Baseball and this morning it was the Yankees turn. The Yankees have seen some changes to their prospects and organization over the past calendar year as Greg Bird and Luis Severino both graduated from prospect status while James Kaprielian and Kyle Holder were added via the draft. Luis Cessa and Chad Green were added via trades from the Detroit Tigers and Ronald Herrera was added from the San Diego Padres organization in the Jose Pirela trade. Did any of them make the cut for Baseball America?

You'll have to click HERE to see the entire list and write ups from Baseball America but you can see below for a small snippet. Thanks to Josh Norris for the list.

1. Jorge Mateo
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Aaron Judge
4. James Kaprielian
5. Domingo Acevedo
6. Rookie Davis
7. Tyler Wade
8. Robert Refsnyder
9. Wilkerman Garcia
10. Dustin Fowler

Baseball WILL Unify the United States and Cuba

For basically my entire lifetime the United States and Cuba have had little that the two countries actually agreed on. During the Cold War the Russians sided with Cuba, or vice versa but who is really counting at this point, while the United States countered with embargoes on the island country. These two countries, especially under former leader Fidel Castro, have never seen eye-to-eye and have never seemingly wanted to see eye-to-eye. Well until recently when President Barack Obama began lifting embargoes and restrictions on the country in hopes of easing the tension between the two countries diplomatically. President Obama may have opened the doors for a whole new set of possibilities between the two but it will be Major League Baseball that will unify the people of these two countries.

Recently Major League Baseball sent a goodwill tour to the country of Cuba in hopes of beginning a relationship and friendship between the league and Cuba. The US sent some of their own All-Stars, Clayton Kershaw being one of them, but also sent stars that defected from Cuba in Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig to name a few. It was a great gesture by the league and it resulted in both the Cuban flag and the United States flag being flown side-by-side inside the Estadio Victoria de Giron. A stadium that features a massive scoreboard with a photograph of Fidel Castro on it. Castro’s youngest son, Antonio, like much of the Cuban population, has a passion for baseball and he may understand more than anyone what a working relationship between MLB and the Cuban government could mean not only for the sport and the game but for the working relationship between the two countries.

These two countries speak two entirely different languages, but one common theme is baseball. These two countries are led and run two entirely different ways. One is a democracy and one is likely still run by a dictator, Raul Castro, but one common theme is baseball. The vast majority of Cubans love the sport of Major League Baseball and MLB is the national past time of the United States. It’s these baby steps and good gestures built on mutual respect and willingness to work together that can and I think will lead to a prosperous working relationship between the two countries outside of baseball.

Let’s be frank, Cuba needs MLB just as much as MLB needs the country of Cuba. We need each other and this is just the beginning I think of great things that we are all going to be seeing. All because of the sport of baseball, the unifying power.

Former Yankees Update: Andrew Bailey

The New York Yankees invested a lot of time, a lot of patience, money, blood, sweat and tears into rehabbing and rehabilitating relief pitcher Andrew Bailey and they finally saw some of the fruits of their labor in 2015. Bailey made it all the way back to the Major Leagues in 2015 after spending parts of the last two seasons inside the Yankees minor league organization rehabbing a serious shoulder injury. Bailey is back, finally, but he won’t be back with the Yankees in 2015.

Bailey, a key piece down the stretch in the Yankees bullpen, has signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The deal included an invitation to spring training. Bailey, the 2009 Rookie of the Year for the American League, was 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 10 games last season. Bailey’s career line includes an 11-13 record and 2.74 ERA with 89 saves in 216 appearances.

Edward Mujica also signed a minor league deal with Philadelphia the same day and will serve as direct spring competition for Bailey this March. The Yankees and Phillies are both in the Grapefruit League so us Yankees fans should see plenty of Bailey this coming spring season. 

How I Woke Up to Elf on a Shelf Today...

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/21: Yankees Pay Their Taxes

On this day in 2009 the Yankees got hit with a luxury tax penalty bill of $25.69 million after winning the World Series just a month and a half ago. New York was the only team to go over the cap and get the penalty bill in the mail and has been the only team to be penalized in the seven years of the luxury tax's existence.

Also on this day in 1995 the Yankees resigned David Cone to a three year deal worth $18 million. Cone and the Toronto Blue Jays flirted around before George Steinbrenner got his man back in pinstripes.

Finally on this day in 1927 the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox made a trade that saw pitchers Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard with outfielder Duffy Lewis go to the Yankees for "relatively unknown players" and $15,000 cash. The group of players included Frank Gilhooley, Slim Love, Ray Caldwell, and Roxy Walters.