Friday, January 15, 2016

Yankees Claim Lane Adams, Designate Ronald Torreyes

The New York Yankees continued their roster shuffling this week when the team claimed Lane Adams off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. Adams will be added to the 40 man roster and will presumably fight it out for a spot on the roster out of spring training while Ronald Torreyes was designated for assignment for the second time in a month.

We will meet Adams the way we like to later this weekend.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration w/ Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley

The New York Yankees have avoided arbitration with two of their players that filed for arbitration today when they signed Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley to new one-year deals. Michael Pineda will make $4.3 million in 2016 while Ackley will earn $3.2 million.

CONCUSSION: MLB Policy and Youth Sports Screening

Since the release of the movie Concussion starring Will Smith, some of the most frequent questions I am asked in my physical therapy practice are related to concussions.

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 2000 World Series Game Two HERE

Game Two of the 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

Why no Game One? Can't find it on Youtube. Spoiler alert, Yankees won behind a Luis Vizcaino single and some strong defense from Derek Jeter and company. 

Imaging if Chasen Shreve Remembers How to Pitch in 2016

The New York Yankees bullpen has undergone a bit of a makeover from the 2015 season to the 2016 season and here it is only mid-January. A lot can change between now and April just like a lot has changed from today since the Wild Card game against the Houston Astros. Adam Warren is gone and so is Justin Wilson while Aroldis Chapman is in and so is a laundry list of prospects headed by Jacob Lindgren, Nick Goody, Nick Rumbelow and James Pazos looking to fill the void. We keep hearing the names of the big three at the back end of the bullpen and the names of Bryan Mitchell and Ivan Nova essentially replacing Warren and his role but what about Chasen Shreve? What if Shreve actually remembers how to pitch well in 2016?

Shreve was an absolute monster for the Yankees in the first half of 2015 before falling off drastically in the second half. Looking at things in a simplistic view and on paper alone you would think that fatigue would not be a factor. Shreve was a starter in the minor leagues for the Atlanta Braves before the trade and had thrown 70.0 innings in 2011 before throwing just 58.1 innings in 2015. This innings count means little when you actually watch what Shreve was doing out there though as all signs of his downfall pointed to fatigue. His arm angle changed a bit when it never used to and so did his release point. Shreve was seen overthrowing the ball at one point and under-throwing the ball at another. That’s not mechanical, that’s fatigue.

So if Shreve can remember to pitch like he did in the first half of the 2015 season the Yankees will add a fourth dominant relief pitcher to their stable of bullpen arms. Instead of turning these games into a five or six inning game for the starters, remember Dellin Betances can easily go multiple innings three or four times a week, the Yankees may be able to turn it into a four or five inning game. Anything else is gravy.

So while everyone is up in arms about the Yankees having three guys capable of 100 strikeouts in a single season I’m over here wondering about “The Forgotten One” Jacob Lindgren and the “All of a sudden underrated one” Chasen Shreve. 

The Greatest DH’s in MLB History

The Hall of Fame vote for the 2016 inductions are over but that doesn’t mean the debate for 2016 and the speculation for the 2017 vote has to end. It won’t end here anyway because I have a ton to say about it and the free agency and trade markets aren’t doing us any favors to fill the time right now. We have gone over the best catchers of all-time as we looked to shine some light on the tremendous career of Mike Piazza and today we will look ahead to not only the 2017 class but the 2021 class as well. That’s when presumably David Ortiz will be eligible for the Hall of Fame with the five-year waiting period and the DH debate can begin once again.

I am piggybacking Scott Chiusano of the New York Daily News a bit as he released his own Top 5 DH’s of all-time by the numbers but I am putting my own spin on things like I tend to do. First I changed around his rankings a bit to fit my opinion and secondly I want to see how this list will or could affect Oritz when he comes up for Hall of Fame voting in 2021. First things first though, my list:

1.       Edgar Martinez
2.       David Ortiz
3.       Frank Thomas
4.       Harold Baines
5.       Paul Molitor

Paul Molitor was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004 as a player while Frank Thomas was elected in 2004 by the Baseball Writers Association of America while the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, or the IBWAA, elected Edgar Martinez in 2016 to their Hall of Fame. Many believe that Harold Baines belonged in the Hall of Fame and Baines was elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame in 2009. This leaves three of the Top 5 DH’s in MLB history in the Hall of Fame, one that many believe should be in the Hall of Fame and one just awaiting his candidacy. A lot can change between now and the 2021 Hall of Fame vote but by then, either because of the DH position or the steroid era, David Ortiz will likely be in…. as much as that pains me to say as a fan of the Yankees. 

Defined Roles Won’t Matter in this Yankees Bullpen

Earlier this week Yankees manager Joe Girardi was interviewed and finally closed the door on a subject that was undoubtedly bothering many, whether Aroldis Chapman would be the Yankees closer or not. Many of us, myself included, thought that Chapman being the closer in a free agency walk year (suspension pending) was enough information to make the determination that he would be the closer but some would rather hear it from the horse’s mouth rather than speculate, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The horse has spoken and entering Spring Training camp this season Chapman will be the Yankees closer and the first question I got on twitter was whether Andrew Miller should pitch the 7th inning or the 8th inning in 2016? My response? What does it matter?

Defined roles are not going to be a thing in the Yankees bullpen in 2016. Chapman is the closer on the depth chart and on, sure, but that doesn’t mean he is necessarily going to close out every game that he’s available to close in my opinion. Plus it doesn’t matter if Miller, the reigning Mariano Rivera Award winner for being the best relief pitcher and closer in the American League in 2015, pitches the 6th, the 7th, the 8th or the 9th. It doesn’t matter to him, his words, and it doesn’t matter to the team.

What does it matter that you’re stacking up left-handed arms in the 8th and 9th or spreading them out in the 7th and 9th with Dellin Betances sandwiched between when all three of them can get left-handed hitters out as equally as they can right-handed hitters out?

Dellin Betances:
vs RHB70179192734122374.
vs LHB711537184251757.
Provided by View Original Table

Aroldis Chapman
vs RHB 65 202 17 34 2 3 8 22 78 .194 .297 .257 .554
vs LHB 49 76 2 9 2 0 0 11 38 .143 .276 .175 .451
Provided by View Original Table

Andrew Miller
vs RHB 60 199 11 23 3 4 0 17 79 .131 .227 .217 .444
vs LHB 31 47 5 10 1 1 1 3 21 .233 .277 .326 .602

As you can see by the stats above it doesn’t matter who pitches the 7th, who pitches the 8th and who pitches the 9th. The game, more times than not, is over either way. Personally I’d like to see Miller pitch the 8th and Betances pitch the 7th only because Betances can be a multiple-inning reliever. Limiting him to a single inning in the 8th was fine last season when the Yankees didn’t have a pitcher like Miller behind him but this season you may need to see Dellin pitch the 6th and 7th while Miller and Chapman knock down the 8th and 9th. There will be lots of mixing and matching and frankly there should be, that’s what keeps the opposing team and manager guessing.

It’s a game of cat and mouse and the Yankees have the cheese to win. Cheesy analogy I know but it works in this situation for some odd reason. 

Starlin Castro Backs up Third Base Making Room for Robert Refsnyder?

I just refuse to let go, don’t I? I’m like an optimistic and overly proud parent and I refuse to let things go when they don’t go my way, it happens. In my head I keep trying to find ways for Robert Refsnyder to fit onto the 2016 Yankees Opening Day squad and I think I may have done it, maybe. With my brains and a little exploit of the Yankees lack of third base options I think I have finally found a way to justify keeping Refsnyder on the MLB roster and not ship him down to Triple-A again to start next season. Brian Cashman announced that Starlin Castro would be the team’s backup third baseman heading into next season leaving a potential gaping hole at second base… maybe?

Yes I realize that Dustin Ackley will likely be the Yankees starting second baseman but unless the team brings a Donovan Solano or Pete Kozma with them north from Tampa this spring the team may be thin at the middle infield positions. If you think about it Castro is not only the starting second baseman and the backup to third baseman Chase Headley but he is also the team’s shortstop to Didi Gregorius. I hope Castro packed enough gloves and leather with him on his trip from Chicago. Ackley can play second base and has dabbled in the outfield but I’m not sure how much third base and shortstop he has played (and when I say I’m not sure I was being polite, he has played a combined 0 innings at both third base and shortstop in his career). The same can be said for Refsnyder, yes, but Refsnyder is still young enough to be molded into the Yankees own version of Ben Zobrist.

Refsnyder was drafted as an outfielder and was moved to second base due to concerns with his throwing strength by the Yankees. He played outfield at the collegiate level, and right field at that, so the arm strength is there and he could likely get by at the position if need be. He would also presumably have the arm to make the much shorter throw (from right field anyway) from third base to first base with a little work. Sure the Yankees would like to have a seasoned player at every position and would rather a player not learn the position on the fly in the majors, well unless you’re Stephen Drew of course, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Is this going to happen? Lord no, the Yankees seemingly have some vendetta against Refsnyder because he has pictures of someone doing something somewhere they weren’t supposed to, but it should happen. It likely makes the team better and it makes me happy and you just can’t put a price tag on happiness. 

Meet a Prospect: Jonathan Diaz

The New York Yankees are doing anything and everything they can to prepare for the 2016 season. New York's plan seems to be to have as much depth and insurance as possible in the minor leagues while relying on the farm system, finally, while waiting out these long and bulky contracts that have hampered the organization for so long. In just a couple years the contracts of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia will be gone and the names of Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be leading the next Yankees dynasty. That's the plan anyway and the best plans need Plan B and Plan C, one of those PLan B's or Plan C's include the latest minor league signing, Jonathan Diaz.

This is Meet a Prospect: The Jonathan Diaz Edition. Jonathan Diaz was born on April 10, 1985 and spent his High School years at Coral Gables High School. While at Coral Gables Diaz played aside fellow Major League players Yonder Alonso and Eddy Rodriguez who watched Diaz finish his High School career with a strong .323 average in his senior season with six doubles and a home run. Diaz went to NC State to continue his baseball career but struggled in his freshman year. Diaz improved during his sophomore and junior years at NC State and caught the eyes of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 12th round, 360 overall, in the 2006 MLB Draft.

Diaz was placed at the shortstop position to begin his professional career and spent the 2006-2012 seasons in the minor leagues with varying degrees of success for Toronto. Diaz was never known for his bat but it was his defense that led Toronto to invite him to Spring Training camp in 2011 where he almost made the team as one of the final cuts. Diaz was back with the club in the spring of 2012 as well but was cut after just 23 games despite hitting .405 with seven RBI and nine runs scored. Diaz finished the 2012 season still in the Toronto minor league system and never made the Major Leagues as a member of the Blue Jays.

Diaz moved on from Toronto after the 2012 season and moved to their AL East rival Boston Red Sox after signing a minor league deal on December 16, 2012. Another trip to spring training in 2013 and another late cut and assignment to the minor leagues. Boston did come calling on June 29, 2013 and promoted him to the Major Leagues to make his MLB debut against the team that drafted him, the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz was called up because Brock Holt and Stephen Drew were injured while Will Middlebrooks was ineligible to get called back up due to the 10 day rule. Diaz lasted until July 6 of that season when Holt was ready to return and Diaz was sent back to Triple-A. 

Diaz returned to Toronto for the 2014 and 2015 seasons and began the 2014 season with the big league club after a Jose Reyes injury gave him the opportunity. Diaz received his 2013 World Series ring during that 2014 season and was up and down between the minor leagues and major leagues before ultimately being designated for assignment. Diaz came back to the team in 2015 to give the team some insurance for Reyes and once again a Reyes injury allowed Diaz a trip back to the Major Leagues. Diaz appeared in just seven games in 2015 and batted .154 with two RBI before hitting free agency once again. 

Diaz will now look to latch on with the New York Yankees during the 2015 season after signing a minor league deal with the club. Diaz will look to win a job in spring training or start the season in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders. Welcome to the organization Jonathan and welcome to the family as well. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/15: No Mas #UNTUCK

On this day in 2013 the Yankees saw their shirt get #UNTUCK (grammatical error I know but you get the point) and land in Washington as former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano agreed to a two year deal worth $28 million to close games for the Nationals. Soriano was coming off of a league leading 45 saves for the Rays in 2011 and 42 saves for the Yankees after filling in for Mariano Rivera after his ACL injury.

Also on this day in 1958 the Yankees announced that an unprecedented 140 games would be televised this season on local channel WPIX. You obviously had to buy a package and the deal for the Yankees was worth more than $1 million. The decision to televise so many games, including 63 road games, started when the Dodgers and the Giants high tailed it to California. Good call if you ask me.