Friday, January 22, 2016


Check out Hunter Pense as he rehabilitates an abdominal injury from last season. This is the type of injury prevention and performance enhancement program I like to see when recommending players for your fantasy teams. Pilates is an excellent core strength and stability program many Yankees would benefit from; particularly Chase Headley and Dustin Ackley, who have had their share of lower back issues. Let's hope they're friends with Hunter.

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 2001 World Series Game Six HERE

Game 6 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Agent for Cespedes Called the Yankees & Loves New York

Yoenis Cespedes loves New York, who doesn’t though right? Call me bias since I was born in the Bronx and lived there for much of my life but New York is the greatest place on Earth. The greatest place I’ve ever been to anyway. The place is so diverse, the food is amazing, the atmosphere is breathtaking and every once in a while the people surprise you and will be friendly. There’s a Starbucks on every corner and its home to some of the greatest sports franchises in the world including the New York Giants and Jets, the New York Rangers and Islanders, the Buffalo Bills, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets and the New York Yankees and New York Mets. Cespedes got a taste of the Big Apple last season with the Mets as he helped the team reach the World Series for the first time since 2000 and he doesn’t want to leave any time soon.

While Cespedes was negotiating with the New York Mets to stay and the Washington Nationals to leave on a free agency contract the agent for Yoenis made an interesting phone call to Brian Cashman. Apparently Cespedes would prefer to stay in New York and turn down a five-year deal worth a reported $100 million from Washington and he doesn’t seem to have a preference which New York team he would sign with. Roc Nation, yes that Roc Nation, reached out to the Yankees on Thursday to tell them of Cespedes’ interest in playing the outfield inside Yankee Stadium in 2016. The agents asked the Yankees if they wanted to “jump in with a three-year offer” and I wonder who hung up first, Hal Steinbrenner, Jay-Z or Robinson Cano. 

To DH or not to DH?

To DH or not to DH, that is the question facing Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and the National League as we inch towards the owners meetings later this month. While there is no traction just yet and nothing seems imminent in the department of the National League adopting the DH like the American League the two sides are talking about it and that, in my opinion, is progress.

The St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak echoed these statements recently telling reporters that he has heard the discussion about the adoption of the DH more so in the last year than ever before in his time as the GM. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is in favor of it though as he quickly stated that he liked the way things were and honestly, I do too.

I will preface that statement with a small disclaimer. I prefer the DH and I do not find watching an automatic out come up to the plate four or five times a night, sometimes more if you’re 8th hitter is just there for defense, and I don’t think the whole “strategy behind the game” thing sells itself enough. How many times a night do you see a true situation where a strategy needs to be employed? Not as often as the traditional baseball and NL fans would like you to think.

Is there more strategy in the NL? Sure there is but that can be counterproductive. Sometimes you have to take out a pitcher prematurely because you’re down on the scoreboard while sometimes a pitcher is left in for too long simply because he’s pitching a nice game. Is the game more boring because of the pitcher’s hitting? In my opinion, yes it is. What draws more casual fans (because truth be told the hardcore fans are going to watch regardless) to the game, offense or 1-0 games that are won in the 8th inning by a suicide squeeze with a pinch hitter hitting for the pitcher? As exciting as that is many of the fair-weather or casual fans have already turned the game off and gone to bed by then anyway and don’t even get to see it.

Do I think the DH would be good for the NL? Absolutely. Do I think the DH should be pushed and forced on the NL? No, absolutely not. There are still pitchers that truly like to hit and managers that truly like the old school version of the game. Who am I, or anyway for that matter, to take that away from them? Do I think eventually it will come to a DH in both leagues if anything to boost offense, ratings and to protect the pitchers? Yes, absolutely I do. Maybe as soon as the next collective bargaining agreement.

It starts with discussions and it ends with action. The discussions are happening now as we speak. 

First 2015 Draft Pick to Reach MLB

The New York Yankees have not had the greatest draft history under current GM Brian Cashman. To put it into a word or two the Yankees draft status has actually sucked since the farm system produced the Core Four but times seem to be a changing down on the farm. The Yankees are actually, and finally, producing MLB ready and caliber talent out of their farm system through international free agent signings and the draft and actually saw their top overall draft pick from 2014, Jacob Lindgren, make his Major League debut in 2015. The Yankees drafted 16th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft taking James Kaprielian in a draft where the team went very heavy on college players to mix with the batch of 16-18 year old IFA’s they signed, which one will pull a Jacob Lindgren and reach the Major Leagues first? Is it Kaprielian or the team’s other first round pick Kyle Holder? Maybe a wild card?

Predicting what will happen in the minor leagues is like predicting the winning powerball number when the jackpot gets up above a billion dollars. Everyone thinks they can do it but not many truly can with any consistency. Kaprielian looks like the most obvious choice because he was deemed Major League ready straight out of the draft but the Yankees have not been historically aggressive with their minor league players. For every Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain there were the others who stayed in the minor leagues for far too long thus reversing any development they had. Mix that in with the fact that the Yankees already have six or seven options for the starting rotation on the active roster and the fact that Kaprielian does not have a 40 man roster spot on a suddenly overcrowded roster means that Kap may not be the first time come up.

What about Holder, the pick that shocked the fans at the end of the first round and left many scratching their heads as to what Brian Cashman and his group of trusted associates were actually thinking there. Holder, a shortstop by trade, runs into the same familiar position that Kaprielian finds himself in. Holder plays a position that is seemingly blocked for a long, long time by Didi Gregorius. A switch to second base wouldn’t even help Holder at this point as Starlin Castro seems to have the lockdown on that spot for the next five seasons so maybe third base is in Holder’s future? If it is it will take Holder more than a season or two to learn the position while develop enough with the bat to justify his placement there. Remember Holder was taken as a raw prospect despite going to college because he recently switched to baseball full-time, although his defense is said to be ready and elite.

So if it’s not Kaprielian and it’s not Holder and it’s not a player like Jeff Degano who simply doesn’t have the professional innings to make a serious run at the big leagues then who? Well I have two options and it seems like both will be in a sprint towards the Bronx as soon as this summer if all goes according to plan. Chance Adams was drafted in the 5th round by the Yankees while Will Carter was drafted in the 14th round for the Yankees and are both right-handed pitchers. Adams is 21-years old and has already dominated at three levels of the minor leagues for New York starting in Staten Island and finishing the season with five games with the High-A Tampa Yankees. If Adams continues his dominance he could be at Double-A Trenton within a month or so and Triple-A by the All Star Game.

Adams posted a combined 35.1 innings in his debut season with 45 strikeouts, nine walks, a 1.78 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a 32.2 K/9 ratio as his 95-96 MPH fastball and sharp slider were on full display. Meanwhile Carter was drafted as a starting pitcher out of the University of Alabama and immediately converted into a relief pitcher after struggling with the Crimson Tide. Carter started with the Staten Island Yankees after being drafted last season and posted a 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings with 13 K’s and nine walks. Carter struggles with his command but showcases a fastball that touches 97 MPH and above as a relief pitcher which generates a ton of ground balls. Carter induces almost 60% of his outs on the ground which can help when he is in the zone and not walking batters. Control will always be Carter’s biggest issue though and until or unless he fixes that he will always be one step behind Adams in the race for the Major Leagues in 2016.

Cliff Lee Gets More Specific on the “Perfect Fit”

Earlier this winter a team of doctors cleared former Philadelphia Phillies left-handed starting pitcher Cliff Lee to pitch again in the Major Leagues after a pair of scary elbow and arm injuries in 2014 and 2015. Lee was bought out of his contract with the Phillies and allowed to hit free agency at 37-years old leaving many to wonder if he would simply retire rather than give it another go. Lee responded to these rumors and speculations by saying that he would have to have the “perfect fit” to come back to the Major Leagues in 2016 and if he didn’t find it he would be content with simply riding off into the sunset with his family into retirement. There hasn’t been much Cliff Lee chatter since but this week Lee got a little more specific on just what the “perfect fit” is for him and his family.

Lee, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, wants to pitch for a contender in 2016. Lee is also said to be asking for a high base salary despite his health questions rather than a smaller deal with incentives written into the contract like many pitchers at this stage would sign after not pitching in a MLB game since August of 2014. Many teams have shown interest in Lee including the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals but all teams involved are worried about his readiness to pitch again at the big league level.

The high base salary may scare off the Yankees and their owner Hal Steinbrenner but New York is one of the few teams that intends on competing in 2016 while also having the flexibility both on the roster and fiscally to take such a chance on Lee. I’m not sure the same can be said for teams like the Pirates, Orioles, Blue Jays and Royals after the way this winter has gone down and the way most of these teams have thrown money around already this offseason.

Sure there are rumors that Lee is not comfortable pitching in New York, he already once turned down a seven year deal worth $148 million from Yankees GM Brian Cashman, and sure there are reports that his wife Kristen was not happy with the Yankees fans but it could still happen. It especially could still happen if not too many teams come knocking on Lee’s door as we inch closer to spring training. You have to have a short memory as a pitcher, hopefully that extends both on the field and off the field for the Yankees and Lee so they can come to a mutual agreement. 

Justin Upton, the Tigers and Fantasy Baseball

If you leave defensive metrics out of the discussion the best offensive free agent this winter may have been Justin Upton and not Jason Heyward. Obviously both players will play the outfield for much or the duration of their contracts so you have to include the defensive metrics but still Upton was a catch and the Detroit Tigers got him on a huge six-year deal. Upton, who is no defensive slouch himself mind you, will join the lineup in Detroit that already showcases Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler which should help the Tigers immensely as they look to climb back to the top of the American League Central Division. Upton will help the Tigers both offensively in defensively when the team plays this season but how much will he help your fantasy team?

Last season while hitting in Major League Baseball’s equivalent of Yellowstone National Park (if you don’t get the reference Petco Park, like Yellowstone, is HUGE) Upton managed to hit for just a .251 batting average and .790 OPS with 26 home runs and stole 19 bases in what many deemed as a down year for the 28-year old. While the batting average isn’t exactly where you’d like it the home runs, defense and stolen bases is where you get your value out of Upton. Upton’s 26 home runs in 2015 marked the third consecutive year he hit at least 26 homers and the fifth time in the last seven years he has done so. His power is consistent, even inside the biggest parks around the league.

Upton has not been on great teams over the past few years and has seen his RBI total shrink to about 80 RBI per season with 85 runs scored but that’s a product of the team around him and not him as much. Playing with a stacked lineup around him in Detroit should help with both of those numbers as they both likely climb above 100 during the 2016 season. Upton strikes out a ton, more so than ever actually, but he takes his walks, hits for power and hits it to the gaps. You can live with the strikeouts if a player does that making Upton a second or third round pick in my opinion.

Upton will be the second hottest Upton commodity in Detroit this season behind the beautiful Kate Upton but he should be first on your fantasy team. If you see him then get him as early as you can. I wouldn’t let him slide past the second or early third round personally but I expect big things out of him inside Comerica Park in 2016. Hitting behind Anthony Gose and Ian Kinsler and hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and JD Martinez will only help Upton even if Comerica will likely hurt him just a tad. 

Pete Rose to Be Inducted into Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame

Major League Baseball may never open their doors for this man but the Cincinnati Reds are opening up their Hall of Fame to the Hit King, Mr. Pete Rose. The Cincinnati Reds announced the upcoming induction this week barely a month after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the league would not reinstate him into the game. Convenient timing.

Rose, now 74-years old, will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame sometime over the June 24-26th weekend in Cincinnati. Rose will be the sole inductee and will join 85 other members in the Hall including former “Big Red Machine” teammates Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez.

The team will also retire Rose’s #14 jersey.

The Reds and their chief executive Bob Castellini call this a “defining moment” in the franchise’s history. We’ll see. Outside of Cincinnati I’m not sure how many people would agree. I’m indifferent. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/22: Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees

It was on this day way, way back in 2014 when Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka accepted the offer from the New York Yankees of seven years and $155 million. This would mark the fifth largest deal ever given to a pitcher and would also be the largest sum of money ever given to a Japanese player. New York also was on the hook for the $20 million posting fee given to the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Also on this day in 1982 Reggie Jackson signed a free agent deal with the California Angels ending his New York Yankees career after five seasons. Jackson signed a four year deal worth nearly $4 million after winning the 1977 and 1978 World Series with the Yankees and reaching the playoffs four times.

Finally on this day in 1913 the New York Giants agree to share the Polo Grounds with the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders, who played in the American League and will soon become known as the Yankees, had been playing their games at Hilltop Park ever since the franchise moved from Baltimore to New York.