Friday, January 29, 2016

Aroldis Chapman is on the scene

A few things to ponder as we await the start of the 2016 season… First and foremost, the Yankees have definitively announced that Aroldis Chapman will be their closer for the 2016 season. Chapman’s contract is set to end after the this season when he will be able to go into free agency, but his still to be determined forthcoming MLB suspension might change that (even though he wasn’t charged with a crime).
Reports have indicated that Chapman won’t face a long suspension, which would allow him to enter free agency after this year. Yankees fans should hope Chapman faces a lengthy suspension because it would allow the Yanks to hold onto him for another season. As a result, the Yankees would have about a year and a half to decide if they want to resign Chapman or let him go. On paper, the Yankees have a deadly bullpen. The trio of Chapman, Miller and Bentances will shorten the game.
The Yankees bullpen is a strength among a slew of question marks for the team. C.C. Sabathia is coming off a shortened season due to a combination of injuries and going to rehab for alcoholism. Ivan Nova was largely ineffective after returning from injury. Masahiro Tanaka performed well, but was nothing compared to the numbers he was putting up before he got injured. The offense is also the usual question mark, as it has been for the past few years. The Yankees are actively attempting to rebuild, which may or not may not work. That rebuilding effort could be considered a partial success in 2015, so there is some reason for optimism that the momentum can continue into this year and beyond.

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 2009 World Series Game Two HERE

The Yankees got spanked in Game One and in Game Two AJ Burnett comes up big against the Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees-rival Pedro Martinez. These looks back end when Prospects Month begins so let's get to the meat and potatoes of the Yankees last World Series championship, shall we?

Quick Hit: Rob Manfred’s Remaining Offseason Check List

Rob Manfred is barely into his second year as Commissioner of Major League Baseball and already he has left his mark on the game of baseball. Instant replay has been changed and expanded, Pete Rose was denied reinstatement back into the game once again, steroid testing gets tougher and tougher with every passing year, all teams will have Spanish translators working for them all season long, television deals are going through the roof, protective netting is being put up at all 30 MLB stadiums to protect the fans and among other things there is discussion about adding the designated hitter position to the National League. Manfred has a lot on his plate but he is far from done as he looks to expand and improve the game so here are a few key notes he is still working on today as we inch closer to spring training and the 2016 regular season.

Baseball’s strike zone is getting bigger and bigger and is especially growing low in the zone. At one time the strike zone was defined as at the top of the hitter’s kneecap to right around the letters on the chest part of his uniform. It has since been changed to the hollow beneath the kneecap and many are complaining that the strike zone is simply too low. This changed after the 1995 season and will likely be part of the new CBA in 2017, not before. 

The league is also talking about playing regular season games in London as soon as the 2017 season. Manfred did say the league was working hard to play there but it would have to be later on in the season due to weather. With travel delays and such you would have to wonder if it would be sometime around the All-Star break when these teams would make the travel across the pond. 

Manfred is picking up where former Commissioner Bud Selig left off as the league still works towards and strives for an international draft. Manfred said nothing is imminent on this matter but he said “we were closer to getting there in certain rounds of bargaining than people may have understood and probably it was a mistake not to push it across the finish line” in a recent interview at the owners meetings in Florida. 

Manfred states the league is still investigating the domestic violence charges against the Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Manfred and the league need to decide whether to suspend one or all of them under the league’s newly formed domestic violence policy. 

Fantasy Baseball: Who are the Milwaukee Brewers?

Fantasy Baseball season will be here before you know it, if it’s not already here for some, and I have been focusing on some of the players you can draft later on in your draft that can win you your league. With a team like the Milwaukee Brewers you know that Ryan Braun is going to carry the team and you know that even in a down year like 2015 Jonathan Lucroy is still going to be one of the better catchers in the league but what about a few of the names that you don’t necessarily know? Names like Jimmy Nelson, Chris Carter, Will Smith and Corey Knebel.

Jimmy Nelson enters 2016 ready for his age 26 season and ready to be the ace for the Milwaukee Brewers. Nelson has struggled with his control to date but he is a physical pitcher that can give you wins with a low ERA. Nelson is not a huge strikeout guy and is more of a pitch to contact type pitcher with a nice ground ball rate and may be available around Round 15 or later. He’s not David Price or Zack Greinke but he’d be a fine fourth or fifth starter on your team, especially in those leagues that are especially deep.

Chris Carter, former Houston Astro, looks to be the starting first baseman in Milwaukee in 2016 which could be a good thing for you if you’re looking for some power. Carter may hit 30-40 home runs a year with Braun hitting behind him or in front of him in the Brewers lineup but the problem is he’s likely to only add about a .220 average along with it and not many RBI. If you need a home run guy later in the draft that is almost guaranteed to play every day then Carter is your guy. If you need a mix of power, speed, runs scored and average then stay away from Carter because he’s not going to give it to you.

Finally the Brewers look like they will have a closer by committee or an intense competition this spring for the newly vacated closer spot left behind by the trade of Francisco Rodriguez. Vying for the saves in Milwaukee will be Will Smith, Corey Knebel and even Jeremy Jeffress may get a shot or two to close. Smith is a high strikeout guy averaging almost 13 K’s per nine innings while Knebel, just 23-years old, had almost 10 K’s per nine in 2015. All three could get chances to close games this season and as you know even the team with the worst records still have closers who save 30-40 games almost every single season.

Those are my picks, if I overlooked or over-valued someone please let me know below in the comments section or by sending me a tweet on twitter @GreedyStripes. 

USA Today Ranks All 30 MLB Starting Rotations

It’s almost baseball time ladies and gentleman, can you feel it? The fields are being manicured, the grass is being cut and we’re already seeing on Twitter how players are heading down south to get a head start on bullpen sessions and early season workouts. Spring training is just around the corner and so is the 2016 MLB season, get hyped. The USA Today is hyped and this week ranked all 30 MLB teams by their starting rotations. How will Zack Greinke affect the Diamondbacks rotation ranking and how far will David Price push the Boston Red Sox rotation up the charts? How far will the Yankees fall after not adding a significant piece to their starting five this winter? Keep reading to find out.

We will bring you the list only and not the write-ups except for the Yankee-specific material. If you want to read the write-ups on all 30 MLB teams head over HERE to the USA Today to read their work and give them a much deserved click or two.

30. Atlanta Braves
29. Philadelphia Phillies
28. Milwaukee Brewers
27. Los Angeles Angels
26. Colorado Rockies
25. Minnesota Twins
24. Baltimore Orioles
23. Cincinnati Reds
22. Kansas City Royals
21. Detroit Tigers
20. Toronto Blue Jays
19. Oakland Athletics
18. Miami Marlins
17. Texas Rangers
16. San Diego Padres
15. New York Yankees

I entered this exercise expecting to put the Yankees near the bottom of the list, and ended it tempted to rank them in the Top 10. Truth is, it’s easy to envision them landing on either end of the spectrum: Their top four starters all come with great stuff and huge question marks. How they fare will depend on the health of Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda and the success of Luis Severino in his first full big-league season.

14. Tampa Bay Rays
13. Boston Red Sox
12. Pittsburgh Pirates
11. Seattle Mariners
10. Arizona Diamondbacks
9. San Francisco Giants
8. Houston Astros
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Chicago White Sox
5. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Cleveland Indians
3. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets

1. Chicago Cubs

Hal Steinbrenner’s Comments & Why I’m Not Worried

Every season since Hal Steinbrenner has prominently owned the New York Yankees, and by the way where in the world is Hank Steinbrenner, he has made some speech around this time of the year about the upcoming season and the state of the organization and team. Every single season, to paraphrase a bit, he feels like the team is a “World Series caliber team” that can do well this season if they stay healthy and every single season he has something to say about the payroll. This year it was the fact that he was not “comfortable” with seeing the payroll rise much above where it is now, which FYI is the second highest in the league behind those pesky Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Yankees world and blogosphere went absolutely nuts.

Everyone has an opinion and I try to listen and understand each and every opinion I am presented with but that doesn’t mean I necessarily have to agree with it. Everything that I have read is negative about Hal not wanting to add even more payroll to the club and everyone acts as if the sky is falling. If that was the case the sky has been falling since George Steinbrenner gave control over to his two sons because this is the way it’s been for a while now. We all knew Hal was the fiscally responsible one and the better son to run the business side of the Yankees and that’s what Hal is doing. We all knew that he wanted to get under the luxury tax rather than piss away millions of dollars every single season to go home early in the postseason or not reach it at all and you know what, it’s the right path to take.

I know, one day I’m defending Brian Cashman and the next I’m defending Hal but hear me out. Throwing money at the problem does not work anymore as much as we the fans don’t want to admit it. The Dodgers don’t have a cap on their spending and they paid almost the same amount as the entire Tampa Bay Rays team to players that are no longer with the club and they still have as many World Series rings as the Yankees have. They have the best pitcher on the planet, they sign all the Cuban-born stars they want and they sign anyone and everyone they want on the free agent market. That and a buck can get them a Coke in the postseason, just like the Yankees.

Everyone is acting as if Hal is warning everyone that the payroll is going to go down to like $120 million or something. You can absolutely win a World Series with a payroll around $180 million (or higher as the luxury tax threshold is expected to go up with the next collective bargaining agreement) as long as you don’t have mega-contracts weighing the organization down. The biggest contract of them all being the contract that GEORGE gave Mr. Alex Rodriguez, not Cashman and not Hal. 

ICYMH: Jordan Barnes & Our Exclusive Interview

Every year around this time the New York Yankees, like any team, begin cleaning house in the lower levels of their minor league system and begin cutting and releasing players you have generally never heard of. One of these players was a former second round pick in Angelo Gumbs and one was a player who I held near and dear to my heart, Jordan Barnes. I immediately was drawn to Barnes after being drafted by New York because my wife was, see her maiden name was Barnes. I immediately reached out to Jordan and asked for an interview and we discussed many things in and out of the interview. I bring to you this morning a throwback Thursday, on a Friday, just In Case You Miss Him. Our exclusive interview with Yankees draft pick Jordan Barnes.

We are very excited to bring you another interview today as a part of Prospects Month, this time with Jordan Barnes. This is the second time we have been able to interview Mr. Barnes, my wife's favorite player since Barnes is her maiden name, and are excited to catch back up with him. Enjoy!

The Greedy Pinstripes:  Kudos for being so open about your faith, how do you think that has helped you in your life and your career?

Jordan Barnes: I believe my open faith has had a tremendous amount to do with why I have been so successful in life and my career. I put God first in everything that I do and I give him glory for everything that he has blessed me with.

TGP: What are you listening to these days?

JB: I listen to a lot of Rap and Hip Hop music.

TGP: Thoughts on the Yankees losing Robinson Cano?

JB: I think it was a tough decision because he is such a talented player but it is all a part of the business. We have many talented guys in our organization that can step into his place.

TGP: What are you doing this offseason to improve on your 2013 season?

JB: I train heavily. I Workout 7 days a week most of the time twice daily. A lot of weight training , speed training, defensive work and hitting.

TGP: What do you do during the offseason to keep yourself occupied?

JB: Training & spending time with my friends and family and spending time with my girl.

TGP: I see you like Lone Survivor, that movie is freaking intense no? Kind of makes me never want to go to war. Great movie though.

JB: Yeah I’ve watched it about 10 times. It was a great movie.

TGP: Favorite restaurant to eat at?

JB: Cheesecake Factory
TGP: How tough is it to be on the road so much and know your girlfriend is at home waiting for you?

JB: It isn’t too bad. She understands the game and is a huge supporter of me and my career and she knows that baseball comes first and that’s my main focus when I’m away playing.

Your girl can cook, what time is dinner?

JB: It's usually around 7 but Yes she is a great cook. She lives up to her last name quite well. I have it pretty good.

TGP: Is that old woman with the wrong number looking for her daughter still calling you all the time? lol

JB: haha she occasionally does it .

TGP: Your a Yankees guy and a speed guy, I assume your a fan of the "speed kills" mentality that the Yankees are likely to throw out there with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield?

JB: Yes that’s the mentality that I play with. You cant teach speed.

TGP: I think this answer may be obvious but in my time around social media I have noticed there are two kinds of fans when it comes to prospects. You have the "prospect humpers" (myself being a self professed prospect humper) and a name yet to be determined (due to my lack of creativity) describing those who want to sell all the prospects off for the 37 year old "sure thing." Which category do you think yourself as a fan falls into?

JB: The second one

TGP: What current Major League player do you think you compare to the most?

JB: Torii Hunter

TGP: I know you probably don't think of things like this but how long before you think we could see you in the Major Leagues? I have your ETA down as late 2017, is that accurate?

JB: I’ll say around 2017-2018.

TGP: If you could be the Yankees GM for a day what would you do? Don't have to really be realistic here.

JB: Have Ken Griffey Jr. make a comeback and play for the Yankees.

Most famous person in your cell phone?

JB: Bill Selby my former Northwest Mississippi Community College Coach he hit a walk off grand slam off of the greatest of all time Mariano Rivera when he was playing with the Indians.

Most embarrassing song in your iPod?

JB: Without a doubt beauty and a beat by Justin Bieber.

TGP: We'll finish with this one, where do you see yourself in life and your career in five years?

JB: Playing in front of thousands in Yankee Stadium.

Thank you Jordan for taking the time once again for us to do an interview, we really appreciate it. We hope you have a great season and can't wait to see you moving through this system. You can follow Jordan on Twitter by following @J_Barnes213.

Good luck Jordan and keep in touch!!!

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/29: Jimmy Key hangs it up

On this day in 1999 Jimmy Key decided to call it a career after suffering from multiple shoulder injuries. The 37 year old appeared in the playoffs with every team he played for including the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees, and the Baltimore Orioles.