Thursday, March 3, 2016

Yankees Spring Training Open Thread 3/3

So what happened down in Yankees spring training camp today?

The New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies faced off in a non-televised spring training game and it may have been a good thing for the Yankees. The team lost 13-4.

Alex Rodriguez was a bright spot in the Yankees lineup hitting a two-run home run on the first swing he took this spring and on the second pitch he saw. Awesome!

Gary Sanchez drew wave reviews from the Yankees coaching staff but not because he drew two walks, no, it was because of his much improved defense behind the plate.

Ivan Nova looked good in two innings giving up just one run but Jacob Lindgren struggled a bit facing five batters walking three of them and hitting one other. The fifth you ask? He laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Luis Cessa Opening Eyes in Yankees Camp

I have to admit that I was one of many to be pretty down on the New York Yankees when they traded left-handed reliever Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for prospects. Like we do with every new arrival, and especially with prospects, we did our research and introduced you to them in our Meet a Prospect series of posts but I have to admit I was pretty down on the return for Wilson. The Yankees got a pair of right-handed starters for Wilson in Chad Green and Luis Cessa and I went as far as to call Green an organizational prospect while I left Cessa completely off my radar during Prospects Month. Cessa is seemingly taking this personally and is opening some eyes finally in Yankees camp.

I say finally because Cessa has been traded multiple times in his young career and no one seemingly knows what to do with him. Cessa was first traded to Detroit in the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets and was again traded back to New York in the deal that sent Wilson out of Yankee Stadium so there is obviously some talent there and intrigue that I apparently missed. There is talent with Cessa, no one ever denied that, but his potential hang up may surround the question of whether he is a starting pitcher or a reliever in his future. The Yankees acquired him hoping for some pitching depth in the rotation at Triple-A and thus far, and granted it’s extremely early I know, he hasn’t done anything to make the team think that won’t be the case.

You have to remember and keep in mind that during Cessa’s first two professional season with the Mets under then GM Omar Minaya the right-hander was an infielder trying to break through in New York. After struggling in his first two seasons to the tune of a .178/.319/.229 triple slash the Mets did with Cessa what the Yankees should have done, in my opinion, with Cito Culver and turned him into a pitcher. Cessa has since made 86 minor league starts since the 2011 season, his first as a pitcher, and has produced solid numbers for as raw as he is. Cessa has struck out 419 batters and walked 110 in 513.2 innings pitched and has showcased great command on both sides of the plate. Cessa can throw his 93 MPH fastball whenever and wherever he wants and compliments that with a changeup, slider and curve ball combination.

What’s been opening eyes is the addition or tweaking of one of his pitches, Cessa has been seen throwing a slurve this spring. No matter what pitch he throws Cessa is a strike thrower and has shown an extreme durability in his career as a pitcher, something that may be all the more important in the Bronx in 2016. Cessa, I doubted you at first and I apologize. Now consider me rooting for you. Good luck!

Ian Desmond Wants Free Agency to Change

The Texas Rangers got some of the worst news possible at possibly the worst possible time this year and the organization was left scrambling for help. The team learned that Josh Hamilton, shocker I know, was injured and would likely begin another MLB season on the disabled list leaving a huge hole in their lineup and in their outfield. Thankfully for Texas and thankfully for the former Washington National Ian Desmond that he was still on the free agency market. The former shortstop and second baseman signed a one-year deal to play the outfield in Texas thus ending his free agency experiment, an experiment that he wants to see changed before next season.

Desmond wants free agency changed after turning down a seven-year deal worth $107 million contract extension and a qualifying offer worth one-year and $15.8 million to sign a one-year deal with Washington worth $8 million. Sure Desmond said all the right things in front of the media with his new teammates in front of his new locker but he also expected these things to be fixed before he hits free agency again admitting a certain frustration and an anger towards the whole system. Desmond admitted that something needs to change and wants something to change and who could blame him?

Desmond, despite being one of only six players with at least 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases since 2010, at a historically offensively anemic position mind you, along with three Silver Slugger and one All-Star nomination to his belt, basically lost $100 million over the course of a calendar year. Who could blame him for wanting to change free agency? Then again who could blame him or turning down a guaranteed $107 million and a guaranteed $15.8 million on separate occasions either? Me personally I don’t feel bad for the guy, he made a business decision and it didn’t work out. Try again next year pal. You didn’t hear Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales screaming when they sat out until June because of the same process, did you? I think not. 

Yankees ST: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies 3/3

If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound? Science would say yes but you will always have those naysayers that tell everyone that it won't or ask how we truly know. Well you know what I say to them? If the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies play a Grapefruit League game today at George M. Steinbrenner Field at 1:05 pm ET and there is zero television coverage of it did the game really happen? Did the Yankees send Ivan Nova to the mound to face off against RHP Jake Thompson? Who knows, check in later to find out. 

Enjoy the game, there may be a radio link at MLB.TV but I doubt it. There is an unprecedented amount of spring training television coverage these days but these few and far between games that have none are still hard to swallow. Maybe I'm spoiled. Have a great day Yankees family.

MLB GM's, Brian Cashman and Comparing Apples to Oranges

My name is Daniel Burch and I have been a fan of the New York Yankees ever since I can remember. Being born in the Bronx and into a family full of Yankees fans I really had little choice in who my affiliations and fandom would go but I have to say in all honesty it was the best decision I ever made or had made for me. Being born in 1985 I missed the Don Mattingly MVP Award and much of the losing in New York before watching religiously starting in the 1994 season. I have to say I was an utterly crushed nine-year old when the season and World Series was cancelled with “my” Yankees in first place in their division and I was even more crushed to see them lose to Seattle in the 1995 ALDS. My disappointment wouldn’t be long-lived though as the team went on to win the World Series in 1996 and made the postseason in 1997 but I can remember the first time I ever questioned the Yankees decision making and truly worried for the team. It was in 1998 when at the time what I described as a “little nerdy guy with glasses” (remember I was 13-years old) took over as the GM for the team I grew up adoring, his name was Brian Cashman.

Cashman’s history is well known around Yankeeville these days as he boasts (with or without “Stick” Michaels help) five World Series Championships, seven American League pennants and 15 trips to the playoffs during his 18 season tenure with the club. It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions, ups and downs with Cashman as the team’s GM with not enough praising and far too much mob inciting lynching going on. Over 18 seasons if I had a penny for every time I heard or read “Fire Cashman” I’d have enough money to buy a new hairpiece and I’d be the one running for President of the United States. Why “Fire Cashman” though? Is he not doing what he’s told just like everyone else that has a boss does? We don’t really know what we have in Cashman as a GM because either George Steinbrenner was butting in promising the world to a player or Hal Steinbrenner is butting in doing the same thing just with less money at his disposal. This is all before even mentioning the fact that Cashman has dealt with the “World Series or bust” mantra year in and year out where improvement and steps forward were not allowed and winning was mandatory.

As a blog owner so many times have I seen Cashman compared to other GM’s around the league, namely John Mozeliak of the St. Louis Cardinals, Brian Sabean of the San Francisco Giants, Dave Dombrowski formerly of the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox (current) and Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays. As I said earlier in that 18-year tenure Cashman has seemingly led the Yankees to the postseason 15 times, to the World Series seven times and brought home five World Series Championships all while having to deal with management driven deals and trades, trades and deals being shot down due to fiscal restraints and moves being shot down because of a limit on years given out in contracts. Mozeliak, Sabean, Dombrowski and company never had to face such hardships and difficulties simply doing their job, they always had full control, so comparing Cashman to any of these GM’s in my opinion is like comparing apples to oranges.

During that same 18 season stretch the St. Louis Cardinals finished outside of the postseason six times while finishing in first place nine times. That's quite impressive, no one will argue that, but making the postseason 12 times and winning two World Series is not 15 postseason trips, seven World Series trips and five World Series wins. By the way Mozeliak inherited a team in 2007 that was fresh off a World Series victory in 2006 and only has one World Series win to his name so keep that in mind before bringing up the fact that Stick Michaels and Bob Watson handed Cashman a dynasty.

Andrew Friedman was hired before the 2005 season to be the Tampa Bay Ray's general manager and he led the team to the postseason four times and the World Series once in 2008. Talk about being handed a great team though and talk about riding the coattails of someone else, do you all remember the farm system that Friedman was handed? This is not to say that he didn't do an absolutely stellar job while in Tampa, because he has with little to no resources all things considered, but that was only because Tampa was allowed to have eight consecutive losing seasons before hiring Friedman, something that will never fly in New York.

Finally you have Dave Dombrowksi, the man who has "fleeced" Cashman in trade after trade after trade over the years. I say "fleeced" because I feel like Cashman has done okay outside of the Mike Lowell trade and did especially well with the Didi Gregorius acquisition but that's another debate for another day. From 1998-2001 Dombrowski was in Miami where he had three losing seasons before heading to Detroit in 2002. From 2002 until he was relieved from his job this season in Detroit the Tigers made the postseason five times with one of the biggest payrolls in all of MLB and with the best hitter on the planet Miguel Cabrera. Detroit went to the World Series twice losing both times to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants respectively. Dombrowski is a great GM but he still hasn't been able to hold a candle to the overall success in New York under Brian Cashman.

So there you have it, Dombrowski, Friedman and Mozeliak have had great careers with their respected team and they are all great GM's. They may be better GM's than Brian Cashman truth be told but honestly we will never know. For much of Cashman's tenure he has been cut off at the knees at every turn and has won in spite of it, not because of it. Those three, and many other GM's across the league, may be great but Cashman is no slouch either and comparing them all to Cashman is simply like comparing apples to oranges. That's just my opinion. 

Yankees Spring Training Locker Assignments

The New York Yankees are in full-fledged Spring Training mode now as many of the teams around Major League Baseball are and it’s a beautiful thing. Pitchers and catchers have reported to camp and so have the position players. The first workouts and photo days are done. Teams are done playing scrimmage games and exhibition games against local colleges and such and the Cactus League and Grapefruit League are now under way as well leaving us, the bloggers and fans, plenty to talk about. There will always be the discussion of spring competitions and who is going to make the team, injuries and such but today I wanted to focus on something a little bit different, locker assignments. I bring up locker assignments after the news was released that Carlos Beltran requested a locker next to Yankees outfield prospect Aaron Judge and it got me thinking whether or not there were any other notable locker assignments this spring camp.

To understand what locker assignments mean you have to understand what their locations mean as well for the New York Yankees. The north wall is designated for the most established pitchers in the organization while players like Mariano Rivera got corner lockers for more room. Catchers usually get lockers at the back with free lockers next to them for extra storage while prospects are scattered across the west wall and elsewhere.

James Kaprielian is on the north wall thrown in the mix with the likes of CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, Andrew Miller and others. Joining Kaprielian this season are Nick Rumbelow, Bryan Mitchell, Chasen Shreve, Luis Severino and Branden Pinder who all have legitimate shots at making the big league club either out of spring camp or sometime during the season. It looks like the Yankees are using their veterans and established players to mold their younger players here in spring camp, at least in the pitching department.

Kaprielian, Rumbelow, Mitchell, Shreve, Severino, Pinder and Judge are being groomed for the future. The next Yankees core. This is exciting if the locker assignments mean anything to the organization, and I believe that they do. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/3: Yankees & Adidas

On this day in 1997 the New York Yankees signed a 10 year contract with Adidas. The licensing agreement with the sportswear company, my favorite in case you were wondering, put Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at odds with the baseball establishment. We all know George was never scared to ruffle a feather or two.