Thursday, March 17, 2016

Yankees Spring Training Open Thread 3/17

So what happened today down at Yankees spring training camp? Let's get caught back up!

Masahiro Tanaka made his third spring start today and allowed two runs in two innings with four walks. Tanaka three 50 pitches in his two innings. Bring on the doubters, who aren't doctors, who says he needs Tommy John surgery.

Luis Severino relieved Tanaka and three four scoreless innings picking up the win for New York.

Starlin Castro and Robert Refsnyder each had a two-run home run for the Yankees in the contest.

The Yankees won their third straight Grapefruit League game 7-2 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Justin Morneau Makes Sense for the Yankees

EDIT: Justin Morneau informed us that he had a setback after an offseason elbow surgery and will not be able to pick up a bat until June. So much for that.

The New York Yankees have a situation down on the farm that could turn into a situation in the Bronx if it is left unattended. The situation is at the first base position. The Yankees have a healthy Mark Teixeira, although he’s one step away from stepping on a crack and breaking his own back (I joke), but the backup situation looks dire. The Yankees signed Chris Denorfia to a minor league deal but he has a March opt-out date so if he walks New York has no true first baseman backup in case Teixeira gets injured, could Justin Morneau be that man?

This late into spring, assuming that Morneau has intentions of playing in 2016, you would have to come to the common sense conclusion that Morneau would sign almost any deal at this point, minor league or not. If the Yankees can sign Morneau to a minor league deal with a June or July opt-out the former Minnesota Twins product could at least be down on the farm and in spring camp showcasing his talents for his next potential gig.

Morneau would make a lot of sense for the Yankees. Almost any and all left-handed power swings are made for Yankee Stadium but Morneau can hit for average too. Morneau won a batting title as recently as the 2014 season and while Yankee Stadium is far from Coors Field in Colorado the ballpark in the Bronx can be good to hitters at times, especially the left-handed variety. Even last year Morneau hit, albeit in very limited playing time, .310 giving the Yankees a legitimate average hitter to throw in the lower half of the lineup just in case Teixeira were to get injured.

Morneau is likely going to sign a minor league deal at this point if he plans on playing in 2016 so why cant that minor league deal come from the New York Yankees? 

Brian McCann and Going Against the Shift

The shift is here to stay in Major League Baseball. Too many teams have found out how effective it is and the league is not going to ban it, how could they anyway? Some hitters have adopted this and started to try and beat the shift while others have simply seen their batting averages dip 60-70 points in lieu of extra power. The latter is referring to the Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira but the former may finally be referring to the Yankees catcher Brian McCann.

At times we raged at the fact that Teixeira absolutely refused to beat the shift and would rather hit for doubles and home runs instead (Too Many Damn Home Runs!) while McCann at least tried to beat the shift. If was visible in some at bats for McCann and he even attempted a bunt or two in order to beat the shift but he never truly looked comfortable doing it. Now I haven’t seen much spring training baseball this season as most of the games are played while I am at work but I have noticed a trend thus far with McCann, he’s trying to beat the shift again.

It seems like every at bat I’ve seen either live or via Sportscenter, MLB Network etc. has showcased McCann trying to go the other way. The power will be there for McCann when he needs it and he’s no longer trying to knock it over the short porch for the Yankees, it looks like he is making a legitimate choice to go the other way and turn what used to be a ground out into a single or a double. Even Chad Jennings of LoHud has mentioned it on Twitter as McCann went the other way in a Grapefruit League game not once but twice for singles so it’s not just me pulling something out of thin air.

If McCann can go the other way and not only have his 25 home runs and 90+ RBI power but if he can add even a .265 average to go with it we may be talking MVP considerations for the Yankees catcher. He won’t win the award with those stats but the Yankees could potentially win a whole lot more games as they get away from too many damn home runs and get back to seeing the ball, and hitting the ball… the other way.

Hit it where they ain’t McCann!

Yankees ST: New York Yankees @ Pittsburgh Pirates 3/17

The New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates will face off today inside McKenchie Field, home of the Pirates, in the latest game in their spring training schedules. These two teams will face off head-to-head for the first time this Grapefruit League season which should be a treat for all Yankees fans. Seeing the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and all the talent the Pirates have in their farm system should be entertaining for us all.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on MLB TV. Go Yankees!

Are the Yankees & Angels Now Trade Partners Again?

Just a quick hit and a little bit of me thinking out loud here. The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were thought to be potential trade partners for much of the winter with zero trades getting done when all the ink was dry. Are these two teams potentially trade partners again just a few weeks into their spring training schedules?

All winter long many of the fans wondered if the Angels would part with some of their young starting pitching to acquire the Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner. The Angels were looking for some outfield help to replace the traded Josh Hamilton and were able to find it elsewhere leaving Gardner back in the Bronx presumably for another season. Now the Yankees, who looked for starting pitching much of the winter, may have an extra starter or two on their hands while the Angels are stuck looking for at least one heading into the season.

The Angels have already lost a pair of starters this spring in Jered Weaver, who is dealing with chronic neck pain, and C.J. Wilson, who is struggling with his shoulder after injuring it last season. There is no word on when Weaver will continue throwing this spring but all signs point to Wilson being on the disabled list on Opening Day 2016 so is it time to make a deal?

The Yankees seem extremely impressed with what Luis Cessa has been able to do this spring and it almost seems like the ultimate “hype him up and sell him high” scenario that Brian Cashman is becoming known for. Would the Angels GM, and former Yankees assistant GM, Billy Eppler bite on Cessa or would he rather a commodity that he is already familiar with. A commodity like Ivan Nova or Bryan Mitchell perhaps?

I don’t pretend to know what the state of the Angels system is, their strengths and weaknesses, but if New York could turn Cessa into a nice prospect or two that would go a long way in making the Justin Wilson trade not hurt so bad. If the Yankees could sell even higher on Nova, who has also looked great this spring by the way, and fetch two or three starting prospects in his contract year then even better. If not then it may be another season without the postseason for the Angels and frankly, either would suit me just fine. 

Quick Hit: HOPE Week Returns for 8th Consecutive Season

Helping Others Persevere & Excel, better known as HOPE Week. Hope Week is the week that the New York Yankees organization gives back and showcases charities and organizations that are making a difference in the community and in the world. For the last seven seasons New York has honored these organizations at Yankee Stadium and abroad using a various number of methods and this season will be no different as HOPE Week returns for its eighth consecutive season in the Bronx. This season will also mark the sixth consecutive year that the organization will get a head start on things by honoring a Tampa area organization during Spring Training.

On March 18, also known as TODAY, the Yankees will announce HOPE Week officially with a pregame ceremony at George M. Steinbrenner Field before their 6:35 pm ET game with the Baltimore Orioles. At the ceremony the team will honor Tampa’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels, a national running organization that builds awareness for America’s special needs community and its members through events that focus on their inclusion.

Ainsley’s Angels was founded in 2008 and the running enthusiasts raise funds by running and pushing along special needs riders in wheel chairs they call chariots. The organization has chapters in 25 different states and has seen several members run coast-to-coast with their riders to raise money and awareness for the organization.

HOPE Week will run from June 6 through June 10 at Yankee Stadium and all across New York in 2016. All of the minor league affiliates for the Yankees will also hold their own HOPE Weeks allowing the program to reach five additional cities and touch 25 more lives and hearts. Evil Empire though, right Boston?

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/17: Charlie Finley Selling Players

On this day in 1977 a federal court ruled in favor of Bowie Kuhn's decision to void the 1976 sale of Athletics’ players by Charlie O. Finley. The Oakland owner sued the commissioner for illegal restraint of a trade when his deals to send Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $2 million and Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million were invalidated "in the best interests of baseball." This is definitely an influential and precedent setting case in the history of American sports and the judicial system.

Also on this day in 1936 Joe DiMaggio made his Major League debut in a big time way collecting four hits, including a triple, in an 8-7 exhibition loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Not bad for a 21 year old future Hall of Fame outfielder.