Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New York Yankees Spring Training Open Thread 3/29

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

The New York Yankees and their roster decisions are all but made at this point after a split squad pair of games this afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka pitched as well as CC Sabathia as Tanaka looks for an Opening Day start and CC looks for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Sabathia toyed with a cutter this afternoon and manager Joe Girardi raved about it. Girardi thinks this was Sabathia's best start of the spring and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Bryan Mitchell has won a spot in the Yankees bullpen, not the rotation.

Carlos Corporan can opt out of his contract today but at the time of this writing he hasn't yet.

2016 Predictions - NL East

     It's almost time for the regular season to start! Now that we have established who our American League Division winners are, Boston, Kansas City and Houston, it's time to dive into the National League. A season ago, the NL East saw a pretty remarkable turn around by the Mets. The team from Flushing went from being a team with no middle of the order and pitching concerns to acquiring Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline and a barrage of young, talented starting pitching that carried them all the way to the World Series. Are we in line for the same set of results as in '15, or, can the Nationals finally get over the hump and get to the Fall Classic?  Let's begin with the biggest  conundrum, who is going to be the worst.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

     This portion of the division was almost more difficult to predict then the top because the bottom teams in this division are some of the worst teams in baseball. Ever since last season, the Phillies have managed to trade away TWO closers, Papelbon and Ken Giles, an ace, Cole Hamels, and a double-play combo, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Their rotation, headed by Matt Harrison, is as uncertain as the stability of their offensive production. The only certainty on this team is that Maikel Franco is an absolute stud. Leading all of baseball in long-balls this spring, the third-baseman is the only glimmering light in a team full of dead or dying bulbs.

4. Atlanta Braves

     It seems like since the beginning of the 2015 season, the Braves have been doing their best to completely dismantle their entire roster in order to field a quality team for the opening of their new ballpark in 2017. Beginning with trading the Jay Hey Kid to St. Louis for Shelby Miller, to moving Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton and Melvin Upton Jr. to the Padres for Cameron Maybin, Jace Peterson and starting pitching depth.  Even their mainstay shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, has been shipped off to the Angels, in a trade made earlier this off-season. Maybin has since been moved to Motown and Miller was traded to Arizona for a slew of prospects, most notably SS Denzby Swanson. Nick Markakis, A.J. Pierzynski, Freddie Freeman and Jace Peterson are some of the bright spots left in Atlanta's batting order. John Hart and the Braves' ownership would like me to pick them last, as to remain "under the radar". So, I'm picking them fourth.

3. Miami Marlins

     Although there was a lot of noise this off-season in regards to the potential trading of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins biggest acquisitions of the off-season came in their coaching staff. Don Mattingly brings a refreshing approach  to baseball in South Beach. Although, after having a GM as your head coach, anyone would be an upgrade. Then, the Fish decided to take a chance on making Barry Bonds a "Special" Hitting Coach, his first Major League action since his inauspicious retirement. I believe both Mattingly and Bonds could be invaluable to a team that has seemingly been in limbo since their last championship in '03. If his head is in the right place, Bonds could certainly elevate the play of players on the cusp of greatness, such as Marcel Ozuna and Christian Yellich. Dee Gordon is a batting title waiting to happen, and, with Bonds' help, could do just that this season. Jose Fernandez  is one of the top five starting pitchers in all of the game. Even if he cannot help to make the other starters better, the return you could get for him in a trade package would be enough to field a competitive team in any division.

2. New York Mets

     I know I am definitely going to hear it from Mets fans across the country for this one. How does a team with so much young starting pitching and Yoenis Cespedes for an entire season finish in second place? First, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard threw more pitches last year, post season included, then they have in their entire careers. I fully expect some sort of Harvey-esque innings limit to be imposed on at least Syndergaard, and even possibly Steven Matz.  Zack Wheeler has yet to pitch a full season in the majors and would potentially be another candidate for the afore mentioned innings limit. If an injury occurs, they no longer have Jonathan Neise and Dillon Gee to call upon to make spot starts. Big Jon was sent to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker, replacing the hole left by the departed Daniel Murphy, and Gee is now in the Royals organization. Even the Dark Knight, Matt Harvey, hurled more pitches then he has ever thrown in his career. The Yankees employed the same strategy with Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte when they won the World Series in '09. And, you could really see the toll it took on their arms the following season. If they can stay healthy, expect New York to be in the running all season long.

1. Washington Nationals

   For the last few seasons, Washington has been picked to represent the NL in the Fall Classic, and consequently, has failed to live up to those expectations. I believe '16 will be different. Having a three-headed monster at the top of the rotation, in Scherzer, Strasburg and Gonzalez, will only be more effective with the hiring of pitching coach Mike Maddox. Not to mention, Strasburg is a free agent at the end of the season and is looking to prove to everyone that he is a true gamer and worth the high price he is most certainly going to seek. Although the Nats lost Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister to free agency this off-season, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross are poised to prove that they are  ready to take over the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. If that does not work out, Washington has one of the most highly touted prospects in all of baseball, Lucas Giolito, waiting for his shot.  They acquired Daniel Murphy this off-season, which is a major offensive upgrade to the second base position. Oh, and by the way, Bryce Harper won his first NL MVP last year and is only getting better.  Additionally, Dusty Baker is one of the best baseball minds that there is in the game today. His focus on team chemistry and managerial style will help lead this team to achieving their ultimate goal; a trip to the World Series.

*Special Prediction*

Look for Harper to be the first player since Frank Robinson to win the MVP in both leagues when he moves his talents to the Bronx in  The winter of 2018. But, that's for another conversation.

The Robert Refsnyder Rant You All Knew Was Coming

You all had to know this was coming, no? I gave it a couple days to let it cool down and to allow myself to collect my thoughts and I'm still not happy with the decision to option Robert Refsnyder down to Triple-A to begin the 2016 season. I'm not. You shouldn't be either truth be told and here's why?

Let's use some logic in this rant. The New York Yankees don't have a true or logical standout option for the backup third baseman position. This is the whole reason the team slotted Refsnyder in at third base this spring rather than letting him play his native second base or his original position, the outfield. But no, New York didn't do that. New York scrapped the idea of having Starlin Castro learning the position as well and gave the bulk of the reps to Refsnyder at the position. At the time of this writing the Yankees have played 25 spring games and Refsnyder has seen time at third base in 18 of them. I don't need a calculator or a a percentage to know that this is the vast majority of the games the Yankees have played have showcased Refsnyder at third base.

So why send him down? He hasn't killed it with the bat granted but neither has Pete Kozma and neither has Ronald Torreyes, the obvious choices for the last bench position now. He has made his errors or booted balls as well but if you actually watch the games and not simply read the box score you would know that a lot of those balls Refsnyder hasn't gotten to not many third baseman's around the league would have gotten to either. The disrespect for Refsnyder continues.

Sure Refsnyder could use more work at third base but when will this team stop simply babying their prospects and simply let them figure it out at the major league level? Derek Jeter wasn't ready defensively in 1996 and there have been concerns about most prospects that have come through the Yankees system in one way or another since. Robinson Cano was used out of necessity and worked out pretty well and the same can be said for Brett Gardner and Chein-Ming Wang pre-injury. It's worked out a million time and failed about three million times truth be told but it never works out when you wait for the "perfect opportunity" because you're development eventually goes in reverse. And it's about to. Again. For Robert Refsnyder. Period!

Does Spring Training Mean ANYTHING?

The New York Yankees spring training schedule for the 2016 season in just about wrapped up as are most of the spring training competitions around Yankees camp. Who will make the bullpen, the bench and the starting rotation? Who will have a great spring and who will look to bounce back from a terrible one? Does any of it really matter?

Let's take a look at the last --- seasons and what the Yankees did the spring before the regular season.

* denotes playoff berth
** denotes American League East title
*** denotes World Series victory

1994 ST: 12-15
1994 RS: 70-43 (World Series cancelled)

1995 ST: 4-8
1995 RS: 79-65 *

1996 ST: 16-15
1996 RS: 92-70 ** - ***

1997 ST: 20-11
1997 RS: 96-66 *

1998 ST: 15-12
1998 RS: 114-48 ** - ***

1999 ST: 14-19
1999 RS: 98-64 ** - ***

2000 ST: 13-20
2000 RS: 87-74 ** - ***

2001 ST: 9-20
2001 RS: 95-65 ** (lost in World Series)

2002 ST: 20-14
2002 RS: 103-58 **

2003 ST: 16-13
2003 RS: 101-61 ** (lost in World Series)

2004 ST: 13-9
2004 RS: 101-61** (one win away from World Series, thanks A Rod)

2005 ST: 14-15
2005 RS: 95-67 **

2006 ST: 15-16
2006 RS: 97-65 **

2007 ST: 14-13
2007 RS: 94-68 *

2008 ST: 14-12
2008 RS: 89-73

2009 ST: 24-10
2009 RS: 103-59 ** - ***

2010 ST: 13-15
2010 RS: 95-67 *

2011 ST: 13-15
2011 RS: 97-65 **

2012 ST: 18-12
2012 RS: 95-67 ** (one Derek Jeter broken ankle from World Series)

2013 ST: 14-18
2013 RS: 85-77

2014 ST: 17-12
2014 RS: 84-78

2015 ST: 17-16
2015 RS: 87-75*

2016 ST:
2016 RS: TBD

In a nutshell it doesn't really look like spring training means absolutely nothing. Does it help? Sure, especially with a young team, but when you have a veteran team or a team littered with veterans I don't believe it really matters.

Yankees ST: Two Games & Just One of Me

The New York Yankees are playing a split squad set of games today against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees will be at home inside George M. Steinbrenner Field in the game against Pittsburgh while the team will travel out on the road against the Phillies.

Both games will be played at 1:05 pm ET with the Phillies game being showcased on MLB Network and MLB TV while the game against the Pirates will be shown on the YES Network and MLB TV as well. Go Yankees x2!

Nolan Arenado Is One Guy You Sell the Farm For!

If the New York Yankees need a third baseman and the Colorado Rockies start shopping theirs, Nolan Arenado, he may be one of the exceptions that you sell the farm for. No flashy introduction to this post and no creative little tie in here, straight to the meat and potatoes. Arenado is a leader and a hell of a ball player and he is one guy I am giving up Jorge Mateo and/or Aaron Judge for. He’s that special.

The New York Yankees have very little in the way of third base depth right now down on the farm with Chase Headley leading the way in the major leagues and Robert Refsnyder looking like his Opening Day backup. The trades of Rob Segedin and Eric Jagielo have left the Yankees a little thin at the position but that can all be made right again if Arenado becomes available in the near future. And no, I’m not saying he is available and there’s no possible way for me to know if he will ever become available, I’m just preparing for the day if he is.

Look, Colorado is a small market team that doesn’t look like it’s going to compete before Arenado gets expensive. The team has shown a willingness to spend before, see the Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki contracts of recent years, but the team may also be a little gun shy since neither of them truly worked out for the organization all that well.

Arenado, Coors Field or not, is an absolute beast. He hit 42 home runs last season in a league that is zapped of its power and has hit over .600 for much of this spring. While spring training stats are meaningless in the grand scheme of things a .600 batting average and 1.662 OPS in any sample size is impressive. What’s most important maybe is the fact that this spring Arenado has struck out just twice all spring at the time of this writing, twice in almost 40 at bats.

Arenado has played in less than three seasons and already has three Gold Glove Awards on his mantle and has led every third baseman in almost every defensive category since breaking into the league. He does it on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive side of the ball, in the locker room by all accounts and interviews of his former teammates and coaches and he does it off the field as well. He does it in Coors Field, 20 home runs in 2015, and out of Coors Field, 22 home runs in 2015, and he is just good or spectacular at almost literally everything. It’s impressive and it’s worth emptying the farm for if that opportunity ever comes up. Those are just my two pennies on the situation though, what are yours? Leave them below in the comments. 

Trenton Thunder Media Day Scheduled for Tuesday, April 5

All members of the media are asked to mark their calendars for the Thunder's annual Media Day on Tuesday, April 5 at 1pm. This is your first opportunity to interview and photograph the 2016 Thunder.

Please note that media availability ends promptly at 2:30pm due to the scheduled closed-door team meeting. Following the conclusion of that meeting, players will return to the field for their scheduled stretch and practice session times.

Media are also invited to the Welcome North Open House which will be held following Media Day. This free event is open to the public and gives fans the chance to watch the team's first practice of the year at ARM & HAMMER Park and meet the team and seek autographs.

Below is the complete preseason schedule for the Thunder:

Sunday, April 3
Final workout in Tampa, FL

Monday, April 4Travel Day - NO MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Tuesday, April 5: Media Day and Welcome North Open House
Team Photo - 1:00 PM
Player and Coach Availability - 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Closed Door Team Meeting - 2:30 PM - 3:15 PM
Pitcher Stretch - 3:15 PM
Team Stretch - 3:45 PM
BP Begins - 4:00 PM

Welcome North Open HouseGates Open For Fans: 3:00 PM
Stadium Tours: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Team Workout Ends: 5:00 PM
Player Autograph Session: 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Players and Coaches Visit 90% Club in Yankee Club (Private): 6:30 PM - 7:15 PM
Ballpark Closes: 7:30 PM

Wednesday, April 6Team Practice - NO MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Thursday, April 7: Opening Day
Thunder Batting Practice: 4:30 PM - 5:15 PM
Manager Bobby Mitchell Available To Media: 5:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Thunder Clubhouse Open For Availability: 5:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Radio Broadcast Begins on 91.3 FM WTSR and TrentonThunder.com: 6:40 PM
National Anthem: 6:55 PM
First Pitch: 7:00 PM

Times Listed Above Are Tentative And May Change

Credentials are required for Media Day. Submissions must be made to Public Relations Manager Jon Mozes atJMozes@trentonthunder.com by Monday, April 4.


This Day In New York Yankees History 3/29: The Yankees 9/11 Tribute

On this day in 2009 the Evil Empire struck again as they placed a permanent September 11 memorial at the entrance of George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees Spring Training home in Tampa, Florida. The tribute showcased a foundation in the shape of the Pentagon that supported two towers made from steel from the World Trade Center that was placed on a grassy spot representing where United Flight 93 was hijacked and flown into the Earth in Pennsylvania. The Red Sox did nothing.

Also on this day in 1975 the Yankees released Mel Stottlemyre after he tore his rotator cuff. Mel finished with a 164-139 record and a 2.97 ERA with 40 shutouts before he became New York's pitching coach.

Finally on this day in 1948 the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox played an exceptionally long exhibition game that went 17 innings, unheard of nowadays. The game still ended in a 2-2 tie in a four hour and two minute game. The Yankees scored a run in each of the bottom of the ninth and tenth innings to keep the game tied and moving along. New York had the winning run at third base in the bottom of the 17th inning but Frank Crosetti attempted a bunt to squeeze the runner home and failed.