Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros 4/6

Game Two, let's go. This is actually a game I will get to watch so this is like my Opening Day, expect a lot of tweets on Twitter. I apologize in advance. Tonight the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros face off for the second time this season and for the second time in this three-game series. The Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound to face off against 19 game winner Colin McHugh for the Astros. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and it can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

Just a quick Yankees tickets update for you guys. A couple seasons we cut ties with StubHub and moved on with a comparable, and better in my opinion, and moved on to TicketMonster. With TicketMonster you won't face the same problems that StubHub is currently going through with the print-at-home tickets inside Yankee Stadium. TicketMonster sends you the actual ticket and/or a smart phone code to get you in the stadium without any hassle.

Click here to check out TicketMonster, to support the blog and to see the home team live! Go Yankees.

2016 Yankees Recreate "Step Brothers" Scene w/ Didi and Starlin

Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius... step brothers... and best friends? Click the video and find out!

Would Emilio Bonifacio Be Better Than Ronald Torreyes?

The New York Yankees made the very unpopular decision to send Robert Refsnyder back down to minor league camp this spring in order to give Ronald Torreyes the final bench spot on the club. The fans for the most part were not happy about the demotion but at this point it's all under the bridge, Refsnyder will spend Opening Day in Scranton while Torreyes spent Opening Day in the Bronx. How long will Torreyes be in the Bronx though? Brian Cashman has already said he plans on using the last bench spot as a revolving door much like he used the last bullpen slot as a similar door last season and a new option may have hit the free agency market recently. The Atlanta Braves released Emilio Bonifacio, should the Yankees be paying attention?

Bonifacio signed a one-year deal with the Braves this winter for $1.25 million and despite the contract Bonifacio could not break camp with Atlanta. Bonifacio is a useful piece, even with a declining bat, because he played second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions as recently as the 2015 season. Would he be an upgrade over Torreyes?

Torreyes seems like he could hit .280 in a small sample size and has nice defense and speed while Bonifacio, in a much larger sample size with the Chicago White Sox over the last three seasons, has slashed .243/.291/.325 in 969 plate appearances. This is very much the case of what could be vs. what used to be. Torreyes is still young, 23-years old to be exact, while Bonifacio is in obvious decline at just 30-years old. Bonifacio would be nice to have on the defensive side of things but if you're looking for the total package the Yankees may have gotten it right this time, keep Torreyes.

Now if Bonifacio wants a minor league deal then that's an entirely different story altogether.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros 4/6

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros continue their three game series tonight with the first game under the lights for the Bronx Bombers this regular season.The Yankees actually had a lead against Dallas Keuchel and the Astros yesterday inside Yankee Stadium before a bad throw by Dellin Betances and a little bit of controversy doomed the Yankees for their fifth straight Opening Day loss. Today New York looks to even up the score and their overall record with the second game of the season in the Bronx. New York will send Michael Pineda to the mound to face off with Collin McHugh for the Astros.

Pineda begins his third healthy season with the Yankees and looks to continue his improvement from year-to-year with New York. Pineda will have to turn it around against the Astros if he wants to continue that though, especially after going 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in 2015. Pineda's key to success is not walking batters and striking out as many as possible, something his 7.43 BB/K ratio in 2015 shows is possible. 

McHugh quietly had a great 2015 season that was overshadowed by his teammate and AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. McHugh won 19 games last season in a career high 32 starts and 203.2 innings pitched for the Astros. If McHugh is that good for Houston again in 2016, and today in the Bronx, the Astros may go far this year. 

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. Go Yankees!

Interference & Illegal Slides

“Throw it into the runner’s back. Because then what’s happening? (The runner) is impeding (and he is out)."
That quote is not from a disgruntled Yankees fan, nor is it from Joe Girardi or anybody else within the Yankees organization. This quote, which is essentially telling players to throw the ball at another player, comes from Dana Demuth.

Dana Demuth is the umpire crew chief from yesterday's game, and was also the home plate umpire during the controversial play in which Betances threw a Carlos Correa ground ball into right field, allowing the go-ahead run to score for the Astros.

To be fair, Demuth is not condoning any sort of violence between players. The issue is that the rule regarding interference is about judgment. An umpire during this type of play has to ask himself, "did the player interfere with the thrown ball, or was is just a bad throw?"

In this case, Mr. Demuth judged that Dellin's throw was just a bad one, and no matter where the runner was the result was going to be an error. Therefore, it was not interference, and the Astros scored and went on to win the game.

The lesson to be learned from the play, and from the words of Dana Demuth, is for players to just make a good throw. If the ball doesn't hit the runner, then the play can be made as normal. If the ball does hit the runner, assuming he's out of the baseline (as Correa was yesterday), interference will be called, the batter/runner is out, and the play is dead... no run scored.

Now, how can I talk about a rule and not at least touch on the "Chase Utley" rule, which was in full force yesterday?

You mean this isn't normal?

As a basketball official I have first-hand experience with this sort of thing.

What happened to Ruben Tejada last year, which prompted this new rule, is not something Major League Baseball ever wants to see again. I think we all can agree that we don't want to see a player get injured. By "injured" I'm not talking about a player getting a bruise from a hit by pitch, when I say "injured" I'm talking about something that keeps a player from returning to the game right away.

Something had to be done, and that something was not going to be hidden in the back of the rule book. It was going to be carried out to a tee, and players were going to be made aware of it right away.

So officials like myself are instructed to strictly enforce a rule, and I'm guessing the same was done to MLB umpires.

This is just another case of "don't hate the player, hate the game". Those fans that are up in arms over the new rule should take their gripes to the people that make the rules, not the people that enforce them.

The Bald Vinny Broadcast & Where Was He Yesterday?

Where was Bald Vinny yesterday? Why wasn't he at Yankee Stadium? What's the future of the House of Tees? What happened this offseason? What was it like to watch the New York Mets make their run to the World Series in 2015? Do suits cheer and what is it like in the Bronx bleachers these days?

Bald Vinny answers all those questions and more in this podcast with Keefe to the City. Click HERE and give it a listen. It's about 40 minutes long but the Yankee Stadium and his future questions are in the first 10-15 minutes. Enjoy.

RiverDogs Announce 2016 Opening Day Roster

Top Prospects Acevedo, Holder, Park, and Summerville Native Reeves Highlight Charleston’s Assignments from the Big Apple

CHARLESTON, SC – With start of the season less than a week away, the New York Yankees have announced the Charleston RiverDogs’ Opening Day roster for Charleston’s inaugural contest against the Columbia Fireflies at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park on Thursday, April 7.

Third-year RiverDogs skipper Luis Dorante will field a team that features five of the Yankees top 30 prospects according to including right handed hurler Domingo Acevedo, who ranks as the fifth best prospect in the Yankees system according to Baseball America. The RiverDogs infield will include Korean teenage phenom Hoy Jun Park along with last year’s 30th overall pick in the draft, shortstop Kyle Holder.

A pair of former South Carolina collegiate products, James Reeves of The Citadel and Brody Koerner of Clemson, will also comprise the RiverDog’s pitching staff.

Acevedo (Yankees No. 5 Prospect, Baseball America; No. 7, figures to anchor the RiverDogs pitching staff after making one road start for Charleston to begin last season. The 6’7” righty out of Villa Los Almacigos, Dominican Republic boasts a 4-3 record and 2.46 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 106.0 career innings in the minors. Last season, the 22-year old flamethrower was named a New York-Penn League All-Star after finishing with a 3-0 record and a 1.69 ERA, good for 10th in the league while racking up 53 strikeouts in 48.0 innings.

Park (Yankees No. 14 Prospect, and Holder (Yankees No. 23 Prospect, highlight a talented infield to start the season. A high school signee out of Seoul, South Korea, Park enters just his second season in the minors after signing with the Yankees for $2.2 million in 2014. Last season in Pulaski, the 19-year-old hit .239 with five home runs in 54 games as the team’s everyday shortstop. Another top ranked Yankees prospect lauded for his glove, Holder was selected 30th overall out of the University of San Diego in last year’s draft and debuted in Short Season Staten Island where he hit .213 in 56 games while committing just seven errors in 56 games at short.

Ashley Ridge High School product and former Citadel standout James Reeves makes his return to The Joe and is one of two lefties on the Opening Day staff. The Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year and 10th round pick by the Yankees in 2015 made his pro debut in Staten Island last season where he accumulated a 1-1 record with a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 innings in relief. As a senior at The Citadel, Reeves ranked first in the SoCon in strikeouts (115), averaging nearly 11 K’s per nine innings, good for 19th in the NCAA. Reeves already has plenty of fond memories at The Joe including tossing the sixth no-hitter in school history on March 21 against Mercer.

Koerner, the Yankees 17th round selection in 2015 after his junior year at Clemson, returns to Charleston after appearing in eight games for the RiverDogs in his first pro season. The Winchester, VA native went 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA while logging 29.1 innings split between rookie ball Pulaski and Charleston.

Other arms coming to the Lowcountry from last year’s Staten Island team include right handers Will Carter and Travis Hissong along with southpaw Josh Rogers. Carter, the Yanks’ 14th round selection in 2015 out of the University of Alabama, accrued a 1-1 record with a 2.04 ERA in his pro debut. Hissong recorded an impressive 29 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of relief with the Baby Bombers to go along with a 3.09 ERA. Rogers allowed six runs over 13.1 innings split between Staten Island and Charleston after two years at the University of Louisville.

Right-handed hurlers Cody Carroll, Simon De la Rosa, Willie Gabay, David Palladino, and Andrew Schwaab all join the staff after toeing the rubber in rookie ball Pulaski last season. Southern Miss product and a 22nd rounder in 2015, Carroll made the most of his brief pro debut, touting a 1-1, 1.75 ERA mark in 14 relief appearances. De la Rosa enters his fourth season in the Yankees system after striking out 67 in 53.1 innings to go along with a 3.71 ERA last year. Gabay enters his fifth minor league season and sixth with Yankees after posting a 5.25 ERA in 24.0 innings. Palladino returns to Charleston after appearing in 18 games as a RiverDog in 2015 with a 4.57 ERA. Schwaab, a former Missouri Tiger, will don the Holy City uniform after posting a sparkling 1.16 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 23.1 innings in rookie ball last season.

Dominican righties Claudio Custodio and Anyelo Gomez will round out the RiverDogs staff, each having made appearances in High-A Tampa last season. Custodio begins his first year full-time as a pitcher after transitioning from a position player midway through last season and logging 22.2 innings with a 6.75 ERA in the GCL. Gomez begins his fourth season off the mound in the Yankees system after posting a career-low 3.38 ERA in 2015 split between rookie and Single-A.

Radley Haddad, who served as the RiverDogs’ primary backstop for much of last season, returns accompanied by 19-year-old native Venezuelan Eduardo Navas. Last season for the RiverDogs, Haddad hit .209 with one home run in 43 games behind the plate. Navas gets the call up to Charleston after hitting .218 in 35 games in rookie ball last year.

Joining Holder and Park in the infield will be Thairo Estrada, Chris Gittens, and Connor Spencer. Estrada (Yankees No. 28 Prospect, earns promotion from Short Season Staten Island where the Venezuelan native hit .267 with a pair of home runs in 63 games playing second and short. Gittens, the Yankees’ 12th round pick out of Grayson County College in 2014, posted an impressive .341/.429/.594 line with eight home runs in 46 games mostly at the rookie ball level. UC Irvine’s Spencer joins Charleston after appearing in the RiverDogs lineup at first base in 49 games while hitting .290.

The outfield features plenty of talent to start the season with three members of the Yanks’ 2015 draft class in Trey Amburgey, Jeff Hendrix, and Jhalan Jackson, along with a 2013 pick, Kendall Coleman. Amburgey (Yankees No. 30 Prospect, will patrol The Joe’s outfield after posting impressive numbers to end the season in Staten Island in his first taste of pro ball last year. The Junior College out of St. Petersburg College led the Yankees organization with a .346 batting average on the year, including a .367/.391/.684 line in 21 games in the NYPL. A teammate of Amburgey’s in Staten Island, Hendrix hit .229 with 17 stolen bases in 65 games after being taken in the fourth round out of Oregon State. Jackson, the Yankees 7th round selection last summer, also joins his former Staten Island teammates after a season in which he hit .266 with five home runs in 49 games for the Baby Bombers. At 20 years old in his third season in pro ball, Coleman rounds out the Yankees outfield after hitting .236 with five homers in Pulaski a year ago.

The RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, begin their season - the 20th in their history at The Joe - on April 6 with an exhibition game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at 7:05 pm and then follow that with Opening Night, also at 7:05 pm, that begins a seven-game homestand. Ticket information may be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at Those that can’t make it out the ballpark, the exhibition opener on April 6 and the 11:05am contest against Asheville on Wednesday, April 13will be streamed exclusively on, with all remaining games of the opening homestand also available on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area.

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/6: Ron Blomberg

In 1973 the Yankees Ron Blomberg became the first designated hitter in major league history. In his first plate appearance the DH drew a walk off of Luis Tiant in a 15-5 loss at the hands of the bitter rival Boston
Red Sox.