Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays 9/21

Here we go once again ladies and gentleman as the Tampa Bay Rays and Tropicana Field welcome the New York Yankees to town for the second of a three game set. In the middle game of this series the Yankees will send their ace of the present Masahiro Tanaka to the mound looking to hold down now only the Rays offense but the Rays ace before the dreaded Tommy John surgery bug hit him, Alex Cobb. The game will be played at 7:10 pm ET inside Tropicana Field and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. The Rays want to play spoilers, don’t be spoiled, get a win.

The Yankees have one more game in Tampa before making the trip to Canada to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for the final four games of their road schedule this season. The season ends on October 2nd everyone and that’s just around the corner. It’s time to soak in and enjoy all the Yankees baseball we can between now and then. To do so with us you can like our page on Facebook or you can give our Twitter account @GreedyStripes a follow.

The countdown has begun. After tonight there are just 10 games remaining on the Yankees schedule. Let’s win them all. Go Yankees!

Looking Back at My 2016 Rookie of the Year Predictions

Spoiler alert, I didn’t have Gary Sanchez winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award back during the preseason when I made these predictions. That may be a severe lack of judgement on my part but I’m sure you guys are used to that if you’ve been reading my work and my predictions long enough. I don’t tend to get them right as often as I probably should, I guess that’s why I’m a poor man with a blog and not a rich man who won the lottery or invented some new tool or device that took the country by storm. And FYI, I’m okay with that.

Here are my predictions I made back in March of this year:

In the American League there is a name we’ve heard a ton about for a long, long time. That name is Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins, a longtime top prospect in Major League Baseball. The Twins have been patient with the young outfielder and they finally got some dividends paid back in 2015. Buxton hit .209/.250/.326 in 138 plate appearances in 2015 and is still considered a prospect for the 2016 season meaning he is still eligible to win the American League’s version of the ROY Award, and he will in my estimation. Let’s not forget that Mike Trout began his career in 2011 with a 40 game stint that included a .220/.281/.390 triple slash. 

Don’t be surprised if Luis Severino is listed somewhere in the final voting though, this kid has all the making of being pretty special. (Edit: hahahahahahahaha) 

In the National League I considered going with Steven Matz of the New York Mets or Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers but I ultimately landed on the starting shortstop for the Washington Nationals, Trea Turner.  Turner burst onto the scene in a big way in 2015 posting a .322/.370/.458 triple slash with 29 stolen bases in the minor leagues before making a quick cameo in the Major Leagues last season. With Ian Desmond out the Nationals will give the bulk of the playing time to Turner giving him plenty of opportunities and plenty of runners on base in front of him to get him the award. 

I wanted to go with Carlos Martinez of St. Louis but that suspension is going to eat up much of his season leaving him on the outside looking in. 

Quick Hit: Ceremony Gift Ideas for Mark Teixeira

The New York Yankees announced that they would honor Mark Teixeira and his tenure as a Yankees player in a pre-game ceremony on the final day of the regular season. On October 2nd the New York Yankees play host to the Baltimore Orioles inside Yankee Stadium so it just seems fitting, Teixeira being a Baltimore-boy and all, that the team would honor him on this day. Here are a few gift ideas for the ceremony since I know the Yankees are reading.

- How about a plaque with his jersey from every team he has played for? The Texas Rangers drafted him, the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired him and the Yankees led him to the World Series and the Promised Land.

- How about another plaque with the #5? Teixeira won five Gold Glove Awards, was drafted fifth overall by the Texas Rangers and was the fifth switch-hitter in MLB history to reach the 400 home run plateau. Seems fitting to me with an explanation to go along with it.

- How about a lifetime supply of Five-Hour energy shots? I mean he is typically a slow starter every single season so he obviously needs a pick-me-up to get going. I’m not sure how those would fit in with his new-found gluten-free lifestyle but the gesture is there regardless.

- How about a Marco Rubio 2016 bumper sticker for his car? Oh wait, he probably already has a few of those lying around. How about a contract to run his “Foul Territory” television program on the YES Network in the offseason instead then?

In all seriousness though Mark we only kid around and jab at you because we respect you. We’ve had our ups and downs and I’ve called you a man made of glass a little too many times, far more than I should, but at the end of the day it’s all water under the bridge. Enjoy retirement and enjoy the next chapter in your life and your career.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays 9/21

The New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays will continue their three game set this week with the middle game of their series tonight inside Tropicana Field. I feel like a poker player holding pocket aces as I type this because there will be a couple aces on the mound tonight. First the Yankees will send their ace Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to square off against a former ace that was slowed down by injury for the Rays in Alex Cobb. Cobb may not be the ace right now but he’s back on the mound and looking to regain his form, let’s just hope he doesn’t find it until at least tomorrow morning at the earliest.

Tanaka has been the ace and leader of the Yankees staff that everyone expected him to be when they signed him here in 2016. New York is 22-8 in his starts this season and Tanaka is 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last eight starts which is a huge reason why the Yankees stuck around for so long in the AL East and Wild Card playoff chases. Tanaka has beaten the Rays on August 13th and September 10th recently and you know what they say, third time is the charm. No hitter tonight, calling it and jinxing it at the same time.

Cobb will be making just his fourth start of the season tonight after returning from Tommy John surgery and has looked good in each of his previous three starts. Cobb has thrown consecutive quality starts before tonight’s contest including his first win last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays. That was Cobb’s first win in 722 days.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Tropicana Field and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. Tanaka searches for his 14th win of the season tonight but with Rick Porcello winning his 20th game the AL Cy Young Award may be out of reach. That’s all we have left to play for now, positioning and personal growth and achievements. Depressing I know, I’ve been depressed for a week now because of it. Either way a win always has a way of cheering me up a bit so let’s get one. Go Yankees!

It's My Turn To Judge The Situation

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, I really am writing again. I can't tell you for sure why I've been gone for so long, all I can say is that this team has not inspired me at all. And to be honest, I don't know when I'll write again. Perhaps not until some news and/or rumors start pouring in during the offseason (Jose Fernandez? Hmm....).

"Nice foreshadowing, bro."

It's great watching young players like Gary Sanchez play regularly, seeing Didi Gregorius look like a long-term solution at shortstop, and rooting for Starlin Castro to finally "get it". However, I've also watched every non-Tanaka pitcher disappoint me day after day. Hell, after a busy few days I finally got to watch the Yankees last Thursday night, only to go to sleep feeling ill after Hanley Ramirez won the game with a three-run bomb off of Dellin Betances.

Yankees pitching isn't the only area that's disappointed me lately, though. I've been all about Aaron Judge, and had him penciled into the Yankees 2018 lineup that could make a strong push for the World Series title. But a batting line of .179/.263/.345 in 27 games with the Yankees this season has left me a bit disillusioned.

Now, I understand it's just 27 games, and plenty of hitters have a hard time early in their MLB careers. But Judge struck out in exactly half of his at bats (42 Ks in 84 ABs). And at 6'7" tall, there are plenty of holes in his swing for MLB caliber pitchers to exploit. In summary, it wouldn't surprise me if he never reaches his ceiling... metaphorically, of course.

So where does that leave things? Well, if you read Daniel's article on Sunday about the possibility of the team dealing away Jorge Mateo this offseason, you'll know where this is going.

As hard as it may be, let's forget Aaron's poor debut and look at the team's outfield situation.

Brett Gardner
Brett is signed through the 2018 season, and looks to be firmly entrenched into the regular lineup. At one point he looked like a great trade piece, but after a below average season with dwindling stolen base totals, I'm not sure another team would truly be interested in acquiring the guy.

Jacoby Ellsbury
I think Ellsbury will be a Yankee through 2020... the end of his contract. Unless he's somehow able to hit 20+ home runs a season, the guy is pretty much done. His value was all in his legs, leading to very good defense and a nice stolen base total, and both of those things have declined.

Clint Frazier
We probably won't see Frazier in the Majors until late next season, and more likely sometime in 2018, as he has some work to do in AAA before being truly ready for the Show. But it's only a matter of time until he's pounding on the Yankees' door to be called up.

"Which one's mine, dude?"

Blake Rutherford
He's just 19 years old, so there's a ways to go before he'll possibly wear Yankees' pinstripes. But there's plenty of reason to think he could be a key player for the Yankees by 2020. Hell, reports that some scouts liken Rutherford to a more athletic version of David Justice. Not bad.

Dustin Fowler
While his ETA is probably sometime in 2018, Dustin has turned a few heads at AA Trenton. His 12 home runs, to go along with 25 SB, has some people believing he could evolve into a 20-20 player in MLB.

Mason Williams
Not long ago Williams was seen as one of the Yankees' better prospects. Unfortunately, that shine wore off after lackluster 2013 and 2014 seasons. But Mason has been able to turn things around putting together a stellar 2015 season, and followed that up with a nice 2016 that saw him finally make it to the show.

Billy McKinney
McKinney followed up an incredible 2015 at the plate with a not-so-great 2016. At least part of that is due to suffering a hairline fracture to his kneecap last August, but the fact remains that Billy has some areas to improve (mainly on defense) to truly make a push for the big leagues.

Tyler Austin
The "Tyler Austin" we've seen in 2016 is not the same "Tyler Austin" we saw in 2015. Just compare his '15 batting line of .240/.315/.343 between Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to his '16 line of .294/.392/.524 between those same two teams this season. Oh, and let's not dwell on what he's done in just 23 games with New York. Besides, if Greg Bird can come back as the regular 1B, Austin will need a spot and the OF could be it.

Rob Refsnyder
If the Yankees ever decided to give this guy some regular player time perhaps he'd have a future with the team, but for the time being Refsnyder looks to be a bench filler for the team. But he's not totally out of the picture yet, so when talking about possibly outfielders you have to bring up Robbie here.

Aaron Hicks
While Aaron is a 4th outfielder at best, the fact remains that he can fill-in when needed in the outfield, So he must be included when talking about the outfield depth that the Yankees currently have or could have soon.

Wow! That's ten guys that could are already MLB regulars, or could be MLB regulars very soon. And the Yankees have only three spots to fit them into on their lineup cards. And no, the DH spot will likely have the name "Brian McCann" or "Gary Sanchez" filling it for the next two years.

And that list of ten players did not include Aaron Judge. So make it 11 guys for three spots through 2018. Add a logjam like that in the outfield along with the need for starting pitching, and I think you have the makings of a blockbuster deal.

Say... Jorge Mateo and Aaron Judge leading a package of players for Jose Fernandez?

Think about it... Giancarlo Stanton's salary will jump from $9 million in 2016 to $14.5 million next season. Then, once 2018 hits, Giancarlo's salary will reach $25 million a year or higher for the next ten years. You don't think Miami would like to unload that gigantic contract, and get a hitter that could take his spot in the lineup?

"Sure, I may be made of money, but I'm not going to spend it."

While I agree that thanks to Gleyber Torres we could see Mateo dealt away this offseason, I think the chances of the Yankees dealing away Aaron Judge are just as good.

Looking Back at My 2016 AL East Predictions

I had high hopes for the 2016 season, I really did. Back before the regular season began I was predicting the major awards, the division races and the playoffs and World Series like I do before every season when I may have turned a few heads. Despite the Yankees adding exactly ZERO Major League free agents in the offseason I had the New York Yankees winning 90 games in 2016 and taking the second Wild Card in the American League. For a long time during this second half that was a distinct possibility but now it seems like those chances have simply gone by the wayside. Oh well, here are my predictions that I made in Spring Training 2016.

Toronto Blue Jays (94-68)
New York Yankees (90-72)
Boston Red Sox (88-74)
Tampa Bay Rays (85-77)
Baltimore Orioles (77-85)

Kansas City Royals (98-64)
Cleveland Indians (93-69)
Detroit Tigers (89-73)
Chicago White Sox (81-81)
Minnesota Twins (74-88)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (91-71)
Texas Rangers (86-76)
Houston Astros (85-77)
Oakland Athletics (80-82)
Seattle Mariners (69-93)

Wild Card #1 Winner: Cleveland Indians

Wild Card #2 Winner: New York Yankees

How well did I do? Well if you ignore the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Seattle Mariners, the Kansas City Royals, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles predictions I didn’t do half bad. Six bad predictions (including the Yankees) out of 15, well yeah that almost is half bad actually. In baseball though a .500 average gets me in the Hall of Fame but a .500 record likely gets me canned. Good thing I’m just a blogger I guess.

Weekly Prospects Check In: Donovan Solano

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know I’m a little late to this party but what can you do? Donovan Solano was called up from Triple-A to replace the injured Starlin Castro after the Yankees second baseman hurt his hamstring legging out a double inside Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. Solano was the Scranton RailRiders everyday second baseman at the time and instead of fighting for the Triple-A Championship he will now look to do the improbably, help lead the 2016 version of the New York Yankees to the postseason.

So join the Donovan Solano hype train before it’s gone. Here is his minor league stat line from 2016 and here’s to hoping we see more just like it going forward in 2017 as well. 

2016 28 AAA 131 546 64 163 33 7 67 2 25 79 .319 .349 .436 .785
2016 28 AL 1 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .250 .500 35

This Day in New York Yankees History 9/21: Goodbye to Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees announced that 2008 would be the final season of the House that Ruth Built as a new billion dollar stadium was nearing completion across the street. Yankee Stadium III, or the House that Jeter Built, was set to be used for the 2009 season and on this day the Yankees said goodbye to the old stadium as they played their final game of the season in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles in the last game 7-3 with Julia Ruth Stevens, the daughter of Babe Ruth, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Derek Jeter and teammates stood on the mound after the game and bid farewell to Yankee Stadium in front of 54,610 fans in attendance.