Saturday, January 21, 2017

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/21: Joe D Misses the Hall

On this day in 1953 the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio missed out on the Hall of Fame in his first try at Cooperstown. DiMaggio would have to wait until the 1955 season before 88.8% of the BBWAA added him to the ballot and inducted him into the hall. On this day Cardinal legend Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons were elected to the hall.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What’s Coming to George M. Steinbrenner Field?

As we inch closer towards Spring Training 2017 the players, coaches and fans are all presumably excited to get down to Tampa and get things started. Not only is everyone excited for the beginning of a new season but many may be excited about the changes that are coming to the spring training home of the Yankees as well. The organization plans to renovate George M. Steinbrenner Field in the coming years and here is what is to come down in Tampa. Check it out.

Planned updates for the Yankees and George M. Steinbrenner Field include new outfield concourses, the addition of group and social gathering areas at the ballpark, new shaded areas, improved entrances that hope to get more people in and out of the ballpark more quickly, and improvements to the concourses, locker rooms, seating bathrooms, kitchen facilities, luxury suites, elevators and other parts of the building that were not specifically specified by name.

The Yankees committed to staying in the facility through the 2046 season and with the agreement came a $40 million renovation program that was approved by Hillsborough County Commissioners.

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Tim Raines

This morning we discussed one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame Pudge Rodriguez’s short and rather uneventful time in Yankees pinstripes but there was a second former Yankees player to be elected to the Hall this week as well. His name was Tim “Rock” Raines and while he will likely be heading into Cooperstown with a Montreal Expos hat on his head he, and now we, will never forget his time spent here in the Bronx.

Raines was a career National League player before coming over to the American League in 1992 with the Chicago White Sox but he never found true success in the AL until his time with the Bronx Bombers. On December 28, 1995 the New York Yankees acquired Raines in a trade. Raines would be an integral part of the 1996 and 1998 World Series teams in the Bronx although his playing time was ultimately curtailed due to injury.

Raines was always considered to be a great clubhouse and chemistry type guy and he finished his Yankees tenure with a .299/.395/.429 triple slash in three seasons with 18 home runs and 118 RBI. Raines was the perfect example of what made these Yankees teams in the mid-90’s great. Raines played a position or three, he played a role and he played it well.

Now he’s playing that role in the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to him and to his family and friends. This one was a long time coming. 

Promote Torres, Keep Castro, Dump Headley

You know the general Yankees fan base is bored when off-the-wall ideas and trade proposals start coming to the forefront but sometimes there’s an idea that just makes sense and sometimes there’s an idea or two that simply work, and subsequently stick. This I am hoping is one of those ideas as the general consensus seems to be that Gleyber Torres, the main piece the Yankees received back in the Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs deal from the 2016 season, will make his presence felt in 2017. Now with this hypothetical emergence to the show from Torres in 2017 many fans are left wondering what the Yankees will do with incumbent second baseman Starlin Castro but have no fear Yankees family, I have an idea.

Now I know that Torres is a shortstop by trade but the Yankees seem happy with Didi Gregorius at the position and I would be inclined to agree with them. He’s been great, Castro has been good but he hasn’t been great which makes the decision an easy one for me. The free agent market at basically every position right now is thin so why not take advantage of that and trade Castro away for a new slew of prospects to drool over? OR the team could simply dump third baseman Chase Headley, he does not have a no-trade clause written into his contract, while moving Castro to third base and sliding Torres in at the second base position.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not going to happen outside of spring training. Sure, Torres tore up minor league pitching in 2016 and continued that against advanced talent down in the Arizona Fall League this season but Torres is likely to start at Double-A Trenton with the Thunder as 2017 opens up, not in the Bronx and not against the Tampa Bay Rays. This discussion and idea set is more geared towards maybe July 2017 and is contingent on if the Yankees are in contention or not and absolutely not geared towards Torres breaking camp with New York. I mean if he tears up the spring camp and manager Joe Girardi wants to bring him to the Major Leagues for Opening Day, more power to him. I’m just not that confident, yet.

There’s no need to rush the 20-year old Torres by any means but if he’s ready the Yankees shouldn’t let a veteran contract or two get in their way of calling him up. Headley can be moved and Castro is willing to play third base, he’s said that as recently as the 2016 season, so don’t hesitate. Do it. 

IBWAA Elect Guerrero, Rodriguez to Hall of Fame

Los Angeles – In its eighth annual Hall of Fame election, the IBWAA selected Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez, both with 84.54% of the vote (175 votes). A 75% threshold is required for election.
Mike Mussina came up one vote short, finishing in third place with 74.88%, followed by Trevor Hoffman (73.91%), Barry Bonds (73.43%) and Roger Clemens (71.50%). There are 470 members in the IBWAA; 208 voted in this election.
Jeff Bagwell (2015), Edgar Martinez (2016) and Tim Raines (2015) did not appear on the 2017 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot because they have already been honored in previous IBWAA elections.
With those exceptions, the IBWAA ballot was identical to the one used by the BBWAA. All voting is done electronically.
Per a group decision in January, 2014, the IBWAA allows members to vote for up to 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with the 2015 election. In the 2017 election, 92 members voted for 10 or more candidates. Seventeen members voted for 15 candidates. The average vote per member was 8.94.
Complete voting results are as follows:
Player Name
Iván Rodríguez
Vladimir Guerrero
Mike Mussina
Trevor Hoffman
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Manny Ramírez
Gary Sheffield
Fred McGriff
Billy Wagner
Jeff Kent
Sammy Sosa
Lee Smith
Jorge Posada
Tim Wakefield
Jason Varitek
Matt Stairs
Magglio Ordóñez
Edgar Rentería
Arthur Rhodes
Derrek Lee
J.D. Drew
Pat Burrell
Casey Blake
Melvin Mora
Mike Cameron
Carlos Guillén
Freddy Sánchez
Orlando Cabrera
Ballot tabulations by Brian Wittig & Associates.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
In 2010, the IBWAA began voting in its own relief pitcher category, establishing the Rollie Fingers American League Relief Pitcher of the Year and the Hoyt Wilhelm National League Relief Pitcher of the Year Awards.
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden and David Schoenfield of; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck,; Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Jon Heyman and Jesse Spector, Today’s Knuckleball; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Will Leitch, Sports on Earth; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder,; Tom Hoffarth and J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times; Tracy Ringolsby,; Ken Rosenthal,; Eno Sarris, FanGraphs; and Bill Arnold.
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit

Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez

The Baseball Writers Association of America, better known to you boys and girls as the BBWAA, elected three new members into the Hall of Fame this week including first baseman Jeff Bagwell, outfielder Tim Raines and catcher Pudge “Ivan” Rodriguez. Rodriguez, like Raines, is a former Yankees player albeit for a short period of time so let’s remember the Hall of Fame catcher’s not-so-memorable time in Yankees pinstripes before he makes his walk into the halls of Cooperstown, New York.

Pudge’s 2008 season started out magnificently leading all of Major League Baseball in home runs during spring training but his season went down from there, and in a big way. Pudge did have a couple high spots in 2008 as his career began to wind down including his 2,500th hit of his career on April 10th against the Boston Red Sox but it was on July 30, 2008 that Pudge endured something that no player wants to at that point in their career. Pudge was traded.

The New York Yankees acquired Pudge to be their backup catcher that season after sending relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth to the Detroit Tigers in the trade. Pudge, splitting time with Jose Molina, started in just 26 of the Yankees 55 games that second half which did not sit well with the now Hall of Fame catcher.

Rodriguez hit just .278 as a Yankee, easily his worst part of the season, before fading off into the sunset as New York failed to make the postseason for the first time since the 1993 season. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/20: Joe Sewell

On this day in 1931 33 year old Joe Sewell signs with the New York Yankees after being released by the Indians. Sewell will hit .282 during his three seasons in New York before heading to the Hall of Fame after his 1934 retirement.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/19: Adios Esteban Loaiza

On this day in 2005 the Yankees lost out on one of their own free agents in Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza agreed to a one year deal with the Washington Nationals worth $2.9 million after going a combined 10-7 with a 5.70 combined with the Yankees and the White Sox. The Yankees traded Jose Contreras, a struggling starter of theirs, for Loaiza at the trading deadline hoping he would get back to his 2003 form in which he went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA.

Also on this day in 1972 the Yankees Yogi Berra was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. On the same day 300 game winner Earl Wynn and Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax were also elected to Cooperstown.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Otani Working Out Together Can’t Be a Bad Thing

The New York Yankees dipped their toes back into Japanese waters a few offseasons back when the team signed Masahiro Tanaka to a monster free agent contract and the team will look to do so again if and whenever Shohei Otani is posted and/or hits free agency. So I guess you could say that the fact that Tanaka and Otani were seen working out together recently can’t really be a bad thing, can it?

Otani is just 22-years old and is currently playing both sides of the ball while in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters. Otani finished the 2016 season batting .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs and 67 RBI in just 323 at-bats while also pitching to a 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA and 0.957 WHIP with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched. Otani won the Pacific League MVP Award while leading his Ham Fighters to the Japan Series championship while also reaching his third consecutive All-Star Game leaving many to wonder if he would cash in on his successes with a trip to Major League Baseball but Otani will remain in Japan at least through the 2017 season. That doesn’t mean Otani can’t hang out with and work out with some MLB caliber pitching though.

Under the current agreement between MLB and Japan a player under the age of 25 cannot receive anything over $6 million in the form of a signing bonus from a MLB club meaning it may be three years before we see the 22-year old posted. Otani is expected to receive at least $200 million when he hits the open market as either a pitcher with a pinch-hitting ability or as an outfielder who can pitch in a pinch.

Either way having Tanaka on the team, and this remains to be seen as Tanaka has an opt-out clause looming after the 2017 season, can’t hurt the Yankees chances in signing Otani. It’s going to be expensive either way but having a teammate like Tanaka may be what keeps Otani from going to a National League team where he can hit once every five days. It can’t hurt anyway. 

If Watson Isn’t Available, What About Antonio Bastardo?

Hello again Yankees fans and welcome back! Earlier today we returned in a big way asking the New York Yankees organization to trade Michael Pineda to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed reliever Tony Watson and once again we’re back with another idea. A Plan B of sorts because one always needs a Plan B. What if Tony Watson isn’t available? Who would the Yankees use in their seemingly depleted and thin middle relief core? What about Watson’s teammate and a target of the Yankees an offseason ago or two, Antonio Bastardo?

The New York Yankees were said to be interested in a Justin Wilson reunion earlier this offseason which brings me to one post I made which compared Wilson to Bastardo. The post in a nutshell showed comparable numbers across the board between the two players which means if Wilson was thought to be too rich for the Yankees blood that Bastardo could be a comparable, and arguably better, replacement for the Yankees middle relief in 2017.

Bastardo is a free agent to be at the end of the season meaning it likely wouldn’t cost much to acquire him and where the Pirates lack the most the Yankees may have a lot to give. Pittsburgh is severely lacking in the catching department meaning that a young catcher prospect with upside like a Donnie Sands could be used as trade bait for a season of Bastardo without the organization mission a beat. Sands was an 8th round pick in 2015 and isn’t expected to be ready for the Major Leagues until around or after the time Francisco Cervelli becomes a free agent after the 2019 season.

The Pirates have a ton of left-handed bullpen depth and the Yankees would like some middle relief help heading into the season so it makes sense that these two teams could match up in a trade. Watson is the prize here but Bastardo wouldn’t make the world consolation prize the Yankees could fetch, and he’d cost a heck of a lot less too in the long run. Either way Cash, get one or both done. 

New York Signs Ji-Man Choi to Minor League Deal

The New York Yankees are starting to stockpile the minor leagues and this year’s spring training camp with some depth and that continued this week when the organization signed South Korea born Ji-Man Choi to a minor league deal. The contract is worth $700,000 and includes an invitation to Yankees spring training camp in 2017. If Choi can earn a spot on the Yankees roster out of camp he will immediately receive another $400K in incentives.

Choi is fresh off making his MLB debut in 2016 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he played 54 games for the club. Choi managed just a .170/.271/.339 triple slash with five home runs in 112 at-bats though after the club chose Choi in the Rule 5 Draft taking him from the Baltimore Orioles.

Choi, originally signed by the Seattle Mariners way back in 2009, has seen time at first base, in left field and at the DH position in his career making just one error in 265 total innings. Choi will join Greg Bird, Tyler Austin and Rob Refsnyder who will all be vying for the first base job in 2017. If Choi does not win the job out of spring, which seems like a long shot at this point, he could always serve as an injury replacement and depth piece for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders.

Good luck to Choi and welcome to the family. 

The Michael Pineda for Tony Watson Trade That Needs to Happen

Ladies and gentleman after a long hiatus we are back. No excuses, let’s just get back to work and today we will begin working on finishing what we started before I took off. Building the Yankees starting rotation for the 2017 season while also building towards the future. The free agent market is dry and trades may be the Yankees only hope for improvement next season which brings me to an old trade partner that always seems to want former Yankees inside their organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Could the Pirates and the Yankees potentially hook up in a trade this winter to help both teams compete in 2017 and beyond? Keep reading.

Now with that said it is going to seem a bit contradictory when I suggest that the New York Yankees trade Michael Pineda to Pittsburgh for left-handed reliever Tony Watson after spouting all that in the first paragraph but stick with me. I said I wanted to build towards the 2017 season as well as the future and beyond the 2017 season Pineda, as it stands today, does not have a future with the ball club as he is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career. Strike while the iron is hot, I’d say.

Why would the Pirates do this? First of all the Pittsburgh Pirates have an uncanny ability to take pitchers with dominating stuff that can’t seem to put it all together (AJ Burnett, Edison Volquez, Ivan Nova and Francisco Liriano come to mind just to name a few) and Pineda would be the ideal candidate for this on a buy-low trade for the Pirates. The Pirates could always trade Pineda this winter and restock their farm system if they were out of contention again this summer while if they are in contention they could have a veteran arm to help lead them back to the postseason, all for a left-handed reliever that by all intents of the word is replaceable in Pittsburgh.

Why would the Yankees do this? They wouldn’t have to watch Pineda give up 20+ home runs again this season inside Yankee Stadium and they wouldn’t have to wonder what stunt, Pine Tar Gate for example, he was going to pull next. The team would also have one of the deepest and best bullpens once again in the league with Watson replacing Tommy Layne from the left side. New York would also save money in this deal with Watson set to make around $6 million next season while the team could also continue their youth movement with a Bryan Mitchell or a James Kaprielian taking Pineda’s vacant starting rotation spot out of the spring.

This deal could make the team better in 2017 but it will definitely make the team better going forward beyond the upcoming season and that, I believe, is the ultimate goal above all else anyway. So what are you waiting for? Get it done. 

Former Yankees Update: Jesus Montero

This news may be a bit dated, hey I’ve been on vacation so sue me, but here is a former Yankees update in case you missed it. This time we are checking in with former top prospect Jesus Montero as he found a new home inside the American League East recently with the Baltimore Orioles.

As everyone remembers the New York Yankees traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners in the Michael Pineda and after an incident over an ice cream sandwich and a Biogenesis-related steroid suspension later the former Yankees catcher has seen his time run out with Seattle.

Montero signed a minor league deal with Baltimore earlier this month and will spend his age 27 season looking to rebuild some of the stock he lost since being one of the game’s top prospects in all the land while with New York. Montero will have to wait 50 games to begin that climb though after testing positive for dimethylbutylamine, a banned drug my Major League Baseball, in September while with the Toronto Blue Jays.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/18: Enter Rafael Soriano

On this day in 2011 the New York Yankees announced the signing of the highest paid 6th and 7th inning pitcher in the history of the world in Rafael Soriano. A management driven deal was struck for Soriano for three years and $35 million after he led the American Leagues in saves with 45 in 2010.

Also on this day in 1947 there was a bit of a Yankees related misunderstanding going down in Detroit. The Tigers owner thought Hank Greenberg had posed in a Yankees jersey and sold the 1946 American League home run leader, 44 home runs, to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greenberg joined the National League home run leader from 1946 in Ralph Kiner who hit 23 home runs.

Monday, January 16, 2017

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/16: Nothing, Again

Nothing, again. I didn't forget you guys and I'm not dead, just nothing happening today on this day in Yankees history. Maybe Brian Cashman can make this day worth my while next season by signing a free agent or making a trade or breaking his leg sky diving or something.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/15: No Mas #UNTUCK

On this day in 2013 the Yankees saw their shirt get #UNTUCK (grammatical error I know but you get the point) and land in Washington as former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano agreed to a two year deal worth $28 million to close games for the Nationals. Soriano was coming off of a league leading 45 saves for the Rays in 2011 and 42 saves for the Yankees after filling in for Mariano Rivera after his ACL injury.

Also on this day in 1958 the Yankees announced that an unprecedented 140 games would be televised this season on local channel WPIX. You obviously had to buy a package and the deal for the Yankees was worth more than $1 million. The decision to televise so many games, including 63 road games, started when the Dodgers and the Giants high tailed it to California. Good call if you ask me.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/14: Jesus “Beast” Montero

On this day in 2012 the Yankees traded top prospect Jesus Montero along with Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. This deal has been a bit of a disaster for both teams until 2014 when the Yankees finally got a glimpse of their young right hander. All the while Montero showed up to Mariners camp 40 lbs. overweight and was trolled by a news reporter in a minor league dugout with an ice cream cone. Yeah, New York won this trade.

Also on this day in 1987 Yankees and Athletics ace Catfish Hunter and outfielder Billy Williams were elected to the Hall of Fame. Hunter was one of the game's first big money free agents when he signed his very lucrative deal with New York.

Finally on this day in 1970 former Yankees top relief pitcher, now known loosely as a closer, and New York Mets general manager Johnny Murphy dies of a heart attack.

Friday, January 13, 2017

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/13: RIP Joe McCarthy

On this day in 1978 Joe McCarthy, Hall of Fame manager, dies at age 90. The former Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox manager compiled a 1460-867 record in his career which included nine pennants and seven World Series rings in his 24 years as a skipper. RIP.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/12: Nothing

Nada? Not a single free agent signing? George Steinbrenner didn't buy or fire someone on this day? Wow. Enjoy the day everyone, this extremely boring day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/11: ARod Suspended 162 Games

On this day in 2014 arbitrator Frederic Horowitz reduced Alex Rodriguez's doping suspension from 211 games to 162 games. Rodriguez had appealed the suspension handed down by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig that included any potential postseason games.

On this day in 2001 David Cone agrees to a one year contract with the Boston Red Sox leaving a $500 K guaranteed offer by the Yankees. Cone would make between $4 million to $5 million with Boston with incentives so who could blame him for being a traitor.

On this day in 1983 Billy Martin was hired as the manager of the New York Yankees for the third time. The third time will not be the charm as he would be replaced by Yogi Berra in 1985. Martin would be moved to the front office though so it was not a total loss for Billy.

On this day in 1915 Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Colonel Tillinghast L. Huston buy the New York Yankees from Frank Farrell and Bill Devery for $460,000. Ruppert considers renaming the Yankees the "knickerbockers" to promote his product from his brewery but thankfully doesn't after pressure from newspaper men.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/10: Boomer David Wells

On this day in 2002 the Yankees signed David Wells to a two year deal worth $7 million to re-join the team. Wells was coming off missing the second half of the season after having back surgery. Wells posted a 34-14 record including his perfect game in his last two year stint with the Yankees from 1997-1998 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens.

Also on this day in 1983 a preliminary injunction was issued by the New York Supreme Court barring the Yankees from playing their opening games against the Detroit Tigers in Denver, Colorado. The Yankees asked for the games to be moved due to fears that their renovations to the new Yankee Stadium would not be completed on time.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Brian Cashman and the 1% Solution...

Earlier today on Jim Bowden’s SiriusXM radio show (Channel 210, Fantasy Sports Radio), GM Brian Cashman indicated it is possible no further moves are made before the team heads to Tampa next month.  “We stay engaged with the marketplace, but I think more likely than not – 99 percent likely – we are going to be going to camp with what we have”, Cashman told Bowden. 

Color me the skeptic but I think the odds just increased for the Yankees to make a move to add a veteran pitcher before camp.  The ‘1%’ Brian Cashman indirectly alludes to just became as wide of the Grand Canyon.   I take these comments as posturing, whether it is to get the Chicago White Sox to lessen their demands for starting pitcher Jose Quintana or a free agent like Jason Hammel to accept a lesser deal. 

Cashman’s comments kind of feel like the stereotypical team vote of confidence for a manager who is about to lose his job (and does). 

I am not buying the talk of simply throwing Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren and Luis Severino into the mix to compete for the two open rotation spots.  To do so means the Yankees have complete confidence that two of these pitchers will rise to the challenge.  The more prudent approach would be to bring in a veteran pitcher to compete with the kids.

I thought earlier in the off-season, the Arizona Diamondbacks and their new GM Mike Hazen, made a very good move in picking up Taijuan Walker in a five-player trade with the Seattle Mariners.  That’s the type of trade that I’d like to see the Yankees make, rather than bet the farm on a trade for Quintana. 

I’ve heard the predictions that the Yankees could end up with anywhere from 75 to 85 wins depending on how well the younger guys play.  If the team truly has the potential to win 85 games, then it is not going to take much to secure at least one of the wild card spots.  If the Yankees feel that Quintana can make the difference, then they should pull the trigger on a trade.  I do not want to risk losing key top prospects, but recognize that the only way to pry Quintana lose would be to include prized talent.  That’s why I feel that Cashman is simply throwing a smoke screen to eliminate or at least reduce the perception of desperation.  His way of trying to turn this from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. 

Odds are the Houston Astros or another team will overpay to win Quintana’s services.  Regardless of what happens with Quintana, the Yankees would be better served by focusing on other under the radar trade possibilities to strengthen the competition for the open rotation spots.  This is exactly what I think Brian Cashman is looking to do with his latest posturing comments.  He wants to make the right deal…on his terms.

We’ll soon see if 1% yields a veteran pitcher…