Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meet a Prospect: George Steinbrenner

George Michael Steinbrenner III is the final Meet A Prospect post that we will do for Prospects Month on The Greedy Pinstripes. The Boss was born on July 4, 1930 and passed to hang with the baseball Gods on July 13, 2010. George bought the New York Yankees organization in 1973 and held the ownership for 37 years until his death and subsequent transfer of ownership to his sons Hank and Hal, who we also showcased in our Meet A Prospect series this week. George would see the Yankees win seven World Series championships and 11 American League pennants in his tenure as the Yankees owner, the longest tenure in club history. George was not always the "hands on" owner, fiery figure head, and one to meddle in every day operations, drive up players prices, and investigate free agents before signing them. George was not always the one to hire, fire, and re-hire managers at an alarming rate. Let's meet George Steinbrenner before he was known as "The Boss."

George was born in Bay Village, Ohio as the only son of Rita Haley Steinbrenner and Henry George Steinbrenner II. His mother was an Irish immigrant who had her name changed from O'Haley to Haley and his father was of German descent who eventually made his name in the freight shipping business. George III was named after his paternal grandfather, George Michael Steinbrenner II, and had two younger sisters growing up, Susan and Judy. George spent his college years at the Culver Military Academy starting in 1944 and graduated in 1948 only to go back to college to get his B.A. from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1952. George was quite the social butterfly and athlete in school with highlights such as being a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, being a very successful hurdler on the varsity track and field team, played piano in the band, played halfback on the football team his senior year, and served as the field editor for The Williams Record. After college George immediately joined the United States Air Force and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. George would have an honorable discharge in 1954 and would go back to school to complete his masters degree in physical education at Ohio State University.

While at Ohio State George would be the coaches assistant in the year the Ohio State Buckeyes would go undefeated and win the Rose Bowl and National Championship in 1954.George would meet his soon to be wife, Elizabeth Joan Zieg, in Columbus, Ohio in 1956 and would marry and have two sons, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. They also had two daughters Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal. In 1957 Steinbrenner would join the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, a company his great grandfather Henry purchased in 1901, and would be rebuilt and revitalized before George would purchase the company a few years later from his family. George would later buy the American Shipbuilding Company and see annual revenue sales soar over $100,000,000. Steinbrenner did not initially use that new found wealth to get into baseball though because his first sports team investment was the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League against the advice of his father. The Pipers would hire the first African American coach in professional basketball in John McClendon and would see an ABL Championship in the 1961-1962 season before the ABL folded in 1962. Steinbrenner paid his debts and took his talents to Broadway briefly in a 1967 play named The Ninety Day Mistress, the 1974 Tony Award nominated Seesaw, and the 1988 Legs Diamond play.

In 1971 George Steinbrenner attempted to buy the Cleveland Indians and failed but would buy the New York Yankees from CBS, with help from investors, in January of 1973. The original sale of the organization was $10,000,000 but the deal included two parking garages that CBS bought back after the deal was final for $1,200,000 making the final total for George and company coming in at $8,800,000. George wasted no time causing controversy and hiring and firing personnel as he went through 20 managers in his first 23 seasons including hiring and firing Billy Martin five times and went through 11 general managers in 30 seasons. George did win two World Series in 1977 and 1978 behind Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson though while the Bronx was Burning. George also ruled with an iron fist creating the policy that all Yankees players, managers, and male executives were forbidden to have any facial hair other than a mustache and Yankees players hair was not allowed to touch the collar of the shirt, which is still the Yankees policy today. George and his policy is the reason that Goose Gossage grew, and still has to this day, the extreme mustache that he has now after George forced Gossage to shave the beard that he was growing in 1983. Don Mattingly was even benched in 1991 after refusing to cut his mullet hair cut that did not fall within Yankees policy which causes a media backlash. Mattingly would not learn from the incident though as he would be back in the Yankees facial hair spotlight as he started to grow a goatee in 1995 and saw Mattingly trim it to just a mustache.

George also caused a ton of talk after handing out Dave Winfield a 10 year contract worth $23,000,000 making him the highest paid player in the game at the time. George bashed Winfield in the 1985 season after a poor September performance calling Winfield "Mr. May" and saying that the Yankees needed a "Mr. September or Mr. November, not a Mr. May." This criticism would cause players like Ken Griffey Jr. to publicly state that he would never play for the New York Yankees because of George Steinbrenner. On July, 30 1990 George was officially banned from the game permanently as far as day to day operations go by MLB commissioner Fay Vincent for paying a gambler to "dig up dirt" on Winfield. Winfield was suing the Yankees because they did not contribute $300,000 to his foundation which was a stipulation of his 10 year contract. These were just some of the reasons that Winfield went into the Hall of Fame as a San Diego Padre and no a member of the New York Yankees. With George out of the game how would baseball, and specifically the Yankees, respond you ask? Keep reading...

George was reinstated back into baseball in time for the 1993 season and it was just in time for the 1994 MLB strike and the beginning of a Yankees dynasty. George was willing to leave the day to day operations to Gene Michael these days and even got behind a Yankees farm system and letting players like Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada to develop rather than be traded for veteran players. George saw this new found patience pay off as the Yankees were in the AL East chase all the way until September before losing the title to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees were also leading the AL East before the 1994 strike wiped all the hard work away, the season, and for the second time ever the World Series. Obviously anyone reading this knows the rest as we saw the Yankees make the playoffs for the first time since 1981 when they were the first Wild Card winner in the 1995 season and saw the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009. The Yankees made the playoffs ever year from 1995 - 2009 except for the 2008 season, Joe Girardi's first season, and saw World Series losses in the 2001 and 2003 Fall Classics.

George would officially retire from being the Yankees principal owner and would transfer the day to day operations to his sons, Hank and Hal, in 2006. From 2006 until his eventual death in 2010 George spent most of his time at his home in Tampa, Florida while rarely showing his face at the stadium or giving interviews and sound bites. George did make a special appearance at the 78th Annual MLB All Star Game which was held in Yankees Stadium in it's final season in 2008 in the Bronx. George was wearing dark sunglasses and walked slowly onto the field with the help of many people helping him walk. George would get one last ring in 2009 and was presented with the ring in person by Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi on April 13, 2010 in his stadium suite leaving, according to reports, Steinbrenner almost speechless. Steinbrenner, if anyone, deserved this private ceremony as he built the Yankees brand to the first sports team to have a net worth over $1,000,000,000 plus having a $1,200,000,000 television network aptly named the Yankees Entertainment and Sports network, or the YES Network.

George died on July 13, 2010, the same day as the 81st annual All Star Game, at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Tampa due to a heart attack. His death came just nine days after his 80th birthday and just two days after long time Yankees announcer Bob Shepard passed away. The Yankees would wear a patch honoring Steinbrenner and Shepard from July 14th until the end of the 2010 season to commemorate these two Yankees legends. The Steinbrenner family also added a monument in Monument Park to honor their late family member in September of 2010 to honor George. George was buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Trinity, Florida. The Boss, Manager George, George Steinbrenner, whatever you call him or known him as you know he will never be forgotten, replaced, or emulated. May George rest in peace now.

We want to take this time to honor and thank George Steinbrenner for everything he did as the owner of the Yankees. If it were not for Steinbrenner the Yankees would not be who they are today, both in class and in championships, and we would not be the site that we are today. The Yankees would not be the financial super power they are today, would not be as respected league wide as they are today, and may have went by the wayside in the 70's and 80's if it were not for the boss. Thank you George and I hope you are reading this from up in Heaven, we love you!

Mitt Romney Wants to Buy the New York Yankees

Attention all fans of the New York Yankees:

Unhappy with the job that Hal and Hank Steinbrenner have done as the majority owners of the New York Yankees? Have no fear for…. Mitt Romney is here?

Mitt Romney, former Presidential candidate, attempted to purchase a stake in the Miami Marlins earlier this offseason before the deal ultimately fell through but that is not keeping the man who lost to eventual President Obama from trying again to get into MLB ownership. Romney wants to own a share in the New York Yankees and he is willing to pay a pretty penny for it too. If the reported deal goes through Romney will pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30 million per percentage point and is said to be interested in up to two percentage points of ownership in the club.

Romney, a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, wants to purchase a share in the New York Yankees? Hmm, I don’t quite know what to make of that. 

This Has Truly Become a Young Man’s Sports Again

When I look around the free agent market every single season and offseason I think to myself more and more than Major League Baseball is once again becoming a young man’s sport again. What do I mean? I can remember growing up a Yankees fan in the mid-2000’s where New York always had that one or two veteran players on the roster in the twilight of their career’s that filled important roles for the club. Then I watched as the Core Four aged and the Yankees were considered the old men of baseball. Now I watch the second youth movement in the Bronx during my lifetime and I see the invigoration of youth and it makes me notice the youth movement not only inside Yankee Stadium but around baseball as well… which is not a good thing for certain veterans who still find themselves looking for work despite the fact that spring training games have already begun.

The list of 30-year olds or older still on the free agent market is staggering when you think about it. Names like Pedro Alvarez, Joe Blanton, Billy Butler, Marlon Byrd, Chris Capuano, Coco Crisp, Doug Fister, Jeff Francouer, Sam Fuld, Ryan Howard, Edwin Jackson, Tim Lincecum, Kelly Johnson, Justin Morneau, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, AJ Pierzynski and CJ Wilson to name a few still appear on the free agency market while many players have simply walked off into the sunset and retired. Now when I look at this list I don’t see many that will turn a non-contender into an immediate World Series contender but there are still some very helpful free agents out there on the market that can be had for simply money.

Blanton, for example, sported a 2.48 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 80 strikeouts in 80 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year leaving me to wonder how with 30 teams vying for bullpen supremacy how the 36-year old is still looking for work.

At one point in the not-so-distant past you were just in your prime when you hit 30-years old but now in a league where the NL MVP Kris Bryant is just 24-years old and Mike Trout just won his second AL MVP Award at age 25 you just may be considered “old” at 30.

Ladies and gentleman this is truly becoming a young man’s sport again and you can tell it by looking at the MLB Trade Rumors free agent tracker. There is still good players out there on the market to be had but they aren’t signed because of their age. None of the aforementioned players would command huge salaries with maybe the exception being Papelbon so it almost has to be the age factor. When you also look at the number of veterans who simply took minor league deals with invitations to spring training the trend just gets scarier and scarier for veteran players. Will it change? Or will it simply get worse before it gets better? Stay tuned. 

Bold Prediction: Luis Severino Makes Yankees Rotation in 2017

I know I say this every single season but just so you know this season will be no different. I love spring training and the whole atmosphere around Major League Baseball during this time. Every team is in first place, every team has a new and exciting direction they are going in and the sky is the limit for every player and team going forward. With that theme in mind I want to make a bit of a bold prediction regarding the New York Yankees and their starting rotation, specifically the fact that the aforementioned starting rotation for the Bronx Bombers will have Luis Severino pitching in it when the team breaks spring training camp this season.

Severino survived in the minor leagues with a reasonably straight fastball and even flourished with it in a small sample size in 2015 but the young right-hander’s 2016 season left much to be desired. New York sent Severino down to the minor leagues to work on his secondary pitches at one point last season before bringing him back as a bullpen arm during the latter parts of the season where he took off and regained confidence on the mound. Severino has been working on his changeup specifically this offseason and will look to showcase that work not only this spring but in the Yankees rotation this coming season, and I believe that he will.

I especially believe this will be the case after watching him pitch, albeit in an exhibition game, on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Severino’s fastball and slider were on point, his fastball hit 98 MPH at one point in the game which is insane for February baseball, but it was his changeup that kept Toronto hitters at bay in two scoreless innings. Severino’s changeup was clocked at 88 MPH which is a huge dip in velocity and a huge spike in deceptiveness if he can throw it right, and he did on Sunday.

Let’s be real, the competition for the Yankees 4th and 5th rotation spots are wide open at this point with no one really slotted into those positions at this time. Severino, or anyone else really, could essentially win those spots with a strong spring. What Severino has over some of the Luis Cessa’s and Bryan Mitchell’s of the world is velocity and a confidence that borderlines on almost cockiness. In a league where you can be your own worst enemy that may be more important than any stat or telling sign can tell you. That confidence, that blazing fastball and that mastered third pitch will be the reason Severino is throwing every five days in the Yankees starting rotation come Opening Day 2017. Bet. 

So it Seems We Had a Scheduled Weekend Off

So it seems like we took the weekend off. I needed the weekend off and I took it but now I’m back and ready to continue to pump out the content. I think maybe taking the weekend, or maybe a day as I haven’t really decided, off is going to be good for me as my life continues to get busy and continues to even become overwhelming at times. That’s not me complaining though, I’m truly blessed and I have the best that life can offer in my world right now and right now as I sit here today speaking to you I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have distractions but I have the very best distractions. I have obligations but I have the most awesome little obligations in the world. I’ve all but given up even taking the time to eat my lunch while I’m at work but I keep my hands full and my mind occupied during that time so it’s all good because my days have become my favorite thing. I don’t want to sleep at night because I don’t want to miss a thing. It’s hard for me to put into words how I feel right now, and that’s rare for me and it goes to show you just how awesome it can be.

Remove negativity from your life at all costs and water the grass where you want it to be green, not where everyone says it should be green, and you too can find true happiness. Stay well everyone and good morning. The world is yours if you take it. 

Now batting for the New York Yankees, the shortstop, #81, Gleyber Torres…

Credit:  Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Didi Gregorius headed to participate in the WBC Classic and share shortstop with his buddy, Andrelton Simmons of the Los Angeles Angels on Team Netherlands, Gleyber Torres should have a firm grasp on shortstop for the next couple of weeks while Didi is away.  Granted, Torres is not major-league ready but these short previews feature very exciting coming attractions.  

Torres is easily becoming a fan favorite despite never having played a major league game at Yankee Stadium.  While the speculation is that Torres will need to move to second base when he is ready for the Show, listening to his comments during interviews show how much he respects the shortstop position and those who preceded him (most notably Derek Jeter).  If Didi continues his upward climb to elite status, it will be hard to move Didi off short or ship him elsewhere to make room.  Those are problems for another day, but for now, we’ll be able to enjoy Torres at short.

I am sure that we’ll also see former top prospect Jorge Mateo at short too, but he’s not the one generating excitement.  Pete Kozma and Tyler Wade, the defensive whiz, should also see some time there.  Nevertheless, the man of the hour is clearly Gleyber Torres.  

I dislike reading the posts that say its a given the Yankees will sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in a couple of years when they hit free agency.  Neither is a sure thing, and Cable TV contracts have leveled the playing field, not to mention the limitations caused by the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds.  If we eventually get one or both of the superstars, great, but it’s not something that we can count on.  There will be players brought in via trades that we’re not even thinking about right now.  I’ll worry about the 2019 Yankees in 2019 (or maybe off-season 2018).  Right now, I am having fun watching the future of the Yankees as the team embarks on the 2017 season.  Granted, the moves and performances today will help define what tomorrow will bring, but at this moment in time, it’s fun watching the Baby Bombers perform in their infancy.  

I always thought it was cool that Derek Jeter was a Yankees fan as a kid.  When the Yankees drafted pitcher James Kaprielian and outfielder Blake Rutherford, both Californians, I didn’t realize that both had been Yankees fans growing up.  I remember when Rutherford was picked by the Yankees last year out of high school.  My first question, not really knowing much about Rutherford, was about his sign-ability.  I remember being disappointed a few years ago when the Yankees drafted pitcher Gerrit Cole and then were unable to sign him.  There’s always a fear that will happen again.  What I didn’ t know was how much Rutherford loved the Yankees.  I am not sure if he would have gone to college had he been drafted by another team, but we’ll never know.  He signed and is now one of the organization’s top prospects.  If/when he makes it to the Bronx, I am sure his little league pics showing a small boy wearing Yankees hat and jersey will be on display in the New York papers.

It would be even better if Kaprielian and Rutherford win world championships (plural, please) for their lifelong favorite team.

After four spring games, the Yankees are 3-1.  I know, spring records mean absolutely nothing.  Still, it’s exciting that the starters have performed well so far, and the Yankees could have easily been undefeated at this point.  It’s even better that none of the starters have included rotation mainstays Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia.  The intensity of games will start to pick up in a few weeks, and we’ll see longer starts by the regulars.  Even though the February (and March) wins mean nada, winning is fun any way you slice it.  So far, it’s been an exciting start for training camp.  We’ll lose a few players like Didi, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances to the WBC, but camp moves on.  Go players with numbers > 70!

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/28: Cocaine is a hell of a Drug

On this day in 2000 Yankees outfielder and DH Darryl Strawberry is suspended for one year after testing positive for cocaine last month. Bud Selig would not allow Strawberry back early from the suspension based on good behavior. This would essentially mark the end of Strawberry's career.

Monday, February 27, 2017

It's Not What You Want - Spring Training Edition Take 2

Welcome back ladies and gentleman to the "It's Not What You Want" podcast brought to you by The Greedy Pinstripes and hosted by our friends Jacob Westendorf and Matt Bove. This podcast is the second of the spring and as exhibition games in the Grapefruit League kick off the guys should have a lot to talk about tonight. Enjoy the podcast!


Severing the memory of last year's starts...

It’s a new season.  The failure of Luis Severino’s change-up has been cited as a key reason for last year’s dismal starting performance.  Sevy had bulked up during the off-season, and the end result was throwing his pitches harder, including the change-up.  Post-game comments by Gary Sanchez yesterday cited the importance of keeping the change-up low.  With work this off-season to restore his previous touch with the pitch, the belief is that he’ll return to being the effective three-pitch starter that he had been in late 2015.  An effective change-up, to go with his slider and fastball, should hopefully put Severino in the driver’s seat for the #4 slot in the starting rotation. 

Here’s hoping that his off-season work with Pedro Martinez erases all memories of last season’s 0-8 mark as a starter.  I would love nothing more than Severino to show he can be a key cog in the rotation.  Facing the great pitching staffs in Toronto and Boston, the Yankees will need five guys who can keep the team in games before the hand-off to the bullpen.  Another "O-fer" performance by any starting pitcher would be deadly to the team’s chances for success.

After facing the Blue Jays yesterday, the Toronto hitters will get another look at Severino on Friday in Dunedin, FL.  It will be interesting to see if he can be as effective the second time around and prove that he is on the right path for sustained success in the new year. 

I’ve participated in a few Fantasy Baseball drafts and so far, it seems that catcher Gary Sanchez is often taken as the first catcher (ahead of Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants).  He is generally the first Yankee to come off the board even though Aroldis Chapman and Masahiro Tanaka tend to be higher on most Top 100 lists.  Sanchez is clearly getting the love right now from baseball fans everywhere.

When I turned on Sports Radio this morning, I was flooded with references to the famed Pine Tar Incident in July 1983 involving George Brett, Billy Martin and a questionable bat thanks to the faux pas that occurred last night at The Oscars when it was incorrectly announced that La La Land had won Best Picture.  The image of George Brett, who had just hit a go-ahead two run home run,  running and screaming after being called out following an appeal by Yankees manager Billy Martin  raced across my mind. 

Moonlight was subsequently named winner of Best Picture after La La Land acceptance speeches had already begun.  But if the Pine Tar Incident was the true analogy for what happened at The Oscars, then La La Land will still win Best Picture in a few days when they replay the competition considering that the Kansas City Royals ultimately won the Pine Tar Game when it was replayed from the point Brett had hit the home run.   Neither team scored again so the Royals’ 5-4 lead held up for the win.  Regardless, congratulations to Moonlight for its victory.  That’s a decision that will stand the test of time (unlike the Pine Tar Incident). 

Yesterday was a sad day in Yankees history.  The legendary Babe Ruth was released by the Yankees on February 26, 1935 so that he could sign with the National League’s Boston Braves.  It’s sad that Babe Ruth never realized his dream of managing.  It was that dream that led to the friction with the Yankees at the end of his Yankees career as he openly wanted manager Joe McCarthy’s job.  

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/27: Pinstripes are Born, Almost Literally

On this day in 1985 Toby Harrah is traded by the Yankees to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Billy Sample and a player to be named later. The 36 year old veteran infielder was originally a member of the Texas Rangers and will become the club's manager for one year in 1992.

Also on this day in 1912 the Yankees announced that they would begin wearing pinstripes on their uniform, something they obviously still do today. The Yankees wouldn't actually start physically wearing them until April 22, 1915 but either way it became a reality.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Too much talent in the farm system?...

Credit:  J Conrad Williams, Jr, Newsday

Two games into the Spring schedule and it is clear that Gleyber Torres is the most exciting player on the field.  He is providing a glimpse into the future before he packs his bags and heads to Trenton, New Jersey and AA ball.  

Saturday’s game featured a 2-for-2 day by Torres, with two doubles.  He also scored from second base on a wild pitch with heads-up base-running.

One day, the Yankees will have to make a decision regarding their infield.  It’s probably still a couple of years away, but the day will come when Starlin Castro, most likely, is the one moved (either to third base or another team) to make way for Torres at second base.  Torres is just trying to make it happen sooner rather than later.

I’ve been a Yankees fan for a long time but this is the first time I can recall that a spot on the 40-man roster carries such a premium.  Packaging multiple prospects to send to the Chicago White Sox for, say, pitcher Jose Quintana, would arguably relieve some of the pressure.

The Yankees had to make hard decisions in the off-season when they cut loose both Jacob Lindgren and Nathan Eovaldi.  Granted, both players are recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Yankees had no room to protect either on their 40-man roster.  Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves, with arguably the best farm system in baseball, quickly signed the lefty Lindgren who was thought to be on the fast track to the major leagues when he was drafted by the Yankees a few years ago.  The Yankees had some discussions with Eovaldi after they cut him loose but it is not known how serious they were.  Eovaldi opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, and was placed on their 40-man roster.  The Rays currently have one of the lower ranked farm systems so it was probably an easy decision for them to devote a 40-man spot to a guy that will not return to the field until 2018 at the earliest.  

The Braves are another story.  They have a plethora of top talent, yet were still able to make room for Lindgren, who, like Eovaldi, is at least a year away from playing again.  

If Jon Niese makes the Yankees opening day roster, they’ll have to make a move with the 40-man roster.  The obvious DFA candidate is LHP Joe Mantiply, but there’s still time for any roster decisions have to be made.  

Having the best or second-base farm system in baseball is great, but the truth is that not all the prospects will succeed.  The Yankees need to roll the dice and make some trades to upgrade the weaker areas of the team.  It may not be this spring but either at the trade deadline or next off-season, it will be time for the Yankees to upgrade the roster to compete with the top teams in the American League.  The key is obviously the continued development of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge at the major league level but it will soon be time to supplement those great present and future Yankees stars with commensurate talent.  

Making trades will free up room on the 40-man roster for other young talent in the system moving up through the ranks when it is their time for protection.  The Yankees’ huge haul from the international free agent market in 2014 will start to progress into the upper levels of the farm system within the next few years.  The pig in the pytheon is coming.  Shortstop Wilkerman Garcia is leading the way for the 2014 signees.  Since he signed before he was 18, he won’t have to be added to the 40-man until after five minor league seasons.  But for players signing their first professional contract at age 19 or greater, they’ll have to be protected after four minor league seasons.  If not protected, the players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft held each December.

The Yankees lost a few players in the Rule 5 Draft this past December.  Odds are most of the players picked will be offered back to the Yankees, but it’s also possible that one or two of the players are gone forever.  The San Diego Padres, for example, could decide to carry three catchers this year, allowing catcher Luis Torrens to remain on the big league roster.  

With such great talent in the organization right now, the 40-man roster and the Rule 5 Draft will be an incredible challenge every year.  I guess it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

So, go ahead and make the trade for Jose Quintana.

I know, that was a long route to get to the request for Quintana, and there’s obviously so much more that goes into those type of decisions.  But I really do not want to see Chad Green as the team’s #5 starter.  So, pardon me…

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/26: Yankees Release Babe Ruth

On this day in 1935 the Yankees granted Babe Ruth his unconditional release from the club to pursue a contract with another club. The aging superstar would go to play for the Braves after the 39 year old hit 659 home runs and batted .349 in his 15 seasons in New York.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Paying it forward...

Credit:  Getty Images

Matt Holliday has yet to play a regular season game as a member of baseball’s most storied franchise but he’s already making an impact. 

When Aaron Judge hit the monster smash off the scorecard with his fifth inning home run yesterday in the spring training opener, you know that he’s already had talks with Holliday and watched what it is like to be a professional major league hitter.  Judge’s history of failing and then succeeding at each level is well known, but still, it is going to take the veteran influences of guys like Holliday, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, and CC Sabathia to set the right examples for life in the Bronx.  

When Holliday came up, he was able to observe All-Stars such as Todd Helton and Larry Walker.  He has noted the influence of other Colorado Rockies during his first year, like Mark Sweeney and Todd Greene, as showing him life on and off the field.  Holliday also had his older brother Josh, who is currently the head coach at Oklahoma State.  

The power of the Mentor in major league baseball is huge.  Managers and coaches can only say so much.  Sometimes it takes peers to truly get inside your head and help you become the best you can be.  

At 37, Matt’s days in the outfield are most likely over.  He’ll probably still see a start or two and may even be forced into longer-term coverage due to unforeseen injuries, but his future with the Yankees resides primarily at DH.  Yet, it isn’t Matt’s bat that excites me about his addition to the team.  He is the consummate professional and a team guy.  His presence will be huge for the younger players.  Judge stands to benefit the most as the right field job is his to lose, but Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres are surely watching and learning.  If Greg Bird learns a thing or two from Holliday or the other veterans, it only helps the team in the long run.  

Todd Helton was a great first baseman for the Colorado Rockies and memories of his playing days are still revered by its fans.  He has been retired from the game for four years after a 17-year playing career in the Mile High City.  But here is the influence of Helton, through Holliday, impacting the 2017 New York Yankees.  

This is a great cycle to watch.

Bryan Mitchell got the start in Spring’s first game, a 9-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, and he picked up where he left off last spring prior to his injury.  He pitched two innings of non-hit ball, as did Luis Cessa.  I was glad to see Mitchell have success and hopefully this year can be the year we were expecting last season until he injured his foot.  Jordan Montgomery pitched two innings and gave up two runs in the 7th, but I am sure that Daniel Burch will be quick to point out that they were unearned runs.  

When Clint Frazier hit the triple in the bottom of the 8th, scoring two runs, I couldn’t help but think how great he would look in the Bronx and how great Jacoby Ellsbury would look elsewhere.  Alas, it is not time, but one day it will be.   

In the grand scheme of things, yesterday’s game meant nothing for the Opening Day roster.  But it’s a start.

Great to see Yankee baseball.  Life is good.

This Day In New York Yankees History 2/25: Scooter Gets the Call from the Hall

On this day in 1994 the Veterans Committee elected Phil Rizzuto to the Hall of Fame along with Leo Durocher. The former infielder and then current television broadcaster, which caused much debate given his borderline stats, because important to his supporters when Pee Wee Reese, a similar player, was inducted in 1984 as a Brooklyn Dodger.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Matt Holliday: The Leader

I know it is probably the most cliché thing you can say about a veteran player that was signed by a team either in transition or towards the end of a rebuild but this is truly what is going on in the Bronx right now with their newly acquired designated hitter Matt Holliday. Holliday was signed to mash from the right side of the plate as a designated hitter, to add some insurance and depth at both the first base and outfield positions and to give the Yankees another big presence in the middle of the order but it seems like he may have been signed for another reason as well. Holliday may have been signed as a mentor for the young Yankees and may have also been signed to be a leader for the team. If he wasn’t signed with that purpose in mind he has taken it upon himself anyway to take the job with open arms, you know like a true Yankee would.

Holliday is specifically working with one of the Yankees top prospects Aaron Judge and he has a lot to potentially bring to the right fielder. About 11 years ago Holliday added a leg kick to his swing that would forever change his career as he immediately became one of the most potent hitters in baseball. From 2006-2012 after adding his leg kick Holliday averaged a .316/.393/.544 triple slash with 28 home runs, 104 RBI and 102 runs scored average per season. Holliday also made six All-Star teams during that seven-year span and will look to do the same for Judge and his career after an abysmal start to his MLB career in 2016.

Holliday has been surrounded by leaders and coaches his entire life so it makes sense that he is now in the position to pass along that knowledge. Holliday’s father, Tom, was the assistant baseball coach at Oklahoma State and Holliday spent time with players like Todd Helton and Albert Pujols as a younger player in his career. Now Holliday looks to be to Judge what Pujols, Helton and his father were to him because Holliday is a leader and is already showing that in his short time with the Yankees.

Judge was seen taking batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner field this week when Holliday walked up to Judge and said something to him. The very next pitch Judge belted over the fence for a home run, which is obviously very encouraging. If Holliday can work with the Yankees presumed everyday right fielder and get that kind of immediate success we could be in for a great season in 2017. 

Former Yankees Update: Joba Chamberlain

The New York Yankees have an uncanny way of taking care of members of their family, whether it be past or present, so we here at The Greedy Pinstripes like to do the same whenever we can. This afternoon is one of those instances as we look at and check in with a former member of the Yankees bullpen and an arm that I personally advocated for the Yankees to sign this offseason on a minor league deal. His name is Joba Chamberlain, maybe you’ve heard of him?

The man simply known as “Joba” was drafted by the New York Yankees and sent on a hot shot courier almost straight to the Major Leagues. Joba and his slider took the league by storm and the only thing that could stop him was a swarm of Cleveland-based midges and a Tommy John surgery that replaced his ulnar collateral ligament. Ever since his UCL replacement surgery Joba has simply not been the same pitcher that lit up American League batters for the Yankees and most recently the right-hander, still somehow just 31-years old, signed a deal to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017.

Joba signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training this season and this week he threw his first live batting practice of the spring. Joba could be an asset to a team that is in the midst of a rebuild like the Milwaukee Brewers are, especially considering his 385 regular season games of experience as well as his 21 postseason appearances he has under his belt, and manager Craig Counsell seems intrigued by having Joba on his roster on Opening Day. This all sounds good on paper but Joba has to put in the work though and thus far, and yes it is extremely early, he has.

Joba knows he has to put in the work but all signs point to him having fun in Brewers camp as well and that may be the most important thing of all. You have to be comfortable where you are in order to do well and you have to have fun as well or what’s really the point? So far so good for Joba, here’s to hoping he continues the good work in Brewers camp this spring.

Let’s Have a Little Fun with Intentional Walks Gone Wrong

Rest in Peace to the intentional walk and everyone here at The Greedy Pinstripes sends our condolences to anyone affected by its loss. Commissioner of Major League Baseball, alongside the Major League Baseball Players Association, announced this week that the intentional walk as we know it is no longer a thing in Major League Baseball. Instead of the mostly boring four soft tosses well out of the zone before the batter subsequently takes his base opposing managers and players will now simply just wiggle four fingers to signify they want to intentionally walk a player. This must kill the purist fans of the game but for me personally I’m not too up in arms about it. Sure we may miss a blunder here or there, and we will cover just a couple of those blunders here in a moment, but overall it speeds up the game a tad and it does so without changing the face of the game that I love and adore. So without further ado let’s check out and remember a couple of those intentional walk blunders and bloopers that the purist of the fans want to hold deep in their memory. Enjoy. 

Just last season we watched as Gary Sanchez took an intended intentional walk pitch and lofted it into the Yankee Stadium outfield for a sacrifice fly. Sanchez didn’t miss the home run by much and this may go down as my favorite intentional walk blunder if it weren’t for Barry Bonds…. 

Barry Lamar Bonds was one of the most feared hitters in all of Major League Baseball during his prime and this was never more evident than the time Bonds came up to the plate in 1998 with the bases loaded only to draw four straight balls outside for an intentional walk. The Arizona Diamondbacks intentionally and willingly gave the San Francisco Giants a free run by walking Bonds rather than pitch to him with the bases loaded and potentially give up four runs. That’s respect right there. 

Remember way back when Vladimir Guerrero was still wearing a Montreal Expos uniform? Yes kids, the Montreal Expos really were a thing back in my day and yes kids, I realize I am getting old. Anyway, I digress. One time back in 2001 Guerrero actually hit a home run off an intentional walk pitch that will forever go down in the history of intentional walks as one of the absolute best moments in baseball.

Image result for john olerud intentional walk

The final intentional walk blunder we will cover this afternoon is infamous for all the wrong reasons. John Olerud was at the plate back in 1996 when an intentional walk pitch went awry, kind of. The intentional walk was faked and Olerud was left with the bat on his shoulder when strike three went right down the middle of the plate. Talk about insult to injury.  

I know I probably missed a few, and admittedly I tried to keep them all current and during my lifetime and during my fandom years, so if you have a few please feel free to leave them below in the comments section or by giving us a follow on Twitter @GreedyStripes. Thanks!

And the Injury Bug Has Hit Yankees Camp…

It’s never too early for the injury bug to hit a team and unfortunately for the New York Yankees that bug has hit the club even before their first spring training game in 2017. According to Bryan Hoch of Yankees.com the Yankees will be without both Ronald Herrera and James Reeves for a few weeks after sustaining injuries during spring workouts.

Herrera, who was traded to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres in the deal for Jose Pirela a couple years back, will miss at least two weeks with shoulder inflammation while James Reeves, an underrated left-handed reliever that could have snuck onto the Yankees Opening Day roster with a strong spring, will miss at least 3-4 weeks with a left elbow sprain. Bummer.

Herrera is just 21-years old and is coming off a 2016 campaign that saw the right-hander put up a 10-7 record with a 3.75 ERA in 132.0 innings in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder. Herrera struck out 123 batters in those 132 innings but he also continued to show he was vulnerable to giving up hits which was evident by his nearly hit per inning ratio last season. Again though, he’s 21. He has plenty of time to put it all together and improve. That’s what the minor leagues are for.

Meanwhile Reeves was a 10th round draft pick in the 2015 MLB First Year Players Draft for the Yankees and is coming off a season with the High-A Tampa Yankees where he put up a 5-1 record with a 2.27 ERA mostly out of the bullpen. I say mostly because Reeves did start 12 of his 25 games that he appeared in last season but it still viewed as more of a reliever than a starting pitching prospect at this point in his career.

Get well soon boys and get back to the grind. We’re always rooting for you. 

Another failed Romney attempt?...

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports Network reported yesterday that Mitt Romney and his son, Tagg,  are in talks with the Yankees to buy a small percentage of the team.  Based on the franchise’s estimated value of $3 billion, a percentage point in the team could be worth $25 to $30 million.  The Romneys are said to be interested in one or two percentage points.

The former Massachusetts governor and lifelong Red Sox fan had previously tried to buy the Miami Marlins and had expressed interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers before their sale.  

Romney has apparently denied involvement, but Heyman’s reporting of the alleged interest leads me to believe there is some life to it.  

I am not really interested in an owner, even a minority owner, that is a Red Sock by blood.  

Let’s say that the Romneys want to buy two percentage points.  Assuming each percentage point is valued at $30 million, I have a price for the Mittster.  For the bargain price of $149,571,428, he can have his 2%.  $30 million x 2 = $60 million + Remainder of Jacoby Ellsbury’s Contract with 2021 buyout at $89,571,428.  That’s the only palatable way that I can see to allow a Red Sock into the ownership group.  

With reports that Dellin Betances is already throwing nasty pitches in spring training, I couldn’t help but think that he must be visualizing each batter with Randy Levine’s face.  I am never excited when a player participates in the WBC but at least Betances will be playing for a Yankees coach (Tony Pena) on the Dominican Republic team.  On the downside, Team DR will most likely advance very deep into the competition if not winning it all.  Hopefully there are no injuries to any of the Yankees participating in this year’s WBC competition.

The spring baseball schedule kicks off today with the Philadelphia Phillies visiting Steinbrenner Field.  Manager Joe Girardi has said he’ll start all of his regulars except for Jacoby Ellsbury, a late arrival to camp following the birth of his second child.  Bryan Mitchell will start and will probably throw two innings.  Alec Asher will start for the Phillies, with many names in the lineup that I do not recognize outside of Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez and Chris Coghlan.  Well, except for Daniel Nava , who is listed in today’s Phillies lineup as he attempts to make yet another comeback with a new team.

Even though it’s just a meaningless exhibition game with early departures by the regulars, it’s great to see the Yankees take the field again.

Play ball!