Friday, February 17, 2017

Sanchez Takes Mantle’s Vaunted No. 7 Topps Card

Sanchez Takes Mantle's Vaunted No. 7 Topps® Card

Yankees star catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit 20 home runs in 53 games in his rookie season in 2016, may or may not be the next Mickey Mantle in the Yankees lineup. But the powerful 24-year-old is following in The Mick's footsteps in another way for Yankees fans and card collectors—the storied No. 7 card in the recently released Topps® 2017 Series 1 Baseball set.

Card No. 7 had been reserved for Mantle since his death in 1995. Beginning with the 1996 flagship set, Card No. 7 had been either Mantle or, for a few years, no one. That meant a gap in the checklist for the years in which Topps did not have an agreement with the Mantle estate to include his card in that particular year.

Enter Sanchez, whose exploits earned him runner-up status in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, despite playing less than half the season in pinstripes.

“Baseball fans are witnessing a great time in baseball right now with an impressive young group of players,” said Kevin Eger, Topps Brand Manager. “We felt it was time to offer Card No. 7 to a young, emerging star, but we still wanted it to be a New York Yankee. Gary Sanchez is part of the re-emergence for the Yankees, helping to bring that certain mystique back to the team. He felt like a natural fit for Card No. 7.”

The Sanchez card was issued earier this month along with N.L. MVP Kris Bryant's No. 1 card, the "Ultimate Card Giveaway" of two million cards from throughout Topps' 66-year history and a series of First Pitch™ insert cards in its Series 1.

The Greedy Pinstripes Presents “It’s Not What You Want” the Spring Training Edition

Ladies and gentleman the “It’s Not What You Want” podcast presented by The Greedy Pinstripes and featuring Jacob Westendorf and Matt Bove is back and the guys are talking all things New York Yankees spring training. Will Aaron Judge win the right field job? Who fills out the bench? Which arm is about to be absolutely abused by manager Joe Girardi and his binder-turned-iPad?

I guess you’ll have to listen to find out.  Give the guys a follow on Twitter as well as following our Twitter account @GreedyStripes.

Matt Bove: @MattBoveHS

Jacob Westendorf: @JacobWestendorf

Do Any Non-Roster Invitees Have a Shot at Making the Team?

The New York Yankees originally invited 25 non-roster players to their spring training camp this offseason with competition being the theme of the spring down at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Do any of these 25 players have a shot at being the next Johnny Barbato and making the big league club out of spring training? Let’s analyze.

First you have to think about the potential roster spots that are available and up for grabs this spring. The first position that comes to mind is the Yankees bullpen, maybe two or three slots are up for grabs, while the Yankees bench also seems wide open at this point for one or two slots.

You can immediately cross of names like Chance Adams, James Kaprielian, Jordan Montgomery, Nick Rumbelow, Justus Sheffield, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier for a plethora of reasons. Innings in Adams case, innings and injury concerns in Kaprielian’s case, Tommy John surgery in Rumbelow’s case, inexperience in Torres and Frazier’s case, etc. leaving 18 players vying for no more than five possible slots on the Yankees team, although that number could be as low as two spots. Who sticks out as a potential hopeful for making the team?

Ruben Tejada may make the team as a utility infielder thus pushing Ronald Torreyes back to the minor leagues or off the team entirely. The former New York Mets second baseman, still somehow just 27-years old, can play adequate defense at second base, third base and shortstop while potentially carrying a bit of a heavier stick than Torreyes and other spring hopefuls including Pete Kozma and Donovan Solano. Obviously he did not show that heavy stick in his small sample size last season with the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants but he has been a 2.0 WAR player twice during his career with the New York Mets showing that the talent is there. He just has to put in the work.

I have to admit that I shook my head a bit when I saw that the New York Yankees sent relief pitcher J.P. Feyereisen to the Arizona Fall League. Not because he isn’t talented or was undeserving but I guess I let my own ignorance get in the way. Once I actually sat down and did the research on the third piece that came back from the Cleveland Indians in the Andrew Miller trade I saw that Feyereisen actually had a pretty great season in Double-A this season. Feyereisen finished Double-A, presumably anyway, with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 78 strikeouts in 58.1 innings of work. Feyereisen was equally as strong in the Arizona Fall League posting a 2.57 ERA and could be at the head of the long line of pitchers looking to fill in the middle relief role for the Yankees this spring. Feyereisen, on second review, is probably my leading candidate for the job assuming he has a strong and healthy spring. Not that my opinion or vote counts for anything, but still. He has it.

And finally ladies and gentleman it’s time for my weekly plug of left-handed starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. Because why not? I am going to continue to push him down everyone’s throats until he is in the Major Leagues because he is too talented and too close not to reach The Show in 2017, in my opinion of course. There’s nothing saying that Montgomery could not sneak in and steal one of the two Yankees starting rotation spots that could be up for grabs this spring and I’m definitely not going to be the one counting him out. Montgomery, just 24-years old, split the 2016 season between Double-A and Triple-A and seemingly has little to nothing left to prove in the minor leagues at this point. Montgomery finished the season with a 14-5 record and a 2.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 139.1 innings of work while an uptick in velocity resulted in 134 total strikeouts across both leagues. Montgomery’s delivery is fluid and his command is almost pinpoint so when you think about this uptick in velocity you stop thinking about his ceiling being that of a middle-of-the-rotation type starter and you start thinking how much more he can be going forward.

You have to remember that all these men got their invites for a reason. They are young, ready and able to do the job. They just have to go out and do it and if they do they may find themselves squaring off with the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day 2017 in some capacity. Good luck to all three men. 

The "Corporate Look" needs a new definition...

This week, Kunj Shah had a great post on the Pinstripe Alley website that the Yankees need to reconsider their policy on facial hair.  I could not agree more.  The policy is outdated, and it should be updated to reflect today’s society and its ever-changing attitudes.


I am, by no means, saying that there should be a revised policy to allow for Johnny Damon’s “Caveman” look with the Boston Red Sox, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with short well-groomed facial hair.

When George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973, he implemented the facial hair policy to give the Yankees a corporate look.   The official policy states all players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar.

I remember back in the 1980’s when Don Mattingly tweaked management by growing out his hair to the outer limits of the policy.  It was silly then, and it is even sillier today.  Some relaxation of the policy is warranted.  I am okay if they keep away from hair length to avoid the looks presently displayed by Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets or Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies.  I definitely do not want to see the ‘Fear the Beard’ look that former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson sported a few years ago. 

Baseball is a game of intimidation.  Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looks fine without facial hair when throwing a 103 mph fastball but other guys are not so fortunate.  I thought former Yankees catcher Brian McCann looked cool in Atlanta with his beard, but as a Yankee, he looked “puffy” clean shaven.
When Yankee players leave the team, growing a beard seems to be a prerequisite.  Robinson Cano and David Robertson stand out to me as recent examples.  There are incoming Yankees with a history of facial hair.  The off-season workout videos featuring new DH Matt Holliday show the short beard comparable to those that Cano and Robertson quickly adopted upon their respective departures. 

What’s the difference between a moustache (or the long sideburns of the 1970’s) and beard stubble?  It does not make the player more unprofessional.  Again, I am not preaching for long hair over the collar or a beard that makes the player look like a Farrell family relative on the TV show Outsiders. 

I remain supportive of the team’s policy to disallow player names on the back of jerseys. 

Hal Steinbrenner has shown that he is not his father.  He should extend this to his own beliefs regarding facial hair.  Granted, he is as clean shaven as they come (conformity to company policy), but he appears have more open-minded views than his dad.  In the off-seasons, there have been pics of Brian Cashman sporting facial hair so he’d certainly be on board (or so it would seem).  A guy willing to repel off buildings probably wouldn’t care if Greg Bird forgot to bring his razor on a road trip. 

I am sure there are a number of Yankees fans that feel very strongly about keeping tradition.  But conversely, there are subtle changes that can be made to update policy without compromising professionalism.  Allowing short, well-groomed facial hair is not going to lead to a complete collapse or disregard of rules. 

Unless he has stock in Norelco or Gillette, it’s time for Hal to make the change…

The Key to the 2017 Yankees Bullpen is Not Who You Think…

When you think of the New York Yankees bullpen and when you think of which one of those talented arms will be the key to success in 2017 who immediately comes to mind? Is it Aroldis Chapman who will presumably be closing games in the Bronx for the foreseeable future? Is it Dellin Betances who will be setting up games and acting as the Yankees fireman all season long? Is it Tyler Clippard in presumably his final year in the Bronx? Is it Adam Warren who can give you middle relief, who can start games, who can pitch as a long man and has even closed games for the Yankees in the past? Nope, nope, nope and nope. When you think about it the key to the Yankees bullpen in 2017 is likely left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve.

The Yankees back-end of the bullpen is solid and may be one of the better bullpens in all of Major League Baseball but with the Yankees starting rotation in the shape it’s in right now you could have four All-Star closers back there and it wouldn’t matter. Having the best closer in the game and about $15 will buy you a beer at Yankee Stadium if your starting rotation can’t give you six-or-seven innings a night or your middle relief cannot hold the lead that the offense and that day’s starting pitcher give them. Enter Chasen Shreve and quite possibly the most important season of his young career.

Aside from Chapman, and LOOGY Tommy Layne who may or may not even make the team this spring, Shreve is the only other left-handed relief pitcher that is expected to make the bullpen this season. Shreve struggled at the end of 2015 and he let those struggles carry over into the 2016 season posting a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings as we all watched his home run rate per nine innings soar to 2.2 HR/9. You don’t have to be the author of Moneyball to know that’s not good, especially when his HR/9 ratio from 2015 was just 1.5 HR/9.

So how does Shreve return to the dominance he saw in Atlanta and in his first five months or so in the Bronx? While it’s easier said than done in most cases the lefty simply has to throw more split changeups. Period. Shreve buries that pitch in the dirt and gets more swings and misses on it than any other pitch in his arsenal due to the movement and deception of the pitch.

If Shreve can keep the ball down, which he has not during his struggles, and bury that pitch for strike three he can return to being a dominant reliever in the Bronx again. If Shreve can return to being the dominant force in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning that he was for much of 2015 the rest of the league better watch out because these games against the Yankees may have just become four inning games again. And that’s scary for anyone not wearing a Yankees uniform in 2017. 

It’s Not Too Late to Add ….

Pitchers and catchers have reported to New York Yankees spring training camp as well as a few positional players, the rest of the positional players are required to be in camp by tomorrow morning, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to add talent to this team. It wouldn’t be the first time a nice complimentary piece was added to a team during spring training either via the free agent market or via trade and this year would be no different if the team were to add a starting pitcher to the rotation, a veteran catcher behind the dish or a left-handed reliever to compliment Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and company in the bullpen.

The New York Yankees were linked to Jose Quintana all offseason long and as of the time of this writing the left-hander is still sporting a Chicago White Sox uniform. Reportedly talks took place between the two clubs but if I were a betting man I’d say the Chicago White Sox, who don’t tend to lose out on trades like these very often, are simply asking for too much or more than the Yankees are willing to give up. The closer we get towards though the more likely the price tag is to come down for Quintana which could work out in the Yankees favor. The White Sox want to maximize their return for Quintana so trading him now rather than in July could be the difference in a good prospect or two. Is a good prospect or two worth taking a little less than what they originally asked for or wanted? Well unless you have a crystal ball we will have to stay tuned for that one.

If Quintana does remain in Chicago a pitcher from that other Chicago team is still sitting out there on the free agent market in Jason Hammel. Now Hammel, unlike Quintana, is not going to be a game changer at the top of a starting rotation and the signing of Hammel would not leave many Yankees fans planning their 2017 World Series Champion tattoos just yet but he would be a solid pickup for the back-end of the rotation if healthy. The Yankees have a ton of question marks in their rotation, and admittedly adding Hammel likely adds another question mark to the pile, but if Hammel is healthy he can add a ton of stability and 200 innings out of the fifth spot that the team simply just doesn’t have right now with their current crop of players.

Finally the team may not be completely sold on having Austin Romine as the team’s backup catcher and the good news for the Yankees is that even this late in the offseason there is always a veteran catcher or two just sitting around hoping to get a call for a try out. Some of those names include Matt Wieters and AJ Pierzynski most notably. I’ll be completely honest here when I say that Wieters is not going to come to New York to be a backup, or anywhere for that matter, so it’s looking like it’s going to be Romine, Pierzynski or bust. I am about as excited by the idea of adding Pierzynski to the club as the next guy, the guy is a total tool bag if we’re being honest, but the amount of knowledge and experience he would bring with him you simply cannot overlook. What Pierzynski would do on the field is irrelevant when you consider what he could do for Gary Sanchez’s development. I’m about as excited as you are about the idea but for that reason alone I’d at least consider it.

Would any of these moves turn the Yankees into instant contenders in 2017? Well aside from Quintana, who absolutely would, I honestly don’t think so. Would it make the team better not only next year and beyond though? Well that’s hard to argue against. 

So It Seems the World Works Against Us Sometimes

Good morning everyone and happy Friday to you all. I want to start this morning off by talking to you a bit and by thanking you for your continued support. There’s not likely to be too many blogs out there that can take the hiatus that I did and still come back to all hands on deck on Twitter and in the comments section of the site. I’m truly humbled and I’m forever grateful for you all.

It seems like the world works against us sometime. For example, this week I returned to the blog after the aforementioned long hiatus that I still can’t fully understand or explain. I just simply and completely checked out of the world entirely. I shut myself out to everything and everyone that does not live in my house and I don’t have a true explanation as to why.

This week has been tough. I’ve been enjoying writing again and I’m getting back into the habit and into the groove of writing again but life just continues to throw their curve balls that they love to throw. Work has been incredibly busy, and don’t tell my boss but I do the vast majority of my writing while I am at work, and my life outside of work has been twice as busy. Just this Wednesday I got a call from the woman who watches my son while I work and the call stated that he had fallen and busted his chin. Long story short and four hours later in an emergency room I was home at 10:00 pm, drained and not wanting to write.

You know what I did? I wrote anyway, and it was the content you saw yesterday featured on the blog, and you know what? It made me feel better. I’ve had so many special people come in and out of my life and I am truly blessed. You are my favorite thing.

Have a great Friday everyone. Position players are set to report to Yankees camp tomorrow if they haven’t already. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/17: LOL Carl Pavano

On this day in 2007 in a poll conducted by his hometown newspaper more than half of the poll takers though Carl Pavano would not bounce back with the Yankees in 2007. The poll revealed that 54.5% believe the Yankees pitcher would continue to struggle for the Yankees.

Also on this day in 2006 White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen issued an apology to Yankees star Alex Rodriguez after criticizing him about his decision on which team to play for in the World Baseball Classic. Alex was born in the United States but could also play for Team Dominican Republic since his parents were from there and could play for either team and ended up playing for Team USA.

Also on this day in 1987 Don Mattingly wins his arbitration case for $1.975 million breaking the record for the largest amount ever awarded to a player, set by Jack Morris just four days prior.

Also on this day in 1943 Joe DiMaggio enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces without notifying the team. Joe will not play for the Yankees again until the 1946 season. DiMaggio asked for no special treatment in the war but spent most of his time out of harm's way.

Finally on this day in 1937 the New York Yankees purchased Red Sox first basemen Babe Dahlgren to replace the retiring Lou Gehrig. Dahlgren would spend four seasons with the Yankees and post a .248 batting average before being bought by the Braves for the 1941 season.