Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meet A Prospect: Hank Steinbrenner

Henry George "Hank" Steinbrenner III was born April, 2 1957 in Culver, Indiana to parents George and Elizabeth Steinbrenner. Hank is the older son of former Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and is currently involved in the day to day operations as owner of the Yankees today. Steinbrenner's little brother Hal is the other half of the Steinbrenner duo that inherited the team when The Boss passed away in 2010 and Hank also has two sisters in Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindall. Henry, or Hank, was named after his grandfather, Henry George Steinbrenner II, who made the family fortune in the shipping business.

From 2007 to the present George Steinbrenner stepped down from the day to day operations of the New York Yankees and the job was left to both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. It would take until November, 8 of the 2008 season before Major League Baseball owners approved the shift of power to the Steinbrenner Brothers. Hank is more like his father in the fact that he is the more outspoken Steinbrenner brother and is considered to be a bit of a hot head. He also likes to talk without speaking a lot as seen below in this quote from Hank in a 2008 interview:
"Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is...That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans...Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."

Hank would receive a Red Sox nation membership card a few days later from Red Sox owner John Henry and also received team newsletters, bumper stickers, pins, Green Monster seats, and a Boston Red Sox hat autographed by none other than David Ortiz. I have to say that is a pretty awesome gesture by the Red Sox and even generated a laugh from a Yankees fan, good work.

Hank has disappeared from the front of the stage in recent years while his brother Hal has taken full control over the team and the organization. Hank was last seen on a gold course smoking cigarettes and about 50 lbs. lighter, no exaggeration. I'm not quite sure what's going on with Hank but I truly wish he's okay both mentally and physically. He's still a Steinbrenner and he's still a Yankee.

Meet a Prospect: Jon Niese

Over the weekend the New York Yankees added Jon Niese to their minor league camp after signing the former New York Mets product to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. The left-hander can start or he can relieve and will look to latch on in either spot in the Yankees starting rotation in 2017 so now is a good a time as any to meet him, don’t you say? This is Meet a Prospect: The Jon Niese Edition.

Jonathan Joseph Niese was born on October 27, 1986 to Jeffrey and Annette Niese in Lima, Ohio on the same day that the New York Mets won their second, and last to date, World Series. It only seemed like fate that Niese went on to later spend time with those same New York Mets as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates in his MLB career before recently joining the Yankees on his minor league deal.

Niese attended Defiance High School in Defiance, Ohio where he was brought up where he played soccer all four years as well as baseball. While at Defiance High the left-hander was teammates with former Los Angeles Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley before being drafted in the 2005 MLB First Year Players Draft by the New York Mets in the seventh round.

Niese began his professional career with the Gulf Coast League Mets that same year before getting all the way to Triple-A by the 2008 season pitching seven innings allowing just one run for the Zephyrs. Niese impressed so much in that start that he was promoted to the Major Leagues in September of 2008 and he even made his MLB debut on September, 2 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Niese promptly gave up a home run to the first batter that he faced, Rickie Weeks, becoming the first pitcher in Mets history to achieve the feat. Niese bounced back and forth between the minor leagues and the Major Leagues in 2009 before his first full season as a major league starter came during the 2010 season.

Niese finished his first campaign as a starter with a 9-10 record with a 4.20 ERA in 173.2 innings pitched. Niese’s best start came on June 10 against the San Diego Padres when he threw a complete game one-hit shutout in a Mets victory. Niese remained in the Mets rotation for the 2011 season where he finished with another unimpressive 11-11 record with a 4.40 ERA in just 157.1 innings pitched. Niese saw his season come to an end prematurely when a rib cage muscle ended his season on August 23rd. That was enough for the Mets though as they signed Niese to a five-year deal worth $25.5 million on April 4th of 2012. Niese would finish the season with his best performance to date posting a 13-9 record with a 3.40 ERA including his first season where he did not completely fall apart and break down once the calendar turned to September.

Niese was named the New York Mets Opening Day starter for the 2013 season after Johan Santana suffered an injury but Santana wasn’t the only Mets lefty to miss some time due to injury that season. Niese missed several starts in 2013 due to a rotator cuff injury and the 2014 season didn’t start out much better for him either. Niese began the 2014 season on the disabled list due to elbow inflammation in his pitching elbow. Niese would return from the injury only to last a whole 66 innings before being forced back on the disabled list later on in the season. Niese did finish the season with 30 starts and a 3.40 ERA but the injury bug had hit him multiple times that season leaving many inside the organization to wonder if this was a sign of what’s to come.

Niese has a relatively uneventful, although it was healthy after making adjustments to his pitching motion during spring training in order to take some of the strain off his pitching elbow, season in 2015 but that did not stop the Mets from trading him to the Pittsburgh Pirates on December 9th for Neil Walker. Niese spent time in the Pirates rotation until the All Star Break when the Pirates placed Niese in their bullpen. Niese was not long for the Pirates though as the team then traded him back to the Mets on August 1st in exchange for Antonio Bastardo. Niese lasted a whole one start before being placed back on the disabled list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

The Mets declined their option on the contract after the 2016 season paying him a $500,000 buyout and thus granting him free agency. Niese spent the winter looking for a guaranteed job and even told the New York Daily News that he was shocked he could not find a MLB guaranteed deal this offseason before he signed the minor league deal with the Yankees. It doesn’t matter how he got here or what happened before though, especially on a minor league deal, as long as he makes the most of the opportunity while he is here. So here’s our best wishes and hopes going out to Niese, I hope you make the team if you can truly help the team compete in 2017 and beyond.

Welcome to the organization and, more importantly, welcome to the family. 

Four pitches no longer equals an intentional walk...

Last September, the Tampa Bay Rays decided to give Gary Sanchez a free pass with an intentional walk.  First base was open and there was a runner on third.  Sanchez opted not to play and swung at the first ball outside, lifting a fly to center that scored the runner.  At the time, the Yankees were only up by 2 in the 8th inning.  It was an unneeded insurance run, but with the announcement that Major League Baseball has revised the Intentional Walk, that play can never happen again. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, in a statement that won’t win many friends at the MLB Players Association, said there won’t be any meaningful rule changes for the 2017 season “due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA”.  Nevertheless, it has been reported that MLB will be eliminating the four outside pitches to force an intentional walk.  Managers will now be able to signal for the intentional walks from the dugout with no pitches thrown. 

It’s not a substantial rule change but it will eliminate plays like the one Sanchez collected a sac fly RBI.  I always get the image of Vladimir Guerrero.  The dude could hit anything inside or outside of the strike zone.  The bat has literally been taken from the intentional “walkee” and he’ll now get a polite signal to advance.  They should at least make it interesting and mandate that the signal for an intentional walk is a raised middle finger.

It was amazing that Richard Bleier stayed on the 40-man roster as long as he did.  He finally became a DFA victim when the Yankees announced the signing of slugger Chris Carter.  Still, I was surprised when it was announced that Bleier has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles.  It wasn’t really about the return as “cash or player to be named later” essentially equates to two cans of Mountain Dew.  The bigger surprise was the inter-division transaction with a noted rival which does not happen very often.  Bleier was never going to be a key part of the team but he is capable of getting a single out in a tight situation.  I wish him the best in Baltimore.  Say hi to Buck for me.

So, Alex Rodriguez has officially announced his retirement.  I always thought that he’d try to give it one more shot to reach the 700 home run milestone.  But he has proved me wrong by saying that he has no desire to play again.  I am glad that Alex is no longer an active Yankee but the work he is doing with the team is very good.  The younger players obviously respect Alex and he is an excellent communicator.  He made an exorbitant amount of money as a player, but his post-playing career should be similarly lucrative.  Happy Retirement, Alex!

I still can’t stand Randy Levine…

Fantasy Baseball Top 50 for 2017

The USA Today is a publication that I frequent pretty much every day, a publication that I even frequented when I was on my extended break and hiatus from the site and from the world here a few weeks back, because I like what the cast of writers over there brings. They bring opinions, they bring the news, they bring weekly power rankings that we showcase here on the site every Tuesday and they think outside the box more than most I’ve read. One other thing the USA Today brings is some great Fantasy Baseball advice and this week they brought the Top 200 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings for the 2017. Now while I won’t bring you the entire Top 200 list here on the blog, you can head over to those guys and give them a much deserved click and view or two to see the entire list, I will bring you the Top 50 and the notable Yankees inclusions. Enjoy.

1.    Mike Trout, Angels    OF
2.    Mookie Betts, Red Sox    OF
3.    Jose Altuve, Astros    2B
4.    Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks    1B
5.    Kris Bryant, Cubs    3B/OF
6.    Nolan Arenado, Rockies    3B
7.    Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers    SP
8.    Manny Machado, Orioles    3B/SS
9.    Bryce Harper, Nationals    OF
10.    Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays    3B
11.    Anthony Rizzo, Cubs    1B
12.    Miguel Cabrera, Tigers    1B
13.    Max Scherzer, Nationals    SP
14.    Trea Turner, Nationals    OF/2B
15.    Starling Marte, Pirates    OF
16.    Madison Bumgarner, Giants    SP
17.    Carlos Correa, Astros    SS
18.    Edwin Encarnacion, Indians    1B
19.    Corey Seager, Dodgers    SS
20.    Charlie Blackmon, Rockies    OF
21.    Joey Votto, Reds    1B
22.    Francisco Lindor, Indians    SS
23.    Freddie Freeman, Braves    1B
24.    Robinson Cano, Mariners    2B
25.    Corey Kluber, Indians    SP
26.    Noah Syndergaard, Mets    SP
27.    A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks    OF
28.    Chris Sale, Red Sox    SP
29.    Jonathan Villar, Brewers    SS/3B
30.    Ryan Braun, Brewers    OF
31.    Daniel Murphy, Nationals    2B/1B
32.    Trevor Story, Rockies    SS
33.    Jon Lester, Cubs    SP
34.    Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins    OF
35.    Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox    SS
36.    Brian Dozier, Twins    2B
37.    Jake Arrieta, Cubs    SP
38.    David Price, Red Sox    SP
39.    Christian Yelich, Marlins    OF
40.    Nelson Cruz, Mariners    OF
41.    Rougned Odor, Rangers    2B
42.    Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies    OF
43.    Dee Gordon, Marlins    2B
44.    George Springer, Astros    OF
45.    Johnny Cueto, Giants    SP
46.    Buster Posey, Giants    C
47.    Justin Verlander, Tigers    SP
48.    Andrew McCutchen, Pirates    OF
49.    Kyle Seager, Mariners    3B
50.    J.D. Martinez, Tigers    OF

62.    Aroldis Chapman, Yankees    RP
81.    Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees    SP
83.    Gary Sanchez, Yankees    C
181.    Dellin Betances, Yankees    RP
194.    Brett Gardner, Yankees    OF
199.    Michael Pineda, Yankees    SP

So it Seems Life is Getting Busy Again

Yes, but have no fear for I am here for you guys and girls. If’ I’m being honest my life is about to get really, really busy again. This week my son is out of school for his winter break so the grind of dodging school buses and soccer moms in mini vans is done for a week but next week it’s back to it. Also the process of promoting me and having me learn multiple new jobs at the same time has begun at my job which is always a time suck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited and I’m humbled by the opportunity. Hell I am humbled by what my life is right now if we’re being completely honest. The issue is I do, and if they read this I probably wouldn’t be getting this potential promotion hahaha, most or close to all of my writing at work.

I vow to not disappear again. When I disappeared I had so many distractions, and granted they were all the very best distractions, that it became the new normal to go to work and work. To go home and do what I was doing. Not to write. I fell into a slump and I hit an absolute wall on the writing, writers block should be considered one of those naughty four-letter words in my opinion, but I will not and cannot allow that to happen again. So you may not see five-or-six posts a day on the blog but at the very least you will see me speaking to you every morning just as I am right now.

So look out for it… because it’s coming. Have a great day everyone. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 2/22: Yankees Lose Johnny Damon

On this day in 2010 the Yankees lost their own free agent Johnny Damon when he agreed to a one year deal worth $8 million with the Detroit Tigers. Damon was 36 years old at the time and coming off a .282 with 24 home runs and a World Series championship in the 2009 season.

Also on this day in 2005 now deceased San Diego Padres broadcaster and former New York Yankee Jerry Coleman is selected to receive the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award. The then 80 year old broadcaster was the 1950 World Series MVP, played for teams like the Yankees, Angels, and Padres, and spent over 40 years in the booth as a play by play man.