Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New York Still Working Towards a Jose Quintana Reunion

Remember that left-handed starting pitcher that the Chicago White Sox were said to be shopping all winter long only to hold onto him as of the time of this writing? Remember when the Yankees were said to be in talks with those same Chicago White Sox regarding said left-hander only for those talks to apparently die down for whatever reason? Well the White Sox are back to shopping Jose Quintana and the Yankees are said to be one of four teams still vying for his control.

Joining the New York Yankees who are vying for the 28-year old’s services are the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Texas Rangers. The White Sox are asking for a King’s Ransom from whichever team ultimately acquires the southpaw and has even reportedly asked for a huge package from the Yankees already this offseason that included Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo and Clint Frazier. Talk about gutting a farm system but honestly, and this goes to show you how deep the Yankees system is right now, I would make that deal right now if offered.

Let’s face it, Quintana will cost a ton for whoever gets him but you have to look at what you’re getting back while mortgaging your future. Quintana has thrown more innings than every pitcher in MLB since 2013 with the exceptions of Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, RA Dickey and David Price. You’re buying a workhorse. Quintana is the only pitcher in the American League to throw 200 or more innings in each of the past four seasons but it’s more than him just eating innings. Quintana has thrown to a 3.29 ERA during that time while being an integral part of the Chicago White Sox starting rotation beside the likes of Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija.

So who wins the sweepstakes and takes home the ultimate prize for the 2017 season and beyond? Here’s to hoping it is the Yankees but I’m all out of crystal balls so you’re just going to have to stay tuned. 

More Instant Replay Changes to Come in 2017

In the world of Major League Baseball where the Commissioner is named Rob Manfred it seems like the only constant anymore is change and more change is coming to the game once again. While Manfred and the head of the MLB Players Association Tony Clark met recently to discuss the new intentional walk rule as well as possible rule changes the for 2018 season there are a couple changes to the instant replay system that are also on the way as soon as 2017.

Managers will now have 30 seconds to decide whether they want to issue a challenge or not rather than stalling while their bench coach gets word from the team via phone for however long they decide to stall for. If an instant replay challenge is requested by a manager the booth in New York and the umpires will only have two minutes to make a ruling on whether to overturn the call or not.

So there you have it, more ways to change the game and speed up the process without making the purists, the casual fan, the players or the Union upset with the owners and the league. Progress, ladies and gentleman. Progress, indeed. 

So it Seems Voyeurism May be Back in the Bronx

I may or may not be using the term “voyeurism” as Kode but the general gist of the message is the same, people may actually begin coming back to Yankee Stadium in 2017. The Yankees have added amenities to the stadium and not just any amenities but amenities that the fans actually wanted to see added to the Cathedral in the Bronx. The fans, as a general consensus and as a whole if we are using the term loosely, also wanted a youth movement and a rebuild and they are getting that as well. Gone are the Alex Rodriguez’s and Mark Teixeria’s long past their prime and in their spots are Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez who haven’t barely hit puberty let alone their primes yet.

These are exciting times in the Bronx. The winds of change are blowing and they will keep blowing. They will keep blowing as they bring REASSURANCE that the things I say will happen. Some things are harder to do and say when there are young guys involved. It’s hard to find the words and begin the process but once you do it will begin to flow and it will all come out at once until this thing is done, and over and dead. Just be patient and know that the better times are coming, no not nearly as fast as anyone would have hoped or imagined, and they are going to be the best times ever.

A dynasty is coming and an unstoppable force is being born. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t torn down in a day either just as a quick reminder, but the greatness that was Rome did happen and that should and will never be forgotten. Just enjoy the ride. 

A Bird in the hand is worth two in the outfield bleachers…

Credit:  Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

I always have to preface by saying that Spring Training wins mean absolutely nothing, but still, it’s fun to beat the Boston Red Sox regardless of the date on the calendar.  With two victories on Tuesday, thanks to split-squads, the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 5-4, and the Detroit Tigers, 9-5.

We beat the Tigers?  That’s nice.  We beat the Red Sox?  OH YEAH!  

The highlight of the Boston game in Fort Myers, FL was two home runs by Yankees first baseman Greg Bird.  He’s starting to shake off the rust from missing most of the 2016 due to injury.  There’s never been any question that Bird is a professional hitter.  He gave us a preview in late 2015 after he was called up.  Throughout his minor league career, he consistently received accolades for his hitting approach.  Listening to his post-game comments following the Boston victory, it’s clear the time off taught Bird more about patience which is an excellent trait for a major league hitter.  

It’s hard to miss a year without taking a step back.  That’s why it is so good to see Bird get his hits.  Patience and consistency will serve him well.

The Yankees will face the Red Sox one more time on March 21st at Steinbrenner Field.

In Tampa against the Tigers, Gary Sanchez went 2-for-3 and hit his first home run of the Spring.  Newcomer Chris Carter also added his first, a solo shot.  

Masahiro was the first of the top three (Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia) to start this spring, and he did not disappoint.  Pitching the first two innings, he did not give up any hits or runs, and struck out two.  

Back to the Boston game, it didn’t feature any of the Red Sox starters.  No Price, no Sale...Porcello was apparently too costly.  No Rodriguez or Pomeranz, I guess the time just was not Wright.  But I don’t care.  Beating Boston is ALWAYS enjoyable.  Boston has arguably the best team in the AL East right now.  The Yankees have had trouble with the back end of the rotation with guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright.  There’s been some success against David Price, but Price is still one of the better starters in baseball.  The Red Sox will be very formidable this year.  I know, the games have to be played on the field, not on paper, and when they play, anything can happen.  If, if, if…the Red Sox finally get the slimmed down Pablo Sandoval that succeeded in San Francisco, heralded young outfielder Andrew Benintendi proves that he belongs in the major leagues, the veteran leadership fills the void left by Big Papi’s retirement including Hanley Ramirez’s bat at DH…the Red Sox will be very hard to beat.  So I’ll take my victories against them any way that I can get them.  A little now, more…much more…later.  Our time is coming.

If Greg Bird is capable of learning patience, so are we.  Patience will reward us as the Baby Bombers grow into their pinstripes.  

I thought it was funny to hear Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer say they plan to be judicious with the workload of new closer Wade Davis, given the heavy load the new Cubs closer has carried the last few years with the Kansas City Royals.  The Cubs didn’t seem too concerned about the workload they placed on closer Aroldis Chapman last fall.  As for the spat between Chapman and Cubs manager Joe Maddon, they’ve apparently talked and have mended fences.  I didn’t feel that Chapman was wrong to say the things he did about overuse (I felt the same way watching the World Series), but conversely, I did not blame Joe Maddon for trying, successfully, to win a World Series.  

The calendar page turns from February to March.  The season opener in Tampa against the Rays is right around the corner.  If March passes as quickly as February, April will be here before we know it.  To borrow (and slightly alter) a line from the legendary Blue Brothers, it’s 1,236 miles to Yankee Stadium, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark…and we’re wearing sunglasses.  Hit it!  

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/1: The Boss is Back

On this day in 1993, two and a half years after accepting a lifelong ban from being involved with the day to day operations of the Yankees, owner George Steinbrenner is reinstated. The Boss had been exiled by then commissioner Fay Vincent in 1990 for hiring Howie Spira, a known gambler, to snoop into the life of recently signed Dave Winfield.

Also on this day in 1969 Mickey Mantle announced his retirement and ended his Hall of Fame career. Mantle said "I can't hit when I need to" even though he ranked third at the time on the All Time home run list behind Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Mantle finished with 536 home runs and finished his 18 year career with a .298 batting average.