Friday, March 3, 2017

I'm Not Necessarily Looking Forward To Harper In Pinstripes

Who wouldn't want Bryce Harper on their team?

"You know you want me."

Since 2000 there have only been ten times in which a player has finished the season with an OPS+ of 190 or higher, and four of those times were by the same player (his name rhymes with "Hairy Ponds"). Bryce Harper not only had an OPS+ of 198 in 2015, but he did that at just 22 years old.

Do you know what I was doing at age 22?

Neither do I, to be honest. But I guaran-damn-tee you it wasn't nearly as impressive as what Harper did.

You might want me to bring up what Bryce did last season. Okay... he had an OPS+ of 116. Not bad, but not nearly as incredible as his previous season. On that note, you may point out his OPS+ of 111 in 2014. But let me remind you of something...

He's only 24!

However, I couldn't help but think... What if the Yankees don't have to spend upwards of $500 million on the guy?

Aaron Judge may be a MLB mainstay starting this season. Clint Frazier looks to be a future star, who could debut as soon as this season. Blake Rutherford is ranked as the 37th best prospect in baseball by Dustin Fowler is getting a bit of love from various prospect experts. And Billy McKinney is getting some mention too. And that doesn't include the idea that Jorge Mateo (ranked the 47th best prospect in baseball) could be turned into a centerfielder.

That makes three, possibly four, strong candidates for the outfield, along with a couple more possible MLB regulars in the Yankees' future.

Oh, and there's no guarantee that the team will be able to offload Jacoby Ellsbury, either.

The main point here is that the future outfield looks pretty strong. So how about using that money elsewhere?

How about luring Clayton Kershaw away from the west coast, assuming the Dodgers can't re-sign him once he inevitably opts out of his current deal? Perhaps Miguel Andujar flames out leaving the Yankees scrambling to fill third base, and therefore wanting to go hard after Manny Machado?

Or what about signing "Big Game" James Shields!?!?

So much can happen before now and at the end of the 2018 season. And there's a good chance some of the guys I mentioned earlier are used in trades before then. But I have to be honest... it's a little disconcerting that the Yankees may sign somebody for up to 15 years and nearly $500 million.

I mean, long contracts tend to become albatrosses. Heck, we could be dreaming of the end of Bryce's contract as soon as 2025, and that would only be half-way into the deal. 

The Devil You Know vs. the Devil You Don’t featuring Bryce Harper

Earlier this morning I left you with a pretty long post, yes I know I tend to get a bit long-winded and I tend to ramble on a bit but it’s not something I am willing to apologize for if I am being honest, about the old saying “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know.” Specifically we talked about what direction the New York Yankees would go in after the 2018 season when quite possibly the best third baseman in the game, Manny Machado, hits the free agent market for any and all to have for nothing more than money. We discussed whether I thought the Yankees would stick with the devil they know in top third baseman prospect Miguel Andujar or whether they would go with the devil they don’t know in Machado and we plan on doing the same this evening with another free agent after the 2018 season, Bryce Harper.

The Yankees have an absolute slew of outfielders already on the roster and down in the minor league system including, but not limited to, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Dustin Fowler, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, potentially Jorge Mateo or other prospects who could potentially switch positions due to logjams and I’m sure I’m forgetting another outfielder or two. The point is there are a ton of options on paper, are any of those options better than Harper? Well isn’t that just the million dollar, or potentially up to $400 million, question.

In a nutshell I don’t see anyone on that list I would take over Harper but one must remember that I am one half of the duo that started The GREEDY Pinstripes Yankees blog. I want everyone. I want the best players, I want the biggest salaries (because frankly Scarlett I don’t give a damn) and I want the biggest names. That’s Harper to a “T.”

I could throw out a ton of fancy stats and comparisons but really do I need to? It’s Bryce freaking Harper ladies and gentleman. The Yankees will potentially have two of their outfield positions open by the time Harper hits the free agent market and the third will be clogged up by Jacoby Ellsbury, who should and would be moved if I were in charge, meaning the Yankees will need that big name to draw people to the Stadium. The Yankees will need that big bopper in the middle of their lineup. The Yankees may need Bryce Harper more than Bryce Harper needs the Yankees. Normally I wouldn’t advocate for getting involved in such a situation… but guys… it’s Bryce freaking Harper.

Call Harper the devil you know and call him the devil that you don’t know, I couldn’t care less, just do whatever it is you have to do to get the guy in pinstripes after the 2018 season. Hand the guy a blank contract and a razor and tell him to call when he’s done. Period. Because guys, it’s Bryce Harper. 

The Yankees and the World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic is right around the corner now that the calendar has turned to March so here is a quick recap of the New York Yankees players that will be representing their native countries in the event.

Tommy Layne – Team Italy
Tyler Clippard – Team USA
Dellin Betances – Team Dominican Republic
Didi Gregorius – Team Netherlands
Giovanny Gallegos – Team Columbia
Tito Polo - Team Columbia
Kellin Deglan – Tam Canada
Luis Severino – Team Dominican Republic (alternate)

Michael Pineda – Team Dominican Republic (alternate)

Sorting the Yankees 4th and 5th Starter Options

The New York Yankees have brought competition to their spring training camps this season and no position is seemingly more wide open right now than their 4th and 5th starting pitcher slots. New York has brought at least five options to fill two potential slots while there are always the dark horses that seemingly come to camp every year and at least make things interesting so this morning I wanted to try and sort out the Top 5 candidates for those last two slots and tell you a little bit about them if you didn’t already know. Which I’m sure that most of you that are reading this know all you need to know about these five men but we gain new and exciting readers and fans daily… so there’s always that.

Chad Green made eight starts with the New York Yankees big league club in 2016 before straining his ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon which ended his season prematurely. Green was solid, not overwhelming by any means truth be told, in those starts and would make a solid 5th starter type for the Yankees. Green will not be the Green he was in Triple-A last season that posted a 1.52 ERA in 94.2 innings but he could give the Yankees six innings every fifth day and hand the ball to that Yankees bullpen with a lead more times than not and honestly that’s all you can and should expect out of a fifth starter in today’s game. As of right now I have him penciled in as the Yankees fifth starter and I think manager Joe Girardi probably does too barring any health concerns.

The fourth starter I have already named on the blog in recent weeks and his name is Luis Severino. Severino has been said to be working on his changeup command and control all offseason long and early indications from camp and from the Grapefruit League shows that he may finally have a third pitch added to his fastball/slider arsenal. If Severino can throw his fastball at 98 MPH and repeat his mechanics, release point and delivery on a changeup that dives out of the zone at 88 MPH then Major League hitters just better watch out because Severino would be the best fourth starter in all of the game next season and it wouldn’t even be close.

Another arm for the Yankees that actually made starts for the team at the Major League level last season is Luis Cessa. Cessa, just 24-years old, started nine games for the Yankees last season after coming over with Chad Green in the Justin Wilson trade with the Detroit Tigers posting a 4-4 record with a 4.35 ERA. Those stats included eight appearances in the bullpen for New York which is likely where he will begin the 2017 season with the club as well. Cessa is not the type of pitcher to overpower a batter or the type of pitcher to strike out 200 a season but he limits walks and hits and simply gets guys out which makes him a great candidate for the 5th starter spot in the Bronx. The problem for Cessa is the Yankees, and this is the best problem to have, have too many options in front of Cessa going forward this season. For that reason alone I see Cessa in the bullpen as the long man on Opening Day 2017.

Adam Warren is always an option for the Yankees starting rotation because the right-hander has this uncanny ability to switch back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen like it’s something that is done every day in today’s game. Warren, a former Yankees draft pick out of North Carolina and now 29-year old bullpen piece for the club, was atrocious with the Chicago Cubs last season before being traded back to the Yankees midseason in the Aroldis Chapman trade and before posting an impressive 3.26 ERA with New York in 30.1 innings. Warren would make for a great Plan B in the rotation and can always switch back to the bullpen whenever another option or direction arises.

Bryan Mitchell is one of my personal favorite Yankees starting pitching options and prospects but the Yankees don’t seem to share the same thoughts on the young right-hander as I do. I mean, sure, I may be speculating here but it seems like the team hasn’t given Mitchell as many options to fail, succeed or figure it out at the Major League level as they have other arms but what do I know. I’m just a fan, not a professional blogger and journalist by any means. Mitchell, if we’re being honest here, hasn’t done himself any favors with his toe injury last spring and with him taking a line drive off his face that ended his season prematurely. Nor has he helped his own cause with his 4.52 career ERA in 65.2 innings, sample size people, but still at just 25-years old this may be the make-or-break season for him with the Yankees. Given the opportunity, again there’s that word opportunity when it comes to Mitchell, he may make it but he will definitely break it if he toils around in the Yankees pen or minor league system again like the Yankees have been known to do with their arms.

So who wins the fourth and fifth starter competition? Right now I have Luis Severino and Chad Green winning the slots but it is anyone’s game at this point. I guess you will all have to just stay tuned. 

The Devil You Know vs. the Devil You Don’t featuring Miguel Andujar and Manny Machado

You know the old saying “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t” well that sometimes applies to Major League Baseball as well as your regular, everyday life. This is especially true when you consider teams who play in huge media markets like the New York Yankees. Sometimes the devil you know, the player who may be average or a solid player but can handle the bright lights and big city, can be the better choice than the devil you don’t know, or the player who lets the media circus and the fans constant cheering and boos affect them. We’ve seen it far too many times, see Randy Johnson as an example of someone who buckled under the pressure while we have players like Alfonso Soriano and Brandon McCarthy who seemingly flourished in the Bronx, and we may see it again here in a few seasons when the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hit the free agency market. For the sake of this post we will focus on the latter and not the former and ask the question, by the 2019 season will the Yankees have the devil they “know” in prospect Miguel Andujar as their third baseman or the devil they don’t in Machado on Opening Day? 

Over the last two seasons Machado has put up an average triple slash of .290/.351/.518 with 36 home runs, 91 RBI, 35 doubles and 104 runs scored. That’s an average… not the total. Only Mike Trout the 2016 AL MVP Award winner, Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant the 2016 NL MVP Award winner have had a higher WAR in that same span according to Fangraphs. In a nutshell Machado has been amazing over the past two seasons and he is somehow still just 24-years old. Any team would love to have a Gold Glove winner at shortstop that is capable of playing shortstop in a pinch and any team would love to have another big bopper in the middle of their lineup, which is going to make him extremely expensive. Would New York dip their foot into the deep end of the free agent market again for Machado in the winter before the 2019 season or would they simply see what they have in Andujar and continue their youth movement? 

Andujar had a pretty good 2016 campaign himself, albeit while splitting time between the High-A Tampa Yankees and the Double-A Trenton Thunder but still, putting up a .273/.332/.410 triple slash with 12 home runs and 83 RBI in his age-21 season. Andujar, who enters his age-22 season in 2017, did enough to warrant the Yankees adding him to their 40 man roster as the organization now sees him as the third basemen of the future. Maybe. I say maybe because Andujar is still considered raw by many accounts but almost every one of the Yankees scouts have had nothing but exciting things to say about his untapped potential and his attitude towards the game. Projections state that Andujar, much like we see now with Machado, will hit for average, hit for power and use the whole field when he reaches the Major Leagues and reaches his full potential. 

It is impossible to say with any certainty what the Yankees are going to do two seasons from now as a lot can happen between then and now and a lot can change as well. If the past is any indicator of the future though it seems like Hal Steinbrenner and his fiscally responsible ways will be quite confident with having Andujar, and not an extremely expensive Machado, at the hot corner on Opening Day 2019. Just a hunch though. 

So it Seems It Always Comes Down to This...

So it seems the older I get, the more experience and the more my eyes are opened each and every day that it always comes down to the devil you know vs. the devil that you don't know. In life and in Major League Baseball, and we will look at the latter throughout the day here on the blog as this is quickly becoming the theme of the day, it almost always comes down to the old saying. Basically what it means is you have the thing, the person or whatever the subject is that you know in one hand and you have the person, thing or subject that you don't know in the other hand. Decisions, decisions. Do you stick it out with your old car that you know is reliable but will need a new this or a new that in the pretty near future, do you buy a used car that you have no idea about despite a Carfax or do you really go out on a limb and make a major purchase of a new car?

It's the same thing and basic premise in MLB. Do you stick with the guy you have, do you trade for another piece or do you go all in on the free agent market? Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks how they feel about this devil you know thing and ask them how they feel about the Zack Greinke signing to date. For that amount of money they could have signed three solid starting pitchers or kept this guy or that guy and got the same amount of production or more. You just never know but in order to succeed and get what you want out of this game, and out of this life, you have to take risks.

The normal routine doesn't always have to be normal and the new normal doesn't always have to be normal either. It's time to take risks, even if the risks aren't really risks at all, and go with the devil you don't know. You know why? Because the devil I know is a true bitch and the devil I don't is not. I hate to oversimplify such a rash and huge decision but the world is sometimes that simple if you let it be. So take a chance, go for the unknown and live a little. You just may be making the best decision you ever made in your 31-years on this Earth.

Enjoy the day everyone and Happy Friday. Also, don't forget to visit the pizza pleasure room and tell them Dan sent you.

Is it so if they say it is so?…

Yesterday, our fearless leader, Daniel Burch, posted the Las Vegas odds for the American League East and those odds are fairly representative of most predictions.  All of  the predictions that I have read show the Boston Red Sox perched atop the standings, closely followed by the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles are usually somewhere in the middle of the pack, and the Tampa Bay Rays bring up the rear.

The Bleacher Report has the 2017 standings as follows:
  1. Boston Red Sox (97-65)
  2. Toronto Blue Jays  (86-76)
  3. Baltimore Orioles (83-79)
  4. New York Yankees (81-81)
  5. Tampa Bay Rays (70-92)
While I do not feel the Yankees will win the AL East this season, I think they’ll perform better than .500 baseball.  Maybe not by much but they’ll have more wins than losses by the end of the year.  The above prediction assumes the Yankees will regress from last year, whereas I think a full season of youth and rejuvenation will help the team at least match last year’s record if not better.

I’d love to be a Yankee Homer and say the team will win 103 games and take the Division, League and World Series.  But realistically, we’re not quite there yet.  Soon, young Grasshopper…

There has been a potential monkey wrench thrown into Boston’s march to a World Series victory.*  Lefty David Price, the #2 starter in the Red Sox rotation will seek a second opinion today regarding pain in his elbow.  While Price allegedly believes the injury is not serious, the potential for possible Tommy John surgery exists.  I do not wish Price ill will, and actually hope that he does receive the best possible medical decision to allow him to pitch this year.  I’ve always believed that to be the best, you have to beat the best.  

Still, if worst case scenario plays out, the Red Sox rotation looks substantially different without Price.  As it stands, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Wright are fighting for two spots in the rotation.  If Price is out, all three will make the rotation, joining Chris Sale and Cy Young Winner Rick Porcello.  Pomeranz, Rodriguez, and Wright are good pitchers but they are not David Price.  While Porcello may have turned the corner last year, I remain skeptical and feel that he may return to being the pitcher he was before last season.

This is another example of how unpredictable pitchers can be and more reason why the Yankees should not trade a boatload of top prospects for a #3 or better pitcher until they are truly ready for World Series contention.

Again, I hope David Price does not get bad news later today.  I hope it’s something that is resolvable with some rest and treatment and that he is on the mound when the Yankees travel to Fenway Park in late April.

I am sorry that this post contains so many Red Sox references, but it’s hard not to keep an eye on one’s primary rival.  Yesterday, I saw that Boston renewed star outfielder Mookie Betts’ contract at $950,000.  For Mookie’s part, he did say there is no animosity.  Yet, I thought it was interesting that the Red Sox and one of their best players could not come to any agreement.  Betts might be the second best player in the American League behind Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels (no offense, Jose Altuve).   However, Trout will be paid $18.3 million more than Betts this season.  Like Dellin Betances, it is just the way the system works and Betts will eventually get his money.  It should be noted that the Red Sox President Sam Kennedy did not hold a press conference after the contract renewal to make disparaging remarks about Betts and his agents.

Sorry, we now return you to Yankees programming…

The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles last night, 8-1.  Two young players stood out to me.  

Gleyber Torres singled in the fifth inning and advanced to third with heads-up base-running after a single by Aaron Hicks.  He subsequently scored on a single by Gary Sanchez.  

Billy McKinney has raised his stock this spring.  He homered in the seventh inning with one man on, and doubled in the eighth, driving in a run.  

The game also featured another long home run by Greg Bird and Matt Holliday’s first smash as a Yankee.  With the win, the Yankees improve their Spring Training record to 7-1.

I know that it is does not work this way, but I so hope that March success equals April success.  Since Mark “The April Iceman” Teixeira, a notoriously slow starter, is now retired, I am hoping the Baby Bombers are ready for a fast start out of the gate.

Who is Matt Wotherspoon again?…  ;)

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

*The World Series prediction provided courtesy of the Red Sox Nation.

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/3: Yankees & Adidas

On this day in 1997 the New York Yankees signed a 10 year contract with Adidas. The licensing agreement with the sportswear company, my favorite in case you were wondering, put Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at odds with the baseball establishment. We all know George was never scared to ruffle a feather or two.