Friday, March 10, 2017

Didi Gregorius, Team Israel and WBC Updates on WBC Day for Team USA

The World Baseball Classic is in full swing for many countries and teams but today is the day that Tea, USA begins their push towards their first WBC Championship with a first round matchup with Team Columbia (which I believe is already under way but don’t quote me on that). With Team USA’s pursuit of the WBC crown finally underway I wanted to take a look around the WBC and see what feel-good stories and Yankees related material I could find to bring to the blog this afternoon and I found a couple key notes regarding Team Netherlands and Team Israel.

Team Netherlands and Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius improved to 2-0 in Pool A and advanced to the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Team Israel, which seem to be the feel-good story of the World Baseball Classic thus far, are also 2-0. Both teams are headed to Tokyo for second round play while South Korea and Taiwan will not. Didi is Team Netherlands designated hitter currently, thank goodness, and contributed to his team advancing with three doubles including the game-tying RBI hit in the eighth inning for his third run batted in for the contest.

There’s plenty more of WBC Baseball to go, plenty of opportunity for some feel-good news and plenty of time for the New York Yankees players to represent their respective countries on the biggest stage possible.

In the Latest “Who Gives A F--- But It’s Still News for Whatever Reason” Segment

In my last post I had made a small comment about journalism. I didn’t get into much detail because I feel like I’ve said this a million times but for the million and first time here it is again. I hate journalism as a whole and journalism is pretty much why I began writing as much, on the scale and as passionately as I do. Journalism downright pisses me off because journalist will take anything and turn it into this full blown story and for one reason and one reason only. Money. Clicks on their websites, to keep their posh jobs at the New York Post and steal information from lower blog sites who report deals first only to pass it on as their own and then in turn block you when you ask (not demand) for some recognition, to sell newspapers or whatever the case may be. It’s the same recycled horse crap over and over again with a few words changed here or this stated a different way there and it’s annoying. It’s time to stop. Hence why we do what we do here on The Greedy Pinstripes but every once in a while I just get aggravated at the constant reminders of why I am here speaking to you today.

Example. Apparently former Yankees DH and third baseman Alex Rodriguez is dating television star and musician Jennifer Lopez. Last I checked, and when I say checked I mean I turned on the radio and the DJ was dishing about the latest celebrity gossip and I listened as I looked for music on my phone to listen to, Lopez was dating fellow musician Drake but I guess these things never last. Anyway, the couple are reportedly “excited” and “happy” about being together and seem to be “into each other” despite only being together “for a few weeks.” My thoughts…. Who cares? Let people be happy and leave them alone. If they want to be together, let them. This life is too short to not find your own happiness.

People over money people. Irresponsible journalism sucks and in the words of our President Donald Trump it makes you “fake news.” So just stop it. 

The Jose Quintana Rumor That Just Won’t Die

This whole “Chicago White Sox are going to trade Jose Quintana this offseason” rumor just won’t die, will it? The New York Yankees have been one of the more active and aggressive teams in the pursuit of Quintana this offseason and have even got to the point in the negotiations where players names were exchanged. The Yankees reportedly declined the offer but that hasn’t stopped the White Sox from being at basically every single Yankees exhibition game this spring training.

The Yankees have already stated that they wouldn’t trade Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield or Aaron Judge this offseason which led Chicago to ask the Yankees for Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo and Clint Frazier in a potential Quintana trade. FYI I’d still make that trade every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I see the appeal in Quintana where others may not. Quintana is under team control with club options through the 2020 season for a very reasonable price tag of $10.5 million in each of 2019 and 2020. Quintana also makes just $14.35 million combined for 2017 and 2018 meaning that he would fit into the Yankees austerity plans as they try to get under the luxury tax threshold before 2019. Now some scoff at the idea of giving up Luis Severino for Quintana because of his youth and team control but one must remember that, according to Baseball Reference, Severino is set to hit free agency just a few seasons after Quintana after going through the arbitration process. It’s the 24-year old devil you know (but not really) vs. the 28-year old devil you don’t know but know can handle the pressure of pitching at the Major League level.

So the Yankees and White Sox continue to talk and Chicago continues to scout New York’s top prospects. Nothing new to report yet I see this report all over the web once again this morning and throughout most of yesterday. Because journalism. I guess anyway. Carry on, nothing to see here. Either way I’d still like to see the deal get done so I bring you this “update” for your reading pleasure. Enjoy. 

Predicting the First Wave of Yankees Spring Training Cuts

Spring Training is a fun time to be a fan of Major League Baseball and it’s especially a good time to be a young player trying to make your way on the path to the show. Unfortunately though teams invite sometimes triple the number of players that they can actually bring with them to Opening Day which means spring training cuts are one of those things that just have to happen. Here are a few predictions for those first waves of spring training cuts. Spoiler alert, most of these are pretty obvious and can only benefit the player from getting a more formal and personal set of work down in the Minor Leagues as they continue their development.

The Yankees invited a ton of their top prospects to camp like many teams do around this time of the year but none of them had a realistic shot at actually making the team. They knew it and the team knew it. These players will benefit from having more one-on-one time and personal time down in minor league spring training camps than being up at the Major League level so I fully expect Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian to be among the first cuts for the team. That’s not a knock on them as much as it will help them in the long run. They had their cup of coffee, they got their advice and their seasoning and now it’s time to go back down and begin the work and the grind that is the 2017 season.

Another group of players were invited just for the Yankees to have bodies for split-squad games and while players like Didi Gregorius, Tyler Clippard and others were away at the World Baseball Classic. Some had 40 man roster spots and some didn’t, and yes I am aware that everyone on the 40 man roster gets an automatic invite, but the list of players that will be “expendable” and have no shot at making the team once the WBC players return will likely include outfielder Billy McKinney, RHP Yefrey Ramirez, RHP Ronald Herrera and LHP Evan Rutckyj. Jordan Montgomery will live to see another day!

With less pitchers in camp you always see the need of having six-or-seven catchers in camp go down significantly as well so the final group of cuts will likely be from the backstop position. Kyle Higashioka, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will remain of course but it wouldn’t surprise me to see three or all four of Francisco Diaz, Kellin Deglan, Wilkin Castillo and Jorge Saez get sent down to minor league camps with the first waves of cuts. 

Ellsbury should be in a Fowler mood…

Credit:  Getty Images

Dustin Fowler continues to open eyes in Yankees training camp.  As a center fielder, he looms as a potential successor for the King of the DL, Jacoby Ellsbury.

Fowler is currently ranked as the #9 prospect on's list of Top 30 Yankees Prospects.

It's almost been a given that shortstop Jorge Mateo will eventually be moved to center field to make way for the superior play and leadership of top prospect Gleyber Torres.  Yet, here is Fowler saying "Whoa, wait a minute!".

We hear so much about the prospects acquired by the Yankees last summer which elevated the organization to the best or second best farm system depending upon whom you ask.  The homegrown Yankees seem to get lost in the shuffle. I've quietly heard Fowler's name for several years.  He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2013 Draft.  The Yankees paid him $278,000 to forego his letter of intent for Georgia Southern University.

Fowler opened eyes last year at AA Trenton with 12 HR, 88 RBI, and .281 BA.  He also stole 25 bags.  A lefty, the 22-year-old Georgia native is viewed as a potential 5-tool player if his power continues to develop.  It would make more sense to keep Fowler in center than to move Mateo there unless one of the two is moved in a potential trade.

Fowler is an interesting player.  He has improved each year and is pushing his potential much higher than an 18th round pick.  Kudos to the Yankees scouts who discovered him.  High school kids are incredibly hard to forecast.  But here's a kid that has already exceeded expectations.

It's very possible that Fowler could be the player the Yankees were seeking when they invested 7 years and $153 million in DL's-bury.  I don't think Ellsbury will make it to the end of his contract with the Yankees (I know, a statement of the obvious).  The question is when and how much will it cost the team to unload the disappointment.

Fowler leads me to envision this possible future lineup:

C-Gary Sanchez
1B-Greg Bird
2B-Jorge Mateo
SS-Gleyber Torres
3B-Miguel Andujar
RF-Aaron Judge
CF-Dustin Fowler
LF-Clint Frazier
DH-Tyler Austin

This lineup may never materialize but it looks good on paper, in my opinion.  Most likely, Didi Gregorius stays at short, Torres is moved to second, and Starlin Castro goes to third.  Another speculated path would put Bryce Harper in the outfield and/or Manny Machado at third.  Regardless of what happens, Fowler (at some point in the future) looks excellent in center regardless of who surrounds him.

So, here's hoping Fowler's journey leads him to the vast area in center at Yankee Stadium.  And Jacoby Ellsbury?  Don't let the door hit you on the way out…

Former Yankees pitcher Caleb Cotham has retired.  He was part of the package that went to the Cincinnati Reds in the trade for Aroldis Chapman.  He had been part of the Yankees bullpen in 2015 before the trade after a very productive year in the minors.  Only 29, he posted on Tweeter that he is “no longer willing to pay the emotional/physical price to rehab/play at the highest level”.  After being removed from the Reds’ 40-man roster last fall, he had recently signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners.  I wish him the very best with his post-playing career.

Naturally, on a day I chose to pick on Jacoby Ellsbury, he hits like he is supposed to.  In yesterday’s spring game against Atlanta, Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with 2 stolen bases.  It’s just a facade.  He’ll trip and land on the DL tomorrow.  Fowler  also made a difference.  He walked in the 6th, after replacing Brett Gardner, with the bases loaded to force in a run.  He scored later in the 6-run 6th inning on a Clint Frazier groundout.  He also tripled in the 9th.  After jumping ahead 7-2, the Yankees held on to beat the Braves, 8-7.  

They move to 11-3 for the Spring.  

I know this is a Yankees blog but I have to run a little off-topic.  Okay, a lot off topic.  So if you are interested in Yankees talk only, please quit reading.

I am very excited about the upcoming Sons of Anarchy spinoff pilot called Mayans MC.  Developed by Kurt Sutter and Elgin James, Mayans MC occurs in the same universe or mythology as Sons of Anarchy but after Jax Teller's death.

The Mayans were originally adversaries and eventually allies for the Sons of Anarchy MC, Redwood Originals charter.  The Mayans (Oakland/Northern CA charter) were led by Marcus Alvarez (played by Emilio Rivera).  In the new story, Alvarez is the Founder and National President of the Mayans Motorcycle Club.  But the focus will be on the Santo Padre charter on the Mexi-Cali border.  The charter President is Esai "Taino" Osorio (John Ortiz), a cousin to Alvarez.

The protagonist is a young prospect named Ezekiel "EZ" Reyes (played by JD Pardo).  According to the press release, EZ is the gifted son of a proud Latino family, whose American Dream is snuffed out by Cartel violence.  Now, his need for vengeance drives him toward a life he never intended and can never escape.

Edward James Olmos plays EZ's father, Felipe, and Clayton Cardenas plays his brother Angel, a full patch member of the MC. 

Other cast members include Antonio Jaramillo as Michael "Riz" Ariza, Vice President of the Santo Padre charter, and Richard Cabral as Johnny "El Coco" Cruz, a full patch member.  The release for the Cruz character tells of an Army sharpshooter who once shot a cigar out of his Sergeant's mouth from a half mile away...while stoned.  Irish actress Sarah Bolger has joined the cast as the first female regular.  She’ll play Emily, the beautiful “guera” next door and childhood sweetheart of EZ. Per the release:  But when Romeo departed, this Juliet didn’t unsheathe the dagger, she traded it in for diamond studs and a mansion on the hill.  

Filming of the Pilot takes place this month in Los Angeles.  There is no word yet if FX Network will pick up Mayans MC for its fall lineup.  This is an exceptional cast with an incredible story to tell.  I am excited about the potential of the show and want to do my part to promote it.

Kurt Sutter is a genius with this genre as evidenced by Sons of Anarchy.  Charlie Hunnam might not be in this potential new series but I am sure JD Pardo and his new castmates will rise to the challenge.  

Have a great Friday!

So it Seems Batting .300 Is Still Great

If you guys and girls have been reading my morning little blogs I have here you would know that the past couple of days have been rough for me. Not that I want any sympathy as much as I just don’t like to hold things inside and I would rather get things off my chest. What better place to do that than here. Today is shaping up to be a fantastic day and yesterday was great, things are starting to get back to normal. My new normal, my happy normal and not my old normal.

Life is like Major League Baseball where a .300 average is still great. Only in baseball can you fail seven times out of ten and still be considered great. If you fail six times out of every ten attempts? You’re a God. No one has ever, albeit in a qualifying sample size of course, ever failed just half the time. This is a game of failure and yet you can still be great. Isn’t that like life?

No one is perfect and no one is going to make the right decisions, say the right thing or do the right thing all the time. Every mistake is a learning experience, every fight or tussle is a growing experience and every day no matter the circumstance can be a bonding experience if you make it so.

Life is what you make it. Don’t let life define you, you define your life. Find your happiness and kick some ass along the way if you have to. If you can anyway. Love often and don’t let anyone else tell you how to live your life because in the end those people won’t be there when you need them anyway for the most part. The people that will though, the people you truly know will, should be held to a higher standard. Take care of those people because they are few and far between unfortunately. That’s what makes them special though and worth the wait.

Happy Friday everyone and good morning. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/10: David Wells is Fined

On this day in 2003 the Yankees fined David Wells $100,000 for his comments in his autobiography that the club felt were detrimental to their image. But pitching a perfect game while still legally drunk is okay.

Also on this day in 1999 Yankees manager Joe Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer. While undergoing treatment Don Zimmer will manage the team temporarily.

Finally on this day in 1958 Steve Howe was born. Howe was a lefty relief pitcher for the Yankees from 1991 to 1996 but is probably more well known for his record seven drug related suspensions. How signed three free agent contracts with New York and saved 31 games during his Yankees career. How was killed in a car accident during the 2006 season.