Friday, April 28, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 4/28

Game time in the Bronx as the New York Yankees head home to play host to the Baltimore Orioles in the first of a three-game set inside Yankee Stadium this weekend. In the opener the Yankees will send their veteran southpaw CC Sabathia to the mound to square off with the Orioles ace Kevin Gausman. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MASN and MLB TV. You can also follow along on the radio with WFAN’s John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

You can also follow along and interact with us all season long by giving our Twitter account @GreedyStripes a follow. We are inching towards 5,000 followers so tell you friends, share our account and let’s achieve this together! Go Yankees!

The Yankees Best for the Month of April

I think someone forgot to tell the New York Yankees players that they were supposed to have a down season this year and next before buying out the free agency market en route to a World Series victory in 2019. Whoops. The Yankees have been great thus far this season, yes I know it’s early, and that’s due in large part to a total team effort from the club. There were a few standouts that deserve some recognition though so here are a few of the Yankees best players from the month of April. If I omitted someone leave them and their case below in the comments section.

Many thought the season was over, at least temporarily, when Gary Sanchez went down but Austin Romine has really surprised a lot of people. Through his first 42 plate appearances this season Romine has posted a .840 OPS, which is up from his career .586 OPS in the Major Leagues, while calling great games behind the dish and flashing good defense and a strong throwing arm. He won’t win an MVP Award or anything like that but he has been severely underrated in the absence of Sanchez much like our next “best” from the month.

Ronald Torreyes is among the Yankees leaders in RBI this season. No that is not a typo and no Sheldon that is not sarcasm. Torreyes has always brought a solid defensive glove with him to the ballpark but the emergence of his bat, albeit in a small sample size, has kept the Yankees afloat while the Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has been injured. Welcome back Didi.

Aaron Hicks is really putting the pressure on the Yankees outfielders, specifically Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Judge has been brilliant thus far this season. The two Aaron’s are hitting the ball over the fence with a great consistency and they are both drawing walks at an elevated rate, although Hicks is walking a lot more than Judge is to be fair.

Luis Severino, who we already spoke about this morning so I won’t spend too much time here, has been great in his last three starts and has gotten better and better with every start this month. The more arm strength he build and the more confidence he gains the better he, and the Yankees, will be going forward.

The final “best” from the month of April is surprisingly Chase Headley. After going from Chase Headley to “Chase Headley Sucks” in 2016 the Yankees third baseman has seemingly turned around his Yankees tenure with a great month of April this season. Some have even called Headley the Yankees best player when you mix in his impressive plate appearances and strong defense although I think that may be a stretch. Either way you ride his success all the way to the Promised Land. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 4/28

The New York Yankees survived their trip to Fenway Park and looked pretty good doing it but nothing beats playing in front of the home crowd, something the Bronx Bombers will do tonight. The Yankees are back home inside Yankee Stadium to play host to the best team in the American League East and possibly the best team in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound looking to slow down this powerful offense while the Orioles will counter with their ace and Opening Day starter Kevin Gausman.

Sabathia lost some of his early season magic in his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates and will look to regain some of that back tonight in the Bronx against the O’s. In that start Sabathia allowed four runs on seven hits in just five innings pitched including a couple home runs. Pitchers have short memories though, they have to be in order to be successful, and Sabathia will show that temporary amnesia tonight in the Bronx. Bet.

Gausman has not looked comfortable or right all season long for the Orioles, a trend that we hope continues tonight in the Bronx. Gausman has just one quality start this season and is fresh off a struggle against the Boston Red Sox in his last start where he gave up four runs in the first inning.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman’s broadcast on WFAN.

Go Yankees!!

Peering Into My Crystal Ball

Writing this post has been unusual for me. The vast majority of the time I'm optimistic. Hell, I have defended some horrible players and moves over the years (for example, I didn't think bringing back Javier Vazquez was a bad thing, and I was a little off on that). But how can anybody look at this team and honestly believe they have the 5th best offense and pitching in MLB?

So I looked down the roster, particularly at the starters at each position, to try and predict the future. Here's what I found...

What will get better?

1. I believe Gary Sanchez will hit better than Austin Romine. And that's not to say Austin has been hitting poorly, either. Romine's batting line of .273/.327/.386 is about average for a catcher in the AL. However, Gary Sanchez is... well... Gary Sanchez. I don't have to explain to you guys why he should hit better than "average".

2. Greg Bird will not hit this poorly all season. That's not to say I believe Bird will hit like he did in Spring Training, but I certainly don't believe he's this bad. From what I've seen and read it's all a timing problem, which can be fixed. Will that happen in MLB or AAA? That I don't know. But I think we can expect more of a contribution from Yankee first baseman in the future.

What will stay the same?

1. While the individual batting stats may change a bit (he'll bat higher than .231, and his SLG should rise a bit too), Matt Holliday's overall production will likely be around the same. The main thing I'm seeing with him is that he's striking out more than he ever has, while walking a lot more than normal too. And at age 37, can we really expect better than an OPS+ of 119? I don't.

What will get worse?

"This is quite a long list."

1. Starlin Castro is not going to fight for a batting title. He's currently hitting .346, which is the 2nd best batting average in the American League. That's not to say Starlin will be flirting with the Mendoza line, but his home run rate is probably going to drop and he'll draw fewer walks.

2. The return of Didi Gregorius is not going to change a whole hell of a lot. Ronald Torreyes is currently batting .308, which is better than Didi has ever hit in a season. And while Ronald's OBP of .308 is kinda bad, Didi's OBP was actually lower last season and only 10 points higher than that the year before. Didi may hit a few more home runs than Torreyes would, but the overall production is unlikely to change much.

3. When was the last time Chase Headley had a batting average over .300? If you said "never" you're a winner! When was the last time Headley's OBP was .377 or higher? If you said "never" you win again! When was the last time Chase had a SLG... you get the picture. Chase Headley is not going to produce at the plate like he was so far this year.

4. Unlike Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury has seen similar success with the bat in his career. Unfortunately that success hasn't been seen since 2013. It would be nice if Ellsbury figured something out, especially since I don't see the Yankees getting rid of him before his contract is up, but after two straight poor seasons I'm not going to buy into what we've seen so far in 2017.

5. I love what Aaron Judge is doing this season, both with the bat and glove (that catch against the Red Sox the other night was great, if not scary). But nobody is going to convince me he'll finish this season with an OPS+ of 171. Such a season would have finished second to Mike Trout in 2016. But unlike with Ellsbury, I don't see Judge's overall production dropping that much. Probably just a few less home runs than he's on pace for is all.

6. Not a single Yankees pitcher, starter or reliever, currently has an ERA over 4.20. And that 4.20 belongs to Masahiro Tanaka, who is probably the only pitcher on the Yankees that will improve in that category. I'll just look at their pitchers in bullet points...

  • Despite him still being a little homer-prone, Luis Severino has pitched really well so far this season. But can he keep that walk rate lower, and strikeout rate higher, than he averaged in the minors? I'm not betting on it.
  • It's hard to judge CC Sabathia, seeing as how he's a different pitcher than he was just a couple of years ago. However, I believe his final ERA this season will be closer to 5.00 than it will be to 3.00 (he's currently at 2.70).
  • What Michael Pineda is currently doing is probably a little better than what he'll do from here on out this season. The fact of the matter is his floor is much lower, while he's likely already exceeded his ceiling.
  • Like with Judge, I've been enjoying what Jordan Montgomery has done this year. But he's also only thrown 16.2 innings in MLB, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. While his peripherals make sense based on what he did in the minors, I have a feeling that once opposing teams see him more things could change for the worse. 
  • The bullpen, particularly Bryan Mitchell, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren, are not going to continue getting the same results. Mitchell is going to give up more hits, Clippard's k-rate will slow down, and Warren will walk a few more guys while striking out less. I'm not saying it's going to get "bad", but the only guys in that bullpen that will finish with an ERA of  around 1.51 (our reliever's current ERA) are Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.

I'm going to urge you all to read this post again. Not because it's life-changing or amazing, but because it's one of the few times you're going to see me take a dump on the Yankees. Sorry if I'm raining on anyone's parade, but if this team actually contends for a playoff spot I'm going to be extremely surprised.

Oh, and also extremely happy.

"Go Yanks. Go Yanks! GO YANKS!"

Hopefully, The Weekend Won't Be For The Birds...

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Well, I should qualify that by saying I hope it is for the Bird (as in Greg)...just not for the Birds of Baltimore.  

The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the AL East front-running  Orioles.  The series begins tonight at 7:05 pm ET with CC Sabathia  (2-1, 2.70 ERA) scheduled to take the mound versus the O’s Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50 ERA).  In Gausman's last start on Sunday against the Red Sox, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning to Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez as the O's fell to Boston 6-2.  

The Yankees are playing much better than they did when the O’s took 2 of 3 earlier this month.  When the Yankees salvaged the final game of the series with a 7-3 victory on April 9th, it was the start of an eight-game winning streak.  They left Baltimore with a 2-4 record, and now stand at 13-7 as they prepare for the rematch.  The Yankees currently trail the Orioles by just one game.   

The X Factor is the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who returns tonight after missing the first 20 games of the season.  Didi performed his rehab assignment at High A Tampa, where he hit .290 with a homer and 13 ribbies.  Credit is owed to interim starting shortstop Ronald Torreyes.  My preference had been to promote prospect Tyler Wade as I didn’t feel Torreyes (or “Toe”) was up to the task.  He proved me wrr, wrrr...not exactly right.  The little guy came up big in clutch situations, and played admirably in the field.  Toe now moves to the critical super-sub role with the ability to cover for Gregorius, Starlin Castro or Chase Headley.  At this point, if you told me that he could play catcher too, I wouldn’t argue.  There’s a reason that Brian Cashman is paid to the general manager and Joe Girardi is paid to be the manager, while I write for free on this blog site.  

Now the question is what becomes of backup shortstop Pete Kozma.  Is he simply optioned to AAA (retaining his spot on the 40-man roster) or designated for assignment?  Personally, for me, the emergency backup shortstop is Wade so I’d shake Kozma’s hand for helping out and then hand him his walking papers.  

Catcher Gary Sanchez is also very close to returning.  He’ll begin his rehab assignment next Tuesday for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Like Torreyes, catcher Austin Romine has done a terrific job filling in for Sanchez.  Obviously, he’ll never be the bat nor the arm of Sanchez, but he held his own at the position.  

This has been a crazy year for guys going on the disabled list.  The San Francisco Giants losing ace Madison Bumgarner for two months due to a dirt bike accident is probably the craziest.  But it seems like no team has been immune from the DL plague.  Soon, the Yankees will be back at full strength for a team that is already playing better than expected.  There is reason for great optimism at 161st and River.  

The pitching match-ups for the rest of the weekend are:

Balt:  Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 5.95 ERA)   
NYY:  Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.86 ERA)    

Balt:  Wade Miley (1-1, 2.08 ERA)
NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 3.78 ERA)

I am very glad that we won’t be facing a Chris Sale-like pitcher in this series.  So far this season, the best pitcher for the Orioles has been Dylan Bundy.  The Yankees will miss Bundy (3-1, 1.65 ERA) this go-around.  You have to like the Yankees’ chances in this series, particularly considering they are at home.  Welcome back, Didi!  It will be great to see #18 on the field again.  


Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred disputed the reports that the group led by Yankees Legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had won the exclusive rights to purchase the Miami Marlins.  Per Manfred, there are still two groups involved in the running but that resolution should be reached within a matter of days.  So, hold your horses, Jeter may not be trading in his pinstripes just yet.  It would be cool if the Steinbrenner Family would sell Jeter part of the Yankees, but that’s not going to happen.  For Jeter’s sake, I hope his group’s bid is successful.  Ownership is his dream and the best case scenario without the Yankees in play is a National League club to avoid frequent competition.  

What did last night's game against the Boston Red Sox look like?...

What can you say about Masahiro Tanaka's masterful performance against the Red Sox?  It was an absolute masterpiece as Tanaka out-pitched Boston ace Chris Sale for the the 3-0 victory.  Tanaka went the distance, allowing only three hits and no walks, while striking out three.  It was Tanaka's best start of the year and one of his greatest in pinstripes.  Sale, who came into the game with a career 1.17 ERA against the Yankees, allowed three runs (two earned) in the loss for the Red Sox.  

For the majority of the game, the Yankees held a slim 1-0 lead, thanks to a sac fly by Matt Holliday in the fourth inning.  Finally, they knocked Sale out of the game in the ninth inning after he allowed singles to the first three batters, including a run-scoring hit by Holliday to pick up his second RBI of the game.  Reliever Heath Embree gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (Starlin Castro), scoring Chase Headley, with the run charged to Sale.    

Chris Carter, carrying the rep of a one-dimensional home run hitter, played very solid defense at first base even if he couldn't get his bat going against Sale.  

This was one of the more enjoyable victories over the Red Sox in recent memory.  Hats off to Tanaka, and congratulations to the team for the two-game sweep.  

Have a wonderful Friday!  It's time to cook some Birds!  

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda & Eric Thames

So let’s play a game that has no winners, no rules and the point of it all is really just an exercise in nothingness. Let’s play the “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda” game with the lefty swinging and home run smashing Milwaukee Brewers player Eric Thames and let’s just salivate at the thought of the possibility, and almost the reality, of him being in Yankees pinstripes this season rather than in Milwaukee.

The Yankees needed a designated hitter last season after essentially forcing Alex Rodriguez into retirement and the team went all the way to Korea to try and find it. The Yankees organization contacted Thames and his agent last season about a possible deal to bring him to the Bronx and back to the states but apparently the financial numbers didn’t match up and Thames stayed where he was. Man would Thames look good in pinstripes right now.

At the time of this writing the New York Post had Thames on pace to hit 81 home runs in 2017. I’ll give you a second to let that sink in. 81 home runs. Now obviously I doubt he is going to keep up with this torrid pace and I absolutely cannot see him even seeing enough to hit to achieve that number even if he wanted to but still…. 81 home runs. 81 home runs in Milwaukee is probably like 145 home runs, a slight exaggeration, for a left-handed hitter inside Yankee Stadium. Barry Bonds who?? Okay, I’ll stop.

Thames stepped into Milwaukee’s lineup to replace Chris Carter who the Yankees signed to a one-year deal this offseason and has done nothing but set the world on fire since arriving. Carter was an absolute steal as far as his salary goes but Thames may be the bigger catch when all is said and done after signing a three-year deal with Milwaukee for just $16 million. That’s before you even mention the one-year deal and $13 million that the Yankees gave Matt Holliday this season as well. Both Carter and Holliday have begun their 217 campaigns sluggishly while Thames has absolutely taken off which begs the question… could you image the Yankees lineup right now with Thames in the middle of it? Could you imagine a lineup with Thames, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez? Ladies and gentleman that’s a little thing I like to call “Game Over.”

Looking back now the Yankees certainly “shoulda” and I certainly wish they “woulda” because we all know that the financial reasons for not signing him are all bogus because we all know that they “coulda.” 

So it Seems Luis Severino is For Real

You know I don’t want to be that guy, although I reserve the right to be that guy, but I purposely “favorited” all those numerous tweets on Twitter about how the Yankees should give up on Luis Severino and either trade him or banish him to the bullpen for forever so I could find them easily if and when I needed them. Well ladies and gentleman it is getting close to needing them, isn’t it?

After Severino completely shut down the Boston Red Sox offense for seven innings in his last start and after notching his first win in over a year three starts ago it seems like Severino may finally be for real again. In between his two starts was a great start for the Yankees wedged in between that he pitched well enough to win but didn’t, FYI, so the sample size is growing and so is my love for the guy.

Severino may have his faults and he may never live up to the Pedro Martinez in his prime comparisons but the righty is continuing to prove that he is far too talented and has far too much upside to simply give up on him or banish him to the bullpen at this stage in his career. So stop doing it and if you have in the past stop praising the guy now, you made your choice. I kid, a little bit anyway.

Have a great Friday everyone. TGIF, we made it. Hey you J

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/28: Yogi Berra Fired, Billy Martin Hired (Again)

On this day in 1985 Yogi Berra was fired as manager of the New York Yankees after starting the season 6-10. Billy Martin is hired to replace Berra who would be managing the Yankees for his fourth time. Berra vows to never return to Yankee Stadium for as long as George Steinbrenner is the owner of the team and he didn't for 14 years. Eventually Berra and Steinbrenner reconciled and Berra is now a mainstay at Yankee Stadium and in spring training camps.