Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 6/6

After a couple days off here on the blog and then an off day for the Yankees on Monday we are all back and all ready for a big series with the Boston Red Sox to kick off the week. In tonight’s contest, the first of a three-game set, the New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium will play host to the Boston Red Sox in what is shaping up to be a huge rivalry series. In the opener the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound, Happy Tanaka Day ladies and gentleman, while the Red Sox will counter with Drew Pomeranz. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along on the radio and in your cars by tuning into the WFAN broadcast.

Follow us on Twitter by giving @GreedyStripes a follow. Game time. Go Yankees!

Quick Hit: Yankees Need a 3B & They Are Looking Too

The New York Yankees were setting the world on fire to begin the 2017 season and part of that was due to the fact that third baseman Chase Headley was having a great season. This is why I stress the importance of sample size when talking about players because two months later, to quote myself many times, Chase Headley sucks! If the Yankees plan on competing this season, and all signs point to them wanting to compete this season, they will need a third baseman and it seems that the team is already in search of one according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Headley is under contract this season and next for $13 million each before hitting free agency but his production is not matching his contract at this point through the season. This is leaving the Yankees in a tough spot of whether to acquire a third baseman thus allocating Headley to the bench or to try and trade Headley and presumably eating a ton of his contract anyway in the deal. Any trade involving Headley likely won’t fetch a replacement third baseman which would leave the Yankees needing to make another move involving prospects. The good news for New York is there is seemingly a ton of third base talent available right now on the market.

Todd Frazier of the Chicago White Sox, Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals, Yangervis Solarte of the San Diego Padres, Trevor Plouffe of the Oakland Athletics and even Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays could be made available in trades this summer although the Blue Jays would be unlikely to trade Donaldson to anyone within the division, especially the Yankees.

What any of these players could fetch in return in terms of prospects is anyone’s guess but let’s be real here. The Yankees have the prospects to fetch any of these players and then some if they so choose so it will be really interesting to see how they handle the whole Chase Headley situation come next month. Or sooner…. Stay tuned. 

Want to Save Money? Extend These Players Now!

The New York Yankees have made it no secret that they wish to get under the luxury tax threshold sooner rather than later. In today’s game of inflated salaries, specialists and 40 man rosters the only way a team is going to do that is if they have young and controllable players at their disposal, something the Yankees seem to be swimming in at this point and time. If you’re unfamiliar with the way the whole arbitration process and free agency goes the team basically gets the player for their first two years of service at the league minimum before the arbitration process begins. If the team and player cannot reach an agreement on a salary for that season it goes before an arbitrator, see the Dellin Betances mess from this past offseason, and the salary is agreed upon that way. We have seen many teams skip the arbitration process entirely by extending their young players early thus buying out their arbitration years and maybe a year or two of free agency thus giving the teams some certainty going forward while the player has some guarantee and security. If the Yankees want to save money and get under the luxury tax threshold they may want to look at extending one or all of these players now before they get too expensive to.  

The players that the Yankees should look at extending are clearly obvious but I will lay them out here regardless.  Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and even Greg Bird despite his injury history should at least be discussed when thinking about which players to extend sooner rather than later. All of these players are either at or below one full year of MLB service time yet their WAR’s suggest that the sky is the limit for each of them.  

Why extend them now? Extending players now can save the Yankees a ton of money in the long run as contracts continue to climb in terms of value. Look at recent examples like Joey Votto, Dallas Keuchel and others for an instance of teams that waited too long to extend players. The players got all the bargaining power and all the bargaining chips and signed to either huge deals or got huge amounts of money through the arbitration process. Even Dellin Betances, although I find him to be severely underpaid personally, got a $2.5 million raise this year through arbitration when he should have, again in my opinion, been extended by now. 

Sign these players to deals worth six-or-seven years to buy out their arbitration and maybe a year-or-two of free agency and roll the dice. It may be a gamble worth taking. The Yankees don’t necessarily have to do this this year either, they could try and get under the luxury tax threshold first and then sign these players but they run the risk of these players no longer being cheap and earning huge contracts. The safe bet is to sign them now in my opinion, especially before Aaron Judge attends an All-Star Game and potentially wins a Rookie of the Year and/or MVP award in 2016. 

Also, in closing, I will say that I may have over-simplified the explanation of the arbitration process and free agency. It gets more complicated than the Readers Digest version I laid out. You have Super Two status players and you can manipulate service time by keeping players down in the Minor Leagues and all that but that was more or less not the point of the post. The point of the post was extending players now before it doesn’t make sense for the players to sign these potentially team-friendly deals. Keep that in mind before spamming me with hate emails and tweets. Thanks in advance. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 6/6

The New York Yankees are fresh off an off-day and ready to fly back to the Bronx to square off with the Boston Red Sox. Many around the Yankees blogosphere and the internet are calling this a pretty big series for these two teams, well as big as they can be for the beginning of June, as these two teams look to be in a battle for the American League East Division. In the first matchup of the three-game series the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka, Happy Tanaka Day Yankees family, to the mound to square off with Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz. Rivalry renewed!

Tanaka was not good once again in his last start with the Baltimore Orioles allowing seven runs and nine hits in just 5.2 innings pitched. Something is wrong with Masahiro Tanaka and nobody knows what it is which is the scariest part. In Tanaka’s last four starts the Yankees ace has taken the loss posting an 11.21 ERA along the way. Tanaka did pitch a complete game shutout in his last start against Boston though on April 27 so there is always that little saving grace.

Pomeranz on the other hand is coming off one of his best starts of the season last time out against the Chicago White Sox. In the seven inning start Pomeranz allowed just one run while striking out eight batters. Pomeranz has had his struggles against the Yankees though taking no-decisions in all three of his starts against New York in 2016 while posting a 3.38 ERA.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN.

Enjoy the game and as always… Go Yankees!

Beat the Best to be the Best...

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
The Rivalry...

The Yankees and the Red Sox rekindle Baseball’s best rivalry tonight.  The Yankees begin play two games ahead of the Red Sox in the division standings.  Boston, the pre-season favorite to the win the AL East, has slowly been moving up the standings.  They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have won two in a row.

The Red Sox are currently without the services of the gutsy Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia is on the DL with a left wrist sprain.  He is not eligible to be activated until Friday.  Boston is also without starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez as he went on the DL over the weekend with right knee subluxation (partial dislocation).  

The Yankees will miss Chris Sale, who was the starter on Sunday in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, this series. Boston’s talented young left-fielder Andrew Benintendi is starting to heat up.  He had two home runs on Sunday to back Sale.  He is currently batting .269/.342/.413 and has 7 HR and 30 RBI.  He is second on the team with 8 stolen bases.

Credit:  David Goldman-Associated Press
Jackie Bradley, Jr, after a horrific start is also coming around.  Batting .269 with 7 HR and 24 RBI, he has a home run and 6 RBI's in the last four games (5-for-13).

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend, it’s one big series after another right now.  If the Yankees intend to be players in the AL East for the long haul this season, they need to make a statement.  Since they’ve begun this rugged 13 consecutive game stretch against AL East opponents, the Yankees are 3-4.  With the next 6 games at home against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Yankees can help themselves…or not.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups for the Red Sox series are:

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 4.24 ERA)
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA)

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (3-7, 4.24 ERA)
Yankees:  CC Sabathia (6-2, 4.12 ERA)

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-3, 3.76 ERA)

Better to Rent or to Buy...

The arguments have been made for why the Yankees should stick to plan and forego any expensive rentals for the mid-summer.  I get the logic.  Does it make sense to part with Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier, or Jorge Mateo to bring someone in for a few months when the youngsters can be part of the impending "dynasty"?  

Yet, when you hear Yankees General Partner/Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner make comments like, "Oh yeah.  We're greedy.  We want to win this year.", you know that it's possible common sense may take a backseat.  

Speculation is starting to run rampant with third base possibilities. I've seen a few articles centered on Todd Frazer as a potential trade target.  His pic with Derek Jeter as a child is a nice story but it doesn't mean I want the guy on my team.  Frazier had 40 home runs last year, but he only batted .225/.302/.464.  He has gotten off to a much worst start this year with only 8 homers, 25 RBI's and a line of .195/.306/.396.  The 31-year-old probably represents a buy low candidate but I am not enthused.  He is making $12 million this year and will be a free agent after the season is over.  I've already jettisoned Frazier from a couple of fantasy baseball teams.  If the Yankees could acquire for some names that I've never heard of and will never hear again, I could probably buy into giving it a try.  Otherwise, I don't want to lose good prospects for a guy who is flirting with the Mendoza line (and on the wrong side to boot).  

If the Yankees have to make a move, I'd probably be more in favor of Mike Moustakas.  Also  a free agent at the end of the year, Moustakas is making $8.7 million this year with better numbers.  He has 14 home runs and 29 RBI's and is batting .255/.295/.510.  Both Moustakas and Frazier had fielding percentages of .947 entering play yesterday.  Moustakas is younger...he'll be 29 in September. 

It all boils down to cost.  How much?  If the Yankees can make moves to improve the team without sacrificing key talent, they should do it.  If not, stand pat.  The great thing about a top farm system is redundancy at certain positions.  Thairo Estrada is doing a great job at AA-Trenton but he plays second base/shortstop.  It is a position of strength for the Yankees with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo and others.  If trades could create opportunity for redundant players blocked in the system, I am not opposed to their inclusion in potential roster-enhancing moves.  

This is a tough call.  I recognize that the Yankees are building for something greater but I also know that when you have your opportunities for October baseball, you make the most of it.  There does need to be a good short-term plan with long-term vision.  If you get a ticket to the dance, you never know what can happen.  

Odds & Ends...

Because of Sunday's rainout, Chance Adams scheduled start for AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was pushed from Monday to today.  Bryan Mitchell, Sunday's scheduled starter, took the mound on Monday night in the RailRiders' 6-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  He didn't figure in the decision as he only lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs.  Domingo German, pitching in relief for the first time since 2012, gave a start-like relief performance in picking up the win.  German limited the Red Wings to 5 hits and 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out 7.  Ben Heller picked up his first save.

The RailRiders victory featured the first home run, a three-run shot, by super prospect Gleyber Torres.  Torres was 3-for-3 with a walk, and he drove in 4 RBI's.  

Tyler Austin completed his rehab assignment and was re-assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  It's just a matter of time before Austin gets the call for the short trip to NYC.  Rob Refsnyder offers better versatility with his ability to play second and third, in addition to first base and the outfield.  But at some point, his bat needs to start producing.  If not, the Yanks are better served by first baseman/OF Austin.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully we'll see the "good" Tanaka later today.  Go Yanks!

Could it be a Good Thing That Tanaka is Struggling in 2017?

The New York Yankees have a few major decisions coming their way after this season but no decision could be bigger than the decision that they don’t really have a say in. Masahiro Tanaka has an opt-out clause written into his contract that could allow the right-hander to walk away from his current Yankees contract and would allow him to test true free agency for the first time in his MLB career. The Yankees also have Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia reaching free agency after the season meaning that Tanaka’s decision could be huge for the Yankees next season, either way. With that in mind could it be a good thing that Tanaka is coming out of the gates and struggling so bad in 2017?

Think of it this way… the opt out clause is only there to help the player, not the team. It is the player that benefits from opting out and potentially getting more money for longer years if he is performing well at the time of the opt-out, not the team. If the player is underperforming then the team is basically stuck with the player because no player is going to opt out of a deal after a down season, it doesn’t make dollars and it doesn’t make sense. This is usually a no-win situation for the team but I truly think this could be a winning situation for the Yankees.

Tanaka was absolutely lights out this spring training and was dominating the world but once the games starting meaning something he has seemingly struggled throughout. Why is that? Most have discussed his increase in velocity and arm strength that has messed with his mechanics and honestly that argument holds water. Tanaka has been overthrowing and leaving pitches up and in the zone so it is only a matter of time before he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild figures it out. Tanaka is young, seemingly healthy by all accounts and has a track record that shows he will put it all together eventually. This could be great for the Yankees if Tanaka stays beyond the 2017 season because an uptick in velocity and arm strength, both signs that he is healthy and not necessarily signs of his elbow about to blow out like some have said, keep him back a bit.

I am thinking long term here. If Tanaka can struggle a bit for the first place Yankees in 2017 and stay beyond 2017 I have to call that a win-win situation for New York so by all means Mr. Tanaka, continue to struggle. See you in 2018.

So it Seems… So Far So Good

One Day down in the new job and they haven’t fired me yet. So far so good! This job is just so tedious and one extra zero or one few digit and I can shut us down for months at a time. It is stressful and will be until I get it down but the important thing is that I will get it down. I will. I have to. I have to keep the lights on, I have a beautiful wife that I have to take to the movies and to dinner for her birthday next weekend. I have to do it, period.

So that’s where I am at. I hope you all had a great weekend and a great week. Especially you. Hey you. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 6/6: Welcome Back, Ichiro!

On this day in 2013 the Seattle Mariners welcomed back Ichiro Suzuki to Safeco Field for the first time this year since being traded to the New York Yankees at the end of the 2012 season. Ichiro was traded in 2012 while the Yankees were in Seattle but no festivities could be planned with that little notice. Ichiro had a .322 average in 12 seasons as a member of the Mariners.

Also on this day in 1999 Derek Jeter's streak of reaching base safely in 54 consecutive games comes to an end against the New York Mets. The Mets would win the game 7-2 in Yankee Stadium and keep Jeter off the base paths with no walks or hits. This game would also end the streak of 20 consecutive wins, an American League record, for Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens.

Also on this day in 1990 Stump Merrill replaced Bucky Dent as the manager of the New York Yankees. Merrill spent two years in the Yankees dugout and compiled a 120-155 record before being fired after the 1991 season and replaced by Buck Showalter.

Also on this day in 1971 the New York Yankees fans broke Yankee Stadium during a rally against the Kansas City Royals, literally. The Yankees hosted Bat Day on this day and every child received a youth sized Bobby Murder wooden Louisville Slugger replica bat. All the fans began banging their bats in unison during a 5-2 Yankees victory and caused pieces of concrete to fall into the lower levels of the stadium.

Also on this day in 1934 Myril Hoag became the first New York Yankee in franchise history to have six hits in one game. Hoag also set a major league record with all six hits being singles in the same game. The Yankees would rout the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on this day 15-3.

Finally on this day in 1913 the New York Yankees lose at the Polo Grounds 2-1 for their 13th consecutive game without a victory. The Yankees have 12 losses and a 3-3 tie with the Boston Red Sox in the last two weeks of baseball. The Yankees set a franchise worst record of 9-34 to start the season.