Friday, July 7, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Milwaukee Brewers 7/6

The New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers are just about ready to kick off their three-game set this weekend in the Bronx. In the opener of the series the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face off with Junior Guerra for the Brewers. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along on the radio and in your cars by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

You want to win these games, and frankly the Yankees need to win these games, but I think it may be more important to get everyone rested up and keep everyone healthy going into the break. These three games are important but the entire second half may be more important if you ask me, or anyone else for that matter.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Go Yankees!!

Justin Verlander Will Likely Be Traded This Month…

Okay so maybe this is a bit of a reach here but I like to personally leave no stone unturned when it comes to the July 31st trading deadline so excuse me if I didn’t at least pay attention when I heard that the Detroit Tigers would all but trade Justin Verlander at this year’s deadline. The Yankees need pitching help, both in the rotation and in the bullpen, and while Verlander is not the Verlander that he once was you always wonder if a change of scenery is good for a veteran pitcher. That and I’d love to have Kate Upton back in the Bronx with a Yankees hat on, sue me. ---
Al Avila, the Detroit Tigers GM, has all but confirmed to the media and to Verlander that the team is going to trade him so let’s not focus on the “if,” let’s focus on what it would presumably cost for the rebuilding Tigers to part with Verlander and trade him to the Yankees. Also would Verlander be willing to waive his no-trade clause to pitch anywhere besides Detroit? 

When interviewed this week about the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause Verlander simply responded with a “wait and see.” That’s political correctness for “Yes, I would waive my NTC but the deal would have to make sense for me.” We have seen it too many times before, we know that “wait and see” means. Wait and see means he wants the team to approach him and look like the “bad guy” rather than saying “sure I’d waive it, get me the hell out of here and to a contender.” So in a nutshell, yes I think Verlander would waive his NTC to come to the Bronx. 

Like any trade it is going to come down to what the Tigers want in return from the Yankees. The Yankees and Tigers were frequent trade partners when Dave Dombrowski was their general manager so I’m sure there are scouts and personnel who are still friendly and familiar with Brian Cashman and company but I honestly and truly don’t know what the Tigers need and lack in their system. Would I give up Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier or any top-tiered prospects for Verlander? No. Would I give them Jorge Mateo and a few prospects that are far away from the Major Leagues but have upside? Sure, I would. That’s about as high as I would like to go though, personally. 

Verlander is 5-5 this season and is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians. Verlander himself credits the lack of a changeup for his struggles in 2016 and 2017 as he lost a feel for the pitch while working extensively on his slider last season. Verlander is said to be back working extensively on his changeup this season and feels as though this season would have gone much differently had he had that changeup in his back pocket in certain situations. Verlander is owed $56 million for the next two seasons and has a vesting option worth $22 million for the 2020 season if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young award voting though which may make him too expensive for the Yankees with their austerity budget that is coming. 

Would I make the trade? Yes, assuming the prospect price is low or reasonable. Would the Yankees make the trade though? With that kind of money on the books and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado on the horizon, probably not. Stay tuned to find out though. 

Matt Holliday and What Is the Epstein-Barr Virus?

The New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday has been out of the Yankees lineup since late June due to an illness that completed sapped the right-hander of his energy. In its wake were body aches and general fatigue and for what felt like the longest time neither the Yankees or Holliday had any idea what was going on. Finally Holliday and the team have some piece of mind at least knowing what is ailing Holliday, it is the Epstein-Barr virus. What is the Epstein-Barr Virus?

According to WebMD the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is “Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mononucleosis. You might know this disease better by its nickname, "mono." It's also called the "kissing disease" because of one way you can spread it to someone else. Even though Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) isn't a household name, you've probably been infected without knowing it. Lots of people carry the virus but don't get sick.”

So basically it seems as if Matt Holliday has mono. The Yankees will have to monitor the way he feels as he will feel fatigue for possibly months after having the virus but the good news is that the virus is treatable. The virus is beatable. Holliday will be fine and that’s great news for the Yankees because New York needs Holliday back now more than ever. At the time of Holliday being placed on the disabled list the right-handed DH was hitting .262 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI and had a .877 OPS in 68 games. Holliday was eligible to come off the disabled list yesterday and may join the team as soon as this weekend, although I would think the Yankees would be cautious and give him the All-Star break to rest and recover just to be sure.

Get well soon Matt and get your butt back on the field. We need you!

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Milwaukee Brewers 7/6

The final series before the All-Star break is always fun for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because we all know a break is coming, the Home Run Derby is on deck and the All-Star Game will be here before we know it next Tuesday on Fox. Or maybe because we see a lot of unconventional lineups and defensive moves as managers give their players their optimal rest for the second half push.  No matter which way you look at it these games tend to be pretty fun and this series between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers should be no exception. Imagine this, Eric Thames and Aaron Judge both launching bombs out of Yankee Stadium on a nice summer day. Now stop imagining this because it is about to become a reality here in just a few short hours. In the opener of the three-game set the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face off with Junior Guerra but let’s be real, all eyes will be on the opposing offenses and the launching pad that will be home plate inside Yankee Stadium.

Montgomery had a great month of June posting a perfect 4-0 record in five starts with a 2.59 ERA keeping the Yankees head above water for much of the month. Montgomery wasn’t sharp in his last start against the Houston Astros though allowing three runs in 5.1 innings of work. Montgomery will have to pitch much better to lead the Yankees to a victory tonight in the Bronx.

Guerra was not sharp in his last start either against the Miami Marlins giving up four runs in 4.0 innings of work in a 10-3 loss for Milwaukee. Guerra worried the Brewers in his last start as he saw his fastball velocity dip to below 90 MPH on average, although manager Craig Counsell did note that Guerra was working more on his offspeed pitches in the start.

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

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

To Buy or Not to Buy...

The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away.  At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we'll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers.  If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter.  However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the 'sell high' category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer.  If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right...we're stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner.  Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others.  There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  I don't think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667).  They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats.  Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts.  Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts.  Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they've been missing since Zack Greinke left.  As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill.  The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.  

Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me.  He'd easily fit into Bruce Bochy's lineup and give them the left-fielder that they've literally been waiting years for.  

I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season.  My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline.  But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we'll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared.  It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does.  Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced.  But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run.  The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East.  The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.

Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees' six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16.  The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best.  Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances.  Clearly, this group has the potential...and the proven be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for
The July schedule, simply put, is tough.  After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox.  It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th.  Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night.  The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today.  After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break.  The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano.  This year he'll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand.  Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M's, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks' heels.  July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers.  August doesn't get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap.  In other words, the schedule is a bitch.  

The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later.  They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners.  Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year's end will be a challenge.

I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.  

Will Today be a Holliday?...

All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today.  Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return.  Many people afflicted by EBV don't even know they have it since they do not feel sick.  I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday.  The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup.  Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team's biggest black hole.  I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.

Odds & Ends...

The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year.  Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room.  We'll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions.  In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz's former club, the Buffalo Bisons.  Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.

Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB.  It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption.  The one dude who I hope isn't outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter.  I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires.  Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.

Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder.  Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees.  Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.

Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline.  Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles).  But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx.  The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5'8" but he is one of the best arms in the AL East.  This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA.  He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings.  The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe. 

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius.  Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner.  I tried.  I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi.  There's no doubt he's an All-Star.  On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.  

Didi with his Mom
Have a great Friday!  Let's kick this weekend off right with a win!  Let's Go Yankees! 

Two Additional Arms Enter the Trade Rumor Spotlight

The Yankees are not entering the All-Star break the way the team had hoped after storming to the top of the American League East less than a month ago. The team is seemingly in a bit of a free fall after being ravished by injuries and as the temperature rises the team is cooling down overall. In the words of manager Joe Girardi “it’s not what you want” but there is hope for the Bronx Bombers and their fans. More prospects are on the way and the July 31st trading deadline is just around the corner so brace yourselves, reinforcements are coming. Here are two more arms for the Yankees to potentially look at during the trade deadline in 2017.

The Yankees bullpen is a mess right now and the need for another shutdown reliever has never been so obvious. While the Yankees have been great about developing power arms in their bullpen if the team wanted to look outside the organization they could look no further than Sean Doolittle of the Oakland Athletics. Doolittle is a 30-year old left-handed relief pitcher that has battled injuries over the past couple of years, which again is not what you want, but has looked healthy since coming off the disabled list on June 10. The price tag for Doolittle will presumably be down because of this although Doolittle is under team control for the 2018 season as well, so who knows what the Athletics will end up asking for him. I do know one thing, the A’s are in last place and they aren’t making the postseason thus making a 30-year old relief pitcher who has been the model of consistency over the past few seasons a valuable trade chip before the deadline. Doolittle won’t lead the Yankees to the World Series on his own but he almost has to be better than Tyler Clippard has been, right?

The Yankees may need a starting pitcher to go along with a bullpen acquisition if they want to make it to that World Series and while it’s nice to dream about acquiring Jose Quintana, Gerrit Cole or Johnny Cueto the truth of the matter is the team is not likely to part with the prospects to do so making arms such as Lance Lynn all that more attractive to the team. Lance Lynn is currently wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform in his age-30 season and while the Cardinals are in contention in the National League Central Division we have heard all season long about the plethora of pitching prospects they have ready to come through their system. Moving a 30-year old consistent arm like Lynn could clear the way for one of those prospects to make the big jump to the Major Leagues without too much pressure of a pennant race. Lynn would give the Yankees innings, let it be known that Lynn would be no more than a fourth-or-fifth starter in the Bronx, and could help give the bullpen a partial night off every fifth day. That’s valuable if the Yankees can get Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda right. 

So it Seems the Brightest Stars Flame Out First…. Or Do They?

You know what they say, the brightest starts seem to always be the ones that flame out first. Do they have to though? I bring this up because I read an article that basically asked the question of whether Major League Baseball jumped on the Yankees bandwagon a little too early and a little too fast. With the Yankees in a bit of a funk right now and with the team  falling further and further from first place I know that many are wondering if this star is about to flame out. It’s not, and it doesn’t have to.

What keeps a flame alive? Constant attention, constant hard word, constant reassurance and constant vows to keep the flame alive. Intentions are great but actions are better. This team is not about to flame out. This team will face defeat many times but it will not be defeated.

So this is a rally call. This star will never flame out. This star will continue to get better and better every day when no one thinks that it can. This star is going all the way and mornings like this morning and days like today will all be worth it in the end. We will all look back and smile as we reminisce and think that Daniel Burch kid knew what he was talking about after all.

Have a great Friday everyone and an even better weekend. Especially you, my star. Hey you. I love you. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 7/7: FDR Throws Out First Pitch

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a big baseball fan and even threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 1937 All Star Game becoming the first United States President to attend and All Star Game. The game was held at Washington's Griffith Stadium and FDR and fans were treated to the American League defeating the National League 8-3. The Yankees Lou Gehrig drove in four runs with a home run and a double in the game.