Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds 7/25

The New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds are just about ready to kick off their quick two-game series here in the Bronx before the Yankees welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to town for a huge weekend series inside Yankee Stadium. In the first game of this quick interleague set the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to square off with the Reds starter Luis Castillo. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11 and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Follow us on Twitter as we begin our march toward 6K Twitter followers by giving @GreedyStripes a follow and enjoy the game tonight. Go Yankees!

ICYMH: Rob Refsnyder

The New York Yankees absolutely broke my heart over the weekend, and I am exaggerating a bit but if I am being completely honest I’m not exaggerating by that much, when the team traded utility player Robert Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays for a minor league first baseman. I think it is well documented and has been since the 2015 season that I feel very strongly about my fandom and draw towards Refsnyder and I truly believe that Refsnyder should have been the Yankees starting second baseman back during the 2015 season. Stephen Drew Sucks. I feel like Refsnyder was always given a raw deal by the Yankees and will always be given a raw deal by the Yankees so while I am heartbroken as a fan I am happy for Refsnyder and excited to see what he can become out in Toronto. In case you miss him though like I do here is a quick recap of Refsnyder’s tenure here in the Bronx. Enjoy.

The Yankees drafted Refsnyder in the fifth round, 187th overall, in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft as a second baseman despite the fact that Refsnyder was a corner outfielder at the University of Arizona. Refsnyder signed for a $205,900 signing bonus before being assigned to Low-A Charleston with the Charleston Riverdogs. Refsnyder flew through the organization reaching Triple-A by June of 2014 which is where he would stay for what felt like a long, long time. In Refsnyder’s first 19 games at Triple-A in 2014 the righty batted .371 with three home runs forcing the Yankees to allow him to play the outfield as well as second base as the team prepared to call him up to the Major League level. And then they didn’t.

Stephen Drew was absolutely horrible for the Yankees during his entire tenure yet the Yankees continued to let a red hot Refsnyder toil around in the minor leagues due to concerns with his defense. I truly believe there is such thing as backwards progression and I fully believe this is what went on with Refsnyder and the Yankees. Eventually you reach a point where you plateau both physically and developmentally and if you aren’t pushed to go further then you simply just don’t. This is what happened with Refsnyder until he eventually took a step back, then two steps back and then the team wondered why he struggled when he took his two at-bats once a month.

Refsnyder was the Yankees starting second baseman in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game against the Houston Astros which despite the team’s loss may have been the highlight of Refsnyder’s Yankees tenure. Refsnyder jumped back and forth between Triple-A and the Major Leagues in 2016 and thus far in 2017 before finally being designated for assignment and ultimately traded to the Toronto Blue Jays during the fallout of the David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle acquisitions from Chicago. 

I personally will miss you Ref and I hope nothing but the best for you during the rest of your playing career no matter what uniform you’re wearing. You’re always a Yankee in my eyes. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds 7/25

The New York Yankees are back from the west coast, back in the Bronx and ready to continue their climb back towards the top of the American League East Division. Standing in their way over the next two games will be the Cincinnati Reds who come into this final week before the July 31st trading deadline presumably as sellers and as a team that is looking to play spoiler any chance they can. That’s going to have to start on Friday though as the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound tonight looking to lock down the Reds offense. Meanwhile the Reds will send Luis Castillo to the mound looking for a victory for Cincinnati. Interleague play, let’s do it.

Montgomery heads into the start tonight fresh off his first loss since the month of May last time out against the Minnesota Twins. In the start Montgomery allowed six runs on seven hits in six innings of work dropping his season win/loss record to 4-2 and raising his ERA to 3.63 in 11 starts.

Castillo also took the loss in his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks allowing four runs on Thursday. Castillo was doomed from the start allowing three runs in the first inning before making an adjustment when he got back to the dugout before settling down.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11 and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. This time the pitchers don’t have to hit! Enjoy it and Go Yankees!

Back to Baseball in the Bronx...

Serious Competition for the Arms Race...

The sprint to the trading deadline begins in earnest this week as teams jockey for position over the next couple of months.  The trading deadline is Monday, July 31st at 4:00 pm Eastern.

I fully expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be major players.  Losing their ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball hurts.  It does not appear that the back injury that kept Clayton Kershaw out of action for two months last year is as bad this year, but he will miss time.  Current speculation is that he'll be out 4-6 weeks. The Los Angeles Times was already calling for Yu Darvish by Monday morning (or someone of similar ability...Sonny Gray?).  The Times used the analogy that the Chicago Cubs had to trade elite prospect Gleyber Torres last season to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago.  They go on to say that the Cubs would not have won the World Series if not for the trade, adding "it was a reminder that victory goes to the bold".  I think Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the Dodgers will be very bold in their attempt to bolster starting pitching, particularly considering that Brandon McCarthy has gone back on the DL too.

Credit:  Jon SooHoo
I do not want to give up any top prospects beyond the recent loss of outfielder Blake Rutherford.  This is tough because I would love to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray run out onto the field at Yankee Stadium wearing pinstripes.  But you can't make a deal like that without parting with top pitching talent, such as Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.  It would make more sense to trade for a lower profile pitcher and make room on the 40-man roster soon for Adams to make his MLB debut.  But even that move comes with cost.  Adams has another year before he'll be Rule 5 eligible so creating room on the 40-man roster for Adams costs a potential spot for a quality prospect that must be protected this year.  It doesn't really matter if Adams is Major League-ready but that's something only time will tell. Given the Yankees have shown they do not believe Adams is ready, it seems more likely we'll see more roll-outs of Caleb Smith (or Luis Cessa) or eventually another one of the current 40-man roster arms like Dietrich Enns (below) or Ronald Herrera before we ever get a sniff of Adams at the MLB level.

Credit:  Sean McKeag-Times Leader  
By most accounts, the desire of the Houston Astros to acquire another starter has lessened with the activation off the DL of Collin McHugh and soon, Dallas Keuchel.  The Milwaukee Brewers remain hot for a starting pitcher as do a few other teams.  The Minnesota Twins finally completed their delayed acquisition of Atlanta starter (and former Cardinal) Jaime Garcia, while the Kansas City Royals grabbed Trevor Cahill from the San Diego Padres.  There are arms to be had and based on the prices paid by the Twins and the Royals, it is possible to get help without sacrificing the farm.  

GM Brian Cashman and crew have a very tough week ahead of them.  They have hard decisions to make and they'll have to stand before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner with their recommendations.  The AL East can be won, despite the presence of Chris Sale in Boston, so the decisions over the next week will go a long way toward deciding who is playing October baseball.  

Glad D-Rob's back home...

It has been a few years since David Robertson performed in a set-up role for the Yankees, but I had forgotten how he likes to run off the field at the conclusion of an inning.  It is so great to see that again.  He is one of a kind and a direct link to the great Mariano Rivera.  I've been excited to have Tommy Kahnle back in the organization after being such a great admirer of his when he was a Yankees prospect, but there is something special about D-Rob and I am glad that he is back in pinstripes.  It would have been very difficult to watch him pitch for a team like the Boston Red Sox.  So, even if I haven't said it too much on this blog site, I am very happy that D-Rob is a Yankee once again.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
Next Up:  Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY...

The Yankees face the Reds for their second and final series this season.  The teams split a two-game series in Cincinnati back in early May.  The Reds represent a reunion for a few Yankees.  Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were once prominent Reds, and Didi Gregorius was a prospect in the organization (originally signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2007).

Credit:  Al Behrman-AP
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the two-game series:

Reds:  Luis Castillo (1-3, 3.86 ERA)
Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-5, 4.09 ERA)

Reds:  Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56 ERA)
Yankees:  Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21 ERA)

Even without playing, the Yankees were able to gain a half game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox replaced the Yankees at Safeco Field in Seattle and were shutout by James Paxton and the Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles) so it was a great day off.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by 2 games and increased their lead over the Rays by 1 1/2 games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Let's show Todd Frazier how to rock Yankees Stadium.  Go Yankees!

Credit:  Daniel Popper-NY Daily News

The Yankees Could Take On THIS Contract AND Move Jacoby Ellsbury?

What the New York Yankees have on their hands is a $153 million fourth outfielder and bench player. While in years past I wouldn’t have personally blinked an eye at that because I was far from concerned with the austerity and the budget side of things when it came to my favorite team but this year it seems different. I see the end game here. I see the fact that the Yankees can spend one season being fiscally responsible before going back to the “Greedy Pinstripes” that the team was when they bought up the free agent market before the 2009 season thus spawning The Greedy Pinstripes blog and mindset. With that in mind I got thinking if the Yankees could possibly take on a bad or hefty contract that is possibly shorter in nature while somehow also shedding themselves of the Jacoby Ellsbury contract in the same move. Is it possible? Keep reading.

Before we get into the “who” the Yankees would be trading for let’s take a quick second and delve into “what” the Yankees are trading. Ellsbury is owed $21.2 million in 2017 (obviously a prorated amount since more than half the season has passed) as well as $21.2 million in each of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 season with an option and $5 million buyout option for the 2021 season. That’s $77 million the Yankees would be trying to move and officially four years on a deal. If the Yankees are going to move that they are going to have to take on a comparable contract so with that in mind I looked at not only comparable contracts but useful players with comparable contracts as well. Keep in mind that likely none of these players alone will lead the Yankees to a World Series but I truly think all of them could at least be useful down the stretch and for the remainder of the season.

The San Francisco Giants are presumably in sell mode and the team has a couple of pitchers that will presumably be moved before the deadline. Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto were added to the club a couple offseasons back with the intention of San Francisco heading back to the World Series but that plan never came to fruition for Brian Sabaen and company leading to the possible sell off of these contracts here in 2017. Samardzija has three years left on his deal worth $59.4 million while Cueto has an opt-out clause that would allow him to walk away from his four-years and nearly $100 million left on his deal on the table. According to Jon Heyman the Giants will lose Cueto to the opt-out clause this offseason regardless of how the right-hander pitches. That’s a big risk for the Yankees to take though just because Heyman and his “sources” say so though likely leading to a non-deal for the Yankees here. The team wants to shed salary and years, not gain a ton of it with a pair of pitchers at or above the 5.00 ERA mark in 2017 in a historically pitching friendly ballpark.

The Detroit Tigers also have a pair of pitchers that could and will likely be dealt before the deadline in 2017 in Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Verlander. Zimmerman is owed nearly $81 million for this season and the next three seasons while Verlander is owed $68 million for the remainder of 2017 and two seasons beyond this season. Neither Verlander nor Zimmerman has pitched well in a pitcher friendly environment out in Detroit and both pitchers would absolutely scare the life out of me inside Yankee Stadium. No thanks and no thank you.

Speaking of scaring the life out of people, the final potential trade the Yankees could make to shed some salary takes the team to the Deep South to Marlins Park in Miami. Yes I do realize that it is highly unlikely and borderline foolish for anyone to think the Yankees could pull off a deal involving Giancarlo Stanton for many reasons but now is the time to dream for the fans. Dream on this, dream on the idea of having Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in the middle of the Yankees lineup for the next 10-15 years or longer. The Marlins’ hands will be tied for the most part with the team now up for sale by owner Jeffrey Loria but the only way the team is going to make any significant moves in my opinion is to shed some salary. That salary belongs to Giancarlo after he signed a monster 13-year deal worth $325 million, $300 million of that Stanton is still owed more or less. Taking back the salary of Jacoby Ellsbury is a drop in the bucket for Miami while the trade is potentially organization changing for both clubs. It isn’t likely to happen in my opinion but man is it nice to dream about having an outfield of Stanton, Judge and Clint Frazier going forward.

Keep in mind that if the Yankees don’t move Ellsbury before the July 31st trading deadline that it doesn’t mean that the team can’t and won’t move him. There aren’t many teams or presumably any teams who would flat out claim him off waivers and risk being stuck with that entire contract so it seems very likely that the Yankees outfielder could clear waivers allowing him to be traded to any of the other 29 MLB teams. I’d say stay tuned but we have another month and a week before this one potentially works itself out. Stay tuned anyway though. 

So it Seems it All Comes Down to This

Ladies and gentleman it all comes down to this. This marks the final full week before the July 31st trading deadline and this marks a week that could and will likely change everything for years to come. The July 31st trade deadline goes down next Monday at 2:00 pm ET giving teams and their general managers less than a week to wheel and deal before the waiver wire deadline goes into effect. It all comes down to this. Who will buy? Who will sell? Who will come and who will go? Nobody knows, stay tuned. This year is going to be fun I think, more so than usual. Call it a hunch.

Also “it all comes down to this” is happening in my personal life as well. I don’t have a concrete date yet but for all I know it could be this weekend. It could be next weekend. It’s oh so soon though and that makes me extremely happy. Life is changing for the better and changing forever. It all started eight months ago tomorrow and as Chapter One of the book that is Dan and Kari closes a new chapter begins.

I can’t put into words how much of a fun and exciting week this is going to be. Hey you. I love you!

This Day in New York Yankees History 7/25: Mel Allen’s Plaque & Jim Bouton’s Return

For all those who don't know the full story I will cover it briefly. Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton wrote a book called "Ball Four" that got him banished from Yankee Stadium. For all those who want to read the book a quick Google search can find it for you. On this day in 1998 at Old Timer's Day Bouton was invited back to Yankee Stadium for the first time in almost 30 seasons. Jim's son, Michael, wrote a letter to the New York Times urging the Yankees to reconsider their decision about Bouton and New York obliged.

Also on this day in 1998 the Yankees dedicated a plaque in the memory of Mel Allen, the team's long time play by play announcer. Allen died of heart failure in 1996, he was 83 years old. The plaque described Allen as a "Yankee institution, a national treasure" and even included his signature punch line" How about that?"

Finally on this day in 1995 Joe DiMaggio was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown after spending 13 season with the Bronx Bombers. DiMaggio retired with a .325 batting average and it still took four tries on the ballot before the Yankee Clipper was elected.