Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 8/9

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are just about set to kick off tonight’s game and continue their three-game set this week inside the Rogers Centre. In the middle game of the series the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound, Happy Tanaka Day ladies and gentleman, to face off with Nick Tepesch for the Blue Jays. The game will be played at 7:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto 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 WFAN.

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

Looking Ahead to 2018: Potential Free Agent Offensive Additions

So we saw who the Yankees could be potentially losing via free agency this coming offseason so let’s once again look ahead to 2018 and see who the team could potentially fill those holes with. Let us first take a look at the potential offensive upgrades that the Yankees could add this coming offseason and at a later time we will look at the pitching. Keep in mind that this is all hypothetical and as it stands today, everything is subject to change in a moment’s notice.

Remember when I, and many Yankees fans, clamored so hard for Justin Upton in Yankees pinstripes? Well that didn’t happen but the beating of the drum could happen again in 2018 if the Tigers outfielder opts out of his six-year deal with Detroit with four-years and $88.5 million remaining. The Tigers are looking to rebuild and Upton has continued to produce which means even if he doesn’t get a pay raise the right-hander would get on a better team and that alone is worth its weight in gold. I don’t think the Yankees need an outfielder though so cross Upton off the list for New York.

Greg Bird is the first baseman of the future but let’s just assume that Bird isn’t healthy heading into the offseason and let’s assume the Yankees want a bit of insurance at the position for the 2018 season. It isn’t really all that far-fetched since the team signed Chris Carter this past offseason to platoon with Bird so who is to say the team won’t again in 2018? There’s many free agent first baseman expected to be available including Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Mark Reynolds to name a few. Presumably the Yankees would prefer a right-handed option to compliment Bird meaning that Reynolds, a former Yankee, and Napoli move to the front of the line. Neither are ideal, Reynolds strikes out a lot and his defense is mediocre while Napoli is aging and is more of a DH-or-bust at this point in his career, but the Yankees have been dealing with a less than ideal situation at the position all season long anyway. Could it get much worse? You could also throw Todd Frazier into the mix here although I believe the third baseman will prefer to stay on the other side of the diamond as he hits free agency this offseason.

Sticking with the first base position but looking in areas that will likely exceed what the Yankees are willing to pay you find the bats of Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals. Santana has taken a step back in 2017 after posting 34 home runs and a 3.7 WAR in 2016 but his walk rate has been steady and his stats this season have been in line with his career norms. The problem is Santana is going to want to cash in after that strong 2016 season, even if 2017 hasn’t gone exactly according to plan, and even in a stacked free agent pool there should be plenty of money to go around for Santana. Meanwhile Hosmer is not someone who has ever really impressed me much. Sure his bat is nice and he is just 28-years old but advanced metrics show Hosmer as a very limited fielder and his -0.2 WAR in 2016, a season in which he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, doesn’t exactly make me want to run home screaming to mom about him. Hosmer is durable and Hosmer can hit but his career wRC+ (109) is lower than Lucas Duda’s (124) who can also be had on the free agent market and if I were a betting man I’d say Duda gets significantly less than Hosmer in 2018 in terms of both years and dollars respectively.

The final player I want to showcase here is a bit of a “Get Greedy” kind of player. This player isn’t a player that the New York Yankees necessarily need but is a player that could rotate in and out of the outfield as well as the soon-to-be vacant DH position. J.D. Martinez has somehow flown under the radar for years now and that was never more evident than when the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired the outfielder from the Detroit Tigers without giving up a single blue-chip prospect. Since the start of the 2014 season only Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado and Giancarlo Stanton have put up higher slugging percentage numbers than Martinez, and keep in mind that Martinez was doing this inside Comerica Park in Detroit which is historically a pitcher’s park, yet somehow still Martinez is not what I would consider a household name. Now the teammate of another player, Paul Goldschmidt, who isn’t really a household name but should be, Martinez is gearing up to cash in on the free agent market in 2018. If anyone notices that is. If no one does notice it would behoove the Yankees to not make a run at him on a shorter term deal in my opinion to see if they could snag a great free agent option for less. Dare I say, Ninja Cashman. Martinez is not going to win you a Gold Glove out there in the outfield, hence why I said he could split time as the DH as well, and has been a bit injury prone throughout his career but he is just 30-years old and would likely only command a three-or-four year deal while having the same wRC+ (145) as Miguel Cabrera has had over the past three seasons.

Get Greedy and get Martinez if you can. If not and if the team wants a platoon and an insurance option at first base then sign a Mike Napoli and call it a day. Either way it looks like there won’t be much offensive help coming or much heavy lifting to be found in the Bronx before the 2018 season on the free agent market. Or I could be completely wrong, that’s happened more than once. 

Looking Ahead to 2018: Free Agent Yankees

With the July 31st trading deadline behind us and the August 31st trade deadline coming up in the near future I want to take the time while we have a bit of a lull to look ahead a bit. The New York Yankees plan for austerity and their plan to get under the luxury tax threshold begins as soon as the 2017 World Series ends and it begins with potentially six members of the team hitting free agency while other money, Alex Rodriguez’s salary namely, comes off the books. Let’s take a look at the impending Yankees free agents for the 2018 offseason and hot stove season.

CC Sabathia and his 23.666 million are coming off the books for New York which is one of the Yankees highest annual salaries currently on the team. Sabathia made $25 million is 2017 after a team vesting option vested due to the durability of Sabatahia’s left throwing shoulder.

Michael Pineda made $7.4 million in his final season of arbitration and will test the free agent market for the first time in his career this offseason. That’s generally good unless you underwent Tommy John surgery this season and will likely miss most or all of the 2018 season.

Matt Holliday signed a one-year deal worth $13 million this offseason so even I don’t need a calculator for this one. Holliday started out well for New York but has since fallen since being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr disease. Holliday wasn’t likely to be back in the Bronx in 2018 regardless of his production this season but it seems less and less likely with every injury, trip to the disabled list and strikeout that it’s definitely not happening next season.

Jaime Garcia’s salary is basically a wash since Minnesota is paying all but a prorated portion of the league minimum which the New York Yankees are on the hook for.

Todd Frazier and his $12 million base salary for the 2017 season will also hit the free agent market and will have little-to-no basis on the Yankees austerity plans and ability to reach them unless the team decides to bring the 31-year old back for another tour in the Bronx. That seems unlikely.

Alex Rodriguez and his balky salary is finally (FINALLY!!!) off the Yankees books this offseason and this sentence did not come a moment too soon. After signing a $275 million deal for 10-years that could have reached as high as $320 million with home run milestones and such New York has to be glad to be finally out from under that burden, both fiscally and literally. Rodriguez coming odd

Masahiro Tanaka, assuming the right-hander opts out of his contract, and his 22.142 million AAV could be coming off the Yankees books if the right-hander decides to opt-out of his contract. Of course that’s far from a given at this point given his struggles this season but in a weak starting pitching market you never know. The Yankees could also always re-sign Tanaka if he were to opt-out although I would personally bet and advise against it.

How will the Yankees fill these five-or-six 40 man roster spots and will the team be able to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the entire 2018 season? I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out but have no fear, I am already working up a way for the Yankees to spend all the money listed above that is coming off the books before 2018. #GetGreedy.

The salaries above are AAV and not necessarily the actual salary that the player received in 2017 *

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 8/9

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their three-game set this week with the middle game of the series tonight inside the Rogers Centre. In the first game of the series last night the fans were treated with a battle of two veteran southpaws in CC Sabathia and JA Happ but tonight the fans will watch as the Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to square off with Cesar Valdez  Nick Tepesch for the Jays. It doesn’t matter what the standings say these two teams generally tend to bring their “A” games against one another so expect another fun one tonight with our neighbors from the north. Enjoy the game.

Tanaka was sharp for his second straight outing last time out leaving me wanting to go back to saying “Happy Tanaka Day” every time the Japanese-born right-hander makes a start. In his last start Tanaka held the Tigers to just two runs, one of them earned, and six hits in six innings of work. Unfortunately Tanaka took the loss in the start due to a lack of run support but has defeated the Blue Jays in both starts against them this season.

Valdez was hit hard by the Houston Astros in his last start as the AL West leading Astros scored six runs in 3.1 innings of work. To be fair, who haven’t the Astros tagged in 2017? Valdez has a 20.25 ERA in his last start including that Houston start though so if the Yankees could keep the trend going tonight in Toronto that would be great. Thanks in advance. Valdez was added to the 10-day DL and Nick Tepesch was called up to make the spot start. 

The game will be played at 7:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre 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 the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Enjoy the game and as always, Go Yankees!

Hangin With Mr Cooper Leads to Loss...

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2...

The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded.  Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI's, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.  On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded.  But you can't pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.

The tone of the game was set early.  Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right.  He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin.  Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center.  In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star
The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled.  Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius.  With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run.  But that's all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.

After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first.  Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left.  It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.  A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.  

Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain.  It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago.  After the game, Sabathia said "It's just hard to land.  It's hard for me to finish my pitches. It's just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches.  When I can't do that, I don't know where the ball is going."  There's no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he'll head back to New York for further tests.  We're reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell. 

Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance.  He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.  

The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning.  With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked.  After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first.  Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.

The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play.  Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.  

Credit:  AP
The last great chance came in the 8th.  Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi).  Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley's foot, to reach base.  Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked.  It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded.  He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn't help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations.  The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.  

Credit:  AP
The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna.  It was another game of lost opportunities.  The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn't really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice).  Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times.  Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base.  I think I heard a stat that the Yankees have left 183 men on base since the All-Star break.  It's tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can't seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.  

Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia's knee.  The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he's question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back).  Sabathia (9-5) took the loss.  The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05.  I hope that he's able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can't say that I am overly optimistic.  

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP
The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts.  So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends...

The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray.  He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66.  #88, anyone?...

It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game.  While I am not overly optimistic that we'll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training.  Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro's absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.

OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment.  He may be activated for this weekend's series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.  We'll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders). 

The Blue Jays scratched today's scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez.  Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury.  Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor's jersey in their dugout for yesterday's game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians.  Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998.  The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves.  Following Baylor's passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement:  "He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many.  His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever.  This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball."

Credit:  Tony Dejak-Associated Press
Have a great Wednesday!  One more day to Sonny Gray!  Let's Go Yankees!

Should/Will the Yankees Be “In” On Any of These Players Who Cleared Waivers?

The August waiver wire trade deadline may be a bit more complicated for teams to pull off deals but it doesn’t necessarily make it impossible, especially if that player you’re looking to acquire clears waivers. There have been more than a few notable veteran players that have already cleared waivers, and keep in mind that not every team releases the name of every player that clears waivers and are not obligated to do so either, which leaves me wondering if the Yankees should be or will be interested in any of them. Before we jump into the list though and talk about any potential trades for the Bombers I will preface the post by saying that Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees principal owner, has stated that the Yankees payroll is now frozen. No more payroll will be added in 2017, period. Keep that in mind when suggesting or thinking about potential trades this season.

The most current and up to date list that I have of players that has cleared revocable waivers includes Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, Chris Davis, RA Dickey, Jim Johnson, Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, Justin Upton, Felix Hernandez, Brandon Crawford, Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and AJ Ramos. This list admittedly may be out of date due to teams not releasing who has cleared waivers but this is the most current list according to MLB Trade Rumors so for the sake of simplicity and this post we will go with it.

The Yankees don’t need an outfielder, in fact when Tyler Austin and Aaron Hicks return from their rehab assignments the team may have too many outfielders and not enough roster spots to accommodate them all, meaning that you can immediately mark Bruce, Granderson, Harper, Upton and Cespedes off the list for New York. The Orioles are unlikely to trade Davis within the division, especially to the Yankees, and you have that whole no more payroll thing marking him off the list as well. Votto has a full no-trade clause and is owed a ton of money throughout the end of his contract, #PayrollFreeze, and the same can be said for the Tigers starter Justin Verlander who may be a member of the Houston Astros before this post even goes live.

Taking those names off the list leaves Dickey, a hard no, Johnson, a former AL saves leader and an attractive setup man option, Hernandez, yes please but #PayrollFreeze, Brandon Crawford, this move was purely procedural and the Giants are not going to move him, Cabrera, no thank you, Walker, no thank you, and Ramos, another dependable bullpen arm that New York may or may not need. Looking at the list it looks like the only options New York really has at this time is Jim Johnson, AJ Ramos or maybe Felix Hernandez. The Mariners seem willing to go for it in 2017 as the team has a Wild Card spot in their sights though making the Hernandez trade less and less likely, although not impossible given his salary and the salary restraints in Seattle right now.

Do the Yankees really need Ramos or Johnson? I mean, sure, it would be nice to get greedy and acquire one or both of them but neither are a real need. Both, though, will cost real prospects and that’s just not something I am willing to do and is not something I think the Yankees are willing to do either to be completely honest. Also, as much as I hate to admit this, the Hernandez trade opportunity is likely a pipe dream. Again, I am not completely counting it out but I just can’t see New York pulling this off or Seattle willing to make the trade. Hernandez hasn’t been Hernandez in 2017, he has struggled some and battled injuries including the bursitis that he learned about and was diagnosed with yesterday, which is one of the only reasons I have hope but that payroll freeze is really going to get in the way. Conceivably the Yankees could include better prospects and have Seattle kick in his salary like they did with the Minnesota Twins and Jaime Garcia but that seems unlikely as well.

Who knows what is going to happen between now and August 31st but as it stands right now it looks like all the Yankees heavy lifting is all but done. Brian Cashman is likely just sitting on a beach somewhere sipping on fruity drinks with little paper umbrellas floating in the glass, and he deserves to be after what he did for the team before the July 31st trading deadline. Brace yourselves Yankees family, winter is coming to the Bronx and it won’t include any fresh, new characters to kill off two episodes in. 

So it Seems There Will Be Many Eyes on You Today so STAY STRONG!

Today admittedly will be a bit of a somber day and a difficult day for me so excuse me while I ramble on for a bit this morning.

Stay strong, be strong. Today will be hard but there will be many eyes on you today looking for various things. Some will look at you with worry and sadness but some will look at you hoping that you’re okay so they know that it will be okay. You are the rock and the foundation to many and those people will be relying heavily on you today. Not to say you can’t cry and you can’t show emotion, that’s totally healthy and normal, but overall you have to stay strong. Be there. Be available to those who need you. I know you know what you’re doing, you’re an amazing person and so kind-hearted, and you don’t need my advice but I’m here to give it regardless. I care about you and I love you. I’m here when you’re ready today, and I’ll be okay when you’re not. Always on my mind and always in my heart Kari Ann Burch.

Make the best of every day Yankees family because tomorrow is never promised. Stay well. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 8/9: Five Grand Slams

Never in the history of Major League Baseball have five grand slams been hit in the same day across the league until 1999. Five different men hit grand slams on this day to establish a new major league record including the Cardinals Fernando Tatis, the Expos Jose Vidro, the Marlins Mike Lowell, the Mariners Jay Buhner, and the Yankees Bernie Williams.