Saturday, September 23, 2017

Quick Hit: Billy McKinney to Learn First Base This Winter

The New York Yankees presumably teach a lot of things down on their farm systems and in their various minor league affiliates but one thing more than anything this team may teach is versatility. Flexibility is the name of the game here in Major League Baseball these days and the Yankees are trying to keep pace, whether it be for usefulness on the field or whether it be to boost a prospects trade value is anyone’s guess but nonetheless the efforts are there. These efforts will be on full display once again this winter in the instructional leagues when one of New York’s up-and-coming prospects learns a new position, first base. His name is Billy McKinney and he is one of the many outfielders currently being blocked by the wall that is Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and Jacoby Ellsbury to name a few.

The Yankees announced this week that the 23-year old will learn first base this winter in the instructional league as well as playing both corner outfield positions. McKinney was sent to the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs last summer in the Aroldis Chapman trade along with Gleyber Torres and has paid immediate dividends for the Yankees, especially since New York ultimately ended up getting Chapman back this winter via free agency. Now McKinney faces the possibility of playing for a third team in his minor league career as New York is faced with the decision to protect McKinney and add him to their 40 man roster or leave the outfielder unprotected for any team to snatch him up in this December’s Rule 5 Draft.

McKinney, a left-handed bat, broke out in a big way this season after being promoted to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and has opened a lot of eyes not only within the Yankees organization but outside the organization as well. Is this a power move for the Yankees as they prepare to trade McKinney in lieu of a roster crunch or does the team truly want and need another left-handed compliment to Greg Bird? The things that make you go hmmmmm. Stay tuned.

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 9/23

And just like that ladies and gentleman it is game time once again between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. In the middle game of this three game set the Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the mound to face off with Joe Biagini for the Blue Jays. The game will be played at 4:07 pm ET inside Rogers Centre and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. Enjoy the game!

Follow us on twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win, crush the Blue Jays and get a win. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 14-5

Minor League Baseball Names 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® Winners

Minor League Baseball Names 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® Winners

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball and Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., today announced the nine recipients of the 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® for defensive excellence. The winners at each position were selected from players in the 10 domestic-based, full-season Minor Leagues. Each player will receive his own Rawlings Gold Glove Award, modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players, during the 2018 season.

“The Rawlings Gold Glove Award® is recognized as baseball’s highest measure of defensive excellence and this year’s nine Minor League Baseball recipients are certainly worthy of this incredible honor,” said Mike Thompson, Executive Vice-President of Marketing for Rawlings. “Our long-standing partnership with Minor League Baseball continues to grow and evolve and we’re proud to share this prestigious award platform with its athletes.”

“This group has emerged as the finest in the field at the Minor League level, and I am pleased to honor these nine recipients with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award®,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “On behalf of Minor League Baseball, I congratulate each of them on their outstanding seasons.”

The 2017 Minor League Baseball recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® are as follows:

Edwin Espinal
Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)

Scott Kingery
Reading (AA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)

Daniel Castro
Albuquerque (AAA)

Ke’Bryan Hayes
Bradenton (A)

Tyler Ramirez
Stockton (A), Midland (AA)

Jacob Hannemann
Tennessee (AA), Iowa (AAA)
Chicago (NL), Seattle

Max Murphy
Fort Myers (A), Chattanooga (AA)

Jose Trevino
Frisco (AA)

Jordan Kipper
Mobile (AA), Bowie (AA), Norfolk (AAA)
Los Angeles (AL), Baltimore

Edwin Espinal posted the only perfect fielding percentage among Minor League first basemen in 2017. Espinal, 23, played 81 games at first base and recorded 698 putouts as an Eastern League All-Star with Double-A Altoona. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 28, finishing the year with 27 errorless games and 208 putouts as the Indians’ first baseman. A native of Mao Valverde, Dominican Republic, Espinal was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 27, 2011.

Second baseman Scott Kingery recorded a .989 fielding percentage in 113 games, the highest mark among second basemen in Minor League Baseball. The 23-year-old handled 277 total chances in 59 games for Double-A Reading, and 252 more in 54 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, helping turn 75 double plays across the two levels. Kingery was selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arizona.
Albuquerque Isotopes shortstop Daniel Castro led all Minor League Baseball shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage in 96 games. Castro committed just five errors in 435 total chances, had a hand in 63 double plays and finished with 298 assists at shortstop. The 24-year-old from Guaymas, Mexico, signed with Colorado as a minor league free agent on November 21, 2016. He was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 2010.

Bradenton Marauders third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes posted a .974 fielding percentage in 108 games at the hot corner. The 20-year-old committed only eight errors in 307 total chances, recording 245 assists. Hayes was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas.
Tyler Ramirez played 100 of his 128 defensive games in left field, and did not commit an error in 168 total chances with Class-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, finishing with a 1.000 fielding percentage. The Oakland Athletics selected Ramirez in the seventh round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Center fielder Jacob Hannemann recorded a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 106 games, handling 240 total chances. The 26-year-old opened the season with Double-A Tennessee, and was promoted to Triple-A Iowa before the Seattle Mariners claimed him off waivers and brought him to the big leagues in September. Hannemann was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Brigham Young University.
Max Murphy did not commit an error in 75 games in right field, nor in his 52 games in center, and recorded 18 outfield assists between Class-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. Murphy, 24, secured 150 total chances across 669.2 total innings in right field. The Minnesota native was selected by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Bradley University.

Catcher Jose Trevino earned a Rawlings Gold Glove for the second straight season after the 24-year-old finished with a .996 fielding percentage behind the plate. Trevino, 24, allowed just three passed balls while catching 99 games this year for Double-A Frisco. Trevino also limited the running game, throwing out 41.3 percent (33 of 80) of would-be base stealers. Trevino was selected by the Rangers in the sixth round 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Oral Roberts University.

Pitcher Jordan Kipper posted a perfect fielding percentage while handling 42 total chances in 132.1 innings pitched over 26 appearances (19 starts). The 24-year-old opened the season in Double-A Mobile before a trade on May 6 sent him to the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he appeared in nine games for Double-A Bowie and 12 for Triple-A Norfolk. Kipper was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Christian University.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 9/23

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their three-game weekend set today with the middle game of the series inside the Rogers Centre, eh. In the middle contest the New York Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the mound to square off with Joe Biagini for the Blue Jays. No matter where the Blue Jays or the Yankees are in the standings these two teams always seem to bring their “A” games against one-another so expect a fun contest today between these two clubs. Enjoy the game.

Gray had probably his worst start as a Yankee last time out giving up five runs and six hits in just four innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles in a loss. Gray had been great for New York up until that last start posting a 2.66 ERA in eight starts for the Bombers so it’s probably best that he get that inevitable one bad start out of the way now rather than in October.

Biagini has been consistently inconsistent for the Blue Jays so who knows what the Blue Jays will get out of him this afternoon in Toronto. Biagini could not make it out of the second inning in his last start allowing six runs, although in the start prior Biagini tossed a career-high eight innings against the Orioles. Does that mean Biagini will be dominant once again today against the Yankees? I hope not.

The game will be played at 4:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB 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. Need a win, clinch a spot, and get a win. Go Yankees!!!

Thank You, We'll Just Take The Wild Card...

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1...

The title is sarcastic (if you didn't notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.

The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka's overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we'd be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.  

Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge's 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio's career high. 

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka.  Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder's choice at third but Todd Frazier's throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.

In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins.  With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw.  Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game...

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin's turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.  

The Yankees' third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall.  But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka.  Jose Bautista walked to start the inning.  Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second.  Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases.  Tanaka had two strikes on the 'Hidden Ball' Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.

I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94.  He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings.  He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most.  Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4.  The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days.  The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.  

I don't mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games.  Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn't know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees.  We expect and demand better play today.

Odds & Ends...

Today's pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He'll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).  

Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday's game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl's father that "she's doing okay". Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.  

After last night's game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it's scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.  

Have a great Saturday!  Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us.  Go Yankees!

The Idea of Extended Netting at Yankee Stadium

In case you missed it there was an unfortunate accident that happened at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon where a young girl, just two-years old, was struck in the face with a 106 MPH foul ball. Since the incident which resulted in the girl being rushed to the hospital the father of the child has stated that his daughter is doing better, thank the lord, but that hasn’t stopped fans from revolting and asking the question of why the Yankees have not put up protective netting at Yankee Stadium like some teams have around the league. Just in case you missed it, again, if you watched the game you would know that the netting that those teams are putting up would not have protected this little girl in this incident unfortunately but let’s pretend that it would have. Are you in favor of putting up nets before the league eventually makes it mandatory or are you on the side of the argument that is against it. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions down in the comments section or on Twitter (@GreedyStripes) but until then I will leave my comments here for you this morning on the blog. Enjoy.

My thoughts are this, I think it is unnecessary to put the nets up but I think eventually the nets are going to be mandatory. Why not just get ahead of the game, get a little bit of PR and put the nets up as soon as possible. Fans were unprotected by these nets for hundreds of years now and it was never a huge issue until recently and if the nets remained down I truly think it wouldn’t be a huge issue in terms of injuries and fatalities but I do get the concept behind it. If the nets can save one little child or one person from getting hurt or killed the nets become instantly “worth it” to me. I get that. I also disagree with the people who are essentially saying that fans with children shouldn’t see in these “hot zones.” That’s crap. I should be able to sit where I want with my children, period, and you aren’t going to tell me otherwise. At the same time though I would personally take full responsibility for my child sitting in those seats that I as a parent chose to sit in. I wouldn’t hold the Yankees, the opposing team or the player responsible. Maybe that’s just me though.

The nets are coming. Whether the nets stretch down to the dugout or all the way down to the foul pole, they are coming. I hate that they are coming because it takes the fans away from the game and it just isn’t baseball to have these huge nets blocking you from catching a foul ball or something like that. I understand the need and the cries for them though so just get it over with and put the damn nets up. Don’t wait for the league to make you put the nets up, be the bigger person and the concerned person and just put them up already.

The fans will have to get over it because I am sure those same fans who are worried about their field of vision and such would appreciate it if it were them or their children who got saved from a 106 MPH foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier. It only takes saving one fan from injury or death to much outweigh the field of view concerns, in my opinion anyway, so just get it done already. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/23: RIP Yogi Berra

On this day in 2015 the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball lost a great man and a member of the family. Yogi Berra passed away on this day, he was 90-years old.

The year 2008 was a year of change for the New York Yankees. Joe Torre was no longer the manager after spending the last 12 seasons as the skipper and was replaced by Joe Girardi. This was the final season at the old Yankee Stadium as a new stadium was being built across the street. This also marked the first year in 13 seasons that the Yankees would not make the playoffs. The Red Sox beat the Indians 5-4 at Fenway Park clinching at least a Wild Card berth and officially eliminated the Yankees.

Also on this day in 2007 Mike Mussina became the 45th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win 250 games in his career. On this day the Yankees would beat the Blue Jays 7-5 and in the game Joba Chamberlain picked up his first career save. Mussina insisted that the game ball go to Joba rather than himself.

Also on this day in 2001 Mariano Rivera set a single season record for the Yankees when he recorded his 47thsave of the season. Dave Righetti held the old record at 46 when he set the record in 1986.

Also on this day in 1999 the Yankees set the New York City record for attendance in a single season when their crowd of 27,549 fans set the season total at 3,072,009. The New York Mets held the previous record for New York with 3,047,724 fans attended a game in one season.

Finally on this day in 1998 the greatest team of all time the 1998 Yankees tied the 1927 Yankees team for the most wins in franchise history with 110 wins. This win put the Yankees just one win behind the American League record of 111 wins by the 1954 Cleveland Indians.