Thursday, May 31, 2018

There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Talent

This is the image that pops into my head when I think of Brian Cashman looking at his organizational roster.

Over the years, when it comes to teams seemingly having too many good players, you've likely heard the phrase "it'll work itself out" over and over again. And the majority of the time that phrase rings true. However, we're seeing one of the rare times when having too many good players is causing headaches.

Five days ago, when Greg Bird made his return to the team, Ronald Torreyes was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That move was followed by a bit of outrage, which is totally understandable. Toe is a beloved member of the Yankees, as he's not only been a good to great contributor to the team for the past two plus seasons, fans and teammates love him for his attitude on and off the field. But a roster crunch made the move necessary.

Now, as Adam Warren is about ready to make his return from injury, the Yankees are left with another difficult roster decision.

So I decided to take a look at the roster and try to see what should happen. Honestly, it was a lot tougher than I thought.

I'll start with the guys that will stay in the Majors...

Dellin Betances
Aroldis Chapman
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
David Robertson
CC Sabathia
Luis Severino
Chasen Shreve
Masahiro Tanaka

Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine

Miguel Andujar
Greg Bird
Didi Gregorius
Gleyber Torres

Brett Gardner
Aaron Judge
Giancarlo Stanton

That's 18 players, leaving just seven spots remaining.

Now let's look at players that may not be shoe-ins to stay in the Majors, but certainly deserve a spot on the active roster...

Domingo German - After his incredible starting debut Sunday followed that up with a bad game, a horrible game, and a "meh" game. But if you ignore the stats you'll see that German has earned a longer look. After giving up a three-run homer the other day, he settled down and look good. That's a nice trait for a pitcher to have. Secondly, he has swing-and-miss stuff... another good trait for a pitcher to have. Finally, I'd like to see him pitch on regular rest more often. German was actually off for nine days before that awful start against the Rangers last week.

AJ Cole - It's only been 11 innings, but he's given up just one run, struck out 12, and walked six during that time. Cole's not this good, but he's not only earned his spot in the bullpen, he can't be sent to the minors without passing through waivers first due to being out of options.

Sonny Gray - I'm starting to think his rotation spot could be in jeopardy, especially if he can't turn things around before Montgomery returns, but he'd go to the bullpen way before getting DFA'd (due to service time he can't be sent to the minors without passing through waivers, and then accepting a minor league assignment, first).

Jonathan Holder - Like Cole he hasn't pitched a ton this season, but since April 21st (15.2 innings) Holder has not allowed an earned run, while striking out 16 and walking just two. Jonathan's not only earned a longer look, he's become one of the team's better relievers.

Brandon Drury - His numbers in the Majors, with Arizona and New York, are hardly mouth-watering, but keep in mind that he put up those stats while suffering from headaches (real ones, not the ones I've been talking about) and blurred vision. I want to see what he can do while 100%, the Yankees probably want to see that, and you should too.

Ronald Torreyes - While I didn't like it, I understood the decision to option Torreyes to AAA. Ronald is great in the utility role, but the fact of the matter is the Yankees have better players available to them. I would absolutely welcome him back to the MLB roster, but I don't see where.

Neil Walker - From Opening Day up until April 30th it looked like Neil was not the steal we all thought he was. Even at just $4 million it looked like the Yankees overpaid for him, as he was batting .165/.212/.190. But since May 1st he's hit .300/.407/.500 and not only earned his spot on the active roster, but made a case to play every day.

Clint Frazier - Frazier is probably the main cause of headache for Brian Cashman. Not because of how bad he is... quite the opposite, in fact. The man is absolutely crushing in AAA, batting .341/.414/.636 with five home runs, five doubles, and three triples in just 22 games. He's even stole four bases. He's either going to return to the Yankees and help guide them into the postseason and beyond, or be the key piece in a trade for a starter that will guide them into the postseason and beyond.

Aaron Hicks - I'm not sold on him being a starter, at least not for the Yankees, but if you look beyond a pedestrian batting average this season (.232) he's a solid player. He'll get on base at a decent clip, doesn't strike out much, makes contact often, and is a top ten defensive centerfielder in all of MLB.

Okay, at this point we're up to 27 players worthy of a spot on the active roster. That leaves a couple of tough choices to make. But don't go racking your brains to make cuts yet, there's more...

Tyler Austin - There was a time when it looked like Tyler may be the team's answer at first base, ahead of the oft-injured Greg Bird, but that time has passed. Since May 1st Tyler has hit .130/.163/.326. I don't believe he's done, but his roster spot on the Yankees should be given to someone else.

Jacoby Ellsbury - I'd rather Jacoby stay on the disabled list all season long, because he will return this season, and he will push somebody a lot more deserving off the active roster. I doubt he gets much playing time, but as long as he's on this team he will be in Yankee pinstripes.

That's 29 players for 25 spots. Honestly, with Austin likely to miss the cut, you can say 28 players for 25 spots. But I'm not done yet...

Jordan Montgomery - Monty's still a ways away from returning (he just started playing catch this week), but when he does he'll go right back into the rotation. And deservedly so. Jordan isn't going to "wow" anyone, but his ERA+ of 117 over 182.2 MLB innings shows there shouldn't be any doubt what his role is and should be.

Adam Warren - Boone has said Adam could be back this weekend. Warren was awesome last season, putting up a 2.35 ERA and an ERA+ of 193. In fact, the only time he hasn't been really good was during his short time with the Chicago Cubs in 2016. So even with a great bullpen as is, Adam will be welcomed back with open arms.

And there you have it. That's 30 players (I'll go ahead and subtract Tyler Austin for you) for 25 spots. So what should the Yankees do from here?

For starters, I believe that instead of carrying 13 pitchers and 12 batters, it should be the other way around. I think that extra bat would come into play more often than that extra arm would. Mind you, I won't say having 13 pitchers is a bad move, as our starters don't often pitch deep into games, but 12 pitcher should still get the job done. Besides, as you'll see in a bit, it may be necessary to keep 13 pitchers anyway.

Starting Pitchers
Luis Severino
Masahiro Tanaka
CC Sabathia
Jordan Montgomery
Sonny Gray

Aroldis Chapman
David Robertson
Chad Green
Dellin Betances
Adam Warren
Tommy Kahnle
Chasen Shreve

I really think Cole and Holder have earned MLB roster spots, but the sad truth is there's just no room for them. What's worse is the whole "out of options" thing for Cole. The only reason I would support keeping 13 pitchers is so Cole wouldn't be lost for nearly nothing (he'd have to be designated for assignment, and then Cashman would likely work out a trade and get little in return).

Domingo German may be a regular starter for the Yankees next season, but for right now he's the odd man out (when Montgomery returns, of course). Like Cole and Holder, when rosters expand he'll not only be back in the Majors, but he'll be a nice contributor.

Position Players
C - Gary Sanchez
1B - Greg Bird
2B - Gleyber Torres
SS  - Didi Gregorius
3B - Miguel Andujar
LF - Brett Gardner
CF - Aaron Hicks
RF - Aaron Judge
DH - Giancarlo Stanton

Bench - Austin Romine, Brandon Drury, Neil Walker, Jacoby Ellsbury*

*Since Ellsbury's stay on the disabled list could go on for a while, I wanted to note that I'd keep AJ Cole around due to him being out of options. Then, hopefully by the trade deadline, Cole could be included in a trade or someone else from the bullpen would be dealt to make room for AJ to stay there.

If it wasn't for the fact that, like I said, Jacoby Ellsbury will be on the MLB roster when he returns this season, I'd really like having Ronald Torreyes in that last bench spot. Stanton could play either corner outfield position if needed, while Boone could put Hicks or Gardner in centerfield, if necessary. Toe will be back when rosters expand, and like Cole, Holder, and German, will make a contribution to the postseason run.

And that leaves me to talk about Clint Frazier. In a vacuum Frazier would be the starting left fielder, pushing Gardner to center, and Hicks to the bench. In fact, that's what I originally had down, but then I decided to change things.

In terms of trade value, is it better to let Frazier continue to mash in AAA or possibly get exposed in MLB? After all, in his 146 MLB plate appearances, Clint has only managed a batting line of .235/.281/.456. Mind you, he's still only 23 and has massive potential, but if he were called up today and struggled, that could hurt his trade value.

So I'm going to let him keep killing it in AAA. If he somehow remains with the team past the trade deadline, or after a big trade is done with, then it'll be time to call him up.

It's hard leaving so much talent in AAA, but the insane amount of depth the Yankees have is one of the biggest reasons I believe this team has an outstanding shot at winning the whole damn thing this season. And that depth is going to help create, either directly or indirectly, a dynasty that brings New York more titles in the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Winning Ugly...

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Yanks overcome mistakes and Astros…

There have been a few games the Yankees have lost this year that they should have won, but Tuesday’s game probably should have been a loss. Sure, the Yankees got fourteen hits, but they struck out seventeen freakin’ times and committed an incredulous five errors. Charlie Morton, Clark Kent in Pittsburgh but Superman in Houston, struck out ten Yankees in six innings of work. He did allow three runs to inflate his season ERA to 2.26 but he was in line for the victory with a 5-3 lead when he departed.

CC Sabathia did not look great but credit to him for holding the Astros to only five runs (three earned) on eight hits before departing after five innings and turning the game over to the bullpen. If Sabathia would have given up any more runs, there most likely would have been no dramatic comebacks on this night. ‘Keep it close and get the game into the hands of the bullpen’ is something I’ve been saying from the start of this series. There’s no doubt I’d prefer to take my chances with the Yankees pen over the Astros’ mess. Houston may have the best five starters in the game right now, but their bullpen is about as bad as Roseanne Barr on Twitter. 

Every game, I am amazed about the play of Gleyber Torres. Considering he had two of the five errors, he had every reason to clunk this game. But there he was in the bottom of the tenth inning with the winning run on second. A ball that was generously called a strike by the home plate umpire aggravated Torres, but perhaps with an assist from third base coach Phil Nevin, Torres was able to shake it off and wait for his pitch. On a 2-2 count, he drove Brad Peacock’s two-seam fastball into right field, easily allowing Miguel Andujar to race home well ahead of the off-line throw from the outfield, scoring the walk-off winning run. 9 home runs, 26 RBI’s, .321 batting average. The guy has only had 117 plates appearances in the Major Leagues.  The dude is only 21 years old. When Charlie Hayes caught the pop-up to end the 1996 World Series, Gleyber was still marinating in his mother’s stomach. How is this possible? Amazing, simply amazing and something quite special.

The heroics by Torres were made possible by none other than the ancient Brett Gardner. I know, 34 is not old but on a team of twenty-somethings, he’d be the gray-haired man (if he had hair). Not one but two home runs by Gardy put the Yankees in position to win. The second home run, a two-run bomb off Houston’s Chris Devenski in the bottom of the ninth, tied the game to send it into extra innings. 

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Frank Franklin II)
It figures that Miguel Andujar played a key role in both the tying and winning moments. His walk to open the ninth set the stage for Gardy’s home run to tie it, and his double in the tenth, laced into left with the fury like ABC used to cancel Roseanne’s show, put him in position to score the walk-off run. 

Also, mention must go to the spectacular play by Gary Sanchez to end the top of the tenth inning. With Houston’s Tony Kemp on second base and two outs, closer Aroldis Chapman’s 100 mph fastball sailed above El Gary’s head to the backstop. The sheer force and velocity of the pitch ricocheted the ball back to Gary who, in turn, fired a strike to third base to nail the sliding Tony Kemp. There was the pesky Miguel Andujar again, applying the tag for the final out. 

The Yankees (34-17) won the game 6-5 and remain two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Sox, winners of eight of their last ten and two in a row, thumped the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-3. The Yankees and Red Sox have the equal number of losses (17), but Boston has four more wins. 

On a side note about the seventeen strikeouts, every batter in the Yankees lineup struck out at least once and three guys (Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks) struck out three times. I am getting a little tired of watching Hicks take meatballs down the center of the plate with his bat on his shoulder. Count me among those who’d prefer to see what Red Thunder could do in center.

Despite two strikeouts of his own and the previously mentioned couple of errors, I am so proud to have Gleyber Torres on this team. He has given me a sense of confidence about second base that I haven’t felt since Robinson Cano patrolled these parts (I’d like to think drug-free, but who knows). Nothing against Giancarlo Stanton, but I feel Torres has been the most valuable new addition to the team this year. Maybe when Stanton starts crushing massive home runs every day with one of his typical monster tears I’ll feel differently but for now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy watching young Gleyber play…and win. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Al Bello)
Yesterday, I mentioned Josh Rogers as a potential callup for the Yankees. The 23-year-old lefty delivered a dominating performance on the road Tuesday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Louisville Bats. Rogers, who went to the University of Louisville and grew up nearby, pitched a five-hit shutout for seven innings. He walked two and struck out three while lowering his season ERA from 2.80 to 2.48 in the RailRiders’ 4-0 win. Rogers, unlike Chance Adams, is pitching like he wants a free ride to the Bronx. If he keeps this up, he’ll get it.

Photo Credit: Todd Hiller
The Yankees conclude their season series with the Astros tonight. Noted Yankee killer Dallas Keuchel is on the mound but he’ll be going against our best, Luis Severino. I am sure we’ll see Keuchel again in October. Nothing better than sending him away with a loss to think about for the next few months. I gotta admit I have wondered what Keuchel would look like without that beard if he decides to try on pinstripes over the upcoming winter. 

Go Yankees!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Wish: To Beat Justin Verlander...

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
Eventually, the Wish will become Reality…

I was not too confident about the Yankees’ chances against Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander yesterday and unfortunately I was right as the Bombers fell to the Astros, 5-1. As if the cold bats against Verlander weren’t bad enough, the sight of him walking off the field while tipping his cap to the jeers from the Yankee Stadium crowd was sickening. When I think of Verlander, I can still see his ugly mug in the midst of the brawl in Detroit last summer.    

I don’t like Justin Verlander. I’ll just get that out there. I do not wish the Yankees had been the team to acquire him last summer regardless of what he has done wearing an Astros uniform. I don’t want him on my team. I want my team to beat him, to crush him like an ant. If the Yankees can beat Verlander in the post-season, a regular season loss to him will mean absolutely nothing. So, for now, I’ll take solace in the fact the Yankees are watching and learning. The day will come when they tee off on Verlander and he’ll look like the aging pitcher he was in the final days of wearing Detroit Tigers gear. I look forward to our next meeting with Verlander which could very well happen in October. 

The next two games against the Astros will be tough. Whatever it is about pitching in Houston, Charlie Morton is drinking the water. An average starter at best in Pittsburgh, he’s become a different man in Houston and has pitched very well against the Yankees. Morton is undefeated this season (7-0), carrying a low ERA of 2.04 (which of course is high compared to Verlander’s 1.11). I wish I felt more confident with CC Sabathia on the mound. Frankly, I don’t know what we are going to get today with CC (2-1, 3.55 ERA). I guess my philosophy is the same as yesterday. Try to keep it close and get the game into the hands of the bullpen. Bullpen to bullpen, I like the Yankees’ chances. 

Tomorrow, for the series finale, the Astros will have proven Yankee-killer Dallas Keuchel on the mound. If there is a silver lining, this has been a down year for Keuchel (3-6, 3.39 ERA) which also happens to be his walk year. We’ll throw the best we’ve got (Luis Severino, 7-1, 2.28 ERA) at Houston but down year or not, I expect Keuchel to be on his game. It should be a classic pitching duel.    

One positive from yesterday’s game (at least for me)…Greg Bird’s swing is a thing of beauty.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
I know there were positives in Domingo German’s performance yesterday with the number of whiffs (he did record seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings) but a loss is a loss. I know, he’s learning and it is part of the process. The Astros fans were probably very confident yesterday knowing who was pitching for them. I want that kind of guy. Again, not Verlander (for me), but a pitcher who instills confidence the way he does for his team. It’s not Sabathia, it’s not Masahiro Tanaka nor German, and it sure the hell isn’t Sonny Gray. I am getting a little tired of the usual suspects with rumored potential trade candidates. Michael Fulmer is 2-3 with 4.08 ERA and 1.273 WHIP. He may be young and controllable but his numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Same with Chris Archer. He is 3-3 with 4.29 ERA and 1.304 WHIP. To Archer’s defense, outside of a poor start against the Baltimore Orioles on May 12th when he gave up six runs in a loss, he has pitched much better in May than he did in April. At the end of April, Archer had a 6.61 ERA so even with the dog start against the O’s, he has lowered his ERA by more than two runs in a month. Fulmer is probably the better option since he’s younger and maybe his numbers help make his price tag more affordable. I don’t know. I can’t see either pitcher being “the guy” in October. 

Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman uncovers a gem (or two) prior to this year’s trading deadline. Go ahead, surprise us with a true ace. An improved pitching staff to go with the team’s offense would be the catalyst for the Yankees to overcome the Boston Red Sox and charge into October with significant momentum. I want another shot at Justin Verlander.  Only next time, I expect to win.

So, the Cleveland Indians have promoted Justin Bieber to start this week. Oh sorry, make that Shane Bieber. Bieber was taken in the MLB Draft two years after the Indians selected Justus Sheffield and three rounds later. Bieber is a year older than Top Sheff and has blazed through the Indians system. I think we’ll see Sheff in a couple of months. Not really trying to draw a comparison between the two given Bieber was a college pitcher and much closer to the Majors than Sheffield was when he was taken in the first round of the 2014 Draft. But the emergence of rookie starters for contenders is heightening the excitement of Sheff’s impending arrival even if we have to wait awhile longer. Josh Rogers (4-3, 2.80 ERA) is scheduled to pitch today for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He is quietly inserting his name above Chance Adams as another arm that could make his Major League debut for the Yankees in the not-so-distant future.

Josh Rogers / Photo Credit: Scranton Times-Tribune
Despite the home run he allowed to Jose Altuve yesterday, I’d probably give German’s next start to A.J. Cole.  I remained intrigued with the pitcher. I know, he’s not the answer and he was never more than a borderline Number 5 starter for the Washington Nationals. But I’d still like to see what he could do with a spot start. At one time, Nats fans thought Cole could be dominant but it never materialized. After originally being drafted by the Nationals in 2010, he did spend a year in the Oakland A’s farm system, but was reacquired by the Nats in 2013. The optimist in me tries to see Cole as a late bloomer (tapping on the potential that Washington scouts once saw) but the realist in me knows that he is a future DFA candidate. I’d just like to see what we have before he goes. 

Today is a new day. As the Mariano Duncan quote goes, “We play today. We win today.” Let’s do it. Go Yankees!

The Yankees Need A New Starter

Yesterday I sent out the following Tweet...
While I believe the Yankees will have a new starter by August 1st, I have no idea how it will go down. The team could trade for their MLB roster, although teams in the hunt rarely subtract from their big league roster. Furthermore, I don't think Brian Cashman has to include Clint Frazier to get a big deal done. However, the biggest question is this...

Who will lose their starting rotation spot?

Let's look at the current starters...

Luis Severino - He's not going anywhere.

Masahiro Tanaka - 'Hiro is not "killing it" by any means, as he's given up three or more runs in seven of his eleven starts this season. But I don't see him going to the bullpen, and at $22 million a year ($23 million in 2020) I don't think anyone would give up anything while trading for him. Tanaka is here to stay.

CC Sabathia - The Rangers lit him up the other day, but CC has been the team's second best starter this season. I'd like to see him go a little deeper in games, but with the Yankees bullpen I'm okay with that. The second best starter, though? Ugh.

Sonny Gray - Normally I'd be yelling for him to be sent to the bullpen. In their first plate appearance opponents are hitting .200/.289/.338, but in their next plate appearance opponents are hitting .382/.486/.539. But I don't see where Sonny would fit there, as the bullpen is packed... Chapman, Robertson, Betances, Green, Shreve, Kahnle, Holder, and Cole. I don't think he's finished, but four quality starts out of ten starts is not good enough.

Domingo German - For starters, we shouldn't give up on German. He wasn't rattled after giving up a three run home run yesterday, and he's gotten a lot of swings and misses. Plus, he hasn't been pitching on regular rest very often. He may get pushed out of the rotation when Montgomery returns, but he could force the Yankees to keep him as a starter now.

Jordan Montgomery - Jordan just started playing catch, so he's still a ways away from returning. Based on early estimates, Monty should be back by late June. I don't think Domingo will do well enough to hold him back from regaining his starting role, though. Besides, Montgomery has been pretty good and should be a regular starter from the day he returns til the end of the season.

I wonder if Cashman would deal away one of those relievers I mentioned earlier to clear a spot for Gray or Montgomery (I believe German will be sent to AAA to continue starting), thus opening a starting role for their trade acquisition.

I've heard many people say that don't believe any big acquisition will happen, but based on how the season has gone so far I disagree. The current rotation can, at the very least, get the Yankees to the postseason, but beyond that they would be in trouble.

Severino would obviously be their top starter, but after that none of us should feel confident. The Red Sox #2 starter may be Rick Porcello, the Indians #2 may be Trevor Bauer, and the Astros #2 could be Gerrit Cole. I wouldn't feel good with any of our non-Severino starters in those spots. And if the Yankees need Severino to start the Wild Card game (I think we'll win the East over Boston, but you should have a plan), that'll leave someone else to likely face Sale, Kluber, or Verlander.

So not only should you believe the Yankees will acquire a top starter by August 1st, you should be rooting for it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Tanaka Time: Home Sweet Home...

Photo Credit: Instagram (masahiro_tanaka.official)
Strong pitching carries Yanks past Angels…

The Yankees needed a strong effort by Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and they got it. He gave up his obligatory home run but it didn’t matter as the Yankees used a three-run third inning to cruise past the Halos, 3-1. 

The highlight of the game, not for its meaning to the final outcome but rather the drama of the moment, was Tanaka’s strikeout of fellow Japanese countryman Shohei Ohtani to end the first inning. Tanaka fell behind Ohtani on a 3-1 count but two swinging strikes sent Ohtani to the bench, much to the delight of the Yankee Stadium crowd. For the game, Ohtani was 0-for-2 against Tanaka, with a walk and two strikeouts. Mike Trout, who had a career day on Saturday, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Tanaka. Simple formula: Hold Ohtani and Trout in check and good things happen.

Tanaka’s terrific day was done after the sixth inning and 104 pitches. He held the Angels to only three hits and the isolated run on Andrelton Simmons’ solo homer in the sixth. Tanaka (6-2) walked three and struck out eight. THIS is the Masa we need for the summer’s pennant chase.  

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Bill Kostroun)
With six strong from Tanaka, Manager Aaron Boone was able to effectively lay out David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman for three innings of scoreless relief. Very nice play by Didi Gregorius to stop a hard hit grounder by Martin Maldonado, throwing the Angels catcher out at first to end the game and hand Chapman his eleventh save.

The Yankees (33-16) ended up taking two of three from the Angels after Saturday night’s debacle when Sonny Gray (Sucks!) and the Yankees bullpen were hammered by Mike Trout and the Angels in an 11-4 loss. Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox finally lost yesterday against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, 7-1. The Braves victory was especially sweet as they gave Chris Sale an early exit (4 1/3 innings) by scoring six runs off Boston’s prized left-hander. The Red Sox lead over the Yankees in the AL East is back to one game.

The schedule, which has been Boston’s friend so far this season, continues to benefit the Red Sox. The Atlanta Braves were one of the rare winning teams the Red Sox has faced so far this year. They return to playing sub .500 teams today with the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays (25-28) at Fenway Park. Meanwhile, the Yankees draw the defending World Champions, the Houston Astros, for a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. Yes, the Yankees did sweep the Astros in Houston at the beginning of the month, but the team was on a roll at the time. I can’t say I am too confident with today’s matchup (Domingo German, 0-2, 5.59 ERA vs Justin Verlander, 6-2, 1.08 ERA). But if the Yankees can keep it close, I like the Yankees’ chances against the Houston bullpen. Yesterday, with closer Ken Giles on the mound, the Astros blew an 8-3 ninth inning lead in their fourteen-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians.  

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Jason Miller)
The Yankees need pitching help but it doesn’t look like Chance Adams wants to play. The RailRiders game had barely started yesterday when Adams was pulled. With an inability to find the strike zone, Adams departed in the first inning after recording only two outs. He had given up only one hit, but three walks and a hit batter gave the Syracuse Chiefs an early 3-0 lead. The RailRiders came back to win the game, 7-4, so Adams wasn’t saddled with the loss but it was a pathetic performance. His season ERA is an unsightly 5.93 and he leads the team with 22 walks. It doesn’t sound like Adams wants to join his former RailRiders teammates in the Bronx, at least if he continues to pitch like the second coming of Sonny Gray. Hopefully he figures this thing out and restores the bloom of his potential. I still think his future lies in the bullpen but regardless, he is a guy I hope reaches Pinstriped glory.  

I was surprised as anyone when the Yankees optioned popular utility man Ronald Torreyes to Triple A to make room for the activation of first baseman Greg Bird. I had fully expected either Tyler Austin or a pitcher to go down. Neil Walker has proven his worth to the organization so the team wasn’t go to eliminate his roster spot. I also think the Yankees are intrigued with A.J. Cole and haven’t seen enough to make a decision about him yet. The YES Network’s Michael Kay noted yesterday that Toe’s locker has not been cleaned out. It is expected he’ll be back when his ten days are up or shortly thereafter. An injury to someone (I hope not) will accelerate the timetable. In the grand scheme of things, I fully expect Torreyes to have a longer Yankees career than Tyler Austin. I could see Austin as part of a trade in the days leading up to this year’s trading deadline when the Yankees attempt to seek upgrades for their pitching staff.  

He was only a Yankee for 33 games in 2008 but it is enough to qualify Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez as a member of the Yankees family. I am sure that Pudge is very excited today as the San Francisco Giants have selected the contract of his son, Dereck, from their Triple A affiliate. Dereck started his professional career in 2011 as an outfielder in the Minnesota Twins farm system but was converted to pitching in 2013. He signed with the Giants organization as a minor league free agent during the off-season. A starter in the minor leagues, Rodriguez is expected to provide long relief for the Giants. I hope Rodriguez pitches so well the Giants decide to trade Madison Bumgarner to the Yankees. C’mon, a guy can dream, can’t he?  Seriously, congratulations to Dereck for the realization of his own dream.

Photo Credit: Instagram (drod_31)
Speaking of former Yankees, Phil Hughes has found a new home. The Minnesota Twins had designated the pitcher for assignment earlier in the week. On Sunday, the Twins sent Hughes and a compensatory draft pick (74th overall) to the San Diego Padres for a minor league catcher. The incentive for the Padres is the competitive balance draft pick. The Twins will send money to pay down the contract owed to Hughes to lessen the financial commitment for the Padres. For now, Hughes will be inserted into the Padres bullpen, joining former Yankees Bryan Mitchell and Tyler Webb. I am not sure if this is the eventual end of the line for Hughes, who has undergone multiple surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome, or if he will be able to resurrect his career in sunny Southern CA, but I wish the veteran 31-year-old righty the very best in his latest comeback attempt.  

It’s Memorial Day so we pay tribute to those who have fallen in defense of our Country. Of course, we think about those individuals every day of the year, not just this day, and are grateful for their service and sacrifice to defend our liberty and freedom. We can never repay them or their families. We carry the memory of the slain men and women who have served this great Nation today and always.  

Go Yankees!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 5/26

And just like that it is game time here in the Bronx between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The best part about it all? It is a nationally televised game on FOX for the entire country to see. In the start tonight Sonny Gray will take the mound for the New York Yankees while the Angels will counter with TBA, but it doesn't matter anyway. The game will be played at 7:15 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on FOX. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app, and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast on WFAN with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Follow us on Twitter, @GreedyStripes, and “Like” us on Facebook, The Greedy Pinstripes, to keep up with us and the team all season long. Enjoy the game, Sonny skies ahead we hope, and go Yankees!!

ARTICLE REVISIT: Twitter Poll: Which Current Yankee Would You Like to See Punch Jose Bautista in the Face?

So there I was sitting there watching the Yankees game on Tuesday night, the night that Nathan Eovaldi held the Toronto Blue Jays to just two hits in a contest New York had to win, when I got a random tweet on Twitter. The tweet is above from Franks Yanks asking me which member of the current Yankees roster I'd like to see punch Jose Bautista in the face. I graciously answered like I do every mention on Twitter and quickly informed him that I would be stealing his idea while giving him all the credit. This sounded like a Twitter Poll to me!
Brett Gardner:

Brian McCann:

Alex Rodriguez:

Bryce Harper????
CC Sabathia:

Michael Pineda:
Dellin Betances:
And by the way... my answer was.....

To be involved in our next Twitter poll, which we haven't done nearly enough this season and for that I apologize, head over to the app and give @GreedyStripes a follow. Then simply wait for us to tweet out a Twitter Poll tweet where we won't use your responses without letting you know they are going on the blog first.

The 2018 MLB Draft, Luke Heimlich, and the Morality Behind Drafting Him

In a little under two weeks Major League Baseball will host their annual MLB First Year Players Draft from New York. The event can be seen live on MLB Network for the first few rounds of the draft while the entire event is over the course of a few days. Every team sees their future and their potential on these days as all 30 teams look to draft the next big thing. While evaluating a player a lot of things come into play before a team decides to draft a player. Ability is usually at the top of that list, closely followed by signability I’d say, but another huge factor that a lot of people seem to forget about is character. Character will play a huge role not only when drafted and while the player is in the Minor Leagues, but also when that player gets to the Major League level. Character is huge for the team drafting a player, especially a team with a huge market like the market in New York, which is why Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich may have trouble finding a home next month in the draft.  

If you don’t know the name Heimlich is a senior left-handed flamethrower from the Oregon State University baseball program who has had his bout with legal troubles in recent years. Heimlich was convicted for sexual assault for molesting his niece when she was just 6-years old, and he was 15. Heimlich, now 22-years old and the star pitcher on the top ranked team in the country, was placed on probation for the crime after pleading guilty and has served his time, completed his community service, etc. that came associated with the conviction. Heimlich states he only plead guilty as a way to spare his niece and family the pain and trauma of a trial but did admit to having “sexual contact” with the child. I don’t see the distinction, but it isn’t my place to judge. 

Heimlich was a Top-50 projected draft pick last season but went undrafted after his criminal history was revealed. Now Heimlich could be a Top 10, or even a top pick in the 2018 Draft, but will history repeat itself once again for the lefty? Heimlich, at the time of this writing, is sporting a 13-1 record with 129 strikeouts this season before his final regular-season start at home happened with the UCLA Bruins. Are there 30 teams that would once again pass on his talent in order to send a message due to his character?  

That would be nothing but speculations, although I can give my opinion on it. Everyone loves a good redemption story and to the best of everyone’s knowledge there hasn’t been a recurrence of the crime. The crime is heinous and disgusting, but not to sound insensitive the crime happened almost eight years ago when the lefty was 15-years old. It doesn’t excuse him from the crimes, and not to defend him but he did his time in the eyes of the law, but if he is sitting there in the first round when the New York Yankees pick comes to the podium… I’m sorry but if I am in that war room, I am taking him. It may not be the popular opinion, but it is my opinion. You draft for talent, and you work out the rest later in my opinion.  

This is bound to be a hot topic, so I am curious… what say you? 

Now Playing: The Gleyber Torres Story...

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Frank Franklin II)
Gleybering their way to Victory…

Last night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim can be summed up in two words: 

Gleyber Torres

Photo Credit: Twitter (sirdidig18)
Okay, credit to Luis Severino for bending but not breaking and to the bullpen for getting the game into the capable hands of closer Aroldis Chapman for the 2-1 win. But seriously, the Man of the Hour continues to be the 21-year-old rookie.

Shohei Ohtani may be the odds-on favorite for AL Rookie of the Year but on this night, Torres was the man among boys. His run-scoring single and solo home run provided all the offense the Yankees would need to take the first game of the three-game series with the Angels. Mike Trout was able to rip one off Severino but at least there was no one on base at the time and the rest of the Angels were unable to find their way home. Homeless Angels…so sad. Um, not really.

With no offense to Giancarlo Stanton, Torres has been the most significant addition for the 2018 Yankees. I am sure that Stanton will eventually go on one of his monster tears but clearly Torres is more valuable to his position (second base) than Stanton is to the outfield or DH. If Didi Gregorius was the Player of the Month for April, Torres, for now, can take Dave Winfield’s famed title of Mr May. I don’t mean that as a slight since as the canvas has yet to be painted for the months of June through October in the historic young career of the latest Yankees superstar. He is the youngest player to hit home runs in four consecutive games and he’s just getting started. Remember back when we were projecting Tyler Wade as our second baseman?  Me neither. 

Okay, honorable mention for the game goes to Aaron Judge. His throw from right field, at 100.5 mph, to nail Kole Calhoun at the plate in the top of the 3rd inning which stifled an Angels threat was the stuff of legends.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Congratulations to the Yankees for the win and to Aaron Boone for one of his best managerial jobs to date.

Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox used the long ball to maintain their one game lead over the Yankees (32-15) in the AL East. The Sox (35-16) hit four home runs to turn back the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, 6-2, including homers by league leaders Mookie Betts (17) and J.D. Martinez (16). The homer Trout hit off Sevy was also his 16th so the trio sit atop the leaderboard in AL homers.  

You can’t mention Boston without bringing up the topic of Hanley Ramirez. When it was announced yesterday that Boston had designated Hanley for assignment, it caught the Baseball World by surprise. My Red Sox friends were shocked. Granted, there was no way the Red Sox were going to exercise the 2019 option on Han-Ram’s contract ($22 million). The contract option would have vested if Ramirez had reached 1,050 plate appearances between last year and the current season (he stood at 748, which included 195 PAs this season). The Sox needed to open a spot for the activation of 2B Dustin Pedroia off the DL but it had been speculated that the under-utilized Blake Swihart would be traded to make room. Regardless of the reasons for his dismissal, I won’t miss Ramirez in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Even when he wasn’t hitting, he always managed, it seemed, to blast a massive home run against the Yankees in clutch moments. I can’t really see another team willing to pick up Hanley’s contract in full so it’s probable that he’ll be released. I guess he can get together with the unemployed Chase Headley to talk about the good old days. I am sure that we have not heard the last of Ramirez but at least it won’t be part of Baseball’s Greatest Rivalry.

Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire (Kevin Sousa)
Yesterday was also an active day for transactions with the Yankees. After reliever Ryan Bollinger was returned to Double A-Trenton, RHP Tommy Kahnle was activated off the DL.  Catcher Erik Kratz, who spent the season at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers designated their backup catcher (Jeff Bandy) to make room for Kratz. I am glad to see the 37-year-old get the Major League opportunity that eluded him with the Yankees. To take his place at Triple A, the Yankees signed 33-year-old Wilkin Castillo (he turns 34 next week) out of the independent leagues. Castillo had spent time with the RailRiders (and Thunder) last year.  

RailRiders first baseman Adam Lind was given his walking papers for the second time by the Yankees. There was no chance Lind was going to see the light of day at Yankee Stadium so he’ll presumably get a chance to find an organization with a clearer path to a Major League job. His departure also clears the way for the potential demotion of Tyler Austin to Triple A. The Yankees need to make room for Greg Bird who will be activated today and while no word has been made about the corresponding roster move, I continue to believe it will be Austin over one of the arms in the bullpen. Could be wrong but unfortunately Austin makes the most sense since he still has options available.  

Former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi is expected to make his regular season debut for the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. It’s been a long, difficult road for the hard-throwing Eovaldi since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. I wish him the best of luck with the Rays, except for when he faces his old teammates again. But if he wants to beat Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore, that’s fine with me.

Today is Sonny Gray Day. His last start was one of the best in his short Pinstriped career. Can he keep it going or will he revert to Sonny Gray Sucks! status? I truly hope he’s turned the corner and can re-establish himself as one of the best young arms in the American League. Gray will be facing Angels starter Jaime Barria (3-1, 2.13 ERA) who, frankly, I have never heard of. Unknown rookie starters always concern me with the Yankees as they seem to struggle against those guys. But then again, we have Gleyber Torres. Life is good.

Go Yankees!

Update:  So Ronald Torreyes is the odd man out as he'll head to Scranton, PA to make room for Greg Bird.  I am surprised but then again I am not. His skills are redundant with the presence of the more experienced Neil Walker who is pushed out of first base by Bird and Tyler Austin.  Shortstop is a bit thin so perhaps Torreyes demotion to Triple A is short-lived although Gleyber Torres can step in if needed but given he's the starting second baseman, there needs to be a better long-term answer.  

Old Timers Day 2018 Official Roster Reveal

This may be a day or two late and a dollar or three short, story of my life, but here is the official roster for the Yankees annual Old-Timer’s Game inside Yankee Stadium. The Yankees 72nd annual Old-Timer’s Day will be held on June 17, inside Yankee Stadium and there will be a couple first timer’s attending the game.

(*first-time Old-Timer)

Jesse Barfield
Ron Blomberg
Brian Boehringer
*Aaron Boone
Jim Bouton
Scott Bradley
Dr. Bobby Brown
Homer Bush
David Cone
Johnny Damon
Ron Davis
Bucky Dent
Al Downing
Brian Doyle
Mariano Duncan
John Flaherty
Whitey Ford

*Jason Giambi
Ron Guidry
Charlie Hayes
Arlene Howard (widow)
Helen Hunter (widow)
Reggie Jackson
*Dion James
Jay Johnstone
Scott Kamieniecki
Don Larsen
Graeme Lloyd
Hector Lopez
Jill Martin (widow)
Lee Mazzilli
Ramiro Mendoza
Gene Monahan (trainer)
Diana Munson (widow)
Kay Murcer (widow)
Jeff Nelson
Paul O'Neill
*Andy Pettitte
Lou Piniella
Willie Randolph
Bobby Richardson
Mickey Rivers
*Nick Swisher
Frank Tepedino
Marcus Thames
Roy White

Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 am ET for introductions with the game to follow. Gates open at 10:00 am ET before the Yankees play host to the Tampa Bay Rays at 2:05 pm ET. Enjoy the game, old-timer’s.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 5/26

Good morning everyone and welcome back to the Bronx as Yankee Stadium and the New York Yankees play host to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the middle game of their three-game set. In the opener we watched a pair of aces take the mound last night for each respective team and tonight we will see another great pair of arms as the Yankees send Sonny Gray to face off with TBD at the time of this writing. Should be another good one here in the Bronx, so let’s get to it.

Gray has his best start of the season last time out against the Kansas City Royals allowing just one run on four hits in eight innings of work. Sonny has made three quality starts in his last four trips to the mound and owns a 3.60 ERA and .221 batting average against over that span.


The game will be played at 7:15 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on FOX. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app, and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast on WFAN with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Enjoy the game, send them back to Disney World crying, and go Yankees!!