Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Draft Pieces Already Falling Into Place

Sounds like Tyler Wade, our 4th round pick, is set to sign and work out with the Yankees in Tampa. Wade's slot is recommended to be right at $371 K in case you were wondering.

The Yankees 6th round pick John Murphy has signed and is with the team down in Tampa. His slot recommendation was $208 K but it is not considered likely that he signs for that much.

The Yankees 13th round pick Cale Coshow has been signed and is with the Yankees down in Tampa working out. His slot recommendation, and every player picked after the 10th round, is $100 K in case you were wondering.

The Yankees 15th round pick Jordan Barnes has also signed and is with the Yankees team in Tampa at the minor league complex working out. His slot recommendation is $100 K.

Brett Gardner Named AL Player Of The Week

Brett Gardner had a hell of a week and was named the American League Player of the Week by major league baseball for this week. Brett hit an insane .520 with five doubles and a home run including a 4-4 day yesterday against the Seattle Mariners to seal the deal. It is worth noting, although this goes to show you more how he is struggling than Gardner is evolving, that Brett Gardner is slugging over 70 points higher than Josh Hamilton... let that sink in for a minute.

Derek Jeter Begins Baseball Activities... Again

Derek Jeter is back to doing baseball activities after breaking his ankle for a second time in less than a calendar year. Jeter is out of his walking boot and after seeing team doctors today is taking ground balls hit directly at him. However small the progress is this is definitely progress for the Yankees short stop and All Star. Jeter is also playing catch and is said to be ferociously tearing up the stationary bike trying to keep his legs in shape for the 2013 season, a season he has yet to see an inning in yet.

The Yankees Have Interest In Who?

It's been said over and over by "experts", bloggers, fans, and others that it's incredible the New York Yankees are doing as well as they have in the 2013 season.

The odds of winning weren't quite as high as this guy's was to win the lottery, but they couldn't have been far off.

Here we have a team that was without many key players for long stretches. Starting first baseman Mark Teixeira missed the first 53 games of the season, starting outfielder Curtis Granderson has only played in 8 of the team's 63 games. The Yankees starting third baseman, Kevin Youkilis has missed 38 games. Starting catcher Francisco Cervelli has been gone since the 17th game of 2013. And last, but certainly not least, Derek Jeter has yet to play a game this season, while his fill-ins have batted a combined .219/.288/.288 (good for the lowest OPS of any position on the team).

Only four of the planned starters for this season have been around all year... Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner, and Robinson Cano. By the way, Cano is under-performing to the point that he's on pace for the lowest batting average he's ever had in MLB, and lowest OPS since his rookie campaign in 2005.

But here we are today, on June 10th, and the Yankees are in 2nd place in the American League East by 1.5 games, and have the third-best record in the entire league. So how did they get here? Taking a look at their AL ranking in the following categories clears that up quite easily...

Batting Average - 12th
On-Base Percentage - 12th
Slugging Percentage - 10th
wOBA - 11th
wRC+ - 13th
fWAR - 11th

Earned Run Average - 4th
Fielding Independent Pitching - 3rd
xFIP - 2nd
fWAR - 3rd

"Pitching, mother------!"

Pitching is by far the reason the Yankees are where they are today. And that's with their ace, CC Sabathia, carrying his highest ERA since 2005. Not to mention that 27 starts have been made by pitchers whose average age is 26 (Hughes is 27 years old, Phelps and Nova are 26, and Nuno is 25).

Therefore, when I read that the Yankees are interested in Ricky Nolasco, I can't help but scratch my head.

It's not that Nolasco isn't any good. Mind you, he's not going to be confused with any of the elite starters in the game, but his 3.61 ERA this season is quite solid. And although he doesn't strike out many batters (7.4 K/9 lifetime), his walk rate is fairly low (2.2 BB/9 so far this season, which would rank 32nd out of 120 qualified AL starters). You do have to keep in mind that the combined record of his opponents is 278-317 (.467 winning percentage), and the only three teams he's faced that have winning records (Reds, Diamondbacks, and Rays) resulted in a poor showing, a well pitched game, and an okay start.

So in previous seasons such a trade for a pitcher like that would totally make sense. Well, it would make sense as long as the team needed a middle to bottom of the rotation starter, and not somebody they'd be leaning on in the postseason. But this season the team doesn't need help on the mound... they need help in the batter's box.

Maybe it's because no hitters are clearly available, so there's nobody to connect the Yankees to. At least outside of Andre Ethier, who has been brought up as trade fodder for the Dodgers again and again and again, but his current triple-slash of .229/.316/.348 doesn't make any mouths water. So when I read about the Bombers connected to pitchers I just roll my eyes and move on to the next bit of news.

The internet provides me plenty of reasons to roll my eyes.

Off Day Movie Recommendation

The Yankees will be back to work tomorrow so without a game to watch tonight watch the entire movie here on The Greedy Pinstripes. Enjoy our movie recommendation for this off day, Angels in the Outfield!

The Evolution of Brett Gardner

Do any of you believe in love at first sight? If you had asked me before the 2009 Yankees World Series season, I would have laughed it off and said no. I would have said that it was theoretically and emotionally impossible to fall in love at first sight. However, that all changed during the 2009 season when I noticed a 5’10 outfielder on the field, and his name was Brett Gardner. Maybe I should clarify. I fell in love with the way that Gardner played baseball. The way that he would slap the ball with his ‘Garderian Swing’. The way he would keep a pitcher off guard and have them on their toes, just waiting to swipe a bag. The way that he was able to get to almost any ball in the outfield. He was different than the other players on the Yankees. Most of the Yankees players would hit home runs, since chicks dig the long ball, but not this chick. This chick was more captivated by how fast Gardner could run the bases, how he could be almost flawless in the outfield. This chick knew that there was something special about him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

After observing him a little while longer, I was convinced that he wasn’t just a fourth outfielder who would be forced to sit on the bench until he had his turn to start. I felt that he was a starter. I would tweet about it in 2010 and all I was told was that he would be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. I didn’t believe that. There was more to him than just slapping the ball the other way and just being the one to take over the OF if someone got hurt. I knew that he would be a star. 

In 2010 and 2011, Gardner was more of the stolen base type, stealing 47 and 49 bases respectfully, but in 2012 he never had a chance to show us what he could do with a nagging elbow injury forcing him on the sidelines until the end of the 2012 season. He started one game in the ALCS (which I felt was all-too rushed in a heap of panic) but Gardner would really show everyone what he was capable of in the 2013 season.

He came to Spring Training, swinging with authority, taking fewer pitches and working on his stroke, something that not a lot of people expected from the speedster. The Yankees were paying Gardner to swipe bases and get into scoring position. They weren’t paying him to come up with clutch hits, HR’s and succeed against pitchers that other players deemed impossible to have success off of (Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey). But that’s what Gardner did. He took the year off mentally, preparing for the 2013 season, and it has worked wonders for him.

After the Yankees series finale vs. the Mariners on June 9, Gardner is batting .419 in June.  He has a seven game hitting streak and he has shown a lot of power, hitting 6 HR’s, 27 RBI’s and 14 doubles. We also can’t forget to mention Gardner’s amazing fielding that has been so stellar, it irked Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets during the Subway Series. In a rare occasion, for the last couple of weeks Gardner has been the one carrying the Yankees (with some assistance from Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart) while Robinson Cano has hit into a terrible slump (he’s went from batting .300 all the way down to .272.). Gardner has had the numbers of elite aces, having multi-hit games against them, showing everyone what he can do. And to top it all off, it’s the first season where Gardner has been (knock on wood) healthy. There have been no nagging injuries, his elbow is 100% healed and he’s now able to show everyone his untapped potential at the age of 29. Gardner has changed the minds of the doubters, showing everyone that he is the most likely heir to CF once Curtis Granderson’s contract ends next season. Watching tape of Gardner from 2009 and tape from this season has shown me one thing: Gardner has changed as a hitter. He’s more aggressive at the plate, taking advantages of counts and he’s no longer that easy out that almost everyone thought he was five years ago. Brett Gardner is a very important part to the Yankees, a team in which I hope he stays with for a long, long time.

Off Day Music Recommendation

The Yankees are off today before starting a series with the Oakland Athletics tomorrow so we will use the off day to relax and listen to, in my opinion, some good music. These guys have a new cd coming out this month so now is the best time to push their first single. Check it out and enjoy.

Travel Day

The hottest race in the AL East in memory, the players finally see the light on PED use are the main topics this week.

Red Hot

When looking at the AL East standings this morning, there are three things which stand out to most people.

The first thing that stands out is that right now the standings in the AL East are in exact inverse order of what was widely expected before the year began. The Red Sox, picked to finish last by most pundits, are in the first place. The Yankees, widely expected to finish next to last, are in second place. The Rays are third, where most expected them to finish, followed by the Orioles and Blue Jays, who were expected to finish second and first respectively.

The second thing that stands out is the AL East continues to impose its will as the strongest division in baseball, despite many cries in the preseason that the NL East had assumed that title.

The AL East has four teams over .500 right, with all four of those teams in serious playoff contention.

The AL East has combined for 172 wins so far this year, 7 more than the teams in the NL Central who have won 165 games.

The AL East is the only division in baseball that has four teams with positive run differentials over their opponents.

By any measuring stick, the AL East is clearly still the beast of MLB.

The third thing that stands out when examining the AL East standings is the incredible battle between four teams fighting for the division title and potential wildcard playoff berths.

The spread between the first place Red Sox and fourth place Orioles is only four games.

It's hard to recall the last time a MLB season was heading into mid-June and had four teams in the AL East all with a legitimate chance to win the division.Making this battle even more compelling is that in addition to the standings being so tight, not much separates these teams to the naked eye either.  All four teams have injuries and/or prospects expected to return later on in the season as reinforcements, all four teams have very good pitching, and all four teams have defensive or offensive flaws.  Because of these factors, fans should be prepared for this battle to carry on into the late stages of the season, which could make for one of the most exciting divisional races in the history of baseball.

MLB's PED Problem

MLB's disgraceful handling of the PED problem was, has been and is their own fault.

After the strike of 1994 that left fans out in the cold and unwilling to forgive the players and the league itself for cancelling the World Series, baseball was left in a vulnerable moral position.

When sluggers like McGwire, Sosa and Bonds started putting on home run hitting clinics night after night, MLB championed these stars and promoted them, despite the whispers that what they were doing was aided by something more than a good breakfast.

Whether or not Selig and the owners actually "knew" what so many players were doing to get these incredible results, they certainly had to have had serious suspicions.

The increase in attendance, ratings and media that these bashers brought was simply too great for MLB to disrupt.  The outrageous offensive displays were pulling fans back to the seats and to their televisions and that was more important to the powers that be than anything else.

By now we're all sick and tired of the admissions, apologies, denials and trials of players involved with the use of PED's.  MLB's handling of the Mitchell Report and testing done prior to the Mitchell Report was a travesty best summed up by Ozzie Guillen in July of 2009 when he said:

"Can somebody in baseball, please, we're all begging people, get that stupid list out and move on. This is ridiculous. This is embarrassing. This is a joke. Whoever is there is there; get them out and that's it. We're going to continue being alive, we're going to continue playing the game. But sitting here every freaking day, every manager, every player, responding to the same question, it's getting tired. It's old. Come on. If you're going to divorce me, divorce me right away. Don't say you're going to leave me. I'm serious. If you're going to talk every night, 'I'm going to divorce you,' no, get out of my house. Every week we've got to come up with this thing."

Since then we've had Manny Ramirez' saga, Ryan Braun's soap opera, and now the Biogenesis affair.

Throughout this saga the Players Union and the players themselves have shared in the blame of this sad situation by vigorously defending the accused or admitted cheats.

If what Buster Olney said this past week about the Biogenesis situation and the change in sentiment of the players themselves about cheats, we could be witnessing a major development in the way players will view cheating.  Here is a quote from ESPN's Olney courtesy of Kevin Dillon's WEEI blog:

“I know some people who I work with have said this is a black eye for baseball,” Olney said. “Personally, I think it is a good moment for baseball because it shows how vigilant and diligent and aggressive they are being. I think we are going to see in the players’ reaction which I am hearing privately from guys — they want cheaters to go down. The change in the culture from 10-15 years ago is dramatic. You have guys now and after Ryan Braun got off and won his appeal, they wanted him to go down. They want him to go down now. I think that in general, that is sort of where the sport is on this. They are trying to deal with a problem and this is a sign that they are dealing with it and that they can.”

While A-Rod and Braun are the headliners of the latest soap opera, that doesn't make the other 18 rumored offenders any less guilty than the two big stars. Let's hope that all of the parties involved in MLB handle the latest PR mess for MLB properly for a change.

If The Playoffs Began Today

In the NL the Cincinnati Reds would play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one game playoff that would take place in Pittsburgh to determine who the St.Louis Cardinals would host in a best-of-five series.

The Atlanta Braves would host the San Francisco Giants in the other best-of-five series.

In the AL, the New York Yankees would host the Oakland A's in a one game playoff to determine who the Boston Red Sox would host in a best-of-five series.

The Texas Rangers would host the Detroit Tigers in the other best-of-five series.


Morning Bits

Good morning everyone!

The Yankees completed a successful series in Seattle yesterday by winning a nail-biter over the Mariners by a score of 2-1.

CF Brett Gardner(4-5, 1 RBI) and C Chad Stewart(2-4, 1 RBI) accounted for 6 of the Yankees 7 hits and both RBI's to lead the Yankees on the offensive side.

David Phelps was solid through 6 innings, allowing three hits, three BB's, and only one earned run while striking out 6 innings before yielding to the bullpen.

Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera combined for three scoreless innings in relief to nail down the victory.

Robertson and Rivera gave the Yankees some anxious moments, working out of extreme danger throughout their two innings.

The Yankees are off today after traveling to Oakland where they will begin a three game series with the A's on Tuesday night.

Now on to today's news and links:

Ryan Tolmich of The Bleacher Report says that the Yankees will be a scary team come September.

Ken Belson and David Waldstein report that a Japanese team tried to acquire A-Rod last year after the playoffs.

Wallace Matthews of ESPNNY discusses the Yankees success this year despite poor team numbers offensively across the board.

Have a great day everyone!

This Day In Yankees History 6/10

On this day in 1921 Babe Ruth hit his 120th career home run to become the all time home run hitter in major league history. This record would hold until 1974 when Hank Aaron passed him with his 715th home run of his career.

On this day in 2002 Marcus Thames becomes the 17th player in major league history to hit a home run in the first pitch that he saw in his major league career. Marcus would hit the home run off of Randy Johnson of all people to start his career.