Thursday, February 26, 2015

MLB Owners Want to Shorten Season

The Major League Baseball owners have informed new Commissioner Rob Manfred that they would like to shorten the MLB season from its current 162 game schedule. The owners want to shorten the season from 162 games down eight games, four home and four away, to a 154 game schedule. Would the MLB owners see a drop in revenue from just four games? Probably not but would we see a decline in steroid, drug and amphetamine use? Maybe?

The MLB season is a grind. One night you’re on the East Coast and the next afternoon you’re on the West Coast playing a day game after a night game. On Sunday you’re on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball playing until midnight and the next night you’re playing in a totally different town.

Manfred is also pushing for realignment, which I agree with, and the elimination of Interleague Play. It makes no sense for some teams, take for instance the Pittsburgh Pirates, playing in the Central Division when they are located on the East Coast.

If Manfred wants to shorten the season honestly I think I would have a problem with that. I like the 162 game season but I am not putting my body on the line night in and night out, I understand that and respect that. I am definitely for realignment while I am indifferent on Interleague play. As a transplanted Yankees fan I love it when New York comes down to Atlanta to play. I wouldn’t necessarily cry if Interleague was taken away but I wouldn’t be ecstatic either, you know?

Either way it sounds like Manfred at least has ideas for radical changes to our game and sometimes change is good. It remains to be seen whether he will act on any of these changes or not. Stay tuned.

Steinbrenner denies notion Yankees have gone cheap

Have the Yankees gone cheap? Not according to Hal Steinbrenner.

The 45-year-old principal owner of the team denied such a notion during a recent sit-down with the New York Post -- pointing to the Yankees' rather large payroll as evidence for his argument.

"Our payroll is at $235 [million]," Steinbrenner said. "That is about as high as it has ever been."

That number also ranks tops in the American League, second overall behind the Dodgers'. It is enough to pay six annual salaries of $15+ million, and allowed the Yankees to dish out $36 million to Andrew Miller -- a set-up man -- in December.

But after watching free agent arms Max Scherzer and Jon Lester as well as Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada sign elsewhere this winter, some in New York's fanbase have begun to get frustrated -- despite the fact the Yankees did spend pretty notably on the international stage last summer. 

"On top of [our payroll] add the roughly $30 million we spent last [July] when we saw a pretty good foreign market, one of the best there has been, and we got six or seven of the top 10 or 11 guys," Steinbrenner said. "So there is money spent for not just now, but the future."

The Yankees indeed seem content with the current state of their farm system, but still expect to compete in 2015. At one point in the conversation, Steinbrenner said the Yankees will be "embarrassed" if they miss the playoffs again this season -- a statement that certainly appears to represent a hope to contend. 

To take it a step further, though, Steinbrenner says he also has something that most followers of the Yankees probably don't -- World Series aspirations.

"People might laugh at me," he said, "but I do think we can win a championship if we stay healthy."

How the Yankees' Brand Became Universally Popular

About a month back I was approached on Twitter by a fellow Yankees fan living in the United Kingdom, Ryan Ferguson, about answering some questions for a blog post he had planned about the Yankees brand. The main focus on the article was to research how the Yankees brand had become so universally popular not only in the United States but across the world. Right away he had my attention and of course I accepted. Ferguson has his own blog titled "Suicide Squeezin'" and is a proud member of the BYB Hub I have been telling you guys to check out all offseason long if you're hungry for baseball opinions and blogs. While browsing the BYB Hub yesterday I ran across this article and noticed that it was finally finished. 

Myself, Robert Casey of Bleeding Yankee Blue, Brian Danuff, former Yankees Fans Unite, Greedy Pinstripes and Baseball Essential writer and current 27 Outs writer, Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal and others were asked the questions and our quotes were used throughout the article. Now I warn you, if you just have five minutes before you have to run out the door do not, DO NOT, start this article. This is a long article and you will want to read it from beginning to end in one sitting. I do not want to be the reason you get in trouble with your significant other for being late.

Check it out, not because I am showcased in it (although that obviously helps, duh), but because you can tell Ryan put a ton of heart, work and research into this piece (in that order). Check it out, HERE IS THE LINK. I'll also give a little excerpt below to grab your attention hopefully.

I began by asking a pool of relevant people, such as Yankee fans, baseball experts, fashion gurus and cultural researchers, one straight-up question: how did the team's brand become so popular? Without exception, my sources pointed to the Yankees' on-field success as the foundation of their commercial dynasty; the team's historical preoccupation with winning making it unfailingly favoured by consumers.

“The brand became successful because the team was successful,” explains Daniel Burch, a diehard Yankees fans who owns The Greedy Pinstripes, a blog chronicling baseball in the Bronx. “Back in the 90s, for instance, New York-born rappers, actors and musicians would wear the gear because the team was good. Now, a whole generation of kids and young adults who grew up idolising these people want to wear the symbols and the gear themselves.”

Similarly, Brian Danuff, Editor of the 27 Outs Baseball network, places huge emphasis on sporting success when attempting to define the universality of Yankees merchandise. “I think the Yankees brand became so popular because it became synonymous with winning and success,” opines the native New Yorker. “I'd say those wearing the Yankees logo probably feel a bit more powerful and confident than those wearing, say, an orange Marlins sweater.”

Indeed, the Yankees are successful. They're perhaps the most successful team in the history of elite sports, having won 27 World Series titles, 40 American League pennants, and 51 postseason berths in the 112 seasons of their existence. The next-best totals within the baseball realm: 11 World Series titles (Cardinals), 20 pennants (Giants), and 27 postseason berths (Cardinals).

Greedy Pinstripes Top 28 Prospects List: #3

The Top Three Prospects in the Yankees system according to The Greedy Pinstripes, get hyped! Today our third prospect is revealed and his name is Greg Bird. I may be a little high on Bird as a first baseman and I worry about his back as much as anyone but the guy is close to the majors and can flat out hit. If you don't believe me see his Arizona Fall League stats from 2014. 

Here is the write up from Kyle McDaniel on Bird:

Current Level/Age: AA/22.2, 6’3/215, L/R
Drafted: 179th overall (5th round) in 2011 out of Colorado HS by NYY for $1.1 million bonus, Agency: Legacy
Hit: 20/50+, Raw Power: 60/60, Game Power: 20/60, Run: 35/35, Field: 40/45+, Throw: 50/50+

Scouting Report: Bird has been an under-the-radar prospect in a high profile system, but had a breakout year in 2014 after getting on the radar with a strong full-season debut in 2013. Bird was an overpay (for a surprisingly high amount, to the industry) in the 5th round out of a Colorado high school, so we’re talking about a high school first baseman (who caught at times, but everyone knew that wouldn’t work) with limited physical projection from a cold weather state without great competition.

He was banged up and just alright after signing and in short-season leagues/instructs in 2012, then hit way more than expected in Low-A in 2013: .228/.428/.511 with 20 homers as a 20-year-old. Bird still has a good arm from his catching days that was enough for the Yankees to consider letting him catch after he signed, until a back injury nixed that idea. He moves pretty well around the bag and is fine defensively, but it’s all about the bat here.
I got reports that Bird looked like a young, healthy version of Nick Johnson, but given just one season of performance with little background and the limits of a first base profile, scouts were still cautious. Bird performed well above league average while aged correctly for a prospect in High-A in 2014 (making for a scary middle of the lineup with Judge), then hit even better in a late-season Double-A promotion and carried that level of performance to the Arizona Fall League.

Bird has an advanced feel for the strike zone and is more of a hitter who has power than a slugger that swings from his heels. One way that scouts pick up on this is that Bird will not show you all of his raw power in BP. I’ve seen Bird take BP at least a half dozen times and, while Judge will let it loose in the last round and Gary Sanchez tries to put a hole in the outfield wall in most of his BP swings, Bird will just hit line drives all over the field with every swing. I’ve seen him hit homers in games to all parts of the ballpark and seen him carry the center field wall by 30 feet. It’s plus power and it might be a 65, I just haven’t seen it in BP to confirm. I also couldn’t get this out of my head when writing this report.

Summation: Bird will head to the upper levels for 2015 and, like Judge, if he keeps mashing may be a big league option by the end of 2015. More conservatively, there will be some challenges and things to work on and the ETA is likely sometime in 2016.

Upside: .275/.360/.470, 25 homers
FV/Risk: 50, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AA/AAA, 2016: AAA/MLB

3. Greg Bird
4. Jorge Mateo
5. Robert Refsnyder
6. Gary Sanchez
7. Jacob Lindgren
8. Ian Clarkin
9. John Ryan Murphy
10. Luis Torrens
11. Tyler Austin
12. Bryan Mitchell
13. Miguel Andujar
14. Eric Jagielo
15. Jake Cave
16. Austin DeCarr
17. Tyler Wade
18. Juan DeLeon
19. Dante Bichette Jr.
20. Domingo German
21. Slade Heathcott
22. Nick Rumbelow
23. Jose Ramirez
24. Ramon Flores
25. Gosuke Katoh
26. Chasen Shreve
27. Taylor Dugas

28. Johnny Barbato

Meet a Prospect: Eric Jagielo

Eric Jagielo was drafted with the New York Yankees first round pick in the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft 26th overall. Eric spent his college years playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish manning their hot corner and mashing the heck out of the ball. Jagielo stands 6'3" and weighs in at 215 lbs while hitting left handed and throwing right handed and while his natural position is third base he does have some experience in the outfield, although limited. This is not Jagielo's first time being drafted as he was drafted in the 50th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2010 draft.

Jagielo put himself on the map in 2012 when he went out and hit .310 with 13 home runs as a sophomore for the Fighting Irish. Jagielo would follow up that impressive performance with a trip to the Cape Cod League that summer where he put up an equally impressive .291 average with 13 home runs to go with a .374 on base percentage. Jagielo would finish his 2013 season with a very impressive .388/.500./.633 with 19 doubles and nine home runs on his way to being named 201 Big East Player of the Year.

Jagielo is a patient hitter and a power hitter that has a left handed stroke that is made for the new Yankees Stadium. He has a very upward stance that allows him to keep his hands low and compact and allows him to drive the ball. He has a bit of a long swing but it allows him to spray the ball to all fields with ease. He will strike out his fair share but he more than makes up for it with his ability to see a ton of pitches, grind out at bats, take his walks, and knock the ball to all fields in gaps and over the fence. I have seen his hitting graded on the normal scale of 0-80 as high as 55 which is considered to be above average. I have also seen his power rated as high as a 60 on the same scale with a strong lower half and an ability to punish mistakes.

Jagielo is not considered to be a speedy guy but is also not considered to be a liability on the base paths either so you take the good with the bad I guess. His quickness is one of the major downfalls of his defense. He can make the plays and has a nice throwing arm but his speed really limits his range and ability to get to certain balls. He is still widely considered to be an average defender and made big strides over the winter and this season before the draft so there is always the possibility for improvement there. His arm is considered his best defensive attribute and would also translate to left field or first base if he were ever transplanted off the hot corner.

Jagielo finally made his professional debut and finished the season as the Big East Player of the Year award winner for the 2013 season. Jagielo split time between the Staten Island Yankees and the Gulf Coast Yankees 1 and GCL Yankees 2 putting up a combined .264/.376/.451/.826 with six home runs and 27 RBI's. Jags took 26 walks and struck out 56 times in 55 games so he will have to get his discipline under control but I really think Eric could be in the majors by mid to late 2015 at the rate he is going. Jagielo plays a position, third base, that we are seriously thin at and have an aging veteran in Alex Rodriguez nearing the end of a contract and a career so now may be the time for this former Fighting Irishman. 

Looking at the 2015 Draft: 3rd Best Prospect

Continuing our look at the 2015 MLB First Year Players Draft we take a look at the #3 ranked prospect expected to enter the draft. As always we will include the mini scouting report from as we introduce the #3 prospect, Brady Aiken. Remember Aiken's name? Well you should because he was picked top overall last season by the Houston Astros and failed to sign with Houston and instead headed back to school. Aiken was not the top overall rated guy last season either but another strong season may see him picked top overall once again. 

Here is the write up from

3. Brady Aiken
4. Brendan Rodgers
5. Nathan Kirby
6. Kyle Funkhouser
7. Kolby Allard
8. Daz Cameron
9. Dansby Swanson
10. Ashe Russell
11. Justin Hooper
12. Carson Fulmer
13. Alex Bregman
14. Nick Plummer
15. Trenton Clark
16. Ian Happ
17. Phil Bickford
18. Mike Nikorak
19. Kyle Cody
20. Cody Ponce
21. Riley Ferrell
22. Chris Betts
23. James Kaprielian
24. Jake Lemoine
25. Beau Burrows
26. Richie Martin
27. Kyle Tucker
28. D.J. Stewart

Mark Teixeira Still Doesn't Get It

Mark Teixeira still doesn't get it, does he? Mark Teixeira was quoted as saying that he still basically refuses to go the other way and beat the shift which could mean another long season for the Yankees first baseman. How many times does he have to hit under .250 for him to realize that what he is doing is absolutely not working?

Teixeira has started a new no-gluten diet and bulked up adding 13 pounds of muscle while trimming 5% of body fat. Teix does say he feels stronger this season and feels confident but honestly that makes one of us. Prove me wrong Teix.

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/26: Yankees Release Babe Ruth

On this day in 1935 the Yankees granted Babe Ruth his unconditional release from the club to pursue a contract with another club. The aging superstar would go to play for the Braves after the 39 year old hit 659 home runs and batted .349 in his 15 seasons in New York.