Sunday, March 1, 2015

Yankees not expecting Andrew Bailey to make the team

The Yankees aren't counting on former A's reliever Andrew Bailey to make the team this season. 

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said as much Saturday in Tampa, telling reporters the odds of Bailey being on the roster come April are doubtful.

Bailey, 30, was invited to Yankees spring training this year on a minor-league deal -- an apparent showing of New York's interest in his potential. 

But according to Cashman, the Yankees' bringing Bailey to camp is just a low-risk, high-reward move -- and the club doesn't expect he will be wearing pinstripes on Opening Day. 

It's one of those things where, non-roster situation, it's a flyer, and the odds are against it,” Cashman told The LoHud Yankees BlogAnd it didn't work out for us last year. But because of who he is, his makeup, his work ethic, all those things, it made it easier to say, All right, let's keep trying.’”

Bailey signed a separate minor-league deal with the Yankees last winter, and was promised a $2.5 million salary if he earned a spot with their pitching staff. Bailey suffered numerous setbacks in his recovery from a shoulder injury, however, and was officially ruled out for the season August 17.

But he has been decently healthy since arriving at the Yankees' complex this time around, and thinks his chances of joining the bullpen are fair.

“Everything feels great," Bailey said earlier this week, via Bronx Baseball Daily. "I'm with the team and doing everything as I would normally, and if I need a little extra work here or there, that's fine too. I'm here to compete and earn a spot.”

If Bailey is to do so, though, he will likely have to notably impress a Yankees squad already stocked with many talented arms -- the likes of Justin Wilson, Adam Warren and David Carpenter included. Add onto those three the recently re-signed Esmil Rogers and the possibility of youngster Chasen Shreve also becoming part of the group, and it certainly won't be easy for Bailey to win a job.

And that seems to be exactly what Cashman believes -- despite his stated hope to still see Bailey succeed. 

“We're rooting for him to make it on the field, but yeah, the odds are against it from what he's coming back from,” Cashman told LoHud“But so far, he's still plugging in.”

Tuesday & Wednesday's Spring Starters Announced

It's that time of the year where baseball is about to be officially back when the Yankees Grapefruit League schedule begins against the Philadelphia Phillies. On Tuesday the Yankees play a road game with Adam Warren starting the game. Also pitching in Tuesday's game, among others, is Luis Severino and Jacob Lindgren.

On Wednesday the Yankees will be back at home inside George M. Steinbrenner Field playing host to the Phillies again with Nathan Eovaldi on the map. Andrew Miller will also be pitching in the game for the first time in pinstripes.

New Faces Hit Fantasy Baseball 2015, Should You Draft Them?

Every year in Major League Baseball there seems to be at least a couple of new faces that either defect from Cuba, get posted from Japan or come over through the posting system in Korea. The game is becoming more and more of an international game with an international feel to things and 2015 expects to be no different. With new faces like Yoan Moncada, Jung-Ho Kang and a slew of prospects making their first impressions with teams it can be confusing and scary when deciding to draft these players or not but don’t worry, I have your back.

Let’s start with Kang who came over from the Korean Baseball Organization to the Pittsburgh Pirates to be their everyday shortstop. Kang is 27 years old and coming off a 40 home run season in the Korean League, which equates closer to Triple-A in the majors than it does AAAA like Japan. Kang is in competition with Jordy Mercer for a job in Pittsburgh so he isn’t necessarily guaranteed a job and he isn’t guaranteed to even hit 20 home runs this season in the majors but he seems to be as safe a bet as any as long as defense isn’t weighed too heavily in your league.

One of those prospects I alluded to hits sort of close to home with the Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. Vazquez is almost guaranteed to beat out Ryan Hanigan for the starting job behind the dish in Boston and will be given every opportunity to fail in Boston. With that lineup even if he hits 10 home runs and hit around .250 he may still drive in 50-60 RBI with all those runners hitting in front of him.

Another prospect close to home, my home anyway, is Jose Peraza who plays second base for the Atlanta Braves. The Braves traded away Tommy LaStella this offseason and watched Dan Uggla leave last season and without a suitable backup plan other than Alberto Callaspo on the roster Peraza may win the job outright in Spring Training. It’s doubtful as Peraza hasn’t played a single inning in Triple-A but he did combine for a .339 batting average across A Ball and Double-A in 2014 while also stealing 60 bases. Peraza is 20 years old, will be 21 in April, has an amazing glove at second base (he is a former shortstop but currently being blocked by Andrelton Simmons) and can flat out hit. He won’t hit you 30 home runs but he won’t strike out more than 100 times either and in today’s game that is a valuable attribute.

Finally we showcase a starting pitcher on the Oakland Athletics roster Kendall Graveman. Graveman was acquired in the Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie trade after blowing through Low-A, High A, Double-A and Triple-A all the way to the major leagues last season at age 24. Graveman is penciled in as the team’s fifth starter and has added a cutter and a power sinker to an already impressive repertoire. Maybe Billy Beane isn’t as crazy as we all think he is…..

Why Is Being Optimistic Taboo?

Is this your idea of "cool"?

Earlier today Daniel had to tell his readers not to send him any hate mail for implying that the Yankees could win the division, or possibly the World Series. What is so bad about believing in them? Sports should be fun, and being all gloomy and full of doom is not fun. And it's definitely not fun talking to people like that.

It seems to me that being pessimistic these days, and that goes for anything (not just the Yankees), is "cool". Well, I'm telling you that it's not cool to be pessimistic. If you have solid reasons for having reservations about your team, that's fine. I had my reservations about Ohio State football this past season, and for good reason, but I didn't go into each game expecting failure. I rooted them on each and every week, and look what happened.

If you have a blog, or are just answering a question, about the Yankees chances this season then by all means... be honest. Look at the pros and cons of the team. But for the love of Mo, stop being such a Debbie Downer and try optimism.

Some people may need some help being optimistic, though. So here are my reasons to feel good about the 2015 Yankees...

  • All it's going to take for Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda to be a huge one-two punch at the top of the rotation is health. Mind you, that's not easy, but it's not ridiculous to expect those two to start 27+ games this season, either.
  • CC Sabathia, while not an ace any longer, is not a horrible pitcher. The power may never be the same, but so much of pitching is mental. CC is a six-time All Star, received Cy Young votes in five separate seasons, appeared in 423 games (all starts), and thrown over 2800 innings. You can't tell me this guy doesn't know how to pitch. With a knee that's been nagging him for years (he first had surgery on his right knee in 2006), it's no wonder that he'd have trouble eventually. If that knee can hold up now, I think he'll make a good #3 starter.
  • Nathan Eovaldi is going to surprise a lot of people. 2014 was his first full season as a starter, and he ran into quite a bit of bad luck (just look at opposing hitter's batting average on balls in play of .327). He's only 25 years old, so you can't say "he is who he is" quite yet. If Larry Rothchild can teach him some control then he's going to be a great addition for years to come.
  • The top of the batting order, which will feature Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner (the 2014 Yankees' most productive hitters), should be very good. Take Derek Jeter out of the #2 spot, and the heart of the order should get a ton of chances to drive in runs. And while Brett and Jacoby are not the runners they used to be, they can both still cause opponent's headaches on the basepaths. 
  • Brian McCann should absolutely hit better than last year. He actually made better contact than he ever has, posting a line drive rate of 24%. But thanks to a career low BABIP, and facing the shift more heavily than he ever has, he ran into a lot of bad luck. I can see him raising that batting average up to and even beyond .270, while hitting around 25 home runs (he hit 23 last year).
  • I think part of the reason Mark Teixeira had issues last year was that he was still suffering a bit from his wrist surgery the year before. Just look at the fact that he was having inflammation in that same wrist around the middle and at the end of the season. I'm not saying he'll flirt with a .300 batting average ever again, but hitting .250, getting on base 34% of the time, and hitting around 30 home runs is well within reason.
  • Lastly, Carlos Beltran is not going to hit .233/.301/.402 again. That batting average is 55 points lower than in his previous three seasons, that on-base percentage is also 55 points lower, and that slugging percentage dropped 101 points. In 2011 he didn't play in 20 games, in 2012 he sat for 11 games, in 2013 he watched 17 games, and then... last year... Carlos missed 53 games. He suffered an elbow injury in May, leading to a poor hitting month (.152/.216/.182), and that likely contributed to a poor June as he was still recovering. And what did he do in July? How about a triple-slash of .300/.354/.486? I'm not saying he can do that all year if healthy, but .280/.340/.490 is not out of the question. 

So there you go. I gave you seven reasons you can be optimistic about the 2015

You may say I'm just setting myself up for disappointment, but I'm sure as hell not going to go into this season with my expectations in the gutter. Besides, nobody likes being around somebody that cries and moans all the time.

I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested.

My Guess at the Opening Day Roster

Prospects Month is over and Spring Training is in full effect now as everyone has reported to camp and Grapefruit League games are just around the corner. There will be many positional battles and competition this spring including the wide open bullpen race, the last infielder bench spot, and possibly the starting rotation. It should be fun because it’s a change of pace from other Yankees spring training camps where 23 or 24 of the roster spots are already filled.

Let’s take a crack at guessing the 25 man Opening Day roster for the Yankees:

Brian McCann
John Ryan Murphy

First Base:
Mark Teixeira
Garrett Jones

Second Base:
Stephen Drew

Didi Gregorius
Brendan Ryan

Third Base:
Chase Headley

Designated Hitter:
Alex Rodriguez

Brett Gardner
Jacoby Ellsbury
Carlos Beltran
Chris Young

Starting Pitchers:
CC Sabathia
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Capuano

Andrew Miller
Dellin Betances
David Carpenter
Adam Warren
Andrew Bailey
Justin Wilson
Esmil Rogers

Riddle Me This, What if Alex Rodriguez Can Still Play Baseball?

What does it mean for the New York Yankees if Alex Rodriguez pulls a 2009, a year where he started the season late because of his first hip surgery and still finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBI on the nose, and can still play baseball in 2015? We all know the stories of the Yankees third baseman being suspended for all of 2014, missing almost all of 2013 with various lower leg injuries and another hip surgery and the fact that he is 40 years old this season but what if? New York plans on having him spend the majority of his time as a designated hitter and a first baseman which can take some wear and tear, fatigue etc. off his body this season which could conceivably keep him fresher at the plate.

What if? I know it’s a terrible thing to bank on a question mark but I don’t think the Yankees are doing that. With the Chase Headley signing and the Garrett Jones acquisition Rodriguez basically has to play himself into the starting lineup most days. Alex showed opposite field power in his limited at bats in 2013 and I find that encouraging that he can still time a fastball and hit home runs after the second hip surgery and without PED’s. Will he hit 50 again? Lord no, but I don’t think 20 is out of the question and 20 home runs and 60-70 RBI out of the bottom of the lineup is a huge improvement over what Yankees DH’s have done over the past two or three seasons.

If Alex can do what I went over above and the team can get the rest of the team to live up to the back of their baseball cards this team is a playoff team. I didn’t say World Series winner, I didn’t say division winner, I said playoff team so keep that in mind before sending hate mail. New York had lesser teams each of the last two seasons and barely missed the second Wild Card in the American League. A lot of what if’s, I know, but this is the time for what if’s, hope and maybe a little bit of luck for Mr. Rodriguez and for the Yankees, finally. 

New Faces in Pinstripes

I always find it interesting to see what the new players the team acquired over the winter actually look like when they don the pinstripes. Some have to cut their hair, some have to shave their face, and some just simply put on the uniform but I always anxiously wait and see just how fitting the Yankees pinstripes can be. The good news for me is I didn’t have to wait long as the Yankees have already posed for individual pictures for 2015 including a slew of new faces in Tampa.

Andrew Miller:

Didi Gregorius:

Scott Baker:

Jacob Lindgren:

Andrew Bailey:

Chasen Shreve:

Jared Burton:

Chris Martin:

Nathan Eovaldi:

David Carpenter:

Justin Wilson:

Garrett Jones:

Alex Rodriguez (because why not):

New York Strikes Deal w/ Major Energy Company

The New York Yankees brand stretches across the globe to more than just sports, the team, their brand and their logo are everywhere. The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, more commonly known as the YES Network, is in many our households on the television and on our internet browsers while many of us wear the team’s merchandise and memorabilia on our bodies. Now the fans have yet another way to pour our money back into the team as Major Energy announces a multi-year marketing partnership with the team that names Major Energy the organization’s Official Energy Supply Company.

What does this mean? In a nutshell we will start seeing brand integration at Yankee Stadium, aka signs and logos, as soon as the 2015 season. From what I read we will see their signs and banners in the visitor’s bullpen, on the Great Hall LED screen, a printed ad inside the Yankees Magazine and ads on all the stadium’s televisions. The company will also be showcased during the Pinstripe Bowl 2016 which pits a team from the Big Ten Conference against a team from the ACC Conference every season in College Football.

Major Energy is a company working out of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania providing both commercial and residential customers with natural gas and electricity. The company is also expected to soon announce a similar partnership with the New York Knicks inside Madison Square Garden as they attempt to corner the New York sports market. All in all this really means one thing for the team, more money, and one thing for us, more advertisements. 

The Big Mother Funnel Burger

So I’ll let you in on a little bit of my personal life right now, something I rarely do, my wife is doing what every other woman did on January 1st or so… she went on a diet. Long story short she is getting closer and closer to her overall goal while I am starving to death. It does not help the situation any when I see pictures of food like I do above. That is from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers who are a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and it is a “Big Mother Funnel Burger” and a grilled cheese bacon cheeseburger.

On the big mother funnel burger the bun is actually a funnel cake, my favorite fair and minor league stadium type food, with bacon, cheese, the hamburger etc. on it. Who wants to split gas/air fare on a road trip to Wisconsin with me?

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/1: The Boss is Back

On this day in 1993, two and a half years after accepting a lifelong ban from being involved with the day to day operations of the Yankees, owner George Steinbrenner is reinstated. The Boss had been exiled by then commissioner Fay Vincent in 1990 for hiring Howie Spira, a known gambler, to snoop into the life of recently signed Dave Winfield.

Also on this day in 1969 Mickey Mantle announced his retirement and ended his Hall of Fame career. Mantle said "I can't hit when I need to" even though he ranked third at the time on the All Time home run list behind Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Mantle finished with 536 home runs and finished his 18 year career with a .298 batting average.