Sunday, May 24, 2015

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers 5-24

Wow that ceremony for Bernie Williams was awesome and so long overdue. No one does it like the Yankees, nobody. The #51 is officially retired and the plaque is made for Monument Park so now it's time to win the game in true Bernie fashion, by any means necessary. Tonight the Yankees play host to the Rangers inside Yankee Stadium for the final time in this three game series with Chris Capuano and Yovani Gallardo on the mound for their respected teams. The game will be played at 8:05 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

The Yankees stay home tomorrow to play host to the Kansas City Royals on Memorial Day so thank a veteran and spend the day at the ballpark. Get your Yankees tickets off the blog by kicking the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog to grab a pair for any game of the Royals and Yankees series. If you can't make it or you're at home grilling out and enjoying the paid day off then join me on Twitter (@GreedyStripes) and/or on the comments section of the site to interact during the game.

Capuano is ready, Delino DeShields is ready, let's play ball. Go Yankees!

Jacob Lindgren Officially Called Up

Meet a Prospect: Bernie Williams

First and foremost I want to welcome everybody to Bernie Williams Night at Yankee Stadium, boy is this one long overdue. Bernie Williams was a member of four World Series championship teams in his 16 seasons with the New York Yankees finishing with a career .297 batting average, 287 home runs, 1,257 RBI, 1,366 runs scored, 449 doubles, five MLB All-Star Game appearances, one Silver Slugger Award, four Gold Glove Awards and one American League Championship Series MVP Award. The only thing in Bernie’s life that he was half as successful at was his ability to play the guitar. Bernie has released two jazz albums since his unofficial retirement while being nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2009 and is now getting his #51 jersey retired inside Monument Park. What a life, this should be fun.

Bernabe Williams Figueroa Jr. was born on September 13, 1968 in Puerto Rico to Bernabe Williams Figueroa Sr., a merchant marine dispatcher, and Rufina Williams, a retired principal and college professor. The Williams family lived in the Bronx, New York until Bernie turned one years old, when they moved to Puerto Rico. Bernie not only played baseball growing up but he was also active in track and field and guitar playing. It was Bernie’s ability to play baseball that got him noticed by the New York Yankees in 1985 when Yankees scout Roberto Rivera found and eventually signed Bernie to a deal on his 17th birthday. Bernie worked his way through the Yankees minor league system building his value with his bat as a switch hitter until he finally got his big shot in the Bronx in 1991.

Williams replaced the injured Roberto Kelly in the second half of the 1991 season but did not do enough to stick in the majors. Williams was not long for the minor leagues though as an injury to Danny Tartabull forced Williams back into the show and back into center field in the Bronx where he was there to stay. Bernie was the regular center fielder until the 1993 season when a slow start prompted George Steinbrenner to insist that GM Gene Michael trade the switch hitter to the Montreal Expos for Larry Walker. Michael did not make the trade and Williams finished the season with a .268 batting average in his first full season with the Yankees. This was not the only time Steinbrenner attempted to trade Williams as once again in 1995, this time to the San Francisco Giants for Darren Lews, but then manager Buck Showalter convinced the Boss to keep Williams in the middle of the order, in center field and on the Yankees.

Williams made his name and his legendary status in the postseason leading the Yankees with a .429 batting average in the 1995 ALDS against the Seattle Mariners and leading the Yankees once again in 1996 against the Texas Rangers with a .467 BA. Williams followed that ALDS up with a .474 ALCS average with two home runs winning the ALCS MVP as the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles earning a trip to the World Series. In the World Series Williams had four RBI and a home run to help the team earn their first championship since 1978. Despite the playoff and World Series heroics Williams was the subject of trade rumors again in 1997 when Steinbrenner contemplated trading his center fielder to the Detroit Tigers for a package of young pitchers headlined by Roberto Duran (who?) and Mike Drumright (who?). Bob Watson, the Yankees GM, killed the deal keeping Williams a Yankee but not before discussing a deal with the Chicago Cubs to trade him for fellow outfielder Lance Johnson. Bernie used the trade rumors to build a fire inside him and helped his team win quite a few games in 1998.

The 1998 Yankees won an American League record 114 games that season with Williams batting .339 while becoming the first player to ever win a batting title, Gold Glove award and a World Series ring in the same season. The 1998 season earned Williams a seven year deal from the team worth $87.5 million making Williams one of the highest paid players of all-time at the time. Williams made the playoffs in every single season of that contract and ended up winning two more World Series in the time giving him four rings in six trips to the World Series in a Yankees uniform.

The 2005 season was Bernie’s last on that contract and it was not an easy one for the now aging Yankees center fielder. Williams only started 99 games in center field and another 22 games as a designated hitter due to his already weak arm continuing to decline. The team announced on August 2, 2005 that they would not pick up the option on Williams’ contract for 2006 and would instead opt to pay him a $3.5 million buyout making him a free agent. The team did offer arbitration to Bernie and ultimately signed him to a one year deal worth $1.5 million setting up his final season in pinstripes. Johnny Damon was signed to be the team’s center fielder in 2006 moving Bernie to left and right field when Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield were injured while also representing Team Puerto Rico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Williams collected his 2,3000th hit of his career in July of 2006 and also collected his 443rd career double for second on the Yankees all-time list but it was not enough for Williams to ever play on a baseball diamond again as a major league player, Williams was done.

Williams hoped to re-sign with the Yankees for the 2007 season and accepted a role as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter but rather than signing him to a new deal the team instead offered Williams an invitation to spring training as a non-roster invitee, an invite that Williams almost immediately declined. Williams did attempt a comeback in 2008 with the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rico Baseball League as he tried to get into baseball shape for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Williams injured his quad while playing for Carolina jeopardizing his chances to play in the WBC for Puerto Rico due to the injury.

Williams attempted his second comeback with the Yankees before the 2009 season but once again was never offered a contract. Bernie may have lost that battle but he ultimately won the war when he returned to Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008 to help say goodbye to Yankee Stadium. This marked the first time that Bernie had stepped foot inside Yankee Stadium since his playing years and received a one minute and 42 second standing ovation from the crowd when introduced in the Bronx. Williams also got to play for Team Puerto Rico in the 2009 WBC going 0-for-5 with two walks and while the results were less than what he would have wanted the fact that he was able to play and represent his country had to make the Puerto Rican born switch hitter proud.

Williams finished his career with a postseason record for RBI (80) and a 2nd place finish in home runs (22), doubles (29), hits (128), total bases (223) and runs scored (83). Williams played a staggering 121 games in the postseason in his career. Williams also finished in the Top 10 in Yankees history in doubles, walks, hits, extra-base hits, home runs and RBI. Williams baseball career was only rivaled by his semi-successful music career showing that Williams had more talent than he knew what to do with in his lifetime.

Williams has come a long way from the player that had good speed but didn’t steal any bases. The player that had the range to play center field but the arm that should have made him a left fielder. The consistent hitter that didn’t seem to hit for enough power despite hitting in the middle of the order. The player that was almost traded twice that we publicly know about. Yes, Williams has come a long way and he is now enshrined in the greatest park in Major League Baseball history alongside the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Bernie Williams is now a Yankees legend. Congrats Bernie, it’s well deserved. 

Bernie Williams Career Highlights

Something to hold you over until the ceremony tonight on Bernie Williams night in Yankee Stadium.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers 5/24

For the final time in this three game set the New York Yankees will play host to the Texas Rangers inside Yankee Stadium this weekend. These two teams ditched all pitching in the first game of the series and bashed each other's brains in for the first game of the series before pitching returned a bit in the second game. Who will win the third game and how? You'll just have to check out the contest on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball when Chris Capuano takes the mound to face off with Yovani Gallardo for the Rangers. The game will be played at 8:05 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN.

  • Capuano is making just his second start of the season after starting the 2015 season on the disabled list with a strained quad muscle. Capuano would like to forget his first start where he completed just three plus innings giving up four runs and four hits to the Kansas City Royals in a loss. 

  • Gallardo has not pitched well this season for Texas and has posted a 1-5 record with a 4.63 ERA in his last six starts. Gallardo has given up four runs in five innings in that period including a loss to the Boston Red Sox in his last start. Gallardo is only making his second career start against the New York Yankees. 

The Yankees stay home to play host to the Kansas City Royals at home in Yankee Stadium tomorrow for Memorial Day. It's always to end a series with a victory and it's always good to win, period, let's be honest so let's get a win tonight to make John Kruk, Curt Schilling and company #ShutTheKrukUp. Go Yankees!!

Potential List of Pitchers That Interests the Yankees

Hal Steinbrenner has been asked what the Yankees plan will be at this season's July 31st trading deadline and Hal responded that the team would likely go the route they went during the 2014 season. In 2014 the team did not acquire any players that were under contract past that current season meaning the team will likely look towards pure rentals this season as well. New York will presumably be interested in the pitching market specifically this season, much like every season, so I decided to take a look at a short list of arms the Yankees will presumably be interested this July. Remember that this is just based off the fact that the player has pitched well this season and is a pure rental, there are no reports that the team is interested in any potential trade.

  • Every list starts and ends with Cole Hamels because he has been linked to almost every team that expects to contend this season. I realize that Hamels is not the pure rental that we described above but his talent at 31 years old from the left side of the pitching rubber makes him the exception to every rule. 

  • Speaking of left handed pitchers the Oakland Athletics have one in Scott Kazmir who has been pitching well as of late. Kazmir is left handed and is a pure rental for any team presumably making him attractive to any team, including the Yankees. With Oakland not playing well this season it seems likely that Billy Beane will trade his ace. 

  • Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds screams Brandon McCarthy to me and that trade worked out well for the Yankees last season. Leake is a middle of the rotation type starter that won't presumably cost much in the prospects department for New York. He may not be the big and sexy name that the Yankees fans love but he will keep your team in a game and is still just 27 years old. 

  • Johnny Cueto is a big time arm that the Yankees could be interested in but he would be awfully expensive to acquire for any team. New York could acquire Cueto if they were willing to give up a package including at least one of, and probably two of, Greg Bird, Robert Refsnyder, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge. Cueto seems like the least likely pitcher to acquire this season. 

TGP Daily Poll: Bernie Williams Night Loss

Yankees lost on Derek Jeter Day, Paul O'Neill Day and Mariano Rivera Day in recent years so why would you think the Yankees would win on Bernie Williams Day? The team tends to lose when it matters most to the fans lately.

Vote in our prediction poll on

Weekly Check In: Bernie Williams

Don’t worry Yankees fans I know it’s Luis Severino check in day but with him on the disabled list and his stats almost identical to what they were in the last check in( he did make one start on Thursday night and looked sharp) I figured why not check in on Bernie Williams. It is Bernie Williams Day after all so let’s take a look at what his stats looked like in his career when he finally decided to officially retire in 2015.

Regular Season:
16 Yrs 2076 9053 1366 2336 449 55 287 1257 147 1069 1212 .297 .381 .477 .858 125
162 Game Avg. 162 706 107 182 35 4 22 98 11 83 95 .297 .381 .477 .858 125
12 Yrs (25 Series) 121 545 83 128 29 0 22 80 8 71 85 .275 .371 .480 .850
12 ALDS 48 215 36 51 16 0 8 33 2 26 31 .279 .367 .497 .865
7 ALCS 41 189 31 52 10 0 9 33 4 25 28 .321 .413 .549 .962
6 WS 32 141 16 25 3 0 5 14 2 20 26 .208 .319 .358 .677
Bern Baby Bern.

This Day In New York Yankees History 5/24: Welcome to Bernie Williams Day

On this day in 1986 a drunk Billy Martin was fired as the co-host on Saturday Night Live after slurring his lines during a skit. The former Yankee manager sets fire to his dressing room at the end of show, the season finale for SNL.

Also on this day in 1956 Mickey Mantle went off at the plate going 505 with an intentional walk in an 11-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Mantle would hit a home run and four singles in the game to go with his walk.

Finally on this day in 1936 the Yankees Tony Lazzeri becomes the first player in major league history to hit two grand slams in the same game when the Yankees beat up on the A's 25-2. The future Hall of Famer also established a new American League record in the game with 11 RBI's.